Thursday, January 12, 2017

Beyond this Life

Sorry for my long, dramatic post in advance. Just kind of having a downer night thinking about people that have passed away recently, Ron Soderstrom (a beloved man from Mora that we went to church with for several years at Quamba Baptist Church ... always greeted me with a big hug when we would come back and visit after moving to Pine City and had faithfully served the church and served as greeter week after week, year after year) and Carl Steffen (Mayor of Sandstone...didn't know him well, but he always had a smile on his face and would say "hi" when I saw him at the office visiting my boss).
It all brings me back to my own mom and dad, unfortunately. Though I am sad and teary-eyed tonight, I saw this video from Lauren Daigle that really resonated when she talked about her grandfather dying. There really is something beyond this life. Don't be deceived by the enemy saying there is nothing and attempting to draw you away from the Lord. There is much more than what we have here today. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt. I know this because I have faith in the Bible and what it says is true, and the Holy Spirit tells me so. But also because the night my mom passed away, before I knew she was gone, God gave me a dream of her. A dream like I never had before. She was running, even skipping, and swinging both her arms and there was green all around and sunlight and she was happy in a field of flowers, of daisies-her favorite. She was happy like I hadn't seen her happy in several years, especially since she had a stoke which left her unable to use her left side. I woke up that Sunday morning feeling happy because of the dream but wondering why I had it.
Before we left for church that morning, it was around 9:00 and I got a call from Dorothy, her neighbor in the apartment, saying she had found my mom and she had passed away. According to the coroner, she had died around 4:00 am. God gave me the dream after she had passed into His presence ... showing me exactly where she was and that she was okay... and with God more importantly. She was more than okay. I will never forget that dream.
And I will also never forget that my dad (because of the faithfulness of our pastor at our former church, Rev. Ivan Fiske, who drove to Rochester to pray and witness to my dad a number of times on his death bed, and because of my grandmother Dorie's prayers and witness to him and my many years of prayer) had received Christ and I know is with him now. There is no doubt in my mind.
There is life beyond what we see here. Something better. Somewhere where we will be healed and will be smiling.
Trust in the Lord Jesus tonight :)
Lauren Daigle testimony

Monday, June 29, 2015

SCOTUS decision--Lamenting for our country and its people

As a conservative Christian, I am left lamenting for our country and individuals after the recent SCOTUS ruling to disallow states the right to ban gay-marriage. And I am afraid that this judicial activism will lead our country on a slippery slope where one group's freedoms are being exchanged for another's.

Some of the women in our church are doing a Bible study in Jeremiah, and today I came across a verse in the study--a verse that is repeated in different forms throughout the Old and New Testament: "Now therefore amend your ways and your deeds and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will change His mind about the misfortune which He has pronounced against you."

I realize the wrath or punishment of God is not a popular topic, but it is a reality of the Bible and who God is. Personally, I don't want to serve a God who is arbitrary. Like a good father or mother, God will reign us in when we stray by use of things that may not always be pleasant. For His children, those who love and follow Him, God may reign us in in His merciful, loving way by ordaining events around us that we are unaware of, but are meant to protect us. We are reigned in for our own good and for the good of others because God created us and knows the best way we should live--though we think we know better. Many prophets in the Bible were sent to different regions to warn people of the results of their sins against God.

I also realize that the word "sin" is not popular today. But it is what it is and we all sin in some form or another. But what happened last week in the SCOTUS decision to not allow states to ban gay marriage, is that this is the one sin that is celebrated and embraced. Of the sins that grieve God in the Bible [sexual immorality (the New Testament specifies what this means as adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, perverts), impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord (strife, conflict, hostility), jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions (disagreements that lead to discord), factions (a synonym is a clique), envy, drunkenness, orgies] this one sin is being embraced by our nation/highest court. Think about the other sins like impurity. I am not sure that we as a nation would elect someone into office who is lewd and lascivious. If a public figure exemplified drunkenness in their life, I am pretty sure it would be a scandal. There was one politician who was reported to have dabbled in witchcraft in her college years and was mercilessly pounded by the media. Think about the other sins that the Bible lists and how we don't condone those behaviors in society. We are born into sin and all have an inclination toward one sin or another, so when people say they are "born that way", they are correct.

So why this sin? I am not sure, but it probably has something to do with the exaltation of the individual and the freedom that our country was honorably founded on which has now turned into an unrestricted freedom--in which our forefathers never intended.

I am by no way setting myself on a pedestal because there are sins in my own life that I am more inclined to embrace than others. And I am aware of Scripture that tells us: "There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you--who are you to judge your neighbor?"

I am not in a position to judge. But I am in a position to grieve (and I wish I wasn't this way). I am grieving two things: 1) Grieving for the outcome of our country and the blessings that may be withheld and/or punishment that may come because many in our country have turned away from God. 2) I grieve for the the sin that has been endorsed by our government and for people involved in this sin and are now enabled in it like never before in our nation's history. I grieve for their well-being because I have two people that I love involved in this lifestyle.

So what next? What comes next for the Christian? Or for the person who inherently knows that this newly endorsed lifestyle brings pain and hurt on the individuals involved and undermines the role of family (the right for a child to have both a mother and a father) in our country? What comes next for the person afraid to speak out in fear of getting labeled a "hater" as my kids point out is what you would get called among your peers for holding to the biblical model of marriage?

I believe we love but don't condone. We pray that people will turn their hearts back to God and live according to His will. We pray for leaders to rise up and hold to the principle's our country was founded on. We pray for our religious leaders to hold to the essential truths of the Bible and the ability to speak biblical truths without persecution from those who want to afford the opposition the same rights.

To quote Rod Dreher, a TIME contributor in his June 26th piece on the SCOTUS ruling, "The fundamental norms Christians have long been able to depend on no longer exist." And in a call to action he wrote, "Orthodox Christians must understand that things are going to get much more difficult for us. We are going to have to learn how to live as exiles in our own country. We are going to have to learn to live with at least a mild form of persecution. And we are going to have to change the way we practice our faith and teach it to our children to build resilient communities." What this looks like, we don't yet know. But we do need Christian leaders to be innovative now more than ever.

But most of all, we love in truth. Love (God's form of love) does win!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Is God knocking at the door of your heart?

I have to admit that my time with God in prayer and Bible reading has not been regular like I had hoped it would be over the summer. And there are have been consequences for that. Consequences like not feeling connected to God, not experiencing the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control) like they could be experienced, being distracted from everything Satan throws my way instead of focusing on where God wants me to spend my time, not having an open eye to the things of God but rather having an open eye to the things of the world, and just a "blah" feeling that can only be described as trying to fill myself with empty things and not the "gold refined by fire" that Jesus has to offer and that I have had the privilege of enjoying in the past when I am close to Him . . and the list goes on and on.

And honestly, sometimes I fear getting too close to God and worry about what kind of "Jesus freak" he will turn me into. Or I fear the attacks that will come from Satan when I step out in faith and step into a deeper relationship with God. Does anyone else feel this way? Would love to hear your feedback and how you have overcome or at least made strides to overcome this.

But when you are saved and have received the Holy Spirit, that is a great thing about God -- is that he never lets you go! He keeps tugging at your heart to invite you back into intimate fellowship with Him.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with me," -- Jesus says in Revelation 3:20

Are we hearing His voice? Am I hearing His voice through all the static of what comes up on a daily basis or what I chose to put in front of Him?

So I decided enough is enough . . I want to feel whole again. I have been praying the last few days for God to speak to me through Scripture and felt "spoken to" this morning through my reading in Revelation.

Jesus speaks (through John) to the different churches in Asia and to the different type of churches today. I read through each message to the church thinking, 'This kind of applies to me and our church but not completely." Then I came to the message to the church in Laodicea, who was known for its wealth. And If you think about it, we in America are also known for our wealth, possibly both individually and collectively.

Jesus spoke to John in a vision stating in Revelation 3:15-22:

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

Do I have an ear to hear? Do we have an ear to hear?

It is sobering to think that God could spit you out of His presence being lukewarm. I don't know what that actually means and my study notes don't address that statement. But I know that is not a place I want to be. It also sounds harsh in this day and age that God will discipline those He loves -- but that is what Scripture says. You don't hear that everyday.

This is a wake-up call to me. I don't want to be "luke-warm" in my faith . . barely making a difference for God, barely experiencing the goodness that God has for me, barely conveying a message of hope and love to my kids and the kids I work with. It also isn't appealing to receive discipline from God for any of us.

But thankfully God gives us a remedy for our situation: Therefore be zealous and repent. 

I am so thankful for God's mercy when we are in a "luke-warm" condition. And I am thankful that I have the Holy Spirit of God knocking at the door to enter back into fellowship with Him.

I pray that if you haven't received Him as your personal Savior and if you feel Him knocking on the door of your heart, that you will allow Him to work in you today by receiving Him and opening the door.

Monday, August 4, 2014

What is it?

What is it?

While exploring the lake, we stopped at a sandbar to take a swim today. I spotted what looked like some sort of creature washed up on shore. I wasn't sure if I wanted to touch it and its furry tentacles hanging down from it's fleshy corrugated body. Hesitantly, I reached down and pulled it from the shore. Surprisingly, it didn't jump up at me or hiss . . . or grab my face and eat it off as I fully expected. It was somewhat soft and the body looked like a foot long caterpillar. I looked it in the face, which looked somewhat like a mole. 

I brought it back to the house and examined it further. It appeared to be root like, so I googled 'freshwater root plants' and found out it was a Yellow Pond Lily root in which beaver like to snack on and not something that wanted to snack on humans. 

I learned from a USDA website that the root is a spongy rhizome under the water with thin submerged leaves attached to it. The floating part of the plant looks similar to a water-lily and is in the same family but has a yellow flower. Some people eat the root though it is said to not be very tasty. 

The USDA website stated that Native Americans consumed the starchy root stocks as boiled or roasted vegetables and harvested the seed for grinding into flour. And there are some accounts of the root being powdered and used as a poultice to help relieve soreness or inflammation. 

So we now know what the washed up 'creature' is and will hopefully have our daughter thinking it is alive and active in the kitchen sink when she gets home!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Anti-bullying Law" being pushed from the left

I was alerted to a bill in Minnesota that had passed the House and is being tabled in the Senate. The bill is called the "Anti-bullying Law" or HF826 and is an ambiguous bill, both clearly defining bullying or hateful language and leaving it open to interpretation at the same time.

Comment such as "OMG, that outfit is so ugly!" . . or, one student to another saying "You suck" out on the field or disagreeing with one's sexual orientation or the way someone dresses if they are transgender, will get you a seat in the principal's or counselor's office. Not only will you be counseled to not ever say anything like that to anyone again, but the event will likely be put in the state's data system with your name attached to it, possibly hurting your future chances of getting into that college you want.

But let's cut to the chase. This bill has one intention that is obvious with the language included in it, leaving out the typical forms of bullying. The bill is coming in on the coat tails of the new gay-marriage law that has been recently passed in several states. They are really not fooling anyone. The timing, the language and authors of the bill, all point to one agenda: the agenda to indoctrinate our children and silence any opposition to the gay movement.

This bill is wrong on so many levels. First of all, the bill states at the end, that it does not limit the freedom of speech. It clearly does. If you make anyone feel uncomfortable because of what you are saying, it is considered bullying and your speech will be limited. Read this and tell me freedom of speech is accounted for:

3.34(b) "Bullying" means use of one or a series of words, images, or actions, transmitted 
3.35directly or indirectly between individuals or through technology, that a reasonable person 
3.36knows or should know, under the circumstances, will have the effect of interfering with 
4.1the ability of an individual, including a student who observes the conduct, to participate 
4.2in a safe and supportive learning environment. Examples of bullying may include, but 
4.3are not limited to, conduct that:
4.4(1) places an individual in reasonable fear of harm to person or property, including 
4.5through intimidation;
4.6(2) has a detrimental effect on the physical, social, or emotional health of a student;
4.7(3) interferes with a student's educational performance or ability to participate in 
4.8educational opportunities;
4.9(4) encourages the deliberate exclusion of a student from a school service, activity, 
4.10or privilege;
4.11(5) creates or exacerbates a real or perceived imbalance of power between students;
4.12(6) violates the reasonable expectation of privacy of one or more individuals; or
4.13(7) relates to the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, creed, religion, national 
4.14origin, immigration status, sex, age, marital status, familial status, socioeconomic status, 
4.15physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, academic status, 
4.16disability, or status with regard to public assistance, age, or any additional characteristic 
4.17defined in chapter 363A of a person or of a person with whom that person associates, but 
4.18the conduct does not rise to the level of harassment.

Secondly, school districts already have anti-bullying policies in place and states already have laws against it. Call your senator and tell him or her that this law has no place in our public schools. NCLB was a failure because of the degree of government involvement and unachievable goals. How is this any different.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

9/11: Memoir of events surrounding September 11, 2001

It was September of 2001 and we had just moved in to the new house we built on the land I grew up on. The kids were young and life was good. It seemed back then that I treasured every moment with them, taking delight in the even the smallest things. Long walks and bike rides were part of almost every day in the summer. We would take time to look at the different rocks on the road and inspect the wildflowers in the field, marveling at God's creation.

We had spent several months living just down the hill from our new house at my mom and grandma's while our house was being built. This was a good time in life. It was a nostalgic feeling that I haven't been able to recapture since leaving the there. Mark, mom, grandma and I would spend hours in the yard just relaxing and watching the kids play in the sandbox or watching tadpoles swim in the pond. 

The old barn served as a backdrop to the yard in which I used to ride my horses, play catch with my uncles or garden with my grandma. I recall the barn and its many uses . . backboard for my single tennis matches, sanctuary for me and my horse Robbie when life just got "too hard to handle," haunted house for the 6th grade class party and shelter for any warm-blooded creature that chose to take up residence there in the winter . . including a number of tame and not-so-tame kittens. 

During our stay with my mom and grandma while our house was in construction, we didn't mind staying in the room which used to be my room in the attic of the house, crowding the five of us into one large area .. crib, toddler bed, TV and all. Maybe my mom and grandma didn't have as much fun as we did, but it was an adventure, especially knowing that the comfort of a spacious house was in our near future.

This was an exciting move for us having my mom and grandma just down the hill. The kids were very excited knowing they could go down to grandma's at any time. It was comforting to me knowing that my mom and grandma were close by, being an only child. My mom and grandma eagerly volunteered to watch the kids when I needed to go out by myself for a church event, committee meeting, see a friend or just go shopping. My mom loved her grandkids like no grandma I have known. And they loved her. 

We moved into our new house and fall set in. Summer ended and it was time to put away the sandals and shorts and take out the school clothes and get just a little more serious about routines and life in general. School began for Ashton, our oldest, as a kindergartner. 

September began and routines were started. Tuesday, September 11th came and was an exciting morning. It was exciting because it would be the first day of a leadership role that I had worked hard to prepare for over the summer of 2001. This was our very first day of M.O.P.S (Mothers of Preschoolers) at the church we attended. There had never been a M.O.P.S program at the church or in the area before and a friend of mine, Cindy, and myself had decided there should be one! So we contacted M.O.P.S. International and inquired about what we needed to do to start a M.O.P.S. group where we lived. We worked hard and got everything in place for our first meeting ..  volunteers for nursery, mentor moms, speakers, crafts, food, advertising and financial backing. I was the Coordinator and Cindy was the assistant and coordinator of crafts. 

It was time to go to church to begin our new group and meet the ladies that I would be spending many Tuesday mornings with. It was Ashton's day home, being a blue day, so he came along and helped gather everything Gracie and Luke would need for the morning. We arrived at church and Cindy and I nervously prepared for the arrival of the women and children. It was exciting as we laid out snacks in each nursery room, checked name tags at the front counter and made sure the table center pieces were in place. I had just checked on the breakfast in the oven and walked by our pastor's office. He and another man from the church were watching something on the television. I caught glimpse of it and asked what was going on. Our pastor said there had been a bombing that had made one of the World Trade Center towers collapse. I went out to check on my kids and grabbed Cindy to come and see what was happening in New York. We all stood in the pastor's office and watched in shock as reporters showed video of smoke and dust and people running in the streets. No one was quite sure what was going on, even the reporters. Then another reporter had mentioned a plane. We were all wondering what the connection was.

Then word came in that there had been an attack on the second tower and reports of a plane flying into the building. We wondered how a plane could fly into a building like that and if it were an accident or a plane flying out of control  . . no one knew. It didn't seem like long after, we heard there had been another plane that had crashed into the Pentagon. Still no one knew what was happening. 

All we knew was that something that seemed impossible was happening to our country.

Over the news, came a report that the second Twin Tower had fallen. Word that President George W. Bush had been taken to a safe, undisclosed location also came through the television. Horror came into our minds as a report came in of a nursery on the lower level of one of the towers. Questions of "Did everyone get out?" and "Were they able to evacuate the area?" came to mind. None of these questions could be answered by what we were seeing and hearing on the news. We all stopped and prayed . . praying for those in and near the fallen buildings, praying for the Pentagon workers, praying against more attacks, praying for our leaders and country. 

I stepped back into the hallway and looked at my friend, not knowing what to do and knowing people would soon be arriving. Another friend arrived to help with the morning activities, unaware of what had taken place in New York. I had to tell her that there was some sort of an attack, it seemed, on the World Trade Center and that the Twin Towers had both collapsed. She was also in shock. It was almost 9:00 a.m. and time to start the meeting. We had made the decision to continue as scheduled and headed to the foyer to greet the ladies as they arrived. My mind kept wandering back to the trip I had taken in college and the awe I had while looking up at the 110 stories of each of the Twin Towers, that I had never seen anything like in the small town I grew up in.

I caught myself remembering the Staton Island ferry trip we took to admire the Manhattan skyline. I knew things would never be the same for the New York people and our country.

The women and children arrived, some of them knowing what was currently happening in New York and some not. We all gathered in the fellowship hall, got everyone seated and began the meeting. As coordinator, it was my responsibility to kick off the meeting with a funny story, anecdote, or fun ice-breaker activity. There would be none of that this morning. I told the women that they may or may not be aware of what was happening on the east coast, but we needed to take some time pray for the people involved. The meeting went on as scheduled but, for obvious reasons, with little enthusiasm. The rest of the morning was a blur.

The kids and I arrived home. I first turned on the TV and then called other family members, knowing they were probably safe in their homes or at work, but it was comforting to talk to them and hear their voices. I tried to explain to Ashton, who was six and also glued to the television, what was going on, but not quite sure myself. All I knew is that I wanted all three of the kids within arms length that afternoon. 

I remember the eerie feeling of not seeing or hearing anything in the sky as all flight travel had been restricted, the government not knowing if more of these type of attacks were imminent and threatening that any aircraft found in the sky would be shot down. As I watched TV footage, I spent some time on the phone with Mark discussing what could have happened and the implications it might have on our country. Who would have known that it would be a catalyst to future economic troubles in the lost air travel and future difficulty in air business travel. Who would have known that we would be in a War Against Terror ever since. Who would have known how our citizens would now be under surveillance in a sort of Orwellian nature . . . due to 9-11 terrorists disguising themselves as one of us and carrying out their evil plans under American training. And who would have known we would continue to be in battle on our own ground and abroad for the sake of others and the threat of an increased rise and strength of terrorist groups.  

Our family has since moved on and have been blessed in our new location. But things haven't been the same. I no longer have my mom, she passed away in 2008, and only see my grandma when I can as she lives in Kansas now. The houses have been occupied by others. The M.O.P.S. group continues but at another church. I am not sure if the nostalgia has been lost due to life circumstances or our country never being the same after 9-11, or a combination of both. All I know is that life is good, but not the same. My heart goes out to those who were impacted by September 11, 2001 in a much more tragic way. The majority of us just live in a different world, with perhaps more apprehension and fear of the unknown. But those who lost loved ones from this tragedy, deal with an emptiness of losing a family member or friend in such a horrific way that many of us cannot understand. 

If you've taken a moment to read this, please say a prayer for those who have lost loved ones and for our country .  . for protection from further attacks and that our people would turn their hearts back to God!