Sunday, January 31, 2016

No Matter What...I Choose Jesus!

                   You can either practice
                         being RIGHT,
                      or you can practice
                          being KIND.
                                 -Anne Lamott

Sometimes the word "stressful" is used to cover a multitude of situations. Your work is stressful. Your health is stressful.
Your family is stressful. Usually when I start to see life as stressful, I am trying to tackle life all on my own. I am trying to control outcomes instead of turning it all over to Him. I am focusing on fear and what ifs and what thens.

When I get like this, and it isn't very often, I am always so glad to go to church and feel that sense of community. I may cry through the entire church service, but then I can surrender to God's will and let Him fill me up again with His love for me. Today is Sunday and I am taking kleenex to church, just in case.

What I know for sure is in the midst of all of this, He never leaves me or forsakes me and that He is right here holding my hand. Right this very minute.

At times like this, I must repeat this phrase many, many times a day...
                                    Just trust Jesus.

Trust Him with everything! Trust Him to take care of me and all of those I love so much.

I'm a pretty tough cookie, a bit like the Little Engine that could.
I just keep going. I don't quit. I don't give up. But I also know
that there are times when life just flows smoothly and I feel joyful and optimistic. Those are great times. Yet  right now, if I'm honest with God and myself, I feel pretty tired. I also feel like I am fighting some battles where I am struggling with the difference between being right and being kind

Bottom line, I'm asking God just what He wants me to do right now. What's His will for my life.

A bit of the back story. Since Bert's stroke we have added lots and lots of medical appointments to our already busy schedule.
I want to be at all of those appointments, and Bert can't drive since his stroke, so we are busier than ever.

On top of that, and our usual life circumstances, our new computer program at the college where I teach has caused lots of unforeseen problems. There is a huge amount of tension at work.

I love to read Anne Lamott at times like this. She is so, so real that it makes me laugh. Her unrefined, tell-it-like-it is style
reminds me that life is not always smooth and easy. There are unexpected bumps and some of those may make us sad or mad.
God can handle all of it. After all, Jesus experienced all of the joys and deep pains of life. Anne's book Help, Thanks, Wow
has a quote that I have been praying about all week...
           
              Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness,
                  and discomfort and letting it be there until 
                                   some light returns.

And there's that word LIGHT again, my word for 2016.

While I am tired, I am not discouraged. I know that the Jesus
I know and love and serve is right here with me. He will strengthen me when my own strength is in short supply.
He is my LIGHT!

No matter what, I choose Jesus!!!

Today and every day I am grateful for His love! 
God Bless!
Love, Linda

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Four Very Important Words of Advice...

           And then she gave me the best
             advice ever when she said...
                      "Be Who You Are!"

It has been a crazy, busy, wonderful, and a tiny bit scary time at our house. So much has been going on that my head is spinning. 

Yet in the midst of it all, we are soaking in love and gratitude. As we say every Sunday at church...
                      "God is good all the time, 
                    and all the time God is good!"

I have been especially busy since besides teaching I have been mentoring our precious granddaughter, Glory Sihin, Amy's oldest daughter. Another miracle daughter...the one that Amy adopted from Ethiopia. 

 Sihin came to our family when she was 14, the oldest child in the orphanage she grew up in. She has been a super bright light in our family with her radiant smile, love for Jesus, servant's heart and her unstoppable work ethic. That girl can out work me and believe me I am no slouch at working. While her
Ethiopian name is Sihin, the American name she gave herself was Glory. She wanted her life to bring glory to God!

This is a HUGE, dream-come-true time for Glory Sihin, as we like to call her. After so, so so much work in her AP classes at North Central High School in Spokane, and so much love and community service, Glory is applying to go to college.

The college of her dreams is a small, Christian university in Spokane called Whitworth University.

She knows that's where God wants her to be. A small Christian university where she can get a rigorous academic education and grow her Christian faith at the same time. Yet college is expensive and her Mom's salary as an adjunct faculty member hardly keeps the family afloat. 

Glory knew she would have to apply for every scholarship available, so besides being a full time honors student and doing community service, our precious granddaughter has spent the last eight months doing scholarship applications. That's right...eight months.

And that leads us to today...

After making it through the first two phases of an Act 6 Scholarship application, Glory Sihin is at Whitworth this weekend going through a huge drill...interviews, writing, discussing academic articles...three full days. She is over there right this very minute.

What could this scholarship offer, if she gets it?
She would have a full college scholarship to Whitworth University. All expenses paid.

Glory believes, and we believe, that if this is God's will, she will be there. Yet she has to do the work and the preparation. And she has...countless hours and may of them at our home.

You see English is her third language and just reading these poems and articles has taken her extra time to digest. And she has never been interviewed so she asked me to give her a practice one. Which of course I did.

We prayed together and talked about the fact that she wouldn't be alone this weekend. God would be right there with her. If she got scared, just pray.
We talked about how God had brought her to America, and God has a plan for her life. He has guided her this far, He would not leave her.

And then she asked me, with a few tears spilling down her gorgeous chocolate face, "Nana, what do
I need to remember besides that God loves me?"

I said a prayer asking the words to be His words for her, her heavenly Father's words for her. What came out were these four words...

                   Be Who You Are!

And then His explanation... I made you. You are perfect in my eyes. Just be the you I made you to be.
Show them My love through you. You are more than enough.

And I cried and she cried and her beloved Grandpa cried. 

You see Glory adores Bert, just like I do. She brings him flowers and cards and hugs and loves. He is a stable rock in her life and when he had a stroke she was so scared. She prayed and prayed and supported us both in Bert's get well process. She loves, loves, loves her Boppa. And he adores her.

Little did I know that just recently Bert had given her the exact same advice. "Just be yourself, honey. The YOU God made you to be!"

Yes, God works in miraculous ways!

And then it was time for Glory to go back to her home. As she gathered up her book bag and notebook, Glory stopped and gave me a HUGE hug. 


And she whispered, "Thanks, Nans, that's the best advice ever!" And off she went...

And now we want to support her. 


If you pray, could you please ask God to make His presence known to Glory this weekend? 

Could you please pray for her sense of His love and presence and that she just needs to remember His words for her...and His words for me...
           Be Who You Are! Be who I made you to be!

And all the people said, "AMEN!"

God Bless!
Love, Linda

                

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I CHOOSE...LIGHT and HOPE!


                When the sun takes its final breath
                  just before the last rays of HOPE 
                        drop below the horizon,
                let all the twinkling stars in Heaven
                 remind you that the Light of Hope
                             never left your side. 
                                                      -Robert Clancy

One of our daily rituals when we were in Hawaii was to stand on the lanai as the sun went down so we could watch God streak the sky with the most beautiful sunset ever. Bert would pick up the conch shell, like Hawaiians all over the island, and blow the shell's music in reverence to God's artwork.

I found myself, in the moments where the sun started sinking, feeling like a little girl at Christmas...waiting to see the presents under the tree.

And God doesn't disappoint. He never disappoints.

This week has been a week of anticipation in our family as we waited to see what the doctor had to say
about Amy and Annora Grace.

I did what I always do in times like this, times when my heart feels like it is in my throat. I just kept taking one step at a time, praying all the while for His guidance, for His peace to fall on all of us.

I knew God would show up big time in our hearts if we just turned to Him instead of leaning into our fears.

And God doesn't disappoint. He never disappoints.

When one of His children gets great news that rocks your socks off, I am reminded that He is there, answering prayers.

One of the very, very, VERY best "knock your socks
off moments" this week came when I learned that my dear friend Vicky Westra, who has stage four breast cancer, got her MRI and PET scan results back.

The results were nothing short of a miracle- Vicky has no evidence of disease. NED. While some folks might thank all of the awful chemo she has taken week after week, and I don't want to minimize its impact, Vicky holds this miracle to be one that came from answered prayers. Thousands and thousands of prayers. Prayers daily and hourly by prayer warriors all over.

God doesn't disappoint. He never disappoints. 



He doesn't disappoint even when the news isn't easy to hear. He is still there. Right there with us ALWAYS. 

He is the HOPE and the LIGHT in the darkness.


If you read my last post, you know about our daughter and the challenges she faces in her pregnancy. You know about the hard news and the concerns for our daughter and her precious baby.


You know that we asked people to pray for Amy and for Annora Grace.

And you know what? The light and hope of this week was the outpouring of prayers from God's faithful.


When I think of Vicky Westra's comments and Jackie putting our prayer request on her blog...well

I just can't stop crying. Knowing that you are holding up our precious daughter and praying for her pregnancy and praying for Annora Grace, well we are overwhelmed with gratitude, hope and light.

We are choosing HOPE and LIGHT, no matter what!


While Amy has been given some tough news and put on modified bed rest for the next three months, we believe God and take Him at His word that He is right here, right now. 


This won't be easy, especially with her teaching, running a home, and caring for her other children, but we are choosing hope and light, knowing we will rally with help and support. We will keep praying and turning to God. He is our peace.


As it says in Jesus Calling...


"My face is shining upon you, beaming out PEACE that transcends all understanding. You are surrounded by a sea of problems, but you are Face to face with Me, your Peace. If you gaze too long at the myriad of problems you will sink under the weight of your burdens. When you start to sink, simply call out, " Help me, Jesus!" and I will lift you up."


And God doesn't disappoint. He never disappoints.


He is lifting us up! And we are calling out...

                            "Help us, Jesus!"

He is the Light of Hope that never leaves our side!


Amen and Amen!!

God Bless! 
Please keep praying! We are so, so grateful for 
every prayer!
Love,
Linda

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Please, Please Pray for our daughter...

Don't tell God how big the storm is...
    Tell the storm how big God is!

After hearing today's news...only two words keep coming back to me...please pray. I so believe in the power of prayer and my youngest daughter, Amy, needs your prayers right now.

Amy is pregnant and this pregnancy hasn't been easy.
Yet it seemed that things were going well and the sweet baby, Annora Grace, was growing just as she should.

Yesterday Amy, who is suffering from a miserable cold and can't take medication because of her pregnancy, had an appointment with her OBGYN. They looked at the results of the latest ultrasound.

The doctor was shocked. Amy was shocked.

It seems that Amy has a condition called placenta previa where her placenta is covering her cervix where the baby comes out. This condition can cause bleeding, early delivery, severe blood loss, and the loss of the mother and baby.

Annora Grace is due April 24th...and our prayer is that
this condition reverses itself, the placenta moves and that
both Amy and her precious daughter are fine.

Would you please pray with us. 

We would so covet your prayers. Amy knows God and loves God with all of her heart, and she is so scared about this news.  I am too. Would you please pray for her peace of mind (and ours)? Would you please pray that God protects Amy and this precious baby?

We know God can do miracles and we are praying for a miracle for Amy and Annora.

Thank you so much for your love, support,and most of all...
your prayers!

God Bless!
Love, Linda


Thursday, January 07, 2016

My Word for 2016....

                     This little light of mine,
              I'm going to let it shine.
            This little light of mine,
              I'm going to let it shine.
             This little light of mine,
               I'm going to let it shine.
                      Every day!
                      Every way!
   I'm going to let my little light shine!



I have always, always, ALWAYS loved the children's hymn
"This Little Light of Mine!" 

When the children at our church sing this precious song, their eyes light up, their hearts swell, their sweet voices blend together... and well, I just melt. Tears roll and I feel as if God Almighty is right there singing along with us. The words... so optimistic, so hopeful, so FULL of JOY! And as I gaze around our sanctuary I see tears streaming down the faces of grown men as they sing along or just mouth the words. 


The words are so simple yet they tell such a profound story... God's love lights my heart and every day, and in every way, I'm going to let His light shine through me.


This song about light is even more precious to me since I love lanterns and candles that shed light into the darkness. If you were to visit my front and back yard, in any season, you would see light permeating the darkness. Even with all of the snow we have piled everywhere, those lanterns, in the deepest days of winter, hold lit candles that reach out and bring hope when the landscape is very, very dark.


Just like those candles in the dark that light my path through our yard, God's love and grace lights my way when all is wonderful and when all seems hopeless. 


His LOVE is the ray of hope and light when the world seems crazy and my own world seems upside down.


In Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, the entry for January 2

says: "Relax in my healing presence. As you spend time with Me, your thoughts tend to jump ahead to today's plans and problems. Bring your mind back to me for refreshment and renewal. Let the light of my presence soak into you, as you focus your thoughts on me."

On January 4th it says, "When you view events through this perspective- through the Light of my universal Presence- fear loses its grip on you."


At the start of each new year I go through the ritual
of picking my word for the year, a word to set the tone for each day. A word to guide me in every area of my life. A word to help me be closer to my Heavenly father.

I have been asking God for His word for me...a word that will remind me that All is Well, no matter what. 


And yesterday that word popped up everywhere and I couldn't stop smiling. My word for 2016 is...


                                       LIGHT!

In 2016 I want to let my little light shine. I want to remember 

minute-by-minute that God's light is never extinguished, it is never blown out. He promises you and He promises me that
in days of joy and days of change and sorrow, He never leaves us or forsakes us. His light is the way in the darkness. Always... every day and in every way.

I truly believe that, as Kristen Strong says...

            When change wipes all the natural light from
             the rooms of my heart, being thankful is the way
             to open bolted shutters and knock holes in thick walls.
             Being thankful is the way to usher the light back in."

Would you like some light in your world, right this very minute? Give yourself the best gift ever and watch these two

wonderful songs by the African Children's Choir. 

Oh how they have lit up my spirit and heart on this cold, winter morning in Spokane. They remind me that God loves me and to "Let My Little Light Shine! ENJOY!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRqtWr8Lhfo


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulRWNzl9YOk

God Bless!
Love. Linda








Saturday, January 02, 2016

Oh...The Fun We Had!!




Never, ever underestimate
 the importance of 
                       having fun!
                               -Randy Pausch

When I look back at the last twenty one days, well I
just can't stop grinning from ear-to-ear! Our trip to Maui had been planned for a year. For Bert and for me, Maui is our favorite place in the whole world. Our time in Hawaii is a retreat.

Going to Hawaii is a chance to see one of the most beautiful places God created. The warm weather, especially in December, is such a marked contrast from the cold and snow in our beloved Spokane.

And our only agenda there is to relax and have fun. The to-do list gets left at home! 

Our goal? Have fun! Lots of fun! Frolicking in the waves fun! Going out for espressos fun! 

Reading book after book kind of fun! Laughing
until it hurts kind of fun! Soaking in the sunshine and sleeping in kind of fun.

The fun gets even better when our family joins us.
There's nothing like seeing our grandchildren dance in the waves of the ocean and swim in the pool like fish. It makes our hearts swell with pure JOY!

Nothing says FUN with capital letters like spending time with our grandchildren. 

Those precious babies that we have watched grow are such a reminder of God's love and grace. They give us a sense of purpose and a deep sense of love
that is hard to put into words. 

We are their cheering section, their mentors, their listening ear, their prayer partners, and we have their back. Bert and I always believe in them.

This trip to Maui was even more meaningful as we all wondered if we'd actually be able to go. Bert had a TIA stroke in October and for a time travel seemed unlikely.

Yet the promise of fun, and sun, and family time was something to work toward and look forward to. Bert had a goal...he didn't want to miss out. 

So today we left Maui after twenty one days of JOY... tanned and happy and fun-filled. It was 82 degrees and we came home to one degree. That's right...one degree. 

We left sunsets and sand for piles and piles of snow...four feet to be exact!

And we are still smiling and so, so grateful for this retreat, this time away. And having that time with Bert...all I can say is "Thank you God for answering our prayers!"

In 2016, one of our goals is to build in more time for fun and to find the fun in the everything we do! 

May this new year bring love, fun and JOY into your life as well.

Sending you love, hugs and prayers!
God Bless!
Linda




A Reminder of What Matters...

                   "We are all just walking                       each other home."                                             ...