Perseverance

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out of for us.                                                                                    (Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

This week my grandmother passed away quietly at 101 years of age. Here is a dedication written in her memory. She was truly an inspiration of perseverance.

Before women had the right to vote,
Before penicillin was discovered
Before annual income taxes
Before Miss America pageants
Back when the Dow Jones was below 100 and King George was on the throne in England-

Way back, before all that—my Grandma Vicki was born in her parents’ home on their farm near Hector, MN.

Her maternal grandparents lived their whole lives in Helsinger, Denmark- I grew up living next door to my grandma, so it is somewhat difficult to imagine living halfway around the world from your grandparents, no overseas phone, postal mail was slow, and there was definitely not no skyping, no email.

Her paternal grandparents, Swan and Albertina came from Lindberg, Sweden. Their last name in Sweden had been, “Swenson” but changed it to Barry after getting to the U.S. Their grandfather’s name was Eric Berg. They took the “Berg” and changed it to “Barry”, that’s the story anyway, but I’m not seeing it?

Grandma’s mother, Minnie wanted to name her “Ellen” but Uncle Leonard said it should be “Victoria Cecilia” so that’s what it was. I don’t think my parents would have allowed Uncle Rolly or Jandt to name me.

Growing up grandma loved paperback novels, movies, esp. Shirley Temple. She loved reading “Gone With the Wind,” which was published in 1936. To her it would have been a popular bestseller, I read it last summer, to me it was a classic.

She attended a one-room country school and her favorite classes were math and spelling. She aspired to be a bookkeeper, but that wasn’t how it worked out, I guess it just wasn’t in the cards!

Grandma said her hardest times were after her mother died. She was only 16 years old, but she related the story very clearly. She remembered going into the hospital that morning. She stood, frozen in the doorway, looking in, her mother so small lying in that hospital bed with her tiny size 4 shoes on placed on the rug next the bed. “Go on in girl”, her father bade her, so she did, and she sat next to her unconscious mother for about an hour before Minnie passed.

After her mother died, grandma worked cleaning for Aunt Luella, just across the gravel road from her own house. Grandma said those were the toughest times. She worked all day and told of how she carried mattresses from the upstairs, to the outside to air them and haul them back up. She made them supper and helped clean up then went home and fed and cleaned up after her father and brother. The days were long, the work was hard and the pay was small.

Grandma was only 17 when she started to date grandpa. Of Grandpa Ray she said, “He was tall, good looking and slender, and he was a good dancer.” Six months later they decided to get married. She went to tell her father, Oscar, and of that she reported, “My dad flipped.” Anyway, on January 30th, 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, drought and dust storms they were married. Grandma wore a “figured” dress and Aunt Edith served a chicken dinner that was “real good.”

Grandpa and Grandma had $1.00 when they got married and that was spent the next day at the Doctors to treat a boil on Grandpa’s wrist. Grandma said there were many times they had less then a dollar, but maybe they didn’t have a cable bill, phone bill, or even an electric bill. But they probably did have a kerosene bill, or coal bill.

They may not have had electricity or indoor plumbing or television, but what they did get was babies!

My mother was born at home, while both grandpa Bob and Grandpa Oscar waited in the kitchen. The attending physician commented to Grandma that that was unusual, but first born are special.

When Myrna was born, Dr. Vesley was supposed to come, but he had to go pick up his girl friend at the train station instead.

Marcia was born in the Wahoo hospital in the same room where Grandma Minnie had died years earlier. Grandma said that gave her such a strange feeling.

As the years passed Grandma would have read the original newspaper headlines to news stories like:
Prohibition repealed,
Panic at the radio premier of Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds
Lindbergh baby kidnapped
King Edward abdicates the throne
Home runs by Babe Ruth and Lou Gering

Grandma experienced the dust bowl, the depression, World wars, cold wars and gasoline wars; Kennedy shot, Nixon Resigns, an actor became president, these were current events for her and in the history books for my children.

There were birth announcements, weddings, baptisms, traveling, card clubs, and family reunions. 101 years of life—long life—full of experiences, lessons, challenges and joys, but for me I see the greatest lesson to be learned—perseverance.

James 5:11 says: As you know we consider blessed those who have persevered, you have heard of Job’s perseverance and you have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

 So when I remember grandma, I will be reminded of perseverance, every morning for over a hundred years, each and every day grandma faced whatever that day brought only to get up and do it again the next day. Remembering also that we do not persevere by our own power, but God gives us the strength and courage to face and persevere each day.

So when life gets tough or days seem hard, I just remember grandma’s God-given perseverance and I know that I can persevere too.1517416_10203595554870105_1159807777810645570_n

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Secure With the Father

On my bed I remember you: I think of you through the watches of the night. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. (Psalm 63: 6, 8 NIV)

            I lay in bed, experiencing insomnia from stress and worry. Unable to stop the unwanted thoughts I tried focusing on the least-stressful times of my life. I imagined myself as a little girl, holding my dad’s hand as we walked down the street. My little hand in his bigger one felt warm, safe, and comfortable. What a joy it was to spend time with my dad.

Desperately, I wished to recreate that feeling so I clasped my own hands tightly together. Glancing down I realized that they were positioned, ready for prayer. It reminded me that my heavenly Father was as near as a prayer and available to offer me his warmth, security, and comfort. Sleep came easily after that.

We can hold our Heavenly Father’s hand anytime we turn to him in prayer. We can experience all the blessings, promises, and peace that knowing the Father offers us. What a joy to walk with our Father.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we can turn to you and you answer us. Thank you that we can feel secure in your care and trust that you will walk with us. Amen.

IMG_1240

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Be Intentional

This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish                                                              Luke 14:30

     To be intentional means to be done in a certain way, that is planned and done with anawareness of the end to be achieved. Finding quiet time, time to be alone and rest in God requires planning and effort from us, the seeker. Hearing God’s voice, wisdom and IMG_0305direction is less effective when left to chance and approached in a haphazard way.

      My blog is an example of an effort to be intentional. I  begin with my quiet time seeking God’s inspiration and leading and finish with thoughts, written down to be shared with others. The past two weeks I have had workers in and out my house, grandchildren to babysit, phone calls and interruptions. Finding the quiet time has been difficult. I feel like the person in the parable from Luke who wasn’t able to finish the work, when I want to be like the woman who sweeps the floor until she finds the coin-persistent.

     How can I better find, schedule and keep my appointment with the Lord?

     Lord help me to be more intentional. Accomplishing work for your kingdom, not as a haphazard endeavor, but planned for best rest results. Lord you are always present and faithful, inspire me to do my part and keep my appointment with you the King. Amen

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When Things Change

God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.        (Psalm 46:1-2)

     Things are changing. Remodeling a bathroom changes everything. Workers run throughout my house like ants. The contents of closets and cupboards are emptied, boxed up and stacked about the house. I have lost my routine, I have lost all calmness in my home. Dust and noise haunt my dreams.

     Sometimes God remodels our lives. Jobs, finances, relationships, homes, or churches can change or be altered. We feel emptied, we feel lost. The routines that brought us calm are disrupted.

     When the workers are done, my house will not be the same. I hope it will be better. God is steadfast and when changes occur in the world around me I will not be the same, I hope I will be better. IMG_1204

Posted in God's Perfect Design | Leave a comment

Strengthen Me

So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.             (Psalm 41:10 NIV)

I led worship one Sunday and after the service a gentleman stopped me. He explained that surgery had been scheduled and he needed prayers. “I am worried I will not have the strength to face this, I mean people here look to me and my faith as an example and I don’t want to let them down, I don’t want to lose my faith.” His concern was not for physical strength, but for spiritual strength.

There are many times in our lives when know we need more strength. Five things we can do to feel God’s strength:

  1. Prayer. There is not substitute for time alone with God.
  2. Read Scripture. Especially read stories of God’s healing power: body, mind, soul and strength.
  3. Pray with friends. Praying with others has its own special power.
  4. Ask others to pray for you. Being the recipient of the prayer willIMG_1209 gives strength.
  5. Follow God’s advice to Gideon:Go in the strength you have.” (Judges 6:14) Be confident that God will give you just the strength you need for that time and place.

 

Posted in Quiet time with God | Leave a comment

Stumble and Fall

If you want to live well, make sure you understand all of this. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll learn this from the inside out. God’s paths get you where you want to go. Right-living people walk them easily; Wrong-living people are always tripping and stumbling. (Hosea 14:9 Message Bible)

Stumble means to lose your balance–to fall, and that can hurt, even lead to injury. Learning to live a life that is physically, mentally, emotionally and spritiually fulfilling and rewarding means learning to keep your life in balance.

Many times in my life I thought I could handle it all; work, family obligaitons , church, writing deadlines, bookkeeping, continuing ed classes, home responsibilities, the todo list. I thought I was handling it all. I was wrong, but I took too many shortcuts with my health and well-being. I was exhausted and did not know how to make changes.

I tried to keep up appearances. I was the guy from the Ed Sullivan show who kept all the plates spinning on tall poles, except my plates were falling and crashing to the floor. I felt like I was falling and crashing. That is when God grabbed me by the collar and said, “Sit down, we need to talk.” That is when I canceled everything, no meetings, no classes, no appointments, no deadlines.

My story is of how God taught me to have more balance in my life. Future posts will share my insights and strategies into how I was able to find better balance, beginning with a solid base–quiet time with God. Feeling God’s presence, listening to God’s guidance and experiencing a new sense of hope and joy.

I invite you to go to the page with prayer, and begin by asking God for his help.

Posted in Quiet time with God | Leave a comment

Psalm 18-Who is God

 Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name. (Matthew 6:9 NIV)

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray he began with praise and honor for our Heavenly Father. To begin prayer with praise of who God is reminds us of whom we are talking to.

This morning I read from the Psalms and was delighted to fine this passage, filled with words of praise. What  beautiful reminders of who God is to us.

“I love you, LORD, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:1-2 NIV)

You Lord are:

Strength-you are the source of power and perseverance                                                         Rock- you are unmoving                                                                                                            Fortress- you are my protector                                                                                                Deliverer- you are my redeemer                                                                                                  Refuge- you are my safe place                                                                                                        Shield- you cover me                                                                                                                           Horn of my salvation-you are my Savior                                                                                                                           Stronghold- you are unwavering therefore I can trust in you

Praise God for this wonderful reminder-that brings gladness to our hearts.

 

Posted in God's Perfect Design | Leave a comment

Psalm 103: A Psalm for Balance

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mimd and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30 NIV)

     Christ reminds us that we are to be spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically connected as the person God created and called us to be. Psalm 103:1-5  gives us another example. This scripture also  addresses all four areas of balance. Each area of balance has been noted in brackets.

  1. “Praise the Lord, O my soul; [Spiritually]

All my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2. Praise the Lord, O my soul,

And forget not all his benefits—[Mentally]

  1. Who forgives all your sins

And heals all your diseases, [Physically]

  1. Who redeems your life from the pit

And crowns you with love and compassion, [Emotionally]

  1. Who satisfies your desires

With good things

So that your youth is

Renewed like the eagle’s.”

My next post will define each area and how it relates back to God.

Posted in God's Perfect Design | Leave a comment

God’s Design: Created for Balance

As long as the earth endures seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease. Genesis 8:22 NIV

God created us and the world in balance. Seeking that balance provides for optimal living. Scripture has many convicting truths regarding God’s intention for balance in the world.

The Creation Story reminds us that the earth was created from the beginning in balance: night and day, earth and sky, sun and moon, male and female. Genesis 1-2

When the flood waters receded in Noah’s day, God promised a return to equilibrium in the days and seasons as in the above  Genesis quote.

The writer of Ecclesiastes teaches us that life has a natural rhythm and balance. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV

The most convincing for me is when Jesus explains that we are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30 NIV

We are to be spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically the person God created us to be. We are given one body, one mind, and one spirit and only one. Doesn’t it therefore, make sense that we should value and care for ourselves? And when we do, wouldn’t the logical result be that we are able to better care for those we love and to accomplish more of what God has called us to do? Therefore, if we are really going to learn how to find the balance that God designed for our lives, doesn’t it stand to reason that spending time with the creator, time in his presence,  best way to learn how to bring about that balance. IMG_0972

Quiet time with God is the first positive step toward a more joyful and hopeful life, a life in balance. Stay with me as we discover together God’s design for a balanced lifestyle.

 

Posted in God's Perfect Design | Leave a comment

The Beginning and a Conversation with God

                            But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. (Job 4:5 NIV)

     No one sets out to create a life that falls out of balance. It happens slowly. Disease. The word itself helps to define the problem. “Dis” is the prefix and means “not,” followed by the syllable “ease.” Perhaps it begins with a crises or many little problems that add up.

I did not feel ease. I had experienced too much in too short of time.  I continued to keep up my responsibilites as book keeper for our family business and working as a part time pastor at a small rural church.  I took seminary classes.  I read books on creativity. I tried new things. I wrote a family cookbook. I began my new role as empty nester.

Physically,  emotionally and spritiually depleted I began looking for answers. I saw physicians, looking for medical reasons and tried medications. Most importantly, though, I  sat down each night, opened my Bible and prayer journal and began a serious conversation with God. The result was a book on seeking balance. Now I am sharing devotions that others can use to help find balance.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment