seasons

It took me years to learn patience.

Oh how I prayed for patience for so many years, and what God sent me repeatedly was times where my patience was tried. I thought, how can this be, but he gave me the opportunity to practice it.

Here in Minnesota, it is now March 2, when many of us are SO. OVER. WINTER. My commute to work is approximately 50 miles (one way) and I spend an average of 3-4 hours per day in the car in the winter. I am by now an expert at patience.

This week of course winter persists, and we all wonder when it will ever be over.
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I thought I’d be giving you updates on our maple syruping project by now, but winter says no, not yet. The piles of snow around our land makes it near impossible to do anything on our homesteading level except to walk out to the chicken and goat barns, which is getting increasingly harder to open and shut the doors without continual shovelling out. The roof of our chicken aviary collapsed under the tremendous snow so come spring, there will be rebuilding.

Do you ever feel like that? Besides just winter. When you want something so badly, but God says, no… not yet.  In their wonderful book, “In the Wait” by Holly Holt, Courtney Bobko, Amanda Jass, Chelsea Ritchie and Heidi Anderson, they beautifully share how God moved through them during seasons of adversity and waiting. How God built their faith and revealed a purpose for the waiting,  through cancer, miscarriage, and more.

Now, I don’t know if we actually need quite this much snow, but I do know that arctic tundra (Minnesota), snow provides insulation for the soil, so that the extreme cold temperatures don’t freeze the soil as deep as it would otherwise. If we had no snow, the cold temps could freeze the soil so much that it would affect roots of shrubs and even trees. It also provides a home for some animals and protects them also from the brutal cold.

I’d love to close out in this song Seasons, by Hillsong Worship. It so beautifully illustrates how God doesn’t give up on us. While we might be in a (metaphorical) season, or in the (literal) winter, there is a beautiful reason for the wait. Even if we don’t know what that is yet.

For all I know of seasons,
is that you take your time
Your could have saved us in a second
Instead you sent a child.

 

Until next time, be well my friends ❤

la

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where feet may fail – revisited…

Thank you all for the birthday wishes! This day ~ these past three years have been bitter – but always end up with a sweet lining. I often fret, and worry about this day – leading up to it… You see… today is not only my birthday – but also my Dads…

I swear… I was the luckiest gal to see the Outcry tour with my great friend Vanessa last April 2016. We saw Elevation Worship, Jesus Culture, Kari Jobe, and… Hillsong United LIVE – front – row. Yes – Taya Smith in all of her God given vocal glory – belting out Oceans, literally 50 feet from me.

To say that wasn’t a moving experience…. well – there are just no words…

I’ve now been reviewing these lyrics on a near daily observance since 2013, and…

I thought it would be good to review this song once again – especially since it holds such anchors in my life, and within my own story.

By now, you know the story,and if you need a little history lesson you can always rewind, and take a peak here.

The lyrics of Oceans are still playing out wildly in my life. God never fails. I can say this with assurance. Though He doesn’t always play the chords I expect, the notes he chooses are always right, and always deliberate.

{I Invite you to hit play and listen to this song for the rest of the post}

Sometimes this is hard to swallow.

I often grow and birth such an anxiety about today… worrying relentlessly that my dad is not here to celebrate with me…

I know he is in a better place, but I long to see him. Though intellectually I know he is in a far better place, I want him here. Everything you LOVED about Zeek, you loved about my dad.. If there was ever a TV show about MY family ~ it WAS Parenthood, and my dad WAS Zeek. He was the bedrock of our family… our Zeek to our Parenthood.

He was my anchor – here in the flesh – here on earth.

But I realized today that I need to trust God in this area of my life too. I never saw it before – but right now – right here, he is asking me to get out of the boat, and I’ve been terrified like the other disciples, and stayed put.

Several days leading up to today leave me wondering, and drunk with fear on how am I going to get through today… but.I.always.do. I need to capture these thoughts of anxiety, because today – I realized these feelings of fear and anxiety are not from God.

Today – when things went amazingly well – I realized I can be Peter. I can get out of the boat, and walk on water too. Because Jesus is here right with me. Right now – during these times. God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity (2 Timothy 1:7). 

Today I renew my prayer.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
                  Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Lord – I trust in you – that I can and DO still have a happy birthday. Thank you for those people that you’ve placed around me – that hold me up, and remind me that You’re right there waiting for me… on the water… with Your hand stretched out… ready to catch me if I should fall. Take away these feelings of fear and timidity.

Thank you – that Heaven is a real place – where my dad actually is. Though I have to remind myself that today is my birthday…. July 2 is my dads birthday now. When he entered into heaven – to an eternal celebration that is far better than I could ever imagine.

Help me to celebrate that you granted ME life, for a purpose – and I can feel okay celebrating that – and enjoying that. 

Thank you for your truth- and for speaking so clearly to me today.

I will call upon your name…
and keep my eyes above the waves…
My soul will rest in your embrace…
I am Yours… and You are mine…

Teaching your kids about Christmas

These days, Christmas can be kind of confusing for a Christian kiddo today in America. We try to teach our kids about the REAL meaning of Christmas which is Christ Jesus given to us by a great and wonderful God, but many times that gets buried under a pile of Santa Claus, Saint Nicolas, Elf on the Shelf, and Christmas trees.

In our family we celebrate Saint Nicolas Day. Call it the old Catholic in me, this was and still is one of my very favorite traditions. Each year now Kiki puts out her own boot and hopes for lots of goodies on December 6 when she wakes up.

So I got to thinking… perhaps I aught to really teach her about Christmas this year and the blending of our favorite traditions. Afterall it can get really really confusing, even for adults! I recently (and wrongly) just told some friends that Santa Claus has nothing to do with the Christian Holiday (completely forgetting my Catholic Elementary Education) and that he was a made up guy for Pagans! YIKES!

But as my friend pointed out to me that oh yes Santa is very much tied to Christianity, I apologized and admitted I was wrong.

Well lucky for me, and Kiki (so I don’t go botching that up too) the super cool folks over at What’s in the Bible already had this video’d for me, which is awesome because Kiki absolutely LOVES these guys. Since I’m already doing an on-going blog series on the Jesse Tree – I’ve mashed all of these videos together in one.

Pull up a mug of hot cocoa and marshmallows, and enjoy!

12 Questions of Christmas

Question #1

Question #2

Question #3

Question #4

Question #5

Question #6

Question #7

Question #8

Question #9

Question #10

Question #11

Question #12

Phew! Well I hope you enjoyed and are able to use this tool to teach your own kids about the History of Christmas!

captain

two years ago today marks the date.

of those non-stop phone calls I kept ignoring.

listening to Oceans by Hillsong United. praying those lyrics and etching them into my soul.

two years ago – reminds me where i’ve been

and where I’m going…

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where i’ve been –
Way back in May of 2013 My co-worker and friend Vanessa had sent me this song over Spotify message that simply said, “Today’s song“. Little did I know that the moment I listened to those lyrics I would make them my life prayer over the next several years.

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To be a woman of God who would get out of the boat and follow Jesus onto the water. To have faith that ran as deep as the Mariana Trench and beyond.

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Through waters uncharted my soul will embark
I’ll follow Your voice straight into the dark

After several repeated phone calls from my mother on July 1, 2014 – I answered the phone. Nothing but Jesus could have prepared me for that proverbial gut punch. “Your dad has choked on his breakfast… lost consciousness…heart stopped…. on a ventilator….in a coma…. come quickly.” The words bled together.

Tearing my laptop out of the wall at work – just ahead of the Red, White & Boom! TC Half Marathon that I am Course Chair for – I ripped off to St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, MN.

… and waited

… prayed

…begged

…bargained

…and while my heavenly Captain knew where we were going, I could not understand the course that He charted for us.

Lost in the shallows amidst fear and fog
Your truth is the compass that points me back north

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I believe to this day, that singing those lyrics to Oceans – over and over and over the year prior kept my entire focus on Jesus during the months after. Not projecting, or burying the hurt, but fully trusting that God had it all figured out, and not carrying the burden of trying relentlessly to understand why this happened. Just simply getting out of the boat, and grabbing on to His hand.

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In 2015 I heard this song – Anchor also by Hillsong. Classic. Now that I took the step out of the boat – I had an amazing Anchor of faith to help hold me steady. I knew, whatever the storm was, my vessel would not be blown around, but conversely would stand the test of time.

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That year I saw anchors everywhere. On billboards, Facebook posts, a wedding invitation, and a random gift from my friend Vanessa of an anchor bracelet (which I’ve now turned into a necklace) that I wear to this day.

It’s a glorious reminder that I am anchored in Christ’s amazing strength through any storm, that I won’t blow away, and an abundance of grace and relentless love – each and every day.

where I’m going –
Held up in genius fashion, yet another song from Hillsong for 2016. And isn’t it kind of weird that they’re all so eerily related, and similar, and perfectly progressive?  All relating so perfectly to water. Perhaps this is a spiritual baptism I’m encountering, slowly being transfigured into a new creation.  As if that God of ours knew, and knows exactly what course He is charting.

Like the wind
You’ll guide
Clear the skies before me
And I’ll glide this open sea

My eyes are still focused straight on him.

I am not saying in the least that its easy, or that I never shed a tear. I shed a lot of tears when I allow myself to think about the tragedy that occurred, and I do allow it.

After all – Jesus wept too.

I find myself completely stunned however –  every time I play back the memories. That really… this was My dad. and he really IS gone, and now this is really MY story.

Knowing though – that I have a Captain that knows the path set before me, and how to navigate through the tough waters makes all the difference in the world. I can glide this craft through all waters with Him.

Just shy of three years ago thirteen of us embarked on an epic houseboat adventure in Voyagers National Park! My dad – the captain…

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There was this spot coming out of Crane Lake into Sand Point Lake called the King Williams Narrows. Now – this doesn’t look like much from the photo, but with our huge boat we had mere feet on either side to clear the passage.

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It took knowledge of the distance between the land masses, the specs on the boat, a steady hand, practice from driving river boats in the Navy – trust – lots of calm and patience, and a whole lot of praying to make it through. We all trusted Captain Rich as we knew none of us were skilled enough to clear that tiny passage.

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In the same way, I trust that God, my Captain knows the specs on my life, and the passages I will go through. “I’ve got this”, he says.

The destination that I’ve ended up thus far has been more mind blowingly beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I know that sounds odd given the circumstances, but my faith has exploded, and the peace I have is unexplainable. While darkness separates me and my dad for now – I know we will meet on the shores again. I’m so thankful to Jesus for giving us the opportunity.

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❤ Linds

Countdown to Valentines Day

Valentines Day is just around the corner, and if I’m completely honest, I absolutely love this holiday! My husband and I rarely if ever go out for any kind of fancy dinner nor do we exchange gifts on this date. Maybe its the hearts or the sea of pink red and white, but this holiday stirs up in me all that is good.

With 10 days to go, I’ve been looking at what we are actually celebrating – Love.
Paul speaks a whole bunch to this in 1 Corinthians 13. We’ve all heard it at weddings, and truth be told, maybe glossed over what it all really means.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Of course we could be talking about a romantic love, but if you read through the book of Corinthians the reader isn’t even addressing a romantic love, but an attitude in general we can all embrace.

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Gift my daughter is giving her teacher

Lately when coming across this passage I substitute my own name for the word [love]. So – between now and Valentines Day I would like to take pause, and strive to dive deeper and unpack these verses like a little fortune cookie and list a few practical ways I could live them out.

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Valentine’s my daughter is passing out at class

1. Love is patient and kind. – Thursday February 4
Today I seek to not let the small stuff bother me, and speak with soft words. Now that my daughter eats breakfast at school our mornings are generally less hectic, but I still get impatient with her trying to get on her tights, or if the dogs are going bonkers crazy in the morning because they’ve been cooped up in the crate all night. I seek today – to have a better understanding of all needs, and speak with a more kind spirit.

2. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. – Friday February 5
Man do I love to share (verbally) and when someone shares something about themselves I usually am thinking of something similar that happened to me. And instinctively I usually share my similar circumstance… What I am doing is taking away the speakers glory and being boastful and proud of my own. Conversation is great, but interjecting more often then not is not always required. God gave me one mouth and two ears. On this day I seek to listen more, and speak less.

3. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking – Saturday February 6
I really like getting my own way. Pride overtakes me and convinces me that my way is better, or sometimes do things for my own benefit. On this day, I will look at ways to reach out to others with no agenda of my own.

4. It is not easily angered- Sunday February 7
Today is Super Bowl Sunday! I could let all kinds of things irritate me today. The fact that I plan to cook Venison Bourguignon, which takes all day to make, or the game itself may cause me irritation, or the piles of laundry, or anything. On this day – I will seek to find gratitude in everything I do.

5. It keeps no record of wrongs. – Monday February 8
Without being prideful, I would say I am generally pretty good about not keeping records. I do however let my daughters past mistakes or behaviors shape my attitude how she will be the next time.

6. It does not delight in wrongdoings, but rejoices with the truth.  – Tuesday February 9
As a Christian, I should never rejoice when an injustice has been done, or brush it aside, but conversely I should rejoice when virtues ring out, and when truth is spoken. I would like to look for the true truth in things, and not just go with what is always popular.

7. Love always protects – Wednesday February 10
Sometimes I just give up. After so many attempts its easy to become discouraged. Maybe I slip back into old habits, or my prayer life isn’t as dynamic as it once was. Maybe for you – you’ve been praying and praying for something every day and you have yet to see its completion. But God promises that, “He who began a good work in you WILL see it to completion”. So on this day – even when I feel like the odds are stacked against me – I won’t give up.

8. Never loses faith – Thursday February 11
Even after my father died so suddenly – I did not lose faith. That’s because my house of faith in God is build on a rock,a solid foundation, and not built in haste in the sand. Similarly, build relationships on solid rocks so that they too can stand the tests of time.

9. Love is always hopeful- Friday February 12
Sometimes in the world around me its easy to lose hope. Just take one look at the presidential campaign on either side, ISIS, growing tensions with Russia, and other countries, or just even in my every day walk. – Paul tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” – Philippians 4:6.

10. Endures through every circumstance. – Saturday February 13
If the time has not come for you when the proverbial crap has hit the proverbial fan… it will. And when that time comes, trust that God will be there right with you to the very end of it. He will not leave you or forsake you. If Paul didn’t write this down in his letter to the Romans, I may have come to the same conclusion myself, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

 

You taught my feet to dance…

So yeah – I heard this song not too long ago… which – really God? Really? Goodness you have such a way of speaking right to me through song.

First Oceans… then Anchor- and now Heroes.

Around this time of year – I grow anxious, and think about the disappointment that I feel – that I often keep bundled up inside of me.

You see, today is my 35th birthday and would have been my dad’s 67th birthday.

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He passed away very suddenly July of 2014.

So you see… I grow anxious – and think about the disappointment that I feel surrounding today. Its a real reminder to me that my dad isn’t here any more. More so than any other time of year.

To not blow out the birthday candles together
Playfully bicker about what kind of cake to have, or meal to eat.
And sing obnoxiously to each other on the phone.

And I feel incredibly guilty – or ashamed almost – for feeling sad and disappointed. I know my dad is in heaven… I know he is in a better place.

The brain understands – but the heart still hurts.

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I’m trying though to trust God with my whole heart… not just my mind… and let go… open that clenched fist of my understanding and trust that God has this whole thing figured out. – Proverbs 3:5. Just as I trust intrinsicly that the sun will rise each morning.

The good Lord in heaven is teaching me something this year.
Dancing.

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Life throws up disappointment every where we look. For me – I’m disappointed to end my 33 year tradition with celebrating my birthday with my dad. Maybe for you – you didn’t get into the college you wanted, your future husband is lost and has yet to find you, a job fell through, or someone you know – got that terrible diagnosis.

But learning to dance – on top of that. In spite of that – produces Joy.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers [and sisters] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James 1:2-3)  I have a good Teacher.

Deep joy is rooted not from the things of this earth, or even relationships on this earth, but with my Father in Heaven.

 

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Today I’m singing a new song and dancing a new dance. Old traditions may die – and the bitter sting of knowing that I don’t get to celebrate with my dad for a while still hurts – but I can still choose joy today.

I asked my friends in my house group to surround me in prayer last night – as I was feeling especially sad… and this morning I woke up to a peace that I can’t quite explain. God is so good.

Hallelujah – Hallelujah- you are making all things new….
Hallelujah – Hallelujah- you are making all things new….

I will
Trust
Here in the mystery
I will
Trust
in you completely

Awake my soul
to sing
with your breath in me
I will worship
and you taught me feet
to dance upon disappointment
and I will worship.

 

Simple Gifts

After my trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness this past May – I became acutely aware what I was thankful for – and what I was not. What was important… and what was not.

To start with – we have been incredibly blessed with health! In the past year my daughter went to the doctor ONCE for an ear infection back in January. Blessed doesn’t begin to describe the hand God is giving us. I am so thankful each and every day that we wake up healthy and happy.

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Perhaps it is because my dad died so suddenly back in July of 2014 – that small nuances of life no longer bother me a bit. My patience has increased ten-fold – and I am utterly grateful for each and every breath I take.

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My dad taught me so much about interpersonal relationships. He taught me that human relationships were the most important thing that we can do with other people. The laundry and the lawn can wait – but the real important things of life – are giving your undivided attention to the moments at hand.

If I could be the fraction of a human being that my dad was – I may be doing okay.

I started a list last year – inspired by one of my favorite authors Ann Voskamp – A Thousand Gifts – where I’ve been jotting down all of the things I love and am thankful in life for and living each day as though it were Thanksgiving.

The list items –  may be as minute as watching tiny snow flakes fall to the earth, or gratitude for my amazing family or something as huge as my gratitude for Jesus. Taking full inventory of these Simple Gifts in their most raw form each and every day – even in the ‘minutia’ has expanded my appreciation of life tenfold.

Further – I’m blessed that I live in a country – though there are times that we may feel otherwise – we really are free to worship whomever and whatever we please. I can go to church with my daughter and feel assured that I’m not going to be physically harmed leaving church.

I’ve been working very hard since last May to get my life down to simplicity. I’ve said no to things that while amazing on their own – were emptying my bucket and not supporting the things in life I claim to be most important.

I’m thankful I was given the foresight to see that reality for me.

My life really does feel less rushed. I have time for the things that fill my bucket.  – Time to go on a walk with a friend, enjoy a glass of wine on the deck with a neighbor, read my daughter Little House in the Big woods or simply take a nap on a Sunday afternoon.

I’m thankful that I have a place I can go to a few times per year and see the full handiwork of God in nature – away from distractions of technology and the business of life. This place is a true Simple Gift. I’m thankful that I have legs to carry me to this place- and arms to paddle me deep into His amazing wilderness.

Happy Thanksgiving my dear readers. Will you take time to notice how amazing a simple snow flake is, the richness of family and friends around your table and the amazing grace of this life we live.