Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Significant Snowmelt

It's still unseasonably cold outdoors, but I haven't ventured out to feel it personally. I'm monitoring the vanishing snow from the warm windows of my living room. Yesterday I was stricken with the third bug of March. For me it was the third flu or something nasty! Unbelievable! I won't belabor the details, but it is getting tedious to be sick every other week! Let's hope April brings relief. Only two of us got it, but that is two too many.
More maple sap was collected and now we have over a gallon of syrup. Lovely. Dogs are feeling spring fever and beg to go out. Blackberry will need a trip to the vet tomorrow as she seems to be showing signs of Lyme Disease. Poor dear. Misty was naughty today and escaped across the road.
I finished "Wesley the Owl," and started "Getting to Heaven," while I've been under the weather. Both interesting. I WISH people would read books like "Getting to Heaven" because they focus on the most important things in life: salvation, love, healing, forgiveness. So positive. So truthful. I haven't the strength to keep up the life story right now, but I've been thinking memories. I guess I think of all the things I have left out! Oh well. I'll pick up the story sometime.
The robins are chirping their good-night song outside. I'm so glad they are back. The chickadees are wildly flying all over the bushes and making nesting noises. Spring is so good!
It's easy to be a little depressed over the Japanese Tsunami and the war in Libya, the unrest in the Middle East and the general anti-Israel attitude. What about the crazy May 21st day of Christ's return and the video about the 12th Imam's soon return? So much confusion and anxiety!
Without Christ's solid promises and commands it would be easy to be discouraged.
But I know He cares for me. He loves me and provides for me. He heals me and lifts me up. He cares for my children.
A little story related in the "Heaven" book: A young mother of six lost her husband when he was in his 30's. She raised all six to be godly successes. What was her secret? She said she made a deal with God: She'd do all the work if He'd do all the worrying! Cute. A good reminder to all of us, right?
Even when there isn't a job, your children run into difficulties away from home, you've been sick...No worries.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

While the Maple Syrup is Cooking

It's really cold outside today, but the sap still ran so my better half is outside manning the fire and cooking down several gallons to the wonderful consistency of syrup. I'm going to try to pick up where I left off on the last chapter.
My senior year started with me in a body brace, unable to march in marching band and otherwise handicapped---until Christmas time. I suffered some humiliation just being in the ugly thing, but it wasn't permanent, so it was bearable. What a relief to be back to normal! I still had a time of physical therapy and gradual strength build-up, but by the time the next summer arrived I was in pretty good shape.
During my senior year I was able to attend a weekly Bible study with a group of people who were similarly excited about the Lord. I met some wonderful people, mostly college-age, who were smart and talented, really wanting to make their lives count for the Lord. One of the leaders was a law student who worked for Tad Jude, a state representative and a Democrat. He was ardently pro-life and though my friend was a conservative he felt he could assist Mr. Jude in good conscience, and he did. Being a legislative aide is quite an good job for someone with an interest in politics or law, and I was caught up in the excitement of Doing Politics. The issue that year was gambling. Our state was considering lifting a ban on horse racing and all the trappings that go with that. It was my friend's job to hunt down all the statistics that favored keeping the ban. I helped out in a small capacity--attending informational meetings and passing out literature against off-track betting. Despite what I thought was overwhelming evidence against gambling of any kind the pro-gambling/horse people had more money to invest in convincing everyone that gambling was in the state's best interest! We "lost" that battle, and I learned a lesson in policy making and how government really works. Soon after that I was asked to help on the phone banks, calling people to ask for them to vote Republican. I was and continue to be conservative, but my biggest political issue has always been being pro-life. I think it is, as Francis Schaeffer said, a litmus test for godly values in a society. When you sacrifice children to selfish motives you are no better than any ancient human sacrificing culture. There really isn't any other way to see it.
My friend went on to a stellar career in law, trying cases before the Supreme Court of the United States. With his brilliant mind and godly values I hope he becomes a judge someday.
I was applying to only one college. Sure hoped I'd get in! Wheaton College, in Illinois, was where both of my brothers attended, and what I had seen of it on Parent's Weekends had impressed me. Chicago seemed fun and not too far from home. I was put on the waiting list, yet I held out on any other college. I knew where I wanted to be!
My eldest brother had brought home from Wheaton, his first year, a very lovely young woman who went by the name of "Day." She was beautiful; tall, slender, and blond, with an angelic face. He was totally in love, and never ever would he feel any different about her. They were married right after they finished college. "Day" was someone I would have loved to have gotten closer to. I'd never had a sister. But that wasn't to be. She had her influence on me in ways that she'd never have known. I can even say that her approval of the man I eventually married tipped the scales in his favor! She was of a superior intelligence--earning her PHD from the University of Chicago in English. She taught at several schools including Wheaton and Trinity International University. She wrote and edited books and was considered by "Christianity Today" to be one of the evangelical "up-and-comers" in a special issue. She was artistic and influential. To her credit, her four children are her greatest legacy, as they are lovely human beings.
Tragically she died of brain cancer several years ago. At the end of her life she could no longer speak. Sad irony for one so adept with words! She did say, "I know my Redeemer liveth." Her death was a final sad chapter for a life of difficult circumstances that came about through her background.
In my story I was able to get to Wheaton myself that fall after graduation. I knew my major. I had tried being a nurses' aide at the local nursing home but failed miserably. I had to quit after two weeks of emotional anguish, caring for these dear old people, watching them die. It just wasn't in me to pursue a career in medicine! Education seemed to be the ticket to the mission field for me. I loved my adviser at Wheaton, Dr. Turner. Funny how I remember him well, but my U of MN advisers---??? I LOVED Wheaton. I jumped in with both feet, determined to make the most of it. I joined a group that spent Saturdays downtown at Watertower Place street evangelizing. I joined the "World Christian" prayer group. I did "Prayer Walks" with one of my best friends all around campus, asking for revival and blessing---even at Wheaton, the bastion of evangelicalism! I attended two different churches regularly: a church that met in a well-known German restaurant downtown in the Loop, known as the Loop Church, (when I got a ride) and a little Brethren church just blocks off of campus. These places were special in broadening my spiritual sights. I've always been fairly open to different types of worship and creeds of Christianity, but naturally as I aged I began to home in on a specific faith worldview. These years were truly monumental in shaping my views.
I'm thankful by parents let me find my own path. I think I've ended up more like the way were than they are now! Does that make sense?!! Funny paradox.
Wheaton had its challenges for me. Theologically I was stretched. I had a very interesting conversation with Gilbert Bilezikian once---he asked me why I thought that God was omniscient! Heady stuff for a mid-western gal. One of my favorite professors was Mark Noll. I loved listening to him lecture.
I enjoyed all my classes, really, but anthropology really bothered me. Something wasn't right there. Something didn't "jive" with my worldview, but I duly participated and got a passing grade. Barely.
Apparently I shared two classes with my future husband. We even lived in the same dorm that freshman year. But we didn't even know that each other existed, or something about like that!
Spring rolled around and my year at Wheaton came to a close. It was to be final, but I didn't realize that then. The nation's woes would have an effect on my future plans! That was the year of the farm crisis. Farmers couldn't pay their bills, and my dad's agriculturally related business was suffering. Tuition was killing him so he made a deal with me: Try out the University of Minnesota for the summer and if I decided to stay in-state he'd throw in a NEW CAR! I signed up for summer session, thinking a foreign language would transfer back to Wheaton just fine. I took Astronomy too, and an English Literature class.
Sometimes in life circumstances really do play a role in directing outcomes. For me this was a classic example, and fascinating to see how God can work intricate patterns to His purpose.
Norwegian twins from western Minnesota joined me for that summer at the U. One I had met at Wheaton. Her sister attended St. Olaf college. They were identical and they were a year ahead of me. They were BLOND, blue-eyed, pretty, and FUN! What a summer we had! As I recall we were all serious students, but living together at my home was no deterrent to having many fun times. My parents loved them both.
Summer session at the U was idyllic, really, and I was willing to make the big transfer.
I have to say something about foreign language here.
As someone who is considering missions knows, language ability is really important, most of the time.
My middle school was quite unusual in offering German to fifth grade on up. I took German, but it was hard for me. I struggled through a couple years of German in high school, also. I took 2 years of Spanish in High School as well. I decided German was just too hard. What was I going to study in college?
My best friend at Wheaton, who also had a heart for missions, told me that Turkey was the largest unreached nation in the world at that time. Maybe I should try to take Turkish? Please, not German!! But it was the only foreign language class open for that summer session that I could possibly consider taking. Spanish was full. I was FORCED to take German that summer.
And that's a good place to leave this story hanging.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chapter 2

High School was a real trip, spiritually. My dad's cousin was a missionary to indigenous people groups in Canada. She and her husband lived in northern Minnesota, but they traveled northwards each summer to put on a summer Bible camp for children. This camp was 500 miles north of Winnipeg, Manitoba. In order to get there you had to drive on a dirt road through hundreds of miles of lonesome woods to Thompson. In Thompson you boarded a train that linked Churchill to the rest of the world. No roads for any other vehicle then. After a while the train stopped (for you) at a place in the middle of nowhere (no platform) and you jumped down with all your gear. A short walk through the woods, lugging everything, landed you at a dock where a boat was moored. This large open boat would take you for an hour on a vast inland waterway--to a place on the shore (somewhere) where there stood a few simple buildings. That was camp. When I was 16 I volunteered to help out at this camp, "Midway Bible Camp." I did what I could: lifeguard, cook, athletic director, counselor. What an experience it was! The children were primarily Cree or Eskimo.
I chose to be baptized at camp that year, and I was blessed in a way I never thought possible. The Lord Jesus was becoming more intimate with me and I couldn't get enough of HIM! Fire fell in a spiritual way for me. The power of God became so real to me that I could never deny it. This was what the world needed.
The camp studied the book of Galations that summer and that became my favorite book of the Bible. It spoke to me deeply.
My trip home was memorable. I had to leave before my friends, so I retraced my travels back to Thompson on the boat and train. At Thompson I boarded a bus late at night for the overnight to Winnipeg. Imagine a 16 year-old girl on her own for the first time! There were about two villages on the road back, and the bus stopped at both, in the middle of the night. Alcohol was in the air, at least the odor! I was sitting up close to the driver, but I could hardly sleep all night. As day broke and my anxiety levels rose, God sent an angel in the form of an elderly woman to help me. This kindly lady got on the bus about an hour north of Winnipeg. I felt comforted when she sat down next to me. She looked safe! "Where are you going?" she must have asked me...I don't remember the details...but she said she was going to the airport too and she would go with me there---. I thought that if we told the taxi driver to go to the airport we'd simply end up there, so I wasn't too concerned about safety with this person. She took me under her wing, as soon as we got off the bus at the depot. We got a taxi, got to the airport, and she insisted on paying. I went in the airport and exchanged a few words with her----and that was it! I didn't see her again! I got my plane for home and I just knew God had sent me an angel to get through a rather precarious situation in my young life.
The next summer I was determined to get back to Canada, but something else blocked my way.
I had two horses for pets. One was an old friendly mare, mostly Arab. She had been well trained and was excellent for inexperienced riders. Her disposition was just about perfect. Her offspring, on the other hand, was spirited and bad mannered. He was like a big affectionate dog to me, and I loved him. He was pretty, dark bay with white socks and a white blaze. He followed me like a puppy, but only strong young men were able to ride him easily.
Did I mention that I'm strong-willed? Well, I decided to ride Sheik one fine summer day. I'd been pitched off horses before, and I'd ridden most of my life. No problem, right? Well, Sheik was highly offended that our relationship had changed. Off I went and I landed wrong. My back was broken and I was to have a hospital stay instead of a trip to Canada!
Thankfully my accident wasn't worse. I was ambulatory and my back would heal, but 30 years later I still feel it!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Biography

Here I am on a snowy March day and I've got the laundry put away. I've got the kitchen clean, the floors vacuumed. School is done and youngest daughter is delivered to her much-anticipated Awana program.
Time to write a little for the progeny. Sometimes incidents in your life come up, and you can share a related story from your past that has colored your world. More often we tend to surprise our children with tidbits of the past that don't seem to fit into a whole. Can I give a little bio of myself?
This may take awhile, since I'm close to half a century old now. But let's try to get started.
My life story is a story of faith. I share it in hopes of being witness to Truth and how it has affected me and those around me. I will share the parts that are wholly my own or parts that I deem not to be harmful (at least not deeply so) to other individuals who have affected my life positively or negatively.
I'll start with my family's background:
My two parents were raised in strong Bible believing homes. My dad is the product of immigrant Swedes who had a protestant christian faith. My paternal grandparents were strong members of the Swedish Evangelical Free Church. My mother is the product of Norwegian Lutherans and a Evangelical Free Church pastor. Strong Dispensationalists all.
My dad is a gentle soul who couldn't believe the luck he had when my smart and beautiful mother agreed to marry him. I think of him as someone with deep integrity and strong compassion for everyone he met. He wasn't emotive, except when his funny bone was tickled. He cried hard when I left the country for a year, and that did me in too. I cried the whole plane ride to Europe, feeling so bad I'd been the cause of my dad's tears. Dad was a savvy businessman who never gambled or drank alcohol. He was a product of the University of Minnesota, and some of his life philosophies can be traced to that part of his education. He loved to hear good preaching, and we traveled far to enjoy the sermons or special messages from all sorts of speakers, like "Bible Town," in Boca Raton, FL, or "Founder's Week" at Moody Bible Institute. Often we attended the Evang. Free Church Annual Conference.
My mother is an RN. She loves to read, and she devoted her life to her children and her church. She is artistic, musical, and knowledgeable in so many fields. Gardening and landscaping was a life-long passion she could pursue with the acres of land we had as a family in Minnesota. She loved animals, to the point of letting me, her only daughter who had a passion for them, have them at the expense of other family members. (Horses, cows, dogs, and cats). She raised me to be musical and artistic, but her sense of decor and landscaping never got through to me. I've let her decorate each house I've lived in. When people visit her home they are impressed by the serenity and elegance of it all. She's also a life-long nutritionist, self taught. Organic, healthy food was an integral part of my upbringing. She is a legendary cook.
Some things were important in my home: hospitality, honesty, obedience, reverence for the Lord, cleanliness. My oldest brother (as most oldest children) probably suffered the severest discipline, but he usually deserved it. My second brother is a quieter fellow. Both of them are years older than I, and they were practically a different family when I was growing up. They worked at the family business each summer when school was out when I was old enough to notice. They just weren't around me much.
So this is my story. I became a believer when I responded to an altar call at a children's meeting. I raised my hand at the invitation to receive Christ, and walked forward to meet with a counselor. She was someone I knew from my church, and I prayed with her to receive Christ. I was four years old.
Of course I attended Sunday School and church every Sunday. As I got to school age I went to Pioneer Girls (Monday) and Wednesday night prayer meeting. Faithfully. Sometimes I felt we practically lived at church!
It was a cozy and safe childhood.
Mom was a popular leader for Pioneer Girls. She taught the high school girls, and I felt I sort of knew many of them as her daughter.
Our church was a community church, non-denominational, but it had a mighty missions program. We supported and pledged funds to dozens of missionaries all over the world. Every missions conference we reaped the benefit of hosting new and different people in our home. I was able to meet fascinating individuals. I remember eating breakfast with Pelendo, the famous African Christian.
My dad had a profound respect for missionary doctors. His brother built a cutting-edge hospital in Tandala, Zaire, and this must have really influenced him. I remember my dad encouraging smart young men to become doctors and then enter the mission field. Why wouldn't you do that, if you could?!
One missionary doctor had a deep influence on me. Dr. Olson, a missionary to India, gave a stirring appeal for us to commit our lives to missionary service. I responded. I made a public commitment to pursue a career as a missionary, and that was to shape my high school years and college like nothing else. I was twelve years old.
When I was 13 I got to attend Bill Gothard's Basic Seminar. (IBLP) As an open- hearted and open-minded youngster I soaked up the teaching during that week. It was the beginning of multiple blessings that lasted my whole life! (Now don't just quit reading here...Some people I know and love hate Bill, but for me he was only an encouraging influence)
I decided to make a public stand for Christ in my school. I became known as a rather bold Christian, and I was blessed for it. My friends were from all social strata---the drug users, the rich kids, the "smart" ones. By no means was I popular, but I did become the president of the foreign student club. (Go figure!)
I was also the student band director and I won the "good citizenship" scholarship from the US Bank. I was a member of the National Honors Society and generally a good student. One of my favorite teachers recognized a writing ability in me and I was able to publish a short poem and be involved in a state-wide writer's group. Art was my gift. I am now more of a portrait artist, but I developed as an illustrator of animals. Painting and drawing take so much time, so I've given it up for the present. It's my joy, though, and perhaps in heaven I'll get to pursue it!
My piano skills got me time as an accompanist for band and choir contests. I played the flute and sang in a sextet. Yes.
My singing group started in my freshman year. We seven girls (one played the piano for us) had the fun of touring and giving concerts--even making a much beloved recording of our most popular songs. We formed life friendships, and we all love and serve the Lord to this day! I can say it was the sweetest part of my high school years to have that group and the discipline it required. It's been a joy to watch all of our lives unfold. So much God-given promise, and so much God-given success. It's remarkable really.
That's chapter one. Must go off to the present day.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Back from the Dead (Apparently)

Kiwi and Blackberry have declared that I will live. I wondered about it myself over the past 3 days as I was hit with a "bug" that flattened me with a high fever and other unpleasant symptoms. My black lab and my black cat never left my side. Literally. Kiwi Kitty was constantly curled up, always touching me, usually a leg or foot, and Blackberry was never more than a foot away on the floor beside me. Touching, in an emotional sense! Last night Blackberry chose to sleep on her bed--(in another room!) and Kiwi left me for a nearby chair. Crisis over, I guess.
Animals are wonderful creations.
Interestingly, Misty Corgums never showed the same connection, but this morning (when the other two had checked out) she was the one to demand my attention. She must be a fair weather friend.
The weather has turned here. This morning I saw Canada Geese fly over. I heard bluebird songs, but haven't spotted them. The woodpeckers and nuthatches are busy on the trees outside. A group of crows spent half an hour in the tree tops back of the house early today. I wonder if they are looking for a protein morsel in the form of a bee. Although the snow cover is still pretty thick the bees have been out in the 50 degree weather. One of the hives is gone. The bees ate all the honey and were reduced to a handful. The other hive appears to be okay. We will have to move it soon. These warm days and cold nights are perfect for maple-syrupping---as we call it. My son will get his gear together for this strenuous activity soon.
I am going back to bed. Not ready to join the world yet. Just happy to be over the worst of the virus. What I read of the headlines I doubt anyone wants to be a part of---the mayhem in the aftermath of Japan's earthquake. Bleak stuff.
Margaret showed me an article about the governor of California and how he is trying to help fund the state's deficit through the promotion of his Corgi, Sutter. There really is a movement to promote world peace and welfare through Corgis! We joke about that here at Corgi Hollows, and now it's actually being implemented! Looks like we'll have to jump on the bandwagon.
Happy St. Patrick's Day to all. I'd better get my cook to get the corned beef in the oven. She has shone as a completely capable home-maker during this illness.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japan

Here we are, thinking of and praying for the people of Japan. What a sad day for this country. The earthquake is rated at a 9.1, the largest yet for this country recorded. The tsunami has devastated entire towns. We live in an ominous world right now. Can't you feel it?
Get your spirit ready in Christ. The Holy Spirit's power is absolutely needed to weather the spiritual storm on its way. Weren't you feeling grieved today?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

This Guy I Know Needs a Job

The facts are that our story hasn't changed much for our family in the last few months. No job yet for my husband, and some of the most promising prospects have been tried and found wanting. Yes, it is discouraging, but I remind myself that this is temporary. Something must change withing the next few months.
I'm considering renewing my teaching certificate right now, and that involves several options which all include going back to school.
I've got my GRE study book off the shelf and I'm applying to the local U soon as possible.
I always pictured my self going back to school, but I didn't imagine circumstances would play such a role. I figured it would be a logical end to graduating my last child. Looks like I'll be graduating WITH my last child! Well, we will see. Things can change in a moment when you are looking for work. The next job might land you in Asia, Europe, or South America---or just around the corner.
Where ever we land we must acknowledge God's hand in directing and guiding. I think it is possible to rebel against a perfect outcome (look at the nation of Hebrews in the Old Testament) but when we submit our wills to God and look to Him for direction in life things happen in the best possible way.
How do we know this? God has established a record with history, with the world, with me. Even "little old me."
Even death can factor in here. Like the old fashioned marriage vow, "in sickness and in health, until death..." God is faithful to us when we repent and turn to Him for salvation and forgiveness. God is faithful to provide for us while we remain here on earth. Our spirits will always be nurtured in the hope of our salvation and the fellowship we have with our Creator.
As you know I've been reading some books on Philosophy lately. Philosophy can address the supernatural, metaphysical, ethical, moral, reasonable aspects of existence and attempt to explain ourselves, but until we KNOW GOD in a relationship life just isn't complete. This act of faithful friendship and love nurtured for a minute or a lifetime is truly faith that completes the human existence. It is only experienced by those who know and love God, who act in accordance with His plan laid out in Scripture. Attempts to duplicate or forge such a relationship are doomed from the start. We must enter the arrangement on His terms. After all, He is God. He set the order from the beginning. Spiritual blindness is a result from the fall.
All this to say that I am resting. Discouraged, yes, because life happens, and we do have troubles. I am looking forward to seeing what plays out in our next weeks and months, because God IS faithful to those who love Him and have a relationship with Him.
Have you ever considered the cost of taking up the cross? It could mean hardship. But let's pray that God is glorified ultimately in whatever outcome. One thing I know: I must share Christ. I must preach the good news where ever we land.
Time seems to be short-lived. The Middle East is in turmoil, Europe struggles with despondency and post modern thought, and the noose tightens on our individual freedoms, our country's sovereignty, even our economic system! You can't turn on your internet without being amazed at the speed of change in the world! Time is just another creation of the Lord's, and it seems to be winding up (or down).
In Him we live and move and have our being. And work. I'm looking forward to the next chapter of work for my husband and for me.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pebble

I did come down with the dreaded virus that seems to be going around everywhere. I started drinking carrot juice with my vitamins in hope that the sneezing and congestion will diminish soon. Another snow storm is on its way here--one foot predicted for Monday. The weather is all white outside, the sign of a thick cloud cover. About 20 minutes ago I looked out the kitchen window and saw a massive eagle pumping its wings powerfully flying from the south to the north, winging back westward until I couldn't see it anymore. Its white tail was spread like a rudder. I wonder what it's doing here, and I hope the small birds aren't what it's looking for.
This will be a very busy weekend, as the week has been too. Being sick may not infringe on the rest of life!
For school we took the virtual trip to Israel with Ray Van der Laan. Every day we watched one video (yes, not DVD) and listened to his faith lessons. Today the impressive one to me was seeing the two rocks Ray held at Caesarrea. One was a fragment from Herod's great structures built there around 20 to 40 BC. The other was a pebble. Which person do we remember from scripture most? David, or Herod? God used a pebble to kill Goliath but the entire city of Caesarrea, a wonder for that time, is barely remembered. I must confess that when I visited the ruins there back in 1983 the only thing I thought remarkable was the sea, the rocks, and that we had our car broken into. The structures meant little to me. Sure, the aqua-duct was impressive, and the ruins of the amphitheater, but I didn't understand the lay of the land until I watched the Vanderlaan tape. I think I need to go back to Israel.:)
The faith lesson taught that when you do something for the Lord He will get the credit and make it everlasting. When we do things for ourselves (as Herod did) it is doomed to the halls of archeology, if even that!
I think it is important to leave a record of God's grace worked out in my life. We all need encouragement, and drawing from past blessings can pave a smoother path through current hardship. I have a little pebble here. I know that God gives the increase.