The act of writing, of sharing the circumstances, the gifts and the graces planned and carried out by my Savior and God brings joy, peace, and contentment to know that He has my life in His hands. My prayer for those who read, who share in what I continue to learn each day, many times through my weakness, is that you will be encouraged to look for God's presence and grace in your life also.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When it rains, it pours...

And then I was reading in Lamentations 3.  The book isn't called "Lamentations" for no reason.  It is sad...really sad. A lot of crying out because of life's circumstances.

The trials and hardships of life...they get us down...we struggle with the load when the trials keep coming. And sometimes they do seem to get piled one on top of the other.

And then there is HOPE....
Lamentations 3 (selected verses)
"I am the man who has seen affliction
   under the rod of his wrath;
he has driven and brought me
   into darkness without any light;
surely against me he turns his hand
   again and again the whole day long.

He has made my flesh and my skin waste away;
   he has broken my bones;
he has besieged and enveloped me
   with bitterness and tribulation;
he has made me dwell in darkness
   like the dead of long ago....

He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
   and made me cower in ashes;
ny soul is bereft of peace;
   I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, "My endurance has perished;
   so has my hope from the LORD."

Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
   the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
   and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
   and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
   his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
   "therefore I will hope in him."

The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
   to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
   for the salvation of the Lord."

We see the prophet come to the end of himself through all he has gone through. And again when he gets to the end of himself, "My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD."

BUT then, he remembers...he calls this to mind and then he has hope once again:

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; and his mercies never come to an end."

That just gives me goosebumps.
    His steadfast love never ever ends...
         He loves me forever and ever...
              no matter what I am going through or even how I am going through it.
                   And his mercy, oh his blessed mercy that I need every day, it will never come to an end.

No matter how bad the circumstances,
       no matter how without hope I feel,
             no matter how exhausted I am
all I have to do....all the Holy Spirit needs to do
     is remind me of where my hope is...in God.

It isn't in what is going on around me.  My hope is in the steadfast love and faithfulness of God.
   And so we pray for each other as we go through the trials, as we struggle, as we hurt.
       I pray for you....and you pray for me.

Thank YOU...

#501...the garden in bloom with surprises of color and smell everywhere

$502...cool nights for sleeping

#503...a Spring tea with the widows in our church.  What fun to share with them about the history of tea

#504...son coming to help cut down dead branches...help is so nice

#505...two pounds--lost

#504...ice cubes to cool tea, coffee, soup, water, a burn

#505...the refrigerator that makes them

#506...hiking up Pulpit Rock and seeing the view of the city where I live

#507...spending time with my sister...so close after so long apart

#508...the vegetables growing...provision

#509...water from the mountains to water our gardens and lawns

#510...new little fish in the pond...feeder fish....cheap

#511...one Koi...$3.44...still alive...no bear or Heron or snake

#512...Iris, iris, iris....still blooming

#513...a garden tour to see and enjoy friend's gardens--and tea.  Homemade Hummus with veggies to snack on

#514...Kaylee's HS graduation to attend...lovely

#515...Your work and plan in V.....'s life.


Friday, May 25, 2012

A perfect baby boy...

Today...May 25...a beautiful day.  The sun is shining...at least above the clouds. But I remember another May 25. It was 1977. In Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

I was 29 years old and the sun was shining... above the clouds.

The day before, May 24, I was at home in Miller.  My mother had arrived the day before to help me with Greg and Renee--our third child was due to arrive in a couple of weeks, Larry, was still in the hospital not doing well after surgery to insert a shunt to relieve pressure building in his brain.

Friends (the Melbers and the Fremarks) had driven to Sioux Falls to get me on Saturday after I was told Larry would probably never be able to come home.  He was getting worse and I was trying not to panic. Because the delivery was approaching it had seemed best for me to get back to Miller.

The phone rang around 2 o'clock on Monday.  It was my dear friend Toni, who was now a nurse on the surgical floor where Larry had been since February after the accident.

"Larry is getting worse and they are doing an MRI to see what is going on. Darnly, his vitals are getting worse and worse. I'll call you back as soon as I know something." She told me.

Long story short...a blood clot had formed at the incision sight in his brain. Surgery was scheduled for the next morning.  I remember going in our bedroom and sitting on the bed crying...and praying. When I got up I called another friend, a nurse, who had just quit her job at the hospital.  She came and got me within the hour and we were back on the long road to Sioux Falls and Larry.

For the first time since the accident, he didn't even know who I was. He didn't even seem aware that we were there.  I sat by his bed and prayed.

 Mary Lou and I stayed at the hospital for a couple hours and then went to a motel close to the hospital.

It seemed I had no more than fallen asleep when I woke up realizing that my water had broken.  Later Mary Lou would tell me that she had never seen anyone lose that much water...she told me, "That must have been God's way of protecting the baby in the accident.You didn't even look pregnant afterward."

And so it happened that while Larry was having surgery in one of the operating rooms, I was in a delivery room on the floor below him, giving birth to our third child.

Jeffrey Brian was born shortly after 12 o'clock noon on May 25, two weeks early, weighing 7 pounds 11 ounces. He was perfect.  Dr. DeGeest back in Miller was pleased that Jeff was born in a "big" hospital since there could have been problems because of the accident.

Two hours after his birth, I walked to ICU to see Larry. He was alert and doing well.  The nurses had told him about Jeff. That is one name Larry has never forgotten.

Trusting God isn't easy.  We don't learn to trust when things are going well since then we don't think we need God...or at least we don't think about God much.  But the storms, the trials, the suffering, the really hard times are when God puts his arms around us and says, "Trust Me...lean on Me...cry on my shoulder.  I'm here and I will give you everything you need to get through this."

On May 24, when I was praying in my bedroom, I told God that Larry was His, not mine.  That He loved Larry more than I did. That He could do with Larry as He pleased. I gave up. I remember thinking that my purpose here was to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Life was all about God and I could trust Him with the outcome.

It's funny....or maybe not so funny, but I've had to learn that lesson again and again and in the same way...hard times when I get to the point where I am at the end of "me."

But isn't God good?  In May of 1977, He blessed us with a beautiful, perfect, bouncing, baby boy.

A son God has used to encourage me, challenge me in my spiritual life, make me laugh, make me cry, make me think (he was a philosophy major), and make me very thankful to a sovereign God who knows the plans He has for us...plans for good and not for evil...plans to give us a future and a hope...

Happy Birthday, Jeff!
And Thank You, God, for Jeffrey Brian.

Jeff with Larry at 1 month

Proud sister and brother the day I came home with Jeff.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The LOG in my eye....

Between Ann VosKamp's POSTS  (click to read one or more), A Praying Life,  First Place for Health, memorizing the Sermon on the Mount and my own life, God continues to make one thing clear to me--I score high on the self-righteous side.  I don't mean to...I really don't mean to...but..........

I do it anyway. I look at others and many times before I can help myself, I criticize, I judge, I figure out what they are doing wrong or what they could do better. But this is the time, according to Jesus,  that I need to look at me first.

Matthew 7:3 "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

The problem is, I'm not looking for the story that Jesus is writing in my brother's and sister's lives.  He is writing a story...a beautiful story.  One that begins with them being covered in the righteousness of Christ--they are in a white gown with not even one black mark on that robe.  Sure they struggle with sin but God is working on that.  He is sanctifying them...the process is in place....the promise of completion has been made for them and for me when we see Jesus face-to-face.

And so I pray...
I pray for the Holy Spirit to remind me of His constant presence.
    I pray for His help to see that robe on every brother and sister in Christ.
           I pray for His opening my eyes to see the story He is writing in each life.
                  And I ask Him to help me give thanks for His work in each of us
                   even if I don't see exactly what He is doing....
because you see, I prayed and He promises if we ask, He will do it.

Hebrews 12:18-20 "Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.  I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner."Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."

[Don't you just love ladybugs? Look for them in both of these pictures.Do you know that lady bugs can eat up to 100 aphids a day?  And their eggs hatch in 3-4 days?
THANK YOU, Lord, for lady bugs...each and every one.]

Monday, May 14, 2012

Caring for Larry and Loving him well...

Once again....
Yes, once again I am surprised, convicted, amazed and relieved that everything I do is only by God's grace.

Yesterday morning one of our pastors, Jason Tippetts, prayed for something that I've never heard prayed for from the pulpit before..

"...and for the caregivers. Help them to care for and love well those you have placed in their care..."

I caught my breath, tears filled my eyes and I said "Thank YOU."  How much I need that prayer because sometimes it is just plain hard to "care for" and "love well" when:
    it has been so long...
       the days are long...
           life seems unfair....
               there isn't time...
         God's presence isn't felt...
              "I" surfaces...

Those few words in that prayer reminded me that it is only through God's
            steadfast love,
                & faithfulness
     in me
enabling a needy child to care for and love Larry well. Actions that happen only because of the prayers of others and my own dependence on prayer to a God who is all-sufficient.

Through the years, when someone asks me how I have been able to care for Larry all these years, my answer has always been "God."  But even as I say it I know there are times I am a miserable failure at caring for him.

But maybe, just maybe that is exactly what I need to realize..."I" can't do it.

In chapter 6 of A Praying Life, Paul Miller wrote about how important it is for him to realize his helplessness in dealing with his daughter who has autism.

    "In the world of autism, Kim's pacing is called perseverating.  It got so bad that we consulted her neurologist, who suggested a drug, which we tried, but Kim just gained weight, so we stopped the drug and went back to yelling!
    "Jill and I have saturated Kim's life with prayer, but it dawned on me recently that I had never prayed for her or with her that she would stop pacing.  Why?  Because I already knew the solution: 'Kim needs to stop pacing.  I will tell her to stop pacing.' In other words, I didn't feel helpless.  I knew what to do.  I call this the idiot approach to life.  In other words, 'You idiot, if you would just stop...'"

And so once again God reminds me of my helplessness to fix things and the importance of prayer to enable me to care for Larry and love him well.

You see I get frustrated when he asks me what day it is today over and over. I know he can't remember more than one thing to do at a time...but I tell him  several things he needs to do anyway. I really need him to be able to walk well, and when he doesn't, I really get frustrated.

I need to commit all of this to prayer.  Even prayer with Larry.

Jason's prayer this morning for caregivers encouraged me. We all need to know others understand and are asking for God's help on our behalf. We need to pray for each other desperately.

James 5:16 "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

Ephesians 6:18 "Praying at all times in the Spirt, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,"

I Timothy 2:1 "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people."

And so again I thank
   my God and Savior,
          my Rock and Redeemer,
                my Provider and Lover for:

#476...Using a pastor's prayer to encourage and teach truth and remind

#477...Rain...a little to refresh and cleanse

#478...Two more pounds....lost

#479...View of Garden of the gods with Pikes Peak behind....breathtaking

#480...Camera to capture the beauty

#481...Clouds....Colorado clouds

#482...A sister to spend time with walking the Santa Fe Trail for two hours

#483...Eyes to see YOUR creation

#484...Tables of Eight...time to get to know other brothers and sisters

#485...Children who cook well...Ahi, mushrooms, rhubard custard pie...Mother's Day

#486...The most beautiful orchid ever...lavender

#487...Bear...not coming back for 6 days...

#488...Vegetables...growing...the provision from You

#489...Future daughter-in-law saying "Happy Mother's Day"...joy

#490...Larry...always for Larry...as he was...as he is...and as he will be...the hope

#491...The hope for me...what I will be when I see Jesus face to face

#492...Iris blooming...more colors

#493...Finding English ivy to plant behind waterfall


#495...Tea...iced...White Mango Peach

#496...Ann VasKomp...her Saturday blog of things to do...bless her well

#497...Sarah Young and Jesus Calling...a reminder of YOU everyday

#498...Waterfall and flowers to share with others

#499...Birds in backyard even if all but one bird feeder taken down

If you are new to this blog you might find some of the previous posts interesting and helpful.  Look on the right side of this column to the most popular posts...enjoy and be encouraged in God'  steadfast love and faithfulness.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thank you, Mother....

My mother...
My memories...

Yes, my mother has been home for twenty years...I'll bet she smiles because in Heaven twenty years is like a few hours.  I know she is having the time of her life.

You see before her home-going she said to me, "Darnly, I wish I could tell you that when I get to Heaven, I will think about you.  But I don't think so...It will just be about Jesus."

I still cry when I remember the look on her face that day...the anticipation, the love, the glory. Finally after a life of hard work and living she was going to see Jesus soon!! And she could hardly wait. The song she wanted at her funeral, "Victory in Jesus" truly was her mantra.

I thank God for her love of us, each one of her eight children, and for her love of her Savior. Those two loves of her life shaped what she did and how she did it.

[The picture is of my parents on their wedding day, January 20, 1944.  Dad had just come home from the South Pacific where he had served in the US Marine Corp., second division]

She may have been tough as nails...she probably had to be in order to be heard since she was only 4 feet 10 inches tall; but she was would do anything for anyone in need.

She was "green" before anyone knew what "green" really meant. Lights were meant to turn off, and water was precious, not to be wasted. New clothes were a waste of money, and cookies were rationed one at a time. Kleenex were used like hankerchiefs, paper towels were only used to drain the grease off her delicious raised doughnuts, and disposable diapers were sinful. My dad still says that her frugality and wise use of everything made him rich.

Thank you Mommy for:

*My name...Darnly.  I get to tell people about you because they want to know where the name came from and I tell them FROM YOU. (click to read more)

*Making traditions for us to remember like the hot dog roasts in the back yard July 4th, the birthday cakes for each birthday with every single child blowing out those candles each time (germs were immaterial), and those wonderful Christmas mornings.

*Being tough on me...you taught me to work hard and do my best in everything I did.

*Giving me a well rounded introduction to work...every skill has come in handy at some point in my life.:
      Taking care of the chickens,
     Working in the garden,
      Babysitting little brothers and sisters...changing all those diapers,
      Cleaning the house,
      Hanging clothes on the clothesline...I remember lots of diapers,
      Churning butter that took forever,
      Ironing baskets of clothes,
      Cooking for 10,
      Sewing doll clothes and then my own,
      Helping with the milkings,
     Being kind to neighbors.

Thanks, Mom, for listening.  You were always there sitting at your sewing machine, or at the table each day when we got home from school to listen to the good and the bad.  Your common sense made the problems seem much smaller..

Thanks, Mom, for all the help with homework through those hard high school classes...geometry, bookkeeping, chemistry...the ones you never took since you only got to go through eighth grade.  I realized years later that you actually went through all those classes eight times by the time the last of us graduated.  By then you were pretty "smart."

Thanks, Mom, for continuing to listen as the years went on. You were always interested in what was going on with us, with my children, with my life, and you could always put problems in perspective..."been there, done that."

Thanks, Mom, for coming to help when I needed you...after Greg was born...after Larry was hurt and Jeff was about to be born.  You knew more about taking care of babies than anyone I know.  You were also really good at cleaning out the refrigerator.  I could use your help now if you don't have anything else to do....

Mom, I thank God for you.  I thank Him for the love He gave you for children, the common sense He gave you for guiding them, the skills He gave you to run a home filled with lots of them.

Thanks Mom, I miss you....

And for you, here is your favorite hymn....mine too:

"Victory In Jesus"


Monday, May 7, 2012

REVIVE isn't just for gardens...

"And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail". Isaiah 58:11

Saturday, I worked in my vegetable garden, planting peas, lettuce, radishes, squash and carrots.  One of the things I love doing each year is figuring out where I am going to plant the various things. Plants need to be in different spots than last year so they don't pick up diseases.

In the end it all looks like a jumbled mess because everything gets planted so closely together but it is fun to start out organized.

After deciding to plant the carrots at the bottom of the plot where I had the cucumbers last year, I used the hoe to make a wide swath in the soil and then I watered it thoroughly only to figure out later that the soil would not absorb the water. [Now I understand why the cucumbers last year required watering EVERY day.]  The water just slid off of the top of the soil. Finally I worked in a couple of buckets of compost which helped. 

Later, I was talking to my son and he told me to go get some REVIVE fertilizer and sprinkle on that part of the garden since that is helps condition the soil to absorb the water better.

And isn't that just like us in our walk with the Lord.  At times we feel "well-watered." At other times very dry...the Word seems to just slide off our hearts.  It doesn't sink in.

"With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." Isaiah12:3 

We love the times when with joy we know God's presence; we see Him at work all around us; we find ourselves grateful for all He does.

We want our thirst to be quenched
    We want to know God's presence 
          We want to see His grace, His love
                We want what the old hymn "I Come to the Garden Alone" talks about:
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own:
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that he gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own:
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

I'd stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own:
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

[For those of you have never heard this hymn, click on THIS]

This is where REVIVE comes in....for us.

Lord, you were favorable to your land,
   you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
  you covered all their sin.   Selah
You withdrew all your wrath;
  you turned from your hot anger.

Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
  and put away your indignation toward us.
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
  that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,
  and grant us your salvation."  Psalm 85:1-7.

It does all come back to God doesn't it?

To His reviving us,
To His steadfast love and faithfulness,
To His salvation.

And so we continue to give thanks for all He does for us...even when we feel dry and thirsty.
And so we ask Him to restore us, to revive us.

And as we wait....
   We pray
      We watch for His work all around us
            We are thankful....Oh, yes, we are thankful!

What am I thankful for this week....

#454... gardens to walk in, work in, be in. No wonder God began man in a garden.

#455...hummingbirds....heard before being seen.

#456...bears...to make me grateful for a son who comes to fix the gate and the once-again broken fence

#457...orange fish in pond...some missing after two visits from bear

#458... Iris in so many colors

#459... new rose bush all ready in full bloom...bright red

#460...a birthday party for a 2-year-old...and all that energy

#461...two pounds...lost

#462...changes coming at church...hard but oh so necessary for "other's" sake

#463...Lupins...in bloom...gorgeous

#464...eating on the patio...in April...warm and beautiful

#465...Super moon...super...super...beautiful

#466...watching Melvin catch and eat Millers...then finding out they are high in fat content and good for cats

#467...thank You for creating Millers good for something

#468...the promise of rain and then the smell and feel of RAIN....

#469...another season of hiking with friends

#470...hiking in Red Rock Cantyon...seeing geese on top of cliff

#471.  snow on Pikes Peak

#472...clean kitchen

#473...tea. . .  Earl Grey... Ginger Peach... Apricot Mango... English Breakfast... Blackberry Sage... Valentine Chocolate... Mango... Irish Breakfast... 

#474...a soft chair on deck to sit and read in

#475...friends who say thank you