Forgiveness from Me Led to My Father Receiving Forgiveness from God

One year ago,  I went to see the movie I Can Only Imagine and wrote this. It is a post I felt I should share again today.

.This is not a movie review. It is me sharing about how forgiveness led to my father, who was an alcoholic, coming to know Jesus in the final year of his life partly because I told him I had forgiven him a long time ago. I guess that is the point of a movie, to make one think about life. I am still kind of in the midst of memories flooding my mind as I write, but as with other things in my life, my hope is that by sharing even one person can be touched and helped.

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My intention is not to recount my father’s sins and shortcomings. I think when I say alcoholic it says enough and you can fill in the blanks. He did get sober and live sober the last almost thirty years of his life, but he never was able to talk with me directly for the making amends step. I would see him but there was no real conversation or connection even after he got sober.

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The path I chose for my life was to follow my Savior Jesus and try to live for him. It was a choice my father never seemed to approve of but the only approval I was seeking was that of my Lord Jesus. I tried to share my faith with my father at different times but he never wanted to hear it.

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In February 2008 I received a phone call telling me my father was in the hospital and that it was dire. I got there and found out his heart was weak and that he needed a quintuple bypass if they could get some other issues under control. I was alone with him in the room and felt it was time to talk. The first thing I told him was that he knew what I was about to share with him, but there was something he needed to know first. I told him I had forgiven him a long time ago. When he heard me say that, tears came trickling out of his eyes. Because he knew and felt I had forgiven him, he was open to the rest of what I wanted to share. After sharing with him about Jesus, I asked him if he wanted Jesus to forgive him and that if he did to give a thumbs up because he couldn’t speak very well. He raised both hands high in the air to give two thumbs up.

The following 14 months, he was in and out of the hospital. He was living in a nursing home. I visited him three or four times a week in the nursing home and spent a lot of time with him in the hospitals. Each time I would visit, I would have my bible in my hand and he would point to my bible wanting me to read to him. Then he would put his hand up for me to hold his hand while I prayed with him. I was basically his pastor the last 14 months of his life.

There were small blessings along the way during those 14 months such as when nurses, nursing assistants, or housekeeping workers from other countries would come into his room, I would ask them where they were from and the greet them in their language. In those hospital rooms, my father caught a glimpse into my life.

So maybe this posting is only cathartic on my part. My hope is it helps at least one person to have hope for their loved ones that seem lost to them and to realize that with Jesus, miracles can happen and not give up praying.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

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Do We Take All of the Times God Says Yes for Granted?

I read a couple of blog posts this week that I enjoyed about answers to prayer, one about an answer of no and one about an answer of wait. For me an answer of no is a temporary disappointment that I get over to move on. Wait is an answer more difficult to deal with because then I wonder when.

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The post about no was by jesskidding of jesskidding17.wordpress.com titled The Season of ‘No’. In the post she discusses how she has to say no to her two year old. It is a humorous intro to God saying no.

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The post about wait was by Becoming His Tapestry at becominghistapestry.com titled Say Something….AnythingPlease. She discusses not giving up on God. It is an excellent post to read.

I enjoyed reading both of the posts. They caused me to think about my responses to God’s answers of no and wait. Then I thought about something else. There are hundreds perhaps thousands of yes answers that I take for granted. I would like to encourage us to think about the every day yeses that we can too easily take for granted.

What got me to thinking about the every day yeses we take for granted was actually jesskidding’s post. When I read it, I thought about all of the yeses she gives her child every day as do all moms such as yes you can have a hug, yes I will tuck you in, yes we can read a book etc. Moms say yes so many times to their children, but kids can tend to focus on being told no.

Then I thought about all of the yeses God says to us at times without us even asking. Yes, I am always with you. Yes, you can be with me forever in heaven because of Jesus. Yes, you can have friends at church. Yes, you can have air to breathe. The yeses are endless when it comes to God, but we focus on the nos and the waits. I think we tend to take all of the wonderful yeses for granted.

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Have you ever wondered how God feels about us taking him for granted? One time Jesus healed 10 people who has leprosy but only one returned after showing himself to the priest for confirmation to thank Jesus. The man was a Samaritan who Jews considered foreigners. Jesus’s response was in Luke 17:

“Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

A good way to not take the yeses for granted is to take time to thank God and appreciate him. In the morning, I like to start my day listening to worship music and praying. One thing I try to do is thank God for the classes I teach, the opportunities he gives me etc. I think taking time to do so in the mornings has helped me with the depression that accompanies the chronic illnesses I live with.

But there are way too many other things I forget or neglect to thank him for. This blog post of mine is an expression of me feeling convicted that I need to thank God for more of the wonderful ways he cares for me.

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I don’t want to take the every day yeses for granted. God says yes to us every day in numerous ways.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Chronic Illness- How I Start My Days and Spotlight on a New Blogger

Living with chronic conditions such as Fibromyalgia and Celiacs necessitates a certain amount of taking care of myself. There is an abundant amount of information available to learn about coping and managing life with chronic conditions. However, for me, the first place to start each day is to spend time with God.

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A simple yet profound bible verse grabbed my attention years ago in Luke 5:

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

That is in the middle of a chapter about miracles Jesus did. The image I have from that chapter is of Jesus healing people everywhere he went and yet Jesus felt the need for alone time with our God our Father.

Living with chronic conditions or with any issues whether they are depression, anxiety, past abuse, family problems, or just life in general, it is comforting to know that God wants us to come to him. He wants us to spend time with him.

I loved the way a new blogger I follow, Britt @ Still Need Grace,  wrote about our need for prayer in her post Self Care Life Hack. It is a good post to read, and I want to spotlight her blog and post today. 🙂

Living with a chronic condition means there are times I have no energy. It means I understand I have limitations that I ignored for many years. I would just push through it. Yes, there are things I need to do to take care of myself such as being vigilant about what I eat, taking medication, getting rest, and sometimes saying no to doing things.

But the number one thing for me is to start my morning with time with God in prayer and listening to worship music. I have mornings that I literally start by telling Jesus, “I have no energy. Please love people through me and carry me through this day.”

My thinking on this is simple, If Jesus felt the need to have alone time with God our Father, how much more do I need to.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Please Pray for My Home State- Nebraska

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Normally I drink my coffee out of a mug to save on paper, but due to water restrictions all coffee shops are only serving in paper cups to reduce dish washing.

My home state Nebraska is having terrible flooding problems in many locations. It is the result of ice thawing on rivers while at the same time a huge storm came and dumped either a lot of rain or snow last week. Numerous towns have been evacuated. Bridges and roads have been washed away.

If you want to see how bad it is here, google Nebraska flood and you can see pictures. It is so bad that a Spanish speaking network based out of Florida ran a story about it.

My home city Lincoln has not been flooded mostly because we are not close to a river. But we have been affected by the flooding. Power has been an issue for our water wells pumping, so we have a mandatory water restriction use at this time.

Restaurants have been told to serve food on paper plates to greatly reduce dish washing. Yesterday a friend took me to lunch to support a local coffee shop at this time. I had a sandwich on gluten free bread.

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Car washes have closed. There was a run on bottled water today. Fortunately I was able to buy 3 packages of 24 bottles of water yesterday morning before the run started. Last night a friend spent 2 hours waiting to buy bottled water.

People are stepping up though. Donations are pouring in. Trucks of bailed hay are being donated by farmers in other states for farmers to feed their cattle here. Supermarket chains have donated semi truck loads of food and water to the towns hit hard.

Samaritan’s Purse is in Nebraska to help people affected by the floods. They will be sharing God’s love while at the same time meeting immediate needs. If you would like to help, Samaritan’s Purse is an organization Jesus has raised up to show his love through disaster relief. You can click on Samaritan’s Purse Nebraska.

It will take a long time for some towns to rebuild. Many people have lost everything. We have had flooding before but it has been in one area. This time multiple areas of the state have been hit hard throughout the state.

Please pray for us and prayerfully consider donating.

Thank you. God Bless.

 

My Mornings with 20 Moms-The Teacher’s Unexpected Obstacle

Last weekend I felt it coming on once again- Bronchitis. I ignored it thinking I would get to the doctor and get meds. Monday morning we had one of coldest mornings of the winter, but we still had school, so off I went to teach.

Half of the students braved the brutally cold weather and came to class.  It was a normal class though as we studied. We had an added extra of showing them how to use the school library’s website to access learning programs at home to use with their children.

As the day progressed. so did my symptoms to the point I went to the ER for breathing treatment late in the night. I was there until the early morning hours. I came home, but no time for sleep.

Tuesday morning we had class. I taught with zero hours of sleep. I didn’t tell anyone until after class I told my assistant and asked if she thought class was okay. She was surprised and told me she didn’t notice.

This week is another week on Predisone and other meds. I did not tell my students because I am there for them. They are not there for me. It is my conviction that teachers do not look for needs to be met by students. Teachers are there for the students. I did ask one of the students who I know is a Christian to pray for me in private though.

The rest of this week has been going normally. Tomorrow we will have a celebration morning to celebrate their achievements and hard work before we have spring break next week.

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It seems crazy to think about spring break when spring is nowhere near yet lol.

This may sound crazy but my episode may have been an answer to prayer. Getting an autoimmune issue diagnosed is complicated sometimes and can take months to get an answer. So last week I prayed and ask God to make something evident for the doctor to see to speed up getting diagnosed and voila something happened.

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I woke up with a pinkish/redish rash on my nose and face. It is something that comes and goes but is always gone when I see a doctor. So I took pictures to prove I am not crazy. lol

It is weeks like this one that make me grateful for my ministry trips overseas that helped me get used to doing things while tired. I drew from that experience a lot this week. Next week I will see a rheumatologist and hopefully get some answers.

Next week I will also miss my students. When we come back from spring break it starts a 9 week countdown to our final class and then summer break for my class. After some days of below zero weather, it seems crazy to realize that spring and summer are coming. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Rooms

This was a post a year ago when I first got going with this blog. I wanted to share it again.

In thinking about rooms in my life and what rooms mean, I wonder what rooms come to mind for my readers. When I think of rooms, to be honest, some rooms evoke pleasant wonderful memories, but some rooms I would prefer to forget and leave millions of miles behind me even though they are etched in my mind.

There was a room that as a child was a place full of dread. It was the room I learned to feel I was less than human. It was the room where I was berated and the room where sleep could be cruelly interrupted by a drunken fist. It was a room that led to me never feeling I really belonged anywhere and would always be less than.

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There were many rooms after that but none that felt like home. Never a room that felt settled for me. Never a room where peace resided until one day, in a room, the light of the world welcomed me.

It was a room in a friend’s house. He had a visitor that day, a young woman. In that room, she told me that God loves me. God loves me? What? I am garbage waiting to be hauled way. God loves me? That room led me to a journey of discovery.

As time went on I learned about the Upper Room where Jesus told his followers one evening before he was crucified that he longed for that time to share the first Lord’s supper with them. That room had great meaning for people like me. Jesus longed for me to know him and to join him too just like his disciples.

I learned about how Jesus taught his disciples that in his father’s house there are many places and that if he goes, it is better for them because if he goes, he will prepare a room for them.

Jesus drew me into his presence in a special secret room for me. It was a prayer room in a church that was filled with his presence and where he taught me that I am not garbage. In that room, I learned how he felt about many things. It was so wonderful that I never wanted to leave that room, but he wanted me to leave that room so I could help others to know about the rooms in his father’s house.

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But some rooms after that were again rooms I dreaded where doctors told me things like my liver and heart were not working well until they found the cause that a pill each day would keep me healthy.

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All of these rooms led me to the room that is so special to me. It is a room that has connected me to the world, a room at my church. In that room people from numerous countries have come for help with English and many have heard about how Jesus wants all to have a room in his father’s house in heaven. Many have come to believe in Jesus in that room. Much laughter has occurred in that room and also some tears. Shared life among diverse cultures has happened in that room. It is this room that I am most fond of in all of my life. This room feels like my home away from home until I reach my final homeroom in The Father’s house thanks to Jesus.

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But those doctors’ rooms came back last year as I went from doctor to doctor to find out once again that I had another autoimmune problem. Such rooms made my blood pressure go up.

Then after finding out I have Celiacs, I had to become gluten free. After that the foggy brain went away and I began to write again. The creative side of me reawakened by the light of the world and another room has become a home away from home as I write.

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The question I try to ask each day is this- Is there room in my heart for Jesus?

What room is special to you? Or is there a room that Jesus can help you overcome as he did me?

What Got Me Started in My Ministry/Spotlight on a New Blogger

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In 1990 I read a book, Tortured for Christ, that was the spark in my life for interest in Romania. Tortured for Christ is the true story of Rev. Wurmbrand who was imprisoned and tortured by the communist regime in Romania. He was allowed to leave the country and eventually made his to the U.S. where he founded the ministry Voice of the Martyrs.

When I read the book, there was a prompting in my spirit and I thought, someday I must go to Romania. Fast forward to December 1996 shortly after the Lord intervened in a health crisis sparing my life, one day that month in worship service it was announced they wanted people to go to Constanta Romania in June 1997 for an Outreach English Camp. Lightning bolt in my spirit time- I signed up for it and went for the first of my seven trips to Romania.

That trip in June 1997 began my journey to discovering the ministry the Lord has called me to today. There have been numerous ups and downs over the years. The Lord has blessed me to know people from literally all over the world. I know personally how much it means to have people praying for me. There have been so many wonderful blessings over the years because of the Lord answering the prayers of people praying for me.

Billy Graham was once asked what the keys to the success of his ministry were, He replied “Three things, prayer, prayer, and prayer.” Anyone in ministry can attest to how important it is to have people praying for us.

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I recently found a new blogger from the UK. She is in Uganda having recently arrived there for missions. I am not sure how long she will be there, but it was such a blessing to read her Letters from Uganda. Her name is Laura. Her most recent post January 25 was Finding My Feet about her first days in her mission in Uganda.

Her blog is Lauras Letters from Uganda at lauraslettersfromuganda.com.

I want to ask my readers to do something. Go to her blog, pray for her, and leave her a message that you prayed for her. I know from personal experience the hardships and the blessings  in missions work. It could be a huge encouragement for this young sister in Christ if other bloggers left her a message that they prayed for her.

This is the kind of spotlight on other bloggers post I envision doing this year. A post that is meaningful and goes beyond the normal blog networking kind of spotlight on bloggers.

My hope is to bless other bloggers but also beyond that I think of what we are exhorted to do in Hebrews 10:

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”

Thank you for reading. God Bless

 

My Mornings with 20 Moms- Welcoming a New Student

It was all planned. It is time for the moms to have their second round of testing to measure progress. I implored them all to be in class yesterday for the testing. We had practiced conversation extensively the last two weeks to help them be ready for an oral English test. Wednesday came and NO CLASS because of the extreme cold. School was canceled yesterday, so no testing. Best laid plans of mice and men lol. With class being canceled it also meant no Kathleen Day in class, but that was okay because my wonderful volunteer Kathleen was in Denver visiting grandchildren.

Something special did happen this week. We had a new student begin class. She is from Southern Sudan. She is our first Sudanese mom in class. The other students have been together since September and a sense of community has already been developed among them. Realizing that the teacher sets the tone, her first day with us in class, I welcomed her so all of the students could see me welcome her.

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She was sitting with a few of my Hispanic moms in class. She has lived here long enough to know that my Hispanic moms share the same or similar faith as she does. I started the class by saying to her, “Welcome to my class. I am the teacher. I am SO HAPPY you are in my class.” I did that for two reasons, 1- to help her feel welcome, and 2- for my students to see me welcome her and understand they should follow my lead. I also made sure t point out that we now have have moms from six different countries, but they are all here to learn English to help their children thus emphasizing their shared experience.

My new student is shy and eye contact is difficult for her. That might be cultural, it might be because of the oppression she lived under all of her life in Sudan as a religious minority, or both. I also wonder if she has faced racism here. She has been in the U.S. for eight years, but in my city for a few months.

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It was beautiful to see one of my Hispanic moms take her under her wing in class. It was also beautiful to see other moms interact with her, help her, and welcome her. This week has been a great reminder of why I love to teach Family Literacy. I can empower moms with English, so they can help their children. Family Literacy is a specialized program where we teach parents English Second Language and connect it with their children;s education.

Today we do have class. This morning I spent some time praying for the moms and their needs. It will be warmer today. We will see how many come because the morning will still be very cold. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless

 

Rest? Who Me?

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Sometimes I daydream about being at the beach in a hammock like in the picture, but I am fully aware it is only a daydream. I think after a half hour I would start to feel restless and look for something to do such as trying to meet people.

Rest is something that isn’t always on my agenda. Even if there is something rest would help me with such as my recent injury to my shoulder. I have always been this way. When I was twelve years old and playing football, I was a starter on defense for a team that won the city championship that year. In the 4th game I injured my elbow and had to go the the ER. I hated missing game time the next two weeks. The final game came and I told my parents and coach my elbow felt good. I did things to prove it. It wasn’t 100% more like 70% better but I wanted in that championship game. I played most of the game but aggravated the injury to the point my grandfather had to cut my food at Thanksgiving dinner that year. However, we won the game, finished undefeated and in that final game I had several tackles 🙂

On Friday I had an appointment with my young friend from Brazil to teach her English at my church, The same student I met with right after I injured my shoulder. I came home from my morning class Friday and received a message from the pastor whose family she is staying with. He let me know she wasn’t feeling well and needed to stay home. His message ended with, “Maybe that will give you time to rest.” My first reaction was like twelve year me who wanted to get right back into things.

Rest? I sometimes take a brief nap if I am really tired, but that isn’t necessarily rest. Our bodies, spirits, and minds do need rest at times.

Jesus spoke of giving rest to our souls if we come to him in Matthew 11:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”

In the creation story, God rested on the seventh day. He didn’t take a nap. His work of creation was finished and he enjoyed his beautiful artwork of creation.

So after a few moments of trying to figure out someone to visit and reach out to, it hit that maybe it was an opportune time to take time for myself. I spent time in the afternoon listening to worship music, reading blogs, and relaxing at home. I read a little more and watched shows on Netflix.

Saturday morning I met with a student at church, stopped by the store, and spent the afternoon and evening repeating what I had done Friday.

This morning I will be at church and then spend time with friends from Iran, but the evening will take time to relax. Rest helps the body heal, helps refresh us mentally and spiritually. For me the trick is slowing down to rest and relax. It is okay to occasionally take a little time to refresh.

Tomorrow it is back to full schedule 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

My Mornings with 20 Moms- A Snowy Morning and Testing

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As I drove to school yesterday morning on the icy snowy streets, I wondered how many of the moms in my class would make it. They live in the neighborhood of the school, but the landlords for the buildings in the neighborhood don’t do a good job of making sure sidewalks are clear. Also, all of my students come from warm climates where it never snows.

I was happy to see that ten of my moms braved the cold morning after the snow day and came to class.

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Our wonderful volunteer Kathleen came braving the elements. She went to her grandson’s school first to listen to him sing. When she walked in the room, the moms were happy to see she made it. I had told them that maybe she wouldn’t because she lived across town and the streets are not good.

We mostly practiced conversation since many moms were missing. We split into two groups, one my assistant led and the other I did along with Kathleen. When my students get tested, it is an oral skills test and all of the testers are women, so it helps the moms to have a woman asking them questions for practice.

The tester came yesterday braving the icy snowy morning. We only got three tested because the first two took a long time, which is always a good sign. It means they are talking more. I held back my highest level student from testing.

Part of being a teacher is being in tune with who my students are as people.

My highest level student is a shy woman with a very gentle spirit and having a bad start to the day affects her. If the morning is a good one, she amazes me with how much she has learned and how well she communicates. When the morning is a rough one like yesterday, she withdraws more into herself. Yesterday she came a little late due to the conditions and I could see right away when she came into class that it was a difficult morning for her. So I held her back from testing.

Today we will have Kelly the Instructional Technology Coach in the school come and help the moms with computer use. So far this year they have started email accounts, learned how to use google translate to help their kids practice spelling at home, and much more. The moms always love their time with Kelly.

Tomorrow will be our day to go to the school library for the moms to check out books to take home and read with their  kids. The moms love going to the library because they can see Shari who is the school librarian. Shari is so friendly and kind with the moms.  Library days are special for the moms.

The moms are the reason I get out of bed on cold winter mornings and a big motivation for me to pray in the morning. I know their life stories and needs, so I start my day off by praying for them and their families.

Just a glimpse into my mornings with 20 moms.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.