"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Friday, February 26, 2010

prayer request

We are asking for prayer. Kelly and I are leaving for a week, just the 2 of us. We are praying for a time of rest and relaxation but we are also praying for more than just that. We are also praying for direction for our lives. The next steps that we are supposed to take as we walk out our obedience to Christ, whatever that may be. Where and what is God calling me to? Yes I know- those are some big prayers. But we serve a big God. It is just the two of us going but it is actually 3, Kelly, me and God. And we desire some good time of fellowship with Him, together. That He would bring some clarity of direction, really nothing more than that. We are called to serve Him, which we know. But in what capacity? What “job”? We serve Christ in whatever we do and everywhere is the mission field. So is it in a distant land or right here or somewhere in between? Is it behind a desk or in the field or in a place of business? I want to come back with some sort of plan, but I also don’t want to pressure myself so I don’t enjoy our time. I just want to allow ourselves the freedom to hear from our Father in the peacefulness of the day, lying in the sun. Many of the times that I have heard from God were when I was enjoying His creation and marveling at the beauty He gave us to enjoy. I will ultimately make the decisions but Kelly and I need to be on the same page. And we will if we walk together with our Father. I don’t think it is something you force, it just happens. You do NOT force God to do something; I just trust Him to do something.
God has answered many prayers the last couple of weeks. Kelly’s sister is coming up from Chicago to stay with the kids; the grandparents are going to help out as well. The situation we had with our renters has been resolved. The potential worries and concerns that could have interfered with us being able to fully enjoy our vacation have been taken care of and we are so thankful. Thankful to God for answered prayers, to the grandparents for helping watch the kids and to Kari for being willing to come and stay. Please pray for all of them this next week as well, that everything will go smoothly and all will have an enjoyable time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Here is a quote I read recently that I thought was very good:

“There is something in human nature that just does not want to face the reality that we live in two worlds. We live in the physical, material world where we have jobs, read books, and go about our business. And we live in the spiritual world –and that is a world at war.” --John Eldredge

How often do you think about the spiritual realm and what is taking place there? In this country I would say most do not. In other countries and cultures they do, often because they can see it more easily. In our “post-modern/enlightened” society we try to explain it away, use other terminology, something softer, less threatening or we just downright deny it. But in “less advanced” societies, they know it exists. They embrace it; sometimes the wrong side or sometimes they try and embrace both.
If you look at the world and what is going on with open eyes, you see that evil is working at a frantic pace. Why? Because they know that the time of their end is drawing near. Scripture is clear: things are going to get worse before they get better. So what are you doing to prepare? I am not talking about storing up water, food rations, guns, and ammo. If that is where you are putting your trust, it is in the wrong place. Don’t misunderstand, it is not wrong to prepare materially. But are you prepared spiritually? Have you, are you, preparing spiritually for the coming of Christ? Are you doing your assignments that have been given by God?
I have been thinking about this last week’s sermon about being spiritual parents. How many of us are childless in that area? How many of us take the time and work involved to be spiritual parents to someone else? Do you not feel mature enough to do it? If so, why? And at what point will you be? What are you doing to get there? This is not about some sort of spiritual superiority. It is about opening yourself up to someone else and walking with them, being open and honest. It is not easy to do at first but it does get easier over time as the relationship grows. But the devils of this world will do anything and everything to try and disrupt and destroy what the spirit of God is doing and if you do not understand that, you will be at a huge disadvantage. Do you realize you are in a battle? If not, then you are going into the battle unarmed. Especially as a believer, you ARE going/ARE IN, it’s not a WHEN. You ARE right now, whether you admit it or not. And only a fool goes into battle without weapons and the skill to use them.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I don’t know what exactly has changed but something has. What do I mean? For a long time I have had a difficult time praying. But that has been changing as of late and I am not sure why. There have been numerous times where the compulsion to pray is intense. A couple of years ago it was normal for that to happen but like I said it, has been a couple of years. They are not the prayers that you sit down and say, “Dear God I need help in this” or “Help this person in this.” No, it has been what I call praying in the Spirit. I do not pray in tongues, that is not one of the gifts my Father gave me. HE chose other ones; actually HE gave me the ones I asked for. It is prayer in which I go before the throne of my Father and wait for His leading. It is hard to explain. I pray for people that I would not normally pray for and for things that I would not normally pray for. These are people and things that I believe are brought to mind by the Spirit. It is energizing and draining at the same time. I know that does not make sense. One commonality is that there are often tears involved as I intercede on behalf of someone. Sometimes I do not even understand what I am praying for. I just know to keep praying and when nothing else seems to come I just wait and sit before the throne and spend some time enjoying fellowship with the Father. Subsequently, I have been under some intense spiritual attacks from the enemy. And yes, they are tied together. It is just the way it is. The closer you get to the One, the other wants to pull you away, distract and discourage you. I believe some of it is connected to us being a part of our small group fellowship and what is going on there. I believe and see that God is doing something special. Any time you have a group of people who desire and are passionate about learning, have begun to grow closer together as they grow closer to the Lord…we have an enemy that is not going to like that and will do whatever he can to disrupt it. We (Kel & I) certainly have not and do not feel overly spiritual, especially right now. We look at ourselves and we say “why is he attacking us? We are not a threat.” So the question we want to ask is, what does he know that we don’t? In that there is some comfort, a reassurance that we may not be as far gone as we thought. The Lord is at work, moving us towards “something” that we do not yet see. But that the enemy of God desires to derail (us/it) before it does become clear.

Friday, February 19, 2010

retreat x 2

Kelly is going on a women’s retreat this weekend, from Friday night through Sunday afternoon. I think it will be really good for her to get away for a couple of days and just spend it with a group of women. My prayer (and I ask yours for her) is that this is a good time of fellowship with the other women and more importantly with her Father-a focused time without all the other distractions that are usually present around here, a time of spiritual refreshment. It is something that a lot of us do not typically do but should. Christ often took periodical breaks from life/ministry to seek rest and refreshment. How often do we really do that? And how much more do we need it! If Christ needed it, we certainly do. But we allow life to get in the way. It just goes to show how messed up our priorities are, at least mine are. It’s work-hard work to plan those times of retreat, especially when you have kids. But the reality is it is just as important, if not more, to find the time (when you have kids).
The second retreat is the next Friday, for a week. Kelly and I are taking our first vacation alone. Kelly feels like she needs to justify it somehow but the reality is she doesn’t. We need some time alone, away from everything and everyone. Some time just to focus on each other. Everything has just kind of fallen in place for it. I don’t have to take off work because I don’t have a job. We got a great deal on an all inclusive package, so no worries there. And Kelly’s sister is going to come up from Chicago to stay with the kids. We are both REALLY excited for this trip. The two of us alone! Wow! I am sure there are some that see that and say “that’s dangerous” :-) and maybe it is. Just the thought of sitting on the beach with my wife enjoying the sunshine, walking the beach holding hands puts a smile on my face. Yea, I am kind of a sap, I know. But it is those kinds of memories I long for. There will be a time when it is just us but that time is a few years off and I don’t want to wait for that. We have not had the chance to focus on us and our marriage and for the sake of the family that is the most important thing. With everything we have gone through the last couple of years we have grown closer in some areas and in others we have gone apart. This is an opportunity to get back closer to the same page. That is my prayer for our time away.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fourteen Years

That is how long Kelly and I have been married as of today. We’ve been together for 15 years. Yes, we got married just over a year after our first date; it did not work out to have the wedding on the exact day. How did this all come about? We met at bible school. Yes I said bible school. For some of you, you may find it a little hard to believe that I went to bible school but I did. It was at a time when I was burnt out. I had been dairy farming since I graduated from high school and I needed a break. Truth is, I clearly felt lead by God to go to bible school. I did not understand it; I was not exactly following the Lord at the time but I knew, so I went. I would come home every weekend to get out of the city (the school is in Plymouth). I would come home and hang out with friends and attend a collage age group from church that I was a part of. Dan and Sharon were the leaders and Sharon said to me that she was praying that the Lord would bring me together with the spouse He had chosen for me. I in my arrogance and stupidity told her that there were more important things to be praying for than that. Then she proceeded to rip me a new one and informed me that she can and will pray for whatever she chooses to and that God IS going to answer her prayer! I felt like a complete idiot and I was. 2 weeks later Kelly and I went out on our first date. She still reminds me of that whenever we see them. And I just have to smile. It has been quite the ride… I took a Devils Lake, North Dakota girl from Bible School in Plymouth, Minnesota to Kandiyohi, MN to be a dairy farmer’s wife, then to Zambia, Africa to be a missionary and back to Minnesota for who knows what (our Father knows!) and in all that, we had 7 children. First 4 girls (Cybil, Mariah, Greta, Hailey) than an adoption of a boy (Joe) from Liberia, Africa and then 2 more boys (Myron, Henry). It is safe to say that our 14 years of marriage has been interesting, and I can only imagine what the Lord has in store for the next 14! But one thing is for sure: I am definitely looking forward to it, because I know she will be by my side for it.

I love you Kelly Jo. You are more precious to me than anything this world has to offer because you are a gift from our Father who sits on the throne.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

another quick update

Sorry, just haven't been in the blogging mood lately. Not like we are doing anything else though...

We told our renters to be out by the end of the month-but have new ones moving in the next day. YEAH!!!

We are also going to list our house for sale. We'll see what happens. Can't hurt I guess, doesn't cost us anything to list it :-) It is in the price range where the new homeowner's, even existing homeowner's credit, actually makes a good dent in the price.

Tomorrow we celebrate 14 years of marriage. Well, we may not actually "celebrate" yet. We are looking at a trip to Mexico maybe. We just got our taxes done and there is a little more than we were expecting. In all our years we have never gone away together..anywhere. We didn't even go on a real honeymoon-sorry, Fargo doesn't cut it when you have cows to get back to in two days.
We are negotiating with my SIL to come and stay with the kids while we go. This may be one of those once in a lifetime things for us. We'll see if it works out.

I did get a new ring though! I got a beautiful ruby with diamonds on a gold ban at 7 years, and for 14 years I got an emerald with diamond ring. Gotta love those auctions!

I will see if I can find a wedding photo. They may all still be at my mom's packed away.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Well, it’s been another week. Maybe you are wondering where we have been? Had a whole splurge of posts for a week, then nothing for another week. So, here is a quick update…

Finally tracked our renters down and got about three-fourths of what they owe us. With their security deposit that about covers what they owe us with a little left to pay February utilities. We just told them we’d call it even and they have to be out on the 28th of February. We had served notice at the end of January to pay by the 10th in full or leave. We got this money on the 11th, so according to our agreement, they have to leave. We could actually make them pay or leave in 14 days, but that’s not worth it either and we don’t want to be that way, so we won’t.
We do have another couple coming to look at the house tomorrow who is looking to rent for a few months as they wait for their house to sell in the Cities. Hopefully that will work out.

We are also now throwing out the idea of putting our house on the market since this housing credit is still going. Had we now lived in this huge house for a few months now, I think our house in Kandi would have been fine; but now we are used to more space. I don’t know how we could fit back in. If we have to eventually, that is fine; but now would be the best time to sell if we wanted to. Our house is in the price range where $6500 to $8000 is a good percentage of the cost so it would make good sense for someone to buy.

We haven’t heard anything more back on the job Brian interviewed for. They were still doing a few more applications the last we heard. That’s okay I think. Brian still really doesn’t know what he wants right now, and God is providing in ways so that we are still okay financially to have time to figure it all out. (thinking that tax return is going to come in really handy…)

What else? Been hanging out and trying to walk through some icky things with some friends. You can pray for them. God is faithful and our strong tower. Pray they will turn to Him and not try to be the tower of strength themselves.

You FB friends of Brian may also be wondering what kind of a post Brian wrote that I wouldn’t want him to post :-). This is our struggle—what and why do we say on here what we do? Is it for spite? Revenge? Correction? Rebuke? A sense of Justice? Brian wrote before about his call to be a watchman on the wall. What exactly does that always mean? Do you say what you see and just leave it? How much do you say? How often? We have already felt like one of the things we had to lay down was our “reputation”. We have done that. We have no idea what people “really” say about us. And for the most part, we don’t really care anymore.
There is this sense of justice, informing, wanting people to know the facts before they make decisions. The results or whatever you want to call it are often one of these:
-people just don’t care. It’s not their “department”, not their business. And it is not our place to try to tell them anything.
-they care, but they are in too deep, they don’t feel they could do anything about it even if they knew what to do.
-they care and seek to make change. What happens when they do that is a whole other post.
And what happens to the teller-they are not believed, even ostracized. In a way, again, we just don’t really care about that anymore.
What it now is do we say (anything) as a matter of saying what would be helpful for change, what would be said just to say it, or what our flesh just wants to say to seek our own vengeance. And that is NOT what we want to do. So how do you say (anything) but know you are still called to say (something).
Much of this is of course about our former work, but not all. There are things we see in the “church” that we have strong convictions about. So we (okay, maybe more me) have this check in the back that says, “so and so will think I am talking about this”. That may not be it at all. But if you feel convicted or upset by something we say, maybe you should talk to God about it and see if maybe I should be talking to you. We can’t control what other people think. We can only say what we feel God is telling us to and He will play the rest out in the way He wants to.
So that is a whole bunch of words just to say to pray for our discernment. And even open hearts of people who read our blog. Not that they have to believe and even understand everything we say or believe. But just that their (your) heart is open and listening to God to see if there is something He wants you to at least think about, nail down your own conviction.
And of course, we don’t control anyone else’s computer-you have never HAD to read anything we write :-). You are always free to not come to our site!

Friday, February 5, 2010

If life is to be sustained, hope must remain--even where confidence is wounded and trust is impaired.

Someone we know just pasted this on Facebook. What do you think? Is hope what we must have? If so, what hope? What hope must we have REGARDLESS of how we feel or we think? How do we sustain ourselves? Or do we sustain ourselves? What/who sustains us? Our hope. And what/WHO is our hope? The hymn says, “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus and His righteousness.” Why? Because alone, I am nothing. Alone, I feel like what is the point? Well, sometimes even with my hope I feel that way. Can I imagine what it would be like without that hope? Without the Holy Spirit living and active in me? What would be the point of doing anything?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Talk about awkward. Imagine going into a social setting pretty much naked, knowing that at least some of the people you will see know your secrets. You don’t know how many or who, but you know that some do. And you know that people are going to ask the question: “how are you doing?” Do you really tell them? What if you don’t know? But you know they are expecting some answer beyond “good”. You want to be honest, because that’s what you’ve written about; but obviously timing isn’t always there. And honestly, there are some people you really don’t care to be honest with, because that “community” isn’t there with them. So how do you balance being real with others and being real with yourself and what you are going to say?
That’s part of the price you (we) pay for being real here on the blog/internet. Sometimes it seems a lot easier to be real here than in person. But it can be incredibly intimidating going into any social setting. Part of you thinks, why do I think I am so important? Like anyone here even knows my name or anything I have written about. But yet, some do. And often it is people we wouldn’t expect.
One of Brian’s high school friends just wrote on her blog about her “secret.” And now she feels like she is walking around with an arrow attached to her, labeling her. My labels are different, but I can totally relate.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How does God want to spend me for His kingdom?

Our pastor said/asked this awhile back in a sermon. Quite a different way to look at things, eh? How does God want to SPEND me? Not, how does God want to FULFILL me as I… (whatever) for Him. Doesn’t make it all sound so frilly anymore does it?
I tell you what, we came home feeling SPENT. And instead of feeling anything remotely positive for what we had done to glorify God in our obedience, we felt failures because we came away UNFULFILLED in our expectations of what we thought God wanted. We had (still have?) the wrong perspective.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

refusing the Father's blessings?

Is it okay to refuse the Father’s blessings? If so, how do you do that? If we believe “Father knows best” is it an insult to him not to accept? We ourselves have told others to just accept (a blessing from someone else)-don’t rob another person of the privilege of blessing you. So if we tell God, “no, I don’t want this”, what happens? Will He bless us in another way? Will He refuse to bless you? I highly doubt that. But are you hurting Him by refusing? What if you say, “God, thank you so much for blessing me in this area, but I really can’t take anymore, I don’t want it” or “I don’t think I can handle anymore of this blessing, would you please bless me in another way?” But the Word says He won’t give us more than we can handle (with and through Him). So how do you do it? Should you? Is it okay to ask for a blessing of another kind? Is it okay to take away an avenue of blessing God has for you so He has no option (from the human perspective)?

Monday, February 1, 2010

I still have not heard anything on the job front. Part of me really wonders if it would be a good fit for me. Some of that is just my own apprehension but some of it is the fact it is just a “job”. And I don’t want just a job. The 8 to 5, come home, eat, watch a little tv, talk to the wife and kids, go to bed, can’t wait for the weekend sorta thing. That has never really been my life. We have always had more of the family involvement in our occupations. In the dairy farm it was a family business. The kids helped with chores and Kelly took care of the books. In the mission field it was similar; family was still the main part, we did it together. We did not just all live separate lives and co-habitat in the same house. We were all involved with each other. It is something that both Kelly and I want. I always said that dairy farming would be the best occupation in the world if the cows would just take every Sunday off. We really desire an occupation in which we can all go forward in the same direction together. I see too many families struggling right now and the biggest reason is they are never together. Everyone has their own thing and they are growing in different directions and that is not a good thing for a marriage. Maybe I am just looking for an easier way. I keep trying to think of other possibilities for us and I am not coming up with much. I am trying to think of something that has the potential for everyone to be involved and that is relational in nature with others. Maybe I ask too much? But I am still going to ask. I have seen God provide exactly what I asked and needed in the past, so I say why not again? HE knows my heart desires and that of my wife. Is it selfish to ask such things? To desire such things?