Category: Protection


On Tuesday of this week, I sat on a five-mile section of the “Ike“, or Interstate 290 running westward from the Chicago loop, for over an hour.

My traveling companions and I were returning home from an amazing journey God provided, traveling to Concord, North Carolina for my She Speaks writers conference.

We had traveled more than 2000 miles already and sat in the car for nearly eight hours that day, so being only a couple hours from home we were eager to get there.

The GPS told us we were to be expected home at 6:36pm and we knew we were traveling through Chicago at the wrong time; rush hour, so when we approached a sea of brake lights we weren’t shocked.  We were shocked however by the amount of cars and how long the back up was taking.

Now, I lived in the Twin Cities and commuted every day during rush hour traffic and knew what to expect, but this traffic was at a dead stop.  We were literally at a snail’s pace…going nowhere fast.

Thankfully we had decided to stop just before getting on I-290 to top off the gas tank.  We had a bit less than half a tank and figured we would be fine but we knew the time we would be traveling into Chicago so we didn’t want to take any chances.

Typically we fill up, have a quick memorial and cleansing service for those sacrificed upon our windshield and head on our way.  But this time we were delayed a bit longer than usual while we used the restroom and purchased a soda and Twizzlers.

Darn, had we not stopped at all…maybe we would’ve missed this whole jam!

About 40 minutes into our wait, only a few miles covered and most of the Twizzlers gone, we heard sirens behind us.  “Oh gees!”  I said.  Just the thought of having to maneuver through this mess was appalling.  The emergency vehicles blared their horns, much to the chagrin of the poor gal in the open convertible next to us, and waited for cars to move and then continued through.

I immediately wished we had a flashy light and loud horn to help us through this maze too!!

We watched as the expected arrival time on the GPS got later and later.

We inched forward and nearly an hour into our wait, we noticed flashing lights up ahead.  “Oh, of course! There must have been an accident” we said noticing that the emergency vehicles were blocking the two right lanes.  Oh gees, now we have to try to get over?  Great.  Four lanes of Chicago traffic squishing into two, with wonderfully gracious and patient Chicago drivers..

Mmm-hmm, no wonder there was a backup!

As we approached the cause of the backup a hush filled the car.

  

July 24, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — A man was killed in a traffic accident near Woodfield Mall on I-290 just south of the Higgins Road exit Tuesday afternoon.

State police say a car crashed into semi-truck in the northbound lanes and ended up underneath the truck.

There was a five-mile backup on the interstate.

(Copyright ©2012 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
What if we hadn’t stopped at that last gas station?
What if we hadn’t been delayed in the store?
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”   Romans 8:28

 

I have spent a weekend, this past weekend, being held in the bosom of our Lord.

I have just spent 48 hours in the embrace of the Almighty.

I have been called to lay back in the quietness of Jesus, the exuberance of the Spirit, and the peace of the Father.

I have been whispered to, smacked upside the head, wrapped tightly, nudged forward, and mightily covered.

“And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him.”   Mark 9:15

I was surrounded by women this weekend, at the Proverbs 31 Ministries She Speaks Speakers and Writers Conference, who ran along side me to greet Jesus.  He showed up mightily and revealed Himself colorfully.  We sat together within His embrace and under His teaching through amazing women; Luann Prater, Lysa TerKeurst, Renee Swope, Liz Curtis Higgs, and Whitney Capps.

We were filled to overflowing by hearing His words and His promises, then our Lord, who just loves to surprise and thrill us; plopped these like-minded, gorgeous-faced, Jesus-loving, God-fearing women with stunningly beautiful hearts and amazing stories to tell, smack dab in our laps.

These women, these truly separated-at-birth sisters have inspired me, laughed with me, comforted me, celebrated with me, encouraged me, cried with me… I am absolutely in awe, and I praise Him for how He brings lives together and weaves hearts.

Please, if you get a chance, visit these blogs of my new and dear sisters:

Kelly Pankratz

Nicole Ray

Lara Sadowski

Britta Lafont

Michelle Axton Kelly

Mary Beth Hall 

Elizabeth Suess

Melinda Gray

Alyson Brewer

Amy Alves

Misti Spacek

Dawn Mast

I am so thankful to my God.  The One who laid down His life for my own.  The One who orchestrates all things and reveals them in His timing.  The only One worthy of our praise, and oh He is so worthy.

Has God given you a promise that you aren’t sure He can fulfill?

Have you seen Him work and verify the calling He has made on your life, only to find yourself question and doubt whether it will come to fruition?

In who have you placed your trust?  Are you relying on God’s promises or your own ability?

There are so many stories in the Bible of God revealing His plan, and in response hearing an “are you out of your mind?!”

Sarah:
“The LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?’  Genesis 18:10,12

The Shunammite woman:
“’At this season, about this time next year, you shall embrace a son.’ And she said, ‘No, my lord, O man of God; do not lie to your servant.’”  
2 Kings 4:16

Moses:
“’Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’   But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’”  
Exodus 3:10-11

Gideon:
“And the LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?’ And he said to him, ‘Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’”   Judges 6:14-15

Sounds familiar.

I have felt God’s strong presence and calling in my life to write.  He has provided many stories of amazing provision and proof of His existence that I long to share with those who don’t yet know Him, as well as to help encourage and realize His movement in the lives of those who do.

I have been filled with an unsettling beyond anything I’ve known.  An awareness of the path He wants me to take and yet the road stands before me; a path filled with light as well as shadow, straight, sure ground and questioning, uncertain curves.

I find myself shoulder to shoulder with those who have come before me, echoing their mistrust, questioning the One whose promises we are to rely on.  But no matter the make of the road or the curves that lie ahead, I will blindly follow while likely questioning the whole way, but in the wake of those who trod before me,

I will take one more step forward,

and trust that His plans are better than my own.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”   Proverbs 3:5-6

We lift up our hearts, O God, on this day of celebration in gratitude for the gift of being Americans.

We rejoice with all those who share in the great dream of freedom and dignity for all.

With flags and feasting, with family and friends, we salute those who have sacrificed that we might have the opportunity to bring to fulfillment our many God-given gifts.

As we deny all prejudice a place in our hearts, may we also clearly declare our intention to work for the time when all people, regardless of race, religion or sex, will be granted equal dignity and worth.

Come, O gracious God, who led your children Israel from slavery, keep us free from all that might hold us in bondage.

Bless our country and join our simple celebration that we may praise you, our Source of freedom, the One in whom we place our trust.

~ Edward Hays
A Pilgrim’s Almanac:
Reflections for Each Day of the Year,
p. 111

“… Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”   Mark 5:19

I have heard it said many times; “Family is the hardest mission field of all.”

For those of us who came to know Christ later in life, sharing what the Lord has done in our lives with family and friends is almost like surgery.  Tools have to be chosen carefully and pressure applied at the right time.  If the subject is approached with too much fervor, they might just bleed out and shut the door tight.   If the subject is ignored and we wait too long, they may just flat line and the opportunity is lost.

Family knows you.  They have seen you at your worst and know who you were before.

I had the immense privilege to watch five baptisms last night.  Three adults and two teenagers, who made the decision to follow Christ with their life, took the next step in their Christian walk by taking part in believer’s baptism.

Believer’s baptism is a public display of the decision made privately to follow Christ,

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ [And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.”   Acts 8:35-38

but even more importantly, it is a picture of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”   Romans 6:3-4

I have been blessed to get to know a lovely Japanese woman named Katsuko.  Her daughter, Noriko, began attending Hillcrest a couple years ago and she and I became fast friends.  When I first met Katsuko, she couldn’t speak a lick of English… so when we get together there are a lot of smiles, head nodding, and hugging, but few words.

When Noriko came to America to continue her education, the Lord placed integral people in her life at just the right times.  God worked mightily to reveal the truth of who He really is and what Christ did for her, and Noriko placed her faith in and gave her life to Christ.

Noriko immediately shared what she had learned about Jesus with Katsuko and questioned the god her mom followed.  But living in Japan, Katsuko was deeply involved in Buddhism and admits how committed she was.

For 15 years Noriko shared Truth with her.

Last night Katsuko was baptized.

 

15 years.

Is there someone you’ve been praying quite a while for?

Someone you’ve been witnessing to for what seems like forever?

Someone who is heavy on your heart, but doesn’t want any part of your Jesus?

Don’t give up.  Don’t become silent.

 “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”   2 Peter 3:8-9

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

 

In 2004 our family lived in Watertown, a small town in south eastern Wisconsin, while Jax returned to college to pursue a Biblical studies degree.  We lived 45 miles from family, friends, church and what we used to call home, where the highlight of the day was an exciting trip with the kids risking our lives in the ball pit at McDonald’s or going to see the always unique spectacles of Wal-Mart.

Woo.

During our time there, God allowed incredible testing to come into our lives in the form of job loss and great financial difficulty, causing us to rely on and trust Him fully.

The college Jax attended in Watertown required him to serve, attend, and be a member of a Baptist church, and because we were already members at Memorial Baptist in Verona we were allowed to continue on at our home church to meet the ministry requirements for graduation.  Each week we drove back and forth from Watertown to Verona on Wednesdays as well as each Friday to spend time with friends and family, serve in and attend church, and then return late Sunday evening for Jax to attend classes for the week on Monday morning.

I was pregnant with our third child, and it became common place toward the end of that pregnancy for the girls and I to stay with my parents, and one week in particular seemed no different.

It was a Wednesday evening and I had stayed behind with the girls while Jax returned to Watertown that prior Sunday, when he called to let me know he was leaving to pick us up on the way to serve in AWANA, the youth ministry at church.  However, this phone call was a bit different in how he began the conversation…

“Okay, start praying!  I am leaving Watertown now, but there’s no gas in the car.  The needle is literally past E and we have no money.”

“Okay…” I said faintly, wondering what we would do.  I didn’t want to tell my parents but Jax was still 45 miles away and driving in a car with no gas.  Um, not sure what I was thinking because clearly my Dad would have to get his super-hero-tights on and come to our rescue yet again…

When I hung up with Jax, I prayed quickly asking God to bring him at least to Mom & Dad’s, then we could borrow some money at that point to get us through.

I never did mentioned my concern…I just held my breath and hoped for the best.  Even now I’m not sure what I was waiting for, but I didn’t say a word…not to anyone.  About an hour later Jax pulled up, and the shock on his face mirrored the same disbelief on mine, when he came in to get us indicating we were running late and needed to go.  We practically ran out, heading for church and still unsure how the car made it all the way there on empty and was still running strongly enough to take us out to church.

God is obviously in the towing business… but how much further would we be allowed to go?

We drove another 10 miles to church, figuring there was no way the car would go any further, but seeing as how we were late to AWANA already we would worry about it later and hustled inside.  As we entered, a friend met us at the front doors of the church and approaching Jax with his hand out stretched, asked for the car keys and didn’t miss a step when Jax handed them over and he headed out and got in our car.

This friend had no idea of our need.  He had not been notified of the desperate measures God took to get us there.  He had not heard any of the story and yet God used him exactly when we needed him.  God provided through this man, precisely when we needed it and exactly what we needed.

“Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”   Jeremiah 32:17

A Mercury Sable with no gas rode for an hour straight…

On God.

The gas tank was filled completely…

By God.

A skeptical couple learned to trust fully…

In God.

For nothing will be impossible with God.”   Luke 1:37

A couple years ago my Dad (who is an avid coin collector) and Mom went on vacation, and while they were gone a coin set was being released to the public called the Lincoln Coin & Chronicles Set. There were only 50,000 sets made, buyers could only buy one set each, and there was a specific day and time that the sale would start. Dad asked if I could buy that for him while he was gone. I didn’t hesitate to let him know I would take care of it.

It’s not often that my Dad counts on me for things. There aren’t many times that he asks for my help — so in order to come through for him…oh, what a feeling!!

That day came, and I sat both on the internet and on the phone trying to get my hands on that cherished set. Two hours later I got through, made the purchase, got the confirmation email, and was so excited and proud that I was able to do this for my Dad. I couldn’t wait to tell him, so I immediately called to let him know.

He was THRILLED!!!

A few weeks went by, and my Dad asked if I had gotten the coin yet. It was back ordered and was going to be sent out at the end of October – so I wasn’t terribly concerned that it hadn’t arrived yet. Then yesterday I got an email that said:

“Dear United States Mint Customer,
We were unable to process your order because the credit card charge was declined. Please contact your financial institution to find out the reason(s) why your charge was declined. Unfortunately, some of the products that you ordered may no longer be available.

WHAAAAT?!!

That was impossible. We had the money in our account to cover the purchase, so there must be some mistake. I called the US Mint and spoke to a gal about my account, in which she informed me that there was a problem with the card, so they canceled my order and it was put back into circulation so the next buyer got it.

WHAAAAT?!!

There was nothing I could do. I tried to reason with her, I tried to plead with her — but the set that I ordered for my Dad was gone.

I immediately burst into tears. Oh how disappointed my Dad was going to be! Oh, I couldn’t bear telling him…but I had to. I finally got ahold of him, took a deep breath, and told him what happened. It was very clear how upset he was about it, and my heart broke in two.

The one time he really counted on me, and I let him down…

Oh God — how many times do we fail You?!! The heartache I have over disappointing the earthly father you gave me is unbearable … and yet I disappoint You so much worse and so much more often.

I have often heard that the way we see our earthly father is the way we perceive our Heavenly Father. I am so thankful that my earthly father, my Dad, has shown me love, patience, protection, kindness, compassion, guidance and so many more wonderful traits. I have a beautiful picture of who God truly is…and yet I take Him for granted.

Why do I not fall into great sobs when I choose to fall into sin?

Why do I not cry out when I make wrong choices that disappoint my Maker?

“who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”   Psalm 103:3-12

Oh, I praise you Lord. Please help me to truly know the pain I cause you. Help me not to take you for granted! Please give me a heart like David’s…one that truly wants to serve and please you.

Happy Father’s Day…to the best Dad in the world!!

And may we not forget our Heavenly Father on this day, the One who truly deserves our devotion and praise.

Oh…and praise God for my Mom who was able to find another Lincoln Coin & Chronicles Set.  Whew!  🙂  Thanks to moms who tend to help dads overlook our failures.   Love you both so much!!

Since I started sharing my “I spy God” stories several years ago… originally with close friends and family members… I have now had the unique honor of hearing some awesome stories of how God has been seen working in their own lives.

What an incredible gift!!

Just this afternoon I received a text from my friend Amy, who shared the following:

“I have been hitting the snooze alarm a lot this week and getting up too late. 
So last night I prayed for a restful sleep and for energy this morning. 
Well, this morning I hit snooze again, but actually turned off my alarm this time. 
Two minutes before I needed to be up, the “low battery” beep from the smoke detector went off. 
Twice, that was it! 
I was up on time and arrived at work on time, sending my praise to Him during my drive in!!”

What an incredible blessing it has been to see their eyes opened, experiencing God in a new way.

To hear their excitement over seeing Him work in their lives.

To realize He is something tangible and wants their attention.

To watch the change from dismissing it as “coincidence” and “luck,” to giving the credit where credit is due.

Praise Him!!

“for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”   Philippians 2:13

How has God been at work in your life?

Have you ever been lost in a department store?

You’re eight years old walking down the toy aisle with mom pushing the cart when you are lured by the call of the Glo Worms, Masters of the Universe, She-Ra and Star Wars action figures, Rainbow Bright, Pound Puppies, Donny & Marie dolls and Micro Machines when you look up and realize Mom’s nowhere in sight.

Your heart pounds, your eyes widen, your pulse quickens and your whole body stiffens and practically tingles as you frantically search aisle after aisle desperately seeking someone you recognize.

You know that feeling… empty, desperate, nowhere to turn, no one to listen, lost and without hope.

Several months ago I wrote an “I Spy” about pulpit thumping, which I realized I hadn’t posted on here yet…so, I literally just posted it now if you’d like to take a look:  “I spy God thumping

The co-worker I refer to in that post has been prayed over by many people and so often since that incident with the radio preacher almost five months ago now.  I shared the “thumping” story with the owner and other employees at Life 102.5, and they have been praying that God might open a door for me to continue to witness to her at work.

However, to be completely honest I never thought she would be brought to a place where a door would be opened wide enough for her to be accepting of it, let alone have the time needed while at work to share with her, so again I shrugged it off.

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?”   Genesis 18:14a

How silly of me.

Just the other day, I was able to sit down and catch up with this co-worker, and she shared with me about enduring some real heartache and difficulty in her life, and that she is very much struggling with everything right now.

Creeeeeaaaaak…the door just opened.

God provided a good 45 minutes for me to chat with this gal and share of God’s love and the sacrifice He made for her, but as we talked what struck me was that I saw in her eyes a glimpse of that little girl lost in a department store.

I saw fear and confusion in her tear filled eyes.  She couldn’t recognize anyone around her, she couldn’t understand how she got there and unable find her way.

 

I read a new friend’s blog just this morning that God spoke through, bringing my co-worker to mind and into my prayers:

“Maybe you are standing at the bottom of that hill or mountain looking up high at a mountain and that’s all you know for sure.

And when this happens, and it does sometimes, we can look a tiny bit higher than the hill to the clouds, look for something–no, Someone–we can’t see, and say, even when we don’t have any other words:

“Jesus, help.”
 
I remember the one time that He was up on a hill.
 
And I wait. Because He is strong in my weakness.
And that’s why I need grace.
 
Will you wait? See His strength in your weakness.
We all need grace.
 
He comes when we ask and we find His strength.”
*Excerpt taken from Jen’s blog: Extra*Ordinary

Do you know something is missing, but can’t figure out what?

Do you long for the warmth, peace, and embrace only our loving, forgiving, and all-powerful Father can provide?

Please don’t wait another moment to turn to the One person who can give you what you’re missing.

Call to Him.

He’s waiting.

Christian; do you remember a time, even if you grew up in a strong Christian home and gave your life to Jesus at an early age, where you felt far away from Him?

He hasn’t moved.

“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”   Matthew 19:26
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