Tag Archives: life

Brewing

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A lot has changed since I posted last. One of the biggest is my husband officially became the senior Pastor of our church. As crazy as it sounds, I am now a pastor’s wife! I will continue to post to this blog as I always have, but I have also started another blog specifically to share things God shows me on this new journey. It will center around the time I spend with God while I have my coffee in the mornings as well as other tidbits along the way. Here is part of my latest post to “Coffee with a Pastor’s Wife”. Click on the link at the end to be transported to the post itself! If you would like, follow my new blog as well! Thanks!

Brewing

There is nothing like the excitement of waiting for your first cup of coffee to brew in the morning. You gather all your ingredients and pour the water in, add ground coffee and push the button. Afterwards, the relief (and I do mean genuine relief) when it is ready! That’s how I feel about this post today. Like for a long time these things have been in my head waiting for the concept and content to be melded together, ready to pour into a cup to be shared with friends!!! My first few sips have been savored with thankfulness, I hope yours will bring encouragement to you as well!

When I was a new bride I read a book about love languages. I learned about how I express and receive love and how my husband does too. Later, as our kids came along I learned about theirs. It has been so helpful!! Through the years John and I have also had the opportunity to do different kinds of personality tests and have learned a lot about how each other operates. Learning about each other (and ourselves)that way has been a tremendous asset to our marriage!

Just this year I learned something about this topic that had never occurred to me. Maybe you have already figured this out, but if not, I feel it is important to know and to share. It took me 15 years to realize it. It came about because of a miscommunication I had with my husband that he never even knew about…Brewing

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Filed under miscellaneous

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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. This statement is meant to wrap into a neat little package the inevitable undesirable circumstances life brings and tie it up with a ribbon. To be identified, solved and put away. The ability to process information and file it away where it belongs is how we handle all things negative and positive: both to remember and to forget. What happens, though, when you are faced with information that just will not compute? Where do you file things that are so unimaginable that you will never forget and will never understand, or worse, are afraid to understand fearing it will leave a permanent stain?

How do you recover from pain that follows you the rest of you life? Dreams unrealized, expectations obliterated, illusions shattered by those who were supposed to shelter you, what do you do with these?

Sometimes it feels as if we must break them up into smaller pieces and file them in the places those pieces alone fit. However, doing that leaves fragments behind that don’t belong anywhere and are missing information that helped them remain tangible. Essentially leaving us right back where we started except now the information is scattered. The only hope we have of ever moving forward is for them to be kept together. A whole, a file containing all of the information. This means that when we remember, we remember it all. When we forget, we forget it all. It also means that we will never remember or forget for long.

When no amount of organizing or processing is effective we must add the file as a whole to “Miscellaneous”. We must allow our selves to explore the pain, to grieve, to savor the good refusing to believe that it wasn’t real. We must also allow ourselves to be broken so that we can begin to pick up the pieces. I am convinced, anything less will hold us back from healthy emotional connections and the continued genuine presentation of our selves. Bitterness and resolve are opposite sides of a coin. We must decide which side we are on. Pushing everything aside or breaking it apart will lead to bitterness and leave us with leftover pieces that will never be filed away. Wholeness comes with the strength gained from walking through the pain of being shattered and put back together better than we were before. A mirror once broken produces the best rainbows!

Crossing the Jordan

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A while back I wrote about bathing in the Jordan river.  Today I want to share with you another story about the Jordan River, and twelve points God has shown me from it. One for each stone!!

Joshua 4:1When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’”4 Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 5 And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”8. And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the Lord told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down[a] there. 9 And Joshua set up[b]twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. 10 For the priests bearing the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua.The people passed over in haste. 11 And when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the Lord and the priests passed over before the people. 12 The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had told them. 13 About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. 14 On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life. 15 And the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18 And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over,24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”[c]

1: The Past

(Vs 1) the Israelites had just come through slavery, rescue, wandering in the wilderness, and had just witnessed a miracle, the Jordan river had been parted for them to walk across on dry land into the land God had promised them. (God parted water to get them out of Egypt and parted water to get them or of the wilderness and into the land he had provided.)

2. The pain

In the chapters before we read about them loosing Moses. They had also lost countless others in the wilderness. They had been hungry, thirsty, scared, rebellious, deceitful, fearful and lost. They didn’t know if they could trust Joshua 

3. The performance 

In order to comfort them from their loss and insecurity God did a miracle. He parted the water to show them that Joshua was his chosen leader for them and to show hem his power and provision for them and that his promises were true. 

4. The purpose (of the stones)

God’s plan was for them to remember all he had done for them. Now that they were safe and getting ready to enter their land. He wanted them to gather stones for the purpose of building an alter of remembrance.

5. The Position (of the stones)

The stones were at the bottom of the middle of the river they had just come across. It was still parted for them. Imagine after what happened to Pharos armies 40 years before when the Red Sea that had been parted for them crashed down, taking your family through another dry path flanked by walls of water. The Bible tells us  that they went quickly!! Sometimes the things God gives us to remember come out of the bottom of the biggest deepest obstacles we face.

6. The progression 

God did not say: collect stones from your new land, or grab a rock on your way through for an alter. He instructed them after they had all already crossed to go back into the middle of the river to get the stones. Can you imagine how scary it would be to go back into that river? Sometimes we have to revisit things we have been through in order to process and move on. We have to trust God enough to know he will keep us safe as we move through the steps he has given us to take.

7. The Process
They had to choose their own stones. What we choose to remember stays with us. The rest fades. We have to choose to remember the things God does for us! 

8. The personalization 
Each of the twelve men going in to retrieve a stone represented his tribe. His family. His people. I can imagine each one of them memories flooding their minds as they carried their load to shore. Each stone had personal stories attached. Each stone was a personal testimony to contribute. Their part of the story to be remembered. It was their part of the story to be shared with others. Our personal history with God is valid in our future. 

9. The presence (of God)
The water parted in response to the priests feet entering the water while they carried the ark of the covenant. The people followed. The Ark was where the presence of God dwelled. We can remember that God goes before us. He was there in the beginning he goes before us and comes back to go with us. Interesting picture. They went across the river then back into the river to get the stones..🤓 The presence of God is safe. The priests were standing in the river holding the ark, the water stayed parted while they were there. Each man had to go where the presence of God was to find their stones. It was only after the men and the priests left the water that it came crashing down again. 

10. The perpetuity 
The alter made from those stones was to last for generations to come! So that the people of God would remember him and the work he did. To bring glory to God and hope to his people. It was to continue! 

11. The preparations
God used Joseph to bring his people into Egypt. They enjoyed many years of prosperity, comfort, provision, and happiness. Then things started to get bad. There were enslaved then set free to wander learn and grow before God brought them across that river. He brought them to Egypt to get them to the promised land. He brought them to Egypt and through the wilderness to prepare for the promised land!
12. The Plan
The fact that God brought them out of Egypt did not cancel out the importance or beauty of bringing them into Egypt in the first place. The pain of the wilderness caused them to long for the past even though the past was slavery. But God’s plan, even in pain, was not to go backward or leave them. It was to bring them to their own land. God used the hope of the future to sustain his people from the beginning and still does it today! We can look back on our lives before, the good times, with thanksgiving. Just because things change and the change is hard, doesn’t mean we have to block it out or see it as bad. The past is a reminder, the present is temporary, our future is secure! 

Over the Past few months our family has undergone major changes. There has been a lot of hurt, loss, confusion, and wandering. I feel like we have been in the desert like the Israelites and God has brought us across the Jordan into safety. Now he wants us to collect some stones for remembrance. I will share my collection with you soon! 

This red earth 

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I looked up through the windshield of my van to see the hearse facing me in the drizzling rain. How appropriate on this sad occasion. My heart was filled with emotions and I was hit with the reality of life and death. One thing stopped me cold in my tracks (if it is possible when one is in the seated position in the first place) The sight of my father in law, my husband, and son with the family and group of pallbearers carrying the casket to the vehicle that would transport it to its final resting place. His final resting place.
We came to Georgia for my grandfather in law’s funeral. Something like grief always seems to illicit the pondering of life. Grandpa Andersen was one of the most kind, loving, funny, hard working, and talented men I have ever met.  

As we ponder his life, inevitably, we consider the ways his life intersected with our own. One of those ways was his name. My father in law was named after him, as was my husband, and my oldest son. The Four Johns, as we called them have always been close. So much alike in many ways. Each amazing trait passed down from Grandpa,mingling with their own unique abilities and character. I see a little of each one in each other. I have always admired them all.  

The thing that struck me the most this time involves my son. You see your child on a moment by moment basis through out the day, you know them better than anyone else. And yet, they grow up almost with out notice. Most twelve year olds are care free and playful, Johnny is no exception. However he possesses a groundedness, an ability to take things seriously, sometimes in the extreme. We didn’t know when we packed to leave on this trip that Johnny would be a pallbearer. As I watched him help carry his great grandpa to the hearse, it dawned on me how big he actually is. Physically he stands around 5 foot seven, the shoes we bought him the night before were a men’s size twelve. But it was his maturity in the midst of his grief and the strength I saw there that crushed me. It was as if I was seeing a glimpse of the man he will become and in so many ways already is. At the same time seeing a tangible line that made him who he is, both genetically, and learned.  

Some of the learning was done directly through Grandpa. The times he spent in his company observing and soaking in what he saw and heard, and everything Grandpa stood for and taught. Other things he learned indirectly from Grandpa through my father in law and my husband. Everything culminating in that coming-of-age moment. Standing with the strong men and women of his family. Carrying a heavy load like a man, emotionally and physically with the help of others who share in the special legacy left to them by John William Andersen Sr. With heavy hearts we said our final goodbyes to Grandpa Andersen and the red earth of Georgia in which he now rests.  

This is the Day

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I have been drawn to this passage the past week. These verses stuck out to me today.

Eccl. 7:13 Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? 14 ¶ In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him. 

There are times in our lives where we want God to restore something we had. We even want it sometimes so that it will bring God glory. I often want God to straighten out messes for me. Until today I never thought that sometimes God is the one who has made it crooked? Just because it isn’t straight doesn’t mean it isn’t God. 
The point is to be obedient and to allow God to direct our lives. He has made the good ones as well as the “bad”. 

Lamentations 3:22-23English Standard Version (ESV)

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]his mercies never come to an end;23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The “new mercies every morning” in this verse means that not only is God available to us every day, but he tailors the mercies and strength we need for each day’s specific needs!! Puts Ecc 7:14 into perspective doesn’t it?

This is the Day that the Lord has made we will rejoice and be glad in it!!!

Finally Home

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One year ago, around ten o’clock pm, DCF placed a sleeping baby boy into Kaitlyn’s arms and in that moment he entered our hearts! 

For the next ten months we engaged in a legal, personal, and emotional battle. We fought to protect him. We strived to teach him. We interceded for him in prayer.  Through the fear of loosing him, through the joy of loving him and having him with us, we trusted God.

Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me,When as yet there were none of them.

All the days fashioned for me were written before there was one. We were not there for his birth, or his first 11 months of life, but God was! He was writing his story and guiding his journey to us! We celebrated his first birthday with him. We saw his first steps! Johnny and Kait became big brother and big sister. He was our first placement, and we were his. His firsts mirrored ours as we bonded together as a family of five for the first time! 

Genesis 50:20…”As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be saved, as they are today.”

Owen was born into a circumstance that Satan meant for harm. God’s plans are never thwarted. We believe that he meant him to be with us and now is the fulfillment of his plan!  It brings to mind what I wrote about his first night with us:”Even after all he had been through, he didn’t cry, he just looked up at us and smiled like he had always known us.” Maybe in his little baby heart God had reassured him that after all he had been through his first 20 months of life(9 in the womb, 11 out), he was finally Home.

Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

On February 17, 2016 Baby “O” officially became Samuel Owen Andersen. Standing in front of the judge we took a collective oath as a family that we accept him into our family with all the rights and privileges and equal treatment as our son. It was one of the top five moments of my life! His name means “we prayed for this warrior.” We call him Owen. This journey is a roller coaster ride and it is exciting and scary and pushes the limits of reality and sanity. It is incredible! 

The night the aligator ate my baby

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I looked across the enclosure that housed the massive alligator we had marveled at just a few moments before.  Movement caught my eye.  I yelled as loud as I could across to my oldest son, who for whatever reason was walking AWAY from my two year old.  Owen was playing on the rocks beside the swampy area of the enclosure.  Johnny didn’t hear me yell to him.  In those moments I had no other recourse but to jump the fence and run as fast as I could over to get him.  On the way, I grazed the tail of the alligator and it startled and ran. When I reached the other side, I realized in horror that when I spooked the alligator its tail had come up and knocked Owen behind me. I turned just in time to see the gator attack him.  I screamed a blood curdling scream as I watched my precious baby boy caught in the jaws of a creature that I could not stop.  He looked at me and reached for me with terror in his eyes and all I could think was “He can see me, he is reaching for me. In the most horrible moment of his life he is looking to me for help and I cannot do anything to save him. But he thinks I can!”  I knew that I was helpless and that I was betraying him, because he knew me as the one to turn to for help.  The loss hit me like a train. Pain, agony, intense sorrow.  I wanted my baby back. I wanted to tell him I was sorry.  I wanted to start the day over.  I was powerless and utterly worthless.  

Then I woke up.  Thank you God!!! I woke up! It was just a nightmare! 

When I opened my eyes I was relieved. Part of me wanted to go back to sleep, though.  I wanted to see Owen miraculously be saved some how.  He was right there in the next room. I could hear him laughing and playing. It was almost as if going back to sleep and finishing the dream would prove it was one.  

I knew exactly why I had the dream.  The entire night had been filled with stress dreams.  I realized that I was more worried than I had thought about recent events in our life.  

There are times, maybe more times than not, when we have to sit back and watch our children walk through deep waters and we cannot do anything to rescue them.  Sometimes we can come along side them and help comfort or offer advice.  Ultimately, though, it is happening to them and we are sidelined. We need someone to fight these battles who is bigger than us and greater than the monsters we are facing.  
Unfortunately our fear causes us to forget that we are missing an end of the story. Just like I felt the need to go back to sleep in hopes I would see a superhero save my baby, we need to remember that no matter what we are facing, the story isn’t over. We have a God who is working to save us and our children.  He is bigger, faster, stronger, better, more powerful, omnipotent, loving, and willing.  We need to teach our children not to only look to us for help but Christ in us and Christ without us too.  We cannot be their savior, healer, or friend.  We can only be instruments of God to them.  We are not the superheroes. We don’t have to take on their world or fight their battles. We should be living in a way that when challenges come they look to us for directions to the God they have seen use us to comfort, guide, and love them.  Just like Ruth following Naomi.  They will want to be where we are and our God to be their God.  

This is true for us, our relationships with our spouse, our kids, our friends, and our foster children who fight battles we cannot even relate to or even identify at times.  We are to point them to the God who sees them. Who died for them, who experienced trama, abandoned by his father, punished and abused without deserving it, just like them. But He did it FOR them.  We know the end of the story let’s live like it!!