Moonlight in July

Pushing the screen door open, I step onto the porch, inhaling the smell of damp earth and the dark green fragrance of growing things. A fresh smoke-like mist hovers over the pasture. I feel the full moonlight dancing around me, giving an ethereal silver-white sheen to the trees, the barn, and the pasture. The horses walk slowly through the dreamy air, munching as they go.

Bending my body through the electric fence, I feel like a spirit in another world as subtle moon-shadows play in front of me. The moist pasture grasses wet and tickle my bare toes. The horses snort and whinny, manes tossing, unaccustomed to ghostly night visitors walking toward them.  I call their names, “It’s OK…it’s just me.”

Uncertain, they come closer, smelling my smells, hearing my noises, and deciding. I stroke their flinching necks and faces, and they stand close for just a moment. But at the first twigs’ rustlings, they bolt and run, heads and tails high, a beautiful promenade in the streaming moonlight.

I, too, in dark uncertain times, bolt and run…even after You, God, call my name and stroke my trembling face…my relationship with You overcome by life’s twig-rustlings.  You understand that I am fearful of the uncertain beauty of such a moment.  Your Presence becomes hardly recognizable in the light of this new circumstance.  I might feel silly in the morning when I can clearly see You again, because I will see that I am still in Your pasture, in the dark times or in the light.

“Even the darkness hides nothing from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.”  Psalm 139:12

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Hidden Treasure

My daughter, you have experienced “distance” in your relationships. Human beings protect themselves that way. It is a necessity in the world you live in. I don’t need protection; I will never distance myself from you…I am always available. I put that desire into your heart to have open, satisfying relationships. In this world in human relationships, the depth you desire will not be satisfied completely. But the depth is both safe and available with Me.
It is the constant cry of My heart for satisfying relationships, too. I am continually seeking those whose hearts are open to Me. I know the pain and the discontent of barriers, too–with people that I love. That’s why I so eagerly pour out My love on those that desire Me and want to know Me. You can do the same…pour out your love eagerly wherever it is received. Instead of focusing on the sorrow of shallow relationships, pour out your depth into welcoming hearts. That’s what I do, and I revel in that pouring! I have made you to be both the receiver and the giver of that kind of love. All pure human love is birthed in me. I defined it, and I gave it to the world.
Rest in the expectation that someday even the closed ones will be released in My presence. I have given you the joy of advance enjoyment now, and it is My personal delight to share that with you.
The veils over the human heart are the things that cause distance in relationships, similar to the covering on a seed…it protects the life inside. But without it’s softening and removal, no real life can happen. I removed My veil between you and Me at the Cross. It was My intentional decision. Now I am waiting for your intentional decision each time you come to Me….to remove one more layer of self-protection that keeps us apart. when those veils are removed, you will experience new life in ever-increasing levels. You will also experience ever-increasing depth in your relationships with others. [Journal, MGS,2004]

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My First Home Birth–A Journey of Faith [Tucson, AZ 1986]

Disgusted, I hung up and checked another phone number off my list.
“Father, whatever plan you had in mind for this baby, it sure isn’t easy to find!!”
We had been in Tucson less than two months,
and our baby was due in just two more weeks. “Surely, there must be a way!” I thought.
Ever since we moved from Minnesota, I had been shopping the options. Hospitals and physicians required a hefty down payment, which we did not have. My husband’s insurance on his new job would not cover this pregnancy.
I kept hearing, “Thirty-six year old and five children makes you a high risk, lady.” Or even less encouraging, “You aren’t going to find anything!”
The next office I called informed me, “I’m sorry, but you make too much money to qualify for our low-income services.”

“But you don’t understand,” I replied, “We just started this job. We have received only one paycheck so far.”
Already I had been without prenatal care for some time as doors closed one by one, with no progress in sight. In frustration I retorted, “I’m going to end up having this baby at home by myself—I have no history of birth problems. What is this!!”
On down the list I went: Obstetricians would consider me as a patient in spite of that “high-risk” status, but the price tag was prohibitive. General practitioners turned me down because of my age and number of previous births, as well as my late-term status. Midwives said no for similar reasons, plus they didn’t feel they could get the permission from a consulting physician for home delivery that was required by Arizona law.
Call after call, lead after lead had ended in dead ends. But time after time, my gentle Father reminded me, “Blessed is she that believed for there shall be a fulfillment of those things that were told her by the Lord.” God had said that to Mary, but I applied it to my own circumstance. God would do the same for me.
I was in good company, anyway, I told myself; Mary delivered Jesus in a stable with only Joseph for assistance. And Sarah, at 90 years, had birthed Isaac and lived through it. ” I’m only 36—that shouldn’t be hard for God.”
As the days ticked by, finally a midwife I called said, “Call Maureen—she sticks her neck out. She might deliver your baby.”
So a few days later I found myself driving up to a house on the wrong side of town. The lawn was littered with junk and old motorcycles. A big shaggy dog ran out to meet me. “ Is this the place?” I thought, “Well, beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.”
A small blonde woman answered the door and called off the dog, assuring me that he was harmless. Maureen was dressed in sandals, khaki pants, and a loose cotton shirt. Her long straight hair and the Eastern décor inside the house gave me the impression I had stepped back to the 60’s. But when she spoke, Maureen’s light gentle British voice spoke of warmth, experience, and knowledge. She had delivered many babies (700+) both in London and in North Africa. A 36-year-old pregnant woman was no special challenge. I felt I had at last found a friend.
We talked briefly of my medical history, and Maureen let me know that the biggest hurdle would be getting the cooperating doctor’s permission. He must be in agreement by law in order to meet us at the hospital in the event of difficulties. Maureen’s regular medical doctor associate was booked until the week the baby was due. That left us one alternative—a female physician that Maureen didn’t know very well, but who might say yes!
Again, I stood in a strange doctor’s office waiting for my appointment. This is it—my last option…
A young woman in a lab coat sat behind the desk in the plush office as I entered. “Hello,” she greeted me, “so you want to have a home birth…yeah for you!” Cordiality, professionalism, and yet something I couldn’t put my finger on. “Hmmm…well, she sounds encouraging,” I mused.
For the umpteenth time I went through the history of my previous deliveries, rattled off five birth dates, labor times, and vital statistics. I was getting pretty good at this. The doctor examined me and said, “Everything looks normal—it’s a big baby, maybe 10 pounds!” That didn’t sound so encouraging!
Then smiling and innocuously, she began her tirade—all without one hint of a frown or one harsh-sounding word. Condescendingly and patiently, as one would inform a small child, she told me that she did not see how midwives could sleep at night and do what they do—taking the risks that they take. After seeing women nearly bleed to death before her eyes, she could never understand their reasoning. “The hospital is the safest place for having a baby. And what about birth defects? Midwives don’t like to deal with birth defects, you know.”
Methodically, she told me every possible thing that could go wrong in a home delivery. Still smiling, she concluded, “But I am a firm believer that a person should decide for themselves, so I’ll sign my permission, if you still want to do it.”
Numb and still quivering from the unexpected verbal abuse, I went home drained, but with a doctor’s permission for a home delivery in my hand! The doctor had two additional requirements—an ultrasound and a prescription for medication in case of hemorrhage. Reasonable enough!
On the following Monday I met Maureen at the hospital for the ultrasound results, and I handed her the signed contract for her services. Maureen came to see me three days later, and four days later I called to tell her I was in labor. There was only one little glitch. Another woman was in active labor that same day. She would have to bounce back and forth between us—only about 4-5 miles apart. Hopefully, the babies would cooperate, so she and her assistant could be at both deliveries.
Early signs of labor began at 5:15 a.m., but I was able to do daily things around the house until 3 p.m. Then I went to bed to concentrate better on breathing and relaxing. Active labor lasted three hours. The delivery at 5:56 pm was full of peace and relaxation. Many friends were praying;worship music played in the background.
Roger was a great comfort to me, rubbing my back , praying in the Spirit, and stroking my hair and face. Because of the other birth, the midwives arrived only for the last fifteen minutes, but that privacy was really nice. As baby was born, he needed only minimal suctioning. It took a minute or two for a full crying breath, so his face remained just a little bluish until he had cried a few minutes, but his hands and body were pink right away. I lifted him up on my tummy and nursed him. It was interesting that later, when Jonathan was five, I asked him what he remembered about his birth. He said he remembered being wet and cold and said, “Then you put me close to you, and I felt warm.”
April, Andrew, Ben, Isaac, and Jesse all came in right after the baby was born to see him. Afterwards, April went to the store with Dad to buy,( with her own money), a bottle of non-alcoholic wine for a toast with the midwives. It was a special moment, and the other five children were very happy.
The Daily Light devotional for the day of Jonathan’s birth read, “The Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken.”
My personal promise for delivery was, “He is faithful that promised—Hath He not said and shall He not do it? Or hath He spoken and shall He not make it good?”
Jonathan was not named until April 26th, 2 days later. Roger and I secluded ourselves in our bedroom away from visiting family to pray and talk. We wanted the mind of the Lord . Tears came to our eyes when we knew we were settled on the name. Jonathan after my brother Jonathan and Jonathan in the Bible, and Paul after both the apostle Paul and Uncle Paul Selin. We chose those two names because of the strong qualities of a loyal friend(Jonathan) and zeal for the Lord(Paul). Grandpa Drown was visiting at our house to see the baby, and he said he had always wanted a grandson with the name of Paul, because he respected the Apostle Paul so much. My mom and Auntie Ardie also had tears in their eyes when we announced the name. When we called my brother Jonathan to tell him he had a namesake, he was pleased, but said in his usual joking manner, “Well, l hope ‘Jonathan’ turns out better the
second time around!”

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The Creativity of Pain

I asked God for truth: full, whole truth. I asked God for clarity, realizing that both truth and clarity often involve surgery.  And surgery causes pain.  But the open meadow of freedom beckons me on.  I can smell the grass just after the rain; I can see sparkling drops on every green leaf, and I run on.  If I am to be that meadow of refreshment for anyone else, I need to know it myself. The pain just removes the things that hinder me, anyway.  Truth, God’s truth, is something I am unwilling to be without.

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Paraphrase: Isaiah 61

“I ,Jesus, have the Spirit upon me to bind up and to heal the brokenhearted–hearts break because they love–hard hearts don’t break. I grant joy and consolation to those who mourn–soft hearts mourn–hard hearts don’t feel anything. The fragile, soft, and breaking heart is the material from which I create the ‘oaks of righteousness’–these are the hearts that can rebuild ruined cities and have the power to reverse devastation.”

Jesus, the High Priest also was touched by the feelings of my infirmities.Hebrews 4– Hurting and sorrowing are part of His love in me…because hearts that love feel. He says to me, ” Embrace the pain then and let Me absorb it for you….we can carry it together.”

Thank you… you are the Lover of my soul!!

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It’s almost spring. Snow is mixed with songbirds….

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Saturday Morning

A quiet Saturday morning.  Sunshine on fading fall leaves.  A beautiful day.

I look forward to creating some order after a busy week.  I don’t function very well at fast pace and too much activity…even though with a big family, it happens.  My desire for excellence doesn’t always equate with my other value of “people first”. Sometimes they work at odds with each other. In spite of that, it was a very good week…reconnecting with old friends, being a part of piano recital and sports awards.

This a.m. I was reading two books, one by Rick Joyner, The Two Trees  and Bonding: Relationships in God’s Image, by Dr. Joy, Ph.D.  These are awesome books.  The latter one traces the research that involves finding a mate, proper relationship growth, birth bonding, parent-child bonding throughout life.  I’ve learned so much…both in terms of science and psychology all linked with spiritual principle.

In both books I found this quote by Elizabeth Barrett Browning–it hits my spirit with both force and awe:

                                     “Earth’s crammed with Heaven,

                          And every common bush alive with God;

                          But only those who see take off their shoes;

                          The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”

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Deep Calls to Deep

I’ve been thinking about this phrase in Psalm 42: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” 

This all is part of my  entry about God’s love by day and his song by night (verse 8).  This chapter shows some of David’s personal pain,WATERFALLS_lg but for me, these verses are happy and comforting.

I think of the turbulence at the bottom of a waterfall.  The “deep” in me is like the inner me where my true self lives. The “deep” of God is that part of Him that wants to intersect with me at my deepest levels.  That intersection is like that waterfall.  It disturbs my inner life in order to bring cleansing and change.  I’m so glad that God has that “depth” to Him….I love that about Him. So many people don’t have that depth, and I long for it in other people; so I love that quality of God’s.  He is so secure in who He is that He can show me His depths without it jeopardizing any part of His character or causing Him any fear. So when His deep calls to my deep, it often causes turbulence and discomfort; it touches the places in my inner self that might remain undisturbed otherwise. So it’s an enlarging thing, but that turbulence is also an indicator of His love for me….I remember that quote from (I think) St. Augustine, “He loves thee far too well to leave thee in thine self-made hell.”

Although sometimes those protected or undisturbed places are not so much hells as they are just places that are uninvolved or unstimulated.  He awakens my heart; He speaks tenderly to my “wildernesses” and brings His order and fruitfulness where there is now maybe only disorder or a lack of productivity, in its highest sense. Everything God wants for me brings largeness.

Another part of this has to do with the Hebrew word for “inheritance”.  It comes from the same root as a “raging torrent in a narrow valley”.  So this turbulence also could be part of the wealth God has for my spirit that I might initially have trouble receiving….He has so much more for me than I have capacity to embrace.  That’s another thing I love about God.  He is all abundance….an overflowing Giver!! I want Him to grow my heart to receive! No holds barred; no hidden places walled off. Largeness of heart!

 

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Cleansing

It’s wonderful to know that God knows me so well.  We had a spiritual retreat day for school, and part of that was the privilege of sitting quietly before Him.  I was reading in Psalms how God has appointed His lovingkindness to my days and His song to my nights.  Lovingkindness in Hebrew has the same root as the word for the womb…..surrounded by protection and nourishment.  Such a word picture.!!

He surrounds me like the womb during my days and then He sings to me during my nights….whether literal nights or nights of my soul.  I asked God what song He was singing over me, and He surprised me by singing about grief that I didn’t realize was there…..it’s the grief over being the “newbie” over and over.

Now that we’ve changed churches, I’m feeling it again…the struggle to become acquainted with a new church “culture”, the endurance it takes for people to know me, to trust me, to value me.   If a culture is very old and relationships already deep, sometimes it takes years to reach even newcomer status.  God put His finger on that feeling and asked me to let Him cleanse me from the hurts of that feeling that might prevent me from moving ahead.   I’ve processed these feelings many times over in my lifetime, but evidently there was a residue of wounding.  And even deeper is the necessity to free myself again to be “me” and not to change essential things about who I am in order to “sand the peg” to fit better.   A respected  woman that I listened to at church one time said, “Be grateful for every time you are a square peg in a round hole (or vice versa) because it means that God has another place for you.” 

I’ve remembered that, and been so thankful that there is always that place God has prepared where I do fit perfectly into His purpose and planfor me.  In the middle, nothing is wasted, because in the process I learn so much and God works things into me….and works things out of me.  Ahh!! More writing on the walls of my heart….and that is totally , unequivocably wonderful!!!

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The Walls of My Heart

He’s been writing on my heart again!!

Who would do that?

Well, God would.  He promises to write His laws on the walls of my heart, so that the “lamp unto my feet and the light unto my path” is no longer an external instrument; it’s internal!! It becomes a reference library that uploads on demand.

Ahhh!  But how does He do that?

It seems to me that as I go through life, every bump in the road, every challenge is an opportunity for me to encounter God’s pen.  It often hurts, you know.  But if I receive His words through each of them, He prints something indelible there that I can never forget.  That experience of hearing Him “on the way” becomes part of the fabric of my life…noone can ever take it away from me. In this way, the progression of II Peter 1 takes place….first faith, then virtue, then self-control, and so on. The lamp of each experience where I’ve allowed God to write on my heart becomes a light for the next lesson, until my life can become at old age, a veritable library of resource to offer to someone who’s in the “primers” of life.

What about the part of the library that has empty shelves? I mean, I don’t always get what God is trying to say.

Those empty spots represent the re runs….the circles in the wilderness where I have refused His attempts to teach me. “Now I know only in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Some of those empty spots are going to cause the tears that Jesus will have to wipe away….because then I’ll see where I’ve been blind to things that would have been so helpful, if I would have listened or responded differently.

God, let my life  be a way of life for others, not a way that leads astray!! That’s my heart’s cry.  I want to listen and obey.

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