Faithinflipflops

Living simply, loving deeply!

Help My Unbelief

 

In less than three weeks, I will be helping lead a team to Jamaica to do leadership training, some service projects, and outreach. In order to prepare, we have been having different team members and others write devotionals to encourage the team. This is the one I wrote today for the team. I thought it would be good to post on my blog. So here it is! :)

Matthew 28: 16 – 20 “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.”

I have been thinking/meditating on this Scripture quite a bit over the past week or so. I find it interesting that Matthew included the fact that “some doubted”. These “some” were the disciples. They had seen the miracles, they had seen the resurrected Christ. But some still doubted. Even though they doubted, they still obeyed and went to Galilee like that they had been instructed by Jesus. That truly is faith. Obeying even when you are doubting.

This past week I have wrestled with some doubts. As I have wrestled through them in prayer, I know that God is true and His Word is sure. And that I will obey, go to the Galilees He sends me to. I will be like the man in the Bible, “I believe, but help my unbelief..” I love the fact that Jesus truly gets me and understands how I am made. And that He works with me and is patient.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come to You, trusting that You hear me and that You are working in and through me. I pray that You will use each of us in Jamaica mightily. When doubts come in like a flood, we will give them to You and continue to obey knowing that our doubts and struggles do not make You any less powerful or any less God. We love You! In Jesus name. Amen

 

Lessons from the Greatest Generation

Last week I was flying home from Texas. I got to the airport a couple of hours early. While I was waiting for my flight, I happened to come upon an Honor Flight. An HonorFlight is a non-profit organization that flies World War II Vets to Washington D.C. for free to see the World War II monument. It’s amazing.

http://www.honorflightdfw.org/about.html

I cannot even begin to express how moving it was. They had a small ceremony for the veterans before they boarded the plane. The man who greeted them thanked them for their service and their sacrifice. He mentioned the 400,000 plus who gave their life in war. He talked about how they went off to war as boys and had to grow up within a matter of months and how they came home men. He said that they truly were the greatest generation. They closed the ceremony with everyone singing the national anthem. (I’ve included the video I took with my phone).  I was crying like a baby at that point!

As I watched the vets being honored and board the plane, I thought about the cost of war, the price they paid. They may not have lost their lives in war but it cost them.  My dad was part of the Greatest Generation. He was raised during the depression and fought in World War 2. I so wish he could have gone on an HonorFlight and seen the monument.

My dad passed away five years ago at the age of 86. At his funeral, his youngest brother told me that my dad had gone away to war a young kid and came back an old man. War changed him.

My dad...so handsome!

My dad…so handsome!

My dad began to talk more about the war towards the end of his life. My sister Nancy had the amazing opportunity to go to several of his war reunions. It was at these reunions that he reconnected with his best friend from the war, Ollie Olsen. During the last five or so years of Ollie’s life, they would call each other weekly. I remember the incredible sadness my dad experienced when Ollie passed away. The bond of war is unbreakable.

My dad is on the left, Ollie is on the right! My dad has a lot of pictures from the time he served.

My dad is on the left, Ollie is on the right! My dad has a lot of pictures from the time he served.

At one of the reunions, Ollie told my sister two stories. The first was about how Ollie and my dad had night patrol. They had to sit back to back looking opposite ways. It is where the saying “I’ve got your back” came from. They both saw Germans coming over the ridge. Ollie whispered “Do you see them?” Dad answered, “Yeah, don’t worry, I am going to mow them down if they get too close”. He was brave. He didn’t show fear.  The second story was there was a reconnaissance mission that one person needed to go on. It was a dangerous mission. No one wanted to go so they drew straws. The guy who drew the short straw was a mess. My dad volunteered to go in his place. When asked why, dad simply said, “he has a family, wife and kids. I’m single. It would be ok if anything happened to me.”

Ollie and my dad at a reunion.

Ollie and my dad at a reunion.

My dad received 4 bronze stars and a good conduct ribbon though he never got them. He was proud of his service during the War and it saddens me that he never got them. I wish we could have done that for him before he died.

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My dad’s discharge papers…4 bronze stars

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The cost of war is high. My dad struggled with alcoholism the rest of his life. He had nightmares. A couple of months before he died, he had a nightmare in which he thought he was back in the war. He thought he was in a field or a meadow and was under heavy fire. He was 86 years old at this time. His hips were full of arthritis and could only walk with the assistance of a walker, but this night he was agile and nimble as a 23-year-old. He kept saying “Where’s my gun? The Germans are coming? We got to get out of the meadow!!! Now!!!” Thank God he could not get to his guns…he thought I was a German. 64 years later and he was still on the battlefield.

My dad, as have many other soldiers, paid a steep price to protect us, to protect the world. Our family paid a price…dealing with his alcoholism through the years and all that came with that. He dealt with tremendous guilt. I remember him telling me one day when we were out to lunch at the Amvets that the men he killed had moms, dads, wives and kids at home just like he did. They were kids just like he was.

Was it worth it? Is war ever worth it? Yes! Sometimes war is necessary. I think of Jesus’ teaching on the Sermon on the Mount in which He says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called Sons of God.” He doesn’t say peacekeepers, he says peacemakers. Sometimes in order to make lasting peace, real peace, you have to stand up for what is right. Evil can not go unchecked. We could not sit back and watch 6 million die simply because they were Jewish. We could not sit back while we were bombed at Pearl Harbor or as Hitler marched through Europe, taking what he wanted. We should not be quick to go to war. We should always consider the cost, the sacrifice. Because it will cost. Lives. Families. But there are times going to war is worth it. My dad knew why he was fighting.

I am proud of my dad and all those men of the Greatest Generation who fought for us. Who fought for the world. Who laid their lives down so we could be free. Ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things. For others. I do not glamorize war. I have seen the effects first hand of what it does to one who has been in battle. It is a horrible thing. The cost is high. But there are some things worth fighting for and dying for. There are still things worth sacrificing for. Jesus says “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

I read a quote this week from John McCain’s book Why Courage Matter: A Way to a Braver Life. It said,

“we should live as we wish them to live, honestly, justly, compassionately. Live it not ostentatiously but routinely, without remark.”

This describes the Greatest Generation. And this stands in stark contrast with the age we currently live.The older I get, the more I want my life to count for something greater than myself. I don’t want a comfortable life, I don’t want to live just for myself. I want to fight for people, for souls. I want to love people who don’t look like me, act like me, talk like me. I want to be brave. I want to love deeply. I want to be selfless. The example of my dad’s generation moves me.

I am incredibly thankful for the Greatest Generation. I am thankful that they rose to the occasion and sacrificed themselves for others. I want to be like them. I want to be an ordinary girl who does extra-ordinary things! I am thankful that I serve a God that can do just that…use an ordinary girl to do extra-ordinary things!

 

We are all hot messes!

“Wow, she’s a hot mess.”

These were the words that greeted me and my dog as we walked through the groomer’s door. At first, I didn’t know if she was talking about me or the dog…

I have had Woodstock for 5 years. She was a rescue dog from the APL. She had been severely neglected when they found her. When I got her, you could see her ribs and there were huge patches of hair missing due to poor nutrition and fleas. And she had at some point in her life had puppies. Neither the APL nor my vet know how old she is because her teeth were in such poor condition. But she is the one of the coolest, craziest looking dogs I have ever seen. She is a chow/golden retriever mix and has the sweetest temperament. She has red hair and looks kind of bohemian. My family tells me all the time she is fat. I have overcompensated through the years because of her neglect. I have made sure she is never hungry. She also hates water so I have not always made her take baths. And the two times I took her to a groomer, they did not want her to come back without anxiety medicine. She does not bite, she just becomes 100 pounds of dead weight.

This is Woodstock the day I brought her home from the APL. So skinny!

This is Woodstock the day I brought her home from the APL. So skinny!

Woodstock now

Woodstock now

I have to be to the church on Sundays at 8 a.m. Today I was struggling to get there on time…I even got up earlier. When I got to church, a good friend informed me that I had my Spanx on backwards and that she could see the size through the eyelet on the back of my dress. (For men who don’t have to worry about such things or even knows what it is…Spanx is the 21st century’s version of a girdle….yes I wear  a girdle though spanx sounds so much better :) To top things off, someone who is like a dad to me was trying to compliment me on how nice I looked said, “You look very robust today…” Look up the word robust…it’s not what a woman wants to be called. Haha! Right before the second service I was standing in the middle aisle, talking to some people…and as the screen was counting down the time until service started (we were down to 10 seconds), my necklace with a hundred different size beads broke. Everywhere. Down the center aisle. We scurried to get them all picked up before service started. I was a hot mess today.

This past week I have thought a lot about the lady’s greeting about Woodstock being a hot mess. And how many of us feel like that all the time. And for some of us that keeps us from coming to Church. From coming to God. Our personal lives our a mess. Our finances are in a disarray. We don’t know how anyone could love us especially God. And the one place people should feel welcome, the Church, they don’t.

I remember three people in my life who God used to love me right where I was…the mess that was Heidi. The first person was a lady named, Nita. She was my best friend’s mom. Their family introduced me to Christ. They met me when I was 8 years old and prayed for and loved me until I was 15 and finally came to Christ. I was rough. Not always easy to deal with. At the age of 10, I remember teaching my best friend, her daughter, a card game that my family played. The name of the game was “Screw your neighbor”. I’m sure I said a whole lot of fun stuff. She never condemned me or acted shocked, she simply suggested we name it something else…I think one of the suggestions was “fornicate your neightbor” ;) . She could have decided to “protect” her daughter from the likes of me. I was a bad influence. But she never made me feel like one.

The second person I remember was a Bible college professor. It was my sophomore year of school and I was an emotional mess. It was the time of my walk with the Lord that He began to deal with me in regards to inner healing. I had been through some stuff and done some stuff before coming to Christ. I remember the love and acceptance he showed me as I dry-heaved into a garbage can as I confessed and dealt with sin and stuff from my past.

The last person I remember (though there are many), is my current Pastor, boss, and friend…Jim Cooper. My first place in ministry was amazing but there were some rough times. My pastor (a dear friend and mentor) that I worked with at the time had a nervous breakdown and had walked away from ministry and his family. I had to step in and Senior pastor. I never had time to deal with the impact of my mentor and boss falling. I came home for a couple of months. During the second month, Pastor Jim asked me to come work with him. That was 12 years ago. I still remember sitting in the toddler room in chairs made for 3 years old, talking about what was next for me. I had other offers. But what I needed was a safe place to heal. The thing is,  I didn’t even know I needed healing. I am so grateful for the healing God has given me. And am forever grateful for Pastor Jim and taking the time to allow a hot mess to heal!

Best bosses, pastors and friends in the world!

Best bosses, pastors and friends in the world!

I write all of this to encourage those of us who call ourselves Christians…followers of Christ…to accept people where they are. And as people walk through the doors of our churches, our first thought should not be “what a hot mess she is.” Our first thought should be “Let me show you the love, forgiveness and acceptance Christ has shown me!” The world will know that we are Jesus’ by the love that we have for one another. I think I read that somewhere ;)

 

 

Life in the Broken Places

Life in the Broken Places

On my walk the other day, I noticed these flowers growing out of the broken and cracked sidewalk. God reminded me that out of the cracked and broken areas of our lives, beauty and new life can grow if we allow God to bring the healing only He can bring! So glad Jesus came to fix our broken lives.

Psalm of Gratitude: Response to Pilgrimage to Israel

I just returned home two days ago from a pilgrimage to Israel. Words cannot express all that I experienced. I am still extremely jet-lagged and still processing all that transpired on this pilgrimage. I journaled every day I was there and I am sure there are many more blogs to come out of this trip. On my last day in Israel, I wrote a Psalm that captures my gratitude for all God did in me during this amazing pilgrimage.

Heidi’s Psalm of Gratitude

 God, You have been so good to me!

I asked, “God, would You please meet me in Jerusalem?

In the land You walked and called home while on Earth before You

made Your home in me?”

And Jesus, how You have met me!

 You have provided my way for this pilgrimage,

To appear before You in Jerusalem,

You have strengthened me,

You have delivered me from feelings of abandonment,

You have healed me.

 

When I turned my face to the wall,

Like You told me to do,

You met me!

You have filled me afresh with the Holy Spirit

You have brought me back to the Cross-and the empty tomb.

 

How can I not praise You?

How can I not commit myself afresh to You?

To holiness, to the study of Your Word, to prayer,

To loving people, to the calling You have on my life?

 

And as a sign of my fresh commitment to You

Under the Jordan River I went

When I arose out of the baptismal waters

Joy filled my heart

Laughter was on my lips

The joy of the Lord truly is my strength!

 

Forever may I praise and worship You!

And proclaim to the nations what You have done for me! Amen!!!

Praying at the Wailing/Western wall. Such a powerful moment for me.

Praying at the Wailing/Western wall. Such a powerful moment for me.

Praying before being baptized in the Jordan.

Praying before being baptized in the Jordan.

Being baptized

Being baptized

The empty tomb

The empty tomb

In the empty tomb.

In the empty tomb.

Taking communion in front of the empty tomb. Powerful time.

Taking communion in front of the empty tomb. Powerful time.

I so believe this!

I so believe this!

 

Prayer for Vermilion: Response to Psalm 122

In my last blog, I wrote about the psalms I wrote as a response to a study I had done on the Psalms of Ascent. Tonight I thought it was fitting to post the one I wrote for my city. I live on Lake Erie in a small town that has a river running through the middle of it. This winter has been brutal. Due to a recent warm-up and lots of rain, we are currently under a flood warning for our river.

Ice jam at a section of the Vermilion River.

Ice jam at a section of the Vermilion River.

We are actually laying on the frozen Vermilion River. I kayak at this actual spot in the summer.

We are actually laying on the frozen Vermilion River. I kayak at this actual spot in the summer.

What the Vermilion River looks like in the summer! Amazing!

What the Vermilion River looks like in the summer! Amazing!

Vermilion River in the fall

Vermilion River in the fall

Standing on frozen Lake Erie with the beach behind me.

Standing on frozen Lake Erie with the beach behind me.

Same lighthouse in the summer

Same lighthouse in the summer

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Haha! I told you it has been a brutal winter…eyebrows and eyelashes frozen!

DSCN0126 DSCN0129

frozen Lake Erie

frozen Lake Erie

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Lake Erie in the summer

Prayer for Vermilion

I was glad when God brought me back to Vermilion.

I am glad that my feet are planted here.

Vermilion is a beautiful place, with beautiful people

that needs God’s help to face the challenges she faces -

social, economical, and political.

I pray for the peace of Vermilion.

I pray for those that belong to You that live in Vermilion;

Prosper them, keep them, protect them.

May peace be within her borders

May peace be within the walls of our church

Because of the name of the Lord

I will seek and pray for the good of Vermilion.

Amen!

Summer will be here soon!

Summer will be here soon!

God is For Me

Last spring, I led some of the ladies at my church through Beth Moore’s Stepping Up Bible study. It was a study on the Songs of Ascent found in Psalms 120 – 134. As I am preparing to go to Israel in 33 days (I’m so excited I could jump out of my skin!!!) I thought it would be good to study these Psalms again. These particular Psalms were songs that the Jewish pilgrims would sing on their way up to Jerusalem for one of the three religious feasts that took place throughout the year.

Ascending

Ascending

As I pulled out my notes from this study, I found the psalms that I had written based on the corresponding Psalms we were studying. I thought I would share a few of them as I continue my preparation for my own pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

God Is For Me (Response from the study of Psalm 124)

If God had not been on my side – (and He is on my side!!!)          I will say it again, if God had not been on my side when the enemy of my soul and my own sinful desires afflicted me,

I would be lost – I would be miserable –                                                 I would be drowned by lust and addictive behaviors                       I would be battered and worn.                                                                  I would be an old soul –                                                                                I would have been swept away in waves of anger, depression, and remorse.

But thanks be to God

He has not allowed me to be ripped to shreds by the enemy or by my own stupid, sinful choices.                                                        He showed me the way out -

I am free

My help came from the Lord, the Maker of the Heavens and the earth.

Amen!

Valentine’s Day from a Single Girl’s Perspective

Faithinflipflops:

With Valentine’s Day being tomorrow, I thought I would reblog my favorite blog from last year! Enjoy!

Originally posted on Faithinflipflops:

In case you are living under a rock, today is Valentine’s Day. The one day that single people are treated like they have just been diagnosed with a deadly disease. Or you’re told that Jesus is your valentine or Facebook statuses state they are praying for those who are alone (i.e. single and pathetic) on this day that love is celebrated. While attempting to “comfort” those who are single, they do the exact opposite.

This made me laugh!!!!!!

This made me laugh!!!!!!

Valentine’s Day can put pressure on single people that is simply unnecessary. Last night in youth group, I used Valentine’s Day as a theme for my lesson. It was actually a fun night. And the history of Valentine’s Day is fascinating. We played name that tune of songs with the word “love” in the title. (As a side-note…kids don’t know good music these days…none of them knew the Beatles song “All You…

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Weather: The Last Frontier

This Sunday I am preaching on the seasons of life. And how God is faithful in every season. And how we must remain faithful in every season. Even the tough ones. The Preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes says,

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”  3:1

My studying led me to pose the question on Facebook about which season do you consider to be the first season. Spring, summer, winter, or fall. I got quite a response. Though the question that I should have asked is “what is your favorite season and why?” And that led me to study the benefits of the four seasons (not to be confused with Frankie Valli and his Four Seasons)….confused yet? Yeah….I thought so. I’m letting you into a rare look on how my brain processes stuff. Not for the faint of heart.

Ha! Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

Ha! Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

Up here in Northeast Ohio, we have had one of the coldest, snowiest winters  we have seen in a long time. Looking at the 10 day forecast, there doesn’t look to be much of a reprieve on the horizon. We are all hoping that the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow….or is he supposed to see his shadow? I don’t know, I get mixed-up. I’m from a town where a guy predicts our winter by looking at a Woolly bear and his stripes and 100,000 people come to hear him make this prediction. He got it wrong this year. So very wrong. So I’m not putting much stock in the ground-hog either.

In case you wondering...this is a woollybear....

In case you wondering…this is a woollybear….

So while studying today in my office, I read a quote  by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He said, “The best thing one can do when its raining is to let it rain”. Thanks, Henry. Like we can do anything else. I think it was Henry’s way of deluding himself to the fact that he has absolutely no control over whether it rains or not. I also thought of Creedance Clearwater Revival and their deep, probing question in the popular song “Who’ll Stop the Rain?”. In all of our scientific advancement, we cannot control the weather. We can track it, talk about it, fear it, respect it, prepare for it BUT…you can’t stop it from coming. You have no choice but to let it rain or snow or sleet or hail or monsoon or whatever it chooses to do.

The South got hit with snow this week. 2 inches. And it shut them down for a week. Motorists left their cars stranded along the interstate. I heard the Mayor of Atlanta saying it wasn’t his fault, he is only responsible for the roads in Atlanta. I heard the Governor blame someone else. I think I heard the President blame global warming or maybe the republicans. And republicans blaming democrats. The whole world has gone mad! And we are taking it out on each other. I realized today that fear is big motivator. And we fear what we can’t control.

Seasons and the weather make me stand in awe of God. We need the winter to let the ground rest and plants to die so the soil can be nourished for the next season. We need the cold to kill germs. We need the spring rains and hot summer sun.

I love the fact that there are still things in the world that are shrouded in mystery. Things that still capture our imagination. Things that we cannot control. Things that point us to our Creator. Like the weather. It’s powerful and something we cannot control. I’m grateful that there is still something that shows us that we are not as in control as we think we are.

Laying on the frozen Vermilion River!

Laying on the frozen Vermilion River!

Frozen Lake Erie

Frozen Lake Erie

Sisters

Sisters

One of my goals for the New Year is to combine my love for pictures and my love for writing by posting my favorite picture from the previous week on my blog. The first week of 2014 started and ended with a snow storm. Two of my nieces and I made sure we took time to enjoy the winter wonderland. This picture captures so much!

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