Prepared

By Sarah Langness

I always wondered what heartburn was like.

Back in the day, when I lived in a house with a TV that did more than take up space and commercials for Zantac or Prilosec came one, I was struck with curiosity. Wonder what that feels like.

And now, I know. Oh boy, do I know.

The first time I ever experienced heartburn was during my pregnancy with Ezekiel. I’d get heartburn from any and everything. Thankfully, though, it was decently contained to the evening hours, particularly when I’d lie down for the night. Nothing some Tums couldn’t handle.

Pregnancy ended, baby boy born (with a full head of hair), and there goes the heartburn.

Until two years later.

Except this time, my heartburn isn’t as nicely contained to a certain time of day. Oh, I still get heartburn from any and everything. In fact, it rears its fiery head after my breakfast bowl of Cheerios and a banana. And Tums alone can’t fight it.

Let’s just say, I’m hoping Baby Sister has as much – if not more – hair than her older brother did at birth.*

A couple of weeks ago, I went to bed with heartburn like any other night. But, since I had popped a couple of Tums, I didn’t think much of it and figured the heartburn would dissipate in a few moments time. Except it didn’t. I woke up choking on my own bile from the acid reflux . . . and spent the next hour kneeling by the toilet as wave after wave came.

After that incident, I knew I had to check with my doctor in regards to what more I could take besides Tums and ice cream. But even after learning which medications I could take, it took me about a week and a half to go buy some. (And actually, I wasn’t even the one who bought it; my husband did.) Because after my midnight wake-up, the heartburn didn’t seem as intense; it didn’t seem to warrant more than Tums. (Or ice cream.) Until this last Saturday night – when I lay awake wishing I had something on hand I could take besides Tums; because Tums wasn’t cutting it when I woke up every hour.

As I lay awake Saturday night, readjusting pillows to elevate my head more, I shook my head at my folly. Why did I think that this wouldn’t happen again? Why did I seem content sticking with the status quo, when I knew that in the worst moments, the status quo wouldn’t suffice?

And then I thought how often I do the same thing with Scripture.

A certain chapter or book doesn’t seem to speak to me, to where I am on that particular day or season. So I neglect the Word. Or I just glaze. Never suspecting that what I read today could be just the words I need a month from now, half a year from now, or even three years from now.

The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” –
Hebrews 4:12 
 NASB (emphasis mine)

So right now, what I’m reading in Ecclesiastes isn’t exactly the “breath of fresh air” that I may need. It might not seem to be teaching me something earth-shatteringly amazing or leave a particular conviction upon my heart. But if I let the Word take root, it’ll work. I don’t exactly know when something from such a lamentful book will be just what I need for that day, but the Lord gave us Ecclesiastes for a reason.

And so, I’m going to keep reading. Not just Ecclesiastes, but through the Word. Because I don’t want to be stuck without it, desperately wishing I knew the promises within.

I’ve been there, and it’s no fun.

“Your word I have treasured in my heart . . .” – Psalm 119:11, NASB (emphasis mine)


*An old wives tale claims that heartburn during pregnancy means your baby will have hair. 

 

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Snow Daze

By Velma Amundson

Most of us in the colder areas of the United States understand winter, I mean with a capital W and bold, you know WINTER. By this time of year we are so sick of being cold and looking out our windows and seeing nothing but white. White ground, white skies, sometimes I think even the air is white. We’re tired of having to bundle up in our coats and walk on “eggshells” to keep from slipping on the ice.

I know you get it. Today I was sitting in a restaurant silently grousing about at least two more months of winter, regardless of what the calendar says. I know we probably won’t get spring before the end of April. Anyway, as I sat there silently grousing, a Bible verse popped into my head. Now, I know when I give it to you, you’re going to say I’m using it strangely. And, you’re right. But you will see it works. The verse is from Genesis 2:6, “and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground”, ESV.

It dawned on me. I had written a book for my granddaughter about the life cycle of a tree, from spring through winter and back to spring again. I had told her that God knew that even the plants needed to rest, so He made them to “sleep” in the winter. If it rained now, while the plants were dormant, they couldn’t use the water, they’re “sleeping”. Not only that but that blanket of snow on the ground acts exactly like a blanket, insulating the roots of the trees and the dormant plants, protecting them through winter. Then when spring approaches and the land begins to warm up and the snow melts there is water available for the reemerging plants. Without this cycle, it just wouldn’t work.

The Bible verse reminded me that God cares for His creation. In His wisdom, He knew how to make things just right. My grousing turned right then into praise. I praise God that He has the wisdom. I know that He will care for the world, for me and all of His children.

 

A Heart of Thankfulness and Praise

By Lori Willard

When frustrating trials come into your life, do you wonder, “Why me?” Instead of frustration, do you long for a life of peace?

Romans 13:33-36

33“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”35 “Or who has first given to Him, And it shall be repaid to him?” 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (NKJV)

Often, our initial thoughts and responses to adversity are not the best; but, as we welcome the Holy Spirit’s work in us, the Lord is so gracious to give us wisdom and knowledge to change our thoughts and responses to conform to His desire for us.  In turn, we glorify Him and are used by Him more effectively.  As a result, He brings us into a deeper relationship with Him.

Recently, a friend was challenged by many difficulties in her life.  With so much heaviness, she had gotten a heart of negativity.  What a blessing that the Lord performed “heart surgery” for me just a few days earlier!  I was able to share some of His blessings to me with her.

I asked her to hold out her hand – palm facing down.  I explained that down represented the negative thoughts.  Then I asked her to hold out her hand – palm facing up.  I further described that upward facing hand represented our positive thoughts.  Also, we are then in a position to receive from our Heavenly Father and to offer praise to Him.  The Lord illustrated to me, through my devotions, that He wanted me to turn my thoughts right side up and begin to thank Him and praise Him for all He had done.  I was led, also, to thank Him for future blessings that He sees in me, my family, my church, my community, and my world even if those blessings are not yet seen by me or others.

Negative thoughts feed in to Satan’s realm and we begin to have heavy hearts and sour souls.  We also lose hope.  When we have thankful hearts – full of praise – it gives God the glory.  Which is better?

Psalm 50 (read as you have time) explains that the Mighty One, God the Lord, wants us to gather together because He has a message for us.  He wants us to know that He is God, our God!  He sees the good work we are doing and will not rebuke us for our sacrifices.  However, even more, His heart’s desire is that we have an attitude of thanksgiving and praise.  Verse 14 and 15 says, “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.  Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.”   Verses 22 and 23 further state, “Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver:  Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.”  God is really asking His people to not forget Him and to glorify Him in all we do, to examine our lives, and He will show us His salvation.

Oh!  What a joyful blessing to have the Holy Spirit work in and through us!  Please consider taking time to have the Lord examine your life.  Check in with Him often.  Agree with His ways instead of your ways.  In Isaiah 30:15 the Lord says, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Turn your thinking right side up!  Do not resist those trials!  Thank God for them because trials stretch and grow us!  God has promised He will be with us through our trials.  In Hebrews 13:5 the Lord says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Offer Him a thankful heart – full of praise – through words, song, prayer, etc. which will glorify Him!  The Holy Spirit will bring to you a heart full of hope, peace and joy that only He can give – all combined – to prepare us to receive His will in and through our lives!

 

 

 

 

A Perfect Rest and Refuge

By Sarah Nelson

 “He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.  On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”   Psalm 62:6-8

My husband and I were hoping and dreaming about taking what we deemed to be a much needed family vacation.  Along came reality, and told us that plan wouldn’t be happening any time soon.  We both were disappointed as we were feeling tired and in need of refreshment and relaxation.   As I poured out my feelings to the Lord, He brought the verses from Psalm 62 to my mind and heart.  God is my REST and He is my REFUGE.  This position of rest can’t be found in a sunny resort.  It can’t be purchased on a travel website.  In fact, this position of knowing God as our rest and refuge is available to all of us, no matter where our physical location is.

Although we don’t have the resources to book a week away from the everyday trials and activities that require much of our energy and time, we ARE able to find rest and refuge for our soul.  If you like us, are feeling weary today, and maybe even discouraged, spend some time with the Lord as you read through all of Psalm 62.   It is a wonderful certainty that we can “hide out” in the refuge of God’s love and protection no matter where we are.  He is our rock, our refuge, our fortress, every day of the year, and in every situation we find ourselves in this day.

Josh and Ruthie Wagner update

Wagner_JulyBaby-webWagner_ElijahPuppy-webWagner_Makeni-webWagner Vehicle-web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi, Team! Makeni sure feels more like “home” now.

We recently spent four weeks (instead of the expected three/four days) in the capital, Freetown, to get our vehicle out of customs. Josh spent several days of those days working on computers, cellphones, etc. for our literacy and translation partners. We were overjoyed to get our car, drive home, and pull into our driveway! Even Elijah exclaimed “Home, home, home!”

Since we returned a week ago, we’ve had the pleasures of…

  • “Running stomachs” for a few days.
  • Driving the three minutes to the local hospital to check on July baby. — Picture attached!
  • Caring for a new puppy/watchdog and new bush kitty (both given to us unexpectedly). — Picture attached!
  • Practicing Themne in the neighborhood and meeting more neighbors. — Picture attached!
  • Worshipping at our village church in Romankeneh (15-minute drive and only Lutheran church in the Northern Province).
  • Printing and distributing copies of Krio liturgy to the church in Romankeneh (not translated into Themne… yet!).
  • Helping draft 2014 goals for Themne translation team.
  • Finishing up end-of-the-year reports… Thank you for your generosity!
  • Hearing the Muslim call to prayer nice and loud, several times a day… reminding us of the very few Christians in our neighborhood and a reason why we are here.
  • Taking on the rough roads with our new vehicle. — Picture attached!

Whew.

Thank you for your prayers. Obviously, they’re needed and appreciated. Many have asked about mailing to us in Sierra Leone.  For those who haven’t seen them in our Facebook group, WAGNER UPDATES, instructions are below.

Love to you all!
Josh, Ruthie, Elijah (and July baby)

—–SEE MESSAGE BELOW-————————————————-

Mail call February 24! Several people have requested mailing info. We haven’t received any postal mail here in Sierra Leone yet and have heard that mailing anything has about a 30-50% success rate. We’re still hoping to find a good option. Until then we’re going to have a barrel shipped to Sierra Leone in February to arrive in April/May. The barrel will include a car seat for coming baby, baby and birth supplies we need, and any letters or care package YOU have been eager to mail.  Time is short, so please have things mailed to arrive by February 24th. Please contact Josh’s mom, Kathy Wagner, for an address or to arrange drop off if you live in the Twin Cities.

P.S. In a barrel size matters but weight doesn’t.

REQUESTS:

1) Would someone from the Twin Cities (Minnesota) area be willing to pick up a barrel in New Hope and deliver it to Cottage Grove? It would need to be done sometime in the next two weeks.

2) For those interested in contributing to the cost of the barrel & shipment, contact Josh’s mom.

Contact Kathy Wagner: 58romans@gmail.com651-278-2500  Deadline: February 24

Missionaries with LBT to Sierra Leone  http://www.lbt.org/missionaries/jrwagner.php

WAGNER UPDATES
Weekly Texts for Prayer: Text “BIBLES” and your name(s) to 612-208-7680
Facebook Updates: http://www.facebook.com/groups/wagnerupdates
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Support: Here

 

 

His Eye

By Jonni Sliver

I had one of the happiest experiences in a long time yesterday.  It involves a precious young lady I have kind of adopted. Her name is Cris and she is here with her husband, John and daughter Leota for a short time (relatively speaking, they will be here almost six months when they leave). She is nearly eight months pregnant and they to have their second baby here in Brazil because John and Cris hope to return permanently when John retires.  For right now, Cris needs a little extra support because John had to return to work for six weeks (he works as an engineer on oil rigs, his current assignment is in Singapore). So Cris is here with a two year old princess, a big tummy and as much Portuguese as you can learn in two months.

I have been trying to be a good aunty to Cris – taking her shopping, helping her make new friends, getting her language lessons, and just plain visiting! One of the more important little jobs I have had has been taking her to doctor appointments, and I finally come to the blessing I received yesterday! Cris needed one more ultra-sound, and as she doesn’t speak medical Portuguese, I went with. I have seen ultra-sounds before, but it has been a while. I was so amazed to see Faith Karen’s (this precious new baby’s name) face on the screen, as clear as a photograph! Her cute little nose, her hand pressed against her cheek, she even wiggled her fingers at us (I am positive she knew she was posing for photos!). It was amazing to see this little one, still in the womb, almost ready to join us!

I have mentioned before that Psalm 139 is one of my favorite texts;  you can imagine how that passage came to mind! Seeing this precious little one is a gift from God, who gave talents and intelligence to men to create something like an ultra-sound, but none of this is a novelty for our Father. He has seen each one of us as we were being formed, as He knit us in our mothers’ wombs. Yesterday I saw just a glimpse, but the Father’s eye has been on this little girl since before her mother knew she was being carried!

Faith Karen hasn’t done a single thing to earn God’s favor, but His hand of blessing is on her and He has already dreamed great dreams for her. Do you ever feel like you haven’t done enough, or you aren’t important enough to warrant God’s grace and favor? You are correct – you haven’t warranted it, but you have it just the same! The Father loves you with an eternal love. When you lie down tonight He will be with you, when you wake in the morning He will still be there; your frame is ever before Him and he doesn’t even need an ultra-sound to see you!

INTENTIONAL

By Sarah Langness

I waste a lot of time.

I hate that I do, but it’s true.

The local garage sale websites on Facebook always reel me in; thinking “just in case” I find something we “need”. I aimlessly scroll through the Yahoo news feed, learning nothing of real importance. I look through recipes I have no intention of ever making, but the whole process of “looking” makes me feel like I’m accomplishing while my brain can zone out.

At the end of the day, I usually realize how much time I wasted. Time I could have – should have – spent doing other things.

I usually realize this in the sweet moments of bedtime with my son. As he cuddles on my lap with his sock in hand, thumb in mouth, arm wrapped around his giraffe (or other chosen cuddle animal of the night), and his little blue blankie on his lap. Whether it’s just he and I reading from his Rhyme Bible or if Daddy is able to read a chapter from the Bible to us, those twenty minutes are oh-so precious to me. As we read through a Bible story or a book about Johnny Tractor or Good Night Gorilla, I realize how short twenty minutes is. I wish I could extend this story time, cuddle time, hold-him-close time. I wish I could freeze time and that such moments will never end.

And then I think, What did I do today that I could have cut out to make more time for Ezekiel?

Yeah, there are certain things that need to get done.

The laundry needs to be folded.
Supper needs to get made.
Groceries need to be bought.
Dishes need to be washed.
Baby’s room needs to get de-cluttered.

And wonderfully, these things usually happen with my little man right at my side! He loves to “help” fold clothes, play in the spice cabinet, go to the grocery store.

But so often, these are my agenda items. Why is it that when I sit down to play with him, or to simply watch him play and learn, I feel like I have to do something else?

If I’ve learned anything in the past 20 1/2 months as a mom, it’s that the time goes too fast. That I need to make the most of every moment, enjoy every day and every stage, to cherish every laugh and giggle.

But it’s not just time that should have been spent playing with and enjoying my son that I waste.

It’s time learning how I can better serve and love my husband.
It’s time investing in real relationships.
It’s time reading my Bible (instead of a Facebook news feed).
It’s time making a meal for a hurting family.
It’s time praying for the lost.
It’s time challenging my creativity and patience by learning to embroider towels.
It’s time reading something of worth (sorry, Yahoo News).

More to-do lists isn’t going to change me. Setting time limits on screen time might be beneficial. But what’s really got to change is my heart, my mindset, my desire to be intentional.

“Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17, NASB (emphasis mine)