Arising at 3:00 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, Eric and I left for Berlin. It was chilly out and raining. It was going to be a long time away from home, away from our children. Partly I was excited about the new adventure, partly I was already missing the children. We drove to the airport in the dark, in the gentle rain.
Throughout our travels, the number 27 caught my attention and seemed special to me, although I couldn’t figure out why.
I thought that perhaps it was because it paralleled our first day in Europe??? (the 27th of November)
I took this picture while walking to a bus station in London. Eric and Anna were blocks ahead of me. Talking to myself, I told myself that I really liked the number 27. I think all that travelling was getting to me. 🙂
We returned from our trip late — almost midnight — on Dec. 22nd. We drove home from the airport in the dark. Again in a gentle rain on a chilly night.
It was a busy time with visiting relatives home for the holidays. A few days later as we sat with our children, they shared with us how together they had memorized Psalm 27. I asked why they had chosen that particular psalm. It had seemed rather random to them, possibly because they had been discussing the movie “Gods and Generals” and that psalm was quoted in the movie.
One verse humored them:
“When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the LORD will take care of me.” Psalm 27:10
I think it was that particular verse that caused Psalm 27 to be their scripture of choice to memorize together. They had greatly encouraged me to go on the trip with Eric and had not felt forsaken in any way. Yet the verse made them chuckle.
It was interesting to me that the number 27 had stood out to me during our travels and that God seemingly led our children to memorize Psalm 27 while we were gone.
Pondering this coincidence, I then noticed the date on my phone that evening — Dec.27th.
Also I realized the duration of our trip — exactly 27 days.
I am determined to also memorize Psalm 27 and meditate on the promises of God’s protection.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.
One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.
Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the LORD will take care of me.
Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!
10 years ago our family moved from Greensburg, Kansas, to Chile, S.A. I have felt impressed to record how the LORD led us on that journey as a memory for my children and for anyone else interested in reading about it.
The LORD is My Shepherd
Go now… or after the baby is born? That was my heartcry before the Lord. I was convinced that God was telling us to go… but when?
For years Eric and I had had dreams of a coming storm. We thought that the dreams might be prophetic of a coming destruction to America. That thought lined up with the David Wilkerson newsletters we had received since 1990. Had those newsletters influenced our dreams? Or was God speaking to us through them!
I had awakened one night with my heart racing, startled from a dream of 3 tornadoes headed straight toward our home. I wondered if I should wake up Eric to tell him that I had yet another tornado dream, this one more real than the others. Fully awake and my heart still pounding, I heard an intense call out from down the hallway. “STORM! STORM!” My son, Joey, was talking in his sleep. God had my attention. A storm was coming.
A year or two passed. We were trying to listen to God and follow His leading. We moved to an old farm and tried to get more “prepared“. It was hard work and we were not sure how much we really could prepare. A few more years passed.
Our son, Matthew, had 4 tornado dreams 4 nights in a row – each tornado dream contained a specific detail – a wide tornado, it turns at our fence-line (the border of our property), the wheat in our field is just starting to turn golden (springtime), it’s evening.
Eric had dreams also… an airplane crashing into the middle of Greensburg and destroying it… reminiscent of 9/11.
In another dream, he was looking out his office window to the west and saw a massive tornado headed straight toward him. When Eric had that dream there was no way to see very far to the west. Next to his office building was a very narrow alley and a large brick building. That large building blocked any view out that west window. But now, about a year later, the building’s roof had collapsed and the building was torn down. Now, one could actually see to the west. Was God telling us to go now?
Seven-year-old Bridget had a dream of a loud siren sounding and all of us loading up our 15 passenger van to go.
I had discussed this much with God. Eric was busy with his law practice and title company. We had recently totally remodeled our old farm house and finished our 1800 sq.ft. addition. I had a grand, organized school room! I was pregnant with our 8th child. It made no sense for us to go now. I told God, ”But I am comfortable.”
But comfortable was not God’s will for us at that time.
I picked up a notebook out of a box that Eric had hauled down from the chicken coop. A loft above our chicken palace stored old notebooks and other “stuff”. Eric was cleaning out, getting ready “to go”. As I was arguing with God about being nice and comfortable, I opened the notebook and saw notes I’d written from a sermon years before while living in Charleston, South Carolina. I had written in large print. “It is dangerous to be comfortable but out of the will of God.” “Like Jonah, asleep on the ship to Tarshish… comfortable, but out of God’s will. Or Samson, asleep on the lap of Delilah…comfortable, but not doing God’s will.”
Okay. I got that. Being comfortable was not a good reason to stay on our farm.
But what about Eric’s work… just leave it all? How would we provide for our growing family with 7 going on 8 children?
I knew one of God’s covenant names was “Jireh” — that the LORD would provide.
The children and I had studied the covenant names of God, made posters, and done a skit about it for our homeschool co-op devotion. Eric had played his guitar and sang Proverbs 18 as the children acted out our skit.
Prov.18:1 “The Name of the LORD is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe. But the rich man sees his wealth as a strong city.”
We had made colorful signs of the covenant names of God with glitter glue. We had a sign for “Shalom” = Peace, one for “Roi” = Shepherd, one for “Rapha” = Healer, and so on. The signs were all beautiful and glittery on large poster boards. We also made some signs with the word “Righteous” written on them. The younger children hung these signs around their necks labeling them “Righteous”. They (the righteous) ran for safety to the refrigerator box (painted to look like a Scottish tower) with its colorful signs of the covenant names of God sticking out all over it.
Joey and Anna pretended to be the bad guys pursuing the little “righteous” ones that were running for safety to the tower of God’s names. Matthew was the rich fool in the skit, standing behind his walled city that was about to collapse.
(I had to digress on that sweet memory.)
I had thoroughly meditated on the covenant names of God. He was our strong tower that we could run to and trust in!
But this was a bit radical. Leave everything and go… to Chile?
Eric had his job here in Greensburg. Eric’s mom lived in town and had been widowed the year before. It might be difficult for her if we left.
The farm was a healthy place to raise our children. We had horses, chickens, and goats. We had a go-cart, trampoline, and swimming pool. My dad had built a special play house for my daughters.
And I loved our barn. The children had a rope swing in it. Matthew had built a hay house in it.
My heart was tied to our earthly treasures.
God continued to nudge us.
During the night, one of our goats escaped from her pen and tried to eat the grain stored in a large trash can. She was pregnant and fell head first into the trash can. We found her dead the next morning because she couldn’t get out of the trash can.
It was a sad morning looking out toward that big red barn.
As I gazed out the window staring longingly at the barn God asked me to give up. I heard Him say, “Greedy for grain… greedy for gain!” That pregnant goat was a picture of me. I was greedy and wanted to keep my “Pottery Barn” barn and Eric’s good job. I wanted my comfortable life and my organized schoolroom so my children could grow up right and serve God!!! But God spoke to me about that pregnant, greedy, dead goat. I was pregnant. I was greedy.
But… no, Lord, I won’t be a stubborn goat. I will follow You as my Shepherd!
Tears flowed with surrender as I sang.
Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your name. You give and take away, You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, LORD, blessed be Your name.
Now committed to the path that the Lord would choose for us, I wanted to know when… now or after the baby is born?
That night I had a dream. A shepherd, dressed in homespun woolen shepherd’s clothes, urgently beckoned his sheep to come follow Him. I then saw that I was that sheep. I woke up, my heart pounding rapidly with such an urgency to follow my Shepherd and go, NOW!
God had a plan. He wanted us to KNOW His voice more clearly, to KNOW His name as Shepherd and Provider. He was training us to follow Him more closely, with instant obedience and full dependency on Him. Our safety wasn’t going to be found in a place or location. Our safety was going to be found in knowing Him and obeying His voice.
This is Too Hard
My journal entry dated 6/10/05 reads:
I am feeling nauseous, knowing it’s for a wonderful purpose. Yet my emotions once again slip into feelings of “This is too hard”.
My journal entry went on to say how Matthew 25 was my reading for the day…
“The wicked and lazy servant with one talent was afraid. He saw his lord as a hard man.”
I was feeling the same way as the wicked and lazy servant described in scripture. I was pregnant and feeling nauseous and my LORD was telling us to leave everything and go to Chile. I wanted to be His servant…..but this felt too hard.
I read how Satan’s ambition was for Job — and us — to not see God rightly in our trials and afflictions. Satan doesn’t want us to see Him as a God of Grace… because if we did, then we would become fruitful. Satan wants to make us unfruitful.
In Matthew 25, the five-talent and the two-talent servants were fruitful… each 100 fold. They were completely obedient. But the one-talent servant could not find God’s grace to obey. He was afraid. He had fear… not faith.
1 John 5:3,4 says that His commandments are not burdensome. Matt 11:30 tells us His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He says that He will supply us with the strength to accomplish whatever He asks of us. He will give us grace.
The 100-fold servants entered into the JOY of the LORD. The reward for obedience is JOY.
Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4
The trial will mature us if we trust in His grace to take us through it.
God wanted to mature us. He wanted to prune us so that we could be more fruitful.
In the few months that followed, we sold stuff, gave away stuff, and packed up a 20 ft. container with items that we thought we would need for life in Chile.
Yes, it was hard… but not too hard. We found His grace as we obeyed Him…
On October 10th, 2005, we flew to Santiago, Chile. It was my daughter’s birthday. The flight crew sang “Happy Birthday” to Anna. The move was an exciting adventure for her and her older siblings. Her younger siblings were sad to leave their home on the farm.
We arrived on the 11th of October. A missionary family that we had met over the internet greeted us and helped us get settled into our new life.
There were many challenges.
We did not speak Spanish.
Finding a house that was large enough for our large family was difficult. We finally found one in the city of Talca.
Fleas were all over Chile. Everyone had dogs and it seemed everyone had fleas. We were attacked by the fleas. A new routine was set of thoroughly vacuuming the entire house and washing all of our bedding — daily.
The fleas bothered me and my two youngest children the most. I did not sleep much because of the intense itching.
Discouragement set in. It seemed we would never conquer the fleas.
God began to speak to my husband about discouragement.
God had been speaking the same scripture to me. Just like the Israelites, God was leading us by a hard way to test what was in our hearts. The Israelites complained and they were bitten. I was complaining, and I was getting bitten.
With my discouragement, I had started doubting. I was tempting Christ with my unbelief.
“…nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents.” 1 Corinthians 10:9
Seeing the parallel and feeling God’s conviction, I repented of my doubting and complaining.
The fleas stopped.
Now our floors were covered with small black ants. Our floors were black. We had to wipe the ants off our feet as we climbed into bed.
The ants did not bite us. I noticed that the fleas were no longer a problem. The ants were eating the fleas, their eggs, and larvae.
I was thankful for God’s deliverance from the fleas! I was learning what it meant to tempt Christ. And I was learning about overcoming discouragement.
After our 8th child, Zoie, was born, we moved from Talca to Villarrica, a town in Southern Chile.
On the morning of May 4th, 2007, Anna woke up feeling a heavy burden for her grandma, “Grammie.” Anna prayed for Grammie throughout the day, praying for her protection but not having an understanding of the burden she felt.
That evening a massive EF5 tornado swept through Greensburg, Kansas. It came from the southwest and turned on the edge of town (just at the edge of our old farm) It plowed its way down Main street and with 200mph winds, it destroyed 95% of the town.
We heard news of the tornado the next day. Grammie was safe.
It all made sense to me then. Gone were the nagging doubts that we had been on some bunny trail. The Lord had been speaking about this to us. And we had followed our Shepherd.
Just like Matthew’s 4 tornado dreams, the tornado was wide. It turned at the edge of our property. It was early May, just when the wheat is starting to turn golden. And it was in the evening (9:20 p.m.).
Our farmhouse, though on the edge of the tornado, was greatly damaged
and was later bulldozed down. If I had hung on to my big beautiful
barn, I would have lost it anyway.
Notes in my Bible say, “Be certain that you are always where God wants you to be or you put yourself in jeopardy.” It references 2 Samuel 11, the account of King David’s choice to remain in Jerusalem and the temptation and sin that ensued.
I opened to these notes today and sense the Lord emphasizing this truth of seeking His direction for our lives and that doing so may well keep us from trouble and tragedy.
Eric led our devotion this morning with Ps.119:106 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Yesterday I read a blog post titled “Summer of Preparation”. The author is of the opinion that this summer needs to be a time preparing spiritually and physically for the days ahead — to be focused on being ready for a national disaster. Summer is normally connected with recreation and vacations. But the writer was warning that we need to be watchful and preparing.
Some of that writers thoughts paralleled a dream I had the same morning (May 12th). My dream started with events that we have planned for early June where some of my children are signed up to attend a music camp. As the dream progressed, I was out in a field where people were involved in outdoor recreational activities. A 1950’s pearl white car was circling the field for fun and the driver was somehow managing to throw a basketball back and forth with someone else standing in the field. The atmosphere was one of people taking vacations and I was having thoughts that we should go to Yellowstone National Park for a family vacation since it was close by. (I have never had a desire to take a trip to Yellowstone, nor do I ever think about Yellowstone, nor is it close by — but that was what was in the dream.)
As I am planning in my mind to take a family vacation to Yellowstone, suddenly the white car that had been circling the field was right in front of me and about to run me over. Suddenly, I am in a crevice or ditch in the ground and the car drives over me. My heart is beating rapidly and I am relieved that I am still alive. But I am trapped under a thick layer of dirt and have only a small space of air above my head. I think that perhaps I have only enough oxygen for one last breath and I am wondering if I will be able to climb up and push through the layer of soil that is above me. I wake up at this point and my thoughts are that God is warning that we are in a time not to be pursuing recreation and vacations without His guidance.
I am also wondering if God is speaking something about Yellowstone in particular — a warning about Yellowstone blowing sometime in the future? In my dream, the earth was split. An earthquake? Like I said, I never think about Yellowstone.
As I shared my dream with my children during this morning’s devotion, I had a thought that the 1950’s pearl white car was the attitude of “Let the good times roll”. The 1950’s was a time of prosperity in America. Many Americans still believe that life in America will continue with the same prosperity and ease as it has had in the past.
Our children still plan to attend the summer music camp. But we will not be planning any summer vacation trips without being certain of the Lord’s leading.
In 1995 we began a scripture memory program with our young children. We had small note cards with a picture of a clue word on one side and a corresponding scripture on the back. It was a wonderful tool for memorizing favorite Bible verses.
This was our second memory card:
With much enthusiasm, my young children repeated, “It is butter! …. to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” Psalm 118:8
On the back of the card was the scripture.
Daily we were quoting it as we added more memory cards. Daily we were saying, “It is BETTER to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.”
I was hungry for God. This scripture fed my spirit and helped my faith to grow.
This scripture, the very center verse in the Bible, became my cornerstone scripture for our walk in trusting the LORD as Healer.
My husband and I had taken a leap. We were on a journey with the LORD. A journey of walking with Him as our Healer. He had been leading us — step by step —
That journey began in March of 1991 when we chose scripture instead of drugs.
Psalm 103:2,3 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits; Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.”
Proverbs 4:20-23 “My son, give attention to my words, Incline your ear to my sayings, Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh, Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”
As a family of 10, we have had many trials in the past 24 years. But through them all, the LORD has been faithful. And we can gladly say with our trust in Him that it is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man!