Friday, January 30, 2009

Surrounded by a Great Cloud of Witnesses

These past few days I have been extremely humbled; so humbled that I've been brought to tears. Tears come now as I think about the great host of witnesses I'm surrounded by.

When I created my blog I didn't expect anyone to really read it. But I had friends that somehow "found" it and started reading it.

I became very prideful; needing/wanting to write something that would result in my friends making comments about how much they loved the post, loved me, or about how wonderful my relationship with God is; or a combination of all them. My posts became more about me than they did about glorifying my Creator - the One who deserves, and is so worthy of, praise.

I began to feel things, feelings and emotions, that I didn't like. You know, those feelings you have when you've done, said or in this case, thought something you shouldn't have.

Then one of my real life friends, who is also a blogger, encouraged me to join High Calling Blogs; I did. And I longed for the same sort of praise. Praise for me; not praise to God for the work he has done, and continues to do, in my life.

Then, something changed.

I began visiting other blogs in the HCB network; I was being blessed by what I was reading. I'm not going to name-names, but the blessings I have received from blogging and the greater blogging community have humbled me. Some of the blogs I visit are written by friends that I see and talk to personally; others I visit are of people I may never meet...this side of heaven. But as I think about some of you now, (tears coming) I consider you friends and look forward to the day that I do get to meet you.

This blogging community has me in complete and total awe of how God weaves my life in with yours and how that touches someone else. I need to share a story, and I'll try so hard to keep it short.

This summer a little boy, the nephew of some friends, in our area got sick and was in the hospital in Minneapolis. While he was there, his family met another family there with their daughter, Jessica, who was found in the water; she eventually died as a result. A terrible tragedy. But the beautiful thing was that an entire praying community came together to pray for this family we didn't even know.

The weaving had begun before little Isaiah even got sick.

Moving forward. Still keeping "track" of little Jessica's family through her caring bridge site; praying, reading entries that her heart-broke mom is writing.


A few weeks ago I read a review on a book called "Parting the Waters" by Jeanne Damoff on a blog in our HCB network.


A few days later I read another review on the same book from someone within our HCB network.

More weaving.

A couple of days later, Jessica's mom made another entry to the caring bridge page. The tears ran down my cheeks as I read this heart broken mom talk about how she misses her little girl and the pain she feels.

...continues to weave.

I went to Jeanne Damoff's website clicked on "contact Jeanne" and sent her an email with the caring bridge link. I shared a little bit about the situation, said I had read a review about her book and wondered if she could visit the caring bridge page. I received an email back from Jeanne the next day. She visited the site, shared her heart from a similar experience and offered to send her the book "Parting the Waters" and encouraged Jessica's mom to contact her.

You, my fellow bloggers, are a blessing to me; I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Thank you. Be blessed as you continue to be woven.

Jessica's website

Parting the Waters on Amazon: Jeanne Damoff’s Website:
Jeanne Damoff’s Blog:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Getting Directions - Supplemental Maps

I was messing around on itunes the other night (it's a hobby and huge time killer); I was searching for podcasts to download.

I didn't know that there was a "Bible in one year" podcast. I downloaded it and started listening on my way to and from work and at home yesterday and again this morning. My kids also asked to have it put on their ipods; they listened last night before they went to bed. What a great map!

If you are interested you can also listen on line. The website is If you search itunes, search Daily Audio Bible.

I also subscribed to a Christian comedian podcast as well as a few others. I am not doing this to make up or take the place of my quiet time with God; however, I trust that these "tools" will keep me headed in the right direction.

Anyone have any other tools they use?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dude, Get Directions

My husband and I are involved in a Bible study group that has been meeting for a little over a year; recently, another couple joined the study. So, we take turns "hosting" and Saturday night we went to the new couple's house for the first time. Before we could get there, we needed directions to their house.

I sat down in the office of my boss last week Thursday and she gave me a list of, or directions for, specific work that she needed me to do on some cases.

I made red velvet cake last night and read the instructions on how to mix and bake the cake.

Just today, I helped friend with her new ipod and showed her how to import cds, create playlists, sync her ipod and buy songs off the Internet.

I gave the kids instructions on what do after school: fold the towels, put the clean dishes away and practice piano lessons.

It got me thinking about how much of my life is about getting or giving directions. Learning how to get somewhere or do something and then hopefully, getting others to learn the same things. For my kids that involves cooking, cleaning, taking care of responsibilities, knowing when to work and when to play, boundaries, etc. to name a few.

I also try and teach them something about Jesus and a personal relationship with him and how Jesus is a part of every day life and how he can help in every situation.

I give them directions and sometimes, direction. I hope my information is correct and that I know that I know, that I know where I'm going!

You know where this is going, don't you.

There was a period of about three years where it wasn't a struggle for me to dedicate an hour of my day, the early morning hour, to spending time with God. I suppose because my relationship with him was new and I looked forward to spending that time with him.

But the last year or so it has become a struggle; I push snooze too many times; I go to bed too late so that I'm tired and I sleep right through my alarm; I get up on time but throw in a load of laundry, then do some quick clean up in the kitchen, then fold the blanket on the couch and feed the dog and...before I know it, I'm out of time and I need to get to work.

Unlike going to a destination that I've already been, every day is different and new and I don't know the directions for each new day. But, I've become complacent; I know my "way around" well enough to maneuver each new day without the constant direction I used to need and long for. Just as I've gotten comfortable driving around in the city where I work, I've also gotten comfortable navigating my own spiritual life.

I wouldn't go to unfamiliar territory without specific directions, would you?

Abba Father, help break me of my stubbornness and doing things on my own. I know that I need you and direction from you through talking with you and through your word. Savior, help me to realize my need for you every day; I surrender my self-sufficient ways at the foot of the cross. I know I need you Lord Jesus, I don't know why I try to get to where I'm going without asking you for directions. I'm sorry for going it alone, please show me the way. Your little girl, Janelle.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Cry Of My Heart

At times, my heart is so stone-cold. I can't, won't or don't, utter a sound to my Heavenly Father.

Other times, my heart is so full and its seems like I'm unable to utter a sound because there's so much emotion inside of me. In those moments, all I can do is let the Holy Spirit pray on my behalf. Romans 8:26 says "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness...but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."

And how quickly my heart can change from cold and empty to warm and overflowing; just last night I asked a friend for prayers for my "stone-cold" heart.

Today, I have so much to talk to God about; to praise him for the beautiful weather; for the ways I see him moving in my children; for the ways he constantly provides for our family; for the amazing family and friends that he has given us; for the beautiful sunrise...for the change in my heart.

Then, there are the things that I don't have words for but want to talk to my Abba Father about:

A friend whose mom is having tests done next week.

Friends whose marriage has been tested and withstood the attacks of the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy. For her because she is trusting God to use her testimony of forgiveness and reconciliation for God's glory; for him, for being an honorable man of God and wanting his wife to share the junk and the joy that is the result of it.

A friend who is struggling with her career and where God wants her; really wanting to see God's will for her.

A friend who is planning on a weekend get-a-way to a quiet place; to listen and discern what God would have her share.

A friend whose son-in-law lost his job with a wife and four children to care for.

A friend who has been hurt by someone close to her; asking me to pray that she finds her identity in Christ, not in what people think of her.

Friends who just lost their father/father-in-law; feelings of sadness and loss for them and their family but overwhelming joy at the thought of him entering the presence of God - his race run and WON!

All of this has got me thinking about the cry of my heart, not just today, but every day. I mean, if I could tattoo one thing on my heart or if my heart had a flashing sign or a bumper sticker, what would I want it to say?

Coincidentally (I absolutely don't believe in coincidence by the way), I was listening to Any Given Day; the song Refiner's Fire was playing. At the end of the song, I realized what I want the cry of my heart to be as the singer kept repeating the words "make us holy...make us holy...make us holy..."

Father God, I'm filled with emotion today for those that I love and care about. For their needs and hurts and wants and desires - and for the days to come. I pray God, that in your glorious ways, that you hear the cry of my heart when I have no words to say.

And Faithful One, make me holy. I'm on my knees asking you to make me holy. Amen.

What's the cry of your heart?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Two Birds, One Stone


A blogger friend over at Hope42day ( chose a new word for 2009. It was contagious. I loved the idea and her reasons for her choice. You can check it out on her blog.

Rather than a resolution I decided to choose a word as well. I've been thinking about this for a few days and have come up with my word for 2009: "break."

A few of the things I want to break:
Bad habits (including not spending time with God each day reading the Bible and praying)

Negative thinking (a pastor friend of mine calls it stinkin-thinkin: about myself, my situation, others, etc.)

There is one thing that is more important to me about the word break. I am going to be intentional about breaking out or breaking away from what is normal for me. To be part of "THE MORE" that I know God has planned for me.

I am also going to be intentional about breaking my pride and fear; two little words but so big in my life.

My ipod is engraved; it says "Broken and Beautiful. Jesus Paid it All." I hope that by the beginning of 2010 my word is broken.


I am the victim of "blogger tag." My friend, Chris, over at caught me and the rules are as simple: list six random or weird facts about yourself and then tag six others. So, I'll give it a try. In no particular order I give you:

Number 1: I can remember when I was two years old and I dropped my dolly's (glass) bottle on the cement patio and it shattered; I also remember the rabbits in kennels in the back yard. Did you catch that? I WAS 2!!

Number 2: I've been on stage. It happened at a local pizza parlor called the "Upper Crust." I was a big Joan Jett fan in grade school and one night, while at the pizza place with a bunch of friends, I (a.k.a. Joan Jett) and some friends (a.k.a. the "Black Hearts") got to get on the stage and LIP SYNC to the "Nag." I don't recall having to autograph anything but I'm certain that I did.

Number 3: Last year I went to a Women of Faith conference in Minneapolis with my friends Kathy and Shelly; we laughed a lot! On Friday night we decided to order pizza and have it delivered to our hotel. When the pizza delivery guy arrived, we asked him to model the new scarf and gloves that Shelly bought that day and then we asked him if we could take a picture with him. The poor guy didn't know what to say. That little trip to Minneapolis, by the way, ended with Shelly and I stealing (I KNOW I KNOW) an orange cone which, if the cone had a blog and could write, would be able to tell you six weird and random things about it's "experiences" since it was stolen. I think we'll call the cone "Waldo."

Number 4: I work in a law office with my boss and the office manager, Camie. Camie is one of my very best friends and has been since she started working with us about 5 1/2 years ago. This is neither weird nor random. I just feel blessed.

Number 5: I remember things, lots of things. Don't ever try and win an argument with me. I can remember the telephone number of my best grade school friend, Michon. The last four digits are 2629; Sue's: 1946; Denise: 0146; Chellie: 1172; Mikkel: 0195. When I go to the grocery store seeking 3-4 items, I can never remember all of them without making a list.

Number 6: I have always loved to sit on my (earthly) dad's lap; I still would if he would let me! I'm just getting practice in for when I get to sit on my first (heavenly) Daddy's lap.

Now, I tag the following:
Lynn Rush @ Light of Truth
Miriam @ In His Grip
Steph @ Learnin' by Grace

Carol @ Choose Joy

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Butterflies and Fishing Poles


I watched a movie last night called "The Ultimate Gift" based on the book by the same name. Have you seen it or read it? I thought it was going to be a love story; it was that and so much more!

The main character, Jason, probably late 20's, is the grandson of a very (VERY) wealthy man (played by James Garner) who dies; Jason never worked a day in his life yet he had everything and then some - a very comfortable trust fund.

In the course of Jason "earning" his inheritance, he meets a little girl, Emily, probably about 6 or 7 years old, who he later finds out has leukemia.

One day, Jason goes to the hospital to visit Emily and she's not in her room. The nurse says "She's with God" in a very matter of fact way. The next scene shows him walking into the chapel at the hospital and he sees her sitting toward the front.

In the front of this chapel there is a statue of Jesus and he has his arms out and open.

He sits down behind her and they begin talking - you know, real talk; how we do when things are serious.

Emily asks Jason "do you think [God] takes advance orders - you know, for my place..."

Jason asks "what do you think heaven looks like?"

Emily says "Butterflies. Lots of butterflies...I think about dying" she says. "Its...unfair even if He had the idea..."

Jason: "I don't know much about God or Jesus, but I promise you that those arms are meant for you."

That scene made me think about heaven a little differently than I had before. I know what the Bible says heaven is going to be like (as if my mind can fathom it) but the idea of butterflies made me think about it with a more child-like approach.

Since heaven is...well, heaven, then doesn't it make sense that God will have waiting for us the things that we love the most?

So, aside from I know from the Bible, I think that heaven is going to have a permanent beautiful sunset; my "place" will be a cute little cabin with lots of shade trees on a lake that has little waves rippling onto the shore. Oh, and of course a really nice beach with "ocean beach" sand and no rocks.

There will be a nice dock going out into the water with some really comfortable "lounging" furniture; maybe even one of those anti-gravity chairs that we have, but softer.

There would always be plenty of sweet raspberry lemonade too.

Oh, and loud music everywhere; including a band for me to finally sing in!

I couldn't get to sleep last night so I spent some time praying for you and Scott and Paul and the rest of the family; then I started wondering what Paul's heaven might be like.

I don't know the man very well, just through you, Scott and Joyce, but I suppose there will probably be a tractor and a field to do some work in.

I wondered too, if there will be a place for Paul to fish. I know your little girls love to fish and I suppose that he'll want to share his fishing spot with them.

I imagine that he'll have a great big lounge chair so that somehow he can hold all his precious grandbabies at one time. The chair will be unique, like no other chair, because each grandchild will feel like they are the only one sitting on "Bop's" lap.

After sleeplessly dreaming about this, I did fall asleep; and when I woke up this morning the song (because you know everything for me comes in the form of a song...) that continued to play in my head was "...all things are possible...all things are possible...all things are possible..."

I know the future for Paul is uncertain right now. In Christ, there are no good-byes.

I love you my precious friend, Janelle

(You can check out Paul's story and my friend Jennifer at

What will heaven look like for you?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Holy Ground

Exodus 3 tells the story of God appearing to Moses in the burning bush; Moses couldn’t put his finger on why the bush was on fire but not burning up. As he approached to get a closer look, God stopped him.

“Moses! Moses!”

“Here I am!” Moses replied.

“Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground…”

I looked up the definition of holy on Wikipedia; it says that holy (or sacred) means set apart for the worship or service...It could also mean being set apart to pursue (or to already have achieved) a sacred state…

There is nothing earth-shattering about ground; Wikipedia says it means the earth’s surface (among other things).

Ordinary ground, on it’s own may not be that exciting or interesting; however, put the word “holy” in front of it and it becomes something extraordinary.

Based on the definitions above, have you ever stood on holy ground? If you are a born-again child of God, my belief is that you have.

These pictures are of a portion of the road I travel every day to and from work. My commute is approximately 40-45 minutes over approximately 35 miles.

Do you see anything spectacular about this stretch of road? You may not see anything special about it, but for me, this is holy ground.

On this specific stretch of road (approximately 1/3 of a mile) I cried out to God for the first time in my life as I felt that my marriage was over. Two days later God showed up on this same stretch of road and told me he would walk with me through the hard times.

This was the beginning of a true and authentic walk with God which began a little less than 6 years ago.

About three years later, on this same stretch of road, God showed up again. This time I didn’t like what he had to say; but my relationship with him had grown and I had learned to trust him.

But in my heart, I knew it was God and the message he spoke was clear: I needed to personally confess a sin to someone from years before. God again promised that he would walk with me.

Should there be a sign along the side of the road that says: "Holy Ground - next 1/3 of a mile?" Was the ground by the burning bush still holy ground after God was no longer there?

While I believe that there is significance in the fact that God has appeared to me in the same place on more than one occasion; I don't believe that a sign should be erected. This is a special "place" for me, but probably not for anyone else; a place where I finally reached out to God after years and years of being pursued by him.

Not only is God Holy, but he loves us so much that he pursues us in order that we might be holy; set apart for worship and service.

What about you? Where/when have you been on holy ground?

Abba Father, thank you for pursuing us; thank you for desiring to make us holy. Open our eyes to the times, places and faces where you show up. Don’t let us miss another moment Emmanuel.

(On a side note, in obedience to God, I did personally confess the sin to the person I sinned against. God, and his grace, showed up there too. And, my husband and I are still married.)

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Life That is Changed

A new year: a new name.

When I chose the name for my blog I didn't know exactly what I would be blogging about; however, after a few months, the "theme" is clear, at least for me.

My life was drastically changed because of the birth of a baby King; because of the life of man, yet still God; because of the death and Resurrection of my Savior.

It seems that my blogs aren't so random after all...

What are your thoughts on the new name; of changing it once the "game has started?"