A Mother’s Nightmare Come True

I was working at a local radio station in St. Cloud, Minnesota the night the news story broke about Jacob Wetterling’s abduction almost 26 years ago. My blood went cold when I heard the details of the story.

Authorities searched for Jacob Wetterling for years but could never find him. What happened to Jacob?

Now we know. A man who has been a suspect in the crime finally confessed to the killing and led authorities to the grave of the young child in an isolated farm field.

As I read the gruesome details of this story almost three decades later, I tried to think of what I would have done if that had been my child?

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/09/06/timeline-jacob-wetterling-danny-heinrich

I live in a small community very close to where the man who confessed to killing Jacob Wetterling used to live.

As I read the story in the paper, I was also noting that on Facebook parents were posting their children’s first day of school pictures. “It really doesn’t seem fair”, I thought.

“How could one person abduct and kill an innocent eleven year old boy and hide in plain sight for 27 years?”

Danny Heinrich admitted to doing similar horrible acts to another boy. How many other young boys hold the nightmare of what Jacob and this other boy went through in their hearts?

I’m certain that if Dante were still alive he would have added another level of hell to his famous inferno just for this man.

image

As I write this my 25 year old daughter is asleep in her bed. What if this had been her?

I would never have stopped until this man was found, which is just what Patty Wetterling did. Momma bear unleashed.

I shudder to think of the judgement that awaits this man after his life is over.

Our God is a just God but he also does not stand for heinous crimes committed against young children.

Danny Heinrich is said to have been sentenced to 20 years in prison. A sentence I feel is much too light for the acts he has committed.

According to Matthew Henry’s Commentary, “The devil reigns where Christ does not”.

We are not God and cannot judge what this man has done but I feel that Satan truly lives in this man’s heart.


When do these barbaric acts stop? Or won’t they?

Jacob was a sacrificial lamb, just as Christ was who died for our sins. Jacob died so that other children may live lives free of the nightmare that he went through.

Since Jacob’s abduction, the Jacob Wetterling Foundation has been established and the Amber Alert has been created.

According to amberalert.gov, 800 children have been rescued and there are 86 Amber plans throughout the U.S.

http://www.amberalert.gov/statistics.htm

I pray that God will judge those who have committed similar crimes. This unforgivable sin will remain with Danny Heinrich for the rest of his days. May God have mercy on his soul.

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The Book or the Movie?

If you are not going out of town this Labor Day weekend, consider sitting down to a good book or movie.

A few months ago, as I was perusing Netflix, I came across a BBC film called Philomena.

Philomena is the true story of a young Irish girl, forced to give up her young son, Anthony, to an American couple in Illinois.

Philomena never forgot her young son and searched for him for many years.

And, are you ready for this? Partial spoiler. She does find him, but not as she would have wanted.

PhilomenaI enjoyed this movie so much that I sought out the book by Martin Sixsmith.

What I found is that the book was even more riveting than the movie.

What is interesting to me is that the movie is based on the life of the mother and the book is based on the life of the son.

book

 

What book readers tend to find is that the book is almost always better than the movie.

But does that rule apply to religions too?

I was raised Catholic and then turned to the Protestant religion when I became an adult.

Kind of like the book and movie theory, Catholics stress a relationship with the mother while Protestant’s focus on the life of the son.

Which is correct?

The reason I changed my religious path had nothing to do with religion. I changed because my husband wanted us to become one because that is what you do when you get married.

At the time, he was Protestant and I was Catholic. I found nothing about the Protestant religion appalling so I switched.

one

Many people who have experienced both religions have definite opinions on the subject. I enjoy them both.

I follow the Pope on Twitter and I recently purchased Mother Angelica’s book by Raymond Arroyo.

I no longer practice the Catholic religion but I do follow it.

As followers of Christ, we have been forced by society to make a choice. The book or the movie? The mother or the son?

The Catholic traditions are compelling with their formality and the Protestant traditions I find captivating every time I open my Bible.

'You STUPID fool Ryan! Didn't i warn you not to go JUDGING his cover?!' / A book has just been bashed around a bit for judging another book's cover.
‘You STUPID fool Ryan! Didn’t i warn you not to go JUDGING his cover?!’ / A book has just been bashed around a bit for judging another book’s cover.

Like the old saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, I would caution you to be the judge.

Jesus reminds us in Matthew 7:1 NIV, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged”.

And better yet. Don’t follow society, follow God.

As Paul said in Romans 12:2 NIV, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will”.

I have been lucky and have been able to see both sides of the cross. And I can truly say I have loved them both.

So when the topic comes up, “Catholic or Protestant?”, “Jewish or Muslim?”, I usually don’t have too much to say.

What I do say is follow God, not people.

people

 

Back On The Roller Coaster

When asked why they love to write, some people say, “Because it relieves stress”, “Because it makes me feel good” or “Because it is what I was meant to do”. In my case, I write for all of those reasons.

Today however, I write because of grief. I was at a Weight Watchers meeting this morning when I got a call from my daughter. She called to say that Grandpa had just called saying that Grandma had cancer.

roller coaster

My heart automatically skipped a beat. Did I hear her correctly? Grandma has cancer?

My roller coaster ride with cancer started many years ago with my brother Steve.

We had always been close but when I got married a state separated us. I live in Minnesota and Steve in Iowa.

Even though it seemed like we weren’t as close, we really were. One day when I was taking some kids to church camp, my brother called me on the phone to tell me he had cancer.

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing at that time. That is a phone call you just don’t forget. We started a roller coaster of living with my brother’s illness because cancer is something you just don’t do alone.

The roller coaster ride ended last December 21st when my brother Steve died. Again, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I got the call.

cancer How can a simple word strike so much fear into a person’s heart?

I am still not over my brother’s death, it was just last December.

How do you move on from such a thing?

When my daughter called me today, the same fear that I felt for years for my brother was back. How do I free myself from this awful disease that seems to be relentlessly pursuing me?

When I talked to Grandma today she seemed to be alright talking about the diagnosis. “How can she take this so calmly?, I thought. But how else could she take it?

grief No amount of screaming, crying or anything else can change the facts.

Our trust is in the doctors who care for us and in the God that we praise.

Not every encounter with cancer has to end the way it did with my brother. There are many, many cancer survivors. I just can’t help but to feel fear strike my heart like a poison arrow.

prayerWhen I spoke with Grandma on the phone today I told her that she wouldn’t be going through this alone. We would be with her 100% of the way.

She said, “That is what I needed to hear”. What we can do for those suffering with cancer is never material.

I told her that I would pray for her each and every day and that I would get others praying too.

When my brother died of cancer, I did not get angry at God. Why? I guess because I trust in Him.

I know that He knows what is right for us because I believe he knows the big picture.

After my brother died I was reading the Bible in the book of Isaiah. I read from chapter 26, verse 19 and I was suddenly filled with joy.

Isaiah 2919The verse read, “But those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For the life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!” Isaiah 26:19 NLT

I was so struck by this verse that I wrote Steve’s name by it in my Bible.

I know that not every cancer diagnosis is a death sentence.

I know that God works through our doctors to give them the latest and greatest knowlege for healing.

And I also know that when we hear the word cancer, we don’t have to cringe or shudder. Because when we have God, we also have faith, hope, love and strength. These are things I pray for each day.

Hope

These are the things I rely on God to provide for me.

Some people pray in the morning, some at night, I pray continually. For 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT says, “Never stop praying”.

Other Bible versions say “Pray continually” NIV or “Pray without ceasing” ESV.

Whatever version of the Bible you use, the message is the same.

God loves you the same today, yesterday and always. Hebrews 13:8

He is there for you. Pray to Him and pray often. He is your strength, your hope and your future. Amen.

Shopping With a Hundred-Dollar Bill

Last week I did some shopping and was taught a lesson in patience. I went to get some supplies and the total came to $80.53. Knowing that my husband likes me to use cash, I gave the cashier a one hundred-dollar bill.

The cashier was having a tough day as it was, I could tell. I had waited in line for quite a while myself and was feeling a little impatient. “Having a busy day?” I said, trying to make light of the circumstances. “It’s always a busy day”, she said, “And it’s Friday”.

one hundred dollar bill I felt bad for her and could feel the stress mounting.

As she scrambled to make the change, I could tell there was a problem.

She shouted to the cashier next to her, “I need some change, I can’t change this one hundred-dollar bill”. By then my own hands were starting to get sweaty.

I glanced up at the lady behind me in line. She had a cart load of things on the conveyor belt and looked as if she was going to burst a blood vessel.

look of disgust

The cashier didn’t get an immediate response from her team member, then her fellow cashier said, “You’ll have to call the manager. I can’t give you any change from my drawer”.

The cashier flipped on her light and it started blinking. I started to panic.

The lady behind me in line overheard this conversation and was now looking at me with disgust as if she were saying, “Why can’t you use a card like everyone else and keep this line moving!”

I started to feel sweat trickle down my neck. I asked the cashier if she had a twenty-dollar bill in her drawer.

She said yes and I thought, “All I have to do is give her fifty-three cents and she can give me the twenty-dollar bill and this will all be over”.

purse

I looked in the change compartment of my wallet, nope, only thirty cents.

I grabbed my purse and started to throw things out of it into the shopping cart.

Maybe there was a quarter down there somewhere? Sunglasses, coupon organizer, wallet, extra sunglasses, lip gloss….. nope, no quarter.

Suddenly the woman behind me in line said, “What’s the problem?” I told her how I had paid cash and didn’t have enough money to complete the transaction.

She said, “How much do you need?” “What?”, I said. I wasn’t sure I was hearing her correctly.

She spoke a little louder, “How much do you need?!” I told her I just needed a quarter. She picked up her purse and dug in her change compartment for a quarter and thrust it at me and said, “Here!” Like let’s get going!

impatients I thanked her for the quarter and she shot me another look.

The cashier gave me the twenty-dollar bill for change and I was moving.

For some reason I was feeling a little ashamed of myself for holding up the line. Why did I feel that way?

According to an article by the New York Times, Americans spend roughly 37 billion hours each year waiting in line and don’t like it.

And it’s not just today’s fast paced society. In the 1950’s , people who worked in high-rises were complaining that it took too long for the elevator to reach their floor.

Mirrors were put by the elevators so people had something to do while waiting. The complaints ceased almost overnight.

waitingThat is why we now see screens at checkout lanes and at gas station pumps. If given something to do, we tend to complain much less.

Patience has always been a problem, even in Biblical times.

In Exodus 32:1, the Israelites were impatient with Moses for taking so long to come down from the mountain when speaking to God.

In the book of Job, both Job and his friends were impatient. In Job 4:2 NLT, one of Jobs friends says, “Will you be patient and let me say a word?”

Job later responds in 21:4 NLT, “My complaint is with God, not with people. I have good reason to be so impatient”. But do we?

What will happen to us if we have to wait 5 to 10 minutes? Will we pass out from stress? Will that do any good?

In times of stress and impatience, we need to be reminded to look to God. Ask God what you need. In prayer, ask him to give you patience.

patience Eunice

We need to remind ourselves that God’s time is not our time. When we want something from him, we expect it now. But sometimes it takes months, years, even a life time to hear from God.

One thing is certain, God is always there, he hears each and every one of our prayers and petitions. This just  may not be the right time for you to have your request granted.

serenity prayer

In the book of Isaiah we are reminded about patience.

Isaiah 60:22 NLT says, ” ..at the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.”

And who can forget the serenity prayer? Some things we just cannot speed up, we cannot change. This prayer offers us peace, a chance to say to God, “I’m patiently waiting”.

God knows what is best for us but sometimes we are convinced that it needs to be now, not years down the road.

worries to God

Use prayer as your outlet for patience. As 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Give your worries to God because he cares for you”.

In the mean time, after my recent shopping experience, I don’t think I’ll go shopping with a hundred-dollar bill again anytime soon.

My lesson in patience taught me that everyone has trouble with it too. Especially on a Friday.

 

Always, A Noticeable Limp

Yesterday, I went to the doctor. It has been 10 weeks since my second hip replacement surgery. I just turned 52 and have had three hip surgeries in my lifetime. My second surgery was also a hip replacement in December 2015.

hip surgery

For some reason, when I think about what was done to me, I get an ill feeling. I know they used power tools. I know I have two pieces of metal riding on plastic inside of me. I know that my original hips are no longer with me and I know that if I go through a metal detector an alarm will go off. I try not to think about it and to just think about how lucky I am to be able to walk at all.

Having to deal with a hip abnormality most of my life has been difficult. But as I said, I am so glad that I can walk. My doctor told me yesterday that I may always have a , “noticeable limp”. Something I did not want to hear.

My life has been a roller-coaster ride over the past five months.

roller coaster

I had a hip replacement surgery in December 2015. Four days later my brother died from cancer. I graduated from college as an adult learner on May 14th, 2016 and I had my second hip replacement surgery on May 20th, 2016.

At times I wanted to scream, “Why me God? Why did you give me this burden?” Then again I thought, “At least I am alive and able to walk” My brother lost a 10+ year battle with cancer and died at the age of 48.

Why does God throw us these curve balls? These “out of nowhere” moments? I think of my brother everyday and think, “What if he would have lived? Why couldn’t he have been one of the lucky ones and was healed?”

If I would have been alive during Jesus’ lifetime, you can bet that I would have been following him. If there was news of such a person who could heal at the touch of a hand or after putting mud and spit in my eyes, I would have been there. And just like the man lowered through the roof on a mat, I would have had my brother with me saying, “Jesus, heal him”

One of my favorite Bible stories is found in Luke 8:43. The story of the woman who was bleeding for 12 years. I guess I can relate to this story because I have had a physical affliction for a long time too.

woman bleeding

I have often wondered what it must have been like for this woman as she heard that Jesus was coming through her town.

Did she think, “I’ve heard about all of the wondrous miracles this man has done. If he could only heal me”

What made her think to touch his robe as he walked past? Had she heard that with just a touch, healing powers would flow from this man into her body? The Bible does not say. What it does say over and over again is that Jesus uses the word “faith” when addressing the people he has healed. In fact, after this woman touched Jesus’ robe he said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace” (48 NLT).

In Luke chapter 7, Jesus heals a highly valued slave of a Roman officer (2 NLT).

Roman officer's slave

After the Roman officer addresses Jesus, Jesus says, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel” (9 NLT) and the Roman officer’s slave was healed.

I have had a strong faith in Jesus Christ my entire life. I have tried to live according to God’s laws. I have prayed and prayed for healing for myself and for my brother.

Why did Jesus heal these people centuries ago but he didn’t heal me or my brother?

What is interesting about all of this is that my faith hasn’t been weakened because of these questions, it has been strengthened.

When I returned to college in 2014, one of my reasons was to become strengthened in my faith so I could go through what I thought might be inevitable, the death of my brother. I went to a Christian University and my faith was strengthened. In fact, if I hadn’t done this, I don’t know if I could have made it through these last five months.

The truth will set you freeIn John, chapter 8, Jesus is being grilled by the pharisees. They are questioning him about who he is and who gave him the authority to do the things he has done.

There were everyday people listening in on this conversation. The people who heard believed in Jesus. To this he said, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings (31 NLT). And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (32 NLT).

I now know the truth, that God did heal me. He gave me knowledgeable surgeons to put man made titanium hips inside of my body so that I can walk. Jesus also healed my brother of his illness, for he is now with our Father in heaven, out of pain and alive again.

Shortly after my brother’s death I was reading in the book of Isaiah chapter 26 when I read a piece of scripture that jumped out at me. Isaiah 2919

Isaiah 29:19 says, “But those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!” (NLT)

Now, I may be reading this verse out of context, but it jumped out at me. It was at that moment I knew that my brother was not dead. That he was alive in Jesus Christ and sits with him in heaven.

So how can I say that Jesus did not answer my prayers and heal me and my brother? I can’t.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). For those who believe in him will have eternal live (John 3:15).

So I guess walking “with a noticeable limp” isn’t the end of the world because I know that one day I will be walking, without a noticeable limp, with Jesus in heaven, holding the hand of my brother.

The Daniel Diet

I grew up on a farm in northeastern Iowa and in the summer we had huge vegetable gardens grown in some of the most fertile soil in the country.

Now that I have moved to Minnesota, where we live on the wrong side of the glacier, I can really appreciate that rich black soil and the delicious vegetables we used to eat.

A few months ago I joined a local CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) and now receive delicious, fresh vegetables on a weekly basis.fresh vegetables

It brings back memories of being on the farm and truly “living off the land”.

I am not a vegetarian but can honestly say that I feel better and healthier since I started eating more fresh vegetables.

One day, while unloading my shares box, I was reminded of the story in Daniel chapter one about Daniel and his friends eating only vegetables and water. This has been referred to as “The Daniel Diet”.

http://www.all-creatures.org/discuss/svtdaniel.html

In this Bible story, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem (1:1). The king instructed his men to bring some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families to his service (1:3).

The king instructed his men to select only strong, healthy and good-looking young men (1:4). The king assigned these young men a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens (1:5).

Daniel refused to eat the food given to him saying that it would defile him. He asked the chief of staff permission not to eat these unacceptable foods (1:8).

Daniel refuses food

According to http://www.all-creatures.org, Daniel may not have eaten the kings food because it contained foods not prepared according to religious laws or because the food had been previously offered to idols.

The kings chief of staff was afraid that if Daniel did not eat the food offered to him that the king would become angry and behead him (1:10).

The other fear was that if Daniel had only vegetables and water, he and his companions would become pale and thin (1:10).

Daniel asked that he and his friends be fed a diet of only vegetables and water for ten days. After the ten days Daniel and his friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the kings food (1:15).

Daniel and his friends were then brought before the king and no one impressed him as much as Daniel and his friends (1:19).

Was Daniel one of the world’s first vegetarians? Was he healthier and better nourished that the other young men because of the power that God had given him or because of the food? The Bible does not say. I guess that is left for us to interpret. I believe it was a combination of his diet and God’s power.

I am a true believer in spirit, mind and body.

mind_body_spirit_comp1

I used to get up at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday and work out for an hour. I would eat at least 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and read the Bible on a regular basis.

I still read the Bible on a regular basis but have given up the strict five- a- day vegetable plan and exercise. What happened?

I’m afraid that I have developed some bad habits over the past year or so and need to get back to the basics.

By eating the fresh vegetables from my local CSA I have been reminded of how good I physically and mentally used to feel.

According to a study by the University of Warwick, eating more fruits and vegetables can substantially increase a person’s level of happiness.

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/news/fruit_and_veg/

According to the American Heart Association, regular exercise also leads to a physical and mental “feel good”.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/StartWalking/Physical-activity-improves-quality-of-life_UCM_307977_Article.jsp#.V5HyLNIrIdU

How do I get myself back on track? I rely on the power that God gives me.

IMG_143824979231144

Isaiah 40:29 reminds me that God gives us the strength to increase our weaknesses, aka, bad habits.

I have vowed to get myself back on track.

To not only eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. To not only read God’s word but also to get plenty of exercise.

The Daniel Diet may not be totally for me. But I believe the lessons we learn from this Bible story can help us lead healthier, happier lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Zucchini Bread & Miracles

It’s that time of the year again, when our gardens are starting to burst forth with the delicious vegetable called zucchini. I received five of these specimens from my local CSA and pored over the recipe books for just the right dish. After looking at recipe after recipe I finally decided upon zucchini bread.

zucchini bread

Oh, how I love this delicious brown bread with the delightful little green flecks inside. I decided to make two loaves because I thought making one was just a waste of time. I was sure that with my family we would probably consume one loaf easily and be wanting for more.

I predicted correctly, however, it was not my family gorging on zucchini bread, it was just me. My family took one look at a slice of this bread with a, “What’s the green stuff” look on their face. I then thought, “Oh well, more for me”.

As I carefully buttered each piece of bread before consuming it I thought, “It would have been nice if the disciples would have had some zucchini bread along with them when they fed the 5,000 or was that the 4,000?

There has always been some question in my mind as to the feeding miracles found in the Bible. Were there actually two different miracles as recorded in Matthew and Mark or did the gospel writers just get their facts wrong?

feeding5000-2

I have heard pastors preach of the feeding of the 5,000 probably 5,000 times over the years but never have I heard them preach about the feeding of the 4,000. Is this done for a reason? Is the feeding of the 4,000 thought to be a lesser miracle?

As I ponder these questions I slice off and butter yet another slice of bread.

The feeding of the 5,000 is mentioned in all four gospels so it must be a very important story. The feeding of the 4,000 is mentioned only in Matthew and Mark.

I find myself fact checking the feeding of the 5,000 and the feeding of the 4,000 as recorded at Bible.org.

https://bible.org/seriespage/25-feeding-4000

I found that there are definite differences in the two miracles. In the feeding of the 5,000 the gospel writers record the people as sitting on the grass. In the feeding of the 4,000, the people sit on the ground. In the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus teaches the Jews. In the feeding of the 4,000, Jesus teaches the Gentiles. In the feeding of the 5,000, there are five loaves and two fish. In the feeding of the 4,000 there are seven loaves and a few fish. In the feeding of the 5,000, twelve baskets remain after everyone is fed. In the feeding of the 4,000, seven baskets remain.

So, as I brush zucchini bread crumbs from the keyboard of my computer and read the interpretation of the Bible.org post,  I conclude that there must have been two different feeding miracles. Each intended to teach about faith but with a second feeding miracle added it also teaches about Jesus being offered for all, not just some.

As I do some further investigation I find that Jesus does indeed include all men when he speaks of salvation. John 1:7 NIV says, “He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe”. Matthew 20:28 NIV says, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many“. And of course, the ultimate Bible verse, John 3:16 NIV says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

By this time I alone have consumed most of the first loaf of zucchini bread. I contemplate the consequences of this act. As I sigh and say, “Never again” I am stuffed to the gills with this delicious bread. At the same time I am also filled with the knowledge and grace that is our Lord Jesus Christ that he offers to all. At this I sigh and think, “Isn’t it wonderful to be filled?”