…and it’s hard

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how it’s easy to let the stuff going on in our lives get to us, and the choices we get to make. What’s been on my mind since then is what to do when it’s hard.

Life can be hard, painful, confusing and exhausting. At times we must deal with and do hard things. We don’t have all the answers, so we must do hard things the best way we know how. And as imperfect humans we make mistakes

It’s hard. My husband of 46 years suddenly became very ill last November with a rare disease and I found myself in the completely unfamiliar role of a caregiver. It felt like I went from a happy marriage with a loving life partner to caring for someone with special needs. Responsibility for his care 24/7, all medical and financial decisions, doctor and hospital trips, bills, housework, laundry…and working full time. I didn’t/ don’t know how to do it all, it was/is hard.

So it’s hard Now what? This is where “the rubber has hit the road” in relation to my faith in Him as “the God of ALL GRACE.” Did I believe the things I had spent years learning about him, or not? The answer is a resounding YES! By God (literally) I refuse to let go of my faith in Him and I am praying and fully expect Ed to be restored to health. Psalm 23, 91 and 103 are where my faith is anchored. Until that happens I am asking for and expecting God to provide all that is needed as we walk through this jouney.

Yes I have cried, questioned, been angry at times but… He is faithful! When I have been too tired or overwhelmed to even know what I need, He is Jehovah Jireh, my provider — He ministers to our needs through family and dear friends in very practical ways — I seriously don’t know we could walk thru this without them! He is Jehovah Shammah, the God who is there – he lets me know he is with me, by written or spoken words and the prayers of others. He is our shepherd and he is leading us through this valley.

What I am learning. I make mistakes – He forgives. In Him I have strength available to do whatever I need to do. In everything to ask for His wisdom, help, leading, answers, favor, and expect it. Not because I am good, but because HE IS GOOD. I must consistently choose to cast ALL of my cares on Him. He wants me to rest — and it’s not possible to rest and worry at the same time. To be gracious to receive help from others — always with a grateful heart.

Whatever hard thing you may be experiencing, I pray that you will know that God is for you, He is with you, He will never leave you, He loves you and nothing is impossible with God.

But after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus, will restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

It’s Easy

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Our situations aren’t the same, but I imagine that like me many of you are feeling that there is a lot of “stuff” going on in your lives. And it can be easy to let it get to us.

It’s easy to get distracted, stressed out, lose focus, point the finger at others, look for someone to blame, to allow pressures to impact our attitudes. To be unkind and unloving, and to say or do things we would not normally say or do.

But, we have a choice. We get to decide (sometimes moment by moment) whether we will react based on pressure, or respond out of love and faith.

Need help? I do! But thank God (literally), for those of us who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord help is available 24//7. Here are some of the things the Lord has been teaching me:

  • Be careful what you see, hear, say. Guard your heart, what you let fill your thoughts. For example: if you see social media or news that you find concerning or disagree with – pray and ask the Holy Spirit what to do. The answer may be praying over it, changes to what/how much you view that type of info, or in some cases responding (always in love) publicly or privately.
  • In every situation, consider what the Word says. Believe it and act on it, it is the will of God. If you don’t know what the Word/the Bible says, fix it by spending time reading it, and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal its truths to you.
  • Put yourself in timeout. If you are overwhelmed, take a short break (even if its in the bathroom). Close your eyes, speak to the Father, pray in the Holy Spirit, ask him for grace and to fill you with His peace.
  • Love people. Give them the grace you desire to receive, forgive. Practice a greater awareness of those around you. Look for simple ways to show love and kindness. Pray in the Spirit for them.

Here is some good news to encourage yourself in the Lord.

Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matt. 11:28-30 (MEV)

I leave the gift of peace with you – my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts-instead, be courageous! John 14:27 (TPT)

So now we come freely and boldly to where love is enthroned, to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace we urgently need to strengthen us in or time of weakness. Hebrews 4:16 (TPT)

How and why I love Israel

In the old city of Jerusalem, May 2019

Its been a year since my last trip to Israel, with Kenneth Copeland Ministries. The people I met and heard from were precious and unforgettable, as was every place we visited. And I expect to go again some day. If you want to learn more about my 2019 trip, check for the series reviewing each day that I posted over several months after returning.

However, both the land (Eretz Israel) and the people (Am Israel) are always in my heart and often in my thoughts. You may wonder why, so let me share how my love for His land and His people came to be.

It started with music. In the late 90s I was at a bookstore looking through a bargain bin for some new worship music. I found “Under His Wings” by Jonathan Settel. I was intrigued by the song titles, some in Hebrew, so I took a chance. Well wow, the rich voice and anointing on this Messianic Jew’s music blessed me so. Within a few months, I also heard Marty Goetz (another Messianic Jew) perform songs from “He is My Defense.” I listened to this music over and over again.

Fast forward to the 2000 Southwest Believers Convention in Fort Worth, Texas. It’s where Billye Brim shared about The 2001 Solidarity Mission to Israel which would take place in November. It’s purpose was to demonstrate the love of God and Christians to Israel in a 12 day tour. Well, I didn’t know how… but I felt I must go and I made plans. Little did I know that it would be just a few weeks after 9/11, and that we would be the only tour in the land at that time. And although I went alone, I would make some precious friends and hear from some amazing people, like Raanan Levy. It was a privilege to go, a joy to walk where Jesus walked, and to show support for the people of Israel. Our tour guide Michael was visibly moved as we said goodbyes on the last day and I pray his life was changed by the love of God sown while we were there.

I knew when I left that it wasn’t just about the tour, or the people we met. It was about changing my heart forever. It made me hungry to learn more. More about Jesus, more about his Jewishness, more about the old testament and more about my Father. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David…. and because of Jesus I am His.

Since that trip in 2001, God has continued to keep me hungry to learn. I took a class at a local Messianic church to learn the Hebrew Alephbet and bought a book titled, In His Own Words, by L. Grant Luton. It’s amazing, each letter has a meaning, a number, a root word…each is important. I also purchased several books (available from artscroll.com), to name a few: Chofetz Chaim: A Lesson A Day (the laws and sanctity of speech), and commentaries including Mishlei – Proverbs and Tehillim – Psalms, and Chumash – 1st five books of the Torah/Bible.

One of the most impactful learning opportunities has been through Moshe Shorashim. I asked Moshe for permission to share this with you and he agreed as long as I let you know that he is an Orthodox Jewish friend. All these years I have been receiving an email from the Shorashim Bibilcal Book Shop (which I visited on both trips, in the old city of Jerusalem — they have an online store with lots of wonderful items!). And for some time I have been following Moshe Shorashim on Facebook. Moshe is an Orthodox Jew and a wonderful teacher. He has been sharing video teachings for several weeks now, and I hear the heart of the Father in his teaching. Quite often I find myself pondering how what is shared applies to me as a Christian. He also writes for Israel National News.

Another wonderful learning opportunity was through the 2019 Kenneth Copeland Ministries tour last year, and also through Eagle Mountain International Church. Pastor Greg Stephens (who was on the 2019 tour) has a wonderful knowledge of Hebrew and teaches quite often at Faith Foundations on Sunday mornings. I am blessed to watch it via Youtube on the Victory Channel.

So, I love Israel because the Father loves them, and because praying for, loving and learning about Israel helps me to learn about and love Him.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love her prosper. Psalm 122:6 NET

I will take you to myself for a people and I will be your God… I will bring you to the land I swore to give Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob – and I will give it to you as a possession, I am the Lord. Exodus 6: 7a-8 NET

I will walk among you, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Lev. 26:12 NET

He Restores

The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough. He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss. That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name. Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have! You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way. Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for you are near .
Psalms 23:1‭-‬4 TPT (The Passion Translation)

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster lately as I have been grappling with the doctors comments on how it may be a very slow and long process before any significant cognitive changes in Ed’s brain happen – and with no guarantees to what that will look like. It has been 6 months and I feel we need to move from survival mode to recovery mode, but it is challenging with the current virus situation and Ed’s compromised immune system.

Then there are days like today where I am so very aware of the faithfulness of God. Ed has no headaches, no pain, no vision issues, very minor side effects from meds.  He also pointed out to me last night that his bicep muscles are getting bigger. He is using the walker less and less while at home, instead using a cane and sometimes nothing at all for short distances. His visit with speech therapy today was wonderful – he talked and smiled a lot (more than he has in 6 mo!). He even said it was fun and he is looking forward to next week. And our nights are much more rest-filled these days.

We spoke briefly last night about who we are, people who have faith in God who loves us. We believe the Word is true and nothing is impossible with God. We take his Word seriously, we agree with what it/He says in Psalm 23 — He restores Ed’s soul (his mind, will and emotions). We may not understand his timing, but we choose to rest in his care.

Thank you for loving and praying for us as we stand on Psalm 23, Psalm 91, and Isaiah 53, for Ed to be restored to health.

Thankful for…

There are plenty of other things to dwell on these days, but I choose gratefulness. For what is good and true… to be thankful for blessings no matter how big or small… Sunshine, a good night’s sleep, the love of family and friends, signs of spring on this very chilly morning in West Michigan. For a God who loves me and you with arms wide open.

So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.

Philippians 4:8 TPT

I am grateful

Last week Ed had another brain mri and although there were some new lesions they were significantly less than the one in February. I am grateful! 

Ed is tolerating all of the medications well with no side effects worth mention. Again, I am grateful. 

Ed is a little stronger and we are sleeping better. Again, I am grateful.

Although my salary and hours have been cut, I still have a job and can work at home. With the cut hours the pressure is eased. I have time to care for Ed, cook and clean. Again, I am grateful.

God is with us, God is for us, He is supplying our every need. Again, I am grateful.

As we head toward Ressurection Day and I remember both the cross and the Passover, I am so very grateful.

Wherever you and your families are and however you celebrate the holidays, I pray you will experience in a very personal way the love that God has for you. 

Oh how He loves you and me!

For the Anointed One has sent me on a mission, not to see how many I could baptize, but to proclaim the good news. And I declare this message stripped of all philosophical arguments that empty the cross of its true power. For I trust in the all-sufficient cross of Christ alone.
1 Corinthians 1:17 TPT

To preach the message of the cross seems like sheer nonsense to those who are on their way to destruction, but to us who are on our way to salvation, it is the mighty power of God released within us.
1 Corinthians 1:18 TPT

Caregiving and Releasing Care

It’s been just over 4 months since my husband and I began our current journey. I can only speak from my perspective, but my prayer is one day he will speak from his and be able to testify to the goodness of our God.

For the 1st 9 weeks I watched him become weaker in mind and body as he endured both hospitalization and a multitude of out patient tests. Next there was a brain biopsy which resulted in more confusion and weakness, followed by a diagnosis of CNS Vasculitis and a tough treatment regimen with strong meds and the need for acute rehab. Being released to come home, but needing 24/7 supervision. Back to the hospital and now his most recent treatment regimen requires in home care and therapy, and very limited contact to protect his compromised immune system.

I have been overwhelmed at times and felt more tired than I can communicate. However, I have found many things to be grateful for. This includes:

  • The always with me grace and presence of God. Encouraging me through the Word, and speaking to me through the inner witness. When I need peace, grace, rest, whatever…I can look to Him. He is the I Am _____.
  • Precious family supporting, loving, helping, doing whatever is needed to help Ed and I
  • Dear friends, neighbors and coworkers caring for us and show kindness in such practical ways
  • Faith friends to pray and to remind me what the Word of God says and to stay anchored in His faithfulness

I am still learning, but I hope you will be ministered to by these tips and find them helpful:

  • Stay connected to the One who is faithful. Ask Him to give you scriptures to stand on. Mine (and for Ed) are Psalm 23, Psalm 103 and Hebrews 4:16.
  • Choose to pray, read, listen, praise, every day – even fall asleep doing it, or do it if you wake up during the night. Choose to meditate the Word (like Psalm 23 or healing scriptures) instead of allowing worry.
  • Feel overwhelmed?
    • Phone a faith-filled friend and have them pray. Trust the Holy Spirit to minister to you through them.
    • Let people help you with things like errands, meals, cleaning.
    • Get rest. It’s okay to nap.
    • Be wise – ask someone to give you a break.
  • Make things easier. For example:
    • Use services like Shipt and Amazon for shopping
    • Use free websites and apps for caregivers like
      • Caringbridge.com lets you easily give updates about your loved one to family, friends and others
      • Caringvillage.com has an app too and lets you set up a group involved in caring, share a calendar, to dos, wellness journal, messages, med list and more
  • Release the care. Trust the One who loves you and your loved one. He is the God of all grace, rest in his care and let him care for you.

Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there , for he always tenderly cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7 TPT

Trusting God for Ed

My husband Ed became sick in early November…and after many tests was recently diagnosed with CNS Vasculitis.

Will you please join your faith with ours that he will be restored to health? That is what we are praying for and expecting.

If you would like learn more, stand in faith, and pray with and for us, you may read more here: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/edwardaten/journal

Israel 2019: Part 10 – Our last day in the Jerusalem

This is the last part of my series sharing about my 2019 trip to Israel. I hope you have enjoyed it.

Our last day was spent in the old city.  We started at the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount and while there we saw ancient stone Mikvah’s used by Jews to take ritual purification baths as they ascended to the temple.

We also visited some archaeological areas, including a stone wall built in the time of King Hezekiah over 2400 years ago. And, that those stones were dry-fit into walls, no mortar was used. And we were shown how even the stones that no longer stood as a wall, were often reused to build again. As a result, there are often very old stones found mixed in with newer ones in some walls.

There was one more quick stop at the Western Wall before we headed for shopping in the Jewish quarter, and for a view of the beautiful Menorah built in preparation of the next temple that stands close to a Synagogue near that area. It was fun to see the school-aged children in the area while we were there.

I enjoyed our visit to the area of The Cardo (HaCardo), and seeing the mural depicting what shopping would have been like there in ancient times, as well as the columns from that time. It was lovely to revisit Shorashim – The Biblical Shop, which I had been to in 2001. I have been reading their monthly newsletter by email ever since, and they are on Facebook too. I bought a lovely necklace there that I will treasure always.

After that, we went back to the Inbal Hotel to take a short break and then pack our suitcases. Shortly after dinner our buses took us back to the airport in Tel Aviv. Our flight was overnight, but it was very busy, and took some time to get through… then there was customs at Newark, NJ after we arrived at about 5:30 am. Our last flight left Newark mid-morning and we were back to the Grand Rapids area around noon. It was a very long day indeed.

Was it tiring? Yes. But, it was so worth it. The experiences, the unforgettable places, the people, the adventure, great teaching, new friendships,  and being with others of “like precious faith.”  And yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat!

And, we can look forward to this:  I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, all arrayed like a bride beautified and adorned for her husband;  Revelation 21: 2  (the whole chapter is beautiful!)

As we begin 2020, I pray that you experience for yourself the goodness of our grace-filled God in new and wonderful ways. Oh how he loves us!

Finding Joy in Christmas (Past + Present)


For me, Christmas is a time to show people they are loved, and that they matter to you.  It’s what the Father did — to show His love He sent his precious, beloved son to be Emmanuel – God with us (Matthew 1:23).

As a child of divorce, Christmas was always a multiple-stop experience for my family, and I loved it. I had extra grandparents, and more aunts, uncles and cousins than most kids. I might have complained a little about leaving my new presents at home, but I really enjoyed spending time with family.  My family also visited nursing homes with our church groups each Christmas when I was young.  We sang Christmas songs and gave hugs to the seniors we met, doing our best to show them love.

When my husband and I had kids the tradition continued.  We packed our little ones up and made as many as 3-4 stops at Christmas to spend time with our grandparents, parents and extended family – which for a time even included great grandparents.

We’ve been married 45 years, so over time things changed, naturally. The kids got married and some had kids, grandparents and in-laws moved to heaven and we started just getting together with our kids and grand kids (the best part!)…   We tried to plan around their schedules, and usually Christmas day worked as many had other plans on Christmas Eve.  And, for several years now we have also gone Christmas Tree “shopping and chopping” together, enjoying the horse drawn rides at a local tree farm.

And as a couple, we have also hosted a Christmas Eve open house of sorts for several years… inviting extended family and friends – whoever else could or wanted to come. We made and decorated cookies together, played a white elephant game, played games…just hung out together.  Plus, for all holidays now, we always make sure to invite my mom. She is a treasure that I want to honor and enjoy!

I have great Christmas memories, and this is a favorite – it’s a card from my grandson Dominick a few years ago. It blesses me so!

This year is different. My husband has been ill and quite weak since early November. We are continuing to trust God for a diagnosis and plan for his healing/recovery.  The result though is no tree farm visit or real tree, and no hosting of Christmas events for us this year.  I am grateful our son and daughter-in-law are hosting Christmas this year, but sadly not everyone is coming.  Perhaps its time for a change and perhaps our kids/grand kids will start inviting us (and my mom) to participate in their Christmas celebrations from now on. But I hope we can at least do our Christmas Eve party next year.

BUT FOR NOW… regardless of present circumstances I WILL REJOICE in the birth of my savior, Jesus Christ. And, I WILL BE GRATEFUL for the love and kindness that has been show to us. This includes counting my blessings like:

  • Kids who took the night shift while he was in the hospital – so I could get some sleep in my own bed while they stayed with their dad
  • Pastor’s Keith & Judy who came to the hospital, sneaking communion in with them, and praying with love and compassion for healing
  • Several family, friends and co-workers who provided meals, cleaned our house, hung Christmas lights, raked our yard, and one who took me on the fastest most productive Christmas shopping trip ever (with my favorite coffee included)
  • Neighbors who left Christmas cards, came to visit, volunteered to shovel snow, rescued packages from rain… and are “here when we need them”
  • A boss and work team who have supported my need to work “wherever” and have helped when needed.
  • My mom, son Jon and brother-in-law Jim who have been there for us every week, for one or more days as needed, whenever we needed them.
  • Amazing friends (Shirlee, Cindy, Judy, Lori and others) and my EMIC eGroup who are strong in faith and praying for us, encouraging us with the Word. I can be real with these people – and know that whatever I share, they will always point me back to HIM, to His faithfulness, His truth, and to His love for me and my family.

Truly, because of Jesus, I am blessed to be living a grateful and grace-full life. And, I pray that you will find your joy in Him too this Christmas. Oh how He loves us!