Our Story: Chapter 4

Isaiah 35:1 Rescued Blooms in Wisconsin

The tulips shone brightly in the morning sun as I opened the window blinds, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Tulip bulbs are notorious for slowly fading and eventually dying out. But this one bulb that I had rescued from alongside the road many years ago had actually multiplied to become 3: Three-in-one. The significance was not lost on me. These were a gift straight from Heaven for me this year.

You see, this is the last springtime that we will be living here, in our Wisconsin “House and Garden of Prayer.” We had prayed many years about what we would do when the upkeep became too heavy for us. And this winter as my husband faced a terminal diagnosis himself, after my own years with chronic illness, we heard the whisper of our Lord:

Now is the time you have been praying for. I have been preparing a new place for you during these difficult years.

And so sometime soon this summer, we will be moving into our daughter and son-in-law’s “Mother-in-law’s suite” or “Daudi-Haus” as the Amish would call it. We will be closer to my husband’s medical system, and closer to our older son and daughter-in-law’s home, where my husband recovered after his recent surgery. Even our Alaska kids made a visit here this spring and helped us to begin the sorting process. What a joy it was to pass along some of my much loved jewelry to our dear granddaughters. Much prayer has been offered by all three of our children and their families. We couldn’t be more grateful or feel more blessed.

But I must confess that the overwhelm is still waiting outside the door, knocking for me to let it in. I am not sure how I will handle the move, either physically or emotionally. How will I downsize from an entire home to one room?

Then this month’s chapter of Our Story met me precisely in the midst of my worries. This is not the first time that we have downsized, packed our possessions, and moved into someone’s home. No, you will see as you read this chapter, how God asked deep surrenders of our family almost 40 years ago. While the future may feel hazy for me now, God continues to remind me that every time our future was hazy, HE always met us there, and carried us through to His own fulfillment.

As my morning devotions landed in Isaiah 33 this week, I found my prayers coming forth as a poem uttered from His Word. It was a different way to write a poem, but a way that I have often found myself praying, as the Spirit brings Scriptures to my mind.

He met my overwhelm with His overwhelming promises.

He Will be the Sure Foundation

I say
my times are in your hands  (Psalm. 31:15)

So therefore 
teach me to number my days
that I may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12)

And yet
my heart quivers and quails,
cowers before the approaching terror (Proverbs 3:25, Isaiah 54:14)

They say of me
where is your God now? (Psalm 42:3, Psalm 3:2)

O my soul
why are you downcast within me? (Psalm 42:5)

I will yet
HOPE IN GOD (Psalm 42:5)

For there will be
times of steadiness,
riches of God's deliverance (Isaiah 33:6)

The zeal of the LORD
will accomplish all this (Isaiah 9:7, Isaiah 37:32)

For in awe I wait:
YAWEH IS MY TREASURE
~~ZION'S STOREHOUSE~~ (Isaiah 33:6)

Your prayers and fellowship across the miles have meant so much to us these past months. When I think of the many ways that God has joined us with His Body, I am astounded. And my heart so longs to pray with and for each one of you.

Will you join me today?

Dear Heavenly Father, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ Son of God,

Thank you for the gift of Your Trinity, 3-in-one, pouring over our small, earthly lives. We are in awe of Your great love for us. We long to be able to express our gratefulness for Your presence in our lives. But our words fall so short. And so we speak back to You the very words You have given to us. We admit that we are overwhelmed by the terror that we feel. But we acknowledge that You are the true hope we cling to. We wait expectantly, watching for the glorious way that You will fulfill Your own purposes in our lives. And we gladly proclaim “it is the zeal of our great God who has accomplished the saving in our lives!” Oh Lord, will You meet my dear friends in the moments of their days now too? Shower over them Your gracious hope and mercy. And together we will bow before You and lift our praises to You alone. You are the lifter of our heads.

In the name of Jesus we pray,

Amen.

Chapter 4.~~1986 – 1987~~

If you have missed any of the previous chapters, click here to catch up.

Our Story Chapter 4, read by Barry and Bettie

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  

Romans 8:28 NIV

We had left the Minnesota Children’s Pastor Position when God once again called us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him. This time the calling led us and our two young boys across the country to Southern California. We thought that the curriculum we had developed for those middle-school-in-betweeners was the reason for the call.

“Wow! What a great ministry this curriculum could be!”

“You should get this published; it’s made such a difference in my son’s life. Others need to know how helpful this could be!”

With those thoughts of well-meaning friends echoing in our heads we began our journey to California. In so many ways we appeared just like the “Beverly Hillbillies” of our childhood TV fantasies. We loaded our small Toyota hatchback with our few important belongings, tied a large cardboard box on top with those things that wouldn’t fit, and squeezed our family of four inside the car to travel across the country for our new life. But we didn’t strike it rich, and we had no mansion that would belong to us.

In fact, we had given away most of our possessions, and sent the few pieces remaining via moving services to arrive at the friends’ home where we would stay. It was total culture shock for this Midwestern couple who had never even vacationed outside of the Midwest.

And it was nothing like the fantasies of ministry and publishing we had imagined either. God closed one door after another, until we were left broken and confused. Why move us across country when there was no hope for publication, no job that could possibly support us? We had stayed with kind people who invited our family into their home, but they had no idea how to help this depressed young couple with two young children. And then I got pregnant. The questions suddenly became very personal.

As we prayed about our questions, we listened to our families and friends back in the Midwest and decided that the curriculum could have been published just as easily in the Midwest as in California. We asked God to help us find some kind of restoration as we moved back to Minnesota.

But the questions that had begun to surface on the other side of the country would only prove to overflow when we moved back to the Midwest.

Where is God when He closes all the doors? How do the purposes of God fit in with broken dreams and unanswered longings?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  

Romans 8:28 NIV

Is His Word trustworthy or not?

Are you facing unanswered questions in your ministry and faith walk?

Are there Scriptures that are causing your heart to tremble?

Perhaps those questions are the very place where God is calling you to follow Him.

I am linking with: #RememberMeMonday #LegacyLinkup

27 thoughts on “Our Story: Chapter 4

  1. I so love this poem, Bettie: God’s Word just expresses our hearts’ deepest cries so well. And you know I love tulips.

    The same time your tulip gave its triple gift in Christ, so did our amyrillis: a Christmas gift from my husband’s employer that just kept flowering and opening up anew. In Spirit ever joined. No oceans can ever keep us apart: as I know S. & G. are surely experiencing, as are your little and growing up grandgirls, as they pray you through this also. I cannot wait to see the surprises our God has in store for you. For, He never ever stops leaving us in awe.

    Love you so much. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Anna, what a precious gift that God gave to remind us that we are joined in HIM, even so far across the ocean. There truly are no miles in His Spirit! Yes, those flowers are such moments of beauty and awe from Him. May I keep my eyes open to watch for His touches in all of these days. Love you so much too. xoxo

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  2. There’s so many layers here of Overwhelm covered by Grace! The Grace that God Sees You from the Tulips! The Gorgeous poem with the Zeal of God accomplishing His promises – evidence of His Mighty Care for You! And the Overwhelm of Going when God told you to Go – and being brought back (we know that story, too). Praying The Overwhelm stays outside of the boundaries God has set for you – and that you feel Grace like Home in this move! Your post went straight to my heart, Bettie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Maryleigh, I just came from visiting your place, and I’m still brushing away the tears. Only God could have seen the connections there–HIS grace truly covers every layer of the overwhelm that gets heaped upon us. And I love this thought: Grace like Home. May I let Him grow that in me. Blessings and love to you dear sister.

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  3. Oh, Bettie, your thoughts and poetry and the scripture and this next installment of your story – all overwhelming show your trust in God even when you don’t understand and when He closes doors. We’ve also experienced moves and learned so many things each time. And God is always faithful, though sometimes we don’t understand the way He works. But like you, I trust Him anyway. You and Barry are such a testimony to God’s grace in the midst of so many troubles, including illnesses. May He grant comfort and strength as you get ready for yet another move. Much love to you and love and hugs and blessings! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Gayl,
      I am so very grateful for the ways that God has allowed us to share our stories with each other. Truly, He has led us in so many similar ways! And I feel that same encouragement from you, as you face burdens and trials too. May He bless you and your dear family with such comfort and grace too. Love and hugs and blessings to you dear poet/sister/friend! xoxo

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  4. I feel for you as you prepare to move and downsize. We’ve down it twice in 4.5 years. I expect there will be at least one more move and downsize. One thing we have learned is that we really don’t need all this “stuff”. And it’s amazing how quickly we acquire things. I’m thankful to be closer to children.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Mandy,
      Yes, it really is amazing how much “stuff” we’ve accumulated, even though I always tried to de-clutter frequently. There are just so many things that we really do not need! Thank you for sharing your story, and your heart with me, as you have gone through different changes. You are an encouragement to me in my journey too. Love and blessings!

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      1. Reading again as you posted on legacy linkup. Interesting, we both speak of Christ as other sure/firm foundation. No coincidence here. We both needed the reminder.
        With love,

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Bettie. The surrender is so hard, but you never lost the assurance that God had a plan for your family. And you take that same comfort today, as another move is imminent. Thankfully it can only happen one step at a time. That will help the overwhelm. Praying that God’s Plan will be obvious and will bring you joy in HIM and His loving kindness. Praying for all of you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Debbie, Thank you for your sweet encouragement and prayers. And, yes, may I keep remembering that one step at a time is not a bad or slow pace because of my weaknesses, but it is actually God’s best as HE moves us through those steps. I am so grateful for the ways that you have shared your own journey and the grace that God has showered over you and your precious family. Love and hugs and prayers for you too!

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  6. I love how God opens the gate to our new green pasture as He leads us Bettie to His plans! But also how He gently closes the gates behind us so that we continue to focus upon Him in the new pasture & don’t all of a sudden bolt through the old gate again because of our insecurities 😉 That analogy comes from my days on the farm with the sheep as a shepherdess!
    Bless you sweet friend in your new adventure & pastures!
    Jennifer

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Jennifer, thank you for sharing such a great analogy today! And to have the story come from your own personal experiences with the sheep makes the story all the more precious to me. I so needed to hear that reminder today–our Good Shepherd is closing the gate behind us for HIS own good purposes. May I let Him take me deeper on this road of trusting. Blessings and love to you today dear friend.

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  7. I love how your prayer, shared music, and poem are connected. I love that you and your husband are sharing your story! In your losses, you share and refresh. What a work of the Lord!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Amy, Truly, our Lord is so good to us, the way that He reveals His weaving all along our days. I so need those touches, when my own thoughts become such a jumble, especially in these days where so many things feel chaotic. Blessings to you dear friend!

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  8. Thank you for this encouragement today – it was much-needed. I love hearing your story and how God has led you through the years. May He bless both of you as you enter this next phase of life and make your next move. I am so thankful you have so much support, and your children sound like amazing people – such a testimony to your faithfulness to God all these years.

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    1. Thank you dear Cheryl for all of your prayers and encouragement! I appreciate all of your thoughts and love that you share with me! And truly, what a faithful God we serve, who is so merciful to us along these pathways. Blessings and love to you dear friend.

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  9. Oh gosh, Bettie, you left me hanging here! What happened next? I look forward to the next segment of your story! May God’s blessing be upon you as you make this next transition this summer. It’s lovely that you are going to be closer to your daughter and family!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Lynn, Oh, I am sorry to leave you hanging! I am so grateful that God was always so faithful to us, even when we could not see it. Isn’t He so good to us? Your prayers mean so much to me, and keep me looking up to Him for His faithfulness in this transition too. Blessings to you!

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  10. I am like Lynn…left hanging. But God is so faithful and will hold us close during these times. I am currently in that place, Bettie. I am preparing to sell my home and move to Colorado to be near family. Since I have no children, I thought that staying here after Kenneth (my husband) died 3 years ago would be fine since God plopped me inside the most precious church family I could have ever imagined. But He has other plans for me, it seems. I have found where I am going to live and yet it is being built so I will stay here a while longer. I am downsizing from a 3-BR to a 1_BR!!
    This grabbed me:
    And yet
    my heart quivers and quails,
    cowers before the approaching terror (Proverbs 3:25, Isaiah 54:14).
    But so many others have soothed me in this. I am praying for you and will you please pray for me?
    loving you, ~ linda

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Linda, Oh, yes, I will gladly pray for you during the transition you are facing also. What a blessing to know that the Lord has “woven” our lives together on this pathway we are walking. Your words are such a gift as you share such precious unveiling of His Scriptures for us. So I pray that He will give you more of that unveiling even now as you are in this transition of downsizing. We do face such terrors, and yet HIS ways are so much higher than ours and higher than any of those terrors that we see ahead. May we both find His hand upholding us. Sending such love and prayers dear friend.

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    1. Dear Paula, I am so grateful that you were blessed here. I have been so blessed as I have read your story also. What a precious gift that God gives us as we share together. He is so full of mercy towards us in that speaking and listening. Blessings and love to you today, also, dear friend.

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