"Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stepping into the water!

Over the past several months, I've sensed God inviting me to write another book or Bible study. I don't know the format of this book yet, but things are beginning to gel in my mind as I've been scribbling notes and journaling ideas. God has brought several key Scripture passages to mind, as well as some topics to explore. When I wrote my first Bible study, "Unlocking The Treasure: A Bible Study for Moms Entrusted With Special-Needs Children," it was a very unique experience. One morning God literally poured the ideas for the chapters into my head. It was very clear right from the start what that Bible study would look like and what the main themes would be.

This book is being conceived in a very different fashion. When I began to sense God calling me to write another book, I talked about it with Steve. One day at lunch we brainstormed what this next book might look like, who it would be for, what topics to cover, etc. Since then I've been praying, making notes, and listening for God to speak. Now I sense God telling me it's time to start. And I still have no idea what it's going to look like! I don't know if the book will be in a Bible study format similar to "Unlocking the Treasure," or if it'll be in book form. So when I was on a walk with God one day last week, I reminded Him that I still didn't have a real clear picture of what this book should look like, and that it would be helpful if He would tell me so I could get started writing! Well, He answered with a very clear message ... I am to "step into the water first," then He'll more clearly show me the way. God reminded me of the story of Joshua and the Israelites entering the Promised Land. The priests were told to first step into the Jordan River, THEN God would part the water and clear a path for them.

So, I'm stepping into the water! God has affirmed and confirmed and has practically done handstands telling me it's time to start writing again. But He wants me to step into the water first. And this is my first step.

I need your help.

I would like to hear from parents who are raising -- or have raised -- children with challenging emotional issues (i.e. emotional disorders, personality disorders, mood disorders, mental illness issues, etc.).  I would like to correspond not only with parents whose children are still in their homes, but also with parents of adult children. I want to hear about the challenges, frustrations and joys they experience daily. I understand how risky it feels to open your life to another person, but I would keep things in strict confidence and complete anonymity. I am just one mom on this journey, and in order to do this book justice I feel I need to learn about the journeys and challenges other parents face.

Would you please be willing to share this with anyone you know who has a child (of any age) who struggles with emotional difficulties and/or mental illness and its challenges? As mentioned before, I will honor privacy and confidentiality. I simply desire several other parents I can correspond with in order to better understand the needs and issues parents of children with emotional disorders deal with on a daily basis.

I can be reached at bevroozeboom@gmail.com.

Thank you so much for your help!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Just keep right on going...

I came across this quote recently, and it keeps rambling around in my mind.  "Satan will tell us what's true, but he never tells us the truth."*  Lies, cloaked in truth...Satan's calling card.

Recently I read a verse I'm sure I've seen hundreds of times, tucked inside a very familiar portion of Scripture, Hebrews 11, that famous chapter on faith.  But this time God took out His big yellow highlighter and drew my eyes to verse 27.

"It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king's anger.  He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible." (NLT)

That's the kind of endurance, perseverance, and faith I want!  I want to keep right on going even in the midst of battles and burdens.

God longs for us to keep our eyes on Him, the invisible One, instead of focusing on the obvious, as Satan would have us do.  What's the "obvious" in your life?  You know, those noisy things that yell out for attention, grabbing at you, pulling you down.  Those trials and situations that beg to consume you.  Those pesky distractions that buzz around you, jumbling your thoughts?  Satan would have us believe that this is as good as it gets, and it's all downhill from here.  But he never, ever wants us to know "the rest of the story."

God is above and beyond the obvious.  The invisible One operates in ways we often don't see, working things out for His glory and our good.  When we're bogged down and focused on the obvious, we only hear the "truth" that Satan spews at us, and we miss the Truth that Jesus is whispering to us.

One obvious in my life is that my husband, Steve, doesn't have a job.  This is not something we ever expected, and Satan wants me to believe this is just awful!  After all, my meager income from my part-time job can't begin to sustain us :).  But Abba, my Father, cups my chin in His hand and gently tilts it up.  Bev, look at Me.  Don't let Satan confuse you with his version of the truth.  I AM Jehovah Jireh, your provider.  Don't look around at the obvious, but keep your eyes on Me, the invisible One.  Just take one day at a time, one step at a time. Just keep on going.  I provided for Moses and I'll provide for you.

There are a lot of obvious situations in my life that cause stress, angst, confusion, and frustration.  I don't always handle them so well and far too often I react in ways that are, shall we say, less than godly?  Satan gleefully points out what's true -- I blew it, but he neglects to tell me the truth.  God tells me that I'm His child.  And when I confess my sins, He joyfully forgives me and cleanses my heart.  Then he promises to never hold that sin against me.  He does not keep a record of sins, but faithfully forgives me (see Ps. 130:3,4).

What's your obvious? Satan will try to hammer you over the head with what is true, but he'll never tell you the truth. The truth is that we can trust God completely.  The truth is that God loves us more than we can even imagine.  The truth is that what Satan means for harm and destruction, God intends for good...always, every time.

"Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith."  Heb.12:1b,2 (NLT)

That's what faith is all about.
*This quote is by Michael Wells, Abiding Life Ministries. Quoted by Kelly Minter in her Bible study, "No Other Gods", p. 62.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Doubt Your Doubts and Believe Your Beliefs!

"You need to doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs..."

I heard these profound words on a recent Rick Warren broadcast* and I can't get them out of my mind.  On my January 1 blog I wrote, "As I was praying, I saw myself standing with God on top of a mountain looking out over the year ahead.  But everything was foggy and hazy—I couldn’t see a thing.  Then God quietly reminded me that He alone knows what’s ahead.  He held out His hand to me and said, “Let’s just walk there together.”

Fast forward 5 months. The early months of this year were very difficult and trying, and I am so thankful for the promise that God holds tightly to our hands as we walk through life.  Steve experienced a dark battle with depression, which culminated in a hospitalization.  We praise God for the healing Steve has experienced and trust it will continue.

Time and again over these past few months, God has reminded me to "believe what I believe."  In fact, He not only reminded me to "believe my beliefs," but He Himself has been reminding me of WHAT I believe!  There's a verse in John 14 which I just love.  John 14:26 says, "The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you."

I saw that played out in a profound way these past few months.  As I agonized with Steve through his depression, there were times I felt the oppression myself.  When the fears and doubts and anxiety closed in on me, I would ask God for "a word."   I didn't crave big chunks of Scripture, but instead hungered for the simplicity of a verse or two.  I longed to taste the manna God had prepared specifically for me that day -- or for that moment.  And God never failed to come through.  Through His Spirit, He reminded me of so many promises that Jesus has taught me through the years.

When I was scared, He told me to have courage and to not be afraid (Luke 12:32)  When I was lonely, He reminded me that He would never leave me, never forsake me (Heb. 13:5).  When I was confused, He told me "The light shines in  the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5), and He reminded me to keep following the Light.  "Jesus said...I am the Light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 8:12)  When I was feeling weak, He gently showed me I was being carried in His strong arms.  "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are his everlasting arms..." (Deut. 33:27).  When I was feeling anxious, He freely blessed me with words of peace and hope (John 14:27; Heb. 7:24,25).  When I would worry, He taught me to turn my worries into prayers (Phil. 4:6-7).  I could go on and on!  I have pages filled with the words He spoke to my heart.  Words that shifted my focus from me to Him.  Verse after verse, promise after promise flooded my mind and brought peace to my heart.

God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do!  If you have the Holy Spirit living in you, He will freely remind you of all you've been taught.  If you're going through a difficult season in your own life, I'd encourage you to "open wide your mouth and let God fill it!" (Ps. 81:10).  He invites all of us to "taste and see that the Lord is good...!" (Ps. 34:8).

*To listen to this message by Rick Warren, go to http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/daily-hope/.  Click on "Never Fight Your Battles Undressed! Part 3."  The message was aired on 5/7/13.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  I love the thought of a new year...fresh, clean pages on the calendar...days waiting to be written.  This morning as I was praying, I saw myself standing with God on the top of a mountain looking out over the year ahead.  But everything was foggy and hazy—I couldn’t see a thing.  Then God quietly reminded me that He alone knows what’s ahead.  He held out His hand to me and said, “Let’s just walk there together.”

Earlier today I glanced through the paper before I picked up my Bible.  Big mistake!  Not a lot of good news in there, especially on the financial front.  As our nation teeters on the fiscal cliff, it’s easy to be filled with fear.  And this time it hits very close to home.  Steve’s place of employment, where he’s worked for 24 years, was just sold to a large corporation.  The transition from one company to the other takes place today.  Steve, as the head finance guy, has been working crazy long hours for the past several weeks.  It’s been stressful, to say the least.  As with any big change like this, there’s been a lot of uncertainty, confusion, and stress.  Thankfully, most of the people were able to keep their jobs.  Unfortunately, Steve isn’t one of them (the financial work will be done at corporate headquarters).  He will keep working through the first quarter of the year, but after March 31 we’re not sure what he will do.  He has some options available (tentatively), but nothing for sure. 

How quickly life situations can change.  You don’t get to age 53 without realizing that truth over and over again!  But another truth stands out in my mind, too.  God has always taken care of us in the past and He will take care of us today…and in the future.  So we’re determined to take one day at a time, our hands in His.

When I finally put the paper down and picked up the Bible, God led me to the most amazingly appropriate verse.  I’ve been reading through the Psalms, and this was tucked away in my Psalm for today.

Praise the Lord; praise God our Savior!
For each day He carries us in His arms.” (Ps. 68:19 NLT)

That’s a keeper!  I wrote it on an index card that I’ve started for 2013 and taped it to our bathroom mirror.  I love the image of God carrying us in His arms each day.  He’s bigger and stronger than any problem we could possibly face.  So I’m looking forward to 2013!  Yes, it’ll be a year filled with challenges and uncertainty, but isn’t that how life always is, this side of heaven?  God wants us to simply live one day at a time, safe and secure in His arms.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In the waiting...

At our church service today we lit the third candle of Advent. The candle of joy. Joy? My heart immediately went to those who are experiencing only grief and fear today, following the school shootings on Friday. Joy? 

In the Advent season we watch and wait and pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.” But this year—this week—our prayers have become more intense, and we plead, “Oh Jesus, please come quickly.” Our world is imploding right before our eyes. It’s almost too painful to watch. Our hearts can’t possibly make sense of it. We shake our heads and weep as we read reports of children and teachers being gunned down in their school. So many innocent lives lost. Such senseless brutality. We don’t understand. 
So I have a heart-to-heart with my Abba. Father, what is going on here? What message do You have for us as we watch our nation reel from this latest disaster? What hope do You have for us? How are we supposed to respond?

And in the quiet searching, He answers my questions. In fact, He answered these questions long before I had need to ask. His story was written long ago, and it’s there we find the answers we desperately search for.  Not all of them are answered, of course. There’s still much mystery surrounding the things of God. But He clearly told us what to expect as we wait for Jesus to return again.

He told us there would be wars and rumors of war; famines and earthquakes, natural disasters. We see creation groaning as if in pain as it longs to be returned to its wholeness and perfection. 

He also told us that “sin will be rampant everywhere and the love of many will grow cold.” (Matt. 24:12). He clearly stated that things will be very difficult in the last days. People will love only themselves and their money; they will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God. They will be disrespectful, disobedient, ungrateful, unloving, unforgiving, and slanderous. They will consider nothing sacred and will have no self-control. They will be cruel, will hate what is good, will betray their friends, be reckless, puffed up with pride, and will love pleasure rather than God. People will act religious, but will reject the power that could make them godly. (see 2 Tim. 3:1-9)

We’ve been told that it will be as it was in the days of Noah, when “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” (see Matt. 24:37 and Gen. 6:5)

I once heard a speaker say that in the last days we will fear people more than we fear natural disasters. I think we’ve arrived.

On Friday God gave us a glimpse (once again) of what a world looks like that has pushed Him away. Our nation has pushed and shoved and insisted God leave. And now we hear people asking, “Where was God?”

But in the quiet of this season our Abba reminds us that He is still faithful. He tells us Emmanuel has come—God with us. And soon Jesus will return again and set up His perfect kingdom. But for now, this side of heaven, we have His Spirit in us and with us, and we have His love letter to us. And in His Word God has instructions for us and He gives us hope, as we live in such uncertain times.

God tells us to not panic, but to be aware that these things will happen. We are to keep watch, be ready, and be faithful (Matt. 24:36-44). He encourages us that this will be our opportunity to tell others about Him (Mk. 13:9). We’ve been told to live wisely among those who do not believe and to make the most of every opportunity in these evil days (Eph. 5:16, Col. 4:5).

The apostle Peter advises us in this way: “The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. … Keep on doing what is right and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you.” (I Peter 4:7-8, 19b NLT)

So in the waiting we live with integrity, courage, and trust. We show deep love to those around us, pointing them to Emmanuel, the Prince of Peace.

Jesus, in this Advent season we wait for You to come again. And we beg of You, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.” But we trust Your delay is for a reason. We know there are many who have not yet surrendered their lives to You. We ask You to pour Your love into us with such abundance that we simply cannot contain it, and so in turn we pour it out on those around us. Help us not to walk in fear, but instead give us an awareness of the hope to which You’ve called us. Hope that we lovingly pass on to those still walking in darkness…hope in Your unfailing love. For the One who has called us is faithful and He will do it. You are indeed Emmanuel, God with us.

Monday, November 26, 2012

An adoption story

Today is our daughter Katie's golden birthday...26 years old on November 26! Happy birthday, Katie Marie!

God, in His wisdom, chose our family to be blessed through adoption. Shortly after our oldest daughter, Stephanie, was born, Steve and I found out we would not be able to have any more children. We were incredibly saddened by that thought, and discovered the pain, loss, and grief that secondary infertility (infertility after already having a child) brings. The death of any dream leaves an aching void. But as God so often does, He provided another way for our dreams to be fulfilled...His way. For us, this was through adoption.

We began the adoption process shortly after Stephanie turned two. During this time I read the advice to begin praying for the child who would become our own…and to pray for that child’s birthmother. So that’s what I did. I would often pray for “our child’s birthmother”—especially for that heart-wrenching decision she would eventually be faced with. At that time we had no idea when we would receive a child. Adoptive parents weren’t told in advance that a birthmother was contemplating placing her child with them. I had no name or face or idea about who I was praying for. But the woman who was nameless to me, was known intimately by God.

On December 23, 1986 (at 4:00 in the afternoon!), we received a phone call from the social worker at Bethany Christian Services that our baby daughter was available for adoption and could we come to the office at 9:00 the next morning? YES! Oh, the phone calls that went out that night! We called family and friends and joyfully told them the wonderful news. We were getting a BABY GIRL for Christmas! We scrambled to get some baby clothes together, stocked up on diapers, purchased formula, and who knows what else. It’s all kind of a blur. We didn’t get much sleep that night!

Finally, after 17 hours of “labor” (from the phone call at 4:00 the previous afternoon), Steve, Stephanie, and I went to the Bethany offices and soon brought home our baby girl. Right from the start Katie was bright-eyed and full of spunk. A joyous addition to our family…and an incredible start to the Christmas holiday! How fun to walk into church on Christmas morning with our TWO little girls. I even had a sweet older lady comment to me that she didn’t realize we were expecting. Joy, hope, peace, love. Dreams fulfilled. The message of Christmas.

Yet I was always aware of another mom who was intensely grieving that Christmas. A mom who left behind a precious infant daughter—and a very large part of her heart. My prayers continued for this other mom, whose daughter now became mine. It’s still hard for me to put into words our gratitude for her unselfish act of love. I believe that the only One who can truly comprehend the magnitude of releasing a child for adoption is our Heavenly Father. He gave His son, Jesus, as the ultimate sacrifice. So as I prayed for Michelle (Katie’s birthmom), I knew that God fully understood her heart. 

Fast-forward 26 years…and as is typical in most families, we’ve had our ups and downs. But we went through these years knowing and trusting the One who was holding our family together. I’ve always found deep assurance in knowing that God put our family together. From the beginning of time He purposed that Katie (and later Kyle) would join our family by adoption, just as He purposed for Steph to be born to us. He chose two brave, strong women to do what most would find an impossible act of love and trust.

A passage in Scripture that became especially meaningful to me during our children’s growing-up years is Acts 17:26. “From one man He (God) made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” 

There’s no happenstance, coincidence, or “luck of the draw” in God’s kingdom. We are placed on this earth at this time and in this exact place because God has determined it. What a joy to know He took such great care in putting our family together!

Katie’s world enlarged greatly a few years ago when she was able to get acquainted with her birth family. In addition to her birthmother, she discovered another sister, brother, set of grandparents, and a host of uncles, aunts, and cousins! How fun for all of us to be able to meet them and get to know them. God is so big, so wise, so amazing.

So Katie, happy birthday dear daughter! And Michelle, my daughter’s first mother, thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

When God says, "Halt!"

The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, "Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile." He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn't even have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone."  Mark 6:30-32 

I recently read through the memoirs of my Grandpa Gritters. My grandpa was an active minister for over 50 years. In 1982, at the age of 76, he wrote his memoirs— apparently excerpted from the many diaries he kept throughout the years. My dad asked if I would be willing to retype these memoirs since the ink of the old typewriter Grandpa used was starting to fade. I’ve so enjoyed reading Grandpa’s words.  He was a born story-teller! As I read his long-ago penned words, wonderful memories flooded my mind. I could just picture the coziness of sitting on the couch with Grandpa and my brothers and sisters, listening to Grandpa weave a crazy tale, complete with the scent of pipe tobacco and peppermints!

Here’s a small excerpt from my grandpa’s memoirs:

"Halt," said the Lord. "HALT!" A strange thing happened. My study was suddenly moved from our house to the hospital in Pipestone. Who ever heard of such a thing? I had long been bothered by something, a sort of stomach trouble which just did not go away. Various doctors in various places had diagnosed it as one thing or another, but nothing brought relief. In Pipestone the doctors said that it was pancreatitis (big word, but it meant trouble with the pancreas). But it was not that. Anyway, I was in the hospital for five days in mid-December of 1961. During this time I felt quite well, and I didn't have to lie prone abed...I could get up. At this time I was barely acquainted with my church. I got into thinking: "How can I best be a blessing to this people?" Mom, who visited me three time every day, brought me a notebook and pencil. And I wrote down what goals ought to be achieved and how I would best reach them. What work must be emphasized, and how to get at that work. Then I would fall asleep again. Had some food...talked with visitors...and then back to this business of goals again until the nurse ordered "lights out." In that sense, room 105 in the hospital became my study." (Rev. Martin Gritters, 1961)

Grandpa wrote these words shortly after beginning his pastorate in Pipestone, MN. He and Grandma moved there in October of 1961, and apparently Grandpa became ill in December. As I was typing these precious words of my grandpa (“Halt,” said the Lord, “HALT…”) I had to chuckle to myself. This was just vintage Grandpa! Then it brought to mind one of the lessons God has been teaching me in my personal study of Jonah. 

A spiritual discipline God has been calling me to explore and practice is that of solitude and silence. Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Sacred Rhythms, speaks to this important discipline. She defines solitude as "a place in time that is set apart for God and God alone, a time when we unplug and withdraw from the noise of interpersonal interactions...” Barton goes on to say, “Silence deepens our experience of solitude, because in silence we choose to unplug not only from the constant stimulation of life in the company of others but also from our own addiction to noise, words and activity.” (Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms, p.32). In silence and solitude we are given space to notice God’s presence and to respond to it. The distractions of life are left behind and we can focus completely on God. In the quiet stillness, “God can come in and do what only God can do.” (p.41)  (To learn more about the spiritual discipline of solitude and silence, I would encourage you read Sacred Rhythms as well as An Invitation to Solitude and Silence, both by Ruth Haley Barton.)

As Jonah sat in the belly of the fish, I’m sure he not only spoke to God (we read his words in Jonah 2), but that God spoke to him. In the muffled quiet of the deep, God had Jonah’s undivided attention. Spending time alone with God in silence and solitude is so important to God that sometimes He resorts to some pretty interesting methods to get our attention. When Jonah was running away from the job God asked him to do, God provided a very unique way for Jonah to be still and listen. When my grandpa was busy, busy, busy with his ministry, God gave him no choice but to ‘halt.' Before moving to Pipestone, Grandpa had been struggling for years with some deeply divisive church/ denominational issues and I can’t help but wonder if he was simply exhausted physically, emotionally, and perhaps even spiritually. As Grandpa spent several days in “hospital room 105,” I have a hunch God not only used that time for Grandpa to develop ministry goals, but also gave him some much needed rest for his exhausted body and soul. 

God invites us to a quiet place, too, away from the noise and commotion of life. As we enter the holiday season, and all the busyness and commotion that comes with it, how important it is to accept God’s invitation to sit quietly with Him. In the quiet, we can feel His presence and hear His voice whisper to our weary (and very busy) hearts. Shhhhhh. Be still and know that I am God.