Tuesday, March 31, 2009

There's Snow place like North Dakota

Yep, we're in the midst of another winter storm. When it's all said and done, some areas will have received 20 or more inches of snow. Fighting the flood is now taking place in blizzard conditions. This storm is expected to last through midday tomorrow with another possible storm entering this area over the weekend. How much does God expect us to handle?

The answer is, He doesn't expect us to handle any of this by ourselves. He is with us every step of the way. God is in control of the rivers, the rising waters and the snow and strong winds. He has already brought the river levels down much faster than anticipated. He's bringing this new moisture in the form of snow instead of rain which is a huge blessing. Neighbor is helping neighbor in an awesome example of what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says "Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

We can be joyful in the midst of trouble. I don't believe that God expects us to be happy that our homes are flooding or that our finances are tight. But we can and should be joyful that no matter what the circumstance, we know that it's not catching God by surprise. We can be thankful that God is with us and He's a big, big God. We can be filled with joy knowing that we can approach the throne of God boldly and talk to our Father.

So, do I want it to continue storming? Of course not. But, I can still rejoice knowing that God is in control.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear"

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand."

The Red River is going down in Fargo but that didn't stop one Lutheran School from being inundated by the flood waters. A dike was breached last night and despite an enourmous effort by the National Guard and other volunteers, it's feared that the school is gone. In my town, the Sheyenne River is expected to crest just below where storm and sewer drains will be closed. We're under a Winter Storm watch for tomorrow through Tuesday and that brings the possibility for more moisture.

I am hanging on to this verse and remembering that God is with me. I'm taking a new look at the part where God says "do not be dismayed." He's not only telling us not to fear but to not let what we see, the circumstances, bring us down and get the best of us.

Whether it's the flood or other "insurmountable" problems in my life, I'm choosing to trust God. If I keep my eyes on Him I won't be "dismayed." He will give me strength and help me. I've heard it said that those fighting the flood have superhuman strength and I believe it. The strength and energy to fill and place sandbags for 3o hours at a time without a break has to come from the Lord.

To me, the verse says two things. First, God tells us not to fear. Fearing something will not stop it from happening; it can however immobilize us so that we're unable to do anything.
Secondly, if the situation we fear does occur, the Lord tells us not to be dismayed; He is our God. He will be with us to strengthen us and help us. Nothing that occurs comes as a surprise to Him. I believe with all my heart that God has the power to stop floodwaters, heal disease, provide financial miracles, etc. But sometimes, for whatever reason, He chooses not to. But, no matter what the circumstance, He will always be there with us. What else do we need?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

God's vision for my life

Oswald Chamber said "When once we lose sight of God, we begin to be reckless, we cast off certain restraints, we cast off praying, we cast off the vision of God in little things, and begin to act on our own initiative.”

I don't want to lose the vision of God in the little things and I know all too well what happens when I act on my own initiative. When I lose sight of God, it's easy to spend less time in His Word and more time in front of the TV. When I cast off praying, my whole life becomes more chaotic and when trouble comes I have no idea how to handle it. I snap at my children and am short with my husband.

I want God's vision for my life; in the little things as well as the big ones. I want to act on His initiative, not mine. I want to stand firm in what I believe in and not water down the Scriptures.

I believe our country has cast off certain restraints as well. More and more behavior is accepted as "ok" and no big deal. This saddens me as I'm sure it saddens the heart of our Father as well.

I'm praying that God will show me His vision for my life. I don't want to waste a minute of the time He has given me on this earth. His will, not mine. I'm also praying for a revival in our country. We need God in all areas of our lives, not just in a church building on Sunday mornings.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I haven't written for a few days

I've been spending time with my kids as they had some time off from school due to weather. We've also spent a lot of time in prayer for the flood victims in my state. It seems that the news keeps getting worse and yet I know He is in control. The determination and optimism that I see on the faces of people fighting the flood should be an inspiration to all that see them. Their backs are seemingly against the wall yet they refuse to give up. A city council meeting was opened with prayer; how thankful I am to live in a place where that can be done without fear of someone making a fuss about it.

Apparently the worst is yet to come and yet I know that God will be with us. God doesn't give us a spirit of fear. I'm placing my fears and concerns at His feet knowing that whatever comes, He will walk it through with us.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Flood

This is a picture taken just down the road from us. The water you see is actually supposed to be their front yard. Their driveway is washed out and they can't reach the house to continue working on it. Fortunately they're not living in it yet.
This is just one example of the flooding that is occurring all over my town and the entire state of North Dakota. In the western part of the state there's a blizzard with up to 2 feet of snow expected.

But, through it all, I know that God is with us. I can see Him in the faces of all the volunteers that are sandbagging, filling sandbags and bringing food to the volunteers. I can see Him in the optimism and high spirits of people who are facing possible devestation. Thank you Lord for your protection.

Monday, March 23, 2009

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

The last few days have not been easy ones in our household. Our town is in danger of flooding, along with much of the rest of our state. We have water in our basement, my son's car won't start and the power steering appears to be out in my van. Our 2 dogs got out together last night and they're still not home. Except for the flooding, none of these things by themselves are all that serious but put together they add up to more than I think I can handle. I'm afraid to ask "what next?" because I don't want to find out.

Last night, while I was crying out to God, He reminded me of the these verses.
" We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."

I so needed to hear these words! Things are tough and may get tougher but my God will not abandon me. He will not let the enemy destroy me. Isn't that the best news of all?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A House Full of Boys

Just one of Randy's friends who calls me Mom. Gotta love that cookie dough!

On Friday nights, my son's friends always spend the night here. Strangely enough, it's one of the high points of my week. I never know exactly how many there will be; last night there were 4. It's music to my ears to hear "Hi Mom" four times as they walk through the door. (5 times if I count my son's.) I love the way they feel so at home here that they think nothing of opening the fridge to see what's in there. I love the laughter, conversation and good night hugs. I love seeing them in the morning as they stumble sleepily up the stairs to see what we're having for breakfast. Most of all, I love knowing who my son hangs out with.

It's been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Randy's friends know that they're always welcome here just as Randy is always welcome at their homes. What a blessing God has given us.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Words can cut like a knife

Yesterday I posted about how I want my words to be kind, used to build people up and not tear them down. Sadly enough, there are many people in this world who think nothing of saying unkind, hurtful words to others, never realizing how badly they can cut through someone's soul. My daughter Julianna is going through something like this right now. There are all sorts of rumors flying through her school about her and I can see the hurt in her eyes when she tells me what's being said about her.

My Thursday night ladies Bible Study is going through Beth Moore's "Believing God" and last night's lesson was on the power of the tongue. Don't you just love God's timing? She talked about the power that unkind words spoken to us can have over us. Then she goes on to say "Most of us have bought more of what others have said than we'd like to admit. Dear one, the time has come to believe God. The time has come to renounce words others have spoken over us that don't line up with the truth of God's Word."

I came home from Bible Study last night and was able to share that with my daughter. She knows she's a child of God and that she is fearfully and wonderfully made. That's what she needs to take hold of; who God says she is. This isn't to say that unkind words won't still hurt but now she has God's Word to help her not to believe them. She has a tool to help her define herself by what God says about her, not unkind words from other people.

How about you? Are you still hearing unkind things that may have been spoken to you or about you? I am. Today, let's start thinking of ourselves the way God does. We are daughters of the King!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Proverbs 16:24

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

My daughter Julianna is someone who always tries to live by these words. It's not something she does intentionally, God just created her this way. I believe that if more adults would take these words to heart our world would be a much better place.

Scripture is filled with warnings about the tongue and the damage it can do. Proverbs 11: 9 says "With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape."

Proverbs 10:19 says "when words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."

I want to take a page out of my daughter's book and speak kindly to the people I come in contact with today. There's something to be said about "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A lesson learned

Last night Julianna tried to make oatmeal but she didn't measure the water correctly so it didn't turn out. Instead of dumping the pan in the trash, she rinsed it out in the sink. Of course, that clogged up the drain. She tried her hardest to unclog it but nothing worked. Up until that point, I had no idea all of this had happened. After she had tried everything she could do on her own, she came to me for help.

How many times have I done that with God? I face a problem and try to fix it on my own. After I've done everything humanly possible to make it right, I go to the Lord and ask him to not only fix the original problem but also what I've inevitably made even worse. I can almost picture God shaking His head and asking Himself "when will that child ever learn?"

I have to admit, I didn't handle this well last night. I was tired and was heading to bed when Julianna came to me. The sink did not want to unclog, I knocked over the sugar container and spilled a cup of cold coffee all over the counter. I was grumbling louder than I thought because Julianna heard me and thought I was angry with her. I told her that I wasn't angry at her at all but I could see how she might think that. I'm so thankful that God handles our mistakes and mishaps so much better than we do.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Correction with Justice

Today's verse of the day is one of my favorites and I love the way God chose to use it today on my blog.

This is something that I always try to do when disciplining my children (not that they ever need it, HA!) When I first discover that one of them has done something wrong, my first reaction is to find out how I can ground them and their future grandchildren as well. I'm angry and I feel betrayed. However, my heart knows that this is not the way to handle the situation. I want God's mercy even in the midst of my sin and the best part is, I know I'll recieve it. Why should I do any less for my children?

They need correction, just as we need God's correction. But, discipline out of love, not anger. Take some time to calm down before throwing the book at them. Remember that the purpose is to correct their behavior, not to crush them. These are things that I need to remind myself of quite often. How like God to send me a reminder on my blog.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Presenting Julianna and Princess

This is my youngest daughter Julianna with her new bunny Princess. We found an ad for someone selling bunnies and knew we had to let her pick one out. She won't replace Romeo but Julianna adores her already. Ann had suggested gettting another bunny for her and she was absolutely right.

Julianna is perhaps the sweetest 12 year old that I have ever met and I don't think I'm just saying that because I'm her mom. She loves Jesus with all her heart and always has a kind word for everyone she meets. She asks her teacher on a regular basis if there is anything that she can pray about for her. ( she goes to public school) Her feelings are easily hurt when someone says something unkind about her because she doesn't understand how people can be like that. Her first thought when she has a problem is to pray about it. I'm learning more from this little girl than I could ever begin to teach her. She loves life so much that she made her appearance 2 months early. She is my final miracle from God. I am truly blessed.

Thank you for letting me introduce you to my family. They are the reason for most everything I do. I love spending time with them; there's no place on this earth that I'd rather be than at home hanging out with my husband and my kids. God is good all the time; all the time God is good.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Meet Mandy

This is my oldest daughter Mandy, my gift from God. All I ever wanted was to be a mom and when I was told at 18 that I could never have children, I was devestated. But, God granted me the desire of my heart and Mandy was born when I was 29.

Mandy has strong opinions about things and she's not afraid to let others know what they are. She has a kind heart and would do anything for a friend. She works in a nursing home as a CNA and that's the perfect job for her; her compassion is strong and her capacity to love is even stronger.

We've had some rough patches along the way and will probably have more but yet we have a strong, close relationship and talk almost every day. I know that when she gives her heart to the Lord, it will be wholeheartedly and without reservation. My prayer is that that day comes soon.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My family

My family means the world to me and I want to introduce them to you. I'll start with my husband and my son. Tony is a wonderful husband and father. He works hard so that I'm able to stay home with our kids. He's funny, caring and generous. Most of all, he puts up with me when I'm being less than lovable. I thank God every day for sending him to me.

Randy is my 15 year old son. He loves the Lord and is planning on going to college to become a youth pastor. He felt God calling him to that when he was 12 and he hasn't wavered from it since. He has an awesome sense of humor and is a fantastic cook. He's a joy to be around, even during the "dreaded" teen years.

These guys are 2 of the most important people in my life. Thank you for letting me introduce them to you. I hope everyone has a blessed day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Worry: What God says about it

It's hard not to worry in these tough economic times. In the Andren family, our income has dropped even though my husband is still working. He's a semi driver and gets paid by the mile. If he doesn't drive, he doesn't get paid. People are buying less which translates into less freight needing to be moved. Layoffs are common all over the country and people are losing their homes. So, as believers, what should we do?

Matthew 6:27 asks us "who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Yes, we're going through tough times but worrying about them won't change anything except possibly making us sick.
Verse 33 gives us advice on what to do "But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." So many times I have asked God for things but have skipped this very important command. We're to seek Him first. To me, that means spending time with Him every day, not just when I'm in trouble.

Finally, verse 34 tells us "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
How many nights have I lost sleep worrying about something that may not even happen?

I am going to take these verses and apply them to all areas of my life as I worry about a lot more than finances. I worry about my 21 year old daughter's relationship with Jesus. I worry about my 15 year old son and the peer pressure he faces while trying to walk with the Lord. I worry about my 12 year old daughter and the rumors that are flying around about her. I worry about my husband's safety out on the road. God's Word tells me that I can't change a thing by worrying. What I can do is lay these burdens at His feet and then quit trying to take them back again. So, instead of worrying, I'm going to go to the Throne of God. I know there will be times when I'll still worry but hopefully I'll remember these verses and nip it in the bud. The enemy has stolen way too many nights of sleep from me. It has to stop.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Psalm 139

Self esteem is something that I've struggled with for most of my life. I'm guilty of looking at others and thinking how I'd love to be more like them. They have it all together; they have a better prayer life; a better grasp of Scripture, etc. Of course, there are also the physical comparisons. The bottom line is that I don't always like who I am and I wonder how God could possibly love such a messed up person.

It's during times like these that God directs me to Psalm 139. I love reading this Psalm in The Message, particularily verse 14. "I thank you, High God- You're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made."
Inside and out, body and soul, I am marvelously made. Inside and out, body and soul, you were all marvelously made as well. I think this is something that we all need to hear and definitely something we need to instill in our kids, nieces, nephews, and other children we come in contact with. Verse 5 tells us "I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead and you're there, too- your reassuring presence, coming and going." God is with us always. He created us with His blueprint; the final outcome was not a surprise to Him. Who am I to criticize His creation?

God loves us just the way we are. Are we ready to do the same?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Mountains in our Lives

Yesterday I posted a picture of my daughter standing in front of a snow drift in our yard. Throughout the day, that drift continued to get bigger and bigger until it seemed like a mountain. Getting out of our house would be involve either shoveling it or climbing over it, neither of which option was very appealing.

Today we woke up to sun shine but the mountain is still there. I went out to the garage in the hopes of making tracks over it so it would be easier for my kids to climb over tomorrow when the bus comes. One step into waist deep snow put an end to that idea. Looking around for a shovel , I noticed that our dogs had left no paw prints over the top of that mountain. They had been outside many times so where was their trail? Investigating further I noticed that there was a tiny path that led around the mountain of snow. By following that path, I was able to reach my van and actually make it to town.

When I returned home I started thinking about how that mountain of snow is a lot like the mountains we face in our lives. We look at them with our human eyes and wonder how we will ever be able to move them or climb over them. They're too big; we can't possibly climb them. They're too massive, we can't possibly move them. Looking at impossibilities such as these can be discouraging and lead to despair. Fortunately for us, God will provide a way. He provided a way around that mountain of snow for me and He will provide a way around the mountains in our lives as well. We just need to take our eyes off of the problem and instead, focus on the One who has the solution. Is God capable of moving our mountains? Absolutely. However, sometimes I think He just wants us to take the long way around and spend some time with Him along the way.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


When I heard about the blizzard heading our way, I wondered how long it would take before we would be able to get out of our driveway. Now I'm beginning to wonder how long it will take before we're able to get out of our house.
We go in and out of our garage and the picture above shows how high the drift is in front of our garage door. That's what we would have to climb over (through) to get to our driveway and our vehicles. Snow always drifts behind our garage doors so we don't park our cars in the garage when a storm is coming. Little did I know we'd have to worry about getting ourselves out of the garage!
Two-thirds of ND is shut down due to this storm and tomorrow doesn't seem to be looking any better. We knew at 8:30 last night that school was cancelled today so we made popcorn and stayed up late watching the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie. What a treat to be able to stay up late on a school night and just hang out with my kids. My husband is on his way to California so he's missing all the fun.
Today will be spent playing games, watching movies and maybe taking a nap. Maybe God gives us days like this to force us to slow down. I know that here in the frozen tundra otherwise known as North Dakota, I'm going to do just that.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The death of a pet

This is a picture of my youngest daughter and her rabbit Romeo. We came home from church yesterday and Julianna found him dead in his cage. We don't know what happened; as far as we know he wasn't even sick. The cry of pain that I heard coming out of her as she raced upstairs is not something that I will soon forget. We have 3 dogs and 3 cats but Romeo was Julianna's bunny. She fed and watered him and cleaned his cage. She'd sit on her bed with him in her lap and they'd listen to music for hours. She'd bring him upstairs to visit with the rest of the family and he'd watch TV with us. He was a member of our family.
Julianna asked me if Romeo was in heaven and without hestitation, I said absolutely. I believe that there are animals in heaven because I take the Word of God literally. Jesus told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them in heaven and a place for anyone in my family would include animals. So, I'm taking it on faith that there will be animals there for us to love. That didn't take away Julianna's pain by any means but it did make it a little easier to handle. Believing that Romeo is with Jesus assures Julianna that he's happy. That's something we all have to look forward to some day.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


God didn't create us to be alone. He created us for fellowship, both with Him and with others. The gift of friendship is something that I thank Him for on a daily basis. My very best friend is someone that I've known since we were both 12 years old. We live 300 miles apart now but we still get together every few months to catch up with each other. We meet halfway and have lunch, shop and talk, talk, talk.

I also have my friends from church. I know I can call them at any time and they'll pray with me. I see them at least 2 or 3 times a week and we never seem to run out of things to talk about.

Finally, I have my internet friends. Now, to someone who doesn't blog or use an email group of some kind, this may be hard to understand. All I know is that God has simply provided another way to bring friends into my life. I belong to an email group of women who are the greatest. I've "known" some of them for 5 years or more and have even met one or two. I consider them some of my closest friends although we've never met. I know about their families and have prayed for them and had them pray for me. We share each other's joys and sorrows and are there for each other. Isn't that what friendship is all about?

I'm also beginning to make some wonderful friends here as well. I so appreciate the kind words of those who have stopped by to make me feel welcome in this new endeavor of mine. Thank you for making me feel so at home.

Friendship... what a blessing. Make sure to thank God for His wonderful gift!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Winter in North Dakota

Winter is my favorite season so I definitely live in the right place. However, even for this lover of snow and blizzards, there comes a time when enough is enough. We were teased with highs in the upper 30's for a few days and all around town people were driving with their windows down and more than a few were spotted wearing shorts and sweatshirts. Sadly, this isn't going to last. There's a large storm headed this way; a storm calling for snow, cold temps, and wind. Apparently it is not yet spring in North Dakota.
So, today it's off to the grocery store to stock up on the essentials as well as what my family calls storm food. These are snacks that we normally eat only when it's storming outside.
Do I want this latest storm to come? No. But, am I just a little excited? I have to admit that I am. Hunkering down with my family is one of my greatest pleasures in life. So bring it on!! We'll be ready.

Friday, March 6, 2009

We had a revival at our church last night

God was present last night in a huge way. I feel like it's been a very long time since I've heard from Him but last night I heard His sweet, sweet voice again. He pointed out some things I need to let go of, things that are hindering my walk with Him. I don't want anything to stand in the way of my relationship with my Savior.
My son was at the altar last night as well; what an awesome gift.

Blood bought, spirit filled, sanctified child of God! That's me!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I have so much to be thankful for so why am I so sad?

I am normally a very upbeat person so this feeling of sadness is new to me. Of course I've been sad but there was always a reason; my parents' death, losing a pet, my husband losing a job, etc. The sadness I'm feeling now has no reason that I can put my finger on.
What is God trying to teach me? Why am I feeling so out of place, even in the church that I love? When will this end?
These are all questions for which I have no answers but I know the One who does. So, I'm going to count my blessings and at the same time give myself permission to cry if I need to. God will understand.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Learning what God has for me

God has shown me in the past few weeks that while He doesn't always answer prayer in the way that I would like, He is always with me and gives His strength to help me through whatever I may be facing.
Sounds pretty simple doesn't it? So why has it taken me so long to fully understand it? How many times has God shaken His head and wondered "what's up with that woman?"
The good news is that He has infinite patience and will lovingly teach us what we need to learn. Lord, thank you for being patient with me.