Think On These Things

How are you doing? I feel like I’ve been spinning on a child’s toy top. I’m still in a daze with the immense challenges we’ve experienced in our country in just two weeks. As all of you know, in a matter of days, our world has drastically changed. This world-wide pandemic called, COVID19, or Coronavirus, has now placed it’s ugly hands on the USA, and many other countries. To be honest, I’ve struggled at times. I’m prone to anxiety anyway and this has been a battle. One hour I’m okay, the next hour I have a hard time drawing a deep breath.

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A mere two weeks ago many thought this disease couldn’t last long or touch us in personal ways. Each day, and each hour, new developments flooded in. By the middle of last week, colleges and universities began closing, going online for the rest of the semester. Major sports organizations shut down. Thursday and Friday all Michigan school districts closed. Last weekend we were told to keep gatherings under 250, then 100, now ten people. The first confirmed case in our small city came early this week.

 
“Social distancing” is a new term to most people, as we’re told to keep six feet away from others. The governor’s order by mid-week closed all restaurants and bars in Michigan for dining in. Some fear-mongering reports are negative with the sky is falling attitude. Others are calm and reassuring, but this is uncharted territory no one has ever waded through before.

 
Health care workers are stressed to the max. Unnecessary surgeries are put on hold, pregnant ladies face difficulties for appointments and deliveries. Even spouses aren’t allowed inside with a hospital patient. It’s lonely for the critically ill or rehabilitation patients, without visitors.

 
Life is suddenly different. We’ve had privilege for a long time. Our parents were part of the Greatest Generation, who lived through the Great Depression or WWII. We certainly aren’t afflicted to the level they were. My generation had a prosperous life which made it look easy to our kids, the millennials. For many of them this could be their first real hardship.

 
This whole thing reminds me of 9-11. That was a time when the world as we knew it profoundly changed. I’m an introvert at heart, but this is way beyond. I miss my peeps and normal routines and activities, the daily markers to keep us in step. Humans need humans.

 
Every day, more things are being postponed farther into the future. When I see another “cancelled” notice in emails and on Facebook posts, my heart drops a little bit more. Even most church services are online or moving to much different formats. I see the president or the governor on TV, and think, now what? What are health experts trying now, new therapies, how many tests, how many sick, how many died, how many hospital beds, how many ventilators….. on and on and on!

 

STOP!!!!! It has to be a bad dream. Let me off this spinning top!

 
Breathe deeply.

 
Relax.

 
For some reason, God placed us all at home. He knows what’s happening because He is an omnipresent and omniscient God. He never promised us a perfect life. In fact, the Lord promised in this world we would have trouble, but He has overcome the world. (John 16:33) The fact is, we live in a sinful world which includes sickness and death.

 
This quieter time can be wasted, or used as an opportunity. If you’re prone to any kind of depression or anxiety, this is a very challenging period for us, but we can overcome with the help of the Holy Spirit. He wants us to draw near to Him.

 
Here are things I’m doing or have heard about, to combat negativity during this strange era when most of us have to sit home.

 
1. Pray, pray, PRAY—alone or with whomever you’re “quarantined” with. Pray warfare prayers, praise, supplication and listening prayers. This is a good time to get your prayer book/journal organized. Pray for doctors, nurses, health care workers, police, fire, and emergency workers. Pray warfare putting on the armor of God. Pray to Jesus for healing of our people and our bodies.

 
2. Pray for our president, vice-president, governor, medical experts, the presidential coronavirus task force team—for wisdom, discernment, and health. Put aside political opinions during this critical time.

 
3. Read the Bible. Get going on your Bible study, or begin something new online. Memorize verses and passages.

 
4. Catch up on all those books, e-books, kindle books you’ve had on your list for a long time.

 
5. Turn off your TV! I can only stand the news about one hour per day. The media creates fear, don’t buy into it. That background noise will only imbed negative thoughts. Guard your heart and mind.

 
6. Love the ones you’re with. Practice kindness, good deeds, patience.

 
7. If you’re a young mom—you don’t have to create a utopian homeschool for your kids. Relax and do what you can. Especially READ to and with them.

 
8. Classes, virtual national parks, zoos and museums online can teach you something new, or educate your children. Learn a language or a musical instrument.

 
9. Order online books and resources from your local library.

 
10. Write letters to lonely people, such as nursing home residents and send them in the mail. Facetime with parents, grandparents or elderly neighbors. If they don’t use that technology, make actual phone calls.

 
11. Texts, Facetime, Facebook live, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, photos or videos are all ways to keep in touch. We are fortunate to have so many means of communication.

 
12. Talk to your neighbors from a good distance across the yards and driveways.

 
13. You can journal, write stories, rake the yard, haul wood, ride bike, take a walk, scrapbook, clean house, cook, freeze some meals, bake, sort out closets, gather for Goodwill, play games, create a family theater production.

 
14. Find good podcasts of sermons, pastors, church services, Christian artists on You-Tube, movies and videos with positive values, praise music on your phone, radio or TV.

 
15. Use a diffuser with calming oils, take baths, do “Christian yoga” online, relaxation exercises and deep breathing techniques.

 
16. Fast and pray about this virus. I wrote a story specifically about fasting here: https://myrnafolkert.blog/?s=fast

 
17. Speak life to yourself and others. If it’s not helpful then don’t say it, text it, or send it. No one needs more negativity right now in any form.

 
I’ve had this verse on my mind this week:

 

Philippians 4:8 – “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about these things.”

 
Reach out to others, speak honestly and don’t isolate too much. Let someone know if you are anxious or depressed. We’re in this together. The Lord will get us through because He promises He will never leave us or forsake us. Be encouraged friends!

 
Aren’t we going to have a wonderful celebration when this disease is over?

 

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Posted in anxiety, Coronavirus, fasting, fear, God's omniscience, God's presence, God's protection, Hope, prayer, Renewing of your mind, sickness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Daughters of Hope – Cover Reveal Day!

I’m finally able to unveil something very exciting! Some of you know I have worked on a book for the last several years. After the loss of my mother as a young girl, for many years I carried around the “call” to write about it.  It is part memoir, and contains stories I wrote based on interviews with brave women about their mother-loss stories. The book will give hope to those who go through the loss of their mothers, or the loss of any loved one. It will be a comforting and compassionate gift for Mother’s Day.

God has been faithful to help me form and finish the book. There have been many twists and turns, disappointments, joys and trials during this process. It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit led me through all these to accomplish the task. His timing is perfect and now is the time for this book!

I’m thankful to my blog and devotional readers, friends, writing groups, family, prayer warriors, interviewees, mentors, and my husband Cliff, as they each cheered me on and supported me. All these people encouraged me to press on toward the goal of the upward calling of Jesus Christ.

Here’s the cover! I’m beyond excited!!

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Ordering details with links, will be here on my blog, my Facebook Author Page, and on the Launch Team page. I’ll send them soon. I plan to have a party to celebrate and you’re all invited! I will let you know the date.

I’d love to hear from those who would like to be on my book launch team. You will be the first to receive and read the book. All it involves, is to read the book, promote or share on your profiles and platforms, word of mouth, getting the word out in any way, and writing a review of the book on Amazon. It would be greatly appreciated! Sign up here: Daughters of Hope: Thriving after Mother Loss, if you’re willing to help.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/286398511697173/

Many more details will be shared as we go along. All glory to God!

Posted in Book Release 2020, Cover Reveal 2020, Daughters of Hope: Thriving after Mother Loss, First published book, God's faithfulness, mother loss, Mother's Day, Motherless Daughters, Mothers and daughters, New Book 2020, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

In the Waiting Room

We’re all waiting. Every person hopes and prays for something. God promises us in his holy Word, that in this world we will have trouble, but he will be with us. So we wait with hands held open. Waiting for a child to turn back around. Waiting for the remission date. Waiting for our loved one to make progress and thrive.

Healing prayers are lifted up in golden bowls before the throne of God. Anointing oil seeps into the pores. Music fills our ears. The two-edged sword is held up battle ready. Tears fall in our war rooms soaking the prayer shawls and floors. Face-down like Moses was in the wilderness.

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Friends and family come to squeeze a hand, hold us in a hug, convince us to eat, pray with and over us. Days turn into weeks, turn into months, and sometimes years. We’re longing for a breakthrough. Waiting for a sign. Faith is strong, but unbelief tries to sneak in. We long for your presence Lord. Sometimes this life is so hard it makes us eager for the next life up there, with you. You parted the sea, you raised the dead, you made the deaf hear. We know you can, we pray you will move in our dark night of trial. This waiting room of life can be lonely and frightening.

We know your everlasting arms uphold, and your heavenly wings cover us. Praise you Lord, for who you are—the God of restoration, the one who brings salvation for our souls. We will boast of your wonderful works, giving you all the honor and glory.

We look up, the sun is shining through the gray clouds, offering hope to face another day. Great is your faithfulness oh Lord.

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Posted in faith, Family, Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung, God's faithfulness, God's protection, healing, healing prayer, prayer, sickness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Light Shines in the Darkness – The Birth of Jesus – A Five Minute Friday Post

Light shines brightest in the dark. Last night was the longest night of the year and the shortest day of the year. The stars and moon shine in the dark, but they don’t appear to shine when it’s light.

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When the baby Jesus was born, the shepherds saw a bright star. They knew something very special was happening. This new star heralded the birth of the Savior of the world. Its light was a sign of His presence. They had to look up and follow the star to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. This baby was no ordinary baby, He was Emmanuel, God with us. As long as they looked up, they would find the Messiah. If they would have stayed in the fields because of their fear, they never would have found the Christ King.

In my life, when things seem dark, hard, or frustrating, that’s the time when I need to look up. The light shining in the darkness tells a story of hope. The hope of the light of the world and the bright hope of heaven. The stars and moon are always shining, it’s just that when I walk in the light of day, I cannot see them. If I go around satisfied that my life is rolling along fine, then the light of the stars will not come to my attention. I don’t see them, and don’t even try to see them. I’m content without them.

Isn’t that how it goes in life? When things are going along fine, we get the idea that we don’t need God, we’re doing just fine by ourselves. Pride and self-sufficiency set in. Imagine that the light of the stars is God’s comfort, His presence. But when the darkness surrounds us, we look up and strain to see the light. We fail to see God. In our lives, we need to look up at the light, and follow His lead. It may be dark all around us, but the star will guide us home.

I’m not a fan of the short days, the lack of sunlight, and cold of winters in Michigan. As soon as we get to the Winter Solstice, around December 21, I start talking about how the days will only get longer from here. Each day will bring a bit more light all through the winter and spring. It’s something that helps me get through the winter with a slice of optimism. May we rejoice in Jesus coming as a baby to the world at Christmastime. His coming eventually led to his life, death and resurrection to secure our salvation. He is our light and life.

Take a moment during this busy time, to sit still and ponder the light that shines bright in our hearts if we open them up to Him. Let His presence soak in.

 

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

 

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3

Posted in Christ's birth, Christmas, Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung, God's presence, Jesus' life, salvation | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Tribute To My Dad

I’ve been thinking about my dad this week, because he died just before Thanksgiving, seventeen years ago. My old-fashioned Dutch dad was a stoic, hard-working farmer. I can’t remember my dad ever telling me in words that he loved me. Neither was hugging done in my family in those days. He had signature sayings like, “Life is for the living,” “If you don’t work you don’t eat,” “All I want is cooperation!” The Webster’s dictionary defines the word stoic as, “a person who can endure hardship or pain without showing emotion or complaining” The word fits him perfectly.

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My dad could often be a stubborn man. It was his way or the highway. He demanded that we work on the farm, and you never skipped church unless you were in the hospital. But I respect the qualities which made him so much more.

 

Love was shown in many ways other than words. One of the earliest remembrances I have of my dad, was of him pushing me in the swing. The tree which held the swing was on his way from the house to the barn. No matter how busy he was—if I was sitting in the swing it happened the same way. I just had to look at him. Being the youngest of six, and a girl too. . .  when he walked my way he took the time to give me a few pushes. I giggled and said, “Push me higher!” and he did.

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The tree which had the swing

A very early memory. . .  when I was about four years old, I played with a neighbor boy, whose family rented a house from my dad. Ricky told me it would be fun to knock out the windows of a chicken coop as he handed me his extra stick. It seemed dangerous but exciting to hear the crash of dozens of square panes exploding on the concrete. Soon, the deed was told, as everything was in that country neighborhood. I stood in the back porch of our old farmhouse with my head down as my dad told me not to play with that boy again. I don’t remember my punishment, but I certainly obeyed him.

 

When riding with a girlfriend in high school, we got in a bad car accident. A farm implement scraped the entire side of the car, cutting out all the windows on my side, leaving most of us completely covered in fine shards of glass. My dad arrived at the hospital before we did. His presence spoke loudly.

 

My teenage girlfriends and I just had to go to the Easter Sunrise service way out in Bentheim, after a huge ice storm. Instead of allowing any of us to drive, my dad drove us on the thick ice at six o’clock in the morning. On the way up the hill in front of Randy Klingenberg’s family farm, the wheels just spun. He instructed us all to push the car, even in our new Easter dresses, nylons and heels. We had a lesson in determination.

 

When I was a young driver, backing out of the parking spot at home, I drove over one of my beloved farm cats. I ran inside crying to my dad. He calmly told me he would bury the cat. When he thought I wasn’t looking. . . he put the cat in an old feed sack and brought it way out in the field, making sure to bury it beyond where I ever walked so I wouldn’t see the spot.

 

I never had an official curfew time in high school, but one time I was extremely late as I tip-toed past his bedroom door. As I crossed that irritating creak in the floor that could not be avoided to get to my bedroom, my dad simply said, “it’s awfully late.” I always tried to get home earlier after that.

 

One of the few times I saw him show emotion was when my sister Audrey died at age eighteen. At one point during that first awful day, he took off in his old jalopy pickup that we called the “Sanford and Sons” truck. Gravel flew as he sped out the driveway and down the road. No one ever knew where he went to grieve the sudden unexplained loss of one of his daughters. It scared me. I never saw him drive fast or behave in that way. When we gathered in the living room a few weeks later, he announced what would be written on her gravestone. “In youth and love she sweetly rests.” Dad said so, and that was it.

 

In college, I dated a guy who I thought I could change and then we’d have a dreamy life together. One time, while I was home doing laundry on the weekend, dad came in and sat in the kitchen near me. He nonchalantly said that the boy was not a good influence on me and was a little “different.” I knew everything at that age, but thank the Lord my dad made me consider the cost.

 

Certain sayings of my dad are forever family keepsakes. Like, “Ya got that too yet then!” “If there’s food ya eat it, and if there’s not food ya don’t complain either!” My sisters and I still jokingly repeat them.

 

When I began dating my husband, he greatly approved of him, saying he was a reliable, hard worker. Dad sure was a good judge of character. When he stuck out his elbow to walk me down the aisle, it wasn’t a “tearful give away my daughter time.” He said something like, “OK, is this how I do it? Let’s go.” So funny, I loved him for that.

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Myrna with her dad

 

Grandpa K. always loved to sit and hold my babies. He didn’t talk to them but just wanted to hold them. Later he took my boys to the John Deere Days, or had them up on the roof shingling with him, so proud of those two little blondie-boys. I’m glad he lived long enough that they know who their grandpa was.

 

It was “my” Saturday to have dad, after his stroke. He was sitting in his wheelchair near me while I was doing my household chores. We began discussing my younger years. Usually, his speech was hard to understand, but he told me plainly, “Yes, those years weren’t good were they? I’m sorry they were tough on you,” with moisture clouding his view. On rare occasions, I could perceive what was behind those olive-colored eyes.

 

The last five years of his life were very difficult for him but I never heard any complaints. My dad lived a full life, traveled all over the nation by car, tirelessly worked on the farm, and loved to mix with people every chance he had. Abilities like driving, walking, dressing, bathing, and finally talking, faded. His dignity was stripped away from him in painful shreds.

 

Many years back, when my husband and I built our house in the country, my dad and stepmother gave us money to buy a special tree. We chose a Red Bud and it grew in tandem with my boys, for fifteen years. Every Spring we enjoyed bright purple buds right outside our living room window. First, the boys played under it with the dog, then mowed the lawn around it, and later it was the background for their prom pictures.

 

 

My dad had a series of strokes over a five-year period and went on to his reward in heaven when our boys were ten and thirteen years old. The Red Bud tree was a symbol of him, so it bothered me that we couldn’t take it along with us when we moved into town. One Spring day, my dear husband drove in with a Red Bud tree to plant in our new yard. As it changes through the seasons, it reminds me of my dad. It’s outside the living room window behind my mom’s piano.

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The new Red Bud tree outside the window

 

Do you have a story about your dad or a special male mentor in your life? I’d like to hear about it.

Posted in Dad, Death, Family, Farming, Father loss, Grief and loss | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Listen: A Five Minute Friday post

Old Testament verses can be an encouragement from God, in our lives today. I like the well-known Jeremiah verse about the fact that he knows our life and plans. It’s a popular one to write on graduation cards or gifts for friends facing uncertain times. If you read farther along, the passage continues with a wonderful set of encouraging verses.

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Jerimiah 29:11-14
“For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD and will bring you back from captivity.”

When I am going through a difficult time, or see a friend struggling, these promises provide peace and hope.

These verses portray a picture of how much the LORD loves us, listens and answers our prayers. If we are feeling stressed out, tired, or sad, we can call out to our God and He’s there listening. If you are heartbroken, frustrated or lonely, seek Him. He promised to listen and guide us through the trials of life.

Posted in Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung, God's faithfulness, God's Love | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Face to Face

In earlier days, W was a robust man, full of life and energy. A talkative type who could make people laugh. He didn’t miss a beat. As a young man, he was a truck driver. When he delivered the produce to a store, there he met a pretty young lady and later they married. As the years went on, W and his wife had a son and a daughter. Their life was busy and joyful.

One day, the tides turned, experiencing great sorrow when their dear daughter died after a short stint with cancer. Part of W was forever severed. He was never the same after that dark time.

Later on, he was a car salesman. Work and life continued for many more years.

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Occasionally he and his son went fishing on a nearby lake. They shared the way men often do . . . sitting side by side, looking at the water. Chit-chat here and there, nothing too serious. Mostly business.

One day, W had relentless pain which intensified. It turned out to be a massive stroke. He didn’t remember the long days and nights in the hospital. Rehab was attempted for the relatively young man, at the age of 61. He laid for a few lonely years, his eyesight completely gone, one leg amputated because of earlier medical issues, both hands contorted into permanent fists. His family drifted away and he never received a visit.

W kept his faith in the Lord. Often a nurse would adjust the dial on his radio to the treasured tunes about Jesus. When a hospice volunteer came, he appreciated a psalm or prayer. Even when the words were very few and far between, he expressed his thankfulness for their visits.

W’s soul went on a journey home to the place he has longed for his entire life. Where is his soul? Where does it go when the body shuts down? The body remains, but the soul goes on an adventure to the presence of the Lord. Now he’s at peace. His hands are limber and whole, his body restored, he’s viewing the glorious colors of heaven. Today he sat with his daughter overlooking the glimmering sea.

W now enjoys the radiance of his Savior . . . face to face.

Posted in Death, faith, God's presence, heaven, hospice | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments