His Delight

“Grace (unmerited favor) and peace [that special sense of spiritual well-being] be multiplied to you in the [true, intimate] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:2 AMP

My Little man helping me unwrap my new Grinch Cookie Jar this Christmas

Let me start this off with a statement. “Being a Grandparent ROCKS!” I have a grandson that is almost 2 and one on the way. It is one of the biggest joys of my husband’s and my life. It changes you. I guess it’s because 26 years of being a parent wore off all the rough edges in us and now we’re mellow and relaxed. ha ha. I was commenting the other day while shopping with my husband at some Thrift stores how I don’t believe I have ever seen him in our 29 years of marriage spend more time in the Toy section of a store. When our kids were little, I could barely drag him through it. Now he gravitates toward it and spends significant time trying out every button and calling to me for my attention on what the toy does. To be fair, as a younger man, he was pretty stinking busy trying to make a living and provide for us and probably just didn’t feel like he had the time. But nonetheless, our little grandson has stirred up a favor within us toward him that no other has. If he comes over and tells me “Ganny, I hungy, Waffles” you better believe “Ganny” is plugging in her animal shaped waffle maker and whipping up a batch for my little man. Because he has my heart.

This Christmas season I have been thinking about the love of God and different aspects of the Christmas story. Last night I was drawn to the section of the Christmas story where the angels announce Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14. “Favor” when translated from the Greek means “satisfaction, delight, kindness”. Delight really stuck out to me. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor (delight) rests.

Me knowing me, finds it hard to believe in a God who “delights” in me, sometimes. But that is exactly how God, my heavenly Daddy feels toward me. The same kind of delight that my husband feels at a toy store contemplating the latest and greatest toy that would give our grandson a thrill, is the same kind of delight that my heavenly Daddy feels when He thinks of me, which is ALL the time. (a whole other blog I’m sure). The same kind of delight I feel when my little guy asks “Ganny” for waffles as he rubs his little tummy with his little hand, God feels towards me as He goes with me throughout the day. The good news is this favor/ delight is not just poured out on me. (though I’ll take it). It is poured out on all of us, and the more we spend time with God, getting to know Him, the more we experience His delight in us. As the verse above in 2 Peter says, it is multiplied to us as we become more intimate with our heavenly Daddy and Jesus our Lord. The more I know Him, the more I understand that God is love. The kind of Love that delights in me enough to come to earth on a Christmas day, live His life out displaying just how Good and loving He is, then dying as the sacrifice for all the wrongs/sin I have done. Rising again so I can live. That is delight that makes my mind “tilt” when I contemplate it. That is the delight, the favor, the grace that He multiplies towards me over and over, and not only toward me, but toward you. Because He loves us and He is Oh so Good!

An Oak of Righteousness on Display

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3

We live about an hour away from an old order Amish community. Every once and awhile my husband and I along with my sisters in law and my brothers in law decide to go and visit their shops. It’s relaxing to get out in their area of farmland, to see the occasional horse and buggy, and purchase some of their hand pies and whoppie pies from their bakery. I also enjoy looking in their furniture shops. The quality of their hand made furniture is amazing.

Oak Slab table that looks similar to my dream table.

This last weekend our little group of family made the trip up north. We stopped at the aforementioned bakery, and I enjoyed a handheld strawberry pie. Then we walked over to the building next to the bakery, the furniture store. When we walked in there was this handmade slab table made of oak. It was large and oh so beautiful, absolutely stunning would probably be the words that best describe it. It immediately caught the eye of each of us in our group. I could just picture it in my dining room with our growing family seated around it. I bet you could get 10 people around it. I stood there gently rubbing the smooth, shiny top admiring the craftsmanship. Then common sense hit, I probably don’t need it. I have a nice oak table now and I’ve got other things that an extra $4000 or more could be applied to in my life, like new carpet… So, I warmed by the wood stove for a minute, admired its beauty, and then hopped into the truck to go on to the next business.

A majestic Oak

The past week I have found myself parked in a couple of sections of scripture. Like I shared in my blog yesterday, I usually spend time reading the passage, rereading it, praying about, it and writing about it as well. It’s good for me. Isaiah 61 is the other section I’ve been trying to let soak into my head and my heart. When I read it verse 3 kept drawing me in. “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor”. Immediately my thoughts went to my own oak furniture, end tables, one bought at an Amish furniture shop, and then that gorgeous slab table I had seen. Oak is a quality wood for quality furniture made from an impressive tree. I started googling Oak trees. Turns out Oak trees are all over the world. I probably already knew that, but for some reason it seemed like an American phenomenon to me. They grow LARGE and they grow STRONG. They are some of the most magnificent trees. There is no trouble distinguishing the characteristics of an oak. An Oak tree is just that an Oak tree. And God says in His word that I am just that, an Oak of Righteousness. The two verses before that are among those quoted by Jesus in the synagogue at the beginning of His ministry. He read how God had sent Him to proclaim the good news, to bind up our broken hearts, proclaim freedom and release to those held captive by sin and its effects, and to proclaim God’s favor toward us. He gives us beauty where there was nothing but ashes, joy where there was mourning, and praise over our despair, and as if that is not enough, He turns the very core of who we are into something new and enduring, an Oak of righteousness. An oak tree is an oak tree, no matter the size- from seedling to giant. It is an Oak. And we become an oak of righteousness. In Jesus, I am righteous. It’s not something I have to attain. It’s not something I have to work for. It is who I am. Not of my own, but of His doing. It is who I am. No matter what size of faith I may feel like I have, seedling to giant, He has made me 100% righteous in Him. This is all done for the display of His splendor in me. When I live in that reality, it points others to the beauty of what a life in Christ is, and just as I sat in that Amish furniture shop admiring the beauty of an Oak slab table, Christ’s righteousness on display in my life, shows just how beautiful and awesome the transformation of a heart made new really is. A healed, free heart, standing in His favor is beautiful and joyously echoing praises of the One who made them NEW. It is a display of His glorious splendor. That He allows me to take part in. All because He Loves Me and I am His. Excuse me while I stand in awe again of just how Good He is…

The Compassionate Father- He Loves

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.” Psalm 103:13-18 NIV

From time to time, I find myself parked in a section of scripture, thinking about it, praying about it, reading it over and over. Psalm 103 has been that section this past week. It was suggested by a friend that I read it and think about the theme of God’s love toward me about a week ago. In my time of reflection, I came to this and asked God what His compassion is like. Immediately my mind went back to a time almost 18 years ago when my youngest son was born. There is nothing more needy than a newborn baby. They are pretty basic: eat… poop… cry… repeat… No words of thanks uttered from their mouth, abilities to repay, nothing. Just the aforementioned cycle over and over. Newborns are so fragile and when a newborn has a health issue that requires care it is a time of great angst for the parents. My youngest son had a traumatic birth. We were seconds away from the resuscitation team being called in shortly after he was delivered. He was turning blue; it was pretty scary. Then the issues breathing kicked in a little later that night. He landed in the NICU. I remember being taken into see him shortly after being admitted. My 8-pound 2-ounce baby boy laying there with tubes all over him and prongs up his nose… hard to accept as a mom of 4 who didn’t have any issues with her first 3. My heart broke. Then the memory that is etched in my mind forever was when the nurses told me they needed to change the tubes out in his nostrils. They told me I may want to leave, and I agreed. As I was walking away, I looked back for a second only to see my baby arch his tiny back about 2 inches off the bed as they pulled the tubes out and changed them. I lost it. Tears flowed. I wanted him whole. No more pain, no more poking and prying his tiny little body. As I sat deep in the memory of that time, it occurred to me, how I felt then is how God does when He sees us struggle. That was the answer to my question of what God’s compassion is like.

I am much like a newborn when it comes to God. I find myself with nothing of real substance that God really needs, and the truth be known I am desperately needy of Him. But God, my heavenly Daddy, finds me to be so very valuable, because I am His. He knows just how fragile I am, “But dust” yet His love is with me, and though I don’t understand situations because of my limited perspective, He is there working in every way for my Good and His glory. The very same way I felt as I watched the nurses in the NICU working with my son, is the way God feels as He orchestrates the events of my life sometimes good sometimes bad in His sovereignty. He hurts when I do as well, and He promises that His love will NEVER fail. The comfort comes when I truly believe and trust. That is when God shows Himself to be what I needed all along, and He wraps His love around me and holds me close. He is the compassionate father who never fails.

I Have Never Regretted Us- Happy 29th Anniversary Baby

This is the time of year I usually go all nostalgic. It usually starts up when I decorate my Christmas tree. My decorating scheme for my tree could be described the way my now adult children call it, “It looks like Christmas threw up on the tree.” Handmade ornaments that go back to the year before I married my husband all the way to last year. There are the ornaments my college roommates made for our little tree in our campus house room, the ornaments my husband and I scraped up enough money to buy ornament making kits and we painted together our first year of marriage 28 years ago. Then there’s the assortment of ornaments my kids made throughout the years growing up. Plus, my latest treasure, my grandson’s first ornament for my tree, an imprint of his foot when he was almost 1. Each one a reminder of the good life God has blessed me with.

Our First Christmas Ornament

Since my husband and I got married on January 2nd, and we always plan a way to celebrate, my thoughts on the early years- the first time I saw him, our first date, our first kiss (we bumped noses because we were so nervous), the 8-month, whirlwind romance during our “summer of love”, his sparkly eyes… all that stuff runs through my mind. This year probably more so than most. We’re closing in on a big anniversary. 29 years this year. 30 next.

So much joy!

Midnight of January 1st 1992 I was at a party with some friends. We took the time to pray as the New Year came in. I had been planning a third short term mission trip with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) for the summer of 1992. This would follow up 2 previous trips to Mexico the two previous years. I was certain I needed to go again. I had my plans. Finish college, get involved in a mission organization, go live on the field the rest of your life. God however had other plans. I distinctly felt like I should stay home and take a summer class at college, something I would never do unless God was in it, Ha Ha (I hated college). So I registered for class and stuck around.

The Summer of Love
Engagement photo. Rich’s Mt Dew Can made it in the shot.

The church I attended in college strictly practiced courtship. They were loosening up some of their dating rules that year, but there were a lot of single 20 ish year olds there. Something noticed by a friend of my husband when he visited one Sunday. I believe he told Rich “I know a church you should visit. There are a lot of single women.” So you have to give Rich credit, he was out to pick up a woman and he chose church, not a bar. lol. So Easter Sunday, April 19, 1992, he walked into the church service and was sitting in front of me. At one point in the service that 6 ft 2, brown hair, muscular 19-year-old (I didn’t know he was so young then) turned around and winked at me. I being the hyper-religious/ courtship obeying girl thought… “What a flirt! He’s not serious about God.” Little did I know that God had begun to rock my world and set me on a very blessed course. I had my plans, but God had His and thank God for His love that directs our steps when we don’t really know where we need to go. He always does. January 2nd,1993 we were married.

Rich 19, me 21, just a couple of kids started our life together with nothing, literally. A little one-bedroom apartment by the Missouri River in St Charles that we shared with a roommate, roommate had the living room with an office divider blocking off the area for his bed and worked nights, so it “worked” for 8 months.

We were the masters of finding fun things to do that cost little to nothing. Getting married in January insured we would have some snow our first month of marriage. So it made sense to take the boxes from our wedding gifts out and use them for sleds on the hill next to our apartment. It was a blast!! Then there were all the evenings in the summer we spent fishing at Bush Wildlife Reserve. The time we dug through our couch cushions and emptied the money out of the ash trays of our cars trying to get enough money to go to Big Surf water park. (Which we accomplished).

The First Years

When we started our family with the birth of our oldest son, Rich worked hard to insure I could stay home with him. He has sacrificed much, working shift work, working all kinds of overtime, working his way up from a janitor at the local nuclear plant, studying hard to get a Reactor Operator license and beyond all this… to provide a good life for our family. And I have been able to work my dream job, a stay-at-home mom that homeschooled her four kids from Kindergarten to Graduation.

We have not been without times of struggle in our marriage. Just ask our kids about the “Budget discussions” we started doing after a Dave Ramsey “Financial Peace” class (highly recommend) which proved to be more of budget wars (NOT highly recommended lol). Personality differences, HUGE ones, fights…, disagreements, sadness’s, losses, struggles, etc. And yes there have been times we loved each other, but really didn’t “like” each other.

The secret sauce/ glue that has held it all together has been first of all our commitment to God (Specifically a relationship with JESUS). With exception of covid, and a few other weeks, we’ve been in a church every Sunday. The past few years we take time every work morning, hold hands and pray after breakfast. We read the Bible together on the Bible app. and spend time frequently talking about what we are learning about God. We pray for each other as we walk through our individual struggles we go through. God has been so faithful to us through the years and the past few years of our marriage have been some of the sweetest.

So, this year at year 29, I find myself marveling at the goodness of God. Having walked through some very hard seasons in my life off and on through the years, I can truly see how God stepped in and blessed me with His good life, and 30 years ago on a New Year’s Eve, He changed the course of my life. I didn’t end up with my degree or living on a mission field in a foreign country. God’s plans are not my own. They are BETTER!

The beauty of it is that God didn’t stop there. His grace has given me much more than I deserve, and God has truly worked all things out for my good.

Reenactment of the ill fated teeter totter incident we had when dating. Except this time Rich didn’t accidentally knock me off the teeter totter.
Go carting last fall.
Fishing with the best fishing buddy ever

On a personal note: Rich, I have never regretted us. You are that special young man God gave to me. Let’s do at least another 31 years. Love you more than I ever could express.

Happy 29th Anniversary to us 🙂 (Let’s swim with the Sharks. It will be fun)

Me and my Man 🥰

Christmas: To Know Him More

I grew up in the same town as my grandparents. So, I got to see them alot while I was growing up. My Grandpa and Grandma Burkman went to the same church I went to so I saw them Wednesday night, Sunday morning, and a weekend afternoon as well. My Grandpa Burkman was such a quiet man. My memories of him, when I was a small child, are mainly of sitting with him in his recliner eating peanuts that he would crack open for me. Which helped me to earn his nickname for me, “Peanut”. One of the other memories I have is him being in his shop. He was a machinist. He always had a project going. Sometimes I would navigate through all the projects (looked like junk) he had, or as he called it “Potential” to the back left hand corner of the big room in his shop to watch him weld. He’d give me a welding mask and I would stand there and watch the sparks fly.

Me in my 20’s with my Grandpa

Yesterday my parents posted a picture of him and my Grandma when they were very young on Facebook. My daughter commented to me how amazed she was that he looked soooo young. My memories are somewhere around the 60 + year old Grandpa. Hers’s are more the 90 + (he lived until he was a few days shy of 101).

Grandpa and Grandma when they were young.

After my Grandma died, is when I really got to know my Grandpa better. When I would bring my family home to visit, he would tell us stories of him racing Model T’s through the downtown area of the small Kansas town he lived in, and how they would pop wheelies with them hoping to impress the girls, a feat I didn’t know was possible with Model T. But he took the time to explain exactly how he did it. He also talked about racing boats on a Kansas lake, another thing I had a hard time picturing my quiet,gentle Grandpa doing. Then him working a promotional for the car dealership he worked for wearing what appeared to only be a barrel as he walked around outside the dealership. I was blown away with each visit at how much I really didn’t know about the man I had seen so much through the years I was growing up, and why my Grandma, who always seemed to be in for an adventure (camping, fishing, playing in the river, traveling, etc) would fall in love with such a seemingly quiet and calm man.

I’ve been reflecting on a verse in the Bible this week. Philippians 3:10 “I want to know Christ, yes to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” The apostle Paul had a personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus, was a missionary to all kinds of towns, wrote several of the New Testament Books of the Bible. It struck me that the one thing he said he wanted was to “Know Christ”.

There have been times in my life that I thought I had God all figured out. I figured I knew how High I needed to jump to get His approval (a jump higher than I could ever make). I was pretty sure I knew the extent of the work I would have to do to be what I was supposed to be to make Him happy. And much like the 40 + year old Janet found out, the 5-year-old Janet didn’t really know her Grandpa, I have discovered I really didn’t even have a clue on who God really is or what He is like either. Which is why I find the words in John 14 very comforting. Jesus is talking to His disciples about knowing the Father. Verses 8-9 “Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us. “Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…”

During the Christmas season, we often hear the name “Emmanuel” spoken. We talk about Jesus being “God with Us”. And then we reflect on how a God, that the Jewish religious leaders, thought they had figured out as being “rule based”, “unapproachable”, “distant” had all of a sudden said, “I will show you who I am. When you see this baby, born into a desperate world, grows to be a man who is kind, compassionate, good, and full of love, live His life as an exact representation of who I Am, you will see me.” The Jesus of the Christmas manger, the miracle worker, the forgiver of sins, the sacrifice on the Cross, and the resurrected King, through His Grace, is our way to “Know God” and “Knowing God” is exactly what we need. It is what God desires for us. He went out of His way to “show us the way” to Him. When we reach out and tell Him like Paul did, “I want to know you God”. He is there wanting to show us who He really is. Because the Jesus of Christmas and the Cross Loves us more than we could ever comprehend. It will take a lifetime and beyond to know Him more and the fulness of His love.

Jesus of Christmas and the Cross an exact representation of our Loving Heavenly Father. Oh to Know Him and Make Him known!