Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments


Because I know that God is in control of all things, I don’t believe in coincidence; I believe in “God Incidents.” I’m beginning to think that God is preparing to use me mightily because this is the second time in less than a week that I’ve literally come within inches of my life. Just four days ago I came very close to being killed by a car, and last night a tree fell as close to me as one could get without actually breaking through my house.

I knew storms were predicted to pass through last night, so before going to bed I went through the usual routine of “battening down the hatches;” closing windows, unplugging devices, etc. It was around 1:30 a.m. when a big bang and the pelting of rain on my window woke me up. Since the house was already secure I didn’t get up, but quietly prayed for protection as my dog Daisy guarded me from underneath my bed.

More rumbling and cracks came on either side of one really large crack of lightning; I was sure something nearby was struck. That brought to my half-awake mind what my mother-in-law recently told me about a friend of hers whose mobile home caught on fire after a lightning strike. With my daughter’s wedding less than three weeks away, my first thought was, “I need to save Cassie’s wedding dress!”

Though still in my sleep-induced stupor, I began to formulate a plan. The rain wouldn’t be much better for the dress than fire, so I devised to rush upstairs, grab the dress, put it in the van and drive out of the garage, thereby saving the dress and the van. I guess I know now what I would take with me if I only had time to grab one thing. Oops, sorry Daisy. I’m sure I was assuming that you’d be running behind me.

“I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,” ~ Psalm 16:8-9

God did grant me rest, and it wasn’t long before I was again sleeping soundly. Our power was on when I awoke, so I didn’t give the storm a second thought. At least not until I was up and heard Bob whistle from the bedroom. I went in, stood beside him and gazed at the scene outside my window. A tall tree in the woods surrounding our house had broken off and the very tips of the branches hit the outside of the house in the exact spot where I had been sleeping inside.


If the tree had broken off any lower or the wind been any stronger, it would have fallen right on top of me.

“Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” ~ Psalm 20:6-7


I went outside to survey the damage, but outside of this one tree there was none. It did look as though one of our hosta plants had been crushed by a branch, but as I investigated more closely I saw that in that very spot the branch was curved, my hosta plant snuggled safely below it.




Many people have no idea that there are thousands of varieties of hosta, each with its own name and characteristics. The name of this fortunate hosta - “Blue Umbrellas.” God not only protects, but I believe He has a sense of humor as well!

Father, your love and protection never cease to amaze me! Thank you for literally keeping me safe in the midst of the storm, for not allowing the tree to break off any lower or blow any further. Who but you could put a bend in a branch so even a plant would be protected rather than crushed? Thank you, Lord, for your control over EVERYTHING!

Snuggled safely in your arms,

Lisa



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They say timing is everything, and now my timer doesn’t work! I came home from the church dinner last night exhausted, having spent the previous four hours on my feet. I’m thankful that I didn’t go directly to bed, because little did I know, my work for the day was not yet over. At 10:45 p.m., my oven timer went off. This is worth mentioning because of the fact that I never set my timer in the first place!

I went to investigate and found a letter and number where the digital clock should be showing the time. After pushing all the buttons and finding none of them worked, I went to get the manual. As my father always said, “If all else fails, read the instructions.”


I knew storing the manual with my cookbooks would come in handy someday, and this was that day! Being totally exhausted and listening to continuous beeping, locating the manual quickly is key. Once I found the right page, I was instructed to press the “clear” button.

Really? I never would have thought of that!

Since this was included in my previous button-pushing, I continued on to the next suggestion, which was to unplug the oven for thirty seconds and then plug it back in and see what happens. Now, the plug happens to be at the bottom of the back of the oven, which means I had to pull it out from the wall to unplug it. (Why don't these things happen when my husband is home?)

After a fair amount of maneuvering I was able to get the oven unplugged and silence the beeper. After waiting the allotted time, I plugged it back in. Ahhh, silence, followed by “beep…beep…beep.” Since it was after 11:00 p.m., I decided that the best course of action would be to unplug it so that I could get some sleep and deal with it later.

Journey, our Thursday Bible study, started back up today, so I didn’t have time for the oven in the morning. By the time I made it home from church at 1:00 p.m., I had totally forgotten about it, at least until I saw it sitting in the middle of my kitchen. How easy it is to push unpleasant tasks out of our mind!

Now theoretically I move my oven and clean around it once a year, but practically speaking, I don’t think it happens quite that often. At least that’s what the sides of the oven and the floor beneath it would indicate. Looking back, there were several times when something would spill between the oven and the counter and I would think, “I really should move the oven and clean that up,” but that’s as far as it went.

Aren’t we the same way with our lives? The Holy Spirit will give us little nudges and we think, “I really shouldn’t jump to conclusions,” or “I shouldn’t have said that,” or “I should offer to help that person,” but then we don’t act on it and the thought exits our mind just as quickly as it entered. But just like the junk started building up on my oven, so sin builds up in us. That is why in Lamentations it says, “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.” (3:40) We need to address our sins as they occur, so that we can avoid sin build-up.

I scrubbed the textured sides of my oven, but couldn’t get it clean. I had to make a paste out of baking soda and water to reach down into the crevices. We can’t get ourselves clean either, but God will clean us up if we ask Him to.
“Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;” (Psalm 26:2)

“wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." (Psalm 51:7)

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” Even in situations like this, there is plenty to be thankful for:

Lord, thank you that I have an oven.
Thank you for a good night’s sleep.
Thank you for people who know how to fix these things.
Thank you for a microwave and leftover baked potatoes!
and most of all,
Thank you for cleaning me up even better than I can clean up my oven, and finding me worth the effort.




Lisa


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It's not likely I'll be able to post much while I'm working and teaching in Kenya for the next three weeks, so I thought I'd share some older posts with you.  Here's one about our last trip back in 2010.

I invested many hours into our Kenya mission trip before we ever set foot in an airport, finding answers to the questions “Who will we be working with?”, “What will we be doing?”, “When will we be there?”, “Where will we stay?” and “How will we get from point A to point B?” One of the few things I didn’t do was book the airline flights, and I have to admit I was not happy with what we were given.


I know from experience that once the mission is finished, I’m ready to go home. We were scheduled to arrive back in Nairobi early Tuesday, but only one couple was flying out that evening. The rest of the team had to wait another twenty-four hours before beginning our thirty-one hour journey home. I’m not great at waiting even in the best of circumstances, and I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t all be booked on the same flight. It made no sense to me.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)

We had a wonderful mission. For most of the team it was full of new experiences, but for Bob and I it was full of familiar places and old friends. It was wonderful to see God working and the progress that had been made in our absence. I was particularly looking forward to our time in Kisii. We only had one day scheduled there, the last Sunday of our trip, but we were looking forward to connecting with our dear friends from Mustard Christian Center. Bob and I were based in Kisii for much of our prior trip, and had worked closely with the members of MCC.

I hadn’t been feeling well for several days, which I attributed to much more activity than I’m physically capable of, but as I sat in church on Sunday I knew something was terribly wrong. In God’s providence I found myself sitting across the aisle from Celestine, whom I knew to be a nurse, and I was able to signal her to follow me outside before I passed out.

I must have been semi-conscious because I heard everything going on around me but didn’t have the energy to even lift my eyelids. I’m told that was probably a good thing! I remember the IV and the injection, the alarms sounding after the crash (I learned later that a car had driven through the doors of the ER), and being moved to a storage area to make room for incoming patients who had been involved in a bus accident.

After being diagnosed with hypertension (which I’ve never had a problem with before) and a bacterial lung infection I was released and taken to a room at St. Vincent Pastoral Center. I still needed help walking to my room, and didn’t do much more than drink and sleep once I got there. Our team ended up getting rooms there for the night as well, so the next morning I was able to join them for breakfast…for about two minutes. Just getting up and ready was enough to sap what little strength I had.

My thoughts of going on safari quickly faded and I rested as everyone else prepared to leave. I mention this because it was really okay. By that I mean supernaturally so. One might think that it would be a disappointment going to Africa and missing the safari, but for me it wasn’t. It had to have been the power of the Holy Spirit that enabled me to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and rather than feel sorry for myself, I began to make a mental list:

I was thankful I was the one sick and not anyone else on the team.

I’ve seen the animals before.

I wasn’t left with strangers; I was staying with "family."

I didn’t get sick in the village where it would have been a 45 minute drive to the hospital; I passed out in the city where the hospital was just a few blocks away.

Because Celestine works at that hospital, I was treated right away.

I wasn’t sitting in the waiting area when the car crashed through the doors.

I was treated before the bus crash victims came in rather than waiting until after.

I had a quiet place to rest.

Shortly after the team left, I was taken to Elisha & Tabitha’s house to recuperate. In the small gaps between naps I was able to have wonderful spiritual discussions that I would’ve otherwise missed. (I thought I knew Job…I knew nothing!) Late the next morning we made the three hour drive to Kisumu where the nearest airport is located (allowing for more great conversation). A couple I had never met before arranged for my plane ticket, allowed me to rest in one of their beds and delivered me at the airport in time for my flight to Nairobi where I rejoined the team at the guest house. (Flying alone in a foreign country, now there's a victory!)

Wednesday found me exhausted once again, so I stayed back to read and nap while the majority of the remaining team members went to see the sights of Nairobi. At 8:00 p.m. we left the guest house to catch our 11:30 p.m. flight, the first leg of our trip home. Despite a problem with luggage, tainted airline food (thankfully not served) and long grueling flights, this was probably the best trip home I’ve had, and it was the extra day that made all the difference. Things would have not gone nearly as well for me if we had to leave on Tuesday night, when I wanted to leave.

Thank you God for not always letting me have my way, but instead doing what You know is best for me! Thank you for providing the day of rest I so desperately needed!

Lisa


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How often do you feel like you're really tuned in to God?

I wish I could say I constantly have a clear picture of what God is communicating to me, but I feel like much of the time all I get is static with a few moments of clarity here and there. 
courtesy of WholsNumberNone and photobucket

But oh, how I live for those moments! You know, those times when you're really "tuned in" to God and pick up on His subtle direction.

There's a man from my church with a niece that lives out of town with her husband and eight or nine children.  In the past I've helped them out with groceries, and God placed them on my heart so I asked if they were in need.  My friend said he didn't think so, so I left it at that.

At church a week or so later he informed me that in fact they were in need (yay, tuned in there!) and he would be making a trip to their house the next day.  He was headed out to lunch and we were attending the second service so we agreed to meet up at our house afterwards.

I was thinking we'd get home first and I could pull some things together but when we drove in, his car was already in the driveway.  So instead of some thoughtful contemplation, I flew around packing grocery bags with what I thought they would like. 

I shop with coupons and stock up when there are deals to be had, so I also was able to pack up a bag of toiletries.  On the top of the bookcase I store them on was a roll of Scotch tape. 
courtesy of Cobes04 and photobucket
My first thought was, "Maybe I should throw that in..."

Followed by, "That's pretty random.  They would probably think that was strange."

Do you ever have those kinds of conversations with yourself? 

I believe in erring on the side of doing good, even if it makes me look stupid, so I threw the tape into the bag along with more normal items like toothpaste and deodorant and brought it out to my friend.

I wouldn't have thought anything else of it, but my friend sought me out the next Sunday and asked about the tape.  I said something about it being a random impulse and he informed me there was nothing random about it. 

One of the children was ecstatic upon discovering the tape.  Evidently she had a homework assignment but couldn't complete it because, you guessed it, they didn't have any tape.  And if you don't have enough food, you certainly aren't going to be spending money on tape.

"a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." ~ 1 Kings 19:11-12

God generally doesn't scream at us; He speaks with a still, small voice.  Quite often, those seemingly random impulses are actually God's promptings.  Just this week I was the beneficiary of some of those promptings.

I shared in my last post that I'm preparing to leave for Kenya in just under a week (!) and have been sick for the last 3-1/2 weeks.  The good news is I've been feeling better the last couple days and the ENT gave me some new prescriptions and a guarantee that after my appointment next week I'll be ready to fly.  The bad news is, I've spent the last 3-1/2 weeks just trying to make it through the day rather than preparing for our trip.

My friend Bonnie stopped by Sunday to drop off some extra washcloths she had accumulated along with a couple of skirts.  I think she was feeling like she was being random, but I could've hugged her - and did!  When we travel to Kenya we try to leave behind as much as we can, which means we need a new supply of clothes and linens for each trip.  I have plenty of shirts I've collected since our last trip, but was in need of - you guessed it - skirts and washcloths!  I can't tell you what a relief it is to have this taken care of!

Lord, I love it that you are concerned with the details in life.  It's the little things that make me understand how much You love me.  Thank you so much for the blessing from Bonnie, and for allowing me to be a blessing to others.  Help us all to be more in tune to You!
Lisa



Beholding Glory


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I had the pleasure this week of attending the premier of  "He Loves Me," Cindy Bultema's life story.  Believe me, this is one you don't want to miss!

Cindy is warm, genuine and relatable.  Watching the opening of her story, I saw my story.  I wouldn't be surprised if you saw yours.  We all make our own unique mistakes, but often  they share the same roots.  Watching God turn Cindy's tragedy into victory reminds me that that same victory is waiting for me, and for you!

To celebrate her birthday, Cindy is giving a way copies of the "He Loves Me" DVD!  How cool is that?  Go to Cindy's website by 9 p.m. on Sunday May 13 for your chance to win!

Be sure to watch "He Loves Me" this Sunday Morning, May 13, 2012 on Day of Discovery, aired at 7:30 a.m. on ION Television Network!  For now, here's a sneak peak:




Lisa



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With Mother's Day just around the corner, I think this is a good time to share a lesson from my mother that actually stuck (as opposed to those that didn't stick.  I'm afraid she'll have to share that list!)

The lesson I have in mind isn't something she said as much as it is how she lives...

"...children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God." ~ 1 Timothy 5:4

Maybe it was because she came from a large family, or the fact that she held the position as middle child in that family, or perhaps it was her upbringing, but my mother has always lived out the importance of family.



Here she is, in the white sweater, with all of her siblings.  This must have been taken in the early 80's because I can still remember them lined up here in Aunt Carole's living room, belting out "We are Family" by Sister Sledge!

My dad, with just one sister (who for many years was married to my mother's brother), would constantly complain about Mom's family "rallying" at every crisis, and that's exactly what they do.  Whenever there's a trial or catastrophe, they're there for each other.  Personally, I'll take "rallying" over isolation any day. 

Just yesterday we were leaving the funeral home headed to the cemetery when she saw my aunt getting in her car.  Before we knew it, Mom was out of our car and over at hers, making sure she wasn't riding to her daughter's graveside service alone.  Mom springs into action before any of the rest of us have finished processing.  She's all about family.

Lord, I thank you for allowing me to grow up with a mother.  I can't imagine what my life would have been like had cancer been victorious and taken her when I was so young (and twice afterwards!) Help me to follow her example in making family a priority.   

Lisa


Enjoy this blast from the past!

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ORGANIZING

Tips for Tuesday

How often do the words, "Out of sight, out of mind" apply when it comes to organizing your home?  Around here, I find anything hidden behind a door falls to the bottom of my "To Do" list.  Alas, mice and a water leak forced my hand and moved the space under my kitchen sink up to the top of the list!


I spared you from a true "before" picture.  Let's just say mice + water = not a pretty site! 

I line all my cupboards and drawers, especially in the kitchen.  For under the sink I like the durability of a scrap of linoleum. 


Since the water leak caused mold under the liner, I cleaned it with bleach.



As long as I had the bleach out, I also mixed some with water and gave my ancient trash can a good soak!


And soaked my sink/dish mat as well.  I always use either a mat or dishpan when washing dishes to keep them from hitting against the hard surface of the sink.  We break enough glasses as it is!



The hand-held vacuum came in handy for picking up the bulk of the mess.  Obviously the cat has been slacking in her hunting duties...



I was fortunate to find this slide on clearance at a home-improvement store.  I find it convenient to be able to pull the trash can out. 



I like to pick up inexpensive bud vases at garage sales so I can give them away along with flowers out of my garden.  I used to have them alternating up and down to save space, but learned the hard way that if the open end is up and a mouse happens to crawl in, it can't get out.  EWW!  I've got one less bud vase - just sayin'.  Glad I only spent .25!


There's room at the end of the slide to store extra dish soap behind my trash can.  Baby wash for my grandson's baths fits along the side.



On the other side of the slide I store my dishwasher supplies.



And finally, my dishpan back in place.  This didn't take too long and should stay neat for quite a while. That's my kind of project!
Lisa



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I grew up in a home where the television set was always on.  Always.  While I've come a long way in changing those deeply ingrained habits, I still enjoy watching a show or two in the evening with my husband.  Surprisingly, one of those shows is "Survivor," though it's hard to pinpoint exactly why.  Perhaps it's just so I can be grateful I don't have to deal with people like that on a regular basis.


For those of you who haven't watched, "Survivor" takes a dozen or so people and drops them off in a remote location where they must fend for themselves.  As a viewer sitting at home with a bowl of popcorn, I don't relate to the need for food and shelter as much as the microcosm of society found there. 

Each week on the show, the group meets at "Tribal Council" and after a group discussion and secret ballots, one of the members gets voted out.  Sometimes the one being ousted knows they're the target, while other times they never saw it coming. 

The latter, a "blindside" was the topic of discussion at this week's Tribal Council meeting.  Twenty-two-year-old Kat had plenty to say on the subject: 

"If it is going to be a blindside it's going to be pretty funny and exciting. Blindsides are always fun and exciting."

Guess who left Tribal Counsel crying, her torch snuffed out?

Evidently blindsides aren't always fun; they're only fun when you're not the one getting blindsided.

Survivor is an extreme example, of course, but how often do we blindside someone because that's what's most convenient to us, not stopping to think of what it will feel like to them? 
          We don't invite her to a group outing and let her find out after the fact.
          We push on ahead with our own agenda so we don't have to listen to his (perhaps valid) objections.
          We just stop speaking to her to avoid having an awkward discussion.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. ~ Galatians 5:13
We all have areas in our lives where our vision is limited or obstructed - our blindside - but if we truly want to love others as God commands, we must ask that our eyes be opened so that we may see the truth of our actions.  Before acting, or reacting, put yourself in the other person's shoes and ask yourself if that's how you'd like to be treated.

Lord, I know I can be guilty of "selective blindness" at times.  Open my eyes and help me to be sensitive to the needs of those around me, treating them as I would like to be treated.  Move me to ask forgiveness from those I've hurt, and heal the wounds I've received along the way.
Lisa
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