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Posts tagged ‘spirituality’

Through the Cold and the Fire…Look Up


Challenges take place in everyone’s lives.  Some take the form of small events, while others wreak havoc leaving ashes and sorrow in their wake.

Here is the story of what happened to my friends Al and Margo this week.

There was a birthday celebration for Margo last Sunday night with family gathered in Al and Margo’s living room…there was love, laughter and fun shared by everyone.  One of their sons and his family were there, along with their daughter and her family.  Six adults and 6 little girls all celebrating Grandma’s big day.

Little did they know there was a chimney/attic fire starting above their heads.

The fire wasn’t discovered until the party broke up and the families were headed home.  A telltale light in the attic alerted them to the fire…you see, there is no electricity in the attic.  911 was called, and thankfully, the family was able to get some of their photos and valuables out.

It became more tumultuous from there.

It took 40,000 gallons of water from local fire departments to finally put the fire out.  The main floor was still in place, with what was left of the ceiling edges sagging down.  The structure and it’s contents were waterlogged and frozen.  You see, here in Ely, Minnesota, the daytime temps were below zero with a windchill sometimes hitting -26.

On Monday, family and friends salvaged Al and Margo’s washer and dryer, bed frames, some clothing from the front closet (that the fire hadn’t touched), and some more family photos.

On Monday night, the fire roared again…leaving just a pile of ashes in it’s wake.

On Tuesday, their daughter Mistaya commented “God gave us a window of time so we could salvage more items.”

On the night of the fire, the shock and stress brought on a health crisis for Margo.  After many tests and 2 days in the hospital, the doctor told her she could go ‘home’.  On her Facebook page, she wrote:

“Fire has taken my (our) house, we lost so much but some treasures were rescued by an army who came alongside my children, as I experienced broken heart syndrome and was admitted to the ICU in St. Marys while the fire burned down my (our) home. A couple days later, it gave a new meaning to “You can go home today, Margo.” Upon being discharged from the hospital it became the ultimate test of the truth that I know ~ my true home, my forever home is my Fortress & my Habitation: my God.”

As you can see by the testimony Margo gave and by the words of their daughter, this couple’s (and all of their children’s) faith shines brightly.  Al and Margo are the very meaning of the words: loving, faith-filled, humble.  This is not a couple that believes in excess…they’re priority is not in earthly goods.  They also don’t want to ask for more than they need as witnessed by the low amount of money the family is asking for on the ‘Youcare’ site (shown below).  This will not build a new house, this will not even cover their second mortgage, nor will it replace their household goods, but they didn’t want to ask for too much.  Many locals have offered goods and services, but Al and Margo want to wait to see what they really need.  (Building cannot begin until Spring because of our frozen winter.)  Local businesses have been very gracious, thoughtful and generous by giving gift cards to help.

More in Margo’s words:

“I (we) do need help…especially if we are to rebuild and continue our hobby or if I may, our ministry, with Boundary Waters Labradors (AKC certified) as our insurance was extremely minimal, covering one mortgage loan only…and this is why I have turned it over. I have to Let Go and Let God. Romans 8: 28 is what I am holding onto. He will meet that need, as He sees fit. It’s time for new beginnings, even though; my husband and I are 40 years strong, plus I am in the 60 and over club now, both by His grace.

I am (we are) grateful and amazed at how much God loves me (us) and manifests His love for me (us) through his creations – you.   What an awesome feeling to be shown so much care and kindness by so many people! May He bless each and every one of you three hundred fold for your prayers, and gifts. I am (we are) humbled beyond expression.”

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And here is where I ask for your help…

Click on the link below and feel the blessing of helping others.  Give if you can.  Any amount helps…$5, $50, $500.  Even if you can’t donate money, I ask that you keep them in your prayers this holiday season.

Fundraiser for Al and Margo Penke

Thank you for your help…and as you walk through the cold and the fire…look up.  It is by His grace and presence that we move beyond them.

Patty O

Photo Credit:  Cheri Debeltz

The Deep, Dark Well and the Bright, Shining Son


Imagine you’re in the bottom of a really deep well.

Overwhelmed and haunted by memories:

A loss that cut deep in your soul.  Arguments with loved ones.  A history of past abuse.  A history of deep shame.

Memories of (insert yours here). Read more

Dear God…Sometimes Life Just Kinda Stinks


Today was one of those days, and no, this is NOT an April Fool’s Day joke.

We’ve been dealing with anger issues with Motzy lately.  He would do really well…and then suddenly snarl at one of us.

We tried everything…reprimanding him, putting him in his kennel for a timeout, and anything else you can imagine.   We even had our own private Veterinary advisor Jen – the daycare baby’s Mom.  She talked us through many ideas for training and disciplining him.

But today we had to say goodbye.

He went after Gabi last Thursday night when she was doing nothing more than snuggling with him – like they had every night for the past 7 months.  He left 8 indents on her hands along with a couple scrapes.  He didn’t break skin, but she froze in fear.  Motzy was immediately put in his kennel where we didn’t hear a peep from him until morning.

Today he went after me twice.  This morning leaving a few teeth indents on my hand and this afternoon I was saved by his cone.  He has snarled at us before and had attempted to bite but hadn’t connected.  We had him neutered on Friday with the hope that it might help things.  Unfortunately it didn’t, he actually was worse.

We had to make the decision today, and even though we knew we absolutely couldn’t have a dog that snapped at any of us or the two little daycare babies, it was still hard to say goodbye.  He was the sweetest dog 95% of the time.  But we couldn’t take a chance on the other 5%, especially with his episodes escalating.

I told Gabi before we left that maybe this was just all part of God’s plan.  Maybe Motzy has a wonderful new home to go to where he’ll be able to do all the things English Setters are supposed to do – go bird hunting and get lots of exercise each day.   Maybe that owner wouldn’t have been able to take him when he was a pup.  Maybe we were supposed to give him lots of love for 7 months so that he could eventually meet up with his permanent owner.

For now Jen was able to find a foster home.  She’s hoping to find him a permanent home soon.  I imagine a farm where maybe he could live in a barn and run free.

But for today, we kissed him goodbye and told him how much we loved him.  He’s spending the night at the Vet Clinic awaiting his ride.

Whatever God’s plan may be for Motzy, or for us…

Sometimes life just kinda stinks.

Patty O

When Something Touches Your Soul


Have you ever had a smell, a touch, a sight, a sound, or even a taste touch your soul?  Such a poignant touch that tears start to fall, or you revel in a sweet memory this sense brings back to your mind?  I’ve experienced this before, and I had it happen again on Saturday.

Let me explain and share my moment…

I was sitting with my morning cup of coffee, listening to Sirius XM – The Message and the song ‘You Raise Me Up‘ by Selah came on.  My husband and I were in the middle of a conversation and tears just started to flow down my cheeks.  He looked at me with a questioning look on his face, as we weren’t having any kind of earth shattering conversation, and all I could do was shrug my shoulders.  “It’s the song”, was all I could say.  Why?  I have no idea.  I don’t remember when I last heard it or why it was so poignant to me.  But sometimes we don’t have all the answers, do we?

In His hands…we’re all in His hands.  And what a comfort that is.

Good times or bad, He’s with us.  Whether we feel Him there or not…He’s there.

May God bless all of you on this Sunday.

He sure has blessed me.

Patty O

 

 

A Clear Head and a Good Heart


My daughter Sam is in the Studio Arts program in college and this is one of her recent creations.  Isn’t it AMAZING!?!

Little did she know that when she gave it to me it was incredibly significant to what I was going through.

I’d been having some health issues and the doctors had decided that I needed a stress-echocardiogram to look for heart damage and a brain/inner ear MRI to look for a tumor.  Needless to say we didn’t want to tell the kids until we had definite answers…positive or negative.

I was scared to death.

I cried as I showed my husband the print and he nodded, knowing just what I was thinking.

He accompanied me to the tests and the doctor visits after, thank God, because I was a mess.  I’d always been the caregiver – dealing with doctors on behalf of parents, kids, other loved ones, and friends.  But this…this was about me, and I knew I couldn’t do it alone.

Once we received the news that everything was good, we felt like a huge weight was lifted.  We didn’t have all the answers we needed, but we sure had some fantastic negative results!

We did receive one answer (to the loud hum, aka tinnitus, and hearing and off-balance issues I was having):  Meniere’s Syndrome in my left ear.  It’s a health issue diagnosed by elimination…meaning there’s no one test that can diagnose it.  It brings with it random episodes of Vertigo, a feeling of being off-balance, and sometimes permanent hearing loss.  My hearing loss is permanent, but only moderate/severe to mild (I can’t hear low sounds but I can hear high-pitched sounds).   It can be progressive but doesn’t cause full hearing loss, and it doesn’t usually affect the other ear.  A hearing aid should help, which I hope to get this week.   So if you see me walking around a store and I’m wobbly, remember I’m not drunk, it’s just the Meniere’s!

I’ve learned one thing from all this:  if you have tinnitus in just one ear – get to an ENT or Audiologist right away! I’d been having the loud hum off and on for probably a year, but just figured ‘everyone gets tinnitus, don’t they?’.  Wrong answer.

My other health issues will have to wait until April when we go to the Mayo Clinic for some specialized testing.  In the meantime I’m just hanging out…writing a little, getting myself a new look (see the new profile photo), and reading a lot of books…and once in a while watching those crazy babies who sit and snuggle with me!

Life is good…I don’t have heart disease or a brain tumor!

Patty O

ps…Back to Sam’s art…now we can relax and have her print as a reminder of just how blessed we are.  It will soon be framed and in a place of honor on our wall.

pps…Notice I didn’t say an empty head.  I have too many friends that would have far too much fun with that. 🙂

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