On Bended Knee Ministries Blog

The Day After Easter..a walk across a parking lot

I am not a blogger. It’s been a long time since I publicaly processed something. But I am feeling the need…so here it is!

Today is the day after Easter, the day after being reminded of the transforming, resurrection power of the Lord Jesus Christ, the day after being convicted of loving as He first loved me.

Today, I am out running errands, quickly, as is my style.  As I crossed the Eden Prairie, Cub parking lot, I heard screaming and quickly came upon a family in melt-down mode. The mother, screaming out of control at her 5 year old son and pulling on him . The son, who was hysterically crying was also screaming, “You don’t care about me”.  The father and the other two littles kids stood near by sheepishly doing nothing. A Cub employee hovered as if to supervise in case law enforcement needed to be called as it was looking on the border of abuse. And the crowds stared and gawked and judged. I was part of the crowd.  I went into Cub and got what I was going to get. The whole time, I was in Cub, I was kicking myself…”why did I walk by?, why didn’t I stop and offer a helping hand, or try to de-escalate the situation?”  I remember those times, years ago, of feeling the public shame come over me and my raging child.  If someone would only have stopped to share a word of grace instead of the look of shame. As I checked out, I overheard that Cub employee recounting the whole incident to another employee. Tsk, Tsk, Tsk…a terrible out of control mom and a hurting child and we all judge and we talk about it.

As I walked out to my car, I glanced across the parking lot to where the incident had happened and I noticed the vehicle they had been near, it was still there.  I noticed people in the van, and the front passenger door swung open and the Holy Spirit pulled me toward it. No thinking, no questioning..only my feet walking in obedience to the presence of Jesus and then I was there. I found myself standing in front of that mom and that little boy as they sat side by side in the front passenger seat, with their legs hanging outside and their heads hanging  down. The dad was in the driver’s seat, the other kids buckled in the back. It appeared they were attempting to pull it together.

As I approached, I asked permission, “could you guys use a little love and support?”. Fully expecting an answer of “no..mind your own business”, I heard, “yes, that would be nice”.  I just stopped and asked if they were ok and offered my empathy, my understanding, my encouragement. Nothing profound or deeply spiritual.  I didn’t want to be that stranger that walks by and judges and shames.  The resurrection reminds us that we have been freed from shame and sin and judgement and that His Love rules.

Today, a trip to Cub reminds me that Easter matters…even on the Monday after, in the Cub parking lot.

How to help out people in need

I would like to throw out some thoughts stirring in my head and heart this morning based on my years of pastoral care experience walking alongside people in need as well as my own personal experience of being a person in need.  There are times in all of our lives when life is stressful and we need help from others. Whether it is having a baby, recovering from surgery or sickness,  losing a loved one or sitting at the bedside of someone sick or dying,there are many life changes that add stress and emotion.

At these times, it is very much appreciated when friends and loved ones say things like, “let us know if there is ANYTHING that we can do to help out”.  As kind and genuine as those words are, in all honesty, when you are in the midst of one of these seasons of life, you can’t remember who said those things, nor do you have the emotional energy or capacity to actually contact them to take them up on their offers.  It is not because we don’t NEED your help, it’s because it is too hard to ask for it so we just don’t.

Let me offer a suggestion as to the best way to walk alongside people in need.  Call them, email them or text them and tell them something like this: ” I have some free time on Monday from 3:00-5:00 and I insist on helping you because I know you need it.  Here are some options of things I can help you out with:  Moving the lawn, weeding your garden,  scrubbing your floors, bringing over a meal, running errands for you, watching your kids for you so you can nap, taking you out for coffee or a walk and letting you talk, sitting at the hospital with you, sitting with your loved on so you can go take a shower. You pick which is most helpful for you right now.”  Just show up and help because when people go through these times…they need it and they don’t always even know what it is they actually need.

Many of you know my husband’s mom is in the dying process. She has been in the hospital for 2 weeks and today is moving to a residential hospice home. It could be days, it could be weeks before her heavenly homecoming.  We are getting drained and overwhelmed and we are not too proud to admit that we, right now, are some of those people in need.  It is SO much  easier to be the one offering help than to be the ones in need of help.  There are times and seasons in each of our lives when we find ourselves on both sides of that equation.  It is my heart’s desire that we glorify God whether we are blessed to hold others up or whether He is allowing us to be the ones being held up.   We have truly experienced being “held” in prayer and love and acts of service. What a gift to be a part of the family of God!

A Mother’s Nightmare..

I am feeling the need to capture and share this story.

Two days ago on Sunday, our 19 year old daughter, Leesa came home from college in Roseville to come to church, have lunch with us and take a quick nap. We had a great quick connection as it’s always great to have your kids want to hang out and fill you in on their lives. She gave us hugs and said good- bye around 2:30, heading off to college to get homework done.

At 6:20 that night, Eric and I were working on some financial things and I needed to ask Leesa a question so I called her. She was breathing hard when she answered. “I’m out running near Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was such a nice day, I decided to take a break from studying.”   She told me she parked at a park near them and was maybe going to stop in and say hi to them when she was done running.

Several initial thoughts and feelings ran through me when I hung up. One was, ”hmm, she is inspiring me to get off the sofa and go for a walk”. The second thought was,” how nice of her to want to go stop in at her grandparents”. My third fleeting motherly thought was, “I don’t like the thought of her running alone on some of those remote paths through the woods. She is very cute and young, you know.”

At 8:15 that night, I texted her to see if she had truly stopped by her grandparent’s house.   No response. If any of you have teenagers, you know that feeling of “ what’s wrong, why aren’t they calling or texting me back?, even though we constantly tell them not to be on their phones so much.   “She must be back at school and showering after her run” I told myself. When she didn’t respond and didn’t answer her phone 15 minutes later, I called my mom to find out if she had stopped there. My mom was excited to tell me how she had stopped in unexpectedly and the nice visit they had. “So, she got in her car and was heading back to the dorm?”, I asked.   “No, she said her car was at a park and she was going to do some more running and then head back”.

I started to get a little bit concerned at not hearing from her and again thinking of her running alone in some of those areas. I called her roommate who told me she had not seen her and it was obvious that she had not returned to the dorm room after running. She told me she knew she had plans to hang out with a guy friend but that guy didn’t answer his phone so we didn’t know if she ever did or not. I thought, “ if she was sweaty from running, she would have gone back and changed first.” Her roommate agreed to look around campus to see if her car was there. She called me back, “no, her car is definitely not on campus”.

I started to get more concerned. It was now 8:45. Being an extra cautious mom, I called my dad and asked if he would mind just driving by the park to assure me that her car was not sitting there. He was more than glad to. We all assumed we knew which park she had parked at but none of us knew for sure and there are several within running distance of my parent’s house. At 9:00, my dad had not called back and I thought it was odd, as it would only take minutes to drive to the park. I called my mom to check in and at that same moment, Eric’s phone rang and it was my dad. “Does her car have a sticker that says “hunting girl?, my mom asked me and my dad asked Eric at the same time. “It’s parked in the parking lot at the nature center parking lot on Dale St.”.

I can’t even begin to tell you what happened in this mother’s heart at that moment. All of those worst nightmare fears came rushing upon me in such an incredible wave of emotion. I was paralyzed and mobilized all in one swoop. We shouted instructions to my dad to call 911. Eric and I ran around the house like crazy people. He grabbed flashlights (some of which he proceeded to forget in the front entry way. I grabbed Leesa’s picture off the mantle, a sweatshirt, bottle of water and a phone charger. We let the dog out as we had no idea when we would be returning home. Neither of us had the common sense to grab the extra set of keys to her car.

We were out the door in a flash and flustered that the main route to Roseville, 35 W North was shut down for the weekend. As Eric planned the quickest course, I began to make phone calls and pray out loud calling on angels to be with Leesa and yelling at Satan all at the same time. Images of her being forced into a car against her will, taken off into those back woods, out running and tripping and falling and being knocked out. What could possibly be the reason her car was still left in this remote parking lot after dark?????     The news had been filled with stories of 2 missing college students. Would my daughter be the next one? I called her roommate and asked for her to mobilize a search team of students. Her volleyball coach came to my mind next to call and ask her to send out a united plea for prayer. I only got her voicemail but I left a message, which I am sure sounded emotional and desperate. I called my sister to call our family and was starting to call someone from our church to send out a prayer chain when at 9:16, I got a text from her roommate, “She is with___ (name of guy friend)” is all it said.   She was alive and safe and there was a reasonable story to be told.

She was so enjoying the amazing great fall day and was aware there was not much daylight left so she suggested to her friend that she would drive back to college and swing in and pick him up and they could drive back over near her grandparents to a park her grandma had told her about. She wouldn’t bother to change as the sun would go down soon. They parked and went walking, found a bench and chatted as they saw deer walk by and the stars etc. She intentionally left her phone in the car as she was tired of constant texts and wanted a break from it.   Being back in a nature area, her friend’s phone had no cell coverage. Imagine Leesa’s surprise to walk out and discover her grandparent’s in the parking lot extremely emotional to see her!

15 minutes is all it was, but they might possibly be the most terrifying 15 minutes of my life. It was such an intense feeling of being out of control, fear, confusion, grief, the unknowns and the what-ifs absolutely gut wrenching.   But my daughter was safe and well and we had a good ending to our story.

My heart just breaks for those parents whose stories do not have a good ending, like the NDSU student just found today. I weep for them and hold them in prayer. May many surround them to carry them in love and grace in the days ahead.

I have also been struck in a profound way of a deeper sense of the Father heart of God who seeks and saves those who are lost. The desperation we read about in the Bible in searching for the lost coin, the lost sheep, the lost son, for you and for me. In a small way I understand that desperation a little bit more. There are so many lost people that we pass every single day that desperately need the saving grace of Jesus Christ. My prayer is that God would give me that same desperation to call out the search parties and the prayer warriors to bring those people home to a similar reunion of love and celebration!



Money & Marriage & Challenges, “OH MY!”

We were in our first sixth months of marriage when Eric and I experienced our first major “money challenge”.  Eric was a full time seminary student, working a very part time maintenance job on campus.  We were living mostly on my full time ministry salary when I experienced severe burn out and decided to quit my job.  This was the first of many opportunities we have had to trust God and to keep communicating and working through the stresses that money and the lack of it can bring to a marriage.

This summer, Eric and I have developed a relationship with an organization called bright peak financial. We are excited about a new workshop they have developed to help couples talk about the emotional side of money. Eric is facilitating these workshops this summer.  They are a great way to make your relationship stronger by having intentional conversations around this often challenging topic.

Check it out and consider taking a step in your own relationship, whether you are engaged or been married awhile.  You can register here: Better Halves workshops

New Website!

Today I am launching the new website for On Bended Knee Ministries.  It feels like an exciting, new season of stepping out into God’s call in my life. Along with the excitement is a certain degree of vulnerability that comes with walking in a faith adventure and launching something new.

I hope that you take the time to browse through the website and find out where the name On Bended Knee came from and ways that I might be able to serve you or someone you know.

The Initial Injury

Reflecting back on the initial injury:

Today was spent at the Mayo Clinic doing all sorts of pre-op work for Monday morning’s surgery for knee replacement surgery #3.  As I prepare for yet another surgery, my mind can’t help but going back over this journey that began on January 31, 1981.

I think about how essential living life from a position of having a bended knee is. Bending our knee (the knee of our souls)  to the One who Created us and has a plan and purpose for our lives.  Bending our knee means saying…”I submit myself to you and to your will and I surrender trying to be boss of my own life.”  I don’t know about YOU but I know I kind of like to “control” life..mine and others.  The journey of my physical knee began on that day in 1981 but so did a spiritual journey of brokenness.  I realize that I am STILL learning about surrendering and trusting the Lord of my life, Jesus. I am NOT in control and I desire to live from that place of brokenness,  humility and prayerful trust.

Thinking back on January 31, 1981:

  • I was a youth director with a great group of youth in Mankato, MN.
  • We were enjoying a great skiing weekend retreat at Welch Village.
  • Last run of the day, I was heading into the chalet to get things ready for the evening I had planned for them. The young people insisted I come with them for “one last run” and they would help me to assure I didn’t fall as I was such a novice.
  • Youth were at bottom of hill, side of hill, top of hill, yelling words of instruction and encouragement to me…..but none of the cheering on could help the icy conditions and the lack of snowplowing experience….off the side of the hill I went, landing knee first into a rock.
  • That fall began a journey. Even through the ambulance ride to Red Wing, and the news that I had broken my femur and my tibia, I STILL thought…..”I planned an awesome retreat..slap on that cast and bring me back there as I have it all planned out!”  Proverbs says:  “A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”
  • The beginning of this 33 year journey began with an ambulance ride from Red Wing to United Hospital in St. Paul in the midst of a blizzard strapped to a hard board while  in excruciating pain.

The journey included a month in the hospital, surgeries, screws and pins in the tibia,my  leg hanging in traction for a couple of weeks which didn’t work so rods were put inside the bone instead. Another month of rehab and recovery at home with my parents. Much laying on my back in broken surrender hearing the still small voice tell me “Be still and Know that I am God”.

It is 33 years later and back to a hospital I go. After many scope surgeries, countless hours of PT and  2 knee replacements and manipulations that have not worked… I am going for the third. I know this is yet another lap on my journey of life.

Here is what I find myself reflecting on as I approach this next surgery.

  • Perseverance:   How we Americans like things NOW. I am reflecting on the character of perseverance and patience. How patient God is with us. “Give me that same quality, Lord”.  I think about the verse..”ask and keep on asking”. That is what I am choosing to do..to persevere in praying and seeking healing and the ability to walk without pain.

    Romans 12:12   “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”.

  • Surrender:  I think I am a slow learner on this one but I pray I can keep letting go and allow the brokenness to be inner and outer.
  • Be Glorified.  I trust and believe that what Satan means for evil, God can use for the good and for His glory. This is my heartfelt prayer that in this and through this that God would be lifted up and glorified.

So..some of you have asked, what are the details? Here they are!

Eric and I will go to Rochester on Sunday night. The surgery is Monday morning. My surgeon, Dr. Arlen Hanssen is one of the best surgeons there is.

He will remove the entire knee replacement (upper and lower). They asked me if I wanted it cleaned up to take home with me or if I wanted to donate it to grad research projects.  Hmm…let me ponder that.  Too funny! Can’t imagine keeping that thing. Although with hindsight maybe it would have been therapeutic to hammer it and cause pain to it like it has caused  me.  🙂

Dr. Hanssen has confidence that he will get my knee straight again with the hope that I will be able to keep it straight. He is not sure if I will get much more bend but if I can get it straight again then it will be well worth all of this.

I will be at Mayo probably until Thursday and then back home.  His philosophy is for me to do my own exercises as having someone else force your knee is much more likely to cause scar tissue. Sounds like a much nicer, smarter rehab plan this time around.  It will be a 6-8 week recovery with a strong reminder that it takes an entire year for full recovery so again I must be a patient patient!

I do have a vision of doing a 5k walk…maybe this fall or maybe spring of 2015 but I am hoping a whole group of friends, family and prayer supporters will walk with me to give God Glory for His faithfulness and His patience and His love.

Thanks for your prayers and friendship. I love you all.