Monday, June 24, 2013

Birthday Reflections - Arriving at Age 70!

Birthday Reflections - Arriving at Age 70!
There is a lot that could be posted when reflecting over 70 years. I have chosen a couple of entries for my blog today. 
The first is a devotional that I wrote on my birthday in 2009. It was posted on the Rest Ministries site the following month. It has been revised since then and is part of my manuscript, 
Seeking the Light of God’s Comforter, When Challenges Dim Our View. 

Looking at the Glass, Lightly
Now we see 
but a poor reflection as in a mirror; 
then we shall see face to face. 
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, 
even as I am fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).

As I write, it is my birthday. I'm so grateful for the gift of life. Seven decades ago doctors pronounced I would not survive the delivery room. Today, happier words greet me. A former first grade student writes, "Miss Severance, thanks for learning me good.” Grammatical joy aimed at me! What’s not to love about such a greeting from one, among many, who graced my life for the years of my teaching career? 
Have I learned good, Lord? You have blessed my days in many ways. I am filled with gratitude. There have been tremendous challenges too, beginning with my fight to live beyond the delivery room. At that time you instilled within me a passion to choose life. I have not liked the trials that have surfaced during these years, but I appreciate the ways you help me through them. If I realistically look at this side of the glass, parts are smudged and splintered from the challenges that came unexpectedly and choices that have comprised my life.
I see these imprints because your light shines and shows them to me. I acknowledge and view the many generous beautiful moments as well. I recognize both. I choose to dwell in the buoyancy of your light that lifts me above a world that can clamor, wanting to pull me down. Someday I will understand the reasons for life’s events during these past decades. I am in no rush. Delivery into my eternal Home will come and all things will be made clear.
It could be that any whys that exist now will be unimportant then. I will abide in knowing and not in any asking. The learning good part is my trusting you and looking at the glass of my life lightly. I want to seek your wholeness in all of it -  even in what looks and is broken. In the midst of all of it, I am still a reflection of you. I want nothing to dim that view. 
Lord, every day I see glimpses of beauty amidst the more marred parts of your created world. Help me to recognize your touch in all of my life events, especially the ones that are hard to understand. Knowing that you understand and walk with me consistently, brings grateful comfort. 
Thank you for the gift of LIfe! 

What follows, for this birthday day of reflections, is a selection from a manuscript which is my current focus. These excerpts come at the end of a chapter titled:
Cell Power . . . Can You Hear the Call?

The chapter centers on the miracle of birth, our beginnings from one single cell, and the single place and purpose God has in his heart for each of us.

It is one of the book's foundational chapters. They are designed to bring understanding of the choice for reconciliation to God, the acceptance of His guidance, and the grace to walk with Him well during this life's journey.

Sole-Sisters: Walking the Same Road, Wearing Different Shoes
It is June 24, 1943. My mother is six months pregnant. For three days labor has escalated and then eased, a virtual see-saw. She is exhausted. The doctors can determine no reason to take intervening actions. Only God knows at this time that she is carrying twins! (Remember, this was years before ultra sounds and the means we now have for neonatal intervention and care.)

My twin brother is content in the womb, snuggled in for the nine month duration. I am bleeding internally, fighting for my life, flailing wildly. Talk about foot motion! A difficult delivery finally ensues. My brother greets the outside world four minutes before I do. The doctors feel confident he will live but hold out little hope for me. Three complete blood transfusions are required before I am taken from the delivery room; a fourth one follows later. We both are placed in incubators.

At 3lbs.12 oz, my tiny being is called upon to rest in isolation except for the caring nurses and doctors who watch and wait, doing all that they are trained to know and to do. Loved ones pray. Our mother brings in her breast milk to help nourish us but never sees us until we are released to her care two months later. 

Some years ago, I pondered what that time must have been like for me. In my mind’s eye, the Lord let me see my tiny self, lying still within the warmth of the incubator. I was lying still, content, letting him work to complete the growth and healing process that he had begun. Why and how could I be lying so still - one who had fought so violently only hours, weeks, months before? 

As the picture in my mind widened, I saw his hand, huge and steady covering the incubator, covering me. The Scripture that came to me was, 
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46: 10a). 

Even those days had been recorded just for me. Though invisible to all eyes but his  - my tiny feet wore booties fashioned of acceptance, patience, and perseverance.

Forty-four years later, almost to the date, I lie emotionally paralyzed in a hospital bed following surgery. The immobility comes from hearing the word, “cancer”, and then, “we won’t know for three to four days if the cancer has spread or what to determine about a prognosis.”

What is this weight that stuns my entire being into seeming motionlessness? Can I breathe with this pressure that is so foreign?  Some family members are present, welcome but blurred. They are somewhere out beyond the weight that I lie beneath in isolation. 

My breast has been removed. In spite of the tightly bound banded wrap encompassing my chest, the heaviness makes even that reality remote. Though medicated, sleep eludes me for twenty-four hours.  I merely exist in a reality.

God’s presence? Steady. Yes, he is here. Stunned, I cannot move beyond his presence being more than a belief. My first break through the weighty wall comes in tears, a tangible expression of a feeling.Then, the smallest of flickers draws me inward to my spirit.

journal entry for  August 8, 1987

“. . . and I got quiet and deeply alone with You, crying out in despair and knowing You were my only source of hope and insight - wanting to release myself and my shock to You but not knowing how but knowing where to turn.”

Gradually, God helped me to recognize the feelings of fear, confusion, and disbelief. He literally brought levels of understanding as he lifted them off and replaced them with faith, order, and a belief that he would fight this battle for me. It was not to be my battle. It was to be his battle. I was to be still and receive his victory on my behalf. 

I later found that this message he personally brought to me was in his Word. The whole chapter of 2 Chronicles 20 became the stance I took in the days that were set before me as I went out to meet a beaten foe.

In the hospital bed that day, I was not strong enough to search the Scriptures. The Word, himself, dwelling gently deep within me, revealed what I needed.

Then a strong, peaceful, unseen Presence filled the room and approached my bed. God, the Father, in authority and righteousness raised that same hand that had covered my incubator years before, swooped it across my entire body clutching up a mysterious force. In a voice that seemed so audible I will never forget it, I heard, “She is mine. You cannot have her.”

 That Presence left the room taking with it all heaviness. What remained was God’s spirit, peace, and calm. I snuggled down in comfort to sleep for the first time since waking from surgery.

I had no prognosis of my future. 
But the One who did know, 
had once again stayed his child. 

As a newborn infant, I did not have the conscious choice to turn to God. He was there to intervene, to touch the cells of life where his plans for my days lay embedded. It was a calm, nurturing, and healing touch.

Decades later, I had a choice. The journey, my steps during the years in between, had taught me where to turn when in crisis. Cells in my body had attacked it attempting to take what was not rightly theirs to have. 

My numbness in the experience did not numb the Spirit within. God knew I needed the touch of his authority. In faithfulness, he lifted the burden and gently slipped on stronger shoes of acceptance, patience and perseverance. 

Then He laced them up with trust.

Lynn’s First Pair of Shoes

Travel Accessories

 All Photos by Lynn

Friday, May 17, 2013

How Do I Sing a New Song - How Do I Learn the Lyrics?

How Do I Sing a New Song -  How Do I Learn the Lyrics?

“Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; 
his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him”
(Psalm 98:1).

“Salvation for him”? I thought salvation was his gift to me, reconciliation back to the Father, my eternal destiny secured and - oh - now I get it. Salvation is also the means for God, through Christ, to take up residence within me - within each of us who believe. He desires to be my guide as I live out the gift of the life He has given to me.

He is the song I am learning to sing. My steps through life are the rhythm that can bless his heart as He looks back on his suffering and sings because now I am his. I want to learn from my Troubadour - lyricist of the words of the music I need, and my Maestro - conductor of the way the music is delivered.

I have been in circumstances where the joy of a song seemed impossible. Singing when afflicted seems an oxymoron, but I am exhorted  to sing a new song. 
what are the lyrics 
you can give to me? 

Can pain be lyrical? 

Can suffering be sung?”

. . . . .continued. . . . .
Click here to read the rest of the message
as posted on the Rest Ministries website.

 I had the joy of meeting Jeff Johnson the summer of 2010 when he was the worship leader at a small arts’ conference. It was a huge step in faith for me to attend as I had not been able to go to such events for many years. I was deeply struggling physically as I sat in the small community church that first morning attendees met together. This is the song that Jeff played and that we sang. Tears streamed down my face in recognition of the reality of its lyrics.    - Lynn
“Christ Has Walked This Path” Jeff Johnson 
Brain Dunning and Wendy Goodwin
To listen to the song -

Sing to the Lord a new song! 
Photo by Lynn

Monday, April 15, 2013

Trusting the Hands of the Potter to Transform His Clay

One of my devotionals was posted on the Rest Ministries’ website today and sent out via subscription. Most often when writing words of encouragement to others in a devotional, my intent is to focus on the message that God has helped me to discover as my challenges overwhelm me. 
A reader, who deals with the same challenges, wrote to me after a devotional of mine posted some months ago. She was grateful to have found another who knows how she feels and what she experiences, as I had been a bit more specific about my chronic condition. She told me that she appreciated my bringing “vestibular dysfunction” to the awareness of readers. It had me rethinking my focus - not for every devotional - but to state with more vulnerability what it is that God has helped me deal with for decades. 
Thus, the following devotional is for now, and for whoever may find a blessing in it, and perhaps a kindred soul on this life journey who understand because she/he is walking the same path.
To view the devotional as posted on the Rest Ministries’ website,

There have been some beautiful responses that help me to know that others are now more aware of the writer behind the words and the One who is guiding me along His way. To share that is a blessing.

Trusting the Hands of the Potter to Transform His Clay

 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; 
so the potter formed it into another pot, 
shaping it as seemed best to him” (Jeremiah 18:4).
A friend told me years ago that she had never known anyone to be, so literally, on the Potter’s wheel as I am!

I have lived with vestibular dysfunction - constant dizziness, eruptions of internal spinning vertigo, related bouts with nausea and a striving to keep my balance - since March of 1983. The cause is unknown though doctors believe a virus hit my right inner ear as evidence of damage is there.
It hit in one instant, has refused to leave, and has defied all treatments. 

In early March, 2013, a differing form of vertigo hit, blindsiding me with its vengeance. 

Similar in debilitation, it has a differing trigger and was diagnosed as BPV ( benign positional vertigo). 

There is a therapy that has been successful for others in correcting this. I sought its help, praying for relief. The process is a nightmare putting one into a vertigo state in hopes that small crystals, flaked off and  lodged in a semi-circular canal of the labyrinth, where they do not belong, will return and stick in the part of the inner ear where they do. 
As I write this devotional, early April, I have chosen to stop the treatments as there has been no signs of improvement, no guarantee that any will emerge. My therapist is in agreement as she has witnessed the agony I was enduring, unlike  other patients of hers in the past. I am choosing to let the Potter work with me on his own.
In the context of this Jeremiah verse, the clay the potter was working with was flawed as Israel needed to repent of its ways and be reshaped
However, my vestibular system, though newly flawed, falls, more directly into the translation given in the New Century Version of this verse:
He was using his hands to make a pot from clay, 
but something went wrong with it. 
So he used that clay to make another pot 
the way he wanted it to be”( Jeremiah 18:4 NCV).

God’s care in transforming each of us is personally designed for the clay that is “us”.  He alone can accomplish the transformation because He loves and knows his original design. 
 Lord, I know I am safe in your caring hands although the transformation process is hard. Remaining still in spirit, if not body, I put my trust in You as You complete your work in me. Amen.

Jamie Zach is a talented potter who invited me  
to come to his studio and take photos of him at work at his wheel.

 Audrey Assad sings of the restlessness we each experience until we surrender to rest in the caring hands of the Lord. This is not easily done when we are being transformed on the Potter’s wheel but paradoxically, it is only in surrender that we can release the restlessness. May her song soothe you as you let its message come inward and settle you.

Click here to listen to the song.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Reasons for Rejoicing - Easter, 2013

Reasons for Rejoicing
Easter - 2013

What better day could there be for “Letting All Creation Sing!”? 

As many in our world celebrate Easter Sunday this year, 
I am posting two of my favorite Easter songs. 
Each song was written by a favorite musical artist of mine:

David Meece  with 
We Are the Reason


The Second Chapter of Acts with 
Easter Song. 

Read the lyrics and mediate on their meanings.
 Listen to the songs and sing along. 
That is what I am doing today. 
Much joy and love to each of you 
who have stopped by to spend 
a bit of your Easter day with me! 

We are the Reason
 Words & Music by David Meece 
Copyright 1980 Meece Music 

As little children we would dream of Christmas morn
And all the gifts and toys we knew we'd find
But we never realized a baby born one blessed night
Gave us the greatest gift of our lives
And we were the reason that He gave His life
We were the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live
As the years went by we learned more about gifts
And giving of ourselves and what that means
On a dark and cloudy day a man hung crying
in the rain
Because of love, because of love
And we are the reason that He gave His life
We are the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live
I finally found the reason for living
It's in giving every part of my heart to Him
In all that I do every word that I say
I'll be giving my all just for Him
For Him
And we are the reason that He gave His life
We are the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost He gave all He could give
To show us the reason to live
He is my reason to live

Photo by Lynn

Easter Song
Words and Music by Annie Herring

Hear the bells ringing
They're singing that we can be born again
Hear the bells ringing
They're singing Christ is risen from the dead

The angel up on the tombstone
Said, "He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell His disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead"

Joy to the world
He has risen, Hallelujah
He's risen, Hallelujah
He's risen, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hear the bells ringing
They're singing that we can be born again
Hear the bells ringing
They're singing Christ is risen from the dead

The angel up on the tombstone
Said, "He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell His disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead"

Joy to the world
He has risen, Hallelujah
He's risen, Hallelujah
He's risen, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March Memories

March Memories

Margaret Heins Severance
July 13,1922  -  March 13, 2001

I recently came across a piece of notebook paper that bore my mother’s handwriting. What she wrote is below in the body of this blog posting. Another hand written printing of it is in the introduction pages of the scrapbook she gave to me when I finished high school and it holds photos and other memorabilia that range from my birth year up through my high school years. What a treasured labor of love it remains to be to me. It brings joys untold as I revisit those years and all they held.

March. It is the month when, in our North American hemisphere, the season of spring emerges bringing its promise of new life and hope after long winter months. It seems appropriate that the month of spring’s arrival was the time God ordained for my mother, Maggie, to leave her earthly home and enter in to the eternal spring where new Life and color-filled brilliance beyond our imaginings exists - reunited with her Creator. For my mother, whose life and smile brought joy and a sense of spring to all she met, it was indeed appropriate.

In the hospice facility’s room, where my mother lie during her last days, there was a window. Just outside the window, new life was beginning to bloom. Daffodils, primroses, and a flowering cherry tree framed my feelings that were grief ladened. 

I had moved in to the room for what turned out to be six days. I brought in bouquets to set by her bedside along with other floral gifts friends and family had brought or sent. God was preparing me and I know that He was preparing my Mom internally for her time of leaving. Life is temporary here on earth, but life is not ending, although these kinds of earthly goodbyes are the hardest to say and experience.

God’s gift of life came to me via my parents - a gift for which I am grateful. In the writing my mother found to use as an introduction to the scrapbook of photos to mirror some of my early years, she found  sweet expressions of her hopes and dreams that she wished for me.

They are ever appropriate thoughts to express for a life newly begun or a live fully lived. The author of these words is unknown to me, but all that they express were known by my mother and continue to be experienced by me.

During this spring’s month of March, I share them with you as I remember my Mom, her life, my life and the life that we have each been given as a gift.

I was just thinking . . .

If the seed that was to become you had never flowered, do you know what you would have missed?

   The sun’s gold blessing on your head,
The sound of your own voice,
your own laughter,
your own tears.

The miracle of your own body, a beautiful instrument, designed for experiencing, learning, caring, achieving.

The sweetness of water on thirsty lips and the silk of it on dusty skin.

The taste of bread, fruit, meat, and all the mingled caress of their fragrance.

Long grass under your toes,
a bird in flight against a cloud,
the soaring ache of the universe beyond the stars.

The release of rain and the awesome anger of thunder.

The satisfaction of seeking and finding the peace of fulfillment.

A certain ecstasy at unspecified times and for unspecified reasons, yet somehow, a justification for living.

A quick recognition of love in the lines of a face, the touch of hands, in words left unsaid, in an act of kindness for no other reason.

Seeing again the same hometown, the same home, the same family as for the first time and seeing them in the full circle of existence.

The creation of a child, or a place, or a piece of something beyond self, giving your heart the right to beat for more than it’s own need.

The lights of man’s night and the night of God’s lights and you between, a partner of both.

The privilege of being allowed these years out of eternity to share the greatest adventure you can ever know . . 

Life itself.

Lynn with brothers, David. Michael, and our Mom

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Rainbows in the Night

I was asked to do a guest post on deni Weber’s website, 
Today’s Encouraging Words. 

     Click here to view deni’s page and read how God has used rainbows to encourage her at key times, and currently as she walks with her husband through an intense health crisis in his life. 

      I had not known that rainbows are so special to deni when I sent my devotional to her. I love how God works behind the scenes to help us in our times of need. 

Praises and thanks be to Him! 

Rainbows in the Night

“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, 
and it will be the sign of the covenant
 between me and the earth”
(Genesis 9:13).

As children we thought they held treasures with pots of gold at each end. 

Don’t we all perk up when we see an actual rainbow in the sky? They can surprise us as we happen upon them. When rain has washed the sky and the sun quickly emerges, I look for a rainbow! If I am alert, I may see one.
Yet in this Scripture, we are told
 that God sets his rainbow in the cloud. 
His covenant is in the cloud? 
How can something so bright be shut inside darkened heaviness? 

Rainbows are a bounty arching forth as clouds’ heaviness can no longer contain the build up of water vapor. It spills back to earth as rain. The sun can splash prisms of color to celebrate this release.
 I understand the principle of clouds releasing rain but I never have set out to look for clouds.
Clouds pale, literally, when the sun splashes the prism of colors and a rainbow bursts forth. 

     What of the times our lives seem shadowed, overwhelmed with the daily challenges we each face? 

 We don’t always see the sun. Another Scripture helps me to respond to this question.
“[Nothing] will be able to separate us 
from the love of God 
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” 
(Romans 8:39b).

God’s covenant with us has not changed. All his promises lie within us where he dwells. The clouds may loom heavy but he towers with more power.

God and His promises cannot be separated. 
Our circumstances, our minds, our feelings can become clouded. Fears may bring heaviness, so dark.  Yet  the light of the rainbow inside us comes from God’s Presence. He has promises to give.

I can water the promises into view, so to speak, when I relax and allow God to release the rain, to carry my burdens, to care for me by his shining forth. His light tramples darkness, releasing his prism of promises.
 I want to focus, not on the heaviness, but on the colors about to emerge.
I rejoice 
that the colors of the rainbow 
shine forth 
your hope, 
announcing your everlasting covenant with me. 

My relationship is not with the darkness 
and heaviness of clouds, 
but with you, the Light in my life. 

Photo by Lynn

Friday, February 1, 2013

Living in the Questions

This blog entry is a revision of an article of mine that was published in Rest Ministries’ Hopekeepers magazine. It appeared in the 
January/February/March issue, 2006. 

Living in the Questions

My first Bible is a bit heavier than when I first received it as a gift from a friend decades ago. Yes, it contains the life- giving words of God; many of them underlined as they have given me inspiration over the years. Dates are scribbled by them and often a note of what was happening in my life a the time. Yet strewn among its many pages, I’ve other mementos: 

 a few favorite photos of loved ones, 
 timely words of encouragement from friends,
 a  scrawled note from one of my third grade students
 in 1988 saying, 
Miss S you are nise,

a very dried eucalyptus leaf I snitched from a tree 
at sunrise by the Sea of Galilee,

a dried bougainvillea bloom from Cana in Galilee,

and other paper bits that hold significance for me.

Close to thirty years ago, I cut out a written piece in a church bulletin and added it to this collection. To the best of my recall, it was written by Chuck Swindoll. It is but a small scrap, so tiny that there are times I have not been able to find it when purposely looking for it!  It reads:
“It is your future.
Don’t back into it.
Don’t grope into 
its mists blindfolded.
Put the hand of your faith 
into the Hand of God.
Get used to His voice.
He warns you of dangers 
and of strangers.
He leads you to experience 
His prepared future.
It does not disappoint.
There is always more
 for those 
who walk with Him.
He straightens question marks
 into exclamation points!”

Many questions about my future were present when I first read these thoughts. More have emerged over these ensuing years. 

There is my daily challenge since 1983
with vestibular dysfunction, 
constant dizziness, 
flares of internal spinning of literal vertigo and
related visual and balance issues.

I underwent breast cancer surgery 
in 1987 and
 chemotherapy treatments for six months.

There was my early retirement 
from my teaching career in 1992,

the death of loved ones,

wonderings about decisions 
that needed to be made in many areas,

and the list could go on. 

Somewhere along the trail of my life with this bulletin excerpt, I got to thinking more deeply about the message it presented. I came to a conclusion that brought me an encouraging perspective.

What could it mean - what would it look like - to really live within the questions in my life? 

A question marks the spot of a seeking moment.
 It stops me. 
I  want the right answer. 
I  want it now!

Often I discover that the right answer requires a different timing than my  insistent now. In such cases all I can really do is wait. 

I picture the literal configuration of the punctuation question mark with its curves and swirl. 

What if I were to crawl right into a question mark? 
This would curl me into the fetal position as in the birth canal, 
quietly waiting upon the Lord. 

I would need to depend upon him much as I had to totally depend upon him during my own gestation time. Then, I had no other option but to wait. Now, I can make a choice on how I will wait. 

When the answer is ready, 
the birthing takes place
reconfigures the question mark   ? 
 into an exclamation point   !  .

Right timing, 
God’s timing. 
Right answer, 
 God’s answer.

Although I now keep this scrap of paper in my Bible with the Deuteronomy verses noted here
it could very well rest within other pages with highlighted inspiration,
perhaps some of these excerpts.

This first Scripture verse stayed me during the years I worked with primary aged students as an
 elementary classroom teacher! 

“He will feed his flock like a shepherd,
 he will gather the lambs in his arms, 
he will carry them in his bosom,and
 gently lead those that are with young”
(Isaiah 40:11 RSV).

July 5,1979 
sunrise on 
the Sea of Galilee

I was alone watching the sunrise that morning. What a gift of time alone with God, watching Him start the day. I was led to the verse below. It reminded me of Jesus' need to seek the Father, question, grieve, wait for answers.

“Now when Jesus heard this, 
[death of John, the Baptist]
he withdrew from there in a boat 
to a lonely place apart” 
(Matthew 14:13a RSV)

July 6, 1979
inscription on the wall 
of the church in Cana of Galilee

“Cana proclaims to us that Jesus 
is the Lord Almighty 
Who turns water into wine,
Who can still today, 
by one word, 
transform anything:
sorrow into joy,
mountains of difficulty 
into straight paths.
Do we bring our needs to him?”

August 7, 1987
This Scripture was given to me the morning of my cancer surgery.

He reached from on high, he took me,
he drew me out of many waters.

He delivered me from my strong enemy,
 and from those who hated me;
  for they were too mighty for me”

(Psalm 18:16-17 RSV).

February, 1988
This is a love note from my Mom 
at the completion 
of my chemotherapy treatments! 


The call on my life to be an encourager:

comfort my people,
says your God” 
(Isaiah 40:1 RSV)

Oh, there are many encouragements such as these strewn throughout my well-worn Bible. 

The paper bits of mementos and noted verses reflect the asking and the answering of some but not all questions. There will always be more. If I choose to live in the questions, I am less likely to wander far. I want to be near to hear God’s voice exclaim the answers when His time is right. 

 “For everything there is 
a season, 
and a time for every matter 
under heaven
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 RSV).

Photo by Lynn