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What are we going to do now?

“When God made Adam on the sixth day, Adam arose on the seventh day and said to God, “What are we going to do today?” God responded, “Nothing. I want you to learn immediately that everything we are going to do, we are going to do from rest.”

I just read this in “Operating in the Courts of Heaven”. It is almost word for word the last conversation I had with my mom. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that it was my last conversation. It happened on Friday August 12, at 6:45 PM. It is also significant that this was the beginning of Shabbat, sundown Friday evening, the day of the sabbath rest. (The Hebrew day starts in the evening. Genesis one shows us this pattern: there was evening, and there was morning, the first day. All the days of creation are marked that way.)

I was standing next to Mom who was lying in her bed at Hospice House. She had been there a couple of hours, and had been in great distress. She struggled to breathe, moaning and tossing in agitation.  The hospice staff had started a morphine drip into one leg, and an anti-anxiety medication drip in the other.  They had told me that it would take about four hours for the medications to stabilize and she would feel better. I had been standing next to her, stroking her head with one hand and talking to her. I was also trying to keep up with all the texts that were coming in to my cell phone.  I realized that my phone needed to be charged so I crawled under the edge of Mom’s bed to plug it in.  I stood up and  had my back to Mom when she suddenly spoke to me. She had not spoken since arriving at Hospice House, nor had she for several hours before that at the hospital.

            “Hello, Grace,” she said, clear as a young girl’s voice.

            I turned around, surprised, and so pleased, “Hi Mom!” I said.

            “Did you make a special trip to bring the phone?” She asked.

            “No, I have been here,” I said.

            Then so cheerfully she asked me, “What are we going to do NOW?”

            I smiled and said, “We are going to take a nap.”

            “Oh,” she said, “that sounds REALLY nice.”

            “There’s my bed, right there,” I said, pointing to the day bed next to her. “I will lie down right there next to you.”

            “That sounds really nice,” she said again.

            Then her face changed a little and she said, “Are we at Hospice?”

            “Yes,” I answered.

            “How long have we been here?”

            Before I could answer she went back to the anxious groaning.

            She left her body behind 24 hours later, at the end of Sabbath, 6:35 Saturday night.

            She has entered the greater rest.

Hebrews 4:9-10, and 4:11

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. . .

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by. . .disobedience.

 

mom-nap-with-sadie

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The Lord Knows My Name

me-2015

The Lord Knows My Name

The Lord called me from the womb,
from
the body of my mother he named my name. Isaiah 49:1

“Mom,” I asked, “did you ever have the sense when you were pregnant with me that I should have had a different name?”

She said, “Yes, I wanted to name you “Grace” after my grandmother, but it didn’t go with “Svensson”. ‘Grace Svensson’ was just too hard to say.”

I asked my mom that question after meeting some people who told me that they waited until the Lord told them what their child’s name was before they named him.

The Lord knows my name. He calls me by my name. But what if I had been given the wrong name? What if I changed my name?

My name for the first 49 years of my life was “Jonnie”, pronounced “Johnny.” My mom had been a big fan of Louise May Alcott and she liked the idea of having a family full of girls with boys’ names. My mom was raised in China where baby girls were abandoned in “baby towers” outside the cities, or killed by drowning, as soon as they were born. Girls had no value.

That is the lie I grew up with.

“Were you supposed to be a boy?”

“Was your dad hoping for a boy?”

“What’s your real name?”

“Were you supposed to be a boy?”

How does a child answer these questions?

I guess so. Why else would I have this boy’s name? Nobody ever told me it was a good thing to be a girl, or that girls were special, or that girls had value, or that girls could be loved. I guess I was supposed to be a boy. I am wrongly made. By whom? Who decided that I would be male or female? Who is the force behind the “supposed”? Who decides what is “supposed” to be or not to be? I don’t know. I’m confused, unloved, unwanted, have no value.

What’s wrong with girls?

Everything. Nobody wants one. It’s wrong to be one. I hate them. I hate me.

I’m angry.

I’m scared.

Who cares?

Nobody.

Girls don’t matter.

Boys matter.

I hate boys.

I hate girls.

Why?

Because girls don’t matter.

Girls get thrown away in China.

Girls get thrown away here.

Really? How do you know?

Because I got thrown away.

By whom?

Everyone.

Girls don’t matter.

It doesn’t matter what we think, what we do, what we want, where we go, or how we feel.

Girls don’t matter.

This was my war but I didn’t know my enemy. I didn’t know the one “supposed” that I would be a girl. I wasn’t “a girl”. I was something else that was “supposed to be a boy”. (I told a counselor my story recently and he said, “It is a good thing that you are not going through that now. Someone would give you a sex change operation.”)

I did everything I could to not be a girl. I hated curls and dolls and dresses. In those days girls had to wear dresses to school so when I got home I ripped off my dress and wore my jeans. I played with stick horses and I wandered the hills of California with my dog.

I didn’t know the Lord then, but I somehow “prayed” when I was about 10 years old that the things that happened to girls’ bodies as they grew up would not happen to me. I refused to look at my body. When I was about 12 my mom took me into the bathroom to teach me how to shave under my arms. I didn’t know I had hair under my arms. When I got my shirt off, she said,”Oh, we need to get you a bra, too.” I didn’t know I had breasts. That experience in the bathroom mortified me. I did not look at my body again, at all, until I was in  my mid 30’s when I forced myself to stand in front of a mirror and look. By that time I had been married for 12 years and had two children.

I blamed my name for lots of troubles I had in my life.

In my 40’s I thought, “If I were to change my name, what would I change it to?” I thought about Bible characters who had changed their names after an encounter with God, and I thought, “Grace”. I would change my name to Grace. It is only by his grace that I am where I am today.

And where was I? I had been walking with the Lord for 20 years. I was living in the house that had been my grandparents home. My marriage was disintegrating. My daughters were both in college. I was a student, too,  at Regent College, a graduate theological school in Vancouver, BC. I had met a girl at Regent named Grace. As I worked my way through much inner healing I realized how much grief my name had given me throughout my life. If I had been treasured as a girl, and a woman, I am sure I would not have had such a hard time with my name. I blamed a lot of my troubles on my name. I didn’t seriously think about changing it though, not then.

But later, when I married Tim, I struggled with my name in another way. “Jonnie Lukens” just did not work. I couldn’t write it; I couldn’t say it. I couldn’t make a signature out of it. My mom and Tim both encouraged me to go ahead and change it. I was 50 years old. Changing your last name when you get married is one thing. Changing your first name, the name people call you, is a whole different matter! But with Mom and Tim’s encouragement, I decided to do it. I would become Grace Lukens.

Then the problem of a middle name came up. What would I give myself as a middle name? Since Grace has one syllable and Lukens has two, I figured that my middle name should have three syllables, but I couldn’t think of anything that I liked. Elizabeth? Annemarie? Eloise? No. Then I remembered one of the lectures I heard at Regent. Gordon Fee pounded on the podium as he taught from Galatians, “Grace, plus nothing, equals right standing with God!”

Grace plus nothing. (Now, “plus nothing” has three syllables, but that’s not what I thought!) I thought, “I didn’t need a middle name.” Grace Lukens was enough. Very well. That would be it.

So, I went to the courthouse and filed the papers to change my name to Grace Lukens. I was given a court date five days later.
That same day I dropped off a computer to be fixed. When the technician asked me my name, I told him “Grace.”

“Very good, Grace, we will call you when it is ready.”

Wow!!! That was amazing! He called me a feminine name! He didn’t ask me how to spell it. He just said it! I floated out of that building as if on air. For the first time in my life I felt like my name fit. Indescribable.

Then I went home and starting writing letters to my siblings to tell them what I was doing. As I wrote those letters I realized that my three sister each had feminine names: Nora Nylund, Christine Elaine, and Gloria Jane. Gloria Jane was Janie. When Christy and I were little we couldn’t say, “Gloria” we said “Glowy” so Mom decided that we would all call Gloria, “Janie”.

“Gloria” I thought as I wrote the letters. “Gloria” has three syllables. Gloria goes well with “Grace” and it would be a wonderful tribute to Janie to name myself after her. Janie had died 14 years earlier. She had been the first in our family to become a Christian, and she prayed me in–even while I mocked her. I would be “Grace Gloria Lukens.”

I thought about going right down to the courthouse to change the papers, but decided that I could do it on Friday when my “case” would be heard. I was excited.

I had a friend who was also excited about my name change. She had changed her name by adding a middle name. I had called her when I first made the decision to change my name. She didn’t know anything about my struggle and decision over the middle name. She just knew that I was going to change my first name to “Grace.” She asked me to meet her on Friday, for lunch, before the court date. She told me that she had something I “had to see.”

When we were seating across from each other she pushed a book across the table at me. “You have to read this,” she said. The book was “Hinds’ Feet in High Places”. The book is an allegory, the story of a young woman making her way to the Lord. The part of the book that Mary Kay wanted me to read was at the end when the young woman is making her final climb to the Lord. The Lord hands her something and says, “Your name is no longer “Much Afraid”, your new name is “Grace and Glory.” Hallelujah! What a beautiful confirmation from the Lord for me. Your new name is Grace and Glory.

So now I am Grace Gloria Lukens. When I first started thinking about changing my name I had looked up the meaning of Jonathan, the closest thing to Jonnie. John, Jonathan, means “gift from God” or “God has been gracious”. Indeed. I realized that I had had the correct word for my name, just the wrong translation. The Lord knew my name. He still does.

 

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Where is God?

Where is God?

 He is actually not far from each one of us. Acts 17:27b

 

My three year old daughter, Heather, had learned that signs on roads and buildings were words. Everywhere we went, she wanted to know what the signs said. One day we passed the Denny’s restaurant. In those days Denny’s had a tag line on their signs that said, “Always Open.”

.dennys

“What does that mean?” Heather asked me.

“It means that restaurant is never closed. All day and all night it is open,” I answered.

The concept fascinated Heather. For weeks after that she would suddenly say, “and Denny’s is still open.” Riding along in her car seat she would say, “and Denny’s is still open.” If she woke up in the night and needed something, she might say, “And Denny’s is still open.”

“Yep,” I would answer.

One day she asked me about God.

“Where is God?” She asked.

“God is everywhere,” I answered.

“Is he right here, in this room?” She asked.

“Yes, he is right here in this room.”

She pointed out the window, “Is he out in the yard?”

“Yes he is out in the yard.”

“Is he in the window?”

“Yes, he is in the window?”

She squeezed her fingers together and squinted at them. “Is he in the tiny little place between the inside and the outside?”

“Yes, he is in the tiny little space between the inside and the outside,” I answered.

“Hum,” she nodded, thoughtfully, “and Denny’s is still open.”

 

Omnipresence understood.

 

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Praying for Our Nation

The election is scheduled to happen the day after tomorrow. Now is the day to pray for peace in this nation, and the world. I pray that every single person who is planning terror or disruption of the peaceful transfer of power in this nation will be stopped. You see them all, Lord, you know every cell, every weapon, every thought. I pray that you will stop every one of the people who are planning to kill, burn, bomb, or disrupt in anyway the election process. I pray for supernatural peace to fall over and cover this whole nation as the transfer of power occurs. Let it go forth in absolute, total peace. Let there be no corruption in the election process. If Trump is your man for this time, place him in office peacefully. I pray that the enemy will be completely stopped, disempowered, turned away. No weapon formed against us will prosper, you have said, let our enemies be scattered. Thank you, Lord, the all powerful one. I know that this nation deserves judgement, but your word says that mercy triumphs over judgement. I pray for your mercy, and that your kindness will lead this whole nation to repentance and a holy desire to do your will. Peace, be still, you said to the troubled waters. You said we would be able to do even greater things. Right now, I speak, “Peace, Be Still”

I am thinking that I will go to the Peace Arch at sunrise today to pray. The sunrise is at 7:00, two hours from now. I will leave here about 6:30 and walk up there. Who shall I ask to join me? Tim? Tammy? Sue? Katherine? I just sent a text to the Tammy prayer group telling them that I plan to pray at 7:00 at the Peace Arch, and asking them to join me if they feel led to. I sent the same message to Sue, also.

Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, for this is your spiritual service of worship.
Jehoshaphat’s Prayer and more, for this morning.

2 Chronicles 20:5-12
“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God establish this nation to honor you. And we who love you have lived in it and have built for you saying, If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before you—for your name is in this nation—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ And now behold, evil men and imposters, moving from bad to worse
(Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.) 2 Timothy 3: 12-13

behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

2 Chronicles 20:14-17
And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel …. And he said, “… Thus says the Lord to you, Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. … You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, …’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. …the Lord will be with you.”
Exodus 23:27
I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.
Deuteronomy 7:17-21
“If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?’ you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, by which the Lord your God brought you out. So will the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. Moreover, the Lord your God will send hornets among them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you are destroyed. You shall not be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.

2 Kings 6:15-23
When the servant of the man of God (Elisha) rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. . .
As soon as the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “My father, shall I strike them down? Shall I strike them down?” He answered, “You shall not strike them down. Would you strike down those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel.
It is the kindness of the Lord that leads people to repentance.

Psalms 150
Let Everything Praise the LORD
Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

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Why Blog Now?

Years ago I wrote a book. It’s called “Two Crows Came”. It was published by Pacific Search Press in Seattle. It sold about 20,000 copies in the early 1980’s, but has been out of print since then. (There are still a few copies available on Amazon.)  Two Crows Came was the story of the first four years my husband and I commercial fished in Southeast Alaska. The book got good reviews.

I have been encouraged over the years to write another book, a sequel. But things in my life changed radically between the time of the story of Two Crows Came, and the publishing of the book. I became a Christian.

When I gave my heart to the Lord, all hell broke loose in my marriage. My husband was fiercely anti-Christian. He forbid me to go to church, teach our children about the Lord, listen to Christian music or even talk about the Lord. This persecution shaped my life for the next 20 years. I couldn’t write about my life after Jesus saved me and submit to my husband at the same time.

Then we were divorced. Another 20 years has passed. I am now married to a follower of Jesus. He is encouraging me to start writing again.

My past experience of writing meant to “write a book”, of course. But the world has changed since 1981, and publishing is not the same as it used to be. I have been writing  my stories of walking with Jesus for a couple of years now thinking that I was “writing a book”. Perhaps someday these blog posts will get compiled in a book, but for now I will share them this way.