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by Julie Skolrud | October 22, 2014
by Tim Skolrud | October 15, 2014
If you are in the west Puget Sound area you might be wondering where I am. I am right here in Silverdale and yes it is cloudy outside. Those are part of the lyric's of a #1 song by Johnny Nash (not Cash) from 1972 called "I can see clearly now." I have been singing that song all morning because of some good news that I heard. But did you know that even when it is cloudy and raining it is still a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day? You just have to look through the clouds. Yes...on every cloudy day, the sun still comes up and shines brightly. So if you are having a bad day, just ask God to help you see through the clouds...As a bit of irony, as I started typing this it was cloudy, but the sun just broke through and as I look out side it is a bright, bright, bright sunshiny day. That is what God wants for you today.
For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.
by Tim Skolrud | September 23, 2014
In this life we will go through a lot of seasons. But if you slow down and look to God, He will show you the beauty in each season.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
by Carrie Ahrendt | September 23, 2014
Mama Carrie Ahrendt
by Julie Skolrud | June 16, 2014
by Julie Skolrud | January 12, 2014
I also remember being a little older and playing outside with my twin sister Jodie, my little sister Teri, and my friends and cousins. I remember thinking my little sister who was almost five years younger than we were was holding us back. We found a solution to this problem. Because we were older, we could leave our yard and go across the street and hide in the woods, but Teri was not allowed to cross the street. So our solution to this was to go hide in the woods where she could not go. She would usually go tell mom, and soon mom would come out and find. She would precede scold us for hiding in a place that Teri could not go. So our solution to this was to let her hide …. And of course we just did not look for her so we left her hiding and waiting in some remote hiding place in or around our house. Sometimes I am amazed that my little sister loves us. Thinking back when we were young we were not very nice to her. She did not deserve to be treated this way, and yet she still and always has loved us.
I don’t remember playing “hide and seek” as a teen, but as a young adult Tim and I had kids and began the game all over again with our children. It started out with a simple game of “peek-a-boo” and soon progressed to “hide and seek” This was an interesting thing to be on the other side of the game. Seeing where our children hid and how they thought they were in the best places, but us knowing all along exactly where they were.
A few years later we had a home group that met together to study the Bible and get to know each other. We decided one spring evening that we were going to resurrect the game. As adults we went out in the back yard and played a crazy game of “hide and seek”. This was a lot of fun and we played it on several occasions. It was crazy and fun to play as an adult. I remember one of our friends hiding just a few feet away from home base, where we had to race back to before being caught . He just laid down flat in the grass in a shadowy spot. It was dark and we all wore black and he blended right in to the ground where all he had to do is wait for the seeker to wander a few feet out and he got up touched home base and was safe.
You may be wondering why I am thinking about such a silly subject. I guess I should explain what started this thought process. Tim and I have the privilege of watching our 2 year old grand daughter Jazlyn while her parents are at work. When we discovered that Jazlyn was blind as an infant, I thought that “peek-a-boo” and “hide and seek” were games that she would never enjoy. Much to our amazement, she does enjoy them. With her limited vision and her crazy good hearing she loves to play just like any other child her age.
One day I realized that she does know what hiding means. She opened up two cupboard doors and hid behind them and then yelled out in her tiny little voice “I am hiding” … this was her way of letting me know that she wanted me to search for her. That was the beginning of a fun game where she hides under blankets, pillows, behind the couch just like any other two year old.
Jazlyn understands what it means to hide. One day when she was being a little naughty. She was about 10 feet away from me. Because the lighting was low and it was evening, and she was across the room, she could not see me with her very limited vision. She knew I was there because she could hear me and she had just wandered away from me. When I told her not to leave the room … she got real quiet and took tiny steps, slowly moving further away. Because she could not see me, she thought I could not see her. I quickly called her on it and told her that she is blind and can’t see me but I am not and I can see her. She needed to come back. I kind of chuckled inside at her sneaky little movements. Then I thought about my relationship with God.
How many times have I been just like Jazlyn. Because my human eyes can not see God and my human ears are not always listening to God, I can fool myself into believing that God does not notice when I begin to wander away. However God does notice … while he lets us roam and wander away, because he gave us free will, He does see every tiny little step we take and he is watching very close. He will let us wander, but just like I called for Jazlyn, his voice is calling us back. He does not want us to wander away, and he will call us and keep calling us until we return to his side. I am so thankful that I serve a God who never loses track of where I am, even when I do, and never quits calling me back to Him.
by Tim Skolrud | December 31, 2013
by Tim Skolrud | July 20, 2013
Five years….it feels like a lifetime ago. A lifetime of grief and pain and hurt and loss…yet on the other hand, it feels like it was just yesterday that I lay in a hospital bed holding my son before I had to hand him over to the nurse and say goodbye. I remember fading in and out of consciousness watching my mom in the bathroom with the nurse preparing his body for me so I could hold him. I didn’t want to, but mama knows best, and she was right. Is he the only child of mine I will ever get to hold?My husband and my dad arrived at the hospital later, while I was in surgery. I remember sitting awake that whole night as those I love the most in the world slept all around me in the hospital room. I had a long chat with God that night. He had protected me, I had lived, but I’d rather have had my son live. I knew it would be all right. I wasn’t alone, after all. I had a husband who loved me and four step-children at home. Now if I were alone, that would be another story. If I only knew…
Five years ago today marked a day my life really began to change. Within a few months my husband had left. A short time after that, the kids were gone too. Now I was alone. Now, I did have to rely on God. Up until this point, life had been pretty rosy for me. I’m blessed with a beautiful family, both my immediate and extended. I’m blessed with beautiful friends. I’d followed many dreams, but the greatest desire of my heart, to be a mom and wife, had been ripped away from me. I had no choice in the matter, there was nothing I could do to fix it. I thought for a long time if I prayed hard enough and did everything right, then God would fix everything. It just doesn’t work like that. Life on earth is not where we are promised perfection. This doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us. This doesn’t mean that He isn’t sitting beside us hurting with us.This means He has a better place for us.
I remember sitting in a gas station one day asking God when He was going to fix my life, fix my marriage, and bring my babies back. Never in my life have I heard God more clearly speaking to me. I heard him say “Breeze, if I don’t fix your marriage, if that doesn’t work out,because I’ve given you free will, as well as your husband. If he doesn’t choose to change his life, will you still serve me?” I understood more in that moment about life and sin and pain then I ever have. God HAS given us free will. He loves us so much, but he allows us to choose whether or not to love him back. Life is very messy - people will hurt us, situations will hurt us – but we have a choice whether or not to lean on God and trust Him, or give up and try it on our own. I am so glad that day I chose to say yes to God. I remember telling God, “OK, fine then. Game on. If my marriage isn’t fixed, then please use it. Use every bit of the pain so I can help others.” It was at that very moment that the long journey of healing began.
Today I sit here with tears rolling down my face. Today is a day that I remember the pain. Today is a day that I remember the hurt. Today is a day I celebrate my baby boy Landon has spent 5 years in heaven singing with the angels. Today is a day I remember how God has walked me through each moment. I never thought I could survive alone. I was right. I just was wrong about who I needed to have in my life to survive. I may be physically alone here on this earth, but I have a God who is by my side each moment. I have an intimate relationship with my Savior. He has pulled me through the depths and because of this, my faith is stronger than it ever was when everything in life was “perfect.” If you are hurting, draw in to God. He is the only constant, the only guarantee. Every thing in this life is temporary. Everything in this life can bring pain, God is here to bring healing and a promise of one day eternity in a place where there are no tears.
5 years, there have been nights of unspeakable tears…even recently. But there have been many more days of laughte rand joy. I think my favorite writer,David, says it best:
I give you all the credit God – you got me out of that mess, you didn’t let my foes gloat. God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out. All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God! Thank him to his face! He gets angry once in a while, but across a lifetime there is only love. The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter. When things were going great I crowed, “I’ve got it made, I’m God’s favorite. He made me king of the mountain.” Then you looked the other way and I fell to pieces. I called out to you, God; I laid my case before you: “Can you sell me for a profit when I’m dead? Auction me off at a cemetery yard sale? When I’m ‘dust to dust’ my songs and stories of you won’t sell. So listen! And be kind! Help me out of this! You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you. God, my God. I can’t thank you enough.
New Beginnings Christian Center
Moses Lake, WA
by Julie Skolrud | January 19, 2013
Here It is, 2013 ... January is more than half over and I intended to
write this the first week of January. It is amazing how the activities
of life can just get away from you. We all survived the "Mayan End of
the World", survived and enjoyed Christmas and threw away the calendar
to start over again. I can not say that 2012 was the most enjoyable year
of my life, but in it I saw God's hand. He was there each step of the
way to help me with every adjustment I needed to make.
Now fast forward several months to the first quarter of 2012. Kylie and Phil Got orders to move to Groton, CT. Kristi and Grant came to us and told us that they felt they were supposed to move to Florida, and Jaron and his wife Anna split up and Jaron moved to Tacoma .... not a huge move for him, but still took him out of the day to day activities in our lives, our community, and our church. I remember the day when I realized they were all moving. I prayed these words; "God I asked you not to do that" His reply was really more impacting than I knew and changed my mindset. He let me know that he was not asking me the question so that I could ask him not to do that, but He was warning me that they would be moving and my life as I knew it would be changing. To think that He loved me enough to warn me and prepare me, is amazing. While I still do not like the fact that my family have moved away, I hold to the fact that God is working in all of us, and He loves us enough to give us what we need to get through any situation. Needless to say, I am so thankful that even in the difficult times, I have a God who loves me, looks after me, and prepares me to face anything that is coming my way.
Moving on to my next thought that came out of 2012, I am thinking about a beautiful mind picture God showed me as I was tearing down the Christmas decorations. Again, I have to take you back to a time years ago .... Our kids were young and it was Christmas time. They were getting old enough that they wanted to help with the decorations. I had always loved to decorate my tree with a theme to it. Everything matched and had a place. It worked out well when the kids were babies, but as the reached the early pre-school and school years they wanted to put their touches on the tree. Sweet, but unfortunately their little home made decorations did not fit the "art decor" of the tree. The solution was, to have two trees. They decorated their tree any way they wanted, and I did mine. Perfect plan! After several years, the girls decided they liked my tree better so they joined me in the "artwork" Jaron, really did not care and did not want to decorate their tree, so the final year of the two tree plan, their tree only was half decorated. They had grown up and wanted to just do my tree. It became a family tradition, for the girls to help me decorate, and Jaron and Tim to tease us and "not help" while we all listened to Christmas music. sounds silly but it was our thing. As the grand kids came along I have taught them not to touch the tree. They can look the pretty lights and decorations, but they learned not to touch it. After all they would mess up the "art that the girls and I created".
Late in 2011 I found a sadness that I had not expected. We had two new grand babies who were old enough to learn the art of "don't touch". The sadness came when I realized that the youngest one was not interested at all. We knew, because we had found out earlier in the year that she was blind. But it hit me when we tried to see if she could even see the sparkling lights, and she could not, that I would never have to teach her don't touch because she could not see it at all. It saddened me because all the other babies, love the tree. they love to see the sparkly lights and pretty decorations. Then move over to the nativity scene that sits next to it and talk about what Christmas is. It kind of caught me off guard how sad it was that I could not teach Jazlyn not to touch it, because she was missing out on seeing it.
Fast forward to This Christmas ... 2012! We have had many changes this year, but one of the most special changes is watching Jazlyn begin to see. God has touched her and she can see light, dark, contrasts, shape and form. She can not see detail, but to see her get around and see some things is a gift from God that I can't say enough about. One day as we were sitting in the living room, watching Jaz play. Suddenly she stopped in the middle of the room, got a huge smile on her face, reached out and headed for the tree. She saw it. I was so happy that she could see it that I did not tell her "don't touch" I told her "touch it gentle" I did not care if she messed it up a little (and she did) and I had to fix it. Somehow it did not matter anymore. That day started my head spinning. God used it to bring to remembrance a time when I was young and taught to "not touch".
My sisters and I were with my Mom, my Aunt and Grandma at someones house. It was an older persons house and she had a lot of little glass figurines sitting around. Most of them did not look fancy, or for that matter even pretty. They looked kind of old, faded and dusty. But as a child, they were intriguing to me. As I reached out to touch them I can remember my mom saying "don't touch". This was the right thing to do as a parent. I was young and could have broken it easily. I am sure that while they did not look valuable to me, they were special to the lady whom they belonged to. I don't know if they were antiques, or just her special little trinkets, but they were valuable to her, and I did not need to play with them. Through the years I have taught my kids and grand kids the same thing.
One day reticently, I had baby Jaz with us at a Bible Study. We meet at a sweet ladies house. She is in her 90's and her home is always kept nice and has pretty little things sitting out. Jaz reached out to touch the things on Jean's coffee table. As I should, I told her "No, Jazzy. Don't touch". The sweet lady said, it is ok. let her touch. At this I thought how important touch is for a child with very limited vision. She relies on touch to see the detail that we see with our eyes. This wise lady knew that and wanted her to be able to see the things she had out. So from that point on, while at Jean's house I began to teach her to "touch gentle".
God reminded me, that for years in the church we were taught, to choose our friends wisely. Choose friends (like us) who go to church and who's parents go to church. I know that this teaching was to protect us as children from being influenced to do things that were harmful to us. I know that it was a good thing, as children, the people that we become close to will influence us and as parents we need to help guide them in this area. However somehow as I grew up, I took that to mean "don't touch" ... I never really grasped on to the reaching out or "touch gentle" to those who were broken, hurt, and lost like I should have. It really is not my parents or the churches fault. They were protecting me and I am thankful for that. But now, I am looking out and seeing the lost and hurting and learning that the "don't touch" mentality is not what God wants for me to have. He wants me to touch them, but touch them gently. While some of them might be a little tattered, and worn ... they are God's precious creation and they are special to him. I need to recognize that, and treat others like the valuable creation that they are. It does not matter what background they have, how wealthy or poor they are, what they dress like, what their home looks like, They are ALL God's valuable and precious people, and if they are valuable to Him, they should be valuable to me too.
My hearts desire for 2013 is to remember to touch peoples lives the way that God would want me to and to appreciate each and every person as the person that God created them to be, Valuable and Precious!
by Tim Skolrud | December 24, 2012
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David's ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid Him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger." Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others--the armies of heaven--praising God and saying, "Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased." When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem! Let's see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds' story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
Luke 2:1-20 New Living Translation
From the Staff of Living Word, we pray you have a very Merry Christmas.
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