In the Eye of the Storm

In the Eye of the Storm

For all of our loved ones along the East Coast, preparing and waiting for what may come in the path of the pending hurricane …

For all of us who may be enduring hurricanes of other kinds: deaths, chronic illness, rejection, loneliness, financial struggles, emotional abandonment, wayward loved ones, temptations and testings of any kind …

This is for us all, my friends, so we can find our “Way of Escape” into the cocooning Presence of God.

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The Key to the Christian Life ... Always!

The Key to the Christian Life ... Always!

As we are beginning a new fall season of new beginnings ... school, cooler weather, wardrobe changes, closed toed shoes (instead of sandals), and yes, ladies' Bible Studies*, Awana, and other church programs of many kinds, I thought of this blog post. The heart of everything ... especially our so-called "spiritual activities" is JESUS!

So just in case you need a reminder along with the rest of us, here is the Key to the Christian Life ... actually the Key to it all!

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A Surprise in the Sunset

A Surprise in the Sunset

Sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the days... 

Or so the song goes ... and so go our days. The days at the coast with my beloved extended family have flown by.

Each morning, I experienced sunrise after sunrise over the ocean, each unique and special and "speaking." (See my previous two posts). Then on our last evening there, I unexpectedly witnessed a sunset over the bay. The horizon wasn't quite as straight and "uncluttered" as that of the ocean, but oh my! It was pretty close. And the way it impacted me was surprising. 

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Fresh Mercies Shared

Fresh Mercies Shared

Before I return to my life in Ohio, I would like to share another aha from my mornings at sunrise at the Jersey Shore.

In my previous post, I wrote of the new realization that came to me as I viewed sunrises this trip ... that although our God is unchanging, God's mercies change day by day, just as the unique sunrise changes moment by moment. So too for us, each of our todays is unique with different circumstances, different joys, different sorrows, and different stresses. God who is our All meets us in each with exactly what we need as we trust Him day by day. 

I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!” 

Lamentations 3:24 NLT

Well, here is my final thought. God intends that His mercies spread to shape the atmosphere around us. In other words, His mercies are meant to be shared. You may ask where I got that from the sunrises. Well, let me tell you what I noticed.


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Fresh Mercies

Fresh Mercies

I'm at my "Happy Place," the Jersey Shore. It took the whole summer to get here this year, but it was so worth the wait.

I am never disappointed at the beach.  I see and hear and feel and smell and even taste God here in a unique way. The vastness of the ocean and the littleness of me on the shore help to correct my perspective about God and my life. And the sunrise over the ocean speaks with new messages every day.

These mornings here at sunrise in Belmar, I have been arrested by an awesome observation.

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WE ARE FA-MI-LY!

WE ARE FA-MI-LY!

♥We are fa-mi-ly...my mother, brothers, sisters, and me!

OK, I did change the lyrics a bit...but that's who we Renners are, since our daddy went home to God more than 25 years ago.

And I am blessed beyond measure to be a part of it all...the oldest of 7 and the "Boss of the Mob" according to my mom :)

Most families are a mess today!  We're a mess too (aren't we all?!), but with one big difference.  A rarity, in fact!  We love and support one another...and we actually want to be together!  What an undeserved gift...and I certainly know it!

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My Senses Come Alive to Glory at the Beach!

My Senses Come Alive to Glory at the Beach!

After a summer riddled with surgeries, sickness, scans, and being stuck at home for "recoveries," we are "getting outa Dodge" and heading east ... to my beloved beach. So I am revisiting my blog posts written over the past 7 years that speak of sand and surf and sunrises at my favorite place. The beach early in the morning is a special place where I meet God in the Glory of His Creation and in the Peace of His Presence. 

May you be vicariously refreshed as you "visit" with me there... 

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I AM a Sanctuary ... Revising a favorite worship song

I AM a Sanctuary ... Revising a favorite worship song

In worship on Sunday, we sang a song I haven't thought of in years. I've always really liked the song. But this time, I heard the lyrics as if for the first time. And my heart cried out, "NO!"

In the song, we are basically asking the Lord to do what He has already done through our faith in Christ. I thought, "We need to be thanking Him instead of asking."

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Living from a Reservoir

Living from a Reservoir

You cannot impart what you do not possess!

This was a favorite saying of Dr. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary.

John & I had the privilege of sitting under Dr. Hendricks' teaching in the 1980's at DTS. No matter the class, whether it was "Bible Study Methods" or the "Christian Home," this profound little truth would punctuate the "Prof's" lectures.

In my last post, we talked about Teaching from a Reservoir.  If Dr. Hendricks' statement is true, then teaching (or whatever we are doing) from a reservoir presupposes LIVING FROM THE RESERVOIR -- the reservoir of truth in relationship with Him who is the TRUTH.

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Teaching from a Reservoir

Teaching from a Reservoir

…Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38

In the early fall of 2000, John & I were blessed by a visit from Dr Marvin Mayer and his wife Shirley. Dr. Mayer had just retired from many years of teaching Bible and Theology at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.  John & I were students at MBI in the 1970′s.  Dr. Mayer fast became one of my favorite professors and “spiritual father,” with a continuing relationship over the years.

On this particular visit, I got up early so I could walk with Dr M in the morning before he and Shirley left to return home to Illinois.  As we walked and talked, he spoke of his years of teaching and made a statement that grabbed my attention:  “I teach from a reservoir.”

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Because the Bully Never Gives Up! (Part 2)

Because the Bully Never Gives Up! (Part 2)

Bullies don't often give up. They just look for another opportunity in a different place of vulnerability, changing tactics and catching the victim off-guard.

And so true to form, the Bully didn't take long to regroup and sneak up on me in another situation. (See the previous post) It sent me into a tailspin of emotion...trying to choke back tears and keep on doing life. But thankfully, my Hero, the Holy Spirit of Christ broke through the emotional cloud I was churning in.

"Ok Jan. Resist! Stand! Say NO! Remember that? Now look at the entire passage and park yourself there."

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The Bully of Bullies (Part 1)

The Bully of Bullies (Part 1)

The devil and his demons are bullies. But in the presence of Christ, they become wimps.
Pete Briscoe

I'm wearing down, feeling low, on the edge. The past few months have taken an emotional toll on my soul. In the midst of it all, the Lord reminded me of another time I was feeling this way (though very different circumstances). So I am revisiting the truths surrounding His past deliverance from the Bully of my soul. Because truth like this is never learned one time and then "set in concrete." (Oh how I wish it were!) No, it is learned and embraced in each and every today. And so today, here I am again ... 

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Growing Old with the Ancient of Days

Growing Old with the Ancient of Days

"This is getting old" was my early morning greeting to my husband the other day. John agreed. Waiting on surgeries and recoveries and at the same time being sick and relapsing were wearing on us.

I'm not bored, not even discontent [OK, just a little] but what can I say? It all was getting OLD! Why? Well for me it just isn't fun not to be able to do my usual stuff or go where I want to go (like to New Jersey to visit my sister on the beach before she moves to Florida!) or accomplish my long list of projects. Did you notice the "operative words" here -- do, go, accomplish? 


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Soul Care: Just Breathe

Soul Care: Just Breathe

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.  Genesis 2:7 KJV

Ah! How to care for our soul, our inner person? We so often neglect our inside self until we are ready to go over the edge with anxiety, exhaustion, depletion, hole-ness ... often caused by failing to read the signals in and around us.

So my friend and guest branch Mary Petzinger returns today with her helpful insights into this very issue.

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Quiet Places

Quiet Places

In his book The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen spoke of silence as a portable cell or sanctuary, a place of transformation that can be carried into ministry. Yet true as that is in active ministry, my ministry now is mainly to family and those that God brings across my path. Even when I’m with family, my heart longs for a quiet place in the midst of chaos. In my oldest daughter Karen’s home it is her sunroom, decorated in a nautical theme. I search for things in the beach painting in front of me – the shapes of the clouds, the rocks at the edge of the water that soothe my soul and help clear my mind.

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LIFE Overflowing!

LIFE Overflowing!

Today my dear grandson Carter turned 10. 10! Double digits, a full decade! Oh how time passes too quickly and here we are.

As I've thought of this precious life, I had been been asking the Lord to give me a verse to pass on to Carter from HIM. First I went one way in my thoughts, and then I went another. But nothing felt totally right, totally it. I was trying too hard instead of letting my heart receive it from the Spirit.

Then it came ... and it was totally perfect!

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Bits of Grief!

Bits of Grief!

My babies are gone. They left this morning to go back to their home ... to the place that Uncle Sam assigned after the birth of their fourth child, their first daughter (after three awesome, lively sons). This was the third time that the military transferred them immediately after the birth of a baby. Now that baby was celebrating her first birthday.

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