Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nancy's Glory Story from Mount Hood


Mark and Nancy have experienced some extreme life adventures. For example, Mark is a talented water skier and snow adventurer. Nancy is passionate about horses and riding. Their son, Brandon shared his parents love for outdoor sports, animals and the mountains. Tragically, Brandon struggled with depression and took his own life in 2010 at the age of 28. Despite their deep sorrow, Brandon's parents are carrying on their son's legacy by finding ways to celebrate things Brandon celebrated and sharing his love for people by serving others with the love of Jesus. Mark and Nancy recently visited Mount Hood to scatter Brandon's ashes. While there, they had a beautifully unexpected encounter with the Living God. We're humbled that they are willing to bravely, vulnerably and joyfully share about it here so that others might be encouraged in the truth that God is near, powerful and good.


Our group gathered at the entrance of Timberline Lodge just before noon to commence up Mount Hood. Brandon's friend, Adam, and three of Mark's cousins joined us. Prior to our arrival, Mark's cousin Nels had kindly taken on the responsibility of arranging logistics for our mission to scatter Brandon's ashes on top of Mount Hood. He accomplished this by going straight to the top and discussing our intentions with the president of the ski resort (whom Nels happens to know). As it turned out, an experienced mountain transport person, Logan, was assigned to get our group (along with our precious cargo) "as far up the mountain as was reasonable" (per the resort president).  


When our group gathered in front of the lodge, Logan showed up promptly in an older Suburban and loaded the six of us into the truck. We started our ascent up the rocky, barren, dusty and steep path.  This was like driving around your block to Logan who was nonchalantly chatting with us as he careened around large boulders and near steep cliffs.  The rest of us were not so relaxed and hanging on for the adventure, which felt like you were in a Jeep commercial!  At 7,000 feet, Logan had taken us as far as we could go on four wheels because the next leg of the climb was almost vertical and involved icy snow patches. 


At this point, our group was escorted into the resort's largest snow Cat (used on ski slopes to groom the trails). We were all in for the extreme ride of our lives. Again, Logan skillfully got us to our destination. We were on the top of Palmer Run, 8,500 feet up Mount Hood. We almost could have touched the clouds, if there had been any. But it was sunny, blue and about 55 warm degrees up there!  We felt God's hand upon the weather, the gentle caressing breeze and our journey to stand atop this mountain. 

During our ceremony on a ledge of Palmer Run, Mark read a devotional. Then I prayed, thanking God for giving us Brandon for 28 years. We asked God for His help to continue releasing Brandon back to Him, "ashes to ashes,  dust to dust" as the mountain breeze took the ashes. There was a heartfelt group embrace and then we all noticed a raven as we dispersed from that ledge. The bird had suddenly flown to where we had been standing and it walked around for a few moments in the snow of Palmer Run and then flew to perch on the nearest chairlift. When we returned to the Cat where Logan had been respectfully waiting, he mentioned the raven and how they are so rarely seen on the upper part of the mountain. God's presence seemed to have been revealed again as that raven appeared on our sacred ground.  
There was a final extreme ride going vertically down the mountain. Logan dropped us off back at the entrance for Timberline Lodge. Our group adventure seemed to be coming abruptly to a close and we said our goodbyes. Mark & I were to be staying the night at the lodge as previously reserved by Nels. But before he drove off with his kids, Nels informed us that our room was ready and we would not be paying for the stay or the transport everyone took to the top of the mountain. We were a little dumbfounded and stammered, "Now that's awfully nice, but we expect to pay." Nels replied, "Timberline will not take any payment. The President insisted that there would be no charge because Brandon was a part of the Timberline Family."
Mark & I waved goodbye as we stood in shock. We were filled with gratitude and tears slowly streamed. God saw to it that our hearts were mended a little more that day from having to say goodbye to Brandon that February day a few years ago.

We are so thankful for our friends and prayer warriors who have helped us through this adventure — both the trip to Mount Hood and our continued adventure called Life.

Note: The subject of suicide is complicated. Four Brief Theses on Suicide offers a helpful reflection on the subject. 

Other resources you may find helpful:

  • If you are in a suicide crisis, call SAVE's (Suicide Awareness Voice of Education) national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
  • Focus on the Family Help Center counselors are available Monday through Friday between 6:00 am and 8:00 pm (Mountain Time) to provide guidance and resources. You can arrange to speak with a licensed Christian counselor at no cost by calling 1-855-771-HELP (4357).  



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Andrea's Glory Story

We have all done things we've regretted. But have you ever needed a completely changed life? Today, my friend Andrea is sharing a memory about a time when she encountered God and it became a turning point for her.  Together we're praying that her story gives you confidence in God and courage to run toward Him, no matter how hopeless or unworthy you may feel.  


See that little corner parking spot on the left? Five years ago, I drove under the influence of alcohol in the middle of winter and ended up in that little corner at 1:00 am. For the most part, I don't remember driving (at least 15 miles). I crashed my car into a snowbank. Then in my attempt to get out, I ruined the transmission. Soon after I got stuck, my phone died. It was freezing and the night was a blur to me. 

For three hours, I sat in the car (no car heat for most of the time) and honked my horn, waiting for someone to get me. I was in a rough part of the inner city and too scared to get out to try looking for people to help. A police officer eventually came and brought me to the Police Station. 

I will never forget how kind she was to me. Most would say I deserved jail time or something of that sort.  I think God knew that what I needed was someone to just talk to me and love me in my mess. I was so young but had the capacity for these kind of crazy stupid decisions. That officer talked to me and processed with me. 

Maybe she broke all the rules. I'm not sure. What I do know is that the moment she had me call my mom to come and get me, I was already at the pit and needed Mercy more than anything. Anyway, she let me go. No charge.

Because of God's grace, I didn't hit anyone while driving drunk. I made it out safe in the middle of the night in North Minneapolis by myself. And I didn't even get sick from the cold! I still get freaked out—in a good way—about this story.  I don't know every reason for why I didn't get penalized, killed in an accident or something else horrific, but I am thankful, and amazed. 

I drive by this spot almost everyday on my way to school nowadays...and I smile. I smile at that young girl who had a Perfect Father smiling at her and just WAITING for her to come home to His embrace. A couple of years later I did, and now I barely recognize that person. I am so thankful that I can look these horrible memories in the eye and DECLARE that these moments didn't have the final word. Jesus came and made me beautiful. And now that's my story.
Hebrews 10:22-23 (NLT)Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.  Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.  


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Let us show you how to ROCK a Fall Saturday afternoon!

One day, some folks began pondering how to create a feast of family-oriented fun, entertainment and encouragement, especially for those needing a little hope and refreshing. Since one of these conversations took place among music lovers over a meal, is it any wonder that the idea of gathering ‘round a concert stage with food started taking shape? Attending a pie contest fundraiser with live music in Music City (Nashville) captured the attention of this competitive bunch too, so the dream was clarified and planning for the first Jammin' Pie Fest in Maple Grove began.  

The Jammin’ Pie Fest is open to the entire community next Saturday in the Jamieson's back yard. It's a LIVE concert event and pie contest supporting a great cause—helping people in the midst of life challenges to make connections and grow in faith that God’s ways are trustworthy and good.  To top things off, we'll have Regie Hamm at the piano, straight off a plane from Nashville! 
REGIE HAMM A hit songwriter, artist and producer, Regie Hamm has penned over 20 #1 hits, many of them in Christian music. He hit the Billboard Top 20 as an artist in 2003, and later went on to see his solo-written song "Time Of My Life" (sung by 2008 American Idol winner David Cook) stay at #1 for 4 months on the pop charts, making it the longest running number one pop song by a Nashville-based songwriter in history - beating out Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" by one week. Oprah called it the "official theme song of the 2008 Summer Olympics," and David Cook announced that with the song, Regie had hit a chord with people. 
But the real story of Regie's personal journey has had all the twists, turns, and drama of a Hollywood movie. He was raised in Pentecostal churches, tent revivals, and all night singings, but rose from those humble beginnings to experience unprecedented success in the music industry, writing 16 number #1 hits from 1994 to 2000. With Grammy and Dove nominations, and winning SESAC's Songwriter of the Year award four times, Regie was about to launch into that same stratosphere as a pop artist signed to Universal Records.  
Nothing would prepare him, however, for the drama he would face in adopting a little girl from China in 2003, embarking on a 5 year odyssey to discover her severe genetic disorder, watching his life and a career spin out of control and finally landing on the other side in the rarest of places. Regie and his family have experienced the highest of highs ...and the lowest of lows, and have overcome enormous obstacles on a journey that would test not only their physical resources and their faith, but their very sanity. Regie Hamm's amazing story is chronicled in his book, Angels & Idols, and has recently been optioned for a Hollywood film.

Come! Be a part of a massive exchange of encouragement next Saturday, September 20th from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.  The back yard is located at 16553 81st Avenue North, Maple Grove, MN.

Bring your blanket or lawn chair. If you like, add a homemade pie for the contest and compete for awesome prizes. Pie taste testing will kick off the afternoon right away at 2:00 pm and Regie's concert will start shortly after that. You'll have opportunity to vote for your own favorite pies!


TICKET PRICE: *Donation 

(suggested donation = your age)

$20 rebate for those who bring a homemade pie


LOCAL JUDGES: Our panel of expert judges and pie enthusiasts includes Toni Fluke (owner of Great Harvest Bread Company in Maple Grove), Terry Savoie (owner of Red Rover Pizza), Karen Savoie (from the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens at General Mills) and Bud McDougall (prize-winning foodie and WRIM Board Member). 

CONTEST CATEGORIES INCLUDE: Taster’s Choice, Judge’s Favorite, Fruit Pies, Savory Pies, Cream-Style Pies, Chocolate Pies, Gluten-Free Pies, Prettiest Pie

Contest winners will receive fun and valuable prizes including music CDs, gifts cards and books. Please help us thank these donors, business owners and artists by following their blogs, giving them a "Like" on their Facebook pages and shopping for their products!





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Truly, this will be an afternoon that refreshes and re-energizes individuals and families with encouragement, fun and community. We will all be inspired, strengthened and comforted to persevere when life is challenging.  Rain or shine, enjoy a fun, relaxing afternoon among friends in Larry and Lisa Jamieson's back yard. 

Bring the whole family and a bunch of other people with y’all! 

*Tickets are available at the door for a donation to the volunteer-run Walk Right In Ministries. Walk Right In Ministries is a Minneapolis-based non-profit 501(c)(3) charity that helps people connect and grow in Christian community when experiencing life challenges such as disability.

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