When the Saints Go Marching In…

See God's Hand

“O when the saints, go marching in, O when the saints go marching in,…” You and I know this song, we are familiar with it – but only recently it was played, at a memorial service, so I have been thinking about it.

What about these marching saints? You might know some of them. You might  have watched some of them. They might be a relative of yours, they might be your neighbor or someone at work or school. They might be most dear to you.

If you had known them for awhile, something happened in them. All of a sudden, they were changed. All of a sudden they had ‘beautiful feet.’ Like the feet described in Isaiah,

“How beautiful upon the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaim peace, who bring glad tidings of good things, Who proclaim salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your…

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Need proof? Listen to the stories…

Let’s say, you don’t believe.  But you’re ready to be ‘proved to’. “Prove to me that God is my Maker. Prove to Me that He’s a personal God. Then I’ll believe.”

OK, so you want to see God’s glory, you want to SEE to BELIEVE. The disciple Thomas was like that, and Jesus loved him. You see, God is love. The LORD is ‘slow to anger’ and patient. And in this world, you will not see many who are ‘slow to anger’ and patient – but I want to tell you, if you do see someone who is – listen to their story.

Or, let’s say that you DO believe, but you just can’t see and now you are confused and ‘Doubting-Fear’ has come to your house to visit.  Well, He, God, knows your name. He even knows your thoughts. And when you cry, He knows. His own disciples,whom He put on a boat that  had ‘wind that was against them’ (Mark 6:48), they were fearful and full of doubt- but Jesus loved them! You see, the LORD, the LORD God, He is merciful and gracious.(Ex. 34:6). Can’t believe? Read the rest of the story! Jesus got in the boat with them and calmed the sea, and you better believe it- “they were greatly amazed…and marveled.” (Mark 6:51).

But let’s say, you ‘feel’ too BAD to go to God. And you just don’t believe. Well, there is a story of a leper who had been healed –  now, leprosy was incurable – but, in this story, this leper was healed, (Matthew 26:6). ‘Leprosy’ in the Bible speaks of ‘sin’. It’s true, we all have an incurable sickness being human, called ‘sin’ – but this leper was healed! OK, I have no ‘proof’, but if the leper were still a leper, he would have been in a ‘leper colony’ outside the city – but he was a host and Jesus was at his house!

And if that does nothing for you, then start finding people who were broken-hearted, but have been restored. Listen to the stories of those who have suffered loss, but have been comforted. Listen to those who were addicted that have been freed. Listen to the story of one who was sick and is healed…

Today, we have so many voices coming at us…there are ‘voices’ everywhere this day and age. But if you listen to the stories, you will find that these broken and hurting and sick began to finally  HEAR. They were made to ‘lie down’ but they discovered it was ‘in green pastures’. All the other voices were gone, and there was only THE Voice now.

And in that quiet moment of desperation,  they had a choice, a choice  to call out His name…

” Jesus”.

Listen to their stories – He was there! But one last thing. His Voice said, “Come.” And each is given a choice.

Listen to the stories. Choose to hear His Voice. And you can come, just as you are. Now that’s beautiful.

“HO! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy meat and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy?”

“Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you.” Is. 55:1-3.

The sun that shines in the sky is there! We can all agree on that. It doesn’t matter that you and I can put, even just our own thumb to cover the sun from our sight- it doesn’t change the fact that the sun is there!  

God is AMAZING. He doesn’t shout loud, He has a ‘still quiet Voice. But, He’s merciful,  and He’s gracious, He’s slow to anger, and He abounds in mercy, and He is forgiving, (Ex. 34:6). God is everywhere! Listen to the Stories. Seeing is Believing!

He says, “I am with you.” We can’t see Him, but He sends…a Titus!

Within one day, there is heavy heart for other’s burdens, there is stress for my own, then there is a peace and a happiness, then again great sorrow and darkness. ‘Nevertheless God…’

“Outside there were conflicts, inside there are fears, Nevertheless God.” These words are in the Bible. They say it all. The complete text is this:

“For indeed when we came to Macedonia, our flesh had no rest,…”(2 Cor. 7:5).

Do any of us know what these words mean, when “our flesh had no rest?” Yes. Especially at night when we are supposed to be sleeping!

“…but we were troubled on every side…”

Yes, we know what this feels like as well.

“Outside were conflicts, inside were fears, Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus…” (2 Cor. 7:6).

How amazing is this word! How sweet that it is written that ‘Nevertheless God comforts the downcast by bringing someone to ‘come along side’, “by the coming of Titus.”

That is how Paul could say, “Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation…”(2 Cor. 7:4). God says, “I am with you.” But, sometimes we are overcome with conflict on the outside and fears on the inside, But God does the extraordinary,

He comforts the downcast by bringing a friend.

Oh how we need each other.

“Jesus, today, simply make me a faithful ‘friend’. And Jesus, thank you for saving me, over and over again by sending a ‘Titus’ my way. I might not be able to always say, yet, that ‘I am exceedingly joyful in all my tribulation,’ but I thank you in bringing me a friend each and every time. Come to think of it Lord, I am exceedingly joyful- because of the comfort that You bring! Thank you for bringing us friends!” In Jesus Name, Amen.

“afflictions eclipsed by glory?” I’m not seeing the glory! Help me see the glory!

Thinking of the words in  a song, ” And all of a sudden, I’m unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory…” Wait a minute, I know all about the afflictions, but are they really eclipsed by glory? “ and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me.  O, How He loves us so…” Lord, You mean to tell me that through these great trials, I might actually discover how beautiful You are, and that You have great affection towards even me?

Do you feel you are at your Gethsemane? That the Lord has had you drink from a bitter cup? What are we to do?  The Bible says, remind yourself of His commands,write them in your mind. Ps. 119:50 says, “This is my comfort in my affliction, Your word has given me life.”

So what word will be the comfort in our affliction? Well, Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points, tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  And vs. 16 reminds us what we must continually do: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

And this we will do, we will ‘come boldly to the throne of grace’ asking our Father who loves us, for mercy and an added measure of His grace. We cry, “Abba, Father!” We cry, “Rock of Ages, let me hide myself in Thee!” We cry, “Pour out Your grace to us, an added measure of grace in this time of great need.”

We acknowledge our weakness in trusting the One who is able, we acknowledge our fear – forgive us dear Lord and increase our faith that “Now may the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing”…believing that You care, believing that You really see what’s going on, believing that You know we need a Savior, believing that You will deliver us, and forgive us, but sometimes even believing that You love us- Oh God, “that we might abound in hope”, which will be supernatural for our feeble minds and being, “in the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13), especially in this time of drought, in this time of night, in this time of GREAT NEED!

“Part the Red Sea Lord! Part the Red Sea!”

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee. Let the water and the blood, from Thy wounded side which flows, be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and make me pure.”  Perhaps today, we hide ourselves in the Rock and sing as we pray: “Be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side. Bear patiently, the cross of grief or pain. Leave to thy God, to order and provide-in every change He faithful will remain. Be still my soul, Thy best and heavenly friend-through thorny ways, leads to a joyful end.” 

“Yes, God  of hope, that You would fill us with all joy and peace in believing, even though we are going through some ‘thorny ways’ that You will ‘order and provide’ and that even though there is a lot of ‘change’, you will lead all of this to a ‘joyful end!’ We will hide ourselves in You. Give us faith to believe that You will deliver us and You will get us through, and as we wait, may we be aware that these afflictions are eclipsed by glory, somehow. May we, even  in this, see how beautiful You are, and remember Your great affections toward me.  in Jesus Name, Amen.”

“Have faith in Me and sing My song…”

‘Have faith in Me, and sing My song, when fear overwhelms you and the night is long.

Hear My Voice my child, ‘Be of good cheer’, say I, for I have come to bring you strength and peace inside.

Have faith in Me and sing My song. Please remember the verses, please don’t forget My words:

‘Be strong and courageous’, don’t be terrified nor discouraged – for I am with you, My right hand holds you, My delight is in you, I will help you. My peace I give to you- have faith in Me, and sing this song, though the night is long…

Fix your eyes on Me. Let Me have it all. Cast all your care on Me- Have faith in the One, the One  who is able to accomplish every stress and strain and knows every trial- trust and seek and surrender and sing:

“Jesus, Jesus -no other Name, no other Savior. Jesus, Jesus, take all my sin and doubt and fear-may Your hand carry me, may Your hand caress me, may Your hand help me. My Jesus, I sing, my Jesus, I surrender. Your will be done, not mine in this night,

Jesus I sing this song while I wait…while I wait for You to bring the light of the day. I choose to have faith and sing Your song…even when the night is long.”

When we pray, “Draw them near You Lord!” God’s Love believes all things…

I have heard that Your heart beats with love for me. Even after all my darkness and failure and all that You constantly see -How can Your lips say, “You are precious in My eyes, and I love you.” Is. 43. Could that really be true?

That’s a love I can’t understand. Your love doesn’t make sense- No, Your love makes me turn my head and wonder, ‘How can this be?’How You still say, “You are  so beautiful to Me.”(Song of Songs, 2).

I hear Your soft answer, and still don’t understand ‘why’, but I hear You explain: “There is no school that can teach you this kind of love, ‘higher education’ can’t teach you this; humbly come and bow your heart and suddenly your eyes will see, this is the mystery. The mystery?  “As My Father  loves Me, so He also loves You. (John 17).

You do understand His Father’s love to Me, His Son. Well, maybe you don’t because of the thorns on this earth, but His ways in heaven are perfect and fine ; the Father loves His Son, and  it’s the same love He extends – out to you – throughout  all of time. Haven’t you prayed to Your Father, and asked His will on earth as it is in heaven? Don’t give up on God, He never gives up on you.

“But I’m not His child, at least, I’m not sure.” These are the thoughts when Doubtful come to visit and Craven Fear.

God’s Spirit responds, “Well, why not?” I am ‘merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy, (Ps. 103:8).  “As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him.”(Ps. 103:11).

“He knows you messed up and walked away at times, but I walked in Your place and took the whole weight of sin, on the flesh on my back and my head and my hands. “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they do,” is the only school that I bring you on that lone wooden cross. It’s all been paid, every bit.

My Father did forgive and does throughout time. My blood on the cross was sufficient for all. And He wants you to know that If I hadn’t wore that crown of thorns that day, I could never have said that “You are mine.”

But I did, and you know it, deep down inside. Can you hear what I say,  ‘You are precious to Me and I love you’. How it would bless Me, so, so much it’s true, my heart is yearning to hear,

“I am Yours.” “I, my Jesus, I surrender,  I do, I finally am ready to say, “I  am yours.”

“You have turned my mourning into dancing…” Letter#7, for ‘now and again’.

It is amazing how, taking just a few minutes a day to read God’s word and a short devotional, how restored and refreshed and renewed we actually become. This must be why God calls the word the ‘Living  water’. It’s better than a shower after a long, ‘earth weary’ day. But I often marveled at Jenny. I think because she didn’t have the ability to just ‘pick up a book or even pick up an ipod, etc. for that matter, to read ANYTHING, let alone His Good Word-Jenny remembered everything! Her brain was so alive. His word was so close to her.

Forget it – it wasn’t just His word that was close to her, HE was close to her. She had the Peace that passed all our understanding because the Prince of Peace was right by her side in her brokenness. THAT is our comfort continually.  And it amazes me, that God wanted us in the Song of Solomon those last weeks. God gave us such beautiful pictures of His deep love for us, I wish I could have gone over everything with you. Maybe some other day.

Your mom and I experienced His love just by taking time to read His word. He really did ‘meet us there’. So, after she was gone, I went back and read some words, but I could hear your mom’s voice in my heart: “My beloved has gone to his garden…to gather lilies. I am my beloved’s, And my Beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies.” (Song of Sol. 6:2,3).

I don’t even fully understand that verse, but I know that your mom is with her Beloved and we are part of His flock. She most surely was His ‘fair one’ and we are as well; we are ‘lilies among thorns’, but I feel she is close. You see, ‘He feeds his flock among the lilies!’ Somehow the word brings comfort.

But even knowing that she is absent from us, and that she is present with the Lord, there is still so much pain in loss. Girls, when she finally went home, I tried to read the word… it’s as if she had penned every word herself – I share with you what I read that day, Nov. 9, 2013:

Ps. 30:1,2, “I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my foes rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried to You, and You healed me…”

Ps. 30:4,5, “Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning…”

Ps. 30:11,12, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever!” (Exclamation point, mine.) How the visions of Jenny dancing help lift some of the pain. ‘Weeping did endure’ for a very long ‘night’ of trial, but ‘joy comes in the morning’, somehow the words comfort.

And girls, I kept thinking about you as well, so, I happened to pick up my favorite devotional- (C.H. Spurgeon, Beside Still Waters), and opened it up to Jenny’s favorite verse, the page was folded over.  I share this with you, maybe it will minister to you, ‘for now and again’. I don’t know why, but it helped me process a little of what  had happened:

God has a motive! His thoughts are working to give you a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11).

All things are working for good to those who love God, to those who are he called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). We see only the beginning; God sees the end from the beginning. We spell the alphabet-alpha, beta, gamma…But from alpha to omega, God reads all at once. He knows every letter in the Book of Providence. He sees not only what He is doing, but also the final results.   God sees your present pain and grief. He also sees the future joy and usefulness that will come from this affliction. He observes not only the plow tearing the soil, but also a golden harvest clothing the soil. He sees the consequences of affliction and knows that it will lead to much blessed happiness.”

“Beloved, now are we the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be” (1 John 3:2). You never see the Great Artist’s masterpiece. You only see the rough marble and mark the chips that fall to the ground. You have felt the edge of His chisel; you know the weight of His hammer. If you could see the glorious image as it will be when He has put the finishing blows to it, you would better understand the chisel, the hammer, and the Artist.”

All I know is, you have felt the edge of His chisel, and you know the weight of His hammer. But God gave you a mother that outshines them all as an example, in that she continually trusted and waited on her Deliverer as He the Master Artist was chiseling away on a most beautiful masterpiece!  And she has given you the best – she has given you an example of Faith, Hope, and Love-  all three! And we must  always remember the words of the last song she wanted me to sing, especially when sadness is ever-present:

“Oh, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight. The clouds be rolled back like a scroll. The trumpet shall sound and the Lord shall descend – Even So, it is well with my soul! It is well, with my soul. It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul!”

Praying always for you Alli, Jordan, and Sami. I love you girls. You are very beautiful- Jesus loves you very much. I write with love, I am here for you girls, always.

Toni Rypkema

In a coma? Oh, how God’s ways are past finding out!#6.

Girls, I do believe that God wants to take the mystery out of so much that happened. But how can He do that, unless I write and tell you about the words that your mom and I had read so shortly before she fell into a coma. God prepared your mom for everything! Even  for that more painful week, when your mom…was sleeping.

We were reading the ‘Song’ and  were really enraptured by a love we knew He had for us, but it’s as if we were on a ‘dig’, digging and discovering treasures we never imagined were there! Sometimes I think back and am totally amazed that God told me specifically what we were to read during our times together –  all I know is – HE IS WITH US, He IS orchestrating events! He KNOWS what’s going on!

But so much just doesn’t make sense! Be He tells us Himself, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:8,9).

So, in discovering that your mom was in a coma, and visiting many times, I would tell her, “I’m wearing my white ‘slipper-boots’ to visit my sleeping beauty.” And I couldn’t help but talk with her about that passage in the Song that we just didn’t understand at the time. But maybe now, it was making a little sense to me.  How we read, “I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem , by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.” (Song of Sol. 2:7). And how we read the commentary and it really didn’t make sense to us even then: “A better translation of this phrase would be, “that ye stir not up, nor awake my love till I  please.” Thus the king is saying, “Mind your own business. Don’t wake her up. I want her to be at rest.” (Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Vol. 2, Song of Sol. 2:7).

And we even talked about not really understanding what all of that meant! All I know, is I was thinking of that verse NOW, more than ever! And even crazier about that verse, is it came right before the verse that really spoke to us: “The voice of my beloved, behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.” (Song of Sol. 2:8).  God was telling me, “I know it looks like Jenny and her family are going through a ‘mountain’ of trial right now, but I am able. I am able to ‘skip upon the hills’ and do ‘exceedingly abundantly above all you ask or think…’

Oh, girls. I write this because ‘hope does not disappoint’ as it says in Romans 5:5, but it also says, ‘but the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit’, and all I know is God poured out SO MUCH love in my heart for your mom and for you and your dad, that I have to share this with you for ‘now and again’ perhaps bringing some comfort to your sad and broken hearts. We ask “Why must there be so much pain in this life Lord?”

But, words have been written by an old Bible Scholar that comforted me somewhat, so I write them for you: C.H. Spurgeon, Beside Still Waters. Heaven’s Favorites, Heb. 12:5.

“Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus (John 11:5). They were three of His special favorites, and thus He sent them an extraordinary trial (John 11:1). When a dealer in precious gems finds a stone of minimum value, little time is spent cutting it. But when a rare diamond is found, that stone will be cut, and cut, and cut again. When the Lord finds a saint whom He loves much, He may spare others trial and trouble but not this one, His well-beloved…Being in the King’s council-chamber involves such work for faith that flesh and blood might cringe from the painful blessing. If a gardener gets an inferior tree, he lets it grow wild and takes whatever fruit it produces. But if the tree is exceptional, he will want every branch in its proper place, and he will cut here and cut there because this produces more fruit. The gardener leaves nothing on the tree that would be detrimental. You who are God’s favorites must not be astonished when trials appear. Rather keep your door wide open, and when trials come say, “Welcome messenger of the King! The sound of your Master’s feet is behind you. You are welcome, for my Master has sent you.”

And after reading this, and thinking so much about your mom, I closed the book. It is called ‘Beside Still Waters’. And I thought, “Yes, that is what Jesus has done. He has ‘led’ His ‘fair one’ for reasons we don’t understand, ‘beside the still waters’. Perhaps, it was to ‘restore her soul’.

“He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul…” Ps. 23. And then, it all began to make sense to me. I turned back again to the Song and read the verse that came after the ‘Come away My fair one…’

“O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.” (Song of Sol. 2:14). She was ‘hiding in the clefts of the Rock!’ We even sang that song together! Her Shepherd King, the Lover of her soul had hid her in the cleft, for a time:

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee. Let the water and the blood, From Thy wounded side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Save from wrath and make me pure.” “Could my tears forever flow? could my zeal no languor know? These for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou a -lone. In my hand no price I bring; Simply to the cross I cling.”

“While I draw this fleeting breath, When my eyes shall close in death, When I rise to worlds unknown, And behold Thee on Thy throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.”

She was a rare diamond, your mom.

She will shine in your hearts forever – you are her girls!

 OK, Jesus Himself told us, ‘you are a lily among thorns’, but  I think that our ‘fair-one’ our Jenny, my friend, your mother, wants us to remember -for her and for us – “I am my beloved’s and He is mine, His banner over me is love.” And I think that’s FOREVER! And Forever, well- forever is a long time. His banner over YOU is love.

With much love in my hearts I write,

Toni Rypkema

Forever changed by His Song, some last studies with Jenny. Letter #5.

Letters were written for Jenny’s girls and given to each of them in their own personal book. With each page there was a small envelope, and in each envelope, a letter that could be opened for “now and again.”

(This is Letter #5 in the Book of 7 Letters)

Dear girls,

I’m sure you’re wondering, “How many letters is this crazy woman going to write?”

I’m thinking, perhaps seven.  And, my goal is to have all of them finished and put together, somehow special, in some little book by Valentine’s Day.

I am hoping they bring hugs from God to you as you read them “now and again.”

When I get all anxious about writing this letter, I hear the Lord, (not audibly, mind you, but in my heart) tell me, “Just tell them about the Song.”

So, I will. But first I must make mention of those greenish-gray walls of the hospital room.

Your mom, found herself in this hospital room when the 24/7 home-health care ran out of funding. I didn’t even know she was in the hospital until she had already been there for 3 weeks.

The surroundings for one day, or even three of the drab pale green walls with no joy or pictures to see, would have made any woman close to losing-her-mind.

But the first time I went to visit her, after finding out she was in the hospital, (which was your mom’s greatest fear, by he way), was three weeks after she had been placed in this room.

Three Weeks.

And the first words your mom said to me when I walked in was, “God’s answering prayer.” She had a tear drop, but there was not one word of complaint.

She had expectations and hope still, that she was going to walk right out of there. She had sadness. She had discouragement. But she had hope. Your mom had joy. She had faith. And she loved her girls. And never ceased to pray for your dad.

But she would say to me, “But I can’t do anything.

Day in.

Day out.

But your mom waited with her expectation in God and in Him alone.

Back to the “drab” room. My mother-in-law, Bette painted a fabulous window on a large canvas, with shutters opening to a tropical paradise. This beautiful picture provided a ‘Window to Paradise’ for Jenny, your mom. Yes, with tape on cold brick walls, the painting was put up to be a window of paradise.

That’s what your mom could see looking straight ahead. Girls, it really was one of Bette Rypkema’s finest. 

I start this letter telling you about this “Window to Paradise” because, as your mom and I read through the Song of Songs in that hospital room, it’s almost as if our King, and Lover of our souls, transported us—His maidens,His Bride, through that beautiful painted window that now hung on the wall, through that tropical paradise, to His castle of love in the heavenly places of our heart.

The surroundings disappeared. The Book was opened and the King James version was read aloud. Here is the Song we heard, along with my paraphrase that I gleaned from a fabulous commentary. (Pastor Jon Courson, Application Commentary Old Testament, Vol. 2.)

Our King, the Son of Love sang: “Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair, thou hast doves eyes.” (Song of Solomon 1:15,KJV). 

It’s as if the brokenness inside us both opened our hungry and thirsty ears, and we heard our Shepherd-King’s voice say,

My love, look to Me and hear my words. You are beautiful to Me. I see the Holy Spirit like a dove, alive in all that makes you— you. You are so beautiful to Me.”

Your mom and I heard these words as if for the very first time.

I knew Jesus loved me, but I don’t think I had ever heard Him say, “You are beautiful to Me.”

Next in the song, the maiden spoke, “Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green. The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.”(Song of Sol. 1:17).

Lord, it’s You, You are beautiful, and yes, so pleasant and restful is our home, full of safety and strength and stability.”

Your mom and I were so encouraged. We talked how it is true, that “surely goodness and mercy follow us. But someday, His House, we will be loved complete. We will dwell in His House, forever.

Our King, the Son of Love then sang,“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.”(Song of Sol. 2:1,2).

My heart skipped a beat, it seems, because even though I don’t understand why He allows the “thorns”,(all our trials and the many troubles your mom was going through), in the end, I was comforted that He knew about all the thorns. He’s the lily among thorns.

He knows all about thorns. He even wore a crown of thorns on His head so we might one day wear a crown of gold.

And then I thought of a verse your mom and I read before from Phil. 1:29. That verse that no one wants to put in their ‘promise box’ of scriptures. It reads, “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…”

But the response from the maiden reminded me of your mom’s response to all the thorns in her life.

 “As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Song.d 2:3,4)

How I knew, and desired that this be my daily song as well.

“Lord, Your shade cools the heat and pressures of this life and Your fruit of love is sweeter than life itself. Lord, Your banner of love over me is that You always believe the best about me, and You always have plans of hope and a future for me, and You endure to the end with me with Your everlasting love and Your everlasting arms . . .

“His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.” (Song of Sol. 2:6). You Lord are love, there is nothing greater than Your arms of love.

But we loved what came next, when the maiden tells us what her beloved was doing: “The voice of my beloved, behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills…” (Song of Sol. 2:8).Yes, we see the mountains. Mountains of trouble that is, but  to Jesus, these mountains are nothing.

They bring fear and dread to us but for Jesus, He leaps upon them. Oh, how your mom an I loved those words.

And then we read as the maiden was speaking of her beloved: “My beloved spake, and said unto me, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come…” (Song of Sol. 2:10,11).

This is when your mom simply said, “Wow!” And she got my attention. And she said… “My name, ‘Jenny’, means “fair one”.

So we read the words again: “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing birds is come…”

And we were even more encouraged that “God was going to do something amazing real soon,” as your mom kept believing.

Your mom and I felt like we had just spent some time in the castle with our King, and He showed us His banner of love like we had never seen it before. We were changed.  We prayed and thanked Him for touching our hearts so tenderly that morning, and we sang tenderly back to Him,

“I Love You Lord, and I lift my voice, to worship You, O my soul rejoice. Take joy my King, in what You hear, let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ears.”

And now we can know that God did do something amazing, just as your mama knew in heart that He would do. You see, we were both there together, and He was there with us.

He spoke and we heard Him.  It’s as if He breathed into us that morning His plan, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.”

We didn’t know it then, but now we do. Jesus was preparing His beautiful love. He was speaking to His maiden, “Arise, Jenny, and come away with Me. Your long winter is now over, the rains are gone forever, there is beauty and color and song…you are beautiful to Me, today, you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Jesus prepared us both together. And He loves you girls so very much. I am so sorry for your loss. I just want you to know the stories, so you can read them, ‘now and again’ and hopefully find some comfort from the Lord.

with much love, Toni Rypkema

For ‘Now and again’, Letter #4. ‘Just so you know…’

Writing again to the girls, for ‘now and again’ all because a very special lady, Jenny Sorenson, was your mom!

So girls, the story of the journey your mom and I took in the Song of Songs is far from over, but believe me, when I share another letter with you, (and possibly two) I think you might also agree that this is quite possibly, “the Song of all songs!” But until then, I want to share with you some letters I wrote in my blog, soliciting prayer for your mom and getting her story out.  No, I didn’t have a lot of readers, but I can tell you that the readers that I did have were ‘champions in prayer’ for her, and your mama’s story gave them ‘sufficient courage’ to face whatever was going on in their life-and you can believe me- we all did a LOT LESS COMPLAINING about anything! Your mom was amazing!

Here is a letter I wrote on tonirypkema.wordpress.com on Sept 16, 2013 called, “This will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer:” ( I hope you always know that many were praying, even across the states, along with your family and your church!)

Can I gather as many brothers and sisters in the Lord together at this time to pray for my friend Jenny? I know there is so much going on, and we have a lot of directions we are going in, but please can I persuade  you to pray for my friend who is in room 609 at the hospital at this time. You see, Jenny is paralyzed from the neck down. But this did not happen yesterday.

Still a mystery over the causes of her present state, more than 5 years ago, Jenny found herself overnight, paralyzed. We can spend a lot of time talking about how extremely difficult EVERYTHING became after this moment, (more than 5 years ago!),not only for herself, but her three girls and her husband. But at this time, I would like to share with you her words to me today, as she is now in the hospital because of difficulties finding 24 hr. home-health care nurses for her care.

Jenny said to me today, “I know that all the delay is for God’s purpose. He is going to do something amazing. I believe God is going to heal me and I am going to walk out of this hospital!”

Jenny believes in her heart that God has told her that He is going to heal her and she will walk again!

Here’s the part that includes you and me – I believe we are to believe with her and to pray. We read today words from Philippians that say Jenny’s heart,

“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body…” Phil1:18-20.

Other scripture confirmed her heart to me just today as well,

Zechariah 9:12, “Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope; This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you.”  And Zechariah 10:12, “And I will strengthen them in the LORD, And in His name they will walk.”

Jenny has always believed that God would heal her. Her muscle tone should have atrophied, but it has not. She has more faith than anyone you have ever met.

Just like in the day of Esther, I feel we need to rally around Jenny’s hope and confidence that God will do this. Shall we pray:

“Lord God, in the name of Jesus we come and we pray for Jenny.  We thank you for giving her the gift of faith in believing You especially at this time for healing of her body.  There is nothing that is impossible with You dear Lord.  We have read of so many testimonies from the Bible of healing and we ask together with like minds that You, who are all power and might, would heal our sister in You.Have mercy Lord, and bless Jenny with healing. In Jesus name, Amen.”

It is time for our faith to increase, thank you for joining and praying for Jenny. Her eyes are on the Lord and her expectation is in Him and Him alone. Thank you so much for joining me in prayer for my friend.

(Alli, Jordan, and Sami, I just wanted you to have this for ‘now and again’ just so you know.)

*     *     *     *     *

(Here is another entry to my blog): “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27. This is the peace that Jesus can give.

my friend Jenny, … she has this peace.

Though unexpectedly, in one day 5 1/2 years ago, for some unknown reason, (not sure exact causes, virus of the spine, etc.) caused paralysis from the neck down, though having a tracheotomy and  needing help with breathing, thus making communication difficult, though now, unable to be home, around her family and her girls, because of need of  a new home health care rotation and provision for it, has been in a hospital for 9 weeks, and because of that, (being in a hospital) now has issues with excess fluids from simply being in a hospital bed had to be rushed to ICU for a procedure to clear out the fluids, not to mention that fact that if she is cold, she cannot pull a blanket up, or if she is thirsty she cannot lift and take sip of water to her lips.DESPITE ALL OF THAT,

Jenny has the peace of God. She has a ‘peace of God, which surpasses all understanding’ (Phil 4:7).

 And especially, which surpasses all my understanding and the nurses and even the social workers who have been unable to help her to get home. They all  make comments like, “I don’t know how she does it?” or “I almost broke out in tears, until I saw how well she is taking everything…”

Well, I know that it is God in her. But she doesn’t just ‘know’ God, she lives in His presence. It is witnessing, living proof of the verse, “His grace is sufficient, for His strength  is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). How else could Jenny feel in her heart and be able to confide in me, in true sincerity,”I consider it a privilege that God would choose me for this trial.”  What is faith? What is hope? Jenny Sorensen!

Many of us know the story where Martha was having Jesus over and others, and she was busy and getting everything together, working hard; she was ‘distracted with much serving’ (Luke 10:40),  and she approached Jesus and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42.

You see, Jenny is not busy, she is not bitter, NO – Jenny is better, she made the choice to be ‘with the Lord’ and He is ‘with her’.So much has been taken away from Jenny, however, she has chosen to remain at the feet of Jesus and it will ‘not be taken away from her.’ God is showing me so much gentleness, as well. Jenny IS Phil 4:5: “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” Gentleness is not an easy quality, especially when things aren’t going our way or when we need other people’s help. We are not always gentle.  I have prayed for years, “Lord, help me be gentle! Help me be gentle in my responses with my kids and with my husband.” I am not ‘naturally’ gentle. Jenny is teaching me how to be gentle by her witness.

Jenny has more reason than most, to be anxious, but she is not. Oh, she has anxious thoughts, and I have seen tears roll from her eyes when she prays about her doubts, but then her next breath is faith! This is His grace sufficient that others have prayed for her, “Lord, give her an abundance of grace.” His grace IS sufficient. I can ‘see’ it in Jenny! When I ask, “Jenny, what can I do to help you get out of the hospital? Do you want me to make some calls, etc.” Jenny’s reply, “Just pray.”

However, I must let the gentleness, the patience, the hope, the faith, the love that comes from this woman, be known to you! Her voice is quiet, it is gentle,  and it is always expecting the work of the Lord! She always sees the Lord working for good even when things seem to be getting worse – from her perspective, she is encouraged and feels God is bringing her closer and closer to healing. A true witness lives a life that points to God. That’s why I share Jenny with you, that we might live lives that give God glory as well.

All I can say is, “Dear Lord, Thank you for Jenny,  and her willingness to wait on You and to trust You and hope in You. Have mercy on her Lord Jesus and heal her so she can walk right out of that hospital, never to need that chair again. And thank You for using her life to ‘spread Your grace through the many, causing thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God!’ We love You and thank You, in Jesus’ name, Alleluiah, Amen!” *     *     *     *     *

For you, her precious girls, for ‘now and again’, just so you know, forever, – Jenny was loved and still inspires so many of us each and every day. Yes, and this special lady, she was your mom!  And, oh, how she loved her girls!

Psalm 62:1, 5: “Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation… My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him, He only is my rock and my salvation; …”

 I am so sorry that you have to hurt and miss her so. Just know I will never cease to pray for each of you, each and every day – because God put your mama in my heart and you were in hers, so, now, you are in mine as well. Jesus loves you so very much.

Much love, in Him, Toni Rypkema.