Monday, October 31, 2011


Five years ago, give or take, the Lord dropped me into the church on the Red Lake Reservation, about 40 miles N/NE of Susie's. I had met a pastor in northern MN on the Canadian border and he connected me to Pastor Josephine and it's been a blessing ever since.

I have gone to the church a number of times when coming to Susie's. I've always needed to have the time available on Sunday evening, and the weather to allow me to drive up there along the swampy, deer-ridden roads. I ain't that good at seeing while driving after dark, so it's just not been a consistent stretch.

I had called P. Josephine this week and told her I was at Susie's and that I'd try to be up there this Sunday evening.

After I walked into the church, a little late, P. Josephine beckoned me up to her side-seat on the platform and said, basically, "I want you to preach."

I was not prepared for that. I didn't know exactly what to do, so during the nearly hour-long worship time, I worshiped and "danced" in the back of the church and waited for the Lord to drop the right bits in. He did, I jotted them down quickly, and it came together in a blessed way.

Now, on Sunday evening, all attendants can give testimonies and share verses or tell stories. As I mentioned, "Preaching" responsibility feels differently -- a few minutes longer, if nothing else. In the times I've been there, I've always been sharing, and, knowing me, people realize it will be "good, bad, or ugly" because of my bluntness, especially if I'm talking about my young sinful lifestyle and then sharing how the Lord broke through it and turned my life around, which story goes from "ugly" to "GOOD". I've always figured that with what they've lived through, "sweetness and light" isn't going to make a lot of sense to them, and I can easily expect they would be rolling their eyes and thinking they just aren't understood. So, I can tell them just about anything about me -- sin and abuse, received and given -- and I never see eyes shut or bodies shudder or fingers plug ears. I usually see heads nod. And big grins when I talk about God's faithful victory. They truly understand.

This time, out of all 176 verses of Psalm 119 that I've been reading for a few weeks, the Lord laid vs. 19a on me: I am a stranger and a temporary resident on the earth. I shared with them my present spiritual motto -- Right Place, Right Time -- and how we need to listen to the Lord and go and come exactly as we hear His call. No matter where or how we live [most of these people are impoverished and buried in great needs], if we listen to Him, we can make a difference to those next door or just up the street -- we won't need the money for a car, for instance, and can't use that as an excuse to not "go" somewhere. If He calls us to prayer-walk an area, we may not even have to drive to that source; it could be just around the corner. In the process, He will use us to plant seed in the hearts of others so they may come to Him in time and we may be the ones who can step up and help them grow in Him.

Of course, I shared a number of personal examples. The main one is how the Lord dropped the Bhutanese refugees into my life, and how the two family members I met in May, 2010, have now grown into about 50 extended family that are a major part of my life... and it began just 2 blocks from my house.

I also said that we simply do not always know what door is going to open, what will close, what will divert... but we CAN know that if we are listening to the voice of our dear Father, and obeying, we can simply trust that the results will be exactly what is right.

That is why Psalm 119:19 is significant. When I read it, at the beginning and the end while at the pulpit, both times they firmly said, "A-men!" And why? The vast majority of us have no idea how long we will be on the earth. God does. He will fill our lives with "coming and going" because He knows where we are and how He can use us in this "temporary" time. And, these "Rez Rezidents", living in tough places at tough times, feel blessed that they are temporary residents on earth and headed for eternal joy ... and they absolutely DO understand what it feels like to be a "stranger" here. In our "usual" culture, even though everyone "knows" that we won't be on earth forever and ever, many are hoping the "temporariness" doesn't kick in too soon.

These Ojibwa tribe members and folks from the Sioux, Apache, or other tribal backgrounds on the rez, understand in ways most of us can't even imagine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I had arrived yesterday afternoon after a good drive north and a night at the home of a pastor-couple I hadn't seen for nearly five years. We had one yammery night and morning -- me probably the yammerer, which would be no surprise to most anyone who knows me.

This morning, with workers tearing Susie's roof off, which was NOT quiet, when I got out of bed earlier than planned, I walked into the living room and the sunrise was so lovely it caught my breath. I couldn't NOT take a photo; not nearly as wonderful as it truly was, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

Even with the roof noise, which went on and on until about 3:30, it was a blessed day; ice cream, sistership, resting, sharing... not much could ever be better.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


WHAT A WEEK!! I led her folks to the hospital last Sunday evening to get them settled. A few hours later I went home. The expectation, no pun intended, was that the little one would arrive on Monday.

SURPRISE!! Not Monday, not Tuesday, but, on Wednesday, she finally entered our world at 2:20 PM. 5lbs, 4 oz. 19".

I had heard the doctor and nurse
[both wonderful] at about 2:00 say that if the baby didn't come quickly, the c-section would have to occur, no questions asked.

You see, besides the length of time, Wang had been pushing harder and harder for over two hours. The epidural placed the evening before had begun to fade quickly. Consequently, a new one was put in place. Somehow, the baby was simply stuck.

I had never been so involved in anything like this, being a not medically-oriented person. Both times I was holding Wang's hands during the epidural. Then, during the "pushes", I was holding her shoulders, back or legs, depending what was necessary ... I became exhausted, my muscles tense, to say the least. During the last "push", the Dr., two nurses, and I were hollering "PUSH. YES, YES!! AGAIN, AGAIN. YES, YES!!!" And when Sneha came out, I turned and looked at Sai standing by Wang's head, and I nearly burst into tears. The relief and joy were so overwhelming.

Blessings? Sai, for those 3 days, kept looking at me to be sure he was making the right decisions. He and Wang have been here nearly a year, and their "American English" is improving all the time, but he needs extra input, and I'm their chosen one. For instance, on Tuesday, at about 10 PM, the Dr. said I could leave for the night. Sai and I were sitting on the couch and Sai grabbed my leg and looked at me, big eyed, and shook his head "no" and then just sat there for a while, holding my hand. He was so worried about how Wang was doing and needed me to stay until he could handle the stress. An hour later he smiled at me and nodded. I went home.

Another blessing. Why do I call the baby my great-granddaughter? Tuesday afternoon Sai needed me to be with him for a drive. He said, "We call you 'Joanne', don't we?" [not pronounced that strongly, actually, in their accent.] I said this was true. He said, "We can not do that any more. From now on you are 'Grandma'. In our culture it is respectful to say Grandma; we will not use your name." I've been heavily involved with this large family since right after they arrived, and was never concerned that I was being called by name. From now on, however, I am Grandma. Consequently, Sai and Wang's baby is my great-granddaughter. This just amazes me.

I simply feel the blessings poured upon me by my dear Heavenly Father.

[In the morning, I am hitting the road and heading to northern MN, about 550 miles, to stay with Susie for about 2 weeks. As much as I'll miss my hubby, I'm desperate for rest and looking forward to being with my sister/friend.]

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Saturday evening a bunch of my Bhutanese kids were popping in and out of my house. I became a bit annoyed with the "popping" since I was trying to concentrate on a post I was working on. One of the girls, 15, who is one of Dave's piano students and one bright kid, came into the kitchen for water and said she was very hot and had a fever. My reaction? "P-u-r-n-i, GET YOUR TAIL HOME AND GO TO BED!!!"

One of their family friends, Charles, who has come to know me well this past year, had come to help Subat with a request for me, since the B. family doesn't have a computer printer. [I just handed Charles my laptop so he could get an airline ticket set for Subat -- and print the info.]

When they all were leaving
, I told Charles that when I die and go to heaven I'll be a patient person ... FINALLY.

es laughed. He said, "No, you won't be. When you enter you'll holler at everyone to get out of the way so you can see the Throne. And you'll be jumping over all of their heads to get there as fast as you can."

I had to smile and shrug a bit. I have to admit that
if God wasn't in charge... my personality would still interfere with heavenly reality and my hopeful perfection.
[BTW, Sunday evening Purni was taken to an ER and has/had been very ill and weak for several days. She has a habit of taking care of everyone else, and Dave told her on Tuesday, when she came here to practice the keyboard, that she needs to take care of HERSELF for once or she could be in real trouble.... so I'm not the only "in your face" one on her behalf, although my quiet, sweet husband didn't holler at her like I did.]

Friday, October 14, 2011


I guess I always will... I wonder if it's greener... on the far side of the hill."

In the Fall of 1963, having recently turned 18, I heard that song, sung by an acquaintance at college. Even though it had been around for a few years and has been sung by others since, according to its I-net history, I don’t recall ever hearing it other than that one time. However, right then, it was planted into my heart. This week, I re-discovered this song on Youtube. My eyes shot open, filled with glee, as I heard “my” song.

I always tell people that my two
favorite things in life are to stay home or go away. I love to be where I can putz and rest and enjoy family and friends HERE, wherever “here” has been over these many years. OR the excitement of going and seeing and doing and being so many other places with “family and friends” – whether it’s the solid ones or ones casually met in rest areas, fast food places, motels, side roads – I never know ahead of time what the joyful experiences and "God-jobs" will be while out and about.

When I was in Uganda, walking through the "bush" areas, I was known as a “continuing-around-the-curve-to-see-what’s-ne
xt” person. Always curious. Also, couldn’t stop too soon and not see what was on the other side of a hill. Always wanting to walk just a little further, so long as the sun wasn’t going to disappear too quickly and leave me in the dark -- which did happen a couple of times -- OOPS!

So, during all these years some of the lyrics and the melody would burst into my heart.

Another proof that “Roaming” is an all-lifetime “motto”... what the Lord led me to put on my license plate a few years ago.

Even t
hough the significant time for traveling around the country was reduced recently and may stay that way, I am now “roaming” all over Omaha to help the Bhutanese and other refugees, picking them up from the airport, taking them to hospitals, businesses, stores, and wherever is necessary. So, without being in Tibet, Bhutan, or Nepal... where I wanted to go for years, as a prayer-walker ... I am now just roaming a couple blocks up the street to help or visit my dear new families.

I’m needing to trust the Lord for His interpretation and definition of “roaming” -- just being where He calls me to be -- as opposed to what I perceived it -- going everywhere I want to, all the time, and doing, doing, doing... looking around curves and walking upward ...because I always
"wonder if it's greener... on the far side of the hill."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I so often say, looking at the past, "who'd a thunk it?"

In January, '91, Dave and I were going to Uganda for the first time to check it out, meet people, and see when, and if, the Lord
was going to put us there as short- or long-term missionaries in the future. And, when we left home, one time after another, we were slammed.

You see, we left Omaha on Saturday, January 19th. A couple days earlier the storming Gulf War had
begun. Most airline planes were off schedule, cancelled, and/or rerouted. If I passed along all the details, I'd take hours and drive you nuts and most of you wouldn't finish reading any of it... you'd just roll your eyes and hit "delete".

However, one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had occurred on Sunday afternoon, January 20th, in NYC. We were actually supposed to be in Uganda about that time... and it wasn't happening. Our flights had been cancelled and even our airline company was refusing to move
on; it took a bit of time for another one to step in.

While we were
waiting, I wanted Dave to go to Manhattan so he'd see some of what I had enjoyed the previous summer, my first time in NYC.

When we were walking by the Rockefeller Center, a number of Christians were moving around, handing out tracts. When one was passed to me, I gave it back and said that, since I was a Christian, I didn't need it. The gal who took it asked me why we were there.
I told her we were leaving for Uganda as short-term missionaries, and we were already late because of the travel "challenges" connected to the war.

She blessed me beyond anything I could have expected. She called the whole group over, they circled us, laid hands on us, and prayed very intensely for us.

I had been a David Wilkerson "fan" since shortly after my salvation. In ea
rly '67, a few months after I had come to the Lord, one of the first Christian books I read was The Cross and the Switchblade. To have members of his Times Square Church be the ones who had prayed for us was a true gift of God to me.

When we had left our church in Omaha -- not the one we're in now -- we hadn't been prayed for. In fact, one member had called us on Friday night and told us this was the worst t
hing we could do in relation to a family situation. It didn't bother Dave to hear that; he understood the person's emotional reaction. However, I was very upset. SO when we reached New York, and many plane issues were slamming us, I was beginning to wonder if "our friend" had been right. Consequently, this prayer time with Times Square Church members was a spiritually emotional miracle for me.

Our five weeks away was not easy in hardly any manner, but this one joyous episode was a bit of proof. And after meeting some caring and dedicated people, seeing a land we loved, we wanted nothing but to return. Which happened again ... and again... and again.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Chose a color for this post that reminds me of Morocco.

On CNN there were photos of Morocco today. And it just soared into my heart. Again, and again, again. [My photo is the Casablanca beach, sunset over Atlantic ocean.]

You see, back in April of 2001, 400+ people from various locations in the U.S. and Europe and northern Africa, arrived in Morocco to be on a prayer walk or ride. For some of us it was about 2 weeks; for others it was only a long Palm Sunday weekend. Can't say it wasn't challenging in some ways, but I could write and write for days and give so many amazing bits and pieces of joyful events and wonderful people I met from both here and there. And I could write some things that were so difficult they nearly put me over the insanity edge.

Locations: Casablanca, Fes, Marrakesh, Meknes, Bene Mallal, Ifrane, Imintanout, and the Volubilis Roman Empire archeological site. And three days in a Berber village not far from the Tour du Maroc bike race, unbelievable treat to see and meet the racers.

The assignment on the prayer tour bus was for 3 people to sit in the front praying over and blessing everything they saw as we passed – shopkeepers, shepherds, field workers, soldiers, children, and the towns, villages, and farm holdings. Every short while our team would trade the pray-ers and continue the pray-ing. Hundreds and hundreds of blessings went out from our team alone – the goal of several teams spread throughout Morocco for the first week before the Palm Sunday weekend conference/service was “a million blessings for Morocco.”

My favorite places? The Marrakesh Souk. Loved it. Didn't head for the cobra-side of things, at all, however. Also loved the Berber village filled with kindness and hospitality; I only wish we could have spoken the same language with the ladies and kids.

The Palm Sunday event – Graham Kendrick from England was worship leader; Steve Hawthorn from Texas the speaker. It was the most wonderful service I have ever experienced... more than 400 people in a hotel in Marrakech. According to what we were told, this was the first official Christian gospel public service ... ever. Some underground Christians provided small gifts for us –- I have a straw-made cross I received that is still in a nativity set of mine, Joseph carrying it.

One small miracle: I met an American man and wife when in Casablanca, and then ran into them among the thousands in the Marrakech food stalls a week later. They had been in Morocco for 20 years at that time. They were in their 70s; he a veterinarian, but both of them reaching out to the Moroccans in a godly and kind way. When in the States on vacation, they have attended Dave’s family church in St. Paul, MN – North Heights Lutheran. They gave me a bookmark from a Moroccan believer; I still have it. How amazing is that?

On the train from Marrakech to Casablanca I was in a compartment with a Moroccan lady whose husband had gone to forestry school in Moscow, Idaho, and whose son was born there. I had attended Washington State College [now University] in Pullman, WA, not very far from Moscow. Rajah was so happy to be able to talk to someone who would understand her wonderful experiences in Moscow. Rajah, Joseph,her 15 year old son, and Miriam, her 11 year old daughter, fed me and fed me and fed me... Coke, cookies, chips. So sweet to me.

Would I want to return to Morocco?? ABSOLUTELY!!! Although only a few months later 9/11 hit, and terrorism occurred in Morocco, I realize fears have risen, attitudes have changed. But, in spite of all of that, I loved it. LOVED IT!! Met so many lovely, lovely people and saw much lovely land.

BTW, I have a number of Moroccan dry-river rocks... I brought many home as gifts for my intercessors. Thought those would be keepable and enjoyable "souvenirs".

Friday, October 7, 2011

PSALM 119:105

I shared this at church last week. I have posted it similarly some time ago, but I rewrote and restructured the story so decided to re-post it... and tossed in a couple of photos. As I told you recently on a post, I've been buried in Psalm 119. That is how this hit me again. Hope this blesses you... and encourages you. [BTW, the photo of Sam, includes his wife, Adhe, who is my daughter and b/c of them I have wonderful grandkids.]

In our present world of high-intensity flashlights, of smooth sidewalks, of street lights casting opaque filters against the darkness, this verse is far less meaningful than the Psalmist intended.

Over the past few years, this verse always reminded me of Uganda. At the time, our dear Sam was our houseboy and yard help, as opposed to now when he is our “son.” Sam and I needed to see our friends, Godfrey and Sara, on another hillside about half a mile away from the compound where Dave and I lived outside of Kampala. Only a narrow path led across the way, with palm trees, banana groves and small garden plots edging it.

I very rarely went outside after dark in Uganda – my eyes weren’t very adept at seeing in the dark and the various shapes and shadows were more mysterious than familiar.

Sam carried the flashlight, and as we walked single file, he aimed it
at the path in front of us. Other than an occasional house off to the side with a bit of lantern light, and a few stars sparkling overhead, only the flashlight could burst through the darkness.

I would only vaguely see the light on the path as Sam led the way. I grasped the back of his shirt and kept my eyes focused on the ground. When dogs growled or barked I jerked; a
nd when grass or bushes rustled, my fearfilled imagination immediately “saw” pythons or cobras or puff adders, I had no choice but to hold on tighter --cutting and running would have been a useless, and possibly quite dangerous, exercise in futility. [This photo ought to let you know why I'd freak out; I took this where I was staying during my last visit in '04.]

Poor Sam. He could have made much better time without me holding on, tensing up and dragging him back. Only knowing him for a few weeks, I was forced to trust him and his light. If for any reason he had abandoned me on the path, I may have been in real trouble.

So, when this Psalm points out that His Word is the light to my path, it is reiterating to a people who well understood the principle that without an oil lamp, walking in the dark, the only option was a very slow and mincing step forward – hoping there would not be a cliff to tumble over or a hole to stumble into -- or, out of fear, be frozen in their place, unable to move.

I need to remember this always. Especially when in the wide-ranging Norton’s family world, it often feels dark; it looks dark. Sometimes, while determined to follow Him, I can hardly hold the light – my hand trembling with weakness and fear – but, occasionally, just as what happened with Sam, I imagine Jesus, the Word and Light, walking before me on the path while I cling to His robe, trusting in HIM, and, blessedly and confidently, I am certain He will not abandon me on the path and leave me waiting in darkness.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the kindness and grace of our dear Father. Every once in a while, when I am cleaning house and running up and down the stairs, I remember how easy it is now... and how tough it could have been for a "time, and times, and half a time" before.

In November, 2005, I was visiting Susie. While up there, on Wednesday evening, I had connected with some pastors and teachers in a town about 50 miles from her house. I had been contacted by one of them and asked to drive up to their town's pizza parlor where they were meeting and take some time to share about my ministry focus, which involved a specific portion of spiritual warfare.

On Saturday evening, I was reaching across a room towards Susie to hand her something, and I suddenly had a tear in my lower left leg. It hurt big time. As I tried to walk, I could tiptoe or I could flat foot, but I couldn't do anything in between without the pain and weakness hitting me significantly. I made it through the night, but the leg wasn't in great condition. And, in the morning, on Sunday, I was going home.

My biggest concern? I would be driving about 550 miles and would have one leg that was truly useful. Not that the left leg would keep me from driving -- since I didn't need to use it for the gas or brake pedals-- but just climbing in and out of the car at rest areas and gas stations could be tough.

I decided to stop at a church in a very small town about 100 miles west of Susie's right before I hit the Interstate. I had met the pastors at the meeting on Wednesday. I knew they would be open to praying for my leg.

When I went into the church I was taken to a room where the pastors and other leaders were meeting. When the pastors saw me hobbling, they immediately said they would pray. They had me sit in the center of their group and laid hands on me, a couple ladies putting their hands on my leg. One especially kept rubbing the back of it from the calf to the heel. After about 10 minutes, sensing that my body had truly been touched, we just "hallelujah"ed for a short while. Then I hit the road. As I climbed in the car a small, very small, change had occurred. Even confident that the Lord had touched me, the pain wasn't gone, though, and I still struggled with some of the walking.

However, it was amazing how things changed. Every time I stopped at a rest area, my leg improved. When I filled my gas tank, walking from the pump area to pay inside, the pain reduced; the twinging was still there, but less and less as the day's travel continued.

I reached home in the late afternoon. My husband, after talking with him and describing the pain the night before, assumed it was an Achilles tendon that had been torn. [I was told the same by a number of people, even nurses, both before and after the drive.] At that time we lived on the 3rd floor at an apartment building. Dave had already assumed I'd have to be held as I hopped up the stairs and then we'd be calling our doctor. He was just as amazed as anyone could have been, because when I reached home, I could walk up the stairs without help. I could still feel some "twinginess", and, to be honest, sometimes felt a little nervous, wondering if the "healing" would somehow collapse. [My "faith" ain't perfect, even though He is.]

I was so blessed. During every one of the next few days the tightness and the "twinginess" reduced. Then it went away, entirely.

So, six years later, after that glorious healing, I am walking, and leaping, and praising God.

Doesn't mean I haven't had other issues, some pretty consistent, as occurs to nearly everyone in these "tents" we live in. I've even been told by those small-town pastors, that one reason I was healed was to encourage a couple of the new leaders who needed to understand that side of God's kindness to His kids. It was hoped that they would be continually willing to pray for those in need. I was just a "training tool".