Libby Baker Sweiger

Weaver of Everyday Tales

Archive for the category “Christianity”

Pause for Prayer

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40

Mike and I

Mike is having surgery today and I am calling upon the Lord. Not because the surgery is dangerous, it’s routine hernia surgery, but because Mike is my true north. He is what guides my day after I get my marching orders from my Lord. He is whom I live to please and the love of my life. He is also not usually the patient. For many years, I have been the patient and he has been the caregiver. Now the roles will be reversed for a little while. I hope I can be half or more as kind and loving as he has been to me. As patient and as much of a servant. As truly giving and caring and with me in sickness and health. It’s so easy to be with someone in health.

Tomorrow, I will be the one waiting and praying. I am praying for strength now to be as good as waiting on the Lord as my dear Mike has been for me. I love this verse, “…those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”

I hope in the Lord for fast healing and great results for Mike tomorrow. For total restoration of his body and reinforcement of the hernia, his old Junior High one that “blew out” the doctor said. Lovely description! Reinforcement of stitches and the new mesh they use to make him stronger than before!

I entrust my life, my soul mate into the hands of the surgeon, into the hands of the Lord for safekeeping tomorrow that he will be restored to me better than new and that I will be a good nurse and helper I pray!

Thank you Lord, for the wonderful husband and help you have given me. Help me to be a great wife and the same good help to him tomorrow and in the coming days. Thank you!

A Dwelling Place

“You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it himself. (Quoted by C.S.Lewis in Mere Christianity)”

Some days you wonder at the discomfort of it all. God seems to be doing some major rearranging inside. Not just tweaking a good quality here to make it better, or goosing this bad quality to make it a bit more scarce. No he is ripping up floor boards and tearing down ceilings in your mind and heart. He is making of you a fit residence for the King of Kings. If this sounds painful it is. And disquieting.

This all reminds me of a story when Mike and I first got married. We were living in a beautiful old home in Northeast Minneapolis. It was structurally and to an artist’s eye, lovely, the artist being me. It had not been renovated, it had been remodeled. Mike thought it was fine. Frankly, I hardly noticed it until I moved into it after we were married. I then began ripping down the false lowered ceilings and the cheap paneled walls. I had Mike’s permission and he helped diligently. One day he said to me in a surprised tone, “I thought you liked this house.” I did and continued to, while restoring it to its former beauty. I loved the house. That is why I wanted it to look as beautiful as it was meant to look. And why I wanted it to be a true home for us.

Perhaps that is how Christ feels when He first comes to dwell in us. This is a beautiful place, now to make it a home. First this wall of rebellion must come down, it is blocking the view of the garden. Secondly, this paneling of false pride needs to be removed so we can see an honest heart for others beating beneath it.

I know there is a lot more work that my Lord needs to make on my dwelling place before he is completely comfortable living there. He needs to remove sins of selfishness and willfulness and pride and make the furniture tender-hearted to receive Him graciously at all times. My prayer is that I will surrender to His workmanship inside of me. That I will allow Him to make a palace in my heart for Him to dwell, unencumburred by the thorny wild growing bushes of my own will. Join me, will you? Thanks, my friends!

Growing in Faith And Marrying Kind

2 Corinthians 3:18 “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

When I was almost 18 and a senior in High School, we had a Bible Study in our home for kids from my class. We were going to a new church that believed in following the practices and structure of the early church in the bible. We were growing, fueled in part by the Jesus Movement of the 70’s. The above was my very favorite verse. I loved to think about the idea of looking into the face of Jesus, like into a mirror, His word.

A year went by with the focus of my life being the worship at this church, helping my mom with the family and working. It was Spring of my 19th year and I signed up with at my good old Congregational Church to be on the work crew for High Schoolers on their spring ski trip and retreat. I got accepted. This meant I could ski by day and serve meals morning and dinnertime. I could also sit in on the spiritual sessions. I loved every aspect of the trip and participated all I could.

I noticed of one of the counselors on the trip. He spoke at a fireside chat and I liked what he had to say. He seemed very gentle and kind with a good sense of humor, so I asked him if he skied or anything. He said he stayed back with some of the campers who didn’t ski and worked on his teaching when we skied. I noticed up close he was pretty handsome. Well I must have grown on him a little because we road home to Minnesota on the bus together. Turns out he was in charge of the Jr. High drop in center at the Congregational church. And he was studying to be a youth pastor. Within a year we were married.

As you can see I remember our meeting fondly. I remember many things in a good light. But he was a very young man to go through all that we went through — and my heart goes out to him, too. How was he to know how well I would do in my life? My bi-polar on top of the death of our two children frightened him, I think in a time when our country was also in turmoil. At any rate, it is not for me to judge, or try to reason his actions. I have enough to manage taking care of my own.

Every day we have a choice about how we want to view our past and present. How we want to view our future. Are we going to look at our past with mercy and forgiveness for ourselves and others, as the Lord does — without bitterness? Are we going to live our present in love and our future in hope? I am. That is my intention. For I still love the verse,

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Christmas Mom-Style

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ”
— Burton Hillis

My Beautiful Regal Mom's Last Card 2009. Alzheimers, Still Knows Her Kids!

If my mom missed us on Christmas Eve, she never said so. We were over at my dad’s having an uproariously good time which I will tell you about. My mom stayed home alone on Christmas Eve and wrapped our gifts. She always built a fire in the fireplace for us to come home to. And made popcorn for us in a big wooden bowl with matching little bowls and hot chocolate. We all got to open a gift from her that night and we always knew what it would be: our new jammies.

We loved coming home on Christmas Eve to our cozy house and Mom. She loved Christmas and the whole biblical history of the night. Our crèche was out by the fireplace, our tree was decked out beautifully, a real one despite my mom’s allergies.

We would hug and all tell our story of being at dad’s and show mom our presents. She would exclaim over each one. Then we would open our Christmas Eve present from her and rush to put them on. We would all sit together by the fire and drink cocoa and mom would read the bible, about the very first Christmas. We would huddle together and drink in the warmth of the fire, hot chocolate and love. There weren’t any other presents around the three, for Santa hadn’t come yet.

Soon we’d say our good nights, hugs and kisses and go to bed. Mom stayed downstairs for a while. The next morning couldn’t come fast enough. We all had to wait at the top of the stairs until my grand parents arrived. They came with more presents perhaps, we couldn’t really see them, but I knew them so I’d say so! When we got the word — the four of us would charge down the stairs and into the living room for Christmas morning…It was beautiful, breath-taking.

Our stockings were stuffed and we opened them first. Santa had been generous (they were my mom’s favorite part!) And my grandparents brought more love into the house so that it was bursting with it. More gifts to spoil us with, their great smiles and laughter so that our Christmas morning overflowed with it.

Soon my grandmother left to go home to the huge turkey she had in the oven, my grandfather her always gentlemanly escort by her side. Later that day would be Christmas dinner with our wonderful matching cousins and more merriment than the heart could hold!

O Christmas Tree!

I love Christmas! To me it is a magical time of year. It always has been. The birth of baby Jesus — Savior of the world tops everything and is truly the reason for the season — but I’d like to talk about Christmas’ trappings for a bit. The little things that make a child’s Christmas never-to-be-forgotten. My dad was the master of Christmas magic! First of all we never went to a tree lot. From the time I was very young, old enough to walk through the snow and have dad carry Suzy on his shoulder we went out and chopped down our own tree.

Now maybe this was a common occurrence in those days for many people in rural Minnesota, but we were the only ones in our suburb carrying out this ritual. We had to drive a long distance to get to a tree farm. It was a long Dad Hike to find a tree worthy of our living room and decorations. It had to be magnificent! It was such an adventure every year. We waited with such anticipation and enjoyed every second of the day spent with my tall, handsome, knew-how-to-chop-down-a-tree dad!

We didn’t look at any of the little trees. They were not to be disturbed on the tree farm. We walked past them all until we found a tall one with a wider trunk. My dad knew the names of all the kinds of trees and just the kind we liked. Norway pines. They were a very pretty green and had long needles. They lasted a long time.

Finally our quest was over. My dad had spotted our tree! We ran over and found a good sized tree covered in snow. I held Suzy’s hand and we stood back. My dad took his ax out and started to chop down the tree. Now it’s a very easy matter to cut down a tree properly and push it the direction it should go when it’s time for it to topple. And my dad knew exactly how to do it. He would never risk knocking a tree over on one of his children, so it’s hard to imagine where they get this stuff they put in the movies. But I never felt any warnings of danger or mishap when my dad was around!

Soon Suzy and I were standing back further and Dad was giving the tree a nice little shove. TIMBER!!!!! We all yelled (the most fun part!) and down came our Christmas tree. Dad laid down parallel to the tree to measure 6 feet and then added a bit more in length for our living room. On cue Suzy and I followed suit and began making show angels. A small snowball fight and many giggles followed. Then back to the business of cutting the tree to the right length, tying a rope on the trunk and wrapping it around the branches so we could pull it back to the car.

When we got home after singing merrily in the car it was time for hot cocoa and Billy and Mom to join in the decorating after we untangled the lights and got the tree in it’s stand. Still my job to this day!

“Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all thirty feet tall.”
― Larry Wilde

Our Tree and Us

Smile From Your Heart

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
― Mother Teresa

Smile from your Heart

There’s so much power in a smile. A kind a loving smile. I try to greet everyone I see with one. I want them to know they are loved. I was smiled at a lot as a baby and a little girl. My mom and dad smiled at me. My grandparents smiled at me. My dear little sister Suzy — only 16-1/2 months my junior — smiled big at me when I wrangled her out of her crib to go see what was happened at the grown-up party going on in the living room. My cousins smiled at me. I was surrounded by love. I’m sure I smiled a lot in return because it has become a joyous loving habit of my life.

I try to live by this quote as I do by my favorite scriptures which it illustrates: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better or happier.” (Matthew 25: 35-40 “‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ “) This is the living Gospel!

Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
― Mother Teresa

I know Jesus was the very kindest person on earth. Mother Teresa was so very kind too. She said some of the kindest things and lived a life of kindness, with the power and love of Jesus to help her! I know I am to emulate Jesus and I do, but many days the quotes of Mother Teresa speak to me very strongly and I want to walk in her steps as she walked in his.

Each day I try to do what is asked of me for that day. Greet every one with a smile. Make there way lighter. Have them leave me happier then when they first saw me. Impact them with love. The love of God, not just human affection. To do this you must be tapped in at the source. You must be praying, believing, communing, faithfully listening to your God. So that is what I do.

And with this comes so much joy! I remember in 9th grade our minister gave some of the kids who’d been confirmed a chance to speak in a special service. I decided not to prepare, but to just read the scriptures like mad before the big day. When it came my time to talk, great stories from the word just poured of out me so smoothly and with such love. I was so blessed. My family, my uncle, different members of our congregation came up to me afterwards and hugged me. You sure have been reading your bible, my uncle said. I was happy and delighted. I never passed up a chance to speak or read the word in church or anywhere after that!

Here’s one more quote I’d like to share on the subject of smiling:

“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
― Mother Teresa

Mike and I Smiling!

Hem of His Garment

The Hem of His Garment

18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.
20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the hem of his garment. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up.
26 News of this spread through all that region.

I was sitting in Church on beautiful sunny spring Sunday and our minister, started preaching from Matthew. My ears really perked up because he was talking about a man whose daughter had died and he believed if Jesus came and touched her she would live again. Pretty extraordinary stuff and definitely a part of the bible I hadn’t read lately.

This man’s faith caught my attention. I was really struggling. I was in my Junior Year of High School, not my best year. I had developed a frightening case of acne that had scared more than one date away. I was not close to my dad and didn’t know how to fix it. I think I was scaring my mom a little bit. I know she was praying for me a lot.

Then my ears perked up again, suddenly a woman appeared on the scene. She was really sick. She believe if she touched the hem of Jesus garment she would be healed. Now I was really listening! Then the still small voice within me started to speak. Now this is an expression from the bible Christians use instead of sounding crazy and saying God started talking to me. But in fact, deep in my heart, God started talking to me. I kept hearing the words, “If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed.” I knew who He meant, Jesus wasn’t there in the flesh, he meant our beloved minister. He wanted me to touch his robe and be healed.

I was fighting this one hard. No way do we have altar calls in the Congregational Church and certainly not in the suburbs! Yet, I couldn’t shake the unmistakable, over-powering tug on my heart and soul. Healed from what? I was thinking all the while: acne, broken heart about my dad, rebellion, lousy attitude. You name it, I needed healing mind, soul and body badly. But really, walk up the aisle of the church and touch the minister’s robe?

I was getting really warm inside. Every time the dear minister said “If I only touch His cloak I will be healed” and “Your faith has healed you” — which seemed to be a refrain in his sermon — it was like someone putting a light charge of electricity through me.

Finally I got up. I walked up the very long aisle to the front of the church and touched our minister’s robe just as he was reading the words, “Take heart daughter, your faith has healed you.” And then he smiled at me and looked and the congregation. He said, our little one here has come seeking healing…he looked at me and I nodded. That was all I could do. Then he turned to the congregation and said something like…if any more of you would like prayer please come up and join us here. And people came forward! And he prayed for all of us. Many hearts were touched. It was the very first alter call ever in that church, but certainly not the last.

Did I get healed? In every way. It was the beginning of a work of restoration of faith in my Lord. I know my desire to be closer to Him and to my Dad was in the works. What about my skin? That wasn’t instant, but there was a healing that took place. The dermatologist had spoken with me about treatments to fix scarring and pitting down the line. Due to the healing started that day, none of that was ever necessary. It was like I was given brand new skin!

I do have an interested post script to this story. Years later, I was working in the marketing department of a Life Insurance company in downtown Minneapolis. I was on a company weekend at their home office in Wisconsin and was up late one night talking to one of the women executives. She and I had really hit it off and she knew I was a person of faith. She said she was once a Congregationalist, but she got really turned off to church one Sunday. I asked her what happened. She said a young girl got up at the end of the sermon and walked up and touched the minister’s robe. It turned her off completely.

I was able to tell her that that young person was me and I gave the story to her from my perspective a bit. It was so amazing. That wonderful woman opened her heart back up to God that night. She thought that if He would go to all the trouble of finding that girl and put her back in her path all these years later, He must care about her a lot. And of course, I agreed!

When God Found Me

I was always really curious about God. I remember driving my Sunday school teachers down at Hennepin Avenue Church crazy with questions. How can we talk to God? How does He talk to us? How do we know He will answer our prayers. How can we get into Heaven?

It bothered me a lot that they didn’t have answers for most of my questions. I had asked my grandmother Meme, a Methodist — and all I got was — try your best and be a good girl and hope you get in. The vagueness of the reply troubled me greatly. Also I didn’t think I was a particularly good little girl. I teased my little brothers, sometimes my sister and didn’t help my mom enough! When I got older, 7th grade I remember getting mad and saying bad things in my head at the minister’s sermons because he sounded so vague and irritatingly non-committal about everything. When I thought about my questions and my thoughts later, I was sure a girl who was mean to a minister — even in her head — was not headed for anyplace too good at all! This continued on until I turned 13 and was in the 8th grade in Jr. High.

Now let me preface this by saying that I believe I had a big old hole in my heart. I believe I was missing God and I also know I was missing my dad. Now my parents had separated four years earlier and divorced when I was 10. I saw my dad every weekend and intellectually I comprehended the thing and was even behind it. I did not believe my parents belonged together. My dad was also much happier with my step mom, who I really liked and who really liked me and all the kids. My sister Sara, their only child hadn’t come along yet. But despite all this, I was a daddy’s girl. One who had followed my dad around every minute of my life until the day he left and I just plain missed him fiercely. After he moved out he treated us more and more like a grandfather than a dad I thought. He wanted all our time together to be special I imagine, so he spoiled us a bit and didn’t discipline us much…well we were probably on our best behavior too…at least that was my child’s impression. So I missed my dad. The one who used to YELL, Elizabeth Diane Baker if I was in trouble! The firm hand of guidance, and the safety I felt in that.

I didn’t know what to do with my new-found freedom, so a big part of me was looking for God. Probably the best idea I could have had. That all brings me back to the year I was 13 and in the 8th grade. I was walking home from school one day. I probably missed the bus because it was a two mile walk and I didn’t usually make my way on foot. I was passing by a church and noticed some pretty cool looking kids hanging out, playing in the side yard. I went over and talked to them, liked their banter and decided I’d go there the next Sunday when they asked. As the oldest child in the family I had certain privileges, as well as the safety of our neighborhood and those long ago times. When I told my mom I was walking to a new church on Sunday she let me go! My family drove down to Hennepin Avenue and I walked on a sunny spring day to Colonial Church of Edina and sat myself down in one of the pews.

Well, what did you know but my quest had ended? God had found me! On that sunny side street among friendly, playing children He had set the stage for me to walk right into a place that didn’t intellectualize tired old dogma, but told the story of the New Testament and the love of God in His son Jesus. I was home!

So that’s why I say God found me. Sure I was looking. But I think He set a pretty attractive trap and caught Himself a Libby and changed the course of her whole life! What do you think? Oh, by the way, my mom and my sister and brothers followed me to that church. It was great driving with the family again. We all felt we were home.

Made For Each Other

Mike and I -- A Dream Come True

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
― Dr. Seuss

I have thought hard over the past years about why I survived all the loss that I had in my twenties. The obvious answer of course is God and His Supernatural love and power in my life. The second was my will to live and continue on and be a part of my own little family again, and then there’s the old, I came from hearty stock argument. I do not dismiss any of these and rather think it was a strong combination of the three factors that pulled me back from sorrow, and depression, kept me from self-pity and bitterness — and helped me rebuild my life on a the rocky foundation of a condition that reared its ugly head 9 months post-partum with my son: bi-polar disorder. That was the hardest battle. When it hit, it hit very hard. I was very sick and it took the best minds and hearts in the psychiatric community in the Twin Cities to put together the plan that saved me. And it took an enormous force of will on my part. Pure fight and will to live and build and have a new life. Get my job back, get a family again, be a whole person again and I really didn’t know or care in what order. The quote above was like an echo for me. I was stripped bare in every way. Lost my nuclear family: my husband and my boy, my job was on hold, my mind was in turmoil and not my friend as it had always been. I was just raw Libby. So I was honest about everything. I put up no fronts, sugar coated nothing. No more cockiness of my youth, my smart mouth had been replaced with bare bones honesty…what you saw was what you got. My best girlfriend and I were remembering this time today together at lunch. She said she felt inadequate to know what to do for me. I said, “You were great! You were there for me. You visited me in the hospital. The cage. How much better does it get?” We laughed together. The first guy she met in the hospital told her he was Jesus Christ. She told me. I said yeah, he told me the same thing too, his name is Michael.” We laughed again. Boy if you can laugh about your life, not just later, but during the nightmarish times, you have been given the greatest gift of all. Which brings me to my other theory: I come from hearty stock. My paternal grandmother was the strongest woman I ever met. And she could find something funny in any situation. She was a survivor. My dad, now that I’m older says I remind him more and more of her and honestly I couldn’t be more complimented!

I don’t have a picture of her, but I’ve got one of dad and I which is almost the same thing, the three of is look alike!

Dad and I

Well my dad saw me making a new life for myself. I had a new job at a different company. I didn’t like the old place when I tried to go back to it. And I was doing some writing at this job. I was happy and fit, jogging, that sort of thing. He said, “Would you like to meet someone?” I said, like a guy? He said yes. and I said sure. So two weeks later he picked me up at work and drove me to his place and introduced me to the man I was made for: Mike Sweiger. Needless to say we hit it off and were married approximately 4-1/2 months later, all the while planning a beautiful wedding. How did things progress so fast? I don’t really know. We were best friends from the start. Fell in love and were engaged within weeks and started to plan the wedding. Mike even asked my Dad to lunch to ask for my hand! In all solemnity, my dear dad said yes, but promise me one thing Mike, make her wait at least 3 years before she gets pregnant again, her body and mind need the rest. And I did! And he was right. Both Dad and Mike. I was married to a dear man, one I could trust to look out for the very best for me. One with a heart who loved God and loved me and loved and would always protect and keep strong our little family. It was the happiest end to a really tough story and all I can say is we were made for each other.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: