Friday, December 31, 2010

"Hitherto"



Before the clock strikes midnight tonight, I thought it would be well to reflect on the past year. Yes, there have been many challenges and struggles, but there have been so many ways and so many times that the Lord has blessed abundantly. My devotional this morning was from C. H. Spurgeon. It said so well what I would have liked to say, I wanted to post it here.

The word "hitherto" seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the PAST. Twenty years or seventy, and yet "hitherto hath the Lord helped us!" Through poverty, through wealth, through sickness, through health; at home, abroad, on the land, at sea; in honor, in dishonor, in perplexity, in joy, in trial, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation--"hitherto hath the Lord helped!".

We delight to look down a long avenue of trees. It is wonderful to gaze from one end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with it's branching pillars and it's arches of leaves. Even so, look down the long aisles of your years, at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness which bear up your joys.

Are there no birds in yonder branches singing? Surely, there must be many, and they all sing of mercy received "hitherto".

But the word also points FORWARD. For when a man gets up to a certain mark, and writes "hitherto", he is not yet at the end; there are still distances to be traversed. More trials, more joys; more temptations, more triumphs; more prayers, more answers; more toils, more strength; more fights, more victories; and then come sickness, old age, disease and death.

Is it over now? No!! There is more yet--awakening in Jesus' likeness, thrones, harps, songs, psalms, white raiment, the face of Jesus, the society of saints, the glory of God, the fullness of eternity, the infinity of bliss. Oh, be of good courage, believer, and with grateful confidence raise thy "Ebenezer", for

"He who hath helped thee hitherto, Will help thee all thy journey through"

(C.H.Spurgeon)

Monday, December 27, 2010

My "Other" Family

I will be meeting with my family for a couple days this week. But, as most of you know, I've been mentoring a young woman in prison for the past 2 years, and she and her 2 kids and her grandmother have really become a second family to me. Nichole has gone to school while in prison, and taken a cooking course, and has developed a lot of skills that she didn't have previously. Most importantly, she has grown spiritually and has a personal relationship with the Lord.


(The above picture was taken in July, when I took the kids to see their mom in prison).

Nichole's grandma, Colleen, and I have kept in contact with the kids, R.J. and Nyla. They are 3 y/o and 2 y/o and are very sweet. Colleen and I bought them some Christmas gifts (from their mommy and from us) and took them over to them.

The children stay mostly with 2 great-aunts--Nyla is mostly with Renee, and R.J. is mostly with Donna and they are well cared for. However, the kid's father stays with his sister, and the children are in that home quite a bit as well. It breaks our hearts, as that home (with the father and aunt) is a poor environment for them.

Nyla and R.J. had been in separate homes, so when we arrived with the gifts, Nyla wasn't there yet. When she came, she immediately ran to her brother and gave him a big hug. It was so sweet, and it just re-inforced to me that it would be so much better if they could be together in a good environment.


It's hard to get Nyla to smile, especially for pictures. I don't think she likes having her picture taken.

We spent a little time with the kids. This is great-grandma Colleen loving on them.

This is the kid's Uncle Marcus. He is great with them, and helps take care of them when they are at Donna's home.

Nichole is supposed to be released on February 8th, as she's been given some time cuts for classes she took. However, with these last elections, they have a new commissioner, and he has said they were given too many time cuts and he is quite possibly going to take away 2 of her time cuts, which would mean she may need to stay another 60-90 days. I know if that happens she will accept it as the way it has to be; but I am very concerned about these 2 precious children. They need to be back with their mom and become established in a stable, safe environment. I would appreciate your prayers, for the kids and for Nichole, that she might be able to be released in February as scheduled.

Psalm 127:3 Children are a heritage from the Lord; offspring, a reward from Him.

Mark 10:14 Jesus...said to them, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Starstruck Christmas

What a fun, uplifting and inspiring evening we had! I had the privilege of attending the women's Christmas celebration at Wheaton Bible Church with my sis, Brenda, a friend of hers and a friend of mine.


When we got to the church, they had a living Nativity scene in front of the main doors. It was very cold, but these folks didn't seem to mind. (We thought at first she was holding a real baby, but it was much too cold for that!


I was very impressed--they had not one, but two live camels! The other one was standing but didn't get a picture. I don't think I realized how big they are.

This little guy was warming himself by a big heater they had there. Can you blame him? But what a sweet smile.


There were of course, sheep and goats as well. What a wonderful reminder of the stable scene where our Lord arrived here on earth.

The first part of the evening was a reception with hor d'oeuvres and desserts. They had food tables but also had volunteers from the church--including the pastor--walking around with trays of goodies for the taking. It is indeed a VERY big church, but you might want to try to picture approximately 1500 women walking around, munching and visiting.

The program theme was "Starstruck" and the decorations were great. (for some reason this blogger didn't take ANY pictures and had to rely on the ones taken by Brenda.)

There was some beautiful musical presentations, but the highlight of the evening for me was the speaker, Carol Kent. She has gone through an "unthinkable" circumstance in her life, but encouraged us by how she is walking through this journey with the Lord's help, and that we too can experience victory and even joy, in spite of whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. She shared several scriptures that were so appropriate. (I believe most of them were from the paraphrase "The Message".) There is a CD of her message available, which I want to purchase. I'm sure I will need to listen to it again, as difficulties come my way.

My friend, Mary, who is currently going through a very difficult situation was very encouraged. I was glad I had the forethought to invite her to go with us.

Ellie, Brenda, Me and Mary
For me, it was a wonderful start to the Christmas season. A big thank you goes to all of those who were involved in planning and serving, who gave of their time and talents to provide a wonderful Christmas celebration.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Thoughts


The tree is up, the Christmas poem written and ready to mail, and a few decorations here and there. Also, I have found some great CD's of Christmas music, some that I had and a couple new ones I bought. The music is probably one of my favorite things about the Christmas season.

I've probably said this before, but I want to try to focus this year on the true spirit of giving; looking for opportunities to do something for those less fortunate. I have been so blessed, and I am so thankful. I provided a couple shoe boxes for inner city kids, a project that our church does every year. Our class is trying to provide a good Christmas for a single mom and her 3 children that go to our church. But beyond that, I need to be sensitive to ways that I can be an encouragement to those who are going through hard times right now, and those who have a hard time at this season because of the loss of loved ones.

I found some quotes about Christmas and wanted to share just a few:

There has been only one Christmas--the rest are anniversaries.
(W. J. Cameron)

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.
(Roy. L. Smith)

Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.
( Attributed to a 7-year-old boy named Bobby)

This last one is one I found by Oren Arnold, but I liked it so well, I added some of my own. So a few of these are his, and the majority are mine.

Christmas Gift Suggestions:

To your enemy, forgiveness; To a customer, good service;
To a friend, faithfulness; To a child, a good example;
To those down-trodden in spirit, encouragement; To your employer, honesty;
To your spouse, your heart; To everyone, love & kindness;
To the Lord, deep gratitude for His gift of Salvation.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts

It seems to me sometimes, in this fast-paced world we live in, that Thanksgiving sort of gets lost in the push for Christmas. I'm seeing Christmas decorations, and gift displays, and already hearing Christmas music in the stores.

Don't get me wrong--I love the Christmas season. I just feel I should take time to dwell on my blessings and all that I have to be thankful for. I am of course thankful for all of the things that are common to many--my wonderful family, my friends, a loving husband who provides well for me, my pastor and a church where the Word of God is taught, and most of all a personal relationship with my Lord and Savior.

Beyond that, I'm so very thankful for my eyesight. I have wet macular degeration in my right eye, which requires an injection every month to keep it at an acceptable level of sight. But I am so very grateful that there is medicine available for this, and that my left eye has not been affected. It is truly a blessing from the Lord.

I've come across some Thanksgiving quotes and wanted to share a few here.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.
(J.F. Kennedy)

He who thanks from the lips, thanks but in part; the full true Thanksgiving comes from the heart. (J. A. Shedd)

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and true homage comes form the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds. ( T. Roosevelt)

No one is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy. (Fred D. V. Amburgh)

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. (Melody Beattie)

(I think this last one says so much what my heart feels)

For, after all, put it as we may to ourselves, we are all of us, from birth to death, guests at a table that we did not spread. The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet--Shall we not think of the day as a chance to come nearer our Host, and to find out something of Him who has fed us for so long?

I trust you will have a blessed Thanksgiving, as you recall the ways you've been blessed this past year.

(I am having a problem with my personal computer, so I am allowing comments to post without approval for now. Hopefully I have set it correctly to do that. I did add a word verification.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Two Are Better Than One


Bride,Bridegroom, Beautiful, Blessing, Beginnings, Beloved--These are all words that came to mind today, as I had the privilege of attending the marriage celebration of my niece Amy to her betrothed, Eric.

BRIDE AND BRIDEGROOM--Repeating their vows to each other, before God and many family and friends.

BEAUTIFUL--I had never seen this done before, but what a beautiful picture of the union of not only Amy and Eric as husband and Wife, but uniting them as a family with these two beautiful girls. (This was the Unity Sand ceremony, where each of them put in a different color of sand. Once the sand is all put together, it can never be separated into individual parts).

BLESSING--How wonderful it has been to see how God has brought them together. The ceremony was a reflection of how they both want the Lord to be the most important person, to them individually as well as in their lives together as a couple and a family.

BEGINNING--They were introduced for the first time as husband and wife. This, then, is the beginning of their journey together: there will be much joy and gladness, as well as challenges, but whatever comes, they will find that "two are better than one".

BELOVED--Lauren and Mackenzie, Eric's beloved (and charming) daughters, made him a special groom's cake. Is it possible he loves football?

Yes indeed, a beautiful, blessed, beginning for this wonderful couple and their two precious girls.

Genesis 2:18 It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helpmate suitable for him.

Ecclesiastes 4: 9, 10, 12 Two are better than one...if one falls down his friend can help him up! Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands (God, Amy and Eric) is not quickly broken.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Anniversary!


Today is our Fifth Wedding Anniversary. It hardly seems possible in some ways, and in other ways seems like we've known and loved each other for a long time.

Last night he brought me flowers. He is very sentimental, so it shouldn't have surprised me that he would remember. We actually celebrated our anniversary the end of September with a weekend trip to Chain of Lakes.


It has been a very special relationship for us, as we each lost our first spouse. I don't think either of us expected to find someone again who would love us so completely. We are both so very blessed. I've had some challenging times during these years, all of which would have been much more difficult to handle without a loving, supportive husband.


I believe I speak for both of us when I say that, we hope to continue our journey together through the sunset of our lives. As young as we are, I'm sure that will be many years down the road!

"Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude or self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs....It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
(I Corinthians 13: 4-8)

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Heart-felt Gratitude


I know, I know! Thanksgiving is almost a month away. But I've been thinking a lot lately about how blessed I am at this point in my life. God has blessed me in so many ways and I am so thankful.

One of the things that prompted me to write this post at this time was a little article I read; it was written by the editor-in-chief of Guidepost magazine, Edward Grinnan. I trust it will be OK to quote him in my post, as you could also read it in the November issue of the magazine.

He said: "One of the pleasures of growing older is the perspective it brings to the store of blessings that multiply in your life; growing older means growing more grateful. Of course there is loss and heartache and disappointment too. But it is against these adversities that our blessings stand in high relief, the joy of family and friends and faith and work, and gratitude for the gifts each new day holds. These are the things that make us whole, and with which, as I daily remind myself, I am so richly and undeservedly blessed. Even in these dark and troubled times I find more to be thankful for than not--much more. Gratitude is a practice of the soul that helps us live happier lives and grow closer to God, and our blessings are the living evidence of His grace."

PSALM 100
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us and we are His, we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lots of Work--Some Play


I went from enjoying a great cruise to lending a helping hand to a friend. However, it involved a road trip of nearly 1000 miles to complete this assignment. In less than 24 hours after I returned to my home from the cruise, I was on my way to Hilton Head Island, SC.


My friend, Judy, and her husband have a condo there in Palmetto Dunes. Judy had helped me when I did some re-modeling at my home, including some very pain-staking wall paper removal. So I agreed to go with her to clean and organize the condo.

There had been some water damage and they had to replace some drywall, tear up carpet, etc. So they had new carpet and hardwood floors installed. Needless to say, everything was dusty. We washed all the bed linens for 3 bedrooms, as well as window curtains. And of course we washed down all the furniture, woodwork, windows and washed all the dishes--lots of them! You get the idea. It was MAJOR fall cleaning!

She also had the overwhelming task of sewing together drapes for two patio doors. We first had to rip out the seams so that she could sew the panels together. Judy sewed three panels together for each door. They had 3 layers, and she sewed each layer individually. When we finished with them Monday morning, including inserting the pleater hooks, and ironing, they fit perfectly. (One of the rods had been installed wrong, but we were able to figure out how to fix it).


Of course all work and no play is just not good. So we did have some fun and relaxing times. We walked along the beach one morning, probably about 2 miles. The weather was great!


One afternoon while she worked on drapes, I relaxed at the pool. The water was perfect, not too cold, the sun was great, and I even spent a little time in the hot tub.


I checked out the time for sunrise one morning, and we got to the beach at the perfect time to watch the sun come up. So beautiful and peaceful.


Sunday morning, after attending church, we had brunch at the "Black Marlin". They had some very interesting entrees. Judy and I had Bananas Foster French Toast, which had a carmelized syrup that was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The gal on the right, also named Judy, was also working on her home that week.


After brunch we headed for Savannah, Georgia, and took a trolley tour of the this beautiful city. Once again, it was terrific weather and we were able to see the wonderful homes and parks in the historic district.




We left early Tuesday morning for the long trip back home, having had some fun as well as leaving the condo clean and decorated and ready to rent. The drive through the Smokey mountains was beautiful (I see I forgot to include a picture, although my pictures couldn't really capture the view.) We got into a rain storm and wind in Kentucky and some tense driving for a while. All in all, it was a productive and fun trip.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Amazing Adventure



Because I'm such a world traveler, I haven't had a chance to post about our wonderful cruise to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico, except for the preview of the dolphin experience. I spent the last week in Hilton Head, SC (but that's a story for another time).

My sister Brenda,on her blog "Bee's Nest", has done a fantastic summary of our cruise,so you might check that out, as I can't add much to it. But there were a few things I thought I might share.

On our walking tour of Key West, we not only tasted some great food, but saw some interesting sights. These statues were interesting for me because I had seen a similar display this past summer in Auburn, Indiana with my friend Rebecca. They are done by Seward Johnson. The large one was also on display in Auburn.





On Sunday, on board the ship, they had a "Parade of Nations". There were people from 35 countries working on the ship, and they displayed the flags of their countries.




I was so impressed with the staff and crew members--dining room servers, state room staff, etc. They were absolutely gracious, kind and helpful. They must have excellent training in customer relations. However, even with training, sometimes it's difficult to maintain such a gracious demeanor. I would do well, as a christian woman, to make sure I am that gracious and kind to those I meet, as well as friends and family.

I am so thankful I had this opportunity to share such a wonderful experience with my sisters. It was full of fun, fellowship and food--three important ingredients for any trip!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dolphin Push-Pull

I just got home from my cruise today, and will be leaving again tomorrow, so I will have more pics and details later. But I thought you might enjoy this short video clip and some photos of our fun time with the dolphins.

Look for more to come--We had a great cruise!

video





Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pre-Cruise Anticipation!

Almost a year ago now, I happened to see an insert in one of Karen Kingsbury's books, advertising a cruise. It is called a "Girl's Get-Away Cruise" and hosted by Karen Kingsbury.

I have never been on a cruise, and my hubby has said he'll probably never go on one, so I decided I would go. I asked my sisters if they would like to join me, so we are making it a "sista's" get-away as well. They have both been on cruises before, but this is my "maiden voyage". (I'm not sure that's the correct use of that term!)

Now that it's almost here, I'm getting very excited! This picture is of Royal Caribbean's "Grandeur of the Seas" which is the ship we will be sailing on. We start in Ft. Lauderdale, and go to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. Among other things, we are going to try our hand at snorkeling (well, Brenda has done it before, but it's a little adventurous for Lou and I.)

I have much to do before we leave on Wednesday, so I will probably miss out on some of your blogging for a few days. Rest assured, I will have a report, complete with pictures when we return. I know we are planning on having a "Bon Voyage"!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Welcome Respite

Webster defines "respite" as: "a temporary intermission of labor, or of any process or operation." I am retired, so I am able to rest and relax at times. However, my hubby still works full time, takes care of our farm house and grounds as well as helping his daughter with hers, and spends a lot of time working (repairing equipment, etc) for the radio ministry in Haiti. So he really needs an occassional respite.

Last year, for our anniversary trip, we went to Chain O' Lakes to a cabin like this. I wasn't crazy about the idea, as you take all your own food, supplies, dishes, linens etc. But we went, and I enjoyed it, and he got some much needed rest.

So this year, I suggested that we do this again. (What was I thinking?) Last year we went the last weekend of October (our anniversary is Nov. 5) and it was very cold the entire time. The cabin is heated with a wood stove. So this year I suggested we go a little earlier.

Kitchen

We got there last Thursday afternoon, and it was warm, so much so that I needed a fan to be comfortable. But Saturday morning we woke up about 5:00 am and were very cold! So we started a fire, and kept it going the rest of the weekend.

Lynn began to relax, and actually slept quite a bit Thursday evening, and Friday. By Saturday afternoon he was beginning to feel more energized again, and worked on some electronics projects he had brought with him.

Friday for lunch we drove in to Churubusco, about 12 miles, and had lunch at this little restaurant. It was really good food, a really good price, and we took some left overs back with us. We then went to the Churubusco library, so that I could get my "computer" fix. I checked e-mails and blogs and facebook. He enjoyed reading a magazine while we were there.

I spent my time doing some Bible study, reading, working sudoku puzzles, and taking walks. This is a side view of our cabin. You can't really see it very well, but it has a screened in porch along this side, with a porch swing, and I spent some time out there during the day when it was warmer, reading and enjoying the fresh air.

These are the steps going down from our cabin to the lake. I was going to count them but never did. There are at least 30-40 steps, so I was able to get my stair-stepping activity.


The lake was beautiful. Sometimes when I was down there, the sun was shining on the water, and it was just very peaceful. I loved just feeling the quietness and peacefulness of it all.



I enjoyed my walks as well. However, the trees were not very pretty or colorful. They were already dropping a lot of their leaves. My hubby explained that this is because of the dry weather we had. (Since I've been back, I also heard someone on TV say the Indiana trees would not be very colorful because of the drought.)

I did manage to find a little bit of color here and there. So it was a restful time, as well as time to talk, discuss and reflect on various things.

Jeremiah 6:16 This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls."

Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give your rest."