Friday, December 31, 2010


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"


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.