Friday, February 28, 2014

Glad I know THE ending!

Over the last several weeks, I have missed the ending of many movies.  You see, Friday afternoons are movie times at work but my schedule has me leaving before the movies are over!  So I have missed the end of Pinocchio, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Winnie the Pooh and today's movie, Lady and the Tramp.  Now, granted, I have seen all of these movies at one time or the other. And in most cases, I have a general idea of how the story ends.  But I realized that I have forgotten some of the details of these stories.  I have been surprised at the kind of scary parts in these "G" rated movies.   And I can't believe some of the story lines that I have totally forgotten about.  So not actually seeing the end of these movies is a bit.......well BAD!

This has me thinking about the fact that I am so glad that I know THE ending.  You know, the ending that we all face.  And I am feeling so happy that I don't have to worry about how my own personal story is going to end.  I know that I will end up in a wonderful place in the presence of Jesus.  And there is really nothing else that matters.  I don't have to get into a discussion about the book of Revelation, or talk about how and/or when Jesus is going to return.  Because none of that stuff is important when it comes to the ending of MY story.  All I have to know is that I will be in the presence of God and I will be happy.  I think that all to often, this one very important thing - this ending of our story - is overlooked.  People get so caught up in the rapture question.  Others are thinking about the tribulation.  Are you "Pre trib" or "Post trib"?  I am so thankful for this reminder today that the end is really the only thing that matters.  As long as I know that Jesus is the ONLY way to get to heaven, and I know that Jesus is my savior and friend, then I will have that happy ending.  

So this has been a day of realizing that all I really need to focus on are those "happy endings"!  I don't have to worry about those little plot lines that I might have forgotten, or think about the plot twists.  I know that Lady and the Tramp do end up together and if I am recalling correctly, they have a large family. And a happy ending.   Just like my own story! 

Jesus, thank you for reminding me of that amazing ending to my own story.  Holy Spirit, I am so grateful that the ending is not hidden.  Thank you that you use the everyday things to point us to the greatest truths.  What an amazing and uplifting gift.  Thank you for this gift of KNOWING the end.   Amen.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Glad I saved these......for something!

So you know that one thing that you might have stuffed at the back of the closet or buried high up on a closet shelf?  That item that you think..."why am I saving this?"  Well in my world, it is this large 12X24 envelope filled with Doug's X-Rays from 1982 through 1985.  Somehow I could not bring myself to get rid of these.  They are really a picture (no pun intended) of the medical troubles that Doug suffered during these years.  In the later years you can clearly see the two surgical clips that are the mark of his kidney removal.  I have given Doug and Susie most of his childhood stuff, but somehow, this envelope didn't make it over to Doug and Susie's house.  And this week I was especially glad that I still had these.

And it was because it was "X" week at work!  Do you know how hard it is to find anything that has an X in it that will make sense to 3 and 4 year olds?  We did mostly words that ended in X like box.  Today we did several rounds of "What does the Fox say?", which all of the kids loved.  It seems that almost every parent has exposed their kids to the Youtube video and they all knew the words.  Since today was "show and share" day, I shared these X-rays.  The kids were fascinated by these.  They loved seeing the rib bones and then feeling their own body to find their ribs.  And then we made our very own fake "X-rays" of their hands.

It doesn't take much to impress three year olds and they loved this!  Isn't it funny how something that has so little real value can be so important at the right time and place?

These X-rays were incredibly important during the years that I carried them from hospital to hospital and from doctor to doctor.  But considering that Doug is now a healthy almost 32 year old, these are pretty meaningless.  When I held them in my hand and put them down on a light table, I couldn't help but reflect back on those years.  It was a time of so much uncertainty and fear.  There was a time when I wasn't sure that Doug would ever get to be an adult.    I am so thankful for the miracle that is Douglas!  And I am thankful that it took a dusty envelope of old X-rays and X week to remind me! 

Jesus, thank you for using crazy things to make us grateful.   Thank you for the amazing miracle of good health for Douglas.  Holy Spirit, help us all to recognize the times you bring these reminders to us.  Help us all to remember the past and to celebrate the present while looking forward to the future!  Amen

Monday, February 24, 2014

Great reminder of why I love scrapbooking...

So today was another day spent as "Grandma Lyn" at Gwen's house.  I am so blessed by these special Monday time off days.  I get to cuddle that new sweetie Anna and I get to see and spend time with Lia, Ellie and Zeke.  Oh how I love these kids!  Today, while Zeke did NOT nap, Ellie and I (and Anna, who was sleeping in my arms) looked at scrapbooks.  This makes my heart happy and blesses me on some many levels.  Ellie loves to look at her mom's completed scrapbooks.   She goes through them page by page and recounts who is in each picture.  Today almost everyone was Ellie (whether it was or not!).  But I was seeing the importance of these albums that take hours and hours to complete.   Such powerful memories.

I was thinking back to a time when Gwen spent hours and hours looking at our photo albums.   They were always kept on a low shelf so that the kids could reach them.  They were looked at over and over and over.   And these scrapbooks are so much better than just a magnetic photo album.   There are words that will someday be just as important as the photos.  For me, the journaling part of scrapbooking is sometimes the hardest thing.  Yet I know that it is so important to make sure that in the future, anyone who looks at these albums will know exactly WHO is in the pictures and WHERE they were taken as well as WHEN.  Just this weekend I pulled out a very old leather photo album that is falling apart.  There are pages and pages crammed full of black and white photos.  Some are very old - from the early 1900's.  The bad news is that there is no one alive who knows who the people are in these photos.  There are no names and we have no idea where these photos were taken.  All I know about this album is that it belonged to Ken's great grandmother Kelly.  I received this album from Ken's mom about a year before she died.  She couldn't identify any of the people either.  And now we are one more generation away from anyone who could bring meaning to these pictures.   I spent a couple of minutes looking at that album.  I turned the pages carefully and ran my fingers over the pictures.  There were babies and cute little boys and girls and young couples.  There were some family pictures including one family with a little boy that was disabled (he had braces on his legs and a cane is in the pictures).  I sure wish I had the key to these photos and the place these people have in our family tree. 

So, with this in mind, I will press on with my scrapbooking.  Not only do I get great enjoyment from this activity, but I am blessed knowing that, if in the future someone finds these books, they will know exactly who we are.  I am glad that I have these two reminders today.  The old photo album and the little almost 5 year old Ellie who loves to look at these scrapbooks.  Both are an inspiration to me.

Jesus, thank you for family and photos and memories.  Holy Spirit, thank you for connecting me to past generations and helping me to see the future through Ellie.   Jesus help us all to see and understand better the connections we have in our generations.   Thank you for bringing more revelation with each day.  Thank you for grandchildren and smiles and hugs.  And thank you for days off from work.  Amen

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Wow, things are very different now than 10 years ago!

Today I was with some great friends.  It was a wonderful time of talking, worship, prayer and discussion.  One question posed to the group was "how are things different now than they were 10 years ago?"    Well, this really got me thinking. 
This picture is from Christmas, 2003.  It is significant with regards to where I was in February 2004 - 10 years ago.  In this photo I am looking at a world atlas.  And 2004 was the year of the world for me.  In February of that year I was preparing for a very big trip to Africa.  It was a trip that I couldn't really believe was actually going to happen.  When I first had an "inkling" that I was supposed to make this trip, there was no way that I thought it would ever happen.  There were multiple things that could make this trip impossible for me.  Ken needed to be okay with this trip and the finances for this trip had to come from somewhere.   I decided to send out letters to family and friends requesting not only their financial support, but more importantly, their prayers.  And I was shocked and surprised when the money was provided to pay for my trip.   I was given favor at work and was able to take the 3 weeks off.  I had accumulated enough vacation time that my salary continued during this time off.   And Ken agreed that I should go.  When the last visa was delivered, I realized that this dream was actually happening.  I would be going to Kenya and Uganda via Amsterdam.   Never have I been more sure that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD!  I remind myself of this event whenever I have a tough situation that just seems so impossible.  
Yes, 2004 was a life changing year for me.   And I am not in the same place I was then.  But, in some ways, I feel like 2014 feels just as "impossible" as 2004.  Then I was sure of the destination, but so unsure of the way to get there.  In 2014, I know that the only way I will get to where I need to be is because Jesus gets me there.  What is so unclear is the destination!   I feel a lot like I need to find the map to give me a glimpse of Jesus' plan for me this year.   
The good news about this musing is that this seems to be a year of transition for EVERYONE!  So I am not alone in this.   It is always good to know that you have friends surrounding you, who will stand with you and help you find the route to the elusive destination.   And the best news is that Jesus wants to reveal this information to me.  I just need to be still and listen and pay attention.  I am sure it will become clearer in the days ahead.
Jesus, thank you for this amazing reminder of your love and care for me.  Holy Spirit, help us all to listen and absorb the information that you are giving us.  Jesus, thank you for community and friends.  Amen

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Celebrating a great daddy (and son-in-law!)

I have done a lot of blogging about Gwen and the kids, but I really haven't said much about Tim!  Today was a really special day for Ellie and Tim.  It was "My Guy and Me" at Ellie's preschool.   This is a special day when the preschoolers get to show their special guy, exactly what happens in school.  And then they get to share a Pizza dinner!  Tim is a very involved daddy like so many young men today.  He cares for the kids, changes diapers and gets up during the night.  It's not unusual for Tim to take one or two of the kids grocery shopping.  And Tim is quite the cook and an amazing baker!  (An interesting fact of our family is that Gwen does NOT like to cook and bake and Doug does!  So it is not surprising that Tim is also the chef of their family!)

I remember the first time I met Tim.  It was at a Concordia College Wind Symphony concert.  Gwen introduced Ken and I to her new friend.  This was in October and when Gwen wanted to invite Tim to our house over Christmas break, I was not surprised.  It didn't take me long to understand what Gwen saw in Tim.  He has a quiet strength that you can see in his eyes.  One time he got snowbound at our house during a college break and he was the one outside shoveling the lawn so that we could park 3 of the 5 cars there.    And I loved that he sat with me and worked on a jigsaw puzzle.  He is very much like Doug and they got along right away.  It was clear that Tim fits in our family.

You know, when your kids are little you try to envision their future mates.  It is quite a scary thing for a mom!  You have no control over this decision.  As we got to know Tim, I could see God's hand in this match.  Gwen and Tim are very much a picture of opposites attract.  And more than that, each of them has strengths that balance a weakness in the other.  I love that they are raising their kids to know and love Jesus.  I love that they each have a very deep and personal relationship with Jesus that shines through.  One of my favorite memories of Tim is from a mission trip that we went on to Toronto.  He walked right up to a homeless man, sitting on a park bench, and gave him his lunch.  And then he stood there and talked with him.  The youth are drawn to Tim and Gwen.  It is a wonderful thing to see the impact that this couple is having on young men and women who are going on to change their world.  And I love how they are nurturing their own children and encouraging them in their specific giftings.

Yes, I know that Ken and I are very blessed.  Both of our kids found the ideal mate and we are so proud of each of them.   Gwen, Tim, Doug and Susie - we love you!

Jesus, thank you so much for Tim and the wonderful husband and father he is.  Holy Spirit continue to pour your presence and power over and through Gwen and Tim.  Bless Doug and Susie and reveal your peace and love to them.  Jesus, thank you for continuing to bless my generations through my children and grandchildren.   Amen

Friday, February 21, 2014

The highs and the lows...........

Just had to start this blog with this adorable picture that Gwen just posted of my four little sweeties!  I guess every Grandma has the right to brag, and I am going to brag about these cute adorable faces.  I love that their personalities show in this photo.  I just want to hug them!  How can you feel bad when you look at these faces?

I am still sort of voiceless.  It has been a long, long week, but I am believing that I am getting over this stuff.  Let's face it.  Most people know that Chicago has had some wild and wacky weather this year and this week has been CRAZY!  We had a major dump of snow on Monday (about 6-8 inches), then on Tuesday the sun came out and it was actually "pleasant" (or so I was told. I never left the house).  Then came Wednesday and it seemed fine at first, but then it started raining.  By nighttime there was thunder and lots of rain.  Thursday was so awful.  It just rained - really POURED and the roads and the parking lots were flooded.  The snow was melting but there was no where for the water to go.  And then the wind started.  There was one point when our entire house was shaking.  Today I got an email that really brought clarity to the crazy wind last night.....
This is a picture of the church where I worked for 13 years.  Both of my kids were baptized at this church.  And the email described that this window was blown apart from the brick supporting wall by about a foot at the top of the window.  Thankfully, there were people in the building.  Because of quick action there was no damage to the building, aside from the window. This window has been through many, many storms since 1973.  It even survived the tornado that blew over the church one year.   So this just gives you an idea of the wind! 

So this is sort of the highs and lows of this week.  The highs are those four amazing faces.  The lows are my ridiculous sounding voice and the wacky weather.  But in it all, there has been so much peace.   I have really felt surrounded and covered and I know that this is the result of the many, many prayers of so many.  You know it is during these times when you understand the value of community.  I am so grateful for everyone who remembers me in their prayers.  This week I felt that support.  Even during the winds of sickness and the weather, those prayers kept me strong.  Those winds caused that window to break free of the brick support.  With the prayers of others and the peace of Jesus, I felt solid and strong. 

Thank you Jesus for your love and peace that both fills me and surrounds me.  Holy Spirit, thank you for knitting me into the community of believers and providing so many to hold me up in prayer.   Thank you for preserving this church and providing a quick repair to prevent major damage.  Jesus, thank you that you are the healer!  Continue to bring restoration to my entire body.   Amen

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The highlight of my day......talking about Anna!

I did go to work today, even with my very little voice.  I woke up with a scratchy throat and my head very heavy.  But I was determined to go to work.  My voice actually got a bit better as the day went on, but I was very, very tired by the end of the day.  During the kids "nap time" I was talking to a teacher that I don't work with very often.  She was asking about my grandchildren and I got to show off some pictures of my little sweeties.  And then she asked me about Anna's name.  So I told her a bit about the back story of all my grand children's names.   And I got to thinking, again, about Aunt Anna.  This evening I came across this picture that I got from one of my siblings.  It was not saved in the same file as most of my scanned pictures, and it is a great photo!  I wish I would have found this picture to go with a past blog post about my mom and her family. 
In this picture - left to right is my mom (Nona Johnson) my aunt Eunice, Aunt Anna Toensing, my grandfather (Henry Arnold Toensing), my aunt Phyllis, my aunt Beatrice.  My guess is that this picture is from the early 1950's.  What a treasure.  And I just love this picture.  The way that they are standing with their arms around each other.  I love the big smile on my mom's face.  And I can see the personality in each of my aunt's faces.  Yes, this picture is a keeper. 
Here is a picture of Anna from Monday.  She is making her "O" face!  She is such a sweet little girl.  She is calm and very laid back.  At a bit over 2 weeks old she is starting to have some more awake times and she doesn't get bothered by anything that her older sisters and brother do.  Even the loud noises don't seem to bother her!  I just can't wait to watch her grow!  I drove to Gwen's on Monday, even with the "Severe Winter Weather Warning" that had been issued for 8-10" of snow.  When I left my house very early in the morning, the sky was clear and there was not much traffic (It was President's day and the school's were closed).  I got to Gwen's in record time.  I got to help Gwen with Anna, play with the other kids.  Watch a couple of "shows"  (These are Lia and Ellie and Zeke productions, complete with music and dancing and costumes - quite fun!)  Gwen and I kept watching the weather radar, however it was very confusing since it would say it was snowing at her house and there was nothing falling from the sky.  Finally around noon time I decided that I needed to head home. It was snowing very steadily most of the way home.  We had about 5 inches at home when I got there.  And more fell over the afternoon.  But I am so thankful that I braved the weather to spend time with Gwen and Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna!

And talking about the history of the grand kids names, made me forget my lack of a voice for a few minutes!   I love that these opportunities come up to share a bit about my family, my faith and even my generations.  I know that these are Holy Spirit appointments that turn a somewhat crummy day into something quite different!

Jesus, thank you for reminding me of the amazing gift of my family.   Thank you for the time that I get to spend with Gwen and my grandchildren.   Holy Spirit, I love that you provide opportunities for me to share.   What a wonderful bright spot in a somewhat dark day.  Thank you for health and healing.   Amen

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A very, very quiet day................

So last night around dinner time, in the middle of a very big snowstorm, I simply lost my voice.  I went from talking normally one minute, to not having a voice the next!  This  has never happened to me before.  I have total laryngitis.  This morning I didn't even have a croak for a voice. 

The first thing I did was to check the internet to get information about laryngitis.  There were no surprises.  Nothing that you can do to shorten the attack except not talk! There is no medicine or treatment that does any good at all.  So I stayed home and rested my voice.  I turned on the humidifier, I drank tea with honey, I didn't talk.  I am sucking on cough drops to keep my throat moist.  I have been sipping liquids.  Sadly, tonight I still just have a croak for a voice.  But I intend to go to work tomorrow.  I will just have to NOT talk! 

Now this is sure to be a difficult task.  If there is one thing that anyone who works with children will tell you, it is that they TALK ALL DAY!  At least we have a 2 hour nap time when I should be able to be totally quiet.   So a challenge is ahead for me.  Never did I think that it would be my voice that kept me home.  I figured it would be some bad flu or a stomach virus (we have had lots of kids throwing up) or a bad cough.  Or I even thought it might just be my body that gave out.  My knees or feet or back.  I was just joking with one of the directors that I get my daily exercise when I carry the dishes and food back to the kitchen after lunch.  Let me tell you that those 25 or 30 glass plates are HEAVY! And hoisting those cots around is also something.  But it was a common little virus that knocked me down. 

I don't quiet know what tomorrow will bring.  I don't know if I will feel much worse when I finally get home, or if my voice will improve over the day.  I will be praying for total restoration and healing......and would appreciate your prayers as well!

This reminds me of all those who are really knocked down by something much more serious than just a little lost voice.  Those that have cancer or other diseases that have much more pain and disability.  My heart goes out to each of them.  This day off has given me a chance to consider just how fortunate I am.  And to pray for all those that are in the midst of a battle for their health. 

Jesus, bring that total healing and restoring to my voice.  Protect all of the teachers and kids from sickness and keep all of those germs at bay.  Give courage and strength to all who are in the midst of a struggle with illness or disease.  Holy Spirit, remind us to stand with each other and hold each other up in prayer.   Jesus, thank you that you are the healer and the provider!  Amen

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A new meaning to "family"......

April, 2007
Yesterday I confess, I wasn't feeling very well.  In fact I had a high temperature and spent part of the day in bed.  I feared that I was getting one of those really nasty things that have been going around at work.  This would be bad, on so many levels.  I need to spend Monday with Gwen, helping her with the kids.  I need to be at work on Tuesday.  You know, all of those regular, normal things.   I was really feeling in a funk.  And then my phone rang.
When I glanced at the display I couldn't believe it.  My friend from Kenya, Lucy was calling me.   I haven't talked to her in quite some time.  With the recent death of her sister-in-law she has been on my mind and in my prayers.   I am always so thankful for Facebook.  I can stay in touch with what is happening in her ministry and I always know what her prayer needs are.  It was so good to hear her voice.  As usual, we had a bit of a phone connection problem.  But who can complain when you are talking half a world away!  As I was waiting for her call back, I was thinking how amazing it is that she would call me.  Lucy was quite clear.  The purpose of her call was to make sure that I knew the details about the death of her sister-in-law Florence.  She said "you are family to us".  That took my breath away.   Since the first time I met her, I realized that there is something quite special about Lucy.  She commands attention where ever she is.  Her radio program, aired live on Sunday mornings, is listened to by Kenyans around the world. Her crusades bring thousands together to hear the Word of the Lord.  Her ministry "Prayers Beyond Boundaries" focuses on sharing Jesus with the people of Kenya.  The goal is not just to change the people, but to change Kenya.  She is a mover and a shaker, that is for sure.  What a blessing it is that she calls me family. 
I am so thankful for my family.  And today I am thankful for my "family".  All of those that have become my family through our connection with Jesus.  I am so thankful for the many, many friends that I have on Facebook - some that I have never met face to face - that pray for me and share their concerns and joys with me.  And I am incredibly grateful that a chance meeting brought Lucy and I together in 2004.  I love the picture above from April, 2007.  Ken and I had the privilege of hosting Lucy and her husband Lameck and Hope-Lyn in our home.  They met our kids and we had a great dinner.  It was a great family time.  And then Lucy visited again in August, 2008. 
Yesterday I blogged about sisters.  And Lucy is indeed my sister.  And just as I miss my sister Julie, I also miss this special sister-in-the Lord, Lucy.  And it was such a pick me up to actually talk to her yesterday.   Yes, my definition of family has changed a little today.   And I feel blessed.
Jesus, thank you so much for Lucy, and the way that you make us family.  Holy Spirit, thank you for knowing exactly what we need.  Jesus thank you for your provision in all things.  For restored health, for home, for family.   Bless Lucy and all of her family.  Jesus, be the provision for that family in their time of need.   Thank you for my family and for enlarging my perspective of family. Help us all to see those around us with your eyes, Jesus.   Amen

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sisters...... a special bond

The top picture is my sister Julie holding me as a newborn.  The bottom picture is Lia holding Anna.  I thought about this picture of Julie and I shortly after Anna was born.  In the top picture, Julie was going to be 8 in just a couple of weeks.  And Lia will be 8 in May.  So the age spacing is just about the same. 

Now, granted, Lia has another sister, much closer in age (Ellie) and I am sure that they will have a close relationship.  But I can't help but think about Lia and Anna and how they may relate as they get older. 

My sister Julie and I shared a room for about 7 years, when I was in grade school.  This meant that Julie was in high school and college.  Needless to say, this was not a very good arrangement.  I was just telling someone that I remember going to sleep to Elvis singing.  And then there are the stories of my disturbed sleep when Julie was in college.  She was up all hours carving teeth out of clay! She was going to college to be a Dental Hygienist.  I remember the long, long hours of sleeping with the lights on.  I was 12 when Julie got married and I was very sad that she was leaving home. 

Yes, Julie and I still have a close relationship.  As I have said, the distance makes it difficult to stay in touch.  I know that this sister bond in something very different.  I love looking at my grandchildren and thinking about their relationships in the future.  It is so wonderful to see how close they are now.  I love watching them play together.  And I love how much they  care about each other.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to watch my grandchildren grow.  The perspective is just amazing.  I think when your own children are young you are simply so busy that you don't have time to consider these things.  But with your grandchildren, you have time to ponder and wonder and look to the future.  It is a real gift.  Tonight I am thinking about sisters, but I am celebrating being a grandma!

Jesus, thank you for this reminder of family, generations and all that is important. Holy Spirit, thank you for showing me how important it is to be a grandma.  Thank you for my sister Julie and that sister bond that we share.  Continue to build a close relationship between Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna.  Thank you for family and all that you intended to do in us and through us in our family.  Amen

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Learning from our mistakes....

Well, one interesting thing about working with children is that you just never know what to expect each day.  Today we had an "adventure" when a 3 year old boy decided it would be fun to put a chunk of ice melting salt up his nose!  At first we thought it was a "rock" since that is what he called it!  It was a kind of frantic 45 minutes till we managed to get the boy to blow the chunk out of nose.  The crazy thing is that less than an hour later, I caught that same boy trying to stick a toy up his nose!  Apparently he did not learn a lesson from this event. 

Okay, this got me to thinking about the times that I don't seem to learn anything from some unfortunate experience that I have brought on myself.  Can't we all think of something like this that we have done?  I am so thankful that we get second chances and even third, forth or more chances.  These "do-overs" are such a blessing.  Unfortunately, my list of dumb things is pretty long.  As a matter of fact, there are a couple contained in this blog!  Thankfully, I have done a bit better than that little boy and actually learned some lessons from these poor choices - SOME OF THE TIME.  But there are still times that I feel like I keep making the same mistakes over and over.   I love that the Bible contains story after story of people who brought misery onto themselves by their own actions.  And then God intervened and gave them another chance. And the best news is that God also gives them a pretty clear look at exactly what they have done.  

I don't know if you are familiar with "VeggieTales".  They are an amazing video series for children that use vegetables to tell Bible stories and Biblical truth.  I am thinking of a favorite of mine that is actually the story of David and Bathsheba.  It is called King George and the Ducky.
This is a great retelling of a touchy Biblical story that seems to have "adult content".  They did a fantastic job of telling about the situation in a totally different way.  The reason I was thinking about this movie is the scene where the "prophet" goes to King George to explain his mistake to him.  I LOVE THIS SCENE!   He uses a flannel graph!  There are time I would love to have someone bring out the flannel graph to explain my mistakes! And I confess that there are times that I wish that someone would use a flannel graph for someone else!  
I love the things that I learn and/or remember after a day working with children.  Isn't it amazing the things that Jesus will use to reach us?  I'll be paying much more attention to my mistakes.  And I will be praying that those 3 year olds make better choices to keep foreign objects out of bodily cavities!
Jesus, thank you for the reminder tonight of second and third and more chances.  You are an amazing God that cares for us and teaches us with love and mercy and grace.  Holy Spirit, thank you for those flannel graph reminders.  Keep us sensitive and open to your correction.   Bless the kids I work with and give me and all the teachers, wisdom grace and peace as we care for and educate these little ones.  Amen

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A special sweater tradition...........

When Lia was born in 2006, my sister-in-law Thoralee knitted her a wonderful sweater.  Everyone raved about this adorable homemade sweater!  What an amazing gift this sweet sweater was for Lia.  Then along came Ellie in 2009 and once again, a hand crafted sweater arrived for her.
Having these two special keepsake sweaters for the girls is such a special thing.  And then when Zeke was born in 2011, once again, Thoralee created an sweater for him.
Imagine Gwen's surprise and delight today when this special sweater arrived in the mail from Thoralee - made especially for Annaleigh.
Needless to say, when Anna is big enough to wear this sweet sweater, there will be a photo of her, just like her sisters and brother, proudly wearing this sweater!

There really are not words to describe the feeling I have when I look at these pictures.  The thoughtfulness, the care and the effort to create something so beautiful, that will be saved and cherished by my grandchildren in the future is simply amazing.  As I was thinking about this tonight I remembered a story that I bet Thoralee doesn't remember.  One time, quite unexpectedly, I received a package in the mail.  I was about 8 or 9 years old.  Thoralee was a couple of years older than me.  She and her mom had made me some Barbie clothes and sent a box of them to me.  This was not for a special occasion - not my birthday - not Christmas.  I can still remember how excited and delighted I was to get a box in the mail and then to see the special clothes it contained.  Gwen still has my original Barbie doll from 1962 and all of the clothes.  And among those are the ones I received that day.  There were several dresses and then my favorite thing, a coat!  None of my friends had a coat for their Barbies.   What a loving and thoughtful gesture that gift was.  And these sweaters come from that same heart.  We are blessed!

You know, I was just blogging about feeling kind of disconnected from my siblings.  And then today, I have this reminder that even though there may be distance between us, we are still very much connected.  What a powerful reminder for all of us, that it is possible to bless someone with a simple gesture.  This has me thinking of all of the times that I felt a nudge to send a card or small gift to someone, but then I ignored the thought.  The lesson I have learned today is the importance of following those promptings of the Holy Spirit.  

Jesus, thank you for Thoralee and this wonderful, thoughtful gift.  Bless her and Jerry with peace and joy.  Holy Spirit, thank you for the reminder of that special gift, years ago.  Help us all to ACT when we are prompted to bless someone else.  Give us all creative ways to extend your love to others.  Thank you for family and connections and warm cuddly sweaters.  Amen

Monday, February 10, 2014

Celebrating an amazing life.......

Today I heard (via Facebook) that an amazing women had gone to be with Jesus.  Her name was Florence and I met her in 2005.  This picture is my dear Kenyan friend Lucy and her sister-in-law Florence and me. (Not a great picture, but so special to me) When Lucy came to the United States to give birth to her special daughter Hope-Lyn, she stayed with her brother John, his wife Florence and their family.  After Hope-Lyn was born, Lucy invited me to visit her in Atlanta, Georgia for Hope's dedication.  Florence and John welcomed me into their home and blessed me greatly.  If you remember from previous posts, Lucy and I had just met in 2004.  So to be welcomed and loved and blessed by her family, was so special.  That trip to Atlanta was quite a big deal for me.  I traveled by myself, into the unknown.  I had never been to Atlanta, didn't really know much about these people, but trusted the Lord.  One of the first lessons I learned about Kenyan culture is that Florence was introduced to me as "Mama Nelly".  This custom recognizes a woman's status as a mother of her first child. Florence and John have three children - Nellie, Maurice, and Daniel.  And she was always called "Mama Nelly"!  (I would be called "Mama Gwen") The entire weekend was just incredible.  In many ways, I felt like I was stepping back into Kenya.  I discovered that there is a large Kenyan community in Atlanta and they are very close.  Florence and John welcomed a HUGE group of people into their home to celebrate the great gift of Hope-Lyn.  There were multiple pastors and many, many prayers.  And the singing was just amazing.  Unless you have experienced being in a group of people who are singing in a language that you don't know, you won't understand.  For me, it was one of the best worship experiences I have ever had.    The presence of the Lord was so heavy in that home you just had to worship.  I didn't speak their language, I didn't know them, I was a white face in a sea of black people, yet I was at home and I belonged. What a blessing it was to have these people pray for me! 

And then there was the food.  Like most church events, everyone had brought food and Florence and John had provided a feast.  Let me tell you that I think I ate more Kenyan food in Atlanta than I did in Kenya!  Florence was quite happy to serve me my first ever goat!  And I learned a great deal about how the women in Kenya take care of each other after they have given birth.  Yes, it was a weekend that I will never forget.

When I think of Florence I feel the love of Jesus in a very real way.  She talked about the school that she and John had started in Kenya.  With tears in her eyes she explained about the great need of these little ones.  You could feel the love and care in her every word.  I remember the warmth and joy that filled that home. That visit changed me.  I realized that Jesus can bring people together for His purposes - even around the world.  I understood in a much clearer way, that the world was here in the United States.  And I was reminded that I left a piece of my heart in Kenya. 

It is a terrible loss for their entire family.  I will see Florence again, one day.  She is celebrating now at that great banqueting table in heaven with Jesus.  And there is most likely goat on the menu! 

Jesus, be with John and the entire family during this difficult time.  Thank you for the assurance that Florence is with you.  Holy Spirit, comfort all who mourn the loss of this special woman.  Thank you Jesus for the opportunity to know Florence.  Jesus bless Lucy and give her your peace in this difficult time.  Amen

Sunday, February 9, 2014

When you lose a family pet..........

Today via email, we heard that Ken's father's very special dog, Bobby had to be put to sleep last week.  This must be such a hard thing for Ken's dad.  Bobby was a rescue doggy that had come from a very sad situation.  When we first met Bobby it was clear that he was skittish and afraid of people.  He barked at the least little movement.  But, slowly and over time, mom and dad were able to break through to this dog.  Ken's mom was especially close to Bobby and he was always right where she was.  After her death, he never really left dad's side.  When dad moved to Florida to live with Ken's sister, Bobby went with (of course).  He became a pack member with Sue's two dogs and seemed to fit right in.   Last summer when we visited dad, it was clear that Bobby was not doing so well.  He couldn't see or hear very well and he moved stiffly and slowly.  Ken and I actually had a conversation about Bobby's passing.  Dad is 93 years old and has had his own health issues in the last year.  And Bobby was an important part of his life.  Yes, Bobby will be greatly missed.

Today all I could think about was getting to Florida to see Ken's dad.  Those vacation plans that just didn't seem to come together, seem so much more important right now.  Isn't it interesting how something can change your perspective so quickly?  I think I will be getting those travel arrangements made soon. 

You know, it is really hard to not live close to family isn't it?  I missed being close to my mom and I miss seeing my siblings.  And now Florida is so far away.  I have also been thinking about how busy we are that we don't even see the family that lives close by!  Yes, these things really make you stop and think.  So tonight I am thankful that I made the choice to spend one day a week with Gwen and the kids.  And I am so grateful that tomorrow is one of those days - a "Grandma Lyn" day! (And I am sure to give Chandler the dog an extra bit of love also!)

Jesus, thank you for reminders like these.  Bless Dad and give him peace in this hard time.  Thank you so much for Sue and Wayne and their care for Dad.  Holy Spirit, help us all to recognize how important our family connections are.  Give us wisdom and grace to stay close to our loved ones.  Thank you for our special pets that enrich our families.  Amen

Saturday, February 8, 2014

What to do on a snowy day..... taxes and the Olympics

So it is snowing. Again. On a Saturday.  This has been a ridiculous winter of cold and snow.  In fact it is the 4th snowiest winter in Chicago's history. When it is snowing and cold there is really not much you can do. It's not all bad to have a day at home to do some catching up.  I decided that I would accomplish some tasks that needed attention.  Taking care of filing our taxes was the task that I decided needed doing the most. 

I am pretty good at keeping things organized to do this job.  I keep an open folder during the year and accumulate all the paperwork that is needed.  As it gets closer to January 31, I make a list of any outstanding documents that are needed and check them off as they arrive.  So it didn't take me very long to get the job done. 

I remember my mom working for several weekends just to assemble the information that was needed to take to the tax accountant.  And the years that I did the taxes, by hand with a pencil and paper forms are fresh in my memory.  It would often take me several weeks to fill out all of the paperwork and then check and double check all the addition and subtraction.  I am so thankful for internet tax filing.  For computer programs that almost do it all for you.  In one quick hour session the task is completed, the forms are filed and received by the IRS.  Amazing the difference that a few years makes. 

Then, like so many people, Ken and I watched some of the Olympics. There is something that is so wonderful about seeing all the nations coming together.  It was so amazing to watch the trials of snowboarding, knowing that this 20 year old American won the Gold medal in the finals of this event. 

I was thinking about these two activities - paying taxes and watching the Olympics.  Two very "American" things.  On the one hand, I was thinking about the amount of money that our government collects from all of us.  On the other hand, I was thinking about all of these very young athletes that are representing our country.  And the primary thought on my mind was how much I wanted some of my tax dollars to support these brave team members.  But, alas, this is not to be.  Our athletes are not supported by our government unlike so many of the other countries.  Interesting difference that doesn't seem to make for a level playing field. It is amazing to me how many medals we actually win, considering this fact.  I know that we are a "wealthy" nation but still, this just doesn't seem fair! 

I reminded myself of something that I often said to my kids..."life is not fair"!  Isn't that true?  Sometimes things seem to be so wrong.  Bad things happen to good people and great things happen to very bad people.  That is, in the short term.  I am so thankful that I know that it is God that is really in control of every situation.  So when those "not fair" things happen, there is another side to the event that we just might not be seeing.  Sometimes eventually we understand the "why" but often we don't.  I am convinced that Jesus blesses his children and uses all of the things that happen for our good.  This was a great way to end this day. 

So my taxes are filed and the USA has it's first Gold Medal of 2014.  And I am breathing a bit easier and filled with the peace that passes understanding, in spite of the "not fair"!

Jesus, thank you for everything you do for us.  Thank you that you are in control even when we don't see the why or the how.   Bless all of our Government officials - the local officials, senators and representatives, the judges, the Vice President and the President.  Surround our centers of government with your presence and your peace.  Holy Spirit, remind us all to pray for those in authority.  And keep everyone safe at the Olympics!   Thank you!  Amen

Thursday, February 6, 2014

New perspective on Valentine's day.....

All you have to do is be around a group of 3 year olds to appreciate that next Friday is Valentine's day.  Isn't this a cute bulletin board (thanks Jackie!)?  I got to help most of the kids make these adorable bees.  Each of the kids got to cut the black "stripes" for their bees and glue them together.  They also got to choose the eyes!  You can't see in the picture but several have 2 different color eyes.  We thought they might all look the same, but happily, they are all very different.  And the kids love to see their very special bee on display.  The board is a bit fuller today, but I didn't get another picture.  We now have 21 bees on display as well as 21 hearts. 

As I was helping the kids make their bees I asked them what they thought Valentines day was.  I got some interesting responses.  One little girl told me "well it's all about love and you give cards".  I thought that was pretty good for a three year old.  Then there was the boy that looked at me and said "What?" So I restated the question.....what is Valentine's day?  He stared at me.  So I said, that is why we are having a party next week.   His face brightened up and he said "will we get candy?" Obviously not very aware of this holiday.  Another boy gave me a long description of the pack of Power Ranger papers that he and his mom bought at the store.  And he was going to give them to all of his friends and even the friends that he didn't really like.  I guess 3 is a bit young for Valentine's day.

But these comments made me think about this "Hallmark" holiday (you know,  the kind that is really all about the card companies getting you to buy cards).  I haven't really ever been very fond of this holiday.  I don't think my parents ever exchanged cards or gifts on Valentines day.  Ken and I never really did anything special, that is until we had the kids.  I bet they would remember the year that we got our first ever video player on Valentine's day.  Or the year that they got their Cabbage Patch dolls as a Valentine's day gift.  One year we got our first microwave oven! But, I have a confession to make.  Remember that this blog is about truth telling.  The reason these purchases were Valentines day gifts is that it usually we received our income tax refund around that time.   But I digress........

I will go with little Anna's description....its all about love!  Its good to have a reminder that it is important to tell those closest to us just how special they are.  And it is also a great time to remember those that we don't see every day.  Those special friends or family that may not have heard loving words from us for a long time.   And I am so thankful that I can celebrate that Jesus IS love and he loves us all.  There is nothing better than that. 

Yes, I think that Valentine's day will be a bit different for me this year. Instead of just dismissing the day, I am going to focus on just how I am supposed to be celebrating it.  I will be using the next couple of days to STOP and listen to what Jesus may be saying to me about this subject.   Then I think I will be sending out a couple of cards! And getting to participate in a Valentines Day classroom party.  That will most likely, include some sweet treats. 

Jesus, thank you for the ways that you use secular events to turn my eyes to your plans and purposes.  Holy Spirit, thank you for reminding me that God is Love!  Thank you for these little children that bless me each day with their hugs and their smiles and their excitement.  Thank you for "Freeze Dancing" and silly songs.   Amen

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My favorite "Slimy Pit" Psalm......

Today my morning Bible reading landed me in Psalm 40.  Oh how I love this Psalm!  Many years ago this Psalm spoke to me and gave me hope in a time of great despair. I bet you didn't know the Bible included a "slimy pit"!   Over the years when I have quoted this passage to people, they can't believe this is actually in the Bible.  Personally, I think this is one of the most powerful three verse passages there is! 

1.  How great is it that God turns to US and hears our cry! 
2.  Then HE lifts us out of that slimy pit of mud and mire.
3.  Then HE puts our feet on a rock (Jesus) and gives us a firm place to stand.
And now that he has rescued us when we haven't done anything but wait patiently for God.....
4.  He puts a NEW SONG in our mouth, a special song that praises God.

And then there is this amazing wind up to these verses......
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.

This is the most amazing thing to me.  In the last 20 years I have told many people a bit of my story.  I have even quoted this Psalm.  And I have been blessed to have witnessed people getting a new perspective on the Lord and a new understanding of how little WE do and how much HE does to change our life.  This is what changes peoples minds and hearts.  I think that the real-ness of this Psalm is part of what grabs people's attention.  When you hear about a pit filled with mud and mire, you can relate when your life feels like the worst, deepest hole you have ever seen.  And then when you hear what God will do FOR you, well that is just the best news ever.  

And I have told people over and over (when I am quoting this verse to them), when you get to the other side of the slimy pit you are in right now, Jesus will put a new song in your mouth.  And the best thing is that your testimony of being pulled out of that pit, will change someone else's life.  And THEY will put their trust in the Lord. 

Yes, this is a power packed Psalm.  And I was blessed to read it again this morning.  And then reflect on it through out the day.  Hopefully, you have been blessed by it today also.

Jesus, thank you for reminding me of all that you have done for me.  Holy Spirit, give us all opportunity to share our stories with someone in need of your touch.  Remind us to call to mind this Scripture when we can bless someone with this truth.  Thank you for lifting me out of despair, planting my feet firmly on you, Jesus, and giving me a new song to sing!   Amen

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Collective Wisdom" through email

On Sunday I received an email titled "Collective Wisdom".  It was sort of a "chain" letter that asked you to send a thought, prayer, bible verse or really anything you wanted to the first person on the list.  You then took that name off, moved the second person up to the number one spot and add your name as number 2.  Then email this letter to 20 people on your email list.  Usually, I avoid these type of things like the plague.  But, for some reason, I decided to go ahead and do this one.  I think the title "Collective Wisdom" was part of the reason.  I have been looking for input and asking for Jesus to speak to me in any way possible.  This has been an amazing surprise.  I can't wait to check my email to see if there are any "mystery emails" since I know that these emails will come from people I most likely will not know.  Today's surprise was this email............................

When there is love in the home, there is joy in the heart!
I recognized this immediately!  If you see the picture above, I have this sentiment framed on my bedroom wall!  Interesting!!
Here are a sample of the really great emails I have received.....
No matter what this day entails, enable me to live in your grace and love so that I may rejoice in all things and trust that all things work together for good.  God’s plans for your life far exceed the circumstances of your day.
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary,  they have divine power to demolish strongholds."
2 Corinthians 10:4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy,
He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection
 of Jesus Christ from the dead.   - 1 Peter 31:24
I am very happy that I decided to do this little email thing.  I have been encouraged and surprised by every email that I have received.  I have even gotten a reply from the person that I sent a little "Collective Wisdom" email!   It's wonderful to know that not only have I been blessed, but also that I blessed someone else. 
I guess that I will not be so quick to disregard this type of email the next time I receive one.  I have to say that I have really taken the time to think about and reflect on every email I have received.  It is great to know that there are people out there that have chosen to take the time to send me their "Collective Wisdom".  What an amazing thing to be a part of a group of people with no motive accept to bless each other. 
Jesus, thank you for this email experience.  Bless all who are participating in this and even those who received the email but decided not to forward this on.  Holy Spirit, thank you for using all means to speak to us and to remind us of exactly what we need each day.  Thank you for computers and email and facebook and blogs!  Amen

Monday, February 3, 2014

Basking in the sun (and the Son!)


So I got to be Grandma Lyn again today.   It is simply wonderful.  And I just had to include a couple more pictures of Anna!  I got to Gwen's early enough to help with the before school scramble.  Anyone with multiple children will understand what this is like.  It was quite something getting three kids out of bed and dressed, getting some food into their tummies, getting all the hairs combed and fixed, finding shoes, coats, hats, snow pants, backpacks, and making sure the dog went out,  in time to make the bus.  Gwen managed to shower and dress and feed Anna during this same time frame. We made the bus, got Ellie and Zeke to preschool and made it to Anna's doctor appointment on time. So Anna needed that dreaded heel stick blood check to determine her bilirubin level since she is starting to look a bit jaundiced.  The doctor recommended the old fashioned light treatment.... a sun bath! Since today was a wonderful sunny day, Anna got her time in the sun this afternoon.
She was quite relaxed and mellow sitting in the sun.  On the way home tonight, I was thinking about the times I have been able to "Bask in the SON"!  You know what I mean.... those wonderful worship times when you are filled with the warmth and presence of Jesus! I confess that I have been blessed to have lots of these basking moments, and they are not all "big event" times.  It's a wonderful thing that all alone, in your quiet spot, you can enter into that presence with just a single word - Jesus.  Or you can find that warmth and peace just by reading scripture.  My favorite place to "bask" is the car!  I turn on that worship music and the atmosphere of my car becomes a real "Son bath"! 

Considering my blog was a wonderful time of stepping out of my regular world.  It might not sound like this was a relaxing day, in fact, tonight I feel calm and rested.  Holding a sweet tiny baby or a rambunctious two year old or a cuddly 4 year old or a loving 7 year old, causes you to know that nothing else really matters.  All of that day to day stuff, all of the concerns and cares, all of the trying to figure it out stuff, just melts away.  I can honestly say that today felt like I stopped on a warm beach and just rested! 

My encouragement to you today is to do some basking!  Stop and breath deeply.  Close your eyes and call on the name of Jesus.  Put on some music and let it soothe your soul.  Let the light of the SON clear out the junk from your spirit in the same way that the light of the sun helps to clean Anna's blood of that excess bilirubin. 

Jesus, thank you for this reminder today of the value of basking in your light and love.  Holy Spirit, continue to show us all how to be rested and refreshed.  Jesus, watch over Anna and bring peace and health to her body.  Give supernatural rest and refreshment to Gwen and Tim during these stressful first few weeks with a new baby and three older children.  Thank you for the doctors and nurses who watch over new babies and their mommies and daddies.  Thank you for the sunshine and for the SON!  Amen

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Putting the shell to my ear.....

Today, Lyn, we believe God wants you to know that ...

big decisions need time and space.

To make a big decision, give yourself time and space away
 from the mundane so that the sacred can emerge
So once again, this crazy online devotion has hit the mark.  After yesterday and considering what, how, and where to go on vacation, I saw this today.  I realized that I have had so much going on in the last couple of weeks that I do need to give myself some time and space to just re-center and refocus.  I am committed to seeking Jesus and finding his plan for me.  And that means that I have to set aside all the other stuff and just spend some time being.  I have been working lots of hours in the last month.  They have been short staffed and I agreed to help out.  I am so happy that starting next week, I will have a day off.  I am using that time to help Gwen and spend time with my grandchildren.  I know that in that time away from my day to day, I will begin to see and hear Jesus in new ways. 

Last night I was dreaming of being on a beach.  This was no surprise because of all my vacation thoughts and attempts at trip planning.  The interesting thing was that I saw this amazing shell way down on the beach.  I started to run towards this shell, but as fast as I ran, the further away the shell seemed.  When I stopped running and just slowly walked towards it, it was right in front of me.  And then when I stopped, It was laying at my feet.  When I bent over to pick it up, I realized it was the shell that sits on our mantel!  This is the shell...........

As I held it in my hand and turned it over, and then held it to my ear, I heard so clearly.......

Slow down, stop, and listen.  There are beautiful and wonderful things for you to discover.  Don't hurry past all the wonder in each minute of each day.  There are miracles in the mundane.  There are glories in the muck and mire.  There is joy in the junk.  Look for the miracles and the glory and the joy.  Then you will see the answers. 

I love that it was when I stopped running I was able to get what I wanted.  I love that even in this odd dream, there was such an important lesson.  If I want to hear and get direction, I need to stop racing around and take the time to listen.   And I will be remembering this every time that I look at this amazing shell sitting on my mantle.

Jesus, thank you so much for speaking to me and answering the questions I didn't even know I was asking.  Holy Spirit, thank you for giving me hope and joy today.  Jesus, I know that I am not alone in my preoccupation with the day to day stuff.  Help us all to slow down and see the miracles, feel your glory, and express your joy no matter what our circumstances are.  Thank you for leading and guiding me every day.  Amen

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Thinking warm thoughts.....

Like so many people I have been thinking about vacation!  This winter of snow, ice, freezing cold followed by more snow and days and days of subzero - AGAIN has made most of us, well TIRED OF WINTER!  Ken and I have not arrived at any decision regarding where or when or how we are going on vacation.
With this reminder of last years wonderful, warm, oceanfront trip, today I spent some time looking at lots of different options. We have not been able to decide where, when or how we will go on vacation.  We have even been considering an all inclusive vacation of some kind.  So I spent some time researching different destinations and various ways to get there.  For the past several years we have taken driving vacations.  As a matter of fact, in 2010 we drove 3850 miles on our vacation!  Today I was checking airfares and car rentals and hotel rates.  After hours of frustration and no decisions made, I shut off the computer. 

I was thinking of an important truth.  It doesn't matter how you get there, its the destination that counts!  Gwen and I were just talking about this!  It really doesn't matter if you have a "natural" delivery or a cesarean delivery - what matters is a healthy baby.  And when considering a vacation, it really doesn't matter how you get there, whether by car or plane, its all about the final destination!  Now, granted, there are positives and negatives to each of these examples.  Considering the vacation... last year we drove in some of the most horrible stormy weather that I have ever experienced.  And we have seen our share of traffic jams and road construction. And we have driven some VERY LONG days.   But on the positive side, we can take anything that we want that fits in the car.  We can change our plans and come and go as we please.  We can take a different route and travel when we want.  Considering the air travel, you get to that destination much more quickly - usually in just a matter of hours.  You really get to enjoy every bit of your vacation.  There is no thought of that long car drive home.  However, there are delays and even cancellations.  And there is no changing your plans (at least not without paying fees).  And then there are the security checks and baggage fees.  And the car rental. 

So I know that the most important thing right now is to decide on the destination.  How we will get there is yet to be determined.  Yes, I think this will change how I view many things.  I will be spending more time thinking about the end rather than the process.  Sometimes the process is long and difficult.  Sometimes the process is a short easy road.  Again, it is the destination that really matters.  I will be spending less time thinking about my ongoing path to the destiny that Jesus has for me and more time thinking about what that destiny is.  I am really not in control of the process anyway, so fretting about it doesn't make much sense.  I will just keep my eyes on the prize.  And that includes thinking about a warm, sunny day sitting on the beach, with the waves lapping at my feet!

Jesus, thank you for helping me to understand more clearly, how important it is to let go of the worry about the day to day.  Thank you for reminding me that your destiny is the most important thing I can think about.  Holy Spirit, guide and direct us as we make vacation plans.  Help us all to look at the end result, rather than the process.  Thank you for the reminder that there are many roads that lead to the same end.  Amen.