Saturday, June 28, 2014

A day at the races.... and thinking of snow!

So you know when you kind of drive yourself crazy looking for something that you KNOW just has to be somewhere?   Well, I just spent a couple of hours doing just that!

It all started because Ken was invited to go to the drag races with Doug!  Doug just posted the above picture on facebook with this quote "0-320 in 3.7 seconds, yes please!"   I was thinking about how awesome it is that Doug and Ken love to do these kinds of things together.  And then I remembered another race that Ken and Doug attended.  And I began to look for the photo that had hung on our refrigerator for so long.  Well, I looked and I looked but I just could not find that picture.  It was from a lawn mower race!  Yes, that's right!  A lawn mower race.  Doug was pretty young.  I'm not exactly sure how old he was, but I think he was about 6 or 7.  Consequently I looked through many, many boxes of photos and many, many albums.  I did find this picture, which I am fairly certain was taken on the same day.  The photo I could NOT find was Ken and Doug together. 
I feel so thankful for my adult children!  I feel this so much when Gwen and I spend time together. And when I get to spend time with Susie.  I am so thankful that we love scrapbooking and that gives us a reason to be together.  And a day like today makes me thankful for Ken and Doug's relationship that includes cars, motorcycles, races, and loud music.  Sadly, I was not with Gwen today, although we were supposed to be spending the day together.  A child with a stomach bug was all it took to cancel our plans.  Thankfully, it seems that it was a short lived illness and Lia is feeling much better tonight! 
   
So, once again, I have been thinking about one of those "Today God wants you to know" posts that show up on my Facebook page.  Here is today's..........
 
Today, Lyn, we believe God wants you to know that ...you belong.
Like a snowflake, you are same and different from all others. In a bed of snow,
every snowflake belongs and every snowflake is unique.
 
I am always a bit surprised when these posts hit on something that has been in my thoughts.  I confess that this is something that I struggle with quite a bit.  I have many, many times when I feel sort of "out of place".  Sometimes it may be because I am not with a group of people, sometimes it is because I am older than the group, sometimes there is no obvious reason WHY I feel this way, I just do!  But knowing that you belong is very important.  No one wants to be left out. Right now I think that being out a job is fueling this feeling.   I love this analogy of snow.  I will need to meditate on this and keep this in my head.  Even though it is hot today, I will be thinking about snow.  And I will be reminding myself that I BELONG!  I am in God's family, and because of Jesus, I have a big and wonderful family.  That is where I really belong. 

Jesus, thank you for the reminder today that I belong in your family.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your reminders that help us focus on the truth of who we are in Jesus.   Thank you for Ken and Doug and Susie and Gwen and Tim.   Continue to lead and guide us every day.   Thank you for this picture of snow that will help me remember where I belong!  Amen



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Four year flashback

So today I was thinking about this new "app" that shows you flashbacks for past years.  I have not yet gotten that app, but when I was in a store today, a sales person was showing someone a picture from her phone on that app.  So when I got home, I did a little looking back myself, and realized that 4 years ago today (2010) Ken and I were just beginning one of our longest vacations ever!  I think I would have to say that this 2010 vacation was one of my all time favorite vacations.  This was our first "real" day of that vacation.  On the previous day we had traveled for 15 hours.  This was a long awaited day at Blackwater River State Park in Alabama, near to the Florida border.  We had tried to kayak at this location on a different trip, but it was 32 degrees and snowing on that day.  On this day in 2010 it was beautiful.  The water is really black appearing, caused by a mineral in the soil, but crystal clear.  The sand is the white sand just like the beaches of Pensacola.  For the first hour we were there it was wonderful and we had a quiet paddle.  Until about 9:00am.  Suddenly, it was just a sea of people along the entire stretch of the river.  And there were swimmers and floats and it was just crazy.  This was all caused by the oil spill that had closed all the ocean beaches in Pensacola and the surrounding area.  So everyone was at the Park to swim!  We were glad to be out of there by 10:00am. 

But the rest of this trip was amazing.  We traveled 3860 miles on this trip.  Illinois to Alabama to the Gulf coast of Florida, to Marco Island Florida, to the Atlantic side of Florida.  From there we traveled to Washington DC and then made our way home.  It was 16 days and lots of time in the car, but still really a great time. 

I guess I am spending time flashing back to 2010 vacation is because our vacation this year did not turn out exactly as I planned, and I still feel like I need a vacation!  Isn't it silly how we all seem to need these vacations?  I think it is because we don't have enough rest in our day to day life.  We don't celebrate the Sabbath rest.  Our weekends are so filled with all of the "stuff" that we need to get done, because our work week is so busy.  And just as I have discovered this week (and wrote about yesterday), we don't sit and wait in silence.   And now that I am without a job, this seems really silly.  I have plenty of time, but it is not the same as being away on a vacation.

So, while I still would like to have another vacation to look forward to, I will practice more waiting and more rest.  And deep breathe and relax.  All the while I will be remembering to turn my focus onto Jesus.  And yes, I will also be remembering the relaxing time paddling on that river. 

Jesus, thank you for all the ways you have provided for Ken and I over the past years.  Thank you for vacations and travel and kayaks and beaches and exploring.  Especially thank you for pictures and memories that can remind us of peace and rest.  Holy Spirit, remind us to stop and rest and turn our focus onto you.  Change our perspective to heavenly things!   Amen

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Waiting in Silence for God only"

So I am remembering my last post......getting dumped on. Last night it became apparent that our Air Conditioning was not working - again.  So today we had yet another service person out to look at our unit.  And it was all bad news.  Both Ken and I thought our furnace and air conditioner were around 15 years old.  Sadly we were mistaken.  They are actually from 1993, and beyond good functioning.  So, we will be arranging to have a new furnace and air conditioner installed.  It does feel a bit like getting dumped on.  Especially since I have not found a new job! 

But here is the thing.  I am not feeling all that upset about this.  And I believe it is because of all the prayers that are being said for me right now, since I am unemployed!  Isn't it funny how that works out?  If I wasn't being covered in prayer by so many faithful friends, this might have really thrown me for a loop.  But today, it just seemed - sort of just one of those things.  As a matter of fact, I know that the Holy Spirit gave me wisdom and a potential plan of action to take care of not only this event, but also several other large repairs that are needed on our home. 

Being in that "dump" of the Holy Spirit on Sunday night sure helped and I am so thankful.  I've been reading Psalm 62 this week and meditating on everything packed into these verses. 
1 My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation.
2  He only is my rock and my salvation. My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.
3. How long will you assail a man. That you may murder him, all of you, like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?
and then verse 5  My soul waits in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.
6.  He only is my rock and my salvation.  My stronghold. I shall not be shaken.

I can not seem to let go of the concept of waiting in silence for God.  On Sunday night we were talking about how often we babble on and on with our requests to God.  Like somehow our words are going to achieve something.  I know I have been guilty of this.  It's really easy to cross a point into feeling like if we pray the right words, if they are exactly right, THEN our prayer will be answered.  And the reality is that God is the one who acts in His own time.  And I have discovered this week that there is great peace in waiting silently for God only.   I had waves and waves of peace just wash over me.  No direct answers to my needs.  But peace that passes understanding.  Wonderful, warm, comfort as I just sat and waited in silence.  I have to say this was some of the most wonderful prayer time I have ever had.  I am so thankful for the leader on Sunday, that brought forth this particular Psalm, in this translation (NASB).  If I were reading this in NIV (my usual, preferred version) I would have missed this.  It really does not read the same at all.  What a blessing this has been to me!And the evidence of all the peace I have received, is my response to my broken air conditioning. 

Jesus, thank you for preparing me for this week.  Holy Spirit, I love how you know exactly what we need and when we need it.  Thank you for Nancy and her insights shared that bless so many.  Holy Spirit, help us to all to get comfortable being silent and waiting.  Thank you for the peace you give in the waiting.   Amen

Monday, June 23, 2014

When you get dumped on!

Today Gwen and I took the kids to a local "spray park".  It looked like rain and we felt that we might have a very short visit if they cleared the pool at tot swim.  So we opted for this wonderful splash pad and the kids had it to themselves for most of the time we were there.  Zeke stood like a statue, over and over, waiting for the bucket to fill up and then dump on him.  He loved it.  After I snapped this picture of him, I got to thinking about "getting dumped on"! 

How many times have I felt like I was really getting "dumped on" - you know, when you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders?  It was not so pleasant and not something that I wanted to happen over and over.  And then there are the times, like last night, when during worship, I feel as if the Holy Spirit is just dumping on me.  And the feeling is amazing!  Just like Zeke, I could stand there and wait for that dump over and over.  In this case, Zeke was loving getting dumped on by the water.  In fact, he wanted it to happen over and over.  

This is another one of those things that is all about perspective.  It would not be so pleasant to have the water dumping on you, if you were NOT in a spray park.  It could be really nasty.  And when those overwhelming things happen and it is SOOOOO unexpected and all those negative things come at you from left field, it is not so great either.  And it is simply not possible to just shrug everything off and pretend like it doesn't matter. 

But here's the thing!  When you stand under that "dump" of the Holy Spirit, it just washes away all of that other "junk" that has landed on your shoulders.  It is wonderful!  So, you know it is impossible to stop the world from just dumping junk on you.  That just means it is more important to stand in the presence of Jesus, worship, and wait.  Wait for that dump of the Holy Spirit.  And the way that I look at it, I wouldn't mind having to need more opportunities to experience the cleansing of the Holy Spirit.  I want to run and play in the refreshing presence of the Holy Spirit.  And I want to stand and wait just like a little child, for that dump of cleansing and washing water.  Yes, I want to be like Zeke. 

Let's all become like little children, so that we can experience a taste of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth!  

Jesus, thank you for your love and care.  Holy Spirit, thank you for knowing exactly when we need you to come and wash over us.  It is amazing that you never just dump on us, rather you look for us to stand and wait.  Help us to adjust our perspective when we are faced with difficult situations, and remind us to wait for you to help!  Amen

Saturday, June 21, 2014

When you get what you need!

Today was a really great day.  I got exactly what I needed after a bunch of tough days.  At lunchtime Ken and I were out running some errands and he suggested that we go to A & W.  Does anything taste as good as that good, frosty mug of the real A & W?  It just gives me a warm feeling, thinking about all the memories I have of that wonderful treat in a glass.  My mom loved A & W.  And there was an A & W near our "Lake".  So many times, a trip to town for groceries or laundry included a stop for a frosty mug.  Yes, this was a great treat for me today, just what I needed. 

Then this afternoon my small group met to bid farewell to one precious couple who are retiring and moving to Florida.  The down side to this is that they are moving without a place to live permanently.  (They are staying with family while they find a home) There is another couple who are currently looking for a new house since their home is sold and they need to be out by August 1.  There are issues with adult children, relatives that have serious illnesses who are near death, another person who is in transition in their living situation, several with job stresses and health issues.  So my "little" problem with my lack of employment seemed, well, SMALL!  But this wonderful, dear group of friends, reminded me that no issue is small when it is yours.  They prayed for and encouraged me.  It was exactly what I needed.  How great is a few hours spent in food, fellowship and prayer!  Just as the group was breaking up, the couple moving to Florida, brought in a box of books to share with the group.  When the box was opened, this book was on the top.
And I knew it was there for me.  Gwen has been reading this book for her small group Bible Study and she has been encouraging me to read this!  As one man said, "Wow, you really want THAT? It is sure not light reading!"  The book is a good 2" thick!  But, it was again exactly what I needed!

Don't you just love when Jesus gives you exactly what you need? I sure do.  Today was an amazing day of seemingly small (and sometimes hefty - the book) surprises.  While we were sharing about our needs and concerns, I got a text from Gwen.  There were tornado warnings in her area and she was asking for prayer.  So we stopped and prayed for protection for their area and their family.  About 15 minutes later, I got a reply text that they were safe and in the clear.  There was a tornado touch down very near them.  Just as we were celebrating that answer to prayer, the storm hit our meeting place.  It was really very strong and lots and lots of rain.  We were not under any tornado warnings, but it was a bad storm.  I texted Gwen to pray for us!  Soon the storm passed and we were also in the clear. Prayers cell phone to cell phone.  Exactly what we needed. 

I just love this picture of how Jesus provides for us, amidst the storms in our life.  He provides friends and family to stand with us in prayer.  He provides the love and support that we all so desperately need that assures us that we are not alone in all that we are going through.  We are reminded that there are many others who are worse off than we are.  And He stands with us in the storms. 

Yes,  tonight I can say with great assurance, I got exactly what I needed!

Jesus, thank you so much for your great love, your protection and your covering.  Thank you for friends that open their home for meetings and shower us with your love.  Holy Spirit, encourage us all to remember who we are in you.  Thank you for giving me exactly what I needed!  Amen

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Hand of God

Today I was thinking about this photo I took in April of 2008 while on vacation in Florida.  I often got up well before sunrise and sat and look out at the ocean.  On this particular day, I was reading about the hand of God, and then snapped this picture as the sun began to rise.  Yes, I felt that it was really a gift from Jesus. 

I guess whenever I am in an uncomfortable situation, a time of some uncertainty, a time of shifting, I realize more clearly, my need to remember that hand of God.  On that morning, when I snapped this picture, I was flooded with peace and calm.  There was the storm happening in those clouds.  But over it all, was that hand, shining with light, rising up from the storm.  Yes, I needed this today.

I had moments today of utter calm and then suddenly I would be flooded with anxiety and even some fear.  But thankfully, I was able to take a deep breath, remember WHO is really in charge of my life, and then the calm and peace would return.  I am so blessed to know that Jesus is available to me, with just a simple word, Jesus, I am flooded with his presence and peace.  Amazing. 

I saw a sign on a church today that said "Do you have the only GPS that matters? GODS PROTECTION SERVICE"  I laughed and thought, "Yes, I'm covered!"   I think it was around that time that I remembered this picture. 

Yes, sometimes life throws us a curve ball.  Sometimes it seems like we are getting pelted with those crazy balls.  But in it all, we can live in peace and calm when we know who is guiding and directing us.  I was thinking today that I am just in a "repositioning time".  Jesus is just moving me into exactly the right place for this time.  I just need to rest and seek the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.

Father, you are Holy and mighty.  Jesus, thank you so much for the reminder of this amazing picture.  Holy Spirit, thank you for bringing me peace and rest when anxiety and fear threatened to overtake me.  Help all of us who are in unsettled situations, times of change and unrest to remember that it is your hand that guides us and protects us and holds us firmly.   Thank you for my friends and family for their support and love during this time.   Amen

UPDATE:  Just after I posted this blog, the following appeared in my email....
 
Today, Lyn, we believe God wants you to know that ...

you can find meaning in the storm.

At times everyone goes through trials and tribulations. Seek out someone else in a similar situation and give them an encouragement or just a hug. Find meaning in the midst of your struggles by helping another in similar straits.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Smile, even when things go wrong.

Today, Lyn, we believe God wants you to know that ...true happiness is a state of mind.
Happiness is not a consequence of things that happen. Do not pursue happiness - practice it. Sing, even if you do not sound good. Smile, even when things go wrong.
Create happiness, and happy you will be.
 
 
Yes, this has been quite a month.  Preparing for vacation, vacation, then vacation cut short, Ken's sickness, back to work, and today..........unemployment.  Yep, as of today I need to find another job!  I came home to the "God Wants you to Know" above.  Yes, I think it was a word for me.  I have also included my current favorite picture of Anna (taken on Monday) and also a picture of Lia (also taken on Monday).  I included these since they make me smile!  And I needed to smile today.  How can you not smile when you see those faces? 
 
So tonight when I opened my devotional, I saw that  the message was "God is our refuge, our Dwelling place, our shield, fortress and our strong tower".  I love that the first paragraph ended with the statement that "God has promised to watch over you and keep you safe".   The Bible text was Psalm 91:1-16.  It then went on to talk about where God dwells.  In the Old Testament God dwelled in a tent in the wilderness and then in the temple.  In the New Testament God's dwelling place took a giant leap forward, when God now dwells not only WITH us but IN us.  And then God is also pictured as OUR dwelling place!  WOW!  Isn't this just amazing?  And on a day like today, it is exactly the message that I needed.   I love when my devotion for the day really SPEAKS to my day.  It's like getting a warm hug when you most need it. 
 
I am sure that I am not the only one with a laundry list of problems and concerns.  So tonight, I am putting these two nuggets out there.  Smile even when things go wrong and God is our refuge, our dwelling place, our shield, fortress and strong tower.   I'm right there with you. So I think I'll just go immerse myself in Psalm 91 and go to bed with a smile.  Tomorrow is another day. 
 
Jesus, thank you for providing exactly the right words to get me through the difficult days.  Holy Spirit, thank you for comfort and peace and the ability to smile.  Jesus thank you for who you are. Thank you for your love and your promises.  Amen 


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Family reunions......

So I recently got a facebook announcement of a family reunion (Roelke/Johnson)  that is taking place in Minnesota in a couple of weeks.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend.  Some of the people pictured in this photo will actually be at this reunion.  This photo is from 1948ish (I'm not exactly sure of the date - I am guessing based on my sister Julie who is standing in the front row on the far right).  My mom is not in this picture so it is entirely possible that my mom took this picture! This was years before I was born.  But I love this photo!  The two women in the center front of the picture are my Grandma Johnson and also Grandma Roelke.  Now the interesting thing is that two of my dad's sisters married brothers.  So most of our reunions have been billed as both names.  And this photo is an example of the longevity of these reunions.  I also have to point out my cousin Marv Johnson who is on the far left, standing right by his Dad!  Marv and his wife Iris have already replied YES to this years reunion. 

Now here is the really interesting thing about these reunions.  At this point, most of the people who would attend, do not know me. Thanks to facebook, I am "friends" with several of my cousins, but I can't remember the last time I actually sat and talked, in person to any of my cousins.  I am the youngest of the cousins.  And, unfortunately, several of my generation are already dead.  Quite honestly, because of the age spacing in this family, I am much closer in age to the NEXT generation, than I am to my own generation.  This made for some interesting times for me at these reunions.  I have very vivid memories of one reunion that took place in 1967 or 68.  I was still not a "teenager" and my cousins (both first cousins and second cousins) were all teens.  They left me in the dust - literally.  They drove me down a country road, kicked me out of the car, and told me to walk back.  Needless to say, this was NOT a very good memory for me.  

One of my favorite memories is of a more recent reunion.  I'm not quite sure of the year, but I think it was in the late 1990's or early 2000's. 

These are a couple of photos from that reunion.  It was really special that my two sisters and one of my brothers made it to this reunion.  I remember my mom talking about being the last of her generation.  She just loved getting to see all the nieces and nephews.  It was a special thing for her to go to these reunions. Thanks to my sisters and brother, she often got to these reunions.  If there had been more notice, Ken and I might have tried to make this event, to honor my mom. 

I have written so much about family in this blog.  And here I am today, writing and thinking about family once again.  And more than just family..... family getting together and just celebrating that they are family.   I am so thankful that Gwen and Doug make it a priority to be together with their families and just celebrate!  

And here's the thing.  I think that every time I get together with like-minded people and worship Jesus, it is a big family reunion.  We are there to celebrate that we are all in the same family and have the same father and the same brother. I just love this picture of family celebrating together.  That is why it should always be a priority to gather together as a family and remember who we are and why we are getting together.  There is a lot about priority in this.  Sometimes you just have to decide to celebrate and remember.  And in total truth telling (which remember I promised this blog would be) I have forgotten this far to often.  I have not made these gatherings a priority.  And tonight, I will commit to changing that.  Won't you join me in this challenge, to remember and make it a priority, to gather together.  And that every time we gather with friends and family who love Jesus, we are celebrating something wonderful!  

Jesus, thank you for family.  Thank you for welcoming us into your family and giving us so much to celebrate when we gather together.  Holy Spirit, remind us of this commit made here today.  Help us to remember and make it a priority to worship and celebrate who we are in Jesus.  Thank you for family reunions and the chance to make memories across many generations.   Amen

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Doing what needs to be done...

So our day began with an email from Ken's sister telling us that his dad is not doing so well.  Being that he is going to be 94 this is not a big surprise.  However it is never easy to hear that your parent is failing.  I think it was especially hard because of Father's Day.  One of the things that Ken's sister told us was that dad has been asking for some of his old photo albums.  Ken and I have been storing one tub of things since dad moved to Florida in 2009.  One of the things in that storage tub, are the photo albums that dad so wants to hold and look at.  So today I sat and looked through the entire tub and made a list of everything that we had.  Wow, what a job.  And then between Sue and Ken and I a decision was made of exactly what we would ship to Florida.  Given that these two stacks weigh around 30 pounds, it will be quite a box!  Both Ken and I are happy to do this so that dad can have these precious photos to look at and remember.  The scrapbooker in me really appreciates this desire to hold on to these memories. 

And in honor of Father's Day, I just needed to include this picture of my Dad.  I recently came across this photo and it just made me stop in my tracks.  You might wonder why I chose this picture since it is not the most flattering shot.  But, to me, THIS IS MY DAD!  First of all it is at "the lake".  This was my dad exactly as he looked almost every day that we spent at the lake.  He even has the almost ever-present  beer in his hand.  He just loved this cabin that he had built.  Every board, every nail was done to his plan.  I loved this yellow color.  You could see the cabin from the road.  It was so sunny and cheerful.  So, even though this might not be a professional picture of my dad, it is my favorite.  And this how I most remember my dad.  In his work clothes, puttering around, at his own piece of heaven on earth - Lake Maud.  Even though he has been gone for 29 years, I still miss him. There are times when I am with Doug that I will get a flash of my dad.  I think Doug looks more like my dad than either of my brothers! I love that, thanks to genetics, we can continue to see our parents in our children! 

Ken is still not feeling well, so it is a really good thing that we are home.  And it is good that we were at home to take care of the photos for Ken's dad.  Yes, I spent the day doing what needed to be done.  Sorting through old papers, and taking care of Ken (as much he would allow me to do this!).  Not exactly how I expected our vacation to end, but tonight, I am sure that it is exactly how it needed to end! 

Jesus, thank you for our dads and all that they did to provide for us.  Thank you for photos and the memories that are attached to them.  Holy Spirit, bring comfort and peace to Ken's dad as he is in the final time of his earthly life. Jesus, thank you for the love and care that you are providing through Ken's sister and her husband.   Jesus, you are the healer. Pour out your healing power on Ken.  Bless all those who are celebrating their fathers this weekend.  Amen

Friday, June 13, 2014

A couple of reasons that we needed to be home early!

Well, unfortunately, Ken is feeling a bit "puny" (as he would say).  Yes, he is under the weather.  He had a slight fever and some tummy troubles and just wants to lie on the couch and rest.  So the immediate thought I had was "Thank goodness we are not trying to travel today, or sitting in a hotel somewhere!"   I was just so thankful to be home.  And I know that Ken was thankful also.  It's not so good to feel icky, but it is really bad to feel icky and be away. 

So while Ken was resting, I decided to proceed with my scrapbooking.  I was happily sitting at my scrapbook table, when my cell phone rang, with an out of area number.  It was a shocking call, and another reason why we had to be home.  Our credit card number was lifted in Canada and there were fraudulent charges made in the last couple of days.  Needless to say the card was canceled.  But now I have the tedious job of going over every charge on the account.  And because this was the only card we used in Canada, there are lots of charges.  To complicate the situation, now that the card is canceled, I can't access the account on line.  So I will have to go to the bank and get a paper copy of all of the charges.  They recommended that I wait until Monday to be sure that all charges have posted.  This is very upsetting!  The interesting thing about this is, that Ken and I talked about credit card fraud a lot while we were in Canada.  Our first charges in Canada required assistance.  They actually bring out a small credit card machine and YOU slide the card and input the charges.  And then you add on the tip and process the transaction yourself.  Then, on the last day we were at Niagara Falls, we were at a small street cafĂ©.  They took my card inside to process the transaction.  It was the only time in Canada that this happened.  Ken and I talked about it as it happened!  And it was apparently exactly what we feared....the chance for our number to be lifted.  We are hopeful that we will not have any charges associated with this event.  But it is not the way I would like to spend my time.  It is making me really a bit nervous about using a card ANYWHERE!  And here is another reason in this whole thing to be very happy to be home.  When we were in Canada, we did NOT have our phones.  So had they tried to call us, we would not have gotten the call. 

Boy, does something like this change the way you think about safety, security and fraud. I am so thankful for the credit card companies that monitor things like this.  All of the people that I dealt with today on the phone, were so kind and helpful.  They made a tough situation, so much easier.   But it is a picture of our world today.  There are things that we have to contend with, since we live in this fallen world.  But as we contend with the trials and troubles, we can use the discernment, power, and insight of the Holy Spirit.  I will be carefully checking all of our cards for any unusual activity.  But I refuse to "give in" to the fear of using a credit card.  It's just like the terrorism thing.  If we become so fearful and walk in that fear and live in that fear, the terrorist have already won.  Even without any direct violence.  

I know that Jesus is a God of peace and health and joy!  So, in spite of these unsettling things, in spite of a vacation cut short, in spite of small illnesses, I will chose to take a deep breath, close my eyes and rest in the joy and peace of Jesus.  I know that is what Jesus would do. 

Jesus, thank you for who you are!  Thank you for being my peace and joy.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your discernment and wisdom as we walk through life.  Give us courage instead of fear, peace instead of unrest, and joy instead of sorrow.  Bless all those who work to prevent fraud and terrorism.  Thank you for your provision and your plans for us.   Amen

PS  I finally finished my 2012 scrapbooks! So now, on to 2013!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Crossing something off of my "must do" list... and memories

So, unfortunately, we did not have such a great end to our long awaited vacation.  First we canceled our fun in Pennsylvania (weather - rain, rain, storms, more storms and floods - not a great time to go to Cooks Forest).  So we proceeded to our destination along Lake Erie, anxious for quiet relaxing in a beach chair watching the lake.  Upon our arrival at the hotel it was obvious that if we had stayed at this hotel, it would NOT be quiet OR relaxing.  The entire hotel was under renovation!  The pool was closed, the outdoor deck was closed.  And our special Lake view room was right by where they were jackhammering concrete on the pool deck.  Needless to say, our decision to NOT stay at this hotel was a no brainer.  Then we discovered that because of the season, there were no rooms available anywhere near to the lake.  We made the decision to proceed home.  We were not thrilled to add 5 more hours to our drive today, but we were happy to get home.  Don't know what we are doing for the next couple of days, but it does not include going to work! 

Today I was able to mark something off of one of my "must do" lists.  I visited the state of New York.  That's right.  I had never been in New York state until today.  I still have 13 states to visit and Ken has 7.  But the list is getting shorter!  As we entered the United States into New York, it felt great.  When we saw a sign for Jamestown New York, Ken and I began to talk about his favorite grandparents, Les and Versal Baker.  Grandpa Baker died in 1976 and Grandma Baker died years later.  Their final resting place is in Jamestown. 

 

This picture is from our wedding in 1974.  This was the one and only visit I ever had with Grandpa Baker.  I am so thankful, however, for the many visits I had with Grandma Baker in the years after Grandpa died. 
I especially love this picture of Ken and I with Grandma Baker from 1976.  I think it is special to me since this was the only visit Grandma Baker ever made to our house.  I wrote to Grandma often (yes, this was the time of "snail mail" and I looked forward to her letters.  I have many of her favorite recipes, written in her own handwriting, that I received enclosed in some of those letters.  She truly loved Ken and believed that he could accomplish whatever he set his mind to.  Yes, she was a special lady and I know that she had a large influence on Ken.
One of the best things thing about her frequent visits, was that she got to meet and enjoy Gwen and Doug.  I remember that she told me over and over, how thankful she was that Ken and I had such a wonderful family.  Gwen remembers her, but Doug does not.  I believe that this was her last visit and Doug was 18 months old, Gwen was 4. 
 
So, as I sit here, at home, in my favorite spot to blog, I can breath out and relax.  I am sure that there is a very good reason that we are home right now.  I may never know exactly what that reason is, but I know that there was some purpose in our trip being cut short.  And I am especially thankful for the time that Ken and I had today to talk and remember his special grandparents.  Really there is nothing better than times like this.  I can't help but reflect on my own grandchildren when we are thinking about the influence that a grandma had!  It is an encouragement to me to be purposeful in my times with Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna. 
I had to include this picture of Grandma Baker and Gwen.  How can you NOT just love this picture.  I can feel the love when I look at this picture. 
 
I think that is one of the things I am learning these days.  There is a purpose in ALL things.  Whether we are on vacation or at home, traveling or in at work, Jesus has a plan that will come to pass.  Sometimes we can't see exactly what the big picture is, but there IS a big picture.  So I know that we may have avoided an accident or other unfortunate event, because our plans changed. Or possibly it is something or someone that we will encounter here at home that is part of the plan.  And the route we took home had a purpose.  If only to remind Ken and I to talk about Grandma and Grandpa Baker it was worth it.
 
Jesus, thank you for orchestrating our vacation.  Holy Spirit, continue to give us grace to roll with the changes, and to remember to think about the big picture.   Thank you for reminding us to celebrate our past generations and giving us a nudge to pay it forward into our future generations.   Jesus, thank you for your love and care in all things! And thank you for vacations away and especially thank you for home.  Amen



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Being in the world.....


This is the view from our window, at night, just as the Falls Illumination started.  It was amazing.  Unfortunately, since it is not "summer" here yet, the fireworks are only on Friday and Sunday.  So we missed them.  It was still really great to see this.  As I said yesterday, this room is so worth it!
Today we did the "Behind the Falls" walk.  You are so close to the falls, it takes your breath away.  And you are in a constant shower of water.  And the noise is really something.  The cool thing about this walk is that you can stay as long as you like.  There is not a tour.  You can't believe how big the falls are until you are under them.  When you walk in the tunnel to the two viewing areas you are about 1/3 of the way around the falls, looking out.  All you see is white water cascading down.  And you can feel the movement of the water thundering over you.  This was the best thing we did.  While Ken was taking more photos, I had a friend that came right up to me.
 This picture is a little deceiving since you might think it was just a bird on some grass.  In reality it was much different than that! Here is a different shot of the same bird!
After he came right up to me and looked at me, he just turned and walked away.  What an environment for this bird!  He was walking right under the falls.  Just like that.  Isn't it amazing who Jesus planned exactly the right birds to live in this place?  Okay, he might seem like just a seagull, but still, really interesting.  I couldn't believe that he came up to me so close.  I love interacting with birds - especially at the beach.  So, I didn't miss the fact that Jesus sent me a little seagull, strolling along in front of me, here at Niagara Falls.  I love how Jesus knows our hearts and provides exactly what we need.  I didn't know that I needed this visit from the bird, but afterwards, I realized just how neat it was to have this encounter, under the falls. 

Tomorrow we head back to the US and leave Canada behind.  I have missed a couple of things.  I miss decent TV channels!  You can't find a thing to watch except news, news and more news.  Even the shows that I normally watch at home that are CANADIAN shows, are not on here!  What gives?? 
I miss fast food at every turn.  You name it, you can have it.  Not so much here.  AND I miss my phone!  It's not only being able to call and talk.  It's missing Instagram and missing text messages and missing having instant internet connection.  And it's missing taking pictures on my phone to upload immediately!  And the biggest thing.....no lie...... TELLING WHAT TIME IT IS!  I haven't worn a watch in years! Our plans in the US for the rest of the trip have been derailed by the weather, but we are hoping things turn around.  We are skipping the east coast and going to Ohio where the weather does not include 80% chance of rain and flooding.  Thankfully the weather has been great so far on this trip.  We could use a couple more days of sunshine and warmth!  Thanks for your prayers!

Today the Holy Spirit reminded me that sometimes you are in a place where the world comes to you, rather than you going to the world.  I mentioned yesterday just how many different languages I heard.  Today I was noticing the people because of their clothes.  Really interesting.  We had French people on the bus with us (from France, not Quebec), there are Asian people everywhere. In fact there is one whole floor of them in our Hotel.  And most don't speak much English!  At lunch today we sat across from two couples from Germany.  There was a man from Israel that I spoke to in the elevator.  And today we saw a Native American guy in full dress, singing and playing a drum.  Yesterday there was a group of Eskimos by us (and boy was their language unusual).  Yes, being in a place like this does remind you that we are citizens of the WORLD and thanks to air travel, the world comes to us.  It is good to get outside of our small view of the world and remember that there is much more out there.  Even when it means leaving behind some things that you like!

Jesus, today I was stuck by the diversity of the people.  We were all drawn here to see this amazing natural wonder, that you created.  Thank you for your love and care for ALL people.  Father I pray that each one walking here, that does not know you, would encounter you in your creation or through your people.  Thank you for your power that draws all people to Jesus.  Holy Spirit, give us all boldness and courage to be open to people who are not like us, whether we are traveling or in our own backyards.  Give us words and actions that would bring glory to you and your name. Jesus, thank you for knowing exactly what we need, even when we don't know it!  Thank you for a visit from a seagull.   Amen

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sometimes it is just worth it! And sometimes, it is NOT!

 
Usually when Ken and I travel, we are very frugal.  We watch each and every penny.  Since this vacation was to celebrate our 40th Wedding Anniversary we decided to splurge and upgrade more than usual.  We have been known to opt for an ocean front room in Florida and we know - IT IS WORTH IT!  So the decision to get a Falls view room was pretty easy.  We even choose a room that has both American and Canadian falls view.  That picture above is from our floor to ceiling windows in our room.  We have two easy chairs positioned to the window and this view.  I can't wait for the light show and fireworks tonight!  Yes, there is even one window that opens and you can clearly hear the falls (and we are on the 17th floor)!  We have had a spectacular day.  Another perfect weather day.  What a blessing!  Our hotel couldn't be more convenient- we walk out, cross a road and take the "Falls incline railway" down to the Welcome Center. 
That is our Hotel at the top and a shot up the incline railway!  We were able to get a pass for the entire day so we could go up and down as often as we wanted.  There were lots of people on our first trip down.  At one point when I was sitting in the shade waiting for Ken to take some photos, I counted 7 different languages that I heard passing me by.  This is really a seeming hot spot for tourists.  And there are so many things that are simply NOT worth the money.  From the time we checked into our hotel, we have been pressed to get a "package deal" for attractions.  The hotel wanted to sell us a tour on a bus for $150 each!  Really!  Not going to happen.  The welcome center package deal ended up to NOT be a deal for us, since we had no interest in several of the attractions that were included in the price.  I think we have decided to just buy individual tickets for the couple of things that we really want to do and forget the package deals.  I am thankful for the CHOICE and the wisdom to know what is not worth it!
 
On our second trip down to the falls today, there was an amazing full arc rainbow over the Canadian Falls!  It just took your breath away!  It was so bright and so clear you could see every color.  

 

We walked up river to see if we could get a different angle of the rainbow.  I stood very close to another smaller waterfall while Ken was taking pictures, I realized that I had the same feeling in my spirit as when I sit on the beach and listen to the waves.  That powerful water, cascading down over those rocks, pouring down in an endless stream, reminded me of the ocean.   I told Ken that we either needed to vacation at an ocean or a very big waterfall from now on! 
 
Yes, there are times when it is just worth it for the experience.  In  the couple of days on this vacation we have said more than once, this is so worth it!  The hassle for the passports, the expenses, the crowds.  Yesterday was about seeing an amazing house created by a man.  And it was worth seeing. Today, it is all worth it to see this natural wonder.  There is something about the contrast (didn't I just write a blog post on this???) between the man made and the God created.   Nothing can really compare to all that is in God's creation.  There are flocks and flocks of birds and they live on a small outcropping of rocks just before the Canadian Falls.  Other than bigger birds, they are most likely safe from predators. They swooped and soared over the falls all day.  I have several pictures in which I caught a bird in flight, without really intending it!  And I can't help but think of my life verse - John 7:38 - "...Out of his belly will flow rivers of living water"!  Sitting here, looking out at the falls, it is a picture of all the power that flowing rivers contain.  And another reminder of just how powerful we are, when we are filled with the promise and presence of the Holy Spirit. 
 
More vacation updates will follow, I am sure.  Time for light show and fireworks!
 
Jesus, thank you for your guidance and direction that helps us discern what IS worth it and what is NOT worth it.  Thank you for the picture of your power displayed before us in these falls.  Holy Spirit, help us to grasp the power that we have within us, so that we may open the gates and let your love and grace and peace and the presence of Jesus flow out to the world. And Jesus, thank you for unexpected rainbows.   Amen
 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

When it's worth the work...ah I mean the walk!

Today we planned to visit the "Casa Loma".  This is Casa Loma.   It is a 100 room castle built in 1910.  I specifically decided on the hotel we are staying in because it was close to this attraction.  Ken and I had chosen to do two things in Toronto (1. See the harbor, lake front and CN Tower and 2. See Casa Loma).  The Hotel advertises that it is a "short walk" to Casa Loma. When we checked in I asked about the location of Casa Loma.  Again we were told it was a short walk.  So this morning we set out on the "short walk".  It ended up being about 2 miles.....all up hill.  In the distance we could begin to see the turret of Casa Loma.  And then we got to the end of the road.  We were not quite prepared for the sight that met our eyes.
It was a VERY long multiple sets of rock stairs up a very steep hill. (It is never good when you encounter multiple sets of people running up and down the stairs as part of an exercise program)  Yes, that's me taking a photo of the plaque with information about Casa Loma.  Ken and I calculated what we think was 5 different flights of 14 stairs plus several short flights of 5 or 6 stairs.  It was tough!  Thankfully there were several spots to sit between flights of stairs and we took advantage of this.  It was obvious that the castle was built on the highest point around Toronto.  You could actually see the entire city from the top of the castle. All the way to Lake Ontario.  So, okay.  We made it to the castle grounds and then had to walk around to the entrance.  Which we discovered was right next to a parking lot that only charged $3 per hour.  Sigh.  We could have driven here in around 2 minutes.  Plus we were carrying extra stuff since it looked like it might rain.  And then there were the 100 rooms to tour.  And a very creepy tunnel that was dark and damp and led to the garage and garden shed.  And we knew that we had the long walk home. 

So, the castle was interesting.  (Gwen saw this castle when she was in Toronto with her high school band.  She was not impressed).  I can see why high schoolers might not care much for this castle.  What really struck me was the STORY of the castle.  Ken and I watched a 15 minute film about the man who built this house. What an amazing story.  This man was a multi millionaire in 1910.   He had brought electricity to Toronto and built the first power plant.  Sadly, he and his wife and son only lived in the partially finished castle for a few years.  He was at one time very wealthy but lost most of his wealth in the 1929 stock market crash.   And then he came up with an idea to generate power from the mighty Niagara Falls.  He and two partners built the power plant.  Now here is where the story takes a unfortunate turn.  The government of Canada took the power plant away from him and his partners and did not give them anything for it!  They were forced to move out of the castle, his wife died and basically he was left penniless.  Fortunately, the state fixed up the castle and decided to give tours to raise funds to maintain the property. 

This got me thinking.  How very blessed are we to live in the United States.  I know that there are lots of negative things about our government, but I am thankful that many, many people have come up with lots of new and inventive things that have NOT been taken away from them with no remuneration.  I was imagining what might have happened had he lived a short distance south when he came up with the power generation idea.  His life might have been very different. 

After finishing our tour, we walked the 2 miles back to the hotel.  Fortunately it was NOT raining and the trip back was mostly down hill!  When we approached the hotel we discovered that the road was blocked off and there was a 1 mile section devoted to a street fair.  Virtually right in front of our hotel.  We dumped off our extra stuff, and walked some more!  The entire length of the street fair.  It was interesting.  There were lots of new age booths (including fortune telling, palm reading, rekki, yoga meditation, etc), there were several Buddhist booths,  quite a few with incense and crystals, and one booth with a lone Rabbi sitting at a table with a sign that said "Ask the Rabbi".  There was not a single church represented.  Boy did I ever become that silent missionary and pray! 

So the day was very worth the work of all the walking.  I am so glad that we decided to do these two very different days here in Toronto.  I think that it is interesting that I have gained a new perspective on the United States.  And I have also been reminded just how important a single praying person can be.  Today is Pentecost.  The day when that first ragtag group of men had their world turned upside down.  Because of that day, they changed the world.  And I am thankful that the same power that affected them, can make me a world changer also!

Jesus, thank you for this day, for your incredible gift of the Holy Spirit, for your love and your care.  Thank you for Ken and this trip that has helped us to remember and celebrate our 40 years together.  Holy Spirit, thank you that you continue to come and touch us and change us with your power and your presence.  What an amazing gift you have given to us!  Amen







Saturday, June 7, 2014

A day of contrasts...........

Hello from my vacation - Day 1 (in reality Day 2 since we left home yesterday around noon).  But this was our first REAL day of vacation.  The photo gives away our destination for today - Toronto, Canada!  I picked this particular picture because that is a Canadian National Train at the base of the CN Tower.  Yes, that's right.  There is a train museum (actually the original "Roundhouse") directly across from the CN Tower.  Now anyone who lives in the Chicago area knows that in the last couple of years we have NOT had a love relationship with the Canadian National Railroad!  Since their takeover of several tracks lines in our area, you may spend HOURS waiting at railroad crossings.  When the takeover was in the works, towns were assured that there would not be any problems.  However this has not been the case!  There are lots of trains on tracks that used to have 2 trains a day, and there are long waits at crossings that never had waits before.  But I digress.  I thought it was interesting that the old trains were in the shadow of the NEW technology.  The Tower, the brand new Aquarium, The Sports Stadium, and the train museum all share a block of land.  It seemed like an unlikely mix.  I like the contrast of the old train with the CN tower!

This day of contrasts actually started this morning on the drive into Canada.  We were told to expect a long delay crossing over the bridge into Canada at Port Huron, Michigan.  One web sight suggested that you should be sure to allow at least an hour for border crossing.  We left our hotel and proceeded to the bridge at 7:30am.  As we drove onto the bridge there was 1 Semi truck ahead of us.  And no other cars.  There was only one "Car" lane with a green light and we drove right up to the booth.  The entire transaction included passing over our passports, two questions, and a grunt from the agent.  It took us about 2 minutes!  And we were in Canada!  Quite a contrast from what we had expected.

As we adjusted to Kilometers for speed instead of MPH (thankfully our Navigation system shows the speed limit in MPH - already converted!) and to gas prices being shown in Canadian Dollars PER LITRE (which looked really good at $1.38 - UNTIL you realize that converts to about $5.00 per Gallon - OUCH!)  What a contrast.  Going the speed limit of 100 felt actually kind of slow at 62mph. 
Which brings me to another interesting contrast.  A friend of mine recommended Tim Hortons.  So as soon as we saw a sign for one, we pulled off.  I guess I would say that Tim Hortons is sort of a combination of Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks.  We loved their coffee.  It reminded us of the "old" McDonalds coffee.  At a later stop at a "On Road" (which is just like the tollway Oasis) there was a Tim Hortons and a Starbucks.  There was a long line at Hortons - like 50 people.  And there was only a couple of people in line at Starbucks.   What a contrast to the US!  There is always a line at Starbucks. 
 
Yes, I saw lots of interesting things today.  We walked the harbor front and most of the surrounding area.  The culture here is really a melting pot mix also.  We saw a diverse group of people.  I spent a lot of time remembering the mission trip I was on in 2009 to this city.  We are in the same area.  I have been thinking about the children that we met on that trip and wondering if any of the seeds we sowed have begun to grow.  I love knowing that the Holy Spirit can use a very small seed to grow a very big plant. 
 
And it is a bit of a contrast for me to know that I am just a tourist on this trip, rather than a missionary.  At least not an OBVIOUS missionary.  On the 2009 trip, we wore bright orange shirts that clearly spoke a message (a large cross).  We were doing a street drama that included a boom box and loud music and costumes that made people stop and watch.  And the message was clear.  Today I was just an average "touristy" older women with a camera.  In 2009, we were sowing lots of seeds through our message.  Today my message was hidden.  But my hidden prayer is for the Holy Spirit to water all of those seeds sown 5 years ago, as I walked the same streets. 
Yes, it is a reminder that we can all be missionaries as we walk the world.  Our prayers can bring the power and presence of Jesus where ever we are.  And it is a good reminder that we can activate all those seeds sown in the past, by praying the outpouring and watering of the Holy Spirit! 
 
Thank you Jesus for the power of reminders!  Thank you for the promise of the Holy Spirit, who brings life to all of us.  Help us all to see ourselves as your ambassadors as we go through our busy lives and even as we vacation!  Bless Toronto, Jesus!  Amen


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Revelation from a frazzled day

I have just spent another couple of hours finishing up packing for our long awaited vacation.  I keep having the feeling that I am forgetting something.  I can't figure out if traveling by car or airplane is harder,.  If you could see my kitchen table right now, you would vote for car being harder.  I have a variety of bags, totes, coolers, and other "must take with us" things accumulating there.  On the other hand, if we were flying, we would have just our two bags.  But then again, trying to figure out what we HAD to pack would be much harder.  So I am thankful that we have room in the car for those extra things. 

I am feeling a bit frazzled tonight. It was a rather tough day at work.  It is a mystery to me why three year old boys think it is great fun to spit at each other and to lick anything that is close to them!  Anyone have any ideas here?  I am also growing very tired of "tattle tales".  While we are very aware that there is plenty of foolishness happening that is fodder for the tattlers, I'm saying "enough is enough!"  If we don't witness the act, we will not respond (within reason....if there is blood, a big mark on someone's body, or crazy crying, we step in)! Our response is always "Go and talk to your friend.  Use your words."  Even though this has always been our response, we will no longer listen to the tale being told.  I simply hate this stage of growing up.   We have a couple of kids who seem to just keep their eyes on everyone else and report everything they see.

So on the way home from work I was thinking about my day.  I guess our world does need people who watch and report what they see.  We rely on exactly this type of people for our news reporting.  It is a useful skill and I think I will remember this when dealing with our little "tattlers".  I was thinking about some of the other character qualities that are already so apparent in these little 3's.  There are a couple of children who are so quick to help out their friends.  They clearly have compassion and caring in their makeup.  We have more than one child that can already build and create with Duplos in ways that amaze me.  They could be future inventors or engineers.  There is one little girl who could sit at the table and color all day if we would let her.  I have never seen a three year old color so well with so much detail.  Yes, she is quite the artist. 

I love that Jesus' plan and purpose for us begins at birth.  Each of us has very specific and very clear personality traits and interests that help us fulfill our destiny.   I love that I can have a very different perspective of these children I work with each day.  And it has given me insight in how to pray for each of them.  I am still wondering exactly what the destiny is for the kids who think it is wonderful to spit at each other.  I am praying that I will begin to see exactly what is behind that crazy behavior and get to their heart of these kids!  Yes, I will have lots of time on vacation to ponder this!

Jesus, thank you for rest and relaxing.  Thank you for the opportunity to get a new perspective on my work and the reminder to see beyond the behavior.  Holy Spirit, help us all to apply this lesson to everyone that we deal with.  Especially those that might bother or annoy us.  Jesus, thank you for revelation and inspiration.  Thank you for planning our destiny!  Amen

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Result of a very busy few days....

Well my last blog was all about spending a day scrapbooking.  Then, Sunday, was not so much about relaxing.  It was a day that I look forward to all year!  It was Lia's dance recital! 
She works so hard all year and it is so rewarding to see the fruits of all that work! Lia is in a "Combo Class" that does both a ballet and tap number.   It is hard to believe that this was the 5th year she has been at this studio and in this year end show!  She started off in pre-ballet as a 3 year old and has never looked back.  Lia loves to dance!  She is very excited to be adding to her experience this summer by taking a "Lyrical" dance class.  When she is up on that stage, she shines!  It was a great day (although no photos were allowed during the recital...sadly).  This year, at the final bow, she was several rows back from the front.  Its hard to imagine just how grown up she has gotten. 
 
Then on Monday, I went up to Gwen's as usual.  Lia is still in school this week and Gwen had some errands that she needed to do.  So we headed off to the mall with Ellie, Zeke and Anna.  These kids are so good!  All they needed to be happy at the mall was a 75cent ride in a car!

Anna just rode along in her stroller.  She never made a peep through the entire trip.  We were blessed to make it back to the car just BEFORE the skies opened up and it rained and rained!   I just get so filled and happy being with these kids.  I am so thankful that I am able to be with them so often and get to participate in not only the BIG things (like birthdays and dance recitals), but also the little things like trips to the mall.  Yes, I am blessed!  After arriving home, Ken and I had lots of vacation things to accomplish.  Fortunately, I found everything that we needed to begin the packing process.  But, yes, it was a long and tiring day.

Then, today was a back to work day.  And it was also a busy day.  So I am feeling a bit.........gee I don't know exactly what word I would use to describe what I am feeling right now.  So I guess I would settle on excited!  I am really looking forward to this vacation!   In spite of the stress of the preparation for the vacation, I simply can't wait. 

Isn't that like so many very good things that we encounter?  There might be stress and lots of hard work to get there, and there might be quite a bit of excitement and butterflies in the stomach, leading up to the event, but in the end it is always worth it!  I remember my mom saying that nothing in life is really very good unless you have to work for it.  And that work also comes with some stress.   I know that I can look back and see the truth in that statement. 

So, I will sit back and relax a bit tonight.  We still have the rest of this work week before vacation.  So, get ready for more posts, as you follow along on our journey!

Thank you, so much Jesus for this busy time.  I am so blessed to be surrounded by my family and so grateful for this upcoming vacation.   Holy Spirit, help us all to know and understand that hard work and planning are part of the good things in our life.  Jesus, thank you for the many, many blessings you pour out on us.  Amen