Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Thinking about the Feast of Tabernacles.....

This picture from 2005 is the first time I ever saw a "booth" constructed for the Feast of Tabernacles.  What a blessing it was to have a couple who had actually lived in Israel and had really done serious study on the Feasts of the Old Testament build this booth and then teach us about this celebration.  During that year, we were learning more about the Jewish feasts and how they pointed the way to Jesus and "fit" with our Christian beliefs.  When you actually see and DO these different feasts and celebrations, there is so much more reality to those verses in the Bible that reference these feasts.  My life verse (John 7:37 - "Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them") actually happened during the Feast of Tabernacles - on the "last and greatest day of the Feast".   The couple who brought this booth to life for me, brought pictures from Israel of all of the booths near the homes in Jerusalem.  It was really something.  The purpose for these booths was to remind all of Israel of the time when they were wandering in the desert.  God wanted them to remember His faithfulness to bring them to the promised land.  The booths had natural materials for the roof so that the stars were visible at night.  Another way for them to remember God's promises.   Additionally, this fall festival was to celebrate the bringing in of another harvest.  There were sacrifices and also eating and drinking that are a part of the celebrations.  During the time that this booth was set up, a small group of us sat and worshiped in that booth.  We sang and prayed and then we celebrated Communion.  It was one of those times when the presence of Jesus just overwhelmed us.  Each year when this festival comes around, I remember this day.

It is really a shame that we don't have a week long festival every year for us to stop and take a break from our regular life.  How wonderful it would be to be able to spend a week with friends and family, remembering all of the wonderful things the Jesus has done for us.  Can you imagine the wonderful buffet dinners that could happen from "booth to booth"?
Yes, this is my (not so wonderful) cell phone picture of the Blood Moon from Sunday night.  As I was sitting out on our patio watching that amazing eclipse happen, I was thinking about those booths.  Our new neighbors were also out in their backyard.  Those 10 year old boys were really amazed at what they were seeing.   I loved looking up at the stars and enjoying the wonderfully cool night air.
I was wishing for that week long time to just stop and reflect.  

I am so incredibly thankful for the different people who have intersected my life in different seasons. The couple who shared this booth with me have moved to Florida.  While I was writing this post I realized that I have never told them just how important this teaching was to me.  I will need to send them an email as soon as I post this blog!  Even though we don't celebrate this festival, we can still stop during this season, and reflect on the goodness and blessings of Jesus.  It is a great time to share our testimony with others.  It's a harvest time, so we can also eat some great things, and share them with others.  And we can remember, also, to be grateful for all of the people who have enriched our life.

Jesus, thank you for speaking to me through the Feast of Tabernacles.  I am so thankful that you have "tabernacled" with us through the Holy Spirit.  What an amazing reminder this is for us to stop and remember all of our blessings.  Holy Spirit, bring to our minds the people that we may need to bless or thank.  Thank you Jesus for bringing the Bible to life through things we can see and touch.  Amen

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Time to let go of some things....(and add some things)

Here are a couple of my favorite pictures of Ken and I in our well used kayaks.  We actually got these in 2005 and used them often.  That is, until a couple of years ago.  It was getting harder and harder to get in and out of these.  In the first years that we had them, we even took them with us when we flew to Florida.  These inflatable kayaks are in their own "airplane approved" luggage cases.  Each one weighs about 35 pounds.  We kayaked in Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, and lots of places in Illinois.  Ken has even taken them in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean.  I was not quite as brave as he was.  However, I once was lifted up out of the water on the back of a Manatee while kayaking in the Inter-coastal waterway.  Well, as part of our closet clean out, we talked about the fact that we were not using these anymore and most likely would NOT use them anymore.  I suggested that we offer them to the kids.  Doug and Susie were quite happy to add these to their rather extensive collection of outdoor "stuff" (a boat, a canoe, a camper....and much more).  So tonight we passed the paddles.....and the to them.  It did make me smile to see the added space in the closet in the scrapbook room.  It feels good to be clearing out.

And then Ken decided that he needed to have an exercise bike.  Winter is coming (sigh) and he will not be able to continue his exercise program when the weather changes. (He has been biking most weekends)  So while it was "out with the kayaks" it was "in with the new piece of exercise equipment".  Seriously, I am quite happy that Ken is actually DOING something to stay fit and active.  So this is a good thing.  I confess that it was not exactly my idea of a great thing, but I have warmed up to the idea.  And, for now, the new "bike" is in the garage.  It will stay there until it is to cold to be comfortable.  At that point, we will have to decide exactly where Ken will be "biking" for the rest of the winter.  

This is certainly true in so many areas, isn't it?  Just when you get rid of one nagging little habit it seems like something different shows up to take its place.  The process of clearing out "stuff" and downsizing is great.   But it is also good to know when it is right to add some new things into the picture.  Sometimes we get so attached to our old stuff that we don't want to part with it.  I am sure that I am not only one with a closet or two left to clear out.  It is really freeing to purge all of those old clothes that you haven't worn in a year or two (or four) and seeing that space in the cupboard when you get rid of those plastic containers without lids or chipped up coffee mug, brings a smile to your face.  But it is also a great feeling to get some new clothes or a new dishes.  

Yes, sometimes it is all about "out with the old and in with the new".  I am especially glad that with the Holy Spirit, each day is a new day and there is always something new that Jesus is speaking to us.  This is a time to let go of all of the "stuff" from the past and bring in all of the new things that Jesus has in store for us in this next season.  It is time to celebrate, to hope, to love.  This is the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles - a time of celebration of the harvest and of thanksgiving.  So this is exactly the right message!  

Jesus, thank you for knowing exactly what I need to hear from you.  Holy Spirit, you are always leading us into new things.  Thank you for helping us let go of the past and go boldly into the future.  Jesus, thank you for your love and care every day!  Amen

PS  Somehow this blog never posted last night!  So here is Saturday's post, on Sunday!  There must be a reason for the delay, so I will just say thank you for your perfect timing Jesus!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A year of Jubilee and fulfilled promises......

This has been an interesting month.  There have been so many, many out there in the body of Christ and in the Secular media who have been predicting terrible things for September and after.  It got so bad for me that over this summer, I simply stopped reading or looking at anything since it all seemed so negative!  I hated when people around me asked me what I thought about all this stuff (the expected market crash, the demise of the United States, the end of the world, the 4 blood moons, etc, etc, etc, etc).  The reason I hated the questions was that I did NOT FEEL ANY OF THOSE GLOOM AND DOOM THINGS!  As a matter of fact, I continued to feel hopeful and filled with a sense of wonder at all that Jesus was planning to do in the months ahead.  I just could not enter into the fear and darkness that was all around.

And then things seemed to break, in a way, out there in the Christian world.  More and more big name people started to say.... wait a minute... this is not a time for fear and all this talk of bad things. At Yom Kippur there was a shift.  This is a year of Jubilee!  God has lots of good things ahead for the body of Christ.  It was such a relief for me. All along I had been feeling that Jesus was encouraging me, giving me hope and a renewed faith that the words I heard for 2015 were correct.   This was a year of double blessings!  At a time when I was barely holding on to hope, the promises of the good that was ahead, made it seem possible.  Over and over, Jesus reminded me that with Him, all things are possible.

So, as we are coming to the end of September, I am so thankful for the wisdom that Jesus has been speaking to me.  I am so blessed by the brightness and the glory that have filled me during the past months.  I believe that we are transitioning into an amazing time for the body of Christ.  We will all be amazed at how the Holy Spirit uses US to be the vessel of the miracles and power of Jesus to the world.  This is time for all of us to walk out boldly....not in fear and trembling.  If you do not have stored up promises from Jesus (you know, those things that you have heard in the past but not yet seen accomplished) ask him now!  He wants to share with you that secret wisdom.  He wants to give you the power to go out and BE who He has always planned for you to be.

Join me and step into that brightness.  Let's all be aware of His glory as we go into each day.   Make a difference by just letting that glory change the atmosphere around you.  Smile.  Replace fear with hope and trust.  Celebrate all that we are and have in Jesus!

Jesus, thank you for speaking to us.  What a gift it is that you want to share your wisdom with us.  Thank you for all those who are speaking hope and blessing and life with the brightness of your glory.  Jesus help us all to stay out of fear and give us encouragement to act boldly.  Thank you for this year of Jubilee.  Amen

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Walking in the quiet of the woods.

I spent the day with those sweet 9 month old babies on my nanny job.  I was a bit of a long day since, for some unknown reason, they suddenly don't want to sleep.  Even at night (the mom and dad are pretty exhausted).  So after a long morning, I finally took them on a walk around their neighborhood in the late morning, trying to hold off lunch. Now this is not your typical suburban area.  It is an unincorporated wooded area that is surrounded by a Forest Preserve.
This was my view during that walk.  Lots of trees.....and bugs!  It was actually very warm today and sunny.  I walked for around an hour and I was sweating by the time we returned home.  The kids never slept in the stroller - which they usually do.  So I expected that they would sleep well for their afternoon nap.  Boy was I wrong.  After a LONG few hours, when neither baby would sleep, I finally decided that another walk was in order.  
Thankfully, both babies fell asleep within 5 minutes of setting out.  So I walked for ANOTHER hour!  I told Ken that at least it was a "full body workout" since I spent most of the walk waving my arms to swat away the bugs!  So, this was a very long day.  I am tired!

There is something to be said for walking in nature, on a warm, blue-sky day.  Although the calendar says that it is fall, today felt like summer.  The birds were chirping, the squirrels were running around, and the flowers were blooming.  And I had lots of time to just worship and pray as I walked.  It was really quiet on those tree lined streets.  I hardly saw any cars pass at all.  It gave me plenty of time to remember all that I am thankful for.  It was a long list.  And it gave me time to just be grateful for who Jesus is and all that he has done for us.  

Today Yom Kippur begins at sundown - the Day of Atonement.  Yom Kippur, also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.  At the end of this all, they can't really be sure that they have done enough to be free of their sin.  I am so thankful for my Savior and knowing that because of His sacrifice, I am forgiven.  I spent some of my walk today, praying that during this day of reflection and seeking God, that many Jewish people would have an encounter with Jesus.  

I just loved this "I hear His whisper today" from The Passion Translation....
"Rest in Me, O carrier of My glory. I have longed to pour out upon you even more of My love and power. Can't you see that I have designed you as a carrier of My glory? Come before Me this day and empty out your heart; pour it out at My feet, and I will fill you with such delight and joy you will not be able to contain it. For I am building My church through the glory of My presence. Stand in My presence until you know that I am your Strength. Even the powers of darkness are around you on every side, you can be strong, for I have wrapped My Glory-Robe upon your soul and nothing will be able to harm you. Gates of darkness will not prevail when I am near you. The days of heaven on earth are at hand. The days of the mighty moving of My Spirit will soon be seen by all. My powerful wind will blow away the clouds of doubt that have been over your mind and your heart. My Glory-Wind will make your enemies scatter and you will stand complete and secure. You will not be overcome by the fear that has overwhelmed many in this day, for I have made you an overcomer, a carrier of My glory. Trust Me and watch Me fight for you. Lean into My heart and watch My love win every battle. Don't be disturbed by those who stumble, for they stumble in the darkness. I have become your Light and your Salvation and you will have no fear and My love will keep you from stumbling. I have gone before you and made sure that your way is clear and your pathway secure, for I am your Father. My plans for your life extend beyond your view, beyond your understanding of My ways. You see only what is in front of you today, but I have gone into your future and I know the good things that will unfold before you. Never doubt that your days are in My hands; rest in Me, O carrier of My glory, and watch Me fill you, protect you, and make you strong."

Lord, direct me throughout my journey, so I can experience your plans for my life. Reveal the life-paths that are pleasing to you. Escort me along the way, take me by the hand and teach me, for you are the God of my increasing salvation. I have wrapped my heart into yours. 
Psalm 25:4-5 TPT

I loved the line..."I have wrapped My Glory-Robe upon your soul...".  During my walk, I was thinking about that line.  What an amazing comfort we have when we believe in Jesus.  We are forgiven and so much more.  Including that amazing glory robe!  I loved thinking about the Father's plan for my life extending beyond my view, especially as I looked at the end of the road into those woods.  Yes, it was a great day for thankfulness, prayer and peace.   

I'm tired tonight, but it is a good tired.  I feel free and secure in the love of Jesus.  And filled with peace.  

Jesus, thank you for today and time with those sweet babies.   Give them (and their mom and dad) wonderful sleep tonight.  Holy Spirit, touch all of those Jewish people as they seek God in their Yom Kippur celebrations.  Draw them to Jesus.  Thank you for The Passion Translation and the words that touch our souls.  Thank you Jesus for trees, for sunshine and for peace.  Amen

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sometimes it is right in front of your face.....

Today Ken and I made what might be our last trip to his dad's house to cut the grass and make one final walk through of the house.  Yes, we do believe that it is sold (closing is expected sometime next we are cautiously optimistic that it will actually BE sold).  It has not been a totally smooth process, but we are extremely thankful that we are inching closer to being done.  Just before we were getting in the car to leave, Ken remembered that he wanted a picture of this......
As long as I can remember this door knocker was on their front door.  We tried to remove it, but those bolts holding it on were just impossible to break free.  I really believe that the door will need to be replaced if the new owners don't want to keep this!  Saying goodbye to this door, this house, this yard was just another level of goodbye to dad.  
Tonight at dinner Ken remembered that the lawn mower he used today was actually dad's lawnmower that we inherited when dad moved to Florida in 2009.  We could not calculate how many times that mower traveled over that lawn, being pushed by dad.  
Yes it was a day of closure.  And it was really special that the day ended with that door knocker.  Exactly as it should....with our thoughts on M.T. Rowley.  

Sometimes it is right in front of your face....just like that door knocker.  But other times the reminders are much more subtle.  I am so thankful that the reminders from the Holy Spirit are never hidden.  They show up through every day events.  Today the reminder was to remember mom and dad and not to just see "the house".  It has been 5 months since dad died and almost 6 1/2 years since mom died.  The process of selling the house is just a necessary event.  It has been easy to distance my thoughts from mom and dad....that is until dad's name was right in front of my face.  That house was their "retirement downsizing" house.  They bought it brand new and decided exactly what it would look like.  They once had a fountain in their foyer! (I am not kidding!)  Later they had an organ in the foyer.  I remember them hanging "grass" wallpaper in the living room.  They turned the master bedroom into a "workshop"  where dad built many dulcimers and mom painted countless pictures.  At one time there was a large loom in the family room (and I still have some place mats that mom made on that loom).  Mom made a large needlepoint alphabet wall hanging that was in our nursery and I remember it being "blocked" on a table in the foyer.  The first December (1973) that mom and dad lived in this house, mom and I made Santa and Mrs. Santa dolls.  It was the first project of this kind that I had ever done.  My mom had those dolls displayed at Christmas for over 25 years.  Gwen and Doug met their great grandma's in that house.  Ken and my rehearsal dinner for our wedding took place in that house.  Mom and dad celebrated their 50th, 60th and 65th wedding anniversaries in that house.  Mom had always said that she would only leave that house, carried out feet first after she died.  And she got her wish.  It is amazing the memories- the events- that happened in that downsized house!  

Considering all of this "remembering", it doesn't sound so bad to downsize!  Although we are already living in a downsized house!  However (as Gwen has reminded me over and over) we need to consider a home with no stairs or at least a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor!  Fortunately we don't need to face this for several years.  So for today, I am just praying that the deal on the house closes and also feeling so thankful for the years that mom and dad spent in that house.  And I am especially grateful for that door knocker that brought me back to what is really important about that house!

Jesus, thank you so much for memories, for family and for houses that are so much more than buildings.  Holy Spirit I love that you remind me of what is really important.  Thank you for bringing the buyers of this house.  Bless them as they make their own memories in that place.   Amen

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Breakfast in honor of my mom.......

I woke up this morning and all I could think about was this breakfast.  It may not look like much, but peanut butter toast and hot cocoa was my breakfast for YEARS when I was growing up.  And it was one of my mom's favorite things.  We often had this "snack" late at night (while we were up playing cards or Yahtzee).  I am not sure if it is the "September" thing and back to school, or the cooler weather (although it has actually been HOT this week) that brought this into my mind.  Whatever the reason, I made my hot cocoa and toast and sat down at the table, all the while thinking about my mom.  Yes, it was one of those times when I was so missing her!  It would have been so nice to be able to pick up the phone and give her a call.  I don't think you ever stop missing your mom.  On Monday, while I was at Gwen's, I was talking with Ellie.  Somehow we got around to talking about Great Grandma Nona.  She was telling me that she remembered her and that she thought she was having a good time in heaven with Baby Lucas.  Then she said that she missed her.  I said I missed her also since she was my mommy!  I wish I could have taken a picture of Ellie's face.  She was stunned.  She said, "Great Grandma Nona was your MOMMY???"  She had never made that connection.  I suppose that this conversation with Ellie may be part of the reason I was thinking about this breakfast.

Isn't it interesting how two things just "go together?"  Some people would never think that peanut butter toast would taste good when dunked into a cup of hot cocoa.  But let me tell you, it is a real treat.  The peanut butter gets warm and gooey and the combo of chocolate with peanut butter is always good (think Reese's Peanut Butter Cups).  If you haven't ever tried this, I suggest that you do.  It is really good.  There are lots of other things that make good "partners".  French fries and ketchup, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits and gravy, the list could go on and on.  But it is those times that you find two things that should NOT go together.....but they do....that is so interesting.  My very favorite of these unlikely pairs is potato chips and ice cream!  

I've been thinking about my very special small group.  This group of ladies have been so important to me over the last year.  And we are really an "unlikely" group.  We have been assembled through some very unusual connections.   We are different ages, have different backgrounds, different jobs, our children are different ages.  Some of our kids are still very young and some of us have grandchildren.  Even our church backgrounds are very different.  But when this group of women prays, things happen.  We have seen answers to prayer, been supported and loved and learned and grown through each other in ways that are just amazing.  The presence of Jesus is so strong during our meetings and usually we just follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.   I didn't know most of these ladies just a year ago, yet today, I can say they are my closest friends.  They know my hopes, my dreams, and my heart.  I can count on these gals to pray when I send out a text to the group.   It is wonderful how Jesus can mold us and change us to become one cohesive group.  A mish-mash of different people that Jesus has assembled together.  And it is the BEST!

My wandering thoughts today have brought me to this point.  Never dismiss something because it doesn't seem to "go together".  Whether it is a food pair or people in a group.  Don't be quick to decide that it won't work.  I can assure you that peanut butter toast and hot cocoa is great...and a unlikely group of people can turn into a great support system and prayer warrior friends.

Jesus, thank you for knowing exactly what we need and when we need it.  Thank you for memories and reminders of loved ones who are now with you.  Holy Spirit, help us to stay open when you present us with new and different situations and combinations.  Thank you for great food and great friends.  And Jesus, thank you for my mom.  Amen

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Quality Time is really the best present!

Yesterday was a continuation of the celebration of my birthday!  Gwen and I took Lia and Ellie for a "girls day" that included a pedicure (Ellie's first) and then a painting party!
Everyone was so relaxed and happy after the "spa treatment" we got at the nail salon!  Lia picked out a purple polish and Ellie got pink sparkles (of course)!  Gwen and I went with a bit more subdued colors (Ellie had picked out a bright red for me, but I went with a more neutral shade!)  The painting party was run by the same company (Art Raves) that Gwen and I painted with previously.  They do this family paint at an ice cream shop on Saturday afternoons.  Really a neat activity. The good news is that each persons painting are just an "interpretation" of the sample painting, so each expresses the individuals personality. What could be a bit stressful (for all of us "non artists") becomes a relaxing and fun activity.   I just loved spending time with my girls!   It really is the best present ever!

I don't know why it is so hard for us to understand that one of the best things we can offer to Jesus is our time and attention.  Most of us know and appreciate that time with our loved ones is just wonderful.  I remember when I first learned about "quiet time" that it seemed like an impossible chore to set aside 30 minutes a day to read the Bible and pray.  I really couldn't imagine finding that time in my really busy schedule.  A wise older person suggested that I start with just 5 minutes a day and add an extra minute when I felt that I needed to.  And then I found that it helped me focus to have music playing.  And then I started adding special songs to the time.  And I got a couple of devotional books to use.  My time kind of bled over in to my commute time and that became my worship time.  The Holy Spirit is amazing in making any time we devote to Jesus so good that we just want to spend more and more time with Him!  It is a wonderful truth of the Christian life.  As I said above, I don't know why this is surprising when spending time together with people we love makes us hungry for more time with them!  

Yes, spending this special time with Lia and Ellie and Gwen did remind me of how important it is to set aside this quality time.  That realization reminded me that Jesus desires those special times with us.  Isn't it wonderful how the Holy Spirit can issue a "wake up" call through our lives?  I am going to be more aware of the time I set aside to be with Jesus during the coming weeks.  It might be time to add a minute or two to my schedule!  How about you?

Jesus, thank you for Lia and Ellie and Gwen.  What a wonderful treat it was to spend this special time with them.  Thank you for the reminder that you desire time with us!  Holy Spirit help us all to set aside this special time to be with Jesus.  Help us all to care for all of our relationships through sharing quality time with those we love.   Amen

Friday, September 11, 2015

Walking in someone else's shoes............

Isn't it just sweet when a little one puts on someone else's shoes and walks around?  Today Anna was wearing Lia's shoes and doing quite well walking around in them.  I was thinking about that old saying that you can't judge someone else unless you have walked in their shoes.  

Today is 9/11....... a day that most of us (over the age of 20 or so) will never forget.  One of those moments in time that each person knows exactly where they were and what they were doing when they first heard and/or saw those images that are forever in our minds..... a plane into a building...another plane into another building..... seeing them fall....a plane into another building....a plane into a field........ and then the aftermath of all of that.  The silent sky.  The TERROR.  

And then the years pass.  Life goes on.... but that event of 9/11 was somehow never far away.  This summer we visited New York and I blogged about the 9/11 memorials and museum.  
Here's another picture of the memorial.  Standing right over some of those names.  Those names.  This summer, as I looked at those names, all I could think about were the families of these people.  Those mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles... you know... the "loved ones" of all of the victims.  I remember in the days after 9/11, thinking about the families effected by this tragedy.  But I didn't really understand because I had "not walked in their shoes".

Isn't that true of so many different things?  People with cancer..... I can't really understand...I've never walked in their shoes.  You get the idea.  These are the groups that you don't ever want to be a part of. My family joined one of those groups last November, with the death of Lucas.  When I was standing there, looking at those names, it was just so real to me.  And I know it was because unfortunately, I had walked in those shoes of loss of a loved one.  An unexpected loss.  In 2015 I understood more..differently... than I did in 2001.

Yes, I think it is good to practice a pause.  What I am talking about is taking time to pause and consider.  Think about the situation, the person, the THING...whatever it is.... walk in their shoes.  Sometimes those shoes may seem small or maybe even really big.  Sometimes they just don't fit at all and you have to just very carefully try to hold your balance.   I didn't really do that on 9/11.  I remember just feeling a sense of relief that no one in my immediate circle was effected directly by this event.   But this summer, standing there, in that exact spot, the shoe fit.

Here is the thing about that pause I was talking about.  If during that pause we would just ask the Holy Spirit to show us exactly what that "shoe" is, you know, the one we should be walking in, we would do a better job at relating much more quickly.  I know that I forget so often, to even pause.  And then when I do, I don't ask for insight nearly enough.  I think this applies even on social media.  Facebook can be brutal with "instant" responses.  Let's all stop...pause...and let the Holy Spirit speak to us right now about 9/11.  I can say, for sure, this will not end in terror.  Peace, love, hope, faith, and even trust will be the result!

Jesus, thank you for reminding me that your love and care for us covers over anything!  Even 9/11!  What a comfort it is to know that you are as close as a pause.  Holy Spirit, help us to use this pause every day in all situations.  Be with all of those who lost loved ones in 9/11.  Fill us all with your peace and renewed hope in the assurance that Jesus reigns!  Amen

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Held in His hand!

I don't think there is anything cuter than little hands.  I received this super sweet Birthday Card today from the twins that I nanny!  It was so nice of the mommy to trace their hands and make this card for me.  Little Abbott and Violet are just 8 months old.  I spent some time today holding those little hands!  They like to pinch and pull hair and always seem to go for the eyes!  But they are sure cute baby patties!

I am so thankful for the provision of this nanny position.  Every time that I have needed to find a new job, Jesus has directed me to just the right spot.  Yes, I have had to spend time actually LOOKING for the job and I have had to wade through my share of spam emails and fake requests for my information.  But I know that each of my nanny positions were "hand picked" for me!  There is no doubt that Jesus has had me held in His hand.

Is there anything better than knowing that we are not just being "guided" but that Jesus is actually holding our hand?  As a parent (and grandparent) it is always a bit nerve racking when you let that preschooler walk WITHOUT holding their hand.  What a security it is when you have a firm hold of that hand.  And it is also security for that little child!  There will be no running into the street, or getting to far ahead.  And the best thing is that you have to walk where ever the person holding your hand takes you.  That is a great thing.

I can't get this song out of my head right now...........

He's got the whole world in his hands,
He's got the whole world in his hands,
He's got the whole world in his hands,
He's got the whole world in his hands.

He's got my brothers and my sisters in his hands,
He's got my brothers and my sisters in his hands,
He's got my brothers and my sisters in his hands,
He's got the whole world in his hands.

He's got the sun and the rain in his hands,
He's got the moon and the stars in his hands,
He's got the wind and the clouds in his hands,
He's got the whole world in his hands.

He's got the rivers and the mountains in his hands,
He's got the oceans and the seas in his hands,
He's got you and he's got me in his hands,
He's got the whole world in his hands.

He's got everybody here in his hands,
He's got everybody there in his hands,
He's got everybody everywhere in his hands,
He's got the whole world in his hands. 

I am so thankful that he has ME in his hand...and more than that, that He is holding my hand!  

Jesus, thank you for little hands to hold, for reminders of your great love.  Holy Spirit, help us all to be as little children and let Jesus hold our hands. Help us to go along willingly.  Keep us from fighting against your divine direction. Thank you for guiding and directing me when I most needed it.  What a wonderful gift your provision is for us.  Amen

Monday, September 7, 2015

When you feel "SEW" old!

Last week I bought this project.  Don't ask me might have been my upcoming birthday.  I have done some projects like this in the past, but not for years and years.  I happened to see a bag of embroidery floss for under a dollar on a clearance rack when I was shopping.  So I bought it!  Then, a few days later, I saw this bookmark on a clearance rack at another store for $1.23.  So I bought it!  I decided to put the two items together and started this project.  Sometime yesterday (on my actual birthday) I realized that doing this project made me feel.....well VERY OLD!  For some reason it just seems like something that a "grandma" sitting in a rocking chair, would be doing.  That or knitting!  I know that there are plenty of young people who do embroidery, but possibly because it was my birthday, it just seemed like a pastime for a very old person!  I am going to finish this project and I am actually enjoying it very much!  I guess you can't fight aging.

Today we celebrated my birthday with a get together at our house.  Having the kids and grandchildren here really makes our house seem SMALL!  It was a great day, in spite of the rain (while I was trying to grill lunch).  We did get a walk to the playground in (which made Zeke a very happy boy).  We all went - even Ken - Doug, Susie and Kylie and Sammy also!  It was a hot and humid walk and it started rain after a very short visit.  But we did get to the park

Later Gwen and Tim and the kids walked to the bridge.  It was a fun walk, looking for fish in the little creek.  We saw a few frogs, threw in some sticks and rocks, and even saw a couple small fish!  I snapped this picture of Gwen's family.  

It was a great day.  I was thinking about getting older, family, and the last year.  Of course, every time we are together, we are missing Lucas.  Actually, we are missing Lucas every day. Susie recently got a wonderful tattoo in memory of Lucas.   Even though time passes, we will never lose Lucas.  He is a part of our family.  I am so thankful for family.  Close family and distant cousins.  People that I haven't seen for years and these sweeties that I got to hug and kiss today.  Each member of my family has had a part in creating who I have become in these 61 years.  My mom, my dad, my siblings.... helped to shape my very being.  And I am so blessed to have Jesus filling my life with His hope, love and peace. 

 I picked up one of my favorite daily devotional books..."My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers and opened to the reading for September 6.........  the verse is John 7:38 (my river verse, of course)....  and I especially loved this part....
A river is victoriously persistent, it overcomes all barriers.   Into your life an obstacle comes and you do not seem to be of any use.  Keep paying attention to the source, to God, and he will either take you around the obstacle or remove it.  Never put your eyes on the obstacle or the difficulty.  That large rock is of no mind to the river.  Never allow anything - no difficulty, no obstacle to come between you and Jesus.  No experience, no emotion, no event - NOTHING can keep you from the one source of your life - Jesus.

Yes, Lucas' death was certainly a barrier in the river for me.  But, just as this devotion points out, the river keeps on flowing, and really pays no attention to the large rocks or even total blockages in the path.  The river just flows over or around or even under and continues on.  I am so, so grateful that Jesus has continued to be that life giving source for me and my family.  What a wonderful gift!  Just what I needed for my birthday!

Jesus, thank you for reminding me that your great love flow into us and through us no matter what our circumstances.  Holy Spirit, thank you for nudging me toward this devotion, just when I needed it.  Thank you for family, for food and for fellowship and fun.  

Thursday, September 3, 2015

When a billboard almost makes you stop in your tracks.........

I really needed to read and re-read this post above from the Passion Translation after seeing a large billboard while I was running some errands the other day.  I actually took a picture of the billboard so that I could share it on this blog.  But I really didn't want that sign to be the "advertisement" for my blog post.  So in contemplating what message needed to cover over the entire post about the sign, I decided that this message from John 1:1 was just perfect.   Here is the billboard I saw....
I could not believe the message of this sign.  This is not MY God!  Yes, I worship the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus.....but it ends there!  My God - Yahweh- is not the god of Muhammad.  And the idea that there will be any way to "gain peace" when you acknowledge this LIE that the god of Islam is Yahweh, is just crazy.   I was most offended by the placement of the name JESUS on this billboard.  I know that this is just an attempt to confuse and blind the eyes of people who don't understand how false this is.  It is just using Jesus to gain acceptance.  And it is so wrong.  I was reminded of this while I was "ranting" about the billboard.......
And when you KNOW Jesus, you don't add anything to that.  There is no "newer revelation" - no Muhammad, no Buddha, no special angel, no other thing.  Jesus is ALL that we need.  Not only for peace but for hope and joy and love and life.  Yes, I made the right decision in choosing the quote that began this blog.  Jesus - the Living Expression - was with God!  

Okay,  I believe that I am through with my rant for the day.  Please join me in praying that the Holy Spirit will speak TRUTH into everyone who sees and considers that billboard.  Pray for all those who follow Mohammad to have an encounter with Jesus that changes their life.  And if you are reading this blog, and you don't know the truth about Jesus, I encourage you to ask Jesus to show you who he is.  Your life will never be the same and I can guarantee that you WILL know peace - the peace that passes all understanding!  

Jesus, thank you for reminding me that you reign over this world and that includes that billboard.  You are the way, the truth and the life and your truth will be revealed!  Thank you for peace, even during rants!  Amen

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Peek a Boo!

Is there anything better than a giggle of a baby?  Today I had my two adorable nanny charges giggling at me as we played peek a boo.  These moments are certainly a boost when caring for 8 month old twins.  Yes, being a nanny for these baby twins is quite a lot for this "old lady".  But I am so thankful for this job and how well it has fit into my life.  I love that this is only a part time job.  I love that it is CLOSE to home (in the same town).  I love that the schedule fits my schedule and allows me to still be a grandma!  And I love being with babies.

I was thinking about this really sweet time I had with Gwen and Anna.......
 Gwen was reading this really sweet book called Hoot with Anna and I was sitting across the room!
Every time that Gwen held the book up to Anna's eyes, I would say "Peek A Boo" and  she would just giggle and giggle!
It was the sweetest thing.  I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see the amazement and discovery when little ones play.  And mixing a wonderful play time with reading is even better!  

I had a great time yesterday with Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna.  Gwen was at a meeting for her teaching position so I had charge of the kids.  She expected to be home in time to do "school" for Lia and Ellie, but her meeting ran late.  So this grandma got to "substitute" teach for the day.  I was not nearly as efficient as Gwen and we didn't get through all of the material before she got home, but it was still quite an experience for me.  During Ellie's science material I learned that the Florida Everglades is the only place on earth where there are crocodiles and alligators! How amazing is that?  And in a "read aloud" book for Lia I learned all about a "plain church" in New England in colonial times.  And when Anna woke up early from her nap, I learned just how difficult it is for Gwen to accomplish this school thing with a toddler and a 4 year old who also need attention.  Wow, I give her a lot of credit for taking on this task.  I was shocked at how much Ellie has learned in the 29 days of home school!  She told me facts about animals from her Science book.  She told me about the book that she already finished (Charlotte's Web) and read all of her sight words to me.  Lia is currently reading about Mayans and Incans, and Ellie and I read all about the Nile river and how important it was to Ancient Egypt.  This one little three hour session really showed me just how thankful I am that Gwen and Tim made this monumental decision to home school.  It is exciting to think about how much these kids will gain through this experience.  

So back to the peek a boo.....  On Sunday, during a worship time, I actually was thinking about peek a boo.  There was something in a song that brought my mind to this....really....I'm not making this up!  The words were "I never have to look around to see you are right there by my side. Even when I look away, you are always near to me."   And then I was thinking about the process of playing peek a boo with babies.  The purpose of this little game is to help them learn object permanence.  And that is exactly what we need to know about Jesus!  He is always there....even when we can't see him!  Yes, we all need to remember that during the times that we don't feel Jesus near to us, He is!  Just like in the game of peek a boo, we can learn (and remind ourselves) that Jesus is permanently with us!  Yes, peek a boo is a great thing!  I am so thankful for everything I am learning through children!  

Jesus, thank you for always being with us - even when we can't seem to realize it.  Thank you for the reminder to trust your permanence with us!  Thank you for providing the opportunity for Lia and Ellie to be home schooled.  And thank you for Gwen's willingness to carry this out!  Holy Spirit help us all to be open to learning and growing, even through things designed for children - or through the children themselves!  What a great lesson peek a boo is!  Amen