Friday, May 27, 2016

Times of transition..........

On Wednesday I got to watch this fine young man transition OUT of preschool and into Kindergarten!  I really can't believe that this guy is 5 years old already and has completed 3 years of preschool.  Gloryland, the preschool that he attends, is also where his mommy (Gwen) works as a teacher for 4 year olds!  Lia actually started in this school way back in the fall of 2008 when she was just 2 years old.  Part of the tradition at Gloryland is "walking the bridge" at the end of the year.  The kids each transition into their new level as they leave their present teacher at the bridge!
Here is Zeke making that big walk across that bridge.  It was after a wonderful program that included several songs by the children.  The big day finished with lots of goodbyes in their classrooms, some special treats and popsicles!  Zeke's teacher clearly knows those 4/5 year old boys because Zeke's favorite treat was this.....
a "mushstash" pencil!  Zeke thought this was the most amazing thing!  And so did Tim!  He spent some time with this under his nose also!  You just have to love those little boys!  

There were also some little ones who were not terribly happy to be leaving thier special teachers and classrooms.  I saw more than one mom and/or dad with a weepy child. And more than one mom and/or dad with some tissues for themselves!   Because, let's face it, change is difficult!  These times of transition seem to come at us out of the blue.  I mean, we all know that the end of the year is coming.  That those kids are growing up.  On one hand we are so excited to see all the new accomplishments, but the flip side of that is the longing for them to just stay right where they are.  

I mentioned in an earlier blog that Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna had been raising some butterflies.  Yesterday was their fly away day......
I got this picture from Lia (taken on her much older phone) but you can see the butterfly on the flower.  Yes, they all flew away.  And the kids were very sad to see them go.  Lia told me that later in the day she actually saw one of the butterflies back in their yard.  It is good for these young ones to begin to think about and understand that change and transitions into new things are just part of life.  

One of my very favorite Bible verses is Matthew 18:3....... "And Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven."  Yes, this is clear direction that we have to change!  And it is interesting that instead of being more grown up, we are instructed to become like kids!  I just love how The Passion Translation says this verse...
"Learn this well:  Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, learn about heaven's kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child, you will never be able to enter in.  Whoever continually humbles himself to become like this gentle child is the greatest one in heaven's kingdom realm."  

If that doesn't make you think about changes, I don't know what will!  This is the transition that is the most important.  Notice that what needs to change is our "way of thinking".   When you THINK that whatever that new thing is that is coming into your life will be wonderful, it usually is!  Our way of thinking needs to be from a heavenly perspective.   The good news of that verse is that we just have to become teachable after we change our way of thinking.   Since we know that Jesus is in control and He is leading us on, and will always be with us, change should not bother us.  And when we are feeling unsettled and uncertain as we face transitions, the peace of Jesus is always available to us.  We just have to ask!    

Jesus, thank you for your Word that gives us answers and direction when we need it.  Thank you for your peace in times of change in our life.  Help us to embrace change and remember to see things from a heavenly perspective.  Holy Spirit guide us into that "wide-eyed wonder" and keep us humble and gentle.  Thank you for growth and new things!  Amen

Monday, May 23, 2016

(Watching) Dancing through the weekend........

These two sweet girls had their dance recitals this weekend (thanks to Gwen for this great picture).  This was Ellie's first ever recital and Lia's 7th recital!  The studio that they attend is so large that there were three separate recitals and the girls danced on different days.  Being a typical grandma I couldn't just go to one, so I went to both!  It was so worth the long drives back and forth and sitting through the 2.5 hour program TWICE to see these two special dancers.  It was pretty clear that both girls LOVE to dance and both showed the crowd exactly how much they loved to perform.  Today I was talking to the girls about the recital and I asked them which group was their favorite.  Ellie said she liked the little girls (like her age) and Lia said that she loved the "Pointe" group.  This is the first time that Lia has ever seen the recital in person.  She has always been "back stage" and only sees the DVD after the fact.  Next year, as she moves to a higher level she will add an extra Ballet class each week. So she is working towards being on her toes in the future and part of that Pointe group.  I can't wait to see how far these two dancers go.  I see them dancing off into a bright and happy place!

Over the last few weeks, I have loved watching along with the grandkids, the wonder that is a butterfly!  I didn't get a picture of these the first day they arrived, but let me tell you they were SMALL!  Think little tiny black lines in this container.

After just one week, this is what they looked like!  I was shocked at how much they had grown.  This is a really neat kit that you can get that is all self contained.  The caterpillars are totally cared for in that jar, eating the "goo" that is in the bottom.  Eventually they spun their chrysalis on the lid of that jar.  (Again, I didn't get a picture).  The lid is moved to a special box inside of this "Butterfly House" and you wait for them to hatch.  Today I got to see the last of their five butterflies emerge!  It was really so amazing and something that I have never seem.  These Painted Lady butterflies will spend a few days stretching their wings and eating the fruit and flowers that the kids have left in their house.  I actually got to see one eating some orange today!   Then there will be a wonderful day when these are released to fly away!

Watching the dance recital was a lot like watching time pass right in front of you.  The little "Pre-ballet" dancers come on stage and you can't help but smile and clap as they twirl and do their steps. Here is sweet Lia, age 3 (soon to be 4) ready for her first ever recital.  I couldn't resist adding this picture!
And as you watch, you can see the kids progressing up through the ranks and soon they are the student assistants and teachers.  The oldest teens danced amazingly.  The lyrical dance was my favorite. This studio is actually owned and run by a women who started at this exact studio as a preschooler.  She eventually became a teacher and then bought the studio when the owner wanted to retire!  Each year their are the "graduating seniors" who dance their last recital and are "set free to fly away" on to new adventures.  Always a bittersweet moment with lots of tears.  

I am so thankful for this studio and the opportunity that Lia and Ellie (and most likely Anna as soon as she is old enough) have to grow up in this dance family.  Today as I was watching those butterflies in their house, I was thinking about the protection and safety offered by that house.  Those butterflies are able to grow up and be ready to be released.  And Lia and Ellie are gaining so much through this dance experience.  They have confidence and courage to perform in a huge auditorium. Not only do they need to know the steps, but they have to learn to cooperate and dance together as a group.  It takes hours of practice and lots of commitment.  These are really important life skills. It is such a blessing that Lia and Ellie can grow in all these ways, while simply having so much fun and loving dancing so much! 

I learned a lot this weekend.  I learned that time is really going by very fast.  It just didn't seem possible that this was the 7th recital!  I saw joy and wonder on the faces of these kids as they danced their hearts out.  I learned that not every butterfly is perfect - but that is okay.  And I also learned that the process is important.  It's not good to rush it.  Just sit back and watch. 

I had lots of time in the car and that gave me plenty of time to think and pray. Thinking about how fast time seemed to be passing...... well it was a good reminder to really be present in each day and not to spend time worrying about what is ahead.  And it was great to remember that everybody should dance every day!  When you get up and move things just don't seem as bad/sad/impossible as they did before.  Yes, it was a great weekend.  

Jesus, thank you for darling little dancers that bring joy and wonder back into our hearts.  Thank you for time to think and pray - even if it is during long car rides.  Holy Spirit, help us each to dance in each day and let go of worry about tomorrow.  Jesus, thank you for the amazing transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly!  Thank you for transforming each of us!  Amen

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Waving goodbye to another year..... after 42!

Yesterday was an important day for us.  Ken and I celebrated 42 years of marriage!  Here we are waving goodbye after our wedding as we left on our honeymoon.  Look at those youngsters!  Ken had just turned 22 and I was 19.  Yes, things were very different in 1974!  Notice the cigarette in Ken's hand?  He quit smoking shortly after we got married, something I am extremely grateful for!  It is kind of funny to have this photographic evidence of that.
Here we are in Ken's car.... a 1969 Torino.  I can't tell you how many times over the last 42 years I have heard Ken lament that he didn't keep that car.  I wish that we had taken time to make a "bucket list" when we got married.  I would love to have that list right now to look back on.  So my advice to anyone getting married (or if you have children and/or grandchildren getting married), is to make that list of all the things you hope for your life in the years ahead.  

Yes, those bucket lists.  Ken and I still have a couple of things on our current lists.  We have lots of places that we still need to travel.  Our recent Hawaii trip has that state checked off our list.  But it is really interesting how your list changes over the years.  As is always the case, it is always easier to see things in "hind sight" when looking back.  Yes, in looking back I would have made that bucket list and Ken would have kept that car!

I am feeling so thankful to just have these 42 years together to celebrate. In all honesty there have been lots of ups and downs over these 42 years.  Things don't always go as planned or hoped.    My recent favorite song is "Trust In You" by Lauren Daigle..

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through

When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation; the rock on which I stand

Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go, You’ve not already stood

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

I will trust in You!
I will trust in You!
I will trust in You! 

Ken and I didn't know what was ahead for us on that long ago day, 42 years ago. All of the things we thought we needed or wanted didn't materialize.  So much to be grateful for. So many times I wondered why that mountain didn't move or I didn't get the answer I was looking for.  In all of those things, I am thankful  that I can trust in Jesus.  And now looking ahead at the years to come, I am so thankful that there is nothing ahead that Jesus has not already seen and no place that He has not stood.   

Weddings are such a wonderful time of new beginnings.  And each anniversary represents the start of a new year... a chance to write a new bucket list!  This year my list looks like this.......
1.  Trust in Jesus 

And that is enough.

Jesus, thank you for this reminder in song that you understand our frustrations at life when things don't go as we want or hoped or planned.  Holy Spirit, help us to trust when it is not easy.  Thank you for being the solid rock that we can stand on in the midst of a shaky world.   Jesus, thank you for Ken and these 42 years of blessings.  Amen

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Days of birthday celebrations........

Yesterday was Ken's birthday and we spent Friday visiting an Auto Museum close to our house as he celebrated by NOT working!  We had a great day seeing all of those amazing cars from TV and Movies as well as some classic cars.  There is a large antique mall as a part of this museum and we had fun spending several hours wandering aisle after aisle of "collectibles" (think really old stuff that you can't believe are actually worth anything).  I saw so many items that had once been in my house or my mom's house.  Ken found a very old camera to add to his collection in his camera room.  One of the items I saw was a large container of very old Fisher Price "Little People".  And they were selling for $10 each!  It made me wish I had saved some of those old toys.  I also saw many dishes and bakeware items that I had used over the years.  All I can say is if you want to feel REALLY old on your birthday, go to an antique mall.  You will know that you are indeed an antique!

Today this sweet little one turned FIVE years old!  I really can't believe how fast the time has gone.  Zeke's special day will always come with extra memories for me since he was born on my mom's birthday (just after she had died!). She would have been 101 years old today.  It just doesn't seem possible. Zeke's "kid" birthday party was actually last weekend but today we had our family celebration with a knock-em down bowling party!  All three kids (Anna didn't bowl - she is just not quite big enough yet) actually did great (thanks in part to those magic bumpers!) I, on the other hand, had a very disappointing score.  I used to be a fairly good bowler, but it has been years since I have picked up a ball!   What fun it was to spend time together doing something that everyone really seemed to enjoy.  I think that we have some future bowlers in our midst!  

When we got home from our bowling outing I happened to find a very old photo album of "instant pictures" that I have not looked at for some time.
I found these two pictures of my mom and dad. The first is from Thanksgiving in 1978 when Ken and I spent the holiday there.  The second picture is the first time that my Mom and Dad saw Gwen.  She was 7 weeks old.  You can see in the picture that my dad was not doing well.  He had just spent several months in the hospital and was still recovering.   Mom was really anxious to see Gwen and they came as soon as they could.  What great memories I have of my mom and how wonderful it is to be able to honor her and remember her on this special day.

I happened to read this devotion today... from Oswald Chambers "My Utmost for His Highest".

Remember what you are saved for — that the Son of God might be manifested in your mortal flesh. Bend the whole energy of your powers to realize your election as a child of God; rise to the occasion every time. You cannot do anything for your salvation, but you must do something to manifest it, you must work out what God has worked in. Are you working it out with your tongue, and your brain and your nerves? If you are still the same miserable crosspatch, set on your own way, then it is a lie to say that God has saved and sanctified you. God is the Master Engineer, He allows the difficulties to come in order to see if you can vault over them properly — “By my God have I leaped over a wall.” God will never shield you from any of the requirements of a son or daughter of His. Peter says — “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” Rise to the occasion; do the thing. It does not matter how it hurts as long as it gives God the chance to manifest Himself in your mortal flesh. May God not find the whine in us any more, but may He find us full of spiritual pluck and athleticism, ready to face anything He brings. We have to exercise ourselves in order that the Son of God may be manifested in our mortal flesh. God never has museums. The only aim of the life is that the Son of God may be manifested, and all dictation to God vanishes. Our Lord never dictated to His Father, and we are not here to dictate to God; we are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. When we realize this, He will make us broken bread and poured-out wine to feed and nourish others.

I especially loved the line that I highlighted and underlined above.  And it reminded me of my mom.  So often she would say "stop whining"!  She was not a whiner at all.  She never let on when there was one of those difficulties that are mentioned above.  She just kept on going through it.  I am so thankful for that example.  It was a good reminder.  Yes, this gives me a new daily prayer.....  "Jesus, I pray that you not find any whine in me today".   And I loved the last line of this devotion..... Jesus is making us broken bread and poured out wine to feed and nourish others.  WOW!  

Today is one of those days when I am really feeling the "generational" place I am in.  I am remembering my mom, while enjoying being with my children and grand children.  There is a weight to being on the top of that family tree. Yes, a weight and responsibility.    More than anything I want to make that last line of the devotion my own prayer and direction.  I want this for my family and also for the world around me.  

So birthday celebrations are over for our family.....for now.  Lia's birthday is in just two weeks!  Yes, it is a wonderful way to love on my little sweeties and also spend time remembering my mom and all that she gave to our family.  

Jesus, thank you for birthday's and wonderful time together with family.  Holy Spirit, remind us all to stop whining and instead help us rise to our rightful place as sons and daughters of the King and do what we have to do!  Give us grace and courage to share all of Jesus with the world around us.  Thank you for Ken and Zeke and of course, my mom.  Amen

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Feeling so thankful for.......blessings.

 I recently found this picture of Gwen and I with my mom taken in 2005.  I just love - LOVE - this picture for so many reasons.  What a wonderful mom and grandma my mom was.  Of course with Mother's Day a few days ago I have been thinking about and missing my mom.  She has been gone now for 5 years and I still catch myself thinking about calling her.  Isn't it funny how our brains work?  My mom prayed for her children and grandchildren every day.  She was a rather "stoic" German, and didn't talk much about her faith.  But in the last years of her life, she passed her strong faith on to me.  She daily read her Bible and always did a daily devotion of some kind.  Christian music was her favorite and she would listen to anything that I would send to her.  She loved the Christian Book store and would find just the right gifts for those around her.  Oh how she doted on ALL of her 9 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren.  Her very favorite thing was holding those sweet little babies.  I know that if you talked to each of her grandchildren you would hear different stories about mom.  Gwen and Doug had a chance to really build a relationship with her after my dad died.  She would come and spend several weeks with us and because we talked on the phone all the time (when long distance wasn't cheap!) my kids felt like she really knew them.  Gwen had a particularly close relationship with her and from the time she was little would talk about Grandma Nona being at her wedding.  Thankfully, Gwen was married in 2001 and my mom was front and center for that big day.  Gwen and Tim made many trips to visit with her and Tim will always remember Yahtzee games at her dining room table.  When Lia and Ellie came along, Great Grandma Nona hugged and loved on them at every visit.  They still talk about her all the time.  They love to tell Zeke all about her, since he was born just after she died.  I am just feeling so incredibly thankful for my mom and the impact she had not only on me, but on my children and grandchildren.   My life was shaped by her faith and trust in the constant care of Jesus for her family.

As you may know from reading my previous blogs, we as a family have not been without our ups and downs. But we are very blessed indeed.  There have been many different kinds of struggles and trials, as I am sure that most families face - each in their own way.  But how can we not feel thankful when we live in a country that has freedom to worship and pray and sing about Jesus.  We have clean water at the touch of our hand.  Most of us have a roof over our heads and dry and comfortable places to sleep and eat.  And most of us have food to eat each day.  When you watch the news from around the world, you know just how blessed we are in the United States.

Today I am thankful for this little boy and being able to connect with him.
His name is Stephene and he is 9 years old.  He lives in a village in western Uganda.  You can read about the village and the great needs that they are facing at this web page Ayera Transformation Project.  Stephene goes to the Ayera Royal Academy and is in third grade.  He has not been well physically but is better now that he is going to school. A very small donation helps pay for not only his schooling but also provides food for him and a chance to learn about Jesus.  I am so thankful today for the people that Jesus has put into my life that bring these kind of connections.  Sometimes the needs around the world look so big that you feel like you can't do anything about them.  But today, I am feeling blessed to be able to touch Stephene and share out of the bounty that Jesus has given to my family.  

Yes, this feeling thankful blog comes right after my blog about not being afraid to fail.  Isn't it true that most of us would like to do SOMETHING to help, but are afraid to step out.  Today I am reminded that each one of us just needs to do their part.  None of us have to do it all.  If we all just touch one person, that is enough.  I have high hopes for Stephene!  I believe that Jesus has a plan and a purpose for his life that will have a ripple effect and touch many.  Just imagine what a difference we could make if each one of you just found one person to impact for Jesus today.  Maybe it is a neighbor or friend of even a family member or maybe it is a little boy in Uganda.  Let's all do this.  We can't fail because Jesus is in this! We can change the world - one person at a time!

Jesus, thank you for the many blessings you have poured into my life.  Thank you for my family - especially my wonderful mom.  What a great privilege it is to live in the United States.  Help us all to find the one that needs our help and encouragement.  Thank you for Pam and Okaka Dokotum and their work in Uganda.  Holy Spirit, continue to provide all that is needed in their ministry.  Jesus, thank you for the blessing of children and grandchildren.  Amen 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

What would you do if you couldn't fail?

What would you do if you were assured that you would succeed?  That is an amazing and thought provoking question.  Over the last week I have been thinking about this and realize how many times the fear of failure has prevented me from doing/going/acting on something that was actually a prompting of the Holy Spirit.  Just imagine how different our world might many inventions that could change our day to day many books available for others to many dances were never many songs were never sang or played.  You get the idea.  This week I saw my grandchildren believe they could make a difference and they proceeded without any fear of failure.

Gwen and Tim have some good friends that they have known since before Lia was born.  They actually met in a young couples group at their church.  All of the gals seemed to be pregnant together and Lia was actually the first of many babies born over the next years to that group of friends.  Kelly and Jim had a sweet baby girl, Sophia, six months after Lia (Lia is going to be 10 soon and Sophia is 9).  Within a year they were given the diagnosis for Sophia of Lissencephaly, a very rare and disabling brain malformation.  Thankfully, Sophia is doing well and now Kelly and Jim are in need of a wheelchair accessible van to transport Sophia.  They have set up a Go Fund Me for Sophia to help raise the much needed support for this van.  This is sweet Sophia and her mom!
I can assure you that this family is deserving and the need is very real for a new vehicle.  This is a much welcome problem since Sophia is growing and needs a bigger wheelchair!  

Now this is what Lia and Ellie did when they heard about this need for Sophia.  Without any prompting from mom or dad (actually both were at work at the time) they decided that they needed to raise money to give to this cause.  At 7 and almost 10 there were not many options for fund raising.  But these sweet and caring kids decided to post signs on their front door, telling Sophia's story and asking for donations.  

This is kids helping kids at the most basic level.  They saw a need and without any thought that they might fail, set about to do their part for their friend.  I don't know about you but I know this made me realize how much more promptly I could respond to the Holy Spirit than I have been.  

What is the Holy Spirit speaking to you about right now?  Do you follow a missionary or other church worker who might need your help?  Is there a shelter or Pregnancy Center in your town that needs donations - or volunteers?  How about your local food pantry.  Not only food donations.... but your time.  Or has sweet Sophia touched your heart?  Donations and prayers are much appreciated.  Kelly is also holding a large garage sale (in the St. Louis area) in the next few weeks to raise money for this cause and I know that prayers would be much appreciated for a successful sale.  

Won't you join me in being more willing to TRY without the fear of failure?  Fear is not from Jesus and failure is just a stepping stone to success.  So lets all be willing to step out as the Holy Spirit leads us!  

Jesus, thank you for the faith and action of children and the example that is to us.  Give us all courage and boldness to step out into new things and along paths that we have not walked before.  Jesus, bless Jim and Kelly and Sophia and Eli.  Continue to guide and protect them as they work towards this goal.  Amen

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Celebrating Mother's my small group!

We had a special Mother's Day brunch at my small group.  Today was a good day for me to be thinking about and celebrating Mother's Day.  It was the 37th Anniversary of the day that I became a mom!  Gwen's birthday!  This is a kind of fuzzy and a bit outdated (2014) picture of Gwen and I that was actually taken by one of the kids at a family gathering.  Usually Gwen and I are the ones that have the cameras in our hands and do the picture taking.  So we don't get many pictures of us together!   Happy Birthday to my wonderful, sweet Gwen.

My friend had a great idea for this morning's meeting. We  each got to pick a pretty tea cup and then we all filled up these cups with affirmations and blessings for each other!
We had spent some time thinking about and praying about our own mothers.  It was interesting to hear others talk about ways that they felt they had not appreciated their moms. The exact thing I was thinking about on my way to the meeting this morning.  It was a so good to forgive our mothers and to forgive ourselves for all of those times we failed as mothers.   We prayed for our children (31 plus 14 spouses of our kids) and grandchildren  (23 grandchildren). When you list these numbers it suddenly doesn't seem like a "SMALL" group!   As I have said before, this group is really a life line for me and I am so thankful for all of them!  What a meaningful and powerful time to stand together as mothers and bring our generations to Jesus!  And then we each got to fill up our friends cups with thoughts and prayers and blessings.   

I spent some time this afternoon meditating on each of those little pink pieces of paper in my cup.  Words have great power and even a few words on a little card can really have a big impact.  I also thought about the words that I had put on each of those papers in my friends cups.  Why is it that we don't take a moment to affirm each other more often?  If I learned one thing today it was how important it is to encourage and bless each other.  I am so thankful for these friends and I am thankful for my friend Jesus.......
What a Friend We Have In Jesus
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

This old hymn is one of my very favorites from my childhood and was also one of my mom's favorites.  Recently I encouraged Gwen to teach this to her kids.  On Monday when I was helping Ellie with her school work, we got to sing this song together.  It brought back so many great memories of my mom and was a good start to my mother's day celebrations.   I especially like the last few lines of this song..... and I think of my mom and so many others who are in that bright and glorious place of endless worship with Jesus.  What a great comfort and peace that brings.  

So be encouraged today in the love of Jesus.  Celebrate your mother and affirm her with your words of thanks and praise even if she is no longer alive.  And take a few moments and affirm your family, your friends and your neighbors.  

Jesus, thank you for today.  What a blessing it is to share your love with others.  Holy Spirit remind us all to affirm those around us.  Give us words of grace and power and blessing to share.  Thank you for songs that touch our spirits.  And Jesus, thank you for Gwen!  Amen


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Finding the wonder in the world......

Is there anything better than watching a two year old explore the world?  Yesterday I watched Anna taking in the (sort of) spring weather as I played outside with the girls while Gwen and Zeke were at school.  She loves dandelions!  Of course, they are flowers to her and she picked them over and over.  On our walk to the park we found pine cones and flowers and birds and all sorts of amazing other things for an adventurous two year old to examine.  Anna is at an interesting stage right now.  She talks in long, very detailed sentences and expects that you know exactly what she is talking about.  The only problem is that this grandma doesn't have the gift of translation of two year old speak!  At times I can figure out exactly what she is talking about.  But more often than not, she gets understandably frustrated at me and would come and take my hand and lead me to exactly what she wanted.   And then, of course, I figured out exactly what she was saying!  Because Anna is two, you can not take your eyes off of her when she is outside (or inside either for that matter!) So my view was pretty much limited to anything that Anna was doing.  But here is the thing, I love that she is helping me to translate the wonders of the world!

While sitting on the sidewalk (where Anna was very clear that I was supposed to sit) I discovered that the sun felt wonderful on my face.  There was a bit of a chilly breeze and it was only around 50, but the sun was shining brightly.   After more than a week of what seemed like endless rain, that was a welcome discovery.

After Anna brought me several different dandelions, I was looking at them closely.  I discovered that they are really quite pretty!  And each one was slightly different than the others.  Each one had a color that was not just "yellow" but was actually lots of different shades of yellow.

On our walk to the park we found several places where the sidewalk was very uneven.  Anna was fascinated with these little "steps".  She wanted to go over and over them, trying out her stair stepping skill.  She found a few little stones stuck in the crack and gave them to me to carry!  I forgot all about them and found them in my pocket after I got home.

One of the very fun things that Lia and Ellie and I discovered at the park were lots and lots of birch trees that were "shedding" their bark.  I picked up several large pieces of this bark to bring home with us.  Recently the girls have been learning about Native Americans and we talked about how they used this bark as paper.  So after it had dried out for a few hours, Ellie put some of it to use!  I'm not sure why the blog turns the photo, so you have to look at this sideways!  It is a picture of Ellie (I think she is swinging!) and she has written her name!  Thanks to this little adventure, I know I will be looking at birch trees with a bit of a different perspective.
With all that is going on out there in the media, in social media, on the news...... it is a refreshing change to find the wonder that is in the world around us.  In Psalm 19 we are reminded that all of creation reveals God to us.....
The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  They have no speech, they use no words, no sound is heard from them.  Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

Yes, being outside on a sunny spring day can lead to feelings of great thankfulness. I am convinced that it was always the plan for the generations to be together.  I feel so fortunate to have time to be with my grandchildren every week.  It is much easier to find the glory of God through the eyes of a child.  

So spring is upon us.  Take some time to sit on the sidewalk.  Let the sun warm your face and the breezes toss your hair.  Examine a couple of flowers (or weeds) up close and be amazed at the details.  Go on a walk and don't rush and don't miss all of the wonders along the way.  You will find the wonder in the world and you will see the glory of God!

Jesus, thank you for curious two year olds, for flowers and bright sunny days.  Holy Spirit help us all to slow down and see all of the ways that your glory shows in the world.  Keep our eyes and ears open to your prompting to experience our wonderful world.  Amen