Monday, October 9, 2017

The rainbow with all the colors...........

My Saturday with the kids was a bit different than usual since it rained for most of the day!  Usually the kids spend many hours outside.  Instead, we watched a couple of movies - something that we rarely do.  Finally in the late afternoon, I prompted the kids to go outside with their umbrellas (just to burn off a bit of energy).    I took a quick picture of their umbrella "cuteness" since this grandma just had to capture this moment...
I left the kids watching another round of rain clouds forming in the sky, and went inside!  Suddenly the door flew open and Ellie announced, "Grandma, come quick!  There is a double rainbow!"  
And there it was! Standing on their front porch and looking at the sky, a perfect full arch, double rainbow!
I got several pictures of the rainbows, but I especially love this one with the kids looking at the sky.
It was such an awe inspiring and simply beautiful sight.  We all just stood  and stared for the longest time.  Then Ellie noticed something even more special.....
As the rainbow started to fade away, one portion became very visible and you could clearly make out ALL THE COLORS OF THE RAINBOW - even the violet (that is so often hard to see)!  My picture really does not do it justice, but you could clearly see.... (as the song says)


What an amazing thing it was to stand under that very bright and very clear rainbow with ALL the colors!  It was indeed, a bright spot in a very grey and dreary day.  And every though it wasn't the end of the rain that day, I know that as I reflected on the day, it was that beautiful "rainbow with all the colors" that stood out to me.  

Sometimes you just need that one bright colorful thing to change a bad day into a really good day, don't you?  I love the symbol of the rainbow and the Biblical promise to Noah that God would never again flood the entire earth.  It is the also a symbol of hope and light after times of loss and darkness.  Our family has been blessed by Grace,  a "Rainbow baby". Bonus picture of Grace - just because!

I found this description of a rainbow baby and I love it!  The time after Lucas died has felt like a storm with lots of darkness.  Even in that time of dealing with the ravages of that storm, there was hope.  We were able to hold onto the promises of the Bible, knowing that we would see Lucas again one day, and knowing that there would be a rainbow!  When the sun shines through the clouds, the rainbow appears.  Knowing that Jesus is always with us - even in those really dark and hard times - gives us hope!  

As I was thinking about this, I decided that really the rainbow is all about HOPE!  Before the storm, during the storm, after the storm, dealing with the effects of the storm...... when you think about that bright rainbow..... you have hope.  Yes, I am so thankful for that very special rainbow with all the colors.  

Jesus, thank you for always being with us.  Holy Spirit, remind us when it is especially dark, or when storms are all around us, that the light Jesus will break through those clouds.  Help us to hold onto the hope found in you.  Thank you for letting me see through the eyes of the children around me.  Amen

Friday, October 6, 2017

The prayers of a little girl....

Today I am having the special opportunity to be with Ellie, Zeke and Anna.  Gwen, Tim and Lia (who unbelievably is old enough to GO on the youth retreat with her mom and dad.....sigh) are away for a couple of days on a retreat.  So, it is just the younger kids and me, roughing it at home.  After a dinner of frozen pizza, a bath that was longer than it should have been, a bedtime snack, it was finally time to tuck those sweeties into bed.  Anna was first.  She insisted on "reading" to me her current favorite book (which she has memorized).  I loved that at this page she "read" SPRINKLES instead of freckles!  After the book, I asked her if she wanted me to pray or if she wanted to pray.  She immediately said that she wanted to pray.  She took a very long time and in whispered prayers that I couldn't hear, really poured out her requests to Jesus.  She told me that she really needed to pray for her "other" grandpa (Tim's dad) because he had a big line on his body and the doctors are giving him medicine.  But Jesus needed to make him all better. (As an aside, Tim's dad has recently had a major surgery for pancreatic cancer.) She prayed for her mommy and daddy and Lia and all the kids that are on "treat" to have a good time and be safe.  And then she prayed some more quiet prayers, just between her and Jesus. 

Let me tell you, there is nothing in the world better than the prayers of a little three year old.  What a powerful reminder that Jesus hears all of our requests.  That he knows even the things that we just whisper to him.  What a wonderful thing it is to sit next to a fresh from the bathtub, sweetheart as she sings Jesus Loves Me!

I really needed this time with the kids, more than I realized.  Lately, with all of our home remodeling, I confess that I haven't been spending as much quiet time as usual.  I have not really been very good at just stopping and spending time with Jesus.  Anna reminded me tonight that it is good to slow down and just rest and then pour out those whispered prayers.   I am thankful that I will have some time this weekend to do just that.

A friend asked me this week what I had been hearing from the Lord.  The message that has been in the front of my mind is that this is a time for us to be quickly connected to Jesus.  As I started to blog about Anna's prayer tonight, I realized that this might seem like a bit of a contradiction to that thought.  But it is really NOT a contradiction!  The key is WHEN you slow down and actually make that time to pray, you can be QUICKLY  in that intimate, one on one conversation with Jesus. 

I love that prayer can be part of everything we do.  When I think about this, I am reminded of the movie "Fiddler on the Roof".  (One of my all time favorite movies).  Through out the movie, Tevye (the main character) is constantly in prayer - no matter what he is doing.  There is a constant conversation between him and God. 

I want to do a better job of staying in that place of such an intimate connection to Jesus, that no matter the place, or the circumstance, a conversation can happen.  I believe that will be my goal for this month.  Won't you join me in this process? 

Jesus, thank you for this special time away from my routine.  Holy Spirit, remind me to open up the line of communication with Jesus through out the day.  Give us all those prompts to whisper our deepest needs to Jesus.  Thank you for always being with us, Jesus, even when we don't remember.  And Jesus, thank you for hearing all of our prayers!  Amen

Sunday, October 1, 2017

When an accomplishment gives you an improved point of view....

In a matter of just a couple of days, this little one went from learning how to sit up from her tummy, pushing up to a crawl position, moving forward (slowly) crawling, to zooming across the floor crawling and finally to pulling up to her knees!  All in one week!  Suddenly baby proofing is very necessary. And the dogs have decided they need to move when they see Grace approaching.  She has been fascinated by the many objects that she had never noticed before....things like magazines on a table!  Or the dog's food and water bowls.  And the cords for the lamps.  You get the picture.  This sweet little girl - 8 months old today - is growing up fast.  One of her favorite places to crawl towards is the patio door. 
She loves it outside and will sit and watch the trees and the birds.  I am sure that Doug and Susie will be finding many, many sets of hand prints on those doors!  One thing is for certain, she is not sitting in one place for very long these days.  There is so much to explore!  That new perspective from her knees has opened up so many wonderful treasures.  It's amazing what a new point of view will do for you.

Ken and I have had another busy week, working on our house.  Sometimes the "small things" take longer than the BIG things.  Last week the BIG cabinet installation happened.  This week has been about completing those smaller projects.  Things like cabinet liner, shelf adjusters, new wall shelves, door hardware, electric for the dishwasher - each project taking more time that you thought it would.  And these projects are not without their own challenges -  screws that are too short, brackets that didn't fit, wiring that wasn't correct.  Each challenge requiring one more trip to the home improvement store.  In the midst of those trips, we did manage to choose our counter top (has to be ordered and will be here in about 3 weeks) and sink.  It's pretty sad when the checker at the store realizes that she has seen you three times in one day!  

But, when I stand back, and look at those new cabinets, it is certainly an improved view over our old ones.  Each small project (even the ones that you can't really see) is its own accomplishment on the way to having an updated home.  I have to confess that I had to throw out quite a bit of expired food from my cabinets.  But what a great feeling to glance into those cupboards now, knowing that everything is organized and FRESH!  

I got a bit of a break from all the home improvement this weekend "dog sitting" for Sammy and Kylie, while Doug, Susie and Grace went camping.  I enjoyed the time playing with the dogs without having to keep an eye on Grace!  I managed to tire them out playing in the back yard last evening, enjoying our first really cool, fall weather.  This gave me the chance to see a really glorious sunset and breathe in some cool, crisp air.  

Earlier in the day, Ken and I had caught this guy lounging on our air conditioner....
I was surprised to see this Praying Mantis since they have not been around much anymore.  But it was another small thing, that gave us a break from our home improvement projects and shifted our vision outside for a bit..  

All of these home projects can really get to you and cause you to become so SELF focused that it is all you can think about!    Last night, I was thinking about how blessed we are.  We have a home - even if it is need of improvement!  We have food in our cupboards and the ability - both money and access to get more when we need it.  Here in the United States, we take our tap water for granted.  Turn on the faucet and there it is.  Yes, a roof over our heads, food and water and clothing.  So much to be grateful for.  Today I am thankful for a new point of view.  A point of view that has reminded me just how much I have.

I have been collecting items for my Operation Christmas Child boxes. If you don't know about this program, click on the link and find out more about this amazing way you can help someone who is NOT as blessed as you are.  For the last two years, our family has assembled boxes to honor and remember our sweet Lucas, who would be three years old this year.  It seems a fitting way to share with another little boy or girl, out of the riches we have been given.  Looking at the small items in each box and thinking about how much we have, it seems like a very small sacrifice to make.   And I can imagine that little boy or girl, opening that box, and suddenly having a very different view of the world.  A view changed by the love of Jesus, shared through a few small items out of our bounty. 

Jesus, thank you for being the one who can change our point of view!  Holy Spirit, help us to look around and see the many blessings that we have.  Even as we work to accomplish needed tasks, shift our point of view outside of ourselves.  Keep us aware of your presence Jesus, in nature and in other people.  Thank you for Operation Christmas Child and the many children who have been blessed through these boxes.  Remind us to share all that we have.  Thank you Jesus.  Amen

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Gee, where have I been all month???

What a crazy busy couple of weeks it has been.  My last blog talked about all kinds of decisions that we had to make regarding the updating of our house.  Nothing is ever easy when you are trying to do as much as you can yourself (or think Ken is doing as much as he can).  Even just getting a delivery of our cabinet order was an ordeal!  The delivery service promised us a delivery between 1-3pm and by 4:30 we figured something must be wrong.  Then they said they would deliver between 6-8pm.  But at 5:45 we got a call that the delivery truck had been in an accident.  Several phone calls later, we managed to arrange to still get our cabinets that day.  They arrived at 8:15pm and all the cabinets were safely in our garage.  Sigh.

The biggest ordeal for me (the floor was the biggest for Ken) has been the removal of a tile backsplash we had in the kitchen.  It took me three full days to scrape off the tile.  And then three more days to totally remove the tile backing from the wall.  My hands (knuckles) and thumbs have many blisters and scrapes.  But the job is done.   The best part is feeling like I actually participated in the kitchen redo!

On Saturday those long awaited cabinets were finally installed.  Ken and I both know that without the help of these two amazing young men, Tim and Doug,  it would have been a LONG process!
Our entire family (all 11 of us) spent all day Saturday together while Tim, Doug, and Ken worked on the kitchen.  Now that alone, is an amazing adventure when everything from your kitchen is in your livingroom - stacked on the chairs, in boxes and totes filling the space. Susie and Grace and Gwen, Lia, Ellie, Zeke, Anna and I mostly stayed upstairs in the master bedroom!  It made for a really cozy time.  The kids spent most of the time looking at my scrapbooks and playing with Grace. We also turned on the television - something that we rarely do when we are together.  But desperate times call for desperate measures!   Normally we would have been outside.... but that is the rest of the story of Saturday.  Doug and Tim were a powerhouse team and they got those cabinets in with only a brief stop for lunch.  We had a deadline of 4pm and with just a few minor things left to finish, we have new cabinets!

The reason for the 4pm deadline is that Gwen, Susie, Lia, Ellie, Zeke and I were all running a 5K race (first time for all of us - except Gwen who has run many races) that started at 5pm.  The real killer of the day is that it was 94 degrees - on September 23rd!  And there was an air quality warning making it difficult to breathe - and really nasty to run.  There was an announcement at the start of the race urging everyone to slow down and take it easy, and to drink lots of water.  I was the tail end of the pack.  Lia was the fastest (with Tim running and pushing Anna in a stroller - and Tim ran a Marathon last Sunday in this 90 degree weather), followed by Susie and Ellie, then Zeke and Gwen (who ran with Zeke and Ellie),  and then - finally - me.  I was just very grateful to walk - yes WALK across that finish line.  Somewhere around mile two, I wasn't so sure I would make it.  The cup of ice that I got certainly helped, but it was hard to press on while being passed by so many people.  Even a blind guy passed me!  This picture sort of sums up this blog.  I am hot and tired - but I  finished the race and got that medal!  And notice those lovely bruises and scrapes on my knuckles?  See the paragraph above about the tile scrapping.  

Because of all this house stuff, and this race, I missed a long awaited conference with many wonderful speakers.  I had registered for the event and even reserved a hotel room, long before I knew that this would be the week for kitchen work.  I decided last weekend (after spending three days working on the tile, with more work ahead), that it just didn't make sense to go to the conference.   Sometimes you have to make hard choices.  And it was the right decision.  Having a working kitchen again, after two weeks with no sink, no stove and no cabinets, feels so good tonight. 

Yes, this month has been about pressing on towards a goal (home remodel) and finishing the race.  Even when the process is long and hard and slow and very, very hot.   I can see God's hand in the timing of the race.   I had plenty of time to be with Jesus on that walk (notice I didn't say run).  I was so thankful for our family, who came together and helped us during this process.  I was encouraged, remembering these verses.....

"So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into.  Then we will be able to run life's marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us."  Hebrews 12:1b - The Passion Translation

Jesus reminded me that I can do difficult things.  It is easy to begin thinking that since you are now a "senior citizen" you have lost your strength.   But the joy of the Lord is my strength!  And that is ageless!  I was able to finish the race - and that is what mattered.  Not how fast I finished, but that I finished.  The last mile or so, I was determined to finish!  It felt great to get that medal around my neck.  

Today our home redo project seems much smaller than it did.  I have a confidence that we will finish it and we will finish it well.   It doesn't matter how long it takes, it will get done.  And I feel so blessed, so thankful and so glad to be done with this part of my "Life's Marathon"!

Jesus, thank you for always being with us - no matter where we are.  Whether it is at a large gathering, or on a solitary walk - you are speaking to us.  Holy Spirit, remind us that we can do hard things when we know that Jesus is our strength.  Thank you Jesus for giving us passion and determination to take on all that life throws at us.  Amen 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Life is making decisions

This was certainly one of the highlights of the last couple of weeks for me!  We had all the kids and grandkids over on Labor Day weekend to celebrate my birthday!   We spent the entire day outside on our back patio.  It was really quite lovely.  We grilled some wonderful smoked pork tenderloin, made by Doug.  The kids had fun and Grace even took a nap! The adults actually got to talk to each other!  It was such a great day.   Here is a bonus picture of Grace with Grandpa....

We were especially thankful for the great weather that day BECAUSE of what has made these past weeks so interesting!  Ken and I have decided to finally bite the bullet and do some very much needed home improvement projects.  And the biggest project (so far) is to replace all of the flooring on the first floor.  This required us (and by us, I mean mostly Ken) to remove several layers of tile from the last 39 years!  What a big mess!  Complicating this process is the fact that we have a very small home and very little room to move things around.  I just have to keep reminding myself that it will be so nice when it is completed!  And since we are redoing the flooring, it makes sense to remove our very nasty kitchen cabinets at the same time and finally have an updated kitchen.

I thought that I was prepared for this project - but I had no idea how many decisions we would have to make!  Picking out the flooring was actually the easiest part.  We had to figure out how to remove the old tile.  How to dispose of all the garbage (a special plug for the Bagster Dumpster - it was simply amazing for us.  After purchasing the bag we decided to set it up inside our garage.  It worked great.  There is no time limit on the disposal so we could take as long as  needed to fill it up.  And just a couple days ago, we dragged it to the curb (with the help of the car) and they picked it up and hauled it away.  We will soon be starting on bag number two!)  Then suddenly we were talking about replacing all of the interior doors in our house.  And changing the doors to the laundry area.  Then it was figuring out if it made sense to replace our cabinets and then finding ones that would fit the space.  Each time we seemed to have things decided, one more thing would come up.

As of right now, we have a concrete floor in half of our downstairs and are close to actually starting to install the new floor.  We are still "in process" of preparing the floor (removing all of the adhesive and cleaning and sealing the concrete) but it finally feels like this new floor will get done! And then it will be on the kitchen cabinets!  Of course we need  a new counter top and back splash.  More decisions.  It would be nice to think that this would be the end of the project, but then it will be on to the other half of our downstairs and then drywall repairs and paint!  Have you noticed just how many colors of paint there are these days?  There is an entire aisle of paint chips to choose from.  My head is spinning just thinking about it.

I was thinking about how many times one decision you make ends up leading to more and more decisions.  You know what I mean - you decide to buy a car but then WHICH car?  And then what options and what color.  Even deciding on a vacation..... when, where - fly or drive.  It just never seems to end.  So many decisions.   If you were to stop and really think about all of the decisions you make in an average day, you would be astounded.  When to get out of bed, what to wear, what to eat, what route to take to work.  You get the idea.  Life is making decisions!

I was thinking about this song I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, by Elevation Worship.  The most important decision anyone can make.  I am personally so thankful for that decision that has changed everything about my life.  After listening to that song, all of the decisions we have to make about our home improvement project, every decision I make during the day - well, they all seem rather small and not nearly worth the worry that I have been putting into them.  It will not really matter, in the long run, what color flooring we use.  Or what cabinets we choose.  All of these are just THINGS.  Things that are here today but could be gone tomorrow.  With the current events - hurricanes, fires, floods, earthquakes - it is especially good to remember that.  Today I heard the Governor of Florida reminding the people that material things can be replaced.  Stay safe and keep your family safe.  Yes, tomorrow, as Ken and I are making yet another decision for this project, I will remind myself that this really doesn't matter in the long run.  And tonight, because I made that decision to follow Jesus, I will be thanking Him for all that He has provided for me - my family, my home my life.  

Jesus, thank you.  Thank you for your presence with me that brings peace, even during times of tough decisions.  Holy Spirit, continue to draw people into your great love and to know and follow Jesus.  Thank you for a renewed perspective on decision making.  Jesus, please keep all those in the midst of these disasters close to you.  Thank you for your great love.  Amen

Monday, August 28, 2017

Disasters separated by 27 years.....

 Today the news is "flooded" with all the pictures and stories out of Texas and Hurricane Harvey.  Thankfully there has also been plenty of stories of all of the helpers that have volunteered to aid those affected by this natural disaster.  The photos are simply unbelievable.  You just can't imagine 50 plus inches of rain in just one day.  The highways look like rivers!  As I scrolled through the many, many photos, I was praying for those who have lost all their possessions, their homes ......

And then I came across this post....

The 1990 Plainfield tornado was a devastating tornado that occurred on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 28, 1990. The violent tornado killed 29 people and injured 353. It is the only F5 tornado ever recorded in August and the only F5 tornado to strike the Chicago area. There are no known videos or photographs of this heavily rain-wrapped tornado. 

That day, 27 years ago, is one that I will never forget.  This is Doug, just a few weeks after this event.
On that day, I had gotten off of work early to take 8 year old Doug to a doctor appointment.  We had waited a very long time to see this particular specialist to check on Doug's vision.  He had taken so much medicine for his health issues as a baby and young child, there was concern that he may have had eye damage.  I picked Doug up from our neighborhood babysitter's house and we started the drive to the doctor.  He had a 3:30 appointment.  Now this was long before "Smart Phones" and instant weather forcasting...... really there was no way to "check the weather" (which we can now do very easily).  Looking at the sky was the only way to predict that a storm was brewing.

I was immediately worried by the dark and very ugly looking sky - that I was driving directly toward! The route to the clinic was heading right into the storm.  About half way there, the rain started.  And then came the hail.  Before we got much further, all the traffic signals went out, the power went out all around us and I decided to pull over.  I remember very clearly, that Doug calmly pointed out to me that the sky was an unusual shade of green!   This was the worst storm I had ever driven through.

By this time, I knew that we would not be making that doctor appointment.  I waited for a slight break in the blinding rain, turned the car around and headed back home ......thankfully AWAY from the storm.  When I finally reached the clinic on the phone the next day, I was told that they had lost power and part of their roof during that storm.  I felt thankful that Doug's appointment had been at 3:30 rather than 3:00.  We would have been in the middle of that storm.

I think about that day many times as we drive down that main road towards Plainfield.  A large church that was destroyed has been rebuilt, as have the schools that were destroyed.  But each time I look at those new buildings, I see, in my mind, those shells of buildings and trees torn out of the ground and buildings ripped in half,  that we witnessed in the weeks after that terrible tornado.

My home is about 15 miles away from that path of destruction from that tornado.  Thankfully, we had no damage at all from that storm.  As clear as my memory is of that day, I can only imagine the long term impact that Hurricane Harvey will have on the people of Texas.  Even those that might not personally have loss of property.  Everything in their day to day life has been disrupted and it will be chaotic for some time.  

I am so incredibly thankful for the advancements in weather forecasting over the last 27 years!  Thanks to cell phones with satellite mapping and weather radar, nearly every person can figure out if a storm will come near them.  We have instant weather alert apps on our devices that give us warnings that save so many lives.  And, we have more informed people in charge who can order mandatory evacuations when necessary.

Most of all, I am so thankful for the Good Shepherd who never leaves us or forsakes us. In those times of really terrible storms, Jesus is always right there with us.   Additionally, I am thankful for the Holy Spirit - living inside of me - who give me guidance and help in times of trouble.  It was that prompting of the Holy Spirit that kept me from driving into that storm.  

So tonight, as I sit in my dry home, really far away from Texas, my heart is there with those families.  My thoughts and prayers are with the Fire, Police, National Guard and all those involved in keeping the people safe.  I am praying for all those electrical workers, tree cutters, utility workers and many others who are driving in from far away states to aid in the clean up process.   I am praying for all of the humanitarian agencies, churches, and ministries that are sending teams of people to bring water, food, health kits and first aid to so many people.

Tonight, I am so thankful for all of the helpers.........

Jesus, bring your comfort and peace to anyone who is in an uncertain situation tonight - anyone who is fearful or angry or lonely or sad.  Holy Spirit, give wisdom and courage to all of the helpers.  Show them the best way to care for people who are so hurting.  Thank you for your great love for us.  Amen

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Legacy in some old dishes.....

Yesterday I caught an interesting discussion on the radio about the increased amount of dishes and other treasurers being donated to Goodwill.  There has been a 20% increase in the last few years.  The reason seems to be that the current "younger generations" have no use for the sets of "good china" or other items that were once stored in "china hutches".    There were several callers who told stories about discovering that their parents (or grandparents) china sets were worth thousands of dollars! Of course I was reflecting on my own very different situation.

When my mom first moved out of her house into an "independent living" apartment, she got rid of most of her dishes and many of her other "nick nacks".  I remember that she asked me if there was anything that I really wanted.  It was really easy for me to come up with a very short list......
I wanted the tree plate that was at the lake.  I wanted the grape plate that she used on "special occasions" and I wanted 4 of the glass "desert cups" that we always used.  Needless to say, she was shocked by my list.  Shocked because she could not imagine WHY I would want those particular items!
This is the tree plate.  I always asked to use this plate at the lake.  I just loved it.  I found out from my mom (when she gave me the plate) that this was a supermarket give away from Council Oaks Grocery Store sometime in the 1950's.  She couldn't believe that I wanted this old thing.  
This is the grape plate.  My mom couldn't really remember anything about where this even came from.  She never really liked it, but it has sort of raised edge so things stay on the plate when you pass them.  I especially remember deviled eggs being served on this plate.  My mom pointed out that it was kind of chipped and really shouldn't be used anymore.  I still wanted it.  
The last things were these glass dishes.  She laughed at me for wanting these.  They actually were "jelly jars"  - filled with jams and jelly purchased at the grocery store and then cleaned and kept for use.  I remember many, many servings of tapioca pudding from these!  

So yes, these items are still sitting in my china hutch.  And I don't actually use them at all.  But I like knowing that they are there.  The radio conversation got me thinking, however, about the fact that soon enough I will be trying to get rid of all of MY stuff as we begin to downsize.  I do own a set of "good china" but we never used it.  It sits unused in the cabinet.  I do have a few crystal pieces that do get used - on holidays or other family gatherings.  But I am fairly certain that neither of my kids will have any interest in those items.... or the ones that I got from my mom.  Times have really changed, that is for sure.  Alas, I think most of my things will find their way to Goodwill!

It was really nice to take these items out of the hutch and hold them in my hands (to take these pictures)!  Each one of them made me smile.  There is something very powerful about holding an item in your hands, remembering the other hands that once held them.   So unlike those callers on the radio this morning, my dishes have no monetary value.  But the memories and the connections of these items to my mom and dad are very real and so very valuable.   I remember all of the wonderful meals my mom cooked at the lake - in very primitive conditions.   I think about those special holiday dinners when I would see that grape plate on the table covered with some special treat.  And oh the special puddings and deserts those glasses held.  

I am really sorry that I never used these special plates and dishes with my own kids.  They will not have any memories of them and will most likely not want them.  And that makes me sad.  I also am trying to imagine if there is anything that they might want out of my very crowded hutch!  After this past weekend of scrapbooking family events, I am extremely grateful that we have made it a priority to make lots of memories through activities!  And I am also very thankful for all of those scrapbooks!
Even if my dishes and my mom's dishes end up in Goodwill some day, my children and grandchildren will have photographic reminders of many great family times.  It might not be a plate they are holding in their hands, but it will be pictures of  all of us having lots of fun together.  

Yes, the value of legacy is much more than dollars and cents.  There is really no way to put a price on memories.  While my treasured legacy items may not be worth much money, they are filled with memories.  And every page of my scrapbooks are also priceless!  

Take some time to consider what legacy you are leaving.  More than likely the best legacy you can leave does not have much monetary value.  Think about the good times you have had with friends and family.  Remember those special times - maybe just doing nothing but being together.  Look at some pictures - or take some pictures!  Slow down and talk and listen to those you love.   Tell those younger than you about the "good old days".  Create a legacy, one story at a time! 

I love that the Bible is God's legacy to us.  It is a love story filled with events that all connect together.  One story leads to the next story and reveals a wonderful "rescue plan" (as my grandchildren love to call it) in Jesus.  The faithfulness of God is shown to us over and over on each page of the book.  That is a truly priceless legacy!

Jesus, thank you for my family - my mom and dad and siblings and thank you for Ken, and my kids and grandchildren.  Holy Spirit help us to build a lasting legacy for our families, not of things but of stories and memories.  Remind us all to stay grounded in your amazing legacy - the Bible.  Amen

Monday, August 21, 2017

My kind of camping......

Now this is my type of camping!  Grace had a great time with her mommy, her auntie and me while we were scrapbooking!  This little camping chair will be used for real "camping" with mommy and daddy in the future, but this weekend it was Grandma Lyn's type of camping - 4H camping (Hilton, Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Hampton.... well you get the idea!).  Grace did so well for the entire weekend.  She ate, slept  and played like a champ!  Her cousins came for a visit and we all went swimming in the hotel pool.  The pool was a bit cold for Grace but she spent a small amount of time playing in the water.   Meanwhile, the adults all managed to get some serious scrapping done!

These weekend get away times are so good for me.  Even though I managed to eat more junk food than I should and sometimes stay up much later than normal, I come away feeling rested and revitalized.  I am so blessed by this group of women!  Although we are all a diverse group, it is wonderful time of laughter, talking, sharing and fun.  Everybody needs these times to just stop and breathe out.  And to also breathe in!

Last Wednesday at my small group, we talked about slowing down and not getting into the habit of being so busy. Taking a breath that calms us.   At a recent HUB meeting (my Sunday night "church") they played a song that I was not familiar with.  The chorus of that song went like this....

River of God flood over me and lift my feet off of the ground
Carry me out into your sea and in Your presence I'll be found

The song really touched me and as the chorus played over and over, I very clearly heard "I will carry you into my SEE!!  Wow!  Doesn't that change the entire meaning of that verse?  When so much of the world - our news, what we read on the internet - is so challenging, it feels like waves of darkness just pouring over us.  But if we stop and breathe in Jesus, it is is HIS river of the Holy Spirit that will flood over us.  And when our feet are lifted off of the ground, we won't just be carried out to sea....we will be LIFTED UP into that place where we can SEE from the Lord's perspective!  From that place, things just don't look so dark and/or so bad.  Now that is a breather that so many of us really need!

During my weekend scrapbooking, I had a really odd thing happen.  My current scrapbook that I am working on, just sort of "exploded".  The pins that hold the pages together must have been defective.  During the night the book blew apart and all of the pages scattered on the floor with the back cover on one side of the chair and the front cover on the other side of the chair!  When I looked closer I noticed that the pins were actually bent and broken.  I was not very happy about this, since putting those slippery, plastic pages into the correct order and keeping them that way is no easy task!  Fortunately, I had happened to bring along some extra pins for the album.  So I was able to recreate the album with a bit of work.   I was thinking about the amount of pressure that it took to break that book and how much pressure so many people are feeling right now.  It seems like the message to breathe and allow the river of God to lift us up to see the truth of things from Jesus' perspective (not the news media) and to spend time just basking in the presence of Jesus, is the only thing that will keep us from exploding!  I for one, am very grateful for the timeliness of this message.

The weekend away highlighted just how much pressure I had been feeling building inside of me. I was able to step away and breathe and consider how much I need the presence of Jesus to change my viewpoint and be refreshed and revived.  The scrapbooking sure helped me blow off some steam also!
Whether you are a true "camper" or like me, prefer hotels, I highly recommend time away to breathe in the presence of Jesus.  Things sure look much brighter when you return to your daily routine!

Jesus, thank you for the reminder that you are watching over all of us.  You flood us with your love and your peace.  More than that, you lift us up to help us see things with your eyes.  Holy Spirit, bring us into places and times of rest so that we can breathe in your presence and also release those pressures of our world.  Thank you Jesus for time spent with friends and family.  Amen

Thursday, August 10, 2017

No matter what, safe inside His hands...

Today I snapped this amazing picture of sweet Grace with Lucas Bear.  (This special bear was created in honor of Grace's big brother Lucas - you can read about Lucas here).  Grace is six months old! The time has gone by so fast and it is amazing to see her grow and change.  Lately it seems like she has some new accomplishment every day.  As I took this picture all I could think about was this song...Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells.  Being with Grace is certainly a reminder of those "Mountain Top" times.  And the lose of Lucas was a valley time for our entire family.   Please stop and listen to this incredible song.   It grabs you from the opening line.....

I've walked among the shadows, you wiped my tears away.  I've felt the pain of heartbreak, and I've seen the brighter days.  I prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place, and I've held your blessings....

The point of the song is captured in the title "Hills and Valleys"....  You're the God of the hills and the valleys and I am not alone!   Wow!  Is there any message that is more needed right now?  Yes, God is the God of the good times and the bad times.  He is the joy bringer and the pain taker.  He does give and take away.  He gives blessings and takes away our pain and sorrow.   I love the line that says...
No matter what, I am safe inside His hands!

Once again, a song that just resonates with me.  And when I look at this picture, it is like seeing the words of that song.  We have certainly had our hills and valleys since 2014.  But I can say, with full assurance, that I know that Jesus was with me through it all.  He was there in the valley and it was His grace that has taken my pain.  When my dreams were broken, it was Jesus that gave me hope.  
Such truth in a song.  When we are in those mountain top places,when things are going so well,  when everything seems wonderful.... we need to remember that it was God who brought us there.  He is the God of the hills.   When we are in those really tough places, WE ARE NOT ALONE!  Jesus is right there with us, walking through those valleys.  No matter where we are on life's path, no matter what is going on, our companion is Jesus.

The chorus of this wonderful song says....
On the mountains I will bow my life to the one who set me there.
In the valley I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there.
When I'm standing on the mountain I know I didn't get there on my own.
When I'm walking through the valley, I know I'm not alone.  

Yes, this picture of Grace and Lucas Bear is a picture of the hills and valleys.  It is also a picture of love and hope and so much joy and blessing! 

Jesus, thank you for another amazing song and for Tauren Wells.  Thank you for the reminder that you are always with us - in good times and in hard times.  Holy Spirit, encourage us to lift our eyes to Jesus when it seems dark and hard and remind us who brought us into those mountain top places. Thank you Jesus for Grace and Lucas.  Amen

Sunday, August 6, 2017

When there is another generational "shift".....

 This photo is one of my all time favorites.  My mom, my daughter, my granddaughter and me.  I am so thankful that we got that picture when Lia was just a few months old.  So tonight, sitting here at my computer, (thanks to the marvels of modern technology), I experienced another "Generational Shift".  I just watched as Lia was leading worship for a youth praise service at her church.  As I was watching her, I was flashing back to sitting in a pew with my mom, watching Gwen lead worship when she was just a bit older than Lia is now.  And I was remembering my mom watching with tears in her eyes.

I took a couple of screen shots of the video, just to capture this moment.  Besides singing, Lia also played keyboard on a couple of songs. That last picture is Gwen and Lia at the keyboard.  Suddenly, I am the grandma with tears in her eyes.  It is one thing to know that your children and grandchildren love the Lord, it is quite another thing to see them publicly express that love.  I am so grateful that Lia has a place to grow as a worship leader. Right now, she looks like a baby compared to the other youth leading worship.  But in several years, she will be the leader welcoming new youth to the stage.  I love this "mentoring" model that keeps building for the future by bringing the youngest youth into the group.  I can imagine many years watching Lia at the microphone, or the keyboard, or dancing....well you get the idea.  She is a performer for sure. And I love that she is able to grow in her gifting.

On Friday I had the opportunity to watch both Lia and Ellie perform in an musical after a week at "Spotlight" Camp.
Both Lia and Ellie had some speaking parts and both sang at the microphone by themselves.  They sang and danced in many songs.  It was really amazing what they can accomplish in 5 short days with these kids from 6-12 years old.  While Lia looks like she is loving every minute that she is on stage, it was not so much for Ellie.  She has a big smile here, AFTER the performance.  She did so well with all of her songs, dances and speaking part and solos, but she was just not loving it.  Ellie will be a wonderful behind the scenes person.  She will be the one designing the costumes, arranging the hair and makeup, finding just the perfect accessory for the performers to wear.  And mostly, she will be holding a hand of someone dealing with stage fright, she will be hugging someone else who isn't feeling well.  She will be everyone's friend and will make sure that everyone has something to eat and drink.  Because, well, that is just who Ellie is.  Seeing just how different these two girls are, is a great reminder that there is a plan, a purpose and destiny for each of us.  

Just imagine how many more worship leaders, teachers, pastors and evangelists, how many more "good samaritans", helpers, intercessors, greeters, ushers, servers we would have if we started to encourage these obvious gifts of the children around us.   So often adults decide that children need to wait to "grow up" before they can use their gifts.  But I think this is a mistake. Watching Lia on the stage tonight confirmed that for me.  

Yes, it was a night when I felt that shift of the generations.  Looking back, but also looking ahead.  I love that I can get a glimpse of the  amazing working of the Lord as I see the potential in each of my grandchildren.  I challenge you to look around you at the children, youth and young adults you encounter. Look at the adults around you also!   Look beyond their clothes or their hair style, ignore their tattoos or piercings, and see the marvelous gifts and talents that they have.  Encourage them, mentor them.  Give them a place and means to use those talents.  You will be blessing them....but you will be blessed also!

Jesus, thank you for Fellowship of Faith and Boulder Ministry.  Holy Spirit, give us all reminders to look for ways to mentor and  encourage those around us.  Help us to see the unique gifts and talents that you have given to each person.  Keep us from trying to put others into places that just don't fit them.  Jesus, help us all to know that you have a plan, a purpose and a destiny for each of us!  Amen

Thursday, July 27, 2017

When that "Aha" moment brings you truth.....

You know how it is when so many little things just kind of come crashing together and give you one of those "Aha" moments?  Well, I sort of had one of those times today.  Backing up a bit, on Sunday Ken and I went with all the kids and grandkids to the waterpark.  It was a wonderful day spent swimming and playing that ended with pizza at Doug and Susie's house.  It was Grace's first time in the water and she loved it.  Here is a bonus picture of the kids.....

 After that event, I happened to be talking to one of my friends about swimming, being at the lake, and my mom.  So of course, I was thinking about my mom.  The picture at the top of this blog is my mom and (a much younger version) of me, taken at Lake Maud.  I was reflecting on the fact that being at "the lake" was not much of a vacation for mom.  Our cabin was "primitive"  - we didn't have running water until I was 5, no hot water until I was 6, no indoor bathroom until after I was married!
And we always seemed to have lots of people around who needed to be fed.  And the clothes needed to be washed.  And the dishes needed to be washed.  And my dad always had some project that he needed help with. And well, you get the idea.  Not much fun for mom.  And during my grade school years, she was working full time!  So all of those weekend trips to the cabin, just made more work for my very tired mom.  But she knew that having the cabin would give us kids a wonderful place for fun that would not have been possible without owning the cabin.  It was a sacrifice that she made for all of us.

So my mom was on my mind this week.  Then on Wednesday, Susie asked me to give Grace a new food to try.  Peas from their garden that Susie had made into baby food and frozen.  The second I defrosted the cube of peas, I smelled that heavenly aroma of the garden and fresh picked peas.  I was immediately back in Aunt Avis' wonderful garden near Lake Maud, picking peas to bring to my mom.  They were one of her favorites!  Another wonderful memory of being at Lake Maud!  (Bonus picture of Grace eating her peas!)

Then last night, not surprisingly, I had a dream about my mom.  It was interesting because in my dream, she was singing!  Although she loved music and always sang in choirs when she was younger, I don't remember her doing much singing.  She always said her voice got bad "when she got old" and I guess that she was "old" my entire life.  She talked about singing, but she never did sing.   In my dream she was singing beautifully - one of her very favorite hymns... "What a Friend we have in Jesus".  I woke up this morning with that song playing over and over in my head.  

Now for the "Aha moment" I mentioned at the start of this blog.   This morning my phone alerted to a text message from my small group.  One of my dear friends wrote this message to us......

"This morning I was listening to a preacher's sermon who was really engaging with the Spirit and heartily preaching God's word, when all of a sudden he broke out in the song "What A Friend we Have in Jesus".  He kept saying, JESUS, JESUS, JESUS.  God whispered two things as I listened to him repeating Jesus' name.... 1.  Satan trembles at the name of Jesus uttered by a child of God when it is done in reverence.  2.  What amazing friends we have as our prayer partners pray on behalf of each other and call on Jesus.  That old devil trembles.  The preacher said, "When Satan trembles, that is the time to attack him with the Word of God! When we do, he retreats and we keep at it in the strength of the Lord." 

Clearly there was something - some message in this for me.  But I was sure not connecting all of the pieces.  That is until I sat down at my computer this evening and looked at the full lyrics of that song.  I knew the first three verses of the song, but don't think I ever knew the fourth verse.  As a matter of fact, I couldn't find any video of the song with this fourth verse.  Yet it is written in the original song.  Here it is.....
Blessed Savior thou hast promised, thou will 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.

Isn't it just exactly like Jesus to bring me so much truth and comfort in one simple song?  So much in that song - the power of the name of Jesus.  The benefit of bringing all of our concerns and cares to Jesus.  How powerful it is to surround yourself with prayer partners who stand with you and pray when you are unable to even utter the words.  How amazing the very name of Jesus is and the impact that His name has for us.  And the reminder that His promises are true.  What an amazing reward awaits us, praise and endless worship!   All I can say is that I am incredibly thankful right now.  So thankful for my mom, for my kids and grandchildren, for my wonderful praying friends, for Jesus and all that he does for us, for what is to come!  

I woke up this morning really missing my mom.  That is not unusual for me.  But I am ending today with a big smile - knowing that my mom is in that place of endless worship and praise, singing her heart out!   What an amazing gathering together of little things to bring me this message of truth.  What a friend we have in Jesus!

Jesus, thank you for using all of these things to remind me just how much you love each one of us.  Thank you for music, for songs, for lyrics that speak after 162 years.  Holy Spirit, nudge us when we forget how powerful prayer is.  Help us to use the name of Jesus to fight off the attack of the enemy.  Thank you for connecting us together as we pray for each other.  Amen

Friday, July 14, 2017

The best laid plans......

So Ken and I were SUPPOSED to be on a much anticipated vacation right now.  But, alas, it was not to be.  Unfortunately, earlier this week, Ken found out that the company he works for is closing his location as of 2018.  There are some options, however it is never good to find out that you are out of work when you are 65 years old!  We had all of these wonderful plans for the next few years that included Ken continuing to work!  But, as they say, the best laid plans of man often don't come to pass!  We are in a time of transition and don't really know what the next few months will hold.  For now, it is just a day at a time!  We decided to cancel our vacation since we would not lose any money on the deal.  Given the news about his job, neither of us would have really enjoyed the time away.  We did decide to take today and just drive to a new botanic garden and spend some time outside.
We took all back roads and drove into Wisconsin through fields of corn and pastures filled with cows.  It is a cloudy, overcast kind of day, but there was no rain in the forecast.  When we stopped for breakfast, we quickly realized that we should have brought jackets with us!  It was only in the low 60's and kind of breezy.  So we stopped at a Walmart and bought a couple of sweatshirts.   Let me tell you I was quite glad to have that extra layer of warmth while walking through the gardens - and especially while sitting by the lake.  

This is my favorite picture of all that I took today.  I love the water drops on the flower petals.  I always look for water - especially flowing water - when I need to rest and catch my breath and/or contemplate the future when my plans don't work out.  Thankfully I found this.....
wonderful water feature in the middle of the garden.   I spent a fair amount of time just listening to the calming rush of the water over the stones (while Ken spent lots of time taking photos of flowers).  
There was also a small lake surrounded by a walking path.  I didn't spend much time there, however, since the breeze was actually colder than just chilly!  So I returned to the flowing water and realized that the entire time that I was walking around the garden, I had been singing the chorus to this song You Are Beloved by Jordan Feliz  If you click on the link you can hear the song.  The words that I had been speaking to myself (without really being aware of doing it) were...

You are beloved.  You are beloved.  I wanted you to know, you are beloved.
Let it soak into your soul.  Oh, forget the lies you heard, rise above the hurt,
and listen to these words.  You are beloved.  I wanted you to know, you are beloved.

As I was looking up the song and actually reading the lyrics, I saw these words in one of the verses...
Don't be afraid, don't let hope fade.  Keep your eyes fixed on the light above.
In the heartbreak, in your mistakes, nothing can separate you from love.

Isn't it wonderful when a song just touches you when you especially need it?  When our plans fail, when things look like they are falling apart, when circumstances seem so overwhelming - there is nothing that can bring peace like knowing that we ARE BELOVED!  This is such a big truth to get solidly into our souls, isn't it?  Jesus loves us - he looks at us as His beloved!  With that truth playing in our hearts and in our spirits - we can let go of fear.  We can have hope.  No matter how dark or unsettled things seem.  If we keep our eyes fixed on the light above!  NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE AMAZING LOVE OF JESUS!   

Yes, I needed this song today.  I know that it will be my theme song in the weeks ahead as Ken and I make a new set of "plans" for the next few years.  Today I am thankful for rolling hills and green pastures, fields of corn, quiet gardens, flowing water, Jordan Feliz, and so thankful that I am beloved!

Jesus, thank you for wonderful music that can speak words of truth to us, even when we are not thinking about it.  Holy Spirit, speak truth into all of our spirits through the power of songs and music.  Help us all to grasp how much you love us.  Jesus, thank you for the reminder that nothing - no pain or sorrow or job loss - can separate us from your love.  Amen  

Saturday, July 8, 2017

What we pass on to our kids and grandkids....

So many people commented on my recent Facebook cover photo of our grand kids on the 4th of July.  It reminded me of this photo from 1983 of my own cuties - Gwen and Doug and a long ago 4th of July.  We took loads of photos during our get together (as usual) and I have so many favorites that I know will be pages and pages of scrapbooking!  I loved this picture of Lia - our oldest grandchild and Grace - our youngest grandchild!
And looking at these pictures, one on top of the other in this blog, I can sure see Doug in Grace and Gwen in Lia!  It's amazing to think that 34 years separates these pictures!  

I've been thinking about all of the things that we pass on to our children and even to our grandchildren.  It must be because, like so many of my friends, retirement is approaching for Ken and I (in a few years).  Besides all the fuss and worry about where to live, insurance, making those dollars last for your lifetime, there is that consideration of your legacy.  Websters defines a legacy as "something transmitted by or received from an ancestor."  The things I have been thinking about are more along the lines of the transmitted items.  I am so thankful that my children love celebrating all the holidays with family.  I love that being together is the most important thing for our family.  The 4th of July was always a big memory for me - being at Lake Maud.  There was always a big gathering with a cabin full of people, the yard full of tents and campers, sunburn, swimming, bug bites and fireworks.  I believe that I was 19 the first time I missed a fourth of July at Lake Maud.  While the place was important, it was really being with the people that made it so special.  I love that special legacy that was passed down to me from my parents, has now been passed on to my children and grandchildren.  Seeing the pictures of  my grandchildren together - seeing the joy of the cousins being together, reminded me of this picture....
Here I am (bottom left)  with my sister Julie (top left) and our cousins Corrine (top right) and Thoralee (bottom right)!  And of course, this was taken at Lake Maud!  Thoralee is the closest in age to me (two years older) of all of my 32 first cousins!  Yes, I have 32 first cousins!  But since my mom and dad were both the youngest in their families and I am the youngest in my family, most of my cousins were MUCH older than me!  As a matter of fact, several of my cousins were in their late twenties when I was born and already were married. Still I loved spending time with my cousins and have many wonderful memories being with them.  This extended family time was another legacy from my parents.  In spite of living so far apart, I really tried my best to give Gwen and Doug time with their cousins.  I love that Gwen and Doug make time to be together with their families. It is certainly a blessing for this grandma!  

Just putting these words on the page is such a good reminder for me.  The idea of leaving a legacy can be so daunting.  It feels like somehow you have failed if there is not a large monetary inheritance to leave your children.  When I reflect on my parents and my grandparents and the legacy that I received from them, it is never about money or property.  It is always about the love and the closeness of family and the traditions that have been carried on into my life.  It always is about the Spiritual legacy - the seeds of faith and belief that were a part of the foundation of our family.  

I have the wonderful opportunity to continue to live out that legacy of love with my children and grandchildren.  Each of you have that same ability to have an influence over the next generation.  If you don't have children of your own, befriend some children in your neighborhood or church.  Volunteer and meet some new people.  Leave a legacy of love that will live beyond your years.  The only requirement for this is time.  Be with the ones you love!  Give your love to those you are with, whoever that may be - friends, neighbors, coworkers, people you meet in the stores or on the street.  Let your life be filled with love that touches others.  Now that is an important legacy!

Jesus, thank you for reminding me of your great love for us.  Holy Spirit, turn our eyes away from the material things and fill our hearts with love for those around us. Give us eyes to see those who need our time and our love.  Jesus, thank you for family and friends and Facebook - that helps to keep us close even when we are miles apart!  Amen

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Not quite what it looks like....

One day, not so long ago, I happened to catch this interesting picture from Doug and Susie's front yard.  There are a number of undeveloped lots in their neighborhood and the local fire department uses them to empty their water tanks and refill them from the fire hydrants.  I loved this really pretty rainbow that was created by their hose!  When I looked at the picture later, I realized that it looks like it might be an actual rainbow with a dark cloud behind it!  One of those times when what you see is not quite what it actually was!

Doesn't that phrase pretty much sum up so many of the stories and/or posts that you can find on the internet these days?  It is so difficult to figure out exactly what the truth is in each story.  It has been a challenging year with the heated political arena and the news media.  Us regular folks have to be very careful believing the things that we read.  Just this week, several large media outlets have had to retract stories that were never true.  The amount of MIS information that is swirling around is frightening.  As someone who has put a very high price on "truth telling", going through my Facebook feed or even just looking at news headlines makes my stomach quiver.  I love that Gwen always reminds her kids whether a book/story they are reading is true or made up.  Their home school curriculum has many true story books so this is a good practice.   I love that they are reminded daily that the Bible contains true stories.

A while back I considered just not looking at anything in the news or on the internet.  But this is a dangerous thing to do.  Having NO information is not the answer to finding the truth.  Sticking your head in the sand will only get you a mouth full of sand!   I was reminded of this picture of Sammy, Doug and Susie's dog.
He is quite a nervous dog and any little noise sets off his "BARK" reflex.  You would not know that he is nervous from this picture since he also often sleeps in some of the most uncomfortable looking positions.  His head sticking through the rail doesn't seem at all like a good sleeping position.  The thing about this position is that he can't see out the window with his head like this.  If he lays with his head on the stair he has a perfect view out the front door.  I think he likes this position because he can relax and not worry about who or what might walk by (or fly by - lots of birds around) the house.  It is his version of sticking his head in the sand.  

My answer to this dilemma of information that can not be trusted was so easy.  I actually was doing this several years ago, but somehow got out of the habit.  I simply pray before I read anything.  I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me and to reveal to me the things that are true.  It is amazing how many articles I skip over and don't even look at now.  I have learned to be very prayerful before reading any post on Facebook.  The number of blogs that I read has dropped dramatically since I have been praying before reading.  I can trust that the Holy Spirit knows ME!  There are things that might really trouble me that might not bother you at all.  When I prayerfully read and/or listen to messages I know that I will hear exactly what I need that day.  Now when I do come across information that is upsetting, I can immediately pray for the people or the situation.  Knowing that Jesus is the King of King and the Lord of Lords brings me great peace.  I have added many things to my prayer list through this practice of praying before reading.

My encouragement to you today is to trust the Holy Spirit to show you the truth.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  THE truth!  So you don't have to stop reading and or listening to current events.  Just make sure to pray before you scroll, read or listen!   Often you will discover nuggets of truth, revealed by the Holy Spirit,  contained in stories covered with layers of deception and cloudy facts. Remember that just like my rainbow picture, sometimes things are not quite what they seem.  It is a rainbow - but not after a storm.  A really nice rainbow caused by a powerful stream of water on a sunny clear day.  Keep on seeking the truth!

Jesus, thank you that you are the truth!  Holy Spirit, give us all boldness and courage to continue to seek the truth with your guidance.  Keep us aware when we start to hide from the noise of the world.  Help us to lean on your discernment as we sift through all the information in front of us.  Remind us to pray before, during and after we take in all the conflicting bits of news.  Thank you for loving us so much Jesus.  Amen  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Going on an adventure....and having my thinking changed!

It's hard to believe that this cutie is 11 years old - but she is!  The only thing that she wanted for her birthday was to see a real Broadway show.  Now this is no surprise since this girl loves to dance and has a wonderful voice.  Lia is still very shy about singing in front of people, but those yearly dance recitals have pretty much killed any fear she had of dancing on stage.  Since "Disney Aladdin Broadway in Chicago" was playing, it was a no brainer what her birthday present would be!
I decided to make this a "Grandma Lyn, Mom and Lia" event since Gwen loves these shows also.  Lia was extremely excited when we got to the train station to catch the train to the Chicago and she saw a billboard for Aladdin!
We had a bit of concern when the train we wanted to take into the city was delayed with "track construction".  First the announcement was 10 to 20 minutes late.  Then there was an announcement that the train was not yet moving.  In order to make the show we knew that we needed to be on the train by 11:45.  If the train had not come by that time, we would be forced to drive into Chicago and try to find parking.  It could have made for a tense trip.  But thankfully the train arrived at 11;30 and we made it into Chicago in plenty of time.  We grabbed a quick fast food lunch and ate outside overlooking the Chicago river.  We had perfect weather - sunny and it was actually a bit cool with a strong breeze.  
The show was amazing.  Lia was pretty much mesmerized through the entire production.  There is a major difference between the Broadway productions and some of the other shows I have seen. The music, acting, special effects, costumes - really everything was top notch. Our train ride home was uneventful and we arrived back only a few minutes late.  Such a wonderful experience with Lia.  

As I was driving home after this memory making day, I reflected on just how fast these 11 years have gone by!  Lia is my oldest grandchild and it really doesn't seem possible that I have been "Grandma Lyn" for that long.  

Shortly after I started home, while stopped at a stop light, a seriously silly thing happened.  A car pulled up on the left side of my car and a man jumped out of the front seat.  He was wearing cut off jean shorts, a tie dyed shirt and a bandana tied around his head like a headband.  He proceeded to dance in the middle of the road!  There was rock music from the 60's playing from the open windows of the car, and several occupants of that car were laughing and clapping for him.   My immediate though was , "Wow, that is something that you don't see everyday!"  As the light changed, he hopped back into the car and they sped away.  I was chuckling about this event, which seemed very 1970's, for the next several miles and thinking about some of the crazy things I had witnessed and participated in oh so many years ago.  And then, unbelievably I witnessed a "Chinese Fire drill" at another stop light!  If you are not familiar with this, everyone jumps out of the car and runs around the car and then gets back in.  I am sure that my jaw was on the ground watching this.  I don't recall the last time I actually saw this happen.  By now, I had begun to wonder if I had stepped into some kind of odd time warp and had been transported back to the 1970's!  So at this point, my day had certainly had some adventures that are out of the norm for me.  My drive home was not over yet and even now I find it hard to comprehend that  I saw ANOTHER "Chinese Fire Drill" happen in the drive through lane of the Dairy Queen near my house.  How crazy is that?

Today this crazy-silly end to my wonderful day is making more sense.  Without realizing it, I had started to feel really OLD!  My thoughts had been shifting to the swift passage of time and wondering just how many more of these memory making experiences I would be able to have with my grandchildren.  I would even have to admit to being fearful of the future.   It is never worthwhile to focus on these kind of things.  None of knows the length of our days and we are charged to live everyday with purpose.   I truly believe that those silly events I witnessed on the way home, were a gift for me.  It allowed me to let go of those depressing thoughts and to focus on the truth of the day - time and memories with Lia and Gwen.   And it made me laugh!  

The whole process of "taking our thoughts captive" is certainly a challenge. I am so thankful that I have progressed and don't allow these thoughts to live in my mind for days and days or even weeks and weeks as I had in the past.  More often than not, I can catch myself and stop these thoughts from taking over.  But this is a life-long process that has to be practiced!  I am reminded of this Bible passage from the Passion Translation.... Philippians 4:8

"So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and king.   And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always."

 I am incredibly grateful that sometimes the Holy Spirit finds ways to break into those ugly and untrue and even hurtful thoughts to remind me to "Stop thinking that way!"  I especially love that God will even use a man doing a silly dance on the road and several groups of young people acting like typical kids and pulling off a time worn stunt to get my attention and make me smile.  

Jesus, thank you for a wonderful, glorious day with Lia and Gwen.  Holy Spirit, continue to remind me to be aware of my thoughts.  Thank you for singing and dancing, for big wonderful shows in impressive theaters and for silly dances on streets.  Jesus, thank you for extra grace when we need it during the process of life.  Amen