Friday, December 23, 2011

So Glad You Could Stop By

asked if she could drop by and visit us 
So I would like to invite all of you
to come by for a visit
as we prepare to celebrate
the birth of our Savior


So glad you could stop by!

We are empty nesters
so our family is not here right now

So for now, Joel and I would love
to have you come in and sit a spell!
Look around if you would like.
We are blessed to have a lot of 
windows which comes in handy
with all the time I spend
in my sofa sanctuary 

Our dog Levi keeps us company
Here is our tiny angel tree

 Our other tree graces our deck since I am allergic to pine

I love churches and cardinals
so they fill our home at
Christmas and throughout the year

So glad you came by to visit.
Come back anytime
You are always welcome~


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Love And Joy Abounds

I have been reading many posts today and in each one love comes through...sometimes softly, sometimes loudly  but it is there....the love people have for God and the love God has for people.  Sometimes you can almost taste fills your being when you read their posts.  Two such examples are from dear cyber friends Shannon and Linny.

Shannon shared over at Throwing Our Arms Open Wide how radically challenged, changed and blessed they have been while working in an orphanage in Mexico.  They have taken their family down there to give of their time and of their love to the children.  A blessing for those children I believe.  God is blessing their willingness to serve Him in so many ways.  Love and joy abounds!

Today Linny wrote on her blog, A Place Called Simplicity about their latest adventure to Denver to have their 5 youngest become citizen of the USA.  Out of love and obedience to God they have adopted many children and helped children over in Uganda.  They have moved from their lovely home in CO to Phoenix so that their newest member can be close to the medical care she will constantly need.  A radical change and a big step of faith.  Love and joy abounds in that family!  Check them out!

There are many other blogs I visit that fill my heart with joy and spill over with love for God and others.  Today I give thanks to Jesus for giving me the opportunity to be inspired by those who love Him and are willing to serve beyond measure in order to love others and bring God the glory.  I am blessed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Memorial Box Monday: "You Will Hear A Voice"

Today is Memorial Box Monday and I am sharing a story of God's faithfulness that I wrote for Spiritual Sundays in October of this year.  It has been  a good reminder for me of how God hears our prayers and goes to great lengths to protect and guide us.  It is a comfort to me when I am feeling unsafe or God's voice seems far away.  If you wish to read more Memorial Box Monday stories, stop over and visit Linny at A Place Called Simplicity.

"Your own ears will hear him,
right behind you a voice will say,
"This is the way yo should go,
whether to the right or to the left."
Isaiah 30: 21

In 1976 we were living in The Philippine Islands where Joel was stationed as a meteorologist with the US Air Force. We would soon be leaving Clark AFB and heading home, so selling our car was a priority and we listed it in the base paper that was also read by local Filipinos. Cars were hard to come by and we knew it would be easier and smarter to sell it rather than ship it back home to the states.

Joel and I had prayed about selling the car, asking God to guide and direct us in the process. Shortly after placing the for sale notice, Joel received a call at work that someone wanted to look at our car, so he set up a time and place to meet the prospective buyer in Angeles City outside the base. Two men got in the car ~ one in front and one in back and Joel began driving to let them see how the car was working. They started giving Joel directions on where to go, and when they came to an area that was unfamiliar to Joel and somewhat isolated, one of the men said, "Turn left here.". As Joel prepared to turn he heard a voice say from deep inside,


He hesitated and he heard again,

"Go NOT turn."

The voice was so clear in his head he knew it was God speaking, so he went straight and drove into a heavily populated area and parked the car, quickly getting out and asking the men to leave the vehicle. The men did leave, stealing the calculator Joel had in the front seat. He firmly told them to put it back, sensing he needed to keep his distance from them as he spoke. They complied and left, at which point Joel got back in the car and drove home.

A couple of days later Joel heard about an officer who was in the hospital after being stabbed repeatedly by two men who he thought were going to check out his car for purchase. They had given him directions on where to drive and he ended up in an isolated area alone with the two men. It was sobering to realize that this could have been Joel. The men were able to steal this officer's car and had left him for dead.

There are times when hearing God's voice and obeying it can save our lives in a dramatic way. God gave Joel specific directions and Joel listened to the voice of God, which kept him from harm. We never forgot this, and have tried to be obedient to God's voice whether it comes loudly or in a whisper. He knows our future and He knows what is best for us. Just like that day so long ago, it is a comfort to know that God is with us just as He promised, hearing our prayers, guiding our steps, and watching over us night and day.

Remembering God's faithfulness and the promises in His Word

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Room Full of Gifts

Yesterday I wrote a short post on the most wonderful gift anyone has ever been given~ the gift of salvation that came to us in the form of a tiny baby...Jesus...our King of Kings as a blogger friend described him....and Lord of Lords!  A gift of love~

"For God so loved the world He gave His one and only Son,
that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16

While reading inspirational posts this morning the subject of gifts came up again and I could not help but reflect on the many many blessings God gives to us each and every single day of our lives.

I think that is the first gift I am grateful for today, that each morning I open my eyes to the light of another day.   Having had Lyme Disease for so many years, and cancer nearly two years ago, I am so thankful to still be here to make the most of every day.  Of course, we don't have to have a disease to feel grateful as we greet the day ahead. 

"This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 18:24

Another gift I often take for granted is the gift of a warm and cozy home with lots of windows and good neighbors.  We never go hungry, we travel in a nice van, and we always have enough...  thank you Jehovah Jireh for your abundant provisions.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

During the Christmas season family and friends are at the top of our list, aren't they!  Their love, support, encouragement, and did I say love.....are a blessing we are so grateful for.

"Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family],
precedence and showing honor to one another."
Romans 12: 10

Some gifts come in ugly wrappings, but what they hold inside and what they teach us are things we are grateful for.  Trials, storms, unwanted circumstances may be hard to receive, but sometimes they do bring the most precious gifts of all.  Trust....Hope.....Faith....Patience....Love....Forgiveness...

"All things work together for good to those who love the Lord."
Romans 8:28

And then there are those gifts we do not even know about.  Gifts from our Lord just waiting to be received and unwrapped. I once heard a story about a man who when up to Heaven where St. Peter greeted him and  showed him around.  They came to one room and when Peter opened the door it was filled to the brim with beautifully wrapped gifts.  The man asked, "Whose gifts are these?" to which St Peter replied, "Oh, these are gifts that God had waiting for you, that you never asked for!" 

"Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find,
knock and the door will be opened."
Matthew 7:7

Gifts~ fun to give and fun to receive. They come in all different sizes, shapes, and wrappings and they bring us joy, excitement and sometimes even sorrow.  Enjoy these treasures, and be sure to unwrap all the gifts God has for you!

Please stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays to read more inspirational posts or link up your own.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Indescribable Gift

I have been wrapping Christmas gifts today for our grandchildren.  I always enjoy buying them a present, and then later picking out the paper, ribbons,and name cards for each.  It is fun to watch their faces when they open their gifts. 

Thinking about gifts, takes me back to the very first Christmas....the birth of baby Jesus.  The gift of salvation ~ eternal life.....offered to the whole world.  What a precious, and as it says above, indescribable gift.  What joy!  What excitement!  There are not enough thank yous for God's gift.  Just for us.  Thanks be to God!

Monday, December 12, 2011

MBM: An Urgent Message

My Memorial Box Monday story today just took place in the past few weeks.  I am sharing how God whispered in my ear the urgency for Joel to go home and see his mom...and what followed.
In October Joel and I talked about the need for him to get back home to see his mom as it had been a year!  With both of us dealing with late stage Lyme Disease, a lot of planning is required for a trip.  I felt that Joel should go home for Thanksgiving, but he did not want to leave me alone and I was not too crazy about idea either. 

Still, the thought would not leave my mind.

In fact I felt an urgency about it, but tried to ignore those feelings when Joel decided he would go in early Nov.  He went for a  4 day visit right after Halloween and was not back home a week when his mom ended up in the ER.  While there they discovered a large aneurysm next to her heart.  She was not told about it though. 

After some serious discussion we knew that the urgency I felt was from God so  Joel decided he would go home for Thanksgiving.  He left on a Tues. and spent all day Wed. with her, going out for lunch, driving around the country to look at the farm where she grew up, and visiting out at Joel's brother's cabin where he was staying.  They had a wonderful full day together. 

Mom mentioned that day that  she did not think she would be living very long.  When Joel asked her why she was saying that, she just replied that she did not know, but that is what she thought.  Joel then asked his mom, "Are you ready to die mom?" She replied, "Yes, I am ready ~when the good Lord says it is time." 

 Later that evening when Mom was back in her apt. and Joel was getting ready for bed at the cabin , the phone rang and his mom had been taken to ER in terrible pain.  While there they discovered a perforated ulcer. With the aneurysm and her age of 93, surgery was not an option.  Joel told her what was happening and said to her, "Mom you will likely die from this."  She said, "Okay.  I am ready." 

They put her on antibiotics and she started to improve enough that Joel came back home.  He was home a week when the phone rang and his brother told him that they did not expect her to last the night.  It was her 94th  birthday.  We packed Joel up as fast as we could, and off he went again for the  8+ hr drive north.  When Joel arrived she seemed to rally once again, although she never regained consciousness.

Joel spent most of his time by his mom's side.  The hearing is the last sense to go, so he talked to her about many things, read her favorite scriptures to her and prayed with her often.  She died on Monday evening quietly and at peace.  Being there was a blessing for him. 

There were many blessings and provisions that occurred as God in His loving mercy worked all things out for Joel, his mom, and me here at home.

~God whispered in my ear more than once that Joel NEEDED to go home at Thanksgiving.  And because Joel was there, mom got what she needed in the hospital and Joel was able to spend even more time visiting with her and comforting her when she was in pain. 

~Joel was supposed to fill in for a pastor in the pulpit on Dec. 4th, but was able to call and have that taken care of on the 3rd so he could leave to be with his mom.

~Since I have a childhood fear of being alone overnight, God wanted me to know this was important for Joel and his mom so the voice of God spoke to me, not  Joel.   I needed to know it was God's will with the many nights Joel would have to be gone. 

~Joel is on disability and not working, so he was free to spend all the time that was needed with his mom.

~Joel is a pastor, so he has been at the bedside of hundreds of dying people.  He was able to make sure she got all the care she needed and was comfortable and at peace.

~ God provided Joel with amazing stamina and strength for the week he was there...and he also provided a quiet peaceful place on the lake for rest.  When things were stressful, he could sit looking out over the lake and find a sense of peace.  He slept better at night than he has in years !! The Lyme symptoms were not intense and many subsided for those days.

~At home God provided not one but two people to shovel out the driveway and steps after 5 inches of snow fell here.  God provided a neighbor behind me who kept an eye on me...even calling one morning when lights were on late at night and early in the morning~

~ I had to take the dog out later at night which I dreaded, BUT it was not dark out due to all the neighbor's Christmas lights lighting up the block.  And after a few times...I realized I kind of liked the quiet that filled the night when I stood out on our porch. 

~ God provided me with a Bible verse that I just knew was from Him.  Psalm 4:8  "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe."  I felt so loved and protected when God gave me that verse. 

~Money is very tight due to being on disability and having high medical costs BUT God provided money in the form of a payment someone owed us AND a surprise gift so that the costs of traveling and eating during those three trips has been covered. 

God loves us so much.  He cares for us, he provides for us.  He works all things together for good for those who love the Lord.  He is awesome.

If you want to read more Memorial Box Monday inspirational stories of God's faithfulness stop over and visit Linny at A Place Called Simplicity

Friday, December 9, 2011

Are You Ready?

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has
 prepared for those who love Him." 
1 Corinthians 2:9

It seems during the weeks before Christmas we often here people asking each other, "Are you ready?"  There are so many preparations being made for the holidays.  Shopping, baking, writing out cards or the family newsletter, wrapping the gifts, and the list goes on.  With a sense of intensity, people would ask~ "Are you ready?" 

During Advent ~ while waiting~ the same question can be asked as we prepare for the coming of baby Jesus.  We take time to pause in this busy season and bring our focus back to the birth of our Savior by asking, "Are you ready?"

This past week my mother-in-law died.  At Thanksgiving Joel went to visit her and she told him she felt she would not live very long.  When Joel asked her why, she said she did not know, but felt it was true.  As they sat at his brother's lake home overlooking the woods and water, he asked her, "Mom, are you ready?"  She replied, "Yes, I am ready to go when the good Lord decides it is time."  It was not much longer before she was welcomed home by those who went before her.  This year she will be celebrating Christmas in Heaven!   

I have been pondering Joel's question to her, especially during this time of preparing for the birth of our Savior.  A Savior who came to save the world.  Mom T. knew she would go to Heaven.  She was ready for death because she new about life everlasting.  She was ready.  She was at peace. 

While we shop, wrap, and bake....while we celebrate with special church services, carols and hymns, and advent wreaths and devotions, we prepare our homes and our hearts for Christmas.  Yes, this is a good time to ponder a very important question for today and for our tomorrows.  Are you ready?

Please stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up you own.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Memorial Box Monday: A Special Gift From Santa Who?

It has been quite some time since I posted a Memorial Box Monday story.  Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity thought it was time again for us to share stories of God's provision for His children.  She has based her MBM on the Biblical account found in Joshua 4,  where God instructs Joshua  to build a memorial with 12 large stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel.  In obedience Joshua gather and instructs 12 men to carry the stones and lay them in front of the Ark to remind the people of God's goodness. Linny and many of us who participate have our own special box or cupboard that holds items that remind us of times when God provided for us.  When trials come, and they will~ it is always helpful to look back and remember those times. To read more stories of God's love and goodness or link up your own, visit Linny at the link above.

And now my story~~~

When Joel and I were first married he received his draft notice (1968)and to avoid the draft he joined the Air Force.  He could have taken a seminary deferment, but did not feel right about that, so he enlisted and started out as a private in the Air Force.  After basic training and some specialized training we moved to Albuquerque New Mexico where he was stationed at Sandia Army Base.  Money was very scarce and I think his salary was around $200 a month.  It was a long time ago!  We found a two room apt. where other military lived, and settled in to await the arrival of our first child, Bethany. 

When Christmas came around that year we used what little money we had to make ceramic gifts ( the base provided everything but the paints and postage) and we sent them home to family.  It was hard to be so far from all of them during the holidays.  After getting everything sent off to our family we knew we would not have enough money for a tree, gifts for each other, or a special dinner, but we would be together and not go hungry!

About 4 days before Christmas we received a card in the mail with $25 in it!  There was no return address and it was signed in unfamiliar writing~ "Merry Christmas From Santa!  For us this was a lot of money....we only paid $25 for our first (used)TV!  We were so surprised and so very grateful.  We found a small tree to put our ornaments on, bought each other a $5 gift, and purchased enough food to have a nice Christmas dinner for ourselves and a few other soldiers who had no where to go for the holidays.  I was even able to make a few cookies.

We had our suspicions, but we never did find out who sent us the money, we just know that once again God provided us with just what we needed to make our Christmas special.  That day we thanked God for whispering our needs to someone who became our Secret Santa, and for a gift we have never forgotten.  God always provides and often surprises us with more than enough to share.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Waiting With Anticipation

"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!  Wait for the Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage.  Wait for the Lord!"
Psalm 27: 13, 14 (ESV)

Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of baby Jesus.  It is a time of waiting.  As we enter into the second week of this tradition, I have been reflecting on all the waiting we do in our lives.  We feel it is a time of doing nothing, but waiting is after all a verb.  And in our relationship with God it is an action we are called to take as part of our faith journey.

When our children were young they would be so excited for Christmas. Every day the waiting seemed endless and it felt like that special day would never come!  Even though our focus was on the Christ Child, there was anticipation for Christmas morning when they would be able to open their gifts.  It was soooo hard to wait.

Sometimes I find myself in the same place as my children so many years ago.  Waiting impatiently to open a few of my gifts from our Lord...waiting for my prayers to be answered.....waiting for healing to take place....waiting for God's promises to come to pass.  Sometimes I wait with anticipation, but often I wait with impatience, which makes the journey much less joyful.  It is hard to wait.

I wonder if God gets impatient waiting for us.  Waiting for us to come to Him in prayer....waiting for us to surrender to His will....waiting for us to be still in His His word....obey His commands.  I think God has a lot more patience than we do!  He lovingly waits with open arms, a listening ear, and a loving heart for us, His children to come to Him.  I wonder if He ever finds it hard to wait.

Lord, forgive me for keeping you waiting....

Please stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up your own.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent: Remembering And Waiting

Advent began this past Sunday.  Our Advent wreath is out, and the candles are in place. The four candles are labeled promise, light, love, and hope. Since 1976 we have been reading from the same small advent devotional book entitled "We Light The Candles".  Looking through it's pages today took me back to the many times when our family gathered for Advent devotions.  As the kids got older each one would take turns reading devotions and opening a door on our Advent calendar.  There was excitement in their eyes as they opened the tiny door to see what was behind it. 

This was a time we set aside in the otherwise busy home of a pastor with a large family.  Lots of concerts, Christmas programs, services, and of course the usual school events.  The calendar would fill up pretty quickly with 7 kids at home!  But this time right after supper was sacred, where we would gather together, read, open the calendar, sing a song and pray.  I remember it fondly.

The house is quiet now with all the kids grown with families of their own.  Joel and I have our devotions together ~ usually with our dog Levi snuggled up between us!  We still have our advent wreath we had made special when we lived in the Philippines.  We still have candles to light and songs to sing and our prayer time.  Advent still plays an important part of our Christmas preparation as we wait to celebrate the birth of Christ.  For us at this time in our lives, it is not only a time of waiting and preparing for the coming of baby Jesus, but it also a time of remembering.

Come Lord Jesus~

"You shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great and will called the Son of the Most High.  And
the Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father, David."

Luke 1:31-32