Thanksgiving Week #3

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6- (NLT)

I grew up in a small town. It was an idyllic town, where everyone knew everyone and it was safe. I thought I always wanted to stay there and be content.

Then, I married a sailor. My life was transformed on that day, I left the security of my small hometown. I was literally plunged into strange environments. Being from the North, going to the South was confusing to me. I had no footing, nothing was familiar.

From the South, we moved to Japan. Now, that was really confusing to me, but somehow it was much more comforting than our first duty station together. The Lord began to work in me.

Eventually, we ended up in Southern California. We watched the city grow from a dirty navy town into a metropolitan area. With the growth came the influx of the homeless. I know there are many reasons for homelessness, and I am not going to go into that topic. I just mention this to make a point.

Upon seeing those who were destitute, I realized how fortunate I am. Too often we take for granted those things around us. A roof over our heads, heat that can be turned on and off, shoes for our feet, blankets to sleep under, beds to sleep on. I often remind myself of the blessings I have.

I may not have the best of all things, but, this Thanksgiving Day I am certain of this. For all that I do have, I am grateful. For the meal that I will eat, I am grateful. For the family around the table, I am grateful.

In this season of glitter and lists and shopping, I am thankful for what I will be able to do, who I will be able to bless in some way.

Lord, on this Thanksgiving Day, thank You for Your glorious provisions. You know that I have come to You many times asking for peace, for reassurance, for comfort. You also know that You remind me of the bountiful blessings that surround me. So, today, Lord, let those who are frightened, cold, and unsure be touched by those who will minister to them. Keep the cold warm, the discouraged, encouraged, and those without hope, shine into their lives. Help me to do what I can willingly. Let me reflect Your glory. Amen.

Thanksgiving Week #2

“Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NLT)

My Little Miss came in Tuesday night. She is spending the weekend with us along with her parents. When you are a grandparent, seeing your grands is what it’s all about. I can be hugging and playing with Little Miss (Little Man also) for a half hour before I realize the child I brought into the world is standing there waiting for a hug.

I never thought that grandchildren would have as much impact on me as they do. Little Man was our first grandchild. He grasped onto my heart and has had a squeeze on it for the past 10 years. When I get to have time with him, it is like my heart continues to beat in a rhythm that I didn’t know was missing. Our eyes will meet and it is an instant call to be goofy together, much to the chagrin of his parents. But, goofiness is our love language, except when we can take a walk just the two of us. I love those times.

Little Miss is another story, she not only squeezes my heart, she takes a piece of it with her whenever we part, making certain that piece is covered in glitter and glue. Having raised two girls, I fall back into the pattern that little girls have. Their activity is like jumping on mattresses. You bounce different ways each time you land. It is full of giggles and nonsense and plans.

After Little Miss I was introduced to my bonus grands. Again, two girls. I carefully stepped into the relationships. I did not want to ruffle feathers and be a nuisance. After a couple years, I just barged in and claimed them as my own. To my surprise I was warmly welcomed and loved. With the bonus came bonus great grandchildren, a boy and a girl.

My heart is full. As I thought of my family today, I realized what a wonderful gift my loving Father in heaven has given me. My life is fuller and brighter. My prayer life tripled, but, as the Lord has guided and kept my daughters, I know He will be the loving and caring guide to the next generation.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and remember what we are thankful for. Today, I am so grateful for this family the Lord has built around me.

Thanksgiving week

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100″1-3 (NLT)

Almost every morning Dale and I discuss what we want to accomplish during the day. Sometimes these plans clash, which is always good to know and rearrange if we need to.

This morning we both have a long list of things we’d like to see done. Our oldest and her family are traveling today to spend Thanksgiving with us.

My first task is an easy one, and I am doing it now. The past three weeks in church has reminded me over and over that I am supposed to write. I know that deep down inside me, but the constant battle is what do I have to say? Each day I remind myself that I, in and of myself, have nothing profound to say, but God. He can help me write and through Him, lives can be touched. That is my prayer and hope.

Holiday season comes upon us quickly and it is easy to look at the tsunami of things to do and buy and get completely overwhelmed. This week starts that tsunami.

The past few years I could look around my home at this time and see decorating all done, cards in a stack, ready for the mail, and some gifts already bought. This year, as has happened all this year, not so much.

Yes, the holidays can be fun. They can be rushed and hurried. I am moving slower this year. At first it bothered me, but, I am getting comfortable in my pace.

When I rush, the things I want to enjoy, the things I feel I need to do take the back seat in my life. I hurriedly rush through my advent devotional, thinking that I hope something sinks in and I will be able to truly focus on the meaning of the holidays.

So, today, as we start out getting ‘things’ done, I am thankful that we can still do things. I am thankful that we have each other. I am thankful that tasks need to be evaluated as to the importance of it. I am thankful for a slower me.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever,  and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT)

God is so Good

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8 (NLT)

There are times that I fight sitting down, relaxing and resting. I keep going even when I know I am tired. Then there are days when I sit and wrap up in a blanket and soak in the comfort and the quiet.

As it is Sunday, we went to church today. Sometimes sermons seem to hit you right between the eyes. You leave church and say, ‘Man, I needed to hear that today.” Come Monday, you are refreshed, but thoughts of the sermon begin to fade.

I have written about the sermon last week. Today’s sermon made it three weeks of being hit between the eyes. I can understand one Sunday, but three in a row? On the way out of church today, after shaking our pastor’s hand, I stopped and said to him, “This is ridiculous. I’ll bend over and you can give me a kick in the backside.” I think he was almost willing to do so.

The point being, the Lord has been shining a beacon on me and highlighting areas of my life that I thought were safe. Yes, it does ruffle some part of me, but not in a bad way. It is like I am being wrapped in a heavenly blanket that swaddles me and allows me to be quieted and listen to the details.

Often times we listen and hear the words being said to us, but we miss out on the details of what is being said. A few weeks ago as I walked and talked with our Lord, I heard the phrase, “you are entering a new season.” I looked around and glibly said, “yes, fall.” The Lord knows how sarcastic I can be, even with Him. I then heard, “No, a new season.”

As I really have no idea what that means, I am beginning to realize after the past three Sundays of the sermons hitting me square on, that yes, I may be about to enter a new season.

I can’t begin to surmise what that could be, but as I sit here in front of our fireplace with a glowing fire, that I am at peace. The same God who created me and saved me is the same God that leads me into a new season.

Morning Prayer

Thank You, Lord for this new day. It is fresh and as of yet, has no mistakes in it. You are a glorious God! I praise You that I can sit and write and look out at Your glory through my windows. Thank you for this house, for the warmth and for Your provision.

Your majesty is reflected in the sun You created. The sparkle of the frost the You brought and the life You are creating during this dormant time of winter.

I am so grateful Lord for all You have given me. For those who are struggling today, give them direction and peace. Be a very present help to those in need. Reveal Yourself to those who are searching. Draw us who know You, closer to You. Let us sit upon Your lap, listening to Your heartbeat. Wrap Your loving arms about us and hold us.

I give You this day and all that it holds. Keep my focus on You and You alone.

In Your precious name, I pray. Amen

But as for me, I will sing about your power.    Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.For you have been my refuge,    a place of safety when I am in distress.” Psalm 59:16 (NLT)

A Winter’s Day

As I opened the curtains today the Simon and Garfunkel song “I am a Rock” sprang to mind. Although we had no snow, the day was dark and a bit dreary. I could feel the chill of the outdoors through the windows and it was hard to ignore the bed calling me back to it for more sleep.

Winter days are like that. Those are jammie days, staying in your p.j.’s and not real clothes. So tempting. But, I resisted and got my day going, completely dressed including shoes.

The sound of rain is still falling on the roof. The bare trees look forlorn. It is winter. Not the fun time with snow and ice, but winter. The time of year when you know that the world in your yard is dormant. The grass won’t need attention until the spring. There are still leaves to be swept off the porch and the stairs, but, today, they also can wait.

The fireplace filled the house with warmth this morning as I read and got breakfast going. It’s been a slow day. A day that this retired person thinks there is no activity anywhere. Yet, just down the street people are driving to and fro shopping, or appointments, or work. Such is the quiet of being done with work.

I truly do love these days. I always have. There is something comforting in the dark days of late fall and early winter. They somehow invite me into the quiet, and it is there that I am refreshed.

I read the lyrics to the song that has floated in my mind. They are actually quite depressing, yet, I know for years they were my personal anthem. A part of me can easily revert back to that time. Being alone, and shutting myself away. Yet, that is not where I am now. The cold, dank winter days are a respite, but not my abode.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (NKJV)

As the song goes, “A rock feels no pain. And an island never dies” is, of course correct, but with that pain comes joy and laughter and love, these things that are perfect gifts from God.

My Life Inside a Pinball Machine

My soul follows close behind You;Your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:8 (NKJV)

My life, for the most part is calm. Not much happening and if there is a small hiccup, I keep going. But, there are some years where each month brings something else and although I get through them it has an affect on me. Those years are few and far between. They each are prominent in my memory and in hindsight I see a period of growth and lessons learned.

Last week it occurred to me that this year, especially the past few weeks, has been like a ball in a pinball machine. The machine where you put the token in the slot, and begin to hit the lever to shoot the ball and score points. I have not been one to score any points however. I have been launched in the machine. I scurry off to the top of the machine. Beep, I hit a possible score, beep,beep, another one hit. I am bouncing around and sending beeps into the air. It looks great, I can do this! And then, I go into that abyss that is scoreless. Another token into the slot, the same scenario played out. Constant moving and no reward tickets.

The other image that comes to mind is that of a race in a track meet. You are on the starter’s block, feet in position, hands placed perfectly, you lift your head, waiting for the starting pistol. Bang! You are off and running towards the end goal. You are making great strides and then, the goal at the end disappears. You look around, you were so close. You look behind, something you never do in a race and see the goal far behind you. It’s time to change direction and yet the goal keeps relocating.

This has been a dilemma of mine this year. We began the year with a flu. No positive tests, but, we were both hit hard. Dale recovered first and took excellent care of me. I then went to the writer’s conference, it was exactly what I needed to get back on track with writing. I started a plan and it was in place. New blog, check. Writing daily, check. Getting book started, check. Getting a support group for my writing, check. Deadline set, check. Deadline met…. uh, deadline met,…. I said, DEADLINE MET…no. Condemnation setting in, check. Feeling like a failure, check.

That was just one area. The other area? My house. After breaking my elbow this year, Dale took excellent care of me. I lacked nothing. But, in the midst of this all, I lost the grasp I had on cleaning and organization in our home.

All of this peaked last week. Peaks are at the top of every mountain. You reach the peak, you take a breath and you observe all that is around you. It’s breathtaking! Except, last week on that peak I looked at the calendar. Dale’s birthday next week, Thanksgiving, next week. Christmas party, three weeks, early Christmas with our oldest, three weeks. Christmas four weeks. UGH! That was bad enough, but then my phone, with all of it’s smarts, notified me of pictures from a year ago. The house completely decorated for the holidays, trees up and garland hung, all that good stuff. After this year, I confess our toy room is where all my Christmas decorations lie, waiting still to be put away. It should make decorating a bit easier this year.

So, this year has been one that will be prominent in my memory. I am the healthy one usually. This year I have not been as much. Flu, biopsies,broken bone, lingering cough, and general tiredness.

Sunday our pastor spoke on “Soul Fatigue”. Besides the fact that all he really needed to do was kick me in the behind, the message was written for me. You know, one of those sermons that happen. It is then that I realized that I needed time beside the still water to be refreshed. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;” Psalm 23:2-3a (NKJV)

“When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:19 (NLT)

When I stepped away from writing for a couple of days, I did so to center myself once more. What I realized was that yes, I am a bit behind, but, who is really going to notice? The house will be cleaned and decorated when it needs to be. The most important realization though, was that writing renews and refreshes me. It is my time to express what I feel the Lord is showing me. It is my place to do what I have felt I was born to do.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:” Psalm 103: 1-2 (NKJV)

Refreshing

I am going to take a few days away from my blog. Please join me on Tuesday for a new post.

As the rains from the remnants of hurricane Nicole fall down on me, I realize I need a time to be ‘watered’ also. The past few days the Lord has had me read and re-read Psalm 63. I will share this with you now and see you on Tuesday of next week. Have a delightful weekend.

Psalm 63

A psalm of David, regarding a time when David was in the wilderness of Judah.

O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
    and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
    how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live,
    lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
    I will praise you with songs of joy.

I lie awake thinking of you,
    meditating on you through the night.
Because you are my helper,
    I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your strong right hand holds me securely.

But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin.
    They will go down into the depths of the earth.
10 They will die by the sword
    and become the food of jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God.
    All who swear to tell the truth will praise him,
    while liars will be silenced.

Marietta

“But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” Ruth 1:16-17 (NLT)

Today a friend on facebook posted something about mother-in-laws. She went on to say that she loved her mother in law and considered her a friend.

This prompted me to think of my mother-in-law. Dale and I dated for three years, and were engaged for eleven more months before getting married. So, we have been together a long time.

At first, his mother was not too fond of me. We always say that was because I was a ‘city’ girl and Dale was a country boy she had her doubts. I know that really made no difference to his mom, but we tried to figure out why I was not liked right away.

Time did improve our relationship and by time that engagement ring was slipped onto my finger his Mom and I were friends. We were young when we got engaged. Young when we married. Yet, this woman accepted me and loved me.

Since she had no daughter and I had no mother, I invited her to be with me on many of the plans for our wedding. She actually picked out my wedding gown, which makes it even more special to me.

Through the years we laughed often. Got in trouble with our husbands a lot. Got lost together as neither of us has/had a keen sense of direction.

My memories of her are rich. I miss her mirthful laughter, it was almost musical. Her tenderness toward the Lord spoke volumes to me. She could not pray or talk about God without tears streaming down her cheeks.

I have often said I had three mothers growing up. My own Mother who brought me into the world and taught me the foundations of life. My older sister who guided me through my teen years (I personally think she had the hardest shift) and my mother in law who taught me how to be a wife and mother. My life is full and complete from these three women.

The verse above is how I felt about my mother in law. She was my own personal Naomi. Most women are blessed to have one mother who has nurtured and guided them, I had three.

The day after Dale and I married, we stopped to pick up our rental truck filled with my belongings and our wedding gifts. As we walked into her kitchen, she asked me to go to the basement with her. She had canned and made jam for us the previous fall and needed help carrying things upstairs. When we were alone in the basement, I hesitantly asked what I should call her as, up until that time she was Mrs.Thomas. Since we were both now Mrs. Thomas, I knew I could not continue to call her that. She looked at me, and said, “you can call me Marietta, or Etta, or (and she paused) you could call me Mom.” It had been almost 9 years since I had called anyone that name. I looked at her and said, “Okay, Mom.”

As we hugged good-bye to leave for our new life in Virginia, she squeezed me extra hard and that mother-daughter bond was formed.

It has been over thirty years since she passed, but today thoughts of her have flooded my mind. My life has been enriched by the woman who gave me her son.

And then the Rains fell

10 After seven days, the waters of the flood came and covered the earth. 11 When Noah was 600 years old, on the seventeenth day of the second month, all the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky. 12 The rain continued to fall for forty days and forty nights.” Genesis 7:10-12 (NLT)

This is the day after the mid term elections here in the states. Reading my facebook page today I saw many posts talking about fear and disappointment, some angry, some questioning. Interesting news feed today.

In the days leading up to the flood, Noah and his family built an ark. People ridiculed him and his family. They were called names, they were laughed at. Insults were hurled and I imagine that objects also were hurled. Noah stood his ground. He completed his task. He shared what the Lord had told him. He invited his neighbors to join them. He warned them of impending doom. No one listened. They heard what he said. They witnessed what they were building. They saw the animals walk through their towns and villages toward the ark. Yet they did not listen or believe.

Yesterday as Dale and I headed to the polls we prayed. We prayed for the day, the country, the machines. We prayed for the counting. We ended the prayer asking that the Lord’s will be done.

Politically, I am one of those people who are referred to as many things. None of them positive. I have heard many names thrown my way in my life. My height in elementary school was a cause for name calling, Stilts, Legs,Wilt the Stilt, Jolly Green Giant. You get the idea. In elementary school you don’t realize that someday gravity takes over and you then become the incredible shrinking woman.

Personally, in the past couple of years I have had my beliefs questioned and told that how I believe is wrong and that basically I am headed straight to hell.

All of this is nothing. I know what I believe, I know why I do believe in things, in the Lord and in my country. I stand by what I believe. I know that in this day and age, thinking against the flow puts a giant bullseye on you. I wear my bullseye proudly.

For, you see, that little verse that we sing-sang as children comes into play. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but, names will never hurt me.” I gladly hear the names and know that one name will never go away, the name of Christian.

The Bible has talked about this time in the world. What I see happening, watch on the news, hear in conversations, this was all foretold.

Elections come and go. As is human nature, lies are told, falsehoods are given higher standards, cheating and stealing happens. We will all have to answer for any of this. For we are all guilty, not just during elections, but in daily life.

“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NLT)

People can come against you for using the wrong version of the Bible, they can condemn what you watch, they can be full of judgement. It is a sign of the times. We have been told.

Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.” Matthew 24:7 (NLT)

Does any of this sound familiar? It does to me. But, like Esther, we were born at this time to live in this time, to face what is happening ~ for such a time as this.

I have hope. Not in the electorate, not in the government, not in humanity. My trust is in my Lord.

Things can change in a world. Elections tend to awaken people to the change happening, and then once aroused from slumber they notice and soon the slumber comes back.

My trust is in God. None of the events of yesterday and of the next few days of haggling and discussing and fighting and recounting has made God wring His perfect hands on His throne. He is constant and true.

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NLT)