Friday, March 30, 2018

Touched by an Angel

Ah, some visits are kinda sad.
Angel is dealing with some kind of chest congestion, and was in bed and hooked up to oxygen when I visited her this week. I could tell her body was tired, and her spirit seemed worn out, too. She agreed to have me read the Bible to her, but not with the gusto she usually has.
So I opened up to Mark 1 and began reading at verse 29. I read about a Savior who healed people who came to the door of the house where He was staying. I read about a Savior who touched and healed a leper. And I continued through chapter 2, verse 12 - reading about a Savior who healed a paralyzed man in the midst of a sermon.
By this time, Angel was clearly asleep so I stopped reading. And I started singing.
Amazing Grace.
Jesus, Your Name is Power.
Soon and Very Soon.
It Is Well.
How Great Thou Art.
I held her hand and sang softly, tapping the rhythm with my thumb on hers. I thought of the Savior who healed so many. Who still does. Who will heal Angel one day - here or in heaven. And I realized, even in the midst of sadness there is joy.
Because of Jesus.

Yes, even in the midst of the sadness of today - Good Friday - there is joy.
It's Friday, but Sunday is coming!
Just a note, I am going to be "off" next week for Spring Break. The plan is to be back on April 9.
Happy Easter, friends. HE is risen!


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Just this Once

It won't be the end of the world if my son doesn't get clean sheets this week, will it?

That is, yesterday I stripped his bed and took the sheets to the laundry room to put in the washing machine. But when I opened the washer I discovered it had gotten off balance with the previous load and hadn't finished the cycle. So I adjusted the sheets and towels which were in the washer and let it run its course. It was time for me to leave for an appointment, so I left Matthew's sheets and some other towels in a laundry basket by the dryer. I would take care of it later.
The thing is, when I got home in the afternoon and went downstairs to finish the wash I noticed the laundry basket looked a bit emptier. Upon closer examination I discovered Matthew's sheets were missing. And I thought, Oh. He saw that there were no sheets on his bed, and knew I must have washed them. He found them here in the laundry basket and figured I must have taken them out of the dryer and left them laying here. (Even though it drives me nuts when people leave clean laundry in the basement after taking it out of the dryer. Apparently I don't complain about that enough. Otherwise he would have known I wouldn't have done that. *ahem*) So, he decided to be responsible and take his sheets upstairs and make his bed. What a good kid!
For an instant I contemplated going upstairs and taking Matthew's sheets off his bed again and putting them through the wash with the towels. But I didn't feel like doing it all over again couldn't bring myself to force Matthew to put sheets on his bed twice in one day, so I reasoned - what he doesn't know won't hurt him. Just this once.

And since I'm pretty sure he never reads my blog, I feel confident this will remain our little secret. *wink*


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

What To Do With Difficult People

Do you have a difficult person in your life?

Someone whose attitude rubs you the wrong way?
Who has views different than yours, and talks about them profusely?
Somebody who constantly behaves a certain way - which absolutely drives you nuts?
Even when you tell them how you feel about it???

Argh! What is one to do with a person like that?

According to the majority of the internet (That is, the memes I see on platforms like Facebook and Pinterest.) the best thing to do is get them out of your life.
For example:

I see these memes frequently, and sometimes they make me chuckle as I think about some of the people in my life who fit into the "difficult" category.
But as of late, I am taking a much different view about what to do with these difficult people. That is, God is using a number of avenues to show me that He uses - not just the troubling moments in our lives - but the tiresome people, too, to refine our character and make us more like Jesus. As we learn how to deal graciously with people who aren't easy to love, we begin to love like Jesus does. As we become better at responding with kindness to people who have annoying traits, we start looking less like us and more like Him. And I soooooo want to look more like HIM!
Although our nature is to want to eliminate difficult people from our lives, I am becoming convinced that God allows them into our lives for a good reason.
Please know, I am talking about difficult people - not harmful people!
And so, when it comes to a person who aggravates, provokes, exasperates, or *ahem!* irritates me, I will submit to God and trust Him to use the circumstance for His good purpose. I will ask Him to soften my heart and strengthen my resolve, that I may respond with love like He does.
After all, my life would be awfully lonely if I only allowed into it people who never aggravate, provoke, exasperate, or irritate me.
And if I'm honest? God's Spirit is humbling me.
I understand that I am a difficult person, and I need grace, too.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

It's the Little Things

So, yesterday I had a list of things I needed to accomplish and I got started on it right away.
After I slept in until 7:39, that is. (You know. 7:30 + one tap of the Snooze button.) Hey! I needed rest to tackle my stuff. *wink*
Got my workout in, had breakfast, got showered and ready for the day, sorted laundry and got it going, made my bed, and was ready to head out the door to go grocery shopping. Part of me wanted to delay my departure so I could put the first load of laundry in the dryer and get another wash going, but I decided to just keep moving.
I got through the store, unloaded and put away groceries, and went downstairs to switch over the laundry. But when I got down there, something was amiss. The laundry I'd left in the basket was gone. So I proceeded to the laundry room to see what was going on, and I discovered the task I planned to do was already done. And I smiled as I realized Josh had switched over the laundry for me. Without even being asked. As in, I didn't even hint about him helping.
He just did it on his own.
Of course, I wanted to acknowledge, and appreciate this behavior of his, so I sent a quick text saying, "Thanks for advancing the laundry for me."
Moments later, I got one back which said, "Thanks for going to the store!"

And that pair of behaviors (Advancing the laundry and thanking me for going to the store) blessed this momma's heart in the most beautiful way. After years of training up a child, battling over chores, longing to feel appreciated but doubting the day will ever come, your son goes and does a little thing which produces great amounts of hope. Ahhhhhh.

Who knows what I'm talking about???


Monday, March 26, 2018

Friday, March 23, 2018

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

I grew up watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood on PBS.
My OLDer brother and sister used to tease me about watching a "baby show" but I didn't care.
I loved Mr. Rogers!

I had no idea this movie had been produced, but I saw the trailer earlier this week and now I really want to see the movie.
The thing is, as I watched the trailer I was reminded of how nice Mr. Rogers was. I remembered how his kindness made me feel loved - right through the TV screen. And I thought, How might our world be different if we all watched an episode of "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" every day?
In a place and time with so much violence and so little concern for one another, I think we would do well to spend half an hour every day singing nice songs and believing everyone around us is our neighbor.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

She Said YES

So, Sunday, Elizabeth's sweetheart led her on a bit of a treasure hunt - which ended here:

And she called in excitement to tell us all about it. *Awwwww*
Honestly, it wasn't a surprise. Phil asked Brian's permission to ask Elizabeth to marry him a while ago, and they've been talking about it for some time. But it's all official now, and so exciting.

Yep. My baby girl is going to get married.
And I am delighted!


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Following HIS Lead

OK, so this isn't working out as I'd anticipated.
That is, I have been attempting to write a post about what happened in my day on Monday - but I haven't been able to write anything worth your time to read.
What I mean to say is, so much more important than the details of my day is the fact that God is good - and His ways are best.

Monday I let go of my plans in preference to following God's lead, and I was blessed to witness His faithfulness. In spite of not doing what I planned to do - because of responding to the prompting of His Spirit - God worked out the details and allowed me to do the things I planned to do.
Just not when I planned to do them.
Did you follow that logic?
I didn't do what I planned to do, rather I did what God led me to do.
And God worked out the details so I got done all the things I planned to do. In a different order, with a slightly different approach, according to HIS plans, and all for HIS glory.
And it was beautiful. So beautiful.

Listen to God. Follow the promptings of His Spirit. And be amazed by His hand at work in, through, and aound you!


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

He Knows Me Too Well For My Own Good

I love a bargain.
Love, LOVE a good bargain!
In fact, to me the only thing better than a bargain (Except Jesus. NOTHING is better than Jesus!) is telling everyone I know about the good bargain I found.
So last week when I received multiple emails about Younker's Goodwill sale, I took notice. And on the day one of those emails included a coupon for $50 off a $100 purchase - I took extra notice. Because I still had Christmas money sitting in my wallet which I have been entirely too cheap to spend.
I printed the coupon, and went to the mall that evening after dinner.
And, oh my, did I ever get some deals!!??
Check this out:
* 3 sleeveless blouses (Two of which are Calvin Klein - not that I care about name brands, but the information adds to the value of the story. *wink*)
* 2 light-weight cardigans
* 1 long-sleeve tee
* 1 pair of pants
Manufacturer suggested retail price for all seven items: $305.
Amount I paid after mark-downs, $50 off $100 coupon, and 30% Goodwill coupons? $84.43
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks to me like the amount I paid (which, by the way, includes sales tax) was only 27% of the MSRP.
Yeah. That is the way I like to shop!

Anyway, when I finally got home each one of my guys - the one I married, and the ones to whom I gave birth - had to got to hear all about my shopping trip and the amazing bargain I got. How many times did I say, "The MSRP was $305, and I only paid $84.43!"?
I was so pleased with myself and my deal!

So, the next day I came home from visiting elderly friends and found Josh on the couch when I walked in the door. After polite greetings and inquiries about one another's day, I said something like, "Oh, but you're never going to believe the candy bar I got. The price was $1.39!" I was just about to bemoan the fact that it hurt to spend that much for a candy bar, because back in my day a candy bar was only 25 cents, when Josh asked with a hint of sarcasm, "Oh, but how much did you get it for, Mom???"
I just hung my head and chuckled. Josh totally called my bluff.
I refuse to spend money on over-priced clothing because I know I can wait until it goes on sale, and then I'll get an amazing deal.
But an over-priced candy bar which calls my name when my tummy is grumbling?
Honestly? I probably would have paid $2.00 for it.
I mean, I would have grumbled - but I would have paid it.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018

Touched by an Angel

I just received an email notifying me it's time for a TB test. Because it's been a year since my last one - which means I've been volunteering with Great Lakes Caring for an entire year already. I had six months of Lovely Moments, and now I am blessed to be Touched by an Angel.
What an incredible joy!

So, this week when I visited with Angel we had a short conversation when I arrived, and then we moved right into reading the Bible. Have I said before how much I love how much Angel loves hearing His Word? I know I have! *smile* I suggested we start with the Creation story, and Angel agreed - so I opened up to Genesis 1 and began reading.
I enjoyed hearing Angel's various vocal responses to what I read, but by the time I got to The Flood, she was asleep and the room was quiet - except for the sound of my voice.
I think it was the lack of extra sounds which allowed me to concentrate more on what I was reading. And I think it was my extra thoughtfulness which allowed for my train of thought. That is, as I read about "how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time," and, "The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled," (Genesis 6:5-6) I wondered, What does God see when He looks at us today?
Have you ever wondered the same thing? Have you ever contemplated how evil mankind was before the Flood that God regretted making him, to the extent that He washed it all away and started over? Are we in 2018 more or less morally deficient than Noah's contemporaries?

I wonder.

I paused in my reading to ponder the thought.
Then Angel awoke, and I started reading again from chapter 37. Together, we delighted in God's faithfulness to Joseph, and we marveled at His ability to take what man meant for evil and use it for good. We sat there - Angel and I - in the presence of God who is holy and perfect and righteous in every way, and we praised Him. We thanked Him for His goodness and mercy. And we rested in the knowledge of God's enduring love for us.
I'm telling you, friends, it is such a deep, deep joy to spend an hour with Angel every week and to have her point me to the Father - even when she barely says a word.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

"J" is for Jesus - and Jenga

So, you know I love JESUS.
And I love talking about Jesus.
Especially every Sunday morning at 9:15 with my 3rd and 4th grade girls at church.
But the girls and I have another "J" love. That is, before we start talking about Jesus - as girls are arriving to class - you can usually find us involved in a good game of Jenga.
And this past Sunday I got a picture of our tower, because I was so excited about how well we were balancing it on a relatively "skinny" base. See?

I tend to be the one who likes to take pieces from the bottom, and sometimes one or two of the girls will get into it with me. However, this particular young lady was intent on de-constructing and re-building from the top. So I was taking blocks from the bottom and putting them on top, and she was taking blocks from the next-to-the-top, and putting them on top. We kept each other on edge as we anticipated the tower toppling. (As it did right after I snapped this picture!)

The thing is, while there is nothing I love more than Jesus - and talking about HIM - my heart flows with joy by simply playing Jenga with my girls. (And Walk the Dogs. We love that game, too!)
Because if Jesus were here on earth in the flesh right now? I think He would probably make time to play with these girls. I think He would make them feel like they're really, really loved. And then I think He would tell the girls how they could have a relationship with Himself.
But since He isn't here on earth in the flesh right now, I count it a privilege to stand in and do what I think He would do.

Is there somewhere you are/could be standing in for Jesus?


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

What's LOVE Got to Do With It?

So I've been thinking about love lately.

The outlook for lasting relationships in today's world, that is.

This thought process started with a conversation I had recently with one of my honorary daughters.
She was telling me about some relational struggles she's having and how hard it is to persevere when most of her generation is telling her to just quit. To send him packing. To get rid of the difficulty and start afresh with somebody else. ***read that: Someone with whom there are no problems - which will make for a suitable replacement - until said stand-in reveals he has issues, too. At that time, previous suitablity becomes null and void and must be re-replaced with another proxy who will suffice until inevitable complications surface. Repeat ad infinitum.***
I was simultaneously pleased and saddened.
Pleased that my girl recognizes the madness.
Saddened by the reality of the whole situation.
It seems like our world has become a place where struggle is taboo and comfort is to be elveated above all else. Where the most important factor in a relationship is our personal "happiness", with no room for personal character growth via strife, conflict, or serious effort. For many people, a relationship in 2018 is a situation in which you shouldn't have to give up your preferences, where the "other" is expected to please you in every way, and offenses are unexcusable.
And it breaks my heart.
Because there is no way a relationship can survive those standards. And standards like those are going to produce shallow people whose lives are based purely on feelings, and who will never make it in an imperfect world.

My honorary daughter and I were talking about romantic relationships, but the current state of affairs isn't limited to those connections. We see it in families, neighborhoods, peer relationships, in the church, and at work. If one party offends another, today's world allows the offended to righteously declare that they have been wronged and move on to find someone who will treat them better.
Nevermind addressing the offense, dealing with the differences, and growing through the process.
Nah. That's too much work!
The thing is, I remember a time - some 25 or 26 years ago - when somebody told me about lasting love, which makes for a lasting relationship.
It's love that has a will.
It makes a decision, doesn't depend on feelings.
It stays in the mix when times get rough.
And it commits to seeking the best outcome for everyone involved.
I have lived and received this love in my marriage, my family, and my friendshps - and I have seen it in the lives of many people around me. It isn't easy, but it is possible.
And it is imperative for a lasting relationship.

So that's what I've been thinking. What do you say about it?


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Never Say Never

I always think of this song when I say, "Never say never."
Ah, yes. An American Tale. My favorite movie from 1986!
Anyway, I found myself saying "never" to a certain possibility for many years. And now it's going to happen. So I have been happily singing this song for days.

That is to say, do you remember a while ago when I mentioned a vacation I wanted to take with my husband - but he thought it was too expensive? So rather than nagging begging continually listing off all the reasons we should go being a pest about it, I decided to be quiet?
Well, I am not sure what happened (Except maybe God was smiling on me!) but Brian recently suggested we take that vacation. He brought it up again, after I had stopped mentioning it, y'all!!!
You've got to know I jumped on it and we made our reservation.
And last night it got very real.
The confirmation email arrived with our cabin assignment.
Yes. Cabin - as in a cruise.
As in a 10-day Panama Canal - Caribbean cruise next January with Kathy Troccoli and friends.

And I am so stinking excited!!!
I never thought I'd get to go on a vacation like this one.

So, yeah. Never say, "Never."


Monday, March 12, 2018

I Wasn't Expecting That *A Re-post*

I had a very full weekend, and just didn't have time to make a video devotion for today. So last night I sat down to view my archives and I found this video from 2015.
My heart was encouraged as I listend to these words of truth again, and I pray yours will be, too.


Friday, March 09, 2018

Touched by the Holy Spirit

I usually write about Angel on Fridays, but not today.
That is, I visited her Tuesday afternoon, and enjoyed reading the Bible to her. But my heart is on another thought at the moment.
What I mean is - all week long I have been experiencing unplanned conversations, longer-than-expected interactions, heart-convicting messages, and urgent calls to prayer. And in each instance, I have wanted to be obedient to God's Spirit - saying what HE wanted me to say, doing what HE wanted me to do, being who HE wanted me to be.

God is putting a desire in my heart to be more like Jesus, relinquishing my control on my life and submitting fully to HIS.
Indeed. I want to be touched by the Holy Spirit, a faithful host to Him, His instrument.
Oh, the desire is there so strongly. Yes, my spirit is willing. But my flesh is so weak.
As God is shaping me and building Christ in me - I am becoming more and more aware of my pride, my tendency to judge, my self-righteousness. (Ouch! It hurts to put those confessions out here for everyone to see.) I am becoming more and more aware of my need for Him to change me, to make me like Himself. And my heart cries out, Yes, Lord. Please make me like YOU!

Yeah. So that's what has been on my heart lately.
Pray for me???


Wednesday, March 07, 2018

When It Seems Hopeless

I was plugging my phone in to charge Monday night before going to bed, when I noticed a text from a friend. So I responded to her, and we went back and forth a few times before I said good night - and promised to pray for her.
Then I lay in bed thinking about her, and about what she'd just told me.
A doctor's diagnosis she received recently.
It isn't life-threatening, but it seems pretty hopeless and I was feeling at a loss for how to pray.
God, will you comfort her in the midst of the pain?
But her pain is physical. Where's the comfort in that???
Will you give her peace in spite of her circumstance?
Peace in what? The thought that maybe tomorrow it won't hurt as much as it did today? But what if the next day the pain is excruciating???
God, would you give her hope in... No. I can't ask for that. It's too Pollyanna-ish. She needs help now.
See, the thing which came to my mind to pray for her was that God would give her hope for eternity. That she would remember this life and its trials are only temporary. There will come a day for every believer in Jesus Christ when God will wipe away each tear. There will be no more death, no mourning, no pain.
And that Day will last for all eternity. Oh, what a glorious hope!
I felt I ought to pray for my friend to be comforted - to have peace - in this eternal hope.
But then my flesh started arguing. Started accusing me of taking the easy way out. Sure. Just pray about "one Day". Never mind the reality of today. Just think about the Day when it's all going to be better. You Pollyanna, you. Who really thinks like that??? Such that I began to doubt if my prayer was reasonable, or if it truly was a cop-out because I didn't know what else to say.
So I lay in bed wondering.
What would God have me pray for my friend???

Then, as He so often does, God spoke to my heart.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Hebrews 12:2 came to my mind:
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Are you seeing what I saw?
Jesus looked ahead, past the trial of the present - to the joy set before Him!
Jesus knew there was something of far greater value than what He was enduring, and that hope carried Him through.
Jesus thought "like that" - and He was no Pollyanna!
And, as if that reference to Jesus wasn't enough, yesterday in my Precepts class the speaker on the video we watched went on for a few minutes about the truth that the life we're living now is NOT our best life. Rather, our eternity with God is going to be our best life.
This life is broken and temporary.
Eternity is going to be perfect, and forever. Hallelujah!!!

Thank You, JESUS!!!

Are you facing a circumstance which seems hopeless, too?
Just as Jesus was able to endure the cross because of His confidence in the joy which would follow, I pray God would strengthen you with the hope of eternity as you trust in Him.


Monday, March 05, 2018

Friday, March 02, 2018

Touched by an Angel

Ahhhh, my sweet Angel continues to delight my heart.

This week she was awake when I arrived to visit, but talking didn't seem to be on her agenda for the afternoon. I told her that I'd brought my Bible along, and asked if she would like me to read to her. Seriously, I just LOVE how Angel loves listening to God's Word. She perked up and said, "Yes!"
So I opened up to the book of Acts, and started to read.
And Angel responded to what I read, as we often paused to talk about what was happening. When I got to chapter three and read, "One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon," I glanced at the clock on Angel's dresser and it was...3:00. So I said, "Angel, it's the time of prayer. Should we stop and pray?" And she responded with another definitive, "Yes."
So we did.
We praised God for who He is. We worshiped Him. We thanked Him for His presence and power and graciousness. We prayed for our world, that we as a people might turn back to God in truth and faithfulness. And I'm telling you, as much as I love reading the Word to Angel, I love praying with her even more.
Yes, Lord!
That's right.
She is a woman of prayer, I can just tell it.
And when she agrees with me in prayer, when I hear her heart murmurings, when I sense her joy in the Lord - I picture a woman who has been seeking Him for a lot of the past 100 years. I get the feeling she could tell stories for days and weeks of answered prayer and the faithfulness of God. I have the sense that I am in the presence of a true prayer warrior, and I am encouraged to keep on seeking God - even when it's difficult and I feel like giving up.

What a blessing it is to have my life touched by this sweet Angel.


Thursday, March 01, 2018

Late Night Ramblings

Have you ever thought your child was home, called him to set the table for dinner, and discovered he isn't home, after all?
So then you figured he must be at work, because where else could he be?
But then you think, Wait a minute! I don't remember seeing him this afternoon when I got home from picking up the van. And you start to think, What if he got into an accident after he dropped me off at the shop to pick up the van?
But you know that's a ridiculous thought, because - surely - you would have seen the accident when you were driving home the same route he would have driven.
So you try to dismiss the thought.
But it lingers.
And as the evening progresses you consider texting or calling your child, just to be sure he isn't dead is at work. But you think you're being silly, and you tell yourself, Of course he's fine.
Except your anxious mother's heart is arguing with the rational part of your brain. So you can't go to bed when you want to because you'll just feel better if you see him walk in the door after work. Because even though he's totally fine, and the police would have contacted you by now if he'd been in an accident, and you're over-reacting by worrying, and all that stuff - you just want to see him with your own eyes.

Then, like music to your ears, you hear the garage door open and close - and you walk out and see your son cuddled up on the floor with the dog. And you rush over to him and hug him and tell him you love him, and you're so happy to see him.
You confess the worry you've been battling for the past few hours, and he says, "You know, you could have called me."
Then you're all, "But I thought I was being silly. And you wouldn't have been able to answer, anyway..."
And he says, "You thought I was dead, and you didn't even call me???"
And you're left trying to figure out how to convince your son you really do love him, even though you didn't call...

Has that ever happened to you?
Yeah. Me, neither.
Good night. My son is home, and I'm going to bed now.