Friday, June 15, 2018

A Good Chuckle on Memory Lane

The day before my flight, I was in Target picking up a few (um, last minute) things.  It was the first day of summer break for our local public schools and, yes, kiddos were everywhere.  Two elementary-aged kids were running ahead of their dad and bumped into something.  Dad called to them, "Hey guys...calm down.  Remember...this is a store.  Not Romper Room."

Both kids stopped cold.  Huh?? was written all over their face!! It was priceless. The kids starting giggling and, yes, it was rather amusing.  The generation gap is alive and well.  Please tell me you remember Romper Room - where each tv episode began with the Pledge of Allegiance and when milk and cookies were served, everyone recited the Romper Room prayer: "God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen."

But the absolute best part was eagerly waiting to see if your name would be called at the end of the show from the magic mirror!! Truly -  Barney, Paw Patrol, Mickey's Playhouse (I really have no idea what preschoolers are watching these days!).....they've got nothing on Romper Room!!

(I am still in Thailand.  Hopefully, when this posts there will be some pictures on my Instagram.  You can find the link on my sidebar.  If so, enjoy:)  If not, I will be updating photos as soon as I am able!  Thanks for continued prayers!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Would Anyone Even Notice?

I live outside of our nation's capital and, until last week, it has been many years - even decades - since this city had a champion sports team.  The Washington Capitals changed all that last Thursday evening when they won the Stanley Cup!  Apparently, it was a huge deal!  I say "apparently" because I missed it.  I am not a sports person.  I don't follow sports and I don't, actually, like sports.  However,  I know lots of folks do and having a winning team has been fun for many.  But, I missed it.

I did not even realize they had won until I was at the dentist on Friday morning.  Apparently, my dentist is a Caps fan.  And she was excited about the win!  She gave me the period-by-period replay - and I felt like I hadn't really missed a thing:)   I was grateful that, as the day went on and I was asked repeatedly, "what about those Caps??!!" I could at least acknowledge I knew what all the excitement was about!  (Nothing like intelligently engaging in conversation when you don't have a clue!) 

Later that afternoon, I began thinking:  what if "the big news" really had been something important?  Something of national significance had happened overnight?  How long would it take before I heard the news...or understood the impact?  Or....

What if the rapture had occurred?  Now, I know I would not have missed that.  I would be among those "missing"....having been caught up in the air!!  (What a day that will be!!?)  I would like to think enough Christians would be suddenly "gone" that it would make a tremendous impact on our country.  People from big cities to rural towns....millionaires, homeless folks and all types of people inbetween....well-educated and uneducated....with all skin colors, backgrounds and of all ages.  Surely, American would have to take notice.

But what about countries such as Thailand?  A country where 94% of the people are Buddhist and 5% are Muslims.  That's 99 percent - almost an entire country.  Will they even notice the rapture has occurred?  That thought truly unsettles me.  Is it really possible that whole countries could continue, completely unaffected, in the minutes and hours after the Lord returns to claim His children - and to take us to Heaven?

There are no easy answers to these types of questions.  But they are sobering and, hopefully, unsettling.  Unsettling enough to jar us from our comfort zones.  From our routines and schedules and, yes, our hurried paces.  To cause us to look for our way - our part - to be involved with spreading the gospel.  To remove our naivety and to see an entire world that needs to hear about Jesus.  And, to pray.  Remember to pray for the lost, for those who are able to go, and for your part to help others reach this lost world.

I have not yet set my feet on Thailand soil - although it's very close! - and this country and my opportunity to go there are already impacting my heart!!  Depending on when you read this post, I might be in-flight or I may have already arrived and hit the ground running!  I sincerely appreciate your prayers!!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Headed to the Clouds

"I'll fly away.....oh glory, I'll fly away" - so goes the song in my head.  Which, I'm pretty sure will be FMF just after the prompt is revealed - and on Thursday night.  Maybe it was not the best idea...because I know those lyrics are going to stay with me!!?!
on repeat all night.  This is my first attempt at joining

But, not far behind Kate, my day to fly away is coming quickly.  Not to glory....but to Thailand.  By way of Tokyo.  By way of Chicago.  Over 8,000 miles and more hours than I want to calculate.  It is a long trip but I am excited, a bit anxious but mostly eager to be there and to be involved.  I do not know who the earliest missionaries were to Thailand but Adoniram Judson traveled to Burma (Myanmar), Thailand's neighbor, in 1850.  Can you even begin to imagine that journey? 

The sacrifice was immense and, although in a much different way, missionaries today still sacrifice much to follow God's calling to a foreign field.  To begin ministries from scratch and faithfully serve in a new land.  I am blessed to spend the next couple weeks working alongside some of these missionaries.  To learn.  To encourage, and be encouraged.  To help and to try to be a blessing.  I sincerely thank the Lord for the opportunity.

I will be absent from the blog for a couple weeks.  If you stop by and nothing seems "new," it will mean I am still on the other side of the globe.  Take a moment and pray for all of us on this trip.  I would be grateful if you did.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the FMF writers.  Me.....I'm ready to fly away!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Life's Little Pleasures

It is full-on packing prep mode at my house - which, essentially, means that I as I think of yet one more "ah, I don't want to forget that" thing, I lay it out on the guestroom bed.  That bed is beginning to look, well - overpacked.  I also have been trying to save a bit room for fun extras!  Especially some things that will be a treat for the missionaries' children when we get there.  I have been trying to discover a few things that, perhaps, they might be missing from the United States and would be oh so happy to see in a visitor's suitcase:)

I'll admit - Thailand seems to be fairly well stocked in goodies...including all Western ones!  I did get to thinking, though, if I were away from home, what would be some of the things I might miss.  I'm sure I could live without these - but, oh, wouldn't they make a delightful surprise.  Here are my random, so glad I have easy access to you, favorites:

1 - Dark chocolate.  Definitely an indulgence even here at home.  I cannot (that is, I should not) eat dark chocolate every day.  But when I want the joy of chocolate - dark is the only way to go!!  The darker, the better.  Ahh.  Even when traveling in Belgium where chocolate seemed to be everywhere, it seemed there was one dark chocolate treat for every fifteen milk chocolate one.  Go figure.  I will admit, I already have a dark chocolate stash for my carry-on:)

2 - Double stuff Oreos.  Again, I rarely eat these at home.  In fact, I let my husband chose his favorite - which are always the original (with minimal stuffing) - and I never bother.  That is a waste of Oreo calories, in my opinion.  So, if ever I am stranded without Oreos....please send double stuffed!

3 - Tofu.  A bit more practical, maybe, but I do know when traveling, it can be harder - even harder than here at home - to find vegetarian dishes that are actually yummy.  Or even palatable.  You can usually find rice and/or noodles and I eat a lot (a lot!) of both when I travel....but, if someone were to unpack some tofu:)  I could create a real meal!

4 - Flatiron.  It's not only food that makes me happy.  It might just be me....but it seems everywhere I travel, humidity is crazy and humidity is not my friend.  Certainly not a friend to my hair.  Being able to tame the tresses every morning just speaks calm to my soul.  It's not vanity.  Just calm to my soul:)

5 - Essential oils, bug spray, and self-tanner.  Again, I could certainly live without them but, oh how much nicer life is when you aren't the only women with pasty white legs - attracting every mosquito within ten miles!  And the oils - more calm for your soul!!

6 - Trail mix.  Actually, if I am ever stranded on a desert island and you can only send one thing....forget the chocolate, the Oreos, and even the flatiron.  Just send trail mix.  Pure happiness in a bag!!

What would be a total treat for you??

Friday, June 1, 2018

When Will My Thoughts "Return" to Normal??

Hello June - and embracing all the summer vibes!!  My hydrangeas are "this close" to bursting into full bloom!  This is also the first FMF post for June - the prompt for today is RETURN.  Usually, my thoughts start heading in one direction right after I read the prompt, but this week my thoughts are all over the place!  With this upcoming trip, it seems just about everything sends my thoughts towards Thailand, missionaries and/or my travels.

For instance, after I read RETURN this morning, my mind became jumbled:

**When I return, what stories will I have to share?
   **When I return, will the jet lag be as difficult as last time?
      **Once I return, how will God have changed my heart - and used Thailand to impact me?

On and on, the jumbling continues.  Although questions that could have significant answers, they are for another day - and not a post for this FMF.  Then I thought of this true story:

I was browsing a young girl's story - shall I say, Tween Store - for a birthday gift.  The checkout line was a bit longish so I continued to browse although I had already chosen a few things.  The first problem at the checkout was a customer wanting to pay with a check.  A check!?!  Not kidding.  The clerk (who said she was the manager!), apologized for the delay but said she just was not sure how to process a check one uses checks!  I guess it would be funny if I wasn't old enough to remember when checks were the jam!  I remember excitedly choosing my check design - the one that represented "my style."  Oh me.

Back to the story.  After this customer, the next lady had a return.  A return of $223 worth of stuff!  There were seven items - but her receipt had only four items on it.  The customer was insistent that she bought all the that store, at one time, on that receipt.  The manager, who counted the items on the receipt no less than five times, seemed totally perplexed how to make the return.  Did not seem hard to me - you cannot return items you didn't purchase.  This challenge took over fifteen minutes to resolve.  And, yes, the manager just gave her store credit for all the extra items.

I was sure I could draw some deep and meaningful conclusion from this story.  But, apparently, it is just my rambling.  I think rambling is going to be a constant struggle for the next few weeks!  At least until I have everything neatly tucked into my suitcase.  Or suitcases.  I refuse to even think....what have I forgotten??

My five minutes are I will simply leave you with these verses I read just this morning.  With RETURN.  I love it when that happens!!  I pray they will be a blessing!

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 55:  6-7

Thank the Lord today for abundant pardon!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Defeating My Doubt

Well, here we are with another month in the history books - and a time to look back at May.  For me, this month has been a month of preparation.  Yes, May is always eventful and there were the annual graduations and picnics that follow and, of course, the mental transition to summer - even for an empty-nester.  We had flags in the front yard this past weekend and have begun to stalk the local soft-serve ice cream spots in earnest. 

But when I look back over the calendar, this past month has included more than just a few days - weeks even - and several circumstances used to prepare me for next month!  I mentioned a few weeks ago - in this post - that God has opened the doors for me to take another missions trip.  In June.  As in, soon.  I leave in 14 days.  I will be going to Thailand - with a team of four others - and we have a full itinerary of ministries opportunities.  We will be meeting and working with two missionary families and will be involved in church services, English classes, a children's home, a prison ministry and a few other projects.  There is also a day set aside for riding elephants:)  (oh my.)

Yes, I am excited.  I know, without doubt, that God not only opened the doors for me to take this trip 
and has provided for the trip, but also that He wants me on this trip.  But, it does not take much for the enemy to try and discourage, to make me doubt or even to terrify me.  More than once, over the past couple days, I have found myself wondering "what in the world were you thinking!??!"  The doubts and hesitations seem to multiply overnight.  But, if I know - without a doubt - that God has this trip planned for me, then I can be sure - without a doubt - that He will accomplish all He desires.  Both for me and through me.

This is trust.  I read this statement this morning.  "Continual peace come from continual trust."  If I trust Him - and I do - then I have peace.  When my peace starts to erode, usually I'm starting to trust, or rely, on my own strengths and abilities.  And those are sorely lacking.  Just as He provided exactly what I needed, financially, to get to Thailand, I can be confident that He will give me the physical strength, the wisdom, even the courage I might need to do whatever is needed in Thailand.  Even ride an elephant.  (oh my.)

Psalm 37:4-5  "Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.   Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass."

(Today I am linking up with all the friends at Stories from the Porch!)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Lessons Learned When I Pause

Pause.  A temporary stop or rest and, I like one definition I read:  a breathing space.  Even in this empty nest phase of life - where the daily schedule is much more my own and certainly more relaxed - there is the need for pause.  A bit of breathing space.  My regular pause comes, at least, twice a week when I visit with my senior friends at the assisted living home near me.  And what a wonderful pause it is!  My afternoons spent there are not only a balm for over-active cares and concerns, but also a real refreshing to my soul!

Most of my sweet friends there are in their 90s - or very close to it.  Their schedules are no longer dictated by careers or other daily work.  They do not drive and are not drawn into the myriad of activities that keep us busy and/or distracted.  I'm sure there are exceptions, but everyone I have met is content - even happy to be there.  I have learned much during my games of UNO or FlipIt - these chances to pause during my week - with these friends.  Let me share just three:

1.  Relationships are key.  No longer defined by their career, the house they live in or where they are going on vacation, these folks simply enjoy being together.  No doubt, some have closer bonds than others but everyone is included, looked out for and everyone belongs.  Friendships and family bonds are what support us.  How much more important to invest wisely in these than in the fleeting things that so often drain us of time, energy and even joy.

2.  Good health should never be taken for granted.  All of us are aging.  We cannot stop it but we can do our best to prepare our senior bodies to be the best they can be.  Investments that I make in my health now will be much appreciated when I am 82, 92 or beyond. 

3.  A genuine hope of Heaven makes all the difference.  These seniors are not naive that their time on earth is short.  They know that life is fleeting.  But there is always a difference - whether they recognize the difference or not - between a believer who is close to eternity and one who is simply "hoping" for something decent after death.  Knowing that death reunites you not only with loved ones but also with the savior who died for you removes the sting and the fear of death.  These saints possess an assurance and a peace that is enviable.

Pause is the prompt for this week's FMF.  I am very grateful for the pause - the breathing space - that I enjoy every week while I volunteer.  I am blessed to be sure. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Do you Have a Decorating Style?

We recently had some of our house repainted.  (No, not bright blue...but isn't that cool??) The largest part of our project was painting our basement - a spot where we spend most of our evenings.  Not only was the paint in need of refreshing, but once we took everything off the walls, I also wanted to rethink what went back on the refresh the style there as well.  It needed to better reflect us.  Since moving into this home, the main floors, and even the bedrooms have gotten the most of my attention for creating an atmosphere that says "home" for us.  Apparently, many of the things that I no longer needed or wanted to use were relegated to the basement.  It was neat, and even arranged, but the basement didn't feel like "home" but more of an attic - or a place for used storage.

And so I began contemplating exactly what is our style.  I searched for it on Pinterest.  I took notes from my favorite home design shows.  I tried to put a catchy name to our style.  And I still have not found it - the catchy name or even the exact style.  But I have created a space that feels right - that feels good - for us.  And I think that is the best design style. 

What says "home" to me?  Home is a reflection of the 33 years my husband and I have been creating a life together.  I want my home to make others comfortable when they visit, and I want a home that is warm and inviting.  But, more importantly, this house needs to be a comfort - a haven - to us as we not only retreat here each day but as we share life together under this roof.

Home is where I can wear my comfy clothes.  Where we don't have to talk - just for the sake of talking.  And where we have someone to talk to when we need it.  Home is full of laughs, dumb jokes, and talking to the dog in "dog talk."  It is the place for making dreams and dreaming big!  And for all the 100 ordinary moments in between.  Our home is uniquely us and, hopefully, our style reflects just that.  What says "home" to you?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Uniquely Me - Some Random Facts

I am a good secret-keeper.  Whether it is the perfect Christmas surprise you are waiting to exchange or a special prayer burden that you simply had to share with one person, you can depend on me to keep your secret safe.  Just a little-known something that my friends who read here may or may not know about me.  And, the more I thought about it, there might be a few other random "facts" I could share.  So, in the interest of pure fun, here are some things that make me - well, uniquely me:)

1- I can keep a secret.  Yes, I mentioned that one already.  The idea of secrets came from the FMF prompt this week.  I really enjoy the FMF community and reading the other blogs and different thoughts that come from one simple word.  Kate shares a fun secret herself this week!  The idea is to write for five minutes, unedited (which is just about impossible) and I will admit, upfront, this post will probably be a bit longer than five minutes.

2 - I have no ability to be a nurse - or even to render first aid.  Actually, you would not want me to help out in any emergency of a medical nature.  It's not just blood (which is bad) - but also stitches (oh my!) or even the evidence of pain, as in a broken bone, etc.  In people or in pets.  It doesn't matter.  In all of these situations, I am not the one you want to call for help.  You would be doomed.  I have tried, on more than one occasion, to "man-up" and to "be there" for someone who needed help.  Every time, I become a second person in need of medical attention.  Sad, but true.

3 -  I need my personal space.  As in, more than the average bear!  Everyone has a comfortable personal boundary before they feel that others are "in their space."  For some reason, my space feels intruded, sometimes even violated, way before others.  I have been known to panic in prolonged overly-crowded places.  And, my body language often expresses protection of my space. I have no explanation for this but I know it - and I try hard to be aware of it.  Do you know how many women express friendship, hellos, and even simple kindness with a hug?  You would if you were hyper-sensitive about your space:)

4 - I am a college drop-out.  Not a flunk-out.  But, between my sophomore and junior year of college (way back in the day), I got a job making more than money than I needed, bought my first car and then met my husband.  And I didn't go back to school.  Regrets - yes or no?  Those answers are many (and maybe a whole post of their own) but I am sorry that I was a quitter.  I actually I heard this statement in our sermon on Sunday.  "We Independent Baptists (of which I am one) are very good at starting things, but we often do not finish well."  Hmm, very sobering, if not convicting.

5 - I am forever marked by grief.  My husband and I have two adult children.  We also have two children in Heaven.  Our youngest son died at 13.  Without a doubt, navigating through grief and the years of missing Tyler have been the hardest thing we have done.  But grief has also been deepened our faith, molded and refined us, and yes - even with all the pain - has been some of our sweetest times as we have seen God's promises proven true and learned for ourselves what a faithful Heavenly father we have. Our last pregnancy (which was years before Tyler's birth) ended in a miscarriage and, in contrast, the months that followed were some of the darkest days of my life as I refused His grace, failed to trust and was almost destroyed by despair afterward.  My heart breaks for those who face the trials, heartaches and challenges of this life alone - without a savior.  My prayer, though, this blog, is that others can not only know Christ but know what a difference walking with Him makes.  I personally know the difference.  I also know the joy that life can have with the certainty of a literal Heaven and knowing that we will together for eternity.

  A little more of Tyler's story can be found above at the "Could It Be Any Worse" link.

I would love to get to know you a little better.  What is one thing that makes you uniquely you??

Friday, May 11, 2018

He Included Me!

The prompt for today's Five Minute Friday is INCLUDE.  As soon as I read it, I began humming and (mentally) singing the hymn "He Included Me" and, yes, it will probably be on repeat in my head all day.  But that's okay.  I can, no doubt, benefit from these Bible truths running through my thoughts for the day (or two)!

  1. I am so happy in Christ today,
    That I go singing along my way;
    Yes, I’m so happy to know and say,
    “Jesus included me, too.”
    • Jesus included me, yes, He included me,
      When the Lord said, “Whosoever,” He included me;
      Jesus included me, yes, He included me,
      When the Lord said, “Whosoever,” He included me.
  2. “Freely come drink,” words the soul to thrill!
    Oh, with what joy they my heart do fill!
    For when He said, “Whosoever will,”
    Jesus included me, too.
  3. Jesus included me, yes, He included me,
    When the Lord said, “Whosoever,” He included me;
    Jesus included me, yes, He included me,
    When the Lord said, “Whosoever,” He included me.

  4. Yes, when Jesus died to offer salvation to anyone who would accept His free gift, He included me!  When He considers His children - He includes me! And, as well, offers to me all the promises He has given to believers.  The secret to joy, and an abundant life.  The freedom from condemnation and the shame sin brings.  Strength, courage, boldness.  Contentment and peace.  And the list goes on.  All of this is not reserved for a select few or for an elect group of "super Christians" but is for all God's children - including me!!
  5. STOP.  That's the end of my five minutes but definitely not the end of the encouragement I found in these lyrics this morning.  So many things routinely, if not daily, try to rob me of these precious gifts and promises.  Alyson, at Write Them on My Heart, in this post, referred to several of them as "dirty villains."  For me...villains are things like comparison, anxiety, self-doubt/comparison, worry.  All of them keeping draining my joy and stealing the abundant life Christ offers me.
  6. But the second stanza of this hymn jumped off the page to me:  "Freely come drink......oh, with what joy they my heart do fill!"  God's word.  Life-giving.  Life-changing.  And "fill your heart with joy" words!  That is the secret.  God's word.  Reading it...digesting it...meditating on it. It is a non-negotiable must.  To be in the word - every day.  And, I believe, every morning.  Defeating those dirty villains before they even begin.  If He offers so much to all of His children - including me!! - why would I settle for anything less??
  7. I'm so thankful He included me!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

God is Involved Even in the Details

In the spirit of recent end-of-year school testing.....Which of these does not belong with the others??

Missions  - and missionaries.
Senior saints.
Writing - words, words and more words.
Trail mix - with dark chocolate:)

Well, actually, all of these go together (didn't mean for that to be a trick question!) especially in reference to me and things I love - am even passionate about!  Can one be passionate about trail mix?  Not sure, but I do love that tasty snack and, with dark chocolate....the absolute best!!  The other three simply reveal what really makes my heart sing!  Whenever and however I can be involved with any of those three -but especially missionaries or senior saints - is the best of time for me.

I have been privileged to go on two foreign short-term missions trips - and they were life changing for me.  Some of the lessons learned while on these trips continue to impact me daily.  If it were possible, I would take one of these trips every year.  When I stopped working last year, I was not sure if I could ever afford another trip!  However, at the beginning of this year, God laid on my heart another trip - scheduled for next month.

I was able to put down a deposit but had no extra income or any sign of money becoming available in order to pay the balance.  I did not want to go back to work - but I needed a paycheck.  I wanted a paycheck without a job...or, at least, without a long-term commitment job.  But those don't show up too often.:)    But God.

But God - two of the most encouraging words for any situation!  I was having lunch with a friend and happened to ask about a friend of a friend of a friend (who used to work in her office).....which led to the conversation that my girlfriend's office had a temporary position available in May.  Just for two weeks.  Simple receptionist type duties (no training).  Easy.  And would I be interested?  Well, yes.  Thank-you.  We never really discussed the salary.  I trusted my friend and was just thrilled to have any amount to apply towards my trip.

But God - I got started last week. It has been super quiet.  I am, basically, "office sitting" while the staff is off-site with their annual convention.  Before the head of the office left, she casually mentioned my paycheck to my friend.  For the exact amount needed to pay the balance of my trip!  I never mentioned this to my friend.  To anyone.  God was involved in all the details - better than I could ever imagine!

God is always involved in the details.  He is concerned about the details.  The little things.  And all the things that matter to our heart - and that make our hearts sing!  I know this - but a reminder, every now and then, is always a blessing.  Be reminded yourself - and be encouraged!  No matter what may seem impossible, feel impossible - is (on our own) impossible, remember.....But God!

(and yes, the photos are some clues about my trip!!)  :)

Friday, May 4, 2018

Refusing to Adapt

Not too long ago, my daughter got another pup.  Not quite a new puppy but still a pup (maybe a toddler??) :)  She already has one spoiled rotten pooch and her dad and I thought two dogs was a bit much; however, as much as she loves dogs, I suppose it is a wonder she only has two!!  Indeed....she is smitten with her newest "baby"!!   Don't even ask me about that coat???

Both dogs have adjusted super well.  They are best of friends and everyone seems to have adapted to two dog-small space living!  They've adapted.  Assimilated.  Learned to blend in.  That is great for puppies and their dog mamas.  But Christians are different.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  II Corinthians 5:17

As new creatures in Christ, we are called to be different.  Not to assimilate, blend in or choose to adapt with the world around us.  This can be a continuing challenge, especially as our world becomes more and more antagonistic towards Christians -  and Christianity.  How do we love those in the world - and show them the love of Christ - without becoming strange bedfellows with the world?  (Yes, strange choice of language there....but it just fit with those two cute puppies!!) 

The answer to that question is probably more suited to a longer than five minute post but I do believe the short answer is:  renewing the mind.  The key to victory with any spiritual battle or challenge always begins with a sound mind.  And a sound mind comes from regular, continual filling our mind with God's word.  His promises.  And truth.  Surely there are practical ways to embrace being a new creature, but the wisdom, the courage and the strength to do those things will begin with renewing our minds.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  Romans 12:2

STOP.  My thoughts on the FMF prompt today:  Adapt.  I missed a couple posts, including last Friday's FMF, but am glad to be writing again today.  I have been working a temporary job and my hats are all to (so many amazing!) bloggers that work, mother, write books, function normally....and STILL manage to post regularly!  I admire all of you!  But, I am actually thrilled to have this temporary job - how God provided it and why?  I plan to share about it on Tuesday.  (I hope you stop by the blog again next week.)  It is beyond exciting for me....and makes my heart happy.  So do sweet puppy friends:)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Hubbie's Turn for a Daytrip

I missed FMF yesterday - Hubbie and I took a day trip! - but still wanted to join the group, so this is Five Minute Friday.  On Saturday.  And, admittedly, a quirky twist on this week's prompt:  turn.  Just a bit of encouragement and a quick recap of our day.

GO - After more than thirty years of marriage, my husband and I are at that stage where we not only know each other - well - but we also anticipate each other (as in, finish one another's sentences) and simply have a routine that regulates our days.  It may sound like "a rut" but it is not.  It is a foundation that beats a steady rhythm to our little world.  Whatever a day may hold - that might vary - but knowing our little bit of "ordinary" and "every day" is something I depend on and appreciate even more as each year goes by.

We enjoy day trips.  A chance to get away - but then, come home, and sleep in our own bed at night!  Priceless.  Most of our days out involve looking for the latest "treasure" in an off the beaten path secondhand store. Or wandering through a small town - looking for the local restaurant with the cutest outdoor patio where we can enjoy lunch.  I love treasure hunting and I really enjoy dining, al fresco, and Hubbie is my good sport - along for the fun!  Rarely do our trips revolve around history.  Sad, but true.  But yesterday was his turn.  His turn to spend the entire day doing what he really enjoys.  We spent the day in Gettysburg - about two hours from home.   We did the entire auto tour which was really quite interesting.  I learned a lot - from the narration, from hearing other tour guides in the area and simply from standing on the spots of history. I know that Hubbie thoroughly enjoyed it.

Honestly, our first plan was to go to one of our favorite spots - for more browsing and eating:)  But I'm glad it was "his turn" .... for his interests to set the agenda.  I spent far too many years in the early part of our marriage trying to ensure "I got my turn" all the time.  Protecting my interests.  So thankful for these years - where God has faithfully pruned me, taught me and matured me - that I can better enjoy marriage as He intended.

Just for fun.. check here for a (much older) post about my Hubbie and a photo of us - from those very first days!  Oh my.

And, one more "just for fun."  I came across these treats in the gift shop at the visitor's center.  I know that chocolate can cover just about anything these days...but, I was still surprised to find these potato chips with the pretzels and graham crackers!!?!  Do you like chocolate on your chips??:)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Be Ye Holy - Does It Apply to Me?

Before Moses came to the children of Israel, they had so long been living in bondage in Egypt that their way of life, even as slaves, seemed the norm.  At the very least, what they could expect for a lifetime.  But God had other plans.  He wanted something different for His people.  His "other plans" were different or distinct from all they had known.

Fast forward to their new lives in the Promised Land and the children began comparing themselves to the people around them.  Not surprisingly, comparison led to discontent and the people began to demand a king.  There were warnings that this was not a good idea - God's plan has always been the best plan - "nevertheless the people refused to obey...and they said, Nay; but we will have a king..." (I Samuel 8:19)  They wanted to blend in.  To be anything but different or distinct.  And the cost was high.

The first definition of "other" is:  a person (or thing) that is different or distinct from one already known.  Distinction has always been God's desire for His children.  And, holiness is the way to distinction for believers today.  Unfortunately, it seems many shy away from the pursuit of holiness or even the desire to be distinct.  Not only is holiness often viewed as arrogant - even prejudice - but many are embracing the idea that believers need to purposefully blend in. This is as dangerous as the Israelites insisting on their own way.

"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord...."  (II Corinthians 6:17a)

Can we be holy and still be loving?  Holy while putting others before ourselves and seeking to serve?  Yes, of course.  We can - and we must.  The two go hand in hand.

STOP.  These are my thoughts on the FMF prompt for today:  other. adjective used to describe God's children.  Distinct and different.  Written with all humility and as a challenge. To me.
 A desire to be holy is a choice each day - and not always an easy choice.  But, easy is not often the best choice and challenge should not be used as an excuse.  If so, the Israelites would, no doubt, have remained slaves in Egypt.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Making Candles

Happy Tuesday!  I think spring is here.  And, this time, I think I really mean it!  Such a beautiful
day!!  The passing of winter is so good for me - in many, many ways....and just one example of its positive effect is the increase in my creativity.  I'm not actually that creative but I do have a creative side (I think we all do!) where I like to express myself.  I (too) often find myself envying others' creativity - whether it is found in a bountiful garden or manicured yard (like my dad) or in the kitchen while baking or creating wonderful, homecooked meals (just like my mother)....or maybe in the craft room, the art studio, through a photographer's lens or even in beautifully wrapped gifts.  My creativity may not impress anyone, or ever win a prize, but it feels good to me and I am learning to embrace what I enjoy doing - simply for the pleasure of it.

Yesterday, I tried candle making.  For sure, I started out simply.  Of course, I found my "inspiration" online - you might be inspired yourself with this blog - Farmhouse on Boone -  by Lisa.  She also has a YouTube channel which I really enjoy.  She had the easiest step by step instructions for making beeswax candles.  And she made one in a crock - which I thought was cute.

I found my crock at a favorite consignment store and bought the wax, as well as the wicks, from Lisa's links on Amazon.  The whole process was not quite as easy as she made it look but it was fun and I was happy with the end product.  I definitely need another try or two - but I'm okay with that.  The creating was as nice as the cozy flicker later in the evening!

I have also been learning to crochet!  Also something that looks much easier than when you are actually working at it.  If I am ever able to complete a project...I will share that creativity another time. What have you tried creating lately?

Friday, April 6, 2018

Release Before Embrace

Embrace.  If you are visiting from Five Minute Friday, not to worry.  I do not have the wrong prompt.  I will get to release.  I always find it interesting, when the Lord is trying to teach or correct me, or perhaps simply wanting to encourage me, that the same words, phrases, and themes seem to reoccur everywhere.  And that is how "embrace" has been for me lately.  So many things I have seen, read, heard and have been impressed on my heart all involve embracing.  And, very often, you cannot embrace something until you release something else.  Release before embrace.

GO.  We have all seen the iconic picture of a child on the edge of a swimming pool with a parent in the water - arms outstretched and waiting for the child to jump.  He wants to be in the water.  Wants to enjoy the fun and even trusts his father....but the letting go can be so hard!  Although the analogy is not a perfect one, I often see myself in the child unable to jump.  Missing the joy that could be his if he would just let go of the edge.

For me, I have had a difficult time not only adjusting to but also truly embracing this phase of life that I am in.  There are, no doubt, several reasons for this - more than a five-minute post allows - but God has been challenging me.  He wants me to more than content with (or resigned to) this time but to fully embrace it.  To do all, be all, and enjoy all that He has in store for right now.  Not holding on so tightly to days, times and stages of life that were comfortable for me.  That were a great joy to me and where my identity was well defined.  I need to release my grip.  When I do, I do not lose my past any more than I lose my identity but I am able to embrace all that God has for me now.

I can trust my Heavenly father.  I can let go and I can be confident that great joy awaits once I do!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Because He Lives

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter.  Two days later, I am carrying thoughts of the wonder of the resurrection with me.  The cross.  The empty tomb.  The depth of all that means for a Christian. The defeat of sin and death.  Eternal life and the promise of reunion with those that we love and are missing.  And....having a living Lord to serve and to worship.  Who desires fellowship with even me!  All that Easter did and continues to do for us - truly, it is more than we comprehend!

For me, because of Easter, grief need not overwhelm me.  Past sins and regrets do not define me.  As the hymn goes, "and life is worth the living....because He lives."  That is the thought behind the name of this blog.  I am able to trade my "ashes" for a life that is worth living - and that glorifies God - because of Christ's death on the cross....and His resurrection.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.  Isaiah 61:3

Haiku poetry has a certain number of syllables and, traditionally, is written about nature and the natural world.  I like it because it forces you to choose purposeful words to express a thought simply and purposefully.  With thoughts of God's faithfulness, the hope of Heaven because of Easter, and, as well, my reason for blogging.... this is my attempt at haiku today.

Beauty for Ashes
Hope, Joy and Purpose Each Day
All Mine By the Cross

Friday, March 30, 2018

Little Letters to Remember March

If you love words and language, and you simply enjoy writing...well, blogging is not only a natural "fit" but quickly becomes a passion.  So, when your computer is gone and you are unable to blog, or write or simply feels the keys under your fingers, it is a sad thing for sure.  And that was me last week.  Sad - and missing my time to blog.  But....all is well.  My computer is being cooperative and not a thing was lost! Just in time to look back at March - the very fickle month of March - in "letter style!"

Dear March - yes, I will start with you.  You tend to drive me crazy.  Yes, you came in like a lion!  The winds were fierce this year and we had one of the strongest wind storms that I remember in quite awhile.  So many homes damaged, folks impacted by power outages that lasted for days, and downed trees, in varying stages of being removed, can be found everywhere.  March, you give us hints of spring and then, just days later, bring us our only measurable snowfall of the year.  But, you do seem to be going out like a lamb!  With the windows open and the curtains blowing, how quickly we forget those nastier days earlier this month!

Dear daffodils and forsythia - I love you!  Your pops of yellow - faithfully pushing through even the snow - not only confirm that a new season is, indeed, coming but also remind me of God's faithfulness, bring wonderful memories of my garden-loving dad to mind and, quite simply, just make my heart happy!!

Dear Tribute friends - It seems the plans for my weeks are beginning to revolve around my volunteer time at the Tribute.  Oh, I look forward to Tuesdays and Thursdays.  All of you make me laugh (every week!!), have so sharpened my UNO skills, and you have helped me refocus and appreciate the slower pace and simpler things of life.  You are special friends, indeed!

Dear back surgeon - the one who operated on our good friend, Tom - one half of our best "double date buddies!"  Thanks for fixing him up!  I really am grateful for skilled surgeons and good medical care.  Now, let's get rid of that walker, my friend.  We have places to go, things to do, antiques to buy and new restaurants to discover!

Dear will power - hang in there!  Easter season is in full force.  You have helped me avoid many Cadbury egg displays but peanut butter eggs, coconut anything and (the oh- so tempting) dark chocolate bunnies seem to be everywhere!  Don't fail me now....but you have your work cut out for you!

Dear crochet pros - you know who you are.  Your fingers flying.  Yarn effortlessly moving back and forth...creating the prettiest shawls and afghans.  You impress me.  You even inspire me but you also intimidate me.  A very sweet friend began teaching me to crochet this month.  I really want to work well with my hands - be productive during the quiet hours of the evening - but it does not come naturally for me.  Will I ever have a project so pretty?Goodness, will I ever get to the end of a project??  Thanks for all the encouragement this month!

Dear brother of mine - you are another one that never fails to impress. Honestly?  you rode a bike 100 miles in three days in the Southeast Asian humidity.  How can we be related??   I am so grateful for our time together this month....the chance to hear about your trip to Viet Nam.  To learn more about your fundraising and your heart to help.  I love your passion - and can you please teach me how to take such beautiful pictures!?

Dear Thai food - you were "an experiment" in my kitchen this month and you did not disappoint!  Oh my.  You just might be my new obsession.

Dear Spring - come on in...and stay awhile! A good, long while!!

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Blessing of the Ordinary

Routine.  Otherwise, often thought of as "the ordinary."  The typical, the normal, or the day-to-day. 
Even the definition sounds a bit...well, boring.  I think we are becoming accustomed to think of the day-to-day or the ordinary as boring and undesirable.  Everything pushes us to examine, and re-examine, our ordinary - our routine - in order to tweak it, improve it or, truth be told, make it more like someone else's normal.  There is so much pressure not "to settle" - certainly not to be content.

Contentment seems to be a constant battle for me.  Apparently, for many.  But I know, for me, there always seems to be a need for the reminder to be content.  Content with not only the things I have, but also the stage of life I am in and where God has me right now.  I stay so focused on what might be ahead, and that whatever happens today is simply preparing me for tomorrow....that I miss the joy of today!!

My mother's love language was food. The planning, the preparing, even the shopping for food. (Yes, that explains a lot!)  Whenever we were coming for a visit, she would begin, weeks in advance, making menus - for all three meals of the day.  She included everyone's favorites and some new treats, as well.  By the way, she was an amazing cook!  Every evening ended with a wonderful meal with everyone too far past full; however, before anyone could even leave the table, Mom would say something like, "sooo, for breakfast tomorrow...."  Oh my.

I know, she was totally in her element!  And, I so miss her meals.  But isn't that the perfect picture of how we miss the joy right in front of us??   We miss all the beauty and blessings - no matter how small or routine - that are in today.  This moment.  I read this quote in a devotional today (another gentle reminder...)

"Perhaps living inside a regular day in which nothing of earth-moving significance happens is at the heart of all that is truly meaningful and extraordinary.   The glory of life is found quite simply in the ordinary moments."  - Carol Burton McLeod

What a wonderful thought to ponder all day....this regular day.  I want to look for, and then savor, all that is ordinary and routine today.  It can't simply be a thought on my coffee mug - blessed.   Yes, I am blessed.  And I want to be content with - and fully enjoy - all the blessings of this day!

These were my thoughts on totday's FMF prompt:  routine.  I went a tad longer but really wanted to include the memory of my mother.  She loved us well - with every meal, every dish and every labor of love from her kitchen.  I miss her.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Butterfinger Cake

Happy Spring.  Yes, it is sleeting and the forecast is for snow all afternoon and tomorrow but it is spring:)  And the calendar makes official!  Goodness, March is fickle and spring even more so but I am enjoying my bunnies (did you see a few of them on my Instagram?) and thinking towards Easter.  I am still working on my Easter menu.  I am planning to have a brunch but am always looking for something just a little bit new.  Any suggestions?

I am taking dinner to a friend this evening - including one of my "go-to" desserts.  Butterfinger cake.  It is always sure to please.  When I came in from the grocery store yesterday, my son immediately saw dessert in his future.  Sorry - but it did inspire me to make one for Easter.  I tend to think of coconut cake for Easter but my family would all love Butterfingers over coconut any day!

This recipe is so simple but I thought I would share today - perhaps it will inspire you.  Or remind you of a family favorite that you haven't made in a while that would bring a smile to your family!

1 box Cake Mix – I used German Chocolate...could also use Devil’s Food.
1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 - 11.5-ounce jar caramel ice cream topping
1 - 8-ounce container Cool Whip
2 -  Butterfingers candy bars, crushed


  1. Bake cake according to instructions on the package.  Cool.
  2. Poke holes in the cake about an inch apart with the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Pour condensed milk over cake, making sure to fill holes.
  4. Do the same with he caramel topping.
  5. Cover the cake with the Cool Whip.
  6. Sprinkle with the crushed candy bars.  (the photo above has only one candy bar - I
          will add some more just before delivering it this evening.)

Refrigerate for one hour and be sure to store in the fridge!  Enjoy!:)

Friday, March 16, 2018

He Provided a Way for Me

If you see me on Instagram, you know this week has been one of computer woes.  Woes of the most aggravating kind.  Still have not been able to resolve the problem - as in, have not been able to even unlock the computer:( but I did not want to miss FMF.  The prompts cause me to think, to ponder and to meditate on truths and, just as much, I am always blessed by the other posts.  I encourage you to spend some time in the links.

Obviously, I am "borrowing" a computer which means I just might stick with the five minutes for today's prompt:  PROVIDE    With Easter on our hearts and minds, no doubt, there will be several posts with similar thoughts, but that is okay.  It bears repeating.  Again, and again.

GO - From the very beginning, God's desire was to fellowship with us.  To be with us and to commune with us.  However, sin separated us.  Sin brought consequences.  But God provided a way.  A way to have sin forgiven and a way of escape.

When God's children were suffering in Egypt, He heard their cries.  Exodus 3:7-8 "And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people...and have heard their cry....for I know their sorrows.  And I am come down to deliver them...."  He knew their hopelessness.  He used plaques to prove His great power and when Pharaoh still refused to let them go, He sent the death angel, proving His sovereignty.  Even then, He provided an escape. 

That escape for the God's children then is the same as it is today - a sacrifice.  The shedding of blood by a spotless lamb.  "....and when I see the blood, I will pass over you..."  Exodus 12:13   God has always offered mercy and a way of forgiveness. 

STOP - I am so grateful for His death, burial and resurrection.  Because of His sacrifice, I have forgiveness and reconciliation!  That is real joy Easter provides!!

Friday, March 9, 2018

I'm So Tired - What Might It Mean?

I begin most of my mornings leisurely enjoying a cup of coffee with my husband before heading
upstairs for my devotions.  It is one of the small pleasures of this phase of life - for which I am grateful and that I am enjoying.  But until just several months ago, I was working and, before 8:00, I would interact with staff, parents, students of all ages and several service providers.  I greeted people with, "Good morning!  How are you?"....and so, so often the standard answer was, "Tired."

But you've just started....haven't even been out of bed that long!?  Why does it seem everyone is always tired?  I know there are plenty of answers to that question - situations, circumstances, etc. that leave us tired.  Even when we get out of bed. The answers could probably be discussed in a blog post for hours - but this is Five Minute Friday, so these are just a couple of my thoughts.

GO -

I believe that for many being tired is synonymous with being busy.  And being busy is a badge worn with honor these days.  So, if we are tired, we must be busy and, in some way, that must mean, we are productive, hard-working people.  Exhaustion proves it.  But, could it be a constant state of tiredness is a symptom of poor planning, misplaced priorities, or little to no self-care...perhaps a jumble of all three?

No doubt, there are days when we are the "slave" to our schedule rather than the reverse.  Emergencies happen, but these days should be the exception and not the rule. Even when best-arranged priorities seem thrown off balance, there can (and should) be adequate time for rest and for sleep.  Sleep is as necessary as eating and bathing and as crucial as our time spent in prayer and Bible reading.  Plan for it all.  Here are three reasons why I think it is important.

One - God expects it.  We are His temple. The dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.  Many directions and principles are given for taking care of the temple.  Lack of sleep not only runs us down but negatively affects our bodies - this temple.

Two - Jesus was our example.  He slept.  After long days full of ministering, He slept.  Even during storms, when the needs of others seemed paramount, He slept.  I know there are many applications in that account but certainly, if Jesus chose to sleep before serving, meeting needs and teaching His disciples, there is a lesson there as well.

Three - There are promises to those who will put their cares away, give their worries to Him and will lay down to sleep.  Christ offers sweet sleep.  And, no doubt, renewed energy to handle the tasks for the new day ahead.


Yes.  There are moms of newborns and little ones.  Caregivers - to spouses, aging parents, special need children, and many others.  There are single moms working full-time and then putting themselves through school in the hours leftover.  Some suffer chronic illness or other physical ailments.  All that deprive them of necessary sleep.  I can attest to many of these situations myself.  And I believe in these times, God can take our little sleep and give us the strength that we need.  I pray that He does.  However, for most of us who regularly hear ourselves saying, "I'm so tired," it just might be a red-flag that we are not sleeping as we should.  Just a thought.

 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows:
 for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
Psalm 127:2

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Joy in Any Season

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."  John 10:10b

I have included this verse several times in my posts.  I quote it often.  Yes, it is one of my be sure.  All Christ did and all He does is so we might live the abundant life....and that "our joy might be full." (John 15:11b)  An abundant life is full of joy. 

Then, why oh why do I (too) often feel joyless?  No doubt there are many answers to that question, and blog posts that could be written for months to unravel the answer.  I have been reading about, studying, and meditating on joy in my morning devotions.  My joy often seems especially lacking during the winter months... and  I know that seasonal depression is a real thing.  I struggle. But I also know these verses are true in any season. Winter.  Summer.  Busy seasons.  Long, quiet days.

There are no simple answers.  No one size fits all solution.  But I do know, as Christians, we face the same enemy.  Satan.  And He desperately wants to rob us of all joy.  He would love to steal our eternity - our home in Heaven.  But he cannot, so he will stop at nothing to ruin our joy until we get there.  So often, we think our enemy is "out for" our marriages, our children, our homes, finances or health.  And, yes, he would love to see them ruined.  But, truthfully, he wants to work through our homes, our health and relationships in order to steal our joy.

Another verse I have been using often is Nehemiah 8:10b...."neither be ye sorry (grieved, depressed); for the joy of the LORD is your strength."  I am able to fight against the devil.  Of course, there can be times and situations where counseling or medical help is needed.  It might be we simply need to reach out and invite someone to support us along the way.  Many times, being still with our savior - sharing our heart and then listening for His voice -  is what we need to pull back the shadows.  Whatever it takes, we have the strength we need.  Strength to dismiss the enemy.  Strength to keep fighting for the joy that He has promised.

Spring is coming - just as it always does.  Just as God faithfully brings the seasons...He is faithful to meet us where we are.  To supply our need and to strengthen us.  And to restore our joy - and not just any joy....but abundant joy!!

Thanking the Lord for His rich mercies:

"They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness."  Lamentation 3:23