Friday, November 30, 2018

Even Deep Truths Should Comfort Us

How Deep the Father's Love for Us.....How Vast Beyond All Measure. 

For a long time, I was not a fan of this song.  I have no idea why - but I wasn't.  Somewhere along the way, that changed and not only do I (very much) enjoy this song but the truth expressed is beautiful.  I posted Tuesday about trying to live loved - acknowledging Christ's amazing love and the truth that He loves me.  And letting that fact impact me.  Every day.  In every aspect.  It is not always easy and I'm not sure we really can comprehend genuine, unmerited, unconditional love without end.  Love that is, indeed, beyond measure - and deep.

That type of deep is wonderful -  even if we cannot completely grasp it - and it comforts us.  But some things that are really deep (as in profound or intense) can have a different effect.  I have been in a Bible study this semester studying the "Mysteries of Heaven."  It has been an interesting look at some of the glimpses about Heaven revealed in the Word.  And there are only glimpses.  There is simply much more that we do not know, or understand, about Heaven than we do know. Or that God tells us.

This can be troubling even causing anxiety for some.  It can be frustrating and I have seen the lack of details and definitive answers lead to fear and even an occasional argument.  However, the glimpses that we have been given are not to confuse us but to excite us.  To create a longing and to keep our hearts turned towards Heaven.  Without a doubt, the beauty, the wonder and all that Heaven and eternity will be is much more than we can understand or appreciate.  It is (beyond) deep.  But we can be sure of the truth that it will be more than we ever imagine.  We will not be disappointed.  Just as I am trying to let the deep truth of God's love wash over me.....I can be confident that when the deep mysteries of Heaven are revealed, it will be amazing!

My (not so deep) thoughts on the prompt - DEEP - for this week's Five Minute Friday.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Choosing to Live Loved

I'm not feeling the love!

For some reason, I like that phrase.  I may (or may not) tend to overuse it and I usually say it with just the right hint of sarcasm.  Its playful and it makes me smile.  My family - particularly my kids - know I want to feel the love..especially when it comes to prompt replies to my texts and calls.  Prompt, as in right now.  Immediately:)  The longer I wait to hear back from them...the less love I feel!

Feeling the love means I feel not only noticed and acknowledged but also that I feel appreciated, valued and validated.  Having our texts answered is a silly illustration but the truth is we all want to "feel the love."  To be loved and to know it.  We can spend a lot of emotion, mental energy and effort towards being loved.  When our expectations aren't met, we feel less than loved - often quicker than we want to acknowledge.  But the real truth is I am completely loved - beyond measure - by my heavenly father.  He is love.  His love took Him to Calvary in my place and every day He showers me with unconditional love.

I am trying to choose daily to live loved.  Not seeking affirmation or reminders from friends, family or even social media (oh my).  But letting Christ's love not only fill me but also fulfill me.  I'll admit, this is a challenge for me but it is just one more choice I am making this year.

I began this year with my 2018 word - choose - and have been trying to choose wisely this year.  I highlighted a few of those choices here on my blog:  choosing to build my house and choosing to be content.  Some others I have been working on more privately: choosing to trust, to come boldly, to walk by faith and not by sight and, also, choosing to step out of my comfort zone.

This is my last post on this year's word.  I honestly had no idea what impact the simple exercise of choosing a word for the year would have.  But, it has.  It has been convicting and instructive.  As another month comes to a close and this year's end close to follow....I suppose it is time to prayerfully consider a word for 2019.

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Value of One

I love words.  I love grammar and I love vocabulary.  And, of course, I love writing words.  I have always admired those who can use words - eloquently, humorously or any of a hundred other ways - to express themselves.  Poetry and songwriting are some of the most expressive ways to convey a thought.  An idea.  Or, simply, your heart.  I used to write poetry.  I have even tried writing lyrics.  To be sure, it does not come to me nearly as easily or smoothly as it once did.

Today's prompt immediately reminded me of a song - The Value of One.  (By Josh Wilson, I believe.)  I think the lyrics speak for themselves.  If you've never heard it - listen here....but I think the written words are powerful just on their own.  Enjoy.  Hopefully, the season of yesterday's Thanksgiving will remain and we will continue to be humbled and amazed at the price Christ was willing to pay for us...and that He willingly did so!

They say that up in heaven,

God is sitting on His throne

Anticipating another sinner
Will soon become His own.
Years of wasted living and
Years of toil and strife
Are just about to be over
As he receives the gift of life.

Go sound the horn

A sinner is saved-
Saved from the fire
No more in darkness
He's received my Son
All heaven rejoices
That's the value of one.

The Holy Spirit has been working

To soften up a heart
All he needs is a willing servant
To simply do his part.
Can you imagine up in heaven
The joy there'll be that day
As a sinner bows his head to pray
Can't you hear the Father say...

Start construction on the mansion
There on Hallelujah Street
He doesn't know yet what is waiting
When the Savior he will meet... he will meet

Go sound the horn

A sinner is saved-
Saved from the fire
No more in darkness
He's received my Son
All heaven rejoices
That's the value of one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Blessing Mix - 2018

Without a doubt, some of my richest blessings are not only the time I spend volunteering but the friends and sweet relationships I have made doing so.  My afternoons there are the highlight of my week!  Yesterday, we took an afternoon trip to the Air and Space Museum.  One of the other ladies in our group actually volunteers at the museum once a week and we got a true "insider's tour"!  It was so interesting.

Today I will go over for just an hour or so and play some games.  I put together these blessing bags to share.  I think I have shared these before on the blog but it may have been awhile.  The recipe is super easy - all of the ingredients are listed right on the tag.  It is basically a cup of each ingredient except two cups each of the bugles and pretzels.  I usually mix everything except the kisses, divide evenly and then added 2-4 kisses on the top.  Of course, you could have as many kisses as you like:)

I doubled the recipe and made about eight gift bags.  The link for the labels can be found on my Pinterest "Thanksgiving" board.  It would also be super easy to make your own design!

I am also thankful for those who read my blog. I hope that each of you is encouraged to embrace the abundant life that God offers to each of His children.  Regardless of your season of life, live each day with purpose and for purpose - to honor Christ and point others to Him.

  Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Two Thoughts on "One" Prompt

Typically, I read the Five Minute Friday prompt just before I go to bed on Thursday.  (It's posted late...really.) :)   I often have a verse, or even a song, that immediately comes to my mind.  But, then I go to sleep.  If the thought is still with me in the morning, I usually go with that idea.  And - that is how FMF works in my brain.  Not that any of that was necessary - just wanted to share that this week I had two thoughts for this week's prompt ("ONE") and have decided to try and share both.  In five minutes, of course.

Both thoughts continue with the attitude of Thanksgiving that I have been concentrating on these last weeks - not only in my devotional time but, hopefully, also throughout the week.  I want to thank the Lord for my husband - my friend and partner through life - and, as well, for the "friendship" that Jesus offers.

GO -

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."  Genesis 2:24

We have been married for almost 35 years.  For some, that seems like a lifetime.  For others, we are still newlyweds:)  But over those years, we have not only created a home, a family and life together but we have "done life" together.  We have rejoiced and laughed and shared the greatest joys...and we have known the deepest grief.  But we have done it together and I am blessed to have my husband by my side.  An encourager.  The one I lean on.  My better half.

It can be too easy to take these days for granted.  I've learned many a lesson from my afternoons volunteering at the Tribute and this is one of them.  There will come a day when one of us will be alone.  I might be me - it really does not matter which one.  But, I want to not only appreciate but savor these days - right now - that we have together.  Sharing life side by side.

But, even as tender as our relationship might be...there is no way that my husband can meet my every need.  Physically, spiritually or even emotionally.  (Nor should I expect it.)  This is so clearly seen, for us, as we miss our son, Tyler.  We grieve differently.  At different levels.  In different ways and at different times.  Most days, we appreciate and acknowledge those differences - truthfully, we do.  But, grief is just more intense - more challenging and more real - during the holidays.  We can have different ideas for handling grief over the holidays.  I can feel misunderstood and even overlooked. (And he could probably say the same.) But my heavenly Father knows my heart.

As His children, we have someone who understands and is able to meet every need.  This week's prompt brought this song - an old hymn - to my heart and it explains it best:

There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
No, not one! No, not one!
None else could heal all our soul’s diseases,
No, not one! No, not one!
  • Jesus knows all about our struggles,
    He will guide till the day is done;
    There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
    No, not one! No, not one!

I am so grateful that Jesus knows my struggles - all of them - and He guides and directs with me every day.  He hears my prayers and sees my tears and comforts, strengthens and restores my joy.  I praise Him for patiently walking with me.

STOP - What are especially grateful for this we head into Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Magic Pumpkin Cobbler

Are you over the pumpkin spice craziness yet?  Or, perhaps you are still trying to savor the very last drop...or piece of pumpkin goodness?  I think I am somewhere in between.  So.much.pumpkin!!  But, then much pumpkin!!:)

I made the mistake the browsing through my "Pumpkin Madness" board on Pinterest and found "just a couple" more treats that I had not yet tried.  So, this weekend I made Magic Pumpkin Cobbler!

(Here's a direct link: you can find it on my Pinterest board.)  Not only was it magic - creates its own caramel sauce as it bakes - but it was beyond easy.  But super delicious!!

I so wish I had pictures of my dessert.  This is a photo from the original recipe posted by Creations by Kara.  It is every bit as yummy as it looks.  You will want some.  Tonight.

Just a short post today....but please tell me what delicious treat have you discovered this fall?  Only one more week for all that goodness. 

Brace yourself for the sugar cookie, peppermint latte, and gingerbread everything:)

Friday, November 9, 2018

"Rolled Away, Rolled Away"

For years (over 20), I was involved in the children's mid-week ministry at our church.  We called it "Crusaders" and I taught the 3-5-year-olds!  What a wonderful age!  This photo is actually my sweet Tyler at age three...but in his Easter finery, I believe, with his friends.  And a mouth full of graham crackers.  When you are three, life really is all about your buddies and the graham crackers:)

And to think, he grew to be my helper - teaching the 3-5 years olds himself.  Be still my mama's heart.

Crusaders did not have a set curriculum but I simply made my own lessons and enjoyed the evening.  We would have a short lesson - often with puppets:) - color or do a simple craft and, of course, we would sing!  A lot of singing!  Today's FMF prompt immediately took me back to singing with my littlest crusaders and I have had the melody with me all morning.

Rolled away, rolled away, rolled away  (rolling our arms)
Every burden on my heart rolled away!
Rolled away, rolled away, rolled away....
Every burden on my heart rolled away!

Every sin had to go (and the motions continued)
Neath the crimson flow - Hallelujah! (clapping - always clapping!)

Rolled away, rolled away, rolled away....
Every burden on my heart rolled away!

GO -  Like most of us, I have been trying to purposefully focus my thoughts toward being thankful.  Working on gratitude - especially for the smaller and simpler things.  The everyday things.  I don't know why...but this exercise does not always come easy for me.  I even started a "month of Thanksgiving" on my Instagram (and only planning to post every other day) but I seem to struggle with even that.  Sigh.

However, I press on.  Today, I am so grateful:

   *that my sin burden was rolled away!  I still fight my sin nature but I do know that I have been forgiven and redeemed and there is no condemnation for my sin.  I know this because God - in His word - assures me.  I thank the Lord for saving me!

   *that I need not carry other burdens either.  How easily do I forget the One who removed my sin burden will also carry the worries, the hurts, the fears that burden my heart.  I do not have to bear my burdens alone.

   *for the years of precious memories working with the littlest crusaders!

   *for the many who served over the years - teaching and loving my littlest ones - in children's ministries.

   *for precious evenings having my son work alongside me in ministry....and the joy it still brings to my heart.

Isn't it amazing the powerful and wonderful truths contained in "simple" children's songs??  They aren't just for getting the wiggles out but, instead, they bury truths in our heart (and burn them on our memory!) that we can recall years and decades later!  I pray that you have allowed God to roll your burdens away!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Some Photos of Germany - Including my Favorite!

God certainly blessed us with a wonderful vacation.  We spent seven days traveling around Bavaria - mostly in Germany but also a couple of days in Austria.   We also went as far north as Rottenburg (which is adorable) and spent one day in the city:)  Munich.  We had one day of snow...which was even pretty for a warm-weather girl like me....and the rest of the days were glorious.  We toured a couple castles, visited the well-known filming sites from "A Sound of Music" and even had a cooking lesson at a Austrian cooking school.  Who knew there could be so many varieties of apple strudel...and I think we tried them all!!  I won't get started on the chocolate croissants - or other pastries.  There is even a cafe (a coffee shop and bakery) inside each McDonalds!  Pastry is king.  Just one more thing to love about Germany:)


 Everywhere we went, the scenery seemed to be more breathtaking than the day before.  Unfortunately, I am a very poor photographer and my pictures really do not show the beauty...but we were awed everywhere we went!

We visited Berchtesgaden, Salzburg, Augsburg, Rottenburg and Oberammergau.  We toured Neuschwanstein castle, the bunkers near Eagle's Nest, and visited Dachau.

Some of the things that impressed me most about Germany were:  fast cars and driving in the tightest of spaces.  Many roads were one-lane in width but were for two lanes.  You simply had to take turns.

Also, all of the green.  Rolling beautiful countryside with plenty of grazing cows.  And no fences to taint the view.  Indeed - no fences.  One thin electric wire that was hardly noticed.  Along with the green were the beautiful flowers - and flower boxes.  Still so pretty even in November.

But I will always remember the dogs.  Pups are everywhere (except the grocery stores).  There was at least one dog in every restaurant.  Dogs in the mall.  In the shops.  Well, everywhere.  Although it is not the clearest photo, this has to be one of my favorites....

This sweet girl is "parked" outside the ladies' room in the mall.  Very patiently waiting for her human so they can continue shopping.  A doggie parking hook!  Priceless!!

Thanking the Lord for this special vacation as well as the special friends that shared it with us!