Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Praying it forward...

Now that Christmas is past, I am starting to think about goals and "resolutions" for the new year. It's time for the end of year evaluation. What did I accomplish this year? Did I finish what I started? What do I want to do in the coming year? What does He have for me to do?

Glancing at the little calendar that shows how often I blogged in December, I noticed only 4 blogs for the entire month so far! I've been blogging for over a year and started out strong with 4-5 blogs per week. But like so many things, I started with good intentions and fizzled out somewhere along the way this year.

Oh, I could give a lot of excuses (er, I mean "reasons"?) why I let the blogs slide - my family moved in and we had 11 people in the house for 4 months; my husband took a new job necessitating a move of our own; my mom became ill and passed away necessitating four 3-day trips in a one month period to take care of things for her.

Yes, it was a year full of major stressful events. These stressors not only affected my blogs, but my spiritual life as well. In some ways I am stronger because I have seen and felt the Lord's presence with me. I've had to lean hard on Him.

In other ways, I have struggled. I am a person who needs a daily routine and when those routines were interrupted or preempted, I found myself struggling to get things done. My daily devotional life suffered, my writing suffered and even the accomplishing the routine household things suffered.

Because the events of this past year were unusual and very stressful, I'm not going to beat myself up emotionally for failing to accomplish some of my goals like daily blogging, finishing my novels or promoting my book more; especially since I believe I learned a lot of other things God intended me to learn - about the importance of relationships.

It does make me think and pray more about what needs to happen in 2008. Lord, what do You want me to accomplish in the new year? What do You want to accomplish in me?

I will work hard on strengthening my prayer and quiet time routines because every other routine hinges on that. I still believe He has called me to write and will set goals toward that end like daily blogging and structured writing times to complete the projects in process.

And I will try to be open to those "surprise" lessons God brings across my path - those unexpected (sometimes stressful) challenges He springs on me that interrupt my routines but are designed to teach me the eternal lessons He views as extremely important.

So, Lord, have your way. Direct my goals and path for 2008. It promises to be a very interesting year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Christian Glitter by

To all my wonderful friends - May God fill you with His presence this season and through all the coming year!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Decorations...On a Shoestring Budget

I don't claim to be a great decorator, but several people commented on my Christmas decorations this year so I thought I'd show some of them (besides, my daughter in Florida wants to see them... Hi Lis!)

Since we just moved 3 1/2 months ago, I don't have curtains in the dining room yet. They clash with my wallpaper so I have to paint the walls first. With everything going on, I just haven't had a chance to paint, so I had to do SOMETHING to camouflage it - Solution: a card hanging window treatment. Easy and the price is right! Just loop ribbons over the curtain rods and staple my Christmas cards to the ribbons. Voila! I will probably have to add a few more ribbons before Christmas...

Oh dear! My Christmas tablecloth got a large bleach spot on it which ate a nasty hole in the middle. So I had to use a different tablecloth which wasn't Christmassy. Solution: I put a strip of 8 inch wide glittery Christmas ribbon which made a wonderful table runner down the middle and used some of my crystal glassware to hold ornaments and candles.

Working at a flower shop for several years had its advantages. I purchased several containers for floral arrangements - like these two Thomas Kinkaide houses and the metallic church. But I had never done anything with them. This year, I needed more table centerpieces so I decided to make up the church. Wouldn't you know it - I didn't have many artificial Christmas greens to use. Oh well - Regular ferns and ivy mixed with a few sprigs of artificial pine and red and white flowers worked just as well, don't you think?

Like about a million other people, I enjoy snowmen. I never really set out to collect them, but have acquired quite a few over the years.

There's really nothing special about the last two pictures - just a traditional (fake) tree and my Christmas village but I included them because I want to brag on my DH. This year he put up the tree from start to finish so I figured he deserved to have icicles on the tree if he wanted them. Several years ago he made a topper for our entertainment center and drilled holes in it so I could display my collection of Christmas houses. It really looks great and has become a traditional decoration, complete with a little train which the grandkids love. Way to go, Dan!

Anyway, thanks for stopping by my "virtual tour" of Christmas decorations on a shoestring budget LOL! Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Pleasure of Puddle-Jumping

My grandson is a "puddle-jumper."

There's nothing he likes better in this whole world than finding a nice puddle to stomp through. It doesn't matteer that he gets soaked with chilly water up to his knees. It doesn't matter if the water is muddy or clear. It's still water!

I think if he had been a little Israelite boy when they crossed the Red Sea, he would have jumped in before the water receeded completely or before the Lord had a chance to dry off the path and run through the puddles to the other side...

Thanks Lord, for the simple pleasures of life.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Taste of heaven on earth...

In "Other" Words

"Be such a person and live such a life,
That if every person,
Was a person like you, and every life a life like yours,
This Earth would be God's Paradise."
~Phillips Brooks~

Wow! What an ideal to strive for - perfection. I honestly doubt I'll ever make it in this life.

Take Friday for instance. We were having our annual Open House Christmas Party at the parsonage. We've only been at Gospel Tabernacle for three and a half months so this was the first time we had a party like this here, though it has been a tradition for our family for many years in whatever community we happened to live at the time.

We wanted the congregation members to feel welcome to visit us in our home, so I baked cookies, decorated and cleaned house, beginning a week before the event so it wouldn't be too stressful on the day of the party.

Even though I tried to do a little at a time, on the day of the party I still had a major emotional melt down. "I'm never going to do this again. I hate parties!" (I ranted like a woman in labor...LOL!)

Yet when the party started and our guests began to arrive, I realized how much I loved having them in my house. I thoroughly enjoyed being the hostess and circulating among my friends. I remarked to my husband later that we need to do this more often. (I said that after the birth of our first son too and we ended up having two more children... Uh-oh!)

At the party someone asked me if I'd had a melt down preparing for the party and I had to admit my flaws to them. But it made me realize once again that I'm not the only one who gets stressed out.

The world is already filled with others just like me - flawed human beings who are saved by the grace of God, struggling to live for Him and to grow in Him each day. I need to be ready to hug, love, support and pray for them whenever the Lord brings them across my path.

I may never be perfect and there may never be paradise on this earth until the Lord returns and perfects us. But if I strive to care for others the way He did; if I strive to understand that they are flawed like me and love them unconditionally, I might just be able to make a difference. I will get to experience a taste of His heaven on earth.

Have a blessed holiday season and may your life touch someone in need today!


If you'd like to join us today , simply blog about the quote on your site, then visit Lori at "All You Have To Give" to leave your URL and read her thoughts on the quote along with the other participants. Check out what the others have written and leave them a comment as well!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Memory Mites

I just found out that In Other Words has a new home site. Amy's "In Pursuit of Proverbs 31" site will be the new In Other Words home so be sure to check it out! As usual, a different blogger will host the IOW blog each week as we share our thoughts on the quote of the week.

This week's quote is:

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins,worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on." ~ Mark 12:41-44 ~

Funny, how we look at things so differently than the Lord. My mother was a quiet woman. I never really knew about how she felt about things because her generation along with her conservative Mennonite background taught her to keep her inner thoughts to herself. She NEVER showed her discontentment, flaws or neediness. Really, she never allowed others to see any part of her inner self.

I remember commenting to her one time about the wonder of God's creation that one infinitesimal sperm out of thousands of possibilities fertilized the one egg that made me and God knew it would happen - He knew all about me before I was ever even conceived. I was sooooo impressed at the largeness of the God I had come to love.

Of course, that comment coming from a 16 year old embarrassed my conservative mom to death! She blushed furiously and abruptly changed the subject. At the time I felt hurt by her reaction because I had so many questions about life that I needed her to answer, but she closed herself to me.

According to my daughters and some other young women I know, my mom would have been considered "relationally poor" because of her handicapped ability to share the inner workings of her heart. It always bothered me because I wanted - needed to know more of her heart. I wanted to hear her say how proud she was of my accomplishments. I craved the compliments - "You are special. You did well. Etc." After I grew up, I wanted her to be my best friend, sharing the child rearing process and advice with me, but she remained closed.

But as I greeted people at her recent funeral, I began to see a whole different side of my mom. I saw a woman whose unassuming life had touched others in so many different ways - by her quiet charity, her thoughtful deeds.

One by one, they came and told me things about her I never knew - how she ministered to this one and gave to another. My heart swelled as I realized how pleasing her life must have been to God. Even though she lacked the relational skills to talk about what was in her heart, she showed it to others and in turn, the Lord was showing it to me.

Mom was very much like Mark's widow who put two mites in the offering. She gave all of her heart that she was able to give - though it never felt like enough - but Christ took it and used it to bless others and me through her life.
Lord, thank you for sharing these "mites" from my mother;s heart. Help me to give all that I am and have to You to touch others.


If you would like to join us today, simply blog about the quote on your site, then visit "Beloved Mama" to leave a comment and a link to your blog site. We're looking forward to hearing from you!