Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!


The Old and the New

Hiking in the Thuringian Forest by Linda6769
photo by Linda6769

We went for a hike today on a trail nearby that wound among the trees in the forest. Some were bare and others had toppled. There were smaller, younger evergreens popping out among them including some pines that were just a couple years old.  It reminded me of how the old and the new stand side by side, much like it does in our lives. 

At the end of each year, we tend to think of what we've done over the past year, good and bad, and how we'd like to live this next year.


Happy New Year! by UrbanPhotographix
New Year's Party by Urbanphotographix

Now we celebrate the beginning of this next year, with all the hopes and dreams we'd like to see come true.  Happy New Year everyone.  May you recognize and appreciate the blessings God has in store for you in 2012.

Friday, December 30, 2011

My Child, Part 7

I can do more for you than you could possibly imagine.--Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager.--II Corinthians 3:20
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles--II Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18


brokenheart by poojabrahmi
photo by poojabrahmi 
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I carry you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11


Psalm 23, through the valley by SilverFox Multimedia
Photo courtesy of  SilverFox MultiMediaedia


One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4


crying eye by starush
Photo by starush



And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4




I need encouragement every day. I hold onto these promises, even though I can't always see or feel them.  It gives me hope for the future, even when my life doesn't meet my expectations.  How about you?  





Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Child, Part 6

One Heart... by bigbrowneyez
One Heart
from bigeyez



                                                                                          


Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart- Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires.--Philippians 2:13
                       
       






    

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Child, Part 5

God has even more to say about how He sees us.

It is my desire to lavish my love on you.--I John 3:1   
For you are my child and I am your Father--I John 3:1
And my plan for you has always been filled with hope Jeremiah--29:11
♥~...

heart-shaped bokeh♥ by ~♥ Mademoiselle 5oo5a ♥~ www.5oo5a.com
heart-shaped bokeh♥
from ~♥ Mademoiselle 5oo5a ♥~...



I will never stop doing good to you--Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession.--Exodus 19:5
I want to establish you with all my heart and soul-Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things.--Jeremiah 33:3


Thinking of my relationship with God in this light makes me want to draw even closer to Him.  How do you see it? 


Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Child, Part 4


I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me. John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. I John 3:1
And I desire to lavish my love upon you. I  John 3:1

Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. I John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48

Father & child at San Diego zoo by richard-ugadawg 1990
photo courtesy of Richard-Ugadawg


If you seek me with all your heart you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs Matthew 6:31-33

Birthday Gifts by Kitten
photo courtesy of Kitten

My plan for your has always been filled with hope Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3



Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gingerbread, Gingerbread Everywhere

We went to the Oak Grove Inn  in Asheville, NC yesterday and had a wonderful time.




Because it's Christmas, they had their annual Gingerbread House Contest.  They had four age categories judged separately.  The best went on to New York where they were put on display.  The grand prize winners were on Good Morning America today. To see the winners, click here Thought I'd share a bit of what we saw.

Hundreds of hours were spent to make each of the houses. All are made of gingerbread and royal fondant icing. Every part of the entry is edible

Not all were houses

All were amazing works of art.



Some had more icing than others



It was a real treat to see how creative people can be.  











What are some things you and your family have done this Christmas season?  


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Child, Part 3




photo by HTloveHL




I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you before I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact the time of your birth and where you would live. Acts. 17:26

God's in charge of more than we even think about.  



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday--Sunset in St. John





My Child, Part 2

Today we continue to look at who we are in God's eyes.  It comes from a letter entitled My Child. For the first post on this series, click here. 

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered - Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in My image. Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being - Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28.

This reminds me that we're God's children and we were made in His image.  God knows everything about us, including the smallest of details and we're dependent on Him.  I don't always like to admit that last one, but it's true.   What comes to  mind when you read these statements?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Child,

You may not know me, but I know everything about you. (Psalm 139:1)
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. (Psalm 139:2)
I am familiar with all your ways. (Psalm 139:3)





Sophie and Aubrey are safe in their parents' care,without even knowing it.

So it is with us and God.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Obedience School

If you love me, obey my commandments. John 14:15
Our six-month-old puppy has a strong will. He’s a naturally happy, people-loving dog, but he has a mind of his own. While that’s not necessarily bad, it can get him into trouble. So we found ourselves at obedience school with him.
During the first two weeks of class, we focused on basic commands like sit and stay. But in week three, we learned what I saw as one of his most significant needs—the necessity of paying attention to us. We learned how to teach this important concept. Once he was sitting in front of us, we held his leash up straight so his gaze was focused on us. When he looked away, I was taught to give the leash a slight tug. If he continued to ignore me, I increased the force to bring his focus back to me.
The purpose of this lesson was two-fold. First, it taught the dog who his leader was and that he needed to do what he was told—even if he didn’t want to. The second reason was protection. His owner can see more than he can and can spot unseen dangers, like a car coming down the road, or an unfriendly dog. If he focuses on his owner and pays attention, he’ll be safe. If not, he risks getting hurt. Whether he’s distracted by other stimuli, or simply chooses to be stubborn, he increases his risk of harm.
I realized the same is true in my life. I’m like the puppy who’s still learning what to do in each situation. I can’t see everything around the corner or ahead of me, but I have a Heavenly Father who can. He sees the big picture. He is the Master who loves me and has my best interests in mind. So I need to trust him and follow his lead. As long as I do, He’ll keep me safe. But I have to pay attention.
Be obedient and focus on Him.
Ellen Andersen, a native of California, moved to Greenville, SC nine years ago. She is a member of the Upstate Fellowship of Christian Writers and An Author World in Greenville, SC. She serves as a Stephen Minister at her church and is involved in a women’s Bible study. She is working on a memoir detailing how God used unforeseen circumstances in her life to change her focus so she could minister to others to whom she could not otherwise relate.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm glad you're in my dash

What is a dash?  A couple things.  The first is a race run usually in competition, as shown below.


Bob Wheeler of Springfield wins 100 yard dash by Boston Public Library
Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

But it's also a space between one time and another.  The following poem make me stop and consider what that time looks like.

I'm glad you're in my dash

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears.
But he what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth...
And now only those who loved her 
Know what the little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own, 
The cars, the house, the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left 
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To think of what's true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel,

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.

If we'd treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile
Remembering that this special dash
May last only a little while.

So when your eulogy's being read
With your life's actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how your spent your dash?












Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Fighting Fear Winning the War at Home
by Edie Melson


Edie Melson has a new book, released just yesterday, November 7, for families of deployed military.   Edie has allowed us to see a bit into her personal life in this book. She was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us in the following interview.  

Q: So, why did you write this book Edie?
A: Our oldest son, Jimmy, decided to bypass college and go straight from graduation to the Marine Corps bootcamp, then to Iraq. I struggled with fear during his time in the military – especially during the deployments. I looked for resources for families and only found things written for military wives. I decided that if I survived his time in the military I’d write about how God had kept me sane.

QWhat do you hope the readers get from this book?
A: I want them to realize they are part of a community. They aren’t alone. So many of those families struggling with deployment don’t live on a military base. That can cut them off from a group of people who understand the experience. I want this book to be a resource and to point loved ones to the ultimate help, God.

Q: What held you together during his times of deployment?
A: I have to give all the credit to God. He surrounded me with family, friends and an amazing church, to give me the support I needed.

Q: How can other families dealing with this issue find help?
A: I have a great community blog with tips and encouragement from others who are and have experienced the deployment of a loved one. It’s also important to let those around you know what you’re dealing with. Our church family was a great resource for prayer support during Jimmy’s deployments.

My website is www.WinningTheWarAtHome. I'm a member of a national organization, Blue Star  Mothers of America.  This group has local chapters all over the country.  I'm active in  our local groups.  It's a group made up of mothers who have children who are either active duty military or those who have been honorably discharged.  It's been a lifesaver for me personally and I highly recommend it!  The group's  motto says it all--Supporting our troops and each other.

Q: Is there anything that would help people in another area of the country find support in person?
A: I would start on the Blue Star Mothers website--www.bluestarmothers.org.  Even if you're not a mom, this group is usually aware of other groups in the community who support the family and friends of those in the military.  

Q: Jimmy was in the Marines.  Is Blue Star Mothers for mothers of soldiers in the other branches of the service as well?
A: Blue Star Mothers is for all branches of the military: Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

Q: Speaking of Jimmy, is he out? How is he doing?
He does have some disability from the time he served, but he’s doing really well. He and his wife live about three and a half hours from us and he’s in college full-time right now. He wants to go into teaching – but I suspect he may turn out to be in denial about his own writing abilities.

Q: Back to your book. How can someone get your book?
A: They can order it online from Amazon or Barnes and Noble or they can have their local bookstore order it. It’s available as an eBook or a traditional print book.
If you want an autographed copy, I’ll be happy to arrange that through either my writers website: www.TheWriteConversation.blogspot.com . Or the book’s website: www.WinningTheWarAtHome.com

Q: We also want to let readers know Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home isn’t your first book.
A: I do have another book out, Social Media Marketing for Writers. It actually hit #1 in its category on Amazon this past summer. It’s available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble as an eBook.


Well, there you have it folks. As someone who's come through it herself, Edie's a got first-hand knowledge in this and knows what it's like. Sounds like a good resource for families and friends of those deployed in the military. Thanks for the interview Edie.  I'm sure the book will be a great asset for your readers.  





Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Great I AM

Anxious by Phoney Nickle
Anxious
from Phoney Nickle

I was regretting the past
and fearing the future.
Suddenly, my Lord was speaking.
"My Name is I AM"

He paused. I waited.  He continued:

When you live in the past, 
With it mistakes and regrets, 
It is hard. 
My name is not I WAS.

When you live in the future,
With its problems and fears,
It is hard.
My name is not I WILL BE.

When you live in this moment, 
It is not too hard.
I am here.
My name is I AM


by Helen Mallicoat



Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) 

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Difference Can It Make?

I read the following story by Jack Canfield and Mark V. Hansen and it encouraged me to persevere even when the results aren't obvious. 


One At A Time


Starfish by mizmak
                                                                                                   Starfish from mizmak


A friend of ours was walking down a deserted Mexican beach at sunset. As he walked along, he began to see another man in the distance. As he grew nearer, he noticed that the local native kept leaning down, picking something up and throwing it out into the water. Time and again he  kept hurling things out into the ocean.

As our friend approached even closer, he noticed that the man was picking up starfish that had been washed upon the beach and, one at a time, he was throwing them back into the water.

Our friend was puzzled. He approached the man and said, "Good evening, friend. I was wondering what you are doing."

"I'm throwing these starfish back into the ocean. You see, it's low tide right now and all of these have been washed up onto the shore. If I don't throw them back into the sea, they'll die up here from lack of oxygen.

"I understand, " my friend replied, "but there must be thousands of starfish on this beach. You can't possibly get to all of them. There are simply too many. And don't you realize this is probably happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down this coast. Can't you see you can't possibly make a difference?"

The local native smiled, bent down and picked up yet another starfish, and as they threw it back into the sea, he replied, "Made a difference to that one!"


Perhaps it would give us a better outlook if we keep this in mind. What do you think? I'd love to hear from you.

 


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's A Process



Stitch By Stitch

I like to crochet. The different patterns, colors, and things you can make are endless.  It takes time and attention to detail to create the final product.  Some stitches take longer and more complex than others, but each contributes to making the design complete and unique. 

God works the same way in our lives.  Like the image below, all our lives begin with a small, rather plain row of stitches. 



But as God adds various people and circumstances to our lives, He changes us, molding us into the form He has planned.  We can’t see the end product as His work is in progress.


Candy Apple Red Crocheted Dishcloth/Washcloth Set of 3


Is there something in your life where you can see He’s working but hasn’t come to the final product?  God is faithful and will complete His work in you.  In the meantime, we can ask Him to show us glimpses of what He’s doing along the way.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Asked God, Day 5


Photo by luigi diamanti

I asked God if He loves me and God said “Yes.”
He gave me His only Son Who died for me,
And I will be in heaven some day because I believe.

I asked God to help  me love others,
And God said, “Ah, finally you have the idea.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Asked God, Day 4



I asked God to make my spirit grow
And God said “No.”
He said I must grow on my own
But he will prune me and make me fruitful.




Monday, October 10, 2011

I Asked God, Day 2

I asked God to grant me patience
And God said "No".
He said patience is a by-product of tribulation.
It isn't granted; it's earned.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I Asked God

Thoughts on Prayer 

Praying after computerclass by jacco de boer
Photo by jacco de boer

Thumbing through my file cabinet the other day I found a poem about prayer from God's perspective.

"I asked God to take away my pride, and God said 'No.'
He said it was not for Him to take away but for me to give up."

It gave me pause. It's harder for me to give something up than having someone take it away because giving it up means I have to change my attitude about what matters to me.

What do think?   Is there something you have a hard time relinquishing to God?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Weakness or Opportunity?

I’ve been sick and run down for over a week now and can’t function as well as I typically do.  Since weakness is looked down upon in today’s world, we don’t like to admit we feel this way.  But maybe we ought to consider another perspective. 

Our weakness(es) may be another person’s opportunity to reach out and serve.  To give of themselves and minister to someone in need.  It could be part of God’s plan for someone else.  And to remind us that we need others in order to be our best.

Perhaps, if we looked at it that way, we’d be more honest, and less inclined to deny ourselves the help we need from time to time.  What do you think?  Don’t forget to join the conversation.  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Total Trust in Your Master

I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever. Psalm 52:8




Tommy lies on his back here asking for a tummy rub, which he loves.  It makes him completely relax, as if he’s in “doggie heaven.” 

But he’s also 100% vulnerable here.  His neck, chest, and stomach are completely exposed and could be attacked, resulting in severe wounds, or even death. Because he trusts us, and knows we love and care for him, that doesn’t even cross his mind. 

Do you trust God?  Most Christians automatically answer “Yes” or “Of course.” But do you really trust Him? Are you willing to do whatever he says, even if it means stepping outside your comfort zone into the unknown?  These questions challenge me, but sometimes God arranges my life to stretch me and make my faith grow.  Can anybody else relate?


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Drawing Us Back

                                                                                                                                                                                           
We know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us because Christ has poured out His love to us through the Holy Spirit.
Romans 5:3-5

In an instant I was dependent for everything. I was accustomed to being independent and working full-time. Work was intense, so I devoted all my time and energy to it. As a result, I put my relationship with God on the back burner, turning to Him only when I needed something.

Until everything changed.

I had a stroke. I’d always been self-sufficient and it was a real struggle to suddenly need help for 
everything. Dependence, in my eyes, was a weakness and I couldn’t accept this as my reality.

“Why did you let this happen, God?” I cried.

It took time, but I realized sometimes God allows problems and setbacks in our lives for reasons we don’t understand. For me, it was a physical battle. I needed to learn my weakness was in the failure to depend on Christ…my stubbornness to manage alone.

I could question God, ask why He would let this happen, or I could trust Him to do what’s best for me—even when I couldn’t see the purpose. Grappling with why He’d allowed this, yet trusting in His promise to never leave or forsake me was critical to maintain spiritual strength in the midst of life’s trials. He kept His promise and never left me.

These days I pray more, nurturing my relationship with Him. And, though it takes me time to surrender to His ways, His will, and His timing, the process brings me closer to Him. Even if the circumstances don’t change, I do. I relax as His peace enters my life.

Sometimes His purpose is simply to draw me back to Him.

If you’re facing trouble or hardship, call out to Him. He’ll be there.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Determination






Tommy was just a few months old here playing Dog Brick, a toy we'd bought to challenge his mind. We were told it would be good for his development. 

His nose told him the treats were there, if he could only figure out how to get them. He had to think of how to get the blocks out of the way.  Once he did, he could slide the cover over and voila! The treat was his for the taking.   

I find the same situation in my own life.  There are some things I know I'd enjoy if I could just get rid of the obstacles in the way.  It may be a closer relationship with God, or a greater sense of purpose. Whatever it is, I have to determine what's in my way, then figure out how to either move it, go around it, or get rid of it. 

It may be easier said than done. But, if I really want it, I'll persevere until I get it--no matter what it takes. Like Tommy, I'll get all the blocks out of the way and the end result. And the process could just be good for my development.

Can you relate? Is there anything you’d like in your life, but there are obstacles in the way that you can eliminate or get around to reach your goal? Could the process be worth it?  

Friday, September 9, 2011

Challenging Our Perspective About God and Life

Yesterday I found a bookmark. What I read on it made me think. The author isn't listed so I'm not sure who to credit, but I think it may give you pause too.

I Asked God

I asked God for strength, 
that I  might achieve.
I was made weak, 
that I might learn to obey.

I asked God for health,
that I might do great things.
I was given infirmity,
that I might do better things.

I asked God for riches,
that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, 
that I might be wise.

I asked God for power,
that I might have approval.
I was given weakness,
that I might feel the need for God.

I asked for all things,
that I might enjoy life.
I was given life,
that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing I asked God for,
but everything I hoped for.
I am among all people,
most richly blessed.

What  do you think of these words?  How does this strike you? I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Don't forget to join the conversation.