Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Anniversary

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!
28 years ago, my baby brother Clark (he's 10 years younger than me) and Sally were married.  Doesn't he look handsome and doesn't she look beautiful!!  Every year for their anniversary, they'd go to Colonial Williamsburg for a weekend getaway and enjoy the lovely spring flowers.  Below is a picture from their last anniversary trip to the colonial capitol.


This year, Sally and Clark are celebrating in heaven - enjoying the beauties of that wonderful place.  Two weeks ago on Palm Sunday, they were taken from us.  While we greatly (greatly!) mourn their loss, it is a comfort to think of them smiling and happy in the heavens above.  That is surely our great comfort as Christians.  As scripture tells us, "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."  I also love the verse in 1 Corinthians that says, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" 2:9.

At such times, God's promises and loving grace are surely what get us through it all.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Capitol Collectors

CAPITOL COLLECTORS
    While visiting a state capitol a couple years ago, our guide told us that my husband Larry and I are considered "Capitol Collectors," because we like to visit state capitols.  We both liked that label, so we've adopted it and continue to add capitols to our collection.  To date, we've visited 31 of the 50 state capitols in our good ole US of A.  And yes, they are all different.  Last month, after a Caribbean cruise, we took a road trip and visited #29, #30, and #31.

   The capitol above is in Tallahassee, Florida.  As many times as we've visited Florida (many!), we'd never gone into the panhandle.  We were surprised how "unpopulated" it is compared to the rest of Florida, complete with large areas of pretty much nothing but trees and a few mobile homes.  Even the capitol city is smallish and surrounded by trees, trees and more trees.
   The historic capitol, circa 1845, is quite handsome and is a grand museum.  Note the red and white awnings on the windows.  That is quite unique.  Just behind it, you can see the 22-story newer capitol building peeking up.  A visit to the top floor offers grand views of the surrounding countryside, as well as the city near the capitol.
     Our next stop was Montgomery, Alabama.  Surprisingly, this was our first ever visit to Alabama.  The capitol (ca 1851) is very nice and we enjoyed a guided tour, which turned out to be private since on one else showed up on a Saturday morning.  This was the capitol where Jefferson Davis was sworn in as President of the United Confederates States back in 1861.  There's a star on the porch to mark the spot and his statue is right out front.  It was that nation's capitol for about six months before it was moved to Richmond, Virginia.  There's a lot of history in this place.  It was especially lovely to visit a capitol city on a Saturday when there was no traffic and we had our choice of free parking places.  Ahh...if only it was always that simple (:
 
   Contrast no traffic in Montgomery, with the Monday morning traffic in Atlanta, Georgia, and it is total opposite ends of the spectrum!  There were at least eight lanes of traffic pouring into the city - and parking was rather pricey as well.  Nonetheless, we found a good spot and it was not as difficult as we'd feared.  We had a nice visit to this handsome, gold-domed building.
    The capitol of Georgia was built in 1889.  The place was hopping during our visit since they were in session.  We were able to sit in for a while in both the House and the Senate and observe how they conduct themselves.  It was most interesting!  We actually watched the Senate pass about half a dozen bills in a short period of time.  It CAN be done!
    
    Well, these are the latest additions to our capitol collection.  Wonder which capitol will be on the list next?  Only God knows the answer to that question.  We'll look forward to seeing what He has in store for us.  God bless your day!
 


Saturday, February 11, 2017

How We Handle Things

How We Handle Things

I love this picture of my one-year old granddaughter gazing up at the tall character of Wolverine.  She looks unafraid, in spite of his rather scary appearance and long, sharp claws.  Then, just days later, she was in the presence of beautiful, sweet Snow White and she displayed an entirely different response to this gentle lady --

Go figure!
 
    The interesting thing about these expressions (besides that the baby is SO CUTE!), is how they reflect our own responses to life situations.  Often times, when we have to deal with serious difficulties - things that can look big and scary -- we handle them.  We don't let the sharp claws of the situation intimidate us, we just jump right in and stare the thing down.  We might even be surprised at how strong we were and how well God got us through it.
    Then, even a few days later, we might be faced with a simple thing that could be described as "gentle" in comparison - and, we fall apart.  We crawl away crying and end up wondering, "What just happened??"
 
It reminds me of Elijah when he stood on Mount Carmel, facing hundreds of the enemy, and fearlessly taunted them in the name of the Lord.  How he set up an impossible sacrifice and then called upon God, who responded with fire from heaven.  Elijah saw a mighty victory that day (1 Kings 18).  Yet, by that evening, he had run away, sat down under a tree, and prayed to die because he felt so despondent.  We shake our heads in wonder - how could Elijah become so discouraged, so fast?
 
Look at my granddaughter's expression in each picture and you get a clue of how quickly responses and emotions can change.  In that moment when she crawled away crying, her mother gathered her up in her arms and comforted her.  She assured her that she is safe and loved, and her needs would be met.
 
How precious our heavenly Father is to do the same with us.  When Elijah was despondent, God sent an angel with food for him and then blessed him with a good sleep.  He did that twice, because Elijah was exhausted.  The angel said, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you."  Too great for Elijah, but not for God.  God is able and God is love.
 
Thank you God, for gathering us in your loving arms and caring for our every need!



Friday, February 3, 2017

Bobbing at Sea

Bobbing at Sea

My favorite devotional book is "Jesus Calling," by Sarah Young.  As I read the February 1st page, I was nodding my head, "yes, so true!"  It starts with the truth:  "Follow Me one step at a time.  That is all I require of you.  In fact, that is the only way to move through this space/time world."

I wrote in my journal:  "I am touched as I read this precious reminder of God's gracious faithfulness.  I feel like a cork bobbing on the sea.  My life is good - far less complicated than most - and yet - I feel adrift in this moment."

Then, I began pondering my feelings in the face of my "good" life.  The thing is, so many needs of others swirl around me, it gets overwhelming.  The weight of things going on and the needs of others around me can be stifling.  Then I thanked God for His rich blessings toward me and prayed for Him to help me to live in the light of His loving presence - to stop looking around me and instead, look up to Him.

Amazing how a simple prayer and a difference in viewpoint can change the emotions so fully.  When I looked up, He helped me to glimpse the world around me from heaven's view.  Ah!  Now, that is the perspective that I need to keep in front of me.  Putting things into perspective (i.e. from heaven's view) in the era of craziness we live in will help keep us sane.  I felt peace seep into my entire body and a smile slipped across my lips unbidden.  My bobbing cork was stilled by the Master's hand and it feels so good!  I know He is in control of all that is happening around me, and I can rest in His loving grace to handle it all.

I wanted to share these thoughts with you today, because chances are, some of you may be experiencing some of these same feelings.  "Jesus loves me (and you), this I know!"

--Photo:  I snapped this photo of chunks of ice floating in Glacier Bay, Alaska.  They remind me of that cork I spoke of bobbing in the sea.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Finding Joy

FINDING JOY

This is a necklace I received for Christmas.  I love the words "Find joy in the Journey," which is something I really want to do in life.  Chances are you want the same thing.  My most recent book is entitled, "Joy in the Journey," so this necklace is right up my alley with its sentiment.

Not only the words, but the compass that sits alongside the sentiment has meaning.  If we will make God our compass in this new year, He will show us the direction we should follow.  The new year of 2017 that stretches out before us is a total mystery.  None of us can say what is going to happen in the days and months that lie ahead.  There is one, however, who knows every minute on our timetable and every inch along our pathway.  God goes before us, behind us, and alongside us on the journey of life.  His compass is always true.

What a relief and, yes, a joy, to know that He who loves us more than we can even comprehend, wants to help us find joy in the journey of our days through this next year.  He has promised He'll be with us always -- a good reason to feel joy from the git-go.

Let's make those powerful verses in Proverbs the very pulse beat of our lives in 2017:  "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" 3:5-6.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Celebrate the Gift

Celebrate the Gift

Last Sunday morning, our choir performed a beautiful cantata entitled, Celebrate the Gift.  It was such a joy to sing the wonderful words of celebration for Jesus' birth, along with the lovely accompanying melody of the song. 

What a blessing it is to be part of those who belong to this incredible King.  Born in a stable, the lowliest of places, as a tiny, helpless baby, the Son of God brought Himself down to man in the most remarkable way.  Who could ever have imagined such a thing?!  When you really stop to think about what God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit did in that moment of incarnation, you realize it is beyond comprehension.

Being beyond human comprehension is no surprise.  Has God not said in Isaiah 55:8-9:  "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.  "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."

And so, as we consider this great, incomprehensible gift of a loving, all-knowing God, let us rejoice in thanksgiving and praise and celebrate this most wonderful day.  Blessed be the name of the Lord - and all praise to King Jesus!

With Wishes for a Blessed Christmas to you all!
 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Trips

TRIPS
In the past month, I've gone to North Carolina twice and South Carolina once.  It's been a busy month.  Since I was born in North Carolina and traveled there all through my childhood to visit relatives, it's near and dear to my heart.  And - since some of my kids and grandkids live there, it means I'll continue making trips to that state - probably for the rest of my life.  Here are some highlights from my two recent forays into my birth state:





Just before Thanksgiving, I spent some time with my two oldest grandkids and then brought them back with me for the holidays.  As we passed through the small town of Maysville (I believe it might have two stoplights), I noticed this cool mural.  We stopped and the kids cleverly made themselves a part of the painted scene.  They are so cute!!

During my visit with the kids, we went to a Christmas parade, complete with Marine marching band.  We had good times together.
 
Our next trip to North Carolina, was last week to celebrate Christmas with two of our other grandkids.  We had fun going to museums and opening gifts and spending time together.





We got a kick our of pretending we'd fallen asleep in the time it took my daughter to walk up the stairs to the 3rd floor (she doesn't like elevators and we beat her up from the 1st floor).  Sweet dreams everyone!