Monday, October 31, 2011

Counting One Thousand Gifts #5 (160-171)

I look forward to Mondays.  Not many people think about looking forward to Monday.  For a lot of folks, it's the return to the work week, the school week, running kids here and there.  Mondays can be hectic for many.  For our household, my husband and me, retirement has made it possible to look forward to any day of the week.  The Sabbath is our favorite day, but I look forward to Mondays because it's the day I link up with Ann Voskamp over at A Holy Experience to count our gifts and blessings from the previous week.  Oh, I could do this on my own, but the accountability and the joy of seeing all the other folks' lists of blessings and thanksgivings is a joy!  Take a moment and come over to see what I'm talking about.

160.  Morning devotionals together over breakfast.
161.  Laughter and tears as we remember the life of our dear friend, Bob.
162.  Joy of sending handwritten notes by snail mail!
163.  Planting winter pansies and violas.
164.  Reading Margaret Feinberg's Hungry for God.
165.  Reading The Blogger's Prayer (thanks to Ann for posting it!) (
166.  Lessons learned -- again!
167.  Celebration of Bob's life with his family and friends.
168.  Time spent with Bob's family enjoying memories and stories.
169.  Joy of worship and celebrating The Last Supper.
170.  Quiet Sunday afternoon.
171.  Monday morning and giving thanks!

Hope to see you over at A Holy Experience.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

One of a Kind Man

That was our friend, Bob.  A one of a kind man.  A husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, loving friend, storyteller, hootenanny leader and guitarist, successful in his work and in his life, but above all, Bob was a child of God.  And you knew it.

We attended Bob's memorial service today.  Yes, he lost his battle with a rare and debilitating disease over the last year, and with the loss of his battle many lost one of the best things that ever happened in their lives.  A beautiful wife, Helen, lost the love of her life for the last 59 years.  Three sons and a daughter lost their dad.  The numerous grandchildren are too many to count, but they lost a grandfather.  And little tiny girl called a great-granddaughter lost him too. 

Yet, we all gained something in losing Bob.  Memories will last awhile longer, at least as long as each of us breathes on this earth.  His love will be passed on if we take on the challenge to love as we are loved by our Heavenly Father.  In being loved by Bob, we are better people. 

And yes, we all have a very special angel watching over us from Heaven on high.  Bob's smile will greet us at the gates of Heaven and will likely ask, "What took you so long?" 

Bob soared today, on eagles' wings he took to the skies and flew to his next adventure, the one he's been waiting a lifetime for.  We're so glad we crossed paths with this one of a kind man.  Thanks be to God!

A Blogger's Prayer (Compliments of Ann Voskamp)

I sit down to write.  Something, words that I don't know yet.  Because He hasn't given them to me. 

Pray.  Yes, I pray first but do I ask for what I really need to ask?  Often I've questioned how do I pray about blogging.  What words would you use to ask for help for something that may be so foreign to God?  Or does He understand technology stuff?

"Help me," I pray.  "Give me the words You want me to use."  Is this right?

Yesterday, Ann Voskamp posted a beautiful and perfect prayer for the blogger in each of us, especially if your goal is to give and write your best for God.  You can download your own copy of  "A Blogger's Prayer" at Ann's web site, A Holy Experience.  For now, here's a copy of the download:

The power of our words is immense.  No, the power of His words is immense.  He is all power, all grace, all knowledge.  We must commit ourselves, our writing, our lives to Him if we are to be called His Own.  Why not begin each blogging moment with this beautiful prayer?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Counting One Thousand Gifts #4 (146-159)

Quote attributed to Johannes A. Gaertner
Graphic from Deb Fisher Designs

Ah, to have the chance to touch heaven!  Johannes Gaertner to whom this quote is attributed must have had that opportunity.  How else could he write such grace-filled words for our eyes to read.

We have much to be thankful for and often get too busy to say thank you to the One to whom we should be offering our gratitude.  It isn't too hard to say thanks to the clerk at the grocery store, or to the doctor who has made our child whole again.  Nor is it difficult to say thanks at the table as we hold hands.  Why do we make it so hard to share our gratitude with Him at every opportunity. 

Here's my list:

147.  Serendipitous visit with Ava, one of my Sunday School girls.
148.  Healing for Julia's broken hip.
149.  Changing fall colors on our vine maple outside our family room window.
150.  Bob's patience with my pain and his own.
151.  Good doctors.
152.  Kylie' 3rd birthday!
153.  God's presence in m life.
154.  Beautiful moms and kiddos at MOPS.
155.  Holding baby Lillian for her mom.
156.  Joanne's amazing recovery!
157.  Mike's constant attendance to Joanne's needs.
158.  Claire and Madeleine, two of my little church girls.
159.  Beautiful life of Bob Hedberg, another angel now resident in Heaven.

I hope you'll join me today at Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience.  Just click the image below to come on over to Ann's!

Friday, October 21, 2011

THE VIOLETS OF MARCH by Sarah Jio (© Sarah Jio 2011, published by Plume, a member of the Penguin Group) (A Book Review)

Remember the last book you picked up and then couldn't put down?  For me, that book is The Violets of March, by Sarah Jio.  As Jio's debut novel, it is an amazingly well written and captivating tale of a young New York woman who has ties to Bainbridge Island in the Puget Sound near Seattle, WA.  Living close to the area, the setting was a principal draw for me but also the hints on the cover intrigued me . . . "discovers a red velvet diary," "startling connections to her own life," "intriguing dual story line." 

Any author who can write a dual story line and keep the reader's interest without the necessity of flipping back 10 or so pages is a stellar plot artist and writer.  Jio does just that.  Her main character, Emily, also an author, comes to Bainbridge Island to regroup following a divorce.  Emily, however, is also curious about some perceived family secrets and she hopes that perhaps her next book is waiting for her on the island.

It is difficult to review The Violets of March without giving too much of the story away and thereby robbing you of the enjoyment of the read.  Just trust my instinct that if you love a story from the past woven by tiny threads to the present, you are going to love The Violets of March

Serving Is a Two-Sided Gift

When I first think or hear the word "serving," I immediately think of my own service in Mothers of Preschoolers ("MOPS") and in the children's ministries program of our church.  Then my mind begins to wander, and a conversation at my Bible study a few days ago came to mind.  There were only four of us there, and we were sharing from our hearts.  One of them asked what my parents were like and did they teach me to be the servant that my friends see.  I had to answer that it had not been watching my parents or hearing them talk about serving.  In fact, it was a surprise to my brothers and me to learn during our mother's early 80s that she had been a volunteer for 40 years.  It wasn't something that had been made known to us.  We knew she had taught Sunday School, but this volunteering was with a state agency for those who were mentally challenged.  She was even up for Volunteer of the Year for the State of Tennessee!  I will never know why she didn't share that part of the Good News with us.  I was saddened that it had been hidden all that time.

Perhaps knowing that and reading God's Word worked together to bring me to this passionate need to reach out and touch others.  One of the tenets of the MOPS program is intentional relationship building and as mentor moms, we are asked to reach out a hand to the young moms in our group.  A touch on the back or shoulder can be the simplest of acts, but it really does let that mom know she is loved.  And isn't loving all about who God is?  How simple it is to pass along the message of love.

I'm dating myself now.  In the 1970s and 1980s, Diana Ross had a popular song on the charts, and the refrain goes:

"Reach out and touch
Somebody's hand
Make this world a better place
If you can
Reach out and touch
Somebody's hand
Make this world a better place
If you can."

Songwriters: Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson.

Those words have always resonated with me because it doesn't take much to "make this world a better place."  Why don't we all try to do that today, tomorrow, and the next day, and on and on . . . . .

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND by Helen Simonson (© 2010 by Helen Simonson, published by Random House) (A Book Review)

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand was recommended to me by a dear friend as we sat waiting in a jury room to see if we would be seated later that day on a jury trial.  After her brief description of the story line, I couldn't wait to put it on hold at my library.  Finally, I received the notice that I could pick the book up.

The moment I read the first page I was drawn into the character of Major Ernest Pettigrew, who has developed disdain for today's mode of dress, the improper brewing of a cup of tea, and language.  Further to his list of dislikes are the "proper" things of life that are fading away:  decorum, honor, duty. 

The Major is an immediately lovable character, and the reader begins to champion his ups and mostly his downs.  Early on a loss devastates the Major and an unlikely neighbor comes to his aid. 

Not long after this encounter, the Major and his neighbor, Mrs. Jasmina Ali, a Pakistani shopkeeper in the village of Edgecombe St. Mary where the Major resides, develop a friendship which is frowned upon by many in the village as well as in their families.  Risks must be taken in one's life sometimes, but the question remains can those risks be survived. 

Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali solve this ever-present mystery of life for the reader with the help of author Helen Simonson's lyrical and loving writing style.  A debut novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, will likely be on bookshelves for decades to come.  Can you tell I really enjoyed this read?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Counting One Thousand Gifts - #3 (129-146)

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."
1 Chronicles 16:34 (NIV)

My list grows longer, and each day giving thanks is becoming an important, unforgettable part of my day.  My eyes see things they've never seen before, my ears hear things differently.  Love grows in abundance in my heart, my home, my marriage in ways I never imagined possible.  The Lord is good; He loves and that's all I need to now to give Him thanks.

129.  Sun breaks on rainy days.
130.  Constant and faithful friends.
131.  Baby Nyeli's new home.
132.  Enjoying the gift of water.
133.  Day trip to the coast to visit our son and DIL's recent cottage purchase.
134.  Beautiful weather at the coast -- sun shining, brilliant blue sky, mid 60's.
135.  Beautiful drive through the Coast Mountain Range with lovely pastoral views and changing colors.
136.  Seeing Craig and Gigi's happiness.
137.  Productive days.
138.  Friend Joanne's amazing progress after heart surgery.
139.  Gift of prayer.
140.  The Book of Psalms.
141.  Laughter with my husband.
142.  My dad's Christian walk.
143.  Sound of music on a lovely fall afternoon.
144.  Walking with my husband.
145.  News of Josie's birth.
146.  Fall mornings.


Linking up with Ann Voskamp today giving thanks for the many gifts God has given us.  Won't you join us?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Radical Living in a Comfortable World

I subscribe to a writing blog called The Write Practice.  Today its author, Joe Bunging, posted a blog entitled "Will You Help?"  Being a servant-oriented personality, I immediately read on and was disheartened and saddened to learn of the criminality being flaunted in a Haitian orphanage and the number of children gone missing from it.  Joe included a link to Radical Living in a Comfortable World written by Seth Barnes of Adventures in Missions, one of the agencies supporting this orphanage.

I challenge to read Seth's article at Radical Living's link above, and then turn and walk away to your well-stocked kitchen for a snack and a cold drink without blinking an eye.  How can people mistreat the innocent and young?  How can they take advantage of an orphanage situation?  I have no answers, and I'm sure you don't either but perhaps there's something we can do.  If nothing else, we can pray for these children and those who have gone missing.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Message for Suzanne

I follow several of my favorite writers on Facebook, and this morning Lysa TerKeurst used the following verse of Scripture in her post:  "A fools lips walk into a fight and his mouth invites a beating."  These words are found in Proverbs 18:6.  Something about them grabbed at my heart, and immediately I knew what it was that had grabbed at me.  God was trying to tell me something that I had ignored and avoided for so many years.  The following will explain, I hope, my need to write out these thoughts.

Suzanne, I don't quite know how to begin other than to say I'm sorry.  Sorry for the times we have hurt each other, but more so for the times that together we have hurt your dad, my husband.  For 30 years now, we have each allowed our pride and stubborness and yes, our words, get in the way of maintaining a peaceful relationship for your relationship with your dad.  Somehow, "we" doesn't always work for you and I, and I'm willing to admit my guilt and my part in that.  But this isn't about the past, it's about moving forward.

In the beginning, when your dad and I married, I spoke to the fact that I wanted us to be friends.  I told you that I couldn't be your mom simply because I wasn't and I shouldn't try to be.  You seemed pleased with that.  And I have kept my promise there.  But one promise I've not kept is one I've made over and over again to God and that is to hold my tongue when the words I emit aren't helpful.  Thus, my letter.

On Father's Day this year, you called your dad.  For months, it had seemed that we had finally reached a point where the three of us could hold a pleasant conversation on the phone.  Living and talking long distance isn't easy, but you need to know that a threesome was what dad always wanted.  But on Father's Day, it all fell apart.  You and I couldn't restrain ourselves to not "get into it" over certain words you had used to describe your dad.  I should have just let it go, but Satan was sitting on my shoulder urging me to defend my husband.  That isn't necessary -- God is always here to make things right -- and I should have just stayed silent.  My words weren't necessary.  I am really sorry that the call ended so abruptly with so many hurt feelings. 

It has bothered me ever since and although it seems we are at an impasse again, I am writing down these words because I have prayed and God has lead me to accept my place in this difficult place.  I very much want you to have time with your dad.  So, I'm willing to allow you and dad to have your phone calls alone, the way they probably should always have been unless you invited me in.  Dad and I have talked about this, and we are in agreement that it should be tried.  I hope you will accept my apology and that you'll be willing to pick up the phone and call dad real soon or email him.  He misses you, and his heart breaks when he doesn't hear from you. 

Most importantly, I have asked God's forgiveness in all this, and I ask for yours too.

I should tell you that Suzanne responds best to emails via Facebook so I've left this message for her there.  My hope isn't that I'll hear from her.  My hope is that she will take up that cell phone and call her dad.  She and I have hurt each other, and most of all my sweet husband, more times than I'd like to count.  I've never reached out like this before.  When I saw Lysa's verse today, I knew what I had to do.  I had been foolish in ignoring God's guidance before but now he had literally called my hand!  I needed to accept responsibility and no longer be a fool in subjecting my husband's heart to hurt by my lips and my words.


I'm linking up with Joan over at Grace Cafe today, a part of her Reflections of His Grace blog.  Won't you join me there to read Joan's post for today as well as those of others who have linked up?  You won't be sorry!


Monday, October 10, 2011

A SECRET GIFT by Ted Gup (Book Review) (© Ted Gup 2010; The Penguin Press 2010)

Ted Gup is not only the author of A Secret Gift but also the grandson of the main character and a former investigative journalist for The Washington Post and Time magazine.  The story is true and much research went into the Depression era in which the story is set.  We have all read history previously about this disastrous time in our country's life but never from the perspective offered in A Secret Gift.

When Gup's grandfather Sam Stone died, he left behind a suitcase stuffed with letters received from 75 families living in extreme poverty and distress near Christmas 1933.  The letters were in response to an ad placed in the Canton, Ohio newspaper and others in the form of thank you's written back to B. Virdot, an anonymous identity assumed by Stone.  Readers were asked to write letters detailing their hardships and needs.  Stone had made a decision to help his fellow Cantonians during this season of the year which should be joyous but which in all likelihood would be the most difficult ever lived through by these people.

Gup set out to search records in libraries and seeking relatives of these people in hopes of learning more about the family saga referred to in the letter sent to B. Virdot.  Sometimes the greatest need was for food for a family which could consist of a husband, wife, sometimes four or more children, and maybe even grandparents.  Hungry, cold, without shoes, hoping to give a child a surprise at Christmas -- these were the kinds of things they were hoping to use the money to make a difference in their lives. 

What Gup didn't expect to uncover was the complex, mysterious man Sam Stone actually was.  Gup uncovers details about his grandfather that reveal reasons and conditions in Stone's life that have created in him such a strong affinity for helping strangers in need.

Not only does Gup discover and reveal the unique man his grandfather really was, he also pulls back the haze that has covered and separated us for eight decades from the true hardships faced by so many Americans during the Depression.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Gup's work.  It is a classic family tale of secrets and a review of a decade of American history that touches on the reality of the common man during the Depression.  I found this to be a unique compilation of not only a family history but also the lives and histories of some of B. Virdot's recipients that Christmas in 1933.


This review was not requested by either the author or the publisher.  My random opinions and thoughts regarding books that had an impact on me are set down here simply because I wanted to record my feelings about great reads and share them with you.

Counting One Thousand Gifts with Ann Voskamp - #2

Today is Monday and that means I have the opportunity to share with you God's wondrous grace and what I've added this last week to my list of a thousand gifts He has provided:

120.  Chance encounter with amazing woman of faith named Marilyn.
121.  Bible study with Margie, Julie and Gail.
122.  Quiet time for writing and reflection.
123.  First MOPS meeting of the year and new moms.
124.  Powerful Sunday message from our pastor wife.
125.  Baby Lillian's safe arrival -- happy mom and dad, Wendy and Chad.
126.  Seeing Gail once more before she goes home to Florida.
127.  Goodness of kids helping others, especially their parents.
128.  Patience of my flute instructor, Sarah.

How has God graced your life this week?  Want to share with us?  Come on over to Ann's place,, and link up to share your thoughts and gifts.  Also, take time to see some of Ann's amazing photography on her post today.  Just click below and you can be there in a flash!

See you there!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Joys of Autumn Mischief

Living in Oregon is much different from my growing up days in Tennessee.  In Tennessee, there were four distinct seasons -- winter, spring, summer, and fall.  Fall being one of my two favorites, or as a lot of people call it, autumn.  One of my favorite memories is the yard cleanup my dad always did in his garden, flower beds, and the front yard.  The front yard was blessed with an enormous, at least to me at age five, sycamore tree.   

In spring, it looked so green and lush, and I loved laying under it looking for bits of sky between its leaves.  It shaded almost the entire front yard making lots of work for dad in keeping the grass growing under it. 

Then came fall and the tree undressed itself right there in front of God and everybody.  Every leaf was shed so that nothing was left of my friend from spring.  It became just a naked, old-looking tree.  There were so many dead leaves fallen to earth that dad raked for days until he had everything in one large pile.  A pile of leaves!  Oh, joy!  I forgot all about spring and the lush leaves I tried sneaking peaks of sunlight through.  I was going to go leaf jumping. 

The higher the pile of leaves the better, and the farther away dad was the better too.  Jumping in and messing up his neatly gathered pile wasn't considered good form, but I took my chances anyway.  After all, dad was the easier of my two parents when it came to punishment, so I'd take the chance!

Generally, the punishment was in the form of helping clean up the mess I'd made.  Oh, the joy of the jump made up for the cleanup detail!  The smells, the color, the density of the pile, the anticipation -- it was all part of the excitement of jumping into that first pile of leaves in autumn.  And I could only hope that the other trees in the yard would do their bit toward showing up naked too, and then there would be more piles to run and jump into. 

In Oregon, it often rains too much before all the leaves fall to make much of a leaf harvest into piles for jumping, but I still must say autumn is still my favorite season after almost 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.  Leaves do color, but just not to the intensity of autumn colors in the south, southeast and New England areas.  And the smell of wet leaves is the same in Oregon as in Tennessee, just not as wet! 

Other memories of autumn are special and linger in my ponderings day to day, but not quite like the good old leaf jump!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Journey of a Lifetime - Installment 4

Nelle struggled on through life doing her best at the jobs she could find.  She was a hard worker and through her mother's training, she was a young woman with morals and values.  The family attended church every Sunday and the Bible was a focal point of reading at home.
Unfortunately, nearing 19 years of age, Nelle met a handsome young man named Joseph Whitehead.  At about the same time, her younger sister began dating Joe's brother.  It wasn't long until the two couples married.  And within a year Nelle and Joe had a son, Joseph Eugene Whitehead.  The marriage was not to be long-lived as Joe was an alcoholic and found it entertaining to batter those whom he proclaimed he loved.
The divorce was final in the mid 1930s, during difficult years for the country and the city of Nashville.  Nelle struggled once again to find work.  A variety of jobs came her way.  When the young men began to go away to war, she landed a job with AVCO working as a Rosie the Riveter on airplane parts.  She definitely did her part in the war effort!  However, that job ended when the boys began to come home and needed their jobs back, and once again Nelle found herself raising a young son and without work.
Luckily for me, Nelle found work at Foster & Parks in Nashville working as a devil for the typesetter who would become my father.  A “devil” in the printing industry is someone hired to tear down the type which had been set to print something, and then to melt that metal down so that it could be reused.  When her older brother learned about her new job, he told her to stay away from "that typesetter called Country Adams.  He's nothing but trouble."  Obviously, Nelle didn't pay much attention to her brother’s comments, doing everything Country asked her to do, especially when he told her if she could bring him back a pack of Luckies, he'd take her to the movies.  She did everything she could to secure that date, and came back with the Luckies and a smile on her face.
A promised date took them to the movies and out afterwards for a little clubbing.  Country unfortunately had a bad habit with drink, and he became drunk.  Nelle had strong feelings about alcohol and drunkenness and told him that if he wanted to see her again or have any part in her life, he'd have to clean up his act.  It must have been true love for Country stopped drinking, and they married in 1945.  They agreed not to add to the three children they had between them, but God intervened and I was born in February of 1946.  Nelle’s son, Gene (or Bubba to me), was 14 and quickly became my hero.
Country’s two daughters, Virginia and Elsie, were young women already married when my parents married.  They each had children born not long after my birth.  It wasn’t clear to me why at the time but Virginia and Elsie didn’t visit us much.  As I grew older, it became quite clear that they too had struggles with mama.
Between 1946 and 1954, Nelle suffered through four pregnancies, all of which ended in miscarriages.  The reasons for these losses isn’t known to me, but I do know that she didn’t smile much during this time.  Finally in November 1954 my young brother, Brad, was born.  Brad cried and fussed a lot due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids preventing him from sleeping well.  However, there was nothing to be done at such a young age.  The lack of sleep took its toll on our parents. 
I certainly didn’t like the idea of having a baby brother, and I made my feelings clear by carving with a ballpoint pen in a mahogany nightstand.  My parents were constantly telling me when Brad did fall asleep:  “Now, be quiet. The baby is sleeping.”  I soon began to tire of this repeated instruction, so I chose my words carefully and went about creating my art.  Neatly carved in that nightstand, until this day, are the words “Shhhhhh, baby is sleeping.”
No one seemed to understand the why behind my creation, nor did anyone take the time to ask me to explain.  I felt left out, and at eight years of age the last thing I wanted around was a baby.  Instead, I was punished, which I believe I deserved.  It was after all an effort on my part to get their attention to express my needs, and I chose a very poor medium to deliver my message.
Brad’s arrival seemed to round out the family as my parents wanted it.  Country was so proud exclaiming to all who would listen:  “God has blessed me like he did Abraham with a son in my old age.  He was 53 when Brad was born, and Nelle was 42.  At their ages, a fretful and crying baby was indeed tough for them.  Having an eight-year old carving up the furniture wasn’t helpful, and so they decided that there would be no more additions to the Adams household.
I choose not to address anyone else's relationship with Nelle, or as I'll call her from now on, Mama, as I don't feel it is fair to delve into areas where I can't confirm facts.  What I do know about my life, and what I witnessed in my younger brother's can be confirmed, and I share it willingly because it ties into the end of our journey and brings power and beauty to the finished story.
And thus begins the story of my life with Mama.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pray Unceasingly

My mama was one of four women who met when they were young wives and soon-to-be mamas.  Their friendships lasted until the first died in early 2001.  Then Mama died in October 2001, leaving two of this foursome still living.  They met in Nashville, TN, and had much in common besides being young wives and almost mamas.  Each of them had a strong faith, although they attended different denominations.  Each of them were native-born Tennesseans, but not from the same city or town.  They loved their lives and who they were. 

When those four babies were born, we became a foursome too.  While our mamas talked and chatted over lunch, we would play off to one side.  As I grew older, I would listen to their words and conversations.  It soon became apparent that they had one more thing in common -- prayer.  I could hear them asking each other to pray for this one, or that one, or some family in need, or someone in the hospital.  And the answer was always yes. 

In 1967, I married my first husband and we moved into a home not far from one of these four women.  Her name was Anne.  I could walk my baby son, born in 1971, right to her home.  And I did.  One day I asked Anne to talk with me about her prayer life.  She responded with, "There's not much to tell.  I just pray all day long."  I think I must have given her a strange look because she laughed and pointed out that she did do other things, but that if something or someone popped into her mind that was instruction from God for her to pray right then and there, even if she was driving. 

I thought about this long and hard, and with a young one on my hip and bottles and diapers (days before good disposables!) I was struggling with finding a good time to pray.  I took out my Bible and started reading about prayer.  That's when that short little verse of Scripture was shown to me:

"Pray without ceasing."

It isn't likely that my prayer time is constant all day long, but I do try to keep my heart and mind attuned to God's nudges, and like Anne, when someone or some issue pops into my mind during the day, I say a quiet prayer to my Heavenly Father letting Him know that I understand that He needs for us to bring prayers before Him.

No matter how you pray, just remember to pray.  God loves for us to come to Him with our needs and the needs of others.

Linking up with Beck Gambill today at

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Don't Be Shy!

Fall turns our hearts and minds to school beginning, colors on trees changing, crisp air, brilliant blue skies, and a host of other fall-related activities.  For me, I begin to think of the start of a new year for Mothers of Preschoolers group at church.  It's a time of revisiting friendships made, meeting new moms, watching moms move into leadership roles, and a new theme for the year.

When my mentor mom packet arrived from MOPS, I was startled by something new.  The theme was one I felt strongly about -- MomSense -- something every mom needs in her tool box.  The theme verse was an old favorite, 2 Timothy 1:7.  What startled me was that for the first time ever the verse had not been taken from the NIV version of the Bible, but from The Message.  What goes here I thought to myself?  I began digging through and there it was -- the answer to my question.  MOPS had chosen The Message because of three words:  bold, sensible and loving.  These were words the organization's planners felt young moms could more easily relate to.  I like them too!

I like that in The Message the words "God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts" call us to sharing by stepping up, reaching out, and showing His love in a fresh new way.  As a child, I was very shy and have had to work hard to be less so as I've grown older.  Sometimes, I think a little of my shyness might be in order, but when it comes to spreading God's gifts and love, we just can't be shy -- we need to be bold, loving and sensible.

"God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts,
but bold, and loving, and sensible."  2 Tim. 1:7 (The Message)

Q4U:  What keeps you from being bold in your daily life?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Counting One Thousand Gifts with Ann Voskamp -- #1

If you haven't read Ann Voskamp's beautiful book, One Thousand Gifts, you really should.  God's grace has been taught to me by pastors, Sunday School teachers, my parents, and other folks along the way.  Ann, however, has written so beautifully about God's grace and how we can see it in everyday acts and things that my concept of grace has changed monumentally!  Not only that I've learned so much about gratitude from Ann's book -- gratitude isn't just about being thankful in the bigger things but in the lesser also. 

One of Ann's challenges to her readers is to begin keeping a list of one thousand gifts.  I've recently started my list, and today I'm joining Ann at A Holy Experience, along with many others in offering gratitude for my gifts in recent days:

103.  Juicy red tomatoes
104.  New moms coming to MOPS
105.  Sunday School teachers
106.  Good MRI results for Bob
107.  Joy of seeing Kylie ready for dance class
108.  Beck's return to the south
109.  Jeremiah 29:11
110.  Visit with friend from Florida
111.  Sundays
112.  Anticipation of new baby in the family come December
113.  New friendships
114.  Fall shadows
115.  Sounds of rain
116.  Rest from a good night's sleep
117.  Waking to sounds of rain on the roof
118.  Kitty brushing love against my legs
119.  Good phone talk with older son Craig

Even if you haven't read the book, start now counting your gifts from God.  His love is all powerful and encompasses us with warmth and gifts unimaginable until we stop to take account of them.  Join us each Monday to share your gifts!

Journey of a Lifetime -- Installment 3

In order to speak to you through the hues, shades and colors of his palette, an artist must layer color upon color to tell the whole story.  In that same way, I must share the layers of my relationship with my mother so that you can fully understand the miraculous nature of our last sojourn.  For me, the final layer held the best of times spent in my mother's presence.  So, to begin layering, I’ll start at the beginning with my mother’s story.
She was the middle of five children born in May of 1912 in Nashville, TN.  Her father was twice her mother’s age, not uncommon in those years, and the little red-headed, green-eyed baby girl had problems from very early childhood.  With poor eyesight and hearing, life would begin with those struggles already decided for her.
Nelle Mae Roper was named for a good friend of her mother’s, and the friend doted on this child long distance while living in St. Louis.  She sent cards, gifts, and made sure that Nelle was registered on the cradle roll of her church in St. Louis.  But despite all these efforts on the part of such a good friend, life wasn’t dealing a fair hand to this little family or this little girl.
Two other children followed, and when Nelle was 6 her father died suddenly leaving her mother with five children and no means of income.  In the early 1900s women weren’t as visible in the workplace and finding work wasn’t easy.  The family went on welfare and depended on the Big Brothers, a local Nashville assistance group, for food at the holidays.  The two older children were in school, and eventually finished and went to work.
However, graduation would not be in Nelle's future.  She just barely made it through the eighth grade, when her mother chose to take her out of school to stay home and care for the two smaller children, a girl and a boy.  Nelle's mother found a job as an elevator operator in a local bank building, and desperately needed the income this job would provide.  Nelle didn't have the first clue as to how to care for these children much less how to discipline them.
As young children will do, the two would become unruly, running through the house, not staying indoors, and making messes Nelle had to clean up.  Stories have been shared that in an attempt to discipline Nelle would grab handy kitchen utensils, most often large knives, and chase the younger two threatening them if they didn't behave.  Poor Nelle!  If only someone would help her see what her role really was supposed to be.  After all, she was only 11.
Time went on and Nelle was offered the opportunity, without a high school diploma, to attend business school.  By now, the younger children were in school and this would work out for all concerned.  Nelle's eyesight and hearing, however, made learning difficult for her, especially with her lack of schooling thrown into the mix.  Luckily, from time to time, she was hired by an attorney in her mother's office building, but these jobs never lasted.  Obviously, her skills were not well-honed and her ability to cope not well suited either.  Why didn't someone see?  Why didn't someone give her advice?
(Copyright 2011 - Sherrey Meyer)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

We Aren't Strangers Any More . . .

Our pastor related the most charming story during his sermon.  Today was World Communion and Peacemaking Sunday, and the message today was on reaching out to those of all diversities and ethnicities and making the effort to show God's love.  So, our pastor shared the following with us:

Pastor had been traveling and boarded a plan bound for home in Oregon.  He took his seat beside the window and pulled out a book he was reading and enjoying very much.  His eyes took in the two seats beside him and noted with some degree of selfishness that they were not taken and perhaps he'd be alone and in quiet for the duration of the flight.

Soon, however, a young mother with a young son took those seats and began settling in.  The little boy turned and looked at Pastor with a huge smile.  How could you turn away?  Fairly soon it was acknowledged that said little boy was three years old and named Nathan.  Nathan immediately took up with our pastor and began chattering away.  Not too long into the conversation, Nathan announced to our pastor, "We aren't strangers any more.  I love you!"  The innocence and unconditional love that children possess was evidenced in Nathan's bold and honest statement. 

Eventually Nathan managed to get out of his seat belt and climbed into our pastor's lap.  Not being strangers makes everything much more comfortable.  And adding love to that recipe is the ultimate in outreach and spreading God's love!

Young Nathan is an example to all of us!  Let's see if we can't be less like strangers and more like people in love with each other this week. 

"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other."  John 13:33-35 (The Message)
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