Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Happy Birthday Jennifer!

Eight years ago, our long awaited third born joined us. I say long awaited for more than one reason - after a miscarriage and a long year of prayer and tears, we were so excited about another little one joining our family. But that wasn't the only waiting we did in regards to Miss Jennifer Lynn, she also made us wait 2 torturous weeks past her due date before she chose to show her face....

Jennifer has been getting the American Girl Magazine for quite a while now, and loves to pore over it's pages. We've always made it quite clear that she shouldn't expect to ever own a doll herself, unless she plans to save her pennies! Imagine her surprise to find that her daddy had searched ebay to find a doll for her eighth birthday :)

She's in love!

I wanted to take a snack to school for Jennifer's classroom and since she doesn't like cake, I planned to make half moon pies. I decided to let her help me make them, rather than surprise her, since she loves to help in the kitchen.

She opted to make mini apple pies in muffin pans instead, which was fine with me! We made the crusts yesterday and froze them overnight.

She had so much fun measuring ingredients - even the shortening - all by herself, and mixing. She loves getting her hands messy! :)

I rolled the dough, and she used a lid to make circles, and a knife to cut them out and then she put them all in the pans by herself too. We layed the circle over a hole, then used a cup to push them down in - worked pretty good!

Today I made crumbs and filled the shells with apple pie filling, sprinkled crumbs on top, and baked them.

I completely forgot to take any pictures of her and her classmates enjoying pie and ice cream this afternoon (couldn't believe I forgot!) but I think the snack was a success anyway :)

So thankful for my bundle of drama and sunshine. She makes our world a brighter place!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

You Say That You Trust Him?

So, you say that you trust Him. What does that mean exactly?

You say that you trust Him; that you believe His plan for you has always been filled with hope. Then why do you cry? Why do you snap at your husband? Why the deep annoyance over the spoiled plans?

You say that you trust Him. Is this how trust looks?

You say that you trust Him, shouldn't there be cheerful smiles and willing, "Ok, that's fine" words coming out of your mouth? Shouldn't there be immediate thinking of others rather then self-pity and "I am a martyr" attitudes?

You say that you trust Him, do you think He doesn't know? Do you think He had no idea how important this week's plans were to you? Think He allowed a death just for the fun of it because He didn't feel like waiting til next week? Think He doesn't see a bigger picture that involves way more people and details than your little eyes could ever see?

Of course I know all these things; of course!

You say that you trust Him, does that mean you're entitled to your tears and annoyance and then you'll straighten up?

I cannot answer all the questions.  I only know that I am human and that I do trust Him.

And so, I cry. I dry my tears and remind my children that God has a big picture. I snap and apologize. I express my annoyance and slowly open my hand and say "Thank you." I re-arrange my to do list and remember that in years to come this week will be only a very tiny part of history.

The words of a song ring in my ears:
    "And here by the water
    I'll build an altar to Praise Him
    Out of the stones that I've found here
    I'll set them down here
    Rough as they are
    Knowing You can make them holy..."

*This post is so much a part of life. This week it is particularly in regard to an anticipated visit from my dad, which was to be the introduction of our family to his friend Sara, being cancelled because of the death of Chris' grandfather in VA. Please pray for his grandma and other relatives, many of whom do not profess Christianity, that the Light of Life would shine through.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Cheery Bit of Random

I really don't have anything special to say - nothing profound, or wise, or noteworthy. Just a joyful heart over sunny days and greening landscapes and the feeling of having been given a new life and renewed energy to live!

Just a few pics of life these days...
Charles busily doing what he sees daddy doing, makes me smile! 
My second grader reading a stack of books to her little brother while they "get cozy under a blanket," as he says, makes me smile too.
As does the photo bomber in this picture!
The other morning my little man, who usually plays so well, wasn't cooperating with my cleaning plans so I decided to try an idea I read somewhere - rice on a tray to drive trucks in.
He LOVED it.
And spent a bunch of time busily driving and scraping...
Until he discovered the fun of throwing rice on the floor!
That was the end of the play session.
Although he seemed to think helping clean up was almost as fun as making the mess.

Wishing you all joy in the little things this weekend. And if the clouds return, and we get the snow that's predicted, I will look at the daffodils and know that spring is still here!

Monday, March 14, 2016

He Cares About Me

A couple of months ago, when the grey clouds hovered over my head and I would lay in bed at night with the blackest of thoughts on my mind.... On one such night as that, I lay there thinking, "What is wrong with me? I need something. Maybe a women's retreat or something? Last year the ladies at our church had one and I missed it. They said they were going to do it again, I wonder when that was?" Since I couldn't sleep anyway, I looked up the event on fb to see when it had been and imagined how encouraging such a thing would be.

Fast forward to about two weeks ago.

One day I received this message from a friend: "Would you be interested in attending the Women's Conference at Gospel Haven on March 11 & 12? Look up Joy in the Journey at Gospel Haven (Facebook page)"

I looked it up and excitement started stirring inside me. I'd never been to any kind of a women's...anything. I always seemed to hear about it too late or it was too far away or I didn't have the nerve to pursue it. Here was an invitation put right in front of my face, to a place close to home where I could easily overnight with someone I knew and Dorcas Smucker was a speaker? Surely this was a God thing!

I eagerly texted Chris and asked him if he thought I should go? What followed was one of those complicated husband / wife series of misunderstandings where this feeds on that and he heard one thing and she heard another and I'm not even going to attempt explaining it. Suffice it to say, the result was a hurt wife who made the decision to lay the whole thing down and not bring it back up again. I determined to give it to God and leave it there. After all, if He wanted me at a Women's Conference He could make it happen, right? 

It sounded good, and I did it with the noble intention of being the respectful wife I long to be but it drove a wedge between us.

Days passed, and the Joy in the Journey facebook page indicated that registration was full; my little dream was fully dead and the wedge was still between us. One day Chris and I were driving along and some comment he made brought up the hidden issue I was still battling with. We hashed and explained and shook our heads at each other. I came away with some new insight on how to ask my husband questions, I'm not sure what his take away was - complete exasperation maybe?

In light of our conversation, and because I still held a secret hope that maybe God really did want me at a Women's Conference, I snuck onto Joy in the Journey's fb page and sent them a message wondering if they ever have cancellations? They replied that they didn't usually have many but they could add me to a waiting list of 15 if I liked. That sounded less than hopeful but I said, why not? And prepared myself to chalk the whole experience up to learning some marriage lessons.

The conference was to be held Friday evening through Saturday, March 11 - 12. Saturday morning, soon after 7, I was still laying in bed scrolling mindlessly through facebook and thinking about the day and how I really should get up, when a message notification popped up. "I have a last minute cancellation for the conference today, would you still like to come?" ?!?! Twenty minutes later I was on the road, still rubbing sleep out of eyes that had not yet returned to normal size.

I had plenty of time to think on my hour and a half drive. I concluded that even if the day was terrible - if I felt like a fool in the middle of hundreds of women I didn't know and was too tongue tied to talk to; if the speakers were pathetic, like I've always secretly thought most women speakers are; if Dorcas Smucker turned out to be nothing like the woman her writing portrayed her to be - it would still be worth it. 

God cared about me.

Oh, I knew He cared. But it was as if He had reached down, in the midst of my mistakes and failures, to place His hand on my shoulder and say, "You trusted me and I care about you."

My drive also gave me time to recover from my shock enough to wonder what I had gotten myself into?! I fleetingly wondered if a day of shopping at all the stores I was passing wouldn't be a better option than walking all alone into a church packed with strangers but the thoughts were never really serious. How could they be when God had shown His care so clearly?

It was a good, an Amazing day! I discovered a friend in the sea of strangers and she took me under her wing. The speakers were excellent - I've decided there are more decent women speakers than I once thought. And Dorcas Smucker was everything her writing portrays her to be, only better! Hearing her speak and having the opportunity to shake her hand and give her a hug was certainly the highlight of my day.

I made the drive back home with a splitting headache and spent my evening doing laundry that hadn't gotten done and preparing for a Sunday School class that I should have spent more time on. I was tired and my head hurt and it was the weekend of turning our clocks forward but my heart held a glow. 

He cares about me! 

To each of you, on this Monday morning, let me offer this hope: He cares about you, too. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Spring Is Coming

Spring is coming, slowly coming,
Blowing in on windy gales.
It is coming, hope is promised,
Sprouting green on hills and dales.

Spring is coming, softly coming,
Creeping in on windowsill.
It is coming, sunlight streaming,
Taking with it winter's chill.

Spring is coming, bravely coming,
Splashing in with rain and cloud.
It is coming, do not doubt it,
Mud and showers tho they shroud.

Spring is coming, gently coming,
Pushing in through dead and old.
It is coming, dash of color,
Statement making, see it bold.

Spring is coming, clearly coming,
Calling loudly, Hark the sound!
It is coming, hear it's singing,
Spring is coming, signs abound!

PS. I had included a lovely little video clip of the noisy spring peepers in the swamp across the road but it refused to cooperate so use your imagination.......

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Always Filled With Hope

I recently watched a video clip called "Father's Love Letter". I've copied and pasted the text of the clip below but to get the full impact of it's message, you can watch it here.

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
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
I knew you even before you were conceived. 
Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when 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 time of your birth
and where you would live. 

Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother's womb. 
Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born. 
Psalm 71:6
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. 

1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 
1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father. 

1 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
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
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. 
Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love. 
Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.

Psalms 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing. 
Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you. 
Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession. 
Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul. 

Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. 
Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me. 

Deuteronomy 4:29
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
I am able to do more for you
than you could possibly imagine. 

Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager. 
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you
in all your troubles. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted,
I am close to you. 

Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb,
I have carried you close to my heart. 

Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away
every tear from your eyes. 

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

Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you
even as I love my son, Jesus.

John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. 
John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being. 
Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
not against you. 

Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 
2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression
of my love for you. 

1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love. 

Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
you receive me. 

1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you
from my love again.

Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party
heaven has ever seen.

Luke 15:7
I have always been Father,
and will always be Father.

Ephesians 3:14-15
My question is…
Will you be my child? 

John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you. 
Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

It is a powerful letter. There are so many beautiful truths in there that could speak a special message to your heart! As I sat there listening the first time I heard it, the phrase that seemed to jump out and shout for my attention was this: "My plan for your future has always been filled with hope."

That phrase repeated itself over and over in my mind.

 "My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
"My plan for your future has always been filled with hope."
"My plan for your future has always been filled with hope." 

Always. Always. Always. 

Not just when things are going wrong and I look like I need a little encouragement - "Aw, I guess I should give her a little hope."
Not just when I'm sad and life looks heavy - "Hmm, looks like she could use some hope." Not just when I'm desperately hanging on and almost ready to give up - "Oh my, I better give her some hope!"

No. His plan for my future has always been filled with Hope! It still brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it.

Did a phrase speak to your heart? Care to share? Think of it as sharing a "virtual pan of brownies" with each other...those things are amazing - best brownies I ever had! Thank you so much for your kind words and care. I truly felt like I received "virtual brownies".

Father's Love Letter used by permission
Father Heart Communications ©1999