Saturday, June 30, 2012

The "art" of appreciation

When was the last time you actually wrote a thank-you card? And I DON'T  mean a thank-you e-mail!
What are ways we show our appreciation for what others do for us; whether it be remembering our birthdays with a gift or running an errand for us when we are too busy or a kind invitation to share a pastry and a cup of coffee? Is it really necessary to demonstrate gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness or is it an "out-dated" gesture reserved for the formality of weddings and graduations? Many would argue that with the advent of e-mail, facebook, and twitter the pen and paper response is archaic and a waste of one's time and cost of a stamp. I heartily disagree! In fact, this is an area in which I feel, as a mother, I failed to educate my children. Yet my daughter, despite my oversight, sees the importance of training her boys to say "thank-you" for what they receive. As I watch Christian (4 1/2) and Logan (3) draw pictures and add stickers to their creations and attempt to write their names on cards to be sent to grandparents, friends, and other relatives I am reminded of the importance of acknowledging other's acts of kindness. Now these two little guys would rather play computer games or ride their bikes, BUT mom reminds them of their responsibility to show kindness in return for kindness shown to them-what a valuable life-lesson! Yes, it takes time to write, address, and mail a thank-you card but what better way to use one's time than for the service of other's happiness! And who does not like getting a thank-you card, knowing that someone cares for you and expended effort to show it in a tangible way. As a parent, teach your children the value of showing appreciation! As a friend, get out that pen and paper and write a note to say thank-you to someone today.
There is a Bible verse in Philippians 2:3-4 which says: "in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others."
Use this verse as a benchmark in your dealings with people in your life. In so doing you will mirror Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Joy is a feeling we all strive to achieve. It is defined as great pleasure and happiness; such as tears of joy or the joy of being alive. Synonyms include: elation, triumph, rejoicing, delight. Following are some photos of joy.


These photos equate joy with happiness and in life this is what we all want-right? But throughout life there inevitably will be times of suffering and sorrow. Yet joy does not have to disappear.  How do we find joy in all circumstances, as the Bible encourages? "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

For me, it's a challenge to "be joyful and give thanks in ALL circumstances!" Only through prayer is this possible. We are admonished not only to say a brief "help me" prayer but to pray "continually" and "faithfully"! From the well of prayer joy bubbles to the surface.

Habakkuk 3: 17-19

"Though the fig tree does not bud, (though my arthritic knee does not bend), and there are no grapes on the vines,(and there are no shoes that fit over my bone spurred left toe), though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, (though my scoliosis back curves more each year and causes continual discomfort), though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, (though there are no solutions for a spastic urinary bladder), yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior! The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights."( He enables me to jump on the trampoline with 3 and 5 year old grandsons and still walk in the morning!)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The mountains of Switzerland

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. "LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" Psalm 8:9

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A "quick" glimpse of Rome with friends

Rome, a city of mystery and romance, thoroughly occupied our time and attention the last week in May. Friends from Holland met us there and we explored the tourist sites, back alleys, and "out of the way" restaurants together. Walking miles each day over cobbled streets using both maps and Hunter's trusty GPS we visited the Roman Colosseum, the Pantheon, Galleria Borghese, St. Peter's Church, the Vatican with the breathe-taking Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter-in-chains basilica (home of Michelango's Moses sculpture).In addition we walked through the Jewish sector of Rome and even attended a Sunday service in English at a Baptist church, soaking in the worship songs while praising Jesus with other believers from around the globe. One can easily fall in love with this town desiring to return again and again to peel away layers of history to discover new and previously "hidden treasures".

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bike riding the "heel of Italy"

Skirting olive groves, in and out of little villages, up and down rain soaked hills peddled 6 friends around the "heel of Italy" for a week in May. Our travels took us through Puglia, a region in southeastern Italy that includes the heel part of Italy’s boot. We began our trip in the town of Matera, where we enjoyed a tour of ancient rock-hewn churches and cave homes. It was here that Gibson's The Passion of Christ was filmed. From here we traveled to Alberobello, where we stayed the night in a trullo, a traditional Apulian dry stone hut with a conical roof. The third day led us to Ostuni with its white buildings, beaches, and olive groves. From Ostuni we rode a train, with our bikes on board, through beautiful countryside ending in Lecce, named the Florence of the South. We navigated down a tree-lined street, through much traffic and out into the countryside on our way to our next destination, which was Gallipoli, on the Ionian Sea. The following day's ride was breathtaking with cliffs and sparkling blue water! That night we spent in Santa Maria di Leuca on the tip of the heel of Italy. As morning broke we climbed on our bikes to travel up the coast of Italy along the Adriatic Sea to Otranto and finally ending out wonderful journey in Lecce. Our good-byes carried with them fond memories of quality time together spent eating delicious food, toasting glasses of robust wine, and bike riding the back countryside roads, as well as a few choice villages of southern Italy.