Sunday, December 6, 2015

Saying good-bye!

What does it mean to say good-bye? It is a hug, a kiss, a wave, even a letter or e-mail saying we are now separating but we will hopefully talk or see each other again tomorrow, next week, in a few months or even years down the road. Seldom do we say good-bye with the finality that we will never connect again. But what about death? Isn't that rather final? In once sense yes, in another sense definitely not. And the "definitely not" is what gives hope and comfort to the grieving. The spirit lives on as the physical body completes its role on earth.
A couple weeks ago I said good-bye to my wonderful, godly mother as she stepped into eternity with Jesus. Throughout my lifetime I have said so many good-byes to her fully expecting to see her "physically" again. In the last years the good-byes were often through the cell phone connections but as I ponder that now I so wish they would have been more physical. If only I would have spent more time holding her hand, sharing a meal, laughing over past adventures, shopping or just walking together. Why did I assume she would always be here, would always be just a phone call away? The doctor had just given her a clean bill of health and told her not to return for a year! But I guess God had other plans and wanted her walking with Him and joined once again to her husband, my Dad. who had preceded her to heaven by 16 years.
Because my Mom was a "born again" Christian I know she is in the mansion Jesus has prepared just for her (John 14:2). I will some day join her and then we can walk and talk, laugh and sing praises to the Lord Jesus who made it all possible!
So during this season of family and friend "gatherings" hug more, laugh louder, cherish every moment knowing our life on earth is brief and there will be "final" good-byes, for the physical body. But more important, thank God for his gift of Jesus whose life, death, and resurrection opened the door to eternity and the joy in the knowledge that as believers there is no final good-bye, only "I will see you again on the other side"!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Life is...

Recently, while taking a long car drive, l listened to a book on tape by Chris Favry entitled Dogwood. It is a character driven story of sacrifice and redemption with some shaking revelations and plot twists that totally took me "off guard". I loved it, so much so I listened to it another 9 hours worth! HIghly recommend you get a copy. But "praising" the book is not exactly what I want to share but rather something I read in it.

In the book there is a character named Ruthie who is witty, a bit eccentric, and definitely wise. I have taken the liberty of paraphasing her view of life thinking it may just put a smile on your face and for maybe a moment lift a burden. "A glad heart makes a happy face..." Proverbs 1:13a

Ruthie says life is a dance through a field of cow manure. Most people just dance around the edges, always trying to avoid life's smelly messes, afraid of the struggles. In so doing they miss the patches of rich green grass only the fertilizing manure can produce. And tucked in the patches of green grass are beautiful flowers that only can be seen in the middle of the field. Instead of just hugging the fence posts Ruthie advises one to put on hip boots and waltze through the cowpies! Love this "picture", probably because I grew up on a farm and can relate to this scene.

The challenging field I am facing is posted with a sign Parkinson's Disease. Recently I have been trying to juggle new medication and its side effects with diet issues. I already have given up dairy, wheat, sugar, and processed foods, & now I have to add to that list avocados, bananas, dried meats, and all fermented and aged foods because of their levels of tyramine which could cause higher than normal blood pressure interacting with the medication. 
It seems daily I am seeing greater levels of manure in this field so simply sitting down beside a fence post seems a good option. It is easy to let discouragement set in BUT I really want to see the flowers among the patches of rich, green grass, so will you join me in putting on your hip boots and skipping through the cowpies? Your field will have a different posted sign but the cow manure is the same in every field, as is the green grass and flowers!

I am reminded that going with us through that field is the Lord himself.
Deuteronomy 31:8
"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged."

Bring on the manure!!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

God is at work in the dark places!

While paging through the Bible, on my way to Hebrews, I glanced at Philemon and noticed I had written these words at the top of the page: "God is at work in the dark places." Then under the title Philemon was penned the phrase: "letter of encouragement". I was instantly intrigued since several of my friends are in what I would definately call a "dark" place in their lives right now. So I set out to read this one-page book and discovered a real gem hidden between Titus and Hebrews. 
This is one of Paul's prison letters,written while he was under house arrest in Rome, chained to a Roman guard 24/7.  Paul's positive attitude through years of sufferng is a model to follow but it is not possible except through the power of Christ. First we receive Grace {God's riches at Christ's expense} then we are flooded with God's peace no matter what our circumstance. vs. 3 "Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
What do we do while in the dark places in our lives? We give thanks, we pray, and we encourage others. In following through on these seemingly difficult tasks we reap joy and encouragement ourselves and find our hearts refreshed. vs. 7 "Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother have refreshed the hearts of the Lord's people."
Today I had the joy of watching three of my grandchildren run and jump into a pile of fallen leaves. They squealed with  laughter as their Daddy buried them only to pop up laughiing, their colorful jackets matching their big smiles. Reflecting on that moment I realize they were a picture of a christian's joy found in the "dead" and dark places of life as we turn to Him. 
Dear friends of mine; look for the joy in your dark place and "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." vs. 23

Monday, October 26, 2015

Leaving a Legacy

I have written a number of blogs through the years and I am not certain if I have broached this subject or not but it has been on my mind after our Sunday worship service.The pastor was ending a 7 week study of one of my favorite Biblical characters: Joseph. Joseph's life was filled, like each one of us, with mountains and valleys. Yet his reaction to no matter what came "around the corner" was to trust in God's plans and be faithful wherever his journey led. Indeed his legacy to not only his family but to the generations that followed and to those who read his story as one of faithfulness through life's "long run". The pastor stressed four key points which I want to share.

1. Part of living and leaving a legacy is....where you start is not as important as where you finish.

Genesis 50:15-21 
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

2. Part of living and leaving a legacy is...your attitude and reaction are not dictated by your circumstances.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understandiingg. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

3. Part of living and leaving a legacy is...staying faithful in the waiting room.

Psalm 27:13-14
You will see the goodness of the Lord as you wait for his appearing, therefore be strong and take heart and wait for Him.

4. Part of living and leaving a legacy is...being a good forgiver.

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to each other, forgiving as God, through Christ, has forgiven you.

I look at my nine beautiful grandchildren and pray I can leave them a legacy of faithfulness to God. I pray they will see Jesus through me and want to hold HIs hand and be guided through life by Him!

Friday, September 25, 2015

The "Hills"

"I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2

We drove into the "hills" today to a waterfall park near Molina, north of Verona, Italy. Christian and Logan's home school group was taking a field trip to learn to make cheese from a local Italian and then to lunch and hike in the park. What a fun day! The photos tell it all!

Thank-you, Lord, for giving us the opportunity to spend this wonderful day with two active grandsons!
We are blessed indeed to now have NINE special grandchildren and love each day we have with them. Can't wait to meet our new granddaughter, June Yuan Thorpe!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Orphan Ministry

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

These words have recently taken on new meaning as we welcome June Yuan Thorpe into our family.

My heart is overwhelmed with love for this precious little girl! 
Until last year when Rebecca and Steve actually started on the long journey of adoption I had not thought, much to my shame, seriously about the plight of so many orphans and God's directive for believers to do something about it! Why has not the church, (believers in Jesus), stepped up to the plate? How can those wanting to adopt connect with the children who want a family? Is it because of lack of funds? Couldn't believers pitch in here? Is it because of lack of information?  Couldn't believers learn more and educate? Is it because of lack of prayer? Couldn't believers intercede for these precious ones?
So many questions! The mountain seems tall but God is "taller"! He wants all believers to be involved so the question for me is How, God? I have recently begun to investigate churches with active orphan ministries in areas where I live or where I will be traveling to visit. He has planted a seed in my heart and I want to water it and see how He will allow it to grow for His glory.
I challenge each one of you to reread James 1:27 and see if it speaks to your heart. Maybe you can be involved in an answer to some orphans "prayers"!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The sweet fragrance of a girlfriend!

What is a girlfriend? It is someone you are free to share one's feelings, affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, mutual understanding, compassion, enjoyment of each other's company, trust, forgiveness, and the ability to be oneself. True friends are always "there for you" in the good times and the bad. As I have become older my friendships have become "sweeter", taking on richer qualities, and I'm more aware of their importance, rather their absolute necessity, in my life! If I were to picture a girlfriend I would see a rose. A rose is beautiful inside and out with layers of delicate petals that slowly open to reveal the precious inner radiance. As friendships deepen hearts open to a willingness to challenge and sacrifice for one's friends. Jesus is our ultimate example of the perfect friendship. He sacrificed his life in order to establish a friendship relationship with each of us. Oh, how wonderful to have earthly friends that join hands with Jesus! As I write this I am inspired by my girlfriends, (you know who are!)! I am humbled that you would call me your friend. Thank-you, Jesus, for my girlfriends and please bless them so they can glorify You!

A recent week-end spent with two high school girlfriends!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"I lift up my eyes..."

"I lift up my eyes to the hills-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord,the Maker of heaven and earth."Psalm 121:1-2

God's creative beauty is seen in Norway.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalm 19:1

Yet, all the grandeur of the mountains, the beauty of the spring flowers, the majesty of the rushing streams, or the peace of the valleys does not compare with the creative mystery of the human soul. 

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:13-14

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Train up a child...

Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." I have known the truth of this Bible verse as it speaks to parents and seen it "in action" with my own chidren but does it also apply to grandparents? What is a grandparent's role? I have heard it said that a grandparent can spoil their grandchild all day then return them to their parents to do the hard work of training. This might sound like fun, after all, haven't we as grandparents already "put in our time" raising our own children? Yet as Hunter and I spend time with our 8, soon to be 9, grandchildren I see this verse as applying to a grandparent's responsibilities too. So how do we do this effectively? 
One day, thinking about this question, I complained to my son-in-law that I just couldn't run after the boys like I used to do-physically I was slowling down, largely due to my disease and I was a bit depressed at the prospect of limitations that would affect my relationship with my grandchldren. He responded by explaining that it is not so much what I DO with the kids as just my presence WITH them. Quality and quanity of time does not necessarily have to translate into physical activity. In other words even from a wheelchair, a bed, or 1000s of miles apart we, as grandparents, can "train" our grandchildrren. We just have to be creative and recognize our important role in their lives and seek out ways to be part of their world. So any grandparents reading this remember, you are needed in the lives of your grandchildren. Be involved and you will be training!

Tickle time!

Water fun in 100 degree heat!

Biking together!

Trampoline jumping!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Biking in Europe-The Netherlands-day 7(The End)

On the final day of our bike ride we experienced picture perfect weather. Even I removed my jacket and  felt the warm breezes off the beaches of the North Sea.

A final glimpse of a towering windmill was bittersweet as we crossed a portion of the sea in a large ferry.

At the ferry ticket office it was necessary for us to show a voucher in order to board the ferry boat. Without the voucher to exchange for a ticket we would be denied passage to the other shore. While enjoying the views during the crossing I was reminded of the verse in 2 Corinthians 1:22: "He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put His spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." I have a guaranteed voucher which will safely transport me from earthly death to the shores of God's heavenly kingdom! Praise God for freely giving this gift to me through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus! Be certain, you, too, have that all important voucher!!

 Brugge, Belgium was our final destination and we arrived by early afternoon. Deb and I then had three goals in mind: experience the sites of the market square with its magnificent architecture, eat REAL Belgium waffles and buy lots of Belgium chocolates. Mission accomplished!

A delicious good bye to a memorable vacation!

Biking in Europe-the Netherlands-days 5 & 6

As the temps begin to rise and the clouds give way to more sun biking becomes more comfortable and the countryside beauty more vivid. The Netherlands has a fluid mixture of water and land, wildlife and grazing herds of cattle, horses, Shetland ponies, sheep, goats, and even an occational lama thrown in for good measure. There is beauty on both sides of the dikes, as well as historical buildings galore!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Biking in Europe-The Netherlands-day 4

Cold and wind were the words to describe this day! We shivered and battled a strong northeast wind for hours. No other choice is possible when on a bike tour-forge ahead. To add "insult to injury" we got lost, for three hours! The biking company provided portable GPS devises for each bike but there was no alternate routes when you encountered bike trail construction! In and around the town of Dordrecht two sections of the designated trail were blocked. Before we finally located an alternate route we crossed one bridge three times and asked at least 8 different Dutch citizens which direction to follow!
When we finally left the area we looked across a field and discovered we could still see last night's hotel, (after 3 hours on the bike!).
Yet in the midst of this tough day we discovered two little spots of rest and rejuvenation. Around 1:00 p.m. we all realized our stomachs were demanding some food but the size of the little hamlets we were biking through did not warrant restaurants. Our supply of fruit was gone so Larry approached a local and with little language skill demonstrated our need to eat using hand gestures. (He is quite clever!) The Dutch lady understood and pointed to a cheese and snack truck located not eveb a block away. Could cheese, salami, and a few strange crackers taste so good?? Then an hour later with cold hands and wind blown faces we happened upon an Asian-run coffee shop. Generally I don't drink coffee but a warm cup with a cookie was the perfect jolt to energize.
For me, it was another "God thing"- providing just what was needed at the right time! "My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Biking in Europe--The Netherlands-Day 3

Windmills are the iconic symbol of Hollland. We rode through a town which boasts 19 of them: Kinderdijk. Kinderdijk is the name of a town in the province of South-Holland. Two rivers, the ‘Noord’ and the ‘Lek’ come together here. Nowhere in the world can you find so many windmills together. The mills used to pump the overflow of water out of the Alblasserwaard polders (which are below sea level), into the river Lek. River the ‘Lek’ is connected to the North Sea. These windmills were constructed around 1740 and now are on UNESCO's world heritage list.

Besides the windmills sheep are everywhere. Loved observing the many varieties. Little did I realize they were all unique. I was often reminded of Psalm 23.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside the still waters,
He restores my soul.
He leads in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil,
You are with me.
Your rod and staff will comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil,
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever"

I am happy to be a sheep in the "herd" of Jesus, my shepherd!