Wishing all of you God's peace and blessings in the New Year!
Martha and Danny
The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. ~Numbers 6:24-26
My husband, Danny, celebrates his 69th birthday this past Monday. With all the ups and downs we've experienced in our almost 18 years of marriage, we are both infinitely grateful that he has reached this milestone. God's face has certainly shined upon him and given to him, as Danny would readily admit, much more than he could have ever hoped for or deserved.
Isn't that how we all should feel when we mark another birthday in the books?
Danny is not one to wait on ordering items he feels he would find useful in his kitchen (yes, he does the cooking!) or in other arenas, but I'm so grateful he resists his "impulse buying" to turn them into suggestions for birthday gifts from me. Believe me, as well as I think I know my husband, unless he volunteers information about things he would truly like to add to the household, I am clueless. Sure, I could get him the proverbial shirt or sweater or boring socks. But I'd much rather have my gifts meet his desires and bring him the joy he so richly deserves.
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. ~Genesis 2:7
At this time last year, I had no earthly idea what my word for 2022 would be. What becomes my one word is not one I consciously choose; it chooses me. And this year is the same - no word has yet appeared, although I'm confident it will happen in God's good timing.
That's the way my one word, Breathe, came to be. As some of you already know, I began 2022 in the hospital with acute pneumonia. I was placed on oxygen for days, and even then, it was a struggle to get a deep, satisfying breath. That simple, reflexive act that we engage in repeatedly without giving it a second thought became a laborious effort. After I recover, I realize that I never want to take the miracle of my own breathing for granted again. It truly is the gift of life from God.
As we're fast approaching Christmas, the very day last year when I begin to show some respiratory distress, I find myself suffering with PTSD. I would never, ever want to experience such trauma again, nor would I wish such upon my worst enemy. But like so many painful experiences we go through, we can't always understand what God's purpose is in all of it. What is He encouraging us to see? To acknowledge? Why has this rotten thing even happened in the first place? Is there a lesson here just waiting to be learned? Turns out, there are many positive takeaways from the pneumonia experience that work together in giving me my one word for 2022:
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." ~John 8:12
One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season is to send, and receive, Christmas cards. How many of you feel the same way? In my mind's eye, I can visualize so many of you out here in Blogland raising your hands!
This year, however, due to raging inflation, had me second guessing whether or not it would be economically wise to continue this beloved tradition, at least for the time being. That's what my head said; but in the end, my heart won out. Once I find some sensibly-priced, religious-themed cards at Amazon, I go for it!
Their greeting may seem like a small gesture to them as they crank through their annual Christmas list, hastening to get their cards in the mail. But for me, those little acts of kindness are exactly what brightens my day, and lets me know I'm not forgotten by the people I love.
And that is what I hope and pray the Christmas cards I send do for others - be that little act of kindness that shines the light of Jesus' love into their hearts.
May all our lights, no matter how small, shine in a big way for His glory!
He who testifies to these things say, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. ~Revelation 22:20
The Lord is coming, always coming. When you have ears to hear and eyes to see, you will recognize him at any moment of your life. Life is Advent; life is recognizing the coming of the Lord. ~Henri Nouwen
As we enter this soul stirring season of Advent, have we quieted our spirits and prepared room in our hearts for the impending coming of the Lord? Are we, as Nouwen states, recognizing Jesus' presence not just in this season, but in all the ordinary moments of our lives?
And if we're not living in a perpetual state of expectancy, then why aren't we? What would it take for us to do so?
Advent invites us to slow down, to sit in stillness, to allow that feeling of waiting with expectancy to fill us once again. Is that easy to do in this hustle-bustle season? No, but we should make every effort to embrace God's invitation to come away with Him for a while and find rest as we prepare for the miracle that is Christmas.
My hope and prayer for you, my friends, is that you will heartily embrace this season and its promise of joy and peace. The Lord Jesus is right around the corner . . .
Do you have any special Advent traditions? Please share in the comments.
Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. ~Proverbs 17:6
Can you guess what our last stop will be on our family reunion tour? If you said my daughter, Sarah, her husband, John, and the three grandchildren, you are spot on!
The upside of all this? We have Virginia pretty much to ourselves!
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. ~Micah 6:8
The Monday following our apple orchard adventure, we again meet up with Dominic for lunch, and then embark on a journey to Amish/Mennonite country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, about a 30-minute drive from Reading. We encounter lots of twisty backroads and enjoy the views of sprawling farms and impressive homesteads. I had somehow never envisioned Pennsylvania as a rural state, but it truly is once you leave the confines of the major cities.
I've always had a fascination for the Amish people, and their close cousins, the Mennonites; I couldn't let our visit to Pennsylvania go without entering into and observing their way of life up close. Here are some absolutely amazing photos that Danny miraculously captured while sitting in the passenger seat of Dominic's car. Enjoy!
In our brief visit to the Amish Village gift store, I spy a book that I know immediately I need to read.
Understanding how and why the "simple" folk live and work the way they do just might inspire you to find ways to simplify your own walk with the Lord.
Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." ~Matthew 9:37
The next two days are relatively uneventful, although we make it to our hotel in Reading, Pennsylvania, on Friday afternoon. We settle into our hotel room, planning to visit with Danny's brother, Dominic, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Saturday, we just hang out at Dominic's house, catch up on all the news, and have dinner together. But the next day, Dominic picks us up at the hotel early, and drives us to a beautiful apple orchard/farm. Once there, we meet up with his son, who is also named Dominic, his wife, Heather, and their five-year-old son, Vito.
Vito sitting in the pumpkin patch!
Heather is in the red sweatshirt. Her cousin, Peter, is toting the pumpkin wagon behind his wife. Vito and his cousin, Cat, are holding hands. If you look to the left in the distance, that's me talking with Dominic, the younger.
The two Dominics!
And here I am with my bag of apples.
Before we know it, it's time to pack up the cars and head over to Dominic's and Heather's home for an afternoon visit and a lovely supper of chicken pot pie in the evening. Vito has to give his cousin a parting hug. :)
It has certainly been a tremendous day filled with fun, family and new friends. It made both Danny and I wish, not for the last time, that our family members didn't live so far away . . .
There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number - living things both large and small. ~Psalm 104:25 June's g...