Friday, December 30, 2022

Happy New Year!

 


Wishing all of you God's peace and blessings in the New Year!

Martha and Danny

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Happy Birthday!

 


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.




New tongs for the kitchen



I cut Danny's hair, and we really needed a new clipper set.



What could this be?


It's a new pot that Danny can use for cooking pasta!


Yes, it was a quiet and intimate celebration, but a meaningful one that creates sweet memories for the both of us.

As we prepare to celebrate the birthday of the One who has changed the world forever, may we, without fail, follow His commandment to love one another as He has loved us.

Every life is precious; every moment is precious.  And Jesus tells us still today how to live in His kingdom.

May His kingdom come, and His will be done.

Bless the Lord . . . who satisfies your years with good things. ~Psalm 103: 2, 5

Amen!

Wishing each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2022

To God be the Glory

 


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:

  • Kicking the smoking habit not only allows my lungs to heal and grow stronger, but I am honoring my body as God's temple.
  • I am more prone to give thanks for the smallest of gifts.
  • I cherish each moment and time spent with family more than I thought possible.
  • And, I take nothing for granted even, and especially, the basic act of breathing.
I've also come to understand the solemn truth about our earthly existence - we are here because it's God's will for us to be here in this time and place.  He knows the plans He's made for us; He knows all our steps from the first to the last, and everything in between.  I'm positive that if I'd completed all the works He had for me to do at the time of my illness, He would have taken me home right then and there.

But He didn't.  God gave me a new lease on life, and a fresh appreciation for who He is, and all He has planned for me in the days to come.  I pray that as long or as brief those days might be, that my every breath will be taken in doing His will and walking in His ways, giving all glory to Him alone.

Amen!

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

This Little Light of Mine

 


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!




Mailing Christmas cards to friends and family members takes me back to the "old" days of communicating long-distance through letters, as the cost of out-of-state phone calls in prohibitive.  I'm still wading through the stacks of correspondence between my grandmother and my mother.  When I open up a card that someone took the time to hand-write to me, I am deeply touched, and overwhelmed by a palpable sense of nostalgia and thankfulness for that person.

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!

Amen!

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Renovations

 



Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. ~Matthew 23:25

Do you own a home?  Have you come to rely on the comfort and security that it provides for your family?  Are you honestly assessing whether or not things are structurally solid and sound when it comes to the skeletal strength of the house?

That's the evaluation my husband, Danny, makes recently when he calculates the health and resilience of our decks.  We already know they are old, 37 years to be exact.  That's a long time for them to withstand the abuse of foot traffic and inclement weather throughout those many seasons.

Upon the advice of a deck-building consultant, he decides it's past time for our decks to go the way of the dinosaur.  In fact, the representative tells us that the oldest deck they've replaced to date was a mere 32-years old.  That makes ours an anomaly, for sure!

Does Danny have any hesitance about going through with this project?  When he's hit between the eyes with cost, yes.  He falters for a moment or two, wondering if we can, perhaps, put this home improvement venture on the backburner for another year or two.  But when he inspects the stairs more closely, noting that the stringers are rotting, his mind is made up.  New decks, here we come!








 

The crew isn't close to completion, but they've certainly come a long way considering how few days they've been on the project.






It's so refreshing in this day and time to see guys who aren't afraid of an honest day's work, putting their all into everything they do for the satisfaction of their customers.
~
During this season of Advent, while we wait with expectation and hope for the coming of the Lord, it would be a good thing for all of us to reflect on the state of our spiritual health and well-being.  Are we as clean and vibrant on the inside as Jesus can make us, or are we holding Him at bay, shying away from the inmost renovations our hearts need?  Our homes can be spotless and bright with Christmas decorations, but if our spirits aren't focused upon the cleansing that Jesus can make happen within us, can we say we are ready for the celebration ahead?

I don't know about you, but I'm certain there are lots of renovations my soul needs that only Jesus can do.  I need Him to continue the good work He began in me.

He has my full permission.

Amen!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Come, Lord Jesus!

 


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 . . .

Amen! 

Do you have any special Advent traditions?  Please share in the comments.


Sunday, November 27, 2022

Memories Made

 


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!


Sadly, this photo is not taken during our visit, but a week later.  As fate would have it, both Savannah and Alexandra come down with respiratory viruses the weekend we are there in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Yes, we did see them briefly, but couldn't afford to get to close, as we certainly can't afford to get sick along the last leg of our journey.

The upside of all this?  We have Virginia pretty much to ourselves!


Here's the shirt we get for Virginia as we pass through that state.


She loves it and is happy to model it at our hotel.


Waiting to order food at Longhorn's.  Turns out this was NOT a great experience, but the poor service and delay in food service earned us a free dessert.



Playing backgammon!  Needless to say, we did lots of that.  Virginia is a ruthless player :).

We did hang out at the hotel for the most part, although we did visit an outdoor mall where I took Virginia into a Michael's.  She was in craft heaven!  We did buy her some modeling clay as she's been wanting to experiment with that medium.



How we love our little big girl!

We are so hoping to see everyone again over Christmas break, but that all depends on how much time John and Sarah can take off work.  If that doesn't pan out, we will aim for spring break.  Our weekly FaceTime chats will have to hold us over until then.

Is it just me, or does it seem to anyone else, that the older we get, the more time seems to fly by before we can fully savor each moment?  That's how this last family weekend feels to me.  And as we leave Raleigh in the rear-view mirror, I once again find myself wishing with all my heart that we all lived closer together.

But, at the same time, I'm full to overflowing with gratitude for the safe journey we've had, and for every memory we've made together.

Amen!

Monday, November 21, 2022

Walking Humbly

 


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!









We are blessed and privileged to enjoy this glimpse into times gone by, before the mechanization and modernization of society.  I read so many blogs/books today where people tout a return to simpler times, when uncluttered minds could more readily focus on God, trusting Him in every facet of our lives.  In both the Amish and Mennonite communities, that closeness is the most cherished and upheld gift that God could ever bestow.  It isn't just a way of thinking, it's a way of life.

In our brief visit to the Amish Village gift store, I spy a book that I know immediately I need to read.


You can order the book for yourself here, and I highly recommend it to all my fellow bloggers.  I learned so much I didn't know, including the fact that this community has three favorite Bible verses, the first one being Micah 6:8.  Coincidently, that is my own life verse!  How it resonates with me!

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.

Amen!

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Plentiful Harvest

 


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!


Three generations


The race is on!


We're going to order a pizza.  It tasted great!


While Vito plays in the hay maze . . .



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 . . .

Amen!



Upheld in Righteousness

  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my r...