Sunday, November 26, 2023

Give God Thanks and Praise

 


Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. ~Psalm 100:4


How was your Thanksgiving, friends?  I know from reading your blogs that most of you had a marvelous time feasting and spending treasured time with family and friends.  That's the way it's been for us for so many years, but not this time around.

Originally, Danny and I had planned to travel to Florida to see our son, Giovanni, and his wife, Hope, near the Hurlburt Air Force Base where he is stationed.


This, sadly, did not come about.  Hope's beloved mother, who lived in the Atlanta area, passed away after a long battle with cancer; her funeral was held on the Thursday before Thanksgiving.  So, yes, we got to see Gio and Hope, but not in a joyful way.

Of course, this turn of events had me missing Sarah, John, and the girls more than ever.  They, too, celebrated Thanksgiving just as an immediate family.  John's brother and his wife were visiting his parents who also live in North Carolina, and there simply was no room at the inn, so to speak.

When Sarah sends us these photos of their Thanksgiving Day festivities, I'm beside myself with joy at seeing everyone's happy faces.  It is almost as good as having them here with us.  Allow me to share their holiday with you.

The photo at the top of this post is the dining table prepared for the ensuing feast.

Here are John and Sarah with puppy, Finn.


Virginia and her mom.



Alexandra with mom.


Virginia looking so grown-up wearing a festive dress for the occasion.


Savannah holding court with her favorite stuffed animal, Rosie, that we gave her one year for Christmas.  It sings "Jesus Loves Me," and it still works!


And here's the comical Alexandra wearing her mashed potatoes!


It's readily apparent that a good time was had by all.  And I'm so proud of my daughter for lovingly preparing this meal for her family.  If I say so myself, this girl was brought up right!

So, friends, treasure your memories of this Thanksgiving, and always and everywhere, give thanks and prayers to the Lord.

Amen!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Every Good and Perfect Gift


 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. ~James 1:17

Pictured here is our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose, holding a special certificate, one all of us are celebrating.  She earns all A's in her first term of 8th grade!!!  If we all reflect upon our middle school years, we know that is no small feat.

Virginia decides to work extra hard in school this year, and the results of her labors pay off with great dividends.  The morning her dad snaps this photo, she has just finished attending a special breakfast at school, followed by an awards ceremony for her and others in her class who have achieved the same milestone.

I'm so grateful that God has blessed Virginia with intellectual gifts that have enabled her to reach this coveted goal.  She sees for herself how much hard work and perseverance can help her climb the mountains in her life, no matter what obstacles might come.  Yes, she is so proud of this recent achievement, and so are we, but I've told her all along that, as a goal she has set for herself, failing to meet that goal, as long as you've tried your hardest, is no reason not to try, try again.

I'm also thankful to know that the school she is attending still rewards high-achieving students.  There are no trophies, or certificates, for 10th place.  And that's how it should be.

Children intuitively know when they are being coddled or rewarded for something they haven't legitimately earned.  One can hardly feel pride or a sense of accomplishment in getting a "prize" for mediocrity.  Virginia lets us know that already, some of her friends are determined to earn all A's the next time around because of her inspiration.  Isn't that the best?

My hope and prayer?  That Virginia will continue to recognize and use the marvelous gifts God has given her, not just for her own gratification, but as an inspiration to others to nurture and develop their unique gifts, too.  Seems to me that this "Little Big Girl" is well on her way to doing just that!

God sure loves you, sweet Virginia!  Always use your gifts and talents, His good and perfect gifts, for His praise and glory as you thank Him every day.

Amen!

Monday, November 13, 2023

Ours in Abundance

 


Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. ~Jude 1:2


Nestled here in the forest, the trees surrounding us are wearing their autumn best before falling to the ground in abundance.  Isn't this sugar maple gorgeous?

I'm thankful to be able to watch the turning colors, so bright and cheerful, in the afternoon sunlight.

'Tis the time for leaf blowing, even though in this season, it can seem like an exercise in futility.  Here is our driveway just one hour after Danny clears it of all leaves and debris.




Still, it has to be done before it gets totally out of control.  There's nothing worse than not being able to correctly navigate our very steep drive because the pavement is wearing camouflage.  

The constant fall clean-up just comes with the territory of woodland living.  It's a much-preferred activity as opposed to having to mow grass in the heat of the summer.  Our "lawn" is made up of moss, and Danny is always repairing the patches created by squirrel paws and robin claws; for him, it's a labor of love!

Yes, we certainly have abundant leaves at our house, and when they descend to the ground, we can feel overwhelmed at times.

But what if we view this seasonal reality in an optimistic and grateful way?  For each leaf we witness floating to the ground, let's recount a blessing that God has so graciously given to us?  After all, this is the traditional season for giving thanks, though many of us do so all year-round.

When we give thanks each time a leaf falls, I know that mercy, peace and love will be ours in abundance.  God just works that way!

Amen!

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

God's Grace is All I Need

 


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~Hebrews 13:8


Our time change happens this past weekend.  How many of you looked forward to that?  No matter if it's fall back or spring forward, our biological clocks are thrown for a loop.  Our body's Circadian rhythms do not readily adjust, or willingly, subject themselves to this unnatural manipulation of the clock.

The older I get, the more my body depends upon a schedule, something that no arbitrary alteration can change.  Instead of my inner alarm urging me to rise around the old time of seven, it now transforms to the six o'clock window.  I know that many of my readers are consistently early risers, but for me, this is way too early to embark upon the day.  Can I get back to sleep?  That's problematic.  Tossing and turning in frustration is the scenario I experience in the time change aftermath.

Will I eventually adjust?  I do believe I will.  But the older I get, the longer it takes for this acceptance to sink in.  One thing my body seems to need each and every day is a nap.  I'm not proud of that, but it is what it is.  Older, my friends, is not always better, is it?  In reaction to the time change, those naps are happening earlier than they used to.  This certainly interferes with the progress and productivity of my post-lunch afternoon.  Translation:  Limits I don't want to entertain when it comes to my writing/reading time, not to mention my daily exercise.

Am I complaining?  It sure sounds like it here!  But I want to assure you that I'm grateful for each and every day with which God blesses me.  Instead of feeling frustrated about the time change, what I'm most grateful for is that our Lord never wavers in the love, grace and faithfulness He shows to all of us, no matter what inconveniences we might be going through.

The world is a mess, our country is in tumult, but if His people focus on His words and His promises, we have a secure and never-failing compass to guide us in the way He wants us to go.  Even when we feel weak, tired and hapless, God gives us the strength and hope to carry on in His name.

We can trust that He will be the same, yesterday, today and forever.

I choose to take Him at His word.

I choose to live in His eternal promise.

His grace is all I need to live my life to the fullest.

Amen!

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Hair Raising!

 


"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things.  I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share in your Master's happiness!'" ~Matthew 25:23

Nothing says "fun" to a child more than dressing up and trick-or-treating on Halloween night.  Above is a shot of the grands (Savannah is partially hidden by her witch sister, Virginia) nearing a welcoming, well-lit home in a nearby neighborhood, known for its generous residents and cautious drivers.  Sarah and John find the perfect area to take their girls!

I know I sound a lot like Scrooge, but because our driveway is enormously steep, with lots of bumps created by thriving tree roots, Danny and I close our blinds and dim our lights so no errant goblin will venture our way on Halloween.  Fortunately for us, this works beautifully.  I do miss the little ones with their eager, made-up faces and oversized bags begging to be filled, but that's just the way it is.

I don't go in for horror flicks, and I'm no fan of the creepy and spooky, but I see something on my computer that shocks the living daylights out of me.  Maybe, you've seen this, too?

A group comprised of both children and adults (yes, adults!) approach a doorstep.  The home owners have left out a bowl chockful of candy.  The unwritten, but universally understood law of Halloween, is to take one treat and leave the rest for others yet to come.  I observe with disgust how the entire hoard empties the bowl into all their sacks - deliberately and with glee!

What message are these parents sending to their children by being complicit in the act of stealing?  Rudely taking what they instinctively know isn't for them alone?

If you, like me, are wondering what this world is coming to, look no further than how children act even when their parents are around.  Crass and brazen barely begins to describe them as they mimic their parents' despicable behavior.

I don't think there's room for a please or a thank you in such an uncivilized atmosphere.

Jesus tells us clearly in the parable above that God expects us to be found trustworthy with the riches He has given us in this life.  We are not to cheat, lie, steal, or defraud our neighbors.  Instead, if we love them as we love ourselves, and invest in their futures, our riches will return to us ten fold with blessings beyond compare.

To witness this polar-opposite behavior is downright hair-raising.  (Did they forget about Ring doorbells???)  Let us pray daily that this errant nation sees the light of God's love and turns, returns, to Him.

And Him alone.

Amen!

Our Grand Grands

  Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. ~Proverbs 17:6 Every year that our family vi...