Thursday, March 26, 2015

Passing the Torch


Over the past two and a half months I not only put a hold on my blog posts, but I couldn't continue in writing notes to encourage others. My heart wanted to, but my hands couldn't.

Instead, I received notes to encourage me on a daily basis. I, once again, was reminded what words of encouragement could accomplish to help a person during a difficult trial.

I'm very thankful for all the cards and written words I received, but I want to share with you one note that really touched my heart and the purpose of this ministry God has given me.

As many of you know, I began writing notes after receiving a note when I was going through a difficult time. It made such an impression on my heart, that I knew I wanted to touch others in this way.

Recently I received a handmade note card from a young lady whose heart had been touched by notes I had written to her mother. She saw how the notes made her mother smile and how her mother loved to be thought of, and that meant a lot to this young lady. So she wrote me a note to tell me she was praying for me and Mr. Jerry and missed seeing me.

Friends, that's what we all hope to do as we serve Christ. Open the eyes of another to a possible opportunity of service that's filled with hope, God's love and His encouragement. What a blessing to my heart to see the torch pass on to someone else.

I sent one of my books with Jerry to church last Sunday and asked him to give it to this young lady. I wanted to offer her encouragement as she considers the value of a note.

I don't know when or if this young lady will begin a note writing ministry, but the seed has been planted. God waters and instills the gift! Maybe another little bird will be delivering encouraging notes to cheer the hearts of others!

This was a golden blessing that came during a time of personal trial. Now isn't God just like that!

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Happy Day

                                       Abby and Jo staying close to Mom's seat on the couch!

Throughout the past 2 1/2 months since I took leave from my weekly posts, I would occasionally pull up my blog to see if there had been any visitors. There always were, although not very many.

Not knowing when I will begin my weekly posts again, or perhaps every other week, I decided I wanted to write a happier post than my last one at the end of December. So here it is:

Spring is ready to show its lovely face as temperatures warm, birds sing and clean out bird houses, and our early flowers of crocuses and daffodils begin to sprout from the ground. I'm ready for it!

I've had a long and trying 2 1/2 months, but my time of trial is over and my time of refreshment has arrived!

I won't have the strength to work in my gardens as in previous springs, but I can see in my heart all the beauty waiting to open on it's own, and I'm excited. Thank goodness for perennials!

I'm starting some flowers from seed for the first time. I'm anxious to see them grow and be ready to plant after the last frost. My sister-in-law, Bobbie, is loaning me a wel used seedling stand with light, and I'll be planting giant zinnias. She gave me two giant zinnias last year, and I planted them in my wildflower garden. They were amazing! Jerry loved them too, so we're going to have some in all three gardens.

We have seeds for orange, red, pink, yellow and purple flowers. I can hardly wait!

I'll be back again soon to share about my baby leaves and the hope of new life that God provides. New life indeed! Happy Spring!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Battle Begins

       My friend, Danielle, had this lovely bouquet of roses waiting for me after a long and tiring day.

When I put out the new calendar January 1st, I will begin a battle. A battle no one wants to begin. The battle of life.

I have cervical cancer. No one wants to hear that word in their family. But many of us do, and now I'm one of them. December 5th was the day that the news came and after many tests and examinations I'm on the road to radiation and chemo.

I like my doctors. It has been determined I have Stage 2 cancer so I won't be having surgery. The next 6 weeks, beginning next week, I'll be having radiation treatments everyday and chemo treatments one day a week. After that, I'll have a brief surgical procedure and then 5 treatments in Baltimore once or twice a week.

Since December 5th I've been going here and there and seeing this doctor and that doctor. It's been tiring and upsetting. Jerry said, "They're not your appointments, they're ours."

Before we knew I would not have to have surgery, we were trying to figure out how to handle the pups. They're still puppies, even at a year old, and are very excitable. I thought of taking a walker and putting it around the ottoman I put my feet on. Then we could get some plywood and put around the three sides so the pups couldn't jump on me. I was telling my friend, Diana this, and her comment gave both Jerry and me a BIG laugh! She said: "I know we put our pets in cages, but I haven't heard of putting an adult in a cage!" Thank you, Diana, for that laugh!

My friend, Paula, told me, "I know you believe God gives you the words to write in the encouraging notes you send. I believe that too. I also know you keep copies of all the notes you write. God is bringing those words back to you to encourage you heart. Read the notes and let Him bring refreshment to your soul." That sentiment was also shared by another friend. Good advice.

I will be suspending my weekly blog posts while I go through treatment. Please add me to your prayer list as I go through this adventure. I just stopped and looked up the meaning for "adventure" for I wasn't sure that adequately described what I'll be going through. The dictionary said it is an "exciting or dangerous experience." Dangerous for sure, but I think Jerry's word "journey" probably fits best.

I have chosen Psalm 71:14 (there's that number 14 again) to help me through: "But as for me, I will always have hope. I will praise you more and more."

They are beautiful indeed! and fit right in with my Christmas bows and canes! The rose in the front next to the yellow rose actually has a lavender hue. So lovely!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Trees Glow

               I saw this tree topper on ebay. I just love the bow and how the streamers hang down.

Last week I enjoyed walking through the Festival of Trees in the Westminster Town Mall. This is the eighth year for this Yuletide fundraiser for The Shepherd's Staff. You can bid on the trees, or like me, just enjoy them by taking pictures.

I hope you enjoy the walk through! Step right inside and enjoy some of my favorite trees!

          The entrance was delightfully decorated and you felt like you were walking into a fairyland.

                                                                 "Penguins on Parade"

The proceeds from the auction go toward The Shepherd's Staff's emergency financial assistance programs, which focuses on helping working families who do not qualify for assistance from government agencies.

                                    The "Star Spangled Spectacular" proudly waves its flags!

Each tree is decorated along a theme. I like this "Beary Merry Christmas" below!

I smiled at the "Polar Bear Express" below.

Last year $38,000 was raised, and the Festival of Trees is the largest fundraiser of the year for the nonprofit organization.

                                           I love the flower color on this "Victorian Tea" tree.

                      "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" was nicely done with the light sitting below.

"Through the Woods" we go.
                                                     Jerry liked "Lucky Leprechauns."

                                                                 And Mom liked "Frosty."

"A Christmas Carol" was festive.

                                                    "PeppermintTwist" was alive in color!

Overall, the Festival of Trees was well done and enjoyable!

My friend, Linda, sent me this poem. I share the sentiments.

The Older I get… 
                                        The simpler my holiday preparations become…
                                        The closer I feel to old friends as I write my Christmas cards…
                                        The more I cherish the oldest ornaments…
                                        The more fondly I remember Christmases past…
                                        The longer I hold on to a holiday hug…
                                        The more I realize Christmas is a matter of the heart…
                                        The tighter my throat gets when I sing “Silent Night”…
                                        The more I enjoy giving than receiving…
                                        The more I try to see Christmas through the eyes of a child…
                                        The longer I sit at night in the glow of the Christmas tree…
                                        The more wondrously beautiful the Christmas story is…
                                        The deeper my awe at God’s infinite love…
                                        The More I Love Christmas!

My next post will be December 31st. I hope your Christmas celebrations are happy and joyful!

          "But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more."  Psalm 71:14

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Kindred Spirit

Earlier this year I purchased the above book by Michelle DeRusha. It's similar to Warren Wiersbe's book by the same title, changing "women" to "people." The lives of women starting back in the 1700s are shared, and I am continually encouraged reading about courageous women of the faith.

Last week I read the biography on Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896). Most people know her as the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Her greatest contribution was that of an abolitionist writer, but I remember a few lines from a hymn she wrote that touched my heart. My friend, Jeanne, gave me the book Streams in the Desert, Volume One, back in 1985. The September 13th devotion shared her hymn, written in the 1850s. I've shared the first verse many times to remind others that Christ is always with them.

"Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh,
When the bird waketh, and the shadows flee;
Fairer than morning, lovelier than daylight,
Dawns the sweet consciousness, I am with Thee."

The last two verses:

"When sinks the soul, subdued by toil, to slumber,
Its closing eyes look up to Thee in prayer;
Sweet the repose, beneath Thy wings o'er shadowing,
But sweeter still to wake and find Thee there.

"So shall it be at last, in that bright morning,
When the soul waketh and life’s shadows flee;
O in that hour, fairer than daylight dawning,
Shall rise the glorious thought, I am with Thee."

You can hear it at the Cyber Hymnal:

                                                    So peaceful when they're sleeping.

The subtitle the author gave for her biography is: "She Wrote for Freedom, She wrote for Hope," and it grabbed me. That's why I write. To spread God's Hope to others, encouraging their hearts and sharing His Promise. And before I continue, lest anyone wonder, I'm in no way comparing myself to this great women of faith. I'm a single soul doing my best at what God gave me to do. Stowe's life is a voice of encouragement to carry on with vigor. Even the encourager needs to be encouraged.

The author wrote this about Stowe's work: "Stowe's prolific writing is a powerful statement about basic human rights, justice and freedom that made an indelible impact in American history. But on a more personal level, her novels are also an intimate walk through suffering and grief--a walk each one of us, in one way or another, recognizes and understands.

President Lincoln said upon meeting Stowe: "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!" She was able to reach her readers on a personal, intimate level.

"Parlor literature" ('singing, piano playing and dramatic reading of essays and poems') afforded her 'an intimate relationship to her audience.," the author wrote. I like that. Since I'm not good with the spoken word, I can become close to hears with the written word.

"Right before her marriage to Calvin Stowe, a half hour before the marriage ceremony, she wrote to her sister that she had been 'dreading and dreading the time' when she would cease to be Hatty Beecher and change to nobody knows who. But her husband proved to be her most enthusiastic advocate and an unwavering supporter in her writing career. 'You must be a literary women. It is so written in the book of fate' her husband told her."

With our 29th wedding anniversary on the 14th, I would be remiss if I didn't stop and thank Jerry for his encouragement and support of my writing. I spend large amounts of time in the writing room both writing and working with pictures. It's my haven of rest where I share God's love and receive His love. My window opens to the back yard and so many times I've been inspired by the animal life and nature as I sit and create.

I am also grateful for the encouragement I receive from my pastor, Michael Trammell, who has verbally and in written word voiced his support for the work I do for God. All of us need words of assurance as we labor for our Lord, and I exhort you to thank and show your appreciation to those who have touched your heart and soul.

I decided to put my Robert Frost book out with the Christmas decorations. In the movie The Christmas Kiss, a penthouse was being decorated for a party and the owner had a first edition of The Christmas Carol so they displayed it. I liked the idea and decided my 1978 edition of  "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" would look nice  too!

Do you have a kindred spirit? Someone who's heart shares similar interests and hopes. Who makes life easier to get through? Now's the time! Let them know you care.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Miracle of December

                    The decorating has begun! The front doors say, "Welcome! Come on in!"

This year my mind has been playing over and over the miracle of December. It doesn't happen every year. In fact, there have been quite a few years when the unhappiness of  life overruled the excitement of December and the joy of Christmas.

Not this year. The Saturday after Thanksgiving I put up the garland and lights around the ceiling in the living room and dining room. When I worked in Rockville 20 years ago, one evening driving home I took in all the decorations of the homes I passed. Through the front window of one home I saw garland and lights around their ceiling. I liked the effect it made inside. A new tradition in decorating began!

         The garland and lights are up. The mantle is being dismantled for Christmas decorations! My Longaberger Sweetheart baskets will have a rest, except for one which holds the Christmas cards that arrive.

In earlier years, when Jerry and I were better able to get around, along with the garland and lights we put up red bows on each hook and ornaments hung from the garland. I tried to find a picture of those earlier years, but have not been successful.

                                Thank you, Jerry, for getting behind the grandfather clock!

Now, Jerry isn't able to hang the garland and lights, so I gave it my best attempt and after two hours it was done. No red bows or ornaments, but the ambience from the garland and lights was inviting and warm. Jerry did come to the rescue in reaching the hook behind the grandfather clock to attach the garland and lights. I couldn't stretch that far.

Last Sunday afternoon, I began putting the living room year round decorations in a plastic tub in preparation of bringing out the Christmas decorations. Again this year and all future years, the decorating is toned, but joyful enough to enjoy.

Last week the DVD of The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado arrived in our mail. We've watched it twice so far and will probably watch it a few more times through December. The main song in the movie, "Miracle Hymn" is sung by Susan Boyle, who has a supporting role in the movie.

I love the music and the lyrics, which were co-authored by Candace Lee. Following is the chorus:

"There are miracles all around, miracles yet to be found.
Hid in every heart is an answered prayer, Like a candle's flame, hope will lead us there."

You can see Susan Boyle sing this hymn at the following site:

 Yes, the miracle of December is showing up around our home. I love sitting at night with only the Christmas lights and decorations on. It's a time to get quiet and prepare my heart for the greatest miracle of all. The celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus.

                                           The mantle is now full of snowmen! Let it Snow!

"Ah! dearest Jesus, Holy Child, Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled, Within my heart, that it may be A quiet chamber kept for thee."  Martin Luther (1483-1546)

May the miracle of December wrap itself around you and rest in your heart all the month through!