Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I Lost a Friend

"So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side." 
John Bunyan, 1628-1688

It was the end of the year in 1978. I was a new Christian, just finding my way in a new church, and lots of new people that I didn't know. The church was starting a Single's Ministry, still a new concept in church life, and since I was a single parent I decided that's where I should be.

On the Sunday of the first Sunday School class for singles, I found a seat next to a lady. And that's how are 40 year friendship began.


Clara and I have been writing monthly notes to each other ever since, occasionally calling on special occasions. She moved near Ashville, NC some 30 years ago, but distance didn't deter our friendship.

Clara was 20 years my senior, a warm and inviting Christian woman, and I loved her. She died in January. My tears have just stopped. This is the first time in my 68 years that I've lost someone close to me. I will see her again in heaven.

I will miss her monthly notes, her hand writing and how she expressed herself. I will miss that connection with another human via the instrument of note writing. We last spoke at Christmas.

 
The note came from her daughter today telling me of her passing. There is someone in heaven who will welcome me home when I get there. Jesus and Clara.

I'm very fortunate I haven't lost people that I held close to my heart in this life before this. I've lost grandparents, my father, aunts and uncles and cousins, but my family was very cold and strife was the familiar language. So friends became those dear to my heart.

I am fortunate in friends. I maintain contact with friends from all seasons of life. Some of you may remember the "Celebration of Friends" party I had for my 55th birthday. I celebrated sixteen of my closest friends on a beautiful March afternoon, thanking them for their friendship. It's one of the most important things I've done in my life.

I will miss Clara. And I will strive to hold dear the many friends I have while they are here. At this season of my life, I will see more loved ones pass on to the next life, settling in heaven. But for now, my heart hurts.


"Each departed friend is a magnet that attracts us to the next world."
Johann Paul Freidrich Richter, 1763-1825

PS  After reading this post, my friend, Carol, sent over Michael W. Smith's beautiful song, "Friends are Friends Forever."  I saw Michael Smith singing this in concert some 38 years ago. Thanks Carol, for reminding me of this wonderful song!

"Packing up the dreams God planted In the fertile soil of you
Can't believe the hopes He's granted Means a chapter in your life is through
But we'll keep you close as always It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways Will keep the love that keeps us strong

Chorus
"And friends are friends forever If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never 'Cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long To live as friends

"With the faith and love God's given Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you'll live in Is the strength that now you show
But we'll keep you close as always It won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways Will keep the love that keeps us strong."

Chorus
 
https://binged.it/2EKyRtW

Monday, February 5, 2018

Do You Remember the Day?

 As a snow lover, this picture made out of wool drew me in. The beauty and sparkle of snow is amazing. I love to wake up to freshly fallen snow. I found this last November during the Gingerbread Tour here in Jefferson County.

"My soul was so full of joy I wanted to tell every snowflake falling from heaven of the wondrous love of Jesus . . ." Charles Spurgeon

Yes, Charles Spurgeon gave me thought once again about a special day in my life. The day I chose Jesus. Following is portions of his words on his special day:

"Dear believer, do you remember the day your shackles fell away? Do you recall the place where Jesus met you and said, 'I have loved you with an everlasting love?' . . . Oh, what a sweet day it is when Jesus takes away the pain of sin! When the Lord first pardoned my sin, I was so joyful, I could barely refrain from dancing."

I remember that day. I was 28, a single parent, and no reason to live. I told God: "If you are really there, and there's a reason I should go on, please show me." Shortly after that a friend told me I might find what I was looking for at church.

So I entered a church one Sunday morning, and a few weeks later gave my life to Christ during a revival. I walked down that aisle holding hands with Sandy. I made the choice to be saved.

Walking home that evening I said to God: "I'm not sure what I've done, but I believe it is the right thing. Help me see your way." And He did.

That was a giant step for a shy, sheltered and extreme introvert to get up out of her seat and walk down the aisle of a church. God saw me in His likeness and drew me to Him despite my sinful life. He washed me white as snow.

Billy Graham told a story of a Christian man whose un-Christian friend came to him and asked: "If I get born again, will all of my problems go away?" "No," said the man, "but you will have the power to deal with them." And you will. I have.

As you who have given your life for Christ know, life is no picnic. We're going to hurt just as much as anyone else; we're going to be sad just as much as anyone else, and we're going to cry just as much as anyone else. Those are the facts.

But down deep inside there is a hope that lives in you and generates the power to get through. When you can't pray, the Holy Spirit prays for you. When you can't sing, I believe the angels sing your song, and when you can't find your way, Jesus guides your steps. It's beyond your imagination to understand how He does it, but it is as real as me sitting here typing to you.

Am I just a weak person? You hear so often "you just need a crutch. You're weak." Yes, I am weak, but when presidents, CEOs, orchestra conductors, policemen and women and everyday people confess to being a Christian believer, I find myself in very comfortable shoes!

Do you remember that day? It was one of the most important days of my life. I am fortunate to remember the exact date, November 14, 1978. I celebrate this anniversary every year. This coming November I will celebrate 40 years of living a life dedicated to God. Now that's something to remember! And I have snowflakes here to tell!

One of my favorite snow pictures! I was at the sheep farm where I take a lot of snaps of lamb. The snow was heavy and the sheep were under cover. Just a happy moment for me!




Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Proud Or Not?

 This little bird was sitting in the snow on the deck railing. He looked content and happy. I just had to take a picture of him!

"Don't be proud. Although you may have a large spiritual estate--a wide domain of grace--you don't have even a single thing to call your own--except sin and misery." Charles Spurgeon

The above statement stopped me as I was reading in the devotion book Look Unto Me of devotions by Charles Spurgeon. I'd never thought about the knowledge and truth that I have obtained through the years as something to be proud of. As most of my friends are in their later years now, we should all have obtained a "large spiritual estate and a wide domain of grace" through the years of following Jesus.

I'm thankful for all I have learned, all I have experienced, all I know about Jesus and the Christian faith. It actually thrills my soul to be assured of what I know from God's Word and how it affects my daily life. But being proud?

The text of the devotion was from Ezekiel, verse 15:2, that speaks of "the wood of a vine better than that of a branch on any of the trees in the forest." Spurgeon said the words were meant to humble God's people.  "Only through God's goodness have they become fruitful, having been replanted in good soil."

No matter how much more we may know of the Bible, the Christian faith or living for Christ then someone else, "Your life dies without the fresh streams of life flowing from Jesus," Spurgeon said.

Proud? I don't think so. All we, as Christians, have to boast about, is the Lord.

Spring came to my home early this year in the form of my newest quilt project. I had purchased several different bundles of fabric back in August, and the spring fabric I hadn't used yet. So January seemed an ideal time to get it out and make something.


I love the blues and yellow together. Spring sprung early for me! I may love snow, but the wonders of spring cheer me on through the cold winter months.

So . . . just remember when you're prone to boast for any reason, the only reason you have to boast is the Lord. As the old song goes: "I'm just an old sinner saved by grace!"

Sinner Saved by Grace
by Bill and Gloria Gaither and Mitch Humphries

If you could see What I once was If you could go with me Back to where I started from
Then, I know you would see A miracle of Love that put me In it's sweet embrace
And made me what I am today Just an old sinner Saved by grace

(Chorus)
I'm just a sinner Saved by grace When I stood condemned to death He took my place
Now I live and breathe in freedom With each breath of life I take
Loved and forgivin Backed with a living I'm just a sinner Saved by grace

How could I boast on anything I've ever seen or done How could I dare to claim as mine The victories God has won Where would I be Had God not brought me Gently to this place
I'm here to say I'm nothing but A sinner saved by grace

(Chorus)

I'm here to say I'm nothing but a sinner saved by grave!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Back to the Old

 I always love seeing our flags blowing strong, and it was extra nice during the snow fall.

"Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth."
Psalm 8:1

I remember singing those words with Sandi Patty when she sang: "How Majestic is Your Name."  It was one of the first songs I learned as a new Christian. That prompted me to share the following.

At the first of the year I went downstairs and brought up all the DVDs and VHS cassettes that were down there. They'd been in some of the lone boxes that hadn't been unpacked when we moved in a year ago.

I had plenty of DVDs up here that we enjoyed watching. I couldn't remember what we had downstairs, so it was time to do something with them.

We came across all the Gaither Homecoming shows we'd purchased from the early 90s through the years. As well as many other movies, some we kept and some we got rid of. Seeing all those Homecoming shows made me want to watch them again.

I was saved in '78 and my faith grew up with Sandi Patty, Amy Grant, Truth, Dallas Holmes, B J Thomas, Evie and others of that age. It wasn't until my mother told me I might like to watch the Gaither shows that Jerry and I watched our first one. And we were hooked.

I had never heard of most of the people in the shows. Jake Hess, James Blackwood, The Speer Family, J. D. Sumner were all unknown names to me. Bill Gaither brought a number of the old gospel singers together to sing one song that would go on the GaitherVocal Band album. It was so popular the Homecoming Shows were born. And what a difference the shows would make in the lives of millions.


I was hooked early on, and happily waited for each new show to come out for purchase. I learned songs I'd never heard of before. They'd been around and sung in the south for ages, but were unknown to me. I became familiar with old saints that gave their life sharing Jesus in song.

These Homecoming shows helped build my faith, encouraged my heart and touched my soul. What a wonderful way to start the new year, I thought! We have about 50 of the shows so we'll be warmed through the cold winter months by the passion and sharing of Jesus through song and stories.

The other evening Jerry said, "Ya, know, watching these old videos has really been good for my soul." Mine too! Yes, "Oh, Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

I've never been one to focus on fashion and all the new designs that come out through the years. I'm a very traditional dresser and know what wears best on me. It's sustained me so far. But this past Christmas I received a gift of a pair of gloves that tickled me.


 I don't recall seeing gloves like this before. They're like a muff that you put both hands in to keep warm, but there's a muff for each individual hand! The first time I wore them made my heart laugh! They are so cute! Have any of you seen gloves like this before? I'm tickled with them. Thanks friend!

A humbling revealing of me . . .

The Homecoming shows often have songs about seeing your loved ones in heaven. Many tears are shed by the singers as they look forward to that glorious day of seeing members of their family once again. Tears are shed by me too. But sad ones. I don't know if I have any family waiting for me in heaven. I think of all I've missed not growing up with faith and God's presence, and it's a very sad thing.

I have two friends who have gone on to heaven and a treasured pastor, but there was no faith lived out in my immediate family or extended family. It's always a sad time for me when a song like this is sung.

Until the other evening. For the first time, while hearing songs of seeing loved ones in heaven, the thought came to me that I do have family waiting for me in heaven. Christ. He will be there with His welcoming arms and bring me into His home. Now that made me cry!

From a pond across the street from our former home in MD.

"Hold on my child, joy comes in the morning."
Joy Comes in the Morning by Bill Gaither
Psalm 30:5

I'm holding!



Monday, January 1, 2018

As For me . . . I Will

It's 2018! Happy New Year everybody! I'm starting the year off with words to remember. I hope your heart will be encouraged too!

"I asked God for all things so I could enjoy life. He gave me life so I could enjoy all things." Unknown

Recently I began reading from the devotion book "100 Favorite Bible Verses" written by Lisa Guest and illustrated by my friend, Karla Dornacher. It is a favorite book to pick up, refreshing to read through and lovely to look at. It's no longer on Amazon, but I found a few on Ebay.com




I came upon the Scripture verse in Joshua, verses 24:15: "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." And many memories followed for me to ponder over the next several days.

When Jerry and I married 32 years ago, December 1985, it was the end of this verse that was printed inside the wedding bulletin.

And this is what we have tried to do through our years of living together. I've failed miserably often . . . I've lost valuable and treasured relationships . . . made some difficult and upsetting decisions, cried heartbreaking tears, but I've not wavered in my determination to serve the Lord.

Christmas Day I posted on Facebook a picture of the front page of our County newspaper. It was of the Nativity. I didn't post the following two pages that were also in this Christmas Day issue. I'm so thankful for those who take a stand for what is right and true. The Christmas story from Luke, chapter 2, and a prayer by Robert Lewis Stevenson





I once heard if you don't stand for something you will fall for anything. In this case, standing for Christ means you will be hurt and misunderstood. But my heart has believed, and I continue moving one foot in front of the other living what I believe.

I wanted to create two quilt projects before the end of the year. I finished both of them! This is the first one.

There is so much incredible, true evidence that the Bible is without error, and no evidence that it is false. I'm thankful to have the faith to believe. Another saying I've found quite profound is "If I'm wrong and the Bible isn't true, I haven't really lost anything. I've lived my life how I believed. But if you're wrong, and the Bible is true, you have lost everything."

Two mornings after reading "As for me and my house . . .", I found another verse of Scripture which tells you one of the ways  you can be successful in living for God:

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8

How true. What we see with our own eyes is what we base everything on. If you think on things that are honorable than you will think honorable thoughts. If you think on things that are trashy you will think trashy thoughts. It's really quite simple.

Liberty Bible Commentary puts it this way: "True: resting on reality and aiming at reality. Honest: honorable, dignified, worthy of reverence, the combination of gravity and dignity. Just: righteous relations between man and man, and man and God. Pure: stainless, chaste, unsullied. Lovely: lovable, endearing, amiable, gracious, charming, pleasing, winsome. Of good report: attractive, fair speaking. If there be any virtue: mental, moral, and physical excellence. If there be any praise: anything praiseworthy, deemed worthy of praise. Think of these things: meditate on them with careful reflection . . . "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7

So, yes, I still stand for Christ. Jerry and I do our best to live faithful lives. We fall. We disappoint. We struggle. But our aim is to do what is right. It isn't easy. We are far from perfect. But it can be done!


This is the second project I wanted to complete.

As this new year begins, these were good words for me to think on. Lisa Guest closed this devotion with the following prayer. I think it is a good one to follow:

"Lord God, I want to choose to serve You. Help me do exactly that--in the simple moments of an ordinary day, as well as in the big issues of life. It truly does make no sense to serve anyone else; yet, too often I choose to serve myself instead of You. Forgive me and, again, help me always choose to serve You."

These are all the quilt projects I completed for myself in 2017, August through December. I look at them and just have to say "Thank you, Lord" for the opportunity to learn something new. It was just the thing I needed to climb out of a stump in this foreign land that we moved too. It has brought me much joy, and I hope in the new year, I'll be able to make many more with the ladies I met in the quilt ministry to bring encouragement to those in need.

"The most important thought I ever had was that of my individual responsibility to God."
 Daniel Webster, 1782-1852

HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS!! I hope you will choose to serve the Lord!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Celebration Month

"Christmas gift suggestions: to your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect." Oren Arnold

Jerry has been waiting all year to put a Christmas tree in the front yard! No other outside lights. These seniors keep getting senior and it isn't easy anymore to do a lot of decorating.

The month of December is a time of celebration, most especially for Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. After a "thankful" month of November, we fly into December and all the opportunities to celebrate special month.

Jerry and I had two extra days of celebration! December 13th ended our first year in Brookville, PA and all the changes, disappointments, surprises and opportunities we faced. It's been quite a year. I'm thankful we're settled, happy and thankful for all our Lord has brought us through.

I always enjoy seeing "our" family of deer in the evening.

December 14th we celebrated 32 years of marriage. I could say the same thing from above about this past year: changes, disappointments, surprises and opportunities.

Thank you for the anniversary flowers Jerry.

Early December we made a visit to a favorite restaurant and shopping experience: The Country Cupboard in Lewisburg, PA. We found this lovely establishment many years ago when we would drive this way for a Missionary Conference in Jersey Shore, PA.

I bought their special cake and froze it for our big celebration. The sweet icing always satisfies my addiction. Jerry wasn't too happy with me when I gave him his piece. I thought I was being quite generous.


Now  we'll just glide into Christmas Eve and Christmas day. The house looks a lot different from one year ago. And old man winter didn't disappoint! Seven inches of snow fell on the 13th, once again, as it did the day we moved in.

I've been busy creating new Hope pieces and some Christmas table decorations. Many of you will remember the Hope pillow I've given away for many years. I've added two new fabrics for the need.


I like the small Hope table decoration or wall hangings.




My very own quilted Christmas table top! I've becoming more comfortable quilting and enjoying this opportunity very much. Come January I'll be quilting once again for the Quilt Ladies Ministry at church.


This new creative outlet was just what I needed to settle my heart in this new land.

"You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father's face and tell Him you have received His Christmas gift." John R. Rice

May this month of December be especially loving for you, and may your heart be full of love for out Savior. Merry Christmas friends!

"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