Monday, December 4, 2017

Advent Hiatus

Hello everyone,

  I hope you all had a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!  My family and I sure did!

  We made our annual trek to New Jersey, and left later on Wednesday after rush hour and headed back Friday morning sans traffic thankfully.   Woohoo!  My husband and I were even able to get a nice brisk walk in at our favorite park before the early sunset.

 Saturday evening I decked the halls.  This is the earliest I've ever decorated! 

 Yesterday my son and daughter-in-law; and my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter came over to decorate our Christmas tree.  We don't have a very big tree and so with all of us converged upon the tree, it reminded me of how the Charlie Brown gang looked when they were decorating the tree for Charlie Brown at the very end of A Charlie Brown Christmas where all you see are hands flying.  lol.

Fun was had by all with lots of belly laughs!


My world right here.  <3

I'm actually happy I decorated so early because it helps to have one less thing to do in this very busy, joy-filled month.

I will also be taking a hiatus from blogging during the month of December in order to be fully present with the Lord Jesus this Advent and to grow more in my understanding of Him.

I will be going through He is...  Experiencing the Power of Jesus' Name written by Kara Holmes.  She is the sister of Gretchen Saffles, the founder of Well Watered Women Co., the on-line store which sold this book.  However, they were only able to produce a limited number of this devotional.   I was  blessed to be a part of the pre-sales.

{If you have an opportunity, check out Well Watered Women Co., where you will find so many wonderful gift ideas from devotionals, to Bible journals, to all kinds of things which will help enhance the walk of your sisters in the Lord.  Treat yourself too!}

Gretchen introduces the Advent devotional as follows:

“He Is: Experiencing the Power of Jesus’ Name” combines narrative prose with a fictional story that will captivate your heart and meet you right where you are. Throughout this fictional story featuring Sarah and Ruth, you’ll be introduced to the four names of Jesus that are listed in Isaiah 9:6—Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. You’ll be given specific Scripture to study, questions to ponder, and ways to embrace who Jesus is in your Christmas celebrations. My mom and I worked alongside Kara to write the reflection questions as well as experiences. Our prayer is that your heart will be enlarged and your vision cleared as you look to Christ in Scripture and see Him in your every day life."

I am looking forward to diving into what sounds like will be a great Advent read.  I'm sure I will be blogging about what the Lord teaches me through this devotional upon my return in January.

I pray you all will experience the presence of Christ in new and wonderful ways during this Advent season.

And may your Christmas be blessed with lots of love, laughter, family and friends.

See you in the New Year!



You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries, Inspire Me MondayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Good Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog Hop  Tuesday Talk   Faith 'N Friends Sitting Among Friends   House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Literacy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceDance with Jesus Booknificent Thursdays  Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays , Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home Messy Marriage Link-up Friday at the Fire Station Link-up Tune In Thursday Faith on Fire Link-upSunday Scripture Blessings Link-up, Sunday ThoughtsWriter WednesdayFaith Filled Friday

Monday, November 27, 2017

Planting Seeds for Victory




During our recent vacation, my husband and I revisited our favorite museum in Wolfboro, New Hampshire - The Wright Museum of World War II.  We were actually there on the last day of the season and had the whole place to ourselves!  Their website describes the museum as follows:


"The Wright Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational institution dedicated to recognizing and honoring the contributions and enduring legacy of WWII-era Americans."  

My husband's favorite part of the museum is this room right here...  :-)







Throughout the inside of the museum they have different vignettes set up.  Here are some of them...






My favorites are the war time living room and kitchen.  I literally stand there just crawling into the scene imagining what it was like at that time.  I'm not quite sure why I didn't take pictures of those.  I think because I was just so enthralled in the moment. lol.

The museum also has authentic toys from the era and a doll house!!  :-)

There is also a Time Tunnel; a series of rooms containing memorabilia and interesting facts about each year starting in 1939 and ending in 1945.   In addition, each room has that year's Life Magazine covers hanging along the walls.   My favorite is listening to the popular music which is played for each year.   I LOVE IT!!

I also learned something very interesting while there, and although I heard the term before, I didn't really know what it truly meant...

The Victory Garden...




It made me think of the valuable seeds that we as Believers could be planting...

I wasn't able to find a more recent statistic, except the sad news that the percentage of people identifying as Christians has dropped in recent years, but in 2010 there were 266,630,000 Christians in the United States.

What if we had the same drive as the World War II civilian population of twenty million Americans, who planted Victory Gardens for the cause of the war, in planting the seeds of the Gospel for the cause of Christ.

Imagine if two-hundred-sixty-six million Christians were walking in obedience and were sharing their faith, what an incredible impact that would have on the United States. 

Here in this country, gun control is a hotly debated topic.  Well, maybe the average citizen wouldn't feel the need to arm themselves if there wasn't so much evil and darkness in the world.  If two-hundred-sixty-six million Christians would shine the love of Christ and actively share the Gospel, just maybe the impact would be astounding enough to change our country back to a Christian nation founded upon the principals of the Bible... 

A country where there is no more hate.  A country that would not be divided, but one that would work together.  Where we would see every person as made in God's image...  to see the best in them rather than rush to judgment.

A country where Christ would be King and love would prevail.

Maybe this seems utopian and maybe we won't experience this wholly until Heaven, but I don't believe that the Lord calls us to sit idly by...

The 18th century protestants did not sit idly by or there would not have been a Great Awakening throughout Europe, and the 19th century protestants did not sit idly by or there wouldn't have been the Second Great Awakening which swept through the United States.

The following poem written by L. Young  Correthers, from These Blooming Patriots:  A Little War Garden Gossip (1942), served as encouragement to spur on those twenty million Victory Gardeners...


Vegetables for Victory

Vegetables for Victory
Give Vitamins for health ---
Add riches to the nation ---
Augment our country's wealth.
No go to work good neighbors
With busy rakes and hoes
So that garden diligence
Will help defeat our foes.
The vegetables have registered ---
Each root and bulb and leaf ---
All stand awaiting your command ---
Their General-in-Chief.


And we, as Believers, have the Words of Life to spur us on to plant "Seeds for Victory" in like manner...



Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.
Proverbs 3:7-8


and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, 
and hidden riches of secret places, 
that thou mayest know that it is I, Jehovah, 
who call thee by thy name, even the God of Israel.
Isaiah 45:3



Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—
pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. 
The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
Luke 6:38



Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

Then He said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest.”…
Matthew 9:37

"But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."
Mark 4:29

Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe.  So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.
Acts 16:5



Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing 
one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness
 in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

"This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
Joshua 1:8



Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:7



Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.
Psalm 119:89

"For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Matthew 5:18



Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.
Matthew 28:19-20

Your Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ


The old hymn, Victory in Jesus, written by Eugene Monroe Bartlett Senior, shares the story of our Victory in Christ Jesus.  May we all share, without hesitation to a dying world, the victory that can be won in Christ Jesus...


Victory in Jesus

I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Then I repented of my sins;
And won the victory.

Refrain:
O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him,
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood

I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing power revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, "Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,"
And somehow Jesus came and brought
To me the victory.

Refrain

I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I'll sing up there
The song of victory. 

Refrain

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving: A Few of My Favorite Things



I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1-2

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
    and I will glorify your name forever.
Psalm 86:12


This Thursday marks Thanksgiving, my absolute favorite holiday of the year!  The Lord willing, my husband and I will be traveling down to New Jersey where we will be joined by my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter to gather at my brother and sister-in-law's home for Thanksgiving dinner along with my parents, my younger brother and his family, and my sister-in-law's family. 

My sister-in-law always prepares a menu that would make anyone's mouth water.  Her famous mashed potato casserole is a family favorite.  Of course the turkey and all the fixings are delicious!  My mouth is literally watering as I type this.  lol. 

We all gather in their hallway between the living room, dining room and kitchen to pray and offer thanksgiving for the meal.  You will then find family members sitting and eating in the living room, dining room and kitchen.  It's a full house, filled with lots of love and laughter...

And ohh the laughter.  I usually have my biggest belly laughs on Thanksgiving which helps with digestion.  Haha.

Another Thanksgiving  Day family tradition is a Denville Dairy Ice Cream Cake for desert courtesy of my dad..




Throughout the afternoon and evening, you will find us playing rousing games of Ping Pong and competitive games of darts.  :-)

My brother has a selfie-stick now which makes for a group shot that can hold all of us.  This was last years...



 Being with family is my most favorite thing about Thanksgiving!



I have two  favorite Thanksgiving memories that stand out to me:


  • When my daughter was about 9 years old, the church we were attending had a tradition of holding a Thanksgiving play on Thanksgiving morning.   Talented seamstresses made Pilgrim costumes for the boys and girls.  Gabrielle looked adorable in her little Pilgrim outfit.   The play was very sweet and a wonderful way to begin Thanksgiving Day focused on the Lord.


  • Another special tradition at that church was the distribution of a tiny loaf of bread to each congregant to be eaten at our individual family tables during Thanksgiving dinner,  uniting us with our church family in one thankful heart.



  • Years later, the church we were attending participated in a joint Thanksgiving  Eve service with a church in a neighboring town. 




As you can see, it is the quintessential New England church!  I remember sitting in the old wooden pews, listening to the wind howl outside, seeing through the window the shadows of the bare branches moving around in the darkness, and imagining brothers and sisters in the Lord many Thanksgivings ago, worshipping inside that very space.



One of my favorite paintings happens to be one that depicts the first Thanksgiving...





My favorite book about gratitude is Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. 

For those who aren't familiar with this book, onethousandgifts.com shares the following introduction...

"In One Thousand Gifts: A Dare  to Live Fully Right Where You Are, Ann strives to find the meaning of life and fully embrace the surprising truth from the final scenes of Jesus’ earthly life.  In the hours before Jesus’ execution, he took bread and gave thanks.  This fresh, heart-wrenching book unveils the long forgotten wonder that through the imitation of Christ’s thankfulness, we too can experience a life of joy.

With startling lyrical power, Voskamp writes the answers to universal questions:

Where is joy in the midst of cruelty and chaos, duties and despair?
How does one slow down enough for the soul and God to live in synch?
How in the world do we learn to find God and live fully?

The laundry keeps piling up, dishes never end, kids fight and people die.  But regardless of circumstances, the dare of the “gift list” shows Voskamp a way to live even through the dullness and hurts of life.  Through the aches and triumphs, she finally sees what she’s been missing, something that so many women can’t seem to find in their everyday lives.  Ideal for personal spiritual growth or Bible study groups, included within One Thousand Gifts are study questions to provoke additional thought and discussion."

It is no exaggeration to say that I have every page dog-eared!  It is a book that would be beneficial to read through every year.

And finally, my absolute favorite Thanksgiving Hymn is...

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

1. Come, ye thankful people, come, 
raise the song of harvest home; 
all is safely gathered in, 
ere the winter storms begin. 
God our Maker doth provide 
for our wants to be supplied; 
come to God's own temple, come, 
raise the song of harvest home. 

2. All the world is God's own field, 
fruit as praise to God we yield; 
wheat and tares together sown 
are to joy or sorrow grown; 
first the blade and then the ear, 
then the full corn shall appear; 
Lord of harvest, grant that we 
wholesome grain and pure may be. 

3. For the Lord our God shall come, 
and shall take the harvest home; 
from the field shall in that day 
all offenses purge away, 
giving angels charge at last 
in the fire the tares to cast; 
but the fruitful ears to store 
in the garner evermore. 

4. Even so, Lord, quickly come, 
bring thy final harvest home; 
gather thou thy people in, 
free from sorrow, free from sin, 
there, forever purified, 
in thy presence to abide; 
come, with all thine angels, come, 
raise the glorious harvest home. 

Henry Alford


The Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing Come, Ye Thankful People, Come



These are a few of my favorite things about Thanksgiving.  What are some of yours?  :-)

Wishing you all a very blessed Thanksgiving.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another 
in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness 
in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:16-17


You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home Messy Marriage Link-up Friday at the Fire Station Link-up Tune In Thursday Faith on Fire Link-upSunday Scripture Blessings Link-up, Warriors of the WordCandidly Christian Link-upSunday ThoughtsWriter WednesdayFaith Filled Friday

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Proverbial Dark Cloud



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Last week my husband and I spent a few days in New Hampshire.  My husband had found a great Groupon deal at a newly remodeled hotel that sits right on Lake Winnipesaukee.

The room at the top left corner was ours complete with two sliders and balconies...


With these accompanying views!


This is the Mount Washington, a boat that provides daily tours of Lake Winnipesaukee from late Spring to mid-October.
 I went on this boat as a little girl!  I had no idea that it wintered in Center Harbor where we were staying,
let alone that I would have such a view of it!


Sadly, we only got to enjoy sitting out on these balconies for two mornings which I realize is pretty amazing considering it was almost November.

You see Tropical Storm Philippe wanted to "come join" our vacation.  I wasn't even aware or had even heard of Philippe until we were watching the local news the first night of our vacation, hours before it was due to hit.

The entire night tropical storm force winds buffeted our hotel room.  It was very loud and very concerning!  At about 5 a.m. we lost power.   A few hours later we would learn that Philippe was historic and deemed the worst storm to hit New Hampshire with over 450,000 people without power and many roads closed due to downed trees.

In addition to the storm, I woke up with either a mild case of food poisoning or what I believe was continued exacerbation of my stomach situation.  Quite disconcerting when you are away from home, let alone in a hotel without power.

It also became apparent that the hotel must use well-water because suddenly the faucet dried up and the toilet would not flush.

We hadn't even been there 24 hours and it looked our vacation could already be over.  The reports about when the power would return looked bleak at best.  We were almost to the point of having to have a conversation with the hotel staff about leaving.  I prayed and asked the Lord to have mercy on us and to restore power.  An hour later the power was back!!  Which was quite amazing considering many didn't have power restored until days later!

That afternoon, my husband and I took a ride on a beautiful country road and were blessed with the following scenes...







The power and swiftness of the flowing water was incredible!


The cloudy skies just enhanced the beauty of the landscape and the fall colors...



When we are in a season of life's cloudy skies, does the beauty of our Godly character become enhanced?

My husband can attest that there was very little beauty shining forth from my character during a majority of this vacation.  The continuing troublesome health issues between my stomach and dizziness made me feel like I was walking around with a dark cloud over my head as I succumbed to worry, resentment, complaining and dare I say, anger toward God.

I had prayed that the Lord would bless us with a restful vacation, but in the moment, I just saw the storm, the power outage, most everything closed due to off-season, rain for a majority of the days we were away, and not feeling well...

Yet, despite my grumbling state, I poured myself into spending time with the Lord...

Normally, on vacation, it can be hard to find quiet time to be with the Lord, for any length of time...  But this time, I spent at least an hour every day reading my devotional and journaling through the Word.

During our last night of vacation, these words from November 1st Streams in the Desert jumped off the page and grabbed hold of my heart...

When the cloud tarried... then the children of Israel... journeyed not (Numbers 9:19).

This was the supreme test of obedience. It was comparatively easy to strike tents, when the fleecy folds of the cloud were slowly gathering from off the Tabernacle, and it floated majestically before the host. Change is always delightful; and there was excitement and interest in the route, the scenery, and the locality of the next halting-place. But, ah, the tarrying.

Then, however uninviting and sultry the location, however trying to flesh and blood, 
however irksome to the impatient disposition, however perilously exposed to danger -- 
there was no option but to remain encamped.

The Psalmist says, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, 
and heard my cry." And what He did for the Old Testament saints He will do for 
believers throughout all ages. Still God often keeps us waiting. Face to face with threatening 
foes, in the midst of alarms, encircled by perils, beneath the impending rock. May we not go? Is it not time to strike our tents? Have we not suffered to the point of utter collapse? May we not exchange the glare and heat for green pastures and still waters?
Daily Devotional Commentary


I realized that it was not a dark cloud hovering over me, but the very presence of God, continuing His refining work within me - even while on vacation...

And then the Lord sent these spectacular scenes of the fog to help solidify what He had taught me about the cloud of God's presence which tarries...


  Christ's light is ever-present even behind life's clouds.  





  As the seagulls testified, clamoring and squawking to take advantage of
the multitude of bait fish drawn out by the fog, when the Lord's cloud tarries,
He will provide rich food from His Word,  through prayer, reading devotionals and faith-based blog posts; and through encouragement from brothers and sisters in the Lord...

There is no answer. The cloud tarries, and we must remain, though sure of manna, 
rock-water, shelter, and defense. God never keeps us at post without 
assuring us of His presence, and sending us daily supplies.
Daily Devotional Commentary - Streams in the Desert


God truly has been assuring me of His presence, sending me daily supplies.  It's been stunning how everything I hear, read or has been said to me, directly speaks to and encourages me while the Lord has me tarry in this season of refinement.





When the cloud begins to lift, the Lord's work within me will become majestically evident and will show forth the beauty of His refinement, and the reflection of HIS character.



In total transparency, these lessons have not been easy for me.  But the Lord is showing me that it is good to tarry with Him and to wait for His timing as He brings forth the beauty of His character from within me for His Glory.

Through this whole season, I can attest that He has been mercifully with me every step of the way as evidenced by His daily Graces through the areas I described.

Remember how I said that prior to this vacation, I prayed that the Lord would give me rest, well indeed between not feeling well, the storm, and the lack of things to do, this was probably the most restful vacation I have ever had!!





If anyone reading this is feeling like a dark cloud has been following them, I hope you have found encouragement here.  Our Heavenly Father redeems everything that touches your life.  You never have to go it alone.  He is right there with you...


He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, 
a joyous blessing instead of mourning, 
festive praise instead of despair. 
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks 
that the LORD has planted for his own glory.
Isaiah 61:3


You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home Messy Marriage Link-up Friday at the Fire Station Link-up Tune In Thursday Faith on Fire Link-upSunday Scripture Blessings Link-up, Warriors of the WordCandidly Christian Link-upSunday ThoughtsWriter WednesdayFaith Filled Friday