Monday, July 30, 2012

One Thousand Gifts (864-871)

Continuing on my journey toward one thousand gifts....

Our internet stopped working on Saturday night. After 30 minutes on the phone with our "wonderful" provider, where I turned off the router, turned on the router, checked the connection to the router, reset the still didn't work.

They were going to send a service technician to the rescue on Sunday. The drawback was the range of time I was given to expect their arrival. Between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. And I received a confusing text that said my internet would be working by 9:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Fast forward to Sunday morning, I came downstairs to a green light next to the word "Internet." I called and canceled the service call. Sometime during the night my internet was restored.

I started thinking about how often I worry about something, wrestle it around in my head, become exhausted, and finally...finally when I turn it over to God, my equilibrium is restored.

So while I won't recommend myself to fix your internet issues, I would like to encourage you to turn life's worries over to God for His healing and restoration.

864 - 871 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

864. God's loving and healing presence

865. restored internet

866. a normal reading on my mammogram....I must remember to tell my family that I am "normal" at least as far as this medical test can indicate :)

867. Diane coming over for a visit (and to see our granddaughter)

868. our daughter downloading some music for me

869. Wonderful Husband going to a golf outing at Hershey, PA

870. golf and chocolate :)

871. delayed spring cleaning. Four trash bags out. Don't ask, 'cause I won't tell ;)

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

Is it easy for you to turn your troubles over to God?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wonderful Christian Women

Part 1 of my story is here.

For five years, I attended Thursday morning Women's Bible Study where my faith matured and I developed deeper relationships with my church community. Or as I call them, my Bible Study buddies.

I occasionally co-taught when Charlotte was out of town or sick. I even took a month (plus) off due to frustration with one woman I considered my "Christian challenge." God softened my heart through that bump in the road so when I returned to the group, I had a calm (more Christian?) attitude and understood that He puts all people in my life for His purpose and my benefit.

When Mimi decided to retire from sending out The Prayer List, I took over the job. The Prayer List made me a more consistent pray-er.

The different studies we worked through made me grow in my faith and I changed from being legalistic to being more grace-filled and mature in my faith. I learned about God's grace and mercy toward me, received comfort and prayers when our nephew died of adrenal cancer and when our daughter became pregnant. I understood that after a lifetime of going to church: God wanted a relationship with me and placed me with this group of women as an opportunity toward beginning that relationship through their fellowship.

I heard things from:
Dr. David Jeremiah who said: "Worship is not about us, it's about Him."

I learned that I should not put all the pressure/responsibility on my pastor to preach great sermons every Sunday.

I attend church to worship God in community.

From our son's pastor, who said during a sermon entitled "Conflict in the Church": "Don't focus on the messenger. Focus on the message. The message is Christ." Then later he said, "The church has a dual challenge: to love people and to challenge people to grow in Christ."

I read books:
Me, Myself, & Lies by Jennifer Rothschild
Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa Terkeurst
The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp
What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey
Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist
The Fitting Room: Putting on the Character of Christ by Kelly Minter
Divided We Unite: Practical Christian Unity by Ed Cyzewski
You're Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be by Holley Gerth
Coffee Shop Conversations: Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk by Dale & Jonalyn Fincher
The Colors of Hope: Becoming People of Mercy, Justice and Love by Richard Dahlstrom
Not a Fan. Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus by Kyle Idelman

During this time, I discovered that I need to be a part of a church community. Sunday worship sets the tone for my week. It realigns me toward God's will and helps me focus on and survive the week ahead.

I started working full-time and wasn't able to attend Bible Study anymore.

I craved community and joined an evening sermon study at my church during Lent. Yet two things became apparent to me as I was with a different, smaller group of people:
I was spoiled by my former relationship with my Bible Study buddies in that we had gone below the surface with scripture and life and this new group didn't, and
the sermon series didn't have "much meat to chew on." (And let me say that this Texas-raised girl believes in a good steak!)

I keep in touch with some of my buddies with coffee or breakfast on occasional Saturdays, but I personally felt something (Someone?) missing during my Sunday worship. I need life application from the sermon, stronger leadership, more Christ.

(At this point I should tell you that our church has over 1,800 members. What I find lacking is obviously not felt by many in our church. Which is fine, since this is my perspective and what is leading me to look for a new church community.)

It took quite a while, months really, to attend a different church. To step outside my comfort zone. Last Sunday, Wonderful Husband and I became first time visitors at a local United Methodist church.

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim,[a] where our ancestors worshiped?”

21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:19-24 NLT (emphasis mine)

To be continued....

Monday, July 23, 2012

One Thousand Gifts (858-863)

Continuing on my journey toward one thousand gifts....

I met Maria for coffee on Saturday.

We sat together for one hour and 45 minutes and after she shared something she was struggling with, I told her I'd pray for her and specified what my prayer would be.

After we left each other, I came to the conclusion that I had failed her as a friend.

I should not have told her what I would pray.

I should have asked her what she wanted me to pray for.

So I sent her a card on Monday apologizing for my "friendship fail," asking her what I could pray for and to please send me an email with her prayer request before she leaves on her trip on Thursday.

858 - 863 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

858. meeting Maria for coffee. We laughed, she cried. No, it wasn't something I said.

859. spotting this hot air balloon on the way home from dinner

860. two rubber duckies for our granddaughter's bath. Do you remember the words Ernie sang on Sesame Street?

861. new kitchen dish cloths and towels. Inspired to clean!

862. visiting  a new church with Wonderful Husband

863. Wonderful Husband. He is so very good to me.

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

Have you ever felt like you've failed another person?

Did you try for a "do-over" like me?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

From Thought to Action

I've been thinking about it while listing out the pros and cons.

I've been talking it over with Wonderful Husband and probably making his head hurt.

Today instead of thinking and talking about it....we took action.

We visited a church.

Different from the one where we've been members for 17 years.

We are looking for a new church.

I'll try and explain how I got to (and through?) this place. If Wonderful Husband had his own blog, he'd explain it there himself. And it would probably look totally different.

So please understand this is only my perspective and experience.


I have always said that I was "born and raised Presbyterian."

I have always attended Presbyterian churches and although I did fall away from attending during the end of my teens and into my early twenties, I realized while I was pregnant with our first child that I wanted to raise our children in the church.

Which we did.

Once I joined a church (of my own choosing) as an adult, I served in many capacities.

In Maryland, I taught Sunday School, was an Elder and Clerk of Session, and a Vacation Bible School teacher.

I taught Vacation Bible School at the next church (in Pennsylvania) where we attended for six months.

We moved to another temporary home where we lived for one year and attended a new church where I began a Women's Bible Study group.

Finally, we arrived at our current home/location where we found a church where there were many youth activities available for our two children. I was a Vacation Bible School teacher, a Sunday School Teacher, a Kitchen Volunteer Coordinator, served on the Mission Committee, and developed/coordinated the Alternative Giving Program for three years before turning it over to the next person.

I learned a lot from each serving position.

During this time I also worked at a church (not where I was a member) and resigned after 5.75 years.

I learned a lot from that paid position too.

For five years, I attended Thursday morning Women's Bible Study where my faith matured and I developed deeper relationships with my church community. Or as I call them, my Bible Study buddies.

To be continued....

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One Thousand Gifts (843-857)

Continuing on my journey toward one thousand gifts....

I met Paula and Charlotte at Perkins for breakfast on Saturday. We get together every other month and catch up on life. It was an hour and a half filled with rich conversation; hearing about Adult Vacation Bible School, giving two issues of Guideposts to Charlotte, passing along the book Not A Fan (to be returned to our church after Charlotte reads it), talking about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, books, church, work and family. In a nutshell, sharing our lives.

I thanked them for my Grandma Shower (months back) and their shared gift of the Comfort in the Word quilt. Such a wonderful event (and all the gifts) for a first time grandma. I must remember to "play it forward" for the next first time grandma!

I left the table briefly and on my way back I noticed my two neighbors being seated for breakfast on the other side of the restaurant. I walked over and after the server took their beverage order, I told them that I had been thinking about them for weeks. They are moving to South Carolina and I'd seen the moving truck leave and thought I'd missed them. I thanked them for being wonderful neighbors for the past 15 years. I always appreciated their support of my kids' fundraisers (from Girl Scout cookies to wrapping paper), and wished them safe travel to their new home in South Carolina and much happiness in their new season of retirement.

God's timing is perfect!

Fellowship is my word for 2012 and after spending time with Paula and Charlotte, and saying goodbye to Vanna and Jim, I realized that I am blessed in and through my relationships!

843 - 857 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

843. God's perfect timing

844. meeting Paula and Charlotte for breakfast

845. saying goodbye to Vanna and Jim, and telling them (face to face) that I was thankful for them being such good neighbors

846. a happy and healthy 8 month old granddaughter

847. hearing her hands slap on the linoleum floor as she crawls to find me. She is very determined in her crawling and I love that she doesn't sneak up on me!

848. free downloaded books to my Kindle Fire. I'm sure there are thousands out there, yet I love the adventure of discovering them from other people's blogs.

849. beginning a new book study with Terri, A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

850. dinner with our son, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter

851. warm blueberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream

852. a two week visit from our son (The Teacher)

853. the other side of a health scare of one of my bosses. All is well now.

854. a freshly mopped kitchen floor
(Now that our granddaughter is crawling, the kitchen floor requires more frequent mopping or her little knees show my lack of housekeeping. Would I be considered a bad (or brilliant) grandma if I put little dusting mittens on her hands and scrubby brushes on her knees and have her clean crawl around the house? Ha! :)

855. the re-emergence of snapdragons. It has been at least two years since we've seen them and suddenly they've reappeared in our front beds.

856. much needed rain. Our lawn, bushes and trees can unclench.

857. God's forgiveness

There is no link set up to A Holy Experience this week.
If you wish to read about Ann's Compassion International trip to Haiti you can click here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

At Eight Months

Our granddaughter (Youngest Sweetie) is eight months old.

She weighs a whopping 17 pounds and is 27.5 inches "tall."

We went in the backyard and I spread a blanket on the grass. We haven't had much rain lately and although the grass is green, the ground is as hard as a rock.

It didn't take her long to pull hands-full of grass and then set off to explore.

Notice how she keeps "her eye on me" to make sure I haven't wandered off.

Her Funcle (Fun Uncle) took this picture.

I love this sweet girl and love being Grandma!

Updated: I had said she was 7 months old....oops....she's 8 months old. I hope they don't make me turn in my grandma card!

Monday, July 9, 2012

One Thousand Gifts (834-842)

Continuing on my journey toward one thousand gifts....

Do you have a battery-operated digital camera? Is that a silly question?

I have begun carrying batteries in my purse because all too frequently, I show up to a family event actually remembering my camera in the first place, see a great photo-op and a message comes up "Battery Exhausted."

Who came up with that terminology "Battery Exhausted?" It makes me laugh with frustration!

This past Saturday we went to Wonderful Husband's family pig roast and after taking 2 pictures the dreaded message appeared: "Battery Exhausted."


I was prepared with spare batteries!

The moral to this story is that this "old dog" can still learn new tricks.

Live and learn, my friends. Live and learn.

834 -842 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

834. carrying spare batteries

835. every breath I take

836. the 80s forecast for this week. It makes coming out of the 90s and 100 degree weather sound positively "Spring-like!"

837. listening to an awesome online sermon from my son's church (where he attends)

838. my latest DaySpring purchase, and

839. Wonderful Husband coming home from work on Friday night to hang them above the doorway

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13
840. the Holy Spirit and reading the Bible through "new eyes" and with greater comprehension. This week was Romans 3:20, "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." The law helps me perceive what is sin. It feels like a radically new and innovative idea after years of reading the Bible and hearing sermons.

841. Terrie sharing details of a vineyard while she's with her photography club

842. our future niece-in-law Facebooking about "The Color Run" in Philadelphia. What? You don't know what that is either? Here's a link and please scroll down to watch the 1:51 video with your speakers turned up! It makes me happy every time I watch it!

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

Have you seen or read something new this week you'd like to share?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The 7th of July

It seemed odd this year when July 4th fell on a Wednesday. I worked Monday and Tuesday, came home and thought it was Friday. (My mind is a funny thing.)

We were off from work on Wednesday, yet it was so steamy-hot that we stayed home and watched some fireworks off in the distance from our front door. (I love air conditioning.)

Back to work for Thursday and Friday, and here is a secret that Wonderful Husband told me....he thought Thursday night was Friday night. (Maybe the confused-mind-syndrome is contagious in this house? Ha!)

Although today is Saturday July 7th, we went to my sister-in-law's for a pig roast. It's an annual 4th of July tradition. The high temperature forecast for today was 100 degrees, and the weather forecasters were correct this time. (Boo!)

The pig was 108 lbs. this year.
Big pig.

Hamburgers and hotdogs were available
for those who didn't want pig for dinner.

This was where the lemonade, sodas, water, and
toy trucks were located.

Two tables of side dishes....

Desserts were covered so the little kids
(and adults) wouldn't break them out before dinner.

Although we had thunder and lightening move through our area, the day ended beautifully.

Wonderful Husband, our son, daughter, and son-in-law had tickets to a Phillies night game so they left the festivities early.

That's what happens when July 4th falls on a Wednesday and it isn't celebrated until the 7th.

Did the Wednesday holiday confuse you as much as it confused me?

Monday, July 2, 2012

One Thousand Gifts (818-833)

Continuing on my journey toward one thousand gifts....

We're back from Murrells Inlet, South Carolina where we had a lovely week of vacation.

The two things I miss since I work full time are my Thursday morning Bible Study group and the Adult Vacation Bible School at my church. Yet I am very fortunate that my friend Paula sent me handouts from Adult VBS that took place this past week.

This year's Adult Vacation Bible School had a local pastor teaching a series on "Faith: How It Works," and part of his teaching included the following quote(s) from Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude:
"There is no neutrality between gratitude and ingratitude. Those who are not grateful soon begin to complain of everything.
Gratitude, though, is more than a mental exercise, more than a formula of words. We cannot be satisfied to make a mental note of things which God has done for us and then perfunctorily thank Him for favors received.
To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and praise to the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference..."
My heart is filled with gratitude and I praise God for his goodness!

818 - 833 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

818. Paula sending me handouts and including encouraging handwritten notes

819. buttery-soft sand, ocean water in the 70s, and cool ocean breezes

820. a nearby swimming pool

821. dragonflies

822. beautiful days at Garden City Beach (love this person's beach towel too)

823. drippy sandcastles. Someone worked hard on this sand masterpiece.

824. reading the book Not a Fan. Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus by Kyle Idleman.

825. wind rattling the palm tree fronds

826. hearing that the larger alligator population is farther inland. ;)

827. frogs croaking loudly one night

828. goats at Murrells Inlet Marshwalk

829. reading the post, "Choosing Life, When Cancer Fears are Everywhere"

830. my job and two weeks of vacation each year

831. my sister-in-law finding employment. Hooray!

832. my granddaughter and seeing her joy while crawling to me

833. God and His love and grace during our vacation

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

It's good to be home.