Thursday, October 27, 2011

Enough Grace

The words to a song sung by Chris Tomlin have been bouncing around in my head and heart all morning....
Your Grace is enough, your grace is enough, your grace is enough for me!

With that tune playing I turned to my daily reading.
It was Psalm One Hundred and Twenty-Seven.
I am going to share it here in its entirity, which is only five verses.
Then I will let you know what Papa revealed to me through these words.

"Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.  It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.  Behold children are a gift of the LORD; the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;  they shall not be ashamed, when they speak with their enemies in the gate."
Such a picture of grace at work!

Here is Papa's reminder that He is the one who truly builds our home.  His Presence makes the difference.

Matthew resumed his walk with Jesus the day he pulled into a church parking lot in California.  He had been invited countless times by friends and coworkers and had finally relented.
He called me after the service.  He told me that as he parked, he became acutely aware that God was Present.  Matt ran into His arms.

It is my desire for my home to be so filled with my God's Presence that no one can miss it.  This morning I told Papa that I not only want Him to feel comfortable in every nook and cranny of this place, but I long for His Manifest Presence.
May those who enter my home be aware of and drawn into His gracious arms!

Papa is the One who will guard my home and supply.  I need but look to Him and His Hand!
Staying up all night won't cut it!
He desires to bless and provide while I rest in Him and His provision.
He provides all I need and more!

As far as children...
Well, being a mom is one of my favorite things.  Truly it is a great blessing to be the mother of four sons. 
And He has added to the number of my children with two lovely daughter-in-laws, two dear grandchildren and a precious great-grandbaby!
I am confident He is not done.
Prayers continue for the other two future daughters and many (I hope) future grandchildren!

This brought to mind how many do not treasure their children.  The other day someone told me that when she meets young couples she always tells them that children are optional.  If they love their lives, don't upset the apple cart!
This thinking does not sit well with me....
Yes, if couples do not want children, then by all means don't have any.  It is a very sad thing for a child not to be wanted...

For many it is a joy to parent children.  I am not saying it is easy, but it does reap great rewards!

Homes, families, livelihoods all can be sources of blessing, if we look to His Hand to dispense the grace that He holds in that Hand...

Yes, His Grace is enough for me!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lift Up Your Eyes

Every one's sleep is disrupted one time or another.
For years the only disruptions I experienced were caused by one of four babies.
Those babies have all grown up.
Yet, there are times when my sleep is not all it should be.

The clock read one-forty in the morning.
That's what time it was when I awoke last night.
It was close to four o'clock by the time I fell back to sleep.

So what did I do for over two hours?
I started by half-heartedly, tossing and turning.
I knew I was going to be awake for awhile, but I was fighting that fact.

Was there anything on my mind that could be causing the unrest?

On the surface I could chalk the restlessness up to the feeling that there was so much to accomplish this week and so little time.  This Thursday afternoon I am heading off on a retreat and will be gone until late Saturday afternoon.  I cannot wait!
However, before I can go anywhere I have to get through this week's list.  Five days worth that needs to be done in three and a half days.
Normally I can handle it, but as of last night I was still in the midst of a real problem with my husband's benefits office that was time sensitive.  I couldn't get no satisfaction and I was frustrated!

I spent some of my awake time in what I thought was prayer over the issue, but in retrospect I have to admit that it was more a rehearsal of my frustrations without much willingness to listen to any Words of wisdom or counsel.

This morning was full and did not lend itself to much time with Papa.  Oh sure, I did my readings and talked to Him about my loved ones, but what I really needed was some of that solitude and silence that I have been talking about.

Ray has joined one of the local YMCAs where they have aquacize each morning.  He just tried it out last week and liked it.  Now we are working on getting into a routine of him taking advantage of the class as often as possible.  Preferable Monday through Friday
So off we went this morning to the gym.
I dropped him off and continued on my way hoping to get through the rest of my list.

Before we had headed to our car I had made a phone call in an attempt to resolve the ongoing issue with the wonderful, oh-so helpful benefits office.  I could not reach the same representative, so for the fifth time in a week I had to go through my whole saga again.  I will not bore my readers with the details, but let me just say that it involves a major over-charge which would be withdrawn from our account next Tuesday.
The person had no clue.  She must have been new, but I had no time, at the moment, to educate her.  Ray had to get to the gym.

I love music and it is my usual companion as I drive.  This day I felt restrained from turning any on.  Instead I was prompted to pull out "The Valley of Vision" CD set.  It is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions given to me by a good friend.
The narrator is Max McLean.  This actor has such an incredible voice that he brings a richness and depth to everything he does.  He certainly does in this case.

The words of the Puritans are woven through with the Scriptures and their truth.
Papa used one prayer to speak to my heart.
The prayer was a response to a Psalm that I had been studying this week.  Psalm One Hundred and Twenty-Three.
"To Thee I lift up my eyes, O Thou who art enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes look to the LORD our God, until He shall be gracious to us."
The one who constructed this prayer was confessing his failure to do as the psalmist did, look to the Hand of his Master.
The thought that came to me was that to look to His Hand would be to look with expectancy.  Just like a child looks to her father, knowing that he gives only good things.

As I reflected on these thoughts I received the picture of a moth drawn to the light. 
Irresistibly drawn.
The servant eager to please and confident in trust, looking to his master.  Happy to do so and at peace.

What good things would the Hand of this Master, my Papa have for me?
Direction and provision.

Once home I took a deep breath and punched in the benefit's number.  The young woman who answered listened patiently and then offered to send my call to the one who could resolve my issue.  I asked for the number of this person in case I got disconnected.  She had no such number, but promised not to disconnect me.  My call went on hold and then I was promptly...disconnected!

Papa reminded me that I could trust Him, as I redialed that number which I know better than my own.  Yet another person answered and this time I asked for a manager.
With that I was connected with someone who could and, hopefully, did resolve the issue!  I will even be able to reach her in the future, should I need to do so!

All Papa wanted me to do is remember to look to His Hand to handle this issue, as He has handled everything else in the past.

Another Psalm came to mind.  Psalm One Hundred and Twenty-One.
"I will lift up my eyes to the mountains from whence shall my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth."

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Words are intriguing.
One way or another each day a word or phrase captures my attention.
Every single instance has a message from Papa for me.
Today was no different.

My devotional reading this morning was Psalm One Hundred and Nineteen.
The psalm has one hundred and seventy-five verses.  I made a point of not focusing on that fact, so that I could receive whatever Papa had for me.  If I didn't I would have been inclined to focus on getting through the reading and the result? miss out on a glittering nugget that was buried in the ninety-first verse.
As I read the verse, the last half fairly leaped off the page at me.

"...For all things are Your servants."
I love the picture that these words draw.  There is nothing in all of creation that He cannot, nor does not use to accomplish His will.

Not only His Words....
Not just His willing servants....

I find that very comforting. 
I am reminded of Romans Eight, verse Twenty-Eight.
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
Ah.  He can use everything to bring us good.

Our church had a guest speaker today.  It was the final meeting for our week-long missions conference and the speaker was a Haitian minister.
He spoke from the text found in the last chapter of the gospel of Matthew, the final three verses.  These verses are commonly known as "The Great Commission."
It is where Jesus tells His disciples to go out into the world with the good news of the gospel and make disciples.

Jesus began by saying,
"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth."
Do you see the connection between this verse and the one from the Psalm?

In other words all things are His servants!

We are talking about our God here!  This is our Savior, Jesus who has all authority!!
And He intends to use this authority over all things for our good!!

The Slice of Infinity commentary that arrived in my in-box on Friday also contained a word or two that found its way into my musings for a few days.
The author, Jill Carattini is also intrigued by words.

She was commenting on the words illusion and disillusion.
She wound her thoughts around the true meaning of these two words.

To be disillusioned, according to Webster is to be free from illusion or false ideas; disenchant; to take away the ideals or idealism of and make disappointed, bitter, etc.

The definition of illusion is a false idea or conception; belief or opinion not in accord with the facts.
So it would follow that to be disillusioned is to truly be set free.  
Why would we be left disappointed?

Could it be because we have set our hopes on those things that do disappoint?
Or could it be that we forget that He does have all authority and that He will work all things out for our good, in the end?

As we submit ourselves to His authority, we will have our eyes open to see just how much good surrounds use right were we are.
And that is just a teaser for all that awaits those who love Him!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Ability to Walk

There has been no post since Sunday because....
I have been going through withdrawal!

Since arriving home, I have been computer-less!
My computer had gone from being very useful as a source of information and communication to being equal to nothing more than the role of a doorstop. 
Before our trip Ray's computer had gone on the fritz.  The night before we headed out he had informed me that it was "hosed."
Upon our arrival back home we found that nothing miraculous had occurred in our absence where it was concerned.
This is where I sigh....

Yesterday someone asked me how long the rain was suppose to continue.  I told them that I had been cut off from all communication with the outside world, so I had no idea!!

Ray has finally gotten his computer back on line, so I am seizing this opportunity to reconnect here.

I have become increasingly aware of just how easy it is to take so much for granted.

On Tuesday I needed to run a few errands.  I zipped in here and there.  Being a New Yorker at heart zipping comes very naturally to me.
However, after paying at the final store I could not zip out without being rude and a little thoughtless...

A woman about my age was leaving the establishment just ahead of me.
Very slowly....It was the best that she and her cane could do.
This lady's legs and feet were very twisted.  I actually marveled that she could walk at all.

Encountering this struggling person was just one more reminder to me of how fortunate I am and how easily I take my blessings for granted.

These past couple of weeks had found me in the company of many who have numerous physical limitations.  Most were elderly and many of the disabilities have come with the aging process.
As the losses occur I know that adjustments must be made.

This turns my focus to my Honey.

Vacationing meant that we were together just about every minute of every hour of every day, which gave me many opportunities to observe my man.
We visited with friends along the way and, of course, family. 
There was the wedding, as well as a few little excursions thrown in.  After each visit or activity Ray always seemed very eager to get back to our room.  Once there he immediately went prone and the television went on and very loudly.
At first it disturbed me, but then Papa helped me sit back and give it some consideration.

My husband can walk, but with effort, which is tiring.
I can simply zip along.  Standing still is more tiring to me than if I keep moving.

The man's arm is rarely very comfortable; then he will have momentary flashes of real pain.  Too much jostling does not make for a happier arm, so riding in a car grows wearisome. 
Then add in the challenge of meeting friends or family that are so happy to see him.  So happy that they pat his arm or shoulder or give him a big hug, always approaching him from his left.
I have considered pinning a sign on him - Keep to the right!
You see, touch is very uncomfortable for Ray's left side.  That includes both the left side of his chest, as well as his shoulder blade.
Me?  No hug has ever caused me pain, though Tim can give hugs that nearly take my breath away!

The man in question has loss of hearing and I have noted him grow tired of trying to follow an animated conversation.
His wife's only need regarding being able to hear is that she not be spoken to from another room!

Before Ray's accident he had some challenges with his eyesight.  His left eye was his strong eye.
Now his right eye is the stronger eye; plus his field of vision is narrowed.
As he has sat fiddling with his computer and trying to retrieve the data from mine, I see him closing his left eye in an attempt to gain a clearer focus.
The glasses I wear are not crucial and my field of vision is just fine.

The changes that have come our way this past eighteen months has contained many lessons.
More continue to be revealed.
All blessings even if in some strange disguises!

Now back to the computer saga.
The blessing here is that our computer dilemma has challenged my husband enough to keep him at it for a few hours at a time.  As he had worked on the problems, though at a slower pace than in the years gone by, he has slowly been able to recall what he knew about such things.
Many of the tasks that my honey use to tend to are no longer on his to-do list.  Being able to take care of something that none of the rest of us can is an encouragement for him.
That makes it worth the disconnect for me!

As I have thought about the gift of being able to walk, among other things, I realize that walking with my LORD is the greatest ability available to me.
It is also an ability available to every single person whether they have any other abilities or not.

"How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spiritual Discipline(s)

It is finally time to sort and pack for our trip back home.
That means that I must finish off the rest of my word pile!

Something I read in the devotional "Today in the Word," captured my attention.
The thoughts revolved around Habits of Faithfulness or Spiritual Disciplines.
They listed a few including simplicity and solitude, which seemed to stand out to me.   I liked their sound.
Does that sound strange?

This world of ours is very busy and is continually seeking to draw us in.
All the developments and advances in technology, et cetera are purported to make our lives simpler. 
To which I say HA!  No way!

I love to keep things simple.  I also long to live simply.
That doesn't mean that I would like to head to Amish country, but it does mean that I recognize and resist any unnecessary clutter in my life.

Stuff can really fill one's life.  It takes time and attention to tend to all of it.  I only want to be occupied with the stuff that Jesus chooses to fill my life!

He said:
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also"
As far as is not simply being alone for a while, it is being away from the busyness of life and being able to savor unrushed time with Papa.
In Psalm Forty-Six He said,
"Cease striving (Let go, relax) and know that I am God...."
As I was meditating on the subject I decided to Google the topic of Spiritual Disciplines.  I came across quite a few lists.  Some sites broke them down into two categories:  Disciplines of Abstinence and Disciplines of Engagement. 
The first is the quieter list, while the second definitely is more lively.
The first is between you and your God.
The second draws in others for the most part.

Here they are with what they mean for me.

Disciplines of Abstinence:
Silence.  I liked the sound of this one two. 
Fasting.  This definitely heightens a person's sensitivity to His Voice.
Simplicity or frugality.  Both, music to my ears!
Chastity.  Sexual purity, which is applicable to married, as well as single!
Secrecy.  This means no flaunting what we do for Papa!
Sacrifice.  Releasing something that holds great value in your heart.

Disciplines of Engagement
Study. Of His Word, of course, which includes meditation.
Worship.  Responding to Who our God is.
Celebration.  Joining with us to worship Him and rejoice in what He has
                       done for us.
Service.  Putting feet on our faith.
Prayer.  One-on-one communication with Papa.
Fellowship.  Enjoying the bond we share with His family.
Confession.  Recognizing that which His Spirit reveals
                      that dishonors Him  and seeking forgiveness.           
                     At times this will involve others; either to
                     help hold us accountable or because we have
                     wronged them.
Submission. We are called to respect those who are over us. 
                      Respect even when we know they are wrong. 
                      This is a tough one for me!

What a list, huh?!
Not an easy list, but valuable.
By His grace, He will develop these disciplines in us, if we desire them.

These disciplines are not meant to be burdens, but avenues to freedom.
The joy of walking with Him and becoming more like Him is immeasurable!

As these marks of character are developed in us we will find more strength in times of trouble; strength coupled with peace and joy.

Meditating over a number of the Psalms that David wrote it struck me that when he faced trials of all kinds he naturally turned to his God in prayer.
Why did it comes so easily to him?  Because it was one of the disciplines of his life.  Prayer was as natural as breathing to him.  A glorious habit of faithfulness that directed him to the Throne of God!

As I look forward to returning home, I am asking Papa to help me embrace these habits more fully. 
I want to be found faithful!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

How Hard Could It Be?

Ray and I have a retired friend who has gone above and beyond in helping us.
Bill, regularly has driven Ray to his therapy appointments and will not allow us to help pay for the gas that is consumed in the endeavour.

On Monday it will be Bill who picks us up from the airport, as our children will all be working.
All he does, he does gladly.

Earlier this week we decided that we'd like to pick up some sort of gift while in Florida for Bill.
He is always dressed very neatly; no tee shirts for him.
Bill enjoys golfing and plays as often as he is able.  So I suggested to Ray that we get him a nice polo shirt with some sort of logo on it, such as Florida or Bradenton.
No problem!  Right?

We have visited Florida many times over the past twenty-five years since Ray's parents moved to the state.
In all that time there was never a lack of small gift and/or clothing shops.
All offered a great variety of products from which to choose.
Not now...

Every day this week I have ventured out in search of said polo shirt.  Not only couldn't I find such an item of clothing, I couldn't find any of the little shops!
Oh, I had no problem finding Walmart!
The only shirts in there that bore a logo of this area were tee-shirts, which would not do.  Besides most of the clothing is not top quality, so even if they had the desired shirt, I would not have wanted to give it as a gift.

So where are all the little shops?  The privately owned stores?
They have been disappearing for a while, at least in the Northeast where we live.

There are a few left and when possible, that is where I choose to shop.  It is more intimate.  You know that you are valued as a customer and you receive the service that says so.
When I walk into the local hardware store, I am greeted and even receive eye contact!
They know that I am most likely shopping for some small item, but that doesn't affect the service given me.
I have never had to roam the aisles in search of some help.  Many a time I have received instruction on how to do one thing or another.  All given patiently and cheerfully.

The proprietors of the small businesses that have inhabited our towns throughout the history of our country were simply trying to earn a living by offering a service to their neighbors.  The majority's vision was to grow their business to meet the needs of the local area without becoming so large that the personal touch would be lost.

We are losing our personal touch as a people.  So many no longer know their neighbors.  They do not have the time to do so.  Those who do often find no reciprocation.

I am sad.  I think Papa is too.
For a growing segment of the population, amassing treasures that do not last has left the value of personal connection in the dust.

Jesus warned against such things over two thousand years ago.
"And He said to them, 'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.'"
All that because I couldn't find a shirt, huh?

I bet I can find a nice polo shirt at the airport...
And have to pay some clerk who couldn't care less who I am, let alone why I want the shirt...

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Touch of Perspective Goes a Long Way!

"There is no place like home."
Yes, Dorothy, I completely agree.
A little while ago I updated my status on Face Book with the following.
"Okay, I've had enough vacation. Can I go home now?"
I am ready for re-entry.
Or am I?

I will be if  all that Papa has been showing me stays fresh.

It is all a matter of perspective.

My husband and I have been away from home for nearly two weeks.
I know that I needed this time away, but in ways other than what I had thought.
Papa had His own ideas of what I needed.

I wanted to get away to be free of all the daily responsibilities that are mine alone.   I longed to shut down for a while, a change of scenery and activity.

Papa desired me.
Just a little tweaking of my perspective on things.

A couple of weeks before our vacation had begun I was contemplating the painting of Tim's recently vacated bedroom.  Painting is not my favorite thing to do and my back isn't a big fan either, so I was happy to offer the job to a close friend in need of a little income.

I did not think it would take too long, thus it would not be too costly.  What I didn't know is that I had hired someone who was very meticulous and not very fast.
The day I looked in on him and was informed that he would need to do a second coat in the closet, so it would be well covered, is when I knew I was in trouble.
He was persuaded to forgo that second coat, but it still took him twenty-four hours of painting to get the job done.  Matt later told me that it was an eight hour job. (!)
You see, my son had worked as a painter for a year and knew how to do such calculations...

With that behind me, off we went on our travels.  All the while I was wrestling with having spent more than I anticipated to get the room painted.
I hate wasting money.

Then my computer died, never to be revived.  :(
I was on a downhill slide.
Dollar signs danced before my eyes.
I had been very careful in planning our trip and to what end?  To have money to thrown at the painting of a room and now a much needed laptop??

Then Papa reminded me that He is the One in control and that He has a good purpose behind all that He allows to happen.
Did I even give it one thought that He knew how much my friend and his little family needed to make ends meet?
Did I consider for a moment that there are others watching that needed a clearer perspective of just how my God works?

I know a number of people who are followers of my Savior, yet that have thinking that runs contrary to what I know to be true about Him and His ways.

They believe, like many have over the years, that when loss comes your way, it is God punishing you for something.  You have lost the favor of God.

The truth is that whatever comes our way is simply an opportunity to trust Him.  Wait with expectation and see Him work!

There were other subjects that needed a little tweaking of my perspective.

We have been with Ray's mom since Monday.  Actually, we have been with many people's moms, with a few dads thrown in too!
Spending time surrounded by the elderly is an exercise in patience, at times.

Two of our friends joined the three of us on a boat trip around the bay today.  There were many incidents of Mom being confused due to her loss of hearing and also the major loss of her short-term memory.
Each time you have to choose whether you are going to just go with it or get frustrated.
Our friend, David, leaned over to me at one point and commented how one of the blessings will be that when the day comes that Mom is no longer with us, there will be no regret on our part.
That is a perspective to keep in mind!

Today Mom directed as I drove, at times in circles, and then blurted out that she didn't know where we were!  With determination I sought to hang on to that perspective....

The top reason for this visit was for Ray's mom to see how well he is doing.  Since his accident, Mom has expressed concern regarding his condition.  On a daily basis.  I knew seeing him, up close and personal, would do wonders in relieving her fears.  And it has!
What this visit has also done is confirm our concerns regarding her memory loss.  Today a lovely ninety-five year old friend of hers expressed concern over this.  The contrast between her and Mom is telling, this lady is sharp as a tack!

This underscored my opinion that the elderly should not be corralled off by themselves.  They need one-on-one care that no place can give!  This is something the family can give, but not when many miles separate them!

Yesterday her facility gave me information regarding an outside agency that offers the kind of help Mom needs.  I wish I could be here long enough to get it all set up.  I will have to handle this from a distance, but at least the ball is rolling.

As our parents age, it is said that our roles end up reversing.  So true.
That takes a change in perspective too.

Papa has been helping me adjust my thinking along another vein also.

A friend was commenting how his wife discourages him from watching certain television shows.  They are not edifying in her opinion. 
They happen to be the few programs that I enjoy!
This got me to thinking.  Have I been making poor choices in my entertainment? 

I was still chewing on this issue when we all happen to be together again.  Another seemingly different topic arose.
I mentioned that I was concerned that a loved one spent a whole lot of time shopping both on-line and in stores.  Jesus' Words about not worrying about what we wear in Matthew's Sixth chapter reinforces my concern.

In a later conversation we revisited the topic and my friend told me that she knew that was my opinion, but that she too loved to shop for clothing.
The first thought that came to me was to wonder if she had considered whether it was edifying or not.(!)

Papa told me to leave it all alone.
Our walks are individual ones and we need to focus on our own walk with Him.
The conversation between Peter and Jesus in the last chapter of the gospel of John came to mind.  Jesus had just told Peter by what kind of death he would glorify God.  Peter spotted John at that moment and asked Jesus,
"What about him?"
Jesus' response was to tell Peter not to mind John, but to follow Him.

My God is faithful to guide me and each one of His children.  When anyone of us is off the path He has for us, He will let us know.
He has been doing that for me.
I also know that He is very wise and patient.  We are works in progress.
We need to give one another grace, just like He does.
Now that is definitely a good perspective to have!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


We had a change of plans today and headed to the movies in lieu of a boat ride.  The weather forecast helped make our decision by predicting thunderstorms.
Movies and then dinner with dear friends from Connecticut, who just happen to be in town this week.  What a treat!

This change meant that I would not get to sit down at a computer until now.
It will be wonderful if my brain functions long enough to get out all that I hope to log here!

After having slept for a couple of hours last night I awoke to discover that it was only one in the morning.  For the next two and a half hours Papa and I had a running conversation about many things.  Part of our talk reviewed the offerings that I was to share in the next few log entries.

You can see by the title that marriage is today's topic.

I had remembered reading a few recommendations for the movie "Courageous," but did not recall what it was about, but did know I wanted to see it.  The four of us did just that today.

This movie lends itself to my topic.
It is a very moving account of five men who sought to become the husbands and fathers that their God had called them to be after facing how short they fell in their own strength.
I highly recommend it, but with the warning to be ready for a few hearty laughs and the need for a good number of tissues!

Within a week of each other Ray and I have recently attended two weddings.
I have written about the first and after having attended the second I cannot help but draw comparisons.

When I hear the word "marriage" a few lines from the movie "The Princess Bride," readily come to mind.
To cut through some of the comic affect I will translate the words into plain English.
"Marriage.  That blessed arrangement...that dream within a dream..."
I would imagine that most, if not all, who stand before a minister or official and exchange vows believe or at least hope that their union is blessed and will be a dream.
The majority do not seek counsel before marriage and many never seek any afterward.  They just go by the seat of their pants, so to speak.

Before my dear Corinne and her beloved Evan married they sought counsel and actually went through formal pre-marital counseling.
Beginning as friends for a few years and moving onto best friends and eventually much more, they had learned to share their dreams and desires with one another and share a common vision for their future.
There is no doubt in my mind that Papa brought these two together.

During the ceremony, while a song was being sung, I had closed my eyes to quiet my heart.  Corinne is dear to me and I was feeling much more emotional than I had anticipated!
As I sat there, eyes closed, owning the words that were being directed heavenward in song, I experienced what I must call a vision.
I saw wisps of angels, flashes of ribbons of color and lights dancing around the precious couple and then spilling out and over the congregation.
Heaven was rejoicing over this union!

Two hearts who love each other and their God passionately. 
Papa was pleased!
He loves when His plan comes together!

Such a wonderful way to begin a life together.

The second marriage was based on much less.
This couple met just one year before, moved in together after a brief season of "dating" and have little idea of what their future may hold.
They spoke of how they appreciated one another's humor and their love for one another.
There was no mention of our Savior.

Even the details of each wedding differed greatly.
One was filled with peace and beauty with a clear focus on the desire to honor the Living God.
The other was chaotic.  The bride was beautiful and was obviously happy, as was the groom.
Of course, just as it should be. 
Yet, the spirit in which everything was carried out was haphazard and it stirred concern for what lay ahead for them.

Having said all this I do not want to give the impression of doom where this second couple is concerned, nor for all joy and peace for the first.
I do not know what lies ahead for either couple.  However, I do know that those who commit themselves to God's care and glory are positioned to be able to rise above the trials of this life with joy and strength.

If I could speak to these two couples I would give the same advice to both.

I would tell them that marriage is about more than the fresh love that they experience right now.  It is about companionship which encompasses all the seasons of their lives.  It is about commitment.
There would be the reminder that while two are better than one, three is infinitely stronger.

I do hold hope for both these marriages.
I happen to know that many are praying for them.
I also know that Papa has made many promises for those who have taught their children His ways.
Both brides and one groom have had that privilege. 

Many years ago Papa gave me a promise found in the Fifty-Fourth chapter of Isaiah, the thirteenth verse:
"And all your children will be taught of the LORD; and the well-being of your children will be great."
The word peace can be used instead of well-being.
Jesus is our Peace.
What a wonderful promise!

"Marriage. That blessed arrangement...that dream within a dream..."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sharing Life

This leg of our trip finds Ray and I staying in a guest room within the retirement community where his mom lives.
This community encompasses three separate living facilities: independent, assisted-living and full care.

Mom is a resident in the independent portion, at the moment. 
It is its own little world. 
One in which you barely need to venture from should you so choose.

There are activities such as, bingo, cards, movies, book clubs, numerous socials, exercise, etc.
There is a computer room (where I sit right now).  The print on the screen and the keyboard are all extra large.  Very easy to see, just like the large print books in their library.

Three meals are offered every day, as well as coffee-and around the clock.

Need to go to church, the doctor or the store?  A bus is available for your convenience!

Everything is designed to meet the particular needs of the elderly.  To some this sounds perfect.  Obviously, as there are facilities like this all around our country.

We have eaten our breakfast with a few of mom's fellow residents the past two mornings.
A single man, Roger sat at the end of the table both mornings.  Yesterday he was very responsive to my efforts to engage him in a conversation.
Before he arrived this morning I heard two women expressing their surprise over how talkative he had been the previous morning.  They had never heard him say much of anything before.

It took no time to get Roger talking this morning either.  The two ladies exchanged looks of surprise as he and I conversed.

He was a professor of art for over thirty years up in our neck of the woods.  Well, Rhode Island is in New England, so it qualifies!

This place is filled with people from all walks of life.  Police detectives, nurses, bankers, laboratory technicians, secretaries, business people, et cetra, surround us.
Each one has a story; actually, many stories.
Many are glad to share these stories, if anyone should think to ask.
I want them to tell them to me!
I want them to tell them to my children and my children's children!

This past weekend I overheard a conversation between two people who where discussing an older family member.  One comment stayed with me.
"Well, they might as well accept the fact that they will end up in one of those facilities eventually."
I wanted to stick my nose in and ask them why?
Why does that have to be the inevitable end?

My sons and I would visit a local convalescent home, when they were still children.  Many of the residents never had any visitors.  So sad.
Sad for them, but also for those who cheated themselves out of all they could have gained from these ones who had a lifetime of experiences to share.

To be sure there are situations and conditions that leave families no choice, but as I look around here that is not the case for these residents.  Nor is it the case for many in so many places.

Some might be wondering why Mom is here. 
It was not our choice, but at her insistence.
Her desire to not burden us has backfired.  There is too much distance between us.  When she has difficulties it is not a family member who steps in to help.

I think it was our culture that influenced her choices and now we all lose.
We lose out on many of her memories and many of her insights.

Our God designed the family to be multi-generational. 
That goes for His family.
It is a blessing to be able to spend time with those who have lived more years than I; ones who have tested our God and found Him wholly faithful.
It is also a joy to be able the share what I have learned, thus far, with those who are more tender in years than I.

The Seventy-First chapter of Psalms expresses it this way in verses seventeen and eighteen:
"O God, You have taught me from my youth; and I still declare Your wondrous deeds, and even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come."
Yes, it is my desire to live my life and share my life all to His Glory!

LORD willing, I will be back at this keyboard tomorrow evening, as I still haven't touched that word pile!
There are, at least, the subject of marriage and the subjects of simplicity and solitude to explore!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Here I sit in the computer room at my mother-in-law's retirement home wondering if anyone has noticed my silence these past six days. 
I know I have!

This past Saturday marked the demise of my laptop. 
Gasp!!  I have been disconnected!
I have been remarkably calm about it.

It is strange.  I am acutely aware of my loss, yet at peace with it.  It makes me think of the line in the Serenity Prayer about accepting the things you cannot change.  I guess that is what I am doing.

Words have been piling up for days, which has driven me to pad and pen.  That is my least favorite way of marking my words. 
My handwriting reflects that fact. 
Often I cannot even read what I have written, yet the very act of writing seems to cement it in my memory.

Papa takes all the details of our lives and weaves them into His beautiful plan for His children....

This lack of technology has opened the door for a little fresh air to blow through and clear a few cobwebs.

How long had it been since I had so little to occupy my day?

I had desired to have some down-time on this trip and Papa has given me an abundance of it!
In this disconnect the connection with my own self has been restored.  I hadn't realized how I had let who the real Debbie is slip away in the busyness of daily life and all the relationships that come with it.  My computer is beyond restoration, but I am glad that I am not!
Papa's gentle voice has whispered to my heart; He reminds me of who He knows I am and I am refreshed!

Over the next few days I will be sharing much from my pile of words.
For now I will close with an encouragement for each reader to step away from their computer and the busyness of life to be reminded of who they are in Papa's eyes!
"He restores my soul...."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Glimpses of Grace

Ray and I arrived at Bradley International Airport Tuesday morning to catch a flight to Florida.
A desire to visit with his mom prompted the decision to head south.
His mother hasn't seen him since the accident and it will do both the mother and son good to spend some time together.

Our visit will be thirteen days in length and includes a couple of days with his aunt, which we are just concluding, and the opportunity to attend a special young woman's wedding!

We had our boarding passes in hand, so once we had checked our luggage in at the curb, we headed to the gate.  Of course, one cannot get to the gate without getting past the scrutiny of the TSA!
My honey must have looked suspicious to the staff because he was taken aside for a more detailed examination.
I was bothered as I watched them manhandle him.  If they moved or touched his arm one more time I was going to clock somebody!  (I was a little out of sorts, as I am in some pain from sore ribs-thanks to a major muscle spasm!)

Before leaving home Ray went looking for a hat to take with him.  He briefly entertained his retiree hat that a friend gave him as a joke.  It is a bright red fisherman's hat that is covered with patches and badges with silly comments about being retired.  I told him to choose something a little more subdued if he intended to walk alongside his wife.  Watching the TSA in action made me think that I should have let him wear that hat.  Maybe he wouldn't have looked so much like a terrorist then!

Ray seemed to appreciate the attention.  My dear friend Joan suggested that it made sense.  One minute he was the mild-mannered retiree, the next minute Steve McQueen!

Meanwhile, all I wanted was to finish up and get a little something for my rumbling tummy before having to board the plane...

Muffins in hand we made our way to our gate...
Along our route was a shoeshine stand with two men in earnest conversation....
I only heard a few words as we passed by...
"Oh no, you see faith is believing with your heart...."

Right there among all the hubbub of the airport, with my heart and mind a little grumpy those words broke into my awareness.

That man was focused on what mattered.  He was sharing the essence of life!
God's grace in evidence there!

Once settled into our seats on the plane I took some time to study and meditate on Psalm One Hundred and Three.  As I did His peace settled over me.
By His grace!

As I reflected, I wrote and a page and a half of my journal is now filled with the reasons I found in that Psalm for blessing Papa.
Here's a few:
His Holy Name - He is worthy.
Redeems my life!
Loving kindness!
He looks at me as a Father!

There are many more, but I would encourage you to find the rest and claim them for yourself...
The bottom line of all of that is found in that psalm can be summed up in one word: Forgiveness!

Spending time in His Word was a grace in itself.

I began to recognize more evidence of his grace...
That my honey was calm during TSA's search...
The kind woman who sat on the other side of Ray on the plane and acted very thoughtfully...
The worship station I found to listen to for most of the trip...
Additional thoughts that came from Psalm One Hundred and Four...

Papa cares for all of His creation.  He did not, nor does He create and then ignore any of it or us!
It is His Spirit that breathes life into us at conception and then when we are born into His Kingdom.
The Seventeenth chapter of Acts,verse twenty-five speaks of this also.
"..since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things..."

Now that gives more than a glimpse of grace!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Two of my favorite people got married today.
Corinne and Evan.
Papa blessed the day from beginning to end.  He is so gracious!!
Corinne said that He is too kind. 
This spoken by someone who is one of the most kind people I know!

Papa was delighted to bless the union of two people that He brought together.

The first time I met Evan he attended a Bible study at my home.  Corinne had brought him along.  As they sat across the room from each other Papa spoke to my heart and I knew that they were intended for one another.

Two hearts that passionately pursue the Living God.
How beautiful to see them become one.
I will be watching with great anticipation to see them grow together in their love for one another and of their God.

This precious couple treasure the Word of God.  They take it to heart and reflect upon its meaning.

This brings to mind the first Psalm.
It speaks of the person who will be blessed.
They do not take counsel form those who do not follow their God.  Neither do they participate with them in that which dishonors their God.

Instead they delight in His ways, paying close attention to what these truths are.
I love the picture that the third verse draws of the promise that awaits those who honor God.
"And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yield its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, and in whatever he does, he prospers."
This is fruit and prosperity in the spiritual realm, which is where it really counts!
Yes, tapped into the Living God produces fruit and power and blessedness, which is fullness of joy,  A truly satisfying life!

I came across a quote by Pastor Andy Stanley the other day which ties in here.
"Without God's vision, you may find yourself in the all too common position of looking back on a life that was given to accumulating green pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents on them."
This dear, young couple will continue to be in my prayers.  Right now they are taken up with their love for each other and reveling in God's blessings.  A time will come when that will be tested.
Today's reading in Oswald Chambers "My Utmost For His Highest" spoke of our mountain top experiences and of normal life in the valley.
Those mountain top experiences are to be enjoyed, but hold lessons that are to be taken into the valley with us.  There they will lend us strength that will be reflected in our lives.

Then the fruit will be abundant and the blessings beyond measure!

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Most of you know what a cable tie is.  For those who don't, it is a thin, flat plastic thing with one nubby end  with a slot that the other end can go through.  It enters, but cannot back out, as it is designed to grip firmly.   They come in a variety of colors, but predominantly in blue, white and black.

People who drive around in phone company repair trucks always have an amble supply of them.  These workers are always in need of those little fasteners. 
When rewiring is done, for example, those handy things can easily be cut off with snips.  And snip the workers do and did.
My husband was one of those people for many years.

Quite a few of those cable ties found their way to our home.  One use Ray had for them was securing Christmas lights to the house. When it was time for the lights to come down, snip he would!
He did not limit the use to only season, but found many opportunities for their use and to snip them off!
Where they fell is where they stayed.

Over the years I have pick up quite a few of these plastic darlings.
Too many....

A few years ago I declared to my husband that they had become the bane of my existence.
He looked at me quizzically.
I explained and he grinned!

The other day I decided that something else has taken its place as the bane of my life.

The telephone.

As I thought about sharing these thoughts I decided to get an official definition of a bane. states that it is something causing misery or death.
In my case, misery works and as far as death, well, my bane may just become the death of me!.

Alexander Graham Bell could not have imagined just how deep an impact his invention would make.
He also would never have had any idea of how far in the dust his basic invention would be left in less than one hundred years!
Yes, the telephone has come a long way baby....

First, a phone in the general store followed by many homes becoming connected.
And, of course, down the road the advent of cell phones.
For the majority of adults and teens there is one in every one's pocket.
I know that there are also a good number of younger children carrying one.

I resisted getting one for a few years.  I did not see the need.  Ray kept urging me to change my mind.  One night's driving around trying to find a public phone won me over to my honey's position.

Today my favorite feature of my cell phone is the keyboard that gives me the ability to text.
It keeps me in touch with my children.
That is enough of a reason for me, however, there is another...
It saves me from making many phone calls.  One can get their message across without having to commit much time to doing so.
There are too many calls to be made to engage in conversations each time.
After all I need time for all those automated systems that I need to connect with....

Have you noticed how many companies begin there pre-recorded message by asking if you have tried getting the needed information on their website?
I would love to be able to register my response to this query!

Each month a withdrawal is made for our benefits from our checking account.  It covers a number of benefits, for which the total was established prior to Ray's retirement.
Or so I thought.

The individual monthly withdrawals have all been for different amounts.
The website that should have been able to solve the mystery did not, so I had no choice but to turn to the telephone and their wretched automated system.

Hitting "O" for operator didn't work.  They needed to know the topic of my concern.  I selected accordingly.
Two days and five individuals later I finally found someone who admitted she did not have access to the information that I needed, but committed to jumping through all the hoops for me until she found the right person.  The previous four individuals all gave me misinformation or informed me that I needed to dial the number that I had dialed!

Matthew happened to come into the room while I sat with phone in hand waiting to be connected with the one who would and did have the answers I needed.
I looked at my son and informed him that phones were now officially the bane of my existence.  Like his father had done, he, too, looked at me quizzically.
I explained, but with a bit more drama than Ray had witnessed.

I told Matt that if I were to end up in hell, which praise God (!) I won't, but if I did...
Upon arrival I would be handed a phone!!