TRADITION!

This was written in December 2017, with an addition in April 2018

This weekend we continued an important tradition in our family.

When I stayed with my grandmother I felt special and so blessed to have her to myself. I remember a couple of times Grandma would drive her old DeSoto with the push button shift  into the small town where she lived and take me to coffee at a local Swedish restaurant.  It was not a big fancy place, just a local coffee shop with a friendly welcome to all who came. I remember the waitress treating my grandmother with respect and kindness. My visits to my grandmother’s home were precious to me because she loved me and made me feel precious.

My grandmother was older when I was born, but in her youth she traveled. My grandmother saw places and things that broadened her horizons. My own mother had the same desire to broaden horizons. Maybe her mother instilled this into all her children.

My mother took great pleasure in taking her grandchildren on adventures. My daughter and son were blessed to live in the area and so they benefited by having adventures with Grandma. We have often joked that we could write a book!

My mother purchased season passes to the community swimming pool near her home. She bought bicycles at the Police Auction so that my kids had bikes to ride to the pool.

Mom and I made many excursions into the City to take the kids to the zoos, the museums, the Art Institute, and so much more. During several Christmas seasons my mother bought tickets for The Nutcracker Suite for my children. And the day after Thanksgiving was an annual train ride into the City to see the store windows and have lunch in the Walnut Room.

We even went on Road Trips, just the four of us. Wonderful memories were made.

My mother made her trips to see her out of state grandchildren as memorable as possible. And when they came to her home she stepped up her game to widen their horizons while she had time with them.

My Dad enjoyed sharing many things with their grandchildren as well. Grandfathers share different experiences than grandmothers do, but they are equally important.

My husband and I have enjoyed sharing adventures with our grandchildren. We have taken them to places near and far to share experiences. Most of our group outings include antique tractors and outdoor fun.  We are blessed with four boys and a girl.

I have taken the two older boys to the City several times. We even were able to make one trip into the City with my mother while she could still take part. Shopping, Sightseeing, Museums, Zoos, and more. As the younger two boys are growing we are looking for ways to seek adventure with them.

Our granddaughter and I have enjoyed many plays and musicals in local theaters around our area. We are blessed to have a generous family member who shares her tickets to Broadway in Chicago productions. Last year we were given tickets to “Aladdin” and this year we were blessed with tickets to “Wicked”.

My granddaughter and I spent two days in the City for our special weekend. We had the tickets to see the musical, and we planned to stay overnight at a nice hotel. Usually, my trips to the City included either driving or taking the train to Union Station. Then we either walked or caught a cab to our location.

This time I took the time to learn about the bus routes around the City. I called the hotel and spoke to the Concierge; I talked to my friend who lives in the City, I checked the internet. This Suburban grandmother was going to jump into public transportation with both feet!  Now, that may not seem like a big deal to you, but it was a very big deal to me because I felt so responsible for my granddaughter. And the funny thing is that by the end of our City Adventure my girl was showing responsibility for me!

It is so important to me to be sure my grandchildren know how precious they are to me. I want to show them as much of Life and Joy in the world as I can. I want to show them how to give and share. I want them to know how blessed they are and then to share their blessings with others.

Addition: In March 2018 we were blessed with a visit from our daughter and second grandson who live in Nebraska. We spent a day with the farm cousins in my mother’s hometown. We saw our remaining aunt and as many cousins as possible. We told stories, laughed a lot, and made new memories. On another day we took our granddaughter along and spent the day in the City to visit the Art Institute. I look forward to more days in the City this summer, with the younger grandsons as well.

This brings me back to my original thought:  TRADITION!

It is our Family Tradition to love, and share, and give.

It is our Family Tradition to look for the Adventure and GO FOR IT!

It is our Family Tradition to build into other people, lift them up.

Make a place better than it was when you found it!

Family Silouette

What legacy are you building in your family?

What Traditions are you handing down?

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Righteousness Through Faith

My small group has been doing a Bible study on the Five Solas of the Reformation. When I’m doing the lessons I am often struck by God’s lessons are brought through the entire Bible, Old Testament to the New.  This week’s lesson is on Faith Alone.    Faith is credited to us as RIGHTEOUSNESS

The Greek words for righteousness and for justification are from the same root word.

Righteousness- (Dikaisune) means “The way things ought to be”

Justification – (Dikaio) means “The activity of declaring something to be right.”

As I was reading this, the thought of the Holy of Holies, or the Most Holy Place, in the Tabernacle in the time of Moses and in Solomon’s Temple came to mind.

The Most Holy Place was a perfect cube.  (Exodus 26 and 1 Kings 6:20)

Cube  Mathematically, the equation for this structure is a³.

The Trinity is a cube. Father, Son, Holy Spirit.  It is perfection and unity.

When we come to faith in Christ we are declared Righteous.

Genesis 15:6 “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness”

Romans 1:17 “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

2 Peter 3:13 “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

The Bible teaches us that we a “declared righteous” by God because of our faith in Jesus Christ for our salvation.

KJV translation, Romans 3:24-26:

  1. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
  2. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
  3. To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Propitiation is a legal term. It means to make right, to balance. Think of balancing financial accounts. There is a debt owed and the act of paying it off is the propitiation.

The depth of this pierced my heart. I owed a debt I could not pay and Jesus covered the debt for me. I was given the free gift of stepping into Righteousness! I can enter the Most Holy Place and be in the Presence of God!

There is a song I learned a long time ago…

He paid a debt He did not owe
I owed a debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away
And now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

My debt He paid upon the cross
He cleansed my soul from all its dross
I tho’t that no one could all my sins erase
But now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

O such great pain my Lord endured
When He my sinful soul secured
I should have died there but Jesus took my place
So now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

He didn’t give to me a loan
He gave Himself now He’s my own
He’s gone to Heaven to make for me a place
And now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay

© 1977 Ellis J. Crum, Publisher (Admin. by Sacred Selections R.E. Winsett LLC)

It you haven’t heard the song; here is a link to a YouTube performance…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgwXpcx2Mb0

There were so many corny videos with this song. When we were singing it around campfires and in Sunday school we did sing it kind of corny. I chose a nicer one.

My final thought on this subject is from Revelation 21:15-16

  1. The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls.
  2. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.

Since God made sure that John wrote this down, I believe it is our assurance that we are “in Christ” and fully justified and righteous before God.

We will be living in the Most Holy Place in the universe for all eternity!

Thank you, Lord!

Dear Ones,

Finding old letters written by parents and grandparents connect you to them in ways that fill you up. The handwriting reminds you of that special person, remembering the times you saw that handwriting on a shopping list or a quick note written to remind you of something. The paper that was used to write on was actually chosen by that special person. It was chosen, and held by them. If you are lucky you may even catch the scent of their cologne.  The message written was not a ‘flash thought’, but was a consideration, a thought that may have been mulled over before placing the pen to paper.  It was written to an important person in your parent or grandparent’s life. And it was kept by the recipient as a treasured memory, giving you the precious prize of finding it and understanding the writer in a way you may never have known.

The letters written by a son or daughter who emigrated to The New World, or a parent who fought in a war. To read the news of a birth or death, of a life change, written by the hand of someone to whom this news was so personal.

How poor our grandchildren will be for not having these blessings.

Today it is fast communication by email or text. You can even send a photo or quick note by Snap Chat and set it so it will disappear, never to be seen again – unless someone thought to do a quick screen capture.

Parents and Grandparents, please write letters and cards to your children.   I know one mother who has kept a journal for her boys so that they will have a record of their lives and how the family was affected during times of joy and hardship.

I am so blessed to have papers, cards, letters and such that were written by my parents and grandparents. It connects me to them in ways a text or email never will. My grandmother started each letter with the words, “Dear Ones”. Each time I see those words I return to the memory of the love and smiles of my grandmother. It is a priceless treasure.

Give your children and grandchildren the love and knowledge of who you are. Write about your life. Write about what you do with them. Write about your hopes and dreams for yourself, past and future. Write about your hopes and dreams for them. Fill paper with words of affirmation. Your children and grandchildren will be the richer for your gift.

Writing Hand.1.

Happy New Year! We love you! See you next year!

Happy New Year! We love you! See you next year!

These are a few of the ways we greet our family and loved ones at the beginning of each New Year. This morning as I lay awake in our bed I reflected on the changes in the ways we connect with people.

When I was quite young our family had a black phone that sat on the kitchen counter.  To make a call you lifted the handset and dialed O for Operator. If it was a local call, you told the Operator the 4 digit number you wanted to call. If you wanted a Long Distance number you gave the Operator the name anfirst phoned state of the town you were calling, and then the number of the person you wanted. Long Distance calls were expensive and were used for important news, like a birth or death in the family. Other news was sent in a letter.

New Year’s greetings were done in person, with hugs and kisses.

When I was in junior high school I began celebrating the New Year with overnights at friends’ homes. In high school we had Lock Ins with our youth group leaders at church.  These years I began calling my mom and dad at the stroke of midnight to wish them a Happy New Year and tell them I loved them. For more than 50 years I called my parents at midnight on the New Year. It became such a tradition that when they were older my daughter and son began calling my parents’ home and ours at midnight. My dad always loved to say, “See you next year!” When we called.

Phones changed through the years, with Wall phones, Princess Phones, Slimlines, Cordless, Blackberries, and Cell phones.  The first cell phones looked more like walkie-talkies than the Cell phones we know today. Today we have Smart Phones that seem smarter than we are.

Smart Phone

This year, for New Year 2018, our daughter and son greeted us as they always do, however the messages were delivered by text.

From Gretchen : Happy New Year- I’m so glad I have you in my life.

See you next year  oxoxo

From Matt: Happy New Year’s all love you guys!

Me:  Dad & I send love for 2018. He’s asleep.

As the song goes, “The times, they are a-changin’”

Image

I am the Vine

I attended a conference for women at a Christian university a while back. One of the speakers told of a trip she took to a vineyard, to learn about how grapes grow and wine is made. She talked about the beauty of walking through rows and rows of grapevines, the sunshine and beauty of the day.

Then she shared something that will stay with me all my life.

She found a dying leaf on a grapevine. A leaf that was wrinkled and barely holding on to the vine. And yet, it was firmly grasped by a vine that had grown around it. The vine surrounded and supported the leaf so it could not fall.

The words to John 15:1-5 and John 10:28-30 came to her mind. “I am the vine…” and “no one will snatch them out of my hand”

She realized that this leaf, supported by the vine itself, was a perfect picture of our relationship with God. When we become stressed, tired, exhausted by life and ready to quit He holds us. It is not our strength that holds on to God in hard times. It is HIS STRENGTH that holds on to us.

Think of that poem about Footprints in the Sand. It’s the same idea.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the World that He gave his Only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish…”

I shared this story with my grandson, and requested a pencil drawing to illustrate this idea.

This Christmas I received his gift of a drawing which presents this idea beautifully. I will have it framed and displayed in my office.

Thanks, Ben!

John 15.1-5

Helen’s Gloves

Many years ago my friend, Helen, was called to go to the Philippines as a missionary.

As I wondered what I could give to her, to bring her encouragement and support while she served, this idea came to me.

WORK GLOVES!

Helen was going to work for the Lord.

Work Gloves are flat and lightweight, so they would not take up much needed space in Helen’s luggage.HELEN'S GLOVES

These were not to be ordinary work gloves. I found the white cotton work gloves at the local garden supply store. Using scarlet thread, to remind her that the blood of Christ (Isaiah 1:18) redeemed her; I embroidered scripture references on them.

RIGHT HAND, sewn on back of the fingers:

  • Index finger, pointing One Way to God: John 14:6 “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but through me.”
  • Middle finger, held up with Index finger like a Peace sign: Philippians 4:6+7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the PEACE OF GOD, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
  • Ring finger- 2 Timothy 1:12 “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”
  • Little finger- So weak and not much use for working. But: Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
  • Right Thumb – Thumbs Up! 2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”

Right Hand knuckles. Across the knuckles like a fist. Philippians 3:14 “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Right Hand Palm: John 10:29  “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

LEFT HAND: Romans Road

  • Index finger: Romans 3:10 “There is none righteous, no, not one.”
  • Middle finger: Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
  • Ring finger: Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • Little finger: Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • Left Thumb: Romans 10:13 “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

Left Hand Palm: Isaiah 49:16 “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…”

Helen went home to be with the LORD several years ago.  I miss knowing she is here, and look forward to seeing her again in Heaven.

Turn Your Face Over

Today, as I read my devotion, I was reminded of my daughter at the age of 5. She wanted my attention while I was reading the newspaper. I told her I was listening, but that wasn’t enough for her. She placed her little hands on each side of my face and pulled me toward her. “Turn your face over!”  Her little voice demanded.

The devotion read: “… Please look at just me. Even though your body is perfectly still, your HEART FOLLOWS YOUR FACE. When you look away from me, your heart moves away too.”

That really captured my imagination for the rest of the day. At some point I prayed “Jesus, I’m looking into your face with a steady, trusting gaze so I know my heart is right where it needs to be…in Your presence, being held.”

How many times do I pick up my phone to look at something while reading my Bible? How many times do I drift off into another thought during a prayer? How many times do I need to start over when I intend to spend time with God?

Then I remembered this song “turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face…”

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Alan Jackson

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion
For more than conquerors we are!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Thank you, Father, that You give me another chance. Thank you that you love me enough to call me back to You. Thank you that You never fail me. You call me Your child. I can trust in You.

Amen

Luke 10:27a

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind

Deep Roots

rootsRecently I walked along a river bank when I came upon some trees with dead roots hanging in mid-air. It was obvious that the river level had risen at some time in the past and had washed away the river bank to uncover the roots.

They stand straight because their dead branches are linked to other trees. The green leaves around them are products of those vines and trees near them. They produce nothing. They will hang in place, vertical but not living, until they finally grow too weak to hold on and they will fall.

The thought came to me how many Christians are like those trees. They have left the soil of God’s word and are dead in their faith walk. Like those trees, they are still vertical. They have the impression of life because they are still standing, but they are dead. No fruit, No flowers, no seeds, no leaves, no shade.

Those of us who have walked away from our daily relationship with God are like that. We may look good at first glance. We may surround ourselves with fellow Christians, expecting them to hold us up and give us strength. That is not God’s design for us. We must seek God for the strength we need.

Scripture talks about our roots being planted by the water (Jeremiah 17:8) and that we must be rooted in Him (Colossians 2:6-7). In Ephesians 3:17 Paul writes, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love…”

We are to dig our roots deep into God’s Word, by His Spirit, and through our salvation in Christ. Jeremiah 17:8 teaches us that “blessed is the one who trust in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.”

Ephesians 3:16-19

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Colossians 2:6-7

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Psalm 1:3

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers

Dear LORD,

I pray for myself and for my loved ones, that we will daily seek You in faith and trust. I ask that Your Spirit will cause me to live in Your Power and Love, every day of my life.

Thank you for never giving up on us.

Amen

Shallow Faith…

puppy-in-the-window1.jpg

…is like sitting across the breakfast table as I admire my husband.

I am grateful, and I am thankful to have him. It makes me smile to look at his cute face. I have loving feeling toward him.    But…

He is not a puppy in a pet store window.

It is only when I engage with him, listen to him, talk to him, work with him, and strive to please him that our relationship becomes real and interactive – and ALIVE.  And mutually satisfying

Doing these things will not make me a wife to my husband. We entered into a Marriage Covenant more than 48 years ago. These actions serve to knit us together as One.

I can look at God through the glass window, too.

I can read books about Him – I can sing about Him –

I can read the Bible, and I can even pray to Him –

But…

He is not a convenient show piece for my mantel, or someone I can access for good feelings when I want to.

He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.

He is Creator of the Universe.

He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

And He invites me to join Him. He has made a way through Jesus Christ for me to be adopted into his family. (John 1:12)

I am the daughter of the Great I AM!

God prepared a Covenant for me more than 2,000 years ago. I signed that Covenant in 1977. Many mistakes and failures have happened through the years as I have learned how to live. But He has never left me.

Unless I actively read God’s Word in order to put it into practice, listen to Him through His word; and daily seek Him… unless I strive to please Him with my thoughts, words, and deeds…

Unless I join Him where He is working…

… I have allowed God to be no more important than that puppy in the window.

And in doing this, I have lost the opportunity to truly know the JOY of my Heavenly Father’s Presence. This would be a great and terrible loss.

I can fill my day with good works. Or I can join Him in His GOD Works and we can become One.

Good versus Best

How much is that doggy in the window?  Not much.

How much is Life with God?  Everything!

Thankful Reflections

This morning I quietly stood by our bed and watched my husband sleep.

Earlier I lay in the bed with my hand on his back, feeling his warmth and his breathing.

My heart is quiet with reflections, having opposing feelings of Empty/Full.  I feel empty with the realization that I could have lost my Life Partner, my Love, my companion, and my best friend for these past 49 years. And full, because he is here. He is safe. Doctors have repaired him.

Monday morning we called his doctor because he had some difficulty on Saturday while cutting grass. The doctor checked him and sent him immediately to the hospital. After some tests the hospital doctor scheduled him for angiogram. He had 3 veins that were dangerously blocked, and stents were inserted.

His grandfather died from a heart attack. His father was helped to live many years after a heart attack by having By Pass surgery.

I am so grateful that my husband listened to his body and acted to fix the problem before emergency or tragedy came. I am grateful for doctors and nurses. I am so grateful for friends and family who surrounded us with prayer. I am grateful for girlfriends who texted and called to support me. I am grateful to have a son and a daughter who know how to come under us to lift us with support and concern, and who know the family ‘language’ of laughter through trouble, and how they show up when we need them. Even when they are far away we feel their presence.

As I reflect I have come, once again, to know the Supreme Presence of God. His love and faithfulness have filled me more than I have words to tell. My Lord, My God, My Ever Faithful One.

The hymn words written by H.G. Spafford kept singing in my heart:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

I knew, without a doubt, that Will was in God’s hands. I knew that I was too. I knew that, whatever happened, God is in charge. He is good and He is faithful. And I was so very grateful for that night in 1978 when Will knelt in a friend’s living room and received God’s grace and salvation through Jesus Christ. Will gave his heart to Jesus back then, and I know that Will’s heart is still in God’s hands.

Jesus tells his disciples in John 10:29; “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

If God had chosen to take Will home, His love and faithfulness would not have changed. God’s faithfulness is never in question, but I sure am glad that God’s choice was to give me more time with Will. I will be living in the blessings of God and the blessing of sharing life with my husband, with the awareness of how precious it is to simply watch my love sleeping next to me.

Thank you, my Father in heaven, for your loving care.