The act of writing, of sharing the circumstances, the gifts and the graces planned and carried out by my Savior and God brings joy, peace, and contentment to know that He has my life in His hands. My prayer for those who read, who share in what I continue to learn each day, many times through my weakness, is that you will be encouraged to look for God's presence and grace in your life also.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Love your Neighbors"

The Holy Spirit in me, in you, in each one of God's children, isn't quiet.  We just have to listen, be quiet, hear what he says.

"...even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  You know him for he dwells with you and will be in you."  John 14:7

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."  John 14:26

And lately I see Him working in brothers and sisters, teaching us, helping us remember what Jesus said about neighbors.

"And he answered, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.'" Luke 10:27

       —At church a few weeks ago, a sermon, "Faith You Can See" by Brian on I Thessalonians 1 was powerful.

       —And then Sunday School, Del Tackett and the Truth Encounter which is all about reaching out to neighbors—the ones that live next door.

       —And now, Proverbs, our Women's Bible Study,........and my next lecture, in four weeks,  to cover the chapter "Words about Neighbors."

 I see a pattern here, something planned ages ago and now the Holy Spirit reminding a lot of people what Jesus said over and over and over, a work that God is doing in a lot of people—it must have something to do with my neighbors...... Did you notice I said MY neighbors, even the ones with no names........

When I look in Scripture there are 119 references to neighbor..
 and most say, "....love your neighbor...."

And I remember.....

Years ago, back in South Dakota, when Larry was teaching and Greg and Renee were toddlers, a new family moved into a rental, just across the alley—neighbors.  I'm a friendly person but when the Spirit said, "Take them some bread......and invite them to church," I rebelled. "Couldn't do that" I whispered, "I mean, they could be..........Muslim............or Catholic.............or Canadian.........or Independents."

But that Voice wouldn't stop for 3 days and my disobedience continued........and my excuses.  Finally in desperation I screamed, "OKAY, ALL RIGHT!!!  I will make the bread and I will go but You will see, I'm right!"

So I made the bread, kneaded it hard,  and I walked, slowly, very slowly, pushing Renee in the stroller with Greg lagging behind, around the block.  I knocked on the door and to my dismay.....it opened.  
"Here's some bread I baked......welcome to the neighborhood." I quietly said, with a smile, expecting rejection.

We talked, she wasn't Muslim, or didn't sound that way, whatever that is.  She was nice, friendly, and also had two toddlers.......we could be friends, good friends. 

Finally, I said it, "Have you found a church yet?"
"No, we haven't.  We've visited several, but there are no Baptist churches and that's what we have always gone to."

The air went out of me.  I thought, "So YOU knew all along.  YOU knew why I was to come and talk to her.  Okay, YOU win. Sorry."

Then when I could breathe again,  I told her about our church which was a mile away, not Baptist, but like Baptist and they would like it.  They came.

Older now, much older, I wonder what my real fear was.......I think I know.  If she were any of those "different than me" brands or others I knew nothing about, I wouldn't be able to answer questions if she had them.  I was afraid of the unknown....and I didn't want to fail.

"...but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect," I Peter 3:15 ESV

Now I hear over and over about loving my neighbors.  Not to love them because of what I want to happen or how I want to change them, but just to love.  It means taking bread, or soup, or time, or words to encourage......it means maybe getting involved in messy lives, or being rejected, or even taken advantage of.  It also means being open and honest, vulnerable and real.  It means letting the steadfast love God has showered on me, filled me with, forgiven me with, letting that same love go out from me to love others.  Instead of saying "But!" I will need to say, "I'll go."

And I will prepare by knowing my God well, and trying to understand the world so I do have an answer....and I will, in my God's strength, pray for my neighbor's asking for opportunities to love well no matter who or what they appear to be.  Love, real love, love come down for you and me to share with gentleness and respect. 

"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    Graces abound...

                Thomas Hardy
    I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was specter gray,
    And Winter's dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
    The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
    And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.
    The land's sharp features seemed to be
      The Century's corpse outleant,
    His crypt the cloudy canopy,
      The wind his death-lament.
    The ancient pulse of germ and birth
      Was shrunken hard and dry,
    And every spirit upon earth
      Seemed fervorless as I.
    At once a voice arose among
      The bleak twigs overhead
    In a full-throated evensong
      Of joy illimited;
    An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
      In blast-beruffled plume,
    Had chosen thus to fling his soul
      Upon the growing gloom.
    So little cause for carolings
      Of such ecstatic sound
    Was written on terrestial things
      Afar or nigh around,
    That I could think there trembled through
      His happy good-night air
    Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.
    Thankgiving for graces,
    #239  .....for warm days in January
    #240 .....for books, The Heavens, to expand my view of the universe and GOD
    #241 .....a phone call from youngest son
    #242 ......a brunch to look forward to with friends
    #243 ......YOUR grace to a redeemed sinner who needs grace over and over
    #244 ......unexpected laughter with a friend concerning the cat
    #245 ......more seed catalogues bringing hope
    #246 ......computer to keep up with friends and meet new ones
    #247 ......Hallmark movies to make me smile and cry (A Smile As Big As The Moon:will air again on    
    Hallmark channel this coming Saturday and Sunday)
    #248 .....son to change florescent light bulbs in ceiling

    #249 ......sermon to challenge from Sermon on the Mount
    #250 .....gym time with sister
    #251 .....beef stew, slow baked, comfort food
    #252 .....anticipation of a new adventure
    #253 .....words to express inner thoughts and focus
    #254 .....green apricot tea—aroma, flavor, moments of stillness
    #255 .....notes, encouraging, challenging, saying thank you
    #256 .....seeing YOUR work in others
    #257 .... a perfect picture of a perfect bird
    #258 .....lap cat bathing in sunlight
    #259 ....a poet's words to express well thanksgiving for God's creation

    Thank you for the Hope of eternity with you, 
            no tears, no sin, no time.
    Thank you for Hope, here in this time,
           sunrise, sunset and spring
    Because of Your creative Creation and the Cross
           We have Hope never ending.
    Thanks and praise to You,

    Linking today with Ann

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    "The Fear of the LORD is the beginning...."

     Lecture on Proverbs, to be shared tonight and tomorrow, is written......words on paper...... The Lecture

    But there is always so much more God has shown me, taught me, filled me with than fits in 25 not-enough minutes—8 pages—give or take a few paragraphs.

    The lesson, chapter 2 in,  Proverbs: The Ways of Wisdom, is titled "Foundation; a Relationship with God".

    Amazing how God works in our lives to prepare us for what is coming.
        And rest assured it is always His work, not mine, not ever.
              He works, He has a plan, He has a purpose.

    For months now God has been giving a restless desire for more of Him,
         His presence, 
              less of me, 
                    less of worry, 
                         less of stress, 
          Him in my thoughts, 
               my desires, 
                    my motives
                         my worship.  

    Along the way, there have been
        glimpses of what that means,
           encouragement that He is indeed giving me the desire of my heart,
                hope for more to come—more of Him.

    And now in working on a talk, He has said,  "The  fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (wisdom) ....."

    So we look at words—knowledge, wisdom and fear...
           and He shows Himself to be faithful as He leads and guides, teaches, instructs.
    I try to be open,
         with listening ear,
              eager heart,
                    thirsty for His water,
                               hungry for His bread.

    God has worked in me, encouraged me, confirmed desire, changed me a little/lot over months.....
    so now I pray that He uses His truth, His Word, His Spirit to encourage, confirm and change His children.

    One thing I wanted to include in the words I put on paper but they didn't fit, or flow, or work came from a blog of Ann VosKamp's sharing a list— 10 Steps to Stay Alive To The Beauty of God's World.  It comes from John Piper's Desiring God website and is something he heard from a professor in college.

    It is so important to know who God is, to know what He has done, to know how big He is.

    It is only when we know a little of who He is
    that we can worship at all,
                    that we can give thanksgiving for what He has given me/us

                                    because then we an say with David (Psalm 8):

    1 O LORD, our Lord,
       how majestic is your name in all the earth!
    You have set your glory above the heavens.
     2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
    you have established strength because of your foes,
       to still the enemy and the avenger.
      3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
            the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
                           4 what is man that you are mindful of him,

          and the son of man that you care for him? 

    Three of the steps in the "10 Steps" first stood out to me—I'll start there.

        #1.  At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above me and about me.

        #6.  I shall open my eyes and ears.  Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person.  I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but imply be glad that they are.  I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their "divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic" existence.

         #9.  I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, "fulfill the moment as the moment." I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is just now.

    There are more.....but this is enough....now.

    Will you start also....asking God to help you?

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Happy 95th to Dad!!!

    There is nothing like a birthday party...........
         a birthday party for 95 years lived............
                a celebration of a lifetime of living...........

         The poor childhood filled with work, family, siblings, work, games, schoolmates, work, dances, work.......
         The hard days and nights on foreign shores at war.........
              the letters from a woman
              the longing for home, a pillow, no flies, sleep
              the prayer for saving grace to a God not yet known......and then.....His  REAL presence
          Then the togetherness with the woman, Louise...........
              —eight children complete with...
              laughter, tears, joy, prayers, decisions, loss,
                   His presence
              —work and blessings and joy
              —milking cows, church, milking cows, school board meetings, milking cows, county planning  meetings, milking cows and more,
              —and.......grandchildren in abundance with hugs, kisses, questions, and love

        The separation by death from the love of his life............but HIS presence

    There is nothing like a birthday party............to remember Dad
    and to WISH him many more (or not) the Lord willing.

    [for those of you who know us: back row—Kevin, Rick, Kerry, Craig, Kim; front row—Roxana, Dad, Darnly]
    Also the top picture was taken in 1978 at the farm north of Elizabeth, CO, 
    the middle picture at Dad's 90th Birthday celebration at Christ Haven Lodge in  Florrisant, CO 
    and the last one January 21, 2012, in Eads, CO. 

    Thank you, God, for—
    #221—having my dad around for years and years and then extra years
    #222—Dad's wisdom and advice,  given when asked for
    #223—a daddy who always thought I was the prettiest girl in the class....when I didn't
    #224—a grandfather who loved and spanked my kids when their own daddy couldn't
    #225—Dad's love for God and His word, influencing wisdom shared
    #226—Daddy's servant spirit modeling the "one another" commands in Scripture to young, moldable hearts.
    #227—Dad's advice the night before our wedding, "Give 200% to each other no matter what and your marriage will be fine....."
    #228—A beautiful sunset to end a beautiful birthday celebration!!


    Monday, January 16, 2012

    "[My Help Comes from the Lord] I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?"  Psalm 121:1 ESV
    Colorado is supposedly the most fit state in the nation most likely because of both the weather and topography of the state—mild weather, semi-arid, and with mountains to be enjoyed AND conquered.

    Hiking has become something I really enjoy and look forward to.  The nice thing is here in Colorado Springs, is that there are trails everywhere.  One of the most famous trails in the West, "The New Santa Fe Trail" is accessible only a couple blocks from my house.

    An especially memorable hike was with my kids this last summer was up the mountain at Green Mountain Falls.  When Jeff was going to be here, they told me to pick a trail I could do and we would do it together. Looking on line, I found "Thomas Trail" that actually isn't that far from the city.

    What a beautiful hike we had that day on the side of the mountain—streams, waterfalls, butterflies, moss, trees, boulders and blue skies.

    "From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work." Psalm 104:13 ESV
    "I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine." Psalms 50:11ESV
    Even though the terrain was absolutely beautiful, there were difficult places.  At one point [look to picture on the left] Greg kept saying to me, "Mom, lean in....into the mountain.  Mom, lean in......" As you can see there were places where the path was very narrow.
    There were times we went slower, times I could use my hiking poles and times it was safer to just "hug" that mountain.
    I can't help but think how that is so much like life.  Life is hard.....sometimes the path is steep, it gets rocky and sometimes it is even hard to find the path. Times when we need to trust our gear—hiking poles and good hiking shoes—to keep us from slipping, to keep us balanced.
    It is like that in our walk with the Lord—We MUST trust Him, trust Him for what He is doing, even if we can't see what He is doing.  As we lean on Him, as we trust Him, we will maintain our balance, we will keep on course.

    Isn't it awesome that just like on the mountain, in the most beautiful places, the walking can be difficult to get there but when we do, the views, the pictures are more than worth it!

    "In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also." Psalm 95:4 ESV

    In our lives we find that some of the most beautiful lessons, the closest times we have with our Lord, the best times of worship take a "hard" walk to get there.

    Just like in anything, we look for the grace on the journey and give thanks for what He is doing along the way to once again show us His "steadfast love and faithfulness" as He molds us into the image of His son Jesus Christ.

    Oh, Yes, every step along the way, led by His grace is worth it! 
    Just keep your eyes open.....open to see His grace, His gifts, His love and mercy.
    1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!  
    2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! 
    3 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! 
    4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!  
    5 Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created. 
    6 And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. 
    7 Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps,  
    8 fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!  
    9 Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! 
    10 Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!  
    11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!  
    12 Young men and maidens together, old men and children!  
    13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.  
    14 He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the LORD!

    Thank you LORD for:
    # 206—Your Word, truth in Psalms speaking to my soul
    #207—Mountains, hills so close to see from a distance and really close
    #208—Blue and white, for greens in every hue, for orange and black and yellow with wings
    #209—children, grown, who are good to spend time with and who like to take pictures also. [thanks Renee for all the beautiful pictures in this post]
    #210—legs, arms, eyes, ears, nose to walk, feel, see, hear and smell your creative work AND then a brain to understand
    #211— another day, today, January 16, to enjoy........
    #212—Soup to warm
    #213—a new modem, easy to install (big smile)
    #214—call from friend
    #215—pictures to remember sights seen
    #216—babies to hold....Thor
    #217—friends to encourage and to be encouragers
    #218—two afternoons with a friend and friends........smiles, laughter and wisdom
    #219—prayers answered for others
    #220—authors who write well 

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Prayer changes people

    Prayer changes people.

    Do I really believe that?  Do I pray like I know God will answer my prayers. Do I believe what He says?

    Matthew 7:7  "Ask, and it will be given to you seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."

    Matthew 21:22 "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

    Mark 11:24  "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

    So what is the problem?  We have access as His children to the very throne of God—the creator of the universe and the Father God who loves us, who wants to and promises to give us our desires if we just ask.

    John 14:13-14 "Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it."

    Prayer is one of those things, like all the disciplines of grace, that we need ask for growth:
          We need to ask the spirit to.....
                    —teach us how to pray,
                     —lay on our hearts what to pray,
                      —give us a desire to pray,
                       —and open our eyes to see God answering specific prayers.

    There is nothing like seeing specific prayers answered in the lives of others.

    A year ago I began deliberately praying for family and friends.  I first would ask God to show me a specific verse that I could pray for each person I felt led to pray for. Sometimes it took me a period of days to find a verse.  It meant I read a lot of scripture; other times when I felt burdened to pray for the person about a certain trial, a habit, an attitude or even a sin they were dealing with, I could use a concordance and look up verses that dealt with that problem. Sometimes in conversation they would mention things they were dealing with that I would later write on their card. I would then write the verse out on a large filling card leaving room on one side to jot down the prayer requests and also room to note when I saw God's work.  During prayer time, I spent a couple of minutes on several of the cards depending on my time, reading the verse and the problems, committing them to God and His work.

    Then the real test came in watching for His answers.

    Have I seen God work?  Oh my! Yes!!  I have to admit I was surprised when I heard a friend telling some friends what God had been doing in her life over the last weeks/months. As I listened I suddenly saw that exact request on her prayer card.  As tears filled my eyes, I quietly "screamed" a loud "THANK YOU" to my Father and my heart bowed before Him in adoration as a God who does indeed answer prayer.

    Would God have worked without my prayer? Undoubtedly, because there were probably others praying also but Praise God, He included me in the process so I could see Him working in lives.

    One reason I share this is that each of us have sons, daughters, parents, grandchildren, close friends, sisters and brothers in our church family that have "needs."   Whether that be fruits of the Spirit that need to be developed further,  personality traits that need to be strengthened or even controlled, habits that need to be overcome, or even sin issues (which we all have) that need to be dealt with.

    Ephesians 6:18 "praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,"

    Paul E. Martin in A Praying Life; Connecting With God in a Distracting World says that the reason we don't pray for these very issues in our spouses or others we love is that we don't think they can change, after all, "that is just the way they are."  Of course they can't, but God can change them and he tells us to pray for ALL the Saints.

    One of the issues we all have is that while we can see the sin and needs of others, we don't see our own sin and neediness.  One of my deepest prayers is that there are friends of mine who are praying for changes in me.....that they have chosen a verse/s for me and they have specifically asked God to change me so that I will be conformed to the image of His son.

    And then just today—isn't God good?—in Sarah Young's Jesus Calling, she shares that God impressed her with the importance of laying out our requests for others before Him but then instead of falling into repetition, we should begin to thank Him for what He is doing EVEN if we don't see God working yet.  Be assured He is working in His time and plan.

    And there we are again....thanking God in everything.  Trusting him for what He is doing and thanking Him for it because we know He is answering our prayer. 

    Philippians 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

    [The first picture was taken by my brother in the high desert in California.  Thanks Craig!]

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    • "And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,"  Genesis 1:17
      "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them."  Genesis 2:1

      Isn't it funny how you see something a dozen times and then suddenly your eyes open and you really see it?
      That happened to me a few weeks ago.  I was reading some things about the Hubble Telescope and saw some amazing pictures taken of space and the incredible facts we are learning about our universe. Facts that helped increase my understanding (to a small degree) of just how BIG our God is.   (ie. strong, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, amazing, and so on).

      In scripture we read words like "host" and "expanse" in reference to the heavens but have no idea that the stars in the heavens cannot actually be counted—at least by our mathematical system. And as far as our powerful telescopes can tell, there is no end to the heavens.  There are more stars than the individual grains of sand on all of the earth.  And this one blew me away—most all of those stars we see (not the planets but the stars) are actually entire galaxies, each made up of millons of stars and planets.  

      And my conclusion is.....WHO is this God we serve? and who am I?

      "When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
      the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
      what is man that you are mindful of him,
      and the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8:3-4                        
    • I would really recommend that you go to the Hubble gallery with Psalms 8 and 19  in front of you,  prepared to worship your Creator God who has done something we can't begin to comprehend.
    • However!  When I get to eternity with my ETERNAL GOD, I plan to stand on Heaven's portal and gaze on all of this with my own eyes (time is of no matter) and worship my Creator face to face.  For now I will keep my eyes on my God and His wonderful works that He has done and the "things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glorious grace."  (I especially like the visuals that accompany this rendition of "Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus."
    • "The heavens declare the glory of God,
      and the sky above proclaims his handiwork." Psalm 19:1

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Larry, my GIFT from a GOOD GOD

    "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

    What a wonderful gift—to know that God knows the plans He has for our lives and that they are plans for our good to make us look to the future and the hope we have in that future.

    Plans for good.......not evil.....

    Before Larry and I were married, we claimed Romans 8:28 as a life verse.

    "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."  NASB

    When I share that verse with audiences I'm speaking to, I usually share this illustration:

          If I were to put all the ingredients that went into a Sour Cream Chocolate Cake on a table and had you taste each ingredient, how many of them would taste good?  Of course the answer is only one—sugar.  What about the flour, the salt, the baking soda, the eggs, the sour cream, the cocoa, the vanilla, the oil?  Only the sugar really tastes good.  

    But if I take all those ingredients, mix them in the right proportions and bake them at the right temperature what would I end up with?

    Of course!  A really good Sour Cream Chocolate Cake that would make your mouth water. 

         Isn't that like life—many of the circumstances, the events in our lives are hard; they don't taste good.  But in the end, life circumstances do work together for good —looking back we wouldn't change a thing because of what God has taught us and accomplished in us.

    The "problem" Larry and I were dealing with in 1967 when we chose that verse was we would be separated by 700 miles for the 8 months before our wedding.  We were "in love" but would only see each other twice in those months. Phone conversations then were about once a month.—yes, it was the dark ages.  We wrote almost daily but whoever said that "absence makes the heart grow fonder" must have been married for years, not just engaged, not just beginning their life together.

    God did work those months of separation out for good while I finished my last four quarters of college and he finished his first year of teaching.  The writing each day taught us much about each other as we shared our hopes and dreams and our love for the Lord. We were married in August and began teaching at the same school in Iowa five days later.  [I was 20 years old teaching high school.  In future posts I'll share some of the experiences God brought to me through those students.] 

    Larry was a wonderful husband, father and provider.  Our love for each other grew as the years went on.  There were the typical problems to deal with— differences in personalities, likes and dislikes, loss of a job, moving four times, babies, a miscarriage, financial decisions, and a broken ankle but we weathered the storms by trusting God and His direction and plan for us. We were grateful for the work He was doing in our lives.

    Then in February of 1977, a major event changed our lives forever—one of those ingredients that doesn't taste good.  Coming back to our home after a weekend at his parents,  a teenage girl who had been drinking, drove directly into our lane and hit us head on.

    The end result of that accident was that Larry spent five months in the hospital and then three in a nursing home. He came home with a closed head injury that left him with no short term memory, poor thinking and reasoning skills and very poor balance—he was very much like a child.  Even though I suffered serious injuries in the accident (broken ribs and wrist, concussion, double vision along with deep cuts and bruises on my legs), I did not lose the baby I was pregnant with and delivered our third child the end of May.  Larry came home four months later.

    That was the beginning of 35 years of taking care of Larry, of thinking for him, of anticipating his needs, of basically 24/7 care for a man who was vastly different from the man I had married just eight and-a-half years earlier.

    I would not trade the last 35 years for a less "difficult" story because God has indeed worked out "all things for good."  Larry is indeed God's grace to me that has kept me dependent on God.  God in His goodness and grace provided a "new" Larry who has often said—over and over—for 35 years— things like:
    "Pray about it!"
      "I'm praising God!  If you can't do that, then you are in the wrong crowd."
        "Praise God, He is in charge!"

    God has used our story—actually "His-story"—to touch many lives in more ways that we will ever know.  But most of all He has used this "thing" that happened to us to mold me, to shape me into His plan for me.  And as I later added Romans 8:29 to our life verse, He continues to work.

    "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son,..." Romans 8:29a NASB

    That is the goal God has for each of us—to be conformed to the image of His son.  Of course that won't be complete until we see Him.  

     "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure." I John 3:2-3 ESV

    One thing I know and that is that my hope, my eternal hope is the knowledge that this is not all there is.  Heaven is for "REAL" and Larry and I will be there some day.  Praise you, Lord.  As Larry tells me when I can't remember something, "When we get to Heaven, we will BOTH be able to remember things!" and "Yes, we will both be conformed to the image of Jesus!"  Praise, God!

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Darnly.....the name?

    My Name

    Do you know that on Facebook there are only 2 female Darnly's? (the other Darnly is in Canada)  There are 5 males named Darnly mostly in the middle east or England.  Six people listed have Darnly as a last name and there is a Darnly Hotel in the southern UK.

    The name is English and is spelled both with an e (Darnley) and without. The second husband of Mary Queen of Scots was Lord Darnley.  He was actually killed at some point and it is not know if the Queen played a part in his death.  He really was a scoundrel. 

    So where did my mother, in 1947, find the name Darnly?  She was a voracious reader and found it in a short story/serial story in American Magazine.

    Clarence Budington Kelland's stories were published in the American Magazine and Saturday Evening Post.  My mother found my name in a short story by him in the America Magazine.  When she first saw it she announced that her first daughter would be named "Darnly."  She actually named six of her eight children names she saw in those stories. (Darnly, Kim, Rick, Kerry, Kevin and Roxana.)

    She also gave me a middle name—Donella.  Shortly after my birth, my grandfather Jacobs who was only 5'2" said, "She will never grow up with the name Darnly Donella Siefkas."  I not only grew up but I ended up almost 5 inches taller than Grandpa and 7 inches taller than my mother.  I should add that I didn't realize my mother was that short until I had been away at college for 6 weeks and then came back home to visit.

    A name as different as mine has several advantages.

    One is that people don't get me mixed up with someone else.  Years ago, I had friends from Iowa and friends from South Dakota who both ended up living in the same city in Michigan and going to the same church.  Of course they didn't know that the other couple knew me.  In a class one Sunday, one of them said something like, "Our friend, Darnly, once said...." Immediately the other couple yelled out, "You know Darnly?  We know her too."  And of course they were both talking about the same Darnly.

    Another advantage is I can use my name on email addresses, and many other things and it is never rejected.

    A disadvantage is that very few people get my name right the first time they hear it.  I've been called Darlene for years or Danly, Dannely, Donelly or even Damnly (that was a drunk professor in college).  Usually people spell it with an "e" so Darnley.

    It is a surname here in the US and actually around the world and is usually used as a name for a male when used as a first name.

    I have always had hopes someone would name their daughter after me. I mean I'm a nice person but I'm beginning to lose hope since none of my 3 offspring have married (yet).  However other possibilities are former students, women who have heard me speak at Retreats or other people I know who are of child-bearing age.  Guess I need to finish writing my book so then the child named after me could be told, "You are named after a famous author."

    Seriously though, I love my name.  I'm glad it is different.  A unique name sets one apart just like being a "Christian" sets one apart as being "different".  I'm glad my mother was a reader and could visualize the name Darnly for her first-born daughter.  Truth is, I guess we should have named our daughter after me. (smile)  That was not one of Larry's suggestions especially since his mother had pointedly said shortly after we were married, "I certainly hope you aren't going to think of really unusual names for your children like 'Darnly'".

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    A WORD for 2012

    A Word for 2012

    Life gets so busy, so crowded, so loud that many times the clamor forces us to turn our brains and hearts off:
         —so much to do
         —so much to do perfectly
               —so I don't disappoint
               —so I don't exasperate
               —so I don't (I don't want to even say it) FAIL
                        —then (hopefully) others won't know what I'm really like.

    Why we want it all to go so smoothly, so perfectly, so heaven-like here on earth, is a problem. A problem because we get our eyes on HERE rather than "waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." Titus 2:13 ESV.  Then it will be perfect and heavenly.

    The only true hope now is found in Jesus, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Righteousness, our Friend, and YES, the only ONE from whom I can't hide.
          —He knows me intimately.  After all, He formed me in my mother's womb; he made me the way I am because that is just how He could use me for His glory.  He is the only one who can and does love me just the way I am because I was given to Him by His Father and He (Jesus) will never let me go.

    And so I come to a point where I am going to give 2012 a word (well maybe two)
         ....words to take me through the year with an emphasis
               ...words on which to focus my mind so "neutral" isn't an option
                   ....words that Jesus can use for His glory.

    Why these words?  A little explanation might help.

    Last spring, I shared with some women at a one-day retreat about the word they gave me—contentment. The learning didn't stop with that one day because contentment is not a one time lesson learned and then mastered.

          The lesson learned?  Contentment is a noun not a verb.  It is a state of being. It isn't something I can pursue, dream of, pay for or earn.  Contentment happens quietly, without any fanfare.

    How does a state of contentment happen?
                By practicing the presence of God.
                By having my mind focused on Him and His work.

    Easy?  No, because my mind was programmed (by years of experience) to plan, to fix, to think, to manipulate, not to rest in His presence.

    The phrase, "Let go and let God....." comes to mind.

    Easy? No, because I was used to "You can do it.  You are smart, strong, capable.  You can do anything you set your mind to."  These words never ring true because of "failures" that surround me [days with no devotions, prayer time, or good deeds. Then there is messy house, too much sugar-chocolate-fat, no exercises with Larry, a messy garage, and a yard that always needs more done.  There are books that haven't been read, people I need to call and projects to finish].

    Finally I gave up and just prayed.  After all we tend to pray only when we've tried everything else. I asked God
                .....to help me practice His presence,
                .....to make me more aware of Him each day,
                .....to remind me to ask for direction and wisdom when there was a decision to be made,
                .....and to help me see His work in my life to make me more like Jesus.

    Then I learned from Ann in One Thousand Gifts, in her words that spoke to my heart right where I was at about eucharisteo (Thanksgiving).  I soon began listing one gift at a time.  And so it has continued.....a slow start.....but a start.

    I want the awareness to continue so the words for this year:

    "HIS Presence"

    One day at a time.....one hour at a time.....one minute at a time. Actually.....one grace from my Father at a time.

    Thank you Father for:
    #189.  One more day
    #190.  The reminder to see others as You sees them and then to share with them howYou see them
               —loved, forgiven, perfect children of His
    #191.  A baby's smile to end 2011 with
    #192.  Fireworks on Pikes Peak to welcome 2012
    #193.  Other people's grandchildren to love and pray for
    #194.  Neighbors to love
    #195.  Rodrigo, a boy in ES to pray for, love and help
    #196. Scones and lemon curd
    #197. The Rose Parade with marching bands to bring out glimpses of the "before" Larry (his comment about one 380 member band, "It would take a lot of assistants to direct a band that large.")
    #198. The beauty, sheer beauty of flowers on floats
    #199.  Warm tea on a cold day
    #200.  For encouraging us when we hear about others being encouraged through the story you have given us
    #201.  Mexican food and Scrabble
    #202.  Seed catalogs that provide dreams in winter
    #203.  Montagues and friends to enjoy it with
    #204.  Windows to keep warm in—cold out, while framing pictures summer can't equal
    #205.  A friends thoughtfulness of a miniature gift....because she loves afternoon tea with me

    Be sure to go to A Holy Experience  and read about Ann's word for her year.  Once again her words spoke to me.