Making New Year's resolutions? I like this chance to pause and prioritize. For 2018 I'm choosing things I won’t bring into the New Year.
I refuse to bring fear. The news is filled with the horrors of 2017 – Las Vegas massacre, hurricanes, horrific floods, Isis attacks –I mourn the pain of my brothers and sisters but I won’t be consumed with dreading that these events will recur and maybe touch me or my loved ones.
I won’t have a lack of love for others. Because some people are evil, I won’t assume those I meet may be. I won’t shy away from making human contact and reaching out when I see a need.
I won’t bring inattention. I’ll notice each amazing sunrise and sunset, and the beauty around me every day in nature. God commands me not to fear but to trust Him and never stop loving people and looking for signs of His presence everywhere.
Some things I will bring into 2018 are my delight in worshipping God and serving others.
I'll bring my joy in praying for you, my family, my friends, the people I’ve counseled through past decades as a psychotherapist, our Silver Sands golf students, the children I’ve taught and my readers.
I'll bring God’s principles to live by and share over and over. I won’t be who I was last year nor who I’ll be the following year – I’ll be the me of 2018, simple, complex yet always complete in Christ.
2018, every day of it, is a gift to be opened and savored. May this New Year be your BEST EVER!
"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you." Isaiah 54:10
Sunday, December 31, 2017
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Been pondering how vital the first Christmas is to our faith, that long ago birth of Jesus - the divine entrance of God as a human being into our world. Everything became different from then on. Jesus was, is, and will always be truly the Change-maker.
Since Christ's birth, God is not, and need never be, distant from us. Jesus understood human frailty and broke the inevitable sin connection we had. The birth of Jesus initiated a divine cleansing – God showed His willingness to live not only among us, but within us.
Lest we forget…
The Holy Spirit is the Helper Jesus promised us for today and all our tomorrows giving ongoing gifts that bless us daily as we keep them open and available - Holy Spirit treasures of fortitude (courage), long-suffering (patience), wisdom, piety, reverence for the Lord, counsel (intuition), and understanding. It’s these precious gifts that empower us to live with joy exploding in our souls through all the whatevers of life!
On a personal note:
We began 2017 in Florida enjoying three months in Venice living on the ocean. Walking the beach, reading, writing, golf and dancing to local bands are favorite activities there. We had delightful visits from our daughter Pam and her husband John and several couples’ friends. And traveled to Fort Lauderdale, FL to see our daughter Tamara who enjoys life there.
In April we returned to our house in the woods of Fontana WI, which we treasure more every year –the birds and squirrels know us by name. Major house projects - re-carpeting and new windows - filled our time. Then over a dozen out of town speaking and book-signing events where I was privileged to tell the story of the Gospel and relate God’s miracles in our lives.
In between came writing and editing my next mystery novel with my publisher Pelican (The Windemere Affair) along with distribution and promotion of previous books on marriage, parenting and inspirational novels. In my blog, Thoughts on Fun, Faith and Family, I like to encourage families to maximize their lives together.
To my delight Wayne became an author also this past year sending out daily reflections to our family and some friends at their request. I hope to compile them into a book this year. They’re really outstanding – I’m beyond proud of him.
The end of July Wayne was diagnosed with an aorta aneurysm to our great shock because he had no symptoms. After two months getting a second opinion, other procedures and pre-op tests he had aorta repair and by-pass surgery on September 26 followed by home health care nurse visits and three months of cardiac rehab.
Wayne is recovering well and can play golf again, although he’s still rebuilding his stamina. We both exercise together at our local athletic club and dance as often as we can. We’re glad to have this behind us and continue our routine of fun times with our adult children and their spouses - our greatest joy always is family time. We're so grateful to them all for helping us through these difficult days - we appreciated your prayers as well. Here are some of the family on our traditional cookie-baking day last Sunday:
How did these grandchildren get so tall!
We became great-grandparents in June when Pam’s oldest Katie and husband Alex became parents of Brayden Parker (above). A new era begins.
Bible study, church services, being in community with our family and God’s amazing community of Christian believers give us great joy.
We love this season of Christmas lights and our indoor and outdoor Nativity scenes –reminders of God’s ultimate act of self-giving modeling for us the means of our true and deepest happiness – loving and serving others.
Our prayer is that you, we, all of us, may know Christ ever more intimately as 2018 unfolds. Merry, blessed, happy, sacred, fun-filled Christmas to you and all your loved ones!
Thursday, November 23, 2017
I’ve been thinking about thanking God differently.
For example, thanking God for bad things that never happened - thanking Him for His protection and amazing rescues. Most of which I’m not even aware of, but sometimes I know – like when I almost caught my foot and tumbled down 12 stairs, the truck that just missed my car. I imagine you can think of many rescues yourself.
Thanking God for unsung heroes in my life who often don’t get noticed. Like my son-in-law John who did so much to help during Wayne’s health crisis. Helping me prepare our garage for winter, winterize our boat, extra driving, generously sharing his wife for several overnights, shopping for food for us. He is such a willing selfless worker who stays in the background and doesn’t get acclaimed nearly enough. I happened to catch this picture of him in our kitchen during a recent family gathering. I bet you can think of an unsung hero in your life too. What a blessing they are.
Thanking God for all the intriguing animals in the world – not just dogs as wonderful as they are, but deer that parade through our woods, chipmunks I like to watch scurry around on our deck. Those pesky, persistent squirrels that make me pause and smile. I need to toss in birds and fish too – fascinating!
Thanking God for the gift of light – the pleasure of flicking a switch and brightening a room. The brightness of the world after a couple days of rain.
Thanking God for ink – pens and printers- so we can literally see the ideas that come from someone else’s brain.
Thanking God also for the gift of knowing deep within myself that there is a holy, gracious, living Being Who is worthy of my immense thanks. God's greatness is why I have the joy and privilege of being a thankful person.
May this be your best Thanksgiving day ever and the start of a beautiful holiday season of gratitude. We all have sooooooooo much to be thankful for. Perhaps this Thanksgiving you’ll find some new things for giving thanks.
One of the best things in the whole world to be thankful for every day is the gift of family and friends – priceless! That's YOU.
Blessed Thanksgiving Everyone!!!
O Lord you are such an incredible Creator and Sustainer of this world and all that is in it – how we praise You!
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
I'VE LEARNED the human heart must become resilient because it will crack apart often. The spouse you choose, the family you create, that child placed in your arms after the miracle of birth – purest joy and the start of immense heart achings.
My heart broke into pieces at the first ear infection when baby cried and I couldn’t make the hurt go away. In sports, those times the coach chose not to put my eager child in the game. And much, much worse. The doctor saying my child had cancer with a fifty-fifty chance of survival - near devastation.
O the complexities of the heart. The cycle of loving goes on - happy heart, whole heart, broken heart, restored heart. I never knew my heart could truly burst with joy at one moment and then experience intense devastation. No one warned me the heart was so fragile but now I know. Concern over my husband’s health, distress over an adult child’s problem. It doesn’t stop at any age. Grandchildren have the same effect.
My heart has been broken and mended a thousand times. You’d think it would become callous with time but each sorrow hurts like the first. Yet, hopefully each one makes me a little stronger.
I want health and happiness uninterrupted by nothing and lasting forever for all my family, children and grandchildren. Is that too much to ask? I know disease and sinful evil people exist, but keep them from my beloved.
Thankfully, I survive in my broken state because I place those I love in the care of the only one who loves them more – my Lord and my God, their Lord and their God. It may seem a little act, but it is enough to keep my heart beating. And more, it keeps joy and gratitude in my soul.
WE ARE SO GRATEFUL for my husband Wayne's healed heart! I so appreciate your prayers for him. He attends cardiac rehab three times a week and is doing well. Praise God for His healing mercies.
Happily, my edits are back on track for my next inspirational mystery novel, The Windemere Affair. If you’re part of my Circlemaker prayer team, or would like to be, prayers are appreciated that this mystery will honor God as it covers some hot button topics.
Please take the opportunity to receive my gift to you! Our free e-book this month is Joyful Christmas Reflections - deep, sweet, short meditations to prepare your heart for Christmas before the rush begins. Available through amazon on Kindle November 29 & 30.
I’ll be giving my inspirational talk, Stages From the Heart to the Page on Wed. December 13th for the Elgin Area Christian Women’s Connection at Villa Olivia Country Club in Bartlett, IL. For more info, contact person is Jan at 630-213-1205.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
Heartfelt Blessings Upon Blessings!
Monday, October 30, 2017
Days, humdrum never! Our house has been filled with visiting nurses, family and friends. A medical crisis is a community experience – I get that more clearly now and thank God for it. Walking through alone would be overwhelming.
Thanks, dear readers, who prayed for my husband’s open heart surgery for aorta aneurysm repair and arterial by-passes. We’re grateful beyond words for the thoughtful emails and cards of encouragement and your prayer support!
The surgery was successful! I want to jump up and dance and sing alleluias, which by the way was Wayne’s first word in intensive care when he came out of the anesthetic. Today he begins three months of cardiac rehab required to get his stamina and endurance back.
There were a few dark moments, now we see only light. We met so many fine compassionate people who helped us in multiple ways. It’s amazing what highly skilled doctors and nurses can do. We’re grateful we live during this time of advanced knowledge for heart restoration.
This experience made me more aware how we all depend on the skills of others. It’s fascinating to consider how interdependent we are. During a medical crisis, it’s so obvious. Each person contributes from the valet at the hospital who parked our car to the staff in the cafeteria, building contractors, designers of medical instruments. How beautiful it is when we NOTICE, really APPRECIATE the value of those around us. My favorite phrase of late has been a sincere “Thank you. I appreciate YOU” said with a heartfelt smile. God had a beautiful plan when he created community, starting with family and extending to church and neighborhood and beyond. (The picture below is Wayne, our son Dan and I yesterday.)
My publisher graciously extended our second round of edits for my next novel The Windemere Affair - a blessing since I noticed Jennifer, my heroine, needs to come across as more caring in an important scene, which I need to change.
Never Tomorrow received a gratifying, and humbling review this month from an independent reviewing agency. My Directive 99 continues to receive the most orders – a timely, scary suspense story.
On this October day, which happens to be my birthday, I/we celebrate God and YOU and the gift of more MIDDLE in our lives.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
I always thought I knew how to celebrate the gift of every twenty-four hours but it’s intensified these past five weeks since discovering my husband Wayne needs open heart surgery.
Ever feel like you live in multiple worlds? First the outer world with the interesting people you come in contact with daily. Next the family world – a more intimate connection. And third your inner world – where you and God connect – the inner dialogue, prayer requests, moments of thanks, knowing there’s something divine happening around you, recognizing earthly blessings, maybe even mini-miracles.
I’m spending a lot of time lately in my inner space with God praising Him for revealing my husband’s need for open heart surgery despite having no pain and providing a wonderful doctor and his team to operate on Tues. Sept. 26th.
We’re learning to trust more deeply - to not let fear strip us of Jesus’ legacy of moment-by-moment peace and to seek a sense of normality midst the abnormal.
I see grace all over in people, places – in particular in my husband Wayne’s serenity in this difficult situation. I see it in the abundant kindnesses of friends and even strangers reaching out to us with both words of comfort and promises to pray Sept. 26th. Thank you! How grateful we are!
And so peace prevails. We wait one more day knowing we’re never alone in our inner world with God.
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us form the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ” Romans 8: 38-39.
Below are two pictures taken days ago at BMW PGA Golf Tournament in Lake Forest, IL with daughter Tamara and dinner with our son Dan - two of our precious four children.