Sunday, August 31, 2008

Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayers and won with thanks. -Thomas Goodwin

259. Malli's smiles and cooing noises

260. a delicious Sunday meal at Mema and Papa's

261. enjoying a breezy last evening of August

262. reconnected internet service


Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
John 15:4-5

I am finally reconnected! After nine days of unwanted internet disruption, I am back! The reason for the disruption is simple...the line was severed! Apparently,one hundred fifty feet of cable is just too much for our local cable company to have to bury, although we have made countless calls. Since the installation of our internet service at our current location over four years ago, the line has laid bare and crosses an area of ongoing construction behind our property. Hence, the probability that it will be cut accidentally. This makes the fourth time!

OK....enough of that. But I am truly happy to be hooked up again and back on the blog scene!

The verse above is one of my favorites. I remember it was the first verse I memorized when I did the EXPERIENCING GOD study by Henry Blackaby. I even wear a bracelet that has the verse engraved on it.

The word "abide" means to remain or stay connected. I have searched and come up empty many times when trying to find fulfillment outside the one true vine...Jesus Christ. There is no other that can bring the strength, the joy, the peace I desire.

My loving, patient Heavenly God who is so full of grace and mercy reminded me today... Without ME you can do nothing.

Just like this computer that sat unconnected, untouched, and useless for nine days, I am useless, unless I am hooked up, connected to Jesus...abiding in the Vine, my source!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Be Thankful...

Still journaling things in my life that I am thankful for, adding them to the 1000 Gifts List...

"and let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you were also called in one body; and be thankful.
Colossians 3:15

255. an encouraging phone call from a former neighbor

256. sweet email from friends throughout the week

257. studying the WORD to the sound of rain and wind chimes

258. out to dinner plans with my family

Lead Me Beside Still Waters

Lead me beside still waters, Lord.

If only you had paid attention to my commands,
your peace would have been like a river,
your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Isaiah 48:18
It is so peaceful to watch a gentle breeze calmly stir and ripple the pond water in front of my house. I sometimes stop what I am doing, look out a window just to gaze and determine which direction the wind is blowing at that particular moment. Usually just small ripples on the surface of the pond, the wind and rain from a tropical storm have caused the ripples to resemble ocean waves today. So similar to the tossing waves that have pounded me with worry and fear lately. A constant, threatening undercurrent.
Lord, how I long to hear, really hear Your voice and Your command...therein lies my peace. Only when I truly listen to Your voice will I find rest from the storms I face.
Father, take my hand and lead me beside still waters today. For Your names' sake, Lord.
He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake.
Psalm 23:2-3 Amplified Bible

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hidden In My Heart

I am busy packing my oldest son, Taylor off for college. On Saturday, I will help him move into an apartment at Emory where he will continue his studies. I am strangley at peace about it all. I know God has prepared him for this and He has prepared me, too!
Fiercely independent from birth and into toddler hood, I recall how he could slip out of a tightly strapped car seat faster than Houdini himself. His inquisitiveness, charm, advanced vocabulary, and noticeable intelligence drew attention early on and kept me on my toes!
At the age of seven, he created this scroll (posted above in two sections) with scripture verses and a drawing. I have kept it hidden in a keepsake box for almost fourteen and secure. The verses he wrote that Sunday afternoon are so fitting today...prophetic, I believe.
He has always stood for truth and righteousness even as a very young child, desiring to know facts ( bent on the discovery himself...not just taking some one's word for it). Integrity and fairness define him as well...even when it meant standing alone, he often exhibited fairness and impartiality in those awkward middle school and demanding high school years.
I remembered something today... how he loved singing songs as young boy. One song in particular, "I have hidden your Word, hidden your Word, hidden your Word in my heart..." (from the Donut Man cassette tape)
I am grateful for your life, Taylor and how you honor the Lord, still hiding His Word in your heart!
What a ride it has been so far, what a thrill to see you chase your dreams, and realize them. It is such a blessing to have witnessed you grow into the man you are today! What a joy it is to be your mom! I love you!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Psalm 119:11

A Sweet Gift ...

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
I see Gigi reading to Malli

254. reading to Malli

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Be My Guide

For this God is our God
for ever and ever;
He will be our guide
even to the end.
Psalm 48:14
I praise You this morning, Lord because we are your children. You sought us, You bought us and You lead us by Your mighty hand until we reach the finish line. You don't take us halfway - You stay right beside us, step by step for the entire race.

More verses to ponder...
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Psalm 23:3

Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.
Psalm 25:5

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.
Psalm 25:9

You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory. Psalm 73:24
I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.
Proverbs 4:11

The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. John 16:13

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on His own, He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.Isaiah 58:11

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Be Thankful In All Circumstances...

for this is God's will for you
who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thankful in all circumstances...though painful

250. helping my oldest son pack up for college

251. walking two miles

252. eating healthy food

253. confronting issues

Though My Heart Is Torn I Will Praise You In The Storm...

God is our refuge
and strength,
an ever-present help
in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

Currently, a tropical storm warning is in effect for the Florida Keys and the majority of the Atlantic coast. As Fay rotates northward, it is possible that we could experience heavy rain and tornadoes.

Storms. We all experience them. Perhaps the weather is clear where you live, but you are in the middle of your own personal storm right now. A financial storm, a relationship storm, an emotional, or a health storm. Regardless, storms are inevitable and even unpredictable at times. We must be alert because these storms can hit hard when we least expect it.

As a believer, smack in the middle of gale force winds right now, I realize I have a choice. I can turn my back on God, become bitter, and believe that He should have prevented this storm. Or I can praise Him in this storm and continue to trust Him. It is possible to have peace in the middle of a storm…an actual hurricane or a spiritual storm.

Lord, I remember when You spoke to the storms and said, Peace be still. Thank You for speaking to my stormy soul today and calming my spirit. Even when strong winds come and threaten to capsize my faith, I can lift my eyes to You. You are my refuge and my strength. I can trust You.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Me and my Daddy - 1963

Intelligent children
listen to their parents;
foolish children do their own thing.
Proverbs 13:1

My Daddy celebrates his seventy-first birthday today. We celebrated last night with a delicious meal of grilled steak, chicken, fresh garden salad, sweet potatoes, Moma's pound cake and Guy's nearly-famous ice cream. (Daddy's favorite)

I admire my Daddy for so many reasons. His faith, honesty, humor, humility, determination, wisdom, wit, and his continual desire to learn new things amazes me. At a time in his life when most men would be slowing down, my Dad continues to work and serve others. I have a lot of respect for him. When I was younger I often disagreed with my father. Thankfully, I did respect him and heed most of his advice.

Although I am technically a mature adult myself now, I still seek, listen to, and value his advice. It was Mark Twain who once said that when he was 17 he couldn't believe how foolish his father was, and when he turned 21 he was amazed at how much his father had learned in the short course of four years. Well, I am well past 21 and the truth is that some of the most profound and enduring lessons in my life I learned from my father. It is apparent that our society doesn't see the value of the elderly. As a whole, we view the elderly as old-fashioned and out-dated. Sad, but an accurate evaluation, I fear. I was just an average student and never scored extremely high on an IQ test, but the Bible says I am intelligent if I listen to my parents.

Thanks Daddy for all you do and have done for me. I love you! Happy 71st birthday!

Some other thoughts...

I am grateful that even early in life I didn't mind hanging out with older people. Enjoyed it actually. They always seemed to have time for me and they always had interesting stories to tell. There were many older people that had a significant role in my life.... grandparents, other relatives, and teachers, but I remember one elderly man...a very influential octogenarian that had an extremely, powerful, positive impact on my life.

His name was Mr. Cross. Although legally blind himself, through our friendship, he revealed truth and opened my eyes to things I may have never seen. I was only seven years old at the time.

Forty years have gone by and I still remember the words he spoke to me, the wisdom he poured into my heart, and even the letters he dictated to his nurse and mailed to me after I had moved away. Priceless. I am certain God had a plan in that unique relationship. Next to my father, that man helped to mold me into the woman of God I have become. I knew him for less than year. He died shortly after I moved away from Canal Point, Florida in 1969.
Our elders have something of value to teach, and we in the younger generation should listen.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Extreme Makeover: Home Edition tv show
"And do not be conformed to this world, but betransformed by the renewing
of your mind, that you may prove what is
that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Romans 12:2

I don't watch a lot of tv but sometimes I will sit through The Extreme Makeover: Home Edition tv show. It's a reality series on ABC where needy and deserving families get their often nearly condemned homes replaced with a brand new beautiful home complete with new furnishings, appliances, etc. The families are sent away on a dream vacation for a week. When they return, their entire neighborhood, family, and friends are packed behind a bus that obstructs their view of the new home. When the lucky family returns to the cheers of the crowd, Ty Pennington (The Host) says, "Move that bus!" and the family's dream home is revealed. It's really heartwarming to see their tears of joy as they see the exterior and then tour the interior and backyard with the cast.

The Word says the ultimate goal that God desires for each of us is our transformation....a renewing of our mind. Through sanctification we are transformed and renewed into the image of Jesus.
1 Corinthians 6:19 says "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit..."
In order for Christ to abide in us... our temple, our house, our body... must be fit to live in. That means there must be a tearing down of strongholds, a rebuilding, and renovation in our spirit. A renovation of a home doesn't happen overnight and neither does this sanctification process. It is just that ... a process.

I love this...
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right, and stopping the leaks in the roof, and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably, and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
- C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (London: William Collins, 1970), 172.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Be Humble

Naptime at Gigi's
Malli - 8 weeks old

So anyone who becomes as humble
as this little child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 18:4
When I keep my grandaughter Malli she lets me know when she is hungry, needs her diaper changed, or just needs to be held. She doesn't hold back. She cries out for help. She is helpless and totally dependent.
It is really no surprise that Jesus instructs us to humble ourselves as children. Children are innocent, pure, honest. Too often in this journey, I am stubborn, prideful, and arrogant acting as if I have all the answers and can figure things out alone. Jesus says we should come to him as children—honest and straightforward with our needs.
If I desire to meet the needs of Malli, imagine how much Jesus longs to meet my needs. But first, I must humble myself.

1 Peter 5:6-7 says Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

If I am a follower of Christ and a true born-again believer, then I have one glorify God. God is best glorified when I humble myself before Him and others.
Lord, Jesus I need you today. I cry out to you and confess that You alone have the answer to what is troubling me today. I come to you as a child totally dependent on Your strength, Your wisdom, and Your grace. I look to You. Amen.

249. a new baby boy, a nephew...Grayson Thomas Morgan

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More for the 1000 Gifts List...

Give up the bitterness,
the anger,
the sadness
for what isn't,
that you wish you had.
And embrace the gift
of what you do have.
For therein is really what you want more of...
-Elizabeth Elliot

244. the joy of Malli's contented, sweet spirit
245. the joy of dinner with my daughter, Savannah-Jane
246.the joy of watching rain fall on the pond
247. the joy of rocking Malli on the porch
248. the joy of hearing frogs croaking at night

He Maketh No Mistake...

A dear friend sent this to me today, perfectly timed.
Thanks Denise!

My Father's way may twist and turn,
My heart may throb and ache.
But in my soul I'm glad I know,
He maketh no mistake.
My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away.
But still I'll trust my Lord to lead
For He doth know the way.
Tho' night be dark and it may seem
That day will never break;
I'll pin my faith, my all in Him,
He maketh no mistake.
There's so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight's far too dim;
But come what may, I'll simply trust
And leave it all to Him.
For by and by the mist will lift
And plain it all He'll make.
Through all the way, tho' dark to me,
He made not one mistake.
author unknown
My times are in Your hands.
Psalm 31:15
This is a portion of a sermon by John Piper where he preached on God's sovereignty...
God the almighty reigns in all the affairs of men. He rules the nations (Daniel 2:21) and he rules families. His providence extends from the U.S. Congress to your kitchen. Let's be like the women of faith in the Old Testament. Whatever else they doubted, they never doubted that God was involved in every part of their lives and that none could stay his hand (Daniel 4:35). He gives rain and he takes rain. He gives life and he takes life. In him we live and move and have our being. Nothing—from a toothpick to the Taj Mahal—is rightly understood except in relation to God. He is the all-encompassing, all-pervading reality. Naomi was right and we should join her in this conviction. God the Almighty reigns in all the affairs of men.

A great quote(source unknown):

"The sovereignty of God means that God can do any thing He wants to do, any time He wants to do it, any way He wants to do it, for any purpose He wants to accomplish."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Malli...a gift, oh so sweet...

243. Malli's tiny foot

Malli, our Boa Baby

Photos courtesy of my sister, Kathy Graham

Put on...

242. watching a child paint

a heart of compassion,




and patience.

Colossians 3:12

I confess... I am no artist, but I do love watching children create their own artwork. Give them materials, encourage imagination and creativity, and watch the magic begin.

The room was quiet, very warm that day. Twenty-one children crowded into the small area. Paint and paper spread before them. Each canvas empty. The possibilities...

Then I noticed the young boy sitting without paper and paint. He just sat with the other children...watching. That small frame with large, sad eyes. All of the other children were painting. All of them, except this one. I looked for paper and paint for him, but someone said, "Don't bother, he's too young, he'll just make a mess."

I asked the well-meaning teacher if it would be alright if sat with him on the floor. She agreed.

He needed no instruction from me, really. Just encouragement. I watched as this child sat for twenty minutes dipping the brush into the paint bottle, methodically stroking the brush onto the paper, making irregular, uneven shapes with no real form. I watched and spoke gently, cheering him on in his first paint experience. Occasionally his eyes would meet mine, searching for approval. What a thrill for me. What joy I found in that moment. Encouraging, spurring on this little one.

God spoke to me that day in that hot, cramped classroom. He longs to show His compassion to all of us. How many times have I failed to allow Him to do so through me? What could He do with my canvas if I allowed Him to take control? Am I impatient, quick to judge, limiting possibilities. Psalm 103:8 says: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

Lord, help me to put on your heart ... a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience today. Amen.

Grateful for memories of Trinidad...

230. Maracas Bay Beach
Trinidad, WI 8/4/08
231. view from top of mountain overlooking Maracas Bay, Trinidad, WI

232.Palms at Manzanilla Beach, Trinidad, WI - 8/4/08
233. Fun with friends
8/3/08 Manzanilla Beach, Trinidad, WI

234. "Jamie the Sandman"
8/4/08 - Maracas Bay, Trinidad, WI
235. a child praying at VBS
7/31/08 - Trinidad, WI
236. the Team at Montrose Church of God
7/29/08 thru 8/6/08 - Trinidad, WI

237. Savannah-Jane shares the love of Jesus at VBS
7/29/08 - Trinidad, WI
238. Guy greeting young girl at VBS
7/29/08 - Trinidad, WI 239. Taylor with group of teen boys he taught at VBS
7/29/06 - Trinidad, WI
240. Heliconia flower near Manzanilla Beach
8/4/08 - Trinidad, WI
241. Dominica helping out with 6 year old boys' class at VBS
8/1/08 - Trinidad, WI

He's more...

'Outrigger Island' VBS Friday night service
8/2/08 -Trinidad, West Indies

For He’s more wonderful
than my mind can concieve
He’s more wonderful than my heart can believe
He goes beyond my highest hopes and fondest dreams.
He’s everything that my soul ever longed for
Everything He’s promised and so much more
More than amazing, more than marvelous
More than miraculous could ever be
He’s more than wonderful,
that’s what Jesus is to me.

God does great things beyond our understanding...

Listening to a sister in Christ share from her heart - 7/29/08 - Trinidad, WI

The Almighty is beyond our reach
and exalted in power.
Job 37:5b and 23a
This past year has been trying, to say the least. At times it would be easy to lay down and just wallow in the hurt, the disappointments, and the pain. There has been ongoing stress, sickness, death, and trauma that took me by surprise. I am rediscovering again and again that I am not in control and that God is able to do great things beyond my comprehension.

I listened to the testimonies of so many Christians while in Trinidad whose faith and trust in God strengthened me in my walk. With few earthly possessions and living in a country with an endless list of serious social problems, they live with a purpose that is clear and undiluted. Trusting Jesus completely.

As a family we were collectively convicted that we are too comfortable. Spoiled, really.

One lady I met shared, with a glow on her face, about the joy of knowing Jesus. She told about losing a child, struggling financially, and still finding that indescribable joy in her life.

She said, "He loves me and He has a plan for my life," and with gratitude she exclaimed, "I have a job now!" I can help buy food for my family. I am so blessed!"

I heard this quote once...

A "God" perspective may not change my situation, but it will change me.

I love the hymn..."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."
Lord, forgive me for looking at my situation and not at YOU. Even after the miracles you have performed in my life, even after the provision of your grace and mercy, I confess that I have doubted and allowed the present circumstances to overwhelm me. I believe that YOU will accomplish great things beyond my understanding. Amen.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I will bless the LORD at all times...

his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psalm 34:1

227. homemade meatloaf for lunch

228. a dinner date with my husband

229. my parents


ferns and greenery on drive to Maracas Bay, Trinidad, W.I.

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace ...
1 Corinthians 14:33

Call it fatigue, a hormone fluctuation, or whatever, but I have been out of whack since we returned from Trinidad. So many things call for my attention and I am feeling distracted, interrupted, and not my usual semi-normal self. Now that is scary!

When a multitude of voices clamors for our attention, how can we hear God's voice? Satan uses the things of this world to deceive us. But God's voice is always clear. His words speak comfort, not confusion.

Father, You are not the author of confusion, but the author of peace. Help me to rest in You and find peace among the many distractions. In You I find comfort. Cause me to listen to Your voice of truth and find rest. Amen.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


222. Malli's sweet smile
223. ginger lilies from a friend in Trinidad

224. the prayers of believers in Trindad

225. the return of Taylor's good health

226. home sweet home

It makes a difference to this one.....

With an even greater appreciation for the comfort of home, we all collapsed into our beds around 1:00 am this morning. It was a long day for us as we travelled home from Trinidad, West Indies. Up at 4:00 am to prepare for an 8:00 am flight out of Port of Spain, arriving in New York City at 1:00 pm, going through customs, catching a flight to Atlanta, then driving home. What a day! What a trip!
VBS at Montrose Church of God in Trinidad was a huge success despite the fact that one of our team members (son Taylor) became seriously ill with food poisoning after eating out at a restaurant and had to miss four days. Thankfully, after a visit to a doctor (a story in and of itself) and a prescription of antibiotics, he recovered and was able to participate in the closing VBS service. Attendance ranged form 138 to 178 throughout the week. We are thankful for the time we had with the children...sharing God's unshakable truth... laughing, singing, learning, and doing crafts together.

Saturday, I presented two workshops at Faith Academy for parents and teachers of special needs students. It is shocking to think that the Trinidadian government schools actually charge parents of special needs children for their schooling! (can you say discrimination?)

Faith Academy, however, operates at no cost to the parents and at the same time is making unprecedented progress with the children. So much so that the government has recognized their achievement and desires to come along side them and assist in building a modern facility. Hmm...

At the teacher workshop I met seven of the most dedicated, compassionate teachers ever to cross my path. They have many needs and lack modern resources, but the love they have for the children abounds! At the parent workshop, many of the parents wept openly as they shared their struggles and their pain. You can imagine how difficult it was for me to remain composed. It truly broke my heart and humbled me.

Tonight I thought back over the past twelve days, thankful for the opporunity we had to go to Trinidad but at the same time admittedly discouraged about all the serious problems in the country ... corruption in the government, skyrocketing AIDS statistics, brutal murders, kidnappings, extreme poverty, gang activity, drug trafficking, etc.
Incredible, overwhelming darkness. It makes me feel so disheartened.

Then I remembered something. At the end of each workshop I had shared the inspirational "starfish story" with the parents and teachers. My incredibly talented big sister, Kathy had lovingly made beautiful bookmarks with the story to give each of them. The story goes something like this...

There was a young man walking down a deserted beach just before dawn. In the distance he saw a frail old man. As he approached the old man, he saw him picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea.
The young man gazed in wonder as the old man again and again threw the small starfish from the sand to the water. He asked, "Old man, why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be a waste of time."
The old man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. "But there must be thousands of beaches and millions of starfish!" exclaimed the young man. "How can you make any difference?"
The old man looked at the small starfish in his hand and as he threw it to the safety of the sea, he said, "It makes a difference to this one!"

I read the starfish story again tonight and it reminded me that I can't do everything --- but I can do more than I think I can. And God will take what I do and bless it, multiply it --- just like He did with a little boy's lunch beside the sea of Galilee. I just have to pick up a starfish and throw it. That's all God wants me to do. He'll do the rest! He often takes the ordinary things of our lives and transforms them for His honor.
I sincerely pray that something I offered in Trinidad ... a nation with so many needs ... will be multiplied and make an eternal difference. I pray the same as I serve God in my home, my town, my state, and my nation.

All for His glory!