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My First Blog Post

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

This is the first post on my new blog. I am a Christian wife, mom to three adult children and a grandmother to seven biological grandchildren, nine step-grandchildren, and four step-great grandchildren. I have a background in dancing, singing, and acting but am, presently in church choir and participate in Single Action Cowboy Shooting. My writings are all based on my experiences with a Christian viewpoint.

Serendipity

Serendipity, the occurance of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. Hmmm, by chance you say? I don’t believe it, nor do I believe in coincidence. Don’t misunderstand. I love it when some positive unexpected occurance or thing shows up, but I don’t believe these things just happen. I believe they are orchestrated by God.

Our Lord loves to give gifts to his children, especially little surprises that bring joy to a our day. When you are out shopping and you run into a friend, it is not a coincidence but a planned incidence by a Father who sees our need for connection. You may be surprised and pleased to find money in an old purse, and think you had just forgotten it. But God has you discover it, at just the right time, to cover an expense or to just bless you. Have you ever listened to a sermon and believed it was meant just for you? Did the Pastor know what you needed to hear or did God?

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and to not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

A huge example of divine serendipity was the discovery of my husband’s kidney cancer. He was seeing a neurologist for neuropathy in his feet. The doctor wanted to make sure he had no impingements in his spinal column and ordered a MRI. The MRI showed a large tumor on one of his kidneys, which was deemed cancerous. You may think this was far from good news, but the cancerous tumor was encapsulated and although the kidney was also removed, the cancer had not spread. There had been no symptoms that would have alerted us that the kidney was diseased, so this unexpected diagnosis was a blessing.

Another example of divine serendipity was when we discovered our house. We had been working with a lovely realtor and were supposed to meet with her, at a specific time. She was delayed, so, in the meantime, we decided to look at some open houses. This one particular house had the most beautiful white kitchen and bright white floors, so different than the dark trailer we had been living in for four years. Our realtor was not in favor of us buying this house. If she had been with us, she may never had shown it to us. Coincidence? Perhaps, but you will never convince me of that.

So, the next time you experience serendipity consider that someone is looking out for you, directing you, comforting you, or blessing you.

Explore

Have you ever wished you could explore some far away place? Visions pop into my mind of Petra, a temple, intricately carved from a canyon or Japan’s snow capped Mt. Fugi with sweet smelling cherry blossoms in the cities below. Or, perhaps, you desire a trip to the moon to see the swirling seas from afar. Imagine watching Saturn, Venus, and Mars from the confines of your spaceship in space. But then, maybe the ocean you’ll go, to the deep dark ocean, below. Will you swim with a whale or touch a shark’s tale or swim with the dolphins above?

Wherever you go, new adventures await, whether in opportunities or adventures. Is it worth the risk to venture forth from your comfort? I say, “Let’s jump in!” #hopewriterlife

Intention

I had the intention to lose weight….but I didn’t.

I had the intention to visit a lonely neighbor…..but I didn’t.

I had the intention of spending time with God….but I didn’t.

I had the intention of calling a friend…..but I didn’t.

Self absorbsion is such a curse. When one reaches out to others a blessing occurs. Spend time with the Lord and he’ll fill you with joy and give peace to your heart and strength for the day. Then when you decide to lose weight you can do it! And when prompted, you can bless others with a visit. Rise above your own needs and reach out to others. In God’s strength we can be his light in this world.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 NKJV

Quiet

The sounds of nature, music, and the voices of loved ones are pleasing to my ears. There are times, though, that I need a quiet place, a place to pray and study God’s word. To begin this intimate time with Jesus, I need to be still, to quiet the thoughts in my head and to ignore the interruptions that may intrude. As I read my devotional, for the day, I contemplate what the verses mean and how they pertain to my life. Many times, the verses clearly show that God knows exactly what I need to hear. If I am really “listening”, I ask the Holy Spirit for help in the direction I need to go. In a quiet moment, I can “hear” what the Lord is telling me and respond. I “hear” his voice through scripture and in my mind . His kindness, his forgiveness, and his love are always waiting for me when I take the time to be quiet, in his presence.

New England

Now that I live in Arizona with its tall cactus, paloverde trees, and open sky, I am amazed at the towering trees, dense bushes, and green grass as we enter New England. The terrain, there, is so different from the dusty, warm climate in the southwest. In New England, the summers are warm and humid with frequent rain showers. Most days, in Arizona, you can expect blue, sunny skies that circle all around you. Flowers bloom all year round and until December or January, I hardly ever need a jacket.

However lovely our warmth and perpetual springs may be, though, I often miss the deep, white snow that winter brings, in New England. I loved coming in from shoveling, my nose red and tingly, to a cup of hot chocolate and a warm blanket to snuggle in. As the temps drop in Arizona, I am only too anxious to slip into my jeans and long sleeve shirts. We even have a faux fireplace that gives off heat that we enjoy while watching TV.

This fall, I was supposed to be flying back to New England for a huge family reunion. I was looking forward to the red, orange, and yellow leaves from the maple and oak trees. I imagined the crisp cool air of Autumn and planned on buying pumpkins and apples for the grandchildren. Unfortunately, a change of plans put the airline tickets on hold, for now. Maybe next year….

When Mom Disowned Me

I drove away from my parents home with a frozen heart, my mother’s words still ringing in my mind. You are no longer my daughter and you are not welcome, here, any longer. I was shocked, numb. Yet, like flint, my mind was set to leave my husband for another man, who I believed I could not live without. My husband was a good man. He was a hard worker, affectionate, and loved our children. His flaw was that he drank. He was never cross or abusive, just affected. My father always drank, too, and…so did my new lover.

My mother and I, previously, had a close relationship. We confided in each other, even when it wasn’t appropriate. I loved talking to her at the kitchen table, while we drank coffee, and my mom smoked a cigarette. I came home from college, on weekends, just to be with her. My father, being in the Air Force and a drinker, was often absent. Weekends were lonely for my mother and, since I had few friends, I was only too happy to keep her company. My mother wept on my wedding day, saying how much she would miss me. I was only moving to the next town but, to my mother, it may as well have been China. After I had children, I appreciated my mother so much more. I understood the sacrifices she had made for me because of the deep love I had for my own children. I would call my mom, often, just to talk. I valued her advice and listened to her suggestions. I loved the closeness we had and the comfort she gave me.

Looking back, I can hardly believe I made such a horrible mistake. It cost me my marriage, my home, my relationship to my parents, and ruined my children’s happy home. It also caused my boyfriend problems in future relationships. Months later, my mother called me on the phone, several times. She was terminally ill and was desperately trying to “save me” before she left this earth. Putting up my defenses, like a brick wall, I would say, “If you are calling me to leave____, I will not talk to you.” I was determined make this new relationship work, even though it was the perfect example of co-dependency, similar to my mother’s emotional dependency on me.

A week or so before my mother passed, she called and begged me not to hang up but to please come visit her. She promised she wouldn’t try to talk me into anything, but that she needed to see me. I came. Mom was weak, thin, and was having difficulty breathing. She had terrible difficulty walking down our small hall to the bathroom. I offered to help, but she refused. When mom was settled back in, I sat on the edge of the bed while she spoke from her heart. I don’t remember her exact words, but she apologized for trying to force me to stay with my husband. However, when I told her I had considered going back to him, Mom, immediately, pleaded for me to do so. Cutting her off, I said, “I don’t think I can.” We both sat there…. silent.

We said our “goodbyes”, me not knowing this would be the last time I would talk to my mother. I tried visiting her, at the hospital, but her roommate insisted that I turn around and leave. I believe Mom did not want me to see her suffer. In later years, my father also told me to go home, when he was critically ill. Wish I hadn’t listened.

I was teaching, when the hospital called to tell me my mother was dying. I remember not wanting to go, telling the nurse the school would need to find a sub for me. Hearing this, the secretary said, angrily, “Go see your mother!” So I left. When I arrived, my father was standing, on the right side of mom’s bed. My cousin, Jane, sat, holding mom’s hand, on the left. My aunt was at the foot of the bed. “How long have you and Ann been married, Jim?” she asked. “Almost 40 years. It doesn’t seem like that long, now,” Dad replied, his eyes filling with tears. We talked softly about mom’s labored breathing. The nurses had been giving her Lasix, a medicine used to drain excess fluid around the heart, but it had stopped being effective. When I mentioned that maybe they could give her more, we asked the nurse about it, who did what we asked. It was a relief to see my mom’s breathing slow down, but the priest, that had now joined us, told us mom was in the final stages. My dad, my aunt, and I all tried to hold Mom’s hand but she just dropped them. She did hold Jane’s hand, which reinforced the idea that my mother truly had abandoned me. In my absence, Jane had been present for my mother, so it made sense that mom would be comforted by her. Still, it hurt.

As my mother breathed her last, my aunt cried and my father choked back tears. I felt numb. I left the room and, walking down the hall, I said, ” It is hard to see my dad cry.” Jane replied, “You are the one who needs to cry. Don’t be afraid to cry!” That weekend, I went through the motions of caring for my three young children. I remember laying on one of the beds in my daughters’ bedroom, while they played, staring at the wall and crying silent tears.

As time passed, I forgave my mom for the emotional injuries she inflicted on me (like giving the china I had picked out, as a child, to a young woman she loved) and for abandoning me. I forgave her for pushing me to marry (she probably knew her life was shortened and wanted to see me walk down the aisle). And when I learned about my adoption after both parents had died, I understood why my mom, secretly, hoped I would become pregnant before marriage, so she could have another baby in her life.

In spite of the mistakes my mother made, it cannot compare to the injury I caused her or to my family. After attending a Celebrate Recovery group, I prayed to Jesus for forgiveness of how I had hurt her and how sorry I was for not being with her during her final months. I prayed for forgiveness for my infidelity and sought healing from them, which I have received. 1 John 9 tells us: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our unrighteousness. NIV. And as I asked forgiveness from my sins, I needed to forgive my mother for hurting me. Jesus says in Matthew 6:14-15: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. I have not been able to do this, all at once, but little by little, over time.

There are times I reminisce Mom’s wonderful cooking, our shopping trips, our intimate phone calls, and her love for her grandchildren. I appreciate the sacrifices she made so I could take ballet lessons and so she could buy my cotillion and prom dresses. I remember the delicious salads she prepared for me on my lunch breaks from lifeguarding, in the summer. I remember how she loved hearing me sing and watching me dance.

There is no anger but there is sadness. I feel guilty when I see tributes to mothers on Mother’s Day. I feel sad that she suffered and died at 59 years of age. Although forgiven, I regret abandoning her, in her last year.

The one thing that sustained me was Jesus and his unfailing love for me. I am ashamed to say that I was a born again Christian when I had the affair. I truly believed in Jesus and thought I was committed to him, but I was not obedient. By his grace, he stayed with me, protected me, and gave me another chance. “It is the Lord who goes before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV . However, there were consequences for my actions and repentance was needed before God could forgive me. I am so thankful for God’s love and mercy for me and truly want to live a life in honor of him. I often fail but he always forgives and lets me start, again. He can do the same for you. All you have to do is ask. “Repent, then, and turn to God , so that your sins will be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. ” Acts 3:19 NIV.

A Painted Sky

It was almost noon, on route 303, in Arizona. On both sides of the road, I see ordinary brown desert with the scattered small, wispy, green and yellow shrubs and erect cactus. What breaks this mundane scene is the explosion of giant, puffy white clouds, close to the horizon, making a circular dome around the earth. The sky is a lovely shade of soft blue and the mountains, in the distance, are painted in pastels of lavender and navy. The only flaw in this glorious scene is a large, dark cloud, hanging like a canopy, above me. Uh-oh, sprinkles of rain threaten to erase my visage! But, no, they disappear as quickly as they came. Isn’t that just like Arizona? How I wish I could take a picture! But, having no time or camera to capture the masterpiece before me, I surrender to soaking up the loveliness before me, etching the portrait into my memory,

Hope

What does it mean to hope? Is it a wish? A desire?

This season is called a season of Hope. Why?

People have been putting up their Christmas decorations, sooner than usual. I believe that is because Covid-19 has caused depression and the decorations have added cheer. As lovely as the sparkle of the season is; tinsel, trees, and presents do not fill a sad heart. What do we really hope for? Is it to win the lottery? Get married? Attain that dream job? Or is it a peace that carries us through each day, giving us security and happiness?

In this pandemic, we can place our hope in a living God who cares for us, deeply. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT. Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, in a manger. Luke 2:7. This baby wasn’t just any baby, but God in the flesh. John 1:14. During his ministry on earth, Jesus showed his love by healing many people of sickness and disease but, mostly, by dying on a cross, in our place, for our sins. Romans 5: 6-21.

No human is capable of being perfect. We all sin and need forgiveness. When we recognize that Jesus in the Son of God and ask him to forgive our sins, he is faithful to do so. We receive the Holy Spirit and he starts to change us, a little every day, as we submit to God’s will. God promises that he will never leave us or abandon us and tells us he has plans for our future. Jeremiah 29:11.

We have a choice: to seek him or go our own way. The lights on the tree and the candles in the window are all symbolic of God’s light and love. Jesus is this light and he, alone, can give us joy and peace that is beyond human understanding. I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. John 8:12.( ESV) And the peace of God which transcends all understanding , will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:7 (NIV).

Our hope truly rests in the confidence we have in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. He has promised internal peace and the hope of a fulfilling future to those who believe in him. John 14:27, Jeremiah 29:11. Jesus tells us, in his Word, that there will always be trouble in this life, but that he has overcome the world, meaning that in the end, death and destruction will be eradicated, forever. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NIV.

Do you have this hope that Jesus gives? If you want Jesus to be your Savior, say this prayer: Father, God, I believe that Jesus Christ is your Son and that he died for my sins. I am sorry for my sins and and ask you to forgive me and that Jesus be my Lord and Savior. May your Holy Spirit help me to love and obey you, for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you my know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people. Ephesians 1:18

A Place Called Home

Like many elderly folk, I live in one state, Arizona, for most of the year and in another state, Massachusetts,in the summer. But for me, New England will always be my home. The changing seasons and my family are where my heart is. For several months, in the summer, at a small campground, I am surrounded by green pine trees and enveloped in humid days. Coming from dry Arizona, my skin drinks in the moisture from the air, even though the humidity can make life a bit miserable for a few weeks, in July. A few times, we have stayed until October and were able to see sunny yellow, bursting orange and crimson red leaves, slowly emerge. How I would have loved to have stayed a bit longer to go apple picking, during crisp and sunny afternoons. And the snow….the fluffy, white flakes of that first snowfall, leading to the massive storms that blanket the earth in frozen crystals. Yeah, I miss it all.

Our main reason for coming “home” is to be with family. Our adult children, extend from New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts to Kentucky. We pull our heavy, residential RV, yearly, just to spend precious time with each family. Picnics, at the campground, visits to Stanley Park with it’s serene pond and gorgeous gardens, as well trips to the animal farms and ice cream stands, make up our summer in MA visits. Spending time in Vermont and New Hampshire offer calmer times with my stepkids, older grandkids and my aging, yet still alert, mother-in-law. Kentucky is our newest adventure, having met a daughter my husband didn’t know he had! Trying to make up for lost time, we took the family to the movies, shopping, and out to dinner. We also bought a few gifts for them, before we said goodbye.

As I was reminiscing about “home” the other day, the Lord whispered, “But Heaven is your true home.” Startled, I suddenly realized how much my happiness depends on my relationship with my children and grandchildren and on our next trip back to New England. The Holy Spirit reminded me that God is supposed to be my first love, the one who loves me unconditionally. I can’t expect my family to fullfil all my emotional needs. Only my Savior, Jesus Christ, can do that. When I spend quiet moments with him, his Holy Spirit comforts, teaches, and leads me through the power of his Holy Word.

When I am missing “home”, I may actually be longing for Jesus and my heavenly home. Not that missing people I love is wrong! On the contrary, God commands that we love and care for our families. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8. It’s just that other people cannot fill that emptiness that makes us yearn for something more. In her book, A Sudden Glory, Sharon Janes describes this as “a ‘glory ache’-a longing to experience God’s presence on a daily basis.” Do you experience this “glory ache”? It can be filled when Christ is the center of your life. If you ask him into your heart, he will reside in you, forgiving your sins and giving you everlasting life, in Heaven, and purposeful life, here, on earth. Jesus said, I have come so that they have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 ESV

So then, have I stopped missing my family? No. I wish I could see them, more often. I appreciate how we have been able to travel back to Massachusetts, every summer. But… I miss all the major holidays with them, most all the birthdays and significant other days, such as school concerts and dance recitals. It hurts and there is guilt that I cannot be there. Why do I stay, then? I am here because of my husband’s health and because he loves it here. We both enjoy the Big Blue Sky, towering green cactus, mild, sunny winter days, and year round blossoming bushes. But as beautiful as these may be, they will never compare to the riot of color, in autumn, the fluffy white flakes of the first Nor’easter, the green grass of the summer, or the tree blossoms in Spring. A part of me will always love New England even though I can enjoy myself here in Sun City West, Arizona.

In the meantime, Jesus prepares a wonderful eternal home for me where I will live with him, forever, never to feel emptiness, again. Our citizenship is in Heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord, Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20 NIV For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Hebrews 13: 14.

Courage

Courage is such a strong word for a personal quality that is often misunderstood for bravery. I do not consider myself to be a courageous woman. I hate heights, scary movies, skiing, deep sea diving and any adventurous sport where I might be injured or get eaten by a shark. I also hate conflict and will avoid it, unless I explode with my own pent-up anger (which doesn’t happen, too often). There is a book, “Do It Scared,” by Ruth Soukup that explains that everyone has fears but when fear keeps you from achieving your goals and/or your dreams, it is detrimental to your growth, as an individual.

Sometimes, I know I need to commit to, or accomplish, a task but feel vulnerable, hesitant, or downright scared to do it. I might not know the steps involved, such as working technical aspects of my blog. But other times, I may be hesitant for fear about the outcome, or the possibility of increased responsibility. Someone I worked with, years ago, told me my whole life was ruled by fear. I was shocked and didn’t know what to say, but he was right. Then. Since then, I have ventured out into the world of blogging, have learned to drive our large, white, dooley truck, and plan on driving our new class C we hope to buy, next year. I agreed 6 years ago to move to Arizona, leaving my grown children and their families behind. Since then, we have lived in an RV, full time, for 4 years and bought a house in Sun City West, two years ago. Our major motivation, besides warmer weather, was to participate in the sport of single action cowboy shooting, which we had started in New England, over 10 years ago. Leaving my family, that I dearly loved was very difficult for me; heartbreaking. But it has given me opportunities I wouldn’t have had, otherwise. I did it, scared.

My newest challenge is writing. I have difficulty being consistent with it. This blog that is meant to encourage others causes my stomach to churn, and my head to ache when I can’t deliver my story, “on time”. I want to tell others how God helps me, comforts me, changes me, and how he can help them, also. Sometimes, I have the perfect story, burning on my heart, that I can hardly wait to share. Other times, I am in writer’s limbo waiting for lightening to strike my smoking brain. And many times, I am scared; scared of failure, scared I am wasting my time, scared that maybe God doesn’t want me doing this, after all. But then, I see an email or post where someone expresses the same fears and lies of the enemy, telling us we are not good enough. And that, along with Scripture, encourages me to keep going; to persevere.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV.

And my favorite verse, in all scary situations: ” Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV.

So, I must trust Christ to meet my needs, comfort my heart, forgive my sins, and to keep me on the path he has set for me. He can do the same for you. All you have to do is ask.

Father, thank you for giving me new life through the blood of your precious son, Jesus Christ. I believe you have saved me and given me gifts to use for your glory. Please help me to use my gifts effectively, not giving in to apathy, fear, or disobedience. I want to feel successful, Lord, but not if it is not your will for me to write. So, Lord, may I yield to your Holy Spirit. Give me the courage I need to apply the gifts you have given me, not just for my satisfaction, but for the good of any or all who will benefit by it. In Jesus’ name, I pray.