Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Let Freedom Ring.......

When you think about July 4th what comes to mind?   Perhaps you think about a day off from work with picnics, fireworks, and those red, white, and blue flags displayed in front yards along your neighborhood streets.  This is all good, but the one word that comes to my mind is freedom.  It is a fact that  we live in the United States of America where we can voice our opinions freely, and can vote for the people of our choice. These are very good reasons why we should never take our freedom for granted.  Each year I notice that some people really go all out decorating for every holiday, but on the 4th of July I just display my flag in the yard for the entire month. The flag means a lot to me because of those in my family who have been in wars. I have also had friends who have served our country, and I have known some who did not come home in the past and present war.  My grandfather served in World War I, my father and all of his brothers served in World War II, my mother was a dancer and performer for USO shows during World War II, my cousins, uncles, and classmates served in Korea and Vietnam,  and I also have had loved ones  in Afghanistan.  Because of their contributions in keeping us all free, I proudly display the flag.  Have you thought about the American flag and all that it stands for? It represents an emblem of the greatest nation on the earth. It has been carried through centuries in battle. It is placed on the graves of our honored dead who fought for the right for us to remain a free nation, and it flies high during peace times, as well as war.  “Old Glory” is its name.  There is another real freedom we can have. We can display it every day of the year, and that is our freedom “In Christ” to live a life to glorify Him, so that His banner of love, truth, and peace can be seen by all.  It is a flag flown high in the castle of my heart (taken from a song). We can be free in our spirit to serve the Creator of the whole universe and that my friends, is True Freedom.  Romans 8:2 says, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death."  (ASV)  Just like the flag that represents freedom, Jesus is a banner over us, protecting and shielding us. He is the “Glory and the Lifter of our heads” at all times. Let freedom ring out in your heart today.  Psalm 3:3 reads,  "But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head." (KJV)
Blessings and God Bless America,

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

It's The Good Old Summertime Hodge Podge

Here we are with the last week of June Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you play along then you know the routine...Answer on your own blog then hop over to Joyce's blog by clicking here to add your link to the party. Oh! Be sure to comment on someone else's post.  See you there! 

 1. It's officially summer (in the northern hemisphere anyway). Which summer month is best and why?  June is the best month for me because my summer break has just started, it is my daughter's birthday, in fact I have a lot of special June birthday's and anniversaries.  I always go to the beach in June.  August is my least favorite.....I start back to school on August 1.2. Can you swim? How did you learn? June 27th is National Sunglasses Day. How many pair do you own?  Yes, I can swim.  I learned through swimming lessons at the YWCA in West Palm Beach.  I held my Junior and Senior life guarding certificates.  I own one pair of sunglasses....they re prescription glasses.3. What characteristic do you judge most harshly in yourself? How about in others?  For me it is the lack of patience and self-control.  Sometimes my mouth overloads my brain.  For others it would be  ignorance.  There is no reason on this earth for people to delight in being ignorant and allow their children to follow suit.4. Robert Frost wrote the now well known poem entitled The Road Not Taken. What's a road (literal or figurative) you've always wanted to travel, and where do you hope it takes you? Literally....Route 66 from start to finish, roads far as Alaska, the Ultimate cover the whole USA Road trip (as seen on Facebook).  You know...See the USA in your Chevrolet.
5. Popsicles-yay or nay? If you answered yay, what's your favorite flavor? Popsicles....I can take them or leave them.  I like fruity tastes if I eat one. I do not like those juice things in plastic that you buy by the 100's in a box for things like VBS.
6. Brexit-on a scale of 1-10 how knowledgeable are you on what's involved here? (1=very knowledgeable and 10=what's Brexit) Is this news you'll follow or is it something you think won't impact your life in any way shape or form?  I am about a 6.  I know just enough to be dangerous. It is news I will follow and it will impact my far it has impacted my retirement a bit because of the stock market shift.7. Share a favorite song on your summer play list. Summer Time by Ella Fitzgerald.
And the Beach Boys Surfin' U.S.A.

8. Insert your own random thought here.   What is your favorite summer memory?  I hope you will share one with me.  Mine is going to the beach and then stopping in at A & W for a root beer and one of their little hamburger sliders. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Dwelling Places: Words To Live In Every Season

About The Book:  Dwelling Places: Words to Live in Every Season (Abingdon, June 2016).  Do you long for serenity and refuge, peace and hope? Are you seeking a deeper spiritual life through a closer relationship with God?  If you're tired of dwelling in busyness and noise, then perhaps one word a day can change your life. Award-winning author Lucinda Secrest McDowell knows that if you spend time each day turning to God's Word for wisdom and guidance, your faith can flourish and grow.  Through short and inspiring readings, McDowell unpacks a single word---such as mercy, beauty, gratitude, or grace---to reveal a biblical blessing or challenge relevant to where you are. Full of stories and illustrations to empower you to live the word you have just read, each devotional ends with a benediction, written as if God were speaking directly to you.  These "dwelling places" that offer the joy of God's promise and presence cover four seasons: fall, Advent, Lent, and summer. Whether in the midst of busy holiday schedules, holy days, ordinary moments, or changing seasons, a deeper faith can be as simple as a single word.Purchase a copy:
About The Author: Lucinda Secrest McDowell is the author of 11 books, including Live These Words, Amazed by Grace, and Quilts from Heaven. She has contributed to an additional 25 books and has been published in more than 50 magazines. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, she speaks internationally through her ministry Encouraging Words. An award-winning writer who has earned accolades from prominent writers' conferences and retreats, McDowell has also worked in radio broadcasting, in retreat planning, and on church pastoral staffs. She writes from "Sunnyside" cottage in Connecticut. 
My Thoughts On The Book:  I am a huge fan of devotionals.  My husband or daughter usually get me one for Christmas every year.  For me, devotionals are a great way to connect to God.  I was quite impressed with Lucinda McDowell, the author of Dwelling Places.  McDowell divided it into four seasons--Dwell,  Each section or season Shine, Renew, and Grow.  Each of these sections has  approximately thirty entries.  Each reading begins with a short scripture,  then offers us a short explanation of the scripture using a little story, and then ends with a short prayer.  They are not dated, so you do not have to follow any set plan.  Most of them take about five minutes to read and ponder on.  I have to admit there were a few that took me longer because they spoke to my heart and I ended up digging deeper into God's Word.  Calm, which was one of those....was number ten in the Dwell section.  It talks about the perfect storm.  The scripture was when Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat and the poor ship and crew were in peril.  "Surprise storms are inevitable in this life.  Panic is optional.  Call out for Him now.  And be prepared to dwell in calm."(page 21)  When I read number 10 I was  the middle of my own personal perfect storm.  Fall is my favorite season and I chose to review fall because I find myself in the fall of my life.  Fall is a time of change, vibrancy, glorious color and that is what I found within the pages of Dwell.  There are not enough sections for a whole year in number.....but I revisited several and discovered something new to hold on to in each visit.  I highly recommend this book.  It is a keeper. 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publishing and Abingdon Press as part of their Blogging Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Father's Toolbox

My scripture today is from Proverbs :1-12.
Since today is Father’s Day, I thought I would talk about a father’s toolbox  As we celebrate Father’s Day, we see in the Scriptures examples and commands for parents – It calls for Father’s to be active in teaching and developing their children for life and the Lord!  The book of Proverbs is filled with thoughts about seeking and finding Godly Wisdom for life and most of it is about a Father – These words are from Solomon as he passed down truth and life lessons to his son. Father’s have a huge influence on their children and  children need fathers to take the time and Teach them about Life and the Lord.  My question this morning is how can men, as Father’s teach their children for Life and the Lord?

Men today, I want us to look at some necessary tools that you might find in your toolbox at home to help remind you of how you can teach your children about: Love & Faithfulness; Faith in the lord and seeking His ways; Being Generous and Giving to the Lord; as well as the need for discipline?
Tool #1 – Here we have an Adjustable Wrench; Father’s need to be adjustable and flexible to the situations that arise. Eph. 6:4, “Father’s do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Tool #2 – is a Level; Father’s need to walk on level paths as an example as well as keep a Level head in relationship with your children. Jer. 31:9, “They will come . . . I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am their Father.”  Isaiah 26:7, “The path of the Righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth.”

Tool #3 – is one of my favorite tools….Pliers; Every toolbox needs some pliers to hold things together. So a Father needs to hold things together in his family when everyone else appear to be loosing their grip. Col. 1:17, “… and in Jesus all things hold together.” Phil. 3:12, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

Tool #4 – here we have some….Cologne? How did that get in here. But it is true Gentleman, one of the greatest things you can do for your children and especially your sons to teach them about Love and Faithfulness is to love their Mothers. Eph. 5:25, “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for her to present her holy and blameless before the Father.”

Tool #5 –  is a Rubber Mallet; Father’s need to some urging, apply some pressure and influence but not be too hard. The Right tool for the right job. Eph. 4:1, Paul says to the Christians in Ephesus “… I URGE you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
Tool #6 – would be…..of course….Shop Towels; men should clean up the messes they make so as Father’s yo need to show to your children that we are not perfect. Elton John said it best, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” I read that most children never hear their Father’s say “I am sorry.” Seek God’s Forgiveness and your child’s when you have blown it. 1John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from unrighteousness.”

Tool #7 – is a Tape Measure; Just like in doing a project, you need to measure.  My dad’s favorite expression….was always “measure twice – cut once.  I think it is a man thing because I have heard Frank use it too…. – so as Fathers you need to Measure your Time, Priorities, and balance with your work and family life.
Tool #8 – is very important….an Extension Cord;  You know….As you consider all that we are called to teach our children (Love and Faithfulness, Faith and God’s Ways in life, Pride, Generous and Giving to the Lord vs. selfish; how accept and deal with Discipline in life, even from the Lord. You might be looking at these tools and saying…… even with the tools: An Adjustable Wrench, a Level, Pliers, Rubber Mallot and Shop Towels - I am not too sure I can do it.  Well, then you definitely need this next tool: An Extension Cord.

I was extremely blessed because I had a great dad….but, I know that sometimes as a Father he probably felt like an Extension Cord ….being pulled and stretched in every direction – but  to be honest….people we Need an Extension Cord to help us Plug into the Power and Strength and Wisdom of our Lord to guide and use as a Good and Godly Fathers….and Mothers!  James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” …and we find in 2Tim. 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped to do every good work.” We as parents….mentors….aunts, uncles…grandparents….need to Plug into the Lord thru Regular Worship, Reading His Word – the Bible, Praying, Talking to God and asking His help – even praying for and with our children! God is our Heavenly Father – He loves us and is there for us always. He even can remind us through everyday Tools how we can be effective and godly parents for our Children.  Children are a blessing and a responsibility. Most often their view of our Heavenly Father will be greatly influenced by how we as their earthly Father’s love them and teach about life and the Lord.  Let me urges us all to….Seek the Lord today and let us use these tools to be godly Fathers….godly Parents for our children…Amen?
Just like on Mother's Day when I did the roses sermon....and gave away a dozen roses after the message.....well....After the message I drew one of the men's names out.....and the winner of the message toolbox was.....Delmar Green.

Tribute for Father's Day

I was a Daddy's Girl.  I thought my dad hung the moon.  I wish I could tell him Happy Father's Day today.....but I can't.  I am blessed to have so many important fathers in my life.   
My husband Frank.....
My son, Eric.....

 My SIL Steven
My SIL Brian.  This is his first Father's Day.
Kathryn's Godfather,Chuck. I think she was a couple of months old here.  She will be
36 on the 23rd of this month....but then that is a post for another day.

So now I thought I would wish all the wonderful fathers in my life a Happy Father's Day and feed them a wee bit of trivia about the holiday itself.  Did you know that  on June 19, 1910, the governor of the U.S. state of Washington proclaimed the nation’s first “Father’s Day.” However, it was not until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official, that the day became a nationwide holiday in the United States.  The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm–perhaps because, as one florist explained, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.” On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday. The next year, a Spokane, Washington woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day. However, many men continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”    During the 1920s and 1930s, a movement arose to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day altogether in favor of a single holiday, Parents’ Day. Every year on Mother’s Day, pro-Parents’ Day groups rallied in New York City’s Central Park–a public reminder, said Parents’ Day activist and radio performer Robert Spere, “that both parents should be loved and respected together.” Paradoxically, however, the Depression derailed this effort to combine and de-commercialize the holidays. Struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards. When World War II began, advertisers began to argue that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday, but it was a national institution.In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last. Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.  Did you buy your father something 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Matthew Cuthbert, My Pepaw, and Smell Good Man....

Today I have a guest blogger filling in for me.  It is my daughter Kathryn and she does not know she is my guest....but after reading her post this morning....I had to share it with you all. 


Matthew Cuthbert, My Pepaw, and Smell Good man

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Hi friends...Remember me?  I have not blogged in a while and I know you all still love me.  My days consist of doing life with these girls, of soaking up every ounce of information I can about orphan care and shepherding the hurting heart.  Most of our girls come from backgrounds full of hurt and abandonment and that brings with it its own unique set of issues.  Brian and I want to do all that we can to love them and lead them-and that includes reading...all...the...time.
Recently, I finished reading the most wonderful book called Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and I by Lorilee Craker.  It is so amazing as it pairs two things I love- Anne of Green Gables and understanding the heart of those considered "orphans" by society-those with who are hurting.  I would love to write and write and write about this book...but that isn't what's on my heart. 

Recently, I read a chapter about Matthew Cuthbert, the most unlikely, unassuming, and unsung father figure in literature.  While reading it, I may have sat in a coffee house in Moldova's capitol city and balled my little eyes out.  It made me feel eternally grateful for the amazing men who have loved me and loved others so well.  There isn't enough room on this blog for me to thank every father like figure...but there is room to hit a few highlights

I am from the south.  I love that I am from the south and from a family of salt of the earth country people.  People who love big.  In the south, we don't call our fathers "dad" or "father"...good southern girls say daddy.  I can remember my favorite thing as a child was cutting grass with my daddy.  I always felt like a princess riding along with him, wearing his work cap or my favorite cowboy hat.  I loved that special time just with him.  My dad was not a perfect father.  I was not a perfect daughter.  But, we sure loved each other.  Most of my memories of him make me laugh and smile so big.  He was just the kind of person who loved to make people smile and he loved to have a good time.  At my father's funeral, all I could think about was the big life that my daddy had lived.  Full of adventures and laughs and trials.  He had loved big.  He had loved me big. I foolishly thought for most of my life that my father didn't love me as much as he loved my siblings.  By the time I was a teenager, he had raised my brother and sister and was tired.  He wasn't very present then because he was struggling with so much personally.  Some of my most precious times with my father (and my brother) were over the last ten years.  He was very sick the last ten years and we had lots of one on one time in the hospital.  It was as if my wild, larger than life daddy became softer and more introspective.  He would share so much love and words of wisdom with me.  So many times he told me he loved me and was proud of me-things I had longed to hear as a teenager.  Many times my daddy told me, that he knew that God was using his sickness and pain to bring his family together and he felt like that made it worth it....and he meant it...and it did.  God used my daddy's health and even his death to bring us all closer.  At his funeral, the thing that meant the most to me was that every single person that came through the line asked if I was "the daughter that was a missionary".  They would then tell me how proud he was of me and how he talked about me all the time.  That man loved me and my brother and sister BIG.  He loved BIG and He lived BIG.

My pepaw.
If you have read my blog at all.  You have read about my grandparents.  My grandfather took me on my first ever mission trip when I was 12- with Carpenters for Christ. I didn't call him grandfather or grandpa...nope he was too special for that.  He was pepaw.  My Pepaw was not a perfect man, but he served a perfect God...and He served Him with all that he was.  With my pepaw, I always felt safe, loved, and special.  He was one of my earliest heroes.  This man loved others so well.  He was always willing to get up early and drive a bazillion miles to be with a friend in need.  When he passed away, I had the extreme honor of speaking at his funeral.  It was my first time to loose someone I loved so dear.  But, I KNEW that I had to share about him.  I knew that so many in the church knew God because my grandfather had introduced them.  I was his darling and he was my pepaw. I wish that he were alive.  He would love these girls of ours so much.  I think he would have gotten over his aversion of flying just to come meet his new and precious extended family.  He loved family.

I wasn't raised Catholic.  But, I had a godfather. No, I'm not Italian either.  Just blessed.  When I was christened as a child, my mother chose her childhood friend and her friend's husband to be my godparents.  They had a baby girl that was born the year before...and they just took me as part of their family as well.  So many of my childhood memories consist of my godparents.  Trips to Knoxville.  To the Worlds Fair.  So many amazing memories with my extra family...and my Godfather:) He was not like a Corleone at all.  He is warm, caring, and servant-hearted and loves Jesus so much.  Every major life event I have ever experienced, Chuckles has been there.  (That's our nickname for him).  My birth, my christening, my high school graduation, my wedding, my grandparent's funerals and so many more.  He loved my father dearly.  Chuckles rushed to be at my side when my father was dying.  In fact, within five minutes of his arriving, my father passed.  I think my daddy waited so Chuckles could be there to hold me...yet again, Chuckles was there to hold my hand and love me through a major life event.  He and his wife helped me get organized and prepare myself for what life is like when you lose a parent.  Thankfully, God knew I needed many parent figures in my life and He gave me a Chuckles.  My godfather is so good at making the stranger a friend...and helping people belong.

Smell good man.
 I wont say his name here...because he is not the kind of man who needs praise and adoration.  He is a simple kind of man with a big love for his people.  He was the father of one of my dearest friends in high school...and when I was going through a particularly rough period during the summer of my senior year in high school, he loved me (and all of our friends) like we were his own. My parents were divorcing and it felt like quite a surprise to me and it also made me second guess everything about myself.  Divorce can do that.  In a period of time when I was quite the opposite of my typically easy going, lovable, outgoing self....this man looked at me and didn't see hurt....didn't see brokenness...didn't see the mistakes piling up....He saw sparkle.  He saw light.  He saw beauty and he (and his sweet wife) loved me through one of the hardest times in my life.  I was broken and I didn't want anything to do with anyone. And this precious man...who always smells of Brut cologne, just loved me right where I was.  To this day, every time I smell Brut cologne, I am filled with the sweetest memories of this man. When I see him and his sweet wife, I feel like I am transported back to my teenage years and right into the arms of this father-figure who walked through the valley with me.  I don't even know if he knows how much his presence has meant to me.  When my own father passed away earlier this year, it was so incredibly difficult.  But, this sweet man stood in the long visitation line just to come give me, one of his adopted (if not ragamuffin) children, a hug and to let her know that he cared. and that I was still sparkles!  Gosh, I wanna love others like that.

My sweet Brian has not been like a father to me personally...but he is like a father to our precious girls.  They don't refer to him as father or dad...they just call him Brian.  But, they know that Brian means a whole lot to them.  Brian is constantly going and working and they know that every thing he does, he does for them.  They love Brian.  He is kind and patient and personifies Christ's love.  I love that our girls have this example of a godly man.  I love that they see that you don't have to be loud and proud and a boss to be a godly man.  You can be kind and hard working and love God and others.  I love seeing Brian taking care of our girls.  He loves them so much.  He would do anything for them.  He would do anything to protect them.  He was born to be live out who he just be Brian to these girls of ours.  My buddy loves big and serves with his whole heart.  He reminds me so much of Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables

Webster's dictionary has several definitions of father...but the one definition that stands out the most to me and is so much more than someone who shares genetics (and also defines these five men I have written about) is this:
father (noun)- someone who takes care of or protects someone or something.
All five of these men have done this for me and the people I love.  I am so thankful for fathers of all kinds.    Happy Father's Day!!!

"Everyone wants to feel secure and wanted.  We all want to belong.  He said He would not leave us as waifs on the street; He comes for us.  He never forgets the children whose names are written on the palm of His hand.  God makes us belong.  He is enough.  At every bend in the road, our father is waiting for us, reaching out His arms.  And we are orphans no more"   -Lorilee Craker

Daddy's Hands.

“And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Matthew 23:9
What is Jesus telling us when He says “call not man your father on earth?” We celebrate Father’s Day every year because Daddy’s are a special gift given to us by God. Jesus is not saying that we cannot call your Dad Daddy. No, you keep calling him Daddy.

But, Jesus is pointing us to an even greater special gift. You see, God created everything in the universe and God created you and your parents and brothers and sisters and me.  Whenever we repent of our sins and put our faith in Jesus Christ alone, we are adopted into Jesus’ family.
Do you know what that makes God to us? That makes Him our Daddy! This is what Jesus is saying when He says, “For you have one Father, who is in heaven.” When we are adopted through our faith into God’s family, He becomes a Daddy to us and we then get all of the benefits of being a child of God!