Warm Wednesday Words: God Leads His Dear Children

 

fear notThe only guarantee you have in life as a Christian is that God will lead you through whatever is ahead and, if you let Him, He will use it for good.  If you’re one of those people who feel you have life squarely under control, enjoy that feeling while it lasts, because it is a fleeting illusion.  Whether it’s the dandelions in your yard or something of a far more serious nature, life holds variables.  We like to know what’s ahead.  We think this makes us feel secure.  Having a plan insofar as our insight takes us, is a good thing.  However, we need to keep our eyes on Christ in this sojourn, because life circumstances may veer out of our “controlled” course.  But they will never, ever veer outside of God’s control.  It is not what we know about the future.  It is Who we know, because He will lead us.  It may be hard, at times, to keep our eyes on Him and pray in faith, instead of taking in the enemy’s lies, but God will gently lead us along, lifting our focus back to Him, come what may.


He not only will lead us, He sometimes will carry us.  Most of us have read the poem about the footprints in the sand and we may even have these sure enough words framed on our wall.   Our Savior really will pick us up and let us take refuge from the storm, while He carries us.  As my pastor reminded me recently, “He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.”  (Ps. 18:30b) He is a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.  (Ps. 9:9)  When we get “down under it all”, He often sends someone to “pick us up” with prayers, encouraging words, and other tokens of love and friendship.  His arm is not too short to reach down to us and pull us up to refuge one way or another.

In the place of refuge and surrender we find rest, grace, faith, trust, promises, renewal, nurturing, comfort and liberating eternal perspectives.  This place of refuge is a hidden place of shelter and not for the double minded.  Our baggage of pride, control, plans, ideas, fears, worries and expectations gets checked at the “door”.  In their place we get so much more.  Circumstances may or may not be going on the course we prefer, but there, in our Refuge, we regain our footing of trust in the One who will navigate us through the storms and variables and not waste a thing along the way.   The saying is much more true than trite, “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow.”

coffee

 

 

 

Honing in to Your Story When it’s Hard

There are times when I know the direction I’m headed is right.  In fact, on occasion, it may have involved a decision  I wasn’t happy to have to make.  In the big scope of things, I am talking about usually small decisions that many acquaintances wouldn’t even be aware of.  There are a few safeguards that boost my confidence as I make decisions, especially when they effect others.  First, I see if the decision squares with my spiritual plumb line that lights my path, I pray about it and take note if I feel God’s leading through scriptures or someone’s counsel, I give it ample time to fade from my thoughts, I evaluate  my motives to detect selfish ambitions or wrong motives, and, as a wife, I make sure I have the blessing of my husband, and not only that, have his best interests at heart.  If it passes those safeguards, then I just keep honing into the voice that is calling me a particular way.

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I will, from time to time, have to put my focus back on Christ, my Good Shepherd.  He has the best tailor made plan for me and my future, and only He can see what’s ahead. There may be some around me who have been friends in the past, or maybe still are, who will not understand, or worse yet, will persist in judging unfairly.  It may be sad to leave the comfort of their approval.  As Holley Gerth says in “You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream”,  “If you have prayed, planned, and sought wise counsel from a small group of people in your life, then go ahead and move forward….Be prepared for the questions – and even opposition.  Then smile, nod, and move ahead anyway.”  I may long for people, especially friends, to understand better, but I won’t let it keep me from following the path I know is for me.

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Thankfully, there are most often life seasons when I am doing what the majority of people around me expect.  Those are fun times and, oh, how I love them.  It is nice to be lifted up by the euphoria of camaraderie, even if just a friend or two nearby.  Thank God I’ve had  more of those times than the lonely path of misunderstandings and misjudgements.   I often seek out a support group, either locally, or online, for some difficult role or season in life.  But there are times when I know I am called to do what I’m doing in this or that decision, be it a big one or small one, with or without the accolades of most of my community and there is just not energy or even desire to seek out support.

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It’s those times, as I forge ahead and resolve to smile and forbear despite the momentary heartache of someone’s disapproval, when I feel wrapped in Christ’s love like a cocoon.  He makes Himself real, often with an added confirmation, a sweet dream, or a personal affirmation from some unexpected source.  Always, I feel His love, leading and comfort.  I keep taking the next step and growing in trust.  He humbles me with the knowledge that I have been in the judging position where I didn’t belong at times, whether consciously or subconsciously.  This is not to throw the towel in with the huge lot out there who think they’re being world peacemakers and diplomats by rarely having a judgment on anything.  The difference is in judging by our own thoughts, standards or experiences rather than by God’s Word (that plumb line I mentioned at the beginning).  Most decisions I make in my life are small ones that don’t make ripples far beyond my own home.  But they add up to a life story.  And with God’s help, guidance and love, the story will be mine and have His blessing.  It won’t look exactly like anyone else’s, nor should it.

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Your story won’t look like that of anyone else either.  Have you ever had to leave a comfort zone of approval because you knew you were following a plan God had nudged you toward?

Emptying Nest

This month marks the beginning of the end of my homeschooling mom/teacher/superintendent role of over 25 years.  Not to discount my husband’s role of buying enough books over the years to make a library, loading school on the computer for countless years, whisking me away from the mad house on occasion, etc.  However, the emotional changes ahead loom most heavily on me.  While I look forward to some changes, I also hold a little tightly onto a few last times of this or that…chatting with my teens, coffee cups in hand, looking at their art, talking about a book, bugging them with computer techy questions.   They may not like me saying so, but they are my last “chicks in the nest”.   Our cozy times together…well, I want them to linger.

It is hard to believe seven kids have grown up and five have made their way out of the nest.  Here’s to memories of our family nest.   Dedicated to……. Anna (who, before we adopted, started out in her own nest with her dad, two brothers and Olga, and then spent two years with half- sister Carrie) & husband, Matt, and kids,  Julia, Joy, Kristina, Rachel, Maddie, Bethany, Jennaleigh, Alaina; Candace & husband, Dan & kids, Kinsley, Sophie, Trux, Gilly; Caleb & fiance, Daisy, and her kids, Cassie, Ethan & Rilee; Jared & wife, Amber;  Zion,  Jacob, Hannah

Just a few more months of Candace being the one and only little “chick”.

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Family nest growing in Columbia

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Good times in the Rolla house, where Jared joined us.

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I will never forget that moment when Anna left the nest for her honeymoon.  First one out!  Bittersweet, indeed.

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                       Mom and Daddy, Anna, Matt & Julia join us to visit Grandma Brand.  Jacob is a few months from birth!

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Fourth son has joined the gang.  St. Louis zoo wanted to keep some of you guys, but we just couldn’t do it.

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On the ferry in Canada.  Oh yeah, a new chickie in the nest, and it’s a girl!

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With Mom English and  Grandma DeWitt in Michigan

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 Fun times in Bourbon, MO, with nieces, nephews, Julia, etc.

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With Brittany at Mom and Daddy’s house

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Samson, Caleb and Jared at the  Bourbon place with THE granddaddy Maple in the back ground that no one wanted to leave and the playhouse that Dad built for you all

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With Grandpa Williams and Goldie in Ellington

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Fun in Branson

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Kids, dogs and Snowmen at Pine Valley Farm

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Siblings, Cousins and Friends Cellar Meetup

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More family times at Mom and Daddy’s Keysville house with Julia, Candace, Kelsey

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Caleb leaves for the army from Pine Valley Farm.  Second one to leave the nest.  Still not used to this.

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I said you were part Cherokee, so you took the matter into your own hands!

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My rock stars in Wyoming

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Third “chick” out of the nest.  Not sure if it gets any easier.

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But fun times with Dan and Candace eases the newest transition!

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Caleb is on leave from the army and comes home to Pine Valley

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Dad and four kids all driving madly in go carts!

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A very relaxing train ride from Branson into Arkansas

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Sons – Never a dull moment

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Caleb with friends, Chris and Player

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Zion’s high school passions

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POST SPELUNKING – Back:  Jared & Nathan; Front:  Zion, Gabby, Jacob, Hannah, Kara, Courtney, Jesse

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Seriously, sons? At the time of this photo three out of four boys and a total of five kids have flown the coop!

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Lovely Daughters inside and out

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And daughter-in-laws, too!  (Get to update this pic to 5 gals in a week!)

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Some of you have made beautiful nests of your own!

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We love being grandparents!

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Some have flown far from the nest, but are now closer!  Yay!

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Some of you are still across the world.  Can’t wait to see you again!

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Some of you are making your mark in life and still call this home your nest from afar.

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The last little chicks in the nest, who aren’t so little!  Only one left in school.

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And the baby, who will never escape that title (said and meant with all endearment).

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JoyDare December 8

December 8 – A GIFT HUNG, HELD, HEARD

IMAG0401I am thankful for this clock, which was a handmade gift from Tony’s dad, Bill English.  He enjoys clock making and many other creative woodworking ventures.  We don’t get to see him very often, so it is extra special, especially to Tony.   It does hourly chimes and often is set to special occasion tunes such as birthdays, etc.  This family clock has marked many days, hours and minutes, even seasons,  and is now gracing us with its presence in a second home since it was given to us.   We get so used to the sounds, we hardly even notice them, but sometimes we have to turn off the chimes for family staying over, not being used to the sounds in the night stillness.   It had a farm picture in it, but our daughter-in-law, Amber, used her talent with calligraphy to switch it to a garden theme.

I ran across this quaint little clock poem.

The Watchmaker’ Shop ~

A street in our town has a queer little shop
With tumble – down walls and a thatch on the top;
and all the wee windows with crookedy panes
are shining and winking with watches and chains.

all sorts and all sizes, in silver and gold,
and brass ones and tin ones, and new ones and old;
and clocks for the kitchen, and clocks for the hall,
high ones and low ones, and wag -at -the -wall

The watchmaker sits on a long-legged seat
and bids you the time of the day when you meet;
and round and about him there’s tickety-tock
from the tiniest watch to the grandfather clock.

I wonder he doesn’t get tired of the chime
and all the clocks ticking and telling the time;
But there he goes winding lest any should stop,
This queer little man in the watchmaker’s shop.

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