Saturday, December 31, 2016

Vision with Action

“Vision without action is merely a dream.
Action without vision just passes the time.
Vision with action can change the world.”
Joel  Barker

Tomorrow is the beginning of a new year.  Clocks, phones, computers, and calendars will advance.  Checks and correspondence will need to include 2017 as part of the date.  There is much anticipation about beginning anew with hopes, dreams, and goals.

Today is a good time to reflect on and give thanks for this past year and then spend time and energy beginning to look forward, with vision and purpose, to what actions need to take place in the days and year to come.  In the Old Testament book of Zechariah, God instructed His children of some important rules to follow.  They are worthy of His followers in 2017 to apply as well.

“Here is your part: 
Tell the truth.
Be fair.
Live at peace with everyone.
Don’t plot harm to others;
Don’t swear that something is true when it isn’t!
How I hate all that sort of thing!” says the Lord.
Zechariah 8:16-17 (The Living Bible)

Fortunately, when we mess up God doesn’t make us wait until January 1st to start over again.  He is faithful to forgive us and help make all things new every single day of the year.  May this be the year we seek to see God’s vision, purpose, and plan and actively respond in obedience.

He must become greater; I must become less.
John 3:30

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17 

This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:16. 18-19

Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

If people can’t see what God is doing,
    they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
    they are most blessed.
Proverbs 29:18 (The Message)

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.
Philippians 3:13-14

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Greatest Gift of All

The shopping is done; the list has been double checked; and the gifts are wrapped and ready to give.  All year long I’ve been listening for hints, in order to find just the right gift for each person.  Now is the time to give and enjoy the presents.

As much as I want to give the best gift to each person, in reality there will be presents that break, are soon outgrown, or not used for a while.  But at the first Christmas, God gave us the greatest gift of all in the birth of Jesus, our Immanuel, “God with us.”  The present of His presence is with us always, not just once a year on Christmas Day.

I’ve noticed with gifts that for a present to be mine to enjoy and appreciate that I must first accept the gift.  Then it must be unwrapped and put to use.  The same goes for God’s precious gift of Jesus.  Before the Jesus can become my Lord and Savior, I must accept His gift as my own.  Each day I must decide how much I wish for God’s gift to have an impact on and make a difference in my life.  In response, may my attitude, words, deeds, and obedience reflect my gratitude.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Luke 2:10-11

 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
I John 4:9

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A New Home

The furniture, refrigerator, washer, dryer, and lots and lots of boxes have been moved to our new to us home.  There has been much to do and ponder this week.

* Organized labeling makes it easier to locate items.
* Treasures sometimes take time to find because they are hidden inside other items.
* Priorities needed to be established to choose what to unpack and set up first.
* Perseverance and persistence are the mottos for the day, week…
* It is worth finding the right place for the item and not just sticking it anywhere and having to find a place at another time.
* Sometimes you need to stop the unpacking and take care of other important tasks.
* It’s enjoyable and beneficial when others help with the move.
* Someone else’s expertise in decorating/room arrangement is a welcomed gift that can make a big difference.
* There is a process in learning which switch turns on which light and how some of the switches work, as well as how to load the dishwasher from the left instead of the right.
* Even when you’re not all moved in, the call of family takes precedence.
* It’s family that makes a house a home.

This has been a week of continuing to be overwhelmed with how much God has blessed us with our new home, even more than we could ever ask or imagine.  In the future, there will be another new home that God will provide that we will love and enjoy even more than this one.  We won’t need to pack or unpack boxes, be concerned about the décor or placement of furniture, or be responsible about learning how everything works.  Jesus already has it ready for when the time comes.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

John 14:2

Saturday, December 10, 2016

GST - Part 2

God Standard time continues…  These past few days there were so many events that were on the agenda with little room for additional happenings.  They were all good and important things.  In the midst of everything, Lori and Chad’s fourth baby was due.  I began to play out all the scenarios in my mind.   When I was finally still enough to think and listen, it was like God reminded me that if He was big enough to make all the house events come to pass, surely he could orchestrate the important things of the week.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 – closed on the selling of our house.  Our great niece was born.

Thursday, December 1, 2016 – Larry helped with the funeral of our dear, dear friend Pat Perry.  That night we were able to go the hospital and meet our great niece, Amelia, and visit with her parents, Melissa and Andrew.

Friday, December 2, 2016 – At 5:15 a.m., we received a call from Chad that today was probably the day to meet grandchild #6.  We got ready and packed for a few days visit, knowing we would need to be back on Sunday for Larry to teach a class.  The roads were clear and we made great time.  We met Lori and Chad at the mall in Waco.  Lori was walking, in order to help speed along the process.  Around 2:10, after walking 4½ miles, Lori checked into the hospital.  Two hours later, at 4:10, Della James was born.  Della is named after her Granddad, Larry “Dale” along with another family name.  There are so many things to treasure and ponder about that day.  What a sweet blessing to be in the room and hear Chad pray for Della.  It was such a joy to see the three siblings so excited about her arrival.

Sunday we were back home for church and the Children’s choir program.

Monday, December 5, 2016 – We closed on our new to us home.  The seller, Larry, and I arrived before our agents.  We took the opportunity to share the amazing gift of God’s timing throughout the process.  Connie was teary eyed as she agreed with us.  We are so glad we closed at the same time so we could express our gratitude to the seller and her agent.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 – packing up and moving day.  Because of such a quick time frame of selling, buying, and closing on our houses, we were short on time for securing a moving date.   The man we chose to move us had two out of town moves Monday and Tuesday of this week and was leaving on a mission trip to Japan on Thursday.  He was available to pack up and move us on Wednesday, the day we chose to move!  The men started the process of packing and loading at 7:00 a.m. and finished the delivery to our new to us house at 8:00 p.m.  The past several days have been rainy, misty, and cold.  Moving day was clear skies and beautiful weather.  Pinky and Jim came over and helped us pack and unpack.  The young married department, that has adopted me as their staff wife, provided food for meals this week.  Their thoughtfulness was such a sweet gift during this time.

Thursday, December 8, 2016 – Eda came and helped us unpack the kitchen.  What a gift to have an important part of moving completed.  Then another dear friend, Cindy, called her stager/decorator friend to help us know the best placing of our furniture.  Knowing she is really busy, we were prepared for it to be a few weeks before she could come.  Valerie “happened to be available” that afternoon to stop by.  Now we can unpack without having to changes things up later. 

These past weeks have been a wonderful reminder of the importance of trusting God and His timing and provision rather than worrying.  God has proven Himself faithful time and time again.  I am continuing to learn that God’s timing is worth waiting for and celebrating.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Matthew 6:27

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Getting Ready/Being Prepared

These past few months we have been busy getting ready to move.  Drawers and cabinets have been gone through and cleaned out, furniture and items we will not need or have room for have been given away, and we have been packing.  Even some décor has found another home.  The more we can do now, the easier and more productive the moving process will be.
Lists of address changes, insurance policies, and other important items have been written on the growing “Things to Do” list.  It has been interesting to see which items can wait until later versus the ones that need priority attention now.
In the meantime, Chad, Lori, and their children have been getting ready to welcome baby number four to their family.  The Christmas tree and decorations went up the first weekend in November because that was when Daddy had time.  Newborn clothes and other items are washed and ready.  The bed is set up.  For months, the kids have been learning and practicing new skills in order to help each other when their brother or sister arrives.  And Larry and I are ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Especially now with all the hustle and bustle, busy schedule, preparing to move, and welcoming a grandchild, the importance of intentionally getting ready and being prepared for Christmas needs to be a priority.  The Advent Season, along with Advent calendars and Bible readings, help focus on the reason for the celebration of this season.  When that is kept in perspective, the other preparations will find their proper place.  In the New Testament, Timothy and Peter remind us of the importance of always being prepared, no matter what the season.   And I’m finding that it’s easier to be prepared when I stay ready.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
2 Timothy 4:2
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
I Peter 3:15

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Last year, during the holidays, we began considering moving to a one story house.  Larry felt like I would be able to enjoy the whole house rather than waiting for him to be home whenever I wanted or needed to go upstairs.  We both love our home, neighbors, and neighborhood so it was not a decision we wanted to make lightly.  We talked and prayed for wisdom about the timing and decided to put our house on the market it March.  One of my prayers all along was that I wanted it to be the house that God wanted us to have and that we would know, without a doubt, that it was His provision and in His timing.   I did mention to Larry that since we were trying to sell so early in the year that we wouldn’t get to enjoy another crop of lemons from our tree.  Although we have had the lemon tree for seven years, last year was the first time it produced.

Larry and I made the commitment that we would sell our home before purchasing another one.  That meant that the timing would need to work out for us to sell and buy in a short span of time.  These 8 months we have operated on what our pastor, Duane Brooks, refers to as God’s Standard Time (GST.)  We had one contract that fell through, but were still at peace waiting for God’s perfect timing and provision.  In the meantime, we have been looking at houses off and on to see what we really wanted and where we wanted to locate.  One by one, the houses were quickly bought.  Two months ago on a Saturday, we looked at a home that we both really liked.  Our agent was honest with us and told us that it would probably be on the market less than a week.  As we were leaving, I knew she was right about someone purchasing it quickly.  By Monday there was a bidding war and the house was sold.  Since we had still not sold our home, we did not make an offer.  We found other homes, but still liked that one best for its looks, proximity to the freeway, and the feel of home.

Towards the end of October, our agent suggested us taking the house off the market on November 15th.  There was peace in the decision since we still enjoy living here and were willing to trust God’s timing to pursue moving.  Then November arrived.  On Monday morning, Larry and I both spent time praying about the house, knowing we had just 2 weeks left with it on the market.  Larry had mentioned a price he would be content with if we could sell it for that amount.  Our desire was to do God’s Will.  We just needed to know what it was.  Unbeknownst to us, that morning a man had delivered some papers to our next door neighbor and saw that our house was for sale.  He inquired about the house and Frank told him he had been in our home and it was a great house.  That afternoon I received a text that someone wanted to see the house that evening.  Larry and I left to run a few errands and then went to Starbucks to wait and visit while the people looked at the house.  We soon received a phone call from our agent saying the client’s agent called.  The man wanted the house and made an offer.  It was $3,000.00 more than Larry had mentioned that morning when he prayed and the exact amount of the later appraisal of the house!

We left Starbucks and decided to drive around the neighborhood we hoped to live in to see if any other houses had recently gone on the market.  As we drove past the original house we had really liked, it had a “Coming Soon” sign on it.  The previous bidder had backed out of the contract and it was going back on the market!!!  We called our agent and she drew up a contract to submit as soon as it was back on the market.  In the meantime, a friend encouraged me to write a letter to the owner of the house to deliver with the contract.  Our agent decided to submit the contract and letter early and the owner accepted our bid before placing the house back on the market.  In one week’s time, God provided a buyer for our house, an acceptance for a contract on a house that was not yet on the market…a house that was not available 8 months ago when we first began looking.  Knowing that there would have again been a bidding war on the house, which we could not have participated, we believe and accept this as God’s generous provision.

Oh to have the faith, trust, and patience to live on God’s Standard Time for every area of my life.  And for the record, we are the recipients of another bountiful harvest of lemons on the tree.   As we enjoy and share them, we will also leave some fruit on the tree as a welcome gift for the new family that will live here.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 34:8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19