Friday, December 6, 2013

Current Life Update - Insert

It's been a while since I blogged, you've noticed??  Well, life has had a few changes, and I've not had time to drum my fingers on the table wondering what to write.  My husband is still awaiting employment, but meanwhile we changed locations.  We are now in St. Louis, MO, spending a few weeks with our son and granddaughters (we get to see them on the weekends when they come to visit Dad).  

We had come to St. Louis early November to put some elbow grease into our son's house which needs some TLC.  We decided Paul could search for jobs from here as well as from Michigan, and it's always nice to head south for the winter!!  So we went back home for Thanksgiving, spent a day with Paul's family, and then began marathon packing.  Earlier this week we drove down two vehicles, hauling two trailers, packed to the hilt.  We have enough stuff with us to set up housekeeping when Paul does get a job and we once again get our own place.  Our son's house is large enough to store whatever we brought with us.  

Meanwhile we do have a house and a cottage for sale back at Indian Lake on the campground.  You can view those listings at the camp web site: 
Once you are on the web site, click on Props To Buy and you will see what is currently available for sale on the campground.  I might add that these are cash only sales due to campground restrictions.  Sort of makes it hard to sell a house, but we believe God will provide a buyer in His good time.  We have a caretaker for the house and cottage who will gladly show them for us at our request.

So these days we are keeping busy on this old house.  It has great bones, very nice floor plan, lots of space.  It just needs attention, and that's what we are here make home improvements, and to keep us busy as we await the next phase of life.  We have had one tug on the line, and we are waiting to see if it's the one God intends for us.  Meanwhile, He remains in charge of open and closed doors, and we totally trust Him!!

I hope to be back blogging during this sojourn, but if I don't get back soon to my life story, I wish you all the beauty and rest of this holy season we are now in.  Focus on Jesus, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind...and meanwhile, love your neighbor as well.  Be a blessing to many, and pass the love of Jesus along!!  You'll be happier, and He will be pleased!!  (and, by the way, if you laugh at wishing you "rest" during this hustle, bustle season, then be sure and read the next sentence following that one...put your focus in the right place, and the other pieces will fall into place for you!)

Monday, October 21, 2013

10- My Story, God's Story - Pre-Children Years

It's been quite a while since I have blogged another chapter of my life and the path God has brought me down.  First of all, an update on our current situation.  

Paul and I both resigned our positions at Indian Lake Nazarene Camp effective in July.  Paul received a two month extension to give guidance to camp directorship until they found new leadership.  An interim executive director started the first of August, and his term will be over October 31st.  We have not heard of anyone filling that position when he leaves.  

Paul has not received a paycheck since August 1st.  He has applied to several camp and corporate positions from Michigan to North Carolina, but thus far has had no interviews.  Because he resigned, he is not qualified to receive unemployment.  So we are without income and without insurance, while the nation struggles over obama-care and government shut downs.  Crazy world right now!  Sure glad we have our anchor in Jesus Christ.  Thus far God has supplied our needs, and we know He will not fail us.  

We are anxious for work, and would like to move south.  However, we must wait on God and be flexible in His plans.  It's not always easy to be patient, but it's the best choice we have at this point!

Back in 1976 when Paul graduated from Michigan Tech he took his first job with Olin Chemicals in Charleston, Tennessee.  We moved to Cleveland and rented a two bedroom townhouse apartment in a new complex that had a club house and a pool.  This was luxury to us!!  Little by little we started to purchase furniture, but for a while we sat on the steps, and ate at a card table.  We must have made a bedroom set our first purchase, but I don't remember it.  I also don't recall sleeping on the floor.  (The house we had rented our first year of marriage was furnished). 

In trying to get to know the city layout, I would go on drives down different streets to see where they led.  If I got lost, I just got out the city map, and found my way back to familiar territory.  What a nice town we lived in!  We loved the climate, especially in the winter!!  Cleveland had everything we needed, but we would drive 25 miles down I-75 to Chattanooga for entertainment.  So many historical sites to see and fun places, like the Chattanooga Choo-Choo complex and Lookout Mountain.  I found it strange that I had honeymooned in Chattanooga with my first husband, and now Paul and I lived half an hour from the city and sites.

Our first winter in the "south" we were amused when it snowed, perhaps accumulating a couple of inches.  Remember, we came from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where record snowfall was up over the clothes-line.  When it snowed in Cleveland, it pretty much shut everything down.  They did not have equipment to handle plowing snow, since it never stayed long.  Usually it was melted within a day or two.  Kids would take lunch trays and slide down the mall parking lot, which was slightly sloped.  They were so excited to have snow to play in!!

I found a part time secretarial job, but I didn't stay with it very long.  Not sure why.  I was involved at the church....Cleveland First Church of the Nazarene.  I worked with children in the Caravan program and children's church.  I had met a good friend, Judy, and the two of us teamed up together in the children's department.  Paul sang in the choir.  Seems like we fit right in, and everyone was so accepting of us.  If the church had a young people's hay ride, it usually ended up being for the whole church.  It was a small church, but very much a family.  We were teased about our "Yankee" accent.  I so wanted to be able to talk like they did, but I can't fake accents.  I just had to learn to talk more slowly so they understood me.

I started to take classes at Cleveland State Community College, but soon found myself pregnant with our first child.  During this time we had a period of discontentment with the church and decided to move to Chattanooga to be near a larger Nazarene church.  We rented a large two bedroom townhouse duplex with a nice size yard.  Paul had a longer commute to work, but he didn't mind it.  Also, he traveled quite a bit on job assignments and flew out of the Chattanooga airport, which was not that far from where we lived.  

He had been gone a week, just getting back home, when I began to have labor pains.  We went to the Memorial Hospital around 7:30 in the morning, and our first son was born around 1 p.m.  Baby Cory.  What a bundle of joy to behold!!  And that's a story for the next chapter in our lives!

Post Script:  It's hard to make the memories from 38 years ago come alive again.  After I posted this I recalled a couple of extra things to add to those pre-children years of our lives.  We bought our first home after living in the apartment for a year.  It was a very nice home...a three bedroom, three bath tri-level with a large front porch with Spanish arches, and a two car garage and workshop.  The lower level was finished with a family room, bathroom, and laundry room.  It had a large fenced in private back yard...but we didn't have any dogs or kids yet.  Believe it or not, we purchased the home for $35,000.  It was in a nice neighborhood also.  Back then I remembered seeing a home for sale for $100,000, and I thought to myself "we will never live in a home that cost that much!"  Now days even $100,000 doesn't buy very much.  Times and economics have drastically changed!

With all the space we had in our home, we invited Judy to live with us until she got herself established in a job and could afford her own place.  That was a good relationship, she felt more like our sister.  Before long she moved out into her own apartment.  Soon after that she married Bill and moved to a new home they built in Polk County.  They were some of the best friends we have ever had.  Their lives changed eventually, but that is their story, not mine to tell.  We do still keep in touch with Bill on occasion.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

9 - My Story, God's Story - Marriage and Our First Year Together

On the eve of our 38th anniversary, what an appropriate time to recall that day in our lives that doesn't really seem so long ago...and yet so many miles back down the road.  As I write this, we are on the brim of a new chapter in our lives.  We are waiting for God to lead us on to our next assignment.  We have been ten years here at Indian Lake Nazarene Campground, and it's time for new leadership for ILNC and a new direction for us.  I'm not too often in the blogging mood, but as I blog, I will try to keep our current life status up to date for anyone who may be following my blog.  Even though blogs are not as popular as they used to be, and people prefer other social means of connecting, such as Facebook (which I do not participate in) or texting, or twittering, I'm an "old-fashioned" kind of girl.  Journaling and blogging will continue to be my outlet, but only as I discipline myself to do so.

Our marriage came about as an economical decision.  I was working as a teller in a Savings and Loan, living in my parents' house.  Paul was a student heading back for his senior year at MTU.  I had been spending about $200 a month on phone calls to him (in the 70's), and decided it would be cheaper to find a place to rent near the college, and get a job there.  Then we decided that it would be cheaper still if we didn't have to pay both my rent and his college room and board.  So we started talking about an October wedding, during his fall break.

Because our plans were not shared openly, a little birdie decided to cause some problems and upset the apple cart, and we ended up planning our wedding with a two week time limit.  We were married on August 23, 1975 in a very simple ceremony at my church, with only two attendants (our best friends at the time), and mostly family as guests.  Paul and his siblings sang a song for his mother at the reception, and she was pleased.  His brother sang for our ceremony.  We had few flowers and only served cake and mints and nuts at the reception.  It was a hot day in August, no air conditioning, and the frosting was melting on the cake, but I'm sure it still tasted good.

We spent our wedding night at a hotel in Lansing, Michigan, and the next day went to the Lansing Zoo.  On Monday Paul had to be back to work for one more week prior to us moving up to MTU.  Not a long honeymoon, but still a memorable one to us.  I had already resigned my job, and I spent that last week getting things packed for our move to begin our married life in Houghton, MI.

I got  a job as a teller at a Savings & Loan in Hancock.  Our apartment was a second floor of an old house about five blocks up from the Lake Superior channel.  It was cool to hear the barges go through at night and blow their fog horns.  At Christmas they were decorated with green and red lights.

We had a Pekingese puppy named Rikki.  We were a family and life was interesting living the the U.P. where snow fall is over the clothes line and stays that way all winter.  Many streets were not plowed, and people built sidewalks from their second floor out to the streets.  The snow plows up there were huge machines.  Snow started in September, and didn't melt until late May.  Just a different way of life!  Paul lived there for four years and decided when he graduated he was going south the of the Mason-Dixon line and not going back north!

I was a member of the Church of the Nazarene when I married Paul.  He had been raised Evangelical United Brethern.  Neither of those churches existed in our area, so we visited a Baptist church and an Assembly of God church.  The other choice was Catholic.  We liked the music and the preaching at the Assembly of God church, so that's were we attended most of the time.

We existed on my $150 every two weeks paycheck, and spent about $25 a week for groceries.  We made homemade tortillas and had lots of tacos and macaroni and cheese that first year of marriage.  We couldn't afford to eat out often, but when we did, and it was such a treat, we had a pizza or went to  Elias Brothers' Big Boy.  McDonald's Big Mac was advertised on television, but the closest one was 90 miles away, so forget Big Mac attacks!!

While Paul was finishing his senior year as a Chemical Engineer major, I took some classes as well:  Beginning Bowling, Beginning Tennis, and Beginning Golf.  I had married an athletic person, and I wanted to "get in shape" with my skills.  Certainly I needed to know how to golf, as that was his hobby and I intended on spending time with him.

In the spring of his senior year, we went on some interview trips.  One was to Richmond, Virginia, one to Dayton, Ohio, and one to Charleston, Tennessee.  He chose to go with the company in Tennessee.  South of the Mason-Dixon line.  A place where you did not have to golf with orange golf balls in May so they could be found in the snow.  We loved living in the south, but that's another chapter.  God was continuing to guide our lives, and we were content to follow.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

8 - My Story, God's Story - Courtship of Paul and Carol

I know it's been a while since I posted a chapter on my life, and how God has guided me.  I am hoping as I begin to type this chapter, I will get inspired.  There are many things I could write about, but I want to keep this "story" focused on God's intervention in my life through the years.

After seeing Paul for the last time that summer so long ago, I figured that was it.  Our paths would not cross again.  My friend and I went up to Mackinac Island for a weekend (her husband rode his bike up with a crew, and we were to meet him up there).  I was to the stage of wanting to meet someone.  She and I went into a bar to get something to eat and some soft drinks.  Somehow, the atmosphere just didn't feel right to me.  My first husband had a problem with alcohol, and I certainly did not want to meet someone who drank.  I made the decision to leave that place, and just allow God time to bring someone into my life, if it was His will.

The rest of that weekend I could not get Paul's smile out of my mind.  I decided to write a friendly letter and see if he would like to have a pen pal.  I would be willing to send him cookies also.  He wrote back and told me that he'd be home for fall break and he would look me up.  When he came home, he stopped over on Friday night to meet me, but he already had other plans.  On Saturday he came back and spent the afternoon, and we played games.  He asked me out for Sunday night, a night I usually go to church, but because I knew he was leaving again on Monday, I accepted.  We went to Grand Rapids to a movie.  It was a nice evening.  We had spent the weekend just talking and getting to know each other better.

Even though I wrote to him again, I never heard back from him.  So much for that!  I ended up selling my house and moving back home to care for my parents, as they both had cancer.  I had hoped to move to Bourbonnais, Illinois, get a job at ONU, and work on my college education.  However, I felt I should stay home to care for Mom and Dad.

At Christmas time, one dark night, there was Paul at our door!!  He had brought me a very large box of chocolates, wrapped in lavender paper (not Christmas paper...lavender was a favorite color of mine, but he wouldn't have known that).  He was home for Christmas break, and wanted to get together.  I took him to a church Christmas party on New Year's Eve.  When he brought me home, I told him that I would not be able to get serious with him because I had learned that he was Catholic, and I was Protestant.  That was just one of those rules in life I had been taught...the two should not marry, but one should marry a person of like faith, and raise their children in that faith.  Well, after allowing me to struggle explaining that to him, he laughed and said that his family had left the Catholic church when his brother was born.  He wasn't an avid church goer, but when he did go, he went to a Methodist church.  Somehow that brought me great God was saying its okay for me to date Paul.

Mom and Dad recovered from their cancer again, and decided to head to Florida, as was their regular winter custom.  I stayed behind in Michigan since I was working at the Savings and Loan.  I could tell I was really smitten with Paul.  He was so different from my first husband.  He was tall, good-looking, intelligent, easy to be with, honest, humble...and I was just very comfortable with him.  I began to pray in earnest about our future.  I was ready to surrender him, discontinue our relationship, if God wanted me to do that.  I didn't need to make another mistake in marriage.  It just seemed that somehow God kept giving me the green light, that He approved of my growing relationship with Paul.

During Paul's spring break from college, we flew to Florida to spend a week with my parents.  I had two weeks vacation, so my second week I drove Paul back to school in the U.P...a ten hour drive one way.  I had never been up there, and it was a different way of life, for sure!  They had winters with snow up over the clothes lines.  I managed to get back home safely, and I came home knowing I was in love with Mr. Paul.  He said he loved me too.  God had answered my prayers, and gave me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spring Break 2013 - Myrtle Beach

After spending a few months trying to book a time share in Gatlinburg for our 2013 Spring Break trip with our granddaughters, I finally had to look for other options.  Myrtle Beach had an opening, and we grabbed it!  This was our third trip to Myrtle Beach, but the first time to take the girls.  It was a longer trip than we would have liked, mileage wise, but it worked out okay.  We met our son and granddaughters in Louisville, KY, where we spent the night, and then as he headed back home, we headed to the ocean...a 12 hour trip, allowing for stops.  

I had requested an ocean front room, since we had not had one on our previous two trips to Myrtle Beach, and we were not to be disappointed!!  We were on the 12th floor overlooking the ocean side pools and had a beautiful view of the ocean.  We could open the patio doors and enjoy the sound of the ocean waves and see the activity on the beach.  

There is so much to see and do in Myrtle Beach, even in the "off season"...which we were there the week ahead of regular spring break season...that we had to make a schedule of all that we hoped to do while we were there.  We almost got it all in, but the girls let us know that if we didn't do anything but get to the swimming pool and the ocean front, they would be happy.  Every day we took time to do just that, even though some of the days were a little cooler.  The pools were heated to a constant 85 degrees, so they were comfortable no matter what.  At the ocean front, we sometimes just braved it.

One of the things the girls like to do most was jump the ocean waves and get splashed.

Grandpa preferred the luxury of relaxing at the room most of the time, rather than joining us at the ocean or pool.  We were on the 12th floor of the building behind him.

Sunrises and sunsets were very picturesque.

Here are the girls dressed up for church, standing out on our balcony.  We spent Sunday afternoon at the resort, and then Sunday night we went bowling...something different we had not done before.

The girls chose to go to the pool behind our resort that had the zero entry and water sprays.  They had a lot of fun together, as you will see in the pictures below, and Sunshine was able to teach Princess to swim under water with her eyes open.  I do believe going to the pool was Princess's number one favorite thing to do all week.  It was a good thing the pool was heated!!  Our last day at the pool they played water volley ball with some other kids.


We went shopping almost every day, as there were so many cool places to shop....and we didn't even go to the indoor malls!!  We went to Broadway at the Beach, a shopping and entertainment mecca; Barefoot Landing, with lots of cool shops and tigers on display in cages; and Prime Outlets, where we got our best bargains.  Weary from shopping, we did go miniature golfing one afternoon.  You can see the ocean in the top picture, if you look closely, between the turquoise dome and the tall building.  This was a very challenging course!  They have maybe over 50 miniature golf courses in Myrtle Beach.

We went to Wonderworks at Broadway at the Beach.  It looks like an upside down house, but it's an entertainment complex with many things to do inside.  That's Sunshine at the railing.  She liked to take pictures of the ducks and birds and fish.  Broadway at the Beach, as well as Barefoot Landing, are both shopping meccas built around water, and you could cross over the water on boardwalks to more shops.  There was also several amusement rides for the younger children, and Princess rode a few of those.

Here are some of the pictures Sunshine took of the birds, fish, and ducks.

One night we dressed up and went to a musical show at Alabama Theater.  It was voted the number one show to see in Myrtle Beach, and there were many to choose from.  They presented music from across the decades and genres of music.  It was a long show, but all of us thoroughly enjoyed it!

On our trip back home, we divided it up a little instead of traveling one long day back to Louisville.  We stopped in Asheville, NC for the night.  The next day we drove on to Louisville, where we once again met our son to pick up the girls to take them back home.  After a wonderful week at the ocean front, they went back to a record snowfall and had a snow day from school!  Our spring break week at Myrtle Beach was all that we had hoped it would be, and all four of us want to go back some day.  It's hard to capture fun in pictures, and we had plenty of it!!!  It is always a very special treat for us to be able to have our granddaughters with us.  We are so grateful their parents allow us these times of making memories.  If you are a grandparent, you know what I mean!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

7 - My Story, God's Story - My First Marriage

March was a busy month for me.  We took a week's vacation in the middle of the month and took our two granddaughters down to Myrtle Beach during their spring break.  What a great time we had!! I'm sure I will do a post with pictures sometime soon.  For now I think I better get on another post of my life story before much more time gets away from me.

After I moved back to Michigan from Florida, I was able to get a job in a Savings and Loan institution, where my father often got loans for the houses he built.  It was a small bank, only four employees, including me.  I was the Assistant Secretary-Treasurer, and basically did teller work.  This was in the early 70's and when we moved from posting machines to computers, I was the one that was selected to train new employees as we grew.  I guess being the youngest one there (the others were old enough to be my parents), I had a mind that picked up on the new electronics.  How amusing that is to me today, as I have a hard time keeping up in the technical world...just ask my husband, or my sons, or my granddaughter!!

I liked my job, and Larry got back into church, and things were going pretty smoothly for us.  When he asked me to marry him, it seemed like the right thing to do.  He was going to be a youth pastor, and we were both very involved at church.  He had a lot of charisma, and the people in church liked him.  We got married in August of 1971, large wedding, rainbow colors, everything went beautifully.  We honeymooned in the Smokies and Chattanooga, TN.  (Little did I know I would one day live in that area!).

Larry and my father built our house on a one acre lot in one of my father's subdivisions.  We were both working, and I thought everything was going well.  A little after our two year anniversary Larry started acting aloof.  Then he started to convince me that he was not the right husband for me.  It didn't take long to figure out he was involved outside the marriage.  Within two months he wanted out, was going to get a divorce so I wouldn't have to.  He had the philosophy that "variety is the spice of life".  He had started drinking again, but I knew I had married for life, and even if I had to raise children in an alcoholic home, that was the choice I had made.  However, I did not have the final choice.  He took what he wanted from our material goods, left the house in my name, and he was out of there.  I told him if he left that he should never come back again.  I had taken him back way too many times, and this was the final straw.

He left.  As the door shut behind him, I crumbled on the floor in tears.  I took the Bible from the stand near by and asked God if He rejected me also, since I knew He didn't like divorce.  He led me to read Galatians 5:13, and I paraphrase:  "Carol, I have called you unto freedom.  Only do not use this freedom to please the flesh.  Rather, serve others with love."  In that moment, a miracle occurred.  The love I had felt for Larry totally dissolved and a brand new love for my heavenly Father filled my heart and soul.  I knew He cared for me deeply...He cared enough to relieve me of a marital mess, and set me free from it.  I didn't know what all the rest of the verse meant at that time...except to be careful in my future relationships, to keep them pure.

Shortly after that life changing experience, I found out that I was pregnant as I miscarried at home, alone.  Again, God sparing me from more heartache, I just accepted His will, His way, His love.  I felt so free, so clean, so full of life.  Even my co-workers commented that I was happier than they had ever seen me...that I was fun to be with.  I loved my job, I loved my church responsibilities, I was looking for where God wanted to lead me next.  I felt like I should sell my house and perhaps go back to college and get a business degree, perhaps working in the business office, or being a dorm mother.  So that became my plan.  Meanwhile, both of my parents ended up with cancer at the same time.  My house sold, but I moved back home with them to be their care taker, while I continued to work at the savings and loan.

There wasn't anyone my age at one for me to hang around with.  There were the teenagers, and there were the young married couples with small children.  So I chose to hang around with the teenagers.  Our church had a softball team in a church league, and we would go out to watch the games.  There was one guy on an opposing team that was not only a great ballplayer, but very attractive to me.  I compared him to a cross between Tony Orlando (music world) and Mark Spitz (sports world)...very good looking, very well built.  So I started going out to all the ballgames just to watch him.  I noticed there was never any girlfriend waiting for him.  It was the last game of the season and I knew I wouldn't see him again, so as I drove out of the park, he happened to ride by me on his bike.  I said to him, "Nice game!"  I had a girlfriend with me who yelled out, "Carol!  I can't believe you finally talked to him!"  I was so embarrassed that I spun my tires to get out of there, and he never even saw who I was.  He just remembers the tires spitting gravel as I left.

Thus begins my introduction to Paul...the man who was to become my second husband (and last!).  That's another story.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

6 - My Story, God's Story - More Memories from the Teen Years

Then there was the time when I was in 8th grade and I wanted something new to wear to church on Sunday. Since I was told I couldn't have a new dress, I decided to have a new hairstyle...I would put a blond streak in it.  So I washed my hair, rolled it on rollers, and then took yellow food coloring and poured in on one roller up on top of my head.  Back in those days we went to bed with wet hair in rollers, and by morning the hair was dry.  Sure, it was uncomfortable to sleep with wires poking your scalp, but it's what you did to have  good looking hair the next day.

Well, I woke up Sunday morning, and my yellow roller of hair had turned orange!  Maybe that's cool now, but not back in the 1960's!  I also had an orange forehead.  When Mom saw me, she knew I was punished enough just by having to go to church with part of my hair being orange.  What made it even worse, though, was that the orange even had an effect on my white furry hood on my favorite coat.  It was no longer white, but a dirty looking off-white/orange tint.  What a lesson I learned about pride that day!!  Mine was dented big time all because I had to have something new, something different.  I remember my boyfriend laughing and me feeling very stupid.  My hair and forehead washed out in time, but my white furry coat hood was never the same.  What's the Bible verse about learning to "be content"?  I learned my Bible lesson for that day!!

My brother was two years older than me and had his driver's license.  He also had a white convertible.  I don't recall the make or year, but I'm sure it was in the Pontiac line, as Dad only purchased Pontiacs...usually station wagons.  My brother had washed his car, and it looked really good.  It was also a sunny summer day and the roof was down.  I must have had a driver's permit or driver's license also, because for some reason I got in that car and drove it down a road in my father's subdivision...a dirt road.  It had been rainy the previous few days.  I got the car stuck in brother's nice clean white convertible, top down, stuck in the mud.  I am so glad that God erases some memories from our minds.  I don't recall the rest of that story, but I don't remember driving the car again.  So...there's a lesson I learned about "don't covet".  One of the ten commandments.

Eventually I had my first car, a 1957 Chevy.  Old and cheap.  Dad got a good deal on it for me, thus allowing a Chevy in our driveway.  Seniors were allowed to drive cars to school, and I do remember doing that.  I also remember driving down to Battle Creek (about 30 miles away), and getting out on the highway and giving semis the arm motion for them to blow their horns.  I was allowed to take girlfriends with me, and we would go shopping, and then go driving to flirt with the truck drivers...only wanted to get them to blow their horns though.  Teenagers do dumb things, don't you think?  It's like the time to have fun, not to think about the consequences.  I must have had an angel watching over me when I did dumb stuff like that.  I never did get in any trouble...never even got a ticket!

When I was a Junior in high school, a new boy came to our school.  He was a hired hand on a farm north of town, living there to earn his keep.  He had been in trouble at his previous school, and was trying to get a fresh start.  He was very good looking, always smiling and joking around.  Everyone liked him.  He could have dated anyone, and I'm sure he did date others, but he started giving me special attention.  I wasn't anybody special, not in the popular crowd, and the only extra-curricular activity I was involved in was church.  I didn't go to shows, I didn't go to school dances.  I hardly went to the sporting events.  I did join the library club that met during school hours.  So I considered myself a plain jane, nobody worth noticing.

Then Larry started noticing me...and I was thrilled to death!!  It made me feel like maybe I was something special. He asked me out on a hay ride they were having out on the farm, but in order for me to go, my parents said he had to come to church.  He agreed to do that.  He even became regular at church and very popular with the young people and old people alike.  He was just a likable kind of guy.  He always kept people laughing.

That was the beginning of an on-again, off-again relationship between me and Larry.  He still liked to live on the wild side, and couldn't seem to play the game straight.  When he was good, he was in church, he felt called to the ministry, and he led the youth group.  Then he would decide he needed to spice up his life and he would drink and run around and basically live in the streets.  I kept thinking some day he would settle things with the Lord, and we would have a happy life.  However, I spent five years waiting for that.  When I went off to college, I asked him to leave me alone.  I intended to look for Mr. Right, and I knew he wasn't it.  When I came home the next summer, there was Larry.  The next fall I decided to move to Florida with my parents and get away from Larry.

I went to the Community College for a semester, but decided that school was not for me.  I got a job as a secretary/bookkeeper in a small manufacturing plant, and I worked weekends at Burger King.  I was one of the first females to be hired in the fast food chain.  I liked my life, it was meaningful and fun.  Then...Larry shows up.  He decided to move south also.  When Mom and Dad went back north for the summer, Larry and I stayed behind.  I had my first apartment, with a very snoopy landlord.  She would stand outside my window at night and watch me.  She turned her Christian radio on high volume so I could hear it also.  My apartment was the front half of her house, and I'm sure she was concerned about this single girl with a boyfriend.

After that summer I decided I didn't like living in Florida, and Larry and I both went back to Michigan.  Me...back to Mom and Dad's.  Larry...back to his wild friends and ways.  That pretty much sums up my tearful teen years.  I allowed one person to knock me off balance, and I never seemed to have the strength to break the cycle completely.  I spent a lot of time at the altar and at my bedside during those years, asking Jesus to help me, to forgive me, to show me what I should do.  The bottom line was that I allowed my emotions to override my spiritual life and common sense.  However, Jesus was faithful to ride through the storms with me.  He never gave up on me, although I know I disappointed Him many times.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

5 - My Story, God's Story - Emotional Teen Years

I think I would rather just skip the teen years.  My memories seem to be based on boyfriends and tears...they always went together.  Mostly I experienced a lot of emotions, typical to teens, and I wish I could have "grown up", "matured", handled those years better than I did.  I'll just start down this hallway and see where it leads.  I hope God prompts some good memories for me.

When I was in seventh grade, my parents decided to spend the whole school year in Florida, and not make us change schools.  I have a funny memory from 7th grade.  I had a new purse...more like a train case, a popular style back then.  It was my first day to carry it, and it was sitting by my desk.  When a student to the right of me asked for a piece of paper, the student to the left of me handed one over to me to give to him.  But he let go of it, and it was floating back and forth in the air, headed to the floor.  I tried to catch it, and I fell out of my desk and landed on my purse!  I put a big dent in it!!  Can you just imagine that scene?  I was totally embarrassed, totally upset I had smashed my new purse, and totally struck by how funny it was for others to watch.  I still grin every time that memory comes to me.  Perhaps one of my most embarrassing moments.  Seventh grade girls can be so self-conscious!

I remember after lunch, just before art class, taking a dime to the Tropicana Orange Juice machine to purchase a box of orange juice.  I can still taste it in my memory today.  That was good stuff, and it didn't hurt that we could smell the Tropicana factory in the air.  7th grade was a time of lots of girl friends.  We would go to each other's houses on the weekends.  One friend had a swimming pool, but I don't recall swimming in it.  Another friend and I would ride bikes around her neighborhood.

I wrote a poem in 7th grade, and the words still come back to me:

In the year of '62
The war with Cuba might come true.
Are you right or are you wrong?
I don't care, just sing a song.
If you're wrong, you better get right,
Because the Lord might come tonight!

Okay, so I never really made it as a poet, but it's funny to me how that one poem has stuck in my head through the last fifty years.  I'm sure I must have written other poems, but none of them come back to me.  

Certainly church was an important part of my life.  Most of my girlfriends were from church, and there was a cute boy I really liked, but we were just friends, and I was happy with that.  At church I was on the Bible Quiz Team, and we studied the Gospel of John.  The one verse that I recall from that study is John 8:32:  "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."  I must have been impressed with that verse, for it too has stuck with me down through the last 50 years.  Certainly I am a person who thrives on truth, and cannot tolerate lies and deceit and dishonesty.  I have trouble respecting people who are dishonest in any way.  Certainly I keep my distance!

Just as we spent the whole school year in Florida during my seventh grade, the next year, 8th grade, we stayed in Michigan for the duration of the school year.  In fact, Mom and Dad quit taking their trips to Florida until I graduated.  I wonder how much of a sacrifice that was for them?  I never thought about it until just now.  I know it was a lot easier for me to stay in the same school as a teenager than to keep changing schools.  I really think it was for Mike and me that our parents made that decision.  After I graduated, and Mike had graduated two years before me, they were back to wintering in Florida.

While I was in 8th grade, I had my first real boyfriend.  He was two years older than me and we went to the same church.  We could sit together as long as it was the pew ahead or the pew behind my parents.  We never really dated, but we attended church parties together, and rode the bus together to youth camp.  Because he was in high school, and I was in Junior High, we didn't see each other at school, and I started being interested in other boys my age.  Again, nothing serious, and nothing lasted long.  

I didn't actually go out on a date alone with a boy until I was 16.  Then I met Larry.  He was a delinquent, transferred in from another school, and lived on a farm as a hired hand as a means of helping him overcome his delinquency.  We were two opposites, for sure.  I must have appealed to him as a challenge he wanted to conquer, a good girl, a church girl.  Mom and Dad wouldn't let me date him unless he came to church, so he did.  As I look back on those years, I wish Mom and Dad had never late me date him, but they were trying to give me some latitude too, I guess. I think this is another chapter for another post.  It's a long story.  Not one I really want to share, but it is a major portion of my story, God's story.  So, until next time....

Saturday, February 23, 2013

4 - My Story, God's Story - Elementary School Years

If I told you I attended a one room country school, would that give my age away?  I am so glad I was able to be in on the tail end of that genre of education, to experience eight grades all in one room, with one teacher.  When you reached high school (9th grade), you rode the bus into town and attended the public high school.  If you lived in town, you attended a public school...several classrooms, several teachers, but just one grade in each classroom.  However, if you lived in the country, and I was only two miles from town, you attended a one room country school, until it closed down...which is what happened to my school after fifth grade.

We lived one mile from the school, and I had to walk both ways...even as a kindergartner.  I can't imagine sending a five year old on a one mile walk today without a chaperon.  It's just not a safe world any more.  Usually you walked to school with neighborhood kids that lived near by, and that helped pass the time.  On a snowy winter day, you might stop and slide on some of the road banks.  On a spring day, perhaps you would stop to pick some dandelions along the way.  However long it took us to walk to school, or to walk home, it didn't seem so boring when you had friends to talk and play with.

In the school room, wet mittens were laid around the pot-bellied stove to dry off for recess.  Girls had a coat room and bathroom on one side of the building and the boys had their rooms on the other side.  There was a fridge for the milk bottles, which were delivered every day for lunch.  There was a little poem on the bottle, "We've come to visit, not to stay.  Return our bottles every day."  At lunch time we would grab our lunch pail and our bottle of milk (white or chocolate) and sit around desks with friends.  Recess came after lunch. We played soft ball, or group games like Red Rover, or played on the swings, slide, or teeter-totter.  There were several tall lilac bushes that were grown together and made like a play house inside them.  All ages all played together.  We had our reading groups broken down into classes by age/grade, but our music and square dancing was for all of us together.  We put on school bazaars and Christmas plays, and at the end of every school year we would all go to the Roller Rink on our last day, and have a picnic at the park.

Remember in an earlier post I mentioned that we would go to Florida in the winder so Dad could find work as a carpenter.  That meant leaving the one room country school behind, and being put in a large city school. Then, before school was out, we were taken back to Michigan to finish that school year.  I guess it didn't bother me too much, as I don't remember any fears.  Since we lived in different rental places each winter, I didn't always go to the same school.  At the close of my 6th grade, Dad and Mom decided to stay in Florida until school was out for the summer.  On the last day of school all of the classes assembled in the auditorium for a program.  I don't recall how it came about, but I do remember directing a play from Children's Bible Hour.  That was a radio program for children with Aunt Bertha and Uncle Charlie with character building stories (presented in dramas) and songs and Bible verses.  When the assembly was over, I headed out the door and got in the station wagon with my Mom, Dad, and brother, and we started back to Michigan.  Funny how that memory comes back to me after all these years.

I remember having the measles in third grade.  I told Mom I didn't feel good, but she made me go to school anyway.  Then the school called her and told her I had the measles and to come and get me.  I remember laying in bed with sunglasses on and Mom waiting on me.  It wasn't much fun.  I would rather have been at school with my friends.

Those are the memories that come back to me tonight as I type this post.  I had a happy childhood.  I had lots of friends at school and at church.  I liked playing Dominoes and Old Maid with my Grandma.  Sometimes in the winter we lived together, as she and Grandpa (maternal grandparents) would go to Florida also.  Usually they stayed longer than we did.  The car trips were long, but I liked seeing the different states we drove through.  My favorite signs were "See Rock City", and sure enough...we would stop and "see seven states" from Point Lookout.  Never did I realize that one day I would live near Chattanooga!  That I would raise my children in East Tennessee.  Half way between my homes in Michigan and my homes in Florida. I a Yankee, a Florida Cracker, or a Hillbilly?  I guess I could say yes to all of them.  The Great Smoky Mountains, however, has the strongest pull on my heart.  Thank you, Jesus, for the variety of education and experiences you allowed me to have as I grew up.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

3 - My Story, God's Story - Childhood Memories

When I came along, I was Mom and Dad's second child.  My brother was born two plus years before me.  I don't know if Mom's fall was the reason for not having any more children after me, or that's just the way it was.  I never asked, didn't even question, didn't matter.  My brother and I got along fairly well.  Probably most of my early memories come from watching the 8 mm home movies that Mom and Dad made while we were young.

I mentioned in my last blog that Dad was a carpenter, just like Joseph, the father of Jesus.  He was self-employed most of his life.  He would build homes in Michigan in the spring, summer, and fall, then we would go south to Florida for the winter months where he would build a couple of houses a year.  That kept him occupied year round, and believe me, Dad was a man who liked to keep busy.  He was honest, he was fair, and he liked to help young couples get started, so he sold his houses as inexpensively as he could afford.  He never made big money.  What he did make, he made sure he paid his tithe before anything else.

As I got older, Dad would help build parsonages and churches for those churches who did not have much money.  He did this in Michigan and in other states, and eventually he started going to the mission fields to donate his labor.  Rather than build houses in Florida in the winter, he would take his summer earnings and finance his trip and the materials to build churches and schools and whatever was needed in areas like Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Virgin Islands, and other South American countries which I cannot recall.  Sometimes Mom went with him, but mostly her health did not permit her to do so.  She would get his trips all lined up for him, and coordinate the crew that went along with him (other volunteers...friends, family, church people).  I say all of this to say Dad was an example of how to live for the Lord, giving way beyond his tithes and offerings...he gave himself.  He would sacrifice getting a new car if there was a mission work that needed him to come and help build.  That impressed my brother the most, for he cared more about new cars than I did.  We both knew, however, that with Dad, the Lord was first in his life.

Dad took time for us also.  I remember one time when he took my Mom to get a new hat, and I was with them.  Back in those days hats were kept in drawers at the dress shops.  The clerk got a hat out for Mom to try on, and then she leaned against the drawer shutting it.  Well, what she didn't know was that I had my fingers wrapped around the edge of the drawer and as it shut suddenly, there were my fingers caught in the drawer!  I just started crying silently...wouldn't say anything.  Dad looked down and saw me and saw my dilemma.  He quickly put me up on his shoulders and took me down to the corner ice cream store to get me a cone, knowing that would make everything better.  It did, but it is the memory that stayed with me that meant the most.  Dad was showing his love for Mom and for me that day, and I've never forgotten it.

I have another memory from my early years that I've never forgotten.  Mom and Dad washed my mouth out with soap for telling a lie.  I was four years old, not old enough for school yet.  My brother was in 1st grade and every day Mom packed a lunch for him.  I knew where she kept the candy a high cupboard that I could not reach.  One day Mom and Dad and my brother were all outside working in the yard, and I got a stool and climbed up and got a candy bar.  Somehow they knew, but when they asked me if I had taken a candy bar, I said no.  Well..the proof was in the pudding, and I was caught.  First time I remember getting my mouth washed out with soap, and the last time.  I was a quick learner!!  Somehow that stayed with me, and honesty became an all important character trait for me.  I didn't like to be lied to, and still don't.  Ask my boys and granddaughters if they ever had their mouth washed out with soap!!

Candy bars were a down fall for me, however.  I didn't tell another lie, but I did steal.  When I was ten years old we lived near a corner convenience store in Florida during our winter stay down south, and somehow I managed to steal a candy bar.  While we were back in Michigan the next fall, a neighboring church had a revival, and our family went to it every night.  One night I was under conviction about that stolen candy bar, and I went down to the altar all by myself to ask Jesus to forgive me and to give me a clean heart and live in my heart.  I consider that to be the time of my salvation experience, and it was when I was eleven.  I guess you might say it was when the age of accountability caught up with me, and I knew that I had to make Jesus my personal Savior if I wanted to go to heaven some day.  Well, Mom came and knelt down beside me to pray with me about accepting Jesus into my heart, and I knew I needed to tell her about the stolen candy bar.  I knew I needed to confess my sins to Jesus, but somehow I knew I Mom needed to  know also if I truly wanted to be saved.  Mom did not scold me, she just prayed with me and hugged me.

The next winter while we were in Florida, we were near that corner convenience store one day, and Mom told me it would be good to go in there and tell them what I had done, and pay for the candy bar.  Gulp.  Dad had a word for that...restitution.  Dad was big into restitution because he had so much to make right when he was a teenager and found Jesus as his Savior.  He knew that was the only way to get a clean slate and a fresh start.  So, they gave me a nickle to go in and pay for the candy bar, and sent me in on my own.  I went to the clerk at the check-out counter, and the owner of the store was there also.  I looked up at them and gave them my nickle and told them what I had done the year before.  It wasn't easy, but I know Jesus helped me.  I wanted to be clean all over, and it was something I needed to do.  The store owner was so impressed that a little girl would confess her crime and want to make it right that he took my nickle, and gave me two more pieces of candy for telling the truth.  Wow.  Does it pay to serve Jesus, or what!!!  Big lesson for me that day!!!  I was skipping and singing as I left the store that day!!

There have been other times in my life when I needed to make restitution, nudged by the Holy Spirit.  One was for taking a pair of scissors from my home economics class that wasn't mine. I rationlized it was okay to take the scissors because mine came up missing.  Later on, as an adult, I ended up sending the school a check to pay for them, and confessing what I had done.

Then there was the time I bought two rose bushes and the rain had washed the price out on the tickets.  What I thought was $3 was actually $8, I noticed when I got home.  So, I went back to the store to make it right.  You may think that was just human error, no big deal.  Guess what...Jesus knew.  I didn't want to get to heaven's gates and have Him say to me I couldn't enter because I had cheated that store way back when.  No...I wanted everything in my life in order so I never had to wonder, never had to live with guilt.  Do you know how freeing that is?  Restitution, making things right.  Thanks, Mom and Dad, for teaching me that when I was a child.

Mom and Dad taught me by their words and their actions how to live a Christian life.  That included being at the church whenever something was going on there, and volunteering at the church in any way we could.  On Saturdays we would go out to the country and visit some poor families, taking shoes or whatever was needed, and then on Sunday we would go back and pick up the kids and take them to Sunday School.  On Sundays we would sometimes go to the "old people's home" and visit elderly shut in people.  The smell was bad, and it seemed like such a sad place to live, but Dad and Mom would go, taking us kids, and we would read the Bible and sing songs for those people.  What a tremendous example was set before me in how my parents served the Lord...with their words, with their money, and with their actions.  My childhood memories are sprinkled with the love of Jesus as seen and felt in the lives of my parents.  I was so blessed, and didn't realize it at the time.  I took it all for granted.  Thank you, Jesus, for Mom and Dad!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

2 - My Story, God's Story - The Beginning

I like that I was born in 1950, mid-way through the 20th century.  That's an easy number to work with when I am trying to remember how old I am.  When people ask me how old my kids are, I tell them I don't know, but I can tell you what year they were born in.  However, those years end in odd numbers, and doing the subtraction just isn't as easy as 1950.  Think what else came out of the 50's...."I Love Lucy", "Mighty Mouse", Annette and Frankie of the Mouseketeers, "Little Rascals", "Red Skelton".  That was what was on our black and white console television.  But you can be sure, the TV stayed off on Sundays!!  That was the day to go to church and take afternoon naps, or stay in our rooms.

Yes, I was born into a conservative Christian home, with parents that believed in starting each day with praying together, and saying the Lord's Prayer at the close of our family prayer time.  I am so glad Dad made that a priority for his family.  I cherish the memories of hearing him pray, and I never doubted that was speaking directly to God Almighty.  Dad wasn't raised in a Christian home, and he wanted his home to be different.

Dad was one of twelve children, six boys and six girls.  He was raised on a farm, and none of his siblings, nor he, became farmers.  At age 17 he found the Lord in a church revival, and after that he told the horses he wouldn't kick them any more, or be mean to them any longer.  Most of his brothers and sisters also became Christians over time.  His mother, my paternal grandmother, was a Christian, but she was so busy raising 12 kids and feeding thrashers, time didn't permit her to go to church.  Grandpa wanted nothing to do with religion.  But we would often go visit Grandpa and Grandma on Sunday afternoons before we headed to the evening church service.  Seems like Dad usually had prayer with them before we left.  And Grandpa always gave me and my brother a stick of gum from his overalls pocket.  He walked with a cane, and he played a harmonica.  He was always smiling when we were around.

My Mom was an only child of her parents, but she had two half-sisters and one half-brother.  She was her mother's only child.  I think that may be why Grandma always gave me special attention.  The other Grandma had so many grandkids, I never felt like she even knew who I was, but my maternal Grandmother and I were very always very close.  She also was a church-goer and a devote Christian, although her husband was not, and never attended church in all the years he lived, to my knowledge.  We would often have Sunday dinner at their house, and the first words out of my mouth when the prayer was said, were "Please pass the mashed potatoes!"  Grandma was quite a cook...homemade noodles to go with her beef, home canned fruits and vegetables (from their garden), homemade sugar cookies...huge soft ones.  Grandpa and Grandma also had a strawberry farm, selling their berries to the local grocery store.  We often had biscuits and strawberries for lunch (we would help pick the berries), and that would be the whole meal.  Even today that is one of my husband's favorite meals...just biscuits and strawberries.  Yum...

Mom and Dad were leaving her parents' house one Sunday after dinner, back in 1950, and Mom fell down the back steps to the garage.  Dad took her to the hospital, and before too long, I was born.  Until today I never thought to ask Mom if she had any injuries from that fall, other than hurrying up the labor process.  I do know that Mom had a history of severe falls, and in fact, her final fall, from which she never recovered, was at the bowling alley after throwing her third strike in a row.  She turned around too fast in her excitement, fell, and broke her hip.  Within a few months all of her other complications took her life.  However, God gave her to me for 47 years.  Many times cancer was out to destroy her, and God would restore her and give us more years together.  She was able to live long enough to be a loving Grandma to our two sons, her Buddy and her Punkin.

Well, this story is about me, but I had a beginning with two wonderful Godly parents.  They set the tone of the home, and made serving the Lord their number one priority.  There was never a time when I rebelled or turned my back on what they taught me to believe.  I am so grateful for that foundation.  I often say one of the greatest gifts God ever gave me was being born into a home with Christian parents.  I wish you could hear their stories...they were unsung heroes ..giants in God's kingdom work.  I miss them so very much, but I am so glad they are safe at home, reaping their rewards for their years of labor. thing Jesus and I have in common...our fathers were carpenters.  I like that.  I can identify with Jesus there!!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

1 - My Story, God's Story - Intro

Our small group is studying Max Lucado's "God's Story, Your Story", which is about how our story, our journey through life, is really indwelt in God's story.  We were each created by Him, and there is nothing we go through in life that He doesn't already know about.  There is nothing that is so ugly that He cannot use it for His glory.  I personally believe He goes before us, and paves our way if we choose to follow Him.  If we choose our own path, He is still very aware of our existence and choices.  He is right there waiting for us to call upon Him at our point of need.  He has an amazing way of cleaning up our messes and creating good results from our failures.

In thinking about this journey that I am on with God, I decided perhaps I would start blogging my life story from my perspective.  Hopefully God will inspire me and give me insights as to the times He intervened in my life, and woven His pattern into my tapestry.  I entitled my blog "A Slice of Journal Pie" several yeas ago when I first started sharing my stories, journeys, and Biblical insights on the world wide web.  Even then I knew the blog was just chapters in my life, chapters where I intended that God would use my stories to encourage others.

I've pretty much always been an open book.  I have nothing to hide.  That doesn't mean I haven't had embarrassing times, or shameful times, but I have always given those over to God to use as He sees fit.  I have freedom in knowing I don't have to look back over my shoulder to see if anyone is trying to catch me off guard.  I am who I am, by the grace of God.  I have had several learning experiences, and will have more before I reach my destiny, but it is my prayer that God will continue to whisper to me, "This is the way...walk with me one moment at a time and I will guide you safely home."

This is my first segment.  How shall I title my post?  I want readers to know that this is a continuing series.  Will it be interesting?  Probably not to very many, if any.  Mom would enjoy reading it, but she's already in heaven.  (I sure miss sharing my life with her!)  Will it be detailed?  Probably way too much so.  I was guilty of writing term papers longer than they were supposed to be.  Will it be true?  Without a doubt.  Above all, I cherish honesty.

This is a Sunday night, a beginning of a new week.  I don't know how often I will post, I just know I want to start and we'll see where it leads, how the path winds as I unfold my history, God's history in my life.  I have to admit I am weary of winter white, slippery walkways, and cold to the bone weather.  I need something new to keep me busy inside, for now, and I have needed some new material, thoughts, for my blog.  I am amazed that people continue to stop by.  However, if they are stopping in, I would like to have fresh posts for them (you).  So, here I am, off and running.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Glimpse at My "Everlasting Hope" Blog

I haven't had much to blog about lately.  I know there are some of you that check in now and then, and you don't find anything fresh and up to date.  A couple of years ago I started a Bible study blog on the book of I Peter.  I haven't been very faithful to that either.  In fact, today I entered a blog, and it's on Chapter 3:8-12.  In two years I have only gotten half way through this book???  Shame on me.  I really enjoyed doing my study on Genesis, and posting my Reflections on Genesis blog (back in 2008, I might add), but I have struggled in keeping my motivation going.  I think, what can I write that hasn't already been written?  People can go to the commentaries just as I do to get a little more introspection on what the author is saying to us in God's Book.

Well, if you haven't visited either of my other blogs, I do recommend that you do.  I truly think you will enjoy the inspiration God gave me while writing my reflections on Genesis.  And then today as I posted my latest I Peter blog, I thought perhaps a little nugget of what God is reminding me of might be good for my readers.  So...I am going to borrow from that blog the opening paragraphs and the closing.  To read the rest of the blog, you need to go to the side bar and click on "An Everlasting Hope", my Bible study blog on I Peter.  Here's my intro for today:

          My husband had just left our house for the last time.  He was getting a divorce from me and had come to pick up the items he wanted from our two year accumulation of married life.  When the door shut behind him, I turned around crumbled in turmoil, asking God if He was going to reject me also.  After all, He hates divorce.  I saw my Bible on the nearest table and went to it to see if He had a Word for me.  He took me to Galatians 5:13 – For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

            At that time of my life I focused on God loving me enough to release me from an unfaithful husband, and yet be sure that my new found freedom didn't lead me into a relationship that would displease Him.  It was several years later when I was seeking my life verse that I was brought back to this Word from God.  This time He highlighted the last portion of the verse, the part about serving others with love…His love.  I had found my life verse and my calling.  It basically boiled down to being set free to serve God by serving others.  However, it was His love that set me free, and His love that I needed within me to serve others. 

            Even though God had given me the mandate to serve others with love when He gave me my life verse (Galatians 5:13), He did not immediately gift me with all the attributes I would need to fulfill my calling.  It’s been a life-long journey.  There was a definite point in my journey where I surrendered my complete self to him…a point of consecration where I recognized God wanted to sanctify me…set me apart for His holy purpose.  That still did not perfect me.  I had to make daily choices that would either honor Him, or take my own way.  I did not always honor Him, sad to say.  But He never gave up on me, and through the failures, I learn and grow.  

             I have obtained wisdom through the years that I wish I would have had as a young mother and as a mid-lifer.  Don’t we all wish we could turn the clock back sometimes and redo things differently?  The key for me was to keep on my knees in prayer, surrendering my weaknesses, and asking for more of God’s grace.  My heart’s desire was to please Him, to serve Him, to love others…but sometimes Carol just got in the way.  So I would bring my messes to Him and ask Him to help me to be more like Jesus.  He has never failed me.  Now when I read these check points that Peter has given us, I see areas where I have made tremendous growth…I have come so far.  But there are still some areas in which He is helping me to improve.  

            My passion and goal is to hear my Heavenly Father say to me, “Welcome home, my child, come on in… we've been waiting for you!”  And I will know the journey I took was worth it all…just to see His face!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

It Was a Beary Panda Christmas

Almost at the last moment we decided to book a time share down in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, for our Christmas get away.  It was about a three hour drive southwest of our son's home, and he was able to bring our granddaughters down for the weekend before Christmas.  So we celebrated together by opening gifts on Saturday morning, and having the big Christmas dinner on Sunday before Christmas.  They left Christmas Eve, and we were left behind.  It was a relaxing time for us, but just lonely when the family is not there.  Christmas day we had chili for dinner and then went to see "Parental Guidance", a comedy about grandparents taking care of their grandkids for a few days.  We enjoyed it, and we could relate!!

Anyway, here are a few pictures of our time together.  This year Sunshine ended up getting panda bear gift items from almost everyone.  We gave her a few bears,  Princess still loves purple, so we found a purple bear for her.  Both girls were given bear backpacks for sleepover parties.  And the girls gave their Dad a Panda Bear gift card.  As you can see on the picture, the bears ended up being tree ornaments...CUTE!!
 Sunshine got her first very own computer, so she was busy the rest of the time working on a Sims program, designing houses and interior design.  Very good at that, I might add!

Princess kept herself busy playing cook and waitress, for real (helping me) and with her play dough pizza oven.  Her favorite gift was a wipe board and markers.  She took food orders, made lists of things to do, and you name it.  Totally entertained!

We went out to the Prime Outlet Mall in Osage Beach one day, since the weather was sunny and mild (50's).  There were over 100 stores, and we found a few places to spend our Christmas bucks.  We also took a drive through the area, having never been there before.  It's really a pretty place, and no doubt quite a tourist trap in the warmer months.

In 1931 Bagnell Dam was built on Osage River, and the largest man-made lake in the world at that time was developed.  There are 1,150 miles of shoreline around the Lake of the Ozarks, when you zig-zag through all the inlets on the 54,000 acre reservoir.  That's longer than the coast of California!  The area is well known for all the water, boating, swimming.  There's lots of unique shops in the area, as well as 22 golf courses.  You can see why it would be popular in the warmer months!!

We made lots of Christmas sugar cookies that weekend. The girls got very creative in their decorating.  They made all colors of frosting:  green, red, white, purple, orange, blue.  Some were just too pretty to eat...but we did anyway!  I only make sugar cookies when I have these helpers around!!

 There was a grocery store (Paul's Supermarket) close to our condo that had kid-size grocery carts.  Princess had all the food in her cart before we put it on the check-out belt.  Those carts were so cute...great for kids helping with groceries!!

We had Christmas nachos...see the green and red chips?  We did eat out at a Mexican restaurant one night...not the best one we have been to, so I won't mention the name.  And we went out for pizza one night...again, bad pizza.  It was a Greek restaurant, and we just made a bad choice.  We ate the rest of the meals at the condo, and Princess was very glad to set the table and deliver the food.  The condo had a pass through window from the alley kitchen to the dining table, so we had fun with that.

Well, the sun set on our time together...did I mention we played lots of games and Princess and I went to the indoor pool.  She also had fun playing in the Jacuzzi.  Meanwhile, Sunshine was still busy on the computer, creating!

On our way back home, Paul and I stopped in St. Louis to visit our son at his work place.  Then we went to Micro Center, a large computer store.  While there I found one more thing I just knew that Sunshine needed to add to her Panda/Computer Christmas...a mouse pad.  It got mailed back to her.  Thus went our Christmas 2012.  In honor of Christ, we had daily devotions together with the reading of God's Word, a devotional booklet, and prayer.  Thank you, Jesus, for your gift to me:  Your love, a way to heaven, and the family you have given me for this earthly journey.