No Greater Joy

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We visited some of our family this weekend. I had some meeting responsibilities, but Phil (and I later) was able to see

  • one granddaughter play basketball – her team won
  • another granddaughter sing a solo in her Chorus Concert
  • a grandson play basketball – his team won
  • and twin grandsons play basketball – their team won

We were certainly pleased that they all did well and had fun. I am so thankful they are able to play and sing and that they have these opportunities.

BUT, later that day, before dinner, one granddaughter let me read her testimony of accepting Jesus as her savior. Now THAT was really exciting!

After completing her confirmation class, our children’s’ pastor asks each participant to write their testimony down and then bring it to a one-on-one meeting with the pastor. What a wonderful way to affirm their step of faith!’

Several of our grandchildren have made a commitment of faith in Jesus as their savior and have been baptized. There is no greater joy for me as a grandmother than to hear that one of there precious children has become a Child of God.

In III John 2-4, John is writing a letter to Gaius and the churches in Asia and says the following –

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 

Some of the traveling teacher recently returned and made me very happy by telling me about your faithfulness and that you are living according to the truth. 

I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth. 

I agree with John – there is no greater joy!

My prayer is that each of these precious children continue to follow Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

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A Broken, Fallen World…Blessed.

Angel Adahlyn

I talked on the phone to my daughter, Hannah, while I was working on this blog post. She shared with me something her pastor had shared in his sermon about the number of angels that appeared to the shepherds. 

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”   Luke 2:8-14


So just how many angels make up a “heavenly host”? I certainly don’t know. In Daniel 7:10, Daniel is revealing the prophetic vision he sees where God is enthroned and His power is demonstrated by the “ten thousand by ten thousand (who) rose up and stood before Him”, God’s heavenly host.

So, 10,000 times 10,000 is 100 million! (thank you, Phil)

In Daniel, God is demonstrating His strength as He defeats the beast.

I believe God was demonstrating His power to those shepherds, obviously, but one heavenly being was enough to “wow” the shepherds.

Who, then was this display of force and power for?

That multitude of the heavenly host – MILLIONS of the army of angelic beings – showed the powers of darkness that they were DEFEATED!

The appearance of the heavenly hosts, announcing Jesus birth, was a magnificent display of the awesome POWER of God. I don’t think they looked like the flying babies, or even innocuous pale, winged creatures that are portrayed in so many paintings of angels.

These angels were part of God’s army, dressed for battle, dressed in the full armor of God. It is also obvious that they were not armed for battle with the shepherds who they appeared before. They demonstrated God’s power to the powers of darkness by their overwhelming number and by their rejoicing at the birth of God’s Son. Their mighty presence was evidence of the divine nature and protection for the “helpless” baby – Jesus.

They were praising God because the day Jesus was born – the victory was won!

We recently completed a study at our Community Woman’s Bible Study in Ephesians on the Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer. When I read these verses from Luke today, which I have read so many. many times before, a new appreciation of the angels as part of the “heavenly host”, the angelic army of God, stirred in my heart.

I always appreciated the wonder of the angels announcement of Jesus birth, but now I realize those angels also announced the VICTORY that God has provided through the precious gift of His Son.

May we each rejoice in this victory as we celebrate Jesus birth.

Queen Esther

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“Heaven is rejoicing!”

That is what I said to our children after my brother called yesterday evening to tell me our mother had passed through the veil of this life to her eternal home. I believe that with all my heart.

Heaven is rejoicing.

Esther lived up to her name – she believed she was royalty because she was a daughter of the King of Kings. Mother acted like royalty in the sense that she believed she had inherited all the riches of God’s blessings – and she lived like that. She expected good things to happen to her, and why shouldn’t they? She was a daughter of the King!

When her beautiful amaryllis bloomed for the second time this past year, she called me in an excited voice and said – “I’m sending you a picture – you won’t believe it unless you see it! It is blooming again! God blessed me again!”

Esther saw seemingly little things, even what others might accept as everyday occurrences as blessings from God. By recognizing God’s hand in the world around her, she was constantly blessed by the riches of His grace. Her smile was a reflection of God’s love in her heart.

My mother was 90 years old, born Esther Kathleen Rohner on May 17, 1928 in Chicago, Illinois. She was the 3rd of three daughters born to Svea Elise Anderson and Rouleau Lester Rohner.

Just like the queens in literature, my mother had shortcomings. She set high standards for herself and at times imposed those same standards on others. Yet Esther was willing to admit her failings and receive forgiveness.

Mother touched so many lives with her exuberant love for Jesus and God’s Word. She did this literally throughout the world, in Wheaton, Illinois, in North Carolina for 30 years, in Taiwan for 7 years, and even in trips to Brazil at age 86 and 87.

“After 80 you can say what you want!” she once told me with a twinkle in her eye. That means she had 10 years to speak her mind! Look out!

Heaven is rejoicing, and our family is blessed to have had royalty among us for so long. Esther will be greatly missed, but she is with her King. She told my older brother Garry this week that she “just wanted to finish strong.” She did!

2 Timothy 4:7-9 (NLT)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

Queen Esther is now wearing that crown of righteousness.

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Four Generations 1979

Supporting Our Children’s Teachers

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In my 25 plus years of teaching I learned some important lessons about communication between parents and teachers.

Some of these lessons I learned because of mistakes I made. I want to share these thoughts with the hope that each of us allows God’s grace to overshadow all we do as parents, grandparents, and teachers. It can be especially hard when the parent is also a teacher! I remember….

So – here goes:

  •  don’t believe everything your child says – check it out.

I had a parent come see me my second year of teaching and ask me if I had dressed up as a moose. No, I had not. In talking further, we realized that I had a dress with a white pinafore (this was 1975) and that the child was trying to tell her mother that I had dressed like Mother Goose – only the child said “moose”. I am so glad she came to ME, and thankful this was before Facebook!

  •  if you have a concern, ask about it respectfully, don’t
    accuse

I remember thinking “why didn’t the teacher let me know about this field trip, assignment, etc. earlier” only to find out a note was sent home – but never given to me. Not the teacher’s fault.

  •  if you have a concern, write a note or an email that says something like this – “I am concerned about Jimmy’s __________ (fear, negative attitude, apathy, lack of understanding of new material, etc) and I was wondering when I could meet to talk with you about it. Is there something I could be doing at home to address this concern?”

Showing up during class or calling during class is NOT a good idea. Teachers want and need to be teaching during class. Waiting around right after school unannounced may also be a problem because the teacher may have after school duty, a faculty meeting, or a sports event for their own child. A note expresses your willingness to respect the teacher’s schedule as well as let the teacher know you want to work together for the good of the child.

  • Whenever something positive happens, especially after you have expressed concerns, share appreciation for what the teacher has done and is doing. It means so much and it also sets a good example for our children.

Eleven of our 12 grandchildren have started back to school. Four of them had their first day today! Some of these grandchildren are in classes of 30 or more. Those teachers have all those precious minds and hearts (and not so precious bodies:) to teach 5 days a week. We must remember to pray for them!

As a former teacher I must remember not to criticize or complain about my grandchildrens’ teachers. God is in control, I need to trust.

The two following verses are a good reminder for teachers, parents, and grandparents since we all share the responsibility of teaching our children.

Proverbs 15:2 (TLB)

2 A wise teacher makes learning a joy;

Proverbs 16:21 (TLB)

21 The wise man is known by his common sense, and a pleasant teacher is the best.

May God Bless this school year!

It’s All About the Soil

 

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When folks see our yard, they often ask – “How do you get these plants to grow so well?”

First, I always stress that we are just the caretakers, God is the source. I truly mean that – it is NOT just a statement of false humility. Phil and I have moved plants, sometimes multiple times – until we find just the right location for them to thrive. But, then the rich mountain soil fulfills its God ordained function.

Phil – “I thought we moved this plant last year.”

Gayle – “We did, but I think it will do better over here.”

Phil – “It looks fine here.”

Gayle – “Yes, but it needs more sun to bloom. Just dig the hole, please”

Phil – “Is this why you married me?”

Gayle  – “Yes” (smile – always smile)

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The MOST important factor in the beauty of the plants in our yard is the soil. We had nothing to do with that. Over the years, many leaves and plant matter have decomposed creating a rich, nutritious soil that results in beautiful plants and flowers. That is one of the many blessings of living in an older home. Some of our shrubs and trees are very old and we receive the blessing of their beauty year after year.

But it started with good dirt.

I was thinking about this as I was reading in Ephesians as part of our Bible study. We are in chapter 6. In verse 4, Paul says

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),“that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

In the Amplified translation verse 4 says this –

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with loving kindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

I try to place our plants in the best location for that plant. Hostas need shade, Shasta daisies need sun. ALL plants need the good foundation of rich, nutritious soil so their roots can grown down deep in that soil.

As we raise our children, we must first and foremost make sure that we provide a good foundation (soil). In a family this means a safe, secure, loving environment where the child can grow. As the child grows, we must then provide nurture for the specific needs that child may have. Just as all plants don’t require the same amount of sun, each child will not thrive in the same activities or learning environment.

Raising plants are a fitting parallel to raising children. If I place a hosta in full sun, just because my crepe myrtles do well there, the hostas are sure to burn up in the summer heat. Our native plant section is at the edge of the yard where these lovely plants thrive under the canopy of  poplar and oak trees, their natural habitat. When Phil and I move a plant, we study where it has thrived in nature and move it to a similar environment.

We must do the same as parents. Society now labels some of our children “special needs” which I feel is a respectful way to understand that these children have their individual path for growth and development. Yet ALL children have unique needs and recognizing those needs will help ensure their full growth and development. Those who don’t fit into the “traditional school mold”, (like most little boys) will need increased attention to their specific situations. Like some of my plants, they may need to be moved (i.e. try various strategies) several times before just the right place is found.

God is SO patient with us!

My dear friend Julianna is facing challenges with her special needs son, Hawk. They are facing these challenges with faith and grace, choosing to celebrate each step of progress no matter how small. Hawk is blessed to be in this family. Instead of focusing on what Hawk is unable to do at this time, they get excited over each new accomplishment.

We must provide the “soil” as parents – that firm foundation. Then as verse 4 says –  bring them up [tenderly, with loving kindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Each child is unique. Each child is precious in God’s sight.

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In My Garden With God – 9

Beauty Multiplied

 

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“The garden center person told us to plant three bulbs in every hole. That way they look more impressive when they bloom.”

Sadie, a dear, sweet friend recently lost the life, on this earth, of their little baby boy at 21 weeks. It was a sad loss and with it the loss of all the hope that new life brings.

I offered to plant the bulbs they purchased in honor of their son’s short life, since they were going to visit family for an extended period. Sadie passed along the above recommendations of the garden center. Our granddaughters and daughter offered to help me, so one day during a break between the extreme cold and rain we have been having lately, we had the joy of planting 80 spring bulbs.

Now the waiting.

The loss of life carries with it a sorrow that affects each of us in various ways. Sadie and her husband chose to honor the life of their son by planting bulbs that will remind them of his life each spring as they bloom.

They have chosen to replace their loss with beauty.

Isaiah 61: 2-3

To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

I am sure that when those bulbs come up this spring in their multiplied beauty, there will be tears along with the blessing of the flowers’ beauty.

Tears for the loss of the life not with them.

Blessing in the beauty of remembering God’s faithfulness demonstrated each spring as new life comes forth after the bleakness of winter.

Sadie and Dustin chose to name their little boy Hero. As I was getting ready to insert the picture of us planting the bulbs, I noticed that one of my granddaughter’s had the name Hero on her T-shirt. Amazing.

May we allow God to multiply His life in us through times of loss and times of blessing so that we can become those oaks, planted for His glory.

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In My Garden with God – 2

 

 

 

Thankful for Freedom as a Woman

Beautiful Daughters
As a woman, mother of three daughters, and grandmother of 5 granddaughters, I feel compelled to respond to all the attention in the media recently about the sexual abuse, harassment, and general disrespect toward women in our culture.
This is not a new issue, but it certainly has come to the forefront. Allegations that are years old are just coming to light.
As a Christian, what should my response be?
I have found freedom to be what God has called me to be, respect for the unique qualities inherent in being a female human being, and courage to stand up to those who would disrespect my womanhood all in my faith as a Christian.
Jesus elevated the status of the women he came in contact with through his time of ministry. He dispersed a crowd ready to stone a woman “caught in adultery” (where was the man she was caught with?) by asking her accusers, “he who is without sin, cast the first stone”.
Jesus encouraged women to learn from his teachings alongside the men who also followed him at a time when women were not part of formal spiritual or intellectual training. Mary of Bethany, Martha, and Mary Magdalene were some of those women who followed Jesus.
Jesus engaged in conversation with a woman who was an outcast (a Samaritan) and offered her the “water of life”. He used a poor widow as an example of true sacrificial giving, in contrast with the wealthy Pharisee of the religious establishment.
My Christian faith has given me a strong sense of my worth as a person. I am free of the stigma any cultural bias may project on me based on my ethnicity, community, education, economic status, or any other designation.
I am a child of God, the Creator of the Universe.
Have men dominated women under the supposed authority of religion?
Absolutely, much to their shame.
Have men hidden behind their “religion” to perpetrate acts of sexual abuse? Yes.
Yet these sins against women and abuse of authority are not rooted in true Christianity. The word “Christian” means “Christ like”.
Jesus Christ taught “the greatest love is to sacrifice your life”, and “do unto others as you would have them do to you”.
Sexual abuse, harassment, and disrespect of women should have NO place in our culture, and most emphatically for those who are Christians.
In I Timothy 5:1-2 Paul is instructing his young disciple, Timothy, in the Christ like way to treat others.
1 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
I am so very thankful for a father, two brothers, a husband, a son, and three sons-in-law who have all treated me with love and respect.
(ok, lots of teasing from several of these males, but ALWAYS love)
I know this is not the case for many women. We as Christians must take a stand for respectful behavior that values the unique qualities of being female. We must speak out against abuse in all its forms.
We must teach our grandchildren what Paul taught Timothy.
We must show love and compassion for those who have been victims of abuse so that they can receive healing and restoration.
Christian women are all our Father’s daughters.