Ten Year Anniversary

Beautiful Daughters
Beautiful Daughters

Goodness…. I have been writing this blog for 10 years!

It is often said – “Time flies when you are having fun” so it must have been fun because I can hardly believe it has been 10 years.

I started “blogging” because I was challenged by a Bible teacher and friend with Jesus’ mandate to His disciples…go make disciples.

“Who are you discipling?” I was asked.

I had to think a bit and I realized that I was sharing what I hoped was Godly insight with several young mothers, including our three daughters.

  • But was I discipling?
  • Was I being intentional?
  • Was I prayerfully, thoughtfully sharing what God had deposited in me over the years?
  • Was I just “shooting from the hip” so to speak – sharing whatever popped in my head?

I realized that God wanted me to be VERY intentional – that if my daughters and other young mothers were going to be drawn to be like Jesus through me, I must take this role prayerfully and seriously.

So, through the help and encouragement of our daughters, I started blogging.

I am an artist and teacher.

I am not a writer.

But with the gracious editing of my husband, Phil, also known as Mr. Spellcheck, Mr. Grammar, Mr. Punctuation, Mr. Proof Reader…need I go on?  – I have written this blog for 10 years. (any mistakes that remain are all mine)

I must say in all truthfulness that God has shown me so much about myself through this journey – the main point being that in my weakness – He is made STRONG! When I started, most of my posts were about being a mother. Our daughters were in the midst of having babies and that subject was in the forefront of my thoughts and prayers.

Now, my posts tend to be focused on what I am currently learning and often reflect on my time in my garden with God. I sense God’s presence so closely in His creation.

Romans 12:1-2 is my heart’s cry.

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. NLT

God is faithful.

So, I will continue to write as long as I sense that God has given me something to share. I still have so much to learn, I invite you to join me as this journey continues.

As women, we are all our Father’s daughters.

Passing the Mantle

A dear friend of our family, Janet Halverson Strobeck, passed on to her heavenly home this week at age 93. She is the beautiful woman seated on the right. Next to her is Ruth Muzzy, who also passed on this past year at age 97, and standing is my mother, Esther Barker who passed on in 2018 at age 90.

I use the words “passed on” intentionally because though their bodies died, each of their souls lives eternally with Jesus. What a great reunion they had this week!

These three women became friends early in their marriages and in their last years ended up living at the same retirement community. It was such a gift to each of them to have this dear friendship for over 60 years. Their husbands were friends as well and they had years of sharing life together including the joys of children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. Janet found out recently that a great-great granddaughter is expected!

These women first met at College Church in Wheaton in a Sunday School class. Their friendship was founded on their relationship as fellow Christians – “sisters” in the Lord. That fellowship carried them through life’s difficult storms. Each experienced loss, tragedy, heart break, and most difficult – the loss of their husbands after marriages of over 60+ years. They also shared the joys and celebrations of their families and extended families rejoicing with each other.

The three friends prayed together over the years and prayed for each other – their children – grandchildren – great-grandchildren. I am the recipient of so many of those prayers. It has made me feel secure in my faith over the years knowing that these ladies who loved me and loved my family were faithfully lifting me up before our heavenly Father.

I remember “Aunt Jan”, visiting her daughter Carol (we were roommates in Sylva, North Carolina) soon after I first met Phil – who is now my husband. Aunt Jan and Uncle Chuck grilled me on the worthiness of Phil and told me they did so on behalf of my parents. Their main concern was that Phil was a Christian and that his commitment to the Lord was sincere. They took seriously their friendship and love of our family.

Which brings me to the thoughts I am having now as the last of this generation of saints passes on. These ladies were not perfect – you can ask any of their children. They made mistakes and sometimes hurt each other and their families. BUT – they did love God, confess their sins, and dearly loved their families. Each wanted to see the gospel of Jesus Christ shared throughout their community and the world. And each wanted their loved ones to walk in sincere faith.

In II Timothy 1:3-5 Paul reminds Timothy of his heritage in the faith. He mentions the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother.

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Paul mentions that this faith now lives in Timothy also.

The faith and example of the prayers of Janet, Ruth, and Esther is passed on to the following generation – us.

We must take up the mantle of sincere faith. We must live our lives worthy of the calling of Christ Jesus in our lives.

The mantle has passed on to us – may we carry it well.

Preparing for His Appearing

when they appear in spring …

This time of year I am preparing the places in our native plants area for the spring.

To prepare these places, I remove any debris that has fallen from trees and heavy leaf matter. I clean up all around, and then put a light, protective layer of leaves covering the soil where the trillium, trout lily, mayapple, bloodroot, lady slipper, and Solomon’s seal will appear come spring. As those leaves rot, they feed the soil which benefits the plant growth.

Doing this preparation work will allow these wildflowers to flourish, and it also allows the new growth to appear without the old dead stems and leaves diminishing the beauty of the new growth. Heavy leaf matter and large pieces of tree branches could prevent the new, tender shoots from pushing through when it warms up. This work does not show immediate effect like weeding and pruning do, yet over time its results show the value of the work.

Technically, it isn’t even winter yet, December 21 is that day, but it sure feels like winter. It was 21 degrees this morning and the frost on our deck table was white and thick. In years past, I waited too long before preparing for the emergence of our wildflowers. The flowers came up and when I began to clean up the leaf matter and sticks so the plants had room, I inadvertently damaged the young, tender shoots. There is no set date for trout lilies or bloodroot to emerge. They are usually the first wildflower to pop up along the edge of our yard and are the sign that the mayapples, trillium, and lady slippers will soon follow. Their appearance is determined by the weather, when it gets warm enough, the plants emerge – then bloom.

So, to allow the native plants their full growth potential, I must do the preparation work long before there is any sign of the future blooms.

Our Community Women’s Bible Study is studying the book of Revelation. I have been reminded that in Revelation John urges us as followers of Jesus to “be prepared” for His second appearing. This week, like many of us, I have been preparing our home for the arrival of Christmas. I have put up a tree, strung some lights outside, and gotten my mother’s Christmas china out. All these preparations celebrate Jesus’ first appearance on earth.

What have I done to prepare for His second coming?

Revelation 16:15 in the Amplified Version says –

15 “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is he who stays awake and who keeps his clothes [that is, stays spiritually ready for the Lord’s return], so that he will not be naked—spiritually unprepared—and men will not see his shame.”

So, I don’t need to decorate my house or clean away leaf debris to prepare for Jesus second coming. As my friend Patti Harper said when we were reading this verse – “We need to be awake – aware – and attired.

Awake – realize that Jesus is coming AGAIN

Aware – that no matter what is happening around me – God is faithful

Attired – clothed in His righteousness, Jesus paid the price for my salvation

During these days of cold weather and darkness all around us, may we share the light of Jesus. His Light shines brightest in darkness. May our “hearts prepare Him room” as the beautiful carol “Joy to the World” reminds us.

Then we will be prepared for Jesus appearing.