90 Years of Thankfulness

We had the privilege of celebrating a birthday Saturday with a dear family friend, Nana Kehrli. She is 90 years old, still lives in the home where she raised 3 lovely daughters, just down the road from where she was born on Stoney Creek in eastern Tennessee.

Nana, almost everyone calls her that, has slowed down some physically, but her mind is as sharp as a tack. She is an amazing cook – her Southern pork chops just melt in your mouth. Eating “farm to table” is a trend that is growing in popularity throughout our culture – Nana and her family have always eaten that way.

It could certainly be a factor in her 90 healthy years.

She and her sisters ran a grill, a small community restaurant several years back. It was very popular with local folks who knew they would get the best in home-cooking. They probably never made a lot of money because these Southern ladies treated their customers as they would guests in their home.

“Honey, did you get enough? Do you want some more?.”

“Here, take this plate to your mother. I hear she is feeling poorly.”

If Nana knew someone was recently widowed, she would send an extra meal home for lunch the next day. If she knew someone was hurting financially, she gave a discount.

Nana has seldom gone to the doctor in her 90 years, besides the births of her three daughters. “I don’t go to the doctor, he’ll just find something wrong with me.” she has often been heard to say.

Nana has been a widow since 1968 when her Air Force husband was killed in the Vietnam War. She raised her daughters with the love and support of her close knit family on Stoney Creek.

I told Nana Saturday that she could be so thankful for her 90 years of health and mental acuity.

“Gayle, honey, I get up every morning and thank God for all He has blessed me with. I didn’t know of anyone who is as blessed as I am.”

What a testimony of God’s faithfulness!

Colossians 2:6-7 says

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

May Nana Kehrli be blessed with God’s grace and peace in her remaining days.

I want to follow her example – overflowing with thankfulness each day for God’s blessings.

 

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Little Ones – Valuable Ministry

“One thing missing when I began staying home with my children was the affirmation that the work I was doing was  good, or even valuable.”

My friend Cathy Fowler said this yesterday and I remember clearly (even though it was almost 40 years ago) that I felt the same way.

Our first child was born on the last day of school, the third year of my teaching career. Unless you have taught young children, you may not know the special way kindergarteners have of making you feel that you are special, loved, and just generally amazing!

  • “Mrs. Woody, you are SO pretty!” (this when I had gained 50, yes, 50 lbs. in pregnancy)
  • “Mrs. Woody, I want to be just like you when I grow up.”
  • “Mrs. Woody, you are so good at drawing!” (I had drawn a generic looking flower labeling the parts of a plant)
  • “Mrs. Woody, I like your shoes!” ( red Earth shoes, this was 1977)

I could go on and on….

Cathy and I agreed that being new mothers, alone most of the day with an infant who did NOT give us much affirmation, was a real adjustment.

Both of us were thrilled to be mothers.

At the same time, we did miss the social interaction and professional feedback.

A new baby does not appreciate our shoes, how good we are with numbers, how organized or creative we are, or anything else about us at first. (except for those two essential body parts, oh, and arms for holding)

Yet that time with small children is of utmost importance.

We often hear young women who stay at home with their children say things like, “I’m just a mom.” “I just stay home with my kids .”

Using the word “just” seems to minimize the value of the most important responsibility you will ever have. As women of God we desire to serve Him first and foremost. Sometimes we think that ministry is a ministry to “others”, like children in an orphanage in South America.

Are children in a foreign country more valuable in God’s eyes that those children right here where we are?

No, once He blesses us with children, God has entrusted us with those He loves with an everlasting love and He wants us to be faithful in our service as mothers.
If we ever doubt the absolute importance of our ministry as mothers we must read Matthew 19:14.

Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

If our Lord thought that children were so important, shouldn’t we?

In Matthew 18:2-4 we read

“He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

I love this next part – it blessed me so much when my children were little – verse 5 ”

And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”

Amazing!  Every time I welcome my child into my arms, snotty nose and all, I am welcoming Jesus!

Being a mother to your children is the GREATEST job you can have at this time in your life. It is more important than working on Capitol Hill, as an RN, teaching special needs children, or any other career.

May you embrace God’s calling for you at this time in your life and may He give you strength, wisdom, patience, and most of all – His Love.

God Bless You!

Time for Work, Time for Play

Hard at Work

Time for Work

We had three of our grandsons spend two nights with us this past week.

NO parents!

We had a great time and I tried not to spoil them TOO much. We always have our grandchildren do “jobs” when they stay with us, before they get to play.

It has worked so far…they keep coming back.

Their job this time was picking up weeds after I pulled the weeds up. (I pull the weeds because I want the flowers to remain.) They did it very well and then they got to play.

We have a very small creek (it should really be refered to as a “branch”) that is overflow from our spring. It is a boy magnet! After their job, they love playing in the water which is not very deep, but it is wet and muddy. Just right for young boys. They also rode bikes, played baseball, and ran around on the old logging trails that criscross through the woods.

We are so blessed to have a place where our grandchildren can play. But it is also important that they know how to work. Their parents all require them to do certain chores at home. Yet we also want them to realize that work is important, even when away from home.

If we don’t require our children to help with chores, we send a very dangerous message – “someone ELSE will do it for you.”

We required our own children to weed a row in the garden before we went swimming in the summer. They did not always like it – but it helped them learn the importance of work.

(Is this why none of them raise their own gardens now?)

It is important to balance work with play. Some helpful ideas are –

  • work first, then play….that way children won’t be “too tired” to work, or it may get dark
  • make sure the job fits the age of the child…. painting the house may be too much for a 5 year old
  • work along with the children…..don’t send them off to do it alone
  • don’t give them a job to do you wouldn’t do yourself….there are child labor laws in the USA
  • brag on their positive efforts…..encourage follow through until the job is complete
  • take pictures of them working…..just like you take pictures of their play
  • celebrate the end result!

Ephesians 6:6-8 (NLT)

6 Try to please them (your master/boss/parents) all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. 7 Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 8 Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

Our grandsons were very proud of the work they did and we were pleased that they genuinely helped us. Helping our children and grandchildren learn the satisfaction of a job well done is a blessing that will benefit them their whole lives.

Time for Play

Time for Play

 

 

Harmony

DSC_1770-2

We have been blessed with a new granddaughter this week. She is adjusting well to life outside the quiet confines of the womb. Although, since babies hear inside the womb, having four brothers meant that maybe it wasn’t so quiet after all!

The blessing in this is that baby Rachel sleeps right through the busy play of her brothers – she is conditioned to the noise of active play.

The addition of this precious little one has given the impression that all the parts of this family form a coherent whole. Does that mean that if Rachel had been a boy, or another child had not been added to this family that it would not be complete?

Not at all.

It does mean that once a child is added to a family through birth or adoption it is hard to imagine the family without that child. Each member of the family has a part in the family that is unduplicated and special.

I remember when we found out I was pregnant with our 3rd child and her older sister was just 6 months old. I was overwhelmed and exhausted, yet here was another child growing inside me!

I cannot imagine our family without the presence of this child, now a mother herself.

In art, the definition of “harmony” is as follows –

“The arrangement of elements to give the viewer the feeling that all the parts of the piece form a coherent whole.”

Ephesians 4:3 Amplified Bible

3 Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of the Spirit in the binding power of peace.

 I love how the Amplified translation uses the phrase – “binding power of peace”.

What a beautiful image  – when we make the effort to keep harmony in our relationships, it will BIND us together in peace!

As an artist, I must be intentional about creating harmony in my art work. I cannot randomly add color or objects without a plan, otherwise the completed artwork will not be harmonious. I always sketch out my idea first on paper, even if I am planning to work in clay or make a handmade book. This way, I can see if the parts come together in harmony before I use valuable time and supplies. I can make needed adjustments in the sketch.

Romans 12:16 Amplified Bible

16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.

Giving ourselves to humble tasks creates harmony.

My students often wanted to “just start painting – I know what I want to paint”. I required them to engage in the “humble” task of drawing first. It ALWAYS paid off.

Giving ourselves to humble tasks creates harmony in our relationships.

Changing diapers, cleaning the bathroom, planning meals ahead of time  – all these humble tasks create harmony. Instead of opening the refrigerator at 5:00 pm and seeing if there is anything for supper (my common practice when our children were small) planning meals ahead helps avoid stress when the family is hungry.

My friend Carol and I were sharing recently what a blessing it had been to have our mothers come and stay with us when our children were born. Both were wonderful examples of doing the humble tasks that helped create harmony in those days of adjustment after a new baby comes home.

Carol and I have both recently had the chance to do what our mothers did for us – now for our adult children. (Carol has had three new grandchildren this year!)

May we create harmony in our realtionships by binding ourselves together in peace and serving one another with humble tasks. What a blessing this will be to our families!

You Go First

Hawkins - 1st day of school - 2024

“I got to be the leader today, Nana. I was first in line.”

That was the highlight of two of our grandson’s week in school. They were so excited about being the leader and being the first in line in kindergarten. They told me this on the phone after I asked them, “How was school today?”

Now there is nothing wrong with being first. Someone has to be first. I found out soon after we started dating that Phil had a very different idea about being first in line – or being in front of ANYTHING.

I always like to sit in front. This is probably because I always sat near the front in school. My last name started with “B” – Barker – so when we were seated alphabetically, I was near the front. I was also placed near the front, sometimes SMACK up against the teacher’s desk because – can you believe it? – I TALKED TOO MUCH.

I know some of you are thinking – “she hasn’t changed in 53 years”. Others are thinking – “no wonder….”

Phil on the other hand had a last name that started with “W” – Woody – so he sat near the back. He liked sitting near the back and NEVER got in trouble for talking.

“Phillip is such a pleasure to have in class. He is a model student.” his report cards always said.

Gag….

So, we soon realized that we couldn’t sit together. I wanted to sit in the front – he wanted to sit in the back.

(Don’t worry – we have worked it out and we do sit together.)

Our culture celebrates being first. First place, first in line, first prize, first team all-stars, first edition, etc.

If someone cuts in front of us while driving and beats us to a light or an intersection, we fume about it and may even lay on the horn.

Recently Phil and I were driving somewhere and were running a tad late. I knew we would get there on time if we hurried. We were making good time until Phil slowed down and let someone pull out in front of us! Then, when a car next to us signaled that they wanted to move into our lane, he waved them in front of us!

I was irritated by each car that was ahead of us, seeing them as a obsticle to my progress. Truth be told, I was also irritated with Phil.

Phil saw these opportunities as a chance to be kind and thoughtful.

I started noticing his pattern while driving and I realized that he consistently lets people ahead of himself in line, lets others go first, and is not pushy nor aggressive. He just quietly waits his turn.

Jesus taught his disciples about being first

Mark 9:33-35 (NLT)

33 After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” 34 But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

What a great example to his disciples and to us.

Are we being that kind of example to our children and grandchildren? Do we let others go first? Do we make space for others in line or do we fuss and honk if others crowd in?

I need to be like Jesus and let others go first with the heart of a servant. Don’t you feel blessed when someone lets you pull into a line of cars?

Pass that kindness on to others.

Serve Him 2014 – #1

SERVE HIM 2014 PHOTOS 030

I had the privilege of sharing at the Women’s
Retreat – Serve Him 2014 – this past weekend.
It was a special time of fellowship with a varied group of women aged 70+ to 22. I was so blessed by the sense of unity and the desire of those of us present to grow in our understanding of what it means to serve God.

Several people told me that they were unable attend – so I thought I would share a brief summary of three of the four sessions – one each for the next three weeks.

Session 2 – Serve with All Your Heart

We started by reading the scripture from I Samuel 25:1-38. This passage tells the story of Abigail, an “intelligent and beautiful woman”. She was married to a man known for being stubborn and foolish. David has been anointed to be the next king, but Saul is putting forth an attempt to maintain the throne. David is hiding from Saul and his troops, even though it is well known that Samuel anointed David to be the next king.

David asks his servants to request supplies of food from Nabal, Abigail’s husband. The servants do as they are told, but Nabel treats them rudely and refuses to give them any supplies. David decides he will lead his men and take the supplies they need as well as teach Nabal a lesson.

But, one of Nabal’s servants tells Abigail what has happened. I Samuel 25:14-

14 One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. 15 Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. 16 Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. 17 Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”
18 Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal.

So, Abigail responds to the servant with wisdom to save the lives of her household. Abigail knew that David was God’s anointed. David recognizes the wisdom of what Abigail says –

32 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.

In that time and culture – women were only as important as the man they were married to. Her position as Nabal’s wife was significant.

Abigail was willing to put that secure postion aside for the more important goal of serving God.
We can learn some very important principles about serving God from Abigail’s story:

1) Abigail recognized God’s will – she was not doing something she just thought up
a.God wanted David to be king
b.She realized that Nabal’s insults put her and her family in danger
2) Abigail used her influence to save her family
a.She listened to wise counsel – v. 17 – “consider what you will do”
b.She was courageous
c.She acted quickly – “made haste”
3) Abigail bowed before David – symbol of God’s anointed – God’s will a.She submitted to God’s will
b.She used kind, wise words to ask for mercy for her husband
4) Abigail told Nabel – but waited for the RIGHT time
a. There is a right time to do the right thing
b. There is a wrong time to do the right thing
c. There is a wrong time to do the wrong thing
5) Abigail obeyed – God was responsible for the consequences

When our heart is set to serve the Lord – He will orchestrate the circumstances – and He will bring it to His desired outcome. Verse 31 – “And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then earnestly remember your handmaid.”

Abigail is an example to us of a woman who desired to honor God. God protected her and later blessed her by causing David to marry her after her husband died.

When we trust God to show us how to serve Him, we can trust God with the consequences.