Early Morning Habits

As I work on my laptop in the wee hours of the morning (my best time for thinking things through is right after waking up for the day - it's 1:38 a.m. as I write this) I often let a favorite song loop in the background.

With a pair of headphones on to keep the silence in our home undisturbed, I enjoy a repertoire of songs - but I usually only let one play over and over the mornings that I listen. Letting it continuously play in the background doesn't seem to distract me from my work; it just gently wafts in at different parts of the song.

A wonderful bonus comes when I find I have learned the words to these songs as they saturated my heart in this kind of repetition.

This morning I'm listening to Damaris. Would you like to listen with me?

'He Has Forgiven Me' Damaris Carbaugh 

A Dead-End?

Do you ever feel like you've been doggedly sticking to a mountainous and winding road you thought had your name on it, only to find it's a dead-end?

And it's a dead-end because that's what God ordained for you. He never planned for the road to go all the way through, or it certainly would have. You didn't know that, though, until you reached the end of it (or you might have tried not to take it).

Yet... the road did have your name on it, and you can see it did as you start to head back down on it. God gave it your name and mapped it out for you ahead of time. He supplied many things for you to learn and do on that road, and because He perfectly orchestrated it, it became the only road that would accomplish all His will for you.

Even now as you once again arrive at the beginning of the road (and the assumption is you will find a new road to travel next) you look back and see an array of beauty and a bounty of fruit brought about by that dead-end road He laid out for you.

So you decide 'dead-end' just doesn't fit what the road has been to you. God traveled it with you and He taught you on it, beauty was seen, good fruit came about. And even though it had an unexpected 'turn-around' at the top of it you know you would take this road with Him again, and gladly, if you believed He wanted you to!

But for now, it's time to change direction! Do you suppose there's a new path up the mountain to be found? 

(Written as I change plans for this blog. 'We make our plans, but God directs our steps!' Proverbs 16:9. ~Thank You, Lord!~)

Funny Papers : Yoder Hair

We like the Funny Papers of our family life because we think keeping a gentle sense of humor is a wonderful thing!

We were at a 'Sing' late one Sunday afternoon - where everyone blends in harmony singing hymns a cappella and people take turns blessing the congregation with individual songs.

I reach up to the dear older gentleman in the pew in front of me to pull one lone and very long white hair off his neck. It's obviously mine from the quick hug I had just given this dear friend in greeting a few minutes before. Tug. What? It doesn't budge! Oh man, it's attached! I immediately let go and slink back into my seat.

Thankfully, I see that neither he nor his sweet wife notice anything because they don't move a muscle. Whew! My failed attempt at being 'helpful' went undetected.

Moments later during the next hymn I see his wife, without turning her head or saying a word, reach her arm around behind her husband's neck and snap the wayward hair off. I can also see that both of them are smiling broadly.

I am so busted!

Gospel Studies

These are some of the studies we are doing regarding the gospel.

. The Gospel Defined  (an in-depth definition, a succinct simplified definition)

. In the Beginning, God  (it all starts with God, He ordained the gospel - verses)

. Gospel Verses : Verbatim  (verses that contain the word 'gospel' - glean and list bible facts from them)

. Gospel Verses : Plainly (verses that do not contain the word 'gospel' but that clearly express it - listed and studied)

. How Jesus Shared The Gospel  (how He presented Himself and His Good News, the various ways He shared the one message - listed and studied)

. Gospel Facets  (the individual parts of the whole - listed and studied)

. Gospel Aspects  (what Jesus did - listed and studied)

. Gospel Blood and Cross  (verses containing these two elements - what they mean, what they do not mean)

. Gospel Presentations  (gathering them - practicing and using them)

. God's Sovereignty in Gospel Giving  (as relates to our imperfect sharing of the gospel - His absolutely essential work)

. Gospel Reminders  (the gospel is not just for our initial salvation, but for our entire lives - importance of and ways to remind ourselves of this regularly)

. Gospel Declarations  (gospel truths personalized using language that exhibits our appropriation of them)

(Re-Post) There I Go Again

(This is a re-post from one of our other older blogs - with a few revisions to it. I'm hoping to slowly post some of our previous work on this blog before closing all other ones. The irony is not lost on me that the content of this particular post from years ago is still an ongoing life experience for me. sigh... )

Do you see me here? Behind the scenes trying to organize everything?

So what labels / categories will I use on this blog? And what formats will I use for the different kinds of posts? And which method of recording the posts do I want to use this time?

And what content do I want on here and which of the (literally over 16,000) files do I need to pull from and prepare stuff from so I can easily post it all? And how will I ever write all this stuff?

Oh, and exactly what is this blog's purpose in life? Tell me again why I'm doing it? What's its theme so I can stick with it? Does it even have a theme? Does it have multiple themes? Oh yeah, we decided it would.

And look at that! While I'm working out these details (and a bazillion more) no actual posts - or not many considering how many potential ones there are - are getting put online yet because I'm still busy with all my organizing! (Is there such a thing as Organizers Anonymous? If there is, I need it! LOL!)

This challenge comes from decades of writing informational type curriculum where the gathering of content and the pre-organizing of it (or in this case the over-organizing, and then re-organizing the over-organized stuff, aka a scope and sequence style) have been crucial to the finished product. You've got to know what you want to say ahead of time and in what order, right? Well, maybe. Or maybe not.

I forget (again and again) that I'm supposed to just talk on this blog. Be conversational. But that's a problem because it's not my first and easiest language when writing - informational-ese is.

I probably just need to begin talking to you and writing! Like I am now. And I may still get to do some occasional informational writing, too.

Quick! I need a file folder to organize all these thoughts into! (Or perhaps I'll just learn to ignore that urge from now on.)

The Bookends of the Christian Life

We love this wonderful little book!

It gives some much needed encouragement and excellent truth that help toward living the Christian life and understanding how to do that.

We've enjoyed reading it multiple times and hope to do so again and again.

It's written by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington who "...use the creative metaphor of 'bookends' to help us fully embrace the two things that are absolutely crucial for staying steady in the Christian life: our justification in Christ and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. Here is a guide to experiencing the peace, joy, and stability we all desire." (quote from Amazon synopsis)

We highly recommend this book!

Time to Prep

My vision has just taken another major step in the wrong direction, so it's time to prep our home with more helps for these new impairments.

It's also time to prep our blog 'home' with more helps for my fellow visually impaired readers, as well as make it easier for me to keep working on here.

I've been exceedingly blessed that the process of worsening vision has been going slowly over the last decade. I still see everything ~Thank You, Lord!~ it's just getting more splotchy and wobbly and obscured.

Thankfully, I can still read (using a monitor hooked up to my laptop and a Kindle reader for books - regular ones are pretty much out these days) but it's becoming a bit more frustrating and challenging, especially with certain blogs, articles, and memes on Facebook. I'm not referring to difficulty with the content of what is written, but to hindrances like long paragraphs and large amounts of writing (which can usually only be skimmed), ornate styles of font, small sizes of font, and lavish colors and illustrations (too much embellishment makes it harder to read).

Shouldn't I try to avoid unnecessary hindrances on here? Yeah, that's what I was thinking, too. Being part of a community of visually impaired now, I'm beginning to feel a responsibility to do what I can to be more helpful on this front. I realized I've been writing to sighted readers up to this point, but attention to the needs of visually impaired readers will now be a goal as well.

I've been getting an education on ways to make this blog more accessible for everyone. And as my education continues the guidelines continue to change.

. use an easy to read font type, and a larger font size

. use 'vision helps' like bolding in key places, . bullets, removing most italics, and helpful spacing with what's written

. be brave and adventurous enough to be freed up from normal conventions of punctuation and grammar (for the purpose of making what is written easier to read - and write - as is deemed necessary)

. using shorter paragraphs and some incomplete sentences (gasp! oh wait, I've been doing that for a while already. LOL!)

. making any definitions, explanations, and instructions brief and simplified

. (I was going to add the subject categories before the post titles as suggested but then saw that no vision impaired people's blogs actually do that, so I won't)

I'm sure I'll find other changes to make in the future.

31 Days of Our Lord Jesus

"So that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:10-11)

Lord Jesus You...

Day 31 - ...are COMING BACK SOON! Amen. Come Lord Jesus! (based on John 14:3, Acts 1:11b, Revelation 22:20)

Day 30 - ...are our Peace, and we have Peace with God through You! (based on Ephesians 2:14a, Romans 5:1b)

Day 29 - ...are Wisdom from God, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption, so our boast is in You alone! (based on 1 Corinthians 1:30b,31b)

Day 28 - ...are the Propitiation (that which appeases or turns away God's righteous wrath from us and reconciles us to Him) and You have Propitiated, done this for us (we who have believed upon You to save us)! (based on 1 John 2:2,4:10, Hebrews 2:17b)

Day 27 - ...loved us and gave Yourself up for us, a fragrant Offering and Sacrifice to God! (based on Ephesians 5:2)

Day 26 - ...are the Only Begotten Son, and You are full of grace and truth! (based on John 3:16b, 1:14b)

Day 25 - ...are the Savior of the world! (based on 1 John 4:14a)

Day 24 - ...are the Light of the world! (based on John 8:12a)

Day 23 - ...are the Wisdom of God! (based on 1 Corinthians 1:24)

Day 22 - ...are the Power of God! (based on 1 Corinthians 1:24)

Day 21 - ...are the Almighty! (based on Revelation 1:8)

Day 20 - ...are called Faithful and True! (based on Revelation 19:11b [19:13b])

Day 19 - ...are the Ruler of the kings of the earth! (based on Revelation 1:5b)

Day 18 - ...are the Bread of Life, the Living Bread that came down out of heaven! (based on John 6:48,51a)

Day 17 - ...are our Deliverer - Redeemer! (based on Romans 11:26b / in Hebrew the Goel / Ga-al of Isaiah 59:20)

Day 16 - ...are the Radiance of God's glory and the Exact Representation of His nature, upholding all things by the word of Your power! (based on Hebrews 1:3a)

Day 15 - ...are our Advocate with the Father! (based on 1 John 2:1b)

Day 14 - ...are the One Mediator between God and us! (based on 1 Timothy 2:5)

Day 13 - ...are the Resurrection and the Life! (based on John 11:25a)

Day 12 - ...are the Prince of Peace! (based on Isaiah 9:6b)

Day 11 - ...are the Word, the Word of Life, the Word of God! (based on John 1:1; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 19:13)

Day 10 - ...are the Truth! (based on John 14:6 - Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Him)

Day 9 - ...are the Good Shepherd! (based on John 10:11,14)

Day 8 - ...are the Master! (based upon Luke 8:24)

Day 7 - ...are the King of kings and Lord of lords! (based on Revelation 17:14; 19:16)

Day 6 - ...are the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (based on John 1:29)

Day 5 - ...are the Alpha and Omega, Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty! (based on Revelation 1:8)

Day 4 - ...are the Christ (the Messiah Israel had been waiting for, God's Anointed One)! (based on Matthew 1:6)

Day 3 - ...are Immanuel - God with us! (based on Matthew 1:23, fulfilling Isaiah 7:14)

Day 2 - ...are God! (based on John 1:1)

Day 1 - ...are called Jesus because You will save Your people from their sins! (based on Matthew 1:21)

A Birth in the Shadow of the Cross

Jesus came... headed for the cross... for our sake!

Merry Christmas to all!

May you have a blessed celebration of our Savior's birth!

Gifts of Christmas Past

The Gift of having children.

The Gift of sharing joyful times with them.

The Gift of our family celebrating the birth of our Savior.

We have been mightily blessed!

Merry Christmas to all!

From Our Notes : When Speaking

Remember : it's lonely when you only speak to and of yourself, especially if there is a person in front of you trying to converse with you.

. Listen to them, hear what they say, think about what they are telling you.

. Give them an answer that corresponds to their question.

. Let them know you heard them, even if you have no words or answers to give. (a nod or a polite grin works fine)

. Give them eye-to-eye contact, not eye-to-i-pod contact.

. Speak to them, not over or through them, nor to your own feet (as enthralling as you may find them).

. Do not speak within yourself... as though enjoying your own conversation.

. Project your words so the person can hear and understand you.

. Watch the impact your words have on them and see nuances in their reaction, in their body language.

. Catch cues that indicate they comprehend what you said, or that express their total confusion.

Move beyond yourself. Push and stretch your own skin and remember the other person has skin you don't want your words to bounce off of, but to slip beneath and reach up into their heart.

Blessed By : Mary, Did You Know?

S o m e t h i n g  S i m p l y  B e a u t i f u l !

(Mark Lowry with Voctave)

Real Life is Smooshed!

[A slightly revised re-post.]

I don't at all mean smooshed in a bad way, as in flattened or squashed. I mean smooshed in a good way, like many different colors retaining their own hue at core while bleeding ever so slightly around the edges into the next colors making a breathtakingly beautiful collage.

Let me speak plainly (because I love plain speakers)! I am talking about blogging in general, and this blog specifically and what you can expect to find on it (and why).

I like the way some people have multiple blogs, one for each subject: a food and recipe blog, another one for theology, and a separate one for pictures of God's beautiful creation. Doing them separately seems so organized and orderly and that appeals to me. You know what to expect when you click on each site.

And while I tend to think in those terms (with happy little organized and separate boxes for each subject), I find real life isn't compartmentalized like that. It's more organic and incongruous, growing in many different directions at the same time, while simultaneously living symbiotically with the whole.

And because of this I've concluded this blog will reflect what life is like with its many different subjects under one roof.

For example... I cook. I read theological books. I do laundry. I discuss serious issues with John. I play with my grandchildren. I marvel once again at the truth found in the first few chapters of Ephesians. I fondly reminisce about our homeschooling days. I make necessary changes for our health's sake. I use 'The Mental Checklist' to help me discern, and I watch an occasional good movie. All this and much more in one life - all smooshed and very happily existing together!

I guess I could have just said I want to put a lot of different stuff on here. sigh...

Funny Papers : Close the Door and Turn the Light On!

We like the Funny Papers of our family life because we think keeping a gentle sense of humor is a wonderful thing!

We lived where there was a patch of wild field behind our backyard in Texas and we had seen all kinds of vermin while living in that great state: huge spiders, possums, snakes, lizards, to name a few. Some had even ventured into our garage. One night a noise on the floor next to my side of the bed woke me up out of a sound sleep. I knew instantly it was a snake! I woke John and quietly told him, "Quick! Go close the door and turn the light on!" I didn't want us to wake our children nor let the slithering reptile get out of there before he could capture and dispose of it.

John bounded out of bed, ran into the bathroom off our bedroom, soundly closed the door behind him and turned the light on... in there! No longer in the bedroom with me... and the snake! "What are you doing IN THERE?" I loudly whispered. I was still too afraid of the noise to get up and walk in the dark room so I continued my panicked whisper yell. "JOHN, COME OUT AND HELP!"

He did finally - once he actually woke up. He closed our bedroom door this time, turned on our light and came around to find our children's pet hamster rummaging around on the floor beside me. "Ranger! What are you doing in here? How did you get loose?"

I thanked the Lord as soon as I realized the little guy's life was probably spared because my fear kept me from jumping up and accidentally stepping on him. John gently scooped him up and took him back to his cage on top of the washing machine in the utility room (where we kept the noisy little rodent at night), and he secured the lid this time. 😄 

We have been praying!

We have been praying... for a dear one who was critically injured by a fall from a ladder.

Today is Matthew Bullen's 9th day since the accident and after many tests and procedures to begin the healing process his doctors and family are now waiting for him to respond to them once again (he had responded a little bit at the beginning of his hospitalization but has not responded since). He remains in critical condition but his doctors believe he will live. Praise God!

Continued prayers for various medical needs arise from day to day (healing from the pneumonia he has developed, his intubation tube to come out and his ability to breathe on his own, for him to respond to them, and many other things). We are grateful his wife, Lisa, and some of his children are able to keep people updated on his condition and needs. It has been reported there are literally millions of people praying for Matt around the world. We have joined our prayers with theirs since the accident. Would you please consider praying for this dear family?

We have known and loved Matt and his sweet family for over 20 years, having been neighbors to them (we lived in an apartment below them). We've known them to be involved in many capacities in God's work, and at present they have developed a wonderful ministry called Mission Critical International.


We are hoping and praying for a complete recovery for Matt and for God's sustaining and comforting hand to provide all that Lisa and their family needs so they can ALL continue in this wonderful work God has given them. For more information about them and the ministry please click this link : Mission Critical International

And please pray!