Friday, December 30, 2011

Sometimes it is the destinations that are out of our reach that create the circumstances God uses to remind us that we are never out his reach. Andy Stanley

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Snow!

As anyone who knows me knows, I hate cold weather. Most people who know me think I really hate snow, too. I don't hate snow - as long as I don't have to spend any time in it. After living in it for a while, all I see is grey, dirty, cloudy, depressing . . . well, you get the picture! lol

However . . . (ready?), when it's falling, and just after it falls, it truly is a spectacular beauty that takes my breath away. We left Mississippi Monday about 9:30pm and drove straight through to northeast Ohio, arriving about 1:30pm central time. It was raining when we left home, and still raining when we arrived in Ohio. Yep, that's right. Sixteen hours of driving in the rain. Fun, huh? But about an hour after we got to my SIL's house, the magic began. The rain changed over to snow and by late afternoon it was all snow, the biggest snowflakes I had ever seen!

Photographing snowflakes is not my forte. But I did get a couple that I thought were neat. Hope you enjoy! This was before dark.
This was after dark with a flash.
Look at the size of those snowflakes! Awesome! As always, the pictures are clickable to get a bigger view! I'll get around to some Christmas posts sometime! Hope your holidays  have been beautiful, peaceful and filled with joy. God is so good!


Blessings,
Renea

Monday, December 26, 2011

Jesus. My friend. Guide. Brother. Hope. Peace. Comforter. Protector. Mighty Warrior. Father. Savior. Redeemer. My Jesus. Thank you.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Change

I hate it. Change, that is. It depresses me, stresses me, and generally makes me angry, unhappy and pretty hard to get along with. The whole lot of it just bothers me. Today marks a huge change for my husband and me. We will be attending a new church beginning next Sunday after 16 years in the same church. I should be excited about the opportunity. I'm trying to be excited. But it's change. I just don't like it. Not that change is always bad. This change is for the best. I know that. I believe that. I'm satisfied that we made the right decision. But it's still change. I have to make new friends. I have to find new things to be involved in. I have to learn a whole new set of things that I need to say 'no' to. (Saying 'no' has never been my specialty. 'Oh, sure, I can handle that!' - whatever 'that' happens to be. Who needs sleep? lol)

Yesterday, Christmas eve, during a communion service at my daughter's church, I was reminded once again that change is often a beautiful thing. Can you imagine the frightening changes that Mary had to go through? How terrifying her future must have looked through her human eyes. She was just a young girl, a teenager! And, Joseph, bless his faithful heart! He must have been crazy in love with her! He wanted to "put her away quietly", ie. send her somewhere to avoid the gossip and ridicule he knew was coming. Have you ever realized that the night Jesus was born, Joseph was in his home town? He had family there. As a matter of fact, his whole family had been ordered to be there to have their taxes assessed. Yet, not one of them could find room in their home to let him and his nine-month pregnant fiance sleep. So, here is this teenage girl, who has never had sex, alone with a man she is engaged to but not married to, in a cave with filthy animals, after traveling about 3 days on a donkey or walking, without a midwife or her mom or a best friend, and she's in labor. Don't you think maybe once or twice she and Joseph had to think, 'God, are you serious? Really? This is your idea of bringing Messiah to our people?'

But aren't we grateful that Mary and Joseph accepted what they were facing and were obedient to God's call on their lives? Because of the changes they were willing to make in THEIR plans, forsaking THEIR dreams and plans and accepting God's plan, the Savior came! Yes, change can really be a beautiful thing. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior then you know this to be true. I'm so thankful that God loved me enough to accept me the way I was and continues to love me as I try to become all that He created me to be. I have much to learn. I never want to stop the changing process. It scares me half to death but I know it has to happen. As my husband and I embark on a new adventure I know there will be challenges. But God will be with us every step. I know I will still have some moments of discomfort. But I also know that every time we are obedient to God's call on our lives, the blessings always outweigh the fears and frustrations. I pray that whatever changes you are facing this Christmas, that you fall on His grace, stand on His promises, and trust in His faithfulness to get you through it.

Blessings and a very merry Christmas,
Renea

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jolie - Grammie! Is that Rudolph the nose red reindeer?
There are still 15-20 lambs not adopted on the tree at Walmart in Flowood. Any help would be appreciated!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Life isn't fair . . .

In Dec 2008, our middle daughter gave birth to the most beautiful little creature I had ever seen. Just in case you don't know the background, Jolie was born premature and with a lateral cleft. The surgeon did a magnificent job of repairing her little mouth, so much so that most people don't even notice the scar. I knew the day would come when someone, or she, would notice it. I wish I could say I had prepared for that. But, truthfully, she is so beautiful and full of life that I just hadn't thought about it much.

Well, the day arrived. I don't know if a child in her class said something or if she just looked in the mirror and saw something that was different from the other kids. But it happened. A few weeks ago I was on the phone with my daughter when Jolie asked to cover her scar with a bandaid. I can't tell you how many people told me how different your feelings are for your grandchildren than they were for your children. I adore my kids. But my grandkids hold a place in my heart that I can't even begin to put in words. It hurt when someone was mean to my kids. Or when life just wasn't fair. But in comparison, oh just rip my heart out and stomp on it! I know Jolie will be ok. She is resilient and smart and funny, and she truly is beautiful. But the thought of her being hurt literally reduced me to tears, lots of tears. All the mama lion instincts in me rose up like a raging storm. I wanted to go marching up to her preschool and scream at the kids in her class. Now how silly is that? I opted instead to tell my daughter to let Jolie know next time she brings up her scar that Papa, (her hero), thinks she is the most beautiful little girl in the whole world, even prettier than all the Disney princesses, (her idols). That seemed a little more reasonable and healthy than beating up a bunch of four year old kids. 

I always told my kids, "life isn't fair; deal with it." I know that sounds cruel but it's true. Expecting life to be fair is unrealistic. People will do mean things. Problems will arise. Bad things will happen. A couple of months ago I heard a quote on "Blue Bloods" that has replaced my 'deal with it' mantra. "Life isn't fair, but you can be." Gotta love wise words coming out of the mouth of Tom Selleck, right? lol

We can't always expect 'fair' from others. But living with the assurance that God is always fair, that His love is never conditional, that His mercy is unending, and that His grace is sufficient, makes being fair with others much easier.

Blessings!
Renea

Monday, December 5, 2011

He'll break open the skies to save those who cry out His name. The One the winds and waves obey is strong enough to save you!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Never forsaken

"Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you." Joshua 1:5b

My husband and I both have had a tendency in the past to hoard 'things.' His stemmed from a lifetime of moving around. His father was an amazing man who dedicated his life to ministering to others. He was one of the most brilliant men I've ever known. His incredible gift for seeing things as they really were, and how to make them what they needed to be, covered every imaginable skill. Building things, repairing just about anything, and seeing deep spiritual solutions that others couldn't even comprehend, made him a sought after pastor for churches in crisis. He could walk into a board meeting with heated division and see what needed to be done. And he set about to make it happen. Once that had taken place, he was called to go somewhere else. My husband learned by experience that nothing remained the same. So his solution was to just keep everything in stacks, or as I affectionately refer to them, piles, because he didn't see the need to put away what was just going to be moved again. I can laugh about it now but it used to really drive me crazy!

My experience was just the opposite. My parents lived in the same house from the time I was 2 years old until I was in my 30s. Every year during the holidays we did the same thing. Thanksgiving at my maternal grandparent's house, Christmas eve at home, Christmas day at my dad's sister's house. All of these holidays were filled with aunts, uncles and cousins, the same ones every year. We attended the same church my entire life. I had the same neighbors for most of my life. I had the kind of stability as a child that most people can't even comprehend these days. But my life fell apart just before my 30th birthday. Divorce. Single parenthood. A date rape and pregnancy. More single parenthood. Then I met my wonderful husband, fell in love, got married and lived happily ever after! Well, at least mostly. lol

So why did I hang on to so much 'stuff' from my past? While my husband clung to things because they were fleeting, I clung to things because they had been what I saw as my stability. I wanted my children to see the 'stuff' they had as children, smell the holiday meals that were so familiar to me, sense the everyday commonness of the iron bed I slept in at Grandma's house, hear the mantel clock strike the hour in the main room of her house. I wanted little old ladies to hug my children on Sunday mornings and tell them they remembered when they just little and still in diapers. My sense of loss had been so frightening to me that I was afraid if I let go of the 'things' that I would have nothing to hold on to. My husband and I both, unintentionally and unknowingly, confused the lines between what is of value and what matters.

As we head into the season of Christmas, I challenge you to look for the things that really matter. As it has been said, no one will say on their death bed that they wish they had spent more time at work, or whatever it is that keeps you from participating in the activities that will make life-long memories for your family. Make time to snuggle with your spouse, read a book to your child or grand-child, make cookies for the senior adult in your neighborhood, sing Christmas carols, go look at some pretty lights. After all, Christmas really does only come once a year. You don't want January to get here and you realize you missed all the fun!

All the stuff will go away sooner or later. But God will never leave you or forsake you. Enjoy the beauty of the season. But most of all, steal away for a little while just to be alone with God, and be amazed at who He really is.

Blessings!
Renea

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tim's tags, day 3

This man is a genius. That's all I can say, except, wow . . .
http://timholtz.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/12/12-tags-of-christmastag-3.html

DSC00927

A joyful heart . . .

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 NASV


I found all of this in an old box that has been stored at my house for, (embarrassed cough), about 25 years. Wow. I sewed for many years before I was a scrapbooker. They've all been washed and cleaned up now, ready for my craft room. As I was going through these, (side note - Boxes are not good places to store things long term. It was gross!), several things occurred to me.

This box was from a very different time period in my life. Back then money was so tight that I literally never threw anything away. I was reminded of how resourceful I can be when necessary. These are some of the 'containers' that I had used for storage. 


Necessity is the  mother of invention, right? It was a rather comical reminder to me that even in the hard times, God is still faithful. We were so poor back then that I'm amazed we didn't starve to death! One year as we were wrapping presents, (ie- clearance items I had picked up over the entire year so the kids would have something to open Christmas morning!), we ran out of tape. We had no money to go buy more. My mom owned a florist so I did have an abundance of ribbon. That year I taught our oldest how to wrap presents without tape by tying the ribbon around the box! We still laugh about it.

Marie Osmond's book, "Might as Well Laugh About It Now" is one of the current books on my stack of reading material. The title is from her outlook on life: "You're going to laugh about it someday . . . Might as well laugh about it now." My husband has told me about a million times over the last 22 years that 'it's' going to get better, referring to whatever 'it' was troubling us most at the time. Usually I've doubted his sanity. He's been right every time. Granted, things may have gotten much worse before they got better. But eventually, 'it' always got better.

Funny how that happens. The truth is that life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes those downs are extremely painful. Loss hurts. Fear can sometimes grip us so tightly that we can't even breathe. In those times, I'm trying to take Marie's advice these days. Go ahead and laugh, even if it's through the tears. Look for the bright spots through the pain. Cherish the happy memories but don't forget to make new ones. Let go of yesterday's hurt and look forward to tomorrow's sunshine. And just remember, like my sweet hubby says, it's gonna get better!

 Blessings!
Renea