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Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent, Adjectives Describing the Trinity

Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing or event

I just finished the 26 days of Thanksgiving list in November. For December and the 26 days of Advent I will be using adjectives and/or phrases describing the Trinity. When my sons were young we did this for a few years each December in preparation for Christmas. They would draw or cut out a picture that made them think of one these adjectives and make a booklet of them all with Bible verses. To make it easy for them we used the 26 letters of the alphabet. Sometimes in prayer our minds get so bogged down with "stuff" that we forget to praise Him. Praying through the alphabet is a great way to get started and clear your thoughts to focus on the Lord each day.

If you think of more, post a comment and I will add them to the list.

Letter A:

Advent Devotional with Scripture Reading

Both of these verses are prophecies that Jesus will come to earth. "Immanuel" means "God with Us!". Jesus is light, a great light.

Advent of Christ, Christmas, Daily Life

Son #2 was sick over part of the weekend and is on the mend; now husband is sick---left church early yesterday and staying home from work today.

Yesterday, November 29, the Christian season of Advent began. If you are unfamiliar with this church tradition you can find more info on it here. For each of the four Sundays before Christmas we light candles on an Advent wreath, one candle for each Sunday--yesterday being the lighting of the purple candle reminding us of the prophecy of Christ's coming to earth as well as His future return. I also had the pleasure of playing the piano for some Christmas carols with a choir at church to open the service which I will be doing during Advent each week and for a mother-daughter duet singing the song Rose of Bethlehem.

Memory Verse for the Week: Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."

Hymn for the Week: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Yesterday afternoon I had the blessing of attending a lovely outdoor concert where our local philharmonic orchestra performed. Someone donates this event as a gift to the community each year. A friend of ours was the featured soloist. A joyous way to begin the Christmas season.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas Holidays, Seasonal Decorations

Where does the time go? I did not post on Friday, Nov. 27. Our older son arrived home early Thursday for Thanksgiving and was starting to get sick so I have been trying to get him well before he goes back to school tomorrow. It's been wonderful having him here with us for the last three days. I always miss him when he leaves. My sons and I (and a couple of their friends) also spent part of Friday putting up our Christmas decorations and baking cookies as we have each year. The three of us enjoy the process and try to make it an "event". My husband helps in getting the decoration storage bins down and putting them away. He also likes to eat the cookies and admire the decorating when it's done. :)

This year we finished in record time. One 8 foot tree in our living room, one 3 foot tree in our family room, kitchen table and dining room arrangements, entry table, Christmas linens out and ready to use, Christmas cards (bought at year-end sales) and wrapping paper are in the guest room ready to use... I put most of the decorations in the common living areas as mentioned although our sons have small (1 foot) trees in their rooms. Last night we put all the storage bins back in the garage. Today I'll get out the Christmas dishes from the china cabint and store the others for after the holidays. My son is uploading my Christmas CDs to my iTouch for me. :)

Last year I weeded out all my decorations and donated or threw away those that we don't use anymore. That felt so good. When I start putting decorations away I need to do that with the tree ornaments. Of course, some of the childhood handmade things won't ever get tossed. :) Having less to put up took so much stress out of the trimming. We have outdoor lights but have opted to not use them again this year. A simple wreath on the door is fine with jingle bells on the handle. If I find an inexpensive small lighted tree for the front door, I may purchase that, but nothing else.

Red sprinkled here and there really brightens up the home. I always wonder why I don't put more red in our house when the decorations come down in January.
Gotta run...vegetable soup (with turkey, of course) and fresh bread baking for lunch. Stay well and warm!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, This Time in History

Well, this is the final item in my Thanksgiving list although certainly not the end of things / people that I am thankful for. To review my entire list, go to the blog archives and click on NOVEMBER to see them all. Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving Day with your family and give thanks with a grateful heart. [NOTE: My blog will continue with Christmas items beginning tomorrow.]

26. I am thankful to be alive at this appointed time in history.
Now that I am out of school and testing (except for homeschooling) I love reading about history. My particular favorite is pioneer women of the western U.S. and medieval women in Europe. I don't know how they survived and I realize how wimpy I am when I read their stories and their journals. But, God ordains the days of our lives and I was born (as you were) in this part of the timeline with all its troubles, modern conveniences, politics and culture. Sometimes I complain about the "way things are" but in reality, it must be exactly where I am supposed to be. As one of my favorite Bible passages says, maybe we re here for such a time as this (Esther 4:14) to make a difference.

To close, here is a Thanksgiving meditation by John Piper which was in our church newsletter this week:

David said, I will magnify God with Thanksgiving (Psalm 69:30-32). The word "magnify" can be used in two different senses. It can mean: make something appear greater than it is, as with a microscope or a magnifying glass. Or it can mean, make something that may seem small or insignificant appear to be as great as it really is. This is what our great telescopes help us begin to do with the magnificent universe which once upon a time spilled over from the brim of God's glory. So there are two kinds of magnifying: microscope magnifying and telescope magnifying. The one makes a small thing look bigger than it is. The other makes a big thing begin to look as big as it really is.

When David says, I will magnify God with thanksgiving, he does not mean: "I will make a small God look bigger than He is. He means: "I will make a big God begin to look as big as He really is." We are not called to be microscopes, but telescopes. Christians are not called to be con men who magnify their product out of all proportion to reality when they know the competitor's product is far superior. There is nothing and nobody superior to God. And so the calling of those who love God is to make his greatness begin to look as great as it really is. The whole duty of the Christian can be summed up in this: feel, think and act in a way that will make God look as great as He really is. Be a telescope for the world of the infinite starry wealth of the glory of God.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Christian Businesses

My 26 days of Thanksgiving list continues:

25. I am thankful for Christian businesses that build and maintain their companies based on biblical standards.
Whether you are a Christian or not, I'm sure you appreciate businesses with the highest ethical and moral standards whose profits are invested into ministry and/or their employees. The most obvious example is Chick-Fil-A. I know many young people who have worked there, one currently in their management training program. It is a company that is closed on Sundays with the intention that its employees will spend time with their families, to rest and to attend church that day. There are a variety of community-oriented programs that Chick-Fil-A sponsors long-term foster care programs, summer camps for boys and girls and other community oriented events.

I like purchasing from Christian-owned (and run) companies. We have a good friend who is a mobile mechanic whom we hire to work on our cars. He is trustworthy and does excellent work. Often I am hired by other Christians to teach piano, to play for weddings, funerals or other events for the same reasons.  We have another friend who has a business doing home mainatenance.  It is good for us to support each other with our time and our finances whenever possible. If you live in the Orlando area, check out the Orlando Christian Directory the next time you need to purchase an item or need a service. I am thankful to have these choices available to us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Our Neighbors

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues:

24. I am thankful for the gift of our neighbors.
I've mentioned our home previously but what always comes with a home is the people, the neighbors that surround it. We live in a suburb north of Orlando. Currently, our nearest neighbors--next door on either side of us and across the street--are the ones we know the best and have developed relationships with. We have had two sets of next-door neighbors who trashed their home and yard (thankfully they have moved), and now everyone who is nearby is very considerate of everyone else. All of us have shared two outdoor neighborhood cookouts this summer as well as an ice cream social. In December we usually host a Christmas caroling party. Everyone brings something to share and we sing carols to those around our block. It's always a fun time together. Sometimes we exchange gifts, sometimes we don't, but it's the pleasure of company that is important.

We don't have a Neighborhood Watch sign up but we all really do watch out for each other. If we forget to close our garage door, someone will call us to remind us to do so. If my husband's car is seen on weekdays, someone will generally call and ask if he's sick. We share produce and other food when we have too much (i.e. fruit trees, gardens) and help one another if we know of the need. There is one young family across from us whom we have seen their two children born and grow up. I have taught piano lessons to many in the neighborhood through word of mouth. They in turn, have watched our sons grow up, play basketball, ride bikes, cut lawns, etc.

I am thankful for these dear people, their kindness and the pleasure of their company.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Christian Radio

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues:

23. I am thankful to have a variety of Christian radio ministries and other programs to listen to and learn from.
I really enjoy listening to the radio, in fact, I tend to favor it more than listening to specific music choices or CD's that I have. I enjoy talk shows as well as music broadcasts. I generally listen when I am driving in the car or working in the kitchen. I like to download podcasts to my iPod so I can listen when I walk in the mornings, go to the YMCA and do routine chores such as ironing or dusting. Some of my favorite programs and stations are:
  • Focus on the Family / Dr. James Dobson (link)
  • Family Life Today / Campus Crusade (link)
  • Money Matters / Crown Ministries (link)
  • In Touch Ministries / Dr. Charles Stanley (link)
  • WTLN (link)
  • Z88.3 (link)
  • Sean Hannity / Fox News (link)
  • Clark Howard (link)
These are uplifting and encouraging and I usually learn something new each time I listen or refine what I already know. I am so thankful that these are not censored or prohibited in the U.S. like they are in some countries around the world. They are a blessing to many.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, God at Work in the Lives of Others

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues:

22. I am thankful to hear how God is at work in the lives of others.
Ephesians 5:18-21
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

This morning at our church in lieu of offertory music, a young woman recited Psalm 119 (all 24 verses). After that, instead of a sermon we had congregational sharing of how God has been at work in our lives, testimonies of His goodness and grace. Some people were thankful for things that had happened in their youth, two young teens were thankful for the influence of other godly teens and their families, one man shared about the recent salvation of his elderly grandmother and aunt in their 80's, others were thankful for their jobs and provision during these tough economic times...this went on for about 45 minutes. One person commented that she was glad that she was not God because she would not have chosen her circumstances the way that He did, but over the course of the last few months realized that it was by far a better choice. I never get tired of hearing from others how He is working. Just because we may not see Him working on our behalf every day does not mean that He's not doing something, all for our good and for His glory. It has been a good day.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Internet & Computers and Our Home

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues.

20. I am thankful for computers, email and the internet.

21. I am thankful for our home.
Computers, email and the internet enable me to do two things I just love-- (1) keep in touch with family and friends, both new and old--and (2) learn. Taking photos (with digital cameras), editing them and then sharing them is a breeze. Research, if done using reliable sources, can be done on an almost unlimited variety of topics. I recently received an iPod Touch as a birthday gift from my brother. It's a little computer in your hands and so much fun to use. (Plus it looks pretty cool, too.) :) I know I'll continue to be a lifelong student due to someone's genius in designing computers. As an added bonus, they enable us to have home businesses with little or no additional expense. I am thankful to be able to have these pieces of equipment in our household.
I am also thankful for the home we live in. It has been our residence for 11 years and has been a safe place for our sons to grow up (they were 9 and 4 when we moved here) with plenty of room for friends and activities, a pool, and a neighborhood where we can bike and/or walk without fear. It is close to our church, most of our friends and family, shopping. We husband bit the bullet and has a 40 minute+ drive to work each day, but he made the final decision to live here. We spent the first half of our marriage in a 1,000 s.f. condo not far from here. It had nice amenities and was the perfect size when we were married (I bought it when I was single) but when son #2 was born and my husband brought his office home, it started getting smaller. We were content to stay there until we paid off some debt and my husband was hired in a new job. We required a large down payment on the sale of our condo which went toward the down payment on this house. The closings were in the same room, 30 minutes apart, so we never had to pay two mortgages at the same time. The Lord blessed us more than I would ever have imagined by providing this home, especially on one income alone. Even in these economic times it has doubled in value. It is not a mansion but it is just what we need--a comfortable place to live, affordable, and a haven from the outside world with lots of special family memories. I am so thankful that our family has happily lived here together.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Mercy of God and People

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues:

19. I am thankful for mercy, particularly that of God, which I am reminded of when people manifest it to me.
This article is #19 in my 26 days of Thanksgiving but is certainly not ranked #19. I generally write as events happen in daily life. Since I was shown mercy yesterday afternoon I am writing about it this morning.

Mercy: A blessing that is an act of favor or compassion. (Webster's Dictionary)

At 2:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon I was on my way to pick up my younger son from his Spanish class on a neighborhood street not far from our home. I was running late and rushing to get there on time. As soon as I rounded a curve I saw three police officers with one holding the radar gun pointed at me and another motioning me to pull over. Ever had that sinking feeling in your stomach? I was going 34 in a 25 mile zone, and I knew that I deserved a speeding ticket. Ching-ching-ching...$$$. The officer took my license, insurance and registration and checked my driving record. After walking back to my car he asked me if I knew how long it had been since I had gotten a ticket; I didn't remember, so he told me--2001. He handed me my cards, said slow down and smiled. What a relief! Especially when my speeding ticket would have cost us $80.50.

It reminds me of God and His great mercy toward us. We all know deep down, that no matter how we look on the inside, or whatever we do that seems like a good thing, we are still not perfect. In God's economy that deserves death for all eternity. It is a marvelous mystery to us that when one accepts a specific person (Jesus) as Savior (for your sins) AND as Lord (over everything in your life) that He shows mercy and gives a free gift of eternal life.

We live in such a reciprocal culture--you do something for me, I do something for you and the cycle continues. Sometimes people try to even outdo each other. This gift from God is not like that since there is nothing we can give that is more valuable or lasting to Him, so we give of ourselves. It is a gift He loves and cherishes. Your reading this article at this moment was ordained by God. If you have never prayed to accept Jesus into your life, I urge to make today the day of your salvation. This would truly be something to give thanks for next Thursday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Daily Routines, Living Simply, Traditions

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues:

18. I am thankful for daily routines, living simply and family traditions.
I can really be quite boring when I think about it. I love routines, probably because they give me time to think, pray and ponder about things while using my hands. Examples would be a day in the life of a mom--laundry, dishes, cleaning and re-cleaning, paying bills, running errands. I've got these things down so I'm quite efficient at each, usually multi-tasking them all. Since they serve a greater goal--managing a household and helping my family. I have lots of clothes in my closet but prefer to wear many of the same classic items over and over again. I could eat Cheerios or fruit smoothies for every breakfast, have a nice hot soup and sandwich every lunch, and have a little variety at dinner (I get new recipes from or cookbooks I have on hand). I am perfectly satisfied with this. Simple things are low-stress and hassle-free. As I've gotten older I appreciate this more and more in everything I do.

Family traditions are similar in that way. I think I would have a mutiny on my hands if I served fish instead of turkey for Thanksgiving, or didn't have green bean casserole, oyster dressing and pumpkin and key lime pies. I always sneak in a new dish every year just to see the reactions and generally it gets tasted, but not consumed like everything else. :) We usually decorate our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving with plenty of cookies and/or Starbucks (now that the kids are older) to go around. We go to church on Christmas Eve and Christmas stockings are always opened first on Christmas morning with just the immediate family and everything else when other relatives arrive or get up if they are staying with us. The afternoon of Christmas Day is often either with friends or at a family movie with plenty of leftovers later.

Don't get me wrong. I love surprises, meeting new people, hanging out with friends and enjoying new things, but these are even more special when occasional and sometimes spontaneous. I traveled for five years with my work when I was younger and single, eating out at different restaurants for every meal, staying in hotels during the week and in my home city on the weekends where I never slowed down until Sunday night because there was so much to see and do. I was so thankful when I changed jobs to be in my own home each evening. Vacations offer plenty of time for me to "see the world" and I have done much of that.

One of my favorite authors is Sarah Susanka who wrote the Not So Big House and its sequels. There is also one written by her titled The Not So Big Life which my husband and I are reading now about choosing what is simple and important that you really want to spend your time on, new possibilities with your life. We are so easily distracted from what is important.
People say that variety is the spice of life and I certainly agree, but too spicy of a life can be tiring and overwhelming, too, making one conditioned to something new and different on a constant basis. Traditions and routines amplify stability and home in any family where you really always want some things to never change. There are always additions (marriag
es, new babies) and losses (kids moving out, deaths in the family) in all families but if asked, most people will sincerely say they love going home simply for the comfortableness and familiarity of it. Dorothy had it right: There's no place like home.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Our Police, Law Enforcement

My 26 days of Thanksgiving list continues:

17. I am thankful for our local police and their presence in our city and neighborhood.
I've always been taught to respect and admire policemen, just like military servicemen. They are, in fact, considered to be a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. When my children were young I would always tell them that police are here to help us. Even when we would see a policeman giving a speeding ticket, I would say that they are helping that person (hopefully not me) to learn to obey the traffic laws so no one would get hurt. To show respect, I never refer to them as "cops" but as policemen/women.

Last week in our city the police were out in full force for a shooter in our downtown district. They caught him several hours after the drama began. Last night in our neighborhood a kidnapper had turned off a main street into our subdivision with police in pursuit. Helicopters, police dogs and sirens were combing the area. These types of incidents do not generally happen in our area so it was good to know how quickly the response was from our law enforcement. We have several police officers who live in our neighborhood as well which always makes me feel even more secure. I thank God that we live in a country where the police are our friends and not our enemies or a threat to our families.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Cars

My 26 days of Thanksgiving list continues:

16. I am thankful to have a reliable car.
This is another one of those things that seems insincere to be thankful for. Except for a period of three months about 11 years ago, I have had a car of my own since I was 18 years old. My first car was a Ford Falcon station wagon, white with red interior, a gift from my dad when I graduated from high school. I think he paid $200 for it. I loved that car and it ran well through four years of college. I've owned a Gremlin, a Toyota Corolla, a Fort Escort (another gift from an elderly relative who could no longer drive) and now a 1998 Ford Taurus station wagon which we bought at an auction. This one is red like my first car, but on the outside rather than on the inside and was bought new in early 1999 so I've had it for 10 years.

My older son took my advice and also bought a car that was affordable before he started college-- a 1998 used Honda Accord. Those cars last for many years. His drives and feels like a brand new car.

Some people have love affairs with their cars. For me, it's mainly to get me from A to B, air conditioning (since we live in Florida), a good radio (mine even has an audiocassette player) :), power steering and enough room to hold my family. I love the candy apple red which makes me happy just to look at it in the sunlight. Most of my driving is within a 5-mile radius of our home so it's not so bad with the gas mileage.

I visit the post office near our house at least 2x a week to ship eBay sale items. There is a bus stop on both side of the street near the P.O. and I regularly see people walking from all over to catch the bus and get off as well, then walking to a store or home. When it's raining it's pretty miserable to have to wait and then walk to wherever you would need to go. Some of them even have small children with them in strollers or just carrying them. You have to do what you have to do.

Having a car has almost become a "right" these days and many people live beyond their means in their choice of a car. I am thankful to have the one we own. Especially since it has no car payments and lots of memories. It helps to cultivatte a heart of gratitude by also being thankful in the small things.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, My Church

Updated 11.15.12

My 26 days of Thanksgiving list continues:

15. I am thankful for the gift of my pastor and our church family.
Our pastor and I go back a long way-- 25+ years.   He is a good friend and a spiritual leader and his blossoming into a gifted pastor/teacher over the last two decades regularly reminds me of God's goodness and His completion of a work that He has begun. To listen to some of his sermons, go to this link.  I value the friendship I have with his sweet wife and am very thankful for her also.

Our church is a Reformed Baptist Church. From the time we joined when it first started about 20 years ago, it has been a wonderful blessing to us. I love smaller churches although there is certainly a place for the mega-churches in each city. I love knowing others well and being known by them rather than hiding among the flock. We have had our share of crises where our church family has come to our aid--hospital stays, illness, deaths in the family, finances--to name a few. My husband was an elder for many years and still counsels with some of the members of our congregation. We women take meals to each other's families when there is a new baby, a prolonged sickness, a death, etc. The older women are known to disciple the younger (love our Titus 2 Moms group) and the men are developing relationships among each other as well. Initially, just about everyone homeschooled their children and we had great times with each other's families when our kids were young.   The men help each other in the business world, counsel and disciple each other and sometimes work on physical projects together--housepainting, repairing roofs after hurricanes (ours included),  cleaning up the roadway near our church, etc. Our youth pastor and his young family are beloved among the teens and young adults. Our home groups (called Growth Groups) help singles, couples and families get to know each other better, have fun and help each other in time of need as well.  We now have a new building that my husband designed as a gift to the church.  We moved in this past summer. It's really nice to have our own "home" away from our heavenly home.

Orlando Grace Church
Orlando Grace Church

These people are God's gift to us and I am privileged to know them and be a part of this church which is a light shining in the darkness.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, New Sister-In-Law To Be

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues:

14. I am thankful for my new sister-in-law to be.
Today my brother announced his engagement to be married and I am so pleased with his choice of a wife. The three of us took a trip this past summer and after three days together I knew that she would be good for him. Even my younger son commented that they were perfect for each other. I have prayed often over the last few years for a wife for him that would be God's perfect choice, compatible, godly, fun to be with plus someone who would love him with all her heart AND love our family, too. I do believe He has answered that prayer. Thank you, Lord for this gift to him and to our family.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, My Brother, Family

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues:

13. I am thankful for the gift of my brother.
As I mentioned previously, I was adopted as an infant. Doctors told my parents that they were not able to have children, yet miraculously 14 months later, my brother was born. (He is my only sibling.) I have heard that this happens frequently. From early on, all through our childhood I watched over him and protected him. This is one of my favorite childhood photos--Christmas 1958. It's one of the few I have where I'm taller than him. :)

We always played well together and for many years when we were young, we were the only children in our neighborhood. I remember dressing up and playing cop and robber, cowboy and Indian, Army soldier and nurse (one of each). :) As far as I can remember I don't think we have ever fought as siblings and get along well even though we are quite different. We bonded together during my parents' difficulties in their marriage and have retained a close relationship all these years. Because of this I have always encouraged and taught my sons to love and respect each other since they will have each other most likely, long after my husband and I are gone. I want them to be best friends as well as brothers.

As a man and grandfather in his 50s he is a hard-worker, responsible, generous, and very loving. When difficulties arise in his life, he still calls to talk and pray with me. My children both love him dearly and I know, he loves them. Before my dad passed away a few years ago, he came and stayed with us for about a month total. My sons were able to spend lots of time with him then. Generally we only see him once or twice a year, around Mothers Day, Thanksgiving and/or Christmas.

He travels a lot with his fast-paced job and is in a completely different income bracket than we are. He has been very generous to our family and to others. Last Christmas he paid the bill for an elderly woman in his city who had been without electricity for quite awhile get her power turned on. He helps to support our mom with her living expenses. This summer he co-sponsored my older son on a mission trip, covering about 1/3 the cost of his trip. In addition we traveled together (he treated me) on a 4-day adventure, flying me to Houston where he lives and to St. Louis where his older son and family live for a visit. It was fun to see him interact with his two grandchildren. We had a lot of fun together and he was very sweet to me when it came time to say good-bye. (I hate good-byes.)

I'm writing about him this day because tonight he arrives here with his fiancée for the weekend for a short visit since he won't be able to come for Thanksgiving. We call and/or email every week, but it will be so good to be with him again. I am thankful for our close relationship for 50+ years and think and pray for him every single day. I'm glad the doctors were wrong and I didn't end up being an only child. I can't imagine life without him. He is a gift to me and my family and I love him very much.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Military, Veterans

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues:

11. I am thankful for the men and women in our Armed Forces currently serving (and those who have served) to protect our nation.
Our family was not a military family until my younger brother went through ROTC at Stetson University and began an 11-year stint with the U.S. Army.

He retired as a Captain many years ago and while in the service designed an attachment for the Abrams tank which I believe, is still used today.  I visited him at Fort Knox in Kentucky, saw armored tanks in their training drills and even saw then Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger there during a tank demonstration.   I also visited his base in Kitzingen, Germany for a few weeks in the mid-1980s. While there, we went on a military tour to southern Italy which was a fabulous adventure. I will never forget standing in the middle of a military cemetery in Italy completely surrounded with all the white crosses marking graves. Photographs are little rectangles with corners so I was unprepared to see the thousands of white crosses as far as you could look in every direction.

This photo is in Italy. My brother is standing directly behind the Colonel.

My dear uncle served in World War II and was able to go to to Washington, DC last year on an Honor Flight with a group of veterans to see the WW2 Memorial there. It was a moment he treasured deeply especially going with his comrades from the service...a tearful time to be sure, but a proud moment for him to be with other men and women who could relate to his active duty in Europe. I was so happy that he had the opportunity to do this before he passed away.

I've watched the military movies as you probably have--Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, Behind Enemy Lines, to name a few--but I still cannot really imagine what life on the battlefield would be like. As a woman at my age I'll never know but I have deep empathy for those who have endured the stress and terror of actual confrontation with our enemies and especially those who have been injured.

I pray often for those who serve our country faithfully in the Armed Forces since they stand ready to defend the United States and protect us. Our only relative currently in the service is my nephew, age 28, an F-18 aviator for the U. S. Marines. He says he can't imagine being in any other occupation other than flying in the Marines. We pray for his safety often.

My brother and my husband and I always thank soldiers for serving our country when we are out and see them dressed in uniform. This often happens at airports, more over the holidays when soldiers often return home if they can. Usually they are surprised, but the words are welcome, I'm sure. I hope I see some today. If I don't, thank you so much for your faithful service to us and to our country.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Food

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues:

10. I am thankful that we have plenty and a variety of food to eat each day.
Updated 11.10.12:  

This seems a little trite to mention as something to be thankful for especially in our culture, living in the western part of the world. Recently a book at our library caught my eye which I checked out titled The Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio. I was fascinated by the differences in food choices and what an average family eats around the world. Some have so much; others so little and the types of foods vary tremendously. Of course, the Pilgrims of Jamestown and early America had little, if any to eat that first cold winter. Struggles and hardships make us really appreciate what we do have.

Even in our own sizeable city there are many who do not have enough to eat. Food pantries for Second Harvest Food Bank and others, I hear, are getting low. The Boy Scouts had their annual  food drive last week and picked up filled bags of groceries this morning.  We also just donated to The Orlando Rescue Mission for its annual Thanksgiving meal this year for the homeless. A $50 donation feeds twenty people and is so welcomed especially during the holiday season. Give generously to those who are not able to go into their home pantry for even a snack, and give with a grateful heart to the One who has given so richly to you.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Coupon 30% Discount: Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy

Four-day 30% discount, November 12-15, at Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy.

Go to: link

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Hurricane Ida Passing Us By

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues:

9. I am thankful today that Hurricane Ida is passing us by but pray for the Florida Panhandle and those in harm's way.
This gratitude comes every time there is even a suggestion that a hurricane or tropical storm will be in our area. We were in the paths of Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne in 2004 and suffered damage to our home and property each time. Our pool screen was damaged, a storage shed destroyed, major roof damage to our home with leaks inside the house, debris was everywhere... The good thing was that so many people were helping each other in a variety of ways. Our church men were out that next morning repairing each other's roofs and picking up the debris. They were up on our roof sealing leaks and securing tarps. I was very upset but it was so comforting to see help come quickly.

This year and last we had major tree damage to our rental house. My brother who lives in Houston was directly in the path of Hurricane Ike last year and also had major damage to his home. Our insurance covered a lot of the damage but it seems that we drain our savings down each time a major storm comes through. Gone are the years when we ignored the warnings, now everyone is on alert and does the hurricane prep.

All the damage we have experienced was material, but the stress and work after a storm is substantial especially in the heat of the summer. Our power was out a total of 11 days for the three 2004 hurricanes. In some places i.e. Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, there are deaths.

I will be praying for those in the Gulf of Mexico this week. I hope you are, too.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Health Care/ Abortion

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues:

8. I am thankful that the new health care reform bill does not include federal monies (taxpayer dollars) to fund abortions.
The pro-life amendment to the House of Representatives was presented by one Democrat and one Republican--Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich) and Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Penn). Prayers and petitions were heard. Keep praying for the Senate. It is almost impossible to reverse legislation like this if it passes in the Senate due to the number of votes required.

Jeremiah 32:38-39 “They shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Giving Thanks, Thanksgiving, Good Health

My 26 days of Thanksgiving continues:

7. I am thankful for our family's good health.

You always have your health. This is a familiar saying when things are going wrong, especially when events are such that you cannot change them.  "Old" people often say this and in their wisdom, they are right.  Again, it has not always been this way in our family except for my younger son who has had no major illnesses other than chickenpox, no broken bones or other medical conditions.
  • My husband had a heart attack when our two children were 5 years and 6 months old but the heart catheterization showed nothing wrong with his heart. We think it was a clot from dehydration on a fishing trip though that was dissolved when he went into the hospital. Scary time.
  • I had two C-sections and an ectopic pregnancy while in my 30s. I have beginning arthritis in my left knee and feel it a little in my hands as well.
  • My older son developed asthma when he was two years old which was pretty serious at the time. Today (and really, after age 10) he hardly suffers from it at all. He broke a finger when he was in the 4th grade playing soccer and has had a concussion playing basketball.
Today none of us suffers with debilitating conditions or other chronic diseases. I have many friends with osteoporosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fybromyalgia, COPD...many of whom are in our age groups. We strive to maintain our health and hopefully, improve it, by eating more nutritionally than not, exercising and getting plenty of rest. My husband lost 25 lbs. a couple of years ago and for the most part has kept it off.  I'm always trying to lose 5-10, it seems, but walk just about every day and swim or run when I can.   I never take for granted that we have been blessed in this way and pray that we all have long, healthy lives together.
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