"Welcome to my blog space. I believe that God has carefully placed gems in our paths to fill our days with joy. The challenge for us is to take the time to notice them. My desire is to share the gems in my life so that, hopefully, you will see the ones He's placed in yours. I hope what you read here will be worth your time and you'll want to return often." - Cathy

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Advent-Week Three

The flame from the Shepherd’s Candle brightens the way in Week Three of the Advent season. JOY is our theme. The four focus scriptures are printed below. Week One and Week Two are available if you missed them and want to catch up.
“JOY to the world, the Lord has come,” we sing with gusto during the Christmas season. The baby whose birthday we are waiting to celebrate brought JOY to all of us with His first breath. When that same baby returns as a King following His Father’s orders to “go bring my children home," He will again bring JOY to the world.
Then we sing the next line of the song: “Let earth receive her King,” and we learn the choice to embrace that JOY is ours. We have to make a conscious decision to accept the JOY that is Him.
This week think about how God gave JOY to the whole world in the form of a baby. And ask yourself, “Have I opted to align myself with JOY or have I rejected the One who offers it to me?” My e-mail address is hiskid410@gmail.com if you need to talk.

Go forth with JOY-


Zephaniah 3:14-20 Israel's Joy and Restoration

14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
19 Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
20 At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes,” says the Lord.

 Collect (Prayer) for Advent-Week Three:
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

Zephaniah 3:14-20

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart!
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you,
he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;
you shall fear disaster no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
 that you will not bear reproach for it.
I will deal with all your oppressors
at that time.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you home,
at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the LORD.

Canticle 9 The First Song of Isaiah Ecce Deus

Isaiah 12:2-6

Surely, it is God who saves me; *
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *
and he will be my Savior.

Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *
from the springs of salvation.
And on that day you shall say, *
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples; *
see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, *
And this is known in all the world.
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *
for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 3:7-18

John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our ancestor'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?" In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent-Week Two

Week Two
We are now in Week Two of the Advent season. The candle this week is the candle of Bethlehem (some call it the candle of preparation) and the theme is PEACE. The four focus scriptures are printed below for your convenience. The post for Week I describing Advent can be found here if you missed it.
I am blessed to be able to share a poem about preparation with you this week. I met Keith Wallis through ChristianWriters.com. He has an amazing talent for using words in unique ways to bring new meaning to them. Check out his blogs or books for other poems he’s written.

Ascend our Thoughts
By Keith Wallis

Resplendent in glistered frost we unwrap the special day
when all is changed,  though still the same,
and mangers, stars and hay
ascend our thoughts. 

Nativities have come and gone in varieties of craft
some creating tear drops,
and some creating laughs
ascend our thoughts. 

Discarded wrappings litter our paths and cheery homes
and somehow Jesus lays there
while reindeer, elves and gnomes
ascend our thoughts. 

The carols fuel our reveries, Silent Nights and First Noels,
and in semi-Bleak Midwinter
the turkey-roasting smells
ascend our thoughts. 

The Christmas gift, if gift it is, costing much yet given so free
meanders in the mistletoe
as mischievous kissery
ascends our thoughts. 

Yet, trapped within our wonders, the miracle of birth,
new sounds upon the quietude,
new feet upon the earth
ascend our thoughts. 

And Christ has come again, again. In mangers of unworthy hearts
unwrapped, and Holy, bright and new
that love of God, which He imparts,
ascends our thoughts.

               Throughout the remainder of the Advent and Christmas seasons, let’s set our mind on PEACE as we go about the myriad chores it takes to prepare for Christmas. Let your spirit be so peaceful that it spreads to others. When they mention how peaceful you appear, tell them where your PEACE comes from – the One we celebrate, who came to bring PEACE to all, now and forever.
May your days be blessed with PEACE and joy-

Keith Wallis
Keith Wallis is an English poet and part of the Senior Leadership Team of Houghton Regis Baptist church. An Engineering Designer by trade, he brings an eye for detail as well as his faith into his poetry. Keith is also the poet in residence at Ruby e-zine and moderator at ChristianWriters.com. Married to Val in 1970, they have two sons and three grandsons. You can read his poetry on his blogs: ( http://wordsculptures-keith.blogspot.com/, http://ariverofsmallstones.blogspot.com/ , or wordsculpture. Keith has four books in print which you can find out about on his blogs.

Malachi 3:1-4 (ESV)
3 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Philippians 1:3-11 (ESV)

Thanksgiving and Prayer

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. 

Psalm 95 (ESV)

Let Us Sing Songs of Praise
95 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3 For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand. 

Luke 3:1-6 (ESV)

John the Baptist Prepares the Way
3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent-Week One

Advent Wreath
The season of Advent on the Church Year Calendar began on Sunday, December 2, 2012. This marks the start of a four-week period in which Christians spend time preparing for the coming of the Messiah.
The word Advent originates with the Latin “Adventus” which translates   “coming” and is the equivalent of the Greek “parousia” which is commonly used in reference to the Second Coming. The season of Advent serves as a dual reminder of the waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the their Messiah, as well as the waiting Christians endure today as they await the second coming of Jesus.
Each week in Advent has a common thread including: a candle with a special meaning that is lit during corporate or family worship; there is a theme; and there are four scriptures. This week’s candle is the candle of prophecy, the theme is HOPE, and there are four scriptures, one each from the New Testament, the Old Testament, a Psalm and the Gospels.
Prophesy and hope are two sides of the same coin. Prophesy in the Bible was given as a warning of things to come, a heads-up so that people could change their behavior and receive the reward that is coming. It gave people hope that God loved them enough to give them a second chance to avoid the wrath that would come with disobedience. People living in obedience to God’s laws have an endless hope for the future rather than a hopeless end.
Moses with the
Ten Commandments
Before God gave us the Ten Commandments there were over 900 laws to obey. It was an almost impossible task so God boiled it down to just ten. That was better, but even that was hard. In the New Testament, Jesus boiled it down further to just two rules to live by – Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love everyone around you.
We do a long list of things to prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas, but what do we do to prepare our hearts for Jesus’ birth and His Second Coming? The warning in the four scriptures for the week is to be ready at all times for His coming.
 How do we do that? Ask Jesus to come into your heart and be your Savior and then Love God and love those around you. If you need help with that, my e-mail address is hiskid410@gmail.com and it would thrill me to be in the birthing room with you when you are born into your new life in Christ.
I’m praying that God will fill your spirit with hope today and that your journey will be “joy-full” –


Jeremiah 33:14-16 (ESV)
The Lord's Eternal Covenant with David
14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ 

Psalm 25:1-9 (ESV)
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
6 Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
8 Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way. 

I Thessalonians 3:9-13 (ESV)
9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?

11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Luke 21:25-36 (ESV)
The Coming of the Son of Man
25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
The Lesson of the Fig Tree
29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Watch Yourselves
34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Regrets Only

               Regrets Only the invitation read in the space where RSVP normally resided. Trying to meld this phrase which conjures up negative emotions and the festivity of a party or wedding left me puzzled. So few people respond to an RSVP these days , I can’t imagine anyone would call saying, “No, we’re not coming.” The interaction would force an excuse. I had a pastor years ago who said he had quit telling people he missed seeing them in church on Sunday because it seemed to obligate a response and he didn’t want to be the cause of folks having to lie to him.
               Regrets Only can apply to relationships. A former dear friend died recently and I felt deep regret at her passing. She was still a young woman at age fifty-five and I regretted her seven-month battle with cancer. A few months before her diagnosis, she had retired and was excited to see where God would lead her next. I knew something was amiss when her treatments started the day she was diagnosed. My main regret was the fact that our friendship had waned a few months before she was diagnosed.

Disciple Bible Studies
               We became fast friends when we rode to a Lay Speaker Training together. Over the next four years, we were in two intense Bible studies together and my husband and I attended the Couples Bible Study she hosted in her home. We led worship together at a local nursing home on the Second Sunday of each month and were both part of a year-long leadership development program for small membership Methodist churches.
               And then the unthinkable happened. My pastor felt I needed to be disciplined because I reported some worldly activities taking place in the church and a violation of the Safe Sanctuary policies. Against the guidelines of the Methodist Book of Discipline, he called together the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee and the Lay Leaders from all three churches in our Charge. My friend was a member of the PPRC and decided to stand with the pastor and seven other people as they took an approach that was neither Biblical nor according to the Discipline.
I was devastated and my family ended up leaving the church I had loved and supported and been an active part of for thirty-three years. I could not sit under this man who told me he was higher than God in these three churches. I could not sit in the pew and worship with people who thought taking the Biblical approach to reconciliation was NOT the right thing to do.
Although my friend and I made an attempt to save our relationship, it was never the same again. I forgave her, we had lunch together, were friendly toward each other but we had lost the depth in our relationship. I offered my services for any needs she had during her illness and was told, “I have a whole list of people who have offered to help.”
The Greek word for regret is metamelomai (#3338 in the Strong’s) and occurs six times in the New Testament. It means to experience a change of concern after a change of emotion, usually causing us to fall into emotional remorse afterwards. Repentance is tied to regret, causing us to understand that the thing we regret included some sort of sin.
Per Isaiah 9:6, Jesus has been my Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace through all of this. Do you have regrets in your life? I suppose we all do. How did you work through yours? Did you find that there was sin involved in the situation causing your regret? Did you repent and find freedom?
Be blessed, Dear Ones and allow God to give you renewed joy today-

Isaiah 9:6 ESV     For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Monday, November 19, 2012

Never Too Old to Learn

            Forty-seven years ago I was baptized by sprinkling in a little Lutheran Mission Church. I acted out of obedience to Biblical truth as I understood it. It is a day I will never forget. God did a work in my heart that day that changed me. I have lived out that change every day since then.
            When I met my husband and we married, the subject of baptism was one we had to agree to disagree on. He was raised Baptist and was convinced that baptism by immersion was the only true baptism. I, on the other hand, had the example of Catholicism (baptism by pouring) on my father’s side and Lutheran and Methodist (pouring or sprinkling) on my mother’s side.
            A year and a half ago, my family left the Methodist Church we had been members of for thirty-plus years. Several months earlier my husband’s uncle had passed away. After his service, I remarked that I’d like to go hear the minister preach sometime. That first Sunday after we left the church, we got up not knowing where we would worship that day. Hubby suggested we go hear that pastor, Rev. William Swink at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church.
            From the moment we entered the church, we were made welcome by people with a genuine love of others. I entered the service feeling like a dried up old sponge. As we left the church, I felt as though I had been soaked in a bucket of water, full to overflowing, revived again by being in the living presence of the Holy Spirit.
            Over the year and a half we visited and became a part of the church, I had been praying about joining the church. Years ago I had said I would never join a Baptist church because they wouldn’t recognize my baptism. I struggled with the notion I would have to be re-baptized. I couldn’t discount what God had done in my life that day long, long ago. I talked to people who might give me insight to help in my decision making. Nothing helped. The turmoil was still there in my spirit.
            Then about a month ago I heard a radio sermon on baptism by a well known preacher. I felt a crack in my resolve. How could I have been buried with Him by baptism into death if I was sprinkled? His text, from Romans 6:3-5, spoke to me:
3 “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Romans 6:3-5 ESV
            A few mornings later, after He had given me time to ponder and process this information, I felt God ask me, “Could your ideas about baptism be flawed?” When I responded, “Of course they could be,” a peace flooded over me. I knew what I needed to do. The next Sunday, we joined the church and, on Sunday, November 18, 2012, I was baptized by immersion. It was another great, joy-filled day on my journey to eternity.
            In 1960, I was obedient in baptism by the truth that was available to me at that time. In 2012, I was obedient in baptism by the new truth God allowed me to see as I matured in the faith. I am so thankful for a God who doesn’t think I am too old to learn new scriptural truths.
May you experience peace and joy on your journey-

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Veteran's Day

Veteran’s Day.  My chest bursts with pride, love, patriotism, freedom, and blessing; and yet I experience loss, sacrifice and what-ifs as well. I have such mixed emotions about this day every year.
S/Sgt William T. John
My father died while serving in Vietnam. He proudly served his country, in a war that wasn’t officially a war, so that I would have the freedom to do what I am doing today – publicly voicing my thoughts. He died at age forty-five with almost thirty-years of military service. He and the military were a perfect fit for each other. He left behind a wife and four children, ages 21, 16, 11 and 6. Thanks to his sacrifice, I had the right to vote in the recent Presidential election. I am proud of my Daddy for his service.
My husband was wounded on March 8, 1968 by shrapnel from a mortar round. He healed from the physical wounds much faster than he healed from the emotional wounds he brought home from Vietnam. When his tour of duty ended, he came home to protesters blaming him for the war.
Larry Biggerstaff
Unlike today, there were no “Welcome Home Troops” signs posted in airports, or organized groups of volunteers to greet them with, “Welcome home and thanks for your service.”  We met when he came to his new duty station in Fort Gordon, GA. Exactly one year after he was wounded, we married. I am proud of Larry for his service. Thanks to his sacrifice, I was free to worship in the church of my choice this week.
These two men are heroes in my eyes. John 15:13 tells us, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  These two men, and other military men and women, demonstrate a great love for fellow man and country. They not only lay down their lives for their friends, they lay them down for their enemies and for people they don’t even know.
Would you like to help me honor and encourage some young men and women who are currently protecting our freedoms in a combat situation? I have the address for a unit of twenty, fifteen men and five women. I am seeking a few people who will commit to sending a couple of cards a month for the next three months. If I get more than this unit needs, I’ll request another address from AnySoldier.com. Send me an e-mail at hiskid410@gmail.com to request the address.
Be a blessing and fill someone’s day with joy-

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What I Learned from Little People - Part Three

Morgan and Matt
in Charleston
               Welcome back! Part One found me being a substitute Grandma for two boys whose Grandma had passed away. In Part Two, I was able to spend the day with my granddaughter Emma and her class at Disney on Ice. The final installment in my adventures with little people week takes me to Charleston, SC, where I visited with my grandchildren, Morgan and Matthew, from Tuesday through Saturday.
Love You Forever
by Robert Munsch
               Matthew asked his Kindergarten teacher if I could come to his class and read a book to them. I chose one of Matthew’s favorite books, Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch. I‘ve been reading this book to children for at least 19 years, improvising by singing the words of the lullaby in the story to a tune I created.

               Before reading time, I was allowed to help in the literary center. At this center the children pulled a sight word out of a plastic popcorn container, said the word, and then wrote it on their paper three times; once with pencil, once with crayon and once with a marker. We had a boy named Jack at our table acting as the teacher. He did an excellent job of explaining the project, keeping the others on track, and checking on their progress all while doing his own work. When time was up, everyone scurried to clean up the table and put the supplies back on the tray where they belonged.

Sight Word List
               At reading time, I got to sit in the place of honor, a comfy rocking chair just made for storytelling. Matthew sat in the assistant’s chair next to me. beaming with pride. Having me there gave him the right to select the children who would ask questions or make comments at the end of the story. I read the story in my best dramatic voice and sang the lullaby portions as though I was holding my own tiny baby. The first comment came from Sawyer, “I like the story and the illustrations and your singing. I think you should be part of the music at our school.”  The other five comments were all alike, “I liked the whole book.”
               Lunch was next on the agenda and then Recess.  On the way to the playground the teacher stopped them at a picnic table for a conference. The day before, Mrs. Raynor’s lunch had been interrupted thirty times by tattletales. She had used up most of the playtime talking to them about problem-solving techniques. She gave them some great advice that many adults could benefit from. Today she was reinforcing the lesson from yesterday. It only took a few minutes to find out that all but one problem during lunch had been solved using the tools she had given them the day before.
               In the course of the week with my little people, I have attended preschool, primary school and elementary school and I’ve gotten quite an education. Here’s part of what I learned:
1)      Kids are forced to deal with heart-breaking family issues earlier and earlier in life. My niece came home from her first day of Kindergarten crying and asking, “Where’s my other Mommy and Daddy?” On investigation my brother found out that most of the other kids in her class came from blended families and had two sets of parents. Ashley thought she had another set of parents who were hiding from her. Sounds funny, but it represents a serious breakdown of our society and in what God ordained for marriage and family.
2)      When children are showered with praise and encouragement as they reach their goals, they will reciprocate it naturally to others. Emma was so excited that I had accomplished the goal of getting her to school, she couldn’t hold in the joy she felt for me. You can be an encourager to a child today whether you know them or not. Will you join me in giving praise to a child when you see them doing good things? All it takes is open eyes and a few seconds of your time but it will make a long-range difference to that child.
3)      Given age-appropriate tools, children can solve problems without the intervention of an adult. I admire Mrs. Raynor for gifting these children with a skill that will last a lifetime. One advantage these kids have is that everyone in their class is operating with the same skill set. That won’t always be the case in life, but with the knowledge they have learned and applied so young, they will be flexible enough to handle the variations.
Thanks for joining me on my journey with some of my favorite little people. I hope you’ve learned something along the way that will help you make life better for the little ones in your life.
Until we meet again, be joy-filled-

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What I Learned from Little People - Part Two

               Last week you joined me for Part One of my week devoted to interacting with children, Little People, as I call them. On Tuesday and Thursday, I was a substitute Grandma for two young men whose Grandma died a few years ago. This week I will recount the Part Two of the adventure.
               My daughter and her husband were out of town on business so the rest of the family fought over who would get to keep Emma, my four-year old granddaughter. Several weeks before she had called me to see if I would like to go on a field trip with her class because Mommy would be gone that day. I asked where they were going, not that it made any difference to me, but I love talking to Emma. She is like talking to an adult. She is very logical and is never without a comeback, no matter where the conversation leads.
               She spent the night with me on Thursday night and early Friday morning we left in time to get to her school by 8:30. She knew I was tentative about the directions, but I put on my best face and we made it just fine – and on time. When we pulled into the school parking lot and undid our seat belts she burst out of her booster seat and with great expression, her beautiful eyes sparkling, and her arms in the air, she yelled out, “Grandma, you did it!”
Emma on the Bus
               We went to her classroom where the teacher was dressing each child in a blue vest with the school’s name on it and sending them to the bathroom one last time. Once on the bus, Emma very carefully selected our seat. It had to be just the perfect one to be able to see the little screen where movies would be shown. As soon as the wheels started rolling, a Dora the Explorer movie came on and all the kids reached for their backpacks.
Out came the gosh-awfullest assortment of electronic gadgets I’d ever seen In one place. I-pods, Leap Frog games, handheld games, and as a last resort, they played games on their mother’s cell phone. The thing I thought was most amazing was they all shared with each other and especially with the kids who didn’t have a device. Remember, this was a busload of four-year olds. Emma’s I-pod is engraved on the back with, This I-pod belongs to Rock Star Princess Emma, because that is who she thinks she is. She even has an alternate name for the times when the Rock Star Princess thing kicks into high gear, Haley McCaley.

Ariel and Flounder
We had a grand time watching Disney on Ice, my Emma rarely taking her eyes off the performers. She especially liked the undersea section Ariel starred in. I spent a lot of my time watching Emma. At intermission the teachers handed out lunch – a peanut butter and grape jelly uncrustable, a bag of apples cut up and ready to eat, a bag of chips, and a carton of milk. Thanks to the organizational skills of Emma’s teachers, the whole trip went off like clockwork and everyone enjoyed the day and came home full of exciting tales to tell whoever will listen to them.
I have one more adventure to share next week and then will summarize some of the things I’ve learned from my time with the Little People I am blessed to know.
Until next time, be filled with joy-


Monday, October 22, 2012

Lessons I Learned from Little People - Part One

               I have a young friend whose Mom died several years ago. Since then I’ve tried to do some of the things her mother would have done for her. The Elementary School her boys attend had days last week where Grandparents could come and eat lunch with their grandchildren. The night he brought the invitation home, her third-grader asked her if she would call me and see if I could come be his grandma.
Chicken McNuggets
and Fries
               I was touched to tears that he chose me to be his substitute Grandma. On the big day, I went to McDonald’s to get his favorite lunch and made my way to the school to stand in the lobby with other grandparents. We waited until our child came around the corner on the way to the lunchroom and joined them. Justin welcomed me with a hug.
               We walked down the hallway to the lunchroom and sat at the table reserved for his class. I was surrounded by third graders; some with lunch boxes packed at home, some with a school lunch tray holding a fish cake, fries, an apple and milk. Eight of the sixteen kids at the table had a school lunch. I saw a lot of waste as they finished eating and went to the trash cans to clean off their trays.
               Conversation around the table centered on the McDonald’s Monopoly game pieces on the drinks and food I brought. Justin is collecting the game pieces and knows which ones he has and which ones he still needs. Of the six we collected from our meal, none were new for him but he did get a free order of fries on his next visit. One little girl told a wild story about someone in her family winning $1,000.00, but when the lady went to claim it, they only gave her $100. Much drama ensued as the kids hearing this story began sharing what they would do if that happened to them.
               On Thursday, I repeated this routine and went to eat with Justin’s brother who is in the fifth grade. Cameron was glad to see me, and I received a beautiful smile as a welcome gift. The Fifth Graders are the Upperclassmen at the Elementary School and have extra privileges such as choice of seating at lunch. It was a lovely autumn day so we went outside to a patio filled with picnic tables.
We were soon joined by another classmate. I listened as the two of them joked playfully with each other and recounted tales of sleepover adventures. I asked other boy if he had any brothers or sisters. His reply broke my heart, “I have two sisters but I haven’t seen them in five years. I haven’t seen my birth Mom in five years either. They live away from here. I live with my Dad, but my Grandma takes care of me most of the time because Dad goes over to Anna’s house.”Anna is his girlfriend.

Cameron and Justin
I bought both of them some ice cream to complete the meal and the teacher signaled it was time to go back to class. I got permission for Cameron to take me to Justin’s room so we could give him the six McDonald’s game pieces we retrieved from the day’s lunch. These brothers don’t see as much of each other now that Justin lives with his Mom and Cameron lives with his Dad. I took their picture together and we all went back to our regular routines.
I learned much from rubbing elbows with these young people, and this was just the beginning of my education. Tune in next week to hear the rest of the story and a summary of what they taught me.
In the meantime, bring joy to someone today-

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Unique Find

My granddaughter, Caitie, moved into a new home about a month ago. She and her husband had some trees cut down in the back yard that were leaning dangerously toward the house. While they were cleaning up some of the leftover brush, they found a class ring.
Once back inside the house, Caitie found a name engraved on the inside. The ring was from the Class of 1986 from Seton Catholic Central High School. Google provided the phone number of the school in Binghamton, NY. The school Secretary referred Caitie to the Alumni Association who listened to her story and took her contact information.
After doing some research, the Alumni Association found an address and phone number connected with this guy in his school records. The problem - the phone number was for his mother and from 1986. When the representative from the Alumni Association called the number, amazingly, the student’s mother answered.
She called Caitie and Caitie told the story again. Being satisfied this wasn’t some kind of scam, his mother gave Caitie his number. Oddly enough, he only lives about an hour and a half away. Caitie called him and told her story one more time. He was amazed. Caitie arranged to meet him and his family last Friday.
He told her the ring was lost twenty years ago. He went swimming at a pool in New York. He had the ring on when he went into the pool and when he got out the ring was gone. He looked all over the pool for the ring, but when he couldn’t find it, he assumed it was sucked into a drain. There is no explanation for how the ring got from a swimming pool in New York to her backyard in North Carolina. He has never been to this area.
This is a great lesson in hope, a never-give-up kind of hope. I recently talked to a woman who had been praying for healing for her husband for five years. Rather than give up on her quest for an answer to her prayer, she just said, “God hasn’t answered me - yet.”
In the Bible, the book of Romans tells us, “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  Romans 8:24-25 ESV
How quickly do you give up on your dreams and prayers? What kind of a time limit do you put on God to work out all the myriad details it takes to make your prayer request happen – one year, five, ten? I hope these two stories will encourage you to let God work in His time and in His way to provide His best for you.
Have a blessed and joy-filled day-