Tossing and Turning

I couldn’t sleep at all last night – tossing and turning.  No, I haven’t been listening to 50’s music by Bobby Lewis.    But that was me last night.
 
Not sure for reason of insomnia because I usually sleep very well.  I was unusually tired – had lost sleep the night before because of spending five hours in emergency room.  Shortness of breath and chest pains caused my husband to insist that I go to ER to check it out.  Thankfully there was no problem with my heart.  Pain was in lungs –  possibly pleurisy. 
 
Some of my best blogs were written in my mind last night – but can’t remember what I wrote about today.  After a whirlwind of thoughts I glanced at the bedside clock to realize it was 11:44 pm.  Maybe the Lord wanted me to pray. 
 
I remembered that our church camp for teens was going on this week and since I was informed that much ministry goes on in the dorms late at night, I prayed for the counselors and kids. 

I prayed for Danielle the teen whose red bracelet I wore to remind me of her week at camp. 

I prayed for the director that she would get a good night’s rest.

I prayed for the teachers, counselors, and other leaders of activities.

I prayed for the kitchen crew, the cleaning crew, and all those who help with meals.

Canal Lake Bible Camp (CLBC) is a wonderful time of ministry for our church during the month of July.  Young and older volunteer their time and talents to share Jesus with kids – mostly those from unchurched backgrounds.  Although exhaoffer the camp at no charge to any child.  God showed up and provided the exact amount needed the first year.  Fund raisers occur throughout the year to provide funds to continue offering the experience free of charge to children in ousting work sometimes, they really enjoy the time spent. 
 
Several years ago the Camp board decided to ur area as well as many grandparents bring their grandchildren from other states. 
 
My inability to sleep helped me keep my commitment to pray for CLBC.  God has his way of using our weakness for his strength.  I’m thankful that he never sleeps but watches over us all the time.

 

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

 

    where does my help come from?

 

My help comes from the Lord,

 

    the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—

 

    he who watches over you will not slumber;

 

indeed, he who watches over Israel

 

    will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—

 

    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

 

the sun will not harm you by day,

 

    nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—

 

    he will watch over your life;

 

the Lord will watch over your coming and going

 

    both now and forevermore.

Walking in His Strength

Basking in the love of Jesus prepared me for walking in His strength.  I did not know how my world was about to change drastically.  Attending the final team planning meeting in North Carolina for the next Emmaus Walk in March of 2000 was a delight as we listened to team member’s talks and prayed for ladies who would be experiencing their own personal “walk to Emmaus.” 
When I returned home that night (this was before cell phones) I had a message on the answering machine that my husband’s sister Peggy and his mother Virginia had been in a wreck and were taken to local hospitals.  My husband John then called and told me that his mother was taken by ambulance to Blairsville Union General Hospital and for me to go there to see about her.  He was traveling to Atlanta because Peggy was being airlifted to Shepherd Hospital. 
 
Saturday, March 4, 2000 Peggy and Virginia were traveling to Marietta, Georgia for a baby shower.  Peggy was looking for something in her purse and she went off the road on a curve, tried to pull back on road and the car turned over.  Virginia had her seat belt on and was bruised and broke her back and some ribs.  Peggy did not have her seat belt on (just the lap part) – her head hit the top of the car and she broke her neck and had spinal injury to C5/6 vertebrae. 
 
My heart was breaking when I saw Peggy the next day at Shepherd Spinal Center in the halo brace to hold her neck and spinal cord straight.  She asked us “who is going to take care of me?”  John and I responded unanimously – “We will,” not fully comprehending what that would mean. 
 
I quoted her a verse the Lord gave me the night before as I sought the Lord for something – anything to make sense of this.  Rom. 15:3 “May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 
 
And so we did care for her – and her parents as well.  In their eighties they were devastated and did not fully grasp the situation for several months.  In April John and I went for family training at Shepherd to find out how to care for her.  What a wonderful hospital – from the intake counselor to the physical therapists and occupational therapists to the doctor and nurses – all wonderful people – so professional and caring.  Shepherd provided funds for John to remodel his parent’s house with ramps and a handicapped bedroom and shower. 

Walking in God’s strength is possible when you bask in his presence.

Peggy came home from the hospital in May of 2000 and we realized God’s strength as we all became care givers.  Looking back now I am in awe at how God gave us supernatural strength to care for Peggy.  Many would say, “I don’t know how you do it.”  And now, I think, “I don’t know how we did it either.”
 
God also used this to bring our family closer and helped us realize the scriptures are so real and not just nice platitudes.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  “My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in Glory by Christ Jesus.”  These and many more sustained us. 
 
Walking in God’s strength is possible when you bask in his presence.  Nothing is too hard for God. 
 
Are you facing an impossible situation in your life?  You are not alone.  God wants to give you strength.
 

Philippians 4:13

New International Version (NIV)
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

We Will Remember Song Lyrics | Tommy Walker Lyrics | Christian Music Song Lyrics, Christian Music | NewReleaseTuesday.com

 

 

Memories

“No dessert until you play ping pong.”  That was my instructions to folks as they arrived for our Memorial Day Cookout.  I’d worked all day cleaning house and even the garage, putting out chairs for some to sit and watch the ping pong tournament.  However, no one took me up on the challenge.  Some of the men joined my husband at the grill and ladies joined me in the kitchen setting up the dishes they brought.
It was then I remembered, we are seniors.  You wouldn’t know by the food – I expected fruit instead of delicious desserts.  Many among us had serious illnesses or surgeries in the last few years.  Some had braved knee surgery, back surgery, throat cancer, pancreatitis and Parkinson’s disease.  Spouses were stretched to care for their loved one.  Our prayer lists followed each ones journey back to health.  Survivors you might say don’t need to play ping pong to enjoy one another.
After dinner, reminiscing about funny military moments for those who served in the armed forces (Army, Navy and Marines) caused all to chuckle.  The alligator story from a former Navy man amused us.  My husband digressed from the military to tell a story from his policeman days about how quick draw McGraw shot his reflection in my new mirror.
Sharing our stories, while not burning as many calories as ping pong, caused laughter to help digest our food and joy remembering the blessings of God on our lives these many years.  Then the chorus of “We Will Remember” came to mind.  Chorus and link to this song is below.
Proverbs 17:22
merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

 

We will remember we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give You praise
For great is Thy faithfulness

We Will Remember Song Lyrics | Tommy Walker Lyrics | Christian Music Song Lyrics, Christian Music | NewReleaseTuesday.com

Duty Calls

          

“The bobcat does not have an emergency brake.  Can you walk up to the barn and put blocks behind the back wheels?”  my husband called from his trip into town.
So my morning devotions were interrupted –I  dressed quickly and walked to the barn.  I found some blocks small enough to pick up and put them behind the back wheel of the bobcat, then walked back to the house.
However, my
duty was turned into delight. 
Hearing a humming sound from the electric transformer caused me to tune in on other sounds of early morning.  The happy chirping of birds, the clicking of a woodpecker, and the moisture dripping off trees and shrubs had  a refreshing feel.
 
 
  Azaleas and irises 
lapped up the moisture and stood up a little taller and blackberries strutted their stuff in full bloom.
 It is “blackberry winter” after all.  The last few cool rainy days washed everything and made the woods so lush.
  Even my snap peas in side garden joined in the celebration. 
Then a song burst from my heart as I sang to the Lord and all the creatures in the woods to hear – 
 
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, new every morning – great is thy faithfulness of Lord, great is thy faithfulness.”
What a refreshing interruption to my morning routine and a
 
duty turned into delight. 

Hope for Christmas

2013   had been a year of celebrations, graduations, memorable vacations, and reunions.  All of these centered around people – much more important than things.
The previous year at this time things were almost complete for Christmas –shopping done early, decorating completed and baking accomplished -only a few things left.  What a feeling of accomplishment to complete my list of things to do!
This year one of my favorite mottos “People are more important than things” has resonated loud and clear to help focus on what is truly important or should I say “Who is really important.”  My husband John was scheduled for back surgery on November 13 and we thought he would be in good shape by Christmas.  Due to some complications he was in severe pain and needed constant care.  Therefore my list of things to do was drastically altered.  The hospital bed in the living room replaced the tree and the outside lights remained in the box on the porch.  Christmas luncheons and dinners were missed.  Trips to the doctor adjacent to my favorite shopping places probably saved us some money!
Prayers of family and friends, cards of encouragement, calls and visits sustained us during these trying days.   Driving down the road to our Ladies Christmas Coffee (my first time out of the house in almost a month with my son and two men alternately staying with John) I just cried out to the Lord and told him I needed hope.  John did not seem to be getting better.  The verse God gave me previously to encourage others came to mind – Romans 15:13 “May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”   At the Coffee that day several ladies asked about John and how he was doing and also about me – then one lady looked me in the eye and asked “How are you really doing?”  Not being a very emotional person – strange for a lady right – I said, “Ok.”  And then the flood of tears came as I told her I was having a hard time.  She promised to continue to pray for John and me.  Another lady agreed to stay with John while I volunteered at our church food cottage the next week.  Friends also came and stayed with him.  Then twelve men (and one lady) from our church came and prayed for John anointing him with oil.  Hope – that is what I needed.  Hope that things would get better for John and also that I could get out of the house knowing he was in good hands.
John is getting around the house better and in less pain.  He is enjoying his independence not having his shadow (me) following his every move.  We were able to attend one Christmas party actually on his birthday and celebrated his birthday with Johnny and his family the following Sunday.  We will host our family on Christmas Eve and although the house will not be decorated as last year we will enjoy the people in our lives and let the things go.
Grandson with my husband in living room on Christmas morning by the hospital bed!
I hope you are enjoying the people in your life and realizing the much more of our heavenly Father.
Blessings,
Pat

Search and Rescue

Who would have thought that at my age I would be searching on the floor for a blue green contact lens?  No it does not belong to my grandchild but to me.  You’d think that by now I would be more careful or at least give up and just wear glasses.  Being smart for once I was removing my gas permeable contact lenses (that’s hard lenses) before taking a nap.  The right lens popped out easily and was placed correctly in the blue side of the container.  Then pulling up and out on the corner left eye lid nothing seemed to come out.  Seeing no lens in the sink I tried again.   Nothing.  Hmmmm it must be stuck in my eye.  Rolling around my eye lid it seemed wedged in the side – very common for these characters.   No luck there.  It must be on the floor.
I called in the chief of search and rescue – my husband John –who brought a flashlight to begin the surveillance.  He couldn’t see anything because he didn’t have his glasses on so while he was gone I got on the floor and searched every nook and cranny of the rug since that is usually where the contact lands.  Nothing but grey hairs and dust.  More dust was found on the edges of the sink cabinet as well as the ceramic tile floor.  Ye gads I’m glad my guests don’t come in my bathroom they wouldn’t believe how dirty it is – dust everywhere.  John returns with his glasses and another flash light.  He has on large outdoor boots and I cringe as he walks into the bathroom.   He examines the floor and then marches down the hall since I walked there to get my shoes after thinking the lens was trapped in my eye.   Even looking in my eye with his flashlight reveals zero.  So he gives up and leaves.
Continuing my investigation I retrace my steps, examining the counter top, the bathroom rug, the floor and the hallway rug again.   Scanning in spots where the critter has been found before was to no avail.  Then I pray, “Lord, you know where the contact is.  Please help me find it even if it is crushed.”  I comb the same areas again with my flashlight hoping for a shiny reflection.  Then, there in the hallway outside the bathroom, just where John walked with his big outdoor boots and I also walked about five times glitters the perfectly shaped left, long distance, gas permeable contact lens.   Mission accomplished.  Persistence paid off.  Or did it?
Not the first time the Lord helped me find a contact lens.  So why wait until all means of searching are exhausted.  Yes, I was praying the whole time – or was I?  When I finally stopped and specifically requested his help he came through in a nanosecond to rescue my plight.
May my life be a reflection of God’s admonishonment in Matthew 6:33-34
 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 

Christmas 2012 Traditions

Tradition????  Christmas 2012

 

 

Many of our traditions were interrupted, delayed and changed this year causing frustration, depression, and ultimately joy!
My first full year of retirement and I was ready – or almost.  Shopping done early in November, decorating started first week of December, candy and cookies made – only thing left was wrap presents, my yearly Christmas letter and cards to mail – I was excited about getting so much done so early.  Our tradition has always been to decorate for Christmas on John’s birthday – December 13 or as we have recently found out Dec. 12.  According to Grandmother he was born on the 13th a few minutes after midnight but the doctor signed the birth certificate for the 12th.   Since his birth certificate shows 12th he had to change all his records to match the certificate – something to do with social security????   But I broke tradition and started decorating early.  But we still had chocolate pie for his birthday dinner.
Since I am getting older and it takes so long to put up the tree I decided to start decorating the first week of December.  The olive wood nativity scene that John brought back from Jerusalem in 1995 is always the priority (with baby Jesus hidden for Cameron to put in the manger on Christmas morning), next the garage sale find larger nativity scene on the mantel.  Then the tree – it took a whole day to just put the tree together – it is an old one that has individual branches that must be shaped and then put up one branch at a time.   Every year I say, “this is the last year I am going to put this thing together.”  But the new ones with lights are just not as real looking as this old tree.  After the tree was up (no lights mind you) the Bible stand on the coffee table and brass candelabras with maroon candles  and the nativity scene on the mantel, I viewed the simplicity of these three and thought, “Christmas is Jesus!”
Simply about Jesus!
The simplicity of the shepherds, angels and wise men viewing the Christ child with the picture of “The Walk to Emmaus” in the background on the mantel, the Bible in the center of the coffee table, and the bare Christmas tree.

 

 Jesus has always been the center of our lives as a family and although traditions were changed causing some frustration at first, He remained preeminent.  This was the second Christmas without John’s folks around whom most of our traditions centered.  No more celebrating their anniversary along side Johnny’s birthday on Dec. 23.  No more celebrating at their house on Christmas Eve gathering around grandmother’s tree that had been up and decorated since Halloween!!!  John’s brother and sister no longer come and spend the night Christmas Eve – in fact year this year they are probably not coming at all.  Uncle Tom had broken his foot – let’s say in a hunting accident – hunting the ground when he fell out of his tree stand!  So he and Denise were probably not coming to our house – which has become the gathering place.  John’s sister, Gayle, called a few days before Christmas and said she was so depressed – “It just doesn’t seem like Christmas this year!”  Her son Kelly and his family would probably not be coming because he had to work so she and her husband Gene would possibly be going to Alabama to visit them.   We knew our son Tim, wife Shelley and son Mitchell would not be coming for Christmas due to his work in Michigan.
At my physical in early December the doctor was so excited to see a healthy person.  Her routine questions included if I had a flu shot or a pneumonia shot.  I responded, “No I did not.”  She did not seem concerned.  After a week of visiting her office again for blood work, the hospital for more routine tests and a trip to the ER with John for another episode with a possible stone in his bile duct and then two more doctor’s office trips with him (where people were walking around with masks????), I came down with the flu.  A quick response from my doctor with tamiflu prescription helped but I was out of energy to do much for a week.  Another reason to change tradition?  Was I still contagious – should everyone come here? Or was there anyone to come?  And I had not wrapped presents yet!!!!  Then my computer crashed and no ability to type my Christmas letter which has become a tradition of me summarizing the year and keeping in touch with friends from long ago.
Aunt Gayle’s house
Then John’s sister Gayle called to say her son Kelly and his family were coming from Alabama

Gee paw with twins

 

and wondered if we could come to her house instead.   So after thirteen years of all of them coming from Marietta to the mountains for Christmas we (John and I and Johnny, Yolanda, Chalonda, and Cameron) made the memorable trip to Marietta where we had traveled many years before to Grandmother and Papa Strickland’s house-  but unfamiliar gathering place at Gayle’s house for our family celebration.  Although smaller than our gathering place of many years, it was a wonderful time of food, family and fun.

 

Kelly and Mandy’s three year old twins, Haddey and Hudson stole the hearts of all of us and made it fun to buy toys again.  The older boys, Cameron, Kenny and Gavin ate in the basement around Uncle Gene’s museum of Viet Nam history.  Cousins Johnny and wife Yolanda and Kelly and wife Mandy and our beautiful granddaughter, almost graduate, Chalonda ate on the porch (thank God for a warm day!) and the older folks ate around the table and kitchen bar except for the twins who sat at the kitchen bar with Aunt Denise.
  Plenty of room in that small cozy house!  Gayle, who did not seem to sit down all day, said, “Mother would have loved this!”
Papa doing breakfast dishes!
After a trip back to the mountains with Johnny’s family we rested for the next morning – the final Strickland tradition – breakfast at Nana Pat and Papa John’s.  White chocolate mocha (Starbuck’s eat your heart out!) was prepared by Nana and Chalonda, while Papa John cooked the bacon and sausage and gravy.  Johnny cooked the eggs and Nana made the biscuits.  Cameron set the table, lit all the candles and then warmed up the couch!  Yolanda cheered every one on and poured the juice and put the food on the table. We even Skyped with Tim, Shelley, and Mitchell as they prepared their Christmas breakfast in Michigan.
My girls!
 After the meal Papa John read an unusual scripture for Christmas from Matthew 25:36 and shared, as only he can, the story about the servants giving to those in need and Jesus encouraging us that when we give to others “unto the least of these” it is like giving to him.   Nana shared about the “Sparkle Box” where a family shared on Christmas morning things they had done to help others as a gift to Jesus on his birthday.  She wanted to start that tradition but since we did not talk about this until today – she asked that we share around the table about the ways we had seen this expressed in our lives this year – Cameron playing with his cousin, Chalonda showcasing her special girls in the cheer squad, Yolanda “passing it forward” as she purchased a meal for folks behind her, Papa visiting a lonely neighbor, Nana shopping for an Angel Tree little girl, Johnny sharing with children.  It was a special time of everyone participating in this new tradition.  What J O Y!

JOY
Cam likes UGA!

 

My verse for 2012 was:  Habakkuk 3:17&18 “Thou the fig tree does not blossom…….yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation, God the Lord is my strength.”  So Jesus interrupted our traditions and helped us form new ones as He brought true J O Y !!

Much More Apples

It is apple season in our part of the country.  Many people flock to the mountains to purchase their favorite variety of apple.  Our favorite is pink lady.  They are a late crop and well worth waiting for.  The rosy pink color on the perfectly smooth surface covers a crisp, tart yet sweet delight.  It is truly the apple of our eye!

This year a friend shared the harvest from his orchard with us.  He has been busy remodeling his house and did not have time to prune and fertilize his trees.  But with our wet summer and sunny days his neglected orchard produced a bountiful crop of Granny Smith and Arkansas Black apples.  His apples were not without flaws and took more time to peel and prepare for cooking, but the taste was wonderful.

My house was filled with the delectable smell of applesauce and apple butter.
 
Cinnamony apple crisp also added to the aromas coming from my kitchen.
Although my friend’s apples were not as pleasing to the eye as those found in the commercial apple orchards, and the skin was sometimes tough and took more work to discover the “good stuff” inside, the result was the same. Wonderful applesauce, applebutter and apple crisp.
In my reading in Proverbs 7 today – Nov. 7 – (I read the Proverb that corresponds to the day of the month) Solomon encourages his son to “Guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.”
How do we guard God’s word as the apple of our eye?  Sometimes his word is beautiful and soothing to our soul and easy to understand.  Other times we have to dig to find the “good stuff.”
Lord help me to cherish your word and guard your teachings with delight just as I have enjoyed the products of the abundant apple harvest.  Help me be willing to dig and find the “good stuff.”
My son, keep my words
    and store up my commands within you.
Keep my commands and you will live;
    guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
    write them on the tablet of your heart

Fall Preparations

The corn stalks are swishing in the wind – no they are actually being invaded by small gray bandits.  My fall pumpkin scene with faded corn stalks and dried corn is serving as meals for the squirrels.

 The old timers and also the Farmer’s Almanac say that we will have a bad winter because of the abundance of squirrels scrounging for food and also the many large wooly caterpillars.  It is entertaining to watch the gray bandits as they nibble on the corn as if to store up enough sustenance to prepare for the cold weather.

How do I prepare to feed on the nourishment of the word of God to help me sustain the winter of my life?  Am I diligently searching for the nuggets of truth found in God’s word and then feeding on the abundant supply he has provided?  He has not only provided me with a seasonal landscape of brick red, orange and gold leaves, plump pumpkins, colorful mums and harvested corn stalks but also the cool weather and shorter days to allow me more time to read and reflect on his provision.

The summer has been busy with gardening, canning and freezing the produce to enjoy in winter.   God’s word is my daily nourishment to feed my soul and also to prepare for what is ahead.  How am I preparing for the “winter” of my life when I may not feel the warmth of the sun and wonder if the showers of blessings have ceased?

Proverbs 6:6
Take a lesson from the ants, you lazy fellow. Learn from their ways and be wise! For though they have no king to make them work, yet they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.But you—all you do is sleep. When will you wake up? 10 “Let me sleep a little longer!” Sure, just a little more! 11 And as you sleep, poverty creeps upon you like a robber and destroys you; want attacks you in full armor.

Retirement

Spring time in the mountains at Butternut Golf Course.

Playing golf is much more relaxing and much more fun than cleaning house, washing windows or weeding the flower or vegetable garden.

This is how I planned to spend retirement after a wonderful twenty-five years working at Young Harris College.  

How many retirees have said, “I don’t know how I had time to work!”
Well, it is true.  I have been much more busy than expected since retirement two years ago.  I really don’t know how I had time to work a full time job and also keep up with cooking, housework, and volunteering at church and community.
My scheduled now includes the above as well as golf, gardening, canning, freezing, volunteering at church food cottage and writing a book with my husband about God’s strength in our weakness.  Neither golf nor gardening were in my schedule back then and my house was cleaner when I was gainfully employed.  The common thought is “Well, I can do that tomorrow or the next day!”
Playing golf was always my dream but because of work I never had time to learn much less play.  Now my husband and I try to play golf at least once a week.  My golf pro son gives me a lesson when we visit his family in MI or he visits us.  Improvement is twenty-two strokes getting to the first hole to about seven.  My first comment was that I got more exercise than others since I had more swings with the club. Recently I accomplished my first birdie (one under par)!
Back to Eden gardening became a passion after visiting Evergreen friends in Indiana in November 2012.  My husband built a fortress seven feet high around our garden.  Neighbors thought he was building a house when the first posts went in the ground.  God blessed our efforts and we had an abundant harvest – much more than expected – I canned and froze vegetables all summer long.
I promised my husband that I would not volunteer for anything the first year of retirement.  He knows how I like to get involved.  My freedom to sleep in the first few months was great.  Time to read my Bible much more than my regular thirty minutes was wonderful.  A regular exercise program helped me keep active and fit.  Then my husband got us involved working at our church’s food cottage.  A couple of volunteers were out for the winter and he was asked if we could fill in for them November through April.  Not a problem!  Now two years later I am still volunteering in the office of the Food Cottage.  But what a blessing this work has been and some really wonderful people to work with.
My husband and I have been composing stories about our lives and ministry to leave for our children and grandchildren and retirement was supposed to be the time to “write it.”  Joining a writing club was my attempt to jump start the process.   However, this seemed to add another meeting and travel time was stealing from my time at the computer.

 

Finally I resigned from two of my volunteer activities and am focusing more on my writing.  Joining COMPEL with Proverbs 31 Ministries  has already helped me “write it.”  Blogging is my attempt to get my creative writing juices flowing so that the “book” will be not only historical for my descendants but also showing how HIS story influenced our lives and blessed us much more that we could think or imagine!
Blessings,
Pat