Wordless Wednesday – First Edition Epic

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Grand

The very next day after the tragic event with the young man which took place in our neighborhood that I wrote about in my previous post, I was blessed to accompany one of my best friends and her family to the hospital for the birth of their second grandchild. I was there with my camera for the birth of their first grandchild a few years ago, and what a privilege it was to be there with all of these special friends once again on this happiest of days.

While I am certainly no pro with my trusty camera, I was able to just be there to help ensure that the desired “first” pictures were not overlooked amid all of the fun and excitement, as well as taking a few pictures they might not see themselves, such as the picture in this post. Their job was to be family, and my job was to love them with my camera. They also received a free professional photo shoot with baby before they left the hospital, but nothing can ever replace the real-time photos taken in first hour or two in the life of a brand new baby.

IMG_6093

The sign in the room as the family met their precious new baby

There is just nothing like the experience of holding a new baby and seeing the expressions of those sweet family members as each one held this little 7 lb 2 oz miracle straight from the arms of God for the very first time, and I feel quite confident that I am likely preaching to the choir among many of my readers here. I’m not sure that life gets much better than times like this.

As my friend held her precious new grandson for the first time, some new thoughts came to me. Was such a celebration also taking place in Heaven at that moment? What if we are received in such a way in Heaven one day? Do angels sing at times like this? There was such great anticipation of the arrival of this sweet new life. What if it is that way in Heaven for each of us? What will that experience be like someday? Will the earthly celebration of the birth of a baby even begin to compare with the Heavenly celebration? Will this change how I look on the death of a believer going forward? I never once entertained these thoughts until that moment.

I had such a great hour in the room with these precious people in my life, and I will treasure this memory the rest of my life. And as “payment” for my services, I got to hold this sweet little boy after everyone else had their turn and even had my picture made, too. But, this was certainly not about me. It was their special time together first and foremost. My friend’s daughter was more beautiful than I’ve ever seen her, and she is always stunningly beautiful. A new mother has a special glow about her, I think. Haven’t we all seen it at some point? It is revealed in her eyes that are tired, joyful, loving, relieved and a bit scared all at the same time. It’s just priceless.

After I left the hospital, I decided to take a stroll in a nearby park for a few minutes. The grass is still green, as are the trees, and it was a beautiful afternoon to take a quick stroll around the lake in the park. Normally when I’m walking outside, I have one or both of the dogs with me to exercise them, which is always fun, but I truly enjoyed this peaceful time alone to decompress a bit. A quiet walk in nature should be a medical prescription when we are a bit out-of-sorts from the roller coaster of life. Just being in God’s creation, whether in an urban setting or out in the middle of nowhere, is always a good dose of medicine to my soul. Hopefully we will be headed out in the RV this weekend for a quick getaway to one of the state parks, too. This is such a great time of year to go camping, and we are ready to go and enjoy this beautiful weather before winter cold finally arrives in a few weeks.

I believe we all need beauty in our lives regularly, in whatever form we can see, hear, touch or smell it. For me, that also includes absorbing the beauty of God’s word regularly… as in every single day. It is medicine for my soul, comfort when times are hard and joy when times are grand. I doubt that too many things are more beautiful and grand in this earthly life than being present at the birth of a brand new baby. No wonder they call them grand… children!

And all you grand… parents reading this say…. :-D

Psalm 127:3
Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. (NLT)

Psalm 139:13
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. (NLT)

Jeremiah 1:5
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart …” (NLT)

Matthew 18:10
“Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.” (NLT)

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The Blessing of Waiting

For some reason, the post that I published earlier today is not showing in my WordPress Reader.  So, I would like to invite you to read today’s post, The Blessing of Waiting.  I believe it was successfully published via email, so I’m not sure what the issue is with the Reader.  Thank you, dear readers!

If for some reason it was actually published in your own Reader earlier, please accept my sincere apologies for sharing this again.  It did not show up in mine after almost three hours.

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The Blessing of Waiting

Earlier this week, we once again had some unexpected drama and excitement in our neighborhood from one of our neighbor families nearby.  This is a fairly common occurrence with this family, too.  As I was preparing to leave the house that morning to run a couple of quick errands, I happened to look out one of our front windows to see two police cars out front.  Based on previous experiences like this, I knew right away which house they were visiting.  I just did not know the cause this time.

It did not take long to figure out that the youngest grown son, who lives with his parents and older brother in the home, was in what my beloved grandmother would have called “a heap of trouble.”  One policeman was attempting to talk to him at the edge of the street while the other policeman was talking to his parents in their front yard.  The young man was extremely upset, to a point that did not seem normal to me when talking to a police officer.  So, that may be a bit of evidence as to the problem at hand, although I still have no clue what his real issue was.  After an hour of obviously heated discussions between officers and family members, the officers finally handcuffed the young man, frisked him and took him away in the first police vehicle.

I prayed for this family once again during that hour as I watched out my window, as well as praying for the officers and their safety.  It was obviously a very bad day for this family.  The husband has shared that their older son has been in prison twice, most recently being released earlier this year on a federal crime conviction.  Now, it seems they may walk a similar path with their younger child, too.  This family has deep, deep issues, and I pray that God will bring them all to a place of peace, reconciliation, healing and obedience soon. Hubby is good to talk to the husband fairly regularly, as he seems to be the only member of the family that is ever interested in being somewhat neighborly, and I am sure Hubby will continue to be open to talking with this man as the occasion presents itself.  I pray that God will bring others into their life that can offer real help, too.

My family also walked a very difficult path together for a time over ten years ago, and I know the feeling of having my own world turned upside down in an instant, not having a clue if the next day would even remotely resemble the days of my life that I had known to that point.  When I now see other families in turmoil, I can relate in a very real way.  It was, by far, the worst time of my life, and it all came to full fruition in the week of the 9-11 attacks, too.  I just do not think that life could have been much worse at that time, and I still feel that way today.  It was rock-bottom for me, if not for our entire family.  I’m sure our neighbors likely know this same feeling right about now, as having one or more family members with serious issues is probably one of the most stressful situations any of us will ever deal with in our lives.

In so many ways, that time period in our lives seems like a fleeting bad dream to me now.  I can hardly recognize our life as it was back then, based on the happily imperfect life we happily live today.  God performed what I consider to be a miracle healing in a family member, and my own spiritual walk forever changed, too.  If it took this nightmarish turn of events to bring me to the place I am today, then so be it.  Gods timing is always perfect, and families can (and do) heal!

One of the most difficult aspects of that time period was the endless waiting.  Waiting for breakthroughs.  Waiting for resolutions.  Waiting for God to bring clarity to that whole situation.  Waiting for just one day that was not tumultuous.  Waiting for the right people and groups to come into our lives to help.  Waiting… waiting… endless waiting.  It was maddening for me so many times.  But, I learned so much about the blessing of waiting, too.   Yes, it was a blessing to wait.  I know that now.

Bible and Cross

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  — Isaiah 40:31 ESV 

That hard-learned “boot-camp” lesson on waiting continues to serve me well in my life today, although I must confess that it is still so very hard at times, especially where our loved ones are concerned.  But, I also know that God is there in a very real way in every minute of that hard wait, too.  The verse above demonstrates how actively waiting on God is a productive exercise and does not constitute cowering in a closet with heads held in shame or fear.  This is my “go to” verse when I am waiting in a particular area of my life, and I frequently find myself waiting these days in one way or another.  Certainly, there are times to act, but active waiting is a big part of life now, it seems, and I don’t think that should be a big surprise.

Active waiting has been a tremendous growth opportunity for me, and slowly but surely, God is good to help me realize the true blessing of waiting.  I cannot control others when I actively wait and let God do his thing, and that is so often the lesson God has for me in many situations.  Wait… pray… have faith… trust… act only when appropriate, not nearly so often as I want to think… trust again… pray endlessly… give thanks.  What a huge lesson this has been and continues to be, and not an easy one, for sure.  But, it is the real deal.  Just read how many times in the Bible we are told to wait.  Waiting is this way is not an idle, unproductive time, as we like to define productive so many times.  It is a highly active pursuit.

In the past few years, I have been extremely blessed to have the opportunity to work directly with some ladies who have since found themselves in the position I was in back in the fall of 2001.  I will never be able to adequately put into words how this honor has impacted my life.  Each instance has been a definite God-thing, and my life is so much fuller for being a part of the lives of these special ladies during their own times of waiting.  I can hardly speak about it without welling up in tears.

Starting today, and through the entire month of November, I am going to add a personal prayer request twice a day for families that are in turmoil, especially due to drug and alcohol issues, and waiting in their own ways.  I believe that is the take-away for me from witnessing this event in my own neighborhood this week.  While this is a personal thing for me, I hope you will consider joining me, too.  I find it interesting that this will also take place in the month of Thanksgiving, and how deeply that fact speaks to me in all of this today.

Give thanks in everything…

every… single… thing.

Yes, God… with your help.

Dear God, thank you for your unbelievable grace in our lives.  May I be an instrument of your love in a tangible way today, and help me to continue to believe in and expect unbelievable miracles.

10/24/2014 Update: Sometimes God just blows me away.  One of my online “mentors” (Beth Moore) posted this on her Twitter feed on the very day this all came down.  I just saw it this morning for the first time.  It truly got my attention once again.  Praying hard for these families.

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Wordless Wednesday – Big Foot

Big Foot Paw

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Home Improvements

It is always a good week when we complete some significant improvements to our home, and such was our week last week.

Weathered Wood Roof

New Timberline “weathered wood” roof and new Attic Breeze solar attic fan

After several weather delays beginning early in September, we finally had our new roof installed last week, and it looks great.  This is our third roof on our home that is just under thirty years old, and once again, we opted to go with a totally new color.  This time, we selected a Timberline shingle in a  “weathered wood” color which looks great with the new paint color we used last summer on the outside trim.  This is a better shingle than what we had on our previous roof and also carries a better warranty.

This same company also installed an Attic Breeze solar attic fan for us when they installed the new roof, and they only need to return sometime this week to install the required soffit vents to complete their work at our house.  The vents were painted to match our trim a few weeks ago, using some exterior paint that we had leftover last year.  The solar fan will automatically run anytime the attic is 100 degrees or higher, but so far, the weather has been cool enough that the fan has not yet turned on.  It may be quite some time before our weather warms up enough for the fan to actually turn on, too.  The fan carries a lifetime warranty, and we should also be able to claim a tax credit this year for installing this particular fan, which is always a nice little perk.  We do not know anyone that has installed a solar unit like this one yet, as this one is fairly new, so I guess we will be one of the first houses in our area to get one.

We also had the opportunity to use our RV as a “home away from home” last week while our new roof was installed.  I am so glad that we had somewhere else to go, as I’m sure the dogs and I would not have had a good experience at home on those days, and I can only imagine how noisy it was inside the house.  Almost every picture was hanging crooked when we returned home, and some light fixtures in the master bathroom came loose from the ceiling, since that room has no attic above it.  The local RV park where we stayed was surprisingly great.  I’m not sure why we never really checked out RV parks closer to home until now, except that we thought we probably would not ever need to use one.  We briefly considered day-boarding the dogs for those days, but it was cheaper and easier to use the RV as our home base, and it also gave me a place to escape the noise at home, too.  It was a win-win situation in every way.  The lovely rig next to us had Alaska plates on the pickup and the fifth wheel, and I wish I could have spoken to the owners, who looked like a retired couple.  What a drive they made to get here!  They were busy and headed out most of the time, and I wondered if they might be visiting family or friends that live in the area.

It was great to have a calm place hang out while the roof was installed, and I even managed to get some chores done in the RV, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom areas, putting lemon oil on all of the cabinet doors and cleaning out some interior storage areas to swap summer items for winter items.  I also found time to finish a good audiobook, The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst, and I highly recommend this book for any ladies that are interested in the topic.  It is always a timely one for me, it seems.

Premier RO System

New Premier Reverse Osmosis system

We also purchased and installed a Premier reverse osmosis system under our sink in the kitchen, along with a matching water spigot at the sink.  The unit will supply water at our sink and to our ice maker.  We are both so happy to finally have a reverse osmosis system for our drinking water, as this has been an item we have considered purchasing for several years.  While our tap water is fine to drink, neither of us really care for the taste of it.  When I embarked on my diet back in January, I started drinking more water and fewer diet soft drinks, and Hubby has also started drinking more water, too.  This system will eventually pay for itself with the money we save buying gallons of water and cases of bottled water.  We found this set at Costco at a great price, about $100 less than advertised elsewhere online for the same unit, and it was the same brand that was highly recommend by a friend.

Outdoor Sound System Control Unit

New Russound control unit – We have five more units to eventually install in the house, too.

Bowers and Wilkins Outdoor Speakers

Bowers and Wilkins outdoor speakers, custom painted to match our patio

The last item that was installed over the past week was the outdoor control panel for our new sound system on our back porch.  Our son installed the patio system with custom speakers, with the exception of building the wooden housing box for the control unit and painting it to match our exterior paint, which Hubby was able to do this weekend.  The main receiver and CD/DVD player were installed under our bar in the living room in a cabinet that was pre-wired with electricity when we bought our house, and the system is expandable with more control units for other rooms.  The sound system in our home has needed updating for a while, and our son will continue to help us install better speakers and the updated control units in some of the other rooms over time.  We have five more control units to use with the system, and over time, it is going to be a fabulous setup throughout the house and should also increase the resale value a bit, too.

Along with our new Chinese Pistache tree in the back yard and updates to our back porch area that we made in the spring, we have made some great progress this year on updating the outside of our house.  Our backyard is a more inviting place now, and we have been able to use it much more over the past few months.  If we can’t be camping, at least we now have a pleasant area to enjoy outside at home that is more protected from the elements.

Our garden has pretty much run its course for the year, the leaves on the trees are just beginning to turn, weekly grass mowing is now down to just once every two or three weeks, fun fall activities are in full swing, and life is just so good.  Red passed his first obedience school test last week, and we will begin intermediate classes in two weeks.  I also had my first colonoscopy done last Monday, and all is well.  I do not have to return for another test for ten years, and I am so grateful for that outcome.  If you are 50 or older and have not yet had your baseline test, please do so.  If I can do it, you can, too!

I so love this wonderful time of year, especially when the extra chores and necessary home improvements that come along with warmer weather months finally subside right along with the temperatures.  Even though home ownership can be a hard thing at times, I am more grateful than ever for our lovely home that we have been given to live in and raise our children in over the years.  We have so many great memories here over the years, and hopefully we have many more great memories in store.

Now it’s time to start thinking a bit more about the upcoming holidays!

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Wordless Wednesday – Sweet Girly Girl

Sweet Girly Girl

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