Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back . . . Moving Ahead

Like turning to look through the back window when traveling,
I look back to where I've been in 2010.
Snapshots of people, places, and events are clear;
the good times, the bad times, and the in-between times -
all are etched in my mind's memory album.

It's easy to see where I've been;
my photo album is full.
But looking ahead the pages are empty -
full of possibility and hope.

Learning from the past, I know that the pages will chronicle my journey
up the hills and down in the valleys,
along winding, quiet country roads
and through noisy, congested traffic.

And although I won't know what's around the next curve
or how many road blocks I'll face,
I don't have to live in fear of the unknown
nor wonder if I'm up to making the trip.

Learning from the past, I have no doubt
that He who traveled with me the past 60 years
will never leave my side in the new year.
The hills and valleys and curves are already known to Him.
No surprises, no impossibilities can thwart His good plans for me.
My Guide can be trusted.

Yes, the pictures of where I've been are clear and in focus.
But I don't have a clue what images will fill the blank pages.
And when confusion and questions and fear creep into my mind,
He speaks Words that bring clarity and stability and keep me focused:

Fear not; for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by name; thou art mine.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee;
and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee;
when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned . . .
For I am the Lord thy God.
~from Isaiah 43:1-3~

Songwriter John Newton said it this way:
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come.
Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Whatcha' aiming for?

More of You, more of You;
I've had it all but what I need -
just more of You.
Of things I've had my fill,
And yet I hunger still.
Empty and bare, Lord, hear my prayer
for more of You.
~More of You
by Gloria Gaither~

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Celebrating at Fort Humbug . . .

A beautiful, joyful sight . . . yellow ribbons welcoming troops home! Home for Christmas!! I have an idea that this was not a "bah, humbug" kind of place this Christmas season! No Ebenezer Scrooges at Fort Humbug!

Please join me in remembering and praying for the many men and women who will be away from their families this Christmas. God bless them everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Waiting . . .

The Advent season is all about waiting . . . hope-filled waiting . . . expecting . . . looking forward to the celebration of His birth. It involves reflecting . . . remembering . . . but also basking in His presence today . . . for our Immanuel is with us this very moment! It's accepting and embracing His gifts of hope, peace, joy and love . . . for today . . . and tomorrow . . . and for eternity!

And so all the candles on our Advent wreath shone brightly today . . . and in the center stood the Christ candle reminding us that The Light of the World makes all these gifts possible . . . and that He should be the center of our focus during this beautiful holy season.

My favorite Christmas Scripture is not in the "Christmas story" but in John 1 . . . In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. How amazing!! But the best part of that passage - in my opinion - is verse 14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory . . . Can you wrap your mind and heart around that?!

God Himself became flesh . . . and so that means that He understands everything human . . . hurts and healings . . . tragedies and triumphs . . . the bad times and the good times . . . loneliness and fellowship. He understands. Because He chose to enter my world and yours and become one of us.

What a gift . . . what love! How can we not give Him ourselves anew this Christmas season? That's the best way we can say "Thank you" to Him for all His immeasurable, indescribable gifts!

Advent is about waiting . . . and just maybe He's waiting for us . . . to let go . . . to forgive . . . to love . . . to speak . . . to reach out . . . to shine our light in a dark corner . . . to really make a difference in 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And the prize goes to . . .

All shiny and new
these gleaming prizes would soon be in the hands of the winners -
all of them -
whether they scored in the game or not.
Each boy dressed in black and white was part of the team,
so a tall, bright-blue trophy would be placed in the outstretched hand of each player.

On another day somewhere down the road,
rewards will be handed out -
rewards that will never tarnish
or be placed on a shelf and forgotten.
And each of us wearing a white robe will receive one
whether we were the outstanding player or not.

We'll win the prize
if we obediently press on toward the goal
to which He calls us.


When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall

When the choices are hard
When we're battered and scarred
When we've spent our resources
When we've given our all

In Jesus' name, we press on
In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on
~Lyrics to Press On by Dan Burgess~

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In the Shadow of the Cross

The setting of Jesus' birth has always fascinated me, and I've tried to imagine what it was like for Mary and Joseph and the Christ Child on that long ago night. A night that forever changed the world! So, I enjoy seeing the many versions of the nativity scene. But my favorite is this one that granddaughter Abby and I placed in our dining room. This year I added the cross.

These simple pieces are special for several reasons. The stable was made 25+ years ago by one of my seventh-grade students, and I've used it every year since. Thanks, Jason! The figures are also that old . . . well, except for the little Indian chief you see in the front! When grandson Isaac was little, he placed that tiny figure at the manger, and each year I've added it to the group worshipping Baby Jesus. It reminds me that everyone - no matter our race or economic status or culture - needs Jesus. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us - to be the Savior of ALL of us.

This year I placed the cross beside the nativity. The red berries around the foot of the cross remind me of His blood spilled for everyone of us. Jesus' story is not complete without both - the manger and the cross! As the beautiful song says: He was born to die. For me. For you. For ALL of us.

My devotional reading for today, written by Woodie Stevens in Reflecting God, so eloquently expresses what my display depicts:
The excitement and spirit of Advent is everywhere. Elaborate decorations with bright and colorful lights transform our streets, shops, and homes. They proclaim a magnificent celebration of life. All over the world, without a word spoken or carol sung, the festive decorations declare, "God has come to be with us."

Yet in the midst of the cradle celebration, there is the dark shadow of the cross. Beyond the dazzling lights, precious lives stagger in darkness, alienation, and the wages of sin. When Christ, the head of every power and authority, became fully human and died on the cross, it appeared He had been defeated; evil had won. The innocent sweetness of a babe in a manger belies the toxic hostilities of powers and authorities deployed against humankind. But God raised Christ Jesus from the dead.

In celebrating the birth of Jesus, let us also celebrate God's power that raised Christ as victor over sin, death, and the grave. . . . Celebrate the triumphant cross at Christmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Our Memory Tree

Our Christmas tree is best described as a memory tree - full of ornaments that we've collected the past 37+ years. You won't find any expensive pieces - not a one - but you'll find some priceless ones! They may be getting a little worn and ragged, but that just makes them more special. Some are homemade, some were gifts, and others we bought. As I put them on the tree, and as we enjoy them during this Christmas season, we are reminded of some very special people and events in our lives. And we realize how blessed we are! God has truly lavished His love and grace into our lives . . . and we are thankful!

Below is one of my favorites . . . an ornament I made in 2001 to honor my parents, Edd and Gracie Knippers. They are no longer here to celebrate Christmases with us, but I have some treasured memories of them. Maybe I'll share some of our Christmas traditions with them in a later post.

My header shows two other very special ornaments, also homemade, of our four grands when they were much younger. They truly bring us so much joy! Merry Christmas Emily, Isaac, Abby, and Aiden! You are gifts from God to us!

I hope that each one of you has a blessed Christmas season. May the gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love fill your hearts and your home during this holy season - and all year long!

How silently, how silently
The wondrous Gift is giv'n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heav'n.
~Phillips Brooks-1868~

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Keep going!!

John David used these words to describe the scenery in a certain area when we were traveling back in the summer. Those words have stayed with me.

Journeying through life, we all encounter those times when it seems that we can't see God at work, and the long, monotonous road stretches out ahead of us.
We may even wonder where it's taking us and wish for a change in scenery.

But we keep going.
We keep going because we know we're where God wants us.
We keep going because He promised to go with us, and we know He keeps His promises - even when He can't feel Him.
We've learned that we can't rely on feelings and circumstances or
what we can see with our human eyes.
We keep going because we know we can't see the big picture, but we know that
each mile - each step - leads us closer to Home.
We keep going because we've traveled these long stretches of nothingness before, and looking back, we know for sure that
when it seems nothing is happening,
something IS happening.

I have decided to follow Jesus . . .
No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me . . .
No turning back, no turning back.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Celebrating The Light

I love Christmas lights . . . the myriad of colors . . . the way they light up the darkness . . . and their reflections in windows or on the water. Lights just seem to be the perfect decoration to announce and celebrate the birth of The Light of the World.

So, I thought I'd share a few of the lights along beautiful Cane River in the historic city of Natchitoches, LA. I never tire of seeing them, but it's especially fun to enjoy them with family - as we did during the Thanksgiving holidays.

Click on a pic to enlarge it.

Come to the Light; 'tis shining for thee.
Sweetly the Light has dawned upon me.
~The Light of the World Is Jesus -
Philip P. Bliss~

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Count your many blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your many
See what God has done.
~Johnson Oatman, Jr.

God has lavished His blessings on me and my family,
and I could never thank Him enough.
Great is His faithfulness!

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow;
don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.
Walk beside me, and just be my friend.
~Albert Camus~

Author Reuben Welch says it this way:
You know something? We're all just people who need each other.
We're all learning, and we've all got a long journey ahead of us.
We've got to go together, and if it takes us until Jesus comes,
we better stay together,
we better help each other. . .
No matter how long it takes us, we've got to go together
because that's how it is in the Body of Christ.

Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote beautiful lyrics that fit so well here:
Going together, enjoying the trip -
Getting used to the family I'll spend eternity with.
Learning to love you - how easy it is,
Getting used to the family of God.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Special Birthday Wish

Click on pic to enlarge.

"Happy Birthday Nana" . . . the grands spelled out in a very creative way!! I hear the photo session was quite hilarious as their dad, who was director and photographer, stood in the strong winds on the deck rails. And their mom held on to his legs to keep him steady!!

I guess they think I'm worth it! That's a priceless gift in itself!

I treasure all the photos and videos of our grands - and our Aiden book - that have been given to John David and me as gifts. Thanks to their parents for making them possible! And just as special are the emails and notes and artwork from our sweet grandchildren.

Children . . . and grandchildren . . . themselves gifts from God!
We are so blessed!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Forever Grateful

At the top of my list of blessings is my salvation and the Cross.

We sang a new song last night at church . . . a beautiful one that focused
on our Thanksgiving/blessings theme.
Thought I'd share the words with you.

You did not wait for me to draw near to You,
But You clothed Yourself with frail humanity;
You did not wait for me to cry out to You,
But You let me hear Your voice calling me.

And I'm forever grateful to You;
I'm forever grateful for the cross.
I'm forever grateful to You,
That You came to seek and save the lost.
~Lyrics to I'm Forever Grateful by Mark Altrogge~

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Thanksgiving Roses

I'm grateful for His everlasting mercy . . .

He showers His blessing into my life . . . and I can never thank Him enough.

And I praise Him for the "cup's full and running over times"!

I like the words of the following song by the Gaither Vocal Band:
When my soul is dry and thirsty
And panting for the Spirit's rain -
So depleted, weary, empty,
Every resource used and drained.

Then the rains come!
O the rains come!
Gentle streams flowing down the mountains -
Filling rivers . . . rushing waters
To the valley bringing
Wondrous life!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thank God for Granddaughters

Granddaughters . . .
stretch my soul, my mind, and my body

When they are around I. . .
laugh more
learn more
listen more
imagine more
move more

In them I see . . .
the world through young eyes
child-like faith
deep roots their parents have given them
hope for the future

I pray that . . .
their roots will grow even deeper in God's love
God will hold them close and keep them from harm
their hearts will remain tender and open to God's whispers
their feet will follow the paths that lead to His good plans for them
the world will be better place because Abby and Emily make a difference

I know that . . .
they are in good hands

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thank You, Veterans!

Flag over Overton-Brooks Veterans Medical Center

November 11 - Veterans' Day . . . a day to pay tribute to those who have kept America free!

If you've read my blog for a while, you know how I feel about these special men and women. As the wife of a former Marine and the mom of a son now in his fifteenth year of military service, I have a special place in my heart for veterans - not just my two men but all who have served and are serving our country.

For many years, Dean Nelson of WGN - Chicago has read this tribute to the men and women who defend our freedom. I copied it from

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye.

Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's ally forged in the refinery of adversity.

Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem.

You can't tell a vet just by looking.

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She - or he - is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come back AT ALL.

He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat - but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs.

He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being - a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say "Thank You." That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK YOU."

Hope you'll take time today to show at least one veteran that he or she is appreciated. I'll start now!

John David and Andy, THANK YOU! I'm proud of you . . . your courage . . . your willingness to serve . . . your love for our country . . . and your sacrifices!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Batteries Included

The following passage is from the book The Buzzards May Be Circling But God's Not Finished With Me Yet by Stan Toler, one of my favorite authors. And the book is just as interesting as the title! It's full of humor, practical observations, and wise advice - like this selection:
Like it or not, people around us are watching. They want to see us carry the torch, even in the rain. They want to know if there are "batteries included" in that faith of ours. They want to know if religion works when the opposition comes along.

A little boy ran to his mother, "Mom! You know the antique clock of ours that has been passed from one generation to another?"

"Yes," the mother anxiously responded. "What's wrong?"

"My generation just dropped it!"

Adversity or not, our generation cannot afford to drop the torch of faith. It must be passed along, not snuffed out by the circumstances we encounter.
I agree, don't you? Even when the fountain of youth has rusted - which is the title of the chapter!

Speak through me, speak through me;
O Lord, speak through me.
Make Your Word upon my lips a flame today.
O Lord, speak through me.
~Love Through Me
lyrics by Mosie Lister~

Saturday, November 6, 2010


To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I love the much-needed, long-awaited showers . . . and so do these November roses!

We've prayed for rain . . . and it came!
Thank you, Lord!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow . . .

Monday, November 1, 2010

Delicious Memories

Looking at Mama's churn, I go back to another place . . . not too far down the road . . . and to another time . . . fifty or so years ago.

Life was much slower then, and my world was so very small. We couldn't hop in the car and run to the store for groceries - at least not very often - and we certainly didn't have money to buy things we could raise or make ourselves.

So, Daddy grew vegetables, raised hogs for meat and had a milk cow that produced our milk and butter. When we got a freezer, he sometimes raised a calf for beef. We always had chickens, so we never ran out of eggs, and on Sundays we feasted on fried chicken! Speaking of hogs, I can still smell big slabs of bacon being smoked high above a smoldering fire in our smokehouse! And I can still taste it along with Mama's mouth-watering homemade biscuits. Nobody could - or can - make 'em like Mama did!

Which brings me to the butter . . . delicious, golden butter molded to perfection! Which brings me to the churn pictured above . . . the churn that produced that wonderful stuff that seeped out the edges of a lightly-browned, hot buttermilk biscuit.

Mama usually did the churning, but Connie and I sometimes helped her. The arm got quite a workout moving the dasher up and down . . . up and down . . . over and over until Mama said it was ready. I can almost feel the splatters that inevitably escaped the churn - which is why we often churned on the back porch, if the weather permitted.

Then Mama took the top off the churn and scooped out the butter that had risen to the top. But it wasn't yet ready for eating. She carefully "washed" it and worked it, placed it in a bowl (I don't remember special molding dishes) and refrigerated it overnight.

And you can guess how the story ends . . . well, if you're a country girl, you can! Picture the breakfast table back then . . . a plate of hot biscuit; homemade butter and preserves, jam, or jelly; bacon right out of the smokehouse or sausage that Mama and the aunts made on hog-killing day; and eggs gathered from the chicken house - or wherever you might find a nest. Sometimes the menu varied and we ate fried squirrel that Daddy killed, and Mama "stretched it" with delicious gravy. I always loved syrup, too - Blackburn syrup - poured over my buttered biscuit. Back then we "sopped" our biscuits in syrup or gravy, too! Ahh, what delicious memories!

Now Mama's churn sits quietly in my dining room . . . a reminder of those simpler days and growing up with so little of earthly goods. I never knew back then just how poor we were. But I never remember wondering where our next meal would come from. So I wasn't really poor was I? With a spread like I just wrote about . . . not so much!

God supplied all our needs, saw us through the difficult times, and blessed us with parents who made sure we had what we needed. And His blessings continue . . . He's never failed us - nor will He ever!

Well, my intentions were to write about Mama's churn, but instead lots of wonderful memories "churned" in my mind! It was fun to scoop up the best ones that rose to the top!

Are you hungry now???


Lord, I come into Your awesome presence,
From the shadows into Your radiance;
By the blood I may enter Your brightness;
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness;
Shine on me.
Shine on me.
~Lyrics - Shine, Jesus, Shine by Graham Kendrick~

Friday, October 29, 2010

Keep Off the Fence!

Straddling a fence might be fun
For a short while if you're a child -
Especially if you're agile like Abby
And gymnastics is your style.

But straddling the fence spiritually
Is a dangerous place to be.
He asks us to make a choice -
It's life or death, you see.

He died that we may have life -
A life so full and free.
Can't you hear His gentle whisper?
"Get down. Come follow Me."
~G. Thaxton~

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.
I Have Decided to Follow Jesus
lyrics - Anonymous~

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Used Up

I've been reading one of my all-time favorite books - again.

We Really Do Need Each Other
by Reuben Welch is so full of practical truths that I need. In his unique writing style, Welch just lays it all out - plain and simple. With humor sprinkled throughout the book, he creates word pictures that all of us can relate to. The passage below is one that speaks to me when I'm tired . . . this passage and the Scripture that says: Be not weary in well doing for in due season you shall reap if you faint not. It was not a coincidence that that verse - on a tiny card - was tucked into Welch's book when I opened it yesterday. Then I read these words:
Sometimes I wonder what we are saving ourselves for . . .
You know, we want to
save ourselves
and keep ourselves
and hold ourselves back
as though the highest goal in life would be to look good
in our caskets.
It's no special blessing to come to the end of life with
love unshared
selves ungiven
activities unactivated
deeds undone
emotions unextended.
Isn't it God's intention that when we come to the end
of the line
we're just about used up?

Sometimes between now and then
we might as well be letting the candle burn
for the light
for the heat
for the warmth and sharing.
As long as we're going to live
and then die
we'd just better live for Jesus
and love and go ahead and let ourselves be used up.
Thought-provoking words for this almost-sixty-year-old retiree! But I think I get it: we're never retired from being Jesus to our hurting world. I may move at a slower pace and have to rest more often, and Satan may fight me harder than ever, but I plan to be "used up" when my life here is over!

No need to worry; I'll have a new body and mind then, and "tired" and "weary" won't even be part of my vocabulary!

Grace alone, which God provides,
Strength unknown He will provide.
Christ in us, our cornerstone,
We will go forth, in grace alone.
~Grace Alone
lyrics by Scott Brown & Jeff Nelson~

Monday, October 25, 2010

Turning to the Light

You have to
plant seeds
to get flowers

The opening
of petals
turning to
the light.

~Joyce A. Chandler~