Just a glimpse of me...

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Do you ever feel STUCK? In 2000, I began looking for answers to some tough questions in my life. I'd searched high & low and finally conceded to search the promises found in the Bible. Those promises have sustained & guided me through the loss of a parent, the struggle with anxiety & depression, the loss of a valued relationship and so much more! I've found joy amid the pain. And, I want to share it with you!

25 January 2014

An Instrument of Peace

While wearing one of my volunteer hats - communications for MPC Worship Arts ministry, I was preparing to send out a note about our weekend services. It includes the sermon title & text, related scriptures and more. I like to provide video links to the songs we'll be singing so others can listen to & learn songs that will be used in our worship times. (I've cut & pasted in some of the songs we'll be singing this Sunday at the bottom of the page.)

The last section of the note is always entitled "My Thoughts Today" and covers what I feel the Lord has said to me that day as I worked on the note. Some times the words come to my mind faster than I can type them. Other times, it's a bit of a struggle to know that I am writing what God needs me to write at that moment. This week I added a PERSONAL PS...
I'm thanking God today for the changes that have happened in the past year as this new ONE YEAR OLD (who celebrated her first birthday on 1/16/14) has set about a new outlook in many lives. They say that a baby changes everything. This one certainly has helped with so many of the challenges & choices of the past. She is making the future brighter for many. 
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS DEAR FRIENDS. We continue to claim God's hand in all of this :) My prayer... LORD, make me an instrument of Your peace - a reflection of Thy love!
As those thoughts came to me, I felt the nudge to share the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi and a link to the song taken from that prayer. Enjoy both of the following:

Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi 
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. 
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. 
Instrument of Peace - sung by the Canadian Tenors

I am moved by music & words of deep truth. I love sharing both. I'm grateful that our church has a blend of the old & new songs at most gatherings. Here are a few songs that we will lift up this Sunday at Madison Park ChoG: 
What songs & writings stir your heart? I'd love to know :) 

Linking with Ann Voskamp - A Holy Experience today...

23 January 2014

Unexpected & Timely Gifts from God

Saturday night, January 18, 2014, we received an unexpected & VERY timely gift from God. Well, that's how I choose to see it! And, here's how it happened...

We'd been experiencing a harsher winter than normal in the previous weeks - with several days where high temp's were below zero and the windchill factors belonged in Minnesota... not "stuckinindiana"! On January 15th, I had our furnace set to keep the house at 64 degrees, a little cooler than normal. I was attempting to conserve energy & not stress our heating system (even though we're fortunate to have a relatively new system). Wearing long underwear, I rushed around the house tag teaming my To Do List. As the day went on - even after a vigorous workout - I still felt chilled to the bone. That night as I crawled under the covers, I just couldn't get warm.

A check of the thermostat early Thursday morning revealed there was a real problem. The temperature in our house was about 6 degrees cooler than the setting! A call to the HVAC company resulted in a rollercoaster ride lasting FIVE MORE DAYS! We lived without a furnace until the following Monday night! We thanked God for two ventless fireplaces & two small area heaters... oh and, long underwear, jackets, warm blankets and friends who offered to let us stay with them if necessary!

A little back history... since sometime in early December, after several cold snaps, the LOML & I noticed that the heating element for our king-sized soft-sided water bed was no longer working. The nerve of that company to have a part that only worked for 27 years! Who knows if it stopped working in the previous spring or summer. All we knew is that slipping under the sheets of our bed this past December was no longer comfortable, regardless of the temperature setting on the heating element. We've contemplated getting a real, grown-up bed for years. Seriously, what people our age sleep in a water bed? We chalked this new experience up as writing on the wall that a new bed was in our future. 

NOTE: If you have never slept on an unheated water bed in cold weather, you won't get this :/ And, you don't want to try it!!

The five days without heat was pretty frustrating. Our long-time HVAC company was not responding in a way that pleased us. We have a sweet baby living in our home who had to celebrate her first birthday (1/16) in a pretty cold house. New lessons for her: a fireplace is pretty but a place we want her to avoid. We had to take precautions to keep our 5 sinks in the house from freezing. We moved the two space heaters around the house & added even MORE layers of clothing. And, at night, the LOML & I retired to a really cold bed.

Saturday night, when I slipped my toes under the covers, I was in denial that the bed might actually be warm! I was quite certain that my toes were just frozen & anything over 50 degrees would feel warm. The LOML crawled into bed & proclaimed, "HOORAY! THE HEATER FOR OUR WATER BED HAS DECIDED TO WORK!" The following nights have confirmed that our heating element was healed :)

As I write this post, I'm propped up on pillows with a kitty sleeping curled up on this warm bed & birds chowing down on my gifts to them outside my window. I've been wide awake for over 5 hours AND in & out of this warm bed about 10-15 times as I tag team my To Do List :) I've made breakfast. I've worked on Women's Ministries communications for our church. I've walked outside to refill the bird feeders - which seem to be the popular spot for flocks & flocks of sparrows and a handful of colorful wild birds! I've worked on laundry & dishes. 

I am so, so grateful that I'm blessed to be able to work from my home. And, I am quite thankful for this and many other unexpected & timely gifts from God - a nearly 30-year-old heating element which began unexpectedly working on a cold, cold night.
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.James 1:17 NIV
Another little gift from God this morning in "stuckinindiana" land... a sunbow, as I like to call it. More accurately, it's called a sundog. It made me feel like God had sent us one regular sized sun & two little suns to help us get a warmer start to the day.

photo credit goes to the LOML - as he was driving to work

How do you see the gifts God places in your life? Will you share some unexpected & timely gifts from God with me? Will you look for some in the coming days?

Linking with Ann Voskamp - A Holy Experience today...

18 January 2014

Please, Don't Make Me Leave My Home

Today, I am thankful for fireplaces,
space heaters, long underwear,
and the warm love of The LORD!
Today, as I waited patiently (or not so patiently) to hear back from the HVAC company as to whether the part to fix our furnace would come in before the COLD weekend, God gave me a HUGE hug!

Shortly after moving to "stuckinindiana" from the Sunshine State almost 25 years ago, it became painfully evident that I had some issues with winter blues (SAD  - Seasonal Affective Disorder). During the days that my two children were small, my moods were rather even keel. It's my theory that breastfeeding both of them well into their first years boosted my emotions. I remember the peace & fulfillment I felt as I held them near & provided for their needs in a way that none other could. In the subsequent years, I was fine in the summers when I was out walking daily in the sunshine or "babysitting" our neighbor's pool as they traveled. However, the winters were hard. 

I've learned over the years that exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep habits can maximize how I feel in the winter months. But being a "nester" most of my life, no matter how well I'm feeling, I still don't want to leave my home when the weather turns cold & gray. My inner voice is always screaming, "Please, Don't Make Me Leave My Home!" 

This cold winter morning - when I was buried under covers & praying to hear from our heating company soon - I saw a Facebook post pop up on my news feed (from the evening before) from a fellow Women's Ministries Fan ...
"Any Anderson friends have a couch I can crash on tomorrow for a few hours after 11am until about 3?"
Without really thinking about it, my fingers typed the words...
"I do -- message me!"
In about 4 hours, a young lady who attends the same church as I do (whom I'd messaged with but never met face-to-face) was fast asleep on our couch in the basement family room beside the fire, as I continued to wait upstairs by that fire for a call from our HVAC company. What a wonderful & unexpected blessing it was for God to use me in my weakness. He is so loving & kind to me -- really, to all His children. I'm thankful that my heart shouted YES when I saw Jenn's post!

Over the years, I've had people tell me that God doesn't intend for me to suffer from depression and/or winter blues. I've been told that if I truly believed in His healing powers that I would be healed of that affliction. And, I'm not a theological scholar to debate with them intelligently. However, I'm a Lover of the Lord!. And, I've always had a strong feeling when reading the King James Version of Philippians 2:12b 
"...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." 
I've gotten the sense from that scripture that I need to be seeking how I should live out the scriptures in a way that honors the Lord. Personally, I feel that God allows me to suffer in this way, at this time, while working through me despite my weaknesses.

In such a time, I run to The Word...
  • "For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust." Psalm 103:14 NLT
  • "Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 8-10
I encourage you to seek what God is saying to YOU in the Bible. Start new each morning with the hopes and belief that God will work in & through you to accomplish what is needed for the world to see God in you & desire to know God personally.

Praying for you just now... believing that God is at work in YOU!

Linking with Ann Voskamp - A Holy Experience today...

13 January 2014

Eternal Summer in a Grateful Heart

Many in our country just went through a crazy, cold cold-snap! And, of course, they named it... the PolarVortex. For us in central Indiana, one day the high temperature was -15 degrees. And, the windchill that day got down to -40 degrees. What a way to start out the new year! Those few days of bitter weather caused many of us to dream of summer to come.

A quote shared recently by Girlfriendology caught my eye & resonated with my heart. I immediately shared it on Facebook & added my two cents of "Perhaps the reason I can be happy no matter where I live... I am abundantly blessed!"

"There shall be eternal summer in a grateful heart." ~ Celia Thaxter

My childhood, as a "PK" - Preacher's Kid, resulted in a few more moves than are typical for "ordinary people". We moved from the state of my birth when I was about 1. We moved again when I was between kindergarten & 1st grade, in 8th grade, and the summer before my sophomore year in high school. My parents moved to a new state during my senior year of high school & allowed me to stay with a teacher and her husband to finish up that year and graduate there. I spent the following summer in a new state & then headed to another state to begin college. The summer after my grandmother's passing, I lived in yet another state with my grandfather to keep him company for those first few months. During my college years, I returned to 3 different homes in 3 different states. Since college I've lived a lot of years but, only in 2 different states. 

As for now, I'm "stuckinindiana" with the LOML, 2 young adult children & a precious "glambaby" who will turn one in a matter of days. Being "stuck" here is perfectly fine with me. We have been blessed with a wonderful support community during the years here!

I could have mourned each move so much that I sacrificed the potential joys of my new surroundings. I thank God, and my earthly father quite a bit, for showing me how to look for the positive side of things - in all circumstances. I'm grateful for my upbringing where my parents & those around me modeled thanking God for the simple things. As a child & young adult, I remember my mom often saying "bloom where you're planted." Those proved to be good words for me.

No matter where we are, there are JOYS to be seen. I love counting mine in my ONE THOUSAND GIFTS blog posts. I just started my third year doing that & love going back to see the many blessings I recorded for those years. Cherishing good memories & living a life of gratitude for (even the tiny) blessings can warm the heart - even on the coldest & most desperate of days.

May your heart continually be bathed in the warmth of gratefulness!  
"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Linking with Ann Voskamp - A Holy Experience today...

06 January 2014

2013 December ONE THOUSAND GIFTS #JoyDare

One Thousand Gifts (by Ann Voskamp)
#1000Gifts #JoyDare

Buy book here...      

I took the 1,000 Gifts Dare for 2012...
and I'm almost done with 2013... 

Today I find JOY in...
12/1/13 Sun
2081. my church family
2082. celebrating the birthday girl
21 tomorrow - seriously!!
2083. safe travels for the LOML to/from Cinci

12/2/13 Mon - K is 21!?!?!?! WOW
2084. getting to see a very LOVEY baby to start out an early day!
2085. my eye sight - what a gift
Thankful to enjoy my mom's art work!
2086. Thanksgiving left-overs = YUMMY!
12/3/13 Tues
2087. foggy walk-about

2088. help cleaning the stainless steel refrigerator
2089. it's beginning to look (a little bit) like Christmas around here

12/4/13 Wed
2090. feeling encouraged about the pending WINTER
2091. 30 minutes of shopping :)
(I hate shopping... so, I go in, get what I want... and then LEAVE!)
2092. glimmers of hope in an area which was total darkness for a long time

12/5/13 Thurs
2093. Santa's elf shopping then a late nap which lasted until about 5pm!

2094. walking away the pounds & winter blues :)
2095. live theatre!

12/6/13 Fri
2096. successfully completed Day 3 of the 7-Day Challenge! 
2097. Panera w/my long-time accountability partner & A who chatted with EVERYONE while we were there!
2098. first big snow tradition... Bonge's

12/7/13 Sat
2099. thankful for changes in the past year
2100. celebrating a WONDERFUL sister-friend

2101. less autumn & more Christmas
(working around the house)

12/8/13 Sun
2102. watching a baby wake up
2103. pre-lit Christmas trees - grrrrrr!
2104. OH MY WORD... first school program for our little GRAND, A

12/9/13 Mon
2105. back to my 7-day exercise challenge after missing Sat & Sun
2106. BFF Club - relaxed & quiet tonight - very unusual
2107. Bugles for dinner - 'tis the season where schedules get in the way from time to time!

12/10/13 Tues
2108. Cheerio's

2109. fresh evergreen from the property to decorate

2110. shadows - proof that there IS light!!

12/11/13 Wed
2111. restful night despite limited hours of sleep - I have a theory on that
2112. singing Christmas songs for the 2+ hour drive to Cinci
while this one slept peacefully

2113. new "DeeDee" in the world - my friend's daughter (a former show choir girl with my daughter) had a baby girl!!"

12/12/13 Thurs
2114. more decorating w/evergreens from out the back door

2115. feeling much better from exercising - why don't I keep this up year round?!?!?
2116. T&K helping J set up for tomorrow morning & doing chalk selfies:

12/13/13 Fri
2117. J's senior critique to prepare for her SENIOR SHOW next semester
Slab work - landscape ceramic
J's FINEST work of art yet!
2118. Lunch on Layke at AU

2119. A Christmas Carol - supporting the LOML
The wonder of a first Christmas
12/14/13 Sat
2120. relaxed morning - well for an hour or so
2122. feeding birdies outside my bedroom window :)
2123. bath time smiles

12/15/13 Sun
2124. church beside my hubby (aka the LOML)
2125. spending time shopping with T & K
2126. FINAL performance of A Christmas Carol - I get my husband back :)
(and a family tradition - photo bombs!)

12/16/13 Mon - A, 11 months old today!
2127. more organizing around the house
2128. 5 months of sleeping better - love being able to provide a safe, secure, positive environment for 2 of our favorite gals :)
2129. dinner w/family & friends who we claim as family!

12/17/13 Tues
2130. strength when I am worn out - has to be from God!
2131. safe travels
2132. pizza party & pool games w/J & T

12/18/13 Wed
2133. the LOML working from town today :)
I would prefer him working from home... but, from town is great too!
2134. finding art from when T. was 8 yrs old

2135. praying for my Stripped Love (formerly Butterflies of Hope ministry) women

12/19/13 Thurs
2136. throwing on snow boots & walking outside in my jammies to take gorgeous snow/sunrise pics

2137. fingerprinted for a Christmas present :)
2138. Christmas dishes
wanted some since I was a little girl, got them after 15+ yrs of marriage &
they make me HAPPY every time I see them :)

12/20/13 Fri
2139. checking items off the TO DO list - like a beast :)
2140. surprise present for the LOML - will it be a success
2141. big sissy in town

12/21/13 Sat
2142. another female HELPER around the house - thank you Auntie Cooah!
2143. friends of mine - a family divided!

2144. crockpot dinners = good & usually much easier

12/22/13 Sun
2145. Orchestra Sunday w/T. in town!
2146. a wiggly little girl who wanted MORE orchestra
2147. Sunday afternoon nap - much needed

12/23/13 Mon
2148. another female HELPER around the house - thank you Auntie Cooah!
2149. a clean master bedroom - who cares about the rest of the house - LOL!
2150. a hubby who doesn't mind picking up groceries on the way home for work

12/24/13 Tues
2151. Christmas Eve time together w/Mom & her 3 daughters
2152. the new "WOW!" look

2153. practically DONE w/wrapping presents - that is SO rare for me!

12/25/13 Wed
2154. watching A's FIRST Christmas
It's a Christmas explosion!
2155. watching A's FIRST STEPS on Christmas Day
2156. wonderful happy times with family!

12/26/13 Thurs
2157. early morning hugs and smiles when J & A returned to work/school
2158. 2 families praying for safety
2159. answered prayers - safe travels

12/27/13 Fri
2160. 4-hour nap for A. while Auntie Cooah was babysitting
2161. hair cut - don't let myself do that often
2162. the LOML - I just love that guy :)

12/28/13 Sat
2163. breakfast w/Aunt Kimmy!
2164. nice weather for shopping at Hamilton Towne Center w/A in a stroller

2165. early to bed

12/29/13 Sun
2166. early morning drive to airport - great conversation w/big sister :)
2167. church w/family - including the 11-month-old who loves to wave at ANYONE who will look at her!!
2168. MAJOR CLEANING BURST OF ENERGY - after about 2 wks of house guests

12/30/13 Mon
2167. a quiet morning - first time in a while
2168. Solomon watching A as she played w/new things from Christmas

2169. impromptu dinner w/BnK

12/31/13 Tues
2170. packing up things at "the apartment"
2171. family meal & fellowship for our New Year's Eve celebration

2172. a day that ended on actually the NEXT day :)

DECEMBER 2013 #1000Gifts #JoyDare