We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Magic Carpet

What's your favorite thing to do during the winter season? 

In our house, we like to read! On any given snow day, I'm bound to find our daughter in the recliner sideways with a thick hardback in front of her. Her dad often has his nose in book at the dining room table, and I find my own way to to snatch a chapter here and there. A great pastime when the wind is howling and temperatures hover near zero.

Here's a silly little jingle about reading dedicated to the children - and maybe to the kid inside each of us.

Make a book your magic carpet.
Open it up and off you go!
 Fly above villages, mountains, and rivers; 
Look over the edge at the glittering snow.

A book's a great forever friend.
It goes with you anywhere:
On your bus ride home to supper
Or curled up in your favorite chair.

People may tell you, "Please be quiet."
But your book can talk to you!
Always learning, always growing - 
That's what books can help you do!

So, on the next snow day, which genre will you turn to first? Which authors will you look for at the library? Is there a picture book that makes you smile?

For starters, I enjoy fiction by Francine Rivers, non-fiction by Ken Gire, Elisabeth Elliot, and Joni Earickson Tada, poetry by Ruth Bell Graham - and a good mystery once in a while . . . 

When our girls were little, a favorite story was The Lemon Drop Jar by Christine Widman.

What book titles are your favorites?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Hard Time Saying Good-bye

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time saying good-bye.

Maybe it all began when, as a young college freshman, I hugged my parents good-bye with that churning in the pit of my stomach and an ache in my throat. For Christmas break, the much-anticipated plane ride home came with a return ticket. I thought I'd die as my hometown grew smaller and smaller and soon slipped out of sight.

Then my sister and her family became missionaries to Africa. Africa! Every three or four years, we said good-bye, knowing it would be a long time before we saw each other again. At the end of our annual family reunions, I've always needed Kleenex. One by one, our two oldest daughters moved away. A good friend recently relocated half way across the country.

So maybe this all adds up to how I felt when I said good-bye to my oldest daughter this morning. Hard times brought her back home six months ago - with her little son and Cairn Terrier. We adjusted rather well to having a two year old in the house again! We enjoyed his antics and played Hide and Seek over and over. Everyday he learned a new word or skill. "Gampa," "Gamma," and Aunt "B'lee" quickly became part of his daily routines.

Our daughter and I worked together in the kitchen, researching and trying new recipes. She became our IT expert when we ran into computer glitches. She helped out over and above when my mom passed away and when my dad underwent open heart surgery. I'll always remember these months as a sweet time.

This morning, loaded to the hilt with belongings, the dog, and our grandson, she headed south (not too far from her sister. Maybe we'll see them both more often!). My husband accompanied her with a u-haul van. A good job for our son-in-law will bring the threesome together again. Better times ahead. I'm grateful. But, oh, I will miss them.

I will miss her smile and laughter, her researched health wisdom, and our shopping trips to Wegman's. I will miss a little boy's running footsteps first thing in the morning, a little hand leading me to see his latest discovery, and our post-supper song fests after finding his way onto my lap as his mom washed up the dishes. The house will seem quiet once again.

Maybe quiet has its place . . .  time to refocus, reorganize, reflect . . .

I'm grateful for lots of wonderful memories and the promise to keep in touch. But the good-bye part of the story? Predictably tearful!

How do you feel about saying "good-bye"?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Beyond New Year's Resolutions

January's still fresh as new snow. Are you still thinking about any New Year’s resolutions you may have jotted down a week or so ago?

I am. Seems to me it’s a good thing to reach higher, to stretch, to set some goals. Yet, perhaps there’s a way to view them that sees beyond the earthbound, beyond the here and now. Consider ten things I hope will nudge us in that direction during 2014 in Catapult Magazine.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Change for the New Year?

Happy New Year!

I've asked professional counselor and guest blogger, Heather Hall, to share some ideas on how to figure out what's most important in the big picture of life and in the day-to-day implementation of it all. Her ideas are practical and, I think, will be a help to us all. Welcome, Heather!

When God sets a blank sheet of paper (such as a new year) before us, how do we decide what to put on it? How do we capture all the hopes, dreams, trials, and responsibilities that clamor for our mind and emotions and make them “obedient to Christ” and His plan? 

Several years ago a friend suggested the idea of taking a DAWG day (Day Alone With God). I try to do this at least once a year but more often than not, it ends up happening when life is pressing in, change is coming, and I need to take some time to “be still” and do some rewriting suggested by the Editor of my story.

The idea is to set a whole day aside to bring ourselves before the Lord. Be intentional about putting it on the schedule. Send the kids to Grandma’s or swap babysitting with a friend. Get the kids on the bus and your husband off to work. Take a day off from work yourself or set aside a Saturday. Turn off the phone, computer, and TV.

Grab a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, your calendar or planner, and find your favorite place of solitude. I like to camp out on my living room floor and light some candles. I start my DAWG day with praise by singing along with some favorite praise and worship songs.

Next, I pray through the thing that is most heavy on my heart. This past year my family, including me, has been through several serious health issues, so I needed to take some time to identify my emotions and fears and then identify the truth regarding those situations. Those go off to one side of the page.

After that, I get out my calendar and pray over the days and months ahead. I bring before the Lord vacations, trips, weekend plans, and my daily schedule. The first items go right onto my calendar and the daily schedule goes in the middle of the blank page. Everything is a question, and I must purpose to listen for the answer. “Lord, when you do you want me to get up? When do I get to spend time with you? When do I exercise? When do I go to bed? What do I do before work? After work?”

Some of the other items I might pray over are personal Bible study (“Lord, what do you want me to study next?”),what ministries to be involved in at church and outside of church, mentoring opportunities, and finances. Each gets its own space on the page.

Always, I must take time to consider offenses I must forgive or ask forgiveness for.

Lastly, I surrender all the things above to God, which I’ve tried to do throughout my time with Him that day, and ask Him if there is anything else I need to surrender.

At the close of my DAWG day, I find myself refreshed and at peace with my now much-written-on sheet of paper. However, as I begin each new day remembering that “His mercies are new every morning,” I must present both my filled up page (that’s why it’s in pencil) and my blank page for that day to the Lord with the following question: “What’s the plan today, Lord?”

Heather Hall is a Licensed Professional Counselor who counsels and teaches at The Love Life Marriage & Family Center. in Clarks Summit, PA. She will be having another DAWG day soon as she finishes a PhD in Human Development and considers what God wants her to do with all that time she no longer has to spend studying. She’s hoping voice lessons, travel, quilting, and cooking for friends and family are part of the plan.