Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018!

A very Blessed and Happy New Year everyone! Throughout social media, I’ve seen many opinions of 2017-some good; some bad. Brad and I could say, “Goodbye 2017! It’s been the worst year ever!” We are not. Since we moved, I haven’t posted, so I thought it’s about time to let everyone know what’s been going on since the move. I’m going to do so in the fashion of why we could have complained about 2017, but below that show God’s immediate provision through the trial:

  • My body giving out from Fibromyalgia and having to step down from serving at World Horizons with people we treasure
    • Having one of the best doctors in Ohio to treat Fibromyalgia, being given a second try on a medicine I had forgotten about, and having the best summer I can remember!

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  • Packing up and moving so we can be closer to Brad’s side of the family
    • Wonderful friends, Carlos and Nora, Mary Beth, and Debbie, coming alongside to help pack and bring/cook food! Thank you, Carlos and Nora, for making the long trip to come and unpack us! We couldn’t have made it without you!

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  • Visiting the kids and grand kids 3 times since we moved! Thank God for a shorter distance!
  • Leaving friends, church and ministry family
    • Gaining a beautiful home, wonderful neighbors, and new friends with which to fellowship with and do ministry!

 

  • Brad’s major surgery!
    • Having the best surgeon in the country to perform the surgery before his condition worsened!
    • The best neighbors looking after Jack and I and cooking wonderful food!
    • Encountering strangers on walks to the beach who ministered to me when I was tired and exhausted.
  • Seeing two adult children we are trying to help move out and attempt independence on their own
    • Trusting God with our children and learning by His grace!
  • The van having a big head gasket leak and being a major repair
    • A new truck with 4-wheel drive at a great discount and being able to trade a modified van just in time before losing all trade in value! We can now drive anywhere in snow!

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  • Multiple leaks in the house from a pot filler, garbage disposal, and refrigerator line! The refrigerator resulted in a damaged floor, cabinets, and baseboard while Brad was in rehab after surgery.
    • Great insurance and a new floor, baseboard, and cabinet side panels coming in two weeks!
    • Wonderful neighbors to help fix the appliances!

What have we learned? That’s it’s easy to complain and be downtrodden, but that God is always present and providing in ways we don’t often expect. I’m always reminded of something Kris Keating, Executive Director/Director of World Horizons/Hillside Missions respectively, said one Friday morning as we were discussing and praying over current events. He said something to the effect that as we pray, pray toward a solution in which you have a role. That struck my heart, because I thought, “How can I have a role in events taking place half way around the world other than to pray?” God has shown me since then how we are active partners with Him. Our holy God, our magnificent Creator, gave up everything to come to earth as a humble baby in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ to die for us. Why? To save us from our sins and to be in relationship with us. Jesus desires to partner with us, through the power of His Holy Spirit, to see His glory made known to the nations-starting from my family, friends, neighbors, community, to every unreached people group around the globe. I marvel at this wonder every day, that God can use such sinful broken vessels as myself that are in constant need of daily repair and renewal by the Potter’s hands! But that’s the beauty. As Paul states so eloquently in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV):

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

So, this 2018, we are looking to better walk by faith daily, trusting in our marvelous Savior to use us for His glory here in this beautiful place. And as we pray, we look for specific ways we can personally have an impact. With problems, we also look inward to see what things God might first change in us (difficult, but learning)! Things you can pray for:

  • Brad has a second surgery on Monday, February 19th at 3:00 pm for a full left knee replacement. His knee blew a couple of days before his hernia surgery, but he had to wait 6 months before fixing the knee.
  • We are looking at joining a new church, Cornerstone Friends, here in Madison! They need a bass guitar player, and they have both a wonderful praise team and children’s’ program. We visited last Sunday and were genuinely welcomed!

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  • Our family’s continued growth in the Lord.
  • Kathy and Fatimah both graduate in May, two days apart!
  • Lynn’s tutoring a friend taking college math
  • Our neighbors and community to know and walk with Jesus! Brad is the President of our community association, and I am the treasurer. Pray that God will use these roles to build relationships, and that we serve well in these roles!

Beach Access in Snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Journey

home

Our New Home Madison, OH

Psalm 121: 7-8 (ESV):

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

We have a home! Here’s the story:

We realized over Christmas break that I could no longer continue serving with World Horizons due to health issues caused by Fibromyalgia. Returning from work completely exhausted was taking a tole on our family. So, we prayed and made some decisions. The reasons why we are moving:

  • Bill, Ashley, grand kids, and Andy are in Ohio. Our home is almost equidistant from them.
  • Climate, Climate, Climate! More snow and cooler summers!
  • Lake Erie
  • Better opportunities for Joni
  • Great doctors and friends in Cleveland
  • Ministry opportunities

Years ago I had taken a trip in the area and loved it. Brad has also lived in Ohio. So, we took a vision trip last week hoping and praying to find a home to rent. With as many transitions as both Brad and I have had, we did not envision owning a home at our age. The Lord led us to a wonderful realtor through real estate apps, and we are so thankful! Our realtor realized we could purchase a home and pay much less than what we are currently paying to rent our home here. A win-win situation! God’s faithfulness in this process has amazed us! We were surrounded by wonderful people the entire trip and were able to both find a home and enter into a contract on the home in a week. We praise God for His goodness and grace to us! Here’s how you can pray:

  • House Inspection on Thursday
  • No issues with closing process between here and closing date on March 14th
  • Wisdom in packing, throwing away, and pacing so as not to overdue it healthwise
  • Travel mercies during the move
  • New ministry opportunities and finding a new church home

We dearly love our World Horizons, Perspectives and Mechanicsville Church of Christ families. We will miss you, and we thank you for investing in our lives! We are excited for this new season of opportunity and appreciate your prayers and support.

Below are pictures from the trip!

 

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Merry Christmas

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Isaiah 9:6-7 (ESV):

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Luke 2:1-7 (ESV):

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

We celebrate Christmas because Christ came. We celebrate Christmas because Christ will come again. We celebrate Christmas because the sinless One came to become sin for us. His Word is complete, and everything prophesied will come to pass. Throughout the Old Testament, the promise of a Messiah was preached. After 400 years of silence from God to the Israelites,  Jesus arrived. Over 2,000 years ago the first Christmas was celebrated. We rejoice and celebrate today because of the hope Jesus offers to a world that is lost. Until Christ comes again, we celebrate. A very Blessed and Merry Christmas everyone!

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Christmas Time

I love Christmas time. It’s my favorite time of the year. Lights are everywhere, and the nights are brisk and cold. The winter nights are illuminated with stars. While Morgan and Kathy were here, we went to see the lights. First, we went to a couple of houses on the “Tacky Light Tour.” Then we went to see the Illuminate Light Show.

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Family

“Love your family. Spend time, be kind & serve one another. Make no room for regrets. Tomorrow is not promised & today is short.”-Unknown

We love our family. Our family has grown; it’s not just our kids and extended family. It’s also our church family and work family. Living in the Richmond area, neither Brad, Joni, nor I have any relatives in the area. Thus, we treasure our family at World Horizons. We are so thankful that Moran and Kathy got to meet our family at the annual Christmas party! We are also grateful to have had quality time with our kids. We don’t get to see them that often, so we treasure the times together. Just an FYI, I’m catching up on blog posts, so I’m posting this a couple of days before the event actually happened!

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Shepherds

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Luke 2:8-20 (ESV):

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

What must it have been like for the shepherds tending their flock that night? I’ve always known that shepherds were despised and considered outcasts of society, but I didn’t know the reason why. A couple of weeks ago I was home in bed on Sunday watching the services on TV of Grove Avenue and First Baptist. Dr. Becton at Grove Avenue explained the reason. He said that shepherds were never able to get to the temple for the purification rights required in Jewish law; thus, they were considered unclean and sinful. Coupled with the fact that shepherds really stunk, as I mentioned in a previous post, shunning shepherds was an easy thing to do. Over the years, you can imagine the self-esteem issues shepherds had. They probably began to assume that God also thought them to be despised, unworthy, and outcasts of society. On this night, however, God showed up and righted wrongs-not just for the shepherds, but for all of us. Of all the people to which to announce the coming of the Son of God, he chose those lowest in society. He chose the ones who truly cared for their flock. He chose the ones He would use as metaphors throughout the gospels as an example for us for how to live well and love well.

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Orlando

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Exodus 28:33 (NIV):

Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them.

Art is a reflection of God’s creativity, an evidence that we are made in the image of God.-Francis Schaeffer, Author of Art in the Bible

Francis Schaeffer Quotes

On Friday, December 9, 2016 Brad and I had to make a quick overnight trip to Orlando. I had to see a doctor there regarding a surgery I had years ago. I really enjoyed being in the south again! I had forgotten how beautiful Florida was. Being from south Georgia, I really enjoyed seeing the live Oak trees covered in Spanish moss, Palm trees, and beautiful tropical flowers.

Upon entering the doctor’s office, which was located in an office building in downtown Orlando near where the first picture was taken above, we are greeted by a beautiful display of art! Here are some of the pictures:

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I am so grateful we have a Creator God who displays His brilliance in so many ways. I’m thankful to work in an office that hosts an art gallery and a team of wonderful artists. My appreciation of art has grown since working at World Horizons. Years ago, I probably wouldn’t have appreciated this beautiful art adorning the walls!

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Joseph

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Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT):

18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
    She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
    which means ‘God is with us.’”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Joseph’s story is only recorded in the gospel of Matthew. Joseph was a simple carpenter, but it’s no accident he was one chosen to be Mary’s husband and the one to raise Jesus. Joseph was a righteous man. He was also a man of great compassion and self control. He raised Jesus well. Jesus used the motif of a carpenter often in the gospels. Paul follows suit in his letters to the Corinthians. Jesus’ words that most often remind me of his upbringing are in John 14, when he states:

John 14:1-3 (ESV):

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Now, I’m not sure that Jesus was actually up in heaven building a mansion with his hands! But I think it’s interesting that He used an illustration from his life and training which He obtained from his earthly father Joseph. What powerful words from Jesus of the promise of eternity with Him. Could it be that Joseph’s life was Jesus’ inspiration for the illustration?

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Mary

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Luke 1:26-37 (NLT):

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.37 For the word of God will never fail.”

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

The account of Mary is only recorded in the gospel of Luke. Imagine Mary…young, as in most likely a teenager, and engaged to Joseph. What an exciting time this must have been in this young woman’s life. And then, lo and behold, she’s visited by an angel; and, not just any angel, but Gabriel, the messenger angel. I can imagine that Mary was indeed confused and disturbed. Yet, her response is amazing. She replies, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” For such a young woman, her response is beyond her years. Her humility and faith shine like beacons. She was prepared for such a moment as this. The next nine months must have been difficult, as the community would think the worst of Mary, being young and pregnant before being married. But, Mary makes another wise choice. She goes to visit her relative Elizabeth. Her path is guided and protected by the Lord. Upon seeing Elizabeth and being greeted by her, Mary responds in what is known as the  “Magnificant,” or “Mary’s Song of Praise.”

Luke 1:46-55 (NLT):

46 Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47     How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
    and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One is holy,
    and he has done great things for me.
50 He shows mercy from generation to generation
    to all who fear him.
51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
    He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52 He has brought down princes from their thrones
    and exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54 He has helped his servant Israel
    and remembered to be merciful.
55 For he made this promise to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary’s response of praise shows her knowledge of the scriptures. She was prepared and ready to receive the greatest blessing from God-Jesus, the Savior of the world!

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Made Flesh

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John 1:1-2, 14 (ESV):

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV):

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

What must it have been like for Jesus to leave the throne room of heaven to be born of the Virgin Mary? Jesus, in all of His glory, could have come rightfully a king. He could have used His power and authority to accomplish anything He desired. He could have announced His coming with an angelic choir or a thundering voice. Instead, He chose humility. He chose to be born as a baby to experience everything in human form that we experience, including every trial and tribulation. Jesus led by example. What an example of humility and servanthood for us to follow!

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