"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

18 April 2014

Spring Break Faves


I can't believe Spring Break is almost over.

What a wonderful week of various activity!  As you read this, I am in the Boston area with Claire  and we are visiting my oldest, Courtney, at college.  We arrived yesterday afternoon and plan on staying until tomorrow.  Easter Sunday we will go to church with Dave and then out to dinner. Dave is back at home in NY due to work. Today we are exploring the village of Rockport, MA on the north shore.  It is so much fun!  and then it's back to school on Monday.  Courtney is heading into prep/exam time and Claire and I are heading into the final quarter of school. Our last day of school/work is June 26th.  I'm rather glad we had a late spring break  this year.....even though we did have an inch of snow surprise us on Tuesday evening!  But....I can still find 5 blessings from the week.  


  • TULIPS!  Nothing says "Happy Spring" than a nice pot of tulips.  Dave surprised me with my Easter gift a week early...he came home on Palm Sunday with this delightful pot.  They are in the family room waiting for the ones in the front yard to open up.  Hopefully the snow from Tuesday evening hasn't killed them!  For now I am enjoying the blessing  of fresh tulips...my very favorite flower!




  • SHOE SALE!  On Sunday, Claire and I went to one of our favorite shoe stores.  And just about every spring and summer shoe were on sale!  These are the ones I chose...and Claire chose a super cute pair of sandals.  The blessing is that they were on sale AND we had fun together!!  We even stopped for iced mocha lattes afterwards because we were so warm.....the temps on Sunday got up to 77(F)!  Whoo hoo!!  A triple blessing:  shoes sale, iced lattes and warm temps!


photo courtesy of hymnary 
  • Palm Sunday Hymn:  our church has a "rule" given by the pastor that there needs to be at least one traditional hymn each worship service. Oh how I love music...especially all the good contemporary worship songs...but I love the classic hymns even more!   This one is one of my very favorites from my childhood and college days.  It is perfect for leading off to Holy Week.  The way our worship band led us was just amazing....I was in awe at the concept of Jesus taking on ALL of our sin.  ALL OF US.  Everyone ever born.  It is truly amazing.  "Oh how marvelous, oh how wonderful, and my song shall ever be...how marvelous, oh how wonderful is my Savior's Love for me"....what a true blessing to be able to  sing this classic song. 


  • NEW DECK FLOWERS! Over this past week, Dave and I have cleaned up the yards, and set up our deck furniture.  We bought 2 pots of purple phlox and I re-potted them into the bigger pots shown above.  The scent is delightful.  They are supposed to bloom all summer long.  I did bring them in Tuesday night as the temps dipped below freezing.  I'll put them out again once the temps stabilizw above 40 degrees!  It's a blessing to have my husband's help with these outdoor projects as it freed up my time to do some much needed spring cleaning in the house. We all had chores to do over the last week and it feels great to have much of the work done.




photo courtesy of Courtney E T 

  • DAUGHTER TIME:  Since Claire and I have been on break all week, we have had lots of time to do things together which doesn't happen while school is going on.  Between her 3 ballet classes a week in the evenings, and youth group, and my small group ministry, and her homework load, plus her 3 clubs afterschool, I feel like we only really see her at dinner time! (not counting the weekends). So this was a good week because she was earning money to use in Boston by helping me do some spring cleaning and she totally re-organized her closet and dresser/desk.  I loved that! We've also had some good talks. And we took part of Monday to go shopping for some new spring/summer clothing.  We had a great time and I treated her to the first soft ice cream (fat free fro yo for me!) of the season at one of our favorite ice cream stands here in town.  What a fun week we've had...it's blessing to have a 15 year old who still likes to hang out with mom :)



That is my week in summary.  I also enjoyed some talks with my husband, our carpets were professionally cleaned and all set for summer entertainment, I had a brunch date with a dear friend from my small group and I enjoyed a lot of reading time!  I hope you all have a wonderful Easter celebrating the Life we have in Jesus our Savior-Redeemer.

If you have some faves from your week, how about sharing them and then linking up with Susanne?


HAPPY EASTER!  HE IS RISEN!!



15 April 2014

Book Review #14: The Shelter Of God's Promises

 
I finally finished this book!

Those of you who know me well, know I love to read...you also know that when it comes to most non-fiction books, I read slower....I tend to either read slower because they are often not as exciting....or...I read slower with non-fiction because I am also taking notes, or highlighting due to learning or wanting to use the material in my small group.  This book was both. I found it a little boring in spots....or maybe it's because the topic is one I've heard all my life or have read about all my life....and also there were parts I was just savoring.  I did quite a bit of high-lighting in this book, too and plan on using some of the material in my small group when appropriate. 

I first heard of Sheila Walsh back in the late 1980s when she was singing.  I think I even have one of her very first tapes....I always loved her accent :) as she is from Scotland.

BOOK SUMMARY/My Thoughts

The book centers around how God is with us......and His promises hold true even when our life situations might not seem like He is there...or if our faith is wavering.

The author brings in Biblical accounts of difficult times and how God keeps us secure during those hard times.  She uses personal experience to explain about growing in our trust of God that will last us a lifetime.

She makes it very clear that God sees us beyond the failures we bring to our lives...beyond our bad or wrong choices, and beyond our doubts and fears.  Lots of Scripture is used in this book.

I loved how Sheila included some of her own personal life story into this book.  The Scriptures she used really resonated with me and I found my self highlighting many parts of the book to go back through and meditate on or take notes on to share with my small group of moms.

Here is one of my favorite things she said in the chapter called "Hope".

"God doesn't want us to pretend our faith or give lip service to His promises.".

That is profound to me.  "God doesn't want us to pretend our faith".  I plan on discussing this in the small group I lead and journaling about this very statement.  She points out that God WANTS us to ask Him questions...and that it is ok.....we have the assurance that He will answer in due time...we  can have confidence in the knowledge of heaven and in Christ.

We can have the assurance that God really is REAL during our times of crisis or trials.

Each chapter centers around a different topic such as Provision, Peace, Confidence (about learning to see God's plan in the pain), Love, Grace, Hope, Strength (when you feel life crashing down around you), More (knowing that there is something better...I LOVED this chapter!) and Home (about our future).

There are study notes in the back of the book which are great as you can also do this book for a Bible study/Small group discussion.

I loved this book and highly recommend it.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.




Spring Photo Challenge: Days 17-24

I'm participating in Peggy's Four Seasons Photo Challenge.

I try to post the previous weeks photos on Saturday or Sunday.  I'm running late for April 6-13th (days 17-24 of Spring).

Here are my photos from last week:


Day 17 (6 APRIL)




reading corner/drinks corner of the deck


Day 18 (7 April)


the spring/summer welcome mat is ready!!

Day 19 (8 April)

the book I've been waiting for......I enjoyed it
on the chaise in the next day's photo..............

Day 20 (9 April)

the backyard in the late afternoon sunshine
Day 21 (10 April)


spring shoe sales!

Day 22 (11 April)



tasting and splurging on the new Pizza Hut Chicken, Tomato, Bacon Garlic Parm Pizza!

Day 23 (12 April)


"Happy Spring/Easter" from my husband!!

Day 24 (13 April)




the eating area of the deck is now ready!

Are you participating in the Spring Photo Challenge?  if yes, leave me a comment and I'll come by to visit your pics!!





13 April 2014

By Faith or By Sight?

We are about half -way through our Bible Study for the Got Teens?! small group that I lead in my home.

It has been an excellent study so far!  (see sidebar for book details).

Here are the notes for Lesson 5 which centered around balancing faith with sight.

I began the group by asking which game(s) they used to play as children, in the dark...and why did you like it (or not)?

Answers were Manhunt, Hide and Seek, Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

Two of us liked that there was a sense of adventure...of risk....one person said she didn't play games in the dark nor would she have liked it as she would have been scared.

This was a great lead in to the thoughts expressed in the study...sometimes we have to just trust and walk by faith....with no seen things.....and other times we can see evidence of God at work.


  • We can use creation..the world around us, the universe, as evidence of God's work.  Creation is a perfect example of  "things seen".  
  • Question 2 had us exploring Psalm 145:4



photo courtesy of spiritual memoirs blog

It is our job as moms to share with our teens (and younger children) the things of God...the mighty works He has done for us......from Creation to the unseen things like Hope, Peace, Joy.

Non-believers might not agree that God created the heavens and the earth, so our actions and words will need to point them to God's Love. They will also get a glimpse of God based on how we, as Believers, face our trials and the "storms of life".

  • Discussion of #3 centered around things we cannot see....things we need to have faith for.  I gave the example of something God created that we can't see:  Wind.  We cannot see the wind but we can know its effects on us or the earth...we can see the results of wind...we can feel the wind.  It is no accident that God uses the word "wind" to describe the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2).  We can't see the Holy Spirit but we can see the fruit from trusting in Him....we can see the results of the Holy Spirit's working in us, our teens, our spouse, our families.....the church as a whole....



  • This lead in to discussing question 5 which centered around Hebrews 11:1....I have this verse memorized in the King James Version but here it is in simple language:

photo courtesy of blossom art via deviant art
HOPE is the power behind faith.

We can't see hope yet without it we can get discouraged or bitter.

Faith is having a confidence...a trust...in things we cannot see....in God....a knowing that He works ALL THINGS for good.  It might be a horrible situation we are in or someone we care about is in, but there will always be some purpose to it. We might not know what that purpose is while still on this earth in our humanness, but we can have the CONFIDENCE of knowing that God holds us.  And Jesus prays for us!!  He makes intercession to the Father on our behalf.  That is good news!

  • #6 centered around the fact that we do walk by faith and not by sight.  We discussed in depth about how getting to that complete trust in Christ comes from RESTING IN HIM.  That intimacy that we need to draw closer to Jesus and thus, trust in Him more.  This question is an example of how one lesson in the study builds on another.  Unless you have a good grasp of what it means to fully rest in Him, and unless you are consistently practicing the Presence of God...fully resting in Him....you will have difficulty fully trusting in Him and hearing from Him.  We need to be in Him to hear His plans and purposes for our lives.
I then wrapped up our discussion with question 7 and with 2 of us sharing about  the Scriptures found in the Dig Deeper section.


  • Psalm 31:4 is summed up like this:

photo via pinterest

This is a declarative statement!!

We can have confidence and say with all of our heart, mind, and soul that we are trusting in God.  That He is our God!!

and...we need to be telling others about our God...about His marvelous works, both seen and unseen.

Let's strike the balance....let's have the faith to pursue the things we cannot see and speak about the things that we CAN see.

Isaiah 65:24 says that before we even call on God, He hears us.  And He knows.  Sometimes all we need to pray is "God".  He knows.  


Are you walking by faith and sight??  






as with all Small Group Notes under that label, you do have permission to copy this post.


11 April 2014

2014 Book Review #13: When Mockingbirds Sing

I just read this book in about a week.

It was excellent!

The author is new to me, although I've seen his name before....I've seen reviews about him but had never read one of his novels.  He writes books on faith and life with a little bit of mystery.

STORY SUMMARY

Leah and her parents, Ellen and Dr Tom Norcross, are from Away.  They are new in the town of Mattingly which is set in the south (Virginia).  Leah is nine years old and has a stutter to her words when she speaks.  She is shy and a loner.  Her dad is a psychologist and works long hours back in the city where they are originally from.  Mattingly is a very small town where everyone knows everyone's business.

One day, during Leah's birthday party, she "sees" Rainbow Man.  Is he (He) God.....or an imaginary friend?  Not many people believe He is God.  Leah believes.  Her new friend Allie is unsure.  Ellen and Tom are not religious but they tell the town minister that they are spiritual.  He doesn't understand the difference.  Neither does Barney who is married to a disabled woman, Mabel.  Barney and Mabel are elderly and are often overlooked by the other townfolk.

Barney gives Leah a beautiful birthday gift requested by Tom and Ellen.  It is a wooden easel, handmade by Barney.

Leah begins to paint.  And the painting will change the entire town.

There is an event that is foreshadowed in the painting.  And it comes true!

Leah says the ability she has of telling/knowing the future is told to her by the Rainbow Man. Some of the town people are intrigued by her.  Some are afraid of her.  But no one believes in the Rainbow Man.  The town minister (Reggie) is annoyed that a mere child...a little girl with a stutter....seems to be hearing from God more than he does!

The town begins to argue over what should be done with this child.  Meanwhile, she continues to paint and the next painting is dark and sinister in nature. But Leah insists that the Rainbow Man's heart is pure. 

And then something dramatic and tragic happens....and everyone's lives are in danger.  Will the town begin to embrace the things that Leah believes in but that can't be seen?  Or will they cling to their old ways?


MY THOUGHTS

This book is a parable type story.  It is full of faith and hope....and questions. It centers around the question of the miracles of God and the imagination of a little child.

This book shows that we often think we know God......and His ways...and yet...we really don't.  His ways are higher than our ways........and His thoughts than our thoughts.  This is evident all throughout the story and the plot is gripping.  It's a real page turner.  It's about believing in the unseen.

I was very impressed with the depth of the characterization and in the description of Leah's (and the other characters') feelings.  It drew me in and I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen!

I really enjoyed the Scripture at the beginning, before Chapter 1 opens:

"God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us." ~Acts 17:27~


Perfect for the plot.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.



April Faves


It's Friday and after today, my youngest daughter and I will be on SPRING BREAK until the day after Easter when we head back to school.  It is finally spring-like here too, in eastern NY.  I'm so thankful for that!!

Am linking up with Susanne and other friends to share 5 of our favorite happenings or things from the last week.  Why don't you consider joining in with us?  It is good to find the blessings in our everyday lives.





  • SURPRISE!  When I arrived home late Saturday afternoon, I discovered that not only had my husband run an errand for me and refilled the bird feeder out back by the shed, but he had taken the deck umbrella out of the shed and put it in the table where it will stay now until November.  I was so happy that he did this for me!!  It was a nice surprise especially as I hadn't even thought to add it to the "honey, do" list :)  I love my husband and am so thankful he knows what is important to me. 





Indian Kill Nature Preserve
Capital Region, New York State
5 April


Indian Kill Dam before getting on the main trail

  • HIKING!  On Saturday, my friend Cheryl (from Central NY) drove out to meet me at one of the local nature preserves about 25 minutes from my house.  I've driven past this trail many times in the last 23 years but had never hiked it. Cheryl and I had so much fun exploring this trail.  It was difficult due to a lot of icy snow left on the ground where the sun hasn't yet reached, and we had LOTS of mud to contend with. We even had to veer off the trail in spots as it was literally IN THE CREEK!  (the word "kill" is Dutch for creek and the Dutch were some of the first settlers in the Albany area so many of the streams and creeks are labeled "kill" here). Our destination was Third Falls and Second Falls (Third is actually the first falls you come to). We found Third Falls (see pics below) but couldn't cross the stream due to the rushing water and no bridge so we plan on doing this some summer Sunday afternoon when the water is lower as we would love to find Second Falls.  We aren't even sure if there IS a First Falls as the map didn't show one.  It was a fun day...and we had a mix of weather...grey skies, blue skies, clouds, sun, raindrops...and then sun...and then SLEET as soon as we got back to the cars.  But the mud, sliding on our butts down a ravine to get to the rest of the trail, and the wetness, was totally worth it.  The Falls was just gorgeous. I am so thankful I can hike and that my Achilles tendon is healed up!



a snowy, icy start to the trail




Some parts of the trail near the beginning needed steps
 as it was steep and/or rugged

Third Falls on the Indian Kill


  • WORSHIP/COMMUNION:  On Sunday, our church had some excellent worship.  We usually do but for some reason, this past Sunday's was particularly good.  I just love worshipping at my church...there are typically about 500 people there at the 11 a.m. service and to hear the voices raised in praise and worship...everyone singing is just marvelous.  Sometimes I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this body of believers where everyone is so respectful and worshipful in the sanctuary.  And communion....what a blessed time of reflection and prayer as we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior/Redeemer.  I am so thankful for my church!
 The Hyde House located at the Hyde Collection Art Museum
photo courtesy of the Glens Falls Region website

  • PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBIT:  My younger sister Joy and I went to an Ansel Adams art exhibit of his early works (there were also a very disappointingly few pieces of his later works) at this museum.  I enjoyed learning more about this photographer/artist and learned that he almost became a concert pianist! I have always enjoyed Ansel Adams' work...especially his snow/winter photos. I was a bit disappointed in the early works though....there weren't many that I liked. I did enjoy his photos of Yosemite National Park, which is where he took most of his pictures. The museum received a small collection of his work so it didn't take long for us to view the art. I've toured the Hyde House several times in the past, so we decided to go get coffee at Cool Beans. I'm thankful for good art, good coffee and good conversation.




  • SNAIL MAIL!  I was so surprised when I came home from work one day this week to discover I had "real" mail.  You know....the kind that is hand written by a far-away friend....I am friends on Facebook with a young mom from my small group who had to move to Florida after our first year doing the group.  She was a faithful member for the entire first year, and her oldest son is my youngest daughter's age.  She is very dear to my heart and we miss her and her family.  Well, she made me a card and included a very nice message along with a gift card to $tarbucks!!  I love getting surprises in the mail!  I'm thankful for friends and sisters-in-Christ who keep in touch.

Those were the highlights of the week that brought me joy......how about you?

Do you have something you can call a "fave"?

Enjoy the weekend and if you are heading into Spring Break, enjoy every minute!! I sure plan to!