Category Archives: Christianity

Gone to My Happy Place, Be Back Soon!

I’ve adapted my own concept of a Happy Place. Leaving out the Zen, enlightened, and mystical schools of thought, I think of it as a place you visit in person and revisit in your mind to create tranquility in body, soul, and spirit.

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(My favorite t-shirt  EVER bought by dear friend, Kirsti)

During hard times, you borrow from  past happy  to face present unhappy using

  • Memories
    • Pictures
    • Souvenirs
    • Scents
    • Tastes
    • Sounds

These things evoke a time and/or place  we felt loved, secure, and peaceful. It reminds us that life isn’t always hard, painful, and grievous. You soothe your heart and mind with what soothes you  best. It doesn’t take long, either. You look at a few pictures, listen to a song, or rub a smooth stone between your fingers.

My Happy Places are usually outside places.

Any place in Montana is a Happy Place. A sagebrush, Prickly Pear cactus, or a Ponderosa pine tree brings back the contentment and joy of a wonderful childhood. Because I was happy in Montana, Montana makes me happy.

Any crick (that’s "creek" to you non-Montanans) I can stick my feet in, no matter how quickly my toes freeze from the melted snow, is a Happy Place. Actually any place with water is a Happy Place. Let me clarify, outside water, not a flooding toilet or broken pipe,  kinda’ water.

Any place with rocks to pick can be a Happy Place. Not picking rocks out of fields like the farmers in North Dakota, but the "Look! I found an agate!" kinda’ rock picking.

My house is scattered with rocks, branches, sea glass, shells, and driftwood I’ve collected from waterside visits.

may31 421My daily Happy Place is my Jeep. In fact, that’s her name. When Scott and I celebrated our 20th anniversary I’d just finished my first year of thyroid cancer treatment, (surgery, radioactive iodine, and Hyper-Hell) and had suffered a miscarriage. He surprised me and bought my dream vehicle, a Jeep Wrangler.  I wasn’t thrilled because of the dream-come-true vehicle,  I was thrilled because I was married to a man who made my dreams come true.  He loved me and supported me through the hardest year of my life.  Climbing into my Jeep is like climbing into his love.  It surrounds me.  It keeps me safe. 

But, more than Montana, a mountain stream,  a beach full of agates, and more than my Jeep, there’s a more beloved place.

The Lord invited Moses up the mountain to talk with Him. Moses couldn’t look directly on Lord’s face, but Moses could hear His voice and be in His presence. The Lord told Moses,  “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”

It was holy because the Lord was there. I’m in awe that today we can still enter into the Lord’s presence.  We don’t have to follow any ceremonies, climb a mountain in sandals,  or enter a special building. Our faith in His Son gives us full access to the holy, mighty, Heavenly Father, anytime, anyplace.

I can be in His presence when I’m in Montana, wading in a mountain stream, picking rocks on a beach, or driving in my Jeep. 

I pray, He listens. 

I ask, He answers. 

I confess, He forgives. 

I weep, He comforts.

My Happiest Place is when I am in His presence.

Where are your physical, spiritual, and/or emotional Happy Places

 

The Beginning of the End

My blogging was interrupted by a death in the family and the holidays, so joy and sorrow continue to hold hands through my life.

This is the third part of a tribute to my high school classmate and friend, Kari, who died of brain cancer in 2000.  It isn’t her complete life story, she was impacted by many friends and relatives she cherished. It’s a small view into her world through my experiences, which at times are fuzzy with time and grief. To catch up first read:

And I Almost Killed Her Once
(a glance back to our high school life)

and

The Lord’s Plan Unfolds
(how our paths intersected years later
when she moved to my parents’ hometown)

 

Not only did Kari force me to go to my class reunion, she forced me to look at the way I viewed my life. My bad memories that were nothing compared to hers, but she always found something to smile about. We’d survived high school and became better people because of the adversity. In traveling back to the reunion,  we reconnected with some wonderful people.

The next year Kari fought cancer round-by-round, submitting to  traditional and experimental treatments and medications.  She talked like a doctor, educating and advocating her diagnosis and treatment. She vomited, lost her appetite, weight, and her hair. She shook, couldn’t sleep, and suffered mood swings. At times she was so weak she used a wheelchair. She tried anything and everything because she wanted to attend her children’s graduations, weddings, and meet her grandkids.

At some point, my husband coined the theme of our renewed friendship as “No regrets.” Kari was getting sicker and he knew I’d be devastated if she died. We talked on the phone several times each week, exchanged frequent emails, and I made several trips to Helena and stayed with my parents. I’d homeschool four kids and love on a toddler all morning, then spend the afternoons with Kari. I’m so thankful for the loving support of my family and parents during this time.

More than her cancer, Kari talked about her kids. Her kids were the smartest, most gifted, athletic, musical kids in the world. She loved her kids with a momma bear passion. She’d go through each of the  four and list their recent accomplishments. I heard play-by-play of basketball games, concerts, and Scout projects.   It wasn’t an innocent “my kids are so perfect” kinda’ blind love, but an honest love that could watch her kids grow, struggle, make mistakes.  She still proudly loved them and always believed they’d be successful and accomplished adults.The trials of her own upbringing became nothing compared to her joy of being the mother of the best kids in the world.

I especially remember a time when one of her kids was struggling in school. He was academically capable, but the school sent home disparaging reports. She clamped on her floppy hat and marched to the school. She drove in a car, but in my mind, she still marched. She got things done. She met with the teacher and listened to her complaints. Then Kari asked for the dates and time periods of the behavior issues. She shook her chemo schedule in the teacher’s face. (That’s how I picture it, anyway.) The dates matched. Perfectly. The teacher knew Kari had cancer, but she didn’t get it. Kari didn’t want her cancer to be the excuse her kids used to misbehave, but she did want it to be the reason the school was more compassionate and understanding.  She felt the pain of her cancer, along with the pain her cancer caused her children.

After her kids, we talked about mine. To Kari,  my kids were the smartest, most gifted, athletic, musical kids in the world. She praised them so much, sometimes I saw them differently through her eyes. She talked the same about her sister, nieces and nephews. She knew I took down prayer requests and freely gave me names and needs from their extended family. They had gone through many devastating events, and Kari was concerned about everyone.

When I visited Helena, the afternoons we had alone without our nine kids were made for talking. Not catching up, or bragging-about-our-kids talk, but serious heart and soul girlfriend secret-sharing conversations, of mistakes made and how we overcame those mistakes.

And, we spoke of death. It was the third wheel we couldn’t shake. I tentatively broached the subject and asked her if she minded us talking about everything, even her death. I told her I’d been looking up Bible verses about Heaven.

“Are you kidding? Yeah, I want to talk about it. Nobody wants to talk about death, it makes them uncomfortable.  But, I’m dying.” She said it so matter-of-factly, I stared at her. She was thankful for the many phone calls, cards, emails and the outpouring of support, but said if she tried to talk openly about dying, people often changed the subject. She knew her desire to beat cancer wasn’t enough to win the battle.  Sometimes,  cancer won.

At that point, nothing was off-limits in our conversations, and we fully understood why the Lord had kept me from causing her death years before.  Now, as a Christian who believed the Bible, I had found some answers we’d both been seeking. I’d still be a part of her death, but I wouldn’t be the cause of it. We often rejoiced that He cared enough about our personal lives to cross our paths at the thrift store at a time when we needed each other.

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This is a scene shot out the window on my way to Kari’s, with one of the verses we discussed many times. Salvation is a gift given by faith,  not something we earn or deserve.   It’s not a faith placed in our own spiritual thoughts and ideas, but a faith placed in Christ, the author of salvation. 

Kari told me once she wanted to die in peace, and had taken on the mental exercise of forgiving those who had wronged her, even if they hadn’t asked for it. Another next step in peace-making is making peace with God. With this in mind, Romans 5 became another passage we discussed.

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Interwoven in all our conversations was the desire to make peace with our past, have peace in the present circumstances, and face the future (eternity)  with peace.

Kari made friends wherever she went. People noticed her when she walked into a room, not because she demanded attention, but because she gave attention. Even though they had just moved to Helena when she was stricken with cancer, she’d invested in her community and they invested in her. There were meals, and help with rides, and a fund raiser. Those of us watching from afar were thankful for this input.  Kari received cards and phone calls and was blessed by the outpouring of friends old and new.

The spring of 2000,  she invited me to her cancer support group. She explained the meeting structure and assured me I’d be welcome.

“Oh, it’s great because we talking about everything,” she said, “and sometimes we have Show and Tell.”

“Show and Tell?” I asked.

“Yea, someone might dig something out of her shirt, wave it around, and say ‘Hey, look at my new boob!’ Another person will unstrap their leg and throw it on the table. It’s pretty cool. We don’t have any secrets,” she explained.

Concerned I’d be out of place, I sat down with a quiet and polite greeting. Kari would have none of that. She introduced me and joked around until I felt connected. Then, they began their meeting. I was horrified by their experiences, but blessed by their camaraderie. At the end, I blurted out, “I wish I could be in a group like this.”

“No, you don’t,” answered one woman. I tried to clarify that I longed for intimate friendships, not cancer, but I gave up. My words were weak compared to truth of the situation. On the way home Kari explained that sometimes they don’t call themselves a Cancer Support Group but a Dying Club.

After that, we both watched the obituaries in the Helena Independent Record, and saw her support group, one by one,  lose their ability to support her.

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We prayed for a miracle cure that would keep her signature from becoming an obituary headline.

 

to be continued…

Time Treads on Steadfast and Silent Feet

Time treads on steadfast feet.  It never changes its pace, but continues on, unchanging and unbending to the world.

It doesn’t speed up through pain, loss, or grief. You can’t fast-forward through circumstances you cannot change and must endure.  You can’t freeze a moment to  embrace the love, joy, and peace.

We learn to use those moments wisely, enduring the pain and storing up the joy as those moments continue to march into an unknown future.

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Time treads on silent feet.  There is little warning of what the next moment will hold.  One moment a loved one is breathing, the next moment they aren’t. Then, we’re appalled that time dares to continue on, when our hearts are frozen with grief.  Moments painfully unfold without the presence of that loved one.

Time treads on supine feet.  It’s neither wise nor foolish, happy nor sad.  It doesn’t cause or heal pain.  How you use your time makes it your friend or foe, it’s a commodity for you to use wisely. 

In 2013, as with many families, we suffered sorrows and joys.  Just before Christmas, we buried my beloved 99 year-old Grandma.  Three months prior, one set of cousins buried their mother, another set buried their father. Even though we gathered with broken hearts, there was joy in being together, in comforting one another, and in renewing relationships.

Everything Has Its Time
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

3 To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
2
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
8 A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.

We’ve been given the gift of time, a new year to face with hope.  What will you do with your gift? Use it wisely, because time treads on silent and steadfast feet.

Good-Bye, 2013!

This morning my husband admitted  he was thankful to say goodbye to 2013.  He’s the stable one in the family, the glass half-full man who walks steadily by faith through the valleys and the mountaintops. If he’s ready to bid the year good-bye, it really was a hard year. 

In fact, that was part of the reason blogging has been so sporadic for me this year, funerals, illnesses, and other heartaches have interfered with my time, my schedule, and my heart many times.

However, sorrow and joy always mingle together, so we try hard to remember the times of joy, and grow in grace through our sorrows. 

To close out the year, I wanted to share the Top Ten Blogs of 2013 my readers enjoyed. 

10.  My Courage Failed

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A look back to a time of discouragement.  I was flying home to a beloved family, but leaving behind an Innocent Man who had been sentenced to jail.

9.  Ten Things to Look for in The Perfect Man

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A challenge to the unmarried and a reminder to the married.  Can your relationship survive The Bed Pan Test?

8.  I Am An Old, Old Mommy

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As a toddler, my 6th child was confused that other mommies looked more like her big sister than her mommy.

7.  Why I Had Kids Not Dogs

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Tongue-in-cheek reasons why a dog never resided in our home, even though I live in an area where there are more dogs per capita than children.

6.  The Sweet Gospel Message -Vacation Bible School Idea

 

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Sweet ideas for sending a treat and the Gospel home with children who attend Vacation Bible School.

5. The World’s Most Famous Teenager

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(postcard from Anne Frank Huis, foto by Frans Dupont, in honor of Anne’s 80th birthday, June, 2009)

What childhood reader didn’t cry through The Diary of Anne Frank?  It was my first exposure to the horrors of World War II.  My husband and I visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. It wasn’t a tourist destination, it was a life experience.

4.  I’ve Eaten Rattlesnake

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My 7th grade homeroom teacher was a Vietnam Vet who impacted my life in many ways, including my culinary appetite. This blog post was featured on Freshly Pressed by WordPress, an honor that earned this badge below.

It’s kinda’ like a merit badge for bloggers. It was almost as exciting as eating a pet snake.

3. Best Answers to Big Family Questionable Questions

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This was in follow-up to my #1 blog post, “Things I Would Never Say to a Parent of Two Children.” The comments were so hilarious, I featured my readers in this post.

2. When Gramma Lost her Marbles

Mindy and Gramma Geneva 1993

Laughter and tears are two reactions to unchangeable circumstances. This post was a visit back through my Grandmother’s Alzheimer’s, when I became known to her as only “The Lady with the Kids.”  I was blessed that this post was shared through Facebook support groups all across the world, and I was able to laugh and cry with others as they shared their personal stories.

1. Things I Would Never Say to a Parent with Two Kids

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I wanted to recap what it was like to be the mother of six children, highlighting all the inappropriate comments that were made in front of my children.  I took the opposite of things I heard frequently and wrote a post.  I was astounded at the reaction. To date, I’ve had 43,119 visits to this blog post.

What I’m most grateful for with this post isn’t the number of visitors, it’s what I learned from the reactions to this post.  As beautiful women poured out their hearts in the comment section about their lives, I learned that women in all circumstances have to deal with rude and painful comments from others, just as I have done. 

Above all, I was blessed that women would so openly share their hearts.  Whether they agreed with me or not, they entrusted me with their experiences and their pain.

As I evaluate these top ten posts from 2013, I see the representation of all the things that are dear to me, the Lord Jesus, marriage, mothering, extended family, and my upbringing. And I was reminded of the many joys I experienced through the year.

I was also struck with the encouragement my readers have provided through this year.  Your comments, prayers, and private emails have blessed me and upheld me during the hardest times when each keystroke in telling the story has been a dagger of pain.  Several times I even wondered if I should quit writing, and one of your dear readers would send just the perfect encouragement to help me press on in my calling. I am incredibly thankful for each of you, you are my support, my strength, and my friends.

May this coming year bless you with joy unspeakable and the ability to find joy in all your sorrows.

Happy New Year!

 

The Lord’s Plan Unfolds

This is the second part of a tribute to my friend, Kari. It isn’t her complete life story, she was impacted by many friends and relatives she cherished.  It’s a small view into her world through my experiences, which at times are fuzzy with time and grief.  If you didn’t read part one, please go back and read:

And I almost killed her once.

Kari and I were thrilled to find each other again!  We later joked what others  thought to see two cars pull up to the thrift store, four people politely chatter as they merged toward the door, then two women suddenly bear hug.

Kari and Tony

She proved her hat wasn’t an adaptation to Montana fashion, where people aren’t  in style or out of style, you’re free to wear your own style. Standing on the sidewalk, she removed it and proudly showed me her scar where a brain tumor had been recently removed.

And she smiled while she told me about her cancer.

Her big “I can take on the whole world” smile. The “I have enough joy for the rest of you” smile.

We moved into the store, talking, laughing and sometimes shopping.   When it was time to part ways, we did what people did before cell phones. 

Kari's Address

I handed her the tiny black binder in my purse to write down her address.  I had no idea how precious this scrap of paper would become.

Our families spent a day at my parents’ cabin, swimming, snacking, climbing trees and enjoying Montana’s scenery. Kari and I talked non-stop.

We were in the same crowd in high school,  but each had our own closest friends. We filled in the gaps of the years. College years. Falling in love and staying in love. Becoming mothers; she had four kids, I had five at the time. I shared how I’d trusted Christ as my Savior. In all our conversations, intermingled our marvel at the Lord’s timing. The reason He’d spared our lives in high school was beginning to unfold.  It was for such a time as this.

Inevitably, we talked about high school. Regrets. Broken hearts. Tormenters. Friends.  Accomplishments.  She shared heartaches that made me admire her strength and joy anew. I regretted  not knowing or helping, worried she’d shouldered life alone. She assured me her best friends in high school had upheld her. The strength of their love and loyalty graced the rest of her life.

I shared my pain of moving from Helena and relived the stir I’d caused on the first day of 8th grade.  During registration, I’d walked across the gym, our entire class watching from the bleachers,  straight to the Industrial Arts table to sign up for shop. Since I already sewed my own clothes, did laundry, babysat and cooked meals for my family of eight, I didn’t need Home-Ec. I’d already had one year of woodworking at Helena Junior High, and was excited to move onto bigger projects. Following school policy, the teacher refused admission. When I was politely adamant and explained my reasons, he called in the principal and the superintendent for support. At that moment, I knew my career at that high school wasn’t going to be stellar.

“I remember what you were wearing,” said Kari. Her smile overcame the  chemo hair standing in tufts on her head.

“What?” I was consumed with my tale of discrimination and moving into the Dark Ages and she was consumed with my clothes.

She recounted my walk across the gym floor from her admiring point of view. “You were wearing gauchos and a yellow t-shirt with your name on. After that, I begged my Mom to drive me to Grand Forks to buy gauchos.”

When the summer of 1999 approached, Kari asked me to go to our 18th class reunion/ all school reunion with her. I said no. Actually I said, “NO WAY! WHY WOULD I DO THAT?”

High school wasn’t good to me.  For five years I was teased, my locker ransacked, books knocked out of my arms in the hallway. Lies were spread until I wondered who to trust. I got in trouble for things I deserved; I took the punishment for things I didn’t deserve.

Several teachers used me as their verbal punching bags, to a point where one student pulled me aside in the hallway and advised, “I think you should get a lawyer.” I thought movie caricatures of tormented high school kids could have been based on my life. Miserable, I tried to graduate early. The guidance counselor refused. I stuck out my entire senior year.

That same guidance counselor called me into his office that spring and asked me to give a graduation speech. I refused with the clichéd  laugh in his face. He was surprised because nobody had refused this “honor” before.

I had nothing to say and nothing to prove. I only wanted out.

He wanted to know why. “I don’t have anything to say to anybody,” was my answer based on my mom’s advice,  “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  My friend Chris, who had always dreamed of giving a graduation speech, was elated to be given the honor.

Kari wouldn’t give up. She wanted to go, but didn’t want to go alone. My selfish hoarding of bad memories was only broken when she finally said, “Mindy, I won’t make it to our 20th.”

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(Kari is far left, middle row, in pink t-shirt)

Kari arranged for some of the class of ‘82  to meet at a home with spouses and kids. Later we joined the rest of the class downtown.

I was stunned when my greatest tormenter was the first to greet me with a hug. Three people said, “Oh, you graduated with us?” My impact on some of my classmates wasn’t as great as the impact they’d made on me.

With each conversation and renewed acquaintance, I replaced a bitter memory with a better memory.  I counted my tormenters to be fewer than my friends, they had only talked louder and made more of an impact. No, I had allowed them to make more of an impact. I also learned that those who inflicted the most pain probably hadn’t meant to. We all were suffering and surviving the halls of high school.

Over a pizza later, I admitted she was right to make me attend our class reunion. I thanked her for pushing me.

She smiled her Kari smile.  She knew all along she was right, and I was finally admitting it.

For me, the reunion was the beginning of a new beginning.  For Kari, it was the beginning of the end.

to be continued… 

 

 

Defying the Enemy Called Death

 

We have some interesting sayings in America when someone dies before they’re old.

He died too young.”

Only the good die young.”

She went before her time.”

We have this unspoken expectation that everyone should live a long, healthy life.  That’s the ideal we long for, but it doesn’t take long on earth to realize it doesn’t work that way.

Check tombstones.  Some live one year, some live a hundred years. Death is not a stranger to any soul.

All people live.

All people die.

Yet, no matter how much we know this, we’re never prepared.  We recover, but don’t stop grieving.  We never fully understand. Death is a shock, an enemy, a divider.

 

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This picture was taken May, 2011, when I visited the grave site of high school classmate and friend, Kari Onerheim Etherington. If you knew Kari you knew her smile.  What many of us didn’t know was the cost of that smile.  Without airing her family laundry, Kari had struggles at home that many of us didn’t know until she was an adult.

She walked around the halls of LHS as if she were the happiest teenager on earth, and she wasn’t faking it.  She CHOSE it.

 

Kari's High School Picture

She bore her struggles with quiet strength and a smile.  She was contagious.

And I almost killed her once.

I wasn’t a Christian in high school and was on a road trip in Canada with some friends, including Kari.  We had crossed from North Dakota into Canada where the drinking age was only 18 and had been in the pub for hours celebrating senioritis.  When we left, I was driving, but shouldn’t have been.

We missed one border crossing and were looking for another one that stayed open longer. We knew we had to just keep driving east, but nothing was familiar and we didn’t have a map.

I was jolted out of my stupor when the car bounced over rocks, obviously off-road.  I slammed on the breaks, the car lurched and tottered, but stayed put in park.  I got out of the car and looked down a very steep embankment.  In the darkness of the night and my alcohol-stunned mind I never  knew if it was a valley or a river below.  It was very steep, very deep, and very black.

A man was standing next to the car.  I assumed at the time he was an RCMP, Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer.  He was kind, kinder than I deserved.  He didn’t issue a ticket, only instructed how to get back to the road we needed to be on. I was stumbling, woozy and out of control.  He urged me to drive more carefully.

As I looked down that embankment, then back into his kind face, I was overcome with a Sense that wasn’t attributed to my drunkenness.

I knew at that moment that God had saved me for a purpose.  He had spared my life and the lives of my friends.  It was the first of many instances that year that proved to me the God of Heaven, the Creator of the Universe, was personally interested in my life and was concerned about my body and soul.

Somehow we made it home that night, and though we giggled as teenagers do over the evening, it was mostly to cover up the uneasiness I’d felt over the Presence and the near death experience.

That fall I was a freshman at the University of North Dakota and began reading the Bible.  I understood by faith that those things in my life were actually called sin by a Holy God who demanded perfection.  Since there wasn’t sinless perfection in my life, His Son had died in my place.  I accepted that by faith and experienced a serious life change.  I was born-again by faith.

During the early 80’s, few of us had computers, there were no cell phones and long-distance phone calls were expensive, unless you called after 11pm.  It was too easy to lose track of friends when you went to different colleges, got married, and had children. After I married, I moved to Kansas and was in touch with very few of my high school friends, but thought of them often and prayed for them. We eventually moved back to North Dakota, but I hadn’t reconnected with everybody yet.

In the summer of 1998  I was visiting my mom in Helena, MT, and we were in town shopping.  We pulled up in front of the Salvation Army at the same time another couple was parking and exiting the car.  We chatted politely as the woman wearing a floppy hat tried to tease me into buying a teddy bear in front of the store.

When we made eye-contact, we were both stunned. 

 

It was Kari and her husband, Tony. 

 

Kari and TonyThey’d been living in my parents’ hometown for several years. 

The reason the Lord had graciously spared our lives was about to unfold.

 

To be continued…

 

Preparing Your Heart and Home for Thanksgiving

Do the holidays sneak up on you?  My daughter said, “Mom! Only six weeks until Christmas!”

Six weeks?  Last time I checked, I had six months and was feeling the hopeful thrill of actually accomplishing  Martha Stewart type holidays.

But, I don’t like to let rush into Christmas and let Thanksgiving go by unnoticed, since it’s a holiday of spirit and remembrance.  It’s a time to relax and be together as a family.  We lived in farmland and hubby worked as a farmhand for many summers,  so fall is also a time to think of harvest and abundance.

In September, the kids and I begin decorating with leaves, moss, pinecones, seed pods and any gift of nature we find on our nature walks.  When we have the energy, we climb into the attic and dig out a few of our favorite Thanksgiving decorations.

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I blogged through using these wonderful vintage postcards Thanksgiving in My Heart and Home. These  are a free printable download from Hub Pages.

 

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One year I had a bug to decorate My Chairs Are Ready For Thanksgiving. I know, way over the top, who decorates their chairs,  but I’ve used them for several years now so the effort was worth it.

 

Thanksgiving crafts 034You either think I’m ridiculous, or you thought of a way to improve them.

 

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On the way to my house for Thanksgiving,  my in-laws experienced a horrible blizzard.  Their train got stuck on the tracks in Spokane, WA, and I had one extra day on my hands.  So, I Just Had to Make One More Thing, this Thankful Garland that’s tacked to my fireplace.  I have left it up and changed the season décor for several years now.

2010 Thanksgiving Buffet

Even though I enjoy decorating for the holiday season, I know what is The True Measure of Thanksgiving.

 

Thanksgiving 090I love decorating with what I have, especially old books.


Give Thanks

Boggle cubes spell out a heart  reminder. Some years I spell out messages with Scrabble tiles.

Because I need the reminder.  I feel grief and sorrow so deeply, I have to remind myself there is always joy somewhere amidst the sufferings in my life.  The joy comes from the fact that there is always something to be thankful for.

Joy isn’t the rah-rah kinda’ false cheerfulness people wrongly expect out of Christians who are sick, lost their jobs, lost a loved one to death, or have been crippled by unfaithfulness of others.  People expect that reaction, until it’s their turn to be tested. Then they understand. We aren’t to be running around yelling, “Yea, I have cancer!  Praise the Lord!”  It is more of a calm delight, trusting  in His presence and His plans for our life.

In James 1:2-3 we’re told, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

Count it joy.  That seems a tough expectation until you understand  the definitions according to the Strong’s definition of the Greek words.

COUNT -  to go before, to be a leader

JOY – rejoice exceedingly, in salutations, hail!

FALL – descend from higher position to lower, fall prostrate

TRIALS – trials of a man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy, temptations, as the devil used to keep the Lord Jesus from His divine mission.

Loosely paraphrased with these ideas in mind, “Go into your trials as a leader, hail them with joy and fall prostrate in worship, because these trials prove you have a divine mission and the devil doesn’t want you to succeed.

This is how we can count it joy and “give thanks always for all things,” because this was the same attitude the Lord Jesus had when He went to the cross for our sins.  He was willing to suffer for us, so we always have a reason to wrap joy and thanksgiving around our weak bodies when we’re besieged by life.

We also have a divine mission, gifts and ministries the Lord has given us to accomplish.  Thankfulness keeps your heart on your mission when you are suffering.

Being joyful and thankful is a choice, not a circumstance. A choice I remind myself to take.

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A free Thanksgiving printable from Naomi at Delight Creative Home.

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Another beautiful creation from Naomi.  Check out her blog, she generously provides many free printables.

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Laurie and Emily at the Glo Girl Blog provided this download created with words from the Psalms.

Now you have beautiful reasons and ways to remind yourself to choose joy and thankfulness during the entire year, not just the holiday.

Making your home sing Mondays WHWButton#2