Sunday, April 23, 2017

Photo of the Week #16: Stream of Living Water


This past week, JJ attended a "live-in" program at the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site near Charleston, IL. He was able to experience what life was like in the 1800's and took part in things like cutting a log with a two man saw, filling the wood shed, and dipping candles. I did take pictures of him and the other boys working, but don't want to share the pictures without the permission of the other boys' parents. So, I am sharing a picture of this stream instead. While JJ was working, EL and I took a walk on this beautiful day and we crossed a little bridge where I took a picture of this stream. It reminds me of the streams of living water, mentioned in Scripture.

John 7:37-39 - On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him." He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been received because Jesus had not yet been glorified. (HCSB)


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

500th Post on "He Holds My Right Hand"


I have been blogging for about 8 years, and this post is the 500th post! I have written about many different topics over the years, including devotionals, hymn studies, ways to encourage others, my cancer journey, autism, tourette syndrome, guest bloggers, book reviews, and more. It has been fun, and a huge learning experience for me in many ways.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you have been blessed in some way by at least one of my posts. Below you will find links to some of the most popular posts that have been published here. I listed two from each year...



June 26, 2009 (My very first post)

April 24, 2010


Do you have a favorite?



















Sunday, April 16, 2017

Photo of the Week #15: Full Moon in St. Louis

David was at a conference in St. Louis this past week. Even though this was a work-related conference, I know he enjoyed the chance to get away for awhile and to wind down from some of the pressures he has been under. 

While he was there on Tuesday night, there was a full moon. The weather was nice, so he went out to the plaza of his hotel and was able to take this awesome shot of the full moon positioned directly in the middle of the Arch. I love this shot. It is a reminder of how God's majestic creations can be found anywhere in the world. It is also a beautiful combination of man's God-given creativity (the Arch) with God's perfect handiwork (the moon).


Genesis 1:14-15 - And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.  

Psalm 19:1 - The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Photo of the Week #14: Brother Helping Sister


Last week, I mentioned how EL has been saving up her money for a "My First Flyer". Well, she was finally able to buy it this past week. The picture is a little blurry, but here you can see JJ helping his sister learn how to control the flyer. She loves it, and is doing well getting it to take off, and also with steering it. She still has trouble landing it without crashing but, with help from her brother, I'm sure that will improve over time.

Romans 12:10 - Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (ESV)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Photo of the Week #13: "A REAL Helicopter!" (EL's Words)

On Wednesday, we were in St. Louis for EL's 6-month Neurology checkup. All is well. She's doing great, and hasn't had any seizures for 8 months! (Yayyyy!) So, we will continue to keep her at the current medication dosages and return again in another 6 months.

While were were at the hospital, a helicopter landed. EL has had helicopters on her mind lately because she has been saving her money to buy "My First Flyer" (a remote-controlled helicopter she has been wanting). So, when she saw the helicopter on the landing pad, she looked at it and said, "Oh, its a REAL helicopter!" She was so excited to see a real one up close. She said she doesn't want to ride in one, but just likes to watch them fly.

I don't have any interest in riding in one either, especially not for emergency medical issues. And, I agree with EL that they are neat to see in flight. However, if you see one of these medical helicopters flying in your area, I encourage you to take a moment to stop and pray.

Pray for:
  • the safety of the pilot and crew,
  • the skill of the medical staff caring for the patient,
  • for the life of the patient on board,
  • and for the peace of the family members who are worried about their loved one. 
  • Also, take the opportunity to pray for their salvation (if they don't know the Lord), or that this difficult time will help strengthen their faith (if they are already Believers). 

1 Timothy 2:1 - First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people (ESV) 





Sunday, March 26, 2017

Photo of the Week #12: A Kind Man at Church

Every Sunday when we are at church, EL sits quietly during the service and loves to draw while listening to the sermon. She will go through several sheets of notepad paper, drawing a new picture on each piece; and she always makes sure to write, "To Gib, From ELS" on each piece. Then, after the service, she immediately meets up with Mr. Gib to see if there is a drawing he would like to have for his collection. Mr. Gib chooses a drawing he likes, then asks EL, "Will you take a dollar for it?" She always says yes, takes his dollar, and then (with a big smile on her face) hands it to me to put into her wallet.

I don't remember when Mr. Gib started doing this, I know it has been at least a year, maybe two. But, last Sunday, I took a picture of one of these little transactions. If you are reading this, Mr. Gib, I want to thank you for being such a blessing to our sweet girl in this way! You have developed a sweet connection with her, and she looks forward to seeing you each Sunday.

Proverbs 11:25 - Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Photo of the Week #11: Hot Potato Morale Booster

Today's photo is of EL and JJ playing a game of hot potato in our schoolroom earlier this week. It's amazing what this quick little game can do for our morale - just look at those smiles! (Prior to this game, none of us were in the mood for smiling).

Since EL recently bought this Electronic Hot Potato game, playing it has become one of our newest ways to: 
  • take a school break
  • relieve stress and/or tension
  • practice hand/eye coordination
  • and have fun as a family.

It is a a fun family game for ages 4 and up, and is just like playing any other hot potato game, only this one talks and plays music (Pop Goes the Weasel). As the music is playing, we take turns tossing the potato to each other. The last person to touch the potato before the music stops is given one "potato chip," and the first person to get three potato chips is out until the next game.

Whether you have kids or not, if you are looking for a fun way to boost morale in your home, school, or office, I encourage you to get this little game (or even just a rolled up sock), and start tossing!

Proverbs 15:13 - A glad heart makes a cheerful face...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Laura Story CD - Open Hands [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

Available for Purchase:  Laura Story's OPEN HANDS CD
You may remember Laura Story's well-known song about Blessings, which was inspired by her real life trials, specifically about her husband's diagnosis of a brain tumor. If you love that song, as well as the many others she has sung, then you need to grab a copy of her 5th studio album, Open Hands. The more I listen to it, the more I like it!

Laura says this about the songs on this new album:
We have this picture all the way through the Scriptures of all these great leaders in this process of surrendering everything. What the Lord is asking them is not, "You need to hold on tighter. You need to manage this better." What the Lord asks us is to surrender. It’s about learning to live with open hands, learning to live life in this constant state of saying, "Lord, my life is Yours. My time is Yours. My resources are Yours. All of this is Yours. Do what You will."
Here is the official lyric video of the title song OPEN HANDS:




What a great song about surrendering your life to the Lord! But, I have to say, my favorites on this album are the songs of old hymns that have been refreshed with new music. I love hymns. They have such great, timeless truths in them; and,then, adding new music to them really brings them to a new level. Laura obviously loves hymns as well. She says this about them:
"I’m pretty sure that the theology that I learned as a kid was from old hymns. It’s amazing, even now as an adult, how those hymns come back and really provide that sturdy foundation for life. It reminds me of how important it is for me to teach my kids those old hymns,” Story reflects, adding, “As long as I am singing, I will be singing hymns."
Here are two of my favorites on the album:

Please enter below to be included in a random drawing for a copy of this CD. Entries will be accepted until Saturday, March 18, 2017, at 8:00 p.m. Central time. One entry per mailing address. Must be 18 or older to enter.
 

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Photo of the Week #10: Jobs at the Senior Center

Friday, March 10th - EL preparing coffee filters at the Senior Center

Friday, March 3rd - EL rolling napkin

I mentioned in PHOTO OF THE WEEK #7 how EL and I have started volunteering at the local Senior Center. This past month, we have continued going there every Friday, and have been wiping tables and chairs, dusting, vacuuming, emptying garbage pails, filling napkin dispensers, rolling napkins around silverware, and (new for this week) preparing coffee filters. Vacuuming is still EL's favorite (even though she says it makes her arms tired), but she is doing a good job with everything she has been asked to do. I am proud of EL for doing this with me each week. She is a hard worker, and this has all been a great learning experience for her.

Side note:  She also enjoys eating lunch there on the days we are working. She loves to eat (don't we all!? Hee Hee); so, having lunch there is an added bonus for her.  

Colossians 3:23 - Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men (NASB)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Photo of the Week #9: Chipmunk at the Nature Center


My son, and several other Boy Scouts, took a Geocaching class yesterday at D.H. Nature Center. I was one of the drivers for the boys, so I stayed at the nature center while they took the class. While I was there, I spotted this little guy through the library window, and just had to take a picture. Chipmunks are so cute, aren't they? I love learning from nature up close - watching, listening, and learning from all God's amazing creatures.


Job 7:10 -  In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. (ESV)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Photo of the Week #8: First Aid Event for Boy Scouts

Yesterday, our local Boy Scouts joined several more troops at a big First Aid Meet in Springfield, IL. Each team went around to 13 different stations where they had to assess the situation and work together to provide first aid treatment to each patient. This was JJ's first year attending. He learned a lot and believes this event has helped him to improve his skills. I am thankful to see he has shown an interest in helping others if the need arises.

Philippians 2:4 - Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (ESV)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Photo of the Week #7: A New Learning Experience

This past Friday, EL and I spent our first day volunteering at the local Senior Center. I recently mentioned to one of EL's therapists that I had been thinking about finding a place where EL can gain a bit of work experience. So, the therapist took the initiative to set up a volunteer opportunity for EL and I to do together.

EL did a great job wiping tables, dusting, and vacuuming at the center. I don't think she was thrilled with wiping tables, but she did become excited when it came time to vacuum. I found out later, she likes to vacuum because she has fun imagining the vacuum being a monster who is eating all the crumbs off the floor. Ha ha ha.

I am looking forward to sharing this weekly appointment with EL. I know it will be a great learning experience for her, and we will both be able to serve others at the same time.  

1 Peter 4:10 - As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.  (ESV)


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Photo of the Week #6: Content Kitty

 Sofie has been with us for 8 months now. She seems to be very content in her new home.

Hebrews 13:5 - Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (ESV)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Kari Jobe CD "The Garden" [GIVEAWAY CLOSED


In the jacket of Kari Jobe's newest album THE GARDEN, she says the songs she wrote for this music project (her 4th one) are personal, raw and honest. They helped her through a dark time when her faith and trust was challenged. Kari says:
“The truth is we can all go through seasons of heartache and loss in our lives. We can find ourselves in places of grief and sorrow because the miracle didn’t happen in the way we prayed it would. But as we look up and around us, that’s when we can give God the opportunity to show us what He’s doing. How He’s not distant or disconnected from our pain. He’s right there, turning ashes into beauty in the midst of the difficulty.”
This CD is not one that you should pop in the CD player and listen to while you are busy doing things around the house. You will want to sit down and listen to it without distractions, read the words included in the lyric book, and just be still. Be still and listen to the beautiful voice God has given to Kari Jobe. Be still and listen as God speaks to you through her music. It is calming. It is healing. It is beautiful. It is worship.

Listen to the title song here:



MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE THEME OF THIS CD:
It’s said for everything there is a season. Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. One by one, we experience these seasons throughout our lives. Our souls grow dark and weary in the thick of winter, and just when we think we can’t endure another cold night, we recognize the first signs of spring. Slow and unexpected, welcome shades of green break through the frozen ground. Sometimes our Creator uses His own creation to remind us that even amidst winter’s chill He is always at work. For it’s in the unseen where life’s most beautiful moments take shape. Worship leader Kari Jobe knows this to be true in her own life, and on her fourth album, TheGarden (Capitol CMG), she invites listeners to drink of the wellspring of hope she’s found in the midst of unimaginable tragedy. 
In the past two years, Jobe married her husband Cody Carnes and moved from her hometown of Dallas, Texas, to Nashville, where the couple bought their first home and had a baby. With due dates three months apart, Jobe and her sister, Kris, were excited to be pregnant at the same time. Yet, in the midst of happy life changes, heartbreak struck. Seven-and-a-half months into her pregnancy, Kris gave birth to a stillborn daughter, James Ivy. Jobe, four months pregnant with her son at the time, was devastated.
While the birth of her son, Canyon, was undoubtedly a milestone to celebrate, her sister’s loss weighed heavy on her heart. Yet, a reminder of God’s kindness came in a surprising way. As Jobe held Canyon in her arms, she stood looking out the kitchen window of her new home. And there in her backyard, she glimpsed the first signs of spring. When she and her husband purchased the house, a garden that resided on the property was overgrown; and though they knew it needed to be tended, they were advised to wait and see what it produced. The result was a breathtaking bounty of harvest. That day, Jobe made her way through the garden—a stark reminder of God’s faithfulness in all circumstances. Looking up, interwoven in the archway, she couldn’t help but smile as she saw what only God could produce: thick, green ivy lacing its way overhead, immediately reminding her of her niece’s namesake.
“Ivy is the most resilient plant there is. It can grow in the harshest of climates; it can grow in the harshest of situations,” Jobe explains, adding, “I’m standing in this garden. There’s ivy growing, and I just started to realize, ‘God, You’re moving in a way that is different than what I asked for, but You are moving.’ He’s at work and doing things we can’t see.”
In the time leading up to The Garden, Jobe has experienced both indescribable joy and unimaginable pain. Life and death, side by side. Yet, through it all, she’s found God to be inextricably faithful because she’s learned to trust the Gardner and the beautiful, unseen ways He tends to our hearts.

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing a sample of this CD in exchange for my honest review. I have shared my own opinion and was NOT influenced by monetary compensation. Enter below for your chance to win a copy of this CD. One entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from my sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Entries will be accepted until Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. Central Time Zone. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Photo of the Week #5: Simple Pleasures


Yesterday, we visited with my parents, and EL took some time to sit next to her grandpa to show him one of her favorite toys, Alfie. As you can see by her smile, she was so thrilled to share Alfie with Grandpa, and to show him how it works. Listening to Alfie talk always brings a huge smile to her face. It is the simple things in life that make her happy.

Proverbs 15:13 -  A glad heart makes a cheerful face

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Photo of the Week #4: Our Careful Little Piano Player


This is a photo of EL practicing her piano lessons. She loves listening to music, so David and I decided to start having her take lessons, hoping to give her the ability to make music of her own. To be honest, she is not real excited about practicing on her keyboard; and if I gave her the choice of whether or not to go to lessons, she would say no. But, she doesn't refuse to practice when I ask. So, I admit I am pushing her a little bit in this area. My goal is not for her to become a famous pianist, or even to be perfect in her playing. I just want her to enjoy making music. I want her to have a "hobby" she loves, and can also use to bless others. If it doesn't work out, then at least we can say we tried.

As I've thought about it more, I think EL has a hard time with piano lessons because she is somewhat of a perfectionist (like her Daddy), and she doesn't like making mistakes. When she is practicing her lessons, she goes very slowly, trying not to mess up at all. But, of course, because she is still learning, she DOES make mistakes. So, when that happens, she stops playing, says "Oops," and then starts all over again at the beginning. She will not just ignore the mistake and keep going as if it had never happened.  

In the same way, no matter how hard we try as Christians, we WILL fall short of perfection while we are here on this earth. So, when we do mess up, God doesn't want us to ignore what has happened. He wants us to acknowledge it, ask for forgiveness, and then start over, making it a point to learn from those "mistakes."

1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (ESV)

Proverbs 28:13 - Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. (ESV)










Sunday, January 22, 2017

Photo of the Week #3: He Still Loves Me


This past Monday was sort of an anniversary day for my husband and me. It was the anniversary of the day we first met - 27 years ago. So, David brought home these flowers to let me know he is glad we met, and that he still loves me. Awww.  

David was doing what King Solomon tells us to do in Ecclesiastes chapter nine. To be brief, Solomon says we should make the most of the days we have been given because death is certain to come, so we should live in the most meaningful ways that we can. One way to do that is to enjoy the days we have with our wives (and with our husbands).
Ecclesiastes 9:9 - Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun. (NAS)
I encourage you to make an effort this week to spend some quality time with YOUR spouse.
  • Tell him how much he means to you
  • Kiss her like it is your first kiss
  • Hold hands
  • Snuggle
  • Share memories
  • Show love

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Photo of the Week #2: My Lit Candle

This is a candle I was given for Christmas. Isn't it pretty? I love candles. They are so warm and inviting, give off a warm glow, and smell great if you get the right scent. (This one is called "Raspberry Ice" and it smells good to me.) I have it sitting on top of our buffet (i.e. china cabinet), and it is in a place where everyone can see it and enjoy it. It wouldn't make any sense to light my candle and then hide it under a bowl, or inside of a cabinet, would it? It is meant to be seen by all who are in the room.

That reminds me of a small portion from The Sermon on the Mount (Jesus' longest recorded sermon in the New Testament). The part I am talking about is found in Matthew 5:14-16, where Jesus says: 
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
One thing I noticed from the last part of these verses is how "shining our lights" (or, helping others to see Jesus in us) is not just about doing good works. It's about doing two things consecutively: doing good works AND giving the glory (or praise) to God. Let me share what Pastor Chip Bell has to say about this. He explains it well in an article on Bible.org
The hope, the goal, is that people will give praise to God. This is an important point to catch. The goal is not that people will say, “What great people those Christians are. Look at all the wonderful things they do to help people. Look at how honorable their lives are.” Rather, the goal is that people will say, “What a great God they follow.”

You know, the only way that will happen is that if we make it clear that the reason why we are living moral lives and doing good deeds is because we are following Jesus. If we don’t give God the credit, then we are not being a light to the world. I think this means that in every good thing we do for our fellow man, it is important that we give God the credit. If we do good, but fail to point people to Jesus, then we haven’t done what light is supposed to do. Being “salt” means that our lives should be characterized by goodness. Being “light” means that people are able to SEE that God is the source, and purpose and cause of our goodness. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

EL's 5th MRI & A Visual Test

It has been over a year since I last gave a health update on EL. I have shared a few updates on my Facebook page but, for those of you who are not on FB, or for those of you who might have missed the updates, here is the latest info...

1.  After EL's medication was increased in November 2015, her seizures continued to return every couple of months. So, in July 2016, her Neurologist said it was best to add an additional medication. We were concerned, at first, with the possible side effects of this new med, but she did amazingly well and has, thankfully, been seizure free since then. It is great to know we finally seem to have the seizures under control!

2.  Her 5th MRI was in October 2016. There were no changes to the pituitary tumor, so that is another praise. She is now seeing a new Neuro-oncologist, and we like her. She seems very thorough and wants to make sure EL is getting the proper care needed. The previous doctor was good, but gave us the impression that we no longer needed to bring EL for any more follow-up MRI's (after this 5th one) because they keep coming back as unchanged. However, this new doctor explained that a pituitary tumor can grow at any time, so we need to continue keeping watch and do an MRI at least every 2 years from here on out, or sooner if she begins having symptoms.

3.  The new Neuro-oncologist also scheduled EL to have a special eye exam that tested her vision, specifically her peripheral vision, called a Visual Evoked Potential. A pituitary tumor can affect the optic nerve, so the doctor wanted to have a baseline of how well EL is currently seeing. The test was done on  December 14th in St. Louis. It was done in the EEG department, where they attached electrodes to her head and had her sit and stare at a red dot on a computer screen while black and white squares flashed around it. She did not like the test, but did fairly well considering her dislike. Due to the holidays, it took awhile to get the results back. But we finally got a call yesterday, and the test showed everything to be within normal limits.

So, with all this new information, the plan is to continue seeing the Neurologist every 6 months regarding EL's seizures. But, we will NOT need to have any more testing regarding the pituitary tumor (MRI's, Visual Tests, or bloodwork) until October 2018 (unless symptoms appear)! We are so thankful for this news, and are also grateful for all the prayers that have been sent through the years for our special girl!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Quick Update on Moving


It was a year ago today when I wrote:  GOD WILL BE WITH US WHEREVER WE GO.  I mentioned how my husband had taken a new job in December 2015, and we were anticipating moving to a different town 50 minutes away. So far, that move has not happened (which I am actually happy about) but that's about all I can share about it. Only God knows what the future holds, and we will wait to see what happens. But, no matter what, we continue to believe He will be with us wherever we go (or wherever we are).


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Photo of the Week #1: My Kids on New Year's Eve

 
It's the start of a new year, and I am going to try something new for my Sunday blog posts. I plan on taking various pictures throughout each week, and will choose one of them to share with you. (Or, if I don't have time for a new one, I might pull out an old picture to use.) I'm not exactly sure how this will all work out yet, but my hope for these photos is that maybe some of them will be encouraging and/or bring a smile to your face, while others will simply be thought-provoking and/or allow you to see things through my eyes - sort of like a peek into my life.

This first photo I am sharing was taken last weekend on New Year's Eve. These two kids of mine - I love seeing them get along. From the picture, you might think these two are ALWAYS great friends who get along well. But, no, they don't always get along well. They argue and they complain about each other, just like most siblings do. And, I actually had to ask them to put their arms around each other for this picture! But, despite the way they often get annoyed by the other one's actions, there are still many times when I see them warmly interacting. In these times, I can tell they really do love each other, and I am thankful that the love they have for each other overrides any wrong-doings. In fact, if it came down to it, I know JJ would even give his life to protect his special sister. That's what family is about. And, I believe this is a good example of how we all should be acting towards our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

1 Peter 4:8 - Above all, keep loving one another earnestly,
since love covers a multitude of sins. (ESV)

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.