Month of May Scripture Calendar

From Lifeway Women here is this month’s HomeLife Family Calendar.  May is such a busy month.  I think even busier than December, but in a different way.  Our children are finishing school, preparing to graduate and start new adventures away at college, taking tests, cleaning out desks and dorm rooms. We are planning year-end parties, putting together teacher gifts, and making sure kids stay on track with assignments and projects.  Creating family time this month will be especially important to keep everyone centered, grounded and comforted with the knowledge that God always provides.  Print a copy and put on the fridge as a reminder that God delights in spending time with you each day.

The Story and Celebration of Saint Patrick

Lifeway Women St. Patrick’s Day Sharing the Gospel

As a LifeWay Women Ambassador , I am sharing this story today directly from a beautiful post on the Lifeway Women site.  It’s the story of Saint Patrick, a missionary in Ireland.  

‘We don’t know a lot for sure about saints throughout history. What we do know is usually clouded and overshadowed by legends and myths passed down for generations.

Today, we celebrate Saint Patrick. Many of us in America faithfully don green clothing and maybe eat corned beef and cabbage. We don’t think a lot about the man behind the holiday.

Like most saints, the stories of Saint Patrick abound. He has been said to have driven all the snakes from Ireland, his fingers turned into some sort of flashlights on a dark night, and he turned an evil ruler into a fox. Or so the stories go. Blarney? Maybe.

What we do know about Patrick is that he was a missionary in Ireland. He was born sometime in the fourth century in England and was kidnapped as a teenager by Irish pirates. Forced into slavery in Ireland, he most likely worked as a shepherd before escaping to freedom. He was not very religious at the time, but he often prayed in the fields. He credits God giving him a vision telling him to escape.

Once free, he went to France where he stayed for a while in a monastery. He eventually (perhaps after a return to England) began to have dreams where the pagan Irish asked him to return to Ireland to teach them about the gospel. He did not have much education, so he first had to convince the church to allow him to be a missionary. He studied in France for a while, but was always known for his more “rustic” teaching methods.

Many people credit Patrick with explaining the Trinity using a three-leaf clover. He often baptized people in wells, some of which are still called “St. Patrick’s Wells.” Before his death on March 17 (year unknown), he wrote Confessions about his life and mission. His love for the Irish people was clear in his writings. By the time he died, Christianity had taken root in Ireland.

We celebrate saints on the days of their deaths, so today we wear green in honor of Saint Patrick, missionary to Ireland. When I think about Saint Patrick, I am always amazed by the love he had for God and for the people of Ireland. The people who had taken him captive and forced him into slavery were the very ones he loved enough to go back to. Patrick loved his enemies enough to share the greatest news with them.

God calls everyone to share the gospel. He called a former slave to go back to the place of his enslavement to tell them about the good news of Jesus Christ. Patrick knew the weightiness of his task—he sought out an education and approval from the church before going into a place where he may be the only believer. Perhaps because of his unconventional education, Patrick knew how to meet the people where they were. He used everyday items to tell deep theological truths.

May we remember this, too. God calls us to the weighty task of sharing the gospel with those around us—those we like and those we may consider our enemies. God equips us to tell others the story of redemption, how He gave His Son so that we might live with Him forever. This is our calling, on March 17 and every day.

May we also remember those who are risking their lives to share the gospel in hostile environments, who are getting an education so that they may be clear in their teachings, who are learning about the people they will encounter so they can meet them where they are. Today, as we wear green, let’s remember to pray for those missionaries and to look for opportunities to be a missionary right where we are.”

If you would like to be an Ambassador for Lifeway Women, click here to sign up. It’s a fun, free, new program that allows you to help LifeWay Women share the latest news and updates.  You’ll have the chance to earn prizes like Bible studies, event tickets, and other LifeWay Women goodies.

Lifeway Women March Devotional Calendar

With the first day of March coming on Wednesday, it’s time for a new daily devotional calendar.  Lifeway Women is a wonderful resource for inspiration, especially for women, and free art like this month’s family time calendar here.

March 1 — Exodus 14:14 “Sometimes, we wear ourselves out fighting battles that are not ours to fight.”  Pin it to your fridge and share it with your family.

February Devotional Calendar

Lifeway Women February Devotional Calendar

February is my favorite month!  It’s Miss Bee’s birthday month, along with most of the other women in my family.  Three is our family’s lucky number.  Most all of our birthdays are divisible by three, important events in our lives have occurred around the number three, and starting on Feb. 12 with Miss Bee’s birthday, every girl was born three days apart (the first birthday this month is my niece and she was born on the 3rd!).  Pink and red are two of my favorite colors.  I love chocolate and I love, LOVE!

To jump start your February, I am sharing Lifeway Women’s devotional calendar.  Be sure to print a copy and put on your fridge tomorrow and share the scriptures with your loved ones.

Lessons from a Vacation: You’ve Got This

Today was my first day back at work having been afforded the last two and a half weeks off for vacation.  It was so nice to spend time at home with my family in my cocoon of serenity.  Miss Bee returns to school tomorrow.  So, it will be back to early mornings, making breakfast and hurrying out the door. Christmas decor is, for the most part, put away but a pile of “other” stuff sits mocking me to make a decision as to its final resting place.

I am always conflicted the first part of January.  A part of me is glad to put Christmas away for the next year and simplify.  But, it’s also bittersweet because it’s time to stop listening to Christmas music (since it’s been on Pandora since November 1), the fun parties are over and the “spirit” of friendliness and cheer subsides.  The unstructured vacation and relaxation is over, back to the routine.

But, there are a lot of things I look forward to…. like organizing, re-grouping, cleaning and getting back into a routine.  See how that can be a positive, too?

One thing that never changes, is the love God has for me.  His calming nature is all around me if I will just stop long enough to recognize and acknowledge it.  I can choose to get worked up that my calendar is filling up again after a self imposed vacation, or I can take one day at a time and just roll with it.  When I saw the quote from Ann Voskamp in my inbox this morning — “Today, I am going to be a prayer warrior, not a panicked worrier” it was a reminder that I can make many choices today.  I can choose to remember the quiet I experienced during the last few weeks and keep it for the days and weeks to come.  I can remember to be more gentle with my teen when she is cranky and moody.  The quiet did her good this past few weeks.  I saw her funny, relaxed, inclusive, childlike side return — which made me realize that her stressful demeanor is coming from how hard she works at school trying to make great grades and please her parents.

This week I will be sharing things I always do every January to jump start my new year and a few things I would like to try this year. And, of course, we will hear from Haute Holley later this week, along with a few good recipes I have tried out recently.

Have a blessed day my friends.  I really do appreciate each and every one of you taking the time to visit my blog and share it with others.

January Gift List: Ann Voskamp Printable

After all the holiday over indulgence — buying the extra gifts the kids didn’t really need but we wanted to watch them open — more gifts — eating, eating and eating, and exhaustion of wanting everything to be perfect, it’s nice to be able to start anew every January.

This Ann Voskamp printable is the perfect way to re-center and put the focus on being a giver.  No, not more gifts to give, rather the gift of our compassion, grace and forgiveness.

Look at Wednesday’s to-do:  Pray three times today for a person that feels really overwhelmed.  Maybe that person happens to be you.  That’s okay. God delights in hearing your prayers.  Give it forward today.

Milestones and Memories

Well, I am completely worn out.  I am sure you can relate.  For the past three weeks, I have either hosted or attended every Christmas party I possibly could, shopped for or made the perfect gifts, baked cookies, decorated the house, cleaned and re-cleaned the house, designed and sent Christmas cards, and so on.  And fitting this all in with regular life. Raise your hand if this is you, too!  I enjoyed it all while doing it, but I reached my limit and for the last few days it’s been hard to find energy.  I was glad we planned a low-key Christmas day with just the three of us.   And, I am coming down with a cold.

I wanted to share one thing that I did this holiday season that I am most happy about.  If you have been reading along with me for the last six months since I launched Home with a Twist, you’re familiar with the story behind the loss of my parents and the challenges I have had, in particular, with grieving the loss of my mother (read here).  One thing I haven’t been able to do in the three years since she died was visit the cemetery.

This past Wednesday, I was in the area of the cemetery picking up a Christmas gift.  As I got closer, I had this feeling that it would be okay to go by and say hello.  I wondered if the florist at the funeral home had wreaths or poinsettias I could place at their graves.  As I made it to the corner, there in front of their building were rows and rows of beautiful tokens of Christmas.  I pulled in and decided on a bunch of poinsettias to add a pop of color to Mother and Daddy’s plot they share with my grandparents and Daddy’s baby sister who died when she was two.

I parked and walked over.  It wasn’t as hard as I thought.  It did make me cry a little to see Mother’s name carved into the marble.  We visited and talked about Christmas.  I looked over and saw that my Daddy’s little sister, Pauline, died on December 21, the next day.  I can only imagine what that must have been like for him and my grandparents to lose a child four days before Christmas.

As I drove around to leave, I could see the mound of red poinsettias — the only spot of color to be found in that older section of the cemetery.  I could just imagine Mother’s smiling face at how pretty she thought the flowers looked.   She loved color!   It gave me great comfort, not sadness, as I drove away.  And hope, that many more visits are to come.  Perhaps next time I shall take daffodils.

December: Give it Forward Today

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I’m sharing Ann Voskamp’s December calendar printable.  You can find this and other beautiful art, memory verses and stories at her webpage.  Pin this to your refrigerator and make it a family activity to unwrap the season.

Start with today:  Tape a $1.00 or extra change to a vending machine and bring a smile.

Glimpses of Heaven

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Miss Bee took this photo of the sunset over a church

When my daddy passed away five years ago, we gave our family the gift of Hospice care. We chose inpatient care because I wanted my mother to be a wife and partner to my dad, rather than a caregiver.  This meant they could spend time together holding hands and loving each other, rather than her needing to attend to his physical needs.  I am so glad we decided to afford them the sweet, precious moments to say goodbye.

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reflection

A few days before Daddy became unresponsive, he began having conversations with people we could not see.  He’d fidget with his clothing, or pull at his hospital gown.  He would even stare off into space as if he was looking at something.  He was at the point of sleeping most of the day with very little awake time and couldn’t respond with words. One night, I sent Mother home and stayed with Daddy.    As I sat by his bedside, I could see his lips moving very slowly, but with no sound or distress.  I leaned in and said, “I wish I could see what you see. Is there someone here with you.  Do you see Jesus?”  He didn’t reply, but I feel in my heart that his week had been full of visits with important people, perhaps those waiting for his earthly body to catch up with his heavenly one. We encouraged his conversations and the belief that he could see things we didn’t.

About a year ago, a dear friend from church, Dana, was experiencing the decline of her mother’s health, specifically to dementia.  While my dad didn’t have dementia, I felt like there had to be a similarity in the things our parents were seeing.  I shared with her my conversation I had with Daddy, and encouraged Dana to take the time to do the same with her mother.

16-1-1A beautiful thing happened.  Her mother responded with a clarity she hadn’t been able to show Dana in some time.  This past June, Dana’s mother passed away.  Dana emailed me the most beautiful poem she had written for her mother and with her permission I am sharing it with you. Thank you Dana for blessing us with your words.

Glimpses of Heaven

Dementia got its grip on Mother

Conversation exchanges were now rare.

Memories and thoughts seemed stolen from

the one I held so dear.

Ask your Mother what she sees when off into space she stares

A wise suggestion from a friend with experience

You might be surprised what you learn when

visiting with your mom again.

Praying to God for the opportunity to see the one who gave

birth to me just one more time

“Permission granted,” was His answer

“Go seek and see what you find.”

Once the noon meal was over I noticed her staring off at the wall.

The chance to ask the question arose.

So, even somewhat frightened I asked, “Mom, are you looking

at something?”

“Oh, I see a beautiful place” with a look of astonishment on her face.

“And there are lots of people there

and they ALL seem to be okay!”

Realizing that this illness had robbed her of nothing

But only given Jesus His space to show Mom glimpses of Heaven

Preparing her for His grace.

Dana Cook – 6/19/16

Dana is working on developing a webpage to publish this and many other poems she has been called by God to write.

Agape Meal: Faith, Hope and Community

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Mr. Bee and I are in a small group at our church.  We gather twice a month on Monday nights for fellowship and Bible study.  It’s been a great way to meet new people and make new friends outside of our regular Sunday school class.  We may have different beliefs, but our commonality is that we love God and want to seek ways we can be closer to Him.

Every Thursday Broadway Baptist Church hosts an Agape Meal for the homeless and people needing a hot meal and a place to be feel God’s love and a since of belonging.  Agape means love.  So, it’s a love banquet for God’s people.  The church has offered this ministry for over 20 years serving 175 guests, 51 weeks of the year only taking the day off on Thanksgiving when many churches and organizations offer a meal.

Tonight, our small group worked as volunteers to help serve as table hosts and servers. As we drove into the parking lot, there were already guests waiting in line to receive a ticket.  I suddenly felt overwhelmed thinking about our election and the very people that have been the topic of conversation — the poor and homeless — were right before me.  Many people were carrying duffel bags and suitcases with all of their belongings. The streets or a shelter were their next stop after dinner.

agape-meal

When we walked into the fellowship hall, each table was covered in cloth linens set with china, glass and silverware, a centerpiece of real flowers and bowls of home cooked, hot food.  Tonight’s menu was King Ranch casserole, corn, green beans, bread, salad and spice cake.  The mission each week is to treat each guest with dignity, kindness and respect.

Before the meal, the pastor gave a welcome and a prayer.  As we recited the Lord’s Prayer, everyone knew it!  The entire room, not just the volunteers and staff, recited the simplest of prayers we learned when we were children.  These guests may not have brought much with them of monetary value, but their worth was their faith.  They loved God enough to say His prayer out loud and with meaning.  It was beautiful.

Then, we got to work serving food, replenishing drinks, bringing out second helpings, and serving dessert and coffee.  As you can imagine, the guests were thirsty and wanted seconds of everything.  After the meal, worship was offered.  About half of the guests stayed for a few hymns, a scripture lesson and communion.  The pastor asked that the guests at each table share one thing that God provided for that week, and one thing we needed prayer for.  The couple at our table said they were thankful that God provided gas for their car all week.  But, they needed cell phone service in order for him to secure employment.  Suddenly, my Starbucks pumpkin spice latte didn’t seem that important.

We finished the night with prayer.  A simple prayer of asking God for us to be faithful and to have faith.  There are some days when faith is all you have to hold onto.  And then we sent the guests off into the night.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you,

ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  John 15:7