Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015 Reading Plan

You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.  –Paul Sweeney

Some were recommended by family and friends, others I read about on blogs, and still others I found on my own -- but all the books on my stack make me wish for a day to do nothing but read. 

This year I decided to get back to novel reading, too. I'm shooting for twelve novels. I'm a non-fiction reader, loving to learn how to serve God better, to be a better wife, to love people better. But I have come to realize that sometimes my mind needs a rest. So some evenings I'll be picking up a novel in an attempt to stop my whirling mind.

"No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting."     --Lady M. W. Montagu

In previous years I purchased mostly Kindle books. This year I am purchasing print books so I can share them with others. Some don't like to loan their books, but I like well-worn books -- if a little wear and tear means the content has helped my family and friends.

A friend, Donna Nobles, from my writer's group published a devotional collection:14th and Central: Stop, Consider These Things. I love reading books from people I know and will continue this practice.

I also love purchasing books from blogging authors. Here are a few I've read this year.

I Never Saw a Purple Cow

Pure Eyes, Clean Heart

Bringing Home the Mission Linck

Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval - and Seeing Yourself through God's Eyes

I cannot imagine my life without books. It makes me happy to see my girls read -- and now when I see my grandchildren with a book, wow! 

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all. –Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

So pick up some new books and create a "stack." Choose a few from a different genre than you usually read. Schedule reading time the same way you schedule other activities. Hold the words up to the light of your beliefs. Keep the good; throw out the rest. And you'll start 2016 a better person.

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles William Eliot

Monday, January 5, 2015

For Like Ever: The Secret Ingredient

Relationships blossom when sacrifice takes the place of selfishness.                                                                                  ~Darlene Schacht

They made it beautiful, these who love our Emily. The shower was hosted by Melanie, Emily’s sister and matron of honor. The other bridesmaids (along with Katie and Kayla’s mother) helped with planning, set up and food. It was a magical day for Emily as she shared this time with her closest friends. 

One of the things I loved was this framed poster, “For Like Ever.” It was adorable on Melanie’s antique desk. (I wish you could see how it was arranged, but I’ve cropped some of the pictures to make a personal shower appropriate for the public.) But really, don’t we all face marriage with these words – wanting it to be a forever marriage?

I know every marriage doesn't always end at ever. Where there are abuse and unhealthy issues, safety is of importance and husbands or wives often don’t have the option of making it forever. It takes two people to make the ever happen. Each one has to be committed to the ever. And God must be in the center. With a committed husband and wife, and God at the center, there is one secret ingredient that takes a marriage from average to fantastic. Henny Youngman said, “The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret.” But I don’t think it does.

It’s a simple thing, really. But it’s a simple ingredient that must be chosen every day. I give you the ingredient with gentleness. There are times we all need to work on our marriages, myself included, so I’m offering this with love. The secret ingredient is unselfishness. I believe that most issues in a marriage begin with selfishness. We want our own way. We want to be right. We don’t want to make the effort. When we choose the selfish way we often bottle it with laziness. 

I’m NOT fixing him dinner – let him get his own.

I’m NOT giving up my plans to stay home with her.

I’m NOT giving up my shopping trip so he can fund his hunting trip.

I’m NOT going to her side of the family for Christmas.

I’m NOT going to let him be the spiritual leader of our home.


Being unselfish doesn’t mean you enjoy her mother or sister. It means you love your wife (or husband!) enough to visit her family (and be pleasant doing it).

Being unselfish doesn’t mean you cook a five course dinner each night. It does mean you make an effort (squash the laziness) to fix a healthy meal and sit down and enjoy it with him. And on his nights to cook, you eat and thank him for fixing you a meal. 

Being unselfish doesn't mean you don’t have an opinion. It means God ordained marriage and placed your husband as your spiritual leader. Opinions can be discussed, but like Christ as the head of the church, we must submit to the spiritual direction of our husbands. 

I’m happy I chose the ever. Yes, I’ve been selfish and even lazy at times. But with age comes understanding. You may not have done it correctly in the past, but you determine to be unselfish from now to ever.

Take time each day for a “real” kiss. Say “I love you” and choose the ever. The blessings will far outweigh what you received from the selfishness. And you’ll have a marriage that lasts “for like ever.” 

Linked to:

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 One Word

When life gets blurry, adjust your focus.

Before I reveal my "One Word," I'd like to finish up 2014 and give you a peak into where I've been during my absence. I didn't intend to take a break, but I found life required it.

The first day of November brought the hardest event a daughter will endure -- the loss of my mother. It was unexpected and sucked the life out of me. My mother was an active, classy lady, and one of my dearest friends. It was hard, still is hard, but my sweet daddy is leaning on God and facing his grief bravely. She died two months before their 60th wedding anniversary.

The middle of December brought pride as we watched Emily march Magna Cum Laude for her degree -- double major in Elementary Education and Exceptional Needs. It was a fun day, celebrating Emily, and also Melanie whose birthday was the same day.

Photo by Kay's Kaptures

December 20th was a joyous day -- We gained a son. Jonathon and Emily's wedding day was beautiful and we were blessed with so many family and friends who celebrated with us. The newlyweds spent Christmas tucked in a beautiful log cabin in Gatlinburg.

Photo by Husband & Wife Photo

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent with Shawn and Melanie and our four grandchildren. I love Christmas with them because we focus on each other and just relax. The kids play around us and Melanie and I talk, crochet and even read. Not to mention cook. But Shawn fixed us a trash can turkey that was amazing.

I'm looking forward to 2015. God has given me Focus as my "One Word." There are many distractions, but God drew me to the verse in Proverbs 4:25, Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. 

I'll be focusing on God, RB and our family, our writing, and dear friends. I'm looking directly forward, waiting to embrace the blessings of the new year.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Untie the Ribbons

Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons. 
                                                                  ~Ruth Ann Schabacker
Mom with our Ethan 

Rev. Duncan, a former pastor of my mother’s, shared these words at the funeral, November 4, 2014:

When I think of Dottie Cessna, I think of this..."She lived in the moment." She took each day, each moment as God gave it to her and she packed into it all of the prayer, encouragement, fun, excitement, creativity and love that she possibly could. She lived in these moments with a purpose - to live to the fullest the life that God had given to her. Hers was not a mundane day-to-day existence. She kept up with the best of them, only slowing down a little when her physical demanded it.

A special day was not just merely a happening, it was an event. Whether she was going to visit family, or receiving a visit from family, she was excited and ready for the adventure. What was she doing? She was taking the ordinary and turning it into something special.

One year for their anniversary I had made Brother and Sister Cessna a cake, and my family and I made a pastoral call to drop it off. Of course she offered for us to share it with them. I had used a piece of yellow gingham ribbon to add some color to the cake which had to be removed before the cake could be cut. I didn't think any more about that ribbon, but I was to see it again. Shortly after that visit a card was given to us - handmade of course. Guess what was on it? A short piece of yellow gingham ribbon. She had taken the ordinary and made something special from it.

When we think of Dottie Cessna, I believe we would have to admit the same about her life. She took what each one of us has today, those seemingly ordinary days of life, and used them for God's glory and the encouragement of others. So today, we can take those beautiful memories, tuck them into our ordinary lives, and turn them into something special.

Pattern found here

One of Mom’s favorite maxims was, “Sometimes you have to
 make your own sunshine.” One way she answered the sunshine call was to encourage someone. Almost every one of our shopping days included Mom buying something for her “drawer” – small gifts to have available when it was time to encourage others. 

Decorative file folders, note cards, books, a linen hand towel, or food gifts in unique containers – she loved gifting. The young, the elderly, and everyone in-between were encouraged when she changed their ordinary days to “something special.” 

Even the smallest of gifts were wrapped with ribbon. Mom shared my delight of ribbon. Often when shopping together, we’d each buy a spool, and share. The artist in her loved the healthy colors, and the last time we shopped for ribbons, she bought the new two-sided rolls. She was excited about a new project I’m working on that involved ribbon, and told me I could inherit her ribbon collection when she died. Neither of us knew that in four months, that would be our reality.

I’m picking up her mantle. I’m determined to take my ordinary days and use them for God’s glory and the encouragement of others. Ordinary days tied with ribbons of joy and grace.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Do All to the Glory of God

Mother, the ribbons of your love are woven around my heart. 
                                                                         ~Author Unknown

The next few posts will celebrate my mother.

My parents’ pastor is young – very young. Not only is Hillsdale Church his first pastorate, my mother’s funeral was his first funeral. Mother would have been so proud of him. He was organized and articulate, and his love for my mother was evident in every word. Here’s a peek into his words.

Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered and ye gave me meat (Matthew 25:34-35).

When my wife and I came to visit Hillsdale, we didn’t really know anyone. We were strangers and the wonderful people from the Hillsdale church took us in. I remember different people from the church coming and bringing food for our Sunday dinner. Everything was cooked to perfection and very delicious, but I really only remember one dish in particular.

I remember a beautiful crystal bowl and within that bowl was a culinary work of art. It was Sister Cessna’s fruit salad. I soon realized that this was a very special fruit salad, and a very special person made it. She did not just open a Sam’s Club jar of mixed fruit and call it a fruit salad. Everything possible was hand selected, fresh, carefully cut up, and arranged in an artistic fashion.

My wife will tell you that I do not eat fruit. I grew up around fresh fruit, and the sour, unripe, gas-processed-modified-fruit-substitute that is commercially available does not appeal to me. I may go weeks and barely consume fruit.

But this was different. Hours must have gone into making this the best fruit salad known to man, and somehow that labor of love added a wonderful welcoming touch to the delicious flavor. And the amazing thing was that she could duplicate it occasionally for special guests like evangelists, singers, and missionaries. We were strangers to Sister Cessna, and she was a stranger to us, but she made us welcome. We were hungry, and she provided food.

What is your fruit salad? Are you offering water and clothing, or feeding the world around you? I’m sure my mother never dreamed that her fruit salad would be included in her eulogy, yet it was because her offering was “to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. ~Albert Einstein


Dorothy (Dottie) Jane Gromley Cessna, of Indiana, Pennsylvania, went to be with the Lord Saturday, November 1, 2014. Born in Grant Township, September 13, 1936, she married Carl R. Cessna December 31, 1954.  In addition to her husband, she is survived by two daughters, Melodie LaVan (Steve) of Indiana, Pennsylvania, Pamela Kuhn (RB) of Muncie, Indiana, and one son, Craig (Becky) of Lancaster, Ohio. She will be greatly missed by her grandchildren, Pamela Satterfield Asbury, Jordan Satterfield, Melanie Kuhn Clemens, Jennifer Cessna, Andrew Cessna, Emily Kuhn, Luke LaVan, and Lori Spurgin, as well as eleven great grandchildren.  Also surviving are two sisters, Rosa Lee (Jim) Roodhouse, and Jean Keith. Preceding her in death were her parents, Tom and Ruth Gromley;  stepmother, Eulale Gromley;  one sister, Julia Kritzer; one son-in-law, Rev. Ray Satterfield; and two granddaughters, Carla Satterfield and Sarah Kuhn.

Dottie had been a faithful member of Hillsdale Wesleyan Methodist Church since 1956, where she served in several offices many years, including church membership secretary, Sunday School teacher,  and Women’s Missionary Society president,  as well as denominational YMWB treasurer and WMS auditor. She had a great appreciation for the arts, continuing as an active member of the Indiana Arts Association; through the years, Dottie created numerous one-of-a-kind china-painted items, specifically fashioned for her children and friends.  More recently, her artistic ability was expressed in meticulously-crafted greeting cards intentionally designed to encourage family and others she loved. Dottie and Carl were so anticipating the celebration of their sixtieth wedding anniversary the children had planned for January, 2015; their love for each other was unequalled, as evidenced through their obvious affection and mutual respect, providing beautiful examples for their children and grandchildren to follow.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Delighting in the Holy

Remember that it is not hasty reading, but serious meditation on holy and heavenly truths, that makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the mere touching of the flower by the bee that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time on the flower that draws out the sweet. It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most, that will prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian. Thomas Brooks

I was away for a week. Only one week. Seven days. But when my littlest grandboy saw me, he jumped into my arms, hugged my neck, giving me an exuberant kiss on my cheek. Did I feel loved? Yes! Did I think Camron was delighted to see me? Yes! His sweet boy arms and excited “Mamaw” made my day!

So often God speaks to me through His favorite people – the little ones  the ones Jesus rebuked His disciples for sending away. The ones He gathered to Him and prayed blessings over. The ones who listened as He told story after story. 

God spoke, and I was left with the question, How excited are you to see me? Sometimes when I listen to the words of Scripture, I have to bring my wandering mind back. Sometimes I am blessed by the words I hear. But excited? Hug-your-neck kind of excited? 

It was in those moments I heard the promise of Ezekiel 37:5, I will breathe into your dead bodies and you will come to life. Don’t you just love how God speaks through Scriptures we have memorized as a child? Every promise comes with a condition. God can’t breathe new life into me if I’m not there to accept it.

So there I’ll be each day, Bible open or audio cued – waiting excitedly to hug on God, as I meditate on the holy and heavenly truths.