Saturday, January 16, 2016

Baptized in Blessings

My new blog -- Shelter: Postmarked

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

When you ask our oldest grandson, Ethan, what he wants for a gift, he will answer, “money.” At Christmas his answer was, “cold, hard cash.” So in order to fulfill his wish, I put his money gift in the freezer and created a treasure hunt to get him there. I had to come up with another idea quickly, because his birthday is January 8th. I bought him an umbrella and sewed dollar bills to the inside. When he opened it, it “rained” cash.

I’ve had some rained “cash” from God these first few weeks of 2016. Rain in the form of blessings. Ethan knows he’s getting money if that’s what he asks for – he just doesn’t know how it will be gifted. I know when I ask God for help, encouragement, or any need, He will answer. I just don’t know the vehicle for the blessings. 

My blessings have been raining from text messages, emails, mail, and friends. I’m overwhelmed, blessed, and humbled that the God of the universe sees me. He not only sees me, He blesses me with daily blessings. Some answers are needs, but my Heavenly Father takes many of my “wishes” and baptizes me with additional blessings.

Today I’m cozy, out of the cold. Yes, it’s a cold in Indiana day, but despite the freezing temperatures outdoors, I’m warm in my soul. It’s like the Holy Spirit tucked a blanket around my heart and rained down joy upon my head. I asked. He surprised me with the answers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Check Out My New Blog

Here's the link to my new blog: Shelter: Postmarked. I'll still be posting here, but if you're a snail mail encouragement lover, then come over and sign up for the mailing list. Not only will you find inspiration, but you can count your postmarks with us. While you're there, enter the giveaway of a book choice, note cards, a book of stamps and more. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

My 2016 One Word


2016 – How can it be? Choosing my “one word” has occupied my mind. I’ve thought intently, discarding so many words, waiting for the one God would drop into my heart to grow all year long.

I thought fun would be my word. It seemed the opposite of 2015 with its health issues and grieving my mother’s death. But I’m not a “fun” sort of person. But hold on -- maybe my idea of fun doesn’t fit the typical definition of fun, but it’s my fun.

My fun is sheltering. My fun is being creative. It’s playing with papers and tapes, adding to my stationary collection and actually using these items. The kind of fun my mother had in 2010 when she sent out 163 cards and letters (and yes, recorded each one). The kind of fun when my mother sent 185 letters and cards in 2011 (not counting Christmas Cards).

As I read through the record of her correspondence, I was convinced this is what God is leading me to do. So I give you my 2016 word – Fun. Fun that I'm putting a postmark on. You can’t believe the FUN I’ve been having working on my 2016 project. I had hoped to have it all ready to release January 1st, but I guess webmasters take break during Christmas holidays. I have a brand new blog (but this one [Sheltering Tree] will stay the same), and just as soon as it’s up, I’ll let you all know where to find it.

All year long we will be counting our postmarks. You’ll have the chance to send 52 cards and letters this year – envelopes full of love, cheer and encouragement. We’ll have quotes, DIY projects, Book Reviews, giveaways – all on the subject of filling mailboxes of those who need a smile. For more inspiration look at my Pinterest boards:

Your children can join “Postmarks with our Princess” (we welcome Princes, too) to begin their own mailbox ministry. Morgan will be highlighting fun crafts, giveaways and letter writing etiquette.

Ten friends have committed to begin this journey with me. I’m hoping many of you will join us as we postmark our fun. I’ve spent a lot of time in planning, but I know that though humans plan, it is the Lord that determines our steps (Proverbs 16:9). So I know this year will be far more than the plans I’ve made. I can hardly wait to start the journey.

Linked to:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Favorite Gift

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15

Christmas in my childhood home was celebrated with joy. Well, after the tree was up (and lighted), the joyfulness began. Baking and wrappings and secrets galore abounded. 

Our favorite evening of the season was the night Daddy went shopping for my mother. There would be a big stack of Brody’s Department Store under the tree when we woke up Christmas morning. Daddy would tell us (and Mom) what was in each box. The trouble was, it could be exactly what was in the box, or it could be totally different. 

The morning after Daddy’s shopping trip when I was ten, we woke to find a huge box under the tree. On top was a note written by Daddy: “Dottie, do not touch. This means YOU.” He told us we weren’t allowed to touch the box either. We couldn’t wait until Christmas for Mom to open it. There were days of discussion as we imagined what was in the gift.

On Christmas morning, we were giddy with anticipation, ready to watch Mom open her gift. But when it was time for my sister, Melodie, to open one, Mom pushed that huge box towards Melodie. When she opened it, she discovered a much-longed-for accordion. I have no idea what I got that year for Christmas. And in my mind that gift stands out as my favorite gift ever – and it wasn’t even mine. 

This year, my favorite gift wasn’t mine either. My kids spoiled me rotten with a stack of beautifully wrapped gifts. RB whisked me away for an overnight stay (this was the year for in-laws’ Christmas Day). But my favorite gift this season was the tiny baby placed in the arms of a couple who have waited long for a child. Each picture posted on Facebook makes me smile and pause to thank God for the gift that wasn’t mine. 

When I think of the greatest gift, the gift of Jesus, I think of Isaiah, Simeon, Jeremiah, and others who waited long for the Messiah. Yet when the gift came, it WAS mine. It is yours, too. My friend, Janene, sings these words so beautifully:

He gave the greatest gift of all
When He gave Jesus
He sent the greatest gift of love
Wrapped in His Son
He brought us hope
When we had nothing left to hope for
Redemption's story had begun.. (Jane & Jon Sherberg)

The gift of God’s Son, a gift we can’t imagine giving, wrapped with the ribbon of God’s love was a gift for all mankind. Born in a stable, this gift was the King of Kings. He was Emmanuel – God with us. Far more than the gift of an accordion, even far more than the gift of a Twenty-first Century baby boy, is the greatest gift. Open your hands and heart to receive God’s gift.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Breathing Out Your Praise

So I'm breathing in Your grace,
And I'm breathing out Your praise.
Matt Redman

We sang the above song by Matt Redman Sunday, and it's been singing in my heart all week. Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given (John 1:16). Each day is a grace, leaving no room for the trite and pettiness so evident in the world. I can press them down, shake them, but still they run over -- each breath a praise to my God.

Praise for forgiveness, freely given.

Praise for life, abundant and full

Praise for peace, quiet and calm

Praise for joy, overflowing and steady

Praise for blessings, upon blessings, upon blessings.

This grace is undeserved. It's amazing, and constant. It's daily and unending. And it's for you! Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). 

Breathe in God's grace, and exhale with praise. There will always be grace-breaths to inhale. His grace never ends, but it is in the praising that brings sparkle to the grace. Without the praise, when we take grace for granted, it dulls. Take some deep breaths today, and count your graces.

What grace are you breathing in today?

For you...30 Days of Praise. 30 praise verses for you to cut out and use during this season of gratitude.

Click here (30 Days of Praise) to download.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Grief Observed

God is closest to those with broken hearts. – Jewish Saying

  It’s been a year. 365 days. 52 weeks. 12 months. 365 days of grieving my mother’s death. 52 weeks of missing my writing sounding board. 12 months of monthly trips to Pennsylvania. You see, I have felt lost without a mother, but my daddy is the real hero here. He’s had 365 days of living alone. 52 weeks of missing his sweetheart. 12 months of try to adjust to his “new normal” life.

For the first time in 60 years he:

  • Celebrated Thanksgiving alone
  • Attended baby granddaughter Emily’s wedding alone
  • Celebrated Christmas alone
  • Stayed in “their” special Southern Ohio inn
  • Didn’t buy a valentine
  • Had cataract surgery
  • Turned 80
  • Attended church conference, youth camp and family camp alone
  • Drove out (400 miles) – alone -- to see me 
  • Had a son get a sarcoidosis diagnosis
  • Watched that son go through life-threatening complications from meds 
  • Had carotid artery surgery 
  • Selected birthday cards for us kids
  • Washed clothes (and yes, things turned pink)
  • Ironed shirts
  • Fixed his own Sunday morning breakfast
  • Drove 25 miles to church every Sunday
  • Matched his own daily wardrobe
  • Missed telling his bride, “Pick out a flower bouquet for the dining room table.”
  • Interpreted doctor’s orders alone
  • Kept the house spotless
     His road of grief has seen many tears. It’s held hard, hard days. Sorrow has filled his mind and heart. Yet my daddy’s faith still holds. The core of who he is hasn’t changed. He’s still faithful to God’s house, cares deeply for the pain of others, and maintains his integrity unwaveringly. 

     Unlike what many think, grief does not magically end at the end of a year. Often the finality of death is just beginning to sink in, while the loneliness intensifies. I believe Jesus continues to look for people to be His hands and feet for the grieving. People to visit, text, and call. People to brighten a day with a card or a sweet treat. People to sit down, cease their chattering, and just listen.

    The bottom line: From last November to this November, I’ve learned just how lonely “lonely” can be – and how big a hero my daddy is.

Monday, September 14, 2015

5 Steps to Know God More Deeply

The man who would truly know God must give time to Him. -A. W. Tozer

Rain, ground-soaking, refreshing rain.

I walked outside for a few minutes, just to watch and breathe deeply of the freshness. As I watched, I was reminded of a verse I read recently:

Let my teaching fall on you like rain;
Let my speech settle like dew.
Let my words fall like rain on tender grass,
Like gentle showers on young plants (Deut. 32:2).

While watching the ground soak up the rain, my thoughts gravitated to the desire of soul-soaking rain. I want to study His attributes more so I am daily learning more about my Heavenly Father, His holiness and the holiness He requires of us (not to be confused with man's definition).

My heart is ready to soak up the rain of God's teaching. I'm passionate about my desire to know more of God. The problem with passion is that sometimes it's all over the place. Being intentional focuses me, creating more of a tunnel vision, reducing distractions that prevent me from getting more accomplished. 

Here are my five steps to living an intentional life of knowing God more deeply.

1. Open Your Heart

Daily open your heart to God, asking to learn more of His attributes and, through them live more like Him. A Christian's main purpose is to know God. It is God who birthed this goal in us. This is a prayer God loves to answer.

2. Take Action
Ask yourself, "What one action can I take today to further my purpose of knowing God?" Without neglecting the Bible -- the best source to know God more -- are you reading Christian Living books, biographies of spiritual giants, or connecting with a mentor?
3. Use your Bible
It's good to use devotional material, but it doesn't take the place of digging in the Word. Does your devotional mention a particular verse? Find it in your Bible. Does your devotional book include suggested verses to read? Read them. If you are studying the omnipresence of God, search for verses like, "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3).

4. Write it down.

There's joy in looking back over what God teaches us. Write down verses and quotes, and journal about the ways you've seen God's omnipresence in your life. Ask yourself how you can personally apply what God is teaching you.

5. Daily Evaluations
Look back over your day. Did you pursue your purpose? Do you know God more deeply today than you did yesterday? On those days when life takes over, replace the frustration with praise God for who He is, while reviewing His attributes.  

The deepening of your desire will only be achieved if we are intentional and faithful to pursue it. As God's gentle showers fall, my heart is watching, breathing deeply of the freshness, renewing my passion to know God more fully. I've turned my umbrella over, put on my galoshes, and I'm heading out to dance in the rain.