Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

We tendered into Sihanoukville.  Since it was raining, no one was able to sit on top.  The one hundred and twenty passengers were huddled inside the boat trying to stay dry.  The driver of the boat was very focused on getting us to shore from the ship.  The waves were rough and we were rocking back and forth.

It was early and everyone was very quiet.  As we sat there, I thought of the people who had fled from Cambodia and Vietnam during wartime.  A lot of the people had escaped in boats that lacked a sign saying "maximum occupancy" found in our tender.  The people that were fleeing from their country were thankful just to be on a boat to escape the brutality.  The twenty to thirty minute ride to shore seemed long.

I really did not know what to expect to see in this city that had been through many wars and lots of hardship.  Our bus driver and guide were waiting for us as we docked.

Our tour guide spoke good English and he was excited to take our group to visit his city.

Cambodia is located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia.  It is bordered by Thailand to the northwest and Laos to the northeast and Vietnam to the east and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.

One of the first stops was at the War Memorial to remember the two to three million Cambodians that had been murdered between 1975 to 1979.  The Cambodia genocide was at the hands of Khmer Rouge's regime and Pol Pots troops.

The bus then took us to the Wat Krom, Buddhist Temple.  It has a unique and beautiful architecture as well as a view over Sihanoukville and the sea.  As we entered the temple area, we were greeted by the homeless children and a beggar.  We observed some of the monks walking from one temple area to the next.

As we drove through the city, I observed the trash and how the men were constructing buildings, one brick at a time.  There did not seem to be any urgency in completing the buildings.  Also, you noticed men welding while standing in water and wearing glasses, but not wearing helmets or other safety garments.

I did meet a couple on the ship, who told me that they were in the construction business in Australia.  As they travel into third-world countries and they see these men on the construction sites without the proper safety equipment, they will purchase safety items and give them to the workers.  They said the workers are all appreciative of their gifts.  The companies don't pay for safety equipment and the workers have to purchase their own.

I had read that Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world.  About one third of the population live on less than a $1.00 a day.  The population of Cambodia is sixteen million and the town we were in the population is approximately two hundred thousand.

Our guide took us a "typical" Khmer village to meet a family and to see how they live.  The father works for the government and was not at home.  The wife and twin three year old boys with the grandparents were at the house to greet us.  The grandmother was in the back washing the clothes out of a bucket and the mother was inside their one room sweeping.  In the one room was a bed and the kitchen area had a small gas stove.

The other homes in the area were tents with some wood paneling holding it together.

The majority of the roads were dirt and due to the tropical storm, Tembin, that had come through the roads were very muddy.

The rewarding part of the excursion was visiting the local private school.  As the bus pulled up, students were being dismissed from the morning classes.  The students either attend in the morning or in the afternoon.  At this school, there were about one hundred-fifty students.  One class waited to be dismissed until our group was able to come in and meet the students and the teacher.  The students were dressed in an uniform and had bright, big smiles on their faces.  They were happy to meet us.  The children loved high-fiving with Kenny.

When I signed Kenny and myself up for this tour, it was recommended that we bring gift items, such as school stationery, pens, rulers, scissors, etc.  I purchased and brought materials with me, but after seeing the school's condition, I felt that I should have brought more supplies.

The property of the school was very run down.  There were no pathed sidewalks.  Trash was everywhere.  Even as I looked at these conditions, I felt the warmth of happiness from these children and teacher.

We were at the school for only about fifteen minutes and then we were off to the Psar Lu Market.  It was very crowded.  The market had everything.  There were trinkets, clothes, fruit, vegetables, eat.

To end the day, we were then driven to the beach, where there was a nice hotel and a resort is being built there.

As I looked at the beautiful white sandy beaches and the blue water, I reflected on the contrast of the city.  It was hard to comprehend that only a few miles away, people were living in poverty.  I am wondering how could I make a difference to this country?













Six Hours In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

It is Christmas Eve and I am celebrating my birthday in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam or as others know it - Saigon.

The ship docked and we boarded the bus for the 1 1/2 hour drive to Saigon.

As we got closer to the city, from the bus we could hear the honking horns and see the street hawkers and the motorbikes zooming in every direction.  I was in awe of the tall skyscrapers and the retailers such as Versace, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, etc.

Our guide informed us that the Vietnamese want Ho Chi Minh City to be the next Hong Kong.  I would definitely say that it is headed in that direction.

The city lies along the western bank of the Saigon River and north of the Mekong Delta.  It is about two hours north of the ocean and it does have a tropical climate with an average humidity of 75%.

Ho Ch Minh City has a population of 10 million with about 8 million motorbikes.  The monthly tax for a motorbike is $30 compared to the monthly tax of $1,000 for a car.  So needless to say, that is the reason why there are so many more motorbikes.

The city was once a part of the Cambodia Kingdom until about the 17th century when the Vietnamese first gained entry into the area.  In 1859, it was conquered by France.

France occupied Saigon for less than a hundred years.  During that time, the wide tree-lined boulevards, sprawling parks and classical European structures would earn the city the nickname “Paris of the Orient”.

Following the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh Vity to honor North Vietnam’s revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh.

English is well spoken in the city.  English is a mandatory subject from the beginning age of six until they graduate at 17.

We only had about six hours in the city.  During that time, we were able to see the Notre Dame Cathedral.  It was completed in the 1880’s.  The Cathedral is the largest church ever built in the French empire and it has two 190 feet tall bell towers.

Across from the Cathedral sits the stunning Main Post Office, the largest of its kind in Vietnam.  It was built between 1886 & 1891 by renowned architect Gustavo Eiffel.  It’s neoclassical design features an interior reminiscent of a European railway station complete with arched windows & a vaulted ceiling.

Other sites that we saw were the buildings from the Vietnamese War, such as the Rex Hotel and the building that we he helicopter landed on to evacuate people after the fall of Saigon.

The Minh Phuong Lacquer Factory was an interesting site.  We observed the workers in making the lacquerware.  There is a huge warehouse filled with items ranging from small boxes to large pieces of furniture.

We enjoyed a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show at the National Museum’s Theater.

Some other ways that people get around the city is by a pedi-cab, a small pedal-operated vehicle or by a cyclo, which is a three-wheeled bicycle with a large passenger seat in the front.

Even though we only had about six hours in Ho Chi Minh City, we felt that we got to experience and understand the people of Saigon.  The highlight was sitting in a Cafe watching the millions of motorbikes zoom by!




Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Day in Nha Trang, Vietnam

We tendered into the port of Nha Trang for the day.  We were greeted by the locals with the young ladies wearing their native clothing that were of silk with a vibrant purple and yellow coloring.

A market had been set up for the passengers on the dock.  There was a wide selection of items, such as handicrafts, lacquerware, silk, ceramics and even Under Armour.

Our guide began the tour by speaking about Nha Trang. It is tucked on the south central coast of Vietnam and lies at the mouth of the Cai River.  The population is approximately 400,000.  The climate is normally sunny all year round with an average temperature of 73 degrees(F).  Due to the tropical storm in the area, it was partially overcast all day long.

Even though we were in the city, one could observe the beautiful rolling landscape in the distance.  Our guide spoke about the small villages, terraced rice paddies, lush bamboo groves and the occasional water buffalo.

As we drove through the city, I could see the palm trees; long, lazy white beaches and the teal ocean to the right of me.  I now could understand why Nha Trang is often called the "Miami of Vietnam".  To the left of me were the shops and restaurants and crowds of people of people as well as the motorbikes.  The motorbikes would not have just one person one them, but there could be a family of four on one bike.  There would be other motorbikes that would be carrying a cargo of supplies.

It was interesting to see that along the sidewalk, there would be a mirror on the fence and a barber chair on the sidewalk.  These were set-up to cut the men's hair.  I saw several at work.

It was a site to see the spider-web of electrical wiring.  All I could think of was how does one keep from being electrocuted?

Nha Trang dates back to the 2nd century A.D.  To the north of the city is Ponagar Cham Towers, overlooking the Cai River.  The towers are actually a complex of four intricately curved towers set within the lush tropical gardens.  Each tower was built in honor of a distinct Hindu deity.

From the towers, we then got into a boat and cruised along the Cai River.  We observed how the people lived.  The homes were very simple with their clothes hung out to dry and with their food cooking on the stoves outside.

Back on the bus, we headed to the Cathedral that was located on a hill overlooking the city.  This cathedral is one of the first and oldest buildings in the city to be build primarily of steel reinforced concrete.  It was built between 1928 and 1933, the French Gothic structure has two personalities; the facade features an elegant square clock tower and stained glass windows, while inside you'll find red neon lighting on the crucifix and pink back-lighting on the tabernacle.

As we walked from one site to another, we could smell the local cuisine.  The various herbs and spices that are used are lemongrass, ginger, mint, cinnamon, chili and basil leaves.

The drink specialties are sugar cane juice and a "bia hot" or fresh beer poured over ice.  My husband did try the local beer, 333.  He said it was very nice.

Going back to the ship, we noticed the cable car, stretching over 10,000 feet(it is the world's longest over water cable car).  The cable car goes from Nha Trang to the Vinpearl Amusement Park.

The beaches are beautiful and the city is crowded with people and motorbikes.  There is lots of building going on with the people building themselves.  One did not notice any cranes or other building equipment.  Trash is everywhere.

The people are very happy and thankful to have the tourist to assist with their economy.


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Another active morning as the Princess Sapphire came into Port Kelang.  The various teams of men were waiting on the dock to bring the Princess in.  That is something to watch!

Today was going to be a ship day for myself.  A day of pampering, a facial and massage.

I chose not to go into Kuala Lumpur, as it was going to be a short day at port.  The city is about 30 miles form the cruise terminal.  Also, a friend of mine, who travels to Kuala Lumpur for work had told me the city is very modern and had a New York feel.

But if you are ever in the area, some points of interest are:

Petronas Twin Towers = Reaching over 1,400 feet into the air.  This is the world's tallest twin towers.  A sky bridge connects the two towers at the 41st and 42nd floors.  I am sure this would be spectacular to see, but heights aren't for me.

Kuala Lumpur Tower = A telecommunications and broadcasting tower that features shops, an open-air amphitheater, an observation deck and a revolving restaurant to see the spectacular view of Kuala Lumpur.

Batu Caves = One of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India.  There are 272 steps that lead to the temple cave.  The people on board the boat said it reminded them of the Mayan Temple ruins in Mexico.

Some of the other passengers from the ship chose to go to various restaurants to try out the local cuisine.  The different dishes are the Apam balik which is a Malaysian peanut pancake stuffed with roasted peanuts and sugar crumbs.  Some street snacks are deep fried sweet potato balls, Malaysian beef/pork jerky and vegetable spring rolls called popiah.  The food was pretty tasty.

The enjoyment of being on a cruise is finding what works for you!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Langkawi, Malaysia

The sun was rising as we entered into the port in Langkawi.  The spectacular orange color sun reflected off the water with the green, lush islands in the background.  This is how I imagined Malaysia to appear.

Langkawi is located just 18 miles off Malaysia's northwestern coast and is actually a cluster of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea, just south of Malaysia's border with Thailand.  The population is only about 65,000 compared to the other cities of Malaysia which are approximately 1.5 to 2 million people.

As we stepped off of the ship, you knew you were in a tropical climate with a temperature of around 93 degrees.

The excursion that my husband and I chose was the Kilim River/Mangrove Cruise.

The bus headed towards the Kilim Marine Park, a 38 square mile park which features green mangrove forests with beaches and lagoons.  As we got to the park, we unloaded the bus and headed towards the boats that would take us to the various sites.  Our first stop was the Bat Cave.  As we stepped through the dark cave, you could feel the cool air on your face and the feel the bats as they flew over your head.

Stepping out of the cave, our group was met by a Macaque monkey, who was definitely looking for food.  The monkey saw something shiny as a lady passed by and it jumped on her and grabbed the red shiny package.  It ran up into the top of the tree and proceeded to tear the package and was very upset as it realized it was only a package of baby-wipes.  It wasn't what it was looking for!

From the cave, we got back into the boats and headed towards the area where the brown and white eagles live.  As we cruised along, we saw some iguanas that were climbing in the trees.

What a beautiful site to see the eagles nesting in the trees, as well as flying across the river from one tree to the next.

The other excursions that one can enjoy is the cable car that you will take to Mount Mat Cincang, Langkawi's second highest peak, soaring over 2,000 feet above sea level.

This is definitely an island that you will want to come and relax and enjoy the surroundings!


Penang, Malaysia

Five days ago, we left Singapore and headed to Malaysia.  Our first port was Penang.  It is located on the west coast of Malaysia.

As we stepped off the ship, one could feel the heat & humidity.  We were greeted by a group of local dancers.

Penang remained under the British colonial rule until 1957 when Malaysia gained it’s independence.  There is still a lot of reminders of Britian’s Imprint.  Even though Penang has an European style, there are lots of temples, mosques & Chinese clan houses.

Penang was named Pulau Penang by the Portuguese.  It was officially settled in 1786 by a British trader and captain, Sir Francis Light, on behalf of the East India Trafing Company.

Penang was an important trade route for Europe, the Middle East, India & China.

The primary language is Bahar Malay, but English is widely spoken.

The various things you can do in Penang is visit the Butterfly farm, which houses over 100 species of live butterflies, the Penang Museum, The Reclining Buddha, Kek Lok Si(the Temple of Paradise, which is the largest Buddhist temple), and many more sites.

The people in Penang were very friendly & helpful.

As for food, Penang is known as the food capital of Malaysia.  Val Kurt the, which translates as “meat bone tea” is actually a soup of meaty pork ribs and meatballs simmered in a broth of herbs & spices.

St, George Church, which is almost 200 years old, is the oldest Anglican Church in Southeast Asia.

Put on your walking shoes and enjoy the city!


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo

It was another hot and humid evening in Singapore.  Our evening was beginning at the zoo.  This zoo was the first to introduce Night Safari Tours.  It houses over 2,500 animals representing over 130 species of which 38% are threatened species.

We boarded the tram with about 80 other passengers.  Our guide took us through the park to discover the various wildlife.  These animals are made visible by lighting that resembles moonlight.

As the tram took off, the first animal that we encountered was the Markhor.  Some were sleeping, where others were roaming.

In the distance, we could hear a laughing noise.  We were approaching the striped hyenas.  There was a pack of them roaming the area.

Everybody in the tram were excited and pictures were definitely being taken. You definitely need a night camera to take adequate photos of the animals.

Turning a bend, we could see a male lion sitting on top of a rock.  He was keeping watch over his territory.

Other animals that we saw in the wild were bears, elephants, rhinoceros and hippopotamus.

After we got off the tram, we took off on several trails to see the wallabies and even observed a hippopotamus being fed.

This is a tour that I would definitely do again!




Singapore Botanic Garden

As the bus pulled into the Singapore Botanic Garden, one could feel the heat and humidity.  It is these two components that allow the gardens to be so lush and green.

This garden was established in 1859 and was designed by Lawrence Niven, whose work reflected the English Garden style that influenced the emergence of numerous English landscape gardens and public parks from the 18th century until this period.

It was early morning so the garden was very quiet as the tourists had not arrived.

There are three different areas:  The Learning Forest, National Orchid Garden and the various themed gardens(such as the Ginger Garden, Healing Garden, Fragrant Garden, Foliage Garden and the Evolution Garden).

My husband and I chose to go to the Orchid Garden first.  I am fascinated with orchids.  I have been nurturing an orchid for almost three years.  New leaves have sprouted, but I have had no luck with it flowering.

Entering into the orchid area, I can not find the words to describe the beauty.  The vibrant colors of red, orange, yellow & pink were breath-taking.

I was impressed with a white orchid plant that was named in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales.

After going through the Orchid Garden, we proceeded to an area where we discovered the Jelawai tree.  This tree was very impressive as it stands 153 feet and is at least 150 years old.

As we continued our walk, we could hear some rustling among the leaves.  As we got closer to the noise, we noticed that in front of us was a lizard that was at least three feet long.  We found out that this was a Monitor lizard.  They can get as large as nine feet.  I definitely wouldn't have wanted to come across a nine foot lizard.  Believe it or not, this lizard plays an important role as scavengers in biomass decomposition and recycling.

If you are ever in Singapore, this is a must see!


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Singapore

As I traveled to the hotel, I was impressed with the cleanliness of the area.  Due to the heat and humidity, everything is so lucious and green.  Singapore is made up of 63 islands and is just about 85 miles north of the equator. It is also home to one of the world’s largest ports.

Some facts that I have learned about Singapore is that it is the third richest country in the world.
The city is so amazing with all the retail stores & restaurants.  If you love shopping and eating, Singapore is definitely a place to visit.

There is so much to do here.  My hotel room looked out into the “Fountain of Wealth”.  This is a symbol of wealth & life.  It is listed as one of the world’s largest fountain in the world and is located in one of Singapore’s largest shopping mall, Suntec City.  At night, there is a lovely light show that shows off the fountain.

Some other places that I plan to see are the Botanic Garden, the Night Safari, Sentosa Island and so many other sites.


Flying to Singapore!

Excitement was in the air as I boarded United Airlines in San Francisco!  It was almost midnight.  I had started my morning at about six a.m.  Fortunately, everything was running smoothly at the Denver airport.  Arriving into San Francisco in the early afternoon made it a long wait.

I found my seat in the economy section and I settled in for the sixteen hour flight to Singapore.  There is something about the humming sound of the airplane.  The sound & vibration put me right to sleep. I slept for about an hour and that was it for the rest of the flight.

Being on a flight at night is strange.  Pretty much everyone was sleeping around me.  I had just watched the movie “Passenger” a few days before.   This movie is about a spacecraft that is traveling to a distant colony planet.  It is transporting thousands of people in sleep chambers.  It is a 120 year voyage.  Of course, one of the passengers has a malfunction with their sleep chamber and they are awaken 90 years early.  You will have to see the movie to see what happens.  I felt like that my sleep chamber had malfunction.

I enjoyed the flight by watching many movies, such as “Paris Can Wait”, “Wonder Woman”, “It’s A Wonderful Life”(this was probably my 30th time to see this), etc.

When the Captain said, “the plane will be landing in about an hour”, it was music to me ears.

It was a very smooth landing.  It felt great to stretch my legs.

As I got through customs, I was eager to get my luggage, get a taxi and head to the hotel.  

My adventure in Singapore was just beginning!


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Tribute To Robert Carter

In July, I attended my 45th High School Reunion.  It is hard to believe that it has been that long ago.  I enjoyed the two days of visiting with classmates that I hadn't seen in 5+ years, as well as with classmates that I had not seen since high school graduation.

After the dinner on that Saturday evening, a video was shown of classmates that were deceased.  There was silence in the room and tears running down one's cheeks as each person was projected on the screen.  There were a few that had passed away in the 70s, a few more in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s.
It really hit home when one observed how many had died in just the last few years.

As I sat there and thought about each person, I kept seeing them as that young, energetic individual who was going to conquer the world.

About a week ago another one of my classmates, Robert Carter was killed in an auto accident.  His wife of three years survived with injuries.

Robert was a unique individual.  In high school, he excelled in sports and building friendships.  He served in active duty in the military from 1972 to 1975 and he continued to serve from 1975 to 1995 in the Army Reserves.  He was called for active duty in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.  While he was there, he suffered from Gulf War Syndrome.

Even during the years that he suffered from his own illness,  he took care of his first wife, who had a long term illness.  He was always willing to assist others, especially veterans.  He was determined that each veteran would be taken care of.

Due to his own sickness and not able to get around as easily, he used that time to locate as many classmates from our graduating class.  He coordinated many reunions and events for the "1972" Graduation Class of Richfield High.

In 2008, he was given six months to live.  His faith and commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ kept him focused and determined to live a life that Christ would live.  God continue to use Robert in ministering to others.

He was a chaplain who performed marriages, funerals and guidance for others who were seeking the meaning of life.

As I heard of his death, I was shocked and wondered why the Lord had chosen this time and this incident to take Robert.  Since I lived in another state, I wasn't able to attend the funeral.  The emotions and tributes that were spoken through Facebook made me realize the impact that he had made on his family, friends, veterans and others that just needed someone to listen to them. 

As I am approaching another birthday, my prayer is that like Robert, I will make a difference to other's lives and that I will step up to the plate and bless others as people have blessed me.

God has a plan for each of our lives and we just need to allow Him to use us!  Robert did!



Friday, December 8, 2017

At The End of the Day

As I looked toward the west toward the Rocky Mountains, I was speechless as I looked at the clouds.  The various shapes, the pink, orange, almost salmon color took my breath away.

I thought of the quote, "Sunsets are proof that no matter what happens, every day can end beautifully".  It had been a good day, but even if it hadn't been, the barren trees, the stillness of the air and the display of colors would have given me a calmness and a realization that "tomorrow is another day".

God's name is to be praised as scriptures states in Psalm 113:3, "From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised".

May you enjoy the beauty that God has created!


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Reflect on the Moment

This morning as I rocked in my rocker and looked outside at the frost on the ground and the roofs, I was thankful for having a warm home.  The temperature read at 15 degrees.  It was definitely a morning that I wanted to be inside.

To start my morning, I sipped on my hot coffee and observed the birds out in the wetland.  Some were soaring across the blue sky and some were sitting in the trees with their feathers puffed-up trying to stay warm.

It is December 7th, the day that Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in 1941. The U.S.S. Arizona was completely destroyed and more than 2,300 Americans were killed.

A day that Americans began to fear the unknown.

As Americans, with so much that has happened within the year, hurricanes, fires, shootings, etc., we are still feeling fearful of the unknown.

What can help me to not be fearful?

As I reflected on the emotions that people are feeling, I read from one of my devotional books and these were the words that were written:

"When my focus is broad enough to include Him in my thoughts, I feel safe and complete.  When my perception narrows so that problems or details fill my consciousness, I feel empty and incomplete.

Though the world is unstable and flux, I can experience continuity through His uninterrupted awareness of His Presence.  I need to fix my gaze on what is unseen, even as the visible world parades before my eyes."

As I step out in life, I need to keep my faith and have the hope knowing that God does work through all situations and circumstances.

Today is a new day!  As I reflect about life and all the fates that we have endeavored, I know that My God will be there to assist me with each step.





Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Super Moon

As I opened the door into the darkness, I could feel the cool temperature and see the beautiful, bright, beaming moon.  It was as if, I could reach up and touch it from my front porch.

I was out for my nightly walk.  I wanted to see the Christmas decorations at the houses in my neighborhood, as well as enjoy the Super Moon.  This huge, glowing full moon is rare.  Since the moon is close to the earth, it appears brighter and larger than usual.

The sparkling lights from each of the houses and the shining moon put a smile on my face.  There is something about being in nature.  It gives me a calmness and peace that I sometimes cannot find.

It seems as if we are always looking for happiness and joy and we are trying to find ways to create it.  The truth is, that it is right there in front of us.

Some verses regarding the moon:

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor."  Psalm 8:3-5  This verse tells me that when I am not feeling worthy as a person, I have to remember that God considers me highly valuable.  I have great worth because I bear the stamp of the great Creator.  Because God has already stated how valuable I am, I can be set free of feeling worthlessness.

"Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all you shining stars."  Psalm 148:3
Creation is a great symphony and all the parts play together.  I am a part of that symphony.  As I listened to the coyotes in the background and look at the full white moon, I realize that I am a part of God's creation and that I need to "Praise Him for myself and the glorious surroundings."

If you weren't able to enjoy the Super Moon this past week, the Super Moon will also appear on January 1st and January 31st.  Mark it on your calendar, so that you can immerse yourself in the brightness of the moon and "Praise God" for all that He has created.



Monday, December 4, 2017

Who Am I?

As I listened to the service on Sunday, these words hit home with me.  The pastor stated that "there is no true understanding of who you are without first understanding who God is."

Christmas is the most wonderful season to discover God.  If there was no God, there would be no Christmas.  Christmas is a time to explore God's great story.  The story of who He is and what He has promised me.  The hope that He gives me to understand "who I am".

The beginning of God begins in the book of Genesis.  In the beginning, God created....light and darkness; sky and water; land and sea; sun, moon & stars; fish and birds and animals and man.  God felt good about His creation.

We are formed in God's image.  The reflections of His glory.  How am I using my creativity, my speech and self-determination?  Am I glorifying God?  How is my character?  Am I reflecting love, patience, forgiveness, kindness and faithfulness?

God saw what He had created and He was happy.  God was pleased in how He made me.  I need to continue to remember that He made me for a good reason and that I am valuable to Him.

God had the perfect life for me, but in "the beginning, man decided to question God and make his own decisions".  Because of man's disobedience, God was sad.  God could not allow man to get away with sinning.  Due to Adam and Eve's sinful nature, man has inherited the sinful nature.  Adam and Eve broke their relationship with God.  Because of this broken relationship with God, they became self-conscious, they tried to excuse and defend themselves, and they began to doubt themselves and had many more obstacles in their lives.

Wow!  At times, that sounds like me.

But God, who is a loving God, found mercy and promised to send His son to save me from the sins of the world.  With the birth of Jesus, came the hope that we are all looking for.  With the birth of Jesus, came Christmas.

I need to remember these five thoughts of God:

1.  God wants me to know Him and to believe in Him.  Isaiah 43:10, "I chose you to be my servant, so that you would know me and believe in me and understand that I am the only God."
2.  God wants me to glorify Him.  Isaiah 43:7, "They are my own people, and I created them to bring me glory."
3.  God wants me to find satisfaction in Him.  Isaiah 55:2, "Why spend money on what does not satisfy?  Why spend your wages and still be hungry?  Listen to me and do what I say and you will enjoy the best food of all."
4.  God wants me to experience His peace.  Isaiah 48:12, ""Listen to me, Israel, the people I have called!  I am God, the first, the last, and the only God!"
5.  God wants me to enjoy His presence.  Isaiah 43:1-3, "Do not be afraid--I will save you.  I have called you by name--you are mine.  When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you.  When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you.  For I am the Lord your God, the holy God of Israel, who saves you."

I just need to remember that all my questions about myself, about life, who am I?, are all found in the Word, the Bible.

As I dive into the Word and hear the truth, may I discover "Who I Am".

I sometimes make life difficult by not realizing that the answers that I am looking for are right before me.

This Holiday Season, may you take the time, to be quiet, watch the flickering of the lights on your tree and listen as He whispers and speaks the truth of who you are!




Saturday, December 2, 2017

Countdown for Christmas Day

Today is Day 2 for my advent calendar.  Day two is an angel.  When I saw the angel, the verse that came to mind was Luke 2:8-14.

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

These verses are so powerful.  The angel didn't appeared to the wealthy, but to shepherds.  These could have been the shepherds that supplied the lambs for the temple sacrifices that were performed for the forgiveness of sin.  The angels invited these shepherds to go see the "Lamb of God".  This God would take away the sins of the whole world forever.

The shepherds didn't just walk to see the new baby, but they ran.  They knew that their own lives would never be the same.

The coming of Christmas is a time to reflect on what is really important in your own life. 

Each day I will open up the specific window on the calendar.  Behind each window is a special gift that will draw me closer to Christmas Day.  I will take time to ponder each specific gift.

There is more to Christmas than receiving gifts.  This is a time that we can assist each other and help others to understand the true meaning of Christmas.

There are so many different sizes and types of Advent Calendars.  Find yourself a calendar that will prepare you for the true meaning of Christmas Day.

Once you find the true meaning of Christmas, your life will suddenly be changed!

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 1, 2017

An Evening of Lights


The sun had set and the temperature had dropped.  Knowing that I needed another 3,000 steps to get my 10,000 steps for the day, I bundled up.  I put on two layers of pants, a long-sleeved t-shirt, a sweatshirt and a jacket.  I pulled out my black gloves and hat.  Looking like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, I was ready for my evening walk.

As I opened the door, I could feel the cool air on my face.  I looked up into the sky and I could see that the moon was almost full.  With the brightness of the moon and the Christmas lights on the houses, I knew that it would be a pleasant evening of walking.

Not every house had lights, but the ones that did were spectacular.  The warmth of the blue, red, green and white lights helped me to relax and to reflect on the "Reason of the Season".  The Christmas Season is so magical.

There was such a variety of lights. I am partial to the icicle lights.  The white dropping of the lights does make one feel as if there is snow on the ground.  The lights that reflect the snowflakes on the home is also spectacular.

Each house had its own personality.  Some homes had a certain theme, such as Snoopy, the Christmas Story or the Snowman.

A great way to relax at the end of the day during the Holiday Season, is to take a walk and observe the decorations that are just right around your home.  After your walk, you will enter your house with a calmness and peace that you haven't enjoyed in a while.




Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Masquerade!

Today was a day of costumes and masks! 

The song from "Phantom of the Opera" played through my mind all day long.

"Masquerade!
Paper faces on parade. . . .
Masquerade!
Hide your face,
so the world will never find you!

Masquerade!
Every face a different shade. . . .
Masquerade!
Look around--
there's another mask behind you!. . . ."

I just finished a book and the main character talked about how we all have our own masks.  A friend had died with lots of secrets and her friend was talking to someone else and stated that "the closing years of life are like the end of a a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped."

Those words have played in mind, over and over.  What mask am I wearing?  Is there something that I need to confront from my past and to let it go?

People are wearing invisible masks and being someone else.  What are we trying to hide?

As I continue on my journey and discovering myself, may I see my life as it is and not try to hide behind a mask!  Once I drop the mask, I may realize the unique the person that I am.




Monday, October 30, 2017

Looking Into The Mirror

As I look at the leaves changing colors(bright yellow, gold, orange and red) and the temperature turning colder, I realize that my own life is changing.

The mirror doesn't lie.  My face is not as firm as it was thirty years ago.  There is a droop around the eye area and the chin area seems a little bit more thicker.  And what about the hair?  There is a new tint of gray that keeps popping up.

I seem to be thinking more about yesterday and tomorrow and less about today.  The verse that keeps coming to mind is "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalms 90:12 

I do know that my days are numbered and I do want my days left on this world to be glorifying to God.  May I be the servant that He wants me to be.  May I take time to listen to others and to be faithful as a friend.

I realize that God has used many great men and women in the later years of life.  Abraham was far more effective once he grew old and mellow.  Moses wasn't used until he turned eighty.  Caleb was eighty-five when God allowed him to take the Israelites into the promised land.  Samuel was old when he anointed the first two kings of Israel. Mother Teresa was devoted to helping the poor, the sick, the needy and the helpless.  There are so many more people that God has used in their latter years of life.

Growing old has its difficulties and heartaches, but there are also the joy and happiness that has happened along life's journey.

I came across these verses:

"Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life."  Proverbs 16:31

"They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green."  Psalms 92:14

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you."  Isaiah 46:4

"Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.  Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live; not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good."  Titus 2:2-3

As I look into the rear view mirror, may I see a person who will allow the gray hair and old age be a blessing from God and that I will rejoice in the years of experience and wisdom that has been gained.





Sunday, October 29, 2017

Praise God for A New Day!

As I looked at the sky and the beautiful colors of orange, yellow and dark blue clouds, I realized that today had been a beginning of a new day.  I have discovered that the days are going faster, the years are getting shorter and my life expectancy is different than when I was eighteen.  With all of that in mind, I am beginning to enjoy each new day.

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple."  Psalms 27:4

This was David's prayer.  His greatest desire was to live in God's presence each day of his life.  My prayer is that I will also enjoy each day with God and I will allow Him to use me to make a difference.



Monday, August 21, 2017

The Solar Eclipse, 2017

As I was on my morning walk, I received a text from our neighbors wanting to know "was I going to watch the eclipse"today.  I hadn't really thought about it.  The news reports in Northern Colorado have been stating "don't get on I-25 unless you have to.  Traffic is terrible and cars are inching along the interstate."

In hearing the news, I began to have flashbacks to when Hurricane Rita was headed towards Houston. This was two weeks after Katrina had hit New Orleans back in 2005.  I remember trying to flee Houston in the middle of the night to try to escape the storm and the traffic.  With all of that said, I have stayed in my neighborhood and the immediate surroundings for the past few day.

I texted back to my neighbor and asked "do you have the solar glasses.?"    Her reply was yes.  She said meet us at the pool area around 11:15 am(MT) where we have the best spot of seeing the eclipse.

I got home and began to read up about all the craze for the solar eclipse. In Colorado, the eclipse would begin around 10:30 am and last until 1:15 pm.  The peak would be between 11:45 and 11:55 am. I found out that where I was located, the eclipse would reach about 95% instead of 100% total darkness.

 And that the last time that the United States had an eclipse was in 1979 and it only had reached five states. It was in 1918, that the eclipse did cross the U.S. from coast to coast. Today's eclipse was stretching across fourteen states: Oregon, Idaho, a sliver of Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, a tiny portion of Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The next solar eclipse will be visible in Colorado on August 12, 2045 and that the path of totality will pass directly over the state.  Who knows, I could still be here?

As I got to the pool area, I could already begin to feel the weather getting cooler and the sun did seem a lot dimmer.  There was a stillness among the wind and a quietness among the birds.  It was as if, time was standing still.

It was interesting to watch as the moon passed in front of the sun.  It was surreal in observing this take place.  As the moon did cross in front of the sun, it wasn't total darkness.  I looked north towards the Wyoming border and you could see the darkness.  It reminded me of when the weather changes and a northern is blowing down from Canada.

It was a great experience and if I am still around in 2045, I will pull out my solar glasses and I will enjoy the moment.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

The End of the Day

There is something about walking in the evening.  It is a great way to end the day.  

As I strolled through the neighborhood, I thought about how peaceful my day had been.  It had been an uneventful day.  We need to have those because there are days where we feel that we can't accomplish anything.

I could hear the crickets chirping, I could see the swallows gliding through the sky and the rabbits jumping from one area to the next.  Also there was a crispness in the area as the sun was lowering in the west.

I was able to capture this photo of the sun going behind the clouds.

Thank you Lord for a beautiful and peaceful day!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Eye of the Peacock

Today as I was going through pictures, I came across one of the photos that I took this summer in Italy.  I was touring an organic cheese farm and these peacocks were roaming the property, spreading their beautiful feathers and crying out their call.


The beauty of the peacock is so spectacular with it's rich, iridescent blue body and the tail plumes are a rich blue as well.  The vibrant blue, green and yellow eye spots on the feathers show the beauty of the peacock.

The peacock is symbolic of integrity, as well nobility, holiness, guidance, protection and watchfulness.  This is one reason why you always see peacocks roaming on the grounds of royalty.

Seeing this photo reminded me once again of the beauty of nature.  God created the peacock and He created me.  May we never forget how special we all are in God's eyes!

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Dancing Butterfly

As I relaxed outside today to enjoy the warm sunshine and cool air, I noticed the "white dancing butterflies" in the garden.  It was so peaceful to sit there and to watch them flutter from one plant to another.  As if they had no care in the world.

Watching nature is so symbolic of our own lives.  Even though we don't have wings to fly, we still have the opportunity of sharing ourselves with people around us.  Sometimes we just don't want to reach out and share happiness and joy with someone.  Are you in a rut in life?  Get out there and do something for someone else.  Spread your arms and embrace life!

Butterflies are so adaptable to their environment.  We need to learn to be sensitive to our surroundings.  You don't have to put yourself into a situation that doesn't build you up.  Be around people and circumstances that encourage and support you.

Also, butterflies teaches us metamorphosis.  Butterflies shed the old before they can become the beautiful creatures that they are.  We need to remember that sometimes we need to back-off and to allow the process to happen.  The adult butterfly only emerges as the conditions are right.  We need to remember that there will always be "changes".  When we do develop and gain our growth, our life will take on a new formation and we will be ready for our next phase in life.

As the butterflies danced among the flowers, they remind us not to be so serious, but to enjoy our surroundings.  We need to embrace changes as they happen. People tell us "to stop and smell the roses".  Maybe we need to stop and dance with someone.  Dancing always brings a smile to your face, as well as laughter.  Laughter is so cleansing.

The white color reminded me of purity and the cleanliness that we all strive for.  As we all know, no one is perfect. But we all need to be the best that we can be.  The Indians believed that the white butterfly represented "a guardian spirit, ushering you along the path of life".  The butterfly represents the endurance, change, hope and life that we all need.

For even just a few minutes, taking time to watch the white butterflies dancing, took away the stress and problems around me.

Do yourself a favor!  Get outside and watch nature perform and I promise you, you will have a different outlook on life!

The White Dancing Butterfly


Sunday, August 13, 2017

His Divine Plan

In my search of discovering His will for my life, I am reading the book Every Life Is A Plan Of God by J. Oswald Sanders.  He has a lot of good insight.

In today's reading, these words made an impression on me:

"Each of us is unique because we are made in the image of God.  'So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.'  Genesis 1:27.

If there is a divine plan for our lives, and I believe there is, we should not expect it to be like an architect's blueprint.  Or like a travel agent's itinerary, all complete with dates, places, and times.  We are not automatons controlled by a heavenly computer!  Divine guidance concerns people who have been endowed with the awesome power of free choice.  Every day we have to make decisions and choices, some of which will affect our whole future.  The fact that we have been created in the divine image adds an eternal dimension to these decisions.

The circumstances surrounding our lives are not accidental, but are devised by an all-wise and loving Father, who knows how best we can glorify Him and yet at the same time achieve our own highest good.  When this becomes a conviction, believed and accepted, then every part of life becomes significant, and life itself becomes one large voyage of discovery of God and our own true selves."

My life is not by accident.  The these things that I am going through are not by accident.  Even though at times I want everything laid out, that is not going to be the case.  Once I allow God to be in control, I can have the peace that I am looking for.

I just need to "Let Go and Let God"!


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Just A Thought!

Mark Twain once said,

"Take your mind out every now and then and dance on it.  It is getting all caked up."

He was saying, "Try something new, break new ground, get out of your rut."

Our lives are like that.  We sometimes keep doing the same thing over and over and over, but we get nowhere.  There is a lot to life.  I am challenging myself to try something new!  Let's see what I come up with!


Friday, August 11, 2017

Accept the Things I Cannot Change

Today, I was reminded of the verse that theologian Reinhold Niebuhr composed:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

These words are easier to recite than they are to live by.  But the more that we recite this verse, the more we will begin to understand that we can be comforted by our great Creator and that He understands His plans perfectly, even when we don't.




Thursday, August 10, 2017

Press On

Today was a day of one thunderstorm after another coming through our city.  Our lives are so much like these thunderstorms.  We get one situation handled and within a hour, a day, a week, a month, etc., another situation comes about.

Will there ever be a day or a time that we feel like there is a peace among us?

How does one handle finding out that their job has been eliminated or that they have been diagnosed with cancer or a love one has died or they don't have enough finances to pay bills?

As I was reading my Bible, I read a story about David and how he handled tough times.  David and his men were out fighting battles and they came back to their homeland.  When they approached their town, they discovered that their town had been destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters had been taken captive.  David and his men wept until they couldn't weep anymore.

David's men were so upset at him, that they thought about stoning him.  They were bitter in spirit because their families had been taken.  Instead of thinking of a plan to go rescue their families, they looked for someone to blame.

As I continued to read, the scripture that stood out was "But David found strength in the Lord his God."  God gave David the strength to begin to look for a solution instead of a scapegoat.  So often as we go through circumstances we want to blame someone, instead of looking for a way to take care of the problem.

With wisdom from God, David found a solution and was able to rescue everyone who had been taken captive.

As we go through our circumstances, we need to go before the Lord and pray for wisdom to handle the situation.  Take one concern at a time, handle it so that you can handle the next and the next and the next.  God doesn't promise that there will never be a problem, but He does promise that He will carry us through the problem.

The photo reminds me that we even though I may be surrounded by water(challenges), the calmness(the strength from God) will help me to tackle the circumstances and that I need to "press on".


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

An Earnest Request

As I have been on my journey of understanding my role in life, I have begun to understand that God wants me to come before Him to request for the needs of the people around me.

This past Sunday, one of the preachers talked about how the whole world longs for a spiritual connection with God. Some people feel that God is always with them and some feel as if God isn't listening to them.  That He never hears them and that their prayers(requests) are just bouncing off the ceiling.

There is no "magical formula" in praying to God.  He wants us to talk with Him about our hopes, our dreams, our desires, our hurts, our disbelief, our pain, etc.

Even the disciples came before Jesus and asked Him to teach them to pray.

Jesus taught them the Lord's prayer.  It is okay to come before God with the same prayer request(over and over and over).  He encourages persistent prayer, when we pray with a sincere and honest heart. He also encourages us to be faithful.

Until others feel comfortable in praying, I will continue to pray for the wisdom/direction or healing that they need in their life.

We are like these "Black Eyed Susans" when we have God in our life.   These flowers are very versatile to heat and drought.  These beautiful yellow flowers with the dark, brown-purple centers with-stand the obstacles around them.  We also with-stand the obstacles around us when we allow God to direct us.


Keep on Praying!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Today, I Wept

This morning I received a text from a friend discussing all the situations going on in her life at this time.  My heart was so heavy burden that I began to weep.  As I wept, I thought about Jesus and when He wept when he heard that Lazarus had died.

As I have emotions for my friend, Jesus also had emotions(compassion and sorrow) for Lazarus.

As the tears flowed, I prayed for my friend.  I prayed that God would give her the strength to endure all that she is going through; to give her the wisdom and the insight that she needs.  As I cried and prayed, I could feel the Lord telling me that He would take care of her.

Jesus doesn't want us to hide anything from Him.  He cares.  Matthew 11:28-30 states "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

A yoke is a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of an ox.  It is then attached to a piece of equipment so that the oxen can pull.  These heavy burdens(sorrow, sin, weariness, etc) can only be freed through Jesus.  He will give us peace, love and healing.

I dried my tears and decided to take a walk.  It had rained earlier in the morning and now the sun was peeking through the clouds.  With the sun out, the flowers looked more vibrant and alive.  I also felt more vibrant with the sun rays touching my skin.

Our lives are so much like nature.  After the dark clouds and rain, there is always hope with the Son in our life.




Monday, August 7, 2017

Trust in HIm

One would never believe that it is August in Colorado.  For the past few days, it has been cloudy and rainy.  The highs have been in the 60's and it almost feels like a fall day.

The dark cloud has lifted, but the clouds are still surrounding me.

As I look at the attached photo, I wonder how do I see beyond the clouds and remember the days of pink clouds, the baby blue sky and the light of a brand new day.


The verse that comes to mind is Proverbs 3:5-6:
""Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

We at times wonder can I really trust God?  Will He get me through these tough times?  By being in prayer and reading the Bible and allowing the Word to be my guide, God will give me the direction that I need.  It is hard to explain to someone about the peace that overcomes me when I am reading the Word.

I must trust God in every area of my life.  This mean; my values, my priorities, my work, my family and my dreams.  When I allow God to be first in my life, I will accomplish His purpose and He will assist me through those dark times.

I just need to remember to take "one day at a time".  God tells me not to worry about tomorrow. Today is His.  As Scarlett O'Hara, from "Gone With the Wind" said, "After all, tomorrow is another day!"








Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Dark Cloud

Have you ever felt as if a "dark cloud" was hanging over your head?  I know I have.  For the past several weeks, I have felt as if all my "joy" has been sucked out of me.  My heart has been heavy for my family and friends that are going through so many trials in their life at this time.

As I am going through this darkness, it has taken me on a journey to find the light that God gives to each one of us.

In the book of Genesis, the story of Joseph shows me that God is always with me.

"But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden."  Genesis 39:21.  The notes for this verse tells me that, as a prisoner and slave, Joseph could have seen his situation as hopeless.  Instead, he did his best with each small task given him.  His diligence and positive attitude were soon noticed by the warden, who promoted him to prison administrator.  As we go through situations, we need to follow Joseph's example by taking each small task and doing our best.  God turned Joseph's situation around.  God will see our efforts and He can reverse even overwhelming odds.

God is with each one of us, as He was with Joseph.

As I look at this picture, I see the "dark clouds" and the light of God shining through.  This week, I will be seeking the "light" that God wants me to discover.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Eagle's Nest Hiking Trail

With our relatives visiting, we loaded up the truck and headed to La Porte, Colorado for a four mile hike at Eagle's Nest.  The weather in July is cool in the morning and hot in the afternoon.  With getting to the trails by 8 am, we felt that we could be finished with our four mile hike within two hours.

Arriving at the trails early, there was only one car sitting in the parking lot.  We were ready for the hike with our water, sunscreen and hats.

There are many hiking trails in our area and this was one we had not been on before.  This area has been home to nesting golden eagles for at least 100 years.  From February 1 to July 15, the area downstream of the bridge is closed to fishing and public access to protect the nesting area.

Eagle's Nest includes 755 acres.  This area has five miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding, as well as the Cache LaPoudre River that runs through it.  These acres are home for deer, elk, coyote, mountain lions and other animals.

As we headed north on the red dirt trail, the majestic view of the Laramie Foothills was breathtaking. You could see for miles.  As we walked, we enjoyed the beauty of the wildflowers.  The wildflowers are so small and dainty.  The vibrant yellow, blue and purplish colors were striking.

To think that cowboys use to trail herds of cattle through this area.  The pioneer settlers migrated west to develop a new beginning.  It is hard to imagine what these people went through to have their own homesteads.

The trail led us to the river and there was a tree stump waiting for us.  It was nice to rest and to enjoy a duck and her ducklings as they swam across the river.  The sound of the running river and the swishing sound of the leaves as the wind blew was so comforting.

We took a different trail as we headed back to the parking area.  This trail was more climbing than the previous trail.  We would go a few feet and then stop to take in the beautiful terrain and the silence.

We were hoping to see Eagles, but we didn't and we were glad that we did not encounter a rattlesnake along the open, rocky areas that we hiked.

Colorado has lots of hiking trails.  This is a nice, simple trail to enjoy the beauty of the mountains and the surroundings.




Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Monday, July 3, 2017

Make Cake Balls Out of a Crumbled Pound Cake!

It is amazing what lessons we learn from our surroundings.  I was having friends over for dinner the other night and I wanted to bake a Pound Cake and have strawberries and whip cream with this cake. I hadn't baked one in many years.  With all of my moves in the past six years, I had gotten rid of the bundt pan that I would bake it in.  I purchased a new one.  After allowing the cake to bake, then cool, I proceeded to get the cake out of the pan.  No luck!  I had to cut the cake out and it was in crumbles. It wasn't in a beautiful ring shape.

I was a little upset.  But I realized, I could make lemonade out of lemons.  That night with my guest, I took out martini glasses, put a layer of crumbled pound cake, then whipping cream, another layer of crumbled cake, and more whipping cream and then added some beautiful red strawberries on top. Everyone thought the dessert was superb!  It tasted great!

Later that evening, I was telling my sister about the disaster and she said make cake balls.  Cake balls originated because bakers would have flops with their cakes or have stale cake.  To prevent waste, someone created cake balls.  They are made by blending cake crumbs with icing, shaping them in form of a  ball and then dipping them in a coating, such as chocolate or white chocolate.  You can then decorate them with sprinkles, nuts, etc.

The next day I gave it a try.  I wouldn't win a blue ribbon for the appearance, but it would win a ribbon for taste and texture.  My nephew loved them!

I began to think of my situations in life.  Sometimes we think things are bad, but God has a different plan.

One verse that came to mind was:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28.  God works in all things for our good.  It does not mean that all that happens to us is good, but God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-range good.

Another verse was:

"But Joseph said to them: "Don't be afraid.  I am in the place of God.  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" Genesis 50:19-20.  Joseph's brothers had sold him into slavery many years ago because they were jealous of him.  Through this ordeal Joseph became the governor of Egypt and was able to save many lives during the time of the drought.

So the next time, you think something is a disaster, just remember God has a plan and He will help us through those times.  He will give us the wisdom, insight and knowledge that you need!

"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"

Cake Balls

Strawberry Short Cake in Martini Glasses

The Disaster





Friday, June 30, 2017

A Storm is Brewing

I watched the storm off of my balcony.  It was southwest of town and in the distance you could see the dark sky and the lightning, which would flash nearly every 10 seconds.  I tried to get a picture of the lightning, but it was just to fast to capture the white streak across the sky.

The wind had begun to pick up and I knew that the storm was headed my way.

Watching the storm, I thought that nature and mankind are so much a like.  In nature, storms produce heavy rain, snow, hail, sleet, thunder and strong winds.  In our lives, we also produce storms of drama, shouting, screaming, adversities, hardships, grief and so much more.

Just like nature is not exempt from storms, we aren't exempt from them as well.  We go through storms so that we can grow.  These storms in our lives help us to grow closer to God, as well as growing in understanding ourselves better.  They help humble us and force us to submit to the role that God has chosen for us.

As we go through these times, we need to continue praying; reading scripture(know that scripture is what keeps us from sinking); praise God for these trials; have faith(allow God to do something spectacular) and believe in miracles.  We need to believe that God is still in the business of performing miracles.

As the thunder and lightning was getting closer, I decided to go inside and to batten down the hatches.  I knew that after the storm, there would be a calmness, the air would be cleaner and there would be a freshness in the air and maybe even a rainbow.  I just had to be able to ride through the storm.

Riding through the storm is like riding through the situations in our lives.  I need to always remember that God will help me through my troubling times.  I just need to trust Him and look forward to seeing that rainbow!



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Me & My Shadow

You have days where you reflect on the past and today was one of those days!

As I went on my walk today, the sun was behind my back and I could see my shadow.  At that moment, it was 1966 and I am back in the sixth grade at Crestview Elementary School in Waco, Texas reciting the poem "My Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I remember my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Fletcher.  She had red hair and bright blue eyeshadow.   We were always having to memorize something and reciting it in front of the room.

When I got home from my walk, I went to my books and I found the book of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson that my father had given me back in 1962 and there was the poem "My Shadow".

It is amazing what our brain stores!  It was a good day to reminisce!



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My Name Is Written...

The light started peeking in the window around 5 am.  I dozed for a little while, but about thirty minutes later, I decided to get up.  Sunrise was at 5:30 am.  Yikes!  I do enjoy the long days and the warmer temperature.

After drinking my coffee and having my quiet time, I decided to go get my steps in.  The temperature was a nice cool, fifty-six degrees.  It is amazing how many people are walking around the neighborhood at 6:30 in the morning.  There are bikers, runners, walkers and people walking their dogs.

I am always amused at how many people have their earplugs in and are listening to music.  To me, the natural music is my surroundings.  The red-winged blackbirds are squawking, the doves are cooing and the hawks are soaring and screeching.

Today the wind was blowing, so I could hear chimes in the background as well as the rustling of the leaves.  Also, there was a train going down the railroad tracks and blowing the horn.

As I walked along the sidewalk, I thought of the words that I had read earlier.

"I have written your name on my hand."  Isaiah 49:16.  To think, He knows me by name.  Just like the shepherd knows his sheep and He knows them by name.

I sometimes wonder does He even care?  Does He know when I am hurting or when I am sad?  Does He know when I feel insecure or when I don't have the confidence to do something?

The answer is Yes, Yes & Yes!  He does know!  He is right there with me; guiding, directing and pushing me to be the best that I can be.  He gave me the mind and the feet to move forward.  I sometimes, just need to do that.

Max Lucado, an author and minister, said these words "If God is able to place the stars in their sockets and suspend the sky like a curtain, do you think it is remotely possible that God is able to guide your life?  If your God is mighty enough to ignite the sun, could it be that he is mighty enough to light your path?  If he cares enough about the planet Saturn to give it rings or Venus to make it sparkle, is there an outside chance that he cares enough about you to meet your needs?"

As I am looking at my future and pondering the direction that I need to go, I just need to step-out and as Nike says "Just Do It".

When I got home, I looked at the palm of my hand and knew that my name was written on God's hand and that He wants the best for me.  So whatever you are going through, take a minute and listen as He whispers, close your eyes and see His hand as He writes your name.

Today is a new day and a new beginning!




Monday, June 26, 2017

Hope!

Looking at these peppermint petunias, the word that comes to mind is "hope".  Hope of a new day, a new tomorrow, a new beginning!

I don't see peppermint petunias very often. But these petunias bring to mind the "legend of the Christmas Candy Canes".  The story is that the white of the cane represents the purity of Jesus Christ and the red stripes are for the blood that He shed when he died on the cross.  And the peppermint flavor represents the hyssop plant that was used for purifying in the Bible.

Without God, we have no hope.  During my devotion today, I read these words, "people can live without many things, but they cannot live without hope".  Sometimes that is all that we have.

I have so many family members and friends that are going through some difficult times.  I have several friends that have been diagnosed with cancer in the past several years and have gone through surgery and treatment.  Other friends that are grieving from a death of a family member; some are having marriage problems and others that have lost their jobs.  There is so much pain in the world.

When people are going through these times, what do you say?  You can feel their loss, but you can't fell their emotions/pain as they walk through this journey.

God is not trying to destroy someone as they walk through these hardships, but He is trying to get them to grow.  While we suffer, we have to have "hope" and know that God is merciful.  He is with us.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 states "For I know the plans I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  You will call upon me and pray and I will listen."

Jesus tells us when we feel hopeless and afraid, look to Him.  He is the source of hope and promises.
We need to remember as we experience illnesses; a job loss; problems with your marriage or going through persecution, that this life is not all there is.  There is life after death!

So today as I go through my challenges and think of my friend's challenges, I will keep my eyes on Jesus.  He is the only answer!