Category Archive: Gifts

scenic view of night sky with stars
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

The sky was inky black. I gasped. “Don, look at the sky!” The stars were so brilliant they almost jumped out at us. There in all his glory was Orion; and there, the Big Dipper. Further over, we saw Cassiopeia. And between, millions of stars, twinkling and blinking in glorious harmony. Breathtaking!

We’d left home at 10 am. Don, Paigey and me.

After enjoying our Starbucks breakfast, Paigey her puppucino, we transitioned to Highway 101 for Tracy, where we dropped our little girl off at her “first mom” Mary’s for the next few days, where Paigey was surrounded by adorable Cav pups, aged 7 weeks to 18 months.

Continuing, Don and I laughed, listened to our favorite talk show on the radio, and sang along with CD’s by the Texas Tenors and Kelly Bryant, who we met in Branson a few years ago. Bryant’s are specifically songs of hope, praise, and trust in a faithful God, and my spirit was uplifted as it was filled with the truths she sang.

In Mariposa, we stopped at a Burger King for a potty stop and lunch. The dining room was closed, only drive-through, so a man there directed us to the burger place across the street. We shared a delicious burger and sweet potato fries. Before the food arrived, I wanted to use the restroom. I went the wrong direction and turned into a courtyard where several children were doing their homework. The waitress told us they waited there daily for their mother to pick them up after work. The children kindly gave me directions. One was a sweet ten-ish Hispanic girl, and I wanted to say more to her. But the opportunity didn’t arise.

After Don and I finished eating, I went to use the restroom once more and, there she was – the sweet girl I’d wanted to appreciate. As she walked past I said, “I hope you know how beautiful God made you.” She smiled shyly. “Thank you.” “And he loves you,” I added. She turned around and said, “And he loves you too.” “Thank YOU!” What a God-moment. To hear her affirm God’s love for me when I wanted to encourage her was priceless.

Upper Yosemite Falls cascading into ice and snow

As we entered Yosemite we began to see snow along the roadways, on the rocks, and in some areas of the Merced River. Bridal Veil Falls and El Capitan were colored by the lowering sun. Upper Yosemite Falls dropped into a pool of snow and/or ice before falling down to the middle and lower falls. And Half Dome reflected clearly in the stream below.

We checked in, unpacked, and found our room in a wonderful corner, windows on two sides, with a lovely sense of privacy. There we enjoyed a great zoom call with one of my brothers and sisters-in-law. Then we put on warm jackets (it’s supposed to get down to 17 degrees) and our snow boots and walked over to share a turkey sandwich and chips. As we left our room, I gasped, looking at the stars, uncluttered by the lights of a city. Clearer here than I have seen them in years. Startling. Sparkling. Amazing. Immediately Psalm 8 came to mind.

When I consider your heavens,

the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

    which you have set in place,

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,

    human beings that you care for them?

Lord, our Lord,

    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8:3,4,9
At the bridge by Lower Yosemite Falls

Don and I are here for our twelfth anniversary. Our marriage is a beautiful gift from God, and we are enjoying more years together than we anticipated, since Don is twenty years older than I am. And yet, by God’s grace we’re both relatively healthy and enjoying this good gift from the Father’s hand.

I love the words from the song, “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me.

I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by Your side
I can only imagine what my eyes would see when Your face is before me
I can only imagine Yeah

Surrounded by Your glory what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees, will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine

I can only imagine when that day comes and I find myself standing in the Son
I can only imagine when all I will do Is forever, forever worship You
I can only imagine, yeah

I can only imagine when all I will do Is forever, forever worship You
I can only imagine …

I Can Only Imagine

Surrounded by my Father’s grace, my husband’s love, and the million stars we can see from here, I can’t think of a place I’d rather celebrate.

May God’s blessings and presence surround you as you walk through this week and this year. I pray you and I will find small and large moments to celebrate this year. It may be those divine appointments, the beauty of nature, the love of family and friends, the awe of knowing God. Our God is good, all the time!

Tea, Breakfast, and a Falcon

I walked into Lisa’s Tea Treasures at 11:02 to see my sister-in-law, my niece, and two grandnieces I hadn’t seen in about two years. Makenna and Bailey, the two youngest, still wore their “tea” hats. Bailey jumped out of her chair and ran to hug me. Makenna, becoming a young lady, stood and hugged me.

We enjoyed fresh scones and Devonshire double cream, gingerbread cookies with lemon curd, cucumber sandwiches, and salad. Sandwiches were cut in squares, triangles, a heart shape. Crocheted tea cozies covered the pots of steeping tea. The wallpaper had pretty pink roses below the chair-rail. Our cups and saucers were of finest china. Sweet music played in the background as we caught up with each other, then said goodbye until a much-anticipated reunion in Yellowstone next month.

Janae, Sheila, Makenna, and Bailey
With my niece and grandnieces

The girls’ father came to our home for breakfast the next morning. A pastor in Virginia, he was in town to officiate at a wedding. Over Don’s delicious pancakes and fresh fruit, we also caught up. We talked about the church, families, and some difficult emotions we’ve both experienced in the past year–and what’s helped us through that. Counseling, support from a loving few, and medication were all helpful to both of us and we are again functioning as we’d like. Drew quoted someone (sorry, don’t recall the name) who said, “Medication doesn’t change who you are; it frees you to be who you are.” I’ve certainly found that to be true.

Yesterday I needed to prepare for our granddaughter and her boyfriend coming to visit for five days. We haven’t seen Gabrielle in several years and eagerly look forward to this time together.

Outside Petco I met a woman who is a licensed falconer! (She’s also a licensed hawk trainer.) The colorful American Kestrel Falcon on her gloved hand was only seven weeks old and at this point, goes everywhere with her. This is the smallest of the falcons. I learned a bit about training a falcon to hunt for its prey; how many falconers there are in the United States; and that women are becoming more prominent in the field than they used to be.

Wonderful gifts from God, each of these experiences, as well as the brief conversation we had with a homeless man on the side of the road. When my eyes are open to see the joy of interacting with others again–particularly family, but also strangers who have something to teach us–I recognize …

  • The goodness and glory of the God who has led our family in varying paths, to different locations, for His purposes.
  • The privilege of occasionally helping someone in need, and
  • The creativity of the God who holds all things in His hands, including this beautiful falcon.

I wish you and yours a celebratory, joyful Independence Day enjoying the goodness and grace of God!

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. …

Psalm 145:1-3

post by carolnl | | Closed

Your Favorite Christmas

Do you recall your favorite Christmas? It may be a Christmas gift whose memory has always remained with you. Something you hoped for that came true, or anticipation that made the realized hope even more precious.

When I was a child in Winnipeg, Manitoba, my brothers and I were eager to open our gifts. But we had to wait until Christmas morning. So every Christmas we children wakened about 5, got Mom and Dad out of bed, and were given the chance to open ONE gift of our choice. Then we had to go back to bed or play quietly until Mom and Dad were ready to get up for the day.

doll with grey eyes and brown hair
Photo by James Sutton on Pexels.com

I was a doll girl. So my favorites were the beautiful dolls my parents got for me. I’d open one, take it back to bed with me, and fall asleep holding that sweet gift until we got up later to open other gifts and enjoy the day together.

My memories also include presents I made when I was working in an inner city ministry in Los Angeles. I didn’t have much discretionary money, so made many of my gifts. One Christmas I worked for weeks on a beautiful stitchery picture for my brother and sister-in-law. I didn’t finish it before coming home to San Jose for the holiday. So Christmas Eve I stayed up ’til 4 or 5 in the morning to finish that piece! Fatigued as I was, I enjoyed giving it and seeing the pleasure it gave Arn and Carol. I also painted and fired a pirate’s head bust for my brother Mel. I was quite proud of the pirate’s facial coloring and the infusion of blush on his cheeks by the fingertip application of red chalk.

Fun memories all. And as an adult, I recall those precious times when our family gathered together to remember Jesus, the hope of all the nations. While alive, Dad always read the Christmas story from Luke 2 before we opened gifts that symbolized the greatest of all gifts–God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice so we could be forgiven of sin, become His children, and enjoy eternal life in His presence. What joy!

She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.

Matthew 1:21

This year will be different. Don and I will be alone with Paigey on Christmas Day because of the pandemic and stay at home orders. But we won’t be alone. We’ll go to a drive-in Christmas Eve service at our church. We’ll remember Jesus, thank Him for His gifts, enjoy giving and receiving presents to and from each other, read, sleep, and enjoy a quiet day together. And we’ll zoom!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Jesus, our Lord!

So what are your plans for Christmas?