Precious Friends

This joke by “Just Feelin’ Good” was shared by my friend Sarah E., who has an autistic child. Sarah lives a very courageous life, and she’s forever passingalong wonderful jokes that cheer me up. However, if you know anyone who has an autistic child, you know that life borders on impossible almost every day.May we all be kind to everyone, but especially to those who suffer.“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”      (John 7:24)

Camp Armstrong Fun and Games

I’m always amazed to find that sometimes the simplest diversions are the most fun for youngsters (and oldsters too). Uncle Dan and Aunt Brianna had the brilliant idea of having the grand kids decorate paper table cloths for us. The kids had so much fun that pretty soon creative urges were overtaking the adults, and    by suppertime everyone could tell where they should sit by the artistry.         (My place is that second picture I showed you, loving decorated by the grands:) )Not all the fun was done while just sitting or standing around, though.There was a lot of actionat our nearby township park, both on the courtsand on the playground equipment!Of course, some of us worked harder at having funthan others!But on our volleyball court (a perennial favorite) everybody worked hard at playing!So, let the games begin! This is Joel serving…and Gerlinde serving…and thenthings started to getfastand faster, high and higher, wild and woolier,hot and hotter,until even Grandpa was hot and Reuben was catching and throwing like a champ! (That’s the privilege of our littlest teammates.)Okay, so after a good workout, it was time to cool down in the pool!And, play with those littlest guyswho were a bit too timid to tackle the court with the adults…at least just yet.This was Baby Amelie’s maiden voyage into a swimming pool…she hung tough!Another major pleasure was kayaking. Here is Uncle Dan with Reuben,Grandpa with Gideon (Hey, somebody’s resting! Get that paddle in, boy!),and Daddy Aaron with Baby Reid, who never wants to miss a trick (like Jon used to be as a baby too)!

Well, Tanglewood Cottage may not be Disney World, but we had a super relaxed and fun family reunion for a fraction of the cost and possibly even more fun.

  “Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.”   (1 Chronicles 16:10)

Bubbles Burst But Bubbles Rose

This has been a pretty horrendous week. In the triple minus column were two accidents and two funerals. The worst was my oldest son, Aaron, who was hit by a car (driver’s fault) riding his bicycle home from work last Monday night. The lady in the car  was fine, but the impact threw Aaron into the lady’s windshield, gashed his back breaking off her side mirror, and landed him in the E.R. with an injured knee, sore arm, scratches and bruises, but miraculously, no broken neck, brain damage, or other deadly injury. I was also in an accident (my fault), where I failed to see a car coming behind a paint truck. I was totally blindsided and didn’t know she was there until she careened off the side of my front bumper. Her SUV flipped and blew out both the back and front windows before landing back upright. It was the worst car accident I’ve ever been in, but miraculously, both of us walked away without a scratch. Unbelievable! Thank you, Lord, for your amazing mercies to all four of us!

I also attended two funerals. One was the brother of a friend, and the brother was just 2 weeks older than I am. This man was an alcoholic and his family wasleft with great grief and pain. The other was a very elderly lady from our chapelwho was much loved by everybody and had earned the nickname “Bubbles.”Despite these frightening and very sad negatives, there were some happy positive events too. I helped a friend with her garage sale to raise money for the adoption of a little guy from Columbia, and she raised a lot of money! On Saturday, thesound guru from our chapel sponsored a surprise 60th birthday party for the power-point guru and even managed to get his family from Wisconsin to come!Our pastor and the head of our deacon board sponsored a great impersonation of Doug and Bob cracking jokes behind the scenes, and Andy noted their similarityto some other famous commentators. Here’s our pastor, who cheerfully endured such cracks (doubtless his idea) as: Doug: “Boy, I sure wish the messages were on TV.”   Bob: “Why?” Doug, “So then we could turn ’em off!” After the fun, therewas lots of good food(which I think is pretty much a part of most “family” gatherings, isn’t it?),and lots of good fellowship. Welcome to the 60’s Bob; they’re not so bad! 🙂It’s also ArtPrize in GR right now, an annual event that attracts about a half a million visitors and I believe has the biggest monetary prize of any art fair in the U.S. Alan’s hospital uses this opportunity to invite psychiatric residents to consider coming to GR after they’re through with school, and so Alan and I enjoyhelping host a gala event at the top of the GRAM (local art museum) each year.It’s a family event, & this year Daniel and Brianna joined us. The food was great,

and we always have a wonderful evening! Sunday we had friends from Virginia stop by for church and Sunday dinner, and our ladies’ Bible study has started up again. All 50 workbooks have already been claimed, and I think it’s going to be a great study on the book of James. (Not too late to join if you want!) I took a platter of goodies to our new neighbors, saw a beautiful buck on our lane (which has become my new facebook background now…) So, despite all the bubbles that burst, and there were bubbles of happiness too. The morning after Aaron’s accident, Reid (2) got up and decided on his own to set the table: “Daddy hurt, Mommy! I hewp!” Now, that cheers the hearts of parents and grandparents!And we mustn’t forget Bubbles! She rose and went to heaven. So, in the midst of all the ups and downers in life, I hope we all remember that even though some of our hopes and dreams burst like bubbles, if we’ve become the children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we are like Bubbles, and we will rise when we die!

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4).

More Quotes from Great Leaders

“There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword.  The other is by debt.” – John Adams, 1826

“Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither” -Benjamin Franklin

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy. Its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”– Winston Churchill

“A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself, but the simple pass on, and are punished.”  –Proverbs 22:3

Peter Rabbit’s Hilltop Home…or Did It Belong to Beatrix Potter?

Did you love all the Peter Rabbit tales when you were little? I did. In fact, I wasquite determined to be like Peter’s good little sisters and have blackberries andmilk. And, I definitely knew better than to get into Mr MacGregor’s garden!When we were in the Lake District of England, we stopped by Hilltop and sawthe wonderful gardens where Peter Rabbit hid under the pots, & we feasted our eyes on the beautiful pastoral scenes below Hilltop that inspired Beatrix Potterto purchase and later give England thousands of acres of land for a national trust that became a huge contribution toward forming Lake District National Park.Alas, we were such early birds that we didn’t get in! It didn’t open until 10 am. 😦Not wanting to be bad little rabbits, we didn’t hop over the fence and check out the gardens, but we did wander along the paths at the hotel right next door andtook a few minutes to imagine what it might be like to live on a hilltop in thisvery scenic area of England. What do you think? Would you enjoy living in a home like this? The message at our chapel Sunday was on learning to grow past envy by being thankful for the good things we have. It’s only realistic to mourn loss of health or wholeness, chronic poverty or lack of privilege, but God does ask us to trust Him to care for us and find peace in who we are and what we have. Truly, “godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6).

P.S.—If you’re looking for more information, there is a truly delightful 2006 production called Miss Potter that tells a cheery  tale of her life and touching romance.

Who Is There to Catch Us When We Fall?

Someone posted this on face book with the caption “The Secret to Humor is Surprise.” Of course, it made me laugh, so I wanted to share it with you. However, in my own life, when I come to the end of my rope and fall off, I have found that there is Someone standing on the floor who catches me and wants to catch each of us!

“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27

Some Political Thoughts to Ponder

In the light of America’s national presidential election coming up in less than two months, I’ve been listening to the audio version of Mitt Romney’s book, No Apology. I highly recommend it if you’re wondering where he stands. I feel like the liberal press does not do him justice. Frankly, I find myself agreeing with his philosophy and perspectives on world history, politics, and the necessity for Americans to buck up and face the difficult challenges ahead if we are going to survive as a nation. I hope all of us who are Americans are studying, praying, and seeking God’s mercy and wisdom to give us the wisest possible leader for the next four years.

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true.
The other is to refuse to accept what is true.”
~Soren Kierkegard

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you!” ~Pericles (430 B.C.)

“Take heed, watch and pray” (Mark 13:33)

Favorite Summer Memory

Our ladies’ Bible study started up again at the chapel (please join us if you can!).   For an ice-breaker, Cindi asked all of us to share our favorite memories from thispast summer. Well, that was an easy one for me! The highpoint of my summerwas our “first ever Camp Armstrong” reunion, organized by Jon (with Kathy’shelp), who wisely pointed out that the best time to visit our home is in the good, old summer time! Everyone could make it except for Michael’s family (Hawaii is a long way away 😦 ), and after everyone had arrived and had some supper, we decided that the perfect ending to our day would be to build a bonfire and toast marshmallows around the new fire pit Stephen had just built for the occasion!Toasting marshmallows has been a big hit in our family since forever ago, and it was great to see that making s’mores is just as popular with the new generationas it was with ours. Our 5 oldest are now married, and we have 9 grandchildren,so there were 18 of us (would have been 23 if Mike and Grace could have come). Well, just like the marshmallows (notice how they were toasted to perfection),everything turned out just great, and we all had a marvelous time. So, praise God for happy summer memories. May we have many happy returns of the week!

“He that gathers in the summer is a wise son” (Proverbs 10:5).

P.S.—I’d love it if you’d share your favorite summer memory with me! 🙂

Our Fire-Breathing God and Father

Do you ever think of God as a fearsome, fire-breathing giant?

Kathy took these two pictures on the night of her birthday, and for some reason, I just can’t seem to stop thinking about the way Baby Judah must feel about his dad. Was he mesmerized by Michael’s fire power?! If he was, he certainly isn’t afraid of Michael. I love how Judah is staring at the bonfire, sucking his thumb, and reaching up contentedly to feel Michael’s face while Mike holds him gently and nuzzles him.

The next time we face some scary challenge in life, let’s remember that God, who is awesome and powerful, loves us with incredible, everlasting love. For those of us who’ve come to know him as our “Abba” Father, may we remember this picture, quietly feeling the warmth and security of being in his arms and under his watchful care! He loves us, and he’ll take care of us!

“But now thus says the LORD that created you…  ‘Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name: you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned: neither shall the flame kindle upon you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior’.” (Isaiah 43:1-3)