Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Loss and Hope

     A one-year anniversary is coming soon... the anniversary of when I "lost" my mom is next week. For a year, she hasn't been available by phone and she hasn't been living here on earth. There have been many losses to deal with and loss is difficult. I'm thankful that she is no longer in pain, no longer suffering here on earth and I'm thankful to know where she is now.... with Jesus.

Clouds are pretty amazing in their formations and quick changes. I enjoy seeing them and I can't help but give God glory for the evidence of His creativity when I see clouds and sunrises or sunsets. 

There is only one God and He has created this beauty and sustains the world we live in and enjoy.

I don't know why looking at the sky draws my focus to God, but it does...  and often I find myself reflecting on His goodness and I give Him praise.

This photo is a close up of the photo above... the same time period, and yet a closer view shows depth not seen in the first photo. I think that is like our view of life of earth too. We think we see it all, yet there are depths to it that we cannot begin to understand... yet.

 I have learned to enjoy and appreciate a song called Well Done by the Afters and it reminds me of my mom. She had a hard life with health problems and more and I am thankful and comforted to imagine her hearing God say to her, "Well done, my faithful servant." You can listen to the song and see the video by clicking the name of the song below.

The clouds remind us to praise the Lord and I am thankful for the beautiful reminder. I know many of you have also suffered losses in the last year. May God meet your every need and encourage your heart... and give you peace, joy and hope as well as a close walk with Him. He is always good.

New Beginning at Rosewood: Finding Hope While Exploring an Old House is a Christian fiction book that shows a woman in pain and the path God leads her through to find hope. If you like old houses, a bit of mystery and a story that feels real and a also a bit like a modern fairy tale, you may enjoy this book by Katherine J Masters. It is sold on Amazon and you can find out more about it or order it by clicking on the name of the book below: 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Who Can We Trust?


We live in frightening times and we do not know what will happen in our country or our world. What do we do? Who has the answers? Are they telling the truth? So many questions and uncertainties. What looks like absolute truth, can be twisted to be shown as nothing more than cleverly concealed lies.

Who or what can we trust? Even while watching carefully, we can be fooled. Oh, how we need God's wisdom and direction. I am so thankful for His Word that never changes. It is always true and He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

The God who made this beautiful world is the only One who can fix the problems in it. Will we trust Him? Will we search for another to trust? We tend to stay so busy in our lives and find there is "no time" for God ... and some think He isn't necessary anyway. What a sad way to look at life. Sometimes we stay so busy to avoid thinking or facing difficulties. 

     The beautiful fall colors add extra drama to the natural beauty of the scene. Peace and bits of order can be found in the colorful display of a variety of trees, bushes and other parts of nature. There is a richness in the blend of beauty, color, sounds of nature and gentle breezes. It is delightful to bask in the wealth of time in God's creation and talk with Him.

    Many times when alone in nature, my heart spontaneously sings, Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder. Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made........   and finish with the chorus of How great Thou Art. I ponder the words as my heart, and many times my voice, sings the words of the song in praise to the God who made such wonder. 

     The time in a natural setting can be restorative and healing as my focus returns to the more important while I turn my attention from the less important. 

What a beautiful world. No, I do not worship nature, but I sure enjoy it. I do worship the One who created nature and people. What a wonderful God He is.  

      Thank you for visiting today. I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Feel free to follow my blog by email or on google.


New Book by Katherine J Master -  A feel-good Christian fiction book with quirky characters, some mystery and light suspense along with the history of an old house and the family who lived there. A fun read that has wisdom from various sources, woven through the story.  


                                        Ordering information on the link below:

                                               New Beginning at Rosewood: 

                                   Finding Hope While Exploring an Old House

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Have Faith? In what?


Beautiful time of year, beautiful colors...  and winter is on the way. 

God made that beauty and we are to praise Him in good times and in bad.... in nice weather and not so nice...  in good economic times and bad... in good leadership and bad.... 

God knows the future, He knows ME and what I need, and I am so thankful to know Him as my Savior. I hope you also know Him and are growing in faith. We have many scary times we live in and many things out of our control. I'm thankful nothing is out of His control. 

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him:  for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Hebrews 11:6

Other Posts you may be interested in reading: 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

How to Encourage Elderly Parents...

Parents and grandparents are precious... even when they are elderly and unable to do as much as they have previously done. They need more encouragement, especially in these uncertain and frightening times. Sometimes, something simple can encourage ...

 My parents have experienced difficulty as problems of  current times cut them off from visiting friends and family, decreased their outings, made them question their purpose in life, caused them fear and led to much loneliness. 

I wanted to help them, but was unsure how to do that. I was already sending cards, pictures and made many phone calls. Still, I could tell they needed more and were not flourishing, but were sad and "down".  They were very vulnerable, and listening to the "news" only increased the unpleasant emotions they were trying to process.

Their health was deteriorating bit by bit. Mom hasn't been able to read much for quite a while now, except for little bits of large writing. Dad puzzled me as he developed attitudes contrary to what he had always had and I was concerned. It took much digging in my talks with him to uncover that he had become unable to read his Bible as the words moved around and he couldn't understand what he was reading. This was making them very vulnerable to some questionable tv preachers and I was concerned.

 I wasn't sure how to help from afar, but they definitely needed some encouragement fast... and often. It seemed they were experiencing fear in several areas, like so many in our uncertain world.

I had the idea that if I could send some reminders of what is important in life, along with the cards and mail, they might enjoy reading those things in the days until I sent another card.

 I have a large collection of 3" x 5" cards I have written out for my prayer reminders and go through them most days. I have interspersed those prayer cards of thanksgiving, praise, needs of friends, family and others and many other prayer needs...  with verses I collect as I read my Bible daily. It is amazing how God will use Scripture, even those I know well, to encourage me as I read through some of them each day. It has been a blessing and has increased and improved my prayer life.

I thought that a similar idea could help Mom and Dad, so started making cards for them.

At first I wrote a few cards with Scripture, simple prayers and a few Remember when....? cards. Since Dad was having so much trouble reading and seemed so uncertain, timid, unsettled, angry and quite unlike normal for him, I used bigger cards... 4" x 6". I wrote with a fine point permanent marker on the cards and each of the three categories had a different color and I wrote large letters so they could read them easily.

That first group I sent to them was urgently done as I could tell they needed something... fast. I probably sent about 20 cards total that first time and it took quite a long time to do them. Several days later, Dad thanked me for them, but we didn't really talk about them. 

I kept sending a few cards most weeks and gradually added other categories. I give God the credit for giving me these ideas and I wanted to share this with you as it may also help your loved ones. 

Eventually, I added Songs, Quotes, Did you know...?, Remember when... ? cards and still continued the original categories also. I numbered the cards in each category and keep track of how many of each I have sent, so I know what to number the new ones I make. 

Originally, I thought they would put them into categories and keep them that way, but I think they are keeping them all mixed in without being in order and it is working well for them.

Once in a while, Dad and Mom would mention thanks for the cards and one day, Dad said that they read through them several times a day every day and they really liked them. As I added the newer categories, he seemed to come "alive" again and the stress and panic diminished. I wanted to remind them of happier days, of good memories, of things they could be thankful for... and it worked.

Dad will sometimes comment now on the cards of  things he had forgotten or things he can't remember at all and we talk about them. He laughs more again. No, it hasn't been "magic" and can't take care of all of the needs, but this has been a blessing to them and I am so thankful. 

The riddles are simple and silly, but I knew my mom would probably know some of them which could give her some confidence and interest in life. I haven't sent many of them, but it was early on when I was searching desperately for something to help them when I wanted to add another category.

The prayers were simple and designed to help them be thankful and change from focusing on the negative. I also encouraged them to stop watching the "news".

I have a friend who detests hand-written cards and notes and she does everything on the computer and wants it to look "better".  I do both and for these cards, I felt the personal connection was important and would touch them more to see that a person had written them, especially since we could not be together.

Sometimes I do beautifully hand-written cards, but I knew it would be easy to be so conscious of "perfection" that it would take longer and these were needed immediately. My life is so busy, yet this was an urgent need and I felt it was imperative to do it quickly and regularly, so these are not "pretty", but much love is sent through them and it is easier to do a few cards to add to a note I am sending to them, so I do it quite regularly.

The Scripture cards bring back to their minds familiar words from the Bible. The prayers help them direct their thoughts. The songs are simple and many are children's songs from their childhood which draws them back to happier times away from covid problems.

The Did you know... ? category came from when I taught homeschool...  we wrote a family newsletter and for a while I required each child to submit a Did you know...? article each week. I told them to find a fact and put it in the form of Did you know.... ? The kids did NOT enjoy doing those articles, though they enjoyed learning new facts. They LOVED hearing and reading the facts from siblings and Mom. It was a fun part of our newsletter. I know my parents enjoy bits of trivia also and knew these would be interesting to them.

The cards are not as desperately needed now as they were at the beginning, but I get the feeling they are still very important, even though Dad has encouraged me that I do not have to take the time to do it. I am thankful to see the benefits from this simple exercise.

So far, I have sent 27 Scripture cards, 16 Prayer cards, 18 Remember when... ? cards, 8 Song cards,
2 Riddle cards, 7 Quote cards and 4 Did you know... ?  A total of 82 cards, so far. Yes, it is time to send more and I will continue to send a few at a time. Maybe I will add more categories sometime.

This is my mom and dad a few years ago. I am thankful for them and they need more help, so I am helping them in the way I can. Thankfully a brother and sister-in-law are closer and can help them in other ways.

Our parents, grandparents, older neighbors and family members can benefit from our thoughtfulness. They are worth the effort and though this is a little thing, it can be used mightily by our wonderful Lord.

This is a time of great vulnerability and fear for many and our elderly suffer much. What a blessing it is to minister to them in little ways and encourage. This idea would be nice for elderly parents and relatives, but also for elderly church friends, neighbors, former co-workers and more. The ministry of encouragement is many times neglected, but is so important.

A similar idea could even work for a troubled teen, a tired mom, a grouchy neighbor... or anyone who needs encouragement... and actually, don't we ALL enjoy being encouraged?

Thank you for visiting today. I'd love to hear your thoughts of this idea and if you have encouraged in a similar way. I hope you have a great week and that you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

                                                                                             ~ Gentle Joy

Monday, July 27, 2020

Book Review ... Biblical Minimalism

Today, I am promoting a new book, called Biblical Minimalism, by Cheryl Smith.

In the book, my friend, Cheryl is very transparent about the journey God has taken her and her family on in reducing the material things they own. She is honest about the struggles of giving up things, yet also points out the great rewards of doing so. Rewards like having more time, energy and joy since her family is no longer weighed down by so many things to care for.

Cheryl writes in a conversational style, somewhat like you are sitting and chatting with her. Parts of the book may "step on toes" as we can give excuses of why we can't do this or that, but even those areas can lead us to think and evaluate. She shares related Scriptures and principles as she goes through the book. It is a book worth reading!

"To purchase the book, click HERE." 

Biblical Minimalism Book Trailer

Image preview
Biblical Minimalism: Following Jesus from a Life of Abundance to a More Abundant Life by [Cheryl E. Smith]
"Cheryl Smith is the author of the book “Biblical Minimalism,” the story of her family’s journey from a life of abundance to a more abundant life. She is the author of the blogs Biblical Minimalism, where she writes about minimalism from a Biblical perspective, and Homespun Devotions, where she writes devotionals and conducts “Inner Views.” She loves to spend time with her husband and son in the mountains, sing and play Bluegrass music, and write." 

To purchase the book, click HERE!!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Rejoice! .... Even In Troubled Times?

Today is Easter Sunday and a time to rejoice, even in this time of uncertainty and fear.  We do have a Saviour and He has already defeated death and hell. What a blessing!

I went outside this morning early, and enjoyed the sunrise and couldn't help but to praise God for His creation. I love the early morning when the animals and birds are waking up and yet there is a quiet stillness also. It is a wonderful time for reflection and prayer.


We live in a time when everything is uncertain … we are experiencing things we haven't even seen before with a virus we are told is dangerous and causing death to many. We are told to stay home, as a nation, and are restricted from regular activities - even meeting with believers at the church. Many are laid off of their jobs and the "temporary" time of quarantine is stretching out more and more. Businesses are failing and though the hope is to open them in a few weeks or a couple of months,  many will never open again. 

We have seen people in panic buying all of the toilet paper, hand sanitizer, paper towels, baby wipes and more as they frantically tried to deal with the fear of the threat hitting the whole world. It was a "Me First" time for many as fights over things in the stores showed. Panic ruled as information was given in bits and pieces with no real source to check for what the new rules were.

Even now, some form of martial law is in effect in many places, though thankfully it is a "soft" martial law which requires us to stay at home and only go out for essentials. Businesses not considered essential have been closed and many fined if they do not comply. So many things cancelled and the schools are closed for the rest of the year though they are trying to do some online teaching. A few months ago, we never could have imagined what we are now living. 

Probably not many have escaped the feeling of fear at some point... fear for loved ones as we hear of death and dire predictions, fear of having enough money to pay the mortgage or enough food to feed our family. Some face the fear of having no graduation, no prom, a wedding postponed, or having a loved one die and not being able to be with them in their sickness or even to say good-bye.

It is a dark time in so many ways and a heaviness seems to hang over our world. We wonder... when will things return to normal? Then we also wonder … WILL things return to normal? Maybe we wonder who is at fault and want to blame someone. Maybe we suspect we are not getting the whole truth but are being manipulated like puppets and we fear what is next. There are SO many ways to fear. 

What are we to do? Many are playing online games with each other answering questions about their life, or coming up with ways to entertain children at home and wishing to send them back to school. Time at home is precious, but as it goes on for so long, many yearn for a bit of normalcy. Some parents are "homeschooling" their children as they try to keep their kids from getting behind in school and come to the conclusion that they HATE homeschooling though this is an inaccurate picture of true homeschooling.

Many jump on the bandwagon of vaccines being a type of "savior" and are suspicious of any who don't go along with the program, so they allow a hatred to fester against those who make a different choice, convinced those people are endangering their children. There is so much misinformation and a crowd mentality has formed to get "anti-vaxers" to comply and the rights of people who choose natural ways of being healthy are trampled on because of fear. Real information is being limited and other information is being pushed - hard. Could it be part of a bigger plan? Could it be that we are being used to complete some not so noble purpose? 

Many probably feel helpless to change things and caught in a twilight zone type of experience where life looks normal, but then suddenly it doesn't. Everything is changing so fast and what and who can we even trust? 

"In the fear of the Lord is great confidence, and His children shall have a place of refuge."
 Proverbs 14:26

What a great verse! In these troubled and changing times, God is constant. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is worthy of trust. He can calm our fears, even if things really do stay bad for a long time. He has a plan and His plan is not being messed up. He is not helpless to change things. We have been a nation who feared God, yet the slide into darkness started slowly and has accelerated greatly. 

Who would have thought murdering babies would become so commonplace that it would be considered an "essential business" in a time of lockdown, but church isn't? Law enforcement has had trouble gaining new recruits for years because of the lack of respect given to officers and the high danger of the job. A noble job, yet one that can make officers an object of hatred with a target on their back. Who would have thought the debate on which bathroom should be used could ever be a real discussion?  Things are happening now that were unthinkable just a few years ago and they have become part of the "norm". 

Could it be that we are part of the problem? Are we praying for our elected leaders? Are we praying for pastors and teachers? Are we turning our hearts to the Lord in repentance and searching for any sinful ways in our hearts? Are we accepting that the sin in the world is just here to stay and there is nothing we can do? Are we giving up?

Maybe we need to repent and search our hearts, confess sin - little or big, and seek God.

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."  2 Chronicles 7:14

I hope you will join me in praying for revival, starting with our own hearts. 
How are you handling the stresses and fears? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.  Thank you for visiting.

You may also enjoy reading this post... just click on the link: 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Mommy's Christmas "Store"

Mommy's Christmas "Store" was a popular thing in our home for many years. Recently my adult girls reminded me of the "store" and talked fondly of their memories of it. One of them said, "Mom, you need to write a blog post about it!"

The items varied from year to year... and the prices were low so that each child could buy gifts for their siblings and parents. No, they were not allowed to buy things for themselves at the "store". 

Little toys, crayons, pencils, little notebooks, simple jewelry and more were put into the store. 

We banned "wish books" from our home - those Sears or Penney's catalogues that had such enticing pictures of wonderful treasures in them. Those books of temptation to reject what God had already blessed us with in favor of something "new". After hearing the kids say things like "WOW! That bike is lots better than mine." "I want that doll."and other comments, we also did away with the ads from stores like Walmart and others for several years.  I hate the materialism in our culture and especially at Christmas and wanted our kids to enjoy giving and to appreciate what they had, not lust for more. 

We tried to keep things rather simple and the store helped us do that. This was especially helpful as we traveled so much for surgeries and it would have been very difficult to take 6 kids shopping at regular stores where they couldn't afford things anyway. Neither could we in many years. 

Just pieces of paper with prices. Very simple.

The kids LOVED this! I asked some of the guys if they remembered the Christmas Store and they did and loved it. One son asked if we would be having the Christmas Store this year... and he grinned since all of our "kids" are now adults. I laughed and said no.

 I would set things out in our master bedroom on the bed with the door shut, arranging things so they could shop. The anticipation of what would be in the store each year was high as was the excitement of being able to choose something for everyone. The line would form outside the door and one child at a time was allowed to shop. 

They would debate over what to get for each person and how much to spend of their money so they could get the best gifts for each person. There was much excitement over all of this. After they had chosen all of their gifts, the gifts were put into a bag and they then hurried past the other kids still waiting outside the door and took the gifts to a place where they could wrap each one.

One daughter said it was hard to wait outside that door for her turn. The excitement was high. I always made sure there was enough for each child to choose from. The Christmas Store was open for a little while on one day sometime before Christmas and then not again until the next year so it was a much anticipated time. 

1 cent items seems silly, but when little, they had very little money. I would give jobs for them to earn money and they loved shopping and lingering over various items to be sure to get just the right thing for those they were shopping for.

These are not actual items we used for our stores as I didn't take any pictures of them. These are items that "could have" been in our store and are set up to give you an idea of what our store was like.  One son reminded me that they rarely got candy and that wasn't usually in the store. I did put Smarties in the 1 cent section a couple of different years as they weren't as sweet, there were several in a roll and the kids loved them.

I shopped throughout the year for small items the kids would like. Some items were used for the various trips we took for medical reasons for one son.  Tips For Traveling With Children

Other items were saved for the Christmas Store. Most items were purchased at garage sales where I find many amazing deals and I pray about finding what we need.  My Garage Sale Prayer List

I tried to have a bit of a variety. Sometimes I saved out certain items so that one child could be given something they had not seen in the store. 

50 cents was about the limit for the store. By the way, I didn't make any money on the store and usually I lost money, but it was a precious part of teaching our kids to love to give.

Wonderful family memories do not have to cost a lot and I have been surprised at how something simple like this that was done more as a quick fix out of necessity has become so special and precious to our family. 

I hope you are able to build sweet memories this year whether for Christmas or not. Our kids are like sponges and they absorb so much more than we realize most of the time. I love being aware of that and trying to deliberately help them learn while also having fun.

Thank you for visiting. I hope you have a precious Christmas season of remembering Jesus and His wonderful sacrifice for us.

If you are interested, this is on my friend Cheryl's blog over at Homespun Devotions. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

18 Years After the 9-11 Attack on America

                   18 Years After the 9-11 Attack on America
               Today is the 18th anniversary of 9/11, the biggest attack on American soil
               An attack that took the lives of many that day and also later days
               A day of tragedy firmly entrenched in the minds of Americans
               And a day that motivated a wonderful sense of patriotism in the country

                I remember the day when a call from my husband interrupted our homeschooling
                As he said to turn the tv on and watch ... it’s horrible... so we did
                And tried to understand as we watched a plane crash into the tower
                Thinking it was a video, but realizing we were watching a new attack

                The tears came suddenly as the shock of the unthinkable froze us
                Horror that such could happen in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave
                Not sure if we should really believe it, yet we saw it ourselves in real time
                Wondering what else could happen and were we safe

               The horror continued as news came in and pictures were shown
               As the country tried to understand this second attack wondering what was next
               The newsman who said American is not under attack, this is in New York
               Provoked an indignant response in me of Yes,they ARE attacking us

              Because though we don’t live in New York and are farther away
              New York is one of us and the attacks seemed deliberate even then
              Attacking one part of the country meant that no part of the country was safe
              Little was known at the time, but it was obvious Americans WERE being attacked

              I had already planned to go to the store that day for needed groceries
              So went earlier than planned with my children, finding the highways and roads empty
              Feeling a fear of the unreal and unknown as there should have been many out
              Seeing familiar scenes all coated in the dark dread of the unknown

              Hurriedly buying groceries and heading quickly back to the familiar safety of home
              Yearning to have my husband there also, but waiting for him to call
              Holding my kids while tears streamed down my face, so thankful to have them
              Praying for those in danger and asking that many would be rescued

              A day of waiting, watching, praying and wondering what it all would mean
              It was a day that fear crept right into our house and hearts and we cried
              And still we watched desperately wanting a good outcome for more people
              As the reality of the losses became more and more evident

              Thankful someone finally echoed my thoughts and said America IS under attack
              And feeling a oneness with other Americans who felt united in grief
              So glad when my husband came home and for the crushing hug he gave me
              As we clung to each other in sorrow with tears flowing down our cheeks

             The next day was my oldest son’s birthday and usually a time for joy
             He hated that the day after was his birthday and for years it has been a hard day
             So young to be touched even in a small way by the evil that visited
             His birthday ever after so close to a day tainted with harsh memories

             The days after were equally sad as details came out of more tragedies and losses
             As hope turned to acceptance and grief to angry outrage
             Feeling a need to keep this from ever happening again, but not sure how
             Seeing flags all over as patriotism united Americans and we cared about each other

             God was an acceptable subject then as so many called out to Him for help
             Flying flags, helping, comforting and listening to others became the new norm
             Making me and so many others proud to be an American
             Knowing we were united and would move forward in that unity

             Many grieved and still do as the losses were deeply felt
             But what has happened to our country that was attacked by religious zealots
             Determined to kill any who disagree with them and furthering their agenda
             That those from that same religion now hold offices in this country they attacked

             So quickly we have forgotten what evil is so motivated to do
             As we open borders and invite in those who come to infiltrate not find sanctuary
             Many eyes are closed to the look of the future as more control taken by that religion
             Of those not contented to worship in freedom, but driven to conquer and control

             Why are we so foolish and caught up in entertaining ourselves that we do not see
             The dangers around us and the freedoms being given away and also taken
             Someday we will open our eyes in horror wondering how it could have happened
             Though we willingly live anesthetized lives uncaring that history is repeating itself

            Only God can fix the damage done because of hardened hearts and foolish minds
            Of those content to live in the moment but oblivious to the future implications
            Babies killed, tolerance for some, freedoms surrendered, addictions practiced
            Claiming many freedoms, but missing the point of what freedom really means

          May we learn to be sober, be vigilant and watchful. Do you have memories of that day? Maybe you lost someone on that day... or remember where you were when you heard. I'd love to hear about it in the comments.  Thank you for visiting. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Running the Race....

Life has so many difficulties, yet God is always faithful. We are running...
running a race...

a race that is bigger than us and our concerns
a race that is very important
and a race that God has allowed us to run, so He will equip us.

No, it doesn't mean it is easy and sometimes it is terribly hard.
Carrying extra burdens makes it harder.
Maybe we have some burdens, some "weights" to set aside.

Are we carrying worries, fears, regrets, disappointments, sadness, anger, other emotions... complacency, bitterness, selfishness, desire for stuff, dissatisfaction and more?
Even one extra "weight" can hinder and many of them can disable us.

Those that hinder us in our "race" are not good for us.
Maybe it is time to deal with those.
Not an easy thing, but definitely worth it.

     I want to honor God in how I run this race... and I hope you do too. I would love to hear from you
in the comments. Are you in a difficult "race"?  Have you set aside some "weights"? Are there some you still need to set aside?

                   I hope you see God's hand in your life... even in the midst of difficulty.
                                                What an amazing God we serve.

                                                     Thank you for visiting today.