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Suzanne hosts Friday Fave Five at Living to Tell the Story to encourage us to count our blessings each week. This week I am coupling my Titus 2 Thoughts with FFF.

To be honest, I did not expect to be writing a FFF today. When my doctor called on Tuesday and told me my x-ray shows my most recent hip replacement has is broken and I will be scheduled for emergency surgery in the next day or two, I literally believed a day or two. The latest word is ‘sometime this weekend.’ My son asked if that means they have downgraded me from emergency to urgent. Maybe, but for now, I am supposed to ‘just use crutches’ and keep weight off that leg.

Just use crutches. Hmmm. Part of what I have been experiencing the last few weeks involves balance issues and motion sickness. Partner that with my natural lack of coordination and that little phrase ‘just use crutches’ is fraught with potential disaster galore. “Here, poor sick, sometimes-dizzy, out-of-shape lady with a wonky hip, just hobble around on these two little sticks. Keep your leg off the ground, oh, and press those crutches into your ribs. No, no! do NOT jam the pad into your armpits! Stand up straight! Grasp those hand grips and use your arms to hold your lumpy self up! No slumping! Simply follow these 25 easy illustrated steps to master the art of using crutches for any occasion.” It may sound crazy, but having to use crutches post-surgically is probably the thing I dread most about this surgery.

After my last hip replacement, I told myself I never wanted to go through hip replacement surgery again. A congenital condition, both hips replaced now, we’re done. Guess what? I’m not in charge. I can do ‘everything right’ and still not be in the position to control whether or not I have to endure something once or a dozen times. God is in control, and He orchestrates every part of my life for my good and His glory.

I’m an introvert and do a lot of self-talk. This can get me in trouble when I do not filter my thoughts through the truth of God’s Word. Lugubrious, self-focused Eyore thinking does not glorify God and is not helpful to me or to those around me.

My self-talk: anxiety and fear. God’s truth: Be anxious for nothing. God has not given us a spirit of fear. I will never leave you or forsake you.

My self-talk: What about the unknowns? How am I going to get through this arduous surgery and recovery again? God’s truth: My grace is sufficient for you.

Remember the children of Israel in the desert? God provided manna daily for them. If they tried to save up for the next day (with the exception of the Sabbath) the manna would spoil and not be fit to eat. In a similar way, God provides grace to help in our time of need. It’s not saved up like money in a bank but is instantly provided for each situation. That is a promise we can rest on.

So here are five blessings among many from the past week.

1. Protection from a potentially life-threatening situation because of my broken prosthesis. I’m not sure how long it has been broken, but I have had symptoms (that I thought was a flare up of my fibromyalgia) for at least 6 weeks

2. Loving family, church, family, and friends. I have blessed with flowers, cards, and the promise of prayer from many friends from around the world. My husband and daughters have helped in so many ways. My son and his family arrive in 2 weeks ready to help, too.

3. Getting my desk work caught up while waiting for the call about surgery. I finished some reports, organized some photos, filed some papers, and set up some automatic payments in preparation for my time in hospital.

4. Living at a time and in a place where I can be helped medically. Such a blessing!

5. All the wonderful ministry friends I met and fellowshipped with at the conference we recently attended in North Carolina. It was a joy to spend time with many who serve God faithfully across the globe, hear their stories, and learn of their hearts for the places where God has called them to minister.

Update! I just got the phone call. I will be admitted through emergency today and surgery is scheduled for tomorrow.

Here are a few more pictures from our recent vacation to Holden Beach in North Carolina.

Beautiful hydrangeas

Reflection

Marsh visitor

Sunset on marsh

Titus 2 Thoughts #1

I am awaiting surgery to have yet another hip replacement. My most recent replacement (2014) has recently failed and broken pieces are protruding into my pelvis. There is concern that an artery could be poked so I am on crutches and waiting for ‘the call’ to go into hospital.

Since I am not going to be able to minister in traditional ways as a pastor’s wife (such as having group Bible studies at the church) I will be writing posts to share things God is teaching me. God commands the older women to teach the younger in Titus 2. There are many things I am still learning or have learned the hard way over the years. By God’s grace, and with His leading, I hope to encourage you in your walk with God. I am calling these posts Titus 2 Thoughts. I will be posting these on my blog, PurpleGrandma.com. Please sign up to receive these in your e-mail feed if you are interested in receiving these directly.

I wrote the following recently with ministry women in mind, but the principles apply to us all. Do what God has given you to do for now. Do it with all your heart. Do it as unto the Lord. Do not always be wishing you could be in a different place doing different things than what God has allowed for now.

I would appreciate your prayers for both the surgery and the writing.

As a young ministry wife and mother of five small children, I often felt dissatisfied with all the maintenance work that fell to me just to keep our family functioning. This was not what I had envisioned as ministry efforts! Cooking, cleaning, laundry, and, in the years that we homeschooled, teaching, wore me out and consumed most of my days. Yes, I taught Sunday School, held ladies’ Bible studies, organized ladies’ retreats, showed hospitality to travelers and church families, and helped with many details of our church plant, but I was exhausted, miserable, and felt that God could not possibly want His workers to be occupied with what I thought of as busy work. If I could just hurry through my responsibilities surrounding my family, then I would have more time to ‘do ministry work.’

God in His wonderful sovereignty allowed me to became ill. No one could accurately diagnose what was wrong with me. I grew weaker and could do less and less of the things I thought would please God. I could barely get out of bed, much less teach or evangelize. What must He think of me? I felt my limited service and the continuous encumbrance of mundane matters meant I wasn’t doing my job and so God must be sighing with displeasure at my deficiencies.

I struggled from my bed one Wednesday night to prepare for the mid-week service held in our home. Bud was teaching through Romans. He opened the Scriptures and began reading chapter 8,“There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.”  The words pierced my struggling soul like an arrow from my Maker. ‘No condemnation.’ Years ago I had accepted His sacrifice as payment for my sins and understood now that I was positionally without sin – without condemnation because of the work of Christ on my behalf. There was absolutely nothing I could do to make God love me any more or any less than He already did. I was ‘accepted in the beloved’ and had ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!’

Soon after God allowed me to see that the most important ministry I had was with my children. We only have one opportunity to rear them for the Lord. No retakes on childrearing! If, by God’s grace, we could point these five little sinners to Christ, if we could proffer them God’s Word and embody authentic humility, grace, and forgiveness, this would be ministry work just as important as any other.

Sometimes I am amazed that our five children are all from the same parents. Such a diversity of personalities, abilities, and interests! It grieved my soul that I never worked to get along with my sister, and I was determined to teach my children to prefer one another in love. There are so many biblical principles that must be followed to foster this in a family. Every conflict, every argument, every disagreement provided an opportunity to grow in sanctification. Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.  Be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to wrath. In love prefer one another. A soft answer turns away wrath. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. By God’s grace, a regular application of Scriptures and spiritual principles over many years has worked in the lives of our children so that each loves God and they all love each other. And as adults, they all love and serve the body of Christ.

Ministry work may not look like you expect it to. Allow God to direct your life of service and praise Him for every opportunity He allows for you to serve Him.

 

 

A Seaside Tale

By request, here is the story I posted on Facebook last week.

My husband loves the ocean. He loves walking on the beach, floating in the water, and swimming in the surf. Many of his favorite memories involve escapades at beaches near his childhood home. The few times we have been able to vacation at the beach since our marriage have been enjoyable and refreshing for him.

I am not much of a swimmer, and staying out in the sun too long gives me a headache so I was surprised at our last beach vacation several years ago to discover how much I loved the beach, the water, the shells, and the sound of the waves gently lapping the shore.

Recently our church blessed my husband with a bonus week of vacation. We headed to my husband’s beloved beach after attending a conference. His sister and her husband joined us, in part to celebrate the 38th anniversary of our double wedding. We could walk across the street from our rental and be at the beachfront in minutes. My husband was ecstatic!

After a couple of cold and rainy days, Friday’s sunny skies and increased warmth promised a relaxing day in the water. The four of us meandered down to the beach and I shoved on an inner tube-style floatie before we walked out into the ocean. Due to some current mobility issues, I’ve been unsteady on my feet and was grateful for my family’s help getting into the water to avoid being knocked down by strong waves.

We bobbed and floated and swirled and chatted. Up and down, this way and that way, sometimes drifting, sometimes carried toward the shore by strong waves. My sister-in-law and I were talking and bobbing up and down, up and down when I noticed that my stomach had questions.

Suddenly I had that terrible sense of impending doom in the pit of my stomach and realized I was going to parbreak. I barely had time to tell my husband I thought I was going to lose it when he grabbed one elbow and my brother-in-law grabbed the other to quickly impel me to our chairs on the sand.

Too late. I leaned over as a huge wave struck from behind and all questions my stomach had were launched into the surf.

So, dear friends, the sea and I are currently at an uneasy impasse. I want to be at the sea and enjoy her many charms, but do not appreciate her mockery of my delicate sensitivity to motion.

Can this conundrum be settled? We shall see, yes, we shall see.

Friday Fave Five #85

Susanne hosts Living to Tell the Story and encourages others to share blessings of the week on Fridays. Here are a few of mine from the past few weeks.

We’ve been traveling for much of the past three weeks. We had many blessings during our time away so I’ll share a few of them here.

1. Conference We attended a conference in North Carolina for our mission organization. It truly was a blessing to reconnect with old friends and make new friends during the conference.

2. Beach After the conference was over we headed to the beach for a week. My husband grew up on the South Carolina coast and was longing for some time in the ocean. We had a week full of fun and interesting experiences, though the ocean is not my best friend right now. Want to know why?  I shared my story on Facebook and will repost it on my blog in a day or two.

Boardwalk at Holden Beach

The mighty Atlantic

Holden Beach, NC

3. Family How wonderful to spend time with family and old friends! My husband and his three siblings were together for a few hours one evening and three of them spent time together later in the week. Nieces, nephews, and some of their children made time to see us and long-time friends made a point of touching base with us throughout our stay.

Three of four siblings

4. Southern food There’s just something about southern food that is special. This northerner picked up a few favorites years ago during my fifteen-year sojourn in South Carolina so it was fun to return and taste the cuisine again. Sweet tea, shrimp and grits, scallops and crab, various styles of barbecue, fresh, juicy peaches, and even black raspberry jam (a favorite from my growing-up days in Ohio) plus some interesting new gluten free items were all culinary highlights of our trip.

5. Garden Leaving for the States a few days after Victoria Day meant I had to scurry to get my garden in before our trip. Our daughters kept an eye on things for me and I returned to thriving herbs and kale with the promise of peas, carrots, beans and squash later this summer. Oh, and the flowers my husband planted are doing well too.

Cheerful pansies

Lovely lavender

Fresh kale

Here are a couple more pictures from our trip. If you use any of my photos, please credit Deborah Talbert or purplegrandma.com. Thanks!

North Carolina forest

Interesting evergreen

Hope you had many blessings to be thankful for this week!

 

Friday Fave Five #84

Susanne hosts Living to Tell the Story and encourages others to share blessings of the week on Fridays. Here are a few of mine from this week.

1. Spring! After all that snow in April we have finally been enjoying exceptionally warm and sunny days. Three of our daughters came over Monday night and we grilled shrimp skewers and ate outside. Anna made another British Cooking show recipe for the family to enjoy.

Alberta skies

Anna bakes our day!

2. Provision We are rejoicing that this week God provided Anna with a better paying job.

3. Vocabulary I love words. I love the nuances that words give to a sentence or story. I love learning new words and playing games like Balderdash that teach new words.

Sadly, I’m not a very good speller. I used to ask my mom how to spell certain words (my mom was a wiz with spelling and grammar.) She would ALWAYS tell me to look it up in the dictionary. This did not make sense to my young mind. How can you look it up if you don’t know how it is spelled? And, of course, she would then say, “Sound it out.” So, I would look it up, sound it out, and learn something.

But when I was bored I would sit and read entry after entry in the dictionary just for fun. I learned about forms and tenses and definitions and punctuation, and pronunciation (I just had to look up that spelling!) and all kinds of helpful details.

This week a young man came to our door selling security systems. (He reminded me of a young Larry Fitch, a man I first met in my college days whose life has blessed my family at various times in the years since.) This salesman was giving me his spiel in a friendly, non-pushy way when out came the words incremental and decremental. Now, incremental I knew, but decremental? That was new to me. I’m afraid I heard little of his talk after that. I was turning the word over in my mind and delighting in the fact that a techy kid at the door taught me a new word!

4. Progress I have about half of my culled books ready to sell. Yay for sorting and purging!

5. More deals The first Tuesday of every month two local grocery stores offer a percentage off your shopping that day. One offers 15% and the other 10%. I made it to both stores this month to pick up items each stocks that the other does not. When I got to the checkout at the 10% store, they were giving customers 15% off that day. That was an unexpected blessing.

Thanks to everyone who told me my FFF link wasn’t working. I think I have it fixed now!!

Some pictures of my cute grandchildren in China

Clover field beauty

This stuff is itchy!

Brotherly love

Here are some custom order cards from this week for Purple Grandma Designs

For a 102-year-old mom!!

Custom order card

Custom order card

Friday Fave Five #83

Susanne hosts Living to Tell the Story and encourages others to share blessings of the week on Fridays. Here are a few of mine from this week.

See this picture? I took it today. It is a blue sky with clouds and sun. I am very thankful for that blue sky after a long stretch of dismal gray days. See this second picture? I also took it today. No more snow in the yard! Shadows from the sun! I am extremely grateful for the snow being gone, for sunshine, and for blue skies!

We seem to attract interesting animals in our neighborhood. Drake and Dessa Duck showed up again this week, hanging out on a neighboring roof and complaining about the late April snowstorm. Yesterday this rabbit was spotted ‘running laps around the house’ as my helper, Kathleen, pointed out. See how he hides in our brownish grass? Amazing to think that he was pure white just a few weeks ago. At least we have not had any visits from the moose that were spotted outside our town earlier this week.

Yesterday when I was out shopping I passed a grocery cart with two little girls in it. The younger one grinned and waved as I walked by and the older one scowled at me. I’m not sure why, but this made me really miss my own grandchildren. It is easy to focus on what you do not have, but it is not profitable or even proper for a Christian to do this. I am so blessed to live at a time when I can regularly see or speak to my family in China through technology and spend time with them at least once a year. This is what I will focus on: just a little over two months before they get here!

I don’t regularly buy Tide unless it’s on sale. At the store, all the varieties had sale prices on the shelf tags except the one I prefer. When I took one to the front to get the price checked, the Tide I liked was only $2.50 a bottle! I zipped back to the display and grabbed three more bottles. Good deals on things we need are always a blessing.

I discovered an interesting-looking gluten free scone mix this week made by the Namaste company. I have tried and liked several of their other products so I was hoping this would also be good. I made it today and am very happy with the results.

Here are a few of the cards I have been working on for Purple Grandma Designs

Friday Fave Five #82

Susanne hosts Living to Tell the Story and encourages others to share blessings of the week on Fridays. Here are a few of mine from this week.

Windows open and birds singing. We have had a weird, weird April weather wise. Last weekend brought a big snowstorm followed by a few spring-like days. The forecast is for more snow this weekend. Sigh. Despite the fickle weather, I am extremely grateful for the days when we can open the windows and air out the house. It’s nice to hear the birds singing, too. And spring can’t really be that far away for us, can it?

Technology Yesterday I had to go to Costco to take care of a problem with my husband’s new glasses and pick up a few things. I was walking down one of the main aisles and saw a display of drones for sale. I find technology fascinating (though my proficiency with it does not match my appreciation for it!) and mentioned seeing the display to my husband. We had to go back today to fix the glasses problem and while there, my hubby wanted to look at the drones. Long story short, we came home with an early anniversary gift for him. It was fun to watch him figuring out how the drone worked. An adopted granddaughter stayed glued to his side mesmerized by the buzzing and flying of the drone.

More technology My daughter-in-law does an amazing job of regularly posting photos and video clips of their life in China so those of us in North America can keep up with their lives. I’m grateful for the technology that makes this possible. Our youngest grandson is recovering from whooping cough and our oldest grandson from a stomach bug. Even though we can’t be there with them to help, we can pray for them during these times and have peace that they remain in God’s care at all times.

I love, love, love this picture of my grandson in a backpack in the change room while his mama is trying on clothes.

Taxes, part one. I finished all the accounting and other necessary information for our Canadian taxes and have turned it all in to our wonderful tax lady. Now I just need to pull together the papers I need for the US taxes. The hard part is done, and because we live out of the US, we have an automatic extension to file each year. Doing taxes is probably my least favorite responsibility and I am always very relieved when that work is behind me for another year.

Beautiful violets My African violets continue to thrive and it looks like I need to transplant them again or maybe prune them. My black thumb has evidently been banished and I am able to keep plants alive. Speaking of which, I am very eager to get my garden planted, but we need the weather to cooperate first. Last week of May is usually the earliest things get planted safely here.

I tried a few different filters on my violets photos. Which one do you like best?

For those of you who are friends on Facebook you have read the two installments about the ‘our’ ducks. Here are a couple of pictures of Drake and Dessa Duck, new neighborhood residents.

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