Thursday, December 31, 2015

Love Divine ALL Love's Excelling ...

It was rather a close call this year as to whether I would design a Christmas card and get them in the mail on time. I had taken some pretty nice winter pictures last year and this one was very special--I knew that I wanted to use it for my Christmas card this year. But back in late September, I had some computer issues (always, always, always) and to make a long story short, I got everything upgraded on my Mac not realizing it would make my photo program obsolete. So ... that was the first bad thing that happened ... and by the time I got it resolved to my satisfaction, time was running out.
I was also kind of "stuck" on which Christmas carol to use this year. There are so many beautiful ones to choose from. I took days to go through all of the lyrics phrase by phrase but kept coming back to this one: "Love divine, ALL loves excelling, joy of heaven to earth come down." Isn't it a beautiful thought? It does go very nicely with this photograph too.
There are many verses to this beautiful old hymn, many beautiful phrases, but I picked out just these ones for this card. However, I just could not find a Scripture that went with it! I began to be concerned that I just wasn't going to get this card together. On one of the last possible days I had left to design a card, I just asked the Lord to give me a passage of Scripture that would go with these thoughts of His amazing love and His salvation ... and I stumbled on this verse in Isaiah 61:10, "I am overwhelmed with joy in the LORD my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness." When I read that verse, I knew it was perfect.

I was able to get my old photo program running, but it was very frustrating and full of glitches because of the Apple updates, so I went back to looking at the photo program Apple offers. I found out that they completely upgraded their version of my favorite photo program--except it is not as user friendly as the Microsoft version. But I forced myself to learn it, and I love it.
Last January, after a really nice fresh snowfall, I only had two hours to take a walk in the woods and I wanted to find a NEW spot, somewhere I could explore a little bit that was unfamiliar. Proving Trails Park was just the place--and very close by too! It was such a perfect day to hike in the woods. I followed trail after trail, took little side trails, and ended up wonderfully lost in this beautiful stretch of woods. Have you ever had that happen? Isn't it the most fun ever?

That's what I want my heart to be like! Trembling over the wonder of being lost in his amazing love. I am very thankful God helped me put this card together. I think it is the prettiest card I have ever made.

New Year's Eve with my little Brendan-boy ...

I was invited to spend New Year's with my Brendan-boy again this year. We did this last year too and I loved it so much that I actually requested a repeat. Dylan and Kelly were able to go to a friend's party, and Brendan and I stayed at his house and played until it was bed time.
Brendan is so much fun to play with. He is a really easy child to care for because he is just happy down to his toes.
Dylan and Kelly had picked up a few special tracks last week that helped them to design a better layout for Brendan's train table. He just loves it.
There are bridges and tunnels and Cranky is there to help with any major repairs that are needed, the lighthouse is working, the switch tracks are in place ...
Brendan will play and play at this table for the longest time.
Last night, Brendan kept insisting on an unreasonably LONG train (like all the kiddos have done!) that kept derailing. So since Brendan would not listen to me about shortening his train, we just cracked up every time the train crashed (always on those tight turns!).
This little be speckled engine is BRENDAN. I was able to order him a special engine with his name on it. Sir Topham Hat is the driver of this one and Brendan's name is on the bottom.
See it?
Brendan has a very good belly laugh when he is deeply amused.

Notice him cracking up (below) at another wipe-out.

This child plays with all of his heart ...
After we played for a few hours, we got ready for bed, read "The Gruffalo's Child" and got tucked in for the night. It was a wonderful way to spend the last day of 2015.

One last ramble through the woods for 2015

Sigh. These pictures are a tiny bit frustrating. Here is why! This is a NEW place (for me) that I discovered while with Kaity-girl the other day. It is behind the playground at Wahlfield Park. The photos are OK, but would have been so much prettier with a fresh, light dusting of snow on all of the branches don't you think? So that each branch was magically etched in snow ... 

Hopefully, some day when I am NOT at work, it will snow nice and thick so that it covers all of the brown and hopefully that same day, the sun will shine so that the shadows and reflections will dance and shimmer ... those are my favorite kinds of days to be out in the woods.

I met a new friend out in the woods ...
introducing ... THIS TREE!
Isn't this a fabulous tree?!!!

I am completely in love with it! It is everything a gnarly tree ought to be!
This woods is rather brambly too, and full of thistles and thorns! Thankfully, I was dressed in many layers PLUS it was not terribly windy.

I hope to return on a prettier day when there is more color ... but for now, these will have to do!

A Celebration of Life ...

Ed Dobson was my pastor from 1992 until 2005 (when he retired). He was not a personal friend or even a close acquaintance. But I had huge respect for him and a deep admiration for his integrity and his faithfulness to shepherd and teach and guide us folk at Calvary.

Ed was diagnosed with ALS in 2000, but lived another 15 years. He was able to see his daughter get married. He was able to meet and love his grandchildren. God gave him ministry, even after leaving Calvary Church. Ed Dobson was a true man of God. Lorna, his wife, took very good care of Ed while he was sick. She poured out her love on him and so demonstrated the love of Christ to so many.
I was privileged to go to his celebration service on New Year's Eve. He had passed away peacefully the day after Christmas. Dylan and Kelly had purchased his video series, "Ed's Story" for Christmas, along with his book, "Seeing Through the Fog." I will cherish these gifts very much.
I'm so glad I got to sit under Ed's ministry and learn from him so many rich truths. All three times I traveled to Israel, Ed was there with us too. I will always remember those travels and the beautiful stories he taught to us as we walked where Jesus walked.
Pastor had many, many close friends. People loved him everywhere he went. I was not a close friend, but I did love him. So thankful for the impact he had in my life, and what his legacy will continue to do for God's kingdom in the future.

David's Visit ...

Christmas Day 2015

Twas the Night Before Christmas ...