I am thankful in a world that appears a little crazy....there is always a reason to hope that tomorrow will be brighter and the knowledge that God is still on the throne!
The week before Thanksgiving
Well, here we are the week before Thanksgiving. There is still so much to be thankful for and blessings to count. If we were to the list all our blessings, we would never complete the assignment. God's mercy, grace and endless love can never be counted.
As we continue along this week, I'd like to share some poems and pictures I have found to lead us into the mood for the upcoming gathering. May God bless each of you!
The last adventure from our recent trip through the Smokey Mountains led us to a beautiful location in Asheville called The Cove. This is a retreat center developed by The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for individuals to come and delve into God's Word, reflect on their personal spiritual development and just rest, refresh and breathe. There are Biblical sessions taught, music presentations and seminars that represent, for the believer, a trip to the buffet table prepared by our Lord for saturating our palates with His knowledge!
Gary and I were given a personal tour by the Marketing Director, Jill, and what an absolute pleasure to meet someone who gave you the feeling of an old friendship! The grounds were beautifully landscaped and many personal stories told of Ruth and Billy Graham reasoning for this retreat center and how it came to be. In fact, we are planning on attending sessions next August and I simply cannot wait!!
Although Gary and I toured the Biltmore House, which is a lovely adventure and peek into the wealth of the Vanderbilts, The Cove and the ministries of BGEA have won my heart. The selflessness of these ministries in the ongoing mission to win souls to Jesus Christ just fills my soul with joy and puts much needed wind underneath my spiritual wings.
If you get a chance to visit, tour or attend events at The Cove, please take advantage of the opportunity. You will leave that mountain knowing that you have felt the touch of our Lord. As a testimony to that touch, there is a prayer room located in the Chapel on the grounds of The Cove's retreat center. After touring through the chapel and being awed by the aged furniture and pews that Ruth Graham found while visiting a church in Europe, we walked upstairs to the prayer room. There in the center of this room was a circle that had a kneeling bench all around it and a round table in the middle with a globe located in the center. There were scripture verses on the wall and I could not leave this room until I had gotten on my knees and lifted my heart in prayer over various concerns. I stayed there for some time and when I rose from my knees there was a young man (everyone is young to me these days) to the side of the room sitting on another bench with stationery spread out before him. He struck up a conversation and immediately we began to share about our prayer concerns.
It was such a joy to be able to take away from this time in the prayer room the name of someone who lives quite a distance from us, but is a brother in Christ and felt comfortable to share his heart. Divine appointments are everywhere and pop up when we least expect them. But isn't it great when God opens the curtains of His Will and allows us to be a part of His ministry on earth!
God bless, my friends!
On our recent trip to the Smokey Mountains, my hubby booked us a train ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad! What a great experience! We were led to our table in the MacNeill Dining Car complete with a huge window for viewing. As I sat down I was reminded of one of my favorite Christmas movies, White Christmas, when Bing, Danny, Rosemary and Vera were singing, "Snow, snow, snow, snow" in the dining car on the train to Vermont! I kept looking around for them to appear!
However, a gentleman with a banjo did stroll through singing various tunes and the one most familiar to me was "You Are My Sunshine"....so fun!
We were given a lovely lunch on our 90 minute ride from Bryson City to the small town of
Dillsboro where we were given about 90 minutes to roam through the unique shoppes and then back on the train to enjoy apple pie and coffee on our return trip to Bryson City.
The scenery was incredible as we rode alongside the Nantahala River, crossed the Appalachian Trail and took in lovely fall foliage that draped both sides of the train. I couldn't help but ponder those days of old when passengers used this mode of transportation on a regular basis. Sitting and talking with other travelers, dining together and sleeping in the various berths must have been quite the adventure!
I find myself being very thankful for quicker ways to travel to see loved ones, but also longing for those experiences that seem to slow life down and allow us to meet and mingle with others. May we enhance opportunities to bring others into our lives, our homes and our busy time schedules. Who knows that someone is waiting for you to share your faith in Jesus Christ and it will all begin with "Hello, my name is ________, what's yours?"
Recently Gary and I took a trip to the Smokey Mountains. Gary had never visited this spot and although my family took a vacation to this location years ago, I simply can't remember much about it. I must begin by saying going to the mountains instead of the beach was different for me. But I've learned as I age a person needs to include all areas of this beautiful land to visit, so to the Smokey Mountains we traveled!
My sweet husband began by booking a cabin in the woods for our lodging. Yes, the man who only uses a baseball bat for defensive purposes, found us a cabin in an area labeled, "Bear Habitat". Need I say more? But the best surprise about this cabin was Daisy. Daisy, a sweet dog dropped off twelve years ago by some unfeeling individual, has made it her mission protecting this cabin and the individuals who stay at this abode. I never met such a friendly, well-behaved dog before and I truly appreciate all the protection she provided by barking at night when strange critters came calling.
Another bonus....the views. To sit on a deck early in the morning and see the spectacular views provided by this location on top of a mountain was breath-taking. And the sunsets followed by a sky full of stars....what is more perfect? God's awesome handiwork on display for our enjoyment! To place a cherry on top of the sundae we experienced quiet as you could never imagine. No cars, highways, horns blowing...absolute silence and a rocking chair on the deck to boot.
In conclusion, we didn't see any bears, but we filled our cups to the top with beauty and peacefulness. Now that, my friends, is a break from the norm and a wonderful vacation. Next stop...a train ride in a dining car!!
Lord, thank you for the ability to take a break and retreat to the mountains. It's a view we don't often get to enjoy, especially the peace and quiet. What a beautiful world you have created for the enjoyment of your children. Thank you again, Amen!
Well, I have to admit that I'm a bit behind posting for Day 16 since I have spent time at the Apple Store with my iPhone. As many have probably read, if you are a friend of mine on Facebook, my iPhone needed an update and after I dutifully followed the path of updating, my battery began to drain rapidly. Thus, I went to the Apple store at our local mall and completed what we are hoping is a fix, although that remains to be seen....
But as I sat down to write a note of thanks, I began to recall when Gary and I were first married and lived in Idaho Falls, Idaho in the early '80's. We only had landlines....yes, we are that old....and in order to speak with my mother during the week I would call her place of business after she had gone to work on the east coast. It required me to rise early in the morning, but we were two hours behind in time zones and I could call before the rates went up. Then if I wanted to talk with my folks or any of my friends on the east coast during the weekends, it needed to be within a particular hours on Saturday and Sundays. Crazy, right? Now with unlimited minutes and the ability to call and talk at anytime to anyone in anyplace in the United States, it is very difficult to imagine a past system of telephone rules!
How far we have come with our communication and what an absolute blessing especially in an age of families and friends being planted outside their native states. I currently have a friend staying by the bedside of her husband is who very ill in Baltimore and I can text or call her at any moment and she's on the other end of the line! Or anytime I desire to checkup on my mother in the nursing home in Virginia, all I have to do is call the number and hopefully someone will not be unusually busy and will answer the phone and connect me to my mom. But I think having that phone with me when I am traveling alone or know someone is traveling without a companion is so important. How did we exist in days gone by without this amazing technology?
And do you know what I was reminded of? Our Lord and Savior is better than a cell phone. Although we don't hear an audible voice on the other end, He's there. Anytime or in any place, we can call on the Name of the Lord and He is there to listen and to give us the needed assistance we so desire.
So on this Day 16 of giving thanks, I am so grateful to God for the ability to communicate with Him and know that He hears and that the awesome mediator, Jesus Christ, is bringing those supplications before His Father. No extra costs, no battery malfunctions, no limited data, no updates or cell phone towers are needed...just the simple words of a soul longing to call on our Heavenly Father. What a gift to be thankful for!
Gary and I had the awesome opportunity to be a part of an event last night sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. It was simply a wonderful time with fellow Christians and supporters of this ministry. As an added bonus, the event was held at the LaMont Restaurant on Mt. Washington in downtown Pittsburgh which overlooks the City. As an enhancing backdrop, the stadiums were fully lit as were a many buildings and surroundings. It almost appeared the City knew we were gathering to give praise to the Almighty and the Light of the Savior permeated throughout our viewing area!
During the evening we were able to listen as two of the individuals who work with the Rapid Responders for BGEA told of their work as they recently returned from helping those affected by the floods in Houston. Roy Graham, one of Franklin's sons, gave an overview of what the ministry has been doing over the course of the past year and some of the details of upcoming events which encouraged our hearts.
It was a pleasure and honor to again be with some of our friends, like Doug Barrett and Cindy Scott, who orchestrated the Franklin Graham gathering in 2015 in Pittsburgh and to know the presence of this organization is still ongoing in this great City.
In a world where it appears there is so much that needs to be "fixed" with society at large, the world of politics and our love for our fellowman, it was a much needed break last night to be reminded that God is still on the throne, He still is in control and He loves us so much He sent His Son to die for the sins of the world. Our mission as Christians remains the same...
Matthew 28:19-20 (KJV)
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Blessings to all of you, my friends! Continue to give thanks!
Of course we haven't enjoyed our Thanksgiving gathering quite yet, but this is our table from last year. It is always a wonderful time to be with those we love as we take time to pause and be grateful for all God has given to us. I am so excited for all the businesses that have decided to allow their employees the day off for this special holiday! May that number increase and then, after giving the Lord our sincere thanks for all we have, we can get our sneakers on for the rest of the weekend!
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Another great blessing....Gary and I were honored to speak at a couples' retreat at Alderson-Broaddus in October! Beautiful weather and the opportunity to be with friends as we ministered! God is good!
In September I was honored to speak at a women's retreat in Ligonier, PA. What a tremendous blessing these women were to my life and God just blessed my socks off allowing me to do what I love....teach!