Monday, May 18, 2020

Celebrating Differently!

Although social distancing and quarantine and masks and gloves will continue to be part of our lives during this season, Covid-19 can NOT stop the celebrations.  Weddings, birthdays, graduations.  They all go on - they just look different.

The Hawley family just entered our biggest season of continual celebrating.  It began with Mother's Day which we worked out to be a family only gathering at the Schrek's home.  John and Joy wanted to host but John didn't want Joy to do any of the work.  He prepared the meal and even surprised her by setting up long tables complete with linens, china and stemware.  It was beautiful!

(All the other fellas jumped in to help clean up since John had cooked and set up.)

These are the Beauties who made me a Mama

These are the "grand girls"- Madi, Ava, Abby #richnoni

The girls and I enjoyed a lovely, carefree meal topped off with cards and gifts.

Then we moved to Birthday Celebrating.

This guy turned two!  We can hardly believe it to be honest.  Parker is quite the little athlete.  He loves playing soccer with his dad and he throws balls with his left hand almost every time.  He is SO smart!

He has been "talking" for quite some time; we just haven't been able to understand anything he was saying.  As I think back, I seem to remember ALL our grandchildren doing that.  I guess when you're born into a verbal family, you jump in at the deep end and start doggie paddling until Your words start making sense to everyone else.

Parker Franklin McGhee (& Noni)
He is also a snuggle bear still.  So, I smoosh him every chance I get.  I know all too well, this season passes quickly.

Singing HIS song

Our next celebration was for this little doll baby.  Ava is now officially three years old and boy does she know how to use those adorable dimples to their best advantage.  I watched the other day as her mom (Joy) asked about Ava's participation in a particular untimely incident.  Ava pondered a split second then looked up at her mom and flashed the biggest, sweetest smile you ever saw.  I had to turn my head so Ava wouldn't see Noni caving to her cuteness.  Mama wasn't swayed and Ava was disciplined.  But Man!  I don't know how Joy stays so strong. 
Ava Quinn Schreck
Ava loves playing with dolls and swimming and her trampoline and her brothers and sister.  She runs most everywhere she goes and has a hug and smile on the ready for everyone she encounters.  (Yes, John and Joy have curtailed her hugging during this time.)  I've used the next picture before but it shows her personality in such a perfect way.

Ms. Congeniality

Today I'm cleaning our house to get ready for the next celebration.  We will all attend the outdoor graduation of this fine fella this evening.  (If the rains hold off.)

Noah Jacksen Smith - Kindergarten Grad

It doesn't seem possible that Noah has now completed his first step in the educational ladder.  Meagan says he had a great year in spite of the interruptions.  (Fortunately, our girls are already educators so they stepped into home schooling armed with a bit more experience than others.)

Noah played t-ball for the first time this year and discovered he's really good at it.  All that running and jumping he's been doing since he learned how to walk came in very handy.  He is such a hard worker and is truly kind to his sister and younger brothers.  We couldn't be more proud.  

Smith Fam (See how cool he is?)
I suddenly realized this post includes a picture of most of the grands.  So here is one more just for good measure and to make you smile.  I especially love how Zach is hugging Parker on the left.  

Mama's Treasure
I'm aware that so many of you have been unable to gather with family during this pandemic.  I'm sending you a virtual hug right now!  And hopefully, these pictures will bring a smile.  (Many were taken well before the outbreak.)  

As a family, we've also been mindful of the recommended guidelines.  We've discussed our meeting times and carefully measured our options.  We've kept them shorter and much fewer.  As essential workers, our situation is unusual - Frank and I work with Kristin and John.  Then Meagan works as nanny for Kristin.  Hard to avoid one another with a situation like ours.

It's off to Sams now for the pizza and drinks and fruit (as per Noah's request) we will need for our quick party this evening.  

Blessings to you and those around you!  Keep safe, Keep smiling and Keep looking up!

How about you?  How has the pandemic affected your family gatherings and celebrations?  Please share with us in the comment box below....

Monday, April 27, 2020

New From the Old

There are so many NEW things in my life right now I hardly know where to begin.

First off is the NEW look of the blog.  Do you love it?  I'm so happy that it reflects this new season in my life.  Cody McGhee (aka son-in-law #3) designed it and helped update all the information.  He worked with another marketing genius, Ashley Scanlan.  I think they did a superb job.  I can't wait to hear your thoughts.  (Special thanks to Amanda Bock Hoggard for my original design.  I loved it so much I hadn't changed it for 10 years.  Well done!)

There are several NEW things I want to share with you today.  They seem to have all come about while we are in the middle of a New way of living.  And while I'm writing about many new things, they really are New things simply coming from many Old things.

Let me back up and explain.

Sunday Coffee with GGC

This picture represents the NEW way we're "doing church."  Frank and I serve as lead pastors for the most amazing congregation in the history of forever, Garden Grove Church.  They love us and one another as ardently as we love them.  For us to be socially distanced from one another is genuinely painful.

Fortunately, our fantastic associate (John Schreck, aka son-in-law #1) and the media team he has developed were able to help us with the disconnection part.  They stepped up to the challenge and were able to help us begin broadcasting our services online from the very first week.  (If you zoom into this picture, you'll see Frank on the TV screen behind the cups.)  We tape our entire service on Saturday mornings then air them at our normal time, 10 am, on Sundays.

Sunday Worship Service in our Living Room

This is very new for us.  But fortunately the services and relationships and truth shared were all familiar elements.  We've spent fifteen years learning together and developing our mutual love for God's Word and for one another.  So the new approach didn't rock us, it simply breathed New life on what was already an Old, well-established fire.

Feel free to join us before or after your own Sunday services.  Go to: and it will lead you to our Facebook page.  Services can also be viewed after the fact.

Then there's this New thing:

My Newly Created Professional Page

I now have my own professional page or author page.  Cody and Ashley also worked on this for us.  Together they created this beautiful page to highlight my work as a speaker and writer.  Doesn't it look so very official?

It looks so official because well, it IS official.  I have this other New thing to share on my new author page.

I'm a Published Author!!

Can you hear the high-pitched squealing that's happening here in central Florida?!  Believe me it will be louder when my copies arrive on my doorstep.  No, my name isn't listed on the cover because this is a compilation of works.  Some twenty women came together to share their personal stories of God's amazing grace.  Grace that is as old as time itself.  (Once again, New from the Old.)

I have dreamed of becoming a published author since first learning to read.  That magical draw of words pulling us into stories both truth and fiction has had a hold on me for decades.  The dream of offering my own words for readers to enjoy is rather old.  But I find myself in a wonderful new season where the old dream is taking shape in new venues.  And I'm thrilled!

(Special thanks to Becky Smith for once again editing my work so that the publishers made almost no changes.  You're the BEST!)

So what does all this new springing from the old have to do with you?  Had you wondered that?  Well, let me turn the question back to you.

What in your life is New from the Old during this time of upheaval?

During our trip to Israel last year, our tour guide Eli taught us an amazing truth.  "How is it that we can say this olive tree is over 2000 years old?"   He asked the question as we stood in the Garden of Gethsemane looking at trees that would have sheltered Jesus as He prayed.

"The answer is found in the way an olive tree grows," Eli motioned us forward to better observe the tree.  "Do you see how the new shoots are growing inside the bark of the tree?"  He pointed to the tender shoots as he went on to explain.  The older parts of an olive tree actually expand making room for young shoots to form.  This way the youngest shoots are protected from external elements and have the best chance to flourish. 

An Olive Tree in Israel

New from the Old.

The ancient olive trees never really die because they continue to provide room and nurture new growth.  I cried standing in that public place listening to Eli explain the process.  I cried because I knew two things were certain:

  1. I need to never bury a dream no matter how old.  That dream is the incubator serving as a safe place for the new things in my life to spring forth.
  2. I must watch for those around me who need the nurturing protection of my life experiences in order to be encouraged toward their own dreams being realized.  
That's a lot to ponder on a Monday afternoon.  But for someone, it's a timely question.  Spend some time thinking about your own experience during this pandemic.  What is New that is springing to life from the Old for you?

I'd love to hear about your observations in the comment section below.  And please take a moment to visit my new author page.  If you would, please click the like button.  Blessings! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Tale of Two Trees

I want to tell you a little story of two trees.

These are trees I pass routinely when I take my main route to work.  (There are several different routes we can take to get to work/church.  I vary them often . . . just because.  "Variety is the spice of life!" was one of my mom's favorite sayings.)

So, back to the two trees.

The first tree is barren and rather sad looking.  Scraggly, uninviting, down-right ugly.  If not for the crisp blue of the sky I captured in this picture, there would be no indication of life.  In fact while driving by, I've often wondered if the owners shouldn't just cut it down.  Honestly, what purpose does it serve?

Tree #1

The second tree is the complete opposite.  It is absolutely bursting with vibrant color.  Delicate, bloom laden branches wave gracefully in the morning and afternoon breezes.  The lavender blossoms and green leaves backed by the brilliant blues of the sky create a breath-taking scene.  I find myself anxious to round the corner and experience the thrill of spotting this tree twice each day.

Tree #2  
Quite the difference, don't you agree?  So tell the truth.  When you compare what the two trees offer, wouldn't you agree with me that the first one would serve better as firewood?  I mean, really!

Except, look again.  A little more closely this time.  Can you see what I'm talking about?

These are not two different trees.  These are actually pictures of the same tree just taken at two different times.  Surprised?

The first picture was taken in January.  That day was cold and nasty. Rain clouds are just outside the frame.  Actually,  it was rather bleak by Florida standards.  The second picture was taken week before last.  The day was warm and spring was literally"bursting out all over," to quote Rogers and Hammerstein.

The first picture was taken with this blog post in mind.

I knew I would have to wait patiently for several weeks to write it.  But because I've been passing this tree for over five years, I knew it was just a matter of time.  Eventually, the ugly branches would begin to bloom, supporting the fabulous lavender flowers and tender, pale green leaves as they pushed their way into the sunlight.

If we're honest, there are times when all we can see are the barren, ugly, scraggly parts of our lives.  We hope for beauty but there is none to be seen.  We long to see purpose but it's hidden from view.  We feel we have nothing of value to offer.

In those times, it's vitally important that we exercise patience.  Don't Give Up!

The first picture is not the whole story.  And if you're in an ugly season of life, please hear me calling to you, "This moment is NOT the whole story."

I've lived through those times, too.  Times like now when everything around us feels shrouded with uncertainty and ugliness.  We're hoping for things to return to normal.  We long to see at least a small semblance of what we can embrace.

But this moment in time isn't the whole story.  If we exercise patience and faith, we can eventually see fruitfulness begin to bloom from our barrenness.

Isaiah 55:8-9 has long been a favorite Bible passage for me:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

    neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Beautiful, right?!

Dear Reader, please understand that God created that tree to respond to the seasons.  In just a few weeks, the delightful lavender blooms will all drop away and the leaves will push to the forefront.  The tree will spend the better part of this year serving as a magnificent shade tree.  (Much needed here in FL.)

I didn't create the tree.  So the first year I saw it, I didn't understand the barren branches would only be like that for a short while.  Imagine my utter joy when I first rounded the corner on my way to work and realized it had become such a show-stopper of beauty.

God created you and I with the ability to respond to the seasons, as well.  Just because you don't see beauty and fruitfulness in your life right now doesn't mean it isn't there.  

Don't give up, Dear Reader.   God has thoughts and plans for you that are so much higher.  Your season of service will come.  Be patient.  And watch for the beauty that will soon bring delight to all who observe it!

How about you?  Have you been feeling more like the first tree, lately?  Does it seem like your season of barren living has gone on too long?  Or maybe you've started seeing a few blooms of hope.  We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.......

Thursday, March 26, 2020

One Little Step

What an absolutely CRAZY time we find ourselves experiencing.  Right?!  The emotional pressure (no matter what type work you normally do) is extreme.  Every decision feels bigger than life and harder than ever before.  Some people find themselves frozen in place; totally overwhelmed with all the adjustments needed.

So, I wanted to share with you some pictures of our little people.  Hopefully their smiles will give you some simple, joyful thoughts for focusing on today.  For example, this trio of cutie-pies.  Now why do you suppose Walmart offered these little dresses in Florida instead of in Michigan?

'Orange' you glad to see me?
What about this adorable diva?  Ava will turn three this summer and she already has all the personality that can be packed into one tiny human.  She came running in my office last week, gave me a big hug, flashed an angelic smile and said, "Noni, I have a mint?"  You know I gave it to her.

Ava Quinn, Personality Plus

Ava, Abby Spencer and Zach are staying with Noni and Papa this week.  Joy and John had planned a massive home improvement project for Spring Break which would include wall removal, paint, new flooring and all the dust that goes with such.

Their plan was perfect.  Weeks ago, John lined up men at church to help at different stages.  His dad and grandad were flying down from New York.  Together, they would easily knock it out in one week.  Frank and I would be in El Salvador on a missions trip so the Schrecks would house-sit for us.  No Fumes.  No Mess.  No Problem.

All that was before Covid 19 came onto the scene.  Coronavirus took all their well thought out plans and threw them to the wind.  No flights.  No missions trip.  No help available.  Pull the plug, right?One small problem - they had already knocked out the wall and ripped up the flooring.  No where to go but forward.  So forward we went.

Frank has been filling in when able, helping John as best he can.  Joy and I are holding down the fort trying our best to think of fun activities that don't involve technology.  One afternoon, we even raked leaves.

Noah, Spencer and Zach

The kids did their best to make that time entertaining.  Spencer and Abby lamented the fact that there was no representative of Guiness' World Records to see the largest leaf pile in history.  They made "leaf angels," the best substitute in FL for snow angels.  They raced to see who could bag faster and gave instruction to the younger ones.  The other side of the yard still needs some work but a lovely time was had by all.

Parker McGhee, AKA "Gangsta"

It seems Parker has taken up rap singing, during this time of self-entertainment.  We'll have to wait and see if he has the king of talent that can propel him beyond singing for his family in their living room.  Based on the "cuteness" factor, we expect ticket sales to go through the roof!

Four Generations: Mother, Son, Mother, Son
The youngest little Smith is Andrew Ryder.  We can hardly believe he's already sitting up, smiling, responding to his name and all the other things a baby usually does.  What a treasured picture this is for us.  I especially love that Mom Hawley is looking over at her own son. Baby boys soon become grown men with families of their own.  Life moves very quickly, friends.  We should all live accordingly.

As pastors, we've had to try and think of new ways to stay connected with our church family.  Kristin and I spent an afternoon creating a chart for phone connection.  Every family is connected to one of our many capable leaders.  The entire congregation can be contacted within a matter of minutes should information need to go out or should plans change.  (We also use email and Facebook but nothing beats the sound of a familiar voice asking how you're doing.)

We changed our mid-week dinner to a "Drive-Thru" and provided a packet with sermon notes for Sunday's live stream.  

We also offered prayer
This was our first attempt to live-stream our church service.  Our tech team did an amazing job morphing in order to accommodate our needs.  We had a full worship team, an object lesson for children and a great sermon of comfort.  This is our family worshipping together in a new way.  (Yes, we told them to move back from the television right after snapping this.)

"New Sunday Service"
(You can join us by going to Garden Grove Church on Facebook.  Wednesdays are at 6PM and Sundays are at 10AM.)

Laughter is vitally important for us all.  So, last week Frank and I enjoyed a lovely time with friends, Gene and Carol Kent.  Because here in Florida we're experiencing some shortages, we took a little gift for them.  

Yes, we DID gift them toilet paper

I'm trusting at least one of these made you smile.  Or maybe even laugh out loud.

A little laughter is good medicine in times of uncertainty.  I think anxiety, tension and fear are fueled by that one word, uncertainty.  Since the introduction of coronavirus just weeks ago, we've all found ourselves with more questions than answers.  And such a high level of uncertainty naturally creates negative feelings.  They can even cause us to freeze in our tracks.

My word of encouragement for you is this: when life seems to be out of control (like now) it's the little steps that matter most.  We can't afford to stay frozen by fear.  And it often takes only one little step forward to break out of that grip.  Let me encourage you - take one step, today.  Don't try to grapple with ALL that is going on, just make one small change.

We can actually add to the struggle when we expect too much of ourselves.  I've seen the list many friends are touting for this time of self-isolation:
  • Clean and sanitize all cupboards, cabinets and closets.  
  • Read all those books stacked beside my nightstand.
  • Write a book!
  • Write a letter to every relative I've ever known.
  • Train my children in all areas of social etiquette.  
Dear friends, please give yourself a break!  Just for today, you might want to choose an activity from this list instead:
  • Turn off the television.  
  • Step outside and get a deep breath of fresh air.  
  • Send a text.  
  • Take a nap.
  • Remember a funny joke and let yourself laugh.
  • Listen to calming music.
  • Light a candle and read a devotional.
Then tell yourself, "This is precisely what I need to be doing at this moment.  It's the one little thing I've chosen."  Then allow yourself to enjoy the moment.  It truly is the little steps that can break the grip of fear and remind us, we serve a BIG God who hasn't forgotten about us at all.  

With that said, Grayson Smith asked if he could be the one to sign off today -

"See ya later, alligator!"

What is one little step you plan to take today?  Would you please share it in the comment section?  Your comment may encourage a wave of peace flooding the hearts of other readers.  Thank You!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Focusing on Peace

In my living room, we have a large sign with these letters: P.E.A.C.E.

You don't have to read many of these blogs to quickly understand, I Love Words!  But I especially love words that have significance.  So I have quite a few signs scattered around my house with sayings, quotes and single words for impact.

The sign with PEACE is strategically positioned on a self right above our TV.  As I sit writing this post, I have only to glance up in order to be reminded.  PEACE is as near as my focus. 

This week, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus to be a pandemic, having impacted the entire world.  We are experiencing some unprecedented actions on the part of our government leaders as well as local officials. 

For Frank and I, this week has brought a lot of tension due to big decisions that needed to be made rather quickly based on less than perfect information.  Fortunately, we're part of a Great team that worked alongside us in making those decisions.

One of the most disappointing decisions was to postpone our upcoming trip to El Salvador.  A team of fifteen was scheduled to depart next Saturday. We have been going there for eight years.  We take teams and supplies for the purpose of doing humanitarian work. 

Working with a local church, we've helped build a vocational center and supplied dozens of sewing machines to be used by the women training there.  There is also a weekly feeding program where children come to find a healthy meal and real encouragement.  We've provided outreach materials for two schools and scores of individuals in the remote mountain area.

A part of our hearts stay behind every time we visit this beautiful place.  We even have a young lady from our church who has given two years of her life to helping the people there full time.  So, we spent many hours anguishing over whether or not we should go.  Our final decision was confirmed when the president of El Salvador closed their borders to all foreign visitors. 

We've met with medical professionals in our area searching out the most accurate information to share with our own church family.  We've also had to determine how much of our regular schedule to maintain.  (This church is always doing something!)

In the end, we realized the best plan for us was to focus on Faith, not Fear.  To be diligent with using common sense.  Wash your hands.  Rest.  Sanitize.  Remain calm.  And pray for those being directly impacted.

This morning I read a great idea posted by a friend who currently lives in central Europe.  "Every time you watch a news report, follow it up by reading a Psalm from the Bible."  What a great practice!  Stay informed but also stay encouraged.  What good does it do us to keep our bodies healthy if our souls are sick with fear?

There are too many wonderful promises in God's word to list here.  But Psalm 91 is a powerful,  promise-filled message to each of us.  "I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."  

The important thing is for us to look up and choose to focus on the P.E.A.C.E. available. 

Saturday, February 29, 2020


Usually, we're glad to experience EXTRA.

Like today.  February 29 is an EXTRA day.  Leap year only occurs once every four years.  But here we are in a leap year and we're blessed with an extra day in February.

(I'm especially thankful because I've had an unusually busy month.  This extra day means I can have at least two posts for February of 2020.  In this case, EXTRA is a blessing.)

We also enjoy EXTRA when we find it attached to words like:

  • Savings
  • Toppings
  • Time
  • Money
  • . . . feel free to fill in your favorite Extra.

Our family has been extra blessed to have Mom Hawley visiting us for two weeks.  We think the last time she came was when Kristin and Cody were married in 2015.  This is the first time she has come to stay with us for such a long time.

We've tried to get her here for years reminding her how many of her friends would LOVE to visit family in FL during the winter months.  This was the year.  It's been a little colder than normal so we teased and said she brought the cold weather with her.  But she's having a great time.

We've been able to watch Noah play t-ball.  (A new adventure for our entire family.)  We've introduced her to catfish which she discovered she likes.  She's been with us for a couple of baby-sitting adventures.  She went to have her hair done by Joy at school.  And she was the star guest at a McGhee family s'more party.

Our church family is also loving on her in big ways.  One lady, Burnette, heard how much Mom likes her special Christmas fruitcake.  So what did Burnette do but make one for Mom?!  What an Extra special gift.  She has been given jars of home made jam.  Everyone has lined up to give her a hug.  And she's heard story after story of how this church loves her son, their pastor.  EXTRA!

Frank and I have also experienced some of the EXTRA's you don't typically enjoy.  For example:
  • Charge
  • Sick
  • Slow
  • . . .again, feel free to add your own word.
A small tickle in Frank's throat on Tuesday turned into a full blown extra special cold.  He was totally out of commission for two days.  Which meant I had to jump into high gear  in order to teach the Bible study on Wednesday and visit the hospital on Thursday.  John and Kristin helped cover the other empty spots.  

Then Friday, I gave in to the same bug and ended up sleeping most of the day.  EXTRA rest was required and I acquiesced.  Hopefully, tomorrow everyone will be back on track, healthy and whole.

So here is my hope for you today, Dear Reader.

May you and those you love be EXTRA blessed.  
May you feel EXTRA loved by our Heavenly Father.
May you stumble upon EXTRA opportunities.
May you offer EXTRA hugs and forgiveness to those around you.
May you find that forgiveness coming back to you in EXTRA measures.

Blessings to you all!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Radio Silence Broken

It feels like I've been on radio silence since the first of February.  But I promise, there was a legitimate reason.  Several legitimate reasons, in fact.

First off, Frank and I flew to North Carolina to speak for a couples' retreat.  Our lifetime friends, Pastors Buddy and Cheryl Denton were hosting the event for their church in Askewville, NC.  We stayed together at the beautiful river home of a friend in their congregation.  The cold weather was a treat for these FL hearts.

We really do enjoy participating in marriage retreats because we see such wonderful fruit.  We share stories that help couples laugh together and finally realize, "Hey!  We're not the only ones who struggle with these questions." 

Of course, every speaker worth their salt knows, you teach best out of your own experiences/ victories.  And there never ever has been a victory without a struggle.  Which means, your own marriage is going to be tested before you're allowed to teach others.  Are you tracking with me? 

Yep.  We love speaking for marriage retreats but we're well aware of the price that must be paid for that privilege.  No matter, the fruit is always worth the effort.

Teaching at the Retreat
Lifetime Friend, Cheryl Denton
We left early on Monday morning to drive two hours south to Dunn.  Why?  Because when you're that close to your mom, you make the extra effort to see her. Even if it only means a quick lunch together and a few extra hugs.  Mamas are special like that.

Frank and Mom Hawley

We enjoyed the bonus of getting to see our adopted daughter, Amanda there too.  She spun her own crazy schedule into high gear and met us at the local diner with two of her three precious boys.  After lunch, Frank and I drove the hour back to Raleigh to catch our flight home. 

Adopted Daughter, Amanda

Teaching 8 times in 3 days made for weary travelers

Then February is birthday month in a BIG way with our family.  First off, it was the NINTH birthday for this guy - none other than Spencer Matthew Schreck!  He is the one who MADE us grandparents.  What a treasure this kid is to us all.

Spencer gave me a hug on the Sunday before his special day and announced, "Noni, you will have a nine year old grandson in just three days!"

I returned the squeeze and lovingly corrected him, "Yes, your birthday is just around the corner.  Papa and I are so excited.  But you're turning 8, Sweetheart, not 9."  (Silly little fella trying to rush it.)

He looked me almost directly in the eye (he will be taller than me soon) and set things straight.  "Noni, I'm 8 right now.  I'll be 9 on Wednesday!"

It almost took my breath away to realize he was right!  Oh, my how time flies.

Then, five days later it was time to celebrate the girl who made us parents.  Kristin made her appearance during the middle of a snow storm when we lived in the Asheville, NC area.  We've always been thankful for the semi-truck that slowly plowed the way for us to make it the 30 miles to the hospital.  We were the only two vehicles we saw on the road that night.  What a gift!

Kristin, Cody and Parker

Kristin is now a happy mommie taking care of her own little family.  She serves alongside us at Garden Grove Church helping with everything from music to toddlers to administrative details.  Frank and I aren't real sure how we were chosen to enjoy all our children and grandchildren living in the same location.  But we know it is an unusual GIFT.  And we grow more grateful every day.

Finally, today is the birthday of the lady who made me a sister.  Vonnie turns double nickels today and is still the cutest blonde around.  This picture was taken during our first ever "sister getaway" this past summer.  It may have been the first but we certainly hope it won't be the last.

Mom always called us "Chocolate & Vanilla"

In between all this travel and celebrating, we've started new connect groups at our church.  We've held multiple meetings, attended the funeral of a dear friend, made hospital visits, gotten our house ready for a special visitor.  And tonight we'll marry a lovely couple and attend their wedding dinner.

Life is never boring, that's for sure!

I want to leave you with a scripture that has become especially powerful for Frank and for me.  This particular promise is recorded in The Passion Translation.  Psalm 139:5  "You've gone into my future to prepare the way and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past.  With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me."

Isn't that a splendid thought?  As we choose the path God has laid out for us, He goes ahead of us preparing the way.  He protects us from the past and His hand of blessing is resting on us.

I hope this verse speaks to you as it has to me.  Have a Blessed weekend!

How about you? Is there a particular month that has lots more birthdays for your family?  Have you been caught off-guard by the birthday of a grandchild?  We'd love to hear about it in the comment section below.....