... Even the worst heartaches can become heartstrings to God's hope, comfort, encouragement, joy, peace and love...

Welcome! As a fan of the cartoon character Maxine, I enjoy her witty remarks. But when I
read my blogs & other writing to her, she's not very responsive- even when I'm wearing my bunny slippers like hers! She just doesn't get it!
Although she's funnier than I am, I do pray that this site will bring encouragement to your day! I'd love to hear from you! Unlike Maxine, you can leave me a message via the Comments. Shalom, Connie


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Missing for a Day

I went missing for a day- not really 'cause I knew where I was!
Unexpectantly I stayed an extra day with my grandchildren & their Mommy. We baked my grandmother's Christmas cookie recipe, decorated plastic snowflakes with colored glitter, read stories, sang & danced The Reindeer (Hokey) Pokey, played hide-and-seek, and had a tickle match. I left happy and exhausted.
Yesterday I slept 'til almost noon. Aahh...
Today I am catching up with my e-mail messages, including special ones from my writing instructor and publisher.
Tomorrow I return to my daily plan for writing, but before I settle into that routine I want to have one more dish of peppermint ice cream, finish putting the fringe on my daughter-in-law's scarf, and finish my Christmas mystery book.

I am thankful for all the Christmas cards and notes that I have recieved-each day I will read one and pray for the sender.

Shalom, Connie

Monday, December 25, 2006

With Child

a gasp, a cry
an exhausted mother’s sigh
a father’s teardrops
a heavenly umbilical cord cut and tied

a sweet aroma of fresh hay
a tiny gurgle as rosebud lips find milk
a whispered prayer
a naming as God commanded

a squeak of rafters as birds and mice gather
a gentle breeze to fan the fire
a clip and clop of a donkey’s feet
a quiet baa-aa and a hushed moo

a ray of starlight
a flutter of angel wings
a silence
a moment realizing God’s sacrifice-
His only son

a yip of a sheepdog on the hillside
an owl’s hoot as he hunts
a rowdy laugh from the inn
a braying camel on the dusty road

a mother and babe sleep
a father watches
an angel guards
a world waits

© 2005 Constance Gilbert

May you and yours have a blessed Christmas Day.
From the heart, Connie

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve Anticipation

Mr. And Mrs. Santa had invited me to the Christmas Eve Family Mass. Not realizing how popular this Mass was, I almost couldn’t find a seat when I arrived. The old church was decorated with evergreen boughs, holly, and red bows; candles flickered in the stained glass windows. The organ played softly and an occasional tiny bell would ring somewhere in the pews
followed by a parent’s whispered “Shhhhhhh, not yet.”

As I looked around, there were children everywhere. Little girls in red dresses sat on their Daddy’s lap trying to see around the grown-ups. Little boys in Christmas sweaters wiggled and moved from Mommy to Daddy to Grandma and back. Older children tried to help with their younger siblings, but excitement was in the air. All the children had small jingle bells on a red or green ribbon, which were so hard keep from ringing.

A hush ran through the pews as the altar boys lit the candles; Father Fitz’ entered and knelt before the altar as the choir began to sing. The mass had begun.

In place of the homily, a tiny Mary and little Joseph slowing came down the middle aisle. By the time they reached the front, a manger and bales of hay had appeared. Once again, our attention went to the aisles as equally small shepherds with stuffed sheep and wooden staffs joined the nativity scene. As they arrived and knelt, I saw a baby doll in the manager. Looking back, the kings, minus camels, carefully carried gifts adorned with “jewels” as they tried to look straight ahead and not lose their crowns.

Father Fitz’ asked, “Who’s birthday is it?” Children yelled out “Jesus ” and Father Fitz’ smiled as a few “Santa Clauses” mixed in and were quickly hushed. “I think we should have a birthday cake for our celebration, don’t you?”

Heavy bells rang along with “Ho, ho, ho and Happy Birthday ” There was Mr. Santa ringing his bells and Mrs. Santa carefully carrying the birthday cake toward the altar. All the children’s bells were ringing now.

As Santa reached the front, he quietly spoke to the priest as Mrs. Claus laid the cake on a small table. As she knelt before the altar, the bells ceased to ring so Santa could speak. I do not remember his exalt words but he explained about St. Nicholas and that Christmas was all about Christ. And giving a nod he ascended the steps and knelt to pray before the manger.

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the church it was silent. A violin softly began to play “Away in a Manger.” The lights dimmed slowly until only candlelight remained. Father Fitz prayed as the lights slowly came back on. Santa was gone. The mass continued, but I don’t remember any of it. Just like the children, I was awe struck when Santa prayed at the manger.

When the mass was over, children received a cupcake with a candy cane as they hurried out; some to open gifts, others to be tucked in bed. For me, Christmas had already arrived. I sang “O Come, Let Us Adore Him” and “O Holy Night” all the way home.


Shalom, Connie

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Goodies

Today I will be baking my grandmother’s Pecan Fingers and I have a recipe for a wonderful English Toffee Dessert, which is good if you have many guests or family to serve. Enjoy

Pecan Fingers

Cream together: 1 cup of butter ( do not substitute with margarine)
3/4 cup of powdered sugar.
Add: 2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. ICE water ( I always use filtered or spring water)
1/8 tsp. salt
Roll with palms of your hands into finger-lengths.
Bake @ 325E F. For 20-30 min. until golden brown- watch carefully.
Roll in powdered sugar while warm.
Cool completely. Store in covered container, if they last that long.

English Toffee Dessert

Crumb mixture- Combine: 4 1/2 cups Graham cracker crumbs
1 3/4 cups chopped nuts
1 ½ cups butter, melted
Filling mixture- Combine: 1 cup + 2 tbsp. soft butter
4 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 cup powdered/dry milk
8 egg yolks
8 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Place ½ of crumb mixture into 9 x 13 baking pan, then filling followed by remainder of crumb mixture. Refrigerate and chill for several hours or overnight.

Quick & Easy Fruited Chicken/Turkey or Ham

1-2 lb. pre-cooked ham, chicken or turkey, sliced (Good use for leftovers)
Marinate in Spicy Cranberry Salad Dressing overnight or for several hours.
Combine: 1 can no-added sugar cherry-pie-filling
1 20 oz.can each crushed pineapple
1 15 oz.can mandarin oranges, drained
1 15 oz. can peaches, plain or spiced, drained & cut into small chunks
Pour over meat with marinate, garnish with thinly sliced almonds, pecans or walnuts. Serve cold.
Good with stuffing muffins (your favorite stuffing mixture baked in a muffin pan) & green salad.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas In the Summertime

...the wise men went their way. Once again the star appeared to them, guiding them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. (Matthew 2:9 NLT)

One of my most memorable Christmas celebrations occurred during the summer of 1983 when I attended a Singspiration Music Conference. Music conferences are special because almost everyone there is in music ministry, many as choir directors and worship leaders. Attendees get a preview of all the music for the next year- often by the people who wrote it.

Everyone becomes part of a choir either for an Easter or a Christmas cantata. In 3 days, you learn the music then present it in an evening concert. My group, that year, sang Derric Johnson's A Song, A Star, A Son. As musician's we learned the music quickly, so could concentrate on how to present the cantata. We discussed the words and their meaning with the man who wrote them, from his heart, with the help of God.

As a mother of one child, a son, I was deeply touched by these words: A song... a simple song; a star... a single star... a Son, God's Son- the perfect one, God's only one.

When we arrived in our long skirts and the men in their suits, the auditorium had been transposed into Christmas. Composer, lyric writer Derric Johnson walked on stage in a tuxedo and bowed to the choir before acknowledging the audience. We were excited to be presenting the world's first performance of A Song, A Star, A Son. We were eager to please Derric and to bring God glory.

Before the Finale, we sang, Quite a Little Baby. It reminds us that the little baby in the hay was born to die upon a cross and Derric asked us to dramatize the end of the song. At measure 87 every other person slipped their music on top of the music of the person to their left. In half time we sang with a slow, but building crescendo, He spread His hands out wide___. (rest) Then from double forte to double soft and (rest) died. The was a soft gasp from the audience as every other choir member stood with their arms outstretched. Derric Johnson had tears streaming down his face as he mouthed, Yes That's it. It was as if all 150 singers were on the cross with Jesus.

The accompaniment tape was stopped and we waited... truly angels hovered near for we were on Holy Ground.

All arms went down at his signal and we finished the song; at double forte on high B-flat, we sang, Jesus Christ, the Lord as if it was Resurrection morning

The words and the music stirred a part of my soul that needed to experience the true miracle of my Lord's humble, earthly birth. It was awe-inspiring, magnificent, impressive yet simple. The applause went on and on- music ministers, deeply touched, offering their praises for God's work through Derric Johnson.
If I never sang again, it would have been enough to have sung A Song, A Star, A Son, that evening, but at the same time I wanted to sing it again and again. And I do, every year during Christmas week.

It is my prayer that Derric Johnson's words will stir your soul.

What makes the difference is our heart's response to the song... and the star... and the Son. Christmas means He came to you; salvation means you come to Him. Christmas is the Son of God becoming the Son of Man so that the sons of men become the sons of God.

Come and worship, Come and worship, Worship Christ, the New Born King


Shalom, Connie

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lonely Or Alone

...Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often. (Luke 2:19 NLT)

Like Mary, I was in a strange town; I had lost my job, and my family would be out of state for Christmas. Instead of jingle bells I was hearing bill collectors ringing my phone. Depression was keeping me in bed or watching TV so I could turn off reality. It didn’t work.

Then I remembered a story about two men breaking into the apartment of an old lady. They tie her to a chair while they search for the jewelry and Christmas gifts. She insists that there are none. She tries to explain that she made a choice not to have Christmas so she wouldn’t be lonely and sad.

I, too, had a choice to make. I could be alone or I could be lonely and miserable.

If you are alone or having difficulties this Christmas season, I want you to know that Mary, Jesus’ mother, knew loneliness that first Christmas Day even with Joseph at her side. She delivered the Holy Infant Son of God miles away from family and would not be able to return to her home in Nazareth for several years. Everything she and Joseph planned was null and void when the Census was announced. The cradle, Joseph had lovingly made in his workshop, couldn’t go to Bethlehem. Nor could the specially woven basket and layette Mary made- only basics could go with them. She knew she had the responsibility of raising God’s Son- a task she could never sit around and talk about at the neighborhood MOPs group. As devoted a father as Joseph probably was, the burden still fell upon Mary, who would eventually be kneeling at the foot of the cross when Jesus died.

When we think of Mary, our perspective changes. Christmas, often, doesn’t measure up to our expectations and most of us are too busy to enjoy the celebration. We can make a choice though to establish our own traditions based on what we have. Not, what we want. This year I retired and am on a fixed income; once again my traditions have to be altered. I can still bake and knit, write letters, go to Christmas Eve services and play my favorite music from Christmases past. I will have High Tea using a dainty china cup. If I must dine “alone,” I will create a special meal as my way to celebrate Jesus as my guest and even set a place for Him.

As long as you celebrate with Jesus, you are never alone, and never lonely.

Lord, Help us to make this Christmas one of meaning and joy regardless of circumstances. Show us someone to demonstrate Your love to, and help us to keep our focus on You. Amen.


Shalom, Connie

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Nativity Traditions

Over the years there have many 1,000's of storybooks, pageants, musicals, school and Sunday School children's programs, poems, dramas, and films telling the Christmas story of the Nativity. These renditions have become the norm for many of us. Unless we go to scripture, it's easy to mix the stories with what scripture and history tells us.

For instance:
1. Who told Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem?
2. How do Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem?
3. What did the innkeeper tell them?
4. Where in Bethlehem was Jesus delivered?
5. Who helped with the delivery?
6. What animals were present?
7. How many angels spoke to the shepherds?
8. What did the angels sing?
9. How many wise men came to see Jesus?
10. Who were the wise men?
11. Where did the wise men find Jesus?
12. Is the story of Jesus birth recorded in all 4 gospels?
13. Who told Joseph and Mary to go to Egypt?

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11- Scripture does not tells us.
1. Caesar Augustus
7. One; then an army of angels appeared
8. Scripture says they praised God, but doesn't state that it was in song.
10. Note: it is believed that the magi were astrologers.
12. Only in Matthew and Luke.
13. An angel in a dream to Joseph.

So where does a donkey, a stable full of animals, 3 kings and camels, etc. come from?
From our need to try to visualize this awesome event.
As a former children's choir director, I have presented about 10 Christmas musicals. Each one different, each one meant to help us understand how special Christ's birth was for each of us.
And I have sung or watched over 100 adult and children's Christmas dramas, programs, cantatas, pageants, and musicals. Each one has caused me to think anew what Christmas is all about.

My desire is that you, too, will see Christmas in a fresh, new way this year. Whether it's through little shepherds in bathrobes, spectacular kings riding in on real camels with a royal entourage, or a simple song like "Silent Night," open your heart to a heavenly touch.

The words of "Go, Tell It on the Mountain" take on new meaning as I look out my window at the snow-topped Cascade mountains. Three climbers recently perished there. Climbing real mountains is no easy feat; neither are the mountains and valleys within our lives.

No matter what the circumstances are in your life, I want to shout it from the mountain top that Christ was born so you could have Hope! Peace! and Joy! They are not found under a tree, or in a stocking, at a party, or even in a church- only in a manger when the Creator of the universe came to earth as a wee baby in a small, sleeping town.

Selah- think on these things...

Shalom, Connie

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Angel 4 & An Army

After Baby Jesus was born, an angel appeared to shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem. They were told where to find the baby; then a company of heavenly host- an army of angels- appeared praising God and saying "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:14 NIV)

A very humble birth in a smelly stable for animals; an awesome birth announcement from the throne of God made to sheep herders. Do you wonder about these contrasts like I do?

We know from scripture that Abel was the first shepherd. Then came Abraham, David, Jacob, Moses, and Rachel. From Israel's history we also know that shepherds were of the lowest class; they could not be witnesses in legal cases and were seen as sinners, like tax collectors. In the summer, the sheep were moved from field to field for fresh grass and water. The shepherds usually brought a goat skin bag with food in it, a sling and a rod or stick 2-3 feet long with a knob on one end for protecting the sheep from wild animals and thieves, a flute to calm the sheep and for entertainment, a staff for sheep handling and as a walking stick, and a cloak. A pretty simple life and very lonely; the number of shepherds depended upon the size of the flock- from one to many. In the winter, the sheep were brought into shelters. Apparently it was not winter when the angel appeared.

A cute Christmas story says that a little angel asked God if they could clean up the stable. He responded, "No, it is as I planned, but you can go and announce My Son's birth!"

More than any royal decree, the glory of the Lord shone around the lowly shepherds. Maybe, they were the only ones who would go to see a poor newborn in a manger; maybe they were the only ones able to believe that the Savior was born; maybe God was telling that Jesus would become the Good Shepherd. I do not know the mind of God, but I would have liked to have been in that field that night.

Shepherds, did you know?


Shalom, Connie

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Family Tree

The baby born to Mary would become "a man of sorrows... familiar with suffering." (Isaiah 53:3) Those hardships began before he was even born.

"Why now?" thought Joseph as he slowly walked home. He dreaded telling Mary that they would have to go to Bethlehem for the census reporting; it was going to be hard on her so close to her time. All the things she had made for the baby, the cradle he had made- none of it could go with them. Just a change of clothes and some food for the journey... they had room for no more. No family nor the old, but good midwife of Nazareth would be there to help Mary through the birth. "Why now, Lord?"

Gracious, sweet Mary reassured him that God would take of them. Holding her aching back she went inside to prepare for their journey. It would take a long time to cover the 90 miles to Bethlehem.

All was as planned- one writer said, "Taxes were as good as any reason to get the Holy Family to Bethlehem" for God had said through Micah that the Savior of the World would come out of the little town of Bethlehem and would be a relative of Kind David. (Micah 5:2)

Indeed both Mary and Joseph were of the house of David; their family tree is listed in scripture. By the way, that tree contained David, whom God loved, and Boaz, a righteous man, married to Ruth, a gentile. Even Jesus' lineage indicated that He came for all the world.

Joseph and Mary may have joined a caravan of other travelers also going to the place of their ancestry, but still it would have been a rugged trip. Whether walking or riding, Jesus was bouncing safely within Mary's womb. God would protect them, but that did not include making the trip any easier.

More tough times were ahead: no place to stay in Bethlehem, no easy birth, no royal garments,
Joseph would have to find work, Mary would feel all alone. Then another trip to escape into Egypt while the innocent male babies under 2 years old were being slaughtered by Roman soldiers.

The Christmas card nativity scenes do not show the reality of Jesus birth. Joseph muking out a stall and lining it with clean straw, the smells and sounds of the animals, a rural town unprepared for the large number of travelers, limited food and water, only strips of cloth to wrap the baby, the fear when smelly shepherds arrived.

And Mary pondered these things and tucked them away in her heart ...


Shalom, Connie

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Angel #3

Joesph truly loves Mary and was barely managing the long wait between engagement and marriage, when she tells him that through the Holy Spirit she was pregnant. An unwed mother is a disgrace and subject to stoning. Joseph wants to protect her, but how can a man believe such a story. He was older than Mary and understood about birthing- sheep, goats, donkeys, cows, and people required a male to begin a new life. How could Mary have done this? He will have to divorce her- quietly if possible.

How very sad and angry he must have been.

He knows the rabbi well. Tomorrow he will talk with him; and Joseph falls asleep grieving for the loss of their marriage.

Angel #3 may have been Gabriel, but we know that an angel was sent, once again, by God.
This time he appears in a dream and tells Joseph that Mary's story is true and she will bear a son. Joseph is to help raise the Son of God and is to name him Jesus.

I imagine that Joseph awoke relieved, confused, and wondering if it truly was an angel from the Lord. When Mary returns from visiting Elizabeth, Joseph knows the truth and takes her home to live with him.

The gossipers are still talking at the well, but Mary and Joseph begin their life together with love and a precious secret. Mary glows as she shows him the baby clothes she and Elizabeth made. She bubbles with joy when she feels the baby move. She giggles in delight as she lets out the seams of her gown. Joseph hums as he builds a cradle of the finest wood; he will carve it with a design fit for a king.

But the Christ child will never lay in that cradle or wear those tiny clothes ...


Shalom, Connie

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Angel #2

Gabriel, God's warrior angel, visits a young teen, a Hebrew girl, telling her that she has been chosen by God to give birth to the long awaited Messiah. She doesn't offer excuses, but I am sure she was overwhelmed in the presence of this heavenly visitor. She agrees saying, "I am the Lord's servant."

What an honor! All young girls dreamed about the King, who would save Israel.

What a nightmare! Yes, it had to be both horrible and wonderful.

Wonderful to know that the Messiah was coming as promised. Wonderful to realize that God had chosen her.

Yet it was also the beginning of many horrible obstacles. Telling Joseph she was pregnant not by a man, but through the Holy Spirit. Telling her parents that she, their sweet and innocent daughter, was carrying a child that was not Joseph's. Dealing with the gossips in town who were sure to judge her & treat her as a sinful woman. Then, as the pregnancy became real with morning sickness, a growing belly, and the confusing emotions, she realizes the heavy responsibility of raising God's Son.

Mary leaves Nazareth for Judea to visit with her cousin, Elizabeth. As Mary arrives and calls out a traditional greeting, Elizabeth's baby "leaps for joy." Elizabeth not only knows that Mary's pregnant, she knows Mary's the chosen maiden to bear the Christ child. There had been no cell phone calls or telegrams, it was within her spirit that Elizabeth knew these things.

Elizabeth, in her old age, also cannot hide that she is in her sixth month, and Mary also rejoices in her blessing.

For three months they help each other through the symptoms of pregnancy; they talk excitedly about being mothers; they talk about Joseph and silent Zechariah; they sew baby clothes and prepare the rags for childbirth. They talk about their boys growing up to serve God. Little do they know what lies ahead...


Shalom, Connie

Friday, December 15, 2006

The First Angel of Christmas

An angel told the old priest Zechariah that his wife would have a son. He was to be named John & would be filled with the Holy Spirit at conception for he was to prepare the way for Jesus. Old Zechariah did not believe that he & Elizabeth- after all these- would get pregnant.
The angel bearing God's message rermoved Zechariah's voice until John was born. Elizabeth was so stunned that she remain in hiding for 5 months until she was absolutely sure that she was indeed pregnant.
Woman were to bring babies into the world; those like Elizabeth, who could not, were considered in disgrace. I can see her walking to the well with her swollen belly. Her disgrace removed, she smiled and hummed as she drew the water; nodding to the the other woman, she returned home to prepare for the arrival of a miracle. The woman of the town would have much to talk about. They would make opportunities to visit Elizabeth- bringing a bit of extra cloth, some carded wool, clothes their children had worn. She would thank them and smile with a special glow.
Speechless Zechariah would have much to say and would sing a song of praise upon John's birth-day, but for now his doubt made him silent.

No, it wasn't a dream. It wasn't an illusion. It wasn't phantasmagoric. It was God's plan.
Tomorrow we will meet angel #2.


Shalom, Connie

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I just finished reading a mystery by Elizabeth George. Near the end she used phantasmagorical to describe the Detective Inspector's trip to find the woman he loved.

Writers should not use words like that; they stop the reader and can distract them enough to lose the flow of the story. However, it was near the end and I was focused on whether it would end "happily ever after;" and did not stop reading. But I looked it up in the dictionary.

It means dreamlike, illusionary, or as an event swiftly changes; change the ph to a f and you'll recognise it as fantasy-like.

Because it is Advent and I am contemplating the wonders of Christ's birth, I thought of Mary when the angel, Gabriel, told her that she was the chosen one to bear God's Son. I also thought of Joseph as Gabriel told him that Mary was telling him the truth; and of the old priest, Zechariah, when an angel told him that his barren wife Elizabeth, Mary's cousin, would bear a son. That son would be called John; he would prepare the way for Jesus' ministry including baptising Jesus.

Each event must have been phantasmagorical. If the foretold births had not taken place, Mary, Joseph, and Zechariah would have thought the angel was an illusion, a dream, a fantasy of the imagination.

and the angel, visiting the old priest, were messengers of God, who were preparing for God's mercy and love to be demonstrated through the birth and death of Jesus, God's only Son. A part of Himself had to come to earth for there is no sin in heaven... no death. He came to remove our separation from Him... to bring us back to Him, who created us.

"Amazing love, how can it be ..."


Shalom, Connie

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Light Bulbs

Why is it that light bulbs all burn out at the same time? Climbing up on my stool and stretching to reach is not my idea of fun; then one of the screws fell out! Where is my 6'4" son when I need him?

He & his family are in Iowa to celebrate Christmas with the in-laws; happily they'll be back before Christmas. The price of plane tickets was too high to go Christmas week- never thought I'd be excited about expensive tickets!!!

Yep, the prices fluctuate and bulbs burn out, but God is never changing. He is my stability. He walks with me always.


Shalom, Connie

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Calories or ???

Wow, what a week I had! While everyone is busy with Christmas preparations, I had to set all that aside as I helped friends in crisis. As a Parish Nurse, I keep a log of my hours- last week's totaled 119. No cookies were baked, no cleaning done, no writing finished; and I had to cancel my Cookie Exchange.
But God is faithful- needs were met, crises were resolved with good outcomes, and prayers were answered.
I'd say that was better than all those cookie calories!

Shalom until tomorrow, Connie

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

In the Twinkling of an Eye

In a moment life can change forever. That happened tonight to a man, the uncle of my neighbor. She came knocking on my apartment door immediately after receiving the phone call to come to the hospital ER. "Can you watch the baby? I have a family emergency."

That is what neighbors are for; especially Christian neighbors. I grabbed my keys and a mystery paperback & followed her. 21/2 hours later she was sent home. Her uncle is in critical condition in ICU. Join me in praying for this family, please.

Although I do not know this man, I do know that life, as he knew it, took a sudden change. AND the same thing can happen to us and/or our loved ones any moment.

A Heads Up to be thankful- life is precious for how ever long we are blessed with it.


Shalom, Connie

Monday, December 04, 2006

Change in Plans

Today I had the privelege of spending all afternoon and evening at the hospital.
As a Parish Nurse, I try to be available to the folks from my congregation and friends whenever the need arises.

Today a friend had an emergency heart catherization and a stint was placed in a narrowed artery, which was causing her chest pain. Although it is a lot of hurry and wait, it is a privilege to pray for my friend and all the staff caring for her.

Didn't get my scheduled things done, but had the precious time of hours in prayer to the Great Physician. I never can figure out who is blessed more, my patient or myself?

Shalom, Connie

P.S. My friend is doing just fine.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cookie Exchange

Cannot chat long today, I'm getting ready for a Cookie Exchange next Sunday.

It's one of the highlights of the Christmas season for me.

I live alone & I am on a limited income, so this is a great way to have a party. All I bought were red paperplates, cups & napkins at the $ Store. I already have Christmas decorations, the basics for making cookies, tea, cider, cocoa & coffee.

So I am cleaning with anticipation of decorating and filling the apartment with the smell of cookies.

If you're in theneighborhood next Sunday, drop in! :)

Shalom, Connie

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Choices Matter, part 2

Naomi and Ruth lived in Bethlehem after the famine ended. It would have been a time for Ruth to care for her aging mother-in-law, and to learn from her about the God of Israel.
Ruth meets and marries Boaz; they have a son Obed. Naomi accepts Obed as her grandchild, who becomes the father of Jesse the father of David.

Coincidence? No, I believe that it was part of God's plan. BUT Ruth, like us, had a freewill; she had the choice to follow Naomi's God or to return to the gods of Moab. God could have accomplished the line of Jesse another way, but, indeed, history would have changed.

As we approach Advent and the birthday of Jesus, let's remember that Jesus' birth was planned ahead- for generations. And that an ancestor of Jesus was a gentile, a Moabitess. Didn't Jesus come for the whole world?

I close with Isaiah's words:

For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the
throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the
Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!
(Isaiah 9:6-7 NLT)


Shalom, Connie

Friday, December 01, 2006

Choices Matter

Do you remember Ruth in the Bible? Usually we recall her words to Naomi, "Where you will go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16b NIV)

Naomi and her family had left Judah due to a famine. They had crossed the Jordan into Moab where there was food. Her sons marry Moabites, Naomi's husband dies and then her sons die also.
The famine ends in Judah so Naomi is returning home to die. Out of love for her daughter-in-laws, she gives them her blessing and tells them to return to their mother's house.
(Tradition tells us that Naomi probably had no male relatives because they would have cared for her and married her daughter-in-laws.)
Orpah & Ruth accompany Naomi to Judah. Once there, Orpah kisses Naomi good-bye and returns home weeping. Ruth also wept, but refuses to return to Moab.

Now in Bethlehem, the love story of Ruth and Boaz begins. And I wonder, "Why Bethlehem?"
The end of the chapter answers my question.

Ruth is to become the great grandmother of David thus fulfilling Isaiah's words that the Messiah would be from the house of David. Micah foretold that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.

Today let's think about Naomi and Ruth relationship. First, Naomi gave Orpah & Ruth her blessing, which indicates her love, wisdom and grace. As a Jew, she continued to follow God while in Moab, which must have included teaching her daughter-in-laws. Ruth desired to follow the God of Naomi even though she was a gentile.

The question to ponder today is do we demonstrate God's love as Naomi did? In our actions and relationships do we reflect God's grace, wisdom, and love? Does He shine through me? Through you?

Naomi's choice mattered; if she had returned to Moab, history would have changed. Tomorrow, we'll consider why.


Shalom, Connie

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bah Humbug

Twice I've lost my posting- my patience is slipping. See tomorrow's posting to recap.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Years ago my 4 year-old sister refused to go to church. When asked why she replied that "they put fish in cement."
That's how she heard the chorus "I will make you fishers of men..."

The two fishermen casting their nets in to the Sea of Galilee- Simon (called Peter) and
Andrew -may have thought Jesus' words were strange also when He said, "Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men." But scripture tells us that they left their nets "at once" and followed Him. Soon James and John, sons of Zebedee, left their boats and nets, and their father sitting in a boat and immediately followed Jesus. Followed a man with no home; with nothing except his sandals and clothes. (Matthew 4:18-22)

What was it that made 4 fisherman leave everything that they knew to step out of their comfort zone and follow Jesus? I think we will understand when we, too, stand face to face with Him.

I do know that Jesus caught His fish first, then cleaned them. He chose ordinary, poorly educated men. As they walked and talked, they were being molded into the men Jesus would leave behind to carry on His ministry.

Would you be willing to leave your comfort zone to follow Jesus?


Shalom, Connie

Monday, November 27, 2006


"When they (the magi) had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. 'Get up,' he said, 'take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt." (Luke 2:13)

The newborn Jesus starts His life in a stable because the inns were full- "no room." Then his parents escape into Egypt so Herod cannot kill Him- no room, again.

As an adult, Jesus said, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head." (Matthew 8:20 NIV)

No room, once more; unless someone invites Him in to stay with them.

Today, I ask, "Do you have room for Him?" Is He a part of your Christmas celebration? At our house we will have a birthday cake for Jesus and we will share a simple gift in rememberance of the maji gifts and of God's love gift to us.

Selah... Do you have room?

Shalom, Connie

Sunday, November 26, 2006


"Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us..." (Psalm 90:17 NKJV)

During this busy time of year, our hands are extremely busy. We have too much to do; and we have no time to figure out what we should be doing. I encourage you to make time for God; to be silent so He can whisper His promises and direction for you; and to take time to rest. An oriental philosopher once said "Besides the art of getting things done, there is also the noble art of leaving things out." (Lin Yu Tang)

Make a list of what is really important then prioritize your list. Pray for the Lord to estabish the work of your hands as He promised.


Shalom, Connie

In a Manger

"You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." (Luke 2:12 NIV)

Selah, think about this.

The eternal God and Creator slept, for the first time on earth, surrounded by animals and straw and lying in an feed trough. Can you imagine His first smells? His first sights in that stable? Can you imagine His fatique and hunger following that delivery into this world? Can you imagine God becoming human?

That night God really understood what redemption or the removal of man's sin would cost; He gave us His Son anyway.


Shalom, Connie

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Rhema (hray'-mah) means spoken words, living words.

A.W.Tozar reminds us that "God did not write a book and send it by messenger to be read at a distance by unaided minds. He spoke a Book and lives in His spoken words, constantly speaking His words and causing the power of them to persist across the years."

I am amazed quite often at how relevant The Bible is today as well as when it was written. And how a verse or two that I have read many times suddenly has new meaning for me. In the next few days I will share some of those with you.

Meanwhile, let God's love fill your heart and refresh you often during this busy holiday season.

Shalom, Connie

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks in ALL Things

Wish I had written the following truth:

"The stresses, and pressures of life add up; all that negative energy has
to go somewhere. Sometimes it gets into our hearts and heads and we end up
with what I call a ratitude. A ratitude is my emotional and
spiritual state when I feel used, abused, unappreciated, misunderstood,
and put upon.

I scurry around trying to find things to make my life
better and to try to make me feel better.
Other times, I try to hide out from all my problems, trying to avoid
those who would treat me harshly. All my efforts only make me feel
worse. I'm bummed out. I've got a ratitude.
I can pray. I can continue to bring my supplications
before God. I can do it with thanksgiving to God. You see, when I bring
God into my ratitude by offering thanks to him, He transforms it. He
transforms me.
Let me share a little secret with you. The next time you have a
ratitude, bring God into it. In fact, just take the Big G at the
beginning of God, and add it to the front of your ratitude. What do
you have then? That's right folks, you have a GRATITUDE.
I know, it sounds corny. You may even think it's trite. The truth,
however, is that learning to be grateful -- to give thanks for our
solid blessings in Jesus and the overflow of God's gifts given to us
everyday -- is not trite or corny, it's transformational.
And that's how we are supposed to live each day, in gratitude to God."

(c) 2006 Cary Branscum at www dot heartlight dot com


Shalom, Connie

P.S. I will be off-line celebrating Gratitude with my family Thursday & Friday.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Blessing Basket

Thanksgiving time is a wonderful to remind you that YOU are uniquely special- there is only one you!

Several years ago I began using a Blessing Bowl, but I soon found that it wasn't big enough.
Now I use a basket, but an old cookie jar would work also. For my basket I found some ribbon that said Blessings on it, and laced it into the basket.
I write my blessings on small strips of paper throughout the year. Then on my down, sad, dreary, not-so-good days and on Thanksgiving I read them one by one. I remember good times, unexpected blessings, special people in my life, and the simple things in life that we easily take for granted.

This Thanksgiving Day I will be remembering you, my readers, and I will ask God to bless you in a profound... can't deny it... way during this holiday season.

Tomorrow: What are you thankful for?


Shalom, Connie

Monday, November 20, 2006


As Thanksgiving approaches, let's do an Investment Check-Up.
Investments are opportunities for which we will be held accountable:

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life...

Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others — ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.

So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. (Galations 6:4-5,7-10 The Message)

How well spent is our time? Our passions? Our interests and causes? Our money?
Are we sowing the right seeds? Will we sacrifice as needed to reap a bountiful harvest?

Christ invested His life for us- can we do less?

When we invest in Jesus Christ, it must be for a life time; and we will have a harvest overflowing with faith, hope, love and joy.

Selah -

Shalom, Connie

Monday, November 13, 2006

Just One

Mother Teresa once said,

I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look only at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. Just one, one, one.

Who needs a kind, encouraging word? Who needs a smile? Who needs a helping hand? Who around you is hungry or thirsty?
Have taken time to see? Do you reflect the light of God?

Look around you... notice one person at a time.

How can you bring hope to someone today? Tomorrow?


Shalom, Connie

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Snoopy & Company

One of my writing friends loves Snoopy; especially when he is sitting on top of his doghouse with his typewriter. "Life according to Snoopy" tells us not to take ourselves too seriously.
As for me, I like Lucy. She's sitting in her advice booth handing out wisdom at five cents per advice. I remember one when Charlie Brown comes burdened with life's overwhelming problems; Lucy tells him, "Get another life Charlie Brown!"

There are days I'd like to turn my life in for a new model. How about you?

But then I realize that I would have to give up too much: the giggles of my baby granddaughter, the marvel of life through my grandson's eyes, my son who serves the Lord through his art, my daughter-in-law who fits her middle name of Joy, my friends of many years that always are there for me, etc. I've too many wonderful life experiences to part with.

When we go through hard times they seem so isolated. They distract us from all the good stuff.
They move us away from who we were meant to be, when we focus on the have nots, what ifs, and woe is me's. I often read the Book of Psalms, especially David's laments.

David pours out all his frustrations, fears, and burdens and asks God to help him; then he praises God. Negatives galore then praise and thanksgiving. No wonder God called David a man after His own heart. I do a lot of dumping, ask God to lean my way in answering my pleas, and constantly need more- more faith, more understanding, more joy. BUT I'm not very good at following my list of expectations with praise & thanksgiving.

Remember the prophet Elijah? He was the first prophet to actually perform miracles. Afterwards, the queen wanted revenge; causing Elijah to run away. What a pitiful pearl party he had! He asked God to kill him because he could no long bear life.

I can relate because I have suffered with the deadly D's including deep depression. Life SEEMS to not be worth it. Note what God did; He sent an angel to feed Elijah and then gave him rest. Why? Because God knew Elijah's worth, God could see the future and what He had planned for Elijah.

It is the same today. God will nourish and refresh us, if we but ask.

Lucy's right, get another life. Live it by choosing to honor God in all you say and do.

Just think of the wonderful things you can write in your journal. Snoopy might even lend you his typewriter. : )


Shalom, Connie

Saturday, November 11, 2006


The notice just went up at my apartment complex: The Pool Is Open.
I confess that exercise is not a priority in my life... And my body shows it.
But I do like the pool as I can move easier in the water, my arthritic pain is less, & I don't hurt afterwards.
My grandson likes the pool too; we have fun gramma-times there.

The only exercise some of us get is:
jumping to conclusions
running down others
pushing one's luck
walking into trouble
skipping church

I think I'll stick to swimming!


Shalom, Connie

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mouth Management

Sermon Notes, 1998

Sitting on the podium were 2 jars of pickles: dill pickles and sweet pickles.
(Maybe the sermon title should have been changed to "Acidic or Sweet Mouth.")

Mouth Management Requires 5 Things:

1. God- without Him, mouth management is impossible because there is no eraser for words spoken.

2. Spiritual maturity- soaking in the right environment is needed. (Ahah, the pickle jars!)
Dill pickles = the world's environment of self & whatever feels good.
Sweet pickles = a spiritual environment based on prayer, devotions, Bible study, worship, and Christian fellowship.

3. Thinking before you speak. (And I would add listening before thinking.)

4. Avoiding tooth decay using the treatment of truth telling.

5. Love- seasons all truth. Rather than vinegar and dill try some sugar.

Then the pastor placed another, larger jar on the podium and said, "Better yet, soak in this jar."
The label said GOD'S LOVE.


Shalom, Connie

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mind Management

Ever feel like your loosing it? Your mind, I mean.
Here's 2 thoughts that just might save it.
1. No matter what your psyche does, for the believer, the spirit stays intact.
2. The Battle of Thoughts are controlled by your focus:
The Invasion stage is when you can't stop the thoughts... they just keep coming.
The Beachhead stage is when you replace those negative thoughts.
The Stronghold stage is built on your core beliefs; when God is your focus, not only does your spirit stay intact, but you have access to wisdom, comfort, and guidance.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)


Shalom, Connie

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


From my collection of sermon notes, 1998:

7 Principles of Success to Build Your Life Upon

S tart with God (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
U se God's Word as your map and guide (Psalm 119:9-12)
C lown around, follow your dreams & demonstarte God's joy (Eccl. 11:9a)
C onduct yourself with judgment in mind (Ecclesiastes 11:9b)
E scape from evil (2 Timothy 2:22)
S acrifice now and pay later (Lamentations 3:27, 58)
S et an example (1 Timothy 4:12)

Remember that perfection is what or how God wants us to be in order to fulfill His will for our life- that includes the positives and the negatives.


Shalom, Connie

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Someone Took the Chairs Away

Author Unknown but a message worth considering...

Someone Took the Chairs Away

When I was young
I used to sit
Behind the saints
At church
And listen...

I sat in church
And saw
To my amazement
That the saints were gone
And someone had taken
Away the chairs
Mine was the front row

I tremble
At the sweet burden
That is mine
To teach
By testimony
And by living
That God
Is all He says He is
And more...

And it is up to me
To do for others
What was done
For me.

What causes you to tremble?


Shalom, Connie

Monday, November 06, 2006


Saw a plaque in a magazine that has hearts around the border with vines and berries intertwined- would love it for my border.

More important is what it says:


"Love God and love each other.
Be generous with hugs and warm wishes.
Be patient and respect each other.
Be kind and tenderhearted.
Pray often.
And live with a thankful heart."
-author unknown

That's my prayer for you today.
Praying for you
Custom Smiley

Shalom, Connie

Sunday, November 05, 2006

"I Wonder If God Cries"

"I Wonder if God Cries" is a song from the 1970"s by Gary S. Paxton. I am assuming that the answer could be "Yes" because we are made in the image of God. I believe He becomes sad just like you and I do.

I haven't written for a few days because I have been sad and I am unsure whether to cry or to yell in anger. Anger doesn't solve issues though; and crying won't change anything. So I am going to write why I feel this way.

The conference & retreat that I attended last weekend was on "Health & Spirituality" for Parish Nurses and other people in health ministries.

So, why am I upset? Spirituality is the problem. I talk about spiritual growth; I've sung spirituals, I am spiritual because I am made in the image of God... I have His Spirit within me.
I do not want to be called religious or by the name of a particular denomination. I do want to be called a Christian. Christ- an'- I. Or Christ-like.

Today the definition of spiritual has been broadened to include whatever "feels okay."
I believe that we have crossed the line between what God sees as spiritual and what men and women want to see as spiritual.

The Bible, the only book to have survived for 1000's of years, says that Jesus is the Way and the Truth. Through Jesus we have direct access to the mind of God. Being good, kind, gentle, honest, etc. does not get you into heaven. Neither does Budda, or any other god. Neither do mystics or their practices.

Are lit candles, a cross, a Bible, an angel figurine, and soft music wrong? No, but they can be dangerous depending upon what your heart attitute is.

Read Isaiah 44:13-20 about the carpenter and his idol; then...


Shalom, Connie

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sending a Smile Across the Miles

Love this verse:
Oh my soul, why be so gloomy and discouraged?
Trust in God!
I shall praise Him for His wonderous help;
He will make me smile again, for He is my God.
Psalm 43:5 (TLB)

Shalom, Connie

Monday, October 30, 2006



Recent I received a devotional on line by Mark Barres. It's good food for thought:
We are the most vulnerable when Hungry, Angry, Lonely, & Tired. Originally this was stated in context of addictions. When any of the four happen, one should halt, assess, and avoid weaknesses. Danger
It is true for all of us, though; and Mark Barres wrote that when we are hungry, angry, lonely, and/or tired, we should Halt, Kneel, & Pray. Great advice!


Shalom, Connie

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Sister

Butterfly 4
My baby sister came because I wished upon a star for her. (Well, that's what I thought when I was 10 years old.) She now is a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and in May finished being a student graduating with a Masters of Divinity degree.

Today, she is Reverend Judy and celebrated her calling through ordination.

I'd like to think that my childhood wish, made upon the first star that night so long ago, was granted as an answer to prayer because God knew this day would come. There have been many struggles along her path, in preparation for this new part of her journey, and the symbol of a butterfly has fittingly been her coat of arms. Pray with me that the stretching of her new wings will touch many hearts and souls.

The following is a verse of a hymn that began the Service of Ordination; it is a beautiful reminder for all of us:

Here we gather, God to worship,
thankful for our unity,
sisters, brothers now affirming
one called out for ministry.
She will be a servant leader,
set apart yet not above.
We are called with her as servants
and with her, to spread God's love.

Little sister, I am proud of you. I ask the Lord for special blessings as you spread your wings of love and fly!

Butterfly Glitter


Shalom, Connie

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Conference & Retreat

I just spent 2 days at a Parish Nurse Conference and Retreat for Parish Nurses from Oregon and Washington. The theme was Spirituality and Health.
Not only was I a participant, I also was a presenter for 2 sessions on Friday. Plus I was the gift "giver."
Many generous folks provided gifts, which were given away by drawing ticket numbers. Asking people to give things is not my favorite thing to do, but Parish Nurses, who are mostly volunteers, certainly need to be recognized and pampered a bit. Tote bags, books, an original painting, 2 silk flower arrangements, a huge original photo, a beauty basket, a handmade vase, a heart & hands figurine were just some of the gifts ranging from $10-100+. I was honored to pass them out to some very happy people.
I hope that my presentation was also a gift of encouragement.
Giving is fun!

Shalom, Connie

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and acting anyway.
- Robert Anthony

Failure is not falling, it is not getting up.

Perfection is how God created us to fulfill His will for our lives; it includes both positives and negatives in the correct balance.


Shalom, Connie

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Penny

I just found a shiny new penny in the driveway. When I see a coin on the ground, I remember a short story I read years ago.

A woman wrote about a time of problems and was admittedly arguing with God about Him not supplies her needs. "If I am suppose to leave things in Your hands, you better give me some sign that You are even hearing me;" she demanded; and she went about doing her errands for the day. Later that day, she was walking to her car in the mall parking lot and saw a penny on the pavement. Mumbling to herself, she walked passed it. After all, what's a penny worth these days? It's not even worth leaning down to pick it up.

Putting her packages in the back, she headed for the driver's door. A strong sense of urgency overwhelmed her and she paused. "This is dumb," she thought, but she had to go back and pick up that penny. The sunlight caught that shiny penny in her hand, and her eyes fell upon the words: In God We Trust...

Her sign that God was in control?

Yes, she went on to tell that her needs and more were met in the months that followed. Since that day she never misses an opportunity to pick up a penny- she has a large glass jar nearly full- each with the promise In God We Trust!

Maybe a sign for me? For you?


Shalom, Connie

Monday, October 23, 2006


Is it easy for you to trust? Or is it a daily struggle?

I have some needs that are not being met & I am trying to trust God to provide.
My brain, my knowledge, tells me God will and He does provide as He promises. I even know that He said we must ask- even though He knows prior to our asking.

My fickle emotions cause me to worry, doubt, and distrust. It's not God's ability that I don't trust- He can do anything and everything. It is my unworthiness that is my roadblock or, maybe, it's a pothole in my life.

People have failed me. As a nurse, I am a fixer. As a young widow, I had to become very independent in order to survive & provide for my son. Now I need help, and it is so hard to ask and to trust.

This lack of trust is affecting my writing, which God has called me to do. I need to practice my beliefs regardless of my feelings. I gotta let go and let God, as they used to say. You know what? It's like getting into the car with God & saying, "I'll drive" when you don't even know where you going. And when we make the wrong decisions, God let's what will be will be. That's how we learn the consequences of our poor choices.

I want to stay out of the potholes so I am going to let Him drive...
until I can't stand it & takeover. But, just maybe, tomorrow I'll last a bit longer, And the next day even longer, and so on until it becomes engrained in me to trust my Creator and Heavenly Father.


Shalom, Connie

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Aching Hearts

My friend stopped by to share the burdens on her heart regarding her family.

She didn't know that I was having a funky day & that her surpirse visit cheered me up. She brought me a Mary Engelbreit bookmark, "The Blessings of Friendship." I am sure that she doesn't know that I am an admirer of Mary Engelbreit.

Mary was told not to follow her dream... she'd never make a living as a children's book illustrator. "Get a degree in English so you can teach." But Mary disregarded her counselor's advice and has successfully followed her dream. It isn't the success that I admire, although that is great. It was her mother, who I truly take my hat off to. When Mary was 9 she announced that she needed a studio. Her mother "promptly emptied a linen closet for her." Without formal training, but with the encouragement of her parents, her art is everywhere: greeting cards, books, cups, and more... and, oh yes, bookmarks.

That's what Galations 6:2 is talking about when it says "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (NIV) That law being to love one another. To encourage one another. The Greek word for encourage means to stand along side of. Isn't that what we all want when we're going through tough times? Not to go it alone, to have support. Sometimes the greatest thing we can say is (silence) while being present.


Shalom, Connie

Saturday, October 21, 2006

In Need

Remember this chorus:

"It'sa me, it'sa me, it'sa me, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer...
Not my brother, not my sister,
But it's me, O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer."

This coming week is the NorthWest Parish Nurse Ministries annual conference and retreat.
It is being held here in Bend, OR- a first! Approximately 100 Parish Nurses and Health Ministers will be coming from lower Washington state as well as the entire state of Oregon.
Thursday evening a nurse will arrive to stay at my apartment- I need some extra energy to clean and be ready for her.
Friday afternoon I will participate in a panel discussion on new approaches in Parish Nursing. Following that I will lead a session on Spiritual Growth.
Because we (Central Oregon Parish Nurses) are the hosting group we've needed a lot of volunteers. Praise the Lord we have many and that has freed me up to concentrate on teaching.

Keep me in your prayers as I prepare my presentations and clean. I want to be relaxed and ready to greet my guest; and to touch the hearts of women, from a variety of denominations,
about Spiritual Growth and Discipline: the ability to do what needs to be done in order to receive God's power to do what we cannot do.

Deeply ingrained habits in our spiritual lives help us to tap into God's resources so we might grow and glorify Him.

Tomorrow, I'll share about my tree...

Shalom with thanks, Connie

Friday, October 20, 2006

Favorite Authors and Books

Here are just a few of my favorite authors:

Oregon authors-
Jane Kirkpatrick, esp. the Tender Ties Series
Kim Meeder, 2 books about hurt horses & hurting kids
Mark Stanleigh Morris, Billy Goat Hill (sequel due 2/07)

Dee Henderson's O'Malley Series
Al Lacy's Angel of Mercy Series
Brian Jacques' Redwall Series

Kay Arthur
Michael Card
Ken Gire
Liz Curtis Higgs
Max Lucado
Philip Yancey

Children -
Liz Curtis Higgs' Parable Series
Max Lucado
C. S. Lewis' Narnia Series

Richard Paul Evans' The Christmas Box
The Christmas Box Miracle
Ken Gire's Intimate Moments With the Savior*
Alice Gray's Christmas Stories For the Heart
Coleen Sell's A Cup of Comfort for Christmas
Henry Van Dyke's The Story of the Other Wiseman
Donna Vanliere's The Christmas Shoes

My favorite study for woman is When the Glass Slipper Doesn't Fit by Claire Cloninger & Karla Worley

* Every year I read the meditation: "An Intimate Moment With Mary and Joseph."

I wish you good reading!

Shalom, Connie

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Everyday I try to read 3 things: something to lift me up spiritually, something to help my writing improve, and something for pleasure. It may be an article or a portion of a book.

As an avid reader, I am able to read several books at a time- but only one at any given moment. I have one book in the bedroom, another in the livingroom by my recliner, another one in the library (a.k.a. bathroom), and one in the car.

The book in my car is usually one of short stories; it prevents lots of frustration when stuck in traffic or waiting for a long train, standing in a long line at the grocery store, or waiting at the doctor's office.

Right now I have returned to the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. They are fantasies based around an abbey built of reddish rock, where all good hearts are welcome. All the characters are animals- mice, moles, otters, hedgehogs, hares, birds, and more. Each book is a tale told of good versus evil. It is not a good series if you are dieting- the food is described in great detail and I find myself wanting to find the abbey just to join their feasts.

Well written with characters you love and hate. The searats are despicable, the fox and ferret leaders have no scruples, yet the nasty arguing shrews will give their lives for you. The warrior mousemaid is both sweet and furious. I love it when I like a book and there is more in the series.

I read the Redwall books for pleasure, but they are also spiritual in the lessons of good over evil. The animals have all the traits of humans, which can be used for good or evil, and they have to make choices just like we do. But there is one thing that I wish was more true- for the animals, family is everything. The little ones are cherished and raised by the community as well as the parents. Yes, I wish we humans were doing better on that score.
Brian Jacques also teaches me about writing- the pace of his books is great and he switches between the bad guys and the good guys so you can have both perspectives. Every time good triumphs I get excited, but I get equally sad when lives of those little creatures are lost in battle.
The word pictures are awesome. On a spring day you can almost smell the blossoms in the orchard behind the abbey; you can almost hear the dubbins (baby animals) splashing happily in the pond.

By the way, the Redwall series is written for older children; you won't find them in the adult section. I'm looking forward to my grandson being old enough that we can read them together.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about some more good books.


Shalom, Connie

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


As I proofread articles and devotionals, I have the privilege to look into the hearts of other Christian writers. Just as each person is uniquely created by God, each writer reflects that uniqueness and specific burdens or passions upon their hearts.

I am reminded that whatever we choose to do in life, it requires action. We must begin by taking that first step.

In her article "The Eye of the Storm" Candace Simar wrote, "...look beneath your feet... work on the task beneath your feet." Thanks, Candace!

As writers, we just have to write that first sentence today... not the whole novel.
As a mother, we have to do just one thing at a time- put one load of wash in, take meat of the freezer for dinner, dress one toddler, change one diaper.
As wife, we have to begin our day with one thing pleasing to our husband- coffee made like he likes it, putting the cap on the toothpaste, if that drives him bonkers ...
the list goes on. You decide whether to be overwhelmed or not; and remember no one can multi-task. You can only do one thing at a time.

What first step do you need to take today?


Shalom, Connie

Monday, October 16, 2006

Write His Answer

Write His Answer is a Bible Study book for writers. Tonight 6 Christian writers met to begin this study. What a blessing this was plus an answer to prayer.

I had learned about this book months ago; I ordered it and, immediately upon its arrival, I began the study. The more I read and searched scripture, the more I knew this needed to be shared in order to 1) reflect different points of view, 2) to work through it at a deeper level, and 3) to join together in prayer and fellowship as an encouragement to Christian writers.

Bend Christian Writers has sponsored the study; a Christian writer has given us permission to meet in her store; and the author gave us a nice discount.

We all confirmed our call from God to write; and acknowledged our need to be in the Word more and the need for encouraging support.

I am looking forward to walking closer to God, to getting to know these ladies better, and to becoming a better writer as a result.

When a writer put pen to paper, it is a solitary time; but when a Christian writer takes up that pen, it is a time with the Lord.

You may not be a writer, but what are you doing to have Christian fellowship and encouragement? To grow closer to God? To have a deeper understanding of the Bible?

Small group studies is one way. My daughter-in-law leads a study for young mothers like her; and they chose a mother's time management study to help them become better mothers and wives. In January, I will begin another study for people with chronic illness and/or chronic pain.

There are many needs- take one of yours and find a few others with like needs; search for the right Bible/Small Group study; and begin!

It is amazing what can happen while having a cup of tea together.


Shalom, Connie

Falling Down & Not Getting Up

Her daughter was so faithful; she stopped every few days to visit with Mom; bought her groceries and medicine, took her to the doctor when needed, etc. But her daughter had not had a vacation in years & needed to get away. So she called a group of her Mom's friends to check on her while she was gone for 2 weeks.

Freda was close to her daughter and encouraged her to take time for herself. But 2 weeks later when her daughter returned, Freda was found on the floor semi-conscious. Can you imagine the guilt her daughter was feeling?

Slowly the pieces of the puzzle began to come together. Freda had not been honest with her daughter about several things and was failing healthwise, but putting on a good show when her daughter was present. Secondly, Freda's friends did check on her every 2-3 days, but it was by phone. No one stopped by. The doctors determined that Freda had fallen and was on the floor for 2-3 days. As they treated her dehydration with IV fluids and restarted her medication, her mind cleared. Yes, she'd fallen over some things she'd left by her favorite chair, could not get up, and could not reach the phone. The last person to phone her wasn't concerned that she didn't answer because her daughter was due back any day.

Of course, her friends felt horrible when they heard what had happened. But Freda had to admit that she'd become absent minded and wasn't sure whether she had eaten or taken her medications. Her daughter had never had a reason to count her pills as they always ran out when they were due to be refilled. On hind sight, no one knew, if the medication had been taken as directed.

I met Freda when she came to live- temporarily- at the nursing home where I was the Director of Nursing. She was angry at the doctors for suggesting a nursing home, even more angry with her daughter, who agreed with the doctors. And she was very angry with me as I represented the nursing home. During those first days, I counseled her daughter as she worked through her guilty feelings; and I counseled Freda in an attempt to help her adjust to the changes in her life.

In the end, Freda chose to stay at the nursing home so her "daughter could have a life." She became an advocate for all new patients. Through her the Sunshine Committee was formed; the ladies and men involved helped all new patients get acquainted and adjust to their new home.
Freda & her daughter had quality time together- they pllayed cards and games, put together puzzles, went to movies, and out to eat. All the fun things they never got around to doing before.
Freda loved playing Bingo, doing crafts, planning various events with the activity staff, and gossiping. (If I wanted to know what was really going on, I'd just check in with Freda!)

2 years later Freda had a stroke, but we were there to care for her. She improved greatly and started a stroke support group. A year later she had a fatal stroke, but you can see that she lived her life to its fullest.

Her daughter, my staff, other patients and I have always felt blessed having known her.

The real proof of knowing Christ is in our actions; one way is to be a friend to the lonely. Freda did that even as a nursing home patient herself. Who can you be a friend to? That friendship can change eternity!


Shalom, Connie

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Parish Nurse

Today I took Rose out to eat after church. Other than going to church and occasionally to the doctor, Rose is home bound. At nearly 90 years old, she needs help in order to stay in her own apartment. Meals on Wheels comes 5 days per week and a caregiver/housekeeper comes twice per week. Weekend are lonely times; and she rarely misses church no matter how she's feeling.

Within the last week she found that 2 distant relatives and their dog died. The husband & wife died a few days apart from a fall causing a brain injury and an illness; a few days later, the dog was found dead underneath their bed. Rose said she couldn't handle going to the funeral, but phoned me, her Parish Nurse, for support. We talk every week and I visit 2-3 times per month to be sure that she her needs are being met. She wears an alert necklace in case she falls; I am called by security, if she pushes the button as live closer than her family.

Sadly her family don't spend time visiting with her. They purchase what she needs and drops it off, but never stays. Of Italian descent, she has many stories to share; but like many older folks she repeats them over and over. Maybe her family is tired of hearing them, but I don't mind as I know it brings her comfort and joy.

You don't have to be a Parish Nurse to visit a shut-in. If you have children and no grandparent nearby, adopt a grandma or grandpa at a senior citizen home or an older neighbor. Having someone drop in periodically can keep them safe and more alert- tomorrow I'll tell of one lady that could have used a visiting friend.


Shalom, Connie

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Camp Rules- Part 6

We told the kids to catch micro toads for breakfast. Next morning I made scrabbled eggs with cheese and sausage crumbles a.k.a. micro toads- one girl wouldn't eat it when she found the empty bucket that had held the micro toads; even after I showed her the sausage wrapper she refused to eat the eggs and filled up on toast instead.

Hognose snakes are the clowns of all snakes. When threatened they shake their tails like a rattler, but have no rattles. Then the coil up and mimic a cobra, but they have no teeth or fangs. When all else fails they play dead. Every session a hognose gets in face via the campers; and every session I remark on how very funny the hognose snakes are as I take the little snake in my hands. Sorry, guys... no screams.

Lastly there was Mr. Raccoon, who raided our garbage each night and left a mess to be cleaned up in the morning. (Because the camp is run by a Nature Preserve all garbage is bagged and returned to the city for disposal thus the kids had to pick up every bit each morning & were not happy campers.) I stayed up one night; sitting in the dark I waited to hear our visitor. When I heard the rustling of the nearby bushes, I tiptoed out of the cabin. With enough moonlight to guide me, I rounded the cabin. Not only was it our raccoon, it was huge! No wonder our live trap never caught him! He could reach in for the food, but there was no way he would ever fit inside.

I turned on my flashlight and he was one surprised raccoon caught in the spotlight. Like most critters that live in and near the camp, he wasn't afraid. He was in his territory, which as you remember was human free over 90% of the time. As I began talking to him- yep, talking to him, he stood on his hind paws and slowly backed into the bushes. He was about a yardstick tall and he just stared at me. I told him we'd leave food for him, but he was not to dump the garbage pail over any more.

He hadn't had time to make a mess so I took some leftover food and threw it towards him. He ran as I reminded him, "No dumping the garbage!" Some of the campers heard me talking during the night, but there was a lot of laughter when they found I was conversing with the raccoon.

The next morning the food that I'd tossed was gone, but the garbage was untouched to the campers delight. For the remainder of camp and during the next session, we put all leftovers in an old pan for Mr. Raccoon. The garbage container was never turned over again.

Told you the camp nurse is also the cook, the mother, the firebuilder, and a Dr. Doolittle. And she never tells what frightens her!

Hope you had fun with me this week. Shalom, Connie

Friday, October 13, 2006

Camp Rules- Part 5

The mice had squatter rights to the cabin. I do not even want to know how many there were. The first evening at the cabin, Len & I were having devotions while the campers got ready for bed.
"Len, there's eyes looking at us... there in the grill around the fireplace."
He got up to look & , of course, they ran away.
We settled back to our reading. This time the number of eyes increased.
"Len," I whispered, "slowly look at the fireplace; don't move."
His eyes slowly left his Bible and he stared at the fireplace then grinned. They're just babies; they won't come out."
Great comfort that was. But camp nurses never tell what frightens them!

The mice came out at night, but as far as I know never came on my bed. Once in a while I'd see a baby getting brave and heading out of the fireplace; I'd holler at it and off it would go.

Then there were the micro toads, flat turtles, hognose snakes and raccoons...

Shalom, Connie

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Camp Rules, Part 4

Remember rule #2? The camp nurse never divulges her fears or she'll find critters- not to her liking- in her bed.

We returned from taking the campers to The State Park to swim. Counselor, Len, drove into town for milk as I sent the kids to get dressed. I headed for the kitchen to start supper while the kids had free time for crafts, whittling, fishing, or just resting.
Just as I stepped into the kitchen, I heard a scream from the front of the cabin. Arriving at the screened front porch, I saw all the kids scatter.
"Watch out!" they hollered.
I stopped. A snake was coiled up sleeping in the sun on our front porch.
"Who left the porch door open?" I asked not expecting an answer.
"Stay away from the door. I'll get the broom and sweep it out."
Right, like it was going to be that easy.
The snake was bigger than I thought so my swish of the broom only woke it up. Faster than I can type this, that snake slithered up my broom with big eyes and a mouth wi--d--e open.
Now, I had a major problem. 12 pairs of eyes were watching. I had to win or the remaining days would be... well, you know kids.
So I firmly spoke to the snake telling her that the porch was off limits. She was free to roam any where outside and we'd leave her alone. She looked like she was hissing, but no sound came out. Her tail waved, but had no rattles. I had no idea what kind of snake it was.
Not prepared for a snake bite, I shook the broom knocking her off. She coiled up again and came up the broom even faster and higher than the first time. My hands were at the top of the broom handle with no further place to go. I couldn't get any balance to swing the broom hard enough to dislodge her.
The kids gleefully yelled and banged the side of the cabin. "Where was Len when you needed him," I thought. The snake fell back to the floor.
This time I hit her with all my might... she slide to the side of the porch instead of out the door.
"No, you don't!" and I charged. Just as she was uncoiling herself to strike the broom again, I whacked her head. (So much for be kind to animals.) As she tried to regain her balance, my adrenalin gave me enough energy for one more try...
Swoosh out door she went. She missed the steps and landed in the brush. We could hear her moving rapidly toward the lake. Then the kids heard the van returning and ran to tell of our adventure.
" A B-I-G snake huh?" Len asked with a grin. I don't think he ever believed me that it was 5-6 feet long. It was! Really!
But then there were the mice... (to be continued)

Selah, Connie

Thursday prayer focus is those who are troubled & hurting.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Camp Rules - Part 3

Len, the counselor, was watching from the top and began to run towards me as I hit that tree going full tilt ahead. He was sure I'd be unconscious. How would he and the campers ever get me up the steep hillside?
The tree didn't even flinch; after all, it had been there through all kinds of storms and always stood it's ground. As for me, I was conscious, but my whole body was vibrating from my head on down. I tried to hug the tree to stay upright, but its circumference was way beyond my reach.
The campers came running when they saw I was out of control and tripping over tree roots. Once assured that I was okay, they were determined to get me to the bottom of Devil's Soup Bowl.
They handed me off from one to another. I arrived safely to find that they were absolutely correct. It was beautiful looking up at those giant trees. Walking around the bowl I found a lovely little creek bubbling among some rocks. Wildflowers nodded their heads in the slight breeze. And it felt as if the world was far, far away; as if I had gone back in time. The campers stood around silently watching me.
"It's magnificent!"
They shouted with glee and resumed their racing up the steep banks of the glacier made bowl.
"Wait! How do I get up that hill?"
"Carefully!" they shouted.
It took me four times longer, but I made it to the top. It was worth it, but I never risked it again.
Thankfully, we never had an injury in all the years we took the campers to Devil's Soup Bowl.

The evening of my rapid descent, Len and I talked about God's protection. He had prayed all the way down, knowing that he could not get to me fast enough. If I was injured, the camp would have to close. ( A nurse must be in camp at all times.) I believe, as we did then, that God protected me because those children needed to be there. As hard as I hit that tree, my glasses never broke and I never had a bruise or a headache. Yes, I was protected by the Lord and the campers heard Len and I praying with thanksgiving for my safety.

Tomorrow, I'll share the front porch battle with you!

Selah, Connie

Wednesday prayer focus is workers and neighbors.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Camp Rules- Part 2

For 8 summers I was camp nurse at the Nature Center Resident Camp. All 10-12 campers were 10-12 years old & had spent at least one session at daycamp. It was a work & learn camp with 1 counselor, a junior counseler (13-15 years-old & past camper) & nurse. Translated that means I was cook, disciplinarian/mother, nurse & whatever else was needed. Camp ran from Sunday afternoon through Thursday.
It was located on an unmarked back road- without a map, no one could find it. The property included a fishing lake and ended at a state forest. Besides being very private, it was an area untouched by man 90% of the time. No pesticides, no hunting, no human intervention- just a bit of wild, lovely forest.
I had the cabin. A log cabin with kitchen, bath, 2 bedrooms, livingroom with fireplace, and a screened in porch overlooking the lake. The basement held supplies and an old washer & dryer, which we only used once in 8 years. Obviously, there was electricity, but no phone, no TV, no cell phones or any other gadgets allowed.
Kids and counselors were in tents on wooden platforms. We had a campfire every night for singing and stories. Cooked some of the meals over the fire too.
Each day was planned; the campers helped with chores: setting the table, helping cook & serve, doing the dishes, cleaning the grounds, etc. They hiked each day; hiking a little farther each time; ending in a 12 mile hike on Wednesday with a stop at Devils' Soup Bowl.
Devils' Soup Bowl was formed by glaciers & is 105 feet deep. The way down is full of trees and tree roots. It is a nurse's nightmare and the highlight of the week for the kids. They not only race down, they compete seeing how many times they can go down & up. Every year trying to beat the record. It's amazing watching these tired out boys and girls gain new energy once the Soup Bowl is in sight.
The first session, I went on all the hikes including the 12 miler.
The kids, including my son, were daring me to go down the Soup Bowl. Finally, they won telling me I just had to see it from the bottom up!
I tired to go slow and carefully, but gravity takes over about 1/4 of the way down. Not normally a screamer, I was yelling, "I changed my mind!" Then "No! No, no, no, no-oooo!" (to be continued)

Selah, Connie

Tuesday prayer focus is teachers and those who are troubled/hurting.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Camp Rules

There are only 2 camp rules: #1- The nurse NEVER tells what frightens her.
#2- Campers can't hurt themselves unless a bandaide will fix it.
Oops, there's one more for young campers: You don't have to be hurt or sick to see the nurse.

I did camp nursing for 10 summers so my son could go to camp. I've been in big camps- over 300 campers with 100 staff to little groups of 10-12. I'll tell you about the 2 big ones as they were great contrasts.

First, was a YWCA camp on Lake Michigan for inner city Chicago girls. A greyhound bus dropped them off for 2 weeks & the girls ranged in age from 7 to 16. The 7 & 8 year-olds came to see me in their jamies each night for a moment on my lap and a hug. The 15 & 16 year-olds were tough inner city girls, who tried very hard to intimidate me. Actually they did, but I never let them know it.

The highlights were teaching a 7 year-old how to manage her asthma. She went from several attacks per day to 0-1. We survived an outbreak of strep throat with fevers during the hottest days of that summer. My son learned how to share his mother with lots of girls, learned how to draw a walking stick (the insect), and tried out lots of new crafts at the lodge. Best of all were our walks in God's forest in the afternoon's. My son told me that I was his "bestest friend." I replied, Thank you; and will you tell me that when you are 16, please!" (He did!)
The interaction between my nearly 4 year-old sonand I was extremely important that summer as many of these girls were wise about drugs, sex, guns, gangs, dysfunctional/broken families, and poverty. They knew very little about love. I pray we made a difference.

A couple years later, I did 17 weeks at a Jewish boys and girls camp. Ages 8-16 except the last week, which was for disabled adults.
What a contrast between the Y Camp & the Jewish Camp. These kids came in limo's; some were brought by servants or lawyers. Most of their parents were in Europe or on safari or where ever rich people vacation. The camp had everything you can imagine: tennis, golf, rifle range, swimming, sailing, row boats and assorted water "toys," horseback riding, a variety of animals, camping, crafts, archery, rollerskating. Although the camp was on a beautiful, large lake they took turns going by bus to Lake Michigan to swim, climb the dunes, spend money, and get sunburned.

The downside was: spoiled children; counselors who took turns after lights out going to town to drink and smoke marijuana; a owner who catered to the kids, but wouldn't call a vet when needed; a second nurse who came for a vacation & never was without a hangover and a sunburn.
The upside, was that my son had the opportunity to try things that I could never afford. He meet a lonely, chubby boy, who was always being teased, as was my son because everyone thought he was 8. He was 6 1/2. They became such good buddies that the boy pleaded with his parents to stay another 8 weeks & did. On Olympics Day my son won at the rifle range. (I just didn't look.) And he sprinted to the finish line first- winning for his team The Trophy.
Best of all was handicap week. Unlike the rich kids these folks were so thankful to spend 5 days camping that they just beamed and applauded for everything. They came with their own staff, who were wonderful young people with huge hearts. My son cried when they left.

But all three camps had one thing in common- the need for love. The rich kids were also from the Chicago area, but they knew the hired help better than their parents. They wore designer everything and it was a challenge keeping the older boys and girls in their own camps (across the road from each other). We did have some injuries including a broken arm from falling off a horse. My son had fun, mostly; and I worked hard that summer. Again I hope that I made a difference.

Oh, I forgot, I treated a horse's eye infection, a pig's mastitis, a lamb's injured "knee", and talked to the chicken's so they'd lay eggs!

Like a writer friend says, "Ya just gotta love 'em!" (Children and critters)

Shalom, Connie

Monday prayer focus is ministries.