{ God’s Valentine }

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Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name,

You  Are  Mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
  And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

When you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 43: 1-3 ESV

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Although this love message was written to God’s chosen people, Israel, it can speak comfort to all believers. In the New Testament, God’s never-changing love is affirmed in verses like Romans 8:38-39:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Photos:

Hush Naidoo

Chandan Chaurasia

 Ryan Stone

{ This Week In Pictures }

  1. Korean stop sign, photo taken by my son because he knows I like stop signs in various foreign languages.
  2. New local bakery where my daughter and I shared a pecan caramel roll and cherry turnover, good coffee and sweet conversation.
  3. Blueberry muffins galore, made by my daughter and gratefully consumed on ski day morning.
  4. Time alone on a chairlift– beautiful and peaceful silent time. Short and sweet and high off the ground, but I’ll take it. 
  5. Trying to walk regularly outside because I should, not because I really want to, so I grit my teeth and lean into the wind.
  6. God frosted the trees for us, beautifying our homeschool ski day with His creative handiwork plus cheerful sunshine and no injuries.
  7. My husband drove this cute little Mazda Miata down to Florida for a friend recently.  It looks like a toy car, but he sure got lots of applause / envy from strangers along the way.  The admiration sat well with my husband 🙂IMG_20200212_071404_026_2
  8. I am sad to say goodbye to a wonderful audiobook trilogy about Crispin by author Avi. We finished the last of the three books this week.
  9. From beginning to end, these stories about a young orphan growing up in the Middle Ages are adventurous, suspenseful, and touching.
  1. Avi is a talented and prolific author and his first Crispin book is a Newbery Award Winner. 
  2. We also liked The Traitor’s Gate by Avi, and his newest book, Gold Rush Girl, is coming out in March. (Avi is 82 years old and still going strong!)

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{ Meet Esther Goetz ~ The Dolly Mama }

It’s funny how people float in and out of your life. Your best high school buddy has disappeared, but the girl you didn’t know, who sat in the back row of homeroom, is now your dear friend and neighbor. 

Esther Picture for Dolly Mama

In a way, Esther Goetz is that kind of person. She was the friend-of-a-friend at our college on the outskirts of Chicago. I knew she was outgoing and friendly, and had grown up in Ethiopia as a missionary kid, but I didn’t know much more about her while we shared the same campus,

We went on with our separate studies and friends and lives. Graduation scattered everyone to build their own careers and families all over the map.

Fast forward three decades, when I stumbled upon a blog called The Dolly Mama.

Here I found someone with a kindred world view, words of truth, and a winsome sense of spunk. Esther’s photo and name looked familiar, and later I discovered that she was the Esther from college years, molded and sharpened by a life yielded to God and His Word. 

After college, she married Allen; they have four adult children, one son-in-law and a feisty toddler grandson. Esther and her husband lead the marriage mentoring ministry at their church (they have met with over 120 couples over the past 15 years!) Esther also leads a women’s group.

Her blog reflects what she does in real life, as she discusses faith, family and friendship.

Besides family, church, blogging, leadership and more, Esther likes to read! Right now, she is enjoying The Next Right Thing by Emily Freeman, and her three favorite books of all time are:

Whenever I visit Esther’s blog, The Dolly Mama,  I often end up crying or laughing. She inspired me to choose a Word of the Year– her 2020 word is HYGGE.

Some of her recent posts have titles like these:  

So visit Esther Goetz at the Dolly Mama.  Say hello, and be encouraged and inspired!

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{ Surprise! 10 Things You Do}

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Oldest son is moving to new base with the Air Force

What do you do when your oldest son — who is headed overseas for two years —  surprises you with an unannounced visit 3 days before leaving?

  1. You say “WHAT?” about 10 times when he gives you a bear hug from behind, and you turn around and he’s there.
  2. You cook him his favorite foods.
  3. You listen to the foreign phrases he is practicing.
  4. You talk about things he has learned.
  5. You make sure he has enough warm blankets. You even steal them from other family member’s beds, because right now he is the special one.
  6. You play charades with the family — including a reenactment of the moment he surprised you.
  7. You take silly pictures.
  8. You talk about when he will come back.
  9. You pray with him and for him.
  10. You wait for a play-by-play of his next stops, and for the moment he lands.

 

{ The Romans Farewell }

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This is all for Him, who can strengthen you, because of Jesus

Because of the gospel

That mystery that was hidden for thousands of years

That secluded secret that has now been whispered

And joyfully shouted

To you — to us —  to the world

 

This is all for Him, whose words can inspire faith and enable obedience

This is for Him, the only God

The wise God

Who deserves glory forever.

In the name of Jesus Christ,

Amen.

From Romans 16:25-27

~~The Apostle Paul wrote 13 letters to the churches. The closing of each of these letters often read like a blessing or a doxology — a short passage of praise to God. I was reading over one of these the other day, noticing how Paul’s personality, passion for God and love for beloved, struggling pilgrims showed up in the letter closings. It made me want to try to understand each one. In future posts, I’m going to try to put each one of these in my own inarticulate words.

~~Photo:Aaron Burden

{ She Seeks Wool }

Upcycling Wool Sweaters

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Ten years ago, I found a book that inspired me to make things out of old wool sweaters.

(Warm Fuzzies by Betz White)

It’s rewarding to sew something pretty and practical out of a castoff “holey” cashmere sweater, or Uncle Ralph’s vintage plaid wool cardigan.

 

After accumulating stacks of sweaters and a few handmade patterns, I started an Etsy* shop: (Wool Soup)

Things got a little better after the first disastrous order.

I had sewn the mitten thumbs on backwards.

The customer had said, “These just don’t seem to fit right.”

Here are some of the creations I have made and sold over the years:

My Etsy shop Tagline:

I enjoy taking something discarded and unloved, and making it into something useful & beautiful.

My desire to do this with scraps of wool is just an imperfect shadow of what God can do every day with people like me…and you.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”– 2 Corinthians 5:17

Shop Sale

  • I am running a coupon now — good on all products in my shop.
  • The HEART15 coupon code will give 15% off the cart at checkout until Valentine’s Day ~ 2/14/20.
  • I don’t have a lot left in stock, but I’m adding new items regularly. And, I promise you won’t end up with any backwards-thumb-mittens.

More Etsy Shops

This week I have visited a few delightful Etsy shops hosted by other WordPress bloggers, such as:

 

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*Etsy is an online marketplace that sells unique handmade goods and craft supplies.

 

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{ This Valley }

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This valley does not go on forever.

Just keep walking.

One step at a time. 

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While you are walking

While you are praying

While you are looking up

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The ground will rise to meet you,

The wind will suddenly be at your back

And sunlight will fall tenderly upon you.

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You will know that God

Has been

Holding you gently

  In His loving grip.

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“May the road rise to meet you, and the wind always be at your back. May the rains fall softly on your fields. May God hold you gently in the palm of his hand. — Traditional Irish Blessing

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The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. — Numbers 6:24-26

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Photos:

K

Jeremy Bishop

Wolfgang Lutz

 Marc-Olivier Jodoin

This is one of my all-time favorite devotional books: Streams in the Desert.

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{ Better Than }

God’s steadfast love is better than life. ~ Psalm 63:3

A good name is better than great riches. ~ Proverbs 22:1

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9

The end of a thing is better than its beginning. ~ Ecclesiastes 7:8

The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. ~  Ecclesiastes 7:8

To obey is better than sacrifice. ~ I Samuel 15:22

But God treats us much better than we deserve… ~ Romans 3:24

Consider others better than yourself. ~ Philippians 2:3

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Photos:

 Annie Spratt

 Michal Janek

 Tim Marshall

{War Declared on Sin Today }

War declared on

SIN

today.

Zero tolerance.

No exceptions.

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No questions asked.

No holds barred.

No ifs, ands or buts.

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The enemy–

Including but not limited to–

Pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth,

Will be apprehended and arrested

Without a phone call,

A trial,

Or a last meal.

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Offenders will first be

Drowned in light,

Then beheaded with a double-edged sword

Followed by hanging from the highest gallows.

–The Management

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For when you live controlled by the flesh, you are about to die. But if the life of the Spirit puts to death the corrupt ways of the flesh, we then taste his abundant life. — Romans 8:13 TPT

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I am reading this book,thanks to Brenda, who recommended it. 

Photos:

Museums Victoria

Henry Hustava

Aaron Burden

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{ Who Was Norma McCorvey? }

When the lawyers found her in 1969,  she was, “ill at ease, incapable of small talk, pale and unkempt besides. She looked like she got out of bed and forgot to comb her hair.” [x]

The pregnant plaintiff, Norma Leah Nelson McCorvey adopted the legal pseudonym Jane Roe in the 1973 Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade. 

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Norma speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1998.

180 Degree Journey

Years later, Norma was working at an abortion clinic. An aggressive pro-life organization called Operation Rescue (OR) moved to the office next door. Amazingly, the two polarized groups coexisted on the site for more than a year. One of the OR staff members routinely brought her daughter in to work and she’d give Norma consistent hugs and invitations to church. This touched Norma McCorvey, and she finally accepted a request to join the girl’s family at their church.

What happened next could only be explained by a miracle; Norma’s life made a 180 degree turn.

Here are her words:

“I was sitting in OR’s offices when I noticed a fetal development poster. The progression was so obvious, the eyes were so sweet. It hurt my heart, just looking at them. I ran outside and finally, it dawned on me. ‘Norma’, I said to myself, ‘They’re right’. I had worked with pregnant women for years. I had been through three pregnancies and deliveries myself. I should have known. Yet something in that poster made me lose my breath. I kept seeing the picture of that tiny, 10-week-old embryo, and I said to myself, that’s a baby! It’s as if blinders just fell off my eyes and I suddenly understood the truth—that’s a baby!

I felt crushed under the truth of this realization. I had to face up to the awful reality. Abortion wasn’t about ‘products of conception’. It wasn’t about ‘missed periods’. It was about children being killed in their mother’s wombs. All those years I was wrong. Signing that affidavit, I was wrong. Working in an abortion clinic, I was wrong. No more of this first trimester, second trimester, third trimester stuff. Abortion—at any point—was wrong. It was so clear. Painfully clear.” [x] 

New Norma

In 1995, Norma embraced God’s love and forgiveness and her life completely changed. [x]

Norma McCorvey passed away February 18, 2017 at the age of 69. 

Her life has been discussed in books,  films, and many articles.  She tells her own story in the books:  I Am Roe and Won By Love. 

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Today is Sanctity of Human Life Day.

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Baby feet photo:  Eric Froehling

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