This Christmas

I recently read a friend’s post that explained why he celebrated Christmas. I love his heart.

I also love seeing and hearing about Christmas programs, family traditions, kids sitting on Santa’s lap for the first time, and how Elf on the Shelf is getting into trouble. So much fun.

I admit – I can’t wait to see my kids and my granddaughter open their gifts. The wonder of it all can make you feel like your world is overflowing with love.

The downside to this season has to be the disappointment I feel when I think about those loved ones that won’t be here. I don’t know about you, but I catch myself comparing my life, my family, my Christmas — with others.

When I read the quote below by Tony Nolan, it reminded me how much I tend to depend on the above things rather than what happened long ago to truly experience what Christmas is all about. What Jesus did fills my heart with such amazing love and joy – both that will last way beyond Christmas Day. This priceless gift was meant for you, too – if you’ll let it in.

No chance of me reaching heaven so divinity came into my hell. It was love that made Jesus do it and that’s the Christmas story I tell.” Tony Nolan

Praying your heart is filled with HIS love today. Forever. Merry Christmas. ❤️

Good things come in small packages

There’s nothing better than that moment when you experience the unexpected – the kind that makes you laugh and forget about everything that’s dragging you down.

We were talking to our son, daughter in law, and two-year-old granddaughter yesterday. Can I just say – I love and appreciate modern technology? We live several states away from them, so we are more than thankful that we get to see them often – even though it’s not in person. Can you relate?

We got to watch our grandchild demonstrate her forward rolls, “read” to us as she turned the pages of one of her favorite books, and last – she grabbed a stool from the bathroom – brought it back into her bedroom and climbed on it. She reached for the light switch,  and out went the lights.

Icing on the cake was hearing her giggle when we told her we couldn’t see her.

Facetime

We were cracking up!

With all of the tension in our nation and some within my own personal life – this was more than refreshing. It was a burst of fresh air!

When the lights were back on, she blew us a kiss.

Sweet, kind, honest, truth, true love and innocence still exists in this world. I hope you can experience it, too.

A pinch of God’s love….

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

 

if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I found out in the ER

If you have ever experienced a heart attack, or at least had similar symptoms – then you know how scary it feels. I recently made my first visit to the ER in Florida. When my husband walked in after doing a 5 mile run, I told him I needed to go.

The ER: Naturally, they didn’t know a single thing about me. I kept thinking – if we were in Indiana (where I spent 56 years of my life), I wouldn’t have to waste so much time telling them every single surgery I’ve had, what meds I’m taking and what I’m allergic to, what my parents did or didn’t have,  my address, or what kind of insurance I have. They would know.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone here was very nice, professional and caring, but I was missing the comfort of not just being a number. Every time I had to repeat what was mentioned above, I was reminded that I was in a place where no one knows me.

There’s something powerful about being known. 

Living in Florida has been a challenge. When people ask me if I like it, I pretty much always say the same thing. The view and weather are beautiful. We have met a lot of great people through our church and Mark’s work – for that I am so thankful.

But. That feeling that I had in the ER summed up what I don’t like about living here. I don’t like being so far away from my sons and family. I don’t like being far away from my friends – friendships that took years to build. Those people know my history. They know my mistakes and struggles. They were there when we had a death in our family or when we celebrated special birthdays. Some of them knew my parents. We experienced life together – not miles apart or on social media. It’s not the same.

The good news in all of this?

  1. I didn’t have a heart attack. They added a medication and referred me to a       cardiologist.
  2. I have a wonderful husband who is very patient with me and understands.
  3. I have a loving God who does know me – and is walking beside me all the way.
  4. I have learned the value of reading scripture.

 

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

you discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high; I cannot attain it.

Psalm 139:1-6

 

 

 

 

 

Is it worth it?

See that top floor of this building? You can live there for around 60 million.

Still interested?

condo

When we recently drove by this building, my husband informed me that the rumor was that someone purchased the whole top floor with plans of living there – for about 60 million dollars. Maybe more.

For r e a l??

I asked him to repeat it – 2 times. Like, I cannot fathom having that kind of money. I don’t think I would even be interested in a tour because I’m 1000 percent sure I would feel sooooooo out-of-place.

I can’t help but wonder what the people who can afford to live there did to earn their money. Were they born into a wealthy family? Did they go to college and land an opportunity of a lifetime? Did they move up the ladder by working day and night? Who knows. I’m sure there is a mix of backgrounds there. All I know is – I’m not one of them. There’s not a thing I can do to be able to spend my life in a place like that.

Kind of like heaven – except Jesus made a way for me so that I can spend eternity there. And I’m more than thankful that He did.

If you are thinking the same way about heaven as I was about the condo, that you know there’s no way you would have a chance to live there – please hear me out.

God wants you there. He made a way for you to spend eternity with Him. You can’t put a price tag on that. It’s up to you. I don’t have a picture to show you, but there are  scriptures that describe it. One of my favorites….

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Isn’t it worth your time (rather than scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, blogs, or any other time consuming habits that does nothing but fill up time)  to learn how you can spend eternity in a place where there’s no more sadness or pain?

You guys, heaven isn’t  a place for perfect people. It’s not a club of people who dressed a certain way, attended a certain church or attended church every single Sunday. A relationship with Jesus is so much more than those things. It’s about your heart and love connection with our Savior, and your willingness to  admit your mistakes and ask for forgiveness. It’s about a God who knows everything about you, but loves you anyway.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 7:21

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? John 14:2

 

 

What Are You Missing?

Do you sit back after experiencing a frustrating day and think, ‘Man, I’m glad that’s over! I need something to drink or eat. Stat!’, or do you analyze it to try to figure out why it happened and how it taught you something?

I’m a little of both.

I had one of those frustrating days. I was driving in front of a store – waiting to turn into the parking lot. I had to stop (as in forever!) because of two women who were walking   s-l-o-w-l-y from their car to the store. I tried to be patient, but they were slower than molasses.

To top it off, they stopped right in front of my car (never even taking the time to look my way). They looked like they were changing their minds and were going to go back to their car. Totally oblivious that they were holding up traffic. How on earth do you not see a car that’s right. there

Later, when I was leaving the parking lot and turning at a busy intersection, a car pulled out right in front of me. I was inches away from an accident. The EmOtIoNs! I was mad, relieved that we didn’t collide, and so very thankful that I wasn’t distracted or I would probably be writing this from a hospital bed – or maybe I wouldn’t be writing it at all.

Later, when I wasn’t feeling as uptight or frustrated, these thoughts came to mind. How scary is it that we can get so focused on something – or focused on self,  that we lose sight of what is around us to the point we don’t see what’s right in front of us. Even worse, we don’t care.

Selfishness: being concerned for self at the expense of others.

I mean, If someone can have something as BIG as a car heading in her direction and not see it, then what else is she missing out on in life?

Heart check – what am I?

Maybe we are missing out on answers to prayer, spending time with friends, blessings, answers to our questions, or opportunities to help others who are right there in front of us, but we’re looking the other way.

Do you see yourself in this scenario?

 

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others.”

 

 

Check It Out

How do you handle people who are rude?

I grocery shopped on a Saturday morning. My first mistake.

The cashier wasn’t finished scanning my groceries when the employee who was bagging my items said, “You can go ahead and put your card in the chip reader.” I asked, “Before she’s finished scanning my items?”

“Yes, it doesn’t matter.”

So, I reluctantly put my card in. I’ve never had anyone suggest that I do that, and I really didn’t see the purpose in doing so. My guess was she was in a hurry. (Or is this the way everyone else does it and I’ve been clueless?)

The store was busy, and it was noisy. As I watched her scan the final items and waited to see  the total, the employee who was bagging groceries slapped her hand on the equipment that was holding my card and just looked at it. Not at me – at the card holder. Apparently it was notifying me that I could take my card out, but because of the noise – I didn’t hear it.

At this point, I’m pretty sure I was irritating her as much as she was irritating me.

Publix employees are always good about asking if you want help out to your car. The bagger did ask me, which I’m sure was routine. I was quick to say, “No, I’m good.” I was afraid she would suggest I pop my trunk open  from inside the store! Lol.

This wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever experienced, more like strange.

Have you ever had anything similar happen and you feel like you should say something so that you don’t appear to be….stupid? Or do you suck it up so that you can get out of town, Charlie Brown?

Well, I got out of town – all the way down to Starbucks. Amazing what a Vanilla Chai Latte can do for you.

 

 

 

Just My View

If you live in America and had access to a tv yesterday, then you at least caught a glimpse of the televised hearing that took place involving Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.

Never. in. my. life. have I cared about what’s happening in our nation as much as I do now. I watched the hearing, from beginning to end. If you did, also, then you know how mentally and emotionally exhausting it was (for them and the viewer) as we listened to Christine Blasey Ford share the details that she remembered.  I have read both positive and negative comments about her coming forward – especially her timing Positive: Her bravery inspired many other victims to either seek help or tell their story. Negative: It’s a lie. Most comments have suggested that maybe she did suffer a tragic experience, but they didn’t believe there was evidence that her attacker was Kavanaugh.

Although Kavanaugh’s opening statement brought about some criticism, I don’t blame him for being angry or emotional – especially if he is innocent. I’m not saying that I believe he is innocent. Truly, only he and God knows that answer. The positive: His journal/calendar provided a lot of details about that time period. Negative: He seemed hesitant when asked if he had ever drank too much to  the point where he wouldn’t remember.

My biggest concern in all of this is that two people had to tell very personal details about their life on national television when it wasn’t necessary. Both families are going through hell. Someone expressed on tv yesterday that the only way to get to the truth was by having a FBI investigation, then why didn’t they ask for it when they first heard about the allegations against Kavanaugh?

Last, I am so thankful that all of my mistakes that I have made – 30 years ago or even today, aren’t put on national tv or social media for everyone to pick apart, argue about, and make judgement.

For all those times I wished I could become someone famous, today – I’m beyond thankful I’m just little ol’ me.

But even so, the reality is – little ol’ me will someday have to face judgment. And so will you. No one will escape it. That’s why it is so urgent that believers share with others that there is a way to be forgiven. We are all sinners. Regardless of what mistakes you’ve made, you can still spend everlasting life with Jesus. Don’t wait…

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:5

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinithians 5:10

 

 

 

Six Tips for that Perfect Marriage

 

If you’re single or have been married for less than 5 years, here are some good tips for you if you’re wanting a perfect marriage. JUST kidding. Those don’t exist, so if you truly believe you have one or are going to have one – you’re only setting yourself up for failure.

What I can give you, however, are some suggestions that will help strengthen your relationship between you and your spouse. None of this is from a book – all from my experience.

First of all, what I needed from my spouse right after we said our I Do’s has drastically changed over the years, but the constant has been this – knowing I had made a commitment to someone who was going to stay with me – no matter what. Lifetime guarantee – until death do us part. Believe me, I’ve tested that guarantee more times than I want to admit. 

Sounds old-fashioned? Who cares. It has been part of the glue that has kept us committed to not giving up on each other for over 34 years.

Tip #1: Don’t use your past as an excuse for your behavior. If you had a horrible upbringing, learn from it and don’t repeat it. My husband grew up in a loving home. His parents have been married now for more than 60 years. Mine was extremely dysfunctional. One parent was an alcoholic. They separated once, but never divorced. Other than when I was young, I never saw my parents act like they even liked each other. They yelled at each other when they needed to ‘work’ something out. Need I say more? So when I got married, I never expressed my feelings or my opinion. I never wanted to disagree. I was so afraid of failing, I did everything I could to be a perfect wife, but I was far from perfect. My behavior was unrealistic. The good thing was that I eventually started to let go and not let fear control me or my marriage. What a blessing.

Tip #2: Don’t compare your spouse to anyone else. Do you want them to compare you to someone?

Tip #3: When you talk about your spouse to others, make sure it’s something positive about him/her. You never know when it will come back to them. I recently had dinner with my husband and his co-workers. One of them told me that my husband talks about me every single day and how obvious it was that he loved me. I cannot begin to tell you what that did for me – and for us. It confirmed that he was my best friend, after all.

Tip #4: Surprise your spouse – not like every day! Even once a month… or sometime in your lifetime – preferably  before you’re dead. I recently had my wisdom teeth removed. You can only eat food like jello, soup, and whatever else you can find that you don’t have to chew. My husband has never cooked for me in our 34 years of marriage. He surprised me and made scrambled eggs for me. That was better than a dozen roses.

Tip #5: “He completes me!” No, no, NO! Don’t expect your spouse to make you feel complete. Maybe worth a million bucks, but not complete. Only God can do that.

Tip #6: Last, but not least, love your Lord with all your heart. He is the one that created you. He is the one that brought you together. The more I seek Him, the more I love my husband – vice versa.

Marriage is wonderful, but it is hard sometimes. But what a blessing it is when you can look back and see what you’ve overcome, enjoyed, and accomplished in life – together. 

 

 

 

 

Fall-ing in love with change

 

One thing that I’ve missed since we moved to Florida is the change in seasons. This one has always been my favorite. You never know what colors you’ll see.Here’s some of my favorites from the last few years when we lived in Indiana.

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Noblesville, IN ~ Taken by Teri Knapp

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Train tracks in Noblesville, IN. Photo taken by Teri Knapp.

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Photo taken in Forest Park – Noblesville, IN, by Teri Knapp

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Photo taken in Cicero, IN, by Teri Knapp

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Photo taken in Noblesville, IN by Teri Knapp

Worry

Is there something you are stressing out about today? Your kids? Finances? Your health? I think we all have something that adds about 100 plus pounds of pressure on our shoulders. Maybe that’s why I’ve been gaining weight? 😉 Couldn’t have been all those extra sweets I was stuffing in my mouth this week!

I had my last two wisdom teeth removed the other day, and I was extremely anxious about it. Way more than usual. It’s hard to completely trust an oral surgeon you don’t know even if he has the best bedside manner. I’m discovering that the older you get, the more you worry that something might go wrong.

When I was finally back in the chair and the IV was put in, I remember thinking that I could not wait until the lights went out. That’s my favorite part of any kind of surgery – mainly because those stressed out feelings come to a halt. Everything you are worrying about shuts off. Even better, with every surgery I’ve experienced, I got to wake up and find out that what I worried about didn’t happen.

Amazing to think what you put yourself through when you’re anxious about something. I guess we all have our way that comforts us temporarily. Wouldn’t it be the best thing ever if we could flip a switch and just shut those worries out?

I can’t help but think that God allows us to have those feelings to prepare us sometimes. What I’ve learned, though, through experience and His Word,  is that he wants us to trust Him – no matter what the outcome is. Do you trust Him?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you want a trophy or do you want the truth?

Don’t you just love it when you hear a conversation that doesn’t involve you, but it stays with you for a long time?  There were three eleven(ish) year old boys who were having  swimming races across the pool. One of the boys would pretty much throw a fit every time because he never won.

Before their last race, the boys were next to us in the water. They were getting ready to start when one of them turned towards the one who had been so upset and said, “Listen, we all lose sometimes. I lose sometimes, and it’s ok! Just don’t be mad. THIS time lets say that everyone wins, ok?”

When they reached the other side, I heard the boy who actually won say, “We’re ALL winners!” – but out of another, “Yes, we are! But Jake still got there first.”

We are living in a world that wants to give everyone a trophy so no one feels left out. I can understand that when the awards are given to  2, 3, or maybe 4-year-old children. It’s not suppose to be about winning or being the best at that age, but more about learning to follow rules, have fun!, exercise, work as a team, and just learn the game. But for kids who are much older, I think it’s misleading. It’s confusing for everyone.

Listen, I am the worst when it comes to worrying that someone (especially a child) is going to feel left out or develop low self-esteem. I just hope that the direction we are heading doesn’t affect how people see their sin, their faith, and eternity – because God’s Word never changes.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter.” Matthew 7:21

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your  master’s happiness!’ Matthew 25:23