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Archive for the ‘Personal Reflections’ Category

Several  years ago I began a New Year’s MORE and LESS practice.  A look back at the year just ending and forward to the year ahead—in conversation with God.

What were some attitudes/actions/activities that characterized my life this past year?  Which would I like to see LESS of, and what would I like to see MORE of?  Gratefully, I have seen change in most of these arenas.  Yet my list remains remarkably the same, adding or subtracting only a few each year.

2013-new_year_wallpaper_2013-8

I do set a few specific, measurable goals, as the life coaches say I should.  Those goals will often come out of these heart desires.  I know it is impossible to see significant change in so many areas.  These MORE and LESS statements, thus, really reflect the ongoing work I hope God keeps doing in me.  And they embody my commitment to cooperate with Him.  (more…)

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It’s time for change.  The old year ends, a new year begins.  We reflect on the past 365 days—highlights and lowlights, choices made, dreams pursued or lost, rejoicing or regrets.  And we ponder the coming year:  expectations, resolutions, hopes, dreams. 

I wrote this a couple of years ago—about an ending and a beginning.  As I reread it, it was a good reminder about the pain and hope in ending one chapter and beginning a new one.  May it help you as you prepare to say good-bye to 2012 and good morning to 2013.

book pages

Finishing a good book is bittersweet for me.  I love being in the story, knowing the people, being a part of the action.  But when I turn the last page, I feel sad.  It’s over.  My life will go on, but those brief relationships will end.

Yesterday was such a bittersweet day.   (more…)

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Almost everyone has treasures and traditions surrounding their Christmas celebrations.  Some of these get handed down generation to generation.  Others get left behind as children grow up, leave home, get married and make their own treasures and traditions.

These things play an important role in reminding us of family, loved ones, heritage and why we celebrate Christmas.

Here are a few of my treasures and traditions (more…)

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Amazing-Grace-christian-music-new-and-old-31985368-250-228You know the story.  John Newton was an insubordinate sailor in the British Navy.   He became involved in the horrific slave trade, but during a terrible storm one night, he surrendered his life to Christ.  He became an Anglican priest, a campaigner against slavery and a hymn writer.  His most famous hymn is, of course, “Amazing Grace.”

Certainly we—and many we love–need to receive this amazing grace.  And at this season, so many need to comprehend the reality of this grace.  Though our rebellion may not be so visible, so destructive, so “bad”  as “sinners” we know, we are also prodigals.  The words of this song bring tears, promote repentance, stimulate gratitude and provide hope.

May I ask you to go through the words of this song for yourself, asking God to speak to you through each phrase.  Let His grace flow into your heart and mind.  How does this grace impact your relationship with your gracious God?  And how does this grace affect your relationship with others in your life? (more…)

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We have an enemy.  He is smart and clever, very crafty.

Torn-Apart

He knows the Scripture: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” And he uses it well.

So he comes against strong servants of God, attacks where they don’t even know they are weak, and they crumble and fall.  Families are torn apart, God’s people are confused and oh so hurt, and the name of God is slandered.

That enemy also knows that God says oneness among His children is a sure sign that the Father sent Jesus to redeem us.

So he comes among friends and coworkers and sows mistrust and conflict. (more…)

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I love gifting.  To most anyone, but especially to my grandkids.

You won’t, however, usually find me giving the latest toy or “must have” item.

I want my four grandboys and one grandgirl to enjoy and appreciate the gifts they receive for me.  But I also want them to have real value for their lives.  So my presents to them usually fall in one of these six categories:

Books

My first gifts—new babies, showers, every birthday and every Christmas—are always books.  I offer variety—old favorites, classics, new releases.   Board books, picture books, beginning readers.  Topics change:  trucks, tractors and Star Wars always win with the boys.  Grandgirl Madison has moved from princesses to horses.

I love reading to my grandkids, then letting them read to me, and finally just watching them reading on their own.  Books provide amazing adventures, take them to exotic places, introduce them to real heroes.

Imagination

This is a broad category.  The boys love building and constructing; recent gifts have included Star Wars Legos and Lincoln Logs.  Jewelry kits and cooking always please Maddy.  Music of every kind is a hit. And I give art supplies galore—appropriate for every age, using every medium. The boys especially love painting dragons and cars and dinosaurs they can then play with.

Hand puppets play a key role in our frequent storytelling—lions and kangaroos and mice and koalas—and the all-time favorite is a realistic alligator.  Costumes allow them to be superheroes or knights or ninjas or cowboys, or the latest pre-teen idol.  A sand and water table has given the grandboys hours of wet fun on hot days.

Action

One of my best gifts was the backyard playset—swings, a glider, a slide, a climbing wall, a fort–in my backyard. They have spent hours playing together there.  Our own bounce house has been a favorite, plus a slip-n-slide, bikes, a spring horse, even a pogo stick.

And sports equipment.  So many balls of every kind, shoes and practice shorts for soccer, soccer goals, a punching bag.  They burn up some of that incessant energy, strengthen their bodies and grow their skills.

Experiences

I love to take my grandkids on fun outings.  Books stores and pet stores are always fun, the zoo is amazing—except I can’t keep up with them—and any place with a train or a carousel delights.   Science museum, children’s museum, even Chuck E. Cheese—we do it all together.  And the beach—can’t forget the beach.

I used to teach horseback riding, and a friend has been willing to give some lessons to all of my grands.  This is Maddy’s favorite—at 10 she is getting pretty good.

Living in Orlando provides so many attractions.  Gatorland was a big hit—we have pictures of them on an alligator and draped in a python for a real memory.  One year’s Christmas gift was an annual pass to Sea World for all the local family members.  This past year the Indiana group got passes to a climbing gym, which the boys love.

Time

Any of these gifts can fall under the Time topic—if I do the different activities with them.  But sometimes Time means a trip to Chick-fil-A or watching a movie together, or playing games on my I-pad.  I love to just be with them.

I also give them Time they don’t really know about:  I pray for them all the time.

Giving

This last category is one I did with my children, and am now beginning to do with the grandkids:  Giving.  I love to help them choose toys or clothes to give to someone else who can use them.  I also give to Angel Tree in their names—providing gifts for children whose parents are in prison. Maddy and I together support a Haitian girl through Compassion—she loves writing to her.  I hope to expand this category more as the kids are old enough to understand their own giving.

Do I ever give a gift just because they want something?  Sure.  And I buy little trinkets and snacks when I go to visit them.  But most of the time I seek to give life-expanding presents that keep on giving.

And so far they all still love their Jeedoo (which is what they call me).

What about you?  What are your favorite gifts for the children in your life?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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Today is National Adoption Day, featuring many efforts to help us care for orphans,  but the orphan crisis around the world keeps growing.  Some 163 million children worldwide are considered orphans.

All of us should be praying.

All of us should ask if this a need we should be giving to.

Some of us should ask God if He wants us to follow His model–He adopted us–and bring one–or more–of these children into our home.

This “Creation Groans” video will touch your heart.

There are many places to learn more about orphans and adoption.  One of my favorites is the Christian Alliance for Orphans, a uniting of more than 100 ministries serving orphans and families.

Many people have beautiful stories to tell of God growing their families through adoption.  Mine is just one of them.  It is a story of great challenge and great hope.  I have skimmed the top of our story, with five brief “chapters” of our adventure.  Here they are all together in case you want to read about our adoption.

Chapter 1:  I Am Sending You a Son

Chapter 2:  The Road to Adoption

Chapter 3:  The Hard Years

Chapter 4:  A Future and Hope

Chapter 5:  Lessons for Mom

“Defend the cause of the fatherless…”  (Isaiah 1:17)

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I have many times found myself awestruck at the beauty of God’s creation.

You may live in a place of vast panoramas, or majestic peaks, or lush forests, pleasing the senses at every turn.  Or you may be surrounded by desert, or squalor or darkness, and you have to search for the beauty.

If you have read my blog for very long, you know I’m from Texas.  It makes me sad that most people think that great state is basically barren and dusty.  Yes, parts of Texas are barren and dusty, but there is so much more to the state.

Enjoy these photos of God’s creativity in just one part of the world He has made.

Big Bend National Park

 

Guadalupe River

 

Texas Wildflowers

 

Palo Duro Canyon

 

Padre Island

 

Lavender fields

 

Caddo Lake

 

Christoval, Texas

“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4)

What about you?  Where do you see the beauty of God’s creation?

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God scatters blessings to his people throughout Scripture and throughout our lives.  And He gives us the command and the privilege to bless others.  I love to write blessings for people.  So here is my blessing for you, my readers.

May you rise when you fall and come out of the darkness into God’s light.  (Micah 7:8,9)

May you be built up, not torn down; planted, not uprooted.  May you turn to God with all your heart. (Jeremiah 24:6,7)

May you hope in the future of God’s good plans for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)

May you comprehend that it gives God joy to always do good to you. (Jeremiah 32:40)

May you receive the new heart and new spirit God is giving you.  (Ezekiel 36:26,27)

May nothing of the world, the flesh or the devil satisfy you, but only God. (Psalm 90:14)

May all the days and years of your life stolen by the evil one be restored. (Joel 2:25)

May the comfort, peace and healing of God bring praise to your lips. (Isaiah 57:18,19)

May you feel cords of lovingkindness as the Father bends down to feed you. (Hosea 11:4)

May God pour out His Holy Spirit on you. (Joel 2:28)

May you know that in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation. (Romans 8:1)

May you be convinced that nothing can separate you from the love of God. (Romans :38,39)

May the eyes of your heart be enlightened that you might know Him. (Ephesians 1:18)

May God surprise you with blessings beyond what you can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

What about you?  How has God blessed you?

c2012 Judy Douglass

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Three generations sat around the table last night:   Our adopted son, Joshua; his grandparents, Mimi and Papa; his birth mother, Julie; his best friend, Jon, with girlfriend Megan; and Steve and I.

The occasion:  We were celebrating Josh’s 30th birthday—October 27.

As with any family, much joy, pain, hope and disappointment were represented at that dinner.

Mimi and Papa adopted Julie as a baby, not knowing  much about her.  As she became a teen, the usual teen identity search was magnified as it often is for adopted children.  Unfortunately, Julie’s struggle led to poor choices, including alcohol and drugs.  Her life has been hard—on the streets, in and out of jail, health issues.  She is fresh from prison and doing really well right now, living again with Mimi and Papa, caring for them.  She and i hugged, talked about Joshua, prayed together.

An early marriage gave Julie a daughter, who was adopted by Mimi and Papa to provide a stable life.   Six years later Joshua was born, and Julie was determined to raise him herself.  Eventually her addictions and life choices led to Joshua being taken from her, given to Mimi and Papa, and then to our family.

From the beginning Joshua provided challenges for us.  When he became a teen those challenges escalated into many poor choices and dangerous situations.  Most people observing would say Joshua had two possible outcomes for his future:  prison or death. (You can read his/our story beginning here.)

Yet here he is, turning 30.  A handsome young man. A good person, a good friend, a good son.  A responsible worker with his own landscaping business.  God’s grace is truly amazing.

But pain continues.  His marriage of 6 ½ years has failed.  Financial burdens are heavy.  A career path is uncertain.

Choices have consequences.  And those consequences often last many years, touch many people, impact generations.

Julie’s birth mother gave her up for adoption.  Mimi and Papa provided a loving home for her, but her choices affected her and many others: Mimi and Papa, her daughter and Joshua, our family, his marriage.

Joshua’s choices have also had far-reaching impact—painful and joyful.

So when someone says something like “It’s my life.  I can do what I want.  It’s no one else’s concern,” that is totally not true.  All of us affect others in our lives—for good or bad, for peace or pain, for life or death—by the choices we make.

Often those outcomes are hurtful.  Sometimes they are disastrous.

But sometimes our God does amazing transformations to redeem at-risk lives, to bring good from not good, to offer a future with hope.  As evidenced by the love and celebration at our table last night.

Pain continues—and Joshua has a lot of it right now.  But hope exists—and even abounds.  God says he is able to bring His good from our bad choices, from the hurt we inflict, from the reality of living in a fallen world.  His good usually looks different from what we hoped for, and never comes on our timetable, and is often a joyful surprise!

So here’s some good that could come from the pain that Joshua is experiencing right now:  As a birthday gift, would you pray for him as he seeks the next steps for his future, and especially that He would choose God’s path as he goes forward?  Thank you so much.

What about you?  Where have you seen choices bring widely felt consequences?  How has God redeemed some of those situations?

C2012 Judy Douglass

Related posts:

Chained and Imprisoned

Perspective at Any Season

Cupcakes for the Journey

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