Growing Older

thCAJN109YWhat scripturesSayBirthdays are wonderful milestones that remind us of the gift of life and how precious life is. The scriptures say God recorded the days of my life even in my mother’s womb. He knows when my time on earth will end, and what he created me to accomplish while I’m here.

Have you noticed the older you become, the faster the birthdays arrive? I certainly do. Thinking of the fact that my death is already set, and the years quickly pass by, the purpose of my existence is more important to me than ever. How much time do I spend communicating with my Heavenly Father? After all, I’ll be living with Him throughout eternity. My commitment to know Him deeper sends me to the Bible daily. I read and study it along with several devotionals, and then I spend time in prayer discussing with Him the treasures I discovered during these readings. I seek the Spirit’s help to understand what the Word says, what it means, and what it means for me. How else can I be led in His purposes for me?

Writing these posts are part of His leading as well as writing books for middle-graders. Serving Him on earth, and making Him known to others is most important to me. He has no favorites, so you, the reader, is as loved as I am by Him. I pray you seek Him and His will for you. Life on this earth is not forever, but eternal life never ends. What a privilege to know, love, and be loved by the Creator of the universe! Service for Him is not burdensome, but rewarding.

Last fall, I nearly died physically three different times. Yet, the Lord spared my life. Apparently my purpose on earth was not finished yet. However, if I died, I knew for certain I would go to heaven. God took my mother last fall, and I know where she is now. One day I’ll join her – when the date of my death that God recorded comes up. I look forward to that day to see Him face-to-face, and to serve Him throughout eternity. Do you?

thCAFYDQKTLifebeginscrossKnowing Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior is the only way to spend eternity in heaven. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, the life. No one comes to my Father except through Me.” (John 14: 6) Many quote the first part of that verse, but the last part is so important! The disciple Peter proclaims “There is no other name given among man under heaven by which you must be saved” – Jesus, the One Who was crucified and rose from the dead (Acts 4:12). In what, or who are you trusting for your eternity? If your recorded death was today, where you spend eternity? On what do you base your answer?

I am interested in your answer, dear reader. Please leave me a comment. Thank you for reading my posts!

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Just Some Vanilla

I read this on another person’s blog, and it touched my heart deeply. I decided to post it for my visitors to read. I hope you it enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks for coming by!

Just Some Vanilla.

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A PERFECT RESURRECTION SUNDAY

Cade, 14, after taking the plunge for Jesus, in obedience of baptism

Cade, 14, after taking the plunge for Jesus, in obedience of baptism

Our son called and invited us to spend Easter weekend with his family. He told us that his family decided to get baptized during the Easter service. We agreed to come down and attend church, and watch their testimony to follow Jesus in this act. We discussed what to bring for the meal, and when we’d travel to their home.

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Heath, 10, holding his towel after being baptized on Easter Sunday!

Easter morning arrived, and off to church we went. There were fifteen people scheduled for this event, but several more joined them after a clear presentation of the gospel, and how baptism relates to the death and resurrection of Christ.

Right before the message ended, those who committed to baptism moved quietly to the right side of the church sanctuary behind curtains on the stage. When the time arrived for the baptisms, our oldest grandson, 14, appeared from around the curtain first. Next came our 10 year-old grandson, then his mother, followed by our son. Tears of joy and pride flowed down my cheeks

Our daughter-in-law, Carrie being baptized

Our daughter-in-law, Carrie being baptized

unashamedly. The rest continued until all completed this act of obedience to our Lord and Savior. Afterwards, we went to our son’s home and shared Easter dinner together. I told them each how proud I was of their decision to obey Christ’s command to be baptized. 

My grandson asked me earlier if I wanted to be baptized with them. I told him I already did that years ago, about a year after I accepted Christ as my Savior. Where I went to church, there was no baptismal. I was baptized in a lake nearby with 27 other believers. I remembered how cold I felt before my turn. But after giving my testimony, and the pastor baptized me, I felt great! I thanked Pastor Davis for baptizing me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHeath laughed when I said I froze in the lake water. Talking about my experience brought back wonderful memories of my new found faith in Christ, and the friends that took the plunge with me that year. It renewed my commitment and love for how the Lord works in my life, even now!

Later that day, my husband and I returned home in Iowa. We thanked the Lord for a blessed Easter, and for each of our family members.

Our son being baptized on Easter Sunday

Our son being baptized on Easter Sunday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat are your memories associated with Easter, the resurrection, or baptism? Were you sprinkled, or immersed? Do you know the significance of baptism through full immersion?

I welcome your comments and thoughts on this post, and look forward to you sharing with me. Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.

May the Lord richly bless and encourage you through His ministry of this website! He is worthy of your love and devotion, and I thank Him for each person who visits and reads these posts. Thank you for your time and support!

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By the Grace of God

Flowers from Brad for Mom at the ceremony

Flowers from Brad for Mom at the ceremony

My husband and I were blessed with two sons early in our marriage. Both were healthy and active. Born only eleven and a half months apart, they shared many commonalities. However, their behaviors differentiated them in clear ways.

For example, all I had to do with the younger son was tell him how he disappointed me for a misbehavior and he was remorseful. Not so with the elder son. Time-out, spankings, loss of privileges, or possessions didn’t work with him. His strong will frustrated us as parents, and the disrespect he held for authority at times made me crazy.

As a Christian parent, I struggled with self-esteem – mine, not his. I felt like I failed many times when the calls from school about his bad behavior and bad choices came. We cringed every time we went school conferences. We heard wonderful things about our young son – though he was far from perfect, and mostly negative information about the eldest son. Both of them excelled in academics and athletics. Behavior concerns plagued us, though, throughout our eldest son’s school years. I used to say “By the grace of God, that boy is alive past sixth grade!” Who am I kidding? I still say it!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur sons finally matured into adulthood. Today, they are both responsible, well-adjusted young men. They are good husbands, fathers, and successful in their careers. God is faithful, and taught me a lot about how to deal with strong personalities.  By the way, the eldest has a son who is just like he was! The Lord has a great sense of humor!

Brad's family

Both our sons and their families with Owen and me at Brad’s promotion.

New items for Colonel dress

Changes  for Colonel uniform

After the boys went to college, I earned my teaching degree. I taught middle school students most of my career. Many a conference I found myself consoling parents with a child like my oldest son. I told them, hang in there. My son turned out to be just fine. Students have to want to do the right thing internally. No one can do it for them. But once they get that, they’ll be fine.

What about you? Do you have a strong-willed child in your family? If so, how has this child impacted your life? What hopeful suggestions can you offer other readers? Thanks for your comments and time. Leave your comments below, please. Take care, and rely on the grace of God for circumstances in your life.

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SUCCESSFUL BOOKSIGNING EVENT

On Friday, April 10, my husband and I traveled to Burlington, Iowa, to stay with my sister, Martha.  After spending the night with her, early in the morning we drove to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to the Barnes and Noble Bookstore for my first book signing of this year.

Authors Mac O'Shea, Sherry Hill, David W. Dorris, and Mary Martsching

Authors Mac O’Shea, Sherry Hill, David W. Dorris, and Mary Martsching

Four authors autographed books for customers and visitors from 11:00-1:00 pm. Children liked the book cover designs on the books we offered for sale, and parents listened as we told about our book contents. Many read the synopsis on the book backs, and some asked questions about how and why we write. I enjoyed myself thoroughly!

Delene Wilson and daughter Amy

Delene Wilson and daughter Amy

My first customer greeted warmly though she and her family drove three hours to specifically see me, and personally autograph my three books she wanted. How that touched my heart! To make it even more special, she grew up across the street from me, played all kinds of neighborhood sports with me and my family, and sang incredible harmony with my sister and me many nights after school while relaxing on a curb! For years we lost track of each other, but because of my post about this author book-signing event, Delene Loper Wilson decided to seek me out and buy my books. What a blessing she gave me! I met her daughters and some of her grandchildren, and visited about some of the ornery things we did growing up on South 5th Street in Burlington, Iowa.

Mia, a new friend, and others wait to have their books signed by Mary

Mia, a new friend, and others wait to have their books signed by Mary

Other shoppers blessed me with their interest and kindness while speaking with me while gazing over my books. Strangers bought my books, and other authors I sat with did, too.

Michael Helgens, an author and actor, came in and visited with me a bit, too. I had the privilege of sitting next to Michael two years ago at a book-signing held in Cedar Rapids at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore.

Michael Helgens, author and actor

Michael Helgens, author and actor

Two young people who came to read Spanish books to children, stopped by and each bought a book from the author I sat by and me. We thanked them for taking time to read to children, and for their support with our sales.

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Trish O’Dell and Mary Martsching outside of Red Lobster

In between signing autographs and visiting with people, we authors collaborated about marketing tips, and some of our experiences with the writing and publishing process. We all learned from each other. What a tremendous privilege to interact with customers and fellow-authors!  Right at the end of our event, another friend, Trish O’Dell, stopped by and we all went to lunch together. We shared news in our lives while we ate at my favorite restaurant, Red Lobster. The Lord truly blessed my day!

 

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Easter – A Time of Renewal

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Easter comes an opportunity to reflect and evaluate my life. Last fall was a tough year for my hubby and me. I spent a lot of time in the hospital with illnesses, and in-between my mother died. Four days after she died, our beloved dog, Nestley died, too. Since Thanksgiving and Christmas fell right after these events, Easter was the first holiday I was well enough to feel the effect of not having my Mama around to celebrate it. She loved Easter, and what it meant for humanity.

My mom enjoyed the new sprouts of plant life springing up everywhere out of the ground, on trees, and bushes. New calves and colts populated the countryside, and their dependence on their mothers touched her heart tenderly. The visible signs of renewal placed hope in the hearts of people of all ages.

Easter sets other faiths apart. Without the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, no hope for eternal life with God is possible. The perfect, unblemished Lamb of God bore my sins on His body on the cross; therefore, He paid my sin debt in full through His blood sacrifice. In addition, His bodily resurrection proved Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the One Who alone was approved by His Father to satisfy the requirements for restoration of fellowship with a Holy God.  The mother, Mary, I’m sure like any mother, would offer to die in His place, but her death would not be the same! She, a sinner herself, needed like the rest of us, a sinless sacrifice to complete the mission – reconciliation of sinful people to God.

What a comfort to know that Christ provides the way for that communion. What a comfort to know my mother knew Christ as her Savior, and trusted in Him, and Him alone to give her eternal life in the kingdom of God. She accepted Christ as her Savior and admitted she sinned and needed His forgiveness. Mom believed He was Who He said He was, the One God sent to save us from our sins – the way, the truth, and the life – that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6). She confessed with her mouth Jesus as Lord, and believed in her heart that God raised Him from the dead; thus, she was saved (Romans 9:10).

My mother’s A, B, C, action (accepted, believed, confessed) renewed her fellowship with God. Because I did the same actions as Mom, our fellowship renewal awaits in heaven one day, too. I look forward to that time of reunion with her and the Lord!

What about you? Loss of someone you love impacts us all. Do you celebrate Easter and the Lord’s resurrection? Is there someone with whom you look forward to reuniting someday? I welcome your thoughts about this post. Thank you for visiting my website.

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Fellowship – A Wonderful Gift!

Have you ever thought about how important fellowship with other people is? God said in the book of Genesis, “It is not good for man to be alone.” He created animals for Adam, and took them to Adam to name. Though pets have a special place in our hearts, they can’t offer advice, encouragement, and fellowship like people can.

My husband and I enjoy fellowship with others very much. However, when we moved across our state eight years ago, very little fellowship took place in our new setting. Though we enjoy our biological families very much, they all live their hurried lives some distance from us, and as a result, rarely do we hear from or see them. When we can, we travel to their homes to visit, but seldom do they come to our home. We have wonderful neighbors, and we make a point to visit with them during good weather months. Since they are elderly, we usually go to their homes to catch up on their well-being and what’s going on in their lives. Though we love our new church family, there is only a short time on Sundays to visit between Sunday School and church service. Most conversations are superficial during that time.

When you move somewhere new, you are an “outcast” in many ways. Groups of people in the community habitually attend activities they enjoy together. These groups formed years before we arrived, so even though people unintentionally snub others, or leave newcomers out, it happens, nonetheless. Because of the need to fellowship and develop close relationships, new community members feel lonely, and even depressed.

To combat some of that loneliness, my husband and I started several home ministries. For one ministry, we open our home to weekly Bible Studies. The blessings are rich, and relationships develop as we dig into scripture together, and discuss our needs to grow spiritually in various areas.  Now each week when we see these people at church, our bonds are tighter and more authentic.

For another ministry, we invite guests to our home once or twice a month for supper. Many attend church with us, and some we know from work, and others are our neighbors. We invite 2-3 couples for supper on Saturdays, and we provide the meal – usually a  simple one. We find if we ask more than six people at a time, less conversation takes place between our guests and us. Shy personalities hesitate to talk with a larger group.

The purpose of these gatherings is to increase knowledge of one another – backgrounds, where they grew up, how they met their spouse, their passions and interests, and their occupations. It’s important to ask about their lives, so the listeners hear information that interests them, and they can then identify their own connections with these people.  Owen and I find our fellowship with others increases greatly through these ministries. Everyone needs to be heard – really heard, supported, valued, appreciated, and connected to other people.

On a similar note, God seeks fellowship with us daily. He waits for us to talk with Him through reading His Word, praying to Him, and thanking Him for the gifts and blessings He gives us every day. No wonder God knew His created beings needed fellowship. He desires it Himself!

Do you suffer from a lack of fellowship with other people? What steps can you take to meet this need?  Do you spend time with the Lord? How often? He waits for you every day. Feel free to comment about your thoughts on fellowship, and what you do to deal with it personally. As always, thank you sincerely for reading my post, and visiting my website.

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