Winter Surprises

23 01 2016

Sharing the beauty of winter:

Enjoy a shovel-free view of winter from pictures I took and assembled in the “Winter Surprises” video I created:

https://youtu.be/bownpnIV7hE

On a serious note:

Winter Storm Jonas is affecting millions of people. The impact of the storm has taken some by surprise. It’s worse than predicted in certain areas. Please pray for people living near the New Jersey shore. Flooding already seems to be worse than Hurricane Sandy.

When such disasters strike, some wonder Where’s God? I don’t presume to have all the answers, but I would like to share something with you. Today a devotional I wrote was posted on Rest Ministries. Below is an excerpt of that message titled, “Discovering Winter Surprises Despite the Cold.”



I gotta admit; I dread winter. Cleaning snow off our cars exhausts me. One winter, the snowstorms were relentless. I barely had time to recover before another storm hit.

 One storm dumped a foot of snow. It took longer to remove.  I stopped to catch my breath and spotted a scene that took my breath away. The sun glistened off mounds of snow. Mounds that appeared to be topped with whipped cream by God’s own hand.

 That winter surprise propelled me to finish quickly. I jumped in my cleared-off car and set out to do a photo shoot. Some scenes grabbed my attention. Others were discovered by seeking them out. God’s beauty was found when I looked up, focused closer, and studied shadows.   

 We can face the winter seasons in life that way. Isaiah tells us to, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

 Seek God: look up, focus closer, study shadows. He is near.

 





Stand Strong

5 10 2015

active.shooter

Horror has once again invaded our emotions. In the wake of yet another mass shooting, how are Christians to think?  Many of us bowed our heads in prayer.

Just yesterday, there was another online threat. It warned of a similar attack at a college or university in the Philadelphia area that will occur today, October 5th @ 1 PM. In the face of these threats, can we rise up and stand strong? As a resident living in the Philadelphia area and an adjunct professor at a local Christian university, I’m here to tell you that it IS possible to stand strong. With God’s perfect peace that passes understanding, we can remain calm.

Please pray for our first responders who are standing strong to protect universities in our nation—especially those in the Philly area today.

Moms raising kids with mental illness (MI) know it’s possible to stand strong in the face of terrorizing circumstances. Read my message, “Not again!” to hear my thoughts.

http://mentalillnessmom2mom.net/2015/10/04/not-again/





Enough is enough!!!

7 02 2014

StressedOUT message

What are most people saying this winter? Enough!!! Count me in that chorus. We just had another storm here in the Northeast. A whopper. Heavy, wet snow weighed down branches. Countless trees toppled, taking down wires as they fell. Leading to massive outages.

During literal storms or the storms of life we know how to pray. We ask for protection, provision, and peace. The recent storm revealed to me additional types of prayers—those we may not consider praying during a trial. In the midst of a trial we may not offer prayers:

  • Of thanks: We were grateful we didn’t lose power. No matter how bad the storm, there’s always reason to be grateful.
  • For others: The ice storm left over half a million customers in Pennsylvania without power. Thousands of linemen in our area worked to restore power. Wires, coated with ice, presented a risk. Water and electricity created a deadly combination. Those men and women risked their lives to reconnect wires. When turbulence sweeps through our lives, we’re consumed with our needs. Praying for others helps us realize we’re not alone in suffering.
  • Of praise for His sovereignty: His ways are not like ours. Storms He allows into our lives have a way of stopping us in our tracks. Only then do we notice things around us. With the rush of life halted, our eyes are opened to the beauty of God’s creation. The storms of life cause us reorganize priorities. We suddenly realize who and what’s important.
  • Of praise for spiritual growth: Our evergreens, bent under the weight of snow, revealed a picture of burdens. Drooping limbs resembled depressed individuals with despair and discouragement. When the weight was brushed away, the branches floated heavenward. Just like our praises, once we cast off our worries. Similarly, God uses the storms of life to teach us spiritual lessons. If He allows it, He’ll use it for His glory.
  • Of adoration: Everything was shut down. Roads were impassable. There was more time to read the Bible. More time to worship Him in prayer.

Enjoy this slideshow I created using photographs taken after the storm.

What a winter!!!

http://secure.smilebox.com/ecom/openTheBox?sendevent=4d7a6b324e7a67324e5442384d5467334e7a55774e44413d0d0a&sb=1





2014 Winter Olympics

5 02 2014

winter.olympics.logo.use

Looking forward to watching the Olympics? So am I. Click on the link below for your 14 pg. printable version of NBC’s TV coverage (I used the info. provided by Sports Media Watch and created a pdf document). Share it with your friends!

Winter Olympics 2014 TV schedule

Other helpful links:

NBC’s TV coverage

Schedule of all the Events

I’m looking forward to watching the figure skating. What’s your favorite event?





Burden Lifted

5 02 2014

Vickis.trees

Can God be found in misery? Sometimes burdens pound us so low we’re too depressed to seek Him. Thankfully, He finds us. When we’re too low to look up, He reaches down. He’ll remind us of His care. Just like what He did for me today.

Countless people are suffering due to the recent storm in the northeast. About half a million people are without electricity in my area. Thanks to the snow-ice-rain storm that struck last night.  Ice-covered roads, littered with downed live wires, have imprisoned residents in their homes.

I surveyed our trees and found only one down. Then I spotted our cluster of Leyland Cypress evergreens. They drooped under the weight of snow.

“Don’t worry; I’ll help you,” I told them. The load of snow on each branch threatened to distort their shapes.

I swatted snow off the first limb. It lifted slowly upward as if to say, “Thank you. That feels much better.”

The second branch responded similarly. Displaying its graceful relief.  The two released branches looked like a picture of praise to God.

Thank You, God, for this symbol of burdens. How I rejoice like this tree when I surrender my worries to You.

My mission continued. One branch didn’t raise its limb when struck. I peered closer to the trunk and investigated.

“What’s holding you down? Oh I see. Your neighbor is weighing you down.”

I understand, Lord. Others can pull me down. People who complain about their aliments entice me to admire my own aches. Tempting me to complain about my multiple sclerosis. I’m grateful for godly friends who, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)”

I aimed my snow scraper brush at the adjacent branch and smacked it. Both boughs floated heavenward.

Branches close to the ground were buried in snow.

Now, Lord You’re showing me how my cares can bury me. They beat me down so low I no longer focus on You. Like days I’m tempted to encase myself in blankets and remain in bed for the day. Without trusting You to help me serve others.

The whacks each branch received restored new life.

Thank You, Jesus, for bearing my burden on the cross. And for easing my daily burdens. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19)”

I finished the job; grateful God provided the strength and the lesson.

Ask God to reveal His presence to you today. Then watch and listen!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)”

Dear Father, Help me throw off everything that hinders my walk with you. Remind me of Your invitation to, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)”    In Jesus’ name, Amen

Has God surprised you with His presence? Did He speak to you during the busyness of your day?





Go for the Gold

12 01 2014

gold

What would you do to get gold? Work overtime. Marry a millionaire. Move to Hollywood. Train eight hours a day for years to become a world-class athlete.

There are all kinds of gold. This is the season of pursuing the prize. Movie stars sparkle more than the gold statue displayed in their hands. Olympiads beam brighter than the gold medal draped on their proud chests. 

The Winter Olympics will begin soon. Medal counts will be fun to calculate. Victories will be thrilling.

What can our children learn from the athletes? What does it take to become the best? Confidence tempered with humility. Practice and hard work. Great sacrifice. Support. Discipline. Determination. Resilience. An ability to embrace mistakes and learn from them. To rise again and become better.

We want our kids to have goals and follow their dreams. Are some goals better than others?

Do you remember the name of the athlete who won the gold medal in men’s speed skating in the last Olympics (500 m, 1000 m, or 1500 m)? Fame is fleeting. Fortune fades.

In Matthew 6:19-20 we read about disintegrating trophies and indestructible ones. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

This is not to say earthly accomplishments are wrong. We supported our sons’ endeavors. We provided what was needed for them to pursue their black belts in karate. They achieved that goal. Then they strove to become accomplished musicians. We did all we could to help them in that endeavor.  

Let’s continue to encourage our kids to set goals and to dream dreams. But let’s also pass on our passion for God. To instill in them a desire to serve Him, share the Gospel, and love others.

“But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds … You see that (Moses’) faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”   James 2:18, 22

Help them focus on an eternal goal. So that one day they’ll be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”  2 Timothy 4:7-8

Personally, I wish my children continue to spend their lives ‘going for the gold.’ I can’t imagine anything better than for them to walk the streets of gold in heaven, wearing a crown from God.

Each year I taught second graders, I planned a year-long theme. During a Winter Olympic year, the theme was ‘God’s Athletes.’ Click on the link below to find the list of verses I compiled related to that theme.

Gods.athletes.verses





How do we explain it to children?

15 12 2012

worried eyes

The recent events that transpired in Newtown, Connecticut have captivated our attention. Among the many questions flooding our mind is, “What do we say to our children?”

Experts are offering wonderful advice. What to say. How many details to give.

One recommended saying, “You don’t need to worry. If anything like that happens in your school, the teachers and principal would surround you. Police officers would come to rescue you. Your father, and I would rush to get you.”

Few are emphasizing the importance of how to speak to children. If a parent speaks those reassuring words with an anxious tone, the child will mirror the adult’s stress.

Kids take their cue from parents. Throughout my 34+ yrs. as an educator, I’ve seen evidence of that fact. Kids can tell if a parent is worried. They can sense concern. It’s hard for them to believe things will be okay when the adult seems fearful.

When I told my second graders I had multiple sclerosis (MS), they read my expression. Studied my face. It was critical for me to convey the seriousness of my illness along with reassurances. My tone of voice, words, and facial expressions all had to match.

God had given me a peace about my illness. So I calmly conveyed the news. Here’s part of what I said:

“It’s not contagious. I have good doctors and I’m taking good medicine. There’s no cure. It’s no fun having MS. But, I have a choice. I can focus on the lousy parts of MS or I can think about the Truth. The Bible tells me God loves me and will help me. When I feel really sick, I get a love attack…God sends lots of people to help me. I’m thankful for my family and friends who do my chores at home when I can’t. You can help me by praying that I won’t have to absent. It makes me sad when I can’t be with you. I miss you. Sad things happen to everyone during their lives. When sad things happen, it helps to remember the promises in the Bible. Let’s all sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ very slowly so we can think about the words in the song.”

Afterwards, I had the students write about MS. It was important to know what they understood and how they felt about my illness. I asked them to finish three sentences:

MS is…

I think God allowed Mrs. Chandler to get MS because…

I learned that when things are very sad or are very hard…

Their responses revealed they understood the illness. More importantly, they reacted very calmly to the news. Just like my demeanor.

Follow the advice of experts. Remember you’re the expert about your child. So, also follow your intuition.

First, prepare yourself. You may be in desperate need to feel God’s supernatural peace which passes understanding. With His calming assurance, you can approach your child. Ready to inform and remove fears.