It’s A Small World After All

Finding refuge in our hearts to pray for Ukraine

I was born in Orlando 12 years before Mickey literally came and welcomed the world to us. I’ve seen changes and met many people from other countries who love coming here because of him.

One of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World is called, It’s A Small World, where little wooden dolls, that are dressed in customary clothing for their country, dance, twirl and sing along with the ride’s theme song. If you’ve been here you’re most likely singing it now and will be for the rest of the day. Sorry.

But seriously I’m not sorry. Our world has become smaller to us personally.

We have had two pastors staying with us for this past week attending the International Grace Partnership Conference that happens every February at our church. One, has been a dear friend since 2016 when we first met him and his beautiful wife. Their home is far away, but our hearts are bound together like family.

Their home is Ukraine. The invasion of Russia began while they were asleep in our guest rooms. Each morning since, we awake to hear if their families made it safely through the night. We thank God over coffee for another safe night for them.

We have laughed together when we heard of how a gypsy band managed to steal a Russian tank by towing it away with their tractor.

We have cried together seeing his wife in a bomb shelter with a smile on her face as she sorts warm clothes and blankets for refugees passing by their town on the way to Poland.

Such a strong community, people and nation who have grown to love freedom these last 30 years, as I have all of my life.

We don’t know what the future holds for them. But My husband and I are grateful to have been able to offer them comfort, prayers and hearty meals at such a time as this.

If you would like to help you can donate through Grace Partnership and designate it’s for Ukraine. All money will go to Hosanna church in Rivne supplying food, clothing and shelter to the refugees passing through their town in western Ukraine. Every little bit helps.

All our pastors praying for our dear brothers who lead and serve the church in Rivne, Ukraine

Most of all, pray for an end to this evil attack on Ukraine. They love their freedom as we do. They have families and jobs as we do. They are like we are, but facing insurmountable odds to stay so. I pray we will all come together to help in their time of need.

Realizing more than ever…it is a small world after all.

Tears

I began the following post during the holidays. I’m just now sharing it with you…

We are doing what we usually do this time of year…driving to visit our kids and grandkids who live out of town. We spent Christmas with our son in Tennessee, and now we’re heading to spend New Year’s with our daughter in Georgia.

Today, driving backroads through North Georgia, we came to an historical marker that has significance in my family.

The Trail of Tears.

It begins in South Carolina and meanders it’s way to Oklahoma—formerly known as Indian Territory until 1907 when Oklahoma became a state.

The deal was that Indians would forfeit the land they knew and loved in exchange for 160 acres of deeded land in Indian Territory, west of the Mississippi River.

My ancestors reluctantly made the trek, but due to controversies within the tribe they broke off and settled in Texas. Horn Hill to be specific.

Many indigenous people died on this trail, thus the name. But many made it to their “promised land”. Although they had many tears too.

I don’t like change.

I can’t imagine a group of settlers telling me that what was once mine is no longer so. I must now relocate to and unknown land and start anew. Yet this is what thousands of indigenous peoples did. They had no choice but to take the next step.

My grandfather and great-grandfather ended up with two 160 acre plots of land east of Jenks, Oklahoma. Their names were recorded on the Dawes rolls.

Such a legacy. I would love to hear their take on this process. I do know that they eventually mortgaged their allotted land to invest in citrus in Central Florida. It was their next step.

They moved here in 1922 and never looked back. They even allowed their land to foreclose because they loved Florida so much more.

What is the next step in your family’s journey? It may involve lots of tears, but may also come with lots of hope for a brighter tomorrow. All we can do is take the next step in faith trusting in God who leads us into His perfect plan.

Total Eclipse of my Heart

Eclipse

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

It has been over a year since I’ve written a post. I’m sorry. 2019 was a difficult year in many ways. The first half of the year was hard, but the second half of the year was 100 times worse. I wasn’t sure if we would make it through without devastating losses in our family.

But God! He was my comforter, my sustainer, my guide and my hope. 

I was excited to begin a new year. 2020 seemed to start with bright prospects full of focus.  We began by cleaning out closets, drawers and our entire kitchen. Having lived in our home for 27 years it was time to tackle this as if we were moving. We loaded up a car full of items to donate which felt so good. We were on a roll…

But God! He had different plans.

He knew all along that this year would be interrupted with a world-wide pandemic. We have been sheltering-in-place for 6 weeks now. One would think we would have our home completely organized and clean by now. But one would be wrong to make such an assumption. It seems 2019 was a partial eclipse that lasted longer than a normal one. Then 2020 arrived with a total eclipse–an eclipse of my heart.

Last year our family was unable to gather together due to many health restraints. This year we are unable to gather together due to a worldwide lockdown. I am tempted to be sad for the times together we are missing.

But God! In our sadness He wants to draw our hearts closer to Him.

And He has. An eclipse makes you realize how much light is available even at night. If you take the moon’s reflection of the sun away, the night is so much darker. I am grateful for the moon, the stars and the glorious sunshine. Life has slowed, but my heart is no longer eclipsed. God’s kindness has dawned brighter and brighter to us, to our children and to our grandchildren. The two words that mean so much to me now are…

But God! He has slowed our schedules to enlarge our hearts towards Him.

He is the our bright and morning star bringing with each day new mercies from which to draw. And His mercies never fail.

How is God helping you each day? Let’s share and in so doing bring Him the glory He deserves. 

 

 

 

Christmas Truce of 1914

Image Credit: kevinblogsherenow.blogspot.com

Image Credit: kevinblogsherenow.blogspot.com

I know when I was working on Through The Eyes Of Grace, the research was my favorite part. Uncovering events in history that Grace lived through helped me bring her story to life. I may not have handwritten journals from Grace, but I have news events and the recorded histories of other’s lives that are sure to have impacted her story, and for this I’m grateful.

Writing historical fiction is a lot like working a jigsaw puzzle.

I’ve started with the framework, and the research provides the missing pieces. The Christmas Truce is one such piece for which I’m grateful.

Most of you have probably heard about the Christmas Truce of 1914 (if you haven’t take a moment and read about it), which is believed to have occurred over miles of the western front during World War I. What you may not realize is that this amazing event, which happened 100 years ago this Christmas Eve, took place during the time setting of my next book based on the life of my grandmother–Grace Stella Kirwin.

One can only imagine what happened in the hearts of the soldiers as they ascended from their trenches to embrace soldiers from the enemy line with wishes of good will. What a Christmas memory each of those men carried in their hearts for the rest of their lives.

Following is a video about the Christmas Truce. I pray it will stir your heart to pursue peace with your own enemies, and may it be a peace that will last–not just for 48 hours.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours, and may the peace of God bless you richly!

Do You Know Her Story? Everyone should!

Irene Sendler

Died: May 12, 2008 (aged 98)
Warsaw, Poland

During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.

Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids.

Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.

The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.

Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazi’s broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out, In a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize.
She was not selected.
Al Gore won for a slide show on Global Warming.

(What an amazing story that should be told and honored. I hope she is nominated again. She should have won, imho.

Oklahoma Our Prayers Are With You

The past couple of days have been devastating for Oklahomans. I live in Florida and we face Hurricane season from June until November each year. But nothing can compare to those who live in Tornado Alley. Sure many towns are missed for years, but when one finally sets its course for your spot on the map…there is no place to hide. That is unless you have an underground storm shelter.

Today, Monday, May 20th, a huge storm crossed over parts of Oklahoma City. It hit two elementary schools, and one didn’t have an underground shelter. I am sad. Even though I’ve never lived in the OK state, I feel such a connection with the people, the land, the history, that this hurts so bad. It feels as if one of my own has died.

Would you join me in praying for the those whose lives have been tragically changed forever? It’s easy to grow used to seeing these types of storms on the television, but if WE were the ones devastated by this storm, we would never forget it, would we? God please be with those who have suffered loss. Comfort those who mourn. Heal those who are injured, and bring help where help is needed. In Jesus’ precious name, I pray!

Watch this amazing video of the tornado as it cuts a path across the fruited plain.

Living Today, Tomorrow’s History Of The Boston Marathon

Photo Credit: dailybail.com

Photo Credit: dailybail.com

Today we were witnesses of a horrible attack on the innocent bystanders of the Boston Marathon. As I’m typing this they are still working frantically to help the victims, search for clues and hopefully find those responsible. No doubt we will all remember this day. We’ll remember where we were when we found out. If we had loved ones or friends in Boston today, we’ll never forget waiting to hear whether or not they were hurt. It is a sad day.

Eyewitnesses are being interviewed non-stop by every media outlet in Boston. They provide important clues about this tragedy in a way no one else can because they saw things from their vantage point maybe no one else did. It is hard to listen, but we’re riveted. We keep watching, praying and hoping the world isn’t as bad as it seems. But it is.

Tragedies define us as a nation and as individuals. We become a product of the events we’ve experienced and for the rest of our lives we’ll reflect back on what our eyes have seen.

This provides us an important question to ask your elder family members:

Question #16 – What national tragedies have you lived through and what ones, if any have you witnessed yourself? Where were you at the time, and how did it affect your worldview?

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This is post #16 in the challenge to post everyday in April.

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