…is defined as the ability to conquer fear or despair (Merriam-Webster dictionary).   Courage is demonstrated by folks who stare fear in the face, like the men and women of our Armed Forces fighting for mine and other’s freedom; or the first responders who rescue folks from auto accidents, burning buildings, or other tragedies; or law enforcement officers who face danger in protecting us from folks who choose to break the law or offend others.  And, while not to discount any of those folks, after all my dearest friend is a deputy, there are many “average” people who demonstrate courage, too.  Actually, I have been praying for two women who are two of the most courageous women I have ever known.  These women are friends, not really close friends, but women that I have shared some very fun and memorable times with.  They both have two things in common:  (1) they are both mothers and (2) their lives are being impacted by cancer.  One of them is a mother who is losing her young adult child to cancer.  The other is battling this horrific disease herself.  Each and every time I have a personal encounter with these ladies I am reminded just how brave and courageous they are.  Actually, I’m pretty certain they demonstrate more bravery than John Wayne tried to portray in “True Grit” – these two women should have their photos by the words “brave” and “courage” in the dictionary – in my opinion, of course! 

So, as I approach my evening “quiet time” this evening I am focused on these two women.  I am grateful for them enriching my life and sharing theirs with mine.  And, I pray, fervently, that the will remain brave and have courage as they continue to put one foot in front of the other in this journey they are on.  I pray on the verse Isaiah 40:31 “but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint”, that they will continue to not be weary and feel God’s arms around them as they courageously face their journey.

“An Attitude of Gratitude”…

Attitude?  I often hear people say ~ “she/he has attitude!”  So, what does that really mean?  I feel that often when people say that other folks have “attitude” they mean it in a negative way.  Yet I aspire for folks to say that I have an attitude….Yes, I said I want people to think I have an attitude, because I want to portray an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE

Several years ago when my mom was going through treatment for breast cancer I was very frightened and not very optimistic.  You see just eighteen months before my mom was diagnosed her older sister died from breast cancer, so optimism wasn’t in my frontal lobe!  While sharing my fears with a very wise friend she suggested that I try making a list of three things I was thankful for in my mom.  Her thought with my “assignment” was it would help me change my focus – to the positive – and not see my mom as a “sick person”.  Well, I have to say that she was so right!  It’s amazing how much my attitude improved by redirecting my focus! 

That was thirteen years ago, and while I haven’t done this each day since then, I have done it a lot.  As a matter of fact for the last several years, when I am faced with stressful events – like when my husband had double knee replacements last year and went through several surgical procedures at the same time for melanoma – I kept a gratitude list to help keep me focused on the positive.  

Sarah Breathnach says, “real life isn’t always going to be perfect or go our way, but the recurring acknowledgement of what is working in our lives can help us not only survive, but surmount our difficulties.”   I love that quote and find it to be so true ~ when in the whirlwind of a stressful event its easy to get caught up in the drama, frustration, disappointment, sadness, or whatever feeling the event brings, but when we combat that with a few positive/grateful thoughts it’s like adding a pain reliever to a headache ~ it begins to take it away ~ it lessens the negative feeling. 

Another author, Melody Beattie says, “…gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”   Peace!  That is what I most feel when I choose to have an attitude of gratitude.  So, how about it?  Want to join me in gratitude?  How about commenting with one or two things you are thankful for. 

Have a blessed day friends! 🙂

Resting in His arms… (originally published March 7,2012)

Resting in His arms…

Philippians 4:6-7 ~ “Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.  And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
I once heard my sister say that trusting and resting in God is like floating in water – you know, how you just lay back in the water, completely weightless?!  I have always loved that imagery because it reflects that if we are trusting God than whatever burden we give to Him becomes weightless – because we release it and let Him have it!  Well, sisters, I have been sooooo reminded of this the last couple of weeks.  I have been experiencing a trial that has left me with gripped fists, tight muscles, clenched jaw, not to mention a headache and nauseated tummy!  I have been tearful, well, ok….to be honest, I have had moments of down right sobbing and panic.  And, then, I was reminded that I do NOT need to hold onto this.  I have a loving Father whose son laid His life down for me (and you!) to take on all of my (and your) burdens…..HE is in CONTROL!  And, I need to LET Him HAVE the CONTROL!  I need to REST in HIS ARMS!  He has this burden…..I don’t need to keep holding on to it!  Now, does that mean the emotion stops?  NO!  Yes, I’m still tearful, at times, but releasing the situation COMPLETELY to Him relaxes me – rests me – calms me – gives me PEACE.  And, by letting go ~ opening my hands, unclenching my muscles to relax, allows me the opportunity to receive HIS peace, His whisper  of “I’ve got this Jackie”…..”I’ve got you”!  And, it is then that I can REST – and, when I rest, I HEAR what He is speaking, His guidance, His comfort, His peace – an enormous amount of peace that is unfathomable.  I hear from deep within my soul, “I’m here, I’m with you, I love you, I care for you”.  I know, some of you are rolling your eyes just about now – I, too, am a BIG eye roller….and, it is when I am hurting the most that I tend to roll my eyes when I hear others and/or God say: “I understand, I’ve got this, I love you”…..’cuz what my eye roll is saying is, “yeah, right….how could you ever understand……how could you really love me”…..Sisters, that is Satan at his best….putting doubt into your mind, into your heart, and into your soul.  I encourage you today tell that Satan to just stop it!  He’s a big bully and he likes to bully you (and me) into thinking I am not loved, cared about, or good enough.  Oh, yes I am (and so are you!).  So, Sister, rest…..just rest… in the arms of the One that paid the ultimate price and carries your burden, for it is in that rest that you will feel more open to receiving His grace, His love, His mercy, His forgiveness, His friendship.  
And, if you need a little “visual” today – here’s a photo of my therapy dog, Sherman….Sherman is a big “rester”……when I was thinking about how I wanted to write this morning I walked through the living room to see Sherman just resting on the couch with his comfy pillow (I know…he’s spoiled…that’s o.k., he deserves to be spoiled, he loves me unconditionally – the least I can do for him is to spoil!).  If you aren’t a swimmer or don’t enjoy swimming or “get” my sisters imagery of floating and resting/trusting God, then think of it Sherman’s way…..just lay your head on the pillow of God with all of your weight – or what is weighing you down – He wants to hold you and He wants to hold all of your burdens just for YOU! 🙂  
Be blessed today Sisters and know that I am praying for each of you reading this ~ that through my words you will be blessed and feel encouraged.
All Glory Be To HIM,


GIVING ~ (originally published December 18, 2011)


The manner of giving is worth more than the gift. ~ Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur
I am exhausted today!  Not just from all the hard work I have done at work the last few weeks, but also from a day of shopping I spent with my dear niece, Maggie, and hubby yesterday….literally, we shopped until we nearly dropped! For eight hours we went from store to store selecting gifts for family members on our lists and with each one done we had this feeling of accomplishment when we could “cross off” another person from our list.  We were pretty tired when we got home last evening, but felt we had put in a productive day with a “mission accomplished”.  Then, I sit down at the computer this morning to read an on-line devotional and the first thing I read was the quote above….now I somehow don’t feel as productive as I did last evening.  I’m wondering now, did I really put a lot of meaningful thought into the gifts I selected or was it merely a “get this person this so that I can cross them off my list” kind of thought?  I have to admit that for several of the folks that is true!  I know that is NOT what I should have done.  My motto in life is to always bring glory and honor in all that I do to Jesus.  Without a shadow of a doubt I know that whatever gifts Jesus gives its not to accomplish a “mission”, but rather His mission to bless us.  I know by being so “mission/goal driven” I did not select gifts for some with the thoughtful love and care, so I resolve that each of those folks will get a handwritten note from me telling them how I feel about them, because I want them to know how much I do love and care for them.  And, THAT will bring glory and honor to Jesus and fully embrace the true spirit of giving.  I, also, resolve that from this day forward, I will only get a gift for someone that reflects how I feel about them or select a useful gift in a meaning of love and consideration and not a flippant mode of “get this done”! 
I am glad I read this quote today.  It made me stop and THINK and REFLECT about the true meaning of giving. I hope you have a wonderful week, friends, and know that Jesus loves you more than you can even imagine!  Merry Christmas!

25 years… (originally published November 28, 2011)

25 years…

Today is Dave’s and my 25th wedding anniversary!  I have lived with my husband longer than I did my parents!  I am so thank-full that my parents, Dave, and I are friends!  We always have a good time together while relaxing and having fun.  I would be lying if I said that the 25 years of Dave’s and my marriage has been wedded bliss – most days it was far from blissful, especially in the beginning.  However, through the years our priorities have improved, as well as our love and compassionate understanding for one another.  I love these line from the “Love Dare” book:  “The effectiveness of your marriage is dependent upon both of you working together.  Love realizes that God has put you together on purpose.  Joined together, you are greater than your independent parts.  You need each other. You complete each other“.  I am so relieved that Dave and I have achieved that.  We do need each other, but the way that we complete each other is what makes our lives great – it enriches our independent lives, as well as our marriage.  In a way it’s kind of sad that it took us so long to gain this “maturity” in our relationship, yet on the other hand it has made it greater – like more worthwhile, or something like that! 

Today we took a vacation day to spend together.  Our original plan was to go out to eat and do some Christmas shopping, however we decided on this gloomy day to stay home.  We are cleaning the house (I’m taking a little break just now!) and preparing for the Christmas holiday.  I remember our first Christmas in our little rental on Maple Street – we had colored lights on our Christmas tree with silver garland and silver icicles, my how my deocrating style has changed since then!  Now it’s only white lights and pretty much a style of “less is more”!  I am looking forward to sharing some quiet afternoons and evenings with my best friend (aka my husband!) in our home listening to some Jim Brickman holiday music or watching a holiday movie with all the candles lit and only the tree lights on!  I am so blessed to have a life in which I can share it with my soul mate – yes, I’d say God surely knew what he was doing 25 years ago when he hooked up this young girl and her guy.  I’m so glad I have someone that completes me! 

ok…gotta’ run, the hubby is calling from the kitchen that breakfast is ready! yummmm!!!! 

Influential People (originally published October 30, 2011)

The other day I received a letter from my niece’s English teacher.  Attached to the letter was a paper my niece wrote, in which her assignment was to write about the most influential person in her life; and she wrote about ME!  My first reaction was joy!  I was so touched by her selection, but as the days have passed I find myself a little overwhelmed to be considered an influential person in someone’s life!  It’s really kind of overwhelming!  Like having big shoes to fill or unspoken expectations to live up to – I mean, I wouldn’t want to ever do anything to become a person of no influence!  So, as I have reflected on this new title of being an “influential person”, I think that I will be a bit more thoughtful with my words and actions – and, I think that’s what Christ wants us all to do each and every day.  So, today as I have run late to church, spilled water (several times!), dropped several things, and really have had quite a clumsy day I will end my day in that reflection = that Christ wants me to think before I speak, think before I do, think before I jump to a conclusion or speculate something because in thinking about an action before doing it may just be what I may need to difuse an unkind word, or thought, or action – and, live up to His commandments and ultimately remain an influential person to my niece and all I encounter because I will be more like Him!  hmmm….I wonder if Christ was trying to send me a message through my niece’s lovely written paper?  I think so, and I think it was a gift, too.  After all, isn’t it just wonderful to feel truly loved?  Why, yes, it is!  Have a great week friends and look for the small joys tucked into each day! 🙂

Thank-full-ness (originally published November 20, 2011)


Thanksgiving is just four days away!  I can’t wait!  I LOVE Thanksgiving – not just because of the food, but because it’s always about people in my family – we never know who will be at the table, but my parents always seems to find one or two people who NEED a place to be for the holiday….that just kind of seems to add to the mystery and wonder of the holiday!  Traditionally, Thanksgiving was always spent with my great Aunt Helen.  She loved Thanksgiving and taught my mom a lot about cooking, hostessing, and being a woman of grace.  More about her in another blog!…. today I want to list my top five things I am thank-full for….notice my play on the word, I just don’t think it seems right to write thankful… my so humble opinion, to be thankful one is truly FULL of THANKS, therefore, I am THANK-FULL! 🙂 

My TOP – FIVE – – – –

I am thank-full for:

1.  My dad~ now, I remember some times in my life, as a child, that I wasn’t so thank-full for him, but that was usually when I was learning a life-lesson!  I could list how thank-full I am for all the material things he blessed me with as a child – and continues to share with me today, but I am thank-full for the life lessons he taught me – for example, like being a hard worker, being honest and a person of integrity, and for being generous. 

2.  My mom~ my mom has always been my best friend.  How lucky is that?  I know a lot of women who struggle with their mother’s, but I have always been friends with my mom.  Now don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t one of those “being my daughter’s girlfriend-kind of mom”, she still was a MOM in the true sense – a disciplinarian, caring, loving, but she also was and always has been my FRIEND!  As an adult I am so thank-full that I have my mom as a friend – someone who I can pick up the phone and talk to each and every day (or two or three times a day!) and not have to explain how I feel – she just knows!  She listens, offers advice, and accepts me for who I am – even when I don’t take her advice!  I have learned to be a woman of grace, a woman of honesty, a woman of generosity, and a woman who demonstrates love and acceptance of others through watching my mom demonstrate all those things – and more!  I am so thank-full! 

3.  My husband ~ well, this is just simple!  We started out as friends – 25 years ago – and we’re still friends!  Now that’s something to be thank-FULL for!  We laugh, we cry, we pray, and we talk together.  Not that we haven’t had days when we didn’t talk or pray together – and there have been many days when I have done only crying and NO laughing, but one thing always remained throughout any and all of our struggles – LOVE!  He loves me for who I am and has not ever tried to change me!  I love him for who he is, and, yes, I have tried to change him, without success I might add, but that was because I was being selfish when I wanted to change him…..I simply wasn’t looking at him with love when I thought he needed changing!  I’m so glad that he never gave up on me when I was hell-bent on changing him!  I am thank-full that we have a life that we share….I love my husband and I love our life.  Thank-FULL!! 🙂

4.  My church ~ my husband and I went through such a “dry spell” for many, many years searching for a church – if any of you have ever shopped for a church, you know what I mean, it’s simply damn hard!  No butts about it!  Hard!  I’ll never forget the September morning that my husband and I visited our church, it was a contemporary service, which was a little “out of the box for this methodist raised girl”, but I felt at home!  It was like, awwwww, I have found my place!  I never would have thought that I would feel that way in a large church, but I do and I love my church.  I love that you can get yourself plugged into it and meet people, if you want, or you can remain just a person sitting in the back row and that whatever way you choose is perfectly o.k.  I LOVE that!  How nice is it that you’re not pressured into no more than what you’re ready for?!  I’m so thank-full that we have plugged ourselves in and have met some really awesome people, who we now call friends.  My life is so rich because of knowing all of our “church friends” and my faith is now stronger because I am challenged to see as Jesus sees, hear as Jesus hears, and act as Jesus acts – though I fail, sometimes miserably, at these things, I am challenged to never stop trying – and that is one reason why I am thank-full! 

5.  My dogs ~ I know, if you’re not a dog lover I just lost you – here I have been so “deep” in this blog and now I’ve taken you to “the dogs”!  Sorry if I disappoint, but I am thank-full for my dogs!  Cora, our five year old german shepherd mix is a rescue.  We welcomed Cora into our home when she was nearly twelve weeks old and she has been a blessing from day one.  She is smart, energetic, boisterous, protective, and my gal-pal!  She is not a cuddler, but she is loyal and never leaves my side.  She is a barker, which I am not so thank-full for, but she’s taught me to accept her (and others) for who she is!  I love her and have learned a lot about life and loving from her!  And, then, there is Sherman who we purchased from a breeder who borderlines “puppy mill”, in which I learned a lot of things that I wish I hadn’t – so I choose to look at Sherman as a very expensive rescue – thank God we got him away from that environment!  Sherman is my baby – and truly was a baby when we got him at six weeks, which is just way toooooo young to get a puppy and I highly discourage anyone from agreeing to take a puppy from a breeder before the puppy is, at least, eight weeks old (should have been my first sign he was in a puppy mill!).  When you get a puppy at that young of an age, it’s totally like bringing a newborn home – up every two hours, 24/7 to “potty” and every four – six hours to feed, for many, many weeks!   Sherman is my cuddler – he is a basset hound and even at the “light weight” of 53 pounds, he thinks he’s a lap dog!  Sherman will snuggle in close and keep me warm on a cool night, lick my tears when I’m sad, and act like a clown when he wants attention and makes me laugh!  He is a therapy dog, and while I believe he enjoys greeting people, I know he does a lot of it to humor me because truly his very favorite thing to do is just be with me – how lucky am I that someone on this Earth wants to be with me that much?  Pretty lucky! Sherman has taught me how to be a good mom, to be responsible, dependable, protective, and loyal – but most of all he has brought out the best in me, which is to love out-loud!  I am so thank-full for that. 

I would be remiss if I ended this post without mentioning a few more things I am thank-full for, like:  my niece, Maggie; my family; friends; meaningful job; a home to live in; a car to drive…..I guess the older I get the more I understand that it’s the “simple things” in life that I’m most thank-full for.  So, as I end this post, I challenge you, my friends and readers – look for the things in life that you are thankful for – and become thank-full!  Happy Thanksgiving!