Saturday, May 30, 2009

Twelve Characteristics of a Contented Life

"But Godliness with contentment is great gain."
I Timothy 6:6 (NIV)

Today we continue our exploration of the
Twelve Characteristics of a Contented Life.
This is Week 4 and we will look at Characteristic 4:
Please the Lord and don't worry about your critics.

"You can't please everybody. Don't let criticism worry you."

In 1972, Ricky Nelson learned a hard lesson at Madison Square Garden in New York City. When booed off-stage during a concert, he retreated and did not return to the stage that evening, not even for the final bow. After that experience, he wrote the hit song "Garden Party" which includes these lyrics, "...but it's alright now, I've learned my lesson well. You see, you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself..."

Mr. Nelson had it half right. You will never be able to please everyone around you. And, most likely, you'll never be able to please yourself, either.

With that in mind, it seems we're left in a conundrum, doesn't it? If I can't please those around me, and I can't please myself, how am I to live a contented life? Paul says in his letter to the Galatian church in chapter 1, verse 10, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."

I don't know about you, but that makes it pretty clear to me. If I am to please God, I CANNOT please men...and dear sisters, we are 'men' because we are of the brotherhood of mankind. So, that means we can't please ourselves either!

It would be so easy to fall into the trap of self-satisfaction. Isn't that the very thing the world around us cries out for every day and in every way? If you're not happy with your spouse, move on and find another. If you're unhappy that you're pregnant, murder your unborn child and move on. If you've borrowed more than you can pay back, just claim bankruptcy and move on.

DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY! It 's the motto of our modern-day world. Don't let little things like morals and ethics get in your way. Just do what feels right to you. "If it feels good, do it" seems to be the mantra of modern man. Society seems to have completely forsaken the ideas of concrete 'right' and 'wrong'. There are no absolutes, only shades of gray.

Yet God gives us clear direction in the book of Isaiah, chapter 55, verses 7-9, where it says, "Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

So, we can't please ourselves and we can't please others; we are to please God. What pleases God? Romans 12:1 says "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual (or reasonable) act of worship." When we present ourselves as 'living sacrifices', it simply means we submit ourselves - mind, body and spirit - to the Lord to be used of and by Him in whatever way pleases Him.

Sometimes, that's easy; sometimes not. Don't you find it easy to love your children, your spouse, your family members? I know, I know, on some days even that's difficult! Seriously though, isn't that one pretty easy for you? What about loving the murderer or rapist that sits in jail, or the adulterous woman who has been making herself 'obvious' to your husband? Loving those people is no longer so easy, is it? Yet, if we are to please God, we must love those people because He loves them. We don't have to love their ways, but we MUST love them.

In I Timothy 2: 1-4, Paul tellsTimothy "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

If we are to live pleasing to God, we must pray for those in positions of authority over us and live peaceful and quiet lives. Praying for those in authority refers to ALL in authority, from your spouse (if you are a woman---I'm sorry girls, but it's Scriptural even if it's not currently popular!) to your boss at your job to the President or any other governmental authority.

You don't have to like them or agree with them, but you MUST pray for them. Authority can only be imbued upon one by the Creator of all. Therefore, we owe the Creator our sacrifice of prayer for those whom He has placed in authority. According to the verses quoted above, we cannot live a peaceable and quiet life unless we do this. And, we cannot please God unless we live a peaceable and quiet life.

Obviously the Scriptures are filled with many, many things that please the Lord. I could write for days and days and not even scratch the surface. It is my belief that, if we apply the verses quoted above to our everyday life, we can be well on our way to pleasing God and living a contented life.

"You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;

you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. "

Psalms 51: 16-17

(All Scripture references are quoted from the NIV unless otherwise noted.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday's Favorite Family Foto

and check out others who are participating this week.

This week, I am displaying a picture to continue some of family genealogy. Please excuse the quality of the photo, as it is about a century old.

The Dave Atkinson Family, ca. 1900
Standing, L-R: Ollie D., Joseph Tid, Nellie Jane, Susie Evaline
Sitting: David James and Elizabeth Rachel

My last Friday's Favorite Family Foto offering was a picture of my Great, Great-Grandfather, David James Atkinson. The above photo is of his family, or at least of his surviving family. I would like to focus this week on my Great, Great-Grandmother.

Elizabeth Rachel Smith was born March 29, 1849 in Tippah Co., MS, the daughter of David James Smith of North Carolina and Caroline Unknown-Smith of Tennessee. She was the second of five known children of the couple.

In January of 1868, Elizabeth Rachel wed David James Atkinson in Mississippi, most likely Tippah Co., MS. I have not been able to prove the county of marriage by courthouse records, but know the marriage was indeed in Mississippi from notes in the Family Bible kept by my Great, Great-Grandfather. Since both families were living within Tippah Co. during that time, I think it is safe to assume the marriage was in Tippah Co. as well.

The 1870 Census of Tippah Co., MS shows Dave and his wife, E. J. By 1900, they have migrated into Hardeman Co., TN and she is now listed as R. J. In 1910, the Hardeman Co., TN census lists her as simply Jane, which is the name she was commonly known by.

Jane gave birth to eight children, although the first four died prior to 1900 and the occasion of this family photo. The four surviving children listed above are Uncle Tid, Aunt Susie, Aunt Ollie and my Great-Grandmother, Nellie Jane.

It is believed by some family researchers that Elizabeth Rachel (Jane) Smith was actually born to a Davis couple who were killed shortly after her birth in a wagon train accident while in transit to Missouri. The Smith family were among the people traveling in the wagon train and took Jane in and raised her as one of their own children. The Smith's subsequently returned to Mississippi.

This would explain why my Grandmother had always told me her Grandma Atkinson was a Davis but her younger brother, Ralph, had told a cousin that Jane's maiden name was Smith. Since I have been unable to locate the marriage records, I cannot confirm her maiden name to my own satisfaction. I tend to believe that it was in fact Davis. I base this upon the fact that my Grandmother named several Davis families in Hardeman County that we were related to as a consequence of her Grandma Atkinson's lineage.

Jane spent a lot of time alone with her children on their small Tennessee farm as a consequence of her husband's ministry travels. My Grandmother always told stories of how hard she worked and how everyone always thought she was such a quiet and humble woman.

Jane went to meet the Lord on December 29, 1912. She died peacefully at the family home near Pocahontas in Hardeman Co., TN. Because she died less than two years after my Grandmother's birth, I never got to know as much about her as my Great, Great-Grandfather.

I hope you have enjoyed my submission for this week.
I again urge you to drop in on Deb at Pictures, Pots, Pens
and check out others who are participating in

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Take Me Back Tuesday

hosted each week by Kari at A Giveaway Addicted Mommy.
Be sure to pop in and check out other submissions!

My submission for this week is a picture of my sweet hubby and his Daddy. This photo was taken in March, 1957; so right about the time Terry turned 3. What a handsome little guy he was!!!!

Terry E. Chandler with his Daddy, James E. (Bob) Chandler
March, 1957
Vildo Road, Bolivar, TN

Terry's natural Dad was killed in an automobile accident on August 5, 1963 when Terry was only 9 years old. He worked as a truck driver for the Tennessee Highway Department. Like most little boys, Terry idolized his Daddy and wanted to be just like him! He spoke many times of having his play trucks, tractors and graders out on the little hill in their front yard. He would scrape the grass off the hillside and build roads and drive his truck just like his Daddy! Can't you just see that precious little boy out there puttering and building his roads?!

Mr. Bob drove the salt truck in the winter so he had to be up and out much before dawn so others could make their way on the hazardous roads. Terry told me about being awake and helping his Daddy get his things together for his day. His Daddy would always scoop him up into his arms just before walking out the door and tell him to be a good boy and take care of his Mom. On that tragic day when his Daddy didn't come home, he took that admonision very much to heart. Until the day he left this world, Terry looked after his Mom.

When his Mom re-married, he was devastated because he thought she had chosen his step-dad over him and his Daddy. He thought it was his job to take care of her because he had promised his Daddy on that fateful morning that he would. It took him many years to get over that. He came to love his step-dad dearly and was heart broken when he died. However, he never really came to terms with his Mom's second marriage until well into his adulthood. I cannot count the many times we prayed together while he worked to forgive his Mom and let the hurt go. I am so very thankful he was finally able to do that.

Today, as I grieve the four month anniversary of his home going, I remember the amazing man he was, faults and all.

Thank you for visiting me today for Take Me Back Tuesday.
Be sure to pop in on Kari at A Giveaway Addicted Mommy to other submissions.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

As we pause today to honor and memorialize those who have made sacrifices to make and keep our country free, I thought you might enjoy the following little piece. This was written by the son of a friend. This child is 8 years old and wrote this in response to a teacher's request to write about "What America Means To Me". The teacher was so impressed, he was asked to read his response to an audience at a school musical last week. Oh, that the so-called adults of this country could have but an ounce of the patriotism this second grader has!

What does America mean to me?

In America , we have the right
to not only want a better life
but to achieve it;

We have the right to question our leaders
and replace them with better ones;
we have the right to reach for the moon.

We have more rights than most citizens
of most other countries
and yet we take those rights
for granted and fail to appreciate them
and the brave men and women
who have died protecting those rights.

We may not be perfect as a country
but if you knock us down,
we'll get back up again
and be stronger for the experience.

That's what America means to me.

I don't know about you, but when I read that, it makes me proud to be an American! Proud to know that I live in a country where second graders can express their views about our country and our government, without fear of retribution.

It also makes me proud that those liberties have been protected and preserved by brave men and women across the centuries. And, even as I type, there are wonderful men and women on foreign soil and right here at home who are still protecting those rights!

My nephew-in-love, Brian, with some Iraqi children.
Brian did a tour of duty in Iraq between Dec., 2004 and Dec., 2005.
Brian is an Army Medic with the Iowa National Guard

This is my Daddy, Van P. McDonald.
Daddy served with the U.S. Army in Germany between 1953 - 1955.
Daddy was the leader of a squad of sharp shooters;
what we now commonly know as snipers.

May God go with all those men and women who protect and serve. May He guide their steps and bring them home safely to their families. May He be with their families who wait so patiently for their return. May He give them strength for their journey and comfort for their aching hearts.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Twelve Characteristics of a Contented Life

"But Godliness with contentment is great gain."
I Timothy 6: 6

Today the series Twelve Characteristics of a Contented Life continues with Week 3, Characteristic 3, which is "Don't take yourself too seriously".

"Don't take yourself too seriously. Don't think that
somehow you should be protected from
misfortune that befalls other people."

It is so easy as a Christian to be drawn into Satan's lair by thinking we somehow deserve better than we are getting because we are a Christian! However, the Scriptures teach exactly the opposite. St. Matthew 5: 11 -12 says "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Isn't it odd that we deem ourselves better than those who walked before us? Better even than the Lord Jesus Christ himself?! What is it about us that makes us think so highly of ourselves? Do we not believe the very Scriptures we teach? Did not Paul say to Timothy in his second letter, verse 12 "That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day"?

When I think of the heroes of the Bible, no one other than Christ himself impresses me so much as does Paul. What a man for the Lord he was! And, even in the midst of that great suffering, he was able to praise the Lord and be thankful, yes thankful, for his sufferings for Christ! Not only Paul, but others taught us to be thankful for our persecutions. James tells us in James 1: 2-3 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

Paul teaches us in Romans 8: 37-39 "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

What a joy to know that, whatever life may bring our way, we cannot be separated from the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by Christ Jesus our Lord! That alone should be enough to cause us to offer praise to our Father and encourage us to live for Him. I cannot out-love, out-give, or out-forgive my Father. Because He loves me, I am free to love others. Because I am free to love others, I am free to desire their good above my own.

In Romans 12: 2-3, Paul admonishes us "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."

When I am tempted to whine to the Lord about the circumstances of my life, I remember these verses and I am convicted in my heart of my pridefulness. I am so much less deserving than so many who have it harder than do I. Yet, in God's amazing grace, I have so much for which to be thankful. My heart's one desire is to walk worthy and in His perfect will for my life. Yes, I lose sight of that sometimes. I am so thankful He reminds me and helps me renew my mind and look to Him for strength and guidance.

"I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth. "

Psalms 121: 1-2

(All Scripture references are NIV unless otherwise specificed.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Awards and Tags

Over the past several days, I have been awarded and tagged by a couple of very lovely ladies!

These are the awards:

The Splash Awared

One Lovely Blog Award

These were given so generously by Pam over at Mom's Mutterings. Pam is such a sweet lady and has become a wonderful new friend. Thanks Pam! I am so very honored! I am to pass these on to OLD FRIENDS. These days, it's hard for me to distinguish between OLD and NEW friends. So, if you're reading this, plesae consider yourself an OLD FRIEND and take the award! You are all so very important to me!

I was also tagged by Trish over at It's Me Again Margaret. I am to name
6 Unimportant Things
and tag six friends to do the same.
So, here are my 6 Unimportant Things:

1) I am addicted to buying books that I rarely ever read.
2) My house is NEVER really clean, just surface clean.
3) I am not a dig-in-the-dirt kind of gal. I have lived in the country for most of mylife but I
am definitely a city girl at heart.
4) Chocolate is a food group at my house.
5) I couldn't care less what the 'stars' are up to and am disgusted that the media thinks I want
to know!
6) I am afraid of water; so much so that I prefer a shower to a bath.

Well, there you have it! Six totally UNIMPORTANT things about me!
I'm not tagging anyone, but would love it if all my blogging buddies would post their list for all to see!
Thanks Trish for thinking of me! I love you lady and I'm so thankful we are friends!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Take Me Back Tuesday

Welcome to this week's edition of Take Me Back Tuesday, hosted weekly by A Giveaway Addicted Mommy. Run on over and check her out and see others participating in this meme.

The McDonald Grandchildren...Christmas, 1970

My submission for today is a picture of my cousins, my sisters and me taken at Maw McDonald's house during Christmas, 1970. Pictured left to right on back row are my sister Debra (age 10), cousin Roger (age 9), ME (age 13), my sister Charlotte (age 11); left to right on front row are cousin Wade (age 5-Roger's brother), cousin Terry (age 2-Roger and Wade's brother) and cousin Randy (age 4). This would have been our fifth Christmas after my Paw McDonald passed away on June 30, 1966.

Maw McDonald didn't have much, but she always bought each of her family members some small gift for Christmas. This continued until her last Christmas on this earth. She was hospitalized during Christmas, 1994. She gave me instructions about what to do and told me to talk to Momma about getting the money from her checking account to pay for it. She instructed me to buy every member of the family a gift certificate from our local Wal Mart and told me how much to spend.

I purchased the gift certificates and passed them out to my aunts to pass on to their families at their Christmas gatherings. I told Maw I would bring our families' with us to the hospital when we visited on Christmas night and she could give them out. I did so and it made her so happy to be able to give them to us, especially her great-grandchildren. Terry and I used ours to purchase our very first church for our Christmas village. Every year when I put out my Christmas village, I think of Maw McDonald and how much she loved us.

I miss you Maw, I always will. You are one of my heroes. I will always love you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Prayer Updates

So many of you have been so wonderful and have blessed me so very much by praying for me and for my family. I just wanted to post an update so you all would know how faithful the Lord is!

I had posted about an issue in my life that had caused me so much pain and so much heartache that I was just thankful that Terry wasn't here to know about it. That issue has been totally resolved and can NEVER be a problem to me again. It worked out in a manner I could not have dreamed was possible, but the Lord knew all the time! Thank you so much for your prayers. God, as always, is faithful to those who love Him and who seek to do His will!

Daddy is back with my sister and her family. He is doing better, but still is having some problems. We know this is how it will be for him. Daddy has C.O.P.D. with chronic asthma, emphysema, bronchitic and pneumonia. His CT scan during this hospitalization showed that the emphysema has worsened considerably. What we initially thought to be a case of pneumonia was actually permanent scarring in his lungs from the emphysema.

The doctors have told us that he now has a certain type of bacterial infection in his lungs that is not curable, but will wax and wane with his condition. Three different antibiotics were required this time in order to get it under control. He remains on Levaquin for another 3 days at home. This is the natural progression of his disease. He developed thrush in his mouth due to all the antibiotics and had to be treated for that as well.

He is, at present, as well as we can expect him to be until the Lord performs the ultimate healing for him and takes him to his heavenly home. Daddy is tired and still very lonely. I understand that loneliness now. Were I Daddy's age, with his illness and having to deal with this loneliness, I would be so ready for the Lord to call me home. Daddy is. So, we will love him and take care of him and miss him when the Lord calls him, but we will know it was what Daddy had longed for.

I am doing better with the grief. I miss Terry more every day. I love him more every day. However, I am learning to go on without him. He will be with me for all the days of my life, but I am learning to be happy again. So much is bittersweet right now, but the memories are so precious and so comforting.

As some of you know, I have been awaiting approval from Medicare since early February to have surgery. I finally got the approval last week! Praise the Lord! I am scheduled for surgery on July 10 at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville. I will have a gastric stimulator replaced.

I have a condition known as gastroparesis and chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction. This simply means that my stomach and bowel do not empty as they should. This is caused by a lack of neuro-stimulation in the vagus nerve. The gastric stimulator is something of a pacemaker in that it provides electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve, causing the stomach to empty it's contents and encouraging the bowel to move the contents through until they exit my body.

This will be my third stimulator implantation surgery. The first was in October, 2004, at which point I had the very first implant. The battery in that one lasted about 20-22 months. It died and was replaced in December, 2006. That battery died sometime last fall. However, due to Terry's condition and subsequent death, I had been unable to go back to my doctor until early February of this year.

At that time, my doctor found that the battery was dead, which I had already known due to worsening of my symptoms. He immediately set forth the process of getting Medicare approval for the replacement. So, I will visit my doctor on June 25 for the pre-op testing and will return on July 10 for the surgery. I am so very thankful to finally have a surgery date scheduled!

Due to having been without the stimulation for about 7 months now, I am experiencing symptoms almost as bad as before I got my first stimulator implantation. I am nauseated 24/7 and get extreme bloating in my abdominal area. I throw up 20-30 times daily and have lost nearly 30 pounds. I don't mind losing the weight, just not in this manner!!! I can only eat about 2-3 bites of food at a time without getting sick later and throwing everything back up.

So, it is all now just a matter of time before I can begin to improve. It will be such a huge blessing to once again be able to go through a day without nausea and vomiting. I thank all of you for your prayers and support. You are all such a blessing in my life. Blogging has opened up a whole new world of wonderful, Christian sisters to me. What a blessing you are!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Twelve Characteristics of A Contented Life

"But Godliness with contentment is great gain."
I Timothy 6: 6 (NIV)

Today I continue the series Twelve Characteristics of A Contented Life. Week 2, Characteristic 2 is " Make the Best of Your Circumstances".

Make the best of your circumstances.

No one has everything and everyone has something

of sorrow intermingled with gladness of life.

The trick is to make the laughter

outweigh the tears.

If we attempt to make our own happiness, we will but fall on our proverbial face. As Christians, we must learn the difference between happiness and joy. According to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, the meaning of happiness is (a) a state of well-being and contentment, or (b) a pleasurable or satisfying experience. Joy, on the other hand, is defined as (a) the emotion evoked by a state of well-being, success or good fortune or (b) the expression or exhibition of such emotion.

So, happiness is a state of well-being or a pleasurable experience. Certainly, not all of life is a state of well-being or pleasurable. Therefore, if we are depending on happiness for contentment, we WILL be disappointed. Joy is the emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune or the expression of that emotion. You may ask then, if joy is the emotion expressed due to happiness, how can I have joy without happiness? Therein lies the secret of living a contented Christian life.

Psalms 19 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. Verses 7 and 8 say "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart." These verses to me epitomize how and where I will find the joy of my life...."the LAW... the STATUTES... the PRECEPTS".

So, what are the LAW, STATUTES and PRECEPTS of the Lord? Well, we know the LAW is the law given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai, commonly known to modern man as The Ten Commandments. Now, a lot was added to that, but those ten rules basically cover every aspect of our life.

Whoaaaaa, you say, but we're no longer under the LAW, we're under GRACE. So right you are! However, Jesus plainly teaches us that His coming did not do away with the LAW, it only fulfilled it. In St. Matthew 5: 17, Jesus says "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. "

Here, we run smack into the STATUTES of the Lord. So, what are the STATUTES of the Lord? Well, let's take a look at that. Again, I refer you to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, which defines a statute as 'a law enacted and intended to be permanent'. Hummmm, so the STATUTES of the Lord are those portions of the LAW God intended to be permanent. What did Jesus have to say about that?

In St. John 15: 12-14 and 17, Jesus says this..."My command is this; Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command." and "This is my command: Love each other." Jesus leaves this one command for his followers because He knew that, when we truly love each other as He loves, we will by natural persuasion follow the other commands. True love compels us to do what is good and right for the other person, no matter what the cost is to us personally.

Now, we have covered the LAW and the STATUTES; we come to the PRECEPTS, and that is where we meet the Lord is a more personal place. He begins to deal with us about how to abide by His LAW and STATUTES by teaching His PRECEPTS. Merriam Webster defines a PRECEPT as a command or principle intended especially as a general rule of action.

Herein lies the whole of Scripture. Every verse, every word, every idea is necessary in order for us to live according to God's plan for our lives. God knew we would need His Divine Guidance in every area of our life. He provided for that by leaving us His Holy Scriptures to be a light to our path. (Ps. 119:105) Every question or concern we face has an answer in Scripture.

Making ourselves familiar with that Word is the ultimate tool in helping us live a contented life.

So, what does all of that have to do with making the best of your circumstances or making the laughter outweigh the tears? Simply this, there will be times of your life that will cause you pain and take your happiness from you. We are but humans living in a fallen world in bodies of flesh and bone. It is the natural consequence of this fallen state to bring pain at times.

However, when we walk with the Lord, when we know His Word, when we cultivate an intimate relationship with Him, then we can rise above the pain and still experience the emotion of happiness, which is joy. Joy is that part of happiness that settles deep within us; that part that we can't explain to others who don't also experience it.

Joy is the part of us that keeps up going forward when all around us seems to be pushing us backwards. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit in us to guide us into light and truth. I love the old hymn 'Trust and Obey'. A portion of it goes like this...'when we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, what a glory He sheds on our way...', God's glory is shed on me whatever life may bring my way when I trust and obey.

So, I may not be happy all the time; but I am joyful all the time. It's not easy, it takes work; just as anything worth having is worth working for. Living a contented life will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

"Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet..." I long for that day when I can sit at His feet and I will then know the answers to the questions I could not find answers to while in this mortal body. Until then, I live contented to know He walks beside me each step of my way and I most assuredly can "Trust and obey".

(All Scripture references are from the NIV, unless otherwise noted.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Favorite Family Foto Friday

It's time once again for Favorite Family Foto Friday.
Please drop in at Pictures, Pots, Pens and
check out Mr. Linky to see other participants.

Today's submission is a very old foto of my Great, Great Grandfather, David James Atkinson. He was my paternal grandmother's maternal grandfather. So, are you totally confused now?!

Maw McDonald had wonderful memories of her Grandpa and loved to tell us stories about him. He sounded like a fun loving, yet very firm individual. He was a Methodist Episcopalian circuit preacher until the day of his death. You will notice his arms and one hand are crippled. This happened at a cotton mill during the later years of his life.

David James Atkinson was born on 9 May, 1845 in Wayne County, TN, the son of John M. Atkinson, also of Wayne County, TN and Zilpha Martin of Eastern TN. He was one of ten known children of the couple. He, like many of his neighbors, served in the Union Army during the Civil War, although he resided in Wayne Co., TN at the time. He vehemently disagreed with slavery and was extremely vocal about his disapproval.

In January, 1868, he married Elizabeth Rachel (Jane) Smith in Tippah or Alcorn County, MS. The couple produced eight offspring, with only the latter four having survived to be aged 30 or older. After his marriage, Dave surrendered to the gospel ministry in the Methodist Episcopalian church and became a circuit preacher, preaching throughout Hardeman and McNairy Counties in TN, and Tippah and Alcorn Counties in MS, as well as various other locations.

I am blessed to have become the owner of his old hymnal. It was passed on to me by Maw McDonald and was in such a bad condition that I had it rebound and sheltered in a lobster claw box. The internal pages are those of the hymnal.

You can easily see the discoloration from years of having been carried in a saddle bag from place to place. The tunes and words to many, if not most, of the songs are unfamiliar to me, but I still love the hymnal because I know when I hold it in my hands, it was once held with so much love and pride by my great, great grandfather as he led his congregations in worship.

Although this is not a great picture, I hope you can see that my grandmother also treasured her grandfather's hymnal. In the earliest years of her marriage, she had no family Bible, so recorded the births in their new little family in the back of her grandfather's hymnal.

Grandpa Dave lived to the good old age of 83, having outlived all but two of his children and his precious Rebecca Jane. He died on 17 August, 1928 at the home of his daughter, Susie, and his son-in-law, Joe Morphis, near the small Hardeman County, TN town of Pocahontas.

He was a dear man, loved by many and buried among over one hundred mourners on a hot August day. Mourners walked, rode horses and mules, wagons and buckboards and a couple even had one of the new fangled automobiles to drive to the funeral and burial. My grandmother had just married in March, 1928 and was driven in the wagon by my Paw McDonald to be with her family as they mourned Grandpa Dave's passing.

Thank you for stopping by today.

Be sure to stop in at Pictures, Pot, Pens to see other participants

in Favorite Family Foto Friday.

Be blessed!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Daddy in better days

Barring no unforeseen complications, Daddy will be released from the hospital tomorrow. Thank you all so very much for your prayers and concern. He is weary and weak, as is to be expected following an illness. He has been on three broad-spectrum antibiotics. If you've ever been on heavy duty antibiotics, you know they are both a blessing and a curse. He has C.O.P.D. with severe emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma, so pneumonia is a life threatening situation for him.

He seems a bit depressed to me and the doctor, as well. She thinks perhaps he is just tired of fighting, both the disease and the loneliness after having lived without Momma for the past three years. As you are aware, mental and emotional well being are vital to physical health. After having lost Terry, I understand so much better the loneliness. Were I his age and had his health problems, I would be tired and depressed too. These are difficult days for him; please continue to pray for him.

Take Me Back Tuesday

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(Click on picture to enlarge)

Today's submission was taken in late October, 2002 near Klamath, CA. Terry and I had taken a driving trip to the Western US, taking Momma and Daddy with us.

While touring in Northern CA, we naturally had to visit the huge redwood forests. We were all enchanted by the trees. At the famous 'Drive-Thru Tree' in Klamath, we also found this restroom which had been hewn from the stump of an old redwood. It was quite amazing! Actually had a working toilet and sink in it!

Terry, being the natural clown that he was, HAD to have his picture taken with it! I asked if he was quite sure he didn't want me to take the picture from inside?! Surprisingly, his answer was 'No'!

Happy memories of times spent with both him and my parents. The pictures from our trips together are priceless and the memories they inspire even more so!

Thanks for dropping by today.

Don't forget to stop by A Giveaway Addicted Mommy to see more!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Update from Diane

Hello! Thank you all so much for your prayers and concern for Daddy and for me. And, thank you Katie for posting for me! Daddy is doing some better, but still very sick and weak. The doctors say we may go home Monday or Tuesday. Until I get Daddy back home and settled, I won't be posting, other than brief updates. Thank you all again for praying. Please continue to do so.

Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful Mommy's out there, both those of you who have living children, and those whose children are now with Lord. Or, even those who've never know the joy of motherhood, but yearned to do so. The Lord loves us all and He knows our heart's desires!

God bless you all!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Out for a bit

Hi All-
This is Katie, Diane's niece. Aunt Di asked me to let you all know that she will not be posting for a few days as she is at the hospital with my grandfather, her dad, at present. He has pneumonia and she is there taking care of him. She will be getting her laptop there, but doesn't think she will have time to blog. All of your prayers are appreciated. Be blessed!

Favorite Family Foto Friday

It's time once again for Favorite Family Foto Friday.
Drop by to visit with Deborah at Pictures, Pots, Pens and sign up to share your favorite family foto with us and to see others who are doing the same.

This is a picture of my sisters and me, along with our cousin, Roger. It was taken in September, 1962 in my Maw and Paw McDonald's front yard. You can see I've been giving the smaller kids a ride in Roger's Red Flyer wagon. They LOVED for me to pull them around in that thing!

In the wagon are my sisters, Charlotte and Debra, and our first cousin, Roger. I am standing behind with the quite authoritarian 'hands on my hips' pose! I liked being the boss! Hey, when you're the oldest, you've gotta take your joy where you can get it! You sure get all the responsibility!

At the time of this foto, I was 4 years and 10 months old; quite grown up, don't you think?! Charlotte was 3 years and 5 months old; Debra was 2 years and 4 months old and Roger was 22 months old. I made those kids walk the line! Ha!Ha! It's more like they made ME walk the line, always threatening to tell Momma so and so.....KIDS!!!

I hope you have enjoyed my
Favorite Family Foto for this week.
Be sure to drop in to see what others are showing.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


As I sit here this morning, my heart aches as much, if not more, than it did on that early Monday morning in January when I had just watched my precious Terry step into eternity. I face each minute as though I'm looking across whispering waters, knowing my heart longs to be on the other shore. I can't quite see that shore clearly, but I know what my heart yearns for is there.

I had been doing so well over the past several days. I smiled, laughed, felt contentment and joy in my heart again. Then, without warning, the grief knocked me down with so much force I felt as though everything good was gone forever. I wasn't prepared. I was warned. Warned by every book I've read, every grief support group I've joined, by so many others who have walked this road before me. But, I wasn't prepared.

How did I let this happen? Could I have done something different? Have I completely failed myself by ignoring the warnings others tried to give? Did I really think it could be that easy to let go of a lifetime of loving and living and making memories? I don't know. I'm back to square one; I don't know.

The older I get, the more I realize I don't know. Did I stop learning somewhere along the way? Did I stop paying attention? Was anything in my life prior to this preparing me for this and I just didn't notice? I'm so full of questions and have NO answers. I've prayed, but it feels like my prayers aren't reaching the ceiling, much less the heavens above.

Oh my Lord in heaven, will this happen again? Will I feel as though I'm making gains and actually beginning to feel again just to have my feet knocked from beneath me again? How does one survive repeated attacks like this? Again, all questions with NO answers!

Nine years ago at this time, Terry and I were settled into a skilled nursing room at the Baptist Hospital in Memphis. He was so broken and bed-ridden, but he was healing and he was alive. That's all that mattered to me....he was alive. Everything was going to be just fine, he was alive. I remember so well making that statement to so many people who called to inquire about how we were doing.

Now I realize that his dying started nine years ago. He was never the same again after the accident. As I look back over the years, I see the consistent progression of poor health that overtook him following the accident. I couldn't see it as we were going along. Or, perhaps I didn't WANT to see it. Whatever the case may be, I missed it somewhere along the line.

At his home going celebration, a friend he had worked with made the most precious speech. He told me of how Terry always had me at the forefront of everything he did. They worked a dangerous job. They worked in research and development for a pyrotechnics developer and manufacturer for the American military, as well as multi-national military units around the world.

If they were going to be doing something particularly dangerous, this man said Terry would always take the time to call me first. He would tell him "I have to call Di, just in case". I knew he called often from work, but he never told me why. He always said "I just called to tell you I miss you and I love. See you this afternoon!" He couldn't and wouldn't tell me about his job. He never wanted me to worry about him.

Every afternoon while driving home from work, he would call me on his cell phone and talk to me till he pulled into our driveway. On the particular Thursday afternoon of his accident, he was so tired he just wanted to hurry home. So, instead of calling, he just concentrated on driving. I will always wonder if things would have been different had he called. I'll never know.

All I know is now I'm left alone. So alone, I feel disconnected from everything and everyone around me. I feel like I'm back to just going through the motions again. I have cried until I think I couldn't possibly have tears left, yet they still fall. The anguish spills over in groans that I can't understand. Yet, I know the Lord does.

Therein lies my only hope. The Lord knows my pain. He understands my broken heart. I reach out to Him and He is always there. I call out to Him and He never turns me away. Oh, I deserve to be turned away! But, He never does. That's just one of the things I find so absolutely amazing about God. "A father to the fatherless and a defender of the widows" says Psalms 68:5.

Lord, I am so thankful You understand me and defend me. I am so thankful that I can't go far enough away from You to make You stop loving me and waiting for my prodigal return.

"Teach me to do your will, for you are my God;
may your good Spirit lead me on level ground."
Psalms 143: 10 (NIV)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Today's post is not so much a post as a prayer request. Some things have happened lately that have broken my heart all over again. In my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined these things happening. Were my precious husband still with me, it would break his heart to know these things are going on. At this particular time, I am so thankful he is already with our Lord and doesn't have to witness this.

I cannot be specific. But please, if you know the power and worth of prayer from a broken and contrite heart, with faith believing the Lord will answer, pray for me. This has shaken me from the very depths of my soul. Other than losing Terry and Momma, nothing has ever hurt me like this.

Please ask the Lord to give me guidance and strength to do the things that are in His will for my life at this point. Please ask Him to help me have a pure heart, free of bitterness; and faith to know He will take care of me, both now and in the future. I want only to walk in His perfect plan for my life and do as He desires.

"...The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
James 5: 15b (KJV)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Take Me Back Tuesday

This is my family; Charlotte, Daddy, Debra, Momma and me. This picture was taken in the summer of 1972 at my Maw McDonald's house. I don't know what I was thinking 1) with that haircut and 2) wearing a horizontally striped top?!!! I was 14 when this picture was taken. Where does the time go?

When I look back at this picture, I think how happy we were as a family. My sisters and I were so blessed in that our parents were always together. As a matter of fact, Daddy always told Momma "Momma, if you leave, pack my bags too. I'm going with you."! We were so secure in their love for each other, for us and most importantly, for the Lord Jesus. What more can a kid ask for?!

About one year after this picture was taken, I met Terry. When I look at this picture, I think that Momma and Daddy must have been missing a link in their brains to let me start dating him when I was so young! If I had a 15 year old daughter, I don't know that I could let her walk out the door with a strange boy. You see, Terry and I met on a blind date! I, nor my parents, had ever seen or heard of him before he showed up at our front door that Saturday evening!

Daddy and Momma were younger in this picture than I am now! I can barely comprehend that. Daddy turned 40 in November after this picture was taken and Momma was only 33. I think how young they look and then I realize, they WERE young! And yet, they were so dependable, so steady, so solid. I wonder if I was that 'grown up' when I was 33?

Everything Daddy and Momma ever did was with us first and foremost in their mind and heart. Were they perfect parents? Certainly not! But, they were darned near it! Of course, you would have had a hard time convincing me of that at the time of this picture! You know how teenage girls are!

It was such a simpler time, before boys and dating and all the trials parents and their teens go through. A happy time to enjoy each other before the struggles set in! They grew to love all three of their sons-in-law as much as they love us and their sons-in-law love them. We've been truly blessed as a family, so much more than we ever deserved, but are so very thankful for.

I hope you have enjoyed my walk down memory lane. Come back next Tuesday and we'll walk again. Have a great day and God bless you!

Monday, May 4, 2009

May 4, 1974

On this day in 1974, Terry proposed to me. It was the happiest day of my life, to that point. I have written that story already and you can find it here. This is a recent picture of the rings he chose for me:

When I opened the box, I nearly fainted! I could not believe that 1) he was asking me to marry him and 2) he had chosen these gorgeous rings! You must remember that I was only 16 at the time. I was so in love with him and so captivated by his love. To think that he felt the same about me was pure joy.

It's been 35 years and, even though he is now with our Lord, I love him more than I could have even imagined then. When he went home, I thought I would not be able to bear the pain. However, the Lord has been so faithful to me and so merciful. He has filled the void left in my heart and my soul with wonderful memories of our life together and with His love.

I love you, my baby. I have for so long and I will continue to do so for all eternity.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Words of Wisdom

[ Whiteville Lake--Photo by Di]

"But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish.

This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings.

Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions.

But God will redeem my life from the grave; He will surely take me to Himself."

Psalms 49: 12-15 (NIV)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Twelve Characteristics of A Contented Life

"But godliness with contentment is great gain."
I Timothy 6: 6 (NIV)

Beginning today, and for the next eleven weeks, my Saturday post will contain a characteristic of living a contented life. I will begin by assuming that you already understand that the first and foremost characteristic necessary for contentment is to live a submitted life to God, our Heavenly Father.

Having said that, there are things we can do to ensure that we walk with contentment in our daily life. Thus, we begin with Week 1, Characteristic 1: Happiness in Simple Pleasures.

Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.

The apostle Paul tells us in Phillipians 4: 11b (NIV) "...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." In Scripture, the words for happiness and contentment are often interchangeable. To be happy then, is to be content.

In this passage, Paul goes on to say that he has learned the art of contentment whether he is well fed or hungry, whether he has needs or all his needs are met. The secret of Paul's contentment is revealed in verse 13, which says "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." For this verse, I actually prefer the old King James Version translations which says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Herein lies the secret that so many people are searching for in this day. How can I be happy? What more must I acquire to feel good about myself? When will I have ENOUGH to make me happy? THINGS will never fulfill us.

We have a God-vacuum within us that only He can fill. Once we put God in His proper place in our lives, we can begin to see His other creations in their proper perspective. When we do that, we find ourselves CONTENT. When we accept that only He can give us what our soul needs, what our heart searches for, can we know real contentment. Psalms 42: 1-2a (NIV) puts it like this "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."

My prayer for you today is that you will find God precious to your soul. That you will know the peace only His love can afford. For I know that, once you do, you can begin a journey of real CONTENTMENT in your life. May the Lord guide your footsteps and hold your heart secure as you journey.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Favorite Family Foto Friday

Welcome back to another Favorite Family Foto Friday! This lovely meme is hosted each week by Deborah over at Pictures, Pots, Pens. Be sure to stop over at her place to find Mr. Linky and visit all who are displaying their Favorite Family Foto for this week!

Katie with Jared, Jacob and Caleb

My offering this week is this photo of my only niece, Katie, with her younger brothers Jared, Jacob and Caleb. This photo was taken on Katie's Wedding Day, June 10, 2000. She was so excited and so happy, as brides tend to be on their wedding day!

Jared was broken hearted and did nothing but cry the entire day! If you look closely at the picture you'll see that both he and Caleb have really red eyes from all the crying and the ceremony hasn't even started yet!

On this day, Katie was 19, Jared had just turned 18, Jacob was 14 and little Caleb was 9. Katie and Caleb had been so close since the time of his birth. Because they lived in a small house, Caleb had shared a room with Katie. At night, before settling in to sleep, Caleb would turn toward Katie's side of the room and ask "Katie, which way are you going to turn your head tonight?" Katie would always answer "Toward you baby; I'm going to turn my head toward you." This comforted Caleb and he would settle into a peaceful night's sleep.

Katie's wedding was bittersweet for me. Terry had been in an horrific car accident on April 13 and was still in the hopsital and could not come. I made the trip out for the wedding, but cried such sad tears because I had left Terry weeping in his hospital bed because he wasn't going to be there to see his 'Blond Bombshell' get married. His heart was broken right along with his crushed pelvis!

Katie is now, well you can figure it up, I won't be saying that out loud! Katie might read this!!!! At any rate, she now has two beautiful children of her own, whom she treasures. Jared now has a beautiful little daughter and loves her like there'll be no tomorrow! Jake is still single and no children, but his niece's and nephew think Uncle Jake is some kinda fantastic! Caleb graduates from High School this month. Uncle Caleb is the 'go to' guy around home! Need something, want something? Ask Uncle Caleb!!!

These kids are, and have been, so much of the joy in my life. Their Uncle Terry loved them beyond words. Katie was always her Uncle Terry's 'Blond Bombshell'. The last time he saw her before he went home to be with Jesus was just after Christmas of 2008. He was so happy to see her and her hubby and the kiddos. He hugged her tightly and said "I love you, Blond Bombshell".

Yep, Uncle Terry loved these kids; and these kids loved Uncle Terry!