Monday, December 29, 2014

Do You Hear It?

Do you hear it?

Or maybe I should ask, do you not hear it? The noise, the hustle, the bustle from a busy Christmas week.

I wonder how quite it was the night of Jesus' birth after the shepherds left and the animals settled down. Talk about noise, hustle and bustle . . . there was a lot going on for awhile in the stable that was tucked away in the small town of Bethlehem.

In Luke 2:19 we read from the Amplified Bible that "Mary was keeping within herself all these things (sayings), weighing and pondering them in her heart." What sayings? The account the shepherds gave about their visit from an angel and then the multitude of the heavenly host that praised God concerning the birth of His only Son.

She was nestled away in a stable, holding the Son of God in her arms as she felt His heart beat next to hers. While rocking Him, the words of the shepherds must have moved across her mind and she spent time weighing and pondering what they said. It was true, the baby she held was the Son of God, born to be the Savior of the world.

In the quietness of these days following Christmas may we too spend time weighing and pondering the things we have heard about the birth of Jesus. We may not be nestled away in a stable holding the Son of God in our arms, but if He lives inside of us, we too can feel the beat of His heart next to ours. For it is true, Jesus is the Son of God and He is the Savior of the World.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Good-bye for now Miss Ruby . . .

What did she dream about, 
this dear one who we would find asleep
while sitting up in her chair?

  • Playing on the back of buckboard wagons or giggling in the school yard in the 1930's?
  • Growing up with her brothers and sisters?
  • Singing at church with her friends and family and worshipping her Lord and Saviour?
  • Working with her friends in the pattern making department of the local manufacturing company?
  • Missing her family, her home?

From the doorway of her room in the health care facility that she called home, my husband would whisper, "Miss Ruby, Miss Ruby, it's Pastor Greg and Beth."

Lifting her head towards his voice, she would open her eyes and give us the most beautiful smile. She didn't have much to say, but her eyes would dance with life as we spent time with her.

I think of these things as I remove her name from the church contact list, the first of many lists that her name will be removed from since she passed away last week.

But there's a place her name was etched long ago that will never be removed  . . . 

The Lamb's Book of Life, "I will not erase his (her) name from the book of life" (Rev. 3:5 NSAB).

She's in her new home now, no longer asleep while sitting up in her chair, but more alive and free than she has ever been.

Now she lifts her head towards her Master's voice who whispers her new name, the name written on the white stone He gave her, ". . . I will give him (her) a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he (she) who receives it" (Rev. 2:17 NASB).

I know she gives Him the same beautiful smile she gave us, but with Him I'm sure she has much to say. And not only does her eyes dance with life, but she can now dance for eternity.

Good-bye for now Miss Ruby . . . 
Until we meet again.

Ruby Amelia McDougle
(1919 - 2014)

photos courtesy of

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lemons, Cantaloupes, Watermelons . . . Oh My!

Most of us have heard the saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Well that's fine and good when it's lemons. Lemons are small, easy to slice and clean up. But what if life gives you something else?

Life gave me a great big cantaloupe recently. It was bad enough that I got thrown this big melon, but before I could make anything out of it, like cute little melon balls or crisp rectangular slices, life threw something else at me.


A watermelon. Matter of fact, it came flying through my house within thirty minutes of the cantaloupe.

And what did I do with my watermelon?

Let me tell you what I didn't do with my watermelon. I didn't carve it into a tea cup and fill it with fresh fruit and crown it with Tinkerbell, or carve it in the shape of a sand bucket and fill it with starfish shaped melons. Nor did I carve out a pirate ship adorned with pirate flags, a crow's nest holding a pirate Lego man, and sails made out of watermelon rind. (Yes, I looked at Pinterest. Where else would I get these crazy ideas?!!!).

I didn't make a watermelon smoothie either. But what I did was grab the watermelon and hold on for dear life. God knew I needed something large to take hold of as I tried to make sense of what was going on in my life.

Sound familiar? Do you sometimes wonder why the big things like watermelons hit you and your family while other people only get a few lemons, or maybe a grape or two thrown their way?

I have to honestly say I didn't get around to asking this question. The reason being is I was too busy carting around my own heavy watermelon. It was so heavy I had to rely on others to help me. And they did help . . . most of the time. But when I was alone at night, cuddled up to my watermelon during sleepless nights, that's when God made His presence known to me. Not only did He make His presence known . . .

  • He gave me rest when I couldn't put another foot in front of the other. 
  • He gave me peace when decisions, responsibilities, and fear of the unknown overwhelmed me.
  • He gave me understanding when the "WHY?" questions would crowd my thoughts.
  • He gave me hope when days and nights ran together.
  • He gave me strength when I was at my weakest.
  • He gave me love that held me in a way no one else could.

What was my cantaloupe you ask?

My husband having to have out-patient neck/spine surgery after weeks at home in the bed while experiencing great pain.

Oh, and my watermelon? 

Bringing him home from the out-patient neck/spine surgery only for him to have a heart attack within thirty minutes of getting him settled. That watermelon came flying through my house before I could even get settled with the cantaloupe.

After a ride in an ambulance, hours of waiting in the ER, 10 days in the hospital, a heart cath and then quadruple by-pass surgery we came home again . . . watermelon in tow, as we prepared for weeks of recovery.

But we're doing it. Neither the cantaloupe nor watermelon caught God by surprise. He has been faithful to see us through the most difficult days and nights. And, with each day the watermelon is getting lighter, for I'm learning to let God carry the weight of my troubles.

So the next time life gives you lemons, cantaloupes, or watermelons and they come spiralling through your kitchen window, remember God is in control. He knew what was coming and will help you.

My prayer is that you will allow God to be your helper, for He "is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psa. 46:1 NASB).

Now, where did I see that cute watermelon carving of a flower pot with cute little flowers made out of pineapples, grapes and strawberries. I hope I didn't forget to pin it . . .

all photos courtesy of

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pressing Forward

I grew up with an athletic dad. As a child I played under gym bleachers and threw rocks beside baseball fields. 

Since my dad played sports, he thought his kids needed to play also, and we did. When I got older my dad signed me up for basketball and softball teams. My brothers were signed up for football and baseball. We were no longer playing under the bleachers and throwing rocks -- we were running up and down gym floors, tackling on football fields, and throwing soft balls and base balls.

He never let an opportunity go by without teaching us something that had to do with sports and life. I remember watching Sunday afternoon football games and listening to him say "Did you see that second effort? See how much further he went? He would have been down the first time he was hit but he gave it a second effort. Always try for a second effort, you'll always go further and be more successful."

Those words have echoed in my ears and heart all my life as I've gone through challenges and trials. Many times I could have been down with the first hit, but I put forth a second effort and was able to succeed far beyond what I ever thought. Some say "go for it," others say "give it the 'ol college try."  Leland King taught me to go for it, give it all I've got, then give some more.

Do you need motivation and strength to give a second effort? 

Take to heart the words of Paul:

I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. 
I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his . . . I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing 
I always do. 
Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead,  I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above. (Phil. 3:13-15).

Go for it, 
give it all you've got, 
then give some more!

Friday, February 14, 2014

What's Your Valentine Color?

There are many colors that represent Valentine's Day besides red, especially if you go by the ever popular Conversation Hearts. Pinks, purples, yellows, oranges, greens and whites rattle around in containers from fancy crystal candy dishes to pink cardboard boxes this time of year.

Then there are the chocolates:
Milk chocolate
Dark chocolate
White chocolate

Yes, many colors, but I was only interested in one — red. 

I had a few minutes to spare on my way to work this morning so I made a quick stop to pick up a Valentine's Day card and a bow for my husband's gift.  I passed on the pinks and whites and began looking through the different shades of red. Then I saw the perfect color, a dark red. As I wiggled it off the metal rack I thought to myself,  Yes, that's the one I want, blood red.

It took less than a nanosecond before the words formed 
in mind invaded my Spirit . . . blood red.

Blood red.

Jesus, God's only son, loved us so much that He shed His blood for us.

Pure love poured out.

More love than all the Valentine Days past, present and future could hold.

Rev. 1:5, 6 says "To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood. . . to Him be the glory . . ." (ESV).

I bought the blood red bow, attached it to my love gift to my husband, but my display of love is nothing like the love Jesus has for us.

What's my Valentine color? Red, blood red.

Thank you Jesus for your love . . . 
your EVERLASTING love.

photos courtesy of

Monday, February 10, 2014

Gift of Love


One a year.

When one is over, we look forward to the next one.

We don’t even entertain the idea that we won’t have another birthday because they always come, one after another.

My heart was full after receiving a visit from a special lady in my life. She had her son drive her to my office to bring me a gift, one she'd taken great care to pick out for me. 

As I leaned into the car window to give her a hug of thanks, I had to hold back the tears that wanted to puddle in my eyes like the mist began to puddle on the window sill of her son’s car.  

Below the stocking cap on her head, her eyes were dancing as she talked about the lunch plans she and her son had made. After another quick hug through the car window I held my gift to my chest and walked back into my office as they drove off towards the restaurant. 

I pulled the tissue out of the top of the festive bag until the buried gift was exposed. Cards . . . two boxes. One box contained Thinking of You cards and one box contained Praying for You cards. 

Why cards? Because for months I have been sending cards to her to encourage her as she again endures chemo and radiation treatments for the cancer that's returned to cause havoc to her body.

The tears welled up in my eyes again and this time, in the privacy of my office, I could let them fall down my cheeks as my heart asked "What does she think about birthdays?"


One a year.

When one is over, we look forward to the next one.

We don’t even entertain the idea that we won’t have another birthday because they always come, one after another . . .

But wait, it seems some would have every reason to entertain the idea of whether or not another birthday would follow next year.

As I think back on the special moments I've had celebrating my recent birthday, my thoughts go back to my friend. Her sweet gesture speaks volumes to me as I focus not on the days ahead of me, but on today and what I can do for someone else. She uses each day, not to dwell on the time she may or may not have left, the birthdays she may or may not celebrate in the future, but what she can do that day to love and encourage someone else.

I John 4:12 says "No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us (ESV)." 

I haven't see God but I have seen His love--it was His perfect love, being shown in an imperfect broken body of this dear one. A love that was as beautiful as she.


One a year.

When one is over, we look forward to the next one . . . well maybe not. 

From now on I want to look at each day, one day after the other, and ask God to give me ways to show His love to another person. . . someone who needs to see HIM. 

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love 
one another: just as I have loved you, 
you also are to love one another" 
(John 13:34 ESV).

photos courtesy of

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Remembering Maggie

Lady Margaret Fortune -- Maggie  -- 
July 8, 2001 - January 29, 2013 

You came into our lives as a bouncing ball of fur
And captured each of our hearts.
For many years you gave us joy and laughter,
But most of all you gave us love.

You loved us through good times and bad,
Through happy and sad.
And that love was unconditional,
A love that knew no bounds.

You were there for Ally, as she went through her pre-teen years
And as she grew into a young woman.
You watched her dress for proms and outings with friends
And then sat and watched as she packed for college.

A greeter for everyone who came to visit.
You always thought they came to see you.
With the wagging of your tail and twirls of delight,
You made everyone feel welcome -- morning, noon, or night.

Your coat held the tears of a family finding their way
Through the ups and downs of life.
And as you got older and didn't want to play,
You could snuggle with each of us in your on special way.

During the day you rested up while the house was quite,
Only to spend the rest of the day in our presence.
In our laps, sharing a spot in the recliner, a corner of the couch,
Or at our feet  -- if we were at home, you were right with us.

You loved each one of us and had unique things you did with each.
From snuggling with Daddy to rocking with Ally or sitting in the chair with me looking over my computer . . .

You made each of us feel special  . . .

In red bows for Christmas, orange for football season,
Pastels for Spring, or purple, yellow, or green . . .
We thought you were the cutest thing
We had ever seen.

Ally had your bow colors planned for the year,
We didn't know your time was near,
That we would have to say goodbye to our furry bundle of love,
But only with the help from our Father above.

It was so hard to say goodbye
No time to plan or prepare.
But know you will always affectionally be . . .
The Baby of our family.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Simple Touch

I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5 NKJV).
I was trying my best to be brave as the nurse lined up the five syringes that would be used for the biopsy on the surgical tray. I’d been dreading this day for a week, and now the wait was over.
“It won’t be a walk in the park, but it won’t be the worse thing you’ve ever had to endure either.” These words, spoken to me by the doctor at my previous appointment, were front and center in my mind as I tried to sike myself up for the procedure. After preparing the area on my neck and giving me a shot of  lidocaine I asked “So, will this be like a dentist visit when I’m told to tell them if I feel any pain . . . and if so, I can have more numbing medicine?”
“No, one shot is all you get.”
“Well, let’s give it a long time to work.” That was about all I could say after the doctor’s response.
The minutes ticked by while the doctor and the nurse made sure they had everything that would be needed while I laid staring at the ceiling with my head falling off the back of a pillow, neck exposed.  And then it was time for the first needle to be used. The doctor faced me with the syringe in his hand and his instructions poured down upon me. “You can breathe, just don’t swallow when I tell you not too.”
“Now, don’t swallow.”
Before I could feel the pressure from the needle I felt the nurse place her hand on my folded hands that I was instructed to leave laying on top of my stomach. She patted my hands, rubbed them with her thumb, and when she felt me press into my body from discomfort, she held me tighter. Once he finished, she took her hand off of mine.  ”You can swallow now.”
One down, four more to go I thought.
“Ok, are you ready? Don’t swallow.”
Once again before I could feel any pressure from the needle being placed into my thyroid gland by the doctor I could feel the nurse place her hand on my folded hands. It was amazing to me how much it helped both times. It made me think about her touch rather than what the doctor was doing to me and I didn’t feel so alone.
“You can swallow now.”
Two down, three more to go.
“Are you ready?”. . . Hope she holds my hands again.
“Don’t swallow.”
She did and once again, she gave me something to think about besides what the doctor was doing to me. When I would flinch, she would hold tight. When I would press down, she would give me a gentle pat. Yes, what a comfort—I wasn’t alone.
“Done with that one. You can swallow.”
Three down, two more to go and I couldn’t hold my gratitude back any longer. Before the next needle could be placed in me, I had to tell this nurse what a difference it made for her to hold my hands. She seemed surprised. Maybe she’d been doing this so long that she’d forgotten why, or maybe she did it without even realizing it made such a difference to the patient. Well, she knows now. I made sure of it.
On the way home I kept thinking about how much more unpleasant my experience would have been without the nurse. Just a touch, a compassionate touch from someone who cares. I knew God was with me in that sterile room—I could feel His presence. But He used the touch of a human to bring me comfort. It was then I got a clearer picture of why Jesus came to this earth. He came as God, but in a human body so He could touch people and be touched.
When I take seriously the responsibility of being a Christian—little Christ—I see now more than ever the importance of letting others see Christ through me. Now it’s not just in the seeing, but in the feeling. Yes, the nurse was Jesus to me. Her touch reminded me that I was not alone. For the Bible is true when He says “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Not only is He with us in Spirit, He provides others to be His hands and His feet.
How many times have I missed the opportunity to be His hands and feet, His” little Christ?” After this experience, my desire is to not only speak the truth of God’s love, but to show it in tangible ways. It’s the little things . . . as simple as a touch.

photos courtesy of