Wife to Phil. Mom to 5 and mother-in-law to 5. Mimi to 13 adorable grandchildren. I am a Hope*Writer and an Enneagram 7. I love spending time with family and friends, traveling, good food and drinks, dark chocolate, flan, Mexican & Mediterranean food and missions works in Guatemala.
The troubling events of last week and much of last year weigh heavy on my heart. A heaviness similar to losing a baby girl in 1987, the estrangement from a loved one and the terrors of 9/11.
Words of my friends and family this week:
I couldn’t sleep.
I watched in horror.
How can this be happening?
This seems like a nightmare.
Who have we become?
Why is there so much hatred?
Why don’t more people speak up/out?
Why is the media biased (to the left or to the right)? Why can’t they report the facts without editorializing?
Why do a few people cause everyone to be thrown into a particular group?
What is our country coming to?
Friends, it does not matter whether you are are loyal to the blue, the red or are neutral, everyone is feeling a heaviness. I don’t know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, the next day or a month from now but I do know the One in whom I trust. God. The Holy Spirit. The King of kings. The Lord of lords. The Way, the Truth, the Life. The Good Shepherd. The Bread of Life. The Prince of Peace. The Light of the world. The Messiah. Jesus.
Thank God we can go to Him and He will give us rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 I can’t imagine not being able to go to Him. I can’t/don’t want to carry this heaviness by myself.
May we release our heaviness to Him so that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7. May our rest, our peace and our trust be in Him alone. Not in a person. Not in a loved one. Not in a political figure – past, current or future. Not in a political party. Not in an activist group. Jesus. Only Jesus.
Read a book a month. I’m off to a super start because I started and finished The Greatest Gift yesterday afternoon. It’s short and sweet and was a gift from my son-in-law’s parents. The holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life was based on it. My friend, Deb Sherer, recently recommended reading Sold which is now queued up on my Audible list.
2. Walk or bike daily. Easy to do in Arizona in the winter. Phil and I are off to a super start on this one.
3. Learn how to play pickle ball. Don’t laugh and no old people wise cracks. Any recommendations as to where to play in the Litchfield Park area? Equipment needed?
4. Spend more time with family. I love this goal mucho.
5. Read the Bible daily. I read through the book of Psalms in 2020. I started in the book of Isaiah on January 1st. My mind and soul are thirsty for more of God’s Word plus I need something to combat the craziness of our beautiful world.
6. Daily journal in my 5-year book. I did so-so in 2019. March-June’s pages of 2020 are blank because I left the book in Indiana while we “weathered” the pandemic in Arizona. The journal will go with me everywhere in 2021.
7. Travel. Whenever and wherever possible. I get antsy when I am in one place for very long. My mom says my middle name was “Go” when I was a little girl. I haven’t changed. Phil’s mom is coming to Arizona later this month. We are taking her to see the Grand Canyon via the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, AZ. Due to Covid, passenger occupancy is reduced to 30% which should make our ride feel very personal.
My goals aren’t extravagant or crazy and I most certainly want them to be within God’s will for me. I want to be open to whatever He asks me to do and wherever He asks me to go. I want to live with purpose and on purpose for Him.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
May our goals align with His goals. May we love others and live our lives on purpose.
Cheering you on! (Please feel free to share your goals)
January and February were fairly normal except for the heartbreak of one of our friends passing away after a lengthy battle with cancer. Phil, Jan Landrum and I traveled to Guatemala at the end of February for the annual IMPACTO Retreat and board meeting.
March. Things got wacky around St. Patrick’s Day. Covid-19 forced everything and everyone to change. Life was no longer like we once knew it. March Madness was cancelled which was a tough one for this crazy college basketball fan.
No indoor dining. Restaurants and businesses were forced to change their dining practices or close.
No large group gatherings.
Nursing homes and hospital visitation shut downs.
Schools went to virtual learning.
April‘s highlight was a dinner on the golf course in Arizona for my 66th birthday.
May was blessed by our 13th grandchild making his entrance into this world.
In June our family gathered for a week in Niles, MI, for the annual Troyer Family Vacation. Thankfully, we had a pool, game room, basketball court, fire pit and dirt bikes to keep the kids busy.
July‘s highlight was our road trip to Boyne, MI with Matt, Nat and the boys. Phil’s friend and client, Joe D’Italia blessed us with a delicious dinner at the Dam Site Inn.
In August we rebuilt my parents’ driveway posts with much help from Matt, my brother Chris and his wife, Jen and our nephew Gabe. Lots of laughs and paint in places it shouldn’t have been. Phil and I took a road trip to Fairfield Glade, TN with our daughter-in-law Abby and the three kiddos.
September included watching kids for Bohms and spending time with Alex and Elena and their four children. Eric, Abby and kids came for a weekend so Phil and Eric made a hillbilly pool with a tarp and our pick up truck which was a huge hit. We spent a weekend with my BSU girlfriends and their husbands at Pretty Lake.
I went back to AZ in October to help with kids. A few of my Ben Davis HS girlfriends came to Ft Wayne for the weekend. Lots of laughs and fun in spite of COVID.
November featured lots of ZOOM meetings and FaceTime calls, a Goon bonfire, the presidential election, Thanksgiving dinner with Phil’s mom.
We celebrated Phil’s mom’s 90th birthday in December, enjoyed dinners out with some of the Goons, enjoyed A Very Merry Prairie at Conner Prairie with our Indy kids and grandkids. December also marked the passing of my dear friend’s husband (frontotemporal dementia/degeneration). We were blessed to celebrate Christmas in sunny Arizona.
No matter where we went or who we were with the conversations revolved around these topics: covid, masks, social distancing, gatherings, medicine, illnesses, cancer, hospitals and the presidential election, racial injustices, finances, and the future. Some were heated. Some were calm. Everyone seems to be on their last nerve. It’s hard to see life through someone else’s lenses but we need to try.
There has been and continues to be shaming on all sides. Republicans vs. Democrats. Democrats vs. Republicans. Masks vs. no-masks. Gatherings vs. no gatherings. Vaccines or no-vaccines. In spite of everything, including the hate we have seen on tv, it’s been a good but hard year.
Reflecting on the final days of 2020, I choose to focus on:
Faith in God.
Loving God, my family, my friends and my neighbors well.
Plugging in to our new communities.
Hearing and listening well.
The hope of Jesus returning soon.
May God continue to work through us to bring hope and joy to our weary world. He promised He will never leave us or forsake us. I am counting on Him.
Do you have people who only contact you when they want something?
Of course, you do. We all have people like that in our lives. You know them. Those people who never call or text except when they want something from you. Their only contact is when they are in need. It is wearying, isn’t it?
Before we start pointing fingers, let’s reflect a bit. Do you suppose God feels the same way about us? I mean, how many times do we ignore or forget about Him until we need something from Him? Is our only communication with Him when we need Him to do something for us? I wonder if God ever sighs and says, “I wish they would talk to me without only wanting something from me”?
Admittedly, I am often guilty of presenting my wish list to God like a little child does to the mall Santa Claus. Relationships are two way. Listening and speaking. Speaking and listening. If I only talked to my friends when I wanted something from them, I don’t think they would consider me a true friend. A relationship with God is also two way. His word tells us to go to Him for everything. His word tells us to listen to Him as well.
May we not be guilty of going to God only when we are in need. May we go to Him at all times. Day or night – with genuine praise, with conversations, with songs of praise, with tears of joy and of those of sorrow, when we are fearful, when we are happy, when we are mad, when we are anxious. May we quiet our hearts to listen for His voice. May we read His Words. May we cultivate a growing relationship with Him. He’s ready and waiting. Only and always for you and for you and for you and for you…
I must have been 4 or 5 years old. My mother’s family gathered at Grandma and Grandpa Strader’s house on Holly Avenue. There was a gift exchange which I don’t remember details except that I received a punch-out cardstock playhouse. Never before had I owned such a beautiful craft. I cared for that little paper playhouse like it was made of diamonds and gold. I wish I knew what happened to it but my guess is it eventually ended up in the trash.
A paper playhouse. Inexpensive. Disposable. Yet it is remembered with great fondness.
Many people exchange gifts during the Christmas holiday. It’s interesting how quickly we forget where the gifts came from and possibly what the gift was – unless it has special meaning.
God gave us a Christmas gift. A gift with special meaning. A gift that doesn’t end up in the trash heap. It’s even better than “the Jelly of Month Club, Clark – that’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year”. God’s gift lasts forever.
What’s the catch? We have to accept His gift. We have to make it ours. He gives. We receive. Simple yet difficult.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
May you receive the gift of eternal life through God’s gift of His Son this Christmas. It is the most meaningful gift you will ever receive.
We celebrated my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday yesterday with a drive-by event at our church. We set up a 3-sided tent with a propane two-burner heater and a “chair” throne. We didn’t count the number of people who drove by to offer their birthday wishes to Pauline but it was a wonderful turn out. We want to thank everyone who showed up or sent her a card. She sincerely appreciates each of you. (And – I want to thank my high school girlfriends for sending her cards and you don’t even know her – you girls rock!)
Pauline handed out kindness coins and the family gave Cookie Cottage cookies to all attendees. It was a great ninety minutes for a great ninety year old with a great sphere of influence.
I can only hope for half of the energy Pauline has. She runs circles around me. She sews, paints greeting cards, gardens, mows her humongous lawn, does her own grocery shopping, plans and purchases Christmas gifts for all of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She doesn’t miss acknowledging our birthdays, graduations, weddings, babies or anniversary. She’s traveled around the world with one of her sisters-in-law packing only a carry-on bag. She labored hard in the potato and onion fields alongside her husband and children, taught kindergarten at Laotto Elementary School and finished her professional career at Farmers & Merchants Bank. Pauline’s volunteer life included teaching Sunday school and CYC at Laotto Wesleyan Church (now Cultivate Church), “chalk talks” for banquets, clubs, special meetings, etc. She was the “song leader” for many years as well as the Women’s Ministry. One of her most noted gifts was being Raggedy Ann and Andy with her daughter, Paula. They performed their skits/singing for the Laotto Volunteer Fire Department’s Annual Christmas Show, as well as in parades and at many other events. Pauline has given her time, talents and gifts with many, many people over many, many years. But more importantly, she is known as one who loves and lives for Jesus.
One of the framed prints we bought for the party highlighted what 90 years equals: 9 decades, 1080 months, 4,696 weeks, 32,872 days, 788,923 hours, 47,335,388 minutes and 2,840,123,250. When reduced to those numbers and seen in print, life is shockingly limited. None of us knows how many days or minutes we will enjoy life here so we need to make our moments count. We don’t know if the conversation we had today with our friend or family member is our last or if we will have many more to enjoy.
Only God knows whether I will live to be 90 so I want to live each day of my life like it could be my last. I want to make opportunities to be with those I love. I want to choosing people over things. I don’t want to live in fear. Our family lovingly jokes that “Gigi” is like a cat – with at least nine lives. She’s had multiple accidents, a variety of broken bones, open heart surgery and the woman is not afraid of anything that I can think of. I swear she has lived 120 years of experiences in her 90 years.
Friends, some of us live every day of our life completely alive while others of us are only existing. What a difference we can make no matter how old we are when we live a fearless life of giving and serving.
May God bless my mother-in-law with as many more years as she would like. May we consider the number of our days and choose to live them fully. Only God knows the difference we are making.
Do you have a treasured memory of your grandparents?
Because of divorce, I had multiple grandparents. The Coopers, Straders and Pearsons. I have fond yet blurred memories of each of them. My mom, sister Karen, brother Bill and I lived with Grandma and Grandpa Strader after my parents divorced.
Thursday was grocery night. Grandma and Grandpa would come home with all sorts of goodies. On many grocery nights, my Grandpa Strader and I would share a jar of pickled pigs feet. Pickled pigs feet! Yikes! I can barely type these words without gagging now. My Grandpa also peeled grapes for me. He must have had the patience of Job. I don’t remember not liking the peels so I don’t know why he did it but he did.
On nights when Dick the Bruiser wrestling matches and high school basketball tournaments were televised, my Grandma Strader would pop a huge bowl of corn and let the three of us kids have our own full-size bottle of Pepsi. We felt like royalty in their home. Loved and treasured.
Phil and I have tried to make lasting memories with our children and grandchildren. The photo is from Pirate Night during our annual Troyer Family Vacation. We are blessed with thirteen funny, talented, adventurous, lively, precious, ornery pirates ranging in age from six months to fifteen years old.
We want our family to have fond memories long after we are gone. The most important memory we hope they will have of us is that we loved God with our whole heart, soul and mind AND that we loved our family. Even the times we blew it.
Family legacies and memories are important. Although I have good memories of my grandparents, I have no memories of faith discussions with them. Therefore, a legacy of passing the baton of faith to the next generation is even more important to me. The prayer the Lord taught Aaron to pray over his sons in the Old Testament book of Numbers is part of the The Blessing sung by Kari Jobe:
The Lord bless you and keep you;the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
May His favor be upon you and a thousand generations and Your family and your children and their children, and their children
May we pass on memories of God’s faithfulness to our children and their children and their children… It’s not too late to start today.
Honestly, I have sensed an urgency recently. An underlying deep sense of urgency. I don’t know why. Maybe it is my age or possibly God has laid something on my heart. An urgency to know my people know Jesus. I’ve been listening to teachings on the end times – and these are not the “scare-people-to-Jesus” kind of teachings. I cringe thinking of those and don’t like the scare tactics that are all too familiar in some Christian circles. Jesus didn’t scare anyone to follow Him. He simply asked people to, “Follow me.” He said it thirteen times in the Bible. The apostle Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”. That is my goal – to do my part in leading my family, friends and loved ones to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
Life is generally hard and is getting harder with the restrictions, fears and concerns with Covid-19. I have been trying to discern what is God wants to teach me. It boils down to this – nothing is more important than knowing, loving and living for Him. If I am not living for Him, I am not living.
Friends, there is no more important decision you will ever make than the one to follow Jesus. You can own cars, homes, diamonds, guns, clothes, boats, trophies, stuff, stuff, and more stuff and it is meaningless without Jesus. I don’t know how much time I have left here on our beautiful planet earth. I don’t know how much time you have left either. I want to make the best use of my remaining time. I want to reach my goal of celebrating eternity in heaven with those I love in the presence of the One who loves us most. The One who gave His life for us. Jesus. The Name above all names.
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
May our goal be to live in such a manner that anyone who comes near us will understand the only way to God is through Jesus and they will want to follow Him, too.
p.s. My pastor’s sermon at Cultivate Church was excellent this week about intentional family kingdom building. Click here to watch/listen.
What have you had to cancel during 2020 due to Covid-19?
Let’s see. So far these come to mind: church services, March Madness, family gatherings, birthday parties, vacations, girlfriend weekends, hair color and cut appointments, anniversary celebrations, funerals, weddings, in-person school, trick-or-treating, fireworks, fall festivals, art festivals, public pools, playgrounds, parades, movies, baby showers, wedding showers, theater presentations, homecoming activities, mission trips, nursing home and hospital visitation. Whew! I am getting sadder as I am typing this list.
We have cancelled so many normal activities of the year due to Covid-19. “Cancel” has become a normal part of life and I don’t like it one little bit. Being an Enneagram 7, cancelling ANYTHING is a punch in the gut to me.
There is one thing worth cancelling. Sin. Because of what Jesus has done for me, my sin is cancelled. Gone. Forever. Remembered no more. Cancelled. And I am grateful and thankful.
“He forgave us all our trespasses, having canceled the debt ascribed to us in the decrees that stood against us. He took it away, nailing it to the cross!” Colossians 2:13b-14
“Repent, then, and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped away.” Acts 3:19
Has your sin been cancelled, too? It’s so simple that we often make it hard. We need to acknowledge our sin and with a contrite heart ask God to forgive us. No fancy, religious words are required. It can be as simple as, “God, I have sinned against You, my friends, my family and my co-workers. Forgive me and give me a new start. Cancel my sin, please. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” If we ask, He will cancel our sin. We become a new person.
May we seek to have anything that does not lead us to eternal life canceled.