Sunday, November 29, 2020

Weekend Words

 From Be Still and Know - Millie Stamm

I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (Exodus 3:6)

This year is drawing to a close.  Soon we will begin a new year, one filled with new opportunities, new situations, new joys, new experiences of living.

With the uncertainty of these days, not knowing what the future holds, it is reassuring to know that the God of this past year will become our God of the new year.

In the above scripture verse we note three aspects of God that will encourage us as we look into the new year.  God said to Moses, "I am the God of they father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."  He is the GOD of the PAST.  As he had been with Abraham, Issac and Jacob in the past, He promised to be with Moses.

As we look back in the past year, we recognize He has been our God of the past, meeting every need, even at times when we may not have understood how He was working.  "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us" (1 Samuel 7:12).

He said to Moses, "I AM come down to deliver them" (Exodus 3:8).  The God of the past is the GOD of the PRESENT.  He who had worked for us in the past will work for us in the new year.  He promises, "I will be your God for the year before you."  He is ready to come down and deliver us in the midst of each need next year.  The psalmist said, "For thou art great, and DOEST (present tense, today) wondrous things: thou art God alone" (Psalm 86:10).

In Exodus 3:10 God said to Moses, "Come now therefore, and I will send thee."  He is the GOD of the FUTURE.  He invites us to come to Him in the future, so He can continue to send us out to do His will and walk in the paths He has prepared for us, not only today, but in the days ahead.

He is the God of your past; the God of your future; the God of your present: the God of your today.


This devotional book was first published in 1978 and talks about "the uncertainty of these days, not knowing what the future holds", thoughts that I'm sure are still with us in these current days also.  But, remember Jesus words... 

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

Be still, my soul, the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain
Be still, my soul, Thy best, thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end

Be still, my soul, thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake
All now mysterious shall be bright at last... 

- Katharina Von Schlegel

Monday, November 23, 2020

Mostly garden

 A busy time in the garden the early part of last week, then a couple of slowed down days with headaches.

Here's what has been happening...

I've been working on redoing the brick edging in my front garden.  Standing the bricks on their sides (left edging) rather than as they had been - on their flat (right edging)...

And also redesigning the new bed I made recently.  You can see how big it had been by where the new grass is growing in, but I didn't want that much garden, so made it into a narrower, rectangular bed, two bricks high.  It didn't look right as the other edgings were curved, and single brick, so I re-did it, curving the edge, and making it one brick high.  Now all I need to do is plant something in it...

An unfinished project is this side garden...
overgrown garden bed, brick paving and gravel bed

I'm moving the bricks...

And hope to eventually put it all back to grass so I can just mow it...

But then I had to find somewhere to put the bricks...
in front of the woodshed

And in my spare time?!?

Two of the Christmas blankets are finished...

And the third one is well underway...

Doing some Christmas shopping...

Making tomato relish with the last of the tomatoes in the freezer...

And banana, blackberry and white choc chip muffins...

it's the prequel to the Red River of the North series, some of which I read years ago

And on my walks...
these poppies were growing under a power pole by the side of the road 

Peace and calm at the river...

The sky is looking black, and there are ominous thunder rumblings (glad I mowed the grass this morning!).  I doubt we will get much rain, but I'm hoping enough so I don't need to water the garden.

Catch'ya next time!


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Weekend Words

 From Beside the Still Waters devotional...

Good Master or Lord - Read: Mark 10:17-34

Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? - Mark 10:17

One day a man was helping me with a repair project.  He made the comment that he wants to live his life in such a way that when the good Lord takes him home, people will remember him for the good things he has done.  In our continuing conversation, it became obvious that the man considered it optional to be honest in paying taxes and in some other matters.

The expression 'the good Lord' is similar to "Good Master", the title used by the rich young ruler who came running to Jesus with a question.  Jesus wasn't flattered by the title.  He saw the man's heart and answered his question in such a way that he walked away disappointed.  All the good things he had done were commendable, but when Jesus asked him to sell his possessions, the ruler was not willing.

In sharp contrast is one of the thieves crucified with Jesus.  He hadn't lived a life of good deeds, and he hadn't kept the commandments from his youth.  He made a confession before a mocking crowd and to his fellow thief on the other cross.  "Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?"  Then to Jesus he said, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom."  Jesus didn't question him about the title "Lord".  Jesus saw his heart and promised that he would go to paradise.

The rich young ruler found that all the good he had done wasn't great enough to gain eternal life.  The thief on the cross found that all the evil he had done wasn't too great for Jesus to pardon.  The key question was (and still is), Have we made Jesus out "Lord" or do we just call Him "Good Master"?

Darrell Richard - Goshen, IN

To call Christ Lord is to acknowledge that He has the full right to govern our lives.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Weekend Words

This is quite long, but I wanted to post it all.  If you don't have time to read it now, do come back later :)

I bought this devotional book recently.  It has short morning and evening devotions and I am really enjoying reading it.  Here are two from this week...

A Morning devotional....

A Welcome Pursuit

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. -Psalm 9:10 NIV

The Lord has made Himself known. - Psalm 9:6 NASB

Chase fame, power, accomplishments, or social status, and you may discover that the more you have, the more unstable you feel.  Try to fill your innermost needs with wealth, relationships, or activities, and you will probably find yourself with a greater sense of dissatisfaction than you have ever felt before.  Attempt to escape your sorrows with food, alcohol, or other substances, and the gnawing emptiness within you will only increase.

Yet pursue God, and the doors of joy and fulfillment will spring open.  Not only does he give you a firm place to stand and satisfy your soul, but he also fills your life with his presence, love, and purpose.  Seek him with all of your heart, therefore, because you will certainly find what you are looking for.

God, I want to know you more - teach me your ways.  Thank you that when I seek you, I find everything I need and all that my heart desires.  Amen.


An Evening devotional...

Don't Lose Your Focus

Our eyes look to the Lord our God. - Psalm 123:2 ESV

I lift my eyes to you, the One enthroned in heaven...Show us favor, Lord. - Psalm 123:1, 3 HCSB

Everything changes when you set your focus on God.  You filter every situation through the knowledge you have of him.

Is any problem too hard for him?  No.  Can he use every circumstance for your good and his glory? Yes.  Because nothing is impossible for God, every challenge you encounter is just another opportunity to see his mighty work in your life - building your confidence in him.  Unfortunately, sometimes you lose your focus.  It's so easy to do - especially when trouble arises that you didn't expect.  It can even be something small - a flat tyre, a bill that's difficult to pay, an irritating issue.  Suddenly you're wondering, God, where are you?  God hasn't moved; your focus has - and you must turn your attention back to him.  Because he's still bigger than your problems and will certainly help you.

God, help me to keep my eyes on you!  I praise you that nothing is ever too difficult for you and that you use everything for my good and your glory.  Amen.


And this poem from some literature I picked up at church this morning...

Which fits in with this email I received this morning just before church.  If you are a regular reader you may remember me mentioning Tarica and Stephanie's emails before.  I have also posted some here.  Please pray for Tarica, her family, and her healing.  You can also subscribe to receive Stephanie's email updates.  Contact details at end of email...

077: Looking for Miracles As We Go

If there is going to be bad weather anywhere between Altoona and Pittsburgh, we’ll find it on the barren stretches on Route 22 north of Johnstown. Snow, rain, sleet, high winds—we’ve driven through it all. That morning, the morning I write of now, we were driving through heavy fog mixed with light rain.

The poet Carl Sandburg wrote, “The fog comes / on little cat feet.” He was writing about city fog, not Allegheny Mountain fog. No dainty tiptoeing in these mountains. The fog had lumbered in, as graceful as a walrus, and the worst of it was sitting on the road in front of me, dizzying and disorienting. That stretch of 22 already looks identical for mile after mile, but the fog concealed even the faintest clues of our westward progress.

Tarica slept in the passenger seat beside me, not even waking when she had a seizure. It felt like we were the only people in the world, the two of us, driving through the fog in a little bubble of visibility.

We weren’t supposed to be driving to Pittsburgh. She should have been in math class; I should have been at home with Gairett. But nearly a week before, she had climbed out of the van without her helmet on and promptly had a seizure. She went down like an ancient oak and smashed the right side of her head into the pavement. In the hours that followed, she developed the now-familiar symptoms of a concussion. We monitored her closely, kept her home from school, and prescribed plenty of rest. She seemed to be recovering.

Except for one thing: she could hear nothing but ringing in her right ear. When her ear didn’t improve, I messaged her doctor to see if we should be concerned.

And that is why we were driving to Pittsburgh in the fog, bound for Children’s Hospital and a head scan.

It’s such a cliché to say my heart was heavy, but there was a physical weight in my chest, as if all the seizures of the past month had accumulated there. I was running out of room to hold them all and the pain that came with them.

Sleeping off a seizure

Tarica slept on, barely stirring in the stop-and-go traffic jam caused by an accident. A second seizure finally woke her. When she was coherent, I asked her to describe the ringing in her ear. I needed up-to-date information when we walked into the Emergency Department.  

She lifted her hand to her ear. “It’s still ringing, but I can hear out of it now.”

I almost hit the brakes. “You what? You can hear? In your right ear?” I dared to look away from the fog and studied her. She had the faraway expression of someone taking internal inventory. “Are you saying that when you fell asleep, you couldn’t hear out of that ear—and now you can?”

Yes, she was saying exactly that.

The day before, Linford and I had decided to give her one more night with the frogs and test her hearing in the morning. If she failed the test, we’d go to Pittsburgh. She failed it. Why couldn’t she hear two hours ago and now she could? I think this is where I started laughing, although it was more from incredulity than hilarity.

We were close enough to Pittsburgh that we kept going. At the hospital, several doctors gave her a neurological exam and said she looked fine. She heard all the sounds she was supposed to hear, despite the continued ringing. At first, they wanted to do a head scan, but after further discussion, they said it wasn’t necessary. So we went home.

I spent the next hour feeling silly. All this worrying and driving and rearranging of schedules for nothing. If we had stayed home, her hearing would have quietly returned on its own.

And then I remembered the ten lepers who asked Jesus for healing. He sent them to see the priest, and as they went, they were healed.

As they went.

One man turned back and glorified God with a loud voice. He fell at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. One man out of ten.

I could feel foolish over what seemed like a wasted trip and go on my way like the nine—or I could stop and praise God like the one.

I’ve often wondered what it means to glorify God. How do we live for His glory? I don’t wonder anymore. Glorifying God means that in moments like these, when things come together in apparent happenstance and coincidence, I will stop and say, “This is God at work. He is here. This is what He has done.” I will credit Him for things that could be explained away, and when unbelievers would claim luck, I will claim His power. Why not? I lose nothing and gain a strengthened faith. I need my faith as strong as possible, because His healing so far has extended only to her ear and not to her brain.

If we do not do this—if we do not stand up and kneel down and declare that God is working—the rocks themselves might start to proclaim it. God is already here and everywhere, but we humans are the ones who call attention to His presence. Without our voices raised in praise, He will go unnoticed and unacclaimed. This is what it means to give Him glory—to see Him working and to tell others about it.

With God, nothing is left to chance. Today, I turn back and seize the hem of Jesus and thank Him, over and over, for restoring her hearing. For sparing her more tests and more worry. This is enough to get me through today.

Two weeks later, I learned that, while she slept in the passenger seat, a prayer meeting was held in the third and fourth grade classroom, and two third graders prayed for her.


Of course not.

God heard, and He healed her as we went.

It is not good. I don’t know if it’s the seizures or the drugs or the concussions—or some lethal combination of the three—but we are losing pieces of her every week. Her balance and coordination are disappearing. She can no longer walk in a straight line or use a spoon neatly. I think this collage of her handwriting taken from lessons done on the first, seventh, and ninth weeks of school demonstrates too well her deterioration.
I’ve heard that epilepsy is called the silent disorder, because epilepsy usually isn’t obvious unless a seizure happens in front of you. But if you were to meet Tarica now, you would know something wasn’t right. The helmet would be your first clue, but you would quickly see more clues.

We are waiting on Pittsburgh to give us a surgery date. She is going to have a device implanted in her skull that will be attached to two electrodes in her brain close to the seizure source. The device—called an RNS—can be trained to recognize brain activity that leads to a seizure and use electricity to stop it. While no one is promising seizure freedom, the doctors hope for fewer seizures on fewer meds. They consider her an ideal candidate for the procedure. We’ve been burned too many times to invest all our hopes in this, but we clearly see the hand of God leading us here and feel peace about it.

By the way, I know when we see people hurting we want to help, but please don’t send treatment suggestions. Right now I cannot handle pressure to try this or that. I’ve been researching epilepsy for years. If we have chosen not to pursue a treatment option, it is because we have a good reason not to.

Underneath everything, she is still our sweet Tarica. She still smiles and smiles; she still loves people. She never fails to notice someone’s new sweater or cute baby, although she might walk into a wall while commenting on it. She wants so badly to be like everyone else and asks me why God doesn’t answer her prayers. I would call her courageous, but courage is what happens when you don’t have a choice.
Waiting for a favorite nurse’s shift to begin

The other night, Linford said to me as I was putting away folded clothes, “It’s been a long time since I posted an update on Tarica. What do you think about mentioning her birthday and suggesting that people could send cards? She would be over the moon if she got a whole mailbox full.”

I nearly dropped a stack of socks as I swung to face him. “You won’t believe this, but I was thinking about doing the same thing for Serendipity.”


I’ll let you decide.

I would feel funny asking for anyone else, but I will do anything to give her joy. And what makes her smile is people. Since we can’t invite you all over for birthday cake, I’m going to invite you into our mailbox. If you include a photo, she’ll claim you as her friends.

She turns 11 on November 18. I’m sorry I didn’t give you more warning. We’re focused on survival here, and I have little time to write. But don’t worry about the timing; belated birthday wishes will still make her smile.

Send joy to this address:
Tarica Leinbach
521 Cooney Lane
Altoona, PA 16601

Please pray for her. Perhaps as we go, a miracle will find her.
Copyright © 2020 Stephanie J. Leinbach, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this because you subscribed to Serendipity.

Our mailing address is:
Stephanie J. Leinbach
521 Cooney Lane
AltoonaPa 16601

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Thursday, November 12, 2020

November Yarn Along


My bout of recent headaches is over, and I survived the dental work on Monday.  I do have to go back in two weeks for more, but the worst (the extraction) is over.  Getting back on track this week with walks, garden work, crocheting, reading...

Christmas gifts are coming along...

blanket 1 is finished

Blanket 2 is almost finished...

sewing together and doing border rows

Reading Home Fires Beneath the Northern Lights...

reminiscent of the Little House books

And enjoying my latest Ladies Journal with my morning coffee...

Down at the river...

The hawthorn are blooming...

In my garden...
baby apples on the tree

And because it's almost summer here and getting hotter, I am dreaming of autumn already, so sending you a photo Natasha sent me of autumn in Connecticut...

early on a foggy morning

Here's the Yarn Along link

Happy days!


Sunday, November 8, 2020

Weekend Words

 I've had 4 days of on again off again headaches, so couldn't get a general post on last week.  Tomorrow (Monday) I have an appointment to have some dental work done.  Depending how that goes, I will try and get back in the next few days with a post (including Yarn Along).

Two of my devotional readings this week...

From Beside the Still Waters...

Right Relationships - Read Romans 12

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. - Romans 12:18

We are social beings who like to relate to others.  It is interesting to watch how people interact with one another.  Some are outgoing, others are more reserved, and a few aren't friendly at all.  Some love people and use things, others love things and use people.

The Bible has much to say about relating to one another.  Jesus is the perfect example of teaching and showing unselfish love for everyone.  He said, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12).  What a high calling - to love as Jesus loved!  Love should govern my relationships with family members and neighbours, with employers or employees, and with the man who steps on my toes or gives me a bad business deal.  Jesus said we should love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44), and today's Bible reading admonishes, "If thine enemy hunger, feed him."

How is our love towards our brother and sister in the church?  In 1 Peter 1:22 we have a work order from God: "See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently."  This means having a strong, godly love and making sure we demonstrate it.  Verse 9 in today's Bible reading says, "Let love be without dissimulation."  That means not just pretending to love, but loving genuinely from the heart.

If we are married God has words for us.  "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them" (Colossians 3:18-19).  Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving, which feeds good relationships.  Let us seriously consider: Are my relationships right according to God's standards?

Cleason Martin - Stratton, ON

But the greatest of these is love.

From A Year's Journey with God...

Radiating God's love

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. - 1 John 4:11-12

I was travelling on the London Underground at the height of the rush hour.  All day I'd been in a church full of happy Christians, but how different were the faces that surrounded me now!  They looked stressed, bored and devoid of hope.  Probably the only contact most of them had with Jesus - who came to give them peace and joy - was to use His name as a swear word.  He must long for people like that to know how much He loves them, but the only way He has of connecting with them is through you and me.

So do we all have to start preaching on the Underground?  No way!  My bedroom radiator feels ice-cold at night, but once the central heating boiler has rumbled into action, hot water begins to trickle into it and I know I can safely get up and dress beside its cosy warmth.  It is not the radiator itself that warms me, but the water inside it.  When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we can introduce people to Jesus simply by 'radiating' the warmth of His love to everyone we meet.  By nature, we might be cold and unloving, but it is His supernatural love that touches them.

Jesus, it was not what you said that impressed people most, it was the love that they saw in your eyes, your smile, the way you treated them; these were the ways you showed them what God's love is like.  Please fill my heart with that same love and help me to 'radiate' it to everyone I encounter today.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Weekend Words

 From Our Daily Bread devotional...

Hope in the Desert

This is what the Lord says - he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  The wild animals honor me,  the jackals and the owls,  because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise."  - Isaiah 43:16-21

When I was a girl growing up in New Mexico, my dad would take our family on short road trips across desert highways.  I'd close my eyes and snooze once we left the city and entered miles and miles of desert.  It's just dry dirt.  Nothing grows there.  It's hot, dry, brown, and flat.  The desert: a place to be avoided at best or ignored at the very least.

It's easy to show up for beautiful experiences, but hard to not just sleep off the things we'd rather skip in life.

Maybe it's a situation that seems irreconcilable, a circumstance that continually chafes, or a trial that appears to have no end.  Maybe it's a season that feels like nothing living can survive and nothing new will ever grow.  It's hot.  Dry.  Unpleasant.  The desert makes us desperate for sustenance and provision in a way lush growth never could.

Perhaps that's why God chose to bring His people, the Israelites, into the desert before leading them to the Promised Land.  He could have easily made the journey quick and painless, ensuring an uplifted morale and enthusiastic praise.  Delivery and provision, all at once!  That's how we typically want God's help - right now and without difficulty.

But just as He demonstrated with His people in the desert, He's more interested in capturing our hearts, receiving our genuine worship, and proving Himself faithful rather than the provider of quick fixes or temporary solutions.  God purposes to give us Himself.  The "way" made in the wilderness for the children of God was much more than escape from their enslavers, safe passage through the Red Sea, the daily provision of manna, or entry into Canaan, the Promised Land.  It was a picture of the one way, truth, and life we would ultimately know through Jesus, our Way in the wilderness of sin and death.

When we have eyes to see it, there's so much beauty to behold in the desert!  It's lush with life that learns to survive on what He provides.  It's grand in its praise of the Master Creator.  It constantly whispers of His enduring faithfulness.  In a physical desert or a spiritual one, Jesus alone is the author of our hope - our balm and sustainer.

For those of us traversing what feels like wilderness, there is hope.  God leads us to the desert to reveal the stream only He can carve out of the wasteland.  He allows us to experience the deepest thirst so we can know the greatest satisfaction.  We may feel disoriented, but God makes a way in the wilderness.  In the desert, we find God undeniably sufficient in the face of the seemingly insurmountable. 

Whether our circumstances change or remain the same, whether we feel relief or not, whether we experience lush growth or press on in drought, we can hold fast to hope in Christ - the source of living water!  In Christ, we welcome a downpour of sustaining grace by way of redemption and see the beauty of the landscape He's led us to.  He's our only hope in every season...even in the desert.

Then, now, and always, God's primary purpose for the desert is to woo His people to Himself and to demonstrate His faithfulness.  He chose the desert then, and He uses it now to show us the beauty of hope - hope in Christ.  Stay awake, He has so much to show you in your desert season.

- Ruth Chou Simons

(photos from my 2020 calendars)