A family outing to Cirque De Soleil's "A Magical Cirque Christmas" at The National Theatre in DC. 

My seat was dead center, with no one sitting in front of me. Short as I am, what an unexpected blessing that turned out to be.

A very generous early Christmas present from my daughter--an iPhone to replace my Android, so I can Facetime with my great-grands who I don't get to see very often. It also has a great camera, which I'm hoping will motivate me to get out more and start taking pictures again.

The first couple of test photos did not disappoint.

Last year we had to cancel Christmas because my daughter, son-in-law, and a couple of grandkids came down with Covid. This year, however, we all managed to stay healthy, and by God's grace, the weather forecast turned out to be wrong. They were calling for a large snow storm, to be followed by icy rain, which would have made travel treacherous if not impossible, but we were spared, and with the exception of one very cold day, the rest were beautiful and sunny. 

This is my grand-doggie, Oliver, who likes to chew things. He was grounded to the sofa the one day he was here, but he did not protest. Just watched us wistfully as we ate and opened gifts. (There were gifts for him too.)

There are many cute pictures I would have liked to share, but I am not allowed to post pictures of my two little great-granddaughters--except for facelesss ones like the one towards the end of this post. However, here is one of my daughter who was quite surprised to find her Christmas stockng filled with money, all the way down to the toe, and a couple of an older cousin showing her younger ones how to play with their toys.

These are my three New Jersey grandchildren who drove down (with my son and duaghter-in-law) to join us for a second celerbation the day after Christmas. I had not seen them in person since the pandemic. Well, I do see the granddaughter on a family book club Zoom every six weeks, but the boys--I hardly recognized them. They have changed so much.

Little Nico, my youngest geat-grandson, was the hit of both days. He got lots of cuddles as he was passed around from person to person. Everyone wanted a chance to hold him, including his big New Jersey cousin who was in awe that he actually did get a turn. It was the first time he had ever held a baby, he said, and I love this picture of the two of them. 

While the older kids ended the day playing games around the table, the two little great-grand girls went out to explore the woods behind my daughter's house. Soon they were back knocking on the door excited to show us what they had found. Wish I could show you the priceless looks on their faces, but I need to honor their paents' wishes, so this will have to do.

I am so grateful for my family, and that we were able to get together this year (except for the ones in Florida). Lots of happy memories were made.

And now it's time to wish you all a very Happy New Year. May the Lord bless you with the gifts of peace, joy, favor, and GOOD Health!



is post was written for Five Minute Friday
Word prompt--INSTANT
Five minutes to free write about it

To be honest, it took me much longer than five minutes just to decide which way to go with this prompt. INSTANT meaning the desire for instant gratification? Or INSTANT meaning living in a rush-rush world where technology has made so many things instant, where we have grown impatient and want everything now? Or, INSTANT meaning the things that can happen in the blink of an eye? 

I decided to go with the latter, because the unexpectedness of life has been much on my mind lately. I've been pondering how it only takes an instant for our circumstances to change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst. I personally have experienced many wonderful surprises, but also some challenging and even tragic ones when things I had taken for granted could not be taken for granted anymore. 

I think Albert Einstein had it right when he said, "The only thing we can be certain of in this life is that we can be certain of nothing." 

Well, he almost had it right. There is one thing we can be certain of, and that is that God is faithful and His Word is true. We can be certain that even when it may not look like it in the natural, He is in control, and we can put our trust in Him. We can be certain that He loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us on the cross, and that in the instant we chose to accept His gift of salvation, we are forgiven of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life. 

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, NIV

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. -- Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. -- Romans 6:23, NIV



in every situation [no matter what the
circumstances] be thankful and continually
give thanks to God; for this is the will of 
God for you in Christ Jesus. 
(1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP)

This year has brought many unexpected challenges my way, but I've learned that no matter how bleak things may look, there is always something to be grateful for. God has been faithful and true, and has blessed me beyond measure.

When I wake up in the morning, I no longer just take it for granted. I am thankful for the gift of this new day, and that despite the pressure a hiatal hernia puts on my diaphragm, causing me to sometimes be short of breath, my oxygen level is good and I can still breathe unaided. I also thank the Lord that l can see, and hear, and walk, and that despite my aches and pains, I am not confined to a wheelchair or in need of a cane or a walker. 

What I've learned is that sometimes all it takes is a little change of perspective to find something to be thankful for in a frustrating circumstance. When I start feeling upset about no longer being able to drive at night, for example, I think of what a blessing it is that I can still drive during the day. And when I feel tired and overwhelmed and wishing that I didn't have to work anymore, I remind myself of how blessed I am to have a job, and that at my age I am still able to live independently on my own.

On this Thanksgiving day I felt very grateful that the weather forecast turned out to be wrong. Instead of rain, we had a beautiful sunshine day with temperatures in the high 50's. 

My grandson offered to pick me up and give me a ride to and from my daughter's house so I wouldn't need to leave early to get home before dark. I was very grateful for his offer, and sitting in the car I thought of what a blessing my family is, and how grateful I am to have lived long enough to see seven grandchildren and six great-grands added to the two children I started out with. Who would have thought.

There were eight of us around the table today. My daughter cooked a most delicious meal, and there were more than enough left overs for all. As I prepared a care package to take home, I thought of how blessed we were to have such an abundance of food and to never have known what it's like to go hungry or to lack shelter or clean water to drink.

I hardly took any pictures today, but my daughter took this one of me getting in a cuddle with great-grandson #6, Nico.

Nico has a two-year-old brother, and although this picture was not taken today, it's one of my favorites of the two of them.

For me, this has been a very blessed day, and I hope that all of you who also celebrate Thanksgiving on November 24th have had a happy Thanksgiving as well.



The fall colors have been so spectacular this year, they gave me some much needed incentive to take some short walks with my camera.  

Most of the shots were taken around my parking lot and the outside of our property...

...except for the pumpkin display in front of our local Giant grocery store and these fascinating (to me) trees bordering the Harris Teeter parking lot that I don't recall ever seeing with colored leaves on them before. 

Does anyone know what they are? Evergreens that decided they were tired of being green and decided to try some color this year? How is that even possible?

The bike park that was being built next to my complex was finally completed. These pictures were taken from my parking lot, but I can watch the kids doing their tricks from my balcony as well. 

A few more favorite sights are these colorful patios in my development, a little boy's car parked in our parking lot that always makes me smile every time I pass it by, and the scarecrow sitting on a bench outside our library who I almost forgot to include. He also makes me smile.



This post was written for Five Minute Friday
Word prompt--WHILE
Five minutes to free write about it

Livestream opened up so many new doors at the beginning of the pandemic that I didn't miss going to church. Being able to attend a service in the comfort of my home was very appealing, and since distance and location were no longer issues, I was also able to visit other churches that I could never have done before the advent of this techology.

Eventually, lockdowns were lifted and people started drifting back, but I wasn't one of them. I had many excuses. Our old pastor had gone off to pastor a different church shortly before Covid, and many of my friends in the congregation had moved on to different churches as well; my home group had disbanded; so much had changed I no longer felt connected. Every now and then I did feel a tiny stirring to go back, but it never lasted long

While I rationalized, the Lord was patient; while I questioned what difference it made if I attended in person or virtually, the Lord was longsuffering; and even though I kept dilly-dallying, the Lord never gave up on me. 

This morning I was awakened by a text from a friend. I tried to go back to sleep, but no sooner had I rolled over when there was another text. This one from a prayer partner who no longer regularly attends our church. He said he was going to visit the prayer room during the first service should I care to join him. 

As I quickly threw on some clothes, I thought of how before Covid and before our old pastor left, there was always a group of prayer team members who would gather in the prayer room to pray during the services. Apparently that is no longer the case.  Still, I decided to go.

When I got there, I was surprised by the new look of the room. Someone did a great job of redecorating. It had a very warm, inviting look. The old furniture was all gone--all of it except for the one chair I used to sit on and that had become known as "Sandy's chair." It looked so out of character now in the midst of the rest of the decor and, given its condition, I wondered what it was still doing there. Did the Lord know I would eventually be back and this was His way of giving me a personal welcome home and letting me know that He was not done with me yet?

You see, that chair had become much more to me than just a chair when I had a near death experience and it was found lying on its side with a broken leg and a crack in its back shortly after I was admitted to the hospital. Someone had put it in a corner to be discarded with the trash. However, before that happened, it was rescued and restored by one of the maintenance guys. My friend told me about it when he came to visit, and said he strongly believed it was symbolic of my total healing as well.

Today felt like old times even though it was just the two of us. After reminiscing about the chair for a while and examining the scars it still bears, we prayed for the pastors and the congregation, for revival, and for the Spirit of the Lord to fill this house. We also prayed for the prayer room to be filled once again with prayer warriors praying, and with people coming in for prayer.