20,000 Days Together

20,000 Days Together —Don and I have reached another milestone. doncathyMost people celebrate the years, but aren’t the days really what count? Some days Don and I seem to finally be getting the hang of it. We enjoy each other more than ever, keenly aware that another day together is a gift and not a given. Others, not so much. There have countless good days and a fair share of bad ones too, some extraordinary,  but hundreds of ordinary days. Yet it has been good experiencing life’s stories together. It hasn’t always been easy. It still isn’t. It is work, and it is worth it. Doing life together with a spouse or kids, friend or family, with anyone in our life space makes us aware of our self-focused tendency to look out for ourselves and our need to love one another more.

As we approach our 55th in June, Don and I adamantly agree on one thing: the most important thing in life is relationships. Accumulating stuff just doesn’t matter that much anymore. Jesus said it first, that the main thing in life is to love God and to love those around us (our neighbors).

“‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.”                                                 Matthew 22:37,38 NLT

My closest neighbor for the past 20,000 days has been Don. It is still a daily challenge to love him as I do myself. But he and I both keep at it.

To celebrate this day, we offer this gift to you.  It is an idea we heard on a vlog from Susan Pierce Thompson. We try to end our day with positive words that help us notice and be thankful to God for the good things. Some nights the exercise takes 30 minutes; others it takes 30 seconds (when all he wants is to go to sleep). We have also had fun using the exercise on evenings with friends. I hope you will try it to enhance your relationships.

Take turns finishing these 3 phrases:

  1. What went well today…
  2. What I appreciate about you…
  3. What I want…

Here is what I say to my best friend Don as I finish this 20,000th day with you: What went well today was getting this blog posted. What I appreciate is that you told me you like the roasted cauliflower. I love your compliments. What I want are many more days loving God and loving people with you.

So how about your day? Will you share your thoughts with someone close by?

 

Happy 65th

pexels-photo-221361.jpegToday is my 65th birthday. But wait—don’t post Happy Birthday yet. I’ve been tootling around the earth almost 75 years. So whattzup?

Today I am celebrating my spiritual birthday, the day when my spirit was born again as I invited Jesus to come live inside me. I was 9 years old.  Did I understand what it all meant? Heavens no, but I knew enough to begin eternal life.

Things are not as they seem. There is a spiritual realm around us, invisible, yet more real and lasting than the world we experience with our physical senses. It is a marvelous Kingdom filled with treasures to discover and mysteries to solve.  I’ve spent 65 years exploring this Kingdom, getting to know my King who has given me a rich, satisfying life, even in a boatload of troubles. I’ve journaled our encounters. The stack is getting tall.

IMG_0010 – Version 2.jpgI’ve known His healing power since He delivered me from epilepsy after 15 years of seizures. I’ve felt His peace sweep away my grief in a cemetery while burying our son Cory years ago. I’ve recognized His miracles in our youngest grandkids, Mateo and Raquel, impossibilities to have be conceived. I see His kindness daily through Don, my love and biggest fan.

God’s Kingdom breaks through in extraordinary ways. He is also King of the ordinary, bringing pleasure in the simple things like the powdery flakes of snow falling from the skies.

These cold winter mornings I feel God’s closeness sitting in front of the fireplace with a cup of coffee, reading, talking with Him, journaling. It is the best part of my day. Then I go to work on the book I am finishing that details this lifetime of GodStories, and He keeps adding more stories in our lives.

Today I celebrate these amazing 65 years and how He is keeping me fresh and fully alive, thankful that He has promised to always be there. He is faithful.

I’m having a very Happy Birthday.

    * Can you explain the wind? God’s Spirit is invisible and real as the wind, as Jesus comments in John 3:3-8:

‘Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

 

How About You ?

Warm and sunny — sounds good to me❣️ How about you? 

We like to visit sunny Texas in the winter to enjoy our daughter Jenny and her family, not to mention escaping the cold for a few weeks. This morning as I sat looking out at our 11° day in IL, I saw a picture of how “going down south” was looking for us this winter.

IMG_4920-1I swiveled my chair to the south  and snapped a shot of our sunroom. Hmmm, perhaps “down south” is only a few steps down and a few feet south. Looking further, I could see the cold outdoors.

So I swiveled my chair to the southwest to picture the warmth of Texas in our fireplace.

 

IMG_4921-1Don had just left his recliner (two feet in front of the fire) meditating and rejoicing as the room soared to a Texas toasty 77°.  Then he put on his longjohns (and in his words “all the clothes I could find”) and headed to Springfield with 3 friends to pass out packs of new socks to the homeless.  While being out in 11° will be cold, unlike the homeless, Don will return to our warm home. Tonight he will be joyful, humble, and thankful to God.

How about you?

I sensed God showing me that these two photos also depict what it looks like to be closely connected to Jesus. Inside, we experience calming peace as we relax in the warming love of His Presence, confident He is right there to help us through anything.

Yet, outside, we are surrounded by a world that is often bitterly cold, and we get pounded by biting winds as we face stormy troubles, some fierce, even life-threatening.

As usual, Don and I are facing trials in our little world with our tribe of friends and family.

How about you? 

Do you know anyone who isn’t? Such is the human condition. Here’s what Jesus said:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

He also said, “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”                    John 14:2

So as the busy bustle of life crowds in on me, I am learning to cry out to One who gives me the priceless gift that lasts—His peace.

I stop in the messy middle of trials to praise Him for who He is, thank Him for 5-10 blessings, and ask for His help in the trial. I invite Him to fill me with His Presence and peace.

Then I expectantly go about my daily life while looking for Jesus to fulfill this promise as I choose to trust Him.

How about you?

Goodbye for Now, Sis

Feb 24, 2016

Last night my precious sister Becky Clark slipped out of her body and left this world. My first thoughts of her this morning made me laugh as I saw her running in a field with Jesus, in a new vibrant pain-free body, enjoying her next life.

Then the tears began as I realized my big sis was gone, leaving us all with a major deposit of love and some great memories. She bravely fought cancer, that ugly enemy, with great faith in Jesus, regardless of the outcome. IMG_5210

She kept her positive outlook to the end. When I’d ask how she was, she’d reply, “I’m better today.” I smiled when my sister Pam asked, “Have you ever talked to Becky on a bad day? I seem to always call her on the better ones.” 

My daughter said, “I can’t imagine family gatherings without Aunt Becky.” She was Serg in charge, the one who kept things rolling. Becky cared about everyone and always spoke the best of them and went out of her way to help anyone in need. She considered the entire community her family as her loving husband Gary will attest.

Even at the last when it was too much of an effort for Becky to talk, when a visitor came, she would open her eyes and somehow manage a big smile. That counts.

It’s not what happens to us in this life, but all about how we respond to what happens. Becky trusted God even when times were hard. And that counts.

“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” Matthew 10:42

Becky gave this and so much more. And that counts. It all counts on the other side. My friend Anna texted “Death really sucks on this side.” But there is another side, and life we can see now on earth is mighty short compared to eternity. The best is yet to come.

So goodbye for now, my wonderful sister Becky. I love you and admire your life. I’m really going to miss you…for now. But I know we have all eternity to hang out later.

Truck Buck$

Remember how Don rolled his truck? That first week we were praising God that Don had survived. Then a series of trials hit us, and we were visibly shaken. Don’s back was throbbing, and I wasn’t well, and my precious sister died along with some other major hits. Don and I even began re-thinking our entire future.

Trouble seemed all around and within. But why should we be surprised at trouble living in this imperfect world? Jesus said,

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”                                    (John 16:33 NIV)

One thing we needed soon was to find another pickup. The appraiser totaled Big Red, emailing us the amount of the settlement check, around what we expected. But I knew it wouldn’t be enough. Overwhelmed, we prayed, “Help, Lord,” and then waited.

IMG_5347     Three weeks later, I was relaxing watching TV when a thought popped in my head– “Go look at the title.”

The impression came out of the blue, and I recognized it as a prompting from God. I wish I could say I always obey His still small voice that speaks within us. I can’t.

But I did this time, dragging myself out of my easy chair and searching through the filing cabinet. I pulled out the truck title. “So what now?” I wondered as I scanned the title, not sure what I was looking for.

Then I saw it. The title said “USED.” Nowhere did it say “Prior Branded” like the insurance company had stated when they made that hefty deduction from our settlement amount.

I snapped a picture of the truck title with my iPhone and emailed it to the adjustor, thinking, “Nah, he won’t raise our settlement amount,” but at the same time, hoping and praying that he would.

The appraiser responded right away (another miracle). Within an hour he had sent a revised settlement statement that was $5790 MORE than the first because of the clean title

Unbelievable! I almost held my breath until the next Tuesday when I actually held this incredible check in my hand. It was then that I realized it was $3800 more than we had originally paid for the truck that we’d driven for six years. And true to God’s faithfulness, it was more than enough to buy the new truck we had found by then.

Listening to God and obeying Him pays. Of course, it doesn’t always come with a monetary reward. But it did this time.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.                                                   (Ephesians 3:20, 21 NIV)

Big Bertha

Here she is, a fine successor to Big Red whose remains were buried in the junk yard this week after he and Don slid off the icy road and rolled over.truck
Our truck search is over. I had created a wish list of all Don wanted in a truck (below) so I could help him comb the Internet. We prayed, googled, scouted the lots and papers, and even made a 2 hour road trip to check out candidates.
Too short…not strong enough…too worn out or too classy…not healthy or too gassy…none fit the bill. That ideal truck seemed scarcer to find than hen’s teeth.
A friend mentioned to Don, “I’ve got a truck you might be interested in. Come take a look.” So one afternoon we moseyed across the back yard to Richard’s shed, expecting yet another reject.
There she sat –Big Bertha.
As the guys talked, I began checking items off:

Don’s Wish List
F250 or F350 4 wheel drive ✔
7.3 Diesel engine ✔
Extended or crew cab ✔
Long bed ✔
Year 2000 or newer ✔
<200,000 miles ✔
Under $14,000 ✔
In good shape ready to roll (oops, I mean use) ✔
Located nearby✔
Good looking (my addition) ✔

We ✔’d off every single item. Our truck had been sitting over at the neighbor’s, 100 yards away, just waiting for us to pick her up, (definitely nearby). Once again we were in awe of God’s help in our everyday challenges of life.
Thank you, God, for Big Bertha. May she live a healthy, productive, and long life at the Vincent Homestead.

Cathy Vincent's photo.
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A Trip to the Dentist

This is on my “Top 10 Things I Dread” list. When the throbbing toothache came, I did not suspect I would have a new crown and have spent $1200, all by noon the next day.

But to my surprise, my costly trip to the dentist turned out to be quite enjoyable, thank God. He is so into the little things.
First I asked for a neck pillow to create my relaxing spa space. As I sat in the chair waiting for my mouth to numb, I decided to enjoy God right then and there in the messy middle of life.
I began praising God (not outloud) and asking Him to help me make this time count for Him. Then I opened my prayer app on my iPhone and prayed for everyone on it.
When the dentist started drilling, I started singing a song of praise, aware that God heard me, even though my mouth was otherwise occupied. I thanked God for springtime, family, friends, and a sprinkling of His 1000s of blessings for the day.
I purposely focused on Him instead of my surroundings, i.e. the dentist. I took note that others had gone through pain and suffering far more challenging than this-my sister Pam and her bout with chemo, and my sister Becky for sure. Then I considered Jesus. Thank you, Lord. This isn’t so hard.
So I just relaxed and enjoyed God. I embraced life just as it was. The 2 1/2 hours flew by – it seemed like 15 minutes. Seriously. God is so good. Why don’t I focus on Him and ask for help more often?
Last night I began worrying and complaining to myself about the $1200 we’d just spent (might have said “wasted”)
Then I sensed God ‘s Spirit within asking me, “Would you be worried if you had plenty of money? ”
Me: “No if we had lots of money, I wouldn’t be worried at all. It would be fine.”
God: “Then relax. I’ve told you that you would have more than enough for your lifetime. So trust me. I’ve got it.”
Me: “I do trust you God. Help me trust you more. ”
And again I relaxed and focused on His faithfulness, even thanking Him for dentists who keep our teeth going strong. I went back to fixing dinner, no longer anxious, even smiling.
I am still learning to turn my focus on God 24-7 even after a lifetime living with Him and remembering…God is good all the time.