Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wonderful Christmas Ends

Last night was our last Christmas of the season.  Our kids and grandkids came over for dinner and gifts and it was so wonderful. 

Luke was brave enough to eat his chicken burger with bacon and said he remembered my macaroni and cheese from Thanksgiving so he knew it was good.  Liv enjoyed the crackers and M&M's more than any real food.

After dinner it was time to open gifts.  We draw names at Thanksgiving and this year was so much fun.  Monty had Tyler and Tyler had Monty, I had Dedra and she had me, Stacy had Ryan and Ryan had Stacy.  We laughed as we realized how it ended up and it's always fun watching each one open that special gift that has been chosen just for them. 

When it came time for the grandkids it was even more fun watching their expressions as they opened each one.  When Live opened her "real" Cinderella dress that came direct from Disney World . . . well, you can see her joy!

The tiera was her favorite part and she realized that her Cinderella shoes at home would match perfectly!

Luke was so excited with his new computer addition and the Batman Legos. 

But in the end ---- everyone was playing with home made paper airplanes!!!!  They were flying back and forth across the room, crashing into anything and everything --- and no damage!  Just the fun of sitting back and taking it all in.  As I sat there watching I realized just how blessed I am.   For so many years of being out in the field and away from family --- and now having them come to our house, preparing a meal for them and just enjoying seeing all the smiles, laughter and joy --- it is truly priceless and I am so thankful!!!!!

Today we enjoyed church and a bit of shopping afterwards --- and then coming home to see this snow and ice "mass" hanging from the back of our house, directly over the dining room window.

Our prayer is that each and every one of you have a safe New Year's Eve and a blessed New Year!  Our celebrations are done --- but God is still God and that is reason enough to celebrate every day!!!!

Until next time . . . bring on 2013 --- we're anxiously awaiting.                           Susan and Monty

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

I realize most of you may not even read this until . . . and that's the way it should be as you spend precious time with family and friends.

But I have to share Ms Gladys wonderful Christmas Eve with you --- in hopes that you will realize just how special this baby Jesus really is!

A few days ago Pastor Dave called me and asked if I thought Ms Gladys would enjoy some of the church folks coming over after the Christmas Eve church service.  I thought it was a wonderful idea and so did she when I checked with her.  After all, she would be spending that evening and all of today alone.

Rich, with his wife and guitar, Pastor Dave and his wife Lisa, son John, daughter Susie, son in law Josh and their 2 little ones came over and we all sang a few carols.  We noticed that Ms Gladys was trying to sing along and when Rich suggested we close with Silent Night she really did sing out!  Her voice brought smiles to the entire room and it broke my heart that she couldn't see them -- but I know she felt them.  They were smiles of love and true Christmas joy!!!

After the singing she wasn't the only one surprised!  Pastor Dave and family had brought her a gift.  As we placed the absolutely huge box on her little lap and watched her try and catch her breath from the excitement - we decided little Lily would be good and helping open the gift.  At 2 years old she is just learning how fun it is to unwrap gifts.  When Ms Gladys opened it up and felt the soft and fuzzy and very large blanket she was nearly speechless!  I explained to her about the colors and all she could do was hug that blanket and try as best she could to express her thanks! 

Pastor Dave also brought her a tin of his special Chex Mix -- a recipe handed down for generations in his family.  She was thrilled it wasn't candy (she has low blood sugar) and knew she would get great enjoyment from all the different things in the mix.

As everyone was getting ready to leave Pastor Dave asked if we could all pray for her.  She smiled and said "please do."  We gathered round and placed our hands on her shoulders and prayed.  She joined in, speaking in tongues as she does when the Holy Spirit comes over her, and she started quoting scriptures and was completely overjoyed with the love of Jesus surrounding her and all of us in that little family room.

After everyone had gone I stayed to help clean up a few things.  As she started down her hallway cuddling close her new blanket --- she just stopped and bent forward and sobbed!  She said she had never felt such love from anyone and that the blanket was just "too much" for her to take in!  We stood in that hallway for a few seconds as we talked about the love of Jesus and how much He loves her!  She smiled and we went on down the hallway to put the blanket in her special bedroom. 

We sat at the table for a few minutes and just talked about the evening.  She then started crying again as she talked about how special it would be to share the evening festivities with her sister (who is older than her)!!!!!! 

I know I will share in the Christmas gifts and food and fun and laughter at my parents' house this afternoon -- and will share again with my children and grandchildren this weekend -- but last night just might have been the best Christmas Eve ever for me!!!!!!!

My Christmas prayer for everyone is that God brings someone in your life that you may not know so well in the beginning --- but be watchful --- for that person is chosen especially by Him --- to enrich your life like you can't imagine!!!

My sincere thanks to Pastor Dave for this idea and for truly being the hands and feet (and voice) of our loving Jesus Christ !!!!!

May you all have a blessed and truly Merry Christmas!!                       Susan and Monty

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Here we go a caroling . . .

First of all, Monty is getting along better.  Didn't make it to church but hopes to get there for Christmas Eve service tomorrow night.  Still working on mastering the crutches a bit better.  The pain is subsiding and he actually has feeling in the toe and moved it just a tad this evening.  Doctor on Thursday and hopefully will be given the okay to get rid of the crutches.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.  We will be staying home most all day in preparation for the evening worship service and then afterwards some of us from church will be going to Ms Gladys house for some caroling.

She was so excited today when she reminded me that it was tomorrow!  She spent her family holiday at a local restaurant and came home with white and red sweaters as gifts.  Although she was exhausted she was happy.

I think Pastor Dave also has some surprises in store for her and we are so excited that she is so excited.  She may not be able to see but she will feel the spirit of Jesus Himself in her home tomorrow night and she will be more than ready to join in with praises.

It is our prayer that each of you has a wonderful and blessed Christmas and will enjoy the sharing of gifts -- remembering the greatest gift of all came to us in a small manger -- our life saving gift that truly "keeps on giving."

Until next time . . .  Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!                              Susan and Monty

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rough Night --- Better Day

Night 1 was a little more than rough for Monty and his newly rebuilt "bionic" toe.

He slept in the recliner deciding that trying to get in and out of the bed was just too difficult.  With his pain meds he figured things would go pretty well.   But . . . things didn't go quite as well as he expected.  He was up and down and finally did get some sleep going on early morning.

Today has been better.  He has been up on his crutches more and getting the hang of how to work them.  He's been taking the pain meds regularly and hopefully tonight will be an improvement. 

He has a goal of getting to church tomorrow morning but . . . time will tell.

Thanks again for all the prayers.  Our grandchildren were over this afternoon and each one had made a special get well card for him --- bringing such joy that tears almost joined the joy!

Until next time . . . God is the ultimate healer!                       Susan and Monty

Friday, December 21, 2012


Yep -- Monty's brand new titanium big toe joint!

Surgery was this morning and it went very well.  His "old" toe had bone rubbing against bone and had been quite painful for a long time.  He will now take the next 2 weeks to completely heal before going back to work.

He will be on crutches for the next couple of days and then will slowly start using it again.  Doc says the pain will be alot less than using the old toe.

Thanks to everyone who covered him with prayers.  God is our perfect healer and modern medicine is amazing.  The combination = success!

Until next time . . . blessings to all.                                                   Susan and Monty

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Shoes

I'm sure you've all heard the song about the Christmas shoes.  No matter how many times I hear it I still get tears in my eyes.

Yesterday God showed up in my life in a VERY big way and I want to share it with you and hopefully it will re-ignite your faith as it did mine.

For the past month I have been studying to become a school bus driver.  Yes, studying is the word.  I don't know when I've ever worked so hard at something!  I needed to get my CDL class B drivers license.  In order to do that I had to first study the state book and take written tests in general knowledge, passengers, school bus and then air brakes.  After passing each of those I was issued a learner's permit.

From there (I had already been approved by our school administration) I was to go through atleast 40 hours of on job training.  Now for those of you who know me -- you know the truck I drive is already over half the size of a bus anyway -- so the actual driving came very easy -- much to the surprise of my instructor.

The hard part?  Learning the 8 single spaced, type written pages of memorization!!!!  Yes, 8 pages!  I had to learn all the parts of the steering linkage, suspension, brakes, tires, drive shaft, exhaust, all the emergency exit details, all the lighting systems, everything inside the bus along with the panels and finally perform a 4 point air brake test ---- not to mention learning to back up (straight) for 100 feet, back up at and angle and park and the real kicker ---- parallell park that thing!!!!!

Needless to say my stress level has been over the top as I may know how to drive but it's my brother in Florida who knows all the mechanical stuff!

I have studied, I have stammered, I have had total lapses in memory, I have tried and tried and cried and cried --- and finally it came time to schedule my testing in Indianapolis.  At that testing I must recite all those 8 pages, perform the 2 backing procedures and parallel park --- before ever even getting inside to do the actual street driving portion!  My nerves were shot!

I know I was the only student who had scriptures written all over my 8 pages and would recite them many times each day. 

I had jokingly told everyone I know that when yesterday morning arrived I would need all God's attention along with every single one of His angels to get through the testing.  Inside I wasn't kidding!

I had asked my Tuesday morning Bible study group to pray for me, I had gone up after service on Sunday and asked Cheryl to pray for me -- Monty had prayed for me that morning --- and he prayed for the testing person (whoever that was to be) -- which I thought a bit weird -- but that's Monty!

Results?  I PASSED WITH FLYING COLORS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The tester was a wonderful man who I actually thanked at the end of the test!

Even after driving home and rushing to tell Monty the news, calling my mom and everyone else I could to thank them for their prayers -- I still could not get my nerves to calm down.

So . . . I decided to stop at Goodwill and see if I could find another fleece jacket style thing for Ms Gladys as she only has one (and the red one I had found the day before) and she not only wears it all day long -- she sleeps in it!

I was strolling through the aisles and came to the conclusion that everyone else wanted the same thing -- couldn't find a single one.

As I was strolling I looked up --- for whatever reason -- and realized that they had moved their shoe display to above all the clothing racks. 

It was then that I saw them -- THOSE shoes!

For the past nearly 7 years (yes, years!!) I have wanted this certain pair of shoes.  Their "quite a few dollars more than 100 has prevented that from happening!  After all, there are people without floors and I had good shoes on my feet!  And just a few days ago Monty offered to buy them for me for Christmas ---he was willing to use his small bonus check on me!!!???   Even though that offer was so tempting that "something" (Someone) told me "no, just wait."  Even Monty wasn't sure why I wanted to wait -- and I really didn't want to!  But . . . I didn't even try them on and off we went.

Now --- I look up and there they are --- THOSE shoes!   My first thought was how they looked brand new!  Then my doubful self showed up and I found myself thinking that they would never be my size!  Wrong!!!!  They were my exact size!  And they did look brand new -- don't think they've been worn more than once!  And the price?   $4.29 !!!!!!!!!!

Then I realized just why God had told me to wait.  He had the perfect plan.  He wasn't keeping me from having the shoes all these years -- He was just telling me to wait -- for the perfect time!   He knew these were so much more than just a pair of shoes.  They were His special gift -- at just the time I needed it -- to let me know just how much He really does love me and that I really am His special child! 

7 years might seem like a long time to wait --- but every single day of every single year became worth every single second yesterday as I put those shoes in my cart and got change back from my $5 bill and texted Monty that God had just given me one of the most precious gifts ever!  Yes, they are just a pair of leather shoes -- but they are so much more!  They are life!  They are a renewal of my faith!  They are the "feet" of Jesus -- given to me -- by Him -- to continue serving Him in every way possible!  I plan to be buried in those shoes!!!!!!  

So . . . if you've been waiting --- if you've been doubting --- if you've just been wondering if there really is a God and if there is --- does He really know what's going on with you --- does He really love you like everyone else says He does --- HE DOES!!!! 

He showed me that yesterday (again) and I will never forget it.  Yes, I will most likely doubt it again and again --- but all I have to do is look at my Christmas shoes and . . . I WILL BELIEVE!!!

I pray you will know His love and provision in an even more tangible way than I just did yesterday.

Lord, Thank You!  I love you right back!!!!


Merry Christmas to ME!!!!                                                Susan and Monty

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hurting Hearts

Our prayers go out to the entire state of Connecticut -- especially the families of those who have lost so much.

Indescribable pain -- unanswered questions -- and yet we all must remember that God is still in control and when we all get to heaven we will understand. 

Until then . . . trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding!

Until next time . . . Jesus loves the little children . . .                         Susan and Monty

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"The blind will see . . ."

There's a line in one of my favorite songs about how "the blind will see . . ."

Oh how I wish God would grant a miracle to my little neighbor lady, Ms Gladys, and allow her to regain her sight! 

She turned 89 last week and although she had a wonderful day, she has been struggling ever since.  Years ago she had a fall and broke one of her shoulders and arm.  For some unknown reason this area has been hurting her lately.  This afternoon she told me how she cried aloud to God last night begging Him to relieve her pain!

When I asked her if anything helped she mentioned her heating pad but since being blind she has been unable to get it plugged in or know how to work the switch.

She knew right where it was and after locating it I got it plugged in for her (the plug was behind the bed) and taped the cord to the headboard of her bed.   This way she can have the pad on the bed and not worry about the cord falling on the floor and not being able to find it to change the temperature or turn it off when she wants. 

I took her hands and taught her how to feel the switch and show me that she could operate it easily. 

She was so excited that the tears streamed down her cheeks in appreciation. 

We just don't realize our blessings -- the ones we take for granted oh so easily!

Every afternoon when I visit with her I realize more and more her isolation.  Even though she talks by phone with both of her sisters (ages 93 and 86) every day -- it's not the same.  She can't even step her foot outside for fear of falling.  She doesn't get the fresh air at any time except when she does open the back door to let Benji out in the partially fenced yard.  She lives in her pajamas all the time and can't even take out her own trash!

I have grown to love this tiny little lady more and more.  God has gifted her to me and I am so thankful.  She's always there to listen -- in fact -- she can't wait to hear about my day -- complete with all the details.  Her love for the Lord is unsurpassed and such and encouragement to me!  When the Holy Spirit comes over her she gets up and sings and dances like she's 18 again!

But my heart aches for her -- if only she could see -- just a little bit -- just enough to know if it's day or night -- just enough to be able to once again sit on her front porch and enjoy some fresh air -- if only . . .

Won't you join me in praying for this miracle!  After all --- Christmas is the season for miracles, even though God isn't limited to Christmas --- but it sure would be a great gift!!

Until next time . . . let's all remember to NOT take our sight (no matter how poor) for granted and thank God for it daily!                                                       Susan and Monty

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Waiting . . .

It's been a busy week, but what else is new!

I've been caring for my elderly neighbor lady, Ms Gladys, every day.  Yesterday was her 89th birthday so I took her a pair of fleece pajamas.  She lives in pjs every day all day and since she hardly weighs 90 pounds soaking wet I figured she would love them.  And I was right.  Even though she couldn't see the pretty pink color she had a smile that told me she could feel the color!  She is such a joy in my life!

Today I headed to her house to mow her lawn.  Yes, in December!  The gentleman who mowed for her has had back surgery so . . . I was able to mulch all her leaves and make it look alot better.  And once again I had the feeling she could see it without seeing it.

I had a meeting with Rebecca this afternoon.  She may have resources for me to tap into to help Ms Gladys with some things.  It was an info packed meeting and on Monday I will be calling to see what's available.

Tomorrow I am heading to help my mother serve Christmas dinner to her church district "top dogs."  Ok -- I know they're not called that --- especially being church folks --- but you get the picture.  Just last year Mom had to convince her church that she could do their district dinner and make it great.  She did more than convince them -- this year the district asked to have her do it again!!!!  Go Mom!  So I will have a fun day helping her put together all the food and then getting to help serve the guests that evening.  I stand in awe at my Mom -- she will be 80 years old in March and even I have a tough time keeping up with her!   (she might not appreciate my announcement of her upcoming age but it's a BIG compliment!)

And I just received an email about the grant request I submitted for our local COAD.  I was just wondering how we fared since they originally said they would announce the grant recipients by mid November -- and now they ask each organization requesting funds to come to a meeting where we will have about 3 minutes to plead our case -- in front of the local tv people!  My first prayer is that we receive funds but my first prayer should be that I am able to keep my case pleading to 3 minutes!!!!  Yes --- you can laugh and agree in that prayer!    :)

Just one of the messages written on the framed homes in Holton.

Until next time . . . Your will be done, Lord.  Your will.                                Susan and Monty

Sunday, December 02, 2012

33 volunteers - 2 houses - 1 day

Yesterday was our trip to Holton, IN to help rebuild from the March 2nd tornado that ripped through the small town of around 450 people.

We met very early, it was still dark, at our church and this time I had everyone come inside for a short orientation.  With such a diverse team I felt this was important.

We had 8 students from Indiana University, the director for the Volunteer Network here and a friend of hers, some people from our church, a couple more from Tuesday morning Bible Study in Bedford and a mom and son who have been through Red Cross disaster training.

When we arrived in Holton we were given the task of framing in 2 complete homes.  All the lumber for these homes was donated by an organization who also pre-framed the walls so it was almost like putting together a puzzle.  The foundations were ready and we divided up into 2 teams, A and B.

Here you can see the foundation of house A with preframed walls stacked in front.

Each team jumped in with the first task -- gathering all the walls for their home.

These things were quite heavy, especially the exterior walls.  The team work had everyone laughing while they were working.  A sound that surely brings a smile to God's face!

The rest of the day had me between both houses. They were across the street from one another and each team enjoyed keeping track of the other one's progress. 

Before we even went to lunch we had a neighbor, Mike, join in.  He wanted to help out since he was going to be the owner of the 3rd new home right next door.  His house was already framed and roof trusses on and will hopefully be completely roofed by the incoming Amish this next week.  He felt like he wanted to be able to do something for someone else and ended up workin with us all day long.  He was still there when we pulled out at 5:30pm and if it hadn't been for him house A would have been in serious trouble.  Their generator ran out of propane and even though the construction coordinator had another tank within 5 minutes --- on the first pull of the starting cord --- the cord broke!  Thankfully Mike had a gas powered generator at his house (where he's renting) and so he and I hopped in my truck and within 10 minutes everyone was back up and running.

Walls started going up.

When some of the exteriors were just too heavy -- the good old red Ford came in handy!

Lunch was a great treat for all of us.  Bob and Debbie, who are starting a disaster feeding program, provided us all with homemade soups, hamburgers and some incredible desserts!  It was nice to sit down and visit with everyone but no one stayed seated for long.  In less than 45 minutes everyone was back on the job.  Time was ticking and with only one day to work . . .

The expression on his face tells it all --- total concentration!

Many of them got lessons in hammering 101 -- and the laughter could be heard across the street!  Some used 1 hand, some 2, some framing hammers (which are very heavy) and others short, almost funny looking ones.  But each hammed enough that I wonder if they could hold their forks for dinner!

Our church secretary with her power drill ---easy to see Jesus in that smile!  Although -- at the end of the day she sent me a text that said, "these hands and feet of Jesus are really tired."   Priceless.

Just back from Afghanistan, her husband was one of the team leaders on house B and throroughly enjoyed being home and having his entire family with him!

Don't know what happed with this color thing -- but Keith had the fun job of cutting out the doors and windows on the exterior walls.  He was so covered in sawdust that you literally could not see the top of that shining head!

Bet showed us all that there's more than one way to tackle hammering nails in corners!!!!

Charles may be tall and a bit on the really thin side --- but he can hold up the walls of a house when needed!!

Friends are a great blessing!  Becky went with us on our mission trip to Maui and hasn't been the same since!  This was Mark's first time to do anything like this and he's also changed forever!  I imagine they will be on every trip we do from now on -- no matter where it is!

All in all it was a wonderful day.  Both houses have all the exterior walls up and both have almost all the interior walls in place.  Lives of volunteers were changed -- 3 of the IU kids even volunteered to  help lift roof trusses on another house down the street for a team of way worn out men from Greenwood!  People learned skills they never knew they had, new friendships were formed and old ones strengthened.  Neighbors watched the progress and felt the love of Jesus coming from each worksite.  New team leaders were born, compassion was rebirthed and love made more powerful.

For me --- it was an incredible day to share with people I know, people I didn't know so well and even some strangers -- who are no longer strangers but friends!

The single most asked question at the end of the day?  "When are we coming back?"

So . . . I will be keeping in touch with Darrin, the construction coordinator, and we WILL plan another trip where hopefully we can install insulation, hang some walls and ceilings and bring these houses closer and closer to becoming homes!

My deepest and sincere thanks to each volunteer yesterday!  You took the words at orientation seriously and really were "the hands and feet of Jesus!"

Until next time . . . to God be ALL the glory!!!!!!!!!!!!!           Susan and Monty