Uncategorized

Still On the Journey

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A writer in my blogging-community wrote something which connected with me on a personal level, because her words not only describe herself, but I recognize myself in many of them also.

 

I won’t say a lot about it, because she states it all so well.

 

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I’m still on a self-acceptance journey regarding some of the traits which make me who I am, or maybe it’s more of a ‘stop-constantly-worrying-what-others-think-about-me’ journey.

 

I haven’t gotten there yet, but I’m still moving forward and as long as there is breath within me, I will trust that the Lord is going to bring me to the place in my life where I can genuinely look at myself in the mirror and confidently say, “I’m okay”.

 

Here is a link to my friend’s article:

 

Embrace Your Power – Flying Through Water

 

Enjoy!

Robin

 

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Living Life, Uncategorized

Volunteering

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The year I turned 40, I began to examine my life. By that time, we had celebrated 22 years of marriage, and I had been a stay-at-home Mom for about 18 years and counting, and I was feeling like I hadn’t done anything of great significance with my life.

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So I began to search for a way to fill the void which I felt was present in my life.

 

 

 

God led me to an opportunity to volunteer at a place in our small community which served people during times of crisis. It was, and still is, an amazing organization. During the seven years in which I was involved, I learned many new skills, grew as a Christ-follower, and just as a human being. The education I received in this field taught me how to see people in a different, better perspective, with less judgement and more kindness and compassion.

 

I became involved to make a difference in some way, to someone, and I left feeling that, as much as I may have contributed to that, I received so much in return.

 

My more recent volunteer position has allowed me to gain more work skills and a sense of belonging to my small community. This organization helps those in need through a food bank & thrift store. It was more of a behind-the-scenes role in providing services to the community.

 

I say all this because I want to encourage others to get out there and volunteer.

 

It’s a way to give back, to contribute to something bigger than ourselves, and to take a break from the day-to-day busy-ness of life which seems to cause the days to all blur together in a rush.  Giving away a small part of our own existence to benefit another human being adds lasting value and meaning to life.

 

As a former volunteer coordinator, here are some important things to consider:

  • Many non-profit organizations, especially those which receive no federal or state support, can only function because of their dedicated, reliable volunteers!
  • If you only have 2-3 hours per week or even per month to give, it is valuable.
  • No matter the amount of time one has to volunteer, it is important to be consistent and dependable.
  • Volunteers learn valuable work skills which can be beneficial in future employment.
  • Every community has opportunities to volunteer: schools, local food banks, non-profit thrift stores and organizations, parks & recreation departments, the possibilities are many.

 

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Studies have shown that volunteering not only benefits those who are served, but also those who volunteer.

 

 

 

To learn more about it, and lots of other information about volunteering, here is a link:

 

Corporation for National & Community Service

 

There are many in the world dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love.
– Mother Teresa

 

family, Living Life, Uncategorized

Baby-Sister Forever

Baby-Sister Forever
Growing up in a large family was wonderful. Being the baby of the family was even better.

 

 

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I know there are stigmas that go along with that. That we are spoiled, self-centered, and get away with everything. That may be so for others, but I think my family was exceptional, so I feel like I escaped some of the negativity that plagues my position in the birth order.

 

According to my personal experience, I’ve compiled a list of pros and cons to being the ‘baby sister’.

 

First the not-so-fun parts:  For instance, big sisters sometimes take on the ‘mom’ role. I had 5 big sisters but I’m proud to say, they were not forceful in this aspect.

 

However, one particular memory is forever etched in my mind! We visited a small church one Sunday. I was probably about 2-3 years old, simply because if I was any older, I don’t think I would have fit in the ‘torture chamber’ my siblings put me in.

 

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They took me to the nursery and put me in the crib. This was not an ordinary crib. It was more like a wall unit, which had a double stack of smaller, enclosed cribs, and each one had wooden bars which were pulled down to keep a baby or small child safely inside without the danger of falling out.

 

To my recollection, it was more like a cage, and I did not like it one bit! Obviously, as I still remember it! Oh, it’s very comical now and we’ve laughed about it many times.

 

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Debbie would try and try to get this extremely shy little girl to sing, either on a tape recorder or in front of people. “Sing, Robin, sing!”, she would say. I suppose I should thank her, since now I can’t stop!

 

Being called “baby sister” can be good or bad, depending on your point of view.

 

If you’re a teenager who is trying to be more ‘mature’, you don’t want to be called that. But when you reach the age of forty or above, being called baby anything is ok! I don’t mind it at all!

 

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As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m finding it difficult to recollect other examples of  ‘baby sis’ disadvantages. Other than the normal sibling teasing, and fighting with one of my sisters over her clothes (she knows who she is!), it was actually pretty nice!

 

 

 

There was the time that Gwen was pushing me on the swing at the city park. I fell off and gashed my forehead. She carried me all the way home, while I bled all over her.

 

And after jumping on the bed one day, I fell off and knocked the wind out of myself. My brother Kevin came to my rescue and pounded me on the back til I caught my breath again. It was very scary and I’ve always credited him with saving my life.

 

Of course, it’s easy to remember more of the positives! My brothers and sisters loved me! And I loved them! They were my playmates, my protectors, my examples. I celebrated their successes, shared their heartaches, and learned from their mistakes.

 

 

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After they grew up and moved out of the house, I spent a lot of time with my sisters and my oldest brother in their homes.

 

 

 

They loved having me there, and I loved it, too. They always made me feel special and loved.

 

And they still do.

 

Come to think of it, maybe I am that spoiled baby sister. But in the best way possible:


 I am spoiled on love.

 

 

 

 

Faith, Home Life, Uncategorized

Don’t Forget to Look Up

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It’s hard to believe we’ve been in our house just about three and a half years. I guess when a house really feels like home and you allow yourself to finally put down deep roots, it feels like you’ve been planted there longer.

 

We have completed several renovation projects on our small home, one of which was a complete kitchen remodel. I like to add my own unique touches and features that make my home feel welcome and warm for my family and guests.

 

The kitchen ceiling is one of those, with a recessed section in the middle of it, and a hand-painted medallion which shows off the beautiful light fixture. It’s a lovely feature.

 

But you know what? I seldom enjoy it anymore because when I’m in the kitchen, I never look up! I’m just so focused on my task or walking through to wherever I’m going, and I don’t think to look up. My gaze is fixed on my eye-level view.

 

So when my granddaughter said the other day, “Grandma, that’s a really pretty light”, I looked up and said “Yes, it is!”. And the Lord placed this thought in my heart.

 

“Don’t forget to look up!”

 

It’s so easy to forget to do that! Life gets busy, there are so many world events that overwhelm our sense of security, not to mention our own personal life crises. Discouragement causes our gaze to drop and we barely find the strength to just get through today. It skews our perspective.

 

Knowing we would face those times, God gave us reminders in His Word to lift up our eyes!

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I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.”  Psalm 121

 

Jesus lived this himself as an example for us to follow, when his dear friend Lazarus died and upon arrival at the scene, He gave thanks to His Father in heaven for hearing Him and for the miracle He knew was about to take place.

 

“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.”  John 11:41

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Oh, my prayer is that while I am busy with this life, that my eyes will remain fixed on Him! That I will never forget to look up!

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(Photo- Robin Abrams, A Song In My Heart)

Living Life, Uncategorized

Unraveling Stress

This post is a little different from most of the others I’ve written. But hopefully, will be worth sharing. Life can be worrisome and stressful and we all need a little extra help from time to time, right?

This is a mental exercise on how I unravel a stressful day.

Many years ago, I came up with my own technique for stress management, which sometimes helps me to release at least some of the worry when it all piles up and becomes overwhelming. I am no professional counselor and cannot say that this will help every situation or person, but I want to share this with whoever might find it helpful.

(If I am alone, I’ll do this aloud. Sometimes the best thing to do is get all those negative words that keep replaying in your mind out. I find that speaking them brings relief.)

I often have lively prayer and praise time with the Lord while I’m driving by myself in the car. It’s a great place to pray, sing and just talk and cry it out!

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From time to time, I will have a day that wears heavy on my mind and soul. Not regarding any one stand-out situation, but I just find that I’m mentally weary and tired, and I will realize that I’m stressing about stuff.

I will ask myself, “Ok, why am I so stressed out today?”

I will go through a mental checklist, identifying and separating each circumstance that is causing me to stress. Then I will talk myself through each one.

~Is there anything I can do to remedy or solve this? (with God’s guidance)

~Do I need to make a phone call, take an action, or do I need to talk to someone?

~Is it something I need to do that I’ve been avoiding?

If there’s something I can do to resolve it, then it takes that item off the table so to speak. I can make a plan to take care of it.
However, if I find that it is a situation which I have no control over, and there’s nothing I can do to fix it, I will pray about it and leave it in the Lord’s hands. Maybe the solution is the responsibility of someone else. It is their choice to make, not mine.

I can still be concerned, especially if it has to do with a loved one. After all, the situation doesn’t magically disappear, but by putting it into perspective, as far as my ability to change it, I find the heaviness is at the very least lessened.

It is scientifically proven that stress brings with it unhealthy physical and mental effects. I have found that this method of examining the collective causes of my stress helps bring relief and lightens my weariness.

Oh My Soul – Casting Crowns

I leave you with this:

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“When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.” Proverbs 3:24

 

 

Faith, Uncategorized

A Transformed Heart

border6For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!  Romans 7:22-25

I am still under construction. At my age of 52, I am still a work in progress. I think the day I stop growing and learning will be the day that I am no longer here.

As a Christ-follower, it’s not the tendencies of human nature that I want my life to reflect. Although not all parts of human nature are bad.

It is human nature that makes us want to socialize, to gather as families and friends, to celebrate life together. It’s the reason that we need to hug each other, laugh together, and connect on an emotional level. We were created to need human contact.

 

It’s human nature that causes us to weep in times of grieving and in times of joy. And human nature causes us to laugh and find joy in even the simplest things.

 

It’s the transparency and exposure of the other parts that I’m not so proud of. Like my tendency to lean toward self-preservation at the cost of shutting people out, or forgetting to look deeper at someone or a circumstance and not just take it at face-value. The part that wants to let my emotions get the better of me and affect my perspective. The bitterness of offense that occasionally tries to take root in my spirit.

How am I, who cannot change that I am human, going to correct these negative human qualities in myself?

The fact is, I can make a conscious effort to change, I can learn by the negative consequences of my actions, I can read good books and information about how to overcome, and I can surround myself with people whose influence teaches me a better way. But there is an internal struggle in the heart of man which maintains a constant pull toward those less desirable human qualities.

For some, many of those things are easily pushed down and kept suppressed. And for others the struggle is fought daily, like a weight constantly tethered to our being.

My area of weakness may not be a problem for you. Where you are still learning, I may be at my strongest.

But here is my hope!

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Jesus Christ has my heart! I gave it to Him a long time ago. Though the evidence of my human nature shows itself many times, it is my heart’s desire to instead adopt the nature of Christ.

When I mess up, He hears my repentant cry. When I submit my human will to His, He meets me there and becomes my strength in my areas of weakness. The more I lean on His strength to overcome, and the more I seek and learn of His ways, the stronger I become, and more and more, I will be victorious over my less desired human qualities.

“My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

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He says: “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.    Ezekiel 36:26

 

 

Oh, how I pray that any eulogy that may be spoken of me at my earthly departure would say, “Her life wasn’t always easy, but Oh! Jesus had her heart!”

 

The Daily Post: daily prompt: tether

(Photo credits- Robin Abrams, public domain)

 

 

Home Life, Living Life, Uncategorized

June Bugs!

June Bugs. 

At least that’s what we have always called them. The proper name is- Ten lined June Beetle. 

Let me describe this little creature, in case you don’t already know about it. My most sincere apologies to anyone with a bug phobia! I can hear my sisters now saying ‘Ewww!’, and now laughing. 

When I was growing up, this dreaded little bug struck fear into the very depths of my being! 
I was an outdoorsy farm-girl. I loved frogs-and still do-I played with worms, ladybugs and rolly pollys (sow bugs).

I baited my own fishing lines for goodness sakes!

So what is it about these tiny crawly-critters that I hate so much?

First of all, they are not tiny. They are 1- 1 1/2 inches in length and up to 3/4 inch wide, off-white in color with greenish-brown stripes on their hard outer shell. They have large, fuzzy antennae. 

But the worse feature is their long ‘sticky’ legs. By sticky, I mean they stick to things- like screen doors in the summer evenings…and skin…and hair! Makes me cringe just thinking about it.
They come out in the heat of the summer, usually in the later part of the day, and are attracted to the light. So just about every evening, we would find at least one or two of them clinging to the screen door. We could examine and poke at them from the ‘safety’ of the indoors, but wouldn’t dare go out there and risk having them land on us.


Many years ago, after I got married, all the family gathered at my Mother’s house in the summer for a hot dog/marshmallow roast. It was dark outside and we had a big, roaring fire going. It was great fun. But all of a sudden, we were invaded!




June bugs love light and heat, and they began flying all around- oh yes! they fly, too!- and we all started ducking and flailing around, putting whatever we had over our heads, because you do not want one of them landing in your hair, and we dashed for the house! A few of the critters hitched a ride inside with us. Oh my! What an exciting time, right?! Oh, I can laugh about it now!

I forgot to tell you one more thing about June bugs. They hiss! Loudly!

One particular summer evening, two of my sisters and I were rehearsing some songs, using microphone equipment. It was hot and stuffy in the room, so we had opened the door.

All at once, we heard a sound…a hissing sound. We looked around, and there it was.


Sitting on Debbie’s shoulder was a huge June bug, the microphone amplifying it’s already loud hissing! I don’t recall Debbie’s reaction, but I’m certain that if it had been me, there would have been some screeching, and jumping, and carrying on.

I know the unique June bug has a purpose in the balance of nature, although I could do without them!

 
More information and pictures in case you want to know more:

inaturalist.org

(photos- public domain)

Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Passenger of Life

Daily Prompt – Passenger

Now days, life is often described as a journey. If that is the case, should I be the driver or the passenger? 

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In my married life, when we are traveling in the car, especially if we are driving any significant distance, my husband has always done the driving. The times I’ve offered to, he says, ‘No that’s ok, I’m fine”. So I sit back, enjoy the scenery, and snooze if it’s a long trip and I get tired. I don’t worry, I know he will get us safely to our destination.

Being the passenger isn’t so bad. But, there are a few down-falls. For instance, if I haven’t been paying attention, I won’t know the way to where we are going. And I don’t have any control of the wheel. I can give input and opinions, but other than that, I’m just a backseat driver.

If my role is the driver, sure I can see a blurb of some of the sites along the way, but I have to stay focused on what’s straight a head. I’m in charge, the responsibility to get myself and my cargo safely to its destination is in my hands. I cannot get distracted, or daydream, or look away from the road.

However, I can go wherever I want. I can get side-tracked or take a detour. But if I get lost or get in an accident because of my error in judgment, I am responsible.

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When I think about it through my Christ-follower eyes, I think my choice would be passenger. Because I want my life to be directed and guided by my Creator. I want God to take me to the destination that he has planned for me, because I know it will be better than anything I could ever imagine!

 

My input and thoughts along the way are valuable to Him and He wants me to enjoy the ride! 

Oh sure, sometimes I get in the driver’s seat and I go the way that I choose. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes I just get myself in a predicament.

But God is always right there, ready to take over and set me back on the right road. We laugh sometimes, we share the joy and the tears of it all.

It’s not always fun. There are some dark roads here and there and I get a little scared or worried about it, but He listens when I need to get something off my mind.

All in all, it’s a good journey, and I wouldn’t want to take the trip with anyone else.
Here’s a great song written and sung by my sister, about the road of life. I know you will love it!

Wheel of My Life – written & sung by Debbie Skinner

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(Photos – publicdomainpictures.net)

Faith, family, Uncategorized

Provision of Love

Provision of Love

If you are a dog lover or have a furry, four-legged friend like I do, you know their appetite is insatiable.

It doesn’t matter if they’ve finished off an entire dish of dog food, if you offer them a morsel, they will take it. They would love nothing more than to snack on people food all day long.

I’ve gotten into the habit of saving a tiny bite of my dinner for them, which they don’t get until I’m finished. Bubba will sit nearby watching me, never taking his eyes off of me, occasionally uttering an ever-so-quiet ‘whomph’, just in case I’ve forgotten that he is there.

Chloe, on the other hand, will lay on the couch, half-sleeping, acting like she isn’t paying attention, but her eyes aren’t completely closed. She is waiting patiently, not expending any unnecessary energy like Bubba does. But as soon as I make the anticipated move to offer the snack, she is there in a split second! img_2464

Their little faces are filled with such joy and anticipation! They have to sit still before I give it to them, but their muscles are twitching with delight.

My husband accuses me of spoiling our little ones. (Says the one the dogs pester every single morning until they get the doggie treat he tucks inside his shirt pocket!) What?! How can he look in their little, deep, black eyes and think they are spoiled? They are just so cute! Oh well, I tell him that’s why they love me more.

They give me such love and devotion, how can I withhold such joy from my little ones?

How much more will my Heavenly Father lavish on me! Because I am His child. And I give Him my devotion and look towards Him with delight and adoration, not because of what He gives me, but because of His love for me, and my love for Him.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!

 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.

But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12:22-31

“Consider the Lilies” written by Joel Hemphill-1977, sung by Heartstrings

(This is a video from a concert my sisters and I did several years ago. I hope it blesses you!)

(Photos- Robin Abrams, A Song In My Heart)”Consider the Lilies” sung by Heartstrings

via Daily Prompt: Snack

Faith, Uncategorized

Yet Will I Praise

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I was visiting an older, dear friend today who recently suffered a stroke and is experiencing significant physical effects, as well as having to leave her home and she is in the middle of trying to adjust to this huge change in her circumstances.

She expressed her unhappiness at her situation, understandably. Who would ever plan for something like that? Who would ever wake up in the morning and think that by the end of the day, life was going to look entirely different?  Nobody, of course.

As several women today gathered around her to offer encouragement and prayer, even in the midst of confusion, uncertainty, and unanswered whys, she firmly proclaimed her trust in the God she serves. Her body is not cooperating in the things she wants to do, but her voice is giving her Lord Jesus sacrifices of praise!

Being unsure or apprehensive isn’t a lack of faith. It affords an opportunity to face the circumstance, and then look up to the heavens and confirm who God says He is. When we are at our weakest, He is at His strongest! That’s when we lean on His strength, and we persevere and trust in His steadfastness! That’s not always easy to do!  Seeing that resolve in this dear woman is truly encouraging!

So all I could think of was this assuring passage in my favorite chapter in God’s Word.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
 
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
 
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you. 

Psalm 139:7-12

My sweet friend, while in the center of this chaos, though the fight ahead is daunting and unsure, is finding strength and hope in this truth, that the God she loves will never leave her side.

That is the hope that every human life needs. In God, there is hope.

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PenguinPrompt-Persevere

(Photo- Robin Abrams, A Song In My Heart)