Wednesday, December 28, 2011

After Christmas, what?

Christmas this year found us at Jambo House in DisneyWorld's Animal Kingdom Resort for a few days of wonder and African surroundings with the younger of our daughters, here for her annual Florida visit. What fun we had! This photo shows the dramatic main lobby. Outside stretches a realistic savannah populated with zebras, giraffes, gazelle (my nickname in college), and more animals and birds than I can name. It is magical for sure. Later in the week we spent a day at the Brevard Zoo and fed a baby giraffe by hand. Amazing! I wished our whole family could have been there. But alas, the days of frequent vacations together are rare indeed now.
Today we exchanged hugs and gifts with our oldest daughter and her husband, and three of our wonderful grandkids, said good-bye to our younger daughter at the airport, and headed home. Now what?
A dear friend invited us to dinner on New Years' Day and asked that we each bring a Bible verse, our expectations for the New Year (not goals), and a worthy quote. Expectations? Goals are easier, measurable, and can be tacked up somewhere. But expectations sound to me like the flip side of fears. This year was rough. What if next year is the same? Glad I don't know, frankly.
OK. Expectations. I expect, in fact I KNOW, that God will be good to me, in good times or bad. I'd prefer good. I expect He'll give me real work to do, maybe different from before. I loved teaching through the Meet Me at the Well Bible study published by Circle of Friends ministry last year. This year I'll do it again in our community. Can't wait.
I'd like to write another novel and expect to learn how to do it really well from my friend Debbie Macomber. That's a pure gift. I expect God is in this plan, leading me to a new challenge once again.
I expect to learn more about loving others. That is never easy, but oh, so important. I want to love my husband better each year, and also my family. I want to love my neighbors, as well. But my enemies? I probably have a few. Yes, them too, by some miracle.
I expect God's grace to grease and energize my soul with his Holy power. (Eph 1) I expect to need laughter, friendship, prayers, correction, and serious rest. I'll thirst for refreshment, grow strong with worship and joy, and fear the temptation to slack off. Pray for me as you pray for others who love you. I need God's leading this year so much.
I expect to hear far more from each of you this year. Please drop me a comment or a note. The ones I've received this year have been so encouraging and amazing. I thank you for them.
And I expect to pray up a storm, or through the storm, all year. I'd love to pray for you, too.
Have the best New Year ever!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Swamped by Christmas?

Hi, friends,

As always, I've been mixing with folks a lot lately. No doubt, you have, too.

It’s seems everywhere I turn, I’m hearing the same lament about the Christmas season. Instead of celebrating, there’s a lot of holiday groaning going on. And here’s the big reason. Bringing families together is complicated now. Just being in the same room, or sharing a meal can cause old hurts to surface, painful wounds to fester again, and ugly thoughts to affect the relationships we’d hoped would have healed by now. But they haven’t. And now we must face those people again.

Or not.

What happens when we postpone dealing with offenses either given or received within the family? The gap in our relationships grows wider, deeper, and more impossible to bridge. Think of it. At the time when we should all be happiest, grumbling and buried anger rise like gas bubbles in a swamp. Is that happening in your family, too? You are not unusual.

What relief? Look outside your circumstances, way outside. Look into Heaven for a new perspective. Christmas is God bearing gifts for you and me. Gifts of peace and love, forgiveness and mercy, truth and righteousness. The great gift of His Son Jesus being born into this messed up, sinful world, offers the promise of new life in Christ, real life that begins with the radical step of being sorry. Confessing our sins to God and those we’ve hurt (or wanted to hurt) is the only place to start. Ask God for forgiveness, for yourself and for those who have hurt you. While you’re at it, ask for grace to love that person like He does. It takes a miracle, believe me. Now, leave the outcome to God and His mercy. Take your place in the family as a quiet agent of His love. Give gifts of peace and forgiveness like God does to the undeserving, to the ones who need Him most. And while you’re at it, thank God for loving you enough to send Jesus in the first place. He died for you and me on the cross, forgave our cesspool of sin, and cleansed us with Living water through the Word of God.

Now, that’s worth celebrating!

Have a great Christmas, dear friends, spreading the love of Christ everywhere you go.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4: 31-32

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is life passing you by?

We've had three deaths in our family this year, the most recent happened last night when my bother-in-law, Louis Artfich, died in his son's arms of congestive heart failure. He was only 67. His wife, my dear sister-in-law Susan, died 2 1/2 years ago of cancer. Huge losses! Now their son, a grad student in Philadelphia, will have to do life alone as a young man. It saddens me deeply.

And yet I know Psalm 139 is true. There is an appointed time for each of us to literally "come to the end of our rope," our life rope. But guess who is holding the other end? God Himself. He loves each of us before we are even conceived. Read that Psalm today and ask yourself, "What on this earth am I doing with my life?" Nothing matters more. How you and I live our days out, filled with nonsense business half the time, dragging an often lame faith behind us, is foolish.

Want to change that? Make your life count for something? Make it count eternally for God's kingdom by living intentionally for Christ. Walk each day in newness of life, directed by His Holy Spirit. Invite Christ into your life if you haven't yet. If you have, never be satisfied with the little you and I know of Christ yet. Press on to know Him better, bring Him joy, and seek His will.

Then, each day will be a joyful investment in eternity. God will lead you with His joy, His strength each day, equipping you with everything you need to do His will. Then, when the end of our days arrives, it will be a joy to run into the arms of Jesus, Home at last! That's what I want. Will you join me?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's been awhile...

We haven't "talked" since summer. Where on earth have I been? Here are a few places:
  • at the doctor's office many times with my dear husband who came home from Hawaii super sick. Good news is he's fine now, two months, three rounds of antibiotics, and one root canal later.
  • traveling to see all our kids and grand kids, plus my mom, and attend a memorial luncheon for my dear aunt.
  • Speaking in Punxatawny, PA with Lisa Troyer (who was also sick) to a fabulous group of women at the Punxatawney First Church of God.
  • Speaking at Camp Pinnacle near our home town in Albany, New York for their Fall Ladies' Retreat. My daughter, Amy, came as my prayer warrior and helper. She was awesome.
  • Enjoying a couple of extended visits from my brother Roger from Omaha. Such a joy!
What's next?
  • Relishing Thanksgiving with my husband at our church, serving 1500 wonderful folks from our community. We are called "embracers." Love that name. It means we get to greet people and help them feel comfortable, something I want to do in Heaven someday.
  • I'm speaking in the Chicago Area for Christ Church Lake Forest on December 4 for their Christmas Tea. We have two seatings! Can't wait! I hope I'll see you there. Watch my FB page for details.
Have a marvelous Thanksgiving listing the many ways God has blessed your life this year. If you can't think of any, read Psalm 103.

Love to you!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Memories of a summer on the road

Memories of a summer on the road. Whew! We are finally home again after six wonderful but long weeks traveling over 4000 miles through 10 states to visit our entire family in New York, plus special times at the Delaware shore with Steve's sisters, his dad, and more family. Here are some special photos, more to come. The first is the discovery of the house our family lived in once. Lo and behold, it's located in the same town where my son and his wife and children live. I thought it was in a neighboring town, and haven't see it in almost 60 years. Amazing. It looks the same.

The next photo is our grandson Lucas at 11 months taking his first triumphant steps. What a joy to watch him toddle to his Mama's arms. This June I also took my first triumphant steps completing my first murder/suspense novel. What fun! It's being edited now and I'm bracing myself for the results.

And finally, here my husband Steve and I are in St. Augustine, FL en route home. No sooner did we unpack a week ago, than we are packing again, heading to Maui for two weeks to celebrate our 45th anniversary. Hard to believe. Soon, very soon, I'll be at home to stay. I think.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Texting I Can Live With

Here's the deal: I'm not a big fan of texting. When someone is speaking at a conference, or during worship in church, or while on the phone or computer, texting is uncommonly rude. My 2 cents. I'm fine with texting quietly any other time. But not when our attention is to be given to others. Especially God. Imagine saying, "Excuse me, Jesus. I have a couple of texts here I need to read first. I'll get right back to you.In fact, I'll send you a text, How'd that be?"

"A double minded man or woman is unstable in all his ways...."

So here's my current problem. I just added texting to my new phone. Granted, I was dragged kicking into it. Sort of. But now I have a dilemma - how NOT to be a hypocrite about this worldwide obsession called texting. With my toe in the ring about 48 hours, I'd love to hear from you about your own boundaries regarding texting, for you or your kids.

Here's what I hope to do:
1. Save text messages until it's a private time to read them, just like voice mail.
2. Try to give others my full attention even when a text comes in.
3. Not irritate others with constant messages.
4. REalize it's no sin to answer later.
5. Never listen to others on the phone or in person when my cell or keyboard are in my lap demanding my attention.
6. Use the English language as its meant to be used.
Pray I can do that. Now don't all text me at once!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

More Than Jelly Beans

I slammed the car door, hopscotched through the spring slush in the parking lot, and dashed into the store. Scanning like a hawk, I found them. Jelly beans! How could I have forgotten them? Imagine Easter without jelly beans.
At the checkout counter I realized my calculated rush was a waste. In front of me stood a woman holding not one, but two heavy baskets full of Easter goodies. I counted three plastic baskets with a small chocolate bunny for each one, jelly beans and peeps, little marshmallow eggs, plus that insidious cellophane grass. Then I noticed her.
She was young, very young, not much older than my daughter in college. Her maroon wool coat pulled tightly across her back. It needed cleaning and a little mending.
As she set each item carefully on the counter and opened a worn black leather wallet, I worried she lacked enough to pay for all this. I hoped I had extra cash.
"Twenty-nine forty-one," announced the clerk in a flat, loud voice.
The young mom counted out the bills one at a time. "Easter is so expensive," she mumbled softly. Then she grabbed her heavy bags and left.
"Next!" Automatically I moved forward and placed my jelly beans on the counter, but my thoughts followed the young mom out the door. I wanted to run after her, hug her, and say, 'Yes, Easter IS expensive! It cost God everything He had!'
But my feet were cemented in place. I came home with jelly beans and a heavy heart.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Friends, Fans, and Fun!

Something like this should happen to everyone! Out of the blue, my friend Mary (on the left above) delivered a lovely invitation to me. I was invited to a "Thank you, Virelle" luncheon the following week. Imagine that? Every woman needs one of these!

When I arrived, Carol's house was full of flowers, beauty, smiles, and new friends! At every place setting was this creative, beautiful salad, which I'm sure is meant to look like me. Notice the blonde cheddar hair and asparagus upstretched arms! Wow! The table was laden with fruit, flowers, food, and love. I'm enriched and over-thanked.

These dear women have been reading my books, especially Meet Me at the Well, and The Best Life Ain't Easy sharing their stories and insights with one another daily. How blessed I was listening to them, hearing their hearts, and feeling such deep encouragement. One question touched me, did I ever cry when I wrote? Yes, many times, and laughed, remembered, prayed and praised God for His outcomes, His story, His song that emerged. It's all about Him, isn't it? Everything we say and do. God sees His child with love.

A "Thank You" lunch is a bit of Heaven given to someone. Got a friend who needs one today? I'll never forget it.

Thanks for being there, for reading my books, and for your sincere friendship!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

How to Wake up Happy

There was a time when waking up happy challenged me. My first thoughts were, in this order:

1. What time is it?
2. How much sleep did I get?
3. Can I sleep some more?
4. What do I absolutely have to do today that I can't get out of?

Rarely did this change.

Until one day, it occurred to me, just waking up is a good thing. Also, waking up and being able to get up is doubly good. Add to that, waking up, being able to get up and knowing God still loves me makes it very, very good indeed. I am also able to serve Him, love others in His name, and ask for help on those frequent mornings when doing either is not so easy. All in all, a good day.

After all, consider the alternative in this sign in an undertaker's office: "Any day above the ground is a good day." I'd say that's true. How about you?

Make today a very, very good day, my friend, no matter what your facing. God loves you and He is closer than you ever imagined.

Bless ewe,
PS. Like this orchid? My husband bought one just like it and is raising orchids now at home.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Good Thinking

HI, friends,

Some of the best advice I’ve ever received came from a woman I didn’t like much. But she had a godly mom, and I knew these words came straight from her lips. After I’d downloaded some complaint, she said, “Think the best.” That’s it. Just “Think the best.”

How simple, I thought. I could do that. Maybe when confronted with situations or people that rub me the wrong way and make my nerves dance on edge, if I thought the best thoughts, instead of my usual critical or anxious thoughts, I’d be more in line with God’s thinking.

It’s no big surprise, then, that the Bible tells us in Phil. 4:8 to think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Nothing negative on this list, is there?

Yes, it’s an effort at first, but thinking the best gradually gets easier and leads more quickly to prayer, which is always the most excellent thought any one can have.

Virelle Kidder, helping you find the best life there is

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Real or Plastic?

Hi, friends,

Recently I listened to a few of my friends describe the kind of women they loved to spend time with. One said her best buddies were not all Christians, but were real people. Another agreed instantly, saying, “I’m tired of plastic women who are so concerned with how they look and the impression they make on others. I want the real deal in a friend!"

100% agreed! Do you feel the same way? Know what scares me? I wonder, have others seen me as plastic when I’ve taken extra care to have my nails done, worn a favorite outfit, and told only positive things about my life, or (gasp!) boasted about something? The thought makes me cringe.

Among the best gifts God has given me are several friends who offer me perfect freedom to be myself. It’s mutual. Confident they will tell me the truth every time, I feel totally comfortable sharing prayer requests, revealing my own failures, dreams, or struggles and anxieties, knowing I’m still loved and accepted by them. Real friends are unguarded, open and honest, easy to confess to, and gentle in their advice. What a treasure!

Do you have friends like that who are real and not plastic? I trust so. If not, refuse your inner plastic counterpart and ask God for real friends you can always trust. Just like Jesus.

On the same lap,


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Virelle: Off the Cuff: The Best of Times, and ....well, you know the rest.

Virelle: Off the Cuff: The Best of Times, and ....well, you know the rest.

The Best of Times, and ....well, you know the rest.

Hi, Friends,

Remember how it felt when the prom finally arrived? You've chosen your dress, or your mother made it like mine did, done everything within your power to clear up your skin, done your nails, practiced a few dance steps and smiling in the mirror, and the day finally arrived! That's how I felt when Moody Founder's Week arrived. I have seldom been so excited to speak, so prayed up, well prepared and ready to go.

And then the blizzard of the century came! No matter! My plane arrived just moments before the worst hit, and I was happily tucked in by the fire at my hotel when all those poor people on Lake Shore Drive were slowing to a halt in their cars. Two days later I was chaufferred to the event, greeted by the amazing Moody team you see here (Cal Robinson, Carmel Swift, musician Lisa Troyer, and Brenda McCord), and ushered into a gorgeous auditorium. Then it hit. Some sort of stomach flu. My worst nightmare.

This couldn't be happening! I made it through the first session, feeling horrible. But ten minutes into the second session, I had to leave the platform briefly to handle my now impending doom. "Oh, God, help me!" I prayed. Lisa Troyer stepped up to the platform and played a 4 1/2 minute song, during which the Lord provided me just enough time in the ladies room to be able to return and finish my message.

May this never happen to you! But if it does, may you have God's enormous grace on your side, and His beautiful servants nearby, as I did. Two women came to know Christ at that event, and many heard His voice of comfort and healing, in spite of my calamity.

I am going to remember this. No matter how excited I am about an event, it's best to keep the mind of a servant God can use any way He wants. Even if He takes me through my worst nightmare. I can't thank Brenda McCord and Carmel Swift enough for deftly caring for me without drawing attention to my illness, and Lisa Troyer for being my good friend.

Blessings on your day. May all your surprises be good ones!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Tongue Depressors

Hi, friends,

I love words, especially encouraging words, funny words, or insightful words. But words can also be my downfall. I know only too well that words can be a curse as well as a blessing.

Recently I said something at lunch with a friend that seemed funny to me, but not to her. In fact, her eyes filled with tears right after I said it. I wanted to die. She accepted my apology, and assured me her sensitivity revolved around another issue, but my heart was broken for hurting my friend. It was a hard lesson for me.

Yielding our tongue to the Lord, especially an impulsive instinct to speak up, is a measure of real maturity in Christ. James 3:2 says, “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he or she says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”

Saying the wrong thing takes no effort at all, but speaking life-giving, spirit-filled words takes yielding our unruly tongues to the Lord.
Will you join me in seeking a spirit-controlled tongue this year?

Let me know how it's going.