Hello all! Fall is in the air and football season is in full swing. With 2 boys in marching bands at different schools, we are hopping to keep up. Wouldn't miss it for the world though. I know that one of life's landmarks is heading our way all too swiftly---the empty nest. We are trying to make memories to look back on when all this whirlwind of activity is gone. We all have several of life's landmarks in common. Our wedding day, the birth of our children, the deaths of our grandparents, parents, or spouse. Some bring joy unspeakable, and some bring pain unbearable. Through each one, our lives change forever and we grow in faith, grow in love and learn to cope with our altered state of life. Whether it be a good change or a bad, we know our God is there, rejoicing with us and mourning with us as well. His love never changes and we can find solace in knowing He never leaves or forsakes us---ever. One of our family's personal life landmarks is approaching. October 3rd will be the 8th anniversary of our home burning to the ground. The loss of the home and all our possessions in and of itself was a devastating loss that only someone who has experienced it can fully understand. It's a helpless feeling watching flames consume all you've worked all your life to save and earn. Irreplaceable family heirlooms and sentimental items are gone and no amount of money can replace them. It breaks my heart, even 8 years later, to think about the keepsakes with precious memories attached that are forever gone, nothing more than ashes buried in the back yard. But as life changing as that was for all of us, my life changed even more. I suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 45% of my body escaping the fire. I also suffered from smoke inhalation that has left me with a permanent breathing impairment. I carry the scars as a testimony of what fire can do to human flesh and bone. It isn't pretty and it isn't comfortable. It left me with chronic physical issues that I will have to cope with for the rest of my life. But thank God there is a life left to live! I could just as easily have slipped on home to heaven 8 years ago. I would have never seen my boys grow into the wonderful young men they are becoming. I would have missed so many landmarks in their lives and would have had so many of my own landmarks cut short. No matter how altered my life or how differently I have to do things now, I am here to experience it all! I always get a little introspective at this time of year as I remember all we lost and all we had to cope with afterwards. But I also look back at it with thanksgiving that my children are safe, my husband is safe and I am still here with them, laughing and loving and looking forward to a blessed future as long as the Lord wills. You see, He proved to me, then and since, that no matter what we face, individually or as a family, He holds us in the palm of His hand. Nothing will happen that He cannot see or control. Nothing the devil throws at us will harm us as long as we cling to His promises and stay faithful to His Word. I am blessed beyond anything I have a right to expect. My best is as filthy rags beside God's holiness. But I strive today and everyday to be the best person I can be for my Lord. I pray that our ministry through song can be the instrument of hope and encouragement to HIs people and a call to faith for the lost. It is my prayer that each of you will be able to hold to His promises through the good and the bad times and come out on the other side of those landmarks ever more firmly rooted and grounded in His love and care for you. Until next time.....may the Lord bless and keep you in His love.