Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Year of Blessing - August11, 2010

Sometimes it is just the little things that can make your day better.

Jake found out that his Auntie Theresa was coming over for a quick lunch time and really, really wanted to do something special for her. I had pulled some wooden beads out of the closet for a craft project later in the day and he insisted on making her a necklace.

Quickly and precisely he put bead after bead on a ribbon, asking me what I thought of the necklace every other bead. He needed 2 more beads to finish when she came thru the door. He asked me to put them on and tie the ribbons for him, and went running to the door with his hands out in front of him. “Wait, wait, wait!!” he yelled. “Just wait!....just wait! Now Mema?” I told him it was all finished. He ran back to me, grabbed the necklace, and ran back to Auntie Theresa with the beads held in front of him. “I made this for YOU!”

Theresa, grinning from ear to ear, thanked him, hugged him, and put the wooden bead necklace over her head. It looked odd with her professional attire, but she promised Jake that she would wear them to work and show all her friends what a great nephew she had.

I don’t know who was blessed more. Jake for being able to give Auntie something special. Theresa for getting something special from such a precious boy. Or me for witnessing how the simple things in life are so very special. Yeah…it was me!

2 Corinthians 8:7 (New International Version)

But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Year of Blessing - August 10, 2010

Things look different thru the eyes of a child. I have been teaching Jake to use my point and shoot camera. We have gone from turning the camera on, to zooming in and out, to shooting close-ups. Some of the photos he's taken are very good! This is one of his great ideas...lying on the floor, he took a picture of himself! Bravo, Jake!

I wonder if God looks at me and cheers me on in my learning? When I learn a new attribute of Him, does He wink at me with a grin on His majestic face? When I show His glory by being kind to someone, does He give a God-sized thumbs up? Does He applaud when I finally understand that His discipline is meant for my good?

Why then do I fight for my will so much, when He is waiting with such great expectancy for me to learn His will? I don't know. But at least I am in good company with Paul, who said basically the same thing in his great "I do the things I don't want to do and don't do the things I want to" writing...or something like that. I always get it wrong :o)

Oh that God never give up on me! I DO want to learn more of His way! I DO want to know Him! I DO want a childlike love of "teach me just one more thing" when it comes to the life He has planned for me!

Thank you, Jake, for the reminder. You are doing great!

Romans 7:4-6; 14-27 (New International Version)

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Year of Blessing - August 9, 2010

When I was Jake's age, I remember I felt on top of the world with a new pair of shoes! (Who's kidding who! I still do!!) Jake got two new pairs for school. He put on his gym tennis shoes and literally flew thru the house! He jumped and twirled, rolled and ran, forward and backward! Finally his dad took them off and I convinced him to let me take a picture of them. He required that I also get the old ones in the photo too and lined them up neatly before sitting with his dad. He was proud, happy and ready to take on his new class with just his new shoes!

Now, fast forward two months, no make that two weeks. Will he still have the same zeal for those shoes? Will he still run crazy with joy every time he puts them on? I never did. By the end of two weeks it was business as usual in the shoe department and I was looking with envy at the kid that had just bought a new pair.

I struggle with contentment. I struggle with simplicity. I desire both but just when I feel I might have a grasp on the idea I complicate my life wanting something I don't currently have. Pete and I are now on a budget and lifestyle change that has given us the tools to live within our means. But just living with the paycheck God has provided doesn't put off the demons of desire. In fact, there are times they raise their ugly heads and whisper their enticing lies all the more because we choose to deny instant gratification for our long term goals.

One weapon I have used against the little imps with great success, has been gratitude for all the little things of life. In fact, the smaller the blessing from God the greater the impact on the demons of discontentment.

For example, I thought of what life would be without toilet paper. Right! My thoughts exactly! Yet when I prayed thanksgiving to God for the toilet paper we had, the voices of the demons were stilled. I am SO blessed! How about fingernail clippers? Clean water? Or a drive thru to buy food? How about a kind word? A hug? A smile?

It seems that the monetary cost of an item doesn't really reflect it's value at all! But it's overall value seems to become much greater when I think to thank the Giver of all good things for it!

A pair of new shoes - great! Thanking God for them - priceless!

1 Timothy 6:6-8 (New Living Translation)

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Year of Blessing - August 8, 2010

I love books. One look at my bookshelves will convince you of that. Some of them are worn from the many times I have read them. Some still have the remains of 'handy' bookmarks stuck in them: a receipt from McDonalds, plane ticket, a grocery list, torn corners of pieces of paper, even a picture of Pete holding my daughter as a baby! Many of them I haven't read. Someday I will crack them open to browse thru their pages. Someday.

But I lost one.

Being restricted on the amount of weight I can carry reached places I would never have study Bible. Carrying it for any length of time is hard. So I started reading it while I was laying down. Flat of my back, holding it above my head, making notes or underlining verses while it is precariously wobbling over me...yes, more than once it hit me in the head or chest because my arms gave out while holding it up! (Warning: Wielding the double-edged sword above your head can be dangerous!)

Which bring me back to the lost one. I had a thin NIV Bible that was way more practical and I began to carry it instead of my study Bible. It has disappeared. Gone. Lost. Vanished. Missing. No where to be found!! I have looked everywhere! And I began my precarious study habit again in desperation!

My knight in shining armor saved me once again with the gift of all gifts! A new thin line Bible with LARGE print! Does he know me or what!?!?!! I love it! The smell! Opening it and finding pages still stuck together from the printers and not from my latest coffee spill! All the clean room along the sides for notes and thoughts!

A new beginning of sorts. But there was one other thing lost.

Over the past year of struggles, my assurance of His Spirit living in me has been challenged and taken some direct hits by satan. God has gently led me to recommit my life with a conscience choice and declaration of faith in Him, His Son and His kingdom thru baptism. My new birthday is today! A day of assurance of a life lived in Christ, for Christ and thru Christ!

The BEST new beginning ever!

1 Peter 3:21-22

..and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Monday, August 09, 2010

A Year of Blessing - August 7, 2010

Ever feel like someone is watching you? Not in the creepy way that Luke is right now (pretty cool pictures, though, eh?), but in a loving, caring kind of way. I love the 'stolen' glances from Pete. The ones when I look up and he's looking at me with a smile on his face and he mouths "I love you". It sends and thrill of love and adoration thru me!

I have found that God does that. I glance up and see a beautiful sky, and God mouths "I love you". I hear a song on the radio that encourages me to lift my eyes to Him and He mouths "I love you". I feel the comfort of a soft blanket when I'm cold and He mouths "I love you". But more recently, I feel the knife hot pain that shoots thru my leg and He mouths "I love you".

Stay with me now...that last one was a really hard lesson for me. But God provided an example in Pete. When the pain comes, he is quick to react with loving arms, words of love, and prayers of intercession for me. How can I not believe that the God who watched His Son die would not be watching me? Or my savior who felt not only the physical pain of the cross, but the sins of all people, not be watching? Or the Comforter within me not interceding?

All thru the New Testament there is a thread of grace woven in the suffering of Christ's followers:

Luke 24:25-27 (New International Version)
He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Acts 3:18
But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer.

Romans 8:17-18
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

2 Corinthians 1:5-7
For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Philippians 3:10-11
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Hebrews 5:7-9
During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him...

Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Suffering is not an option to check on the list of what you want out of life, it is a required standard. Any person alive will suffer. Christian or not. The difference followers of Christ have, is in the option to glorify God thru the pain and learn obedience and perseverance in Christ. Pain and suffering, coupled with joy and strength in God, creates a powerful weapon to destroy the fear and doubt satan throws our way. It is a slow process. One that is learned one day at a time, one hour at a time, and sometimes one minute at a time. But each time we include Christ in our suffering and catch the quiet voice of God saying "I love you" in the midst of it, the pain is transform into praise, the prince of darkness is obliterated by the light of glory, and we endure with Christ for the victory He proclaimed at His resurrection.

I don't like the pain. And more than once I have 'offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears'. But in hope I accept the comfort of my Christ, and thrill at the 'I love you' the Father sends me.

Friday, August 06, 2010

A Year of Blessing - August 6, 2010

Or-ga-nize! Or-ga-nize! Or-ga-nize! This was my mantra today.

Taking breaks to walk around every 20 minutes or so to keep my angry sciatic nerve happy, I organized my way thru 3 months worth of photos. Wait, that should be 'I organized my way through most of May with 2 more months left to do'.

You see, I have 3 different cameras I work with on photos. Yeah, I know, it could be considered obsessive, but I always have one handy for cool, sweet, or funny pictures and I prefer to think of it as 'prepared' not 'obsessive'. So, with 3 cameras to upload, lots of files that I had already uploaded, and a few odd and end pictures, let's just say I have a bit more work to do on the organizing. In the meantime, I want to get the ball rolling again with the blessings I experienced today.

If you look in my closets you will find most of them really quite neat and in order. I love to have a place for everything and everything labeled in it's place. But it took me awhile to transfer this idea to my computer. Then I discovered...right click---new---folder---rename...and wha-lah! there's an instant 'shoebox' for pictures! And I didn't even have to go to Wal Mart to get it! (Or pay money. Dave Ramsey would be proud!)

I have 'boxes' and 'boxes' of these folders. So much that my computer started becoming very, very slow. I carefully packed my 'boxes' into color-coordinated cd's with matching plastic cases...all labeled of course. (Ok, this DID require a trip to Wal Mart. But I budgeted the money keeping Dave happy!)

All of that to say I am working on organizing my photos and carefully and lovingly putting them into their correct 'shoebox'. I will then begin the fun journey of Blast to the Past Blessings and see what God does with it. Until then, I will focus on the present, and the blessing of modern computerized organization!

Isaiah 14:24-27 (The Message)

God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaks:
"Exactly as I planned,
it will happen.
Following my blueprints,
it will take shape.
I will shatter the Assyrian who trespasses my land
and stomp him into the dirt on my mountains.
I will ban his taking and making of slaves
and lift the weight of oppression from all shoulders."
This is the plan,
planned for the whole earth,
And this is the hand that will do it,
reaching into every nation.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies has planned it.
Who could ever cancel such plans?
His is the hand that's reached out.
Who could brush it aside?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

A Year of Blessing - Repented and Revised

I started this year out with a promise: To photograph one blessing each and every day. I then added an accountability of blogging that blessing. I then discovered that people were actually reading what I wrote! And, I am ashamed to say, it frightened me. I took it as a great responsibility and found myself like the man with one talent...afraid of failing. So, when I was faced with a fairly serious heart problem (ventricular tachycardia) and a recurrence of my back problem in the form of two very angry sciatic nerves, instead of taking those blessings (and yes, they are blessings!) and writing THROUGH them, I hid them. Waiting until I was 'better'. Waiting until I didn't have to take so much pain medication. Waiting until I wasn't so frightened of what I would write or who would read it.

God showed me the truth with two events: One, the sudden death of an online friend close to my age, with the same back problems I have. And two, the beginning of another study on Max Lucado's book Fearless.

My friend and I had only met a few months ago through, (and don't laugh!) Facebook's Farmville! (you laughed!) Shellye used to work in one of the Texas school systems with the DARE program. She was one tough cookie who took one too many falls. One of them required back surgery. And this on top of a minor heart surgery earlier. She lived in constant stress taking care of her bed bound mother, and shackled with the guilt of past sins...big and small. Living through so much of the same recent events allowed us to talk about feelings others really didn't understand. We both loved Beth Moore studies and chatted about what we were learning. She was finding God to be merciful and loving, and praying through the pain as a way to give Him glory. It made us both feel a bit more sane and started a friendship that I didn't know could exist: one made up of typed words only...never meeting, never speaking, only 'chatting' and emailing. When I last 'spoke' to Shellye she was concerned with a change the doctors had made to her medication. She didn't elaborate much. Just said he had 'upped her dose a lot'. She had been dead 40 hours before her mother found someone to check on her. Me, in my ignorance, had sent her messages of encouragement and hope that her pain was less. God, in His mercy, knew she pain free and more importantly, free of the loneliness that drove her to constantly review her faults before Him.

I wept for a woman I'd never met, yet loved as if she were a close friend.

Then our small Sunday night group met to discuss what to study this fall. There was a re-occurring word from them: afraid. I'm afraid of ...what the doctor will say, ...committing to a relationship, ...what will happen to my kids and grandkids, ...what to do with my house, health getting worse, ...government,,! Since Pete and I had taught the class on Fearless earlier in the year, it dovetailed into this small group nicely. The first night we discussed emotions and how they were...emotions! But they were NOT necessarily true. And they certainly should not get a vote on how we make decisions or even react to any given situation. God should be our 'filter' and our ultimate guide to truth. Then we wrote down the fears we currently have. Now I have taught this class. I have read the book. I have believed God's word. And I STILL have fear!

I was afraid of failure.

Which brings me back to my first paragraph. I have been afraid to blog about what I was going through because I didn't know where God would lead me. But with Shellye's death still fresh in my mind, I fear not having the chance to do something I truly love and want to do: write about God's blessings! I am choosing, now, to continue the journey. I have all the pictures. That much I DID continue. And I will be posting them in groups of 5 or so with their explanation abbreviated. I will be praying over each post that God give me the courage in His truth to continue and ask you to pray for me too. This step of faith, in spite of my fear, is made with great humility knowing I could fail again miserably. I am trusting my Maker. And investing my talent in His truth.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

A Year of Blessing - May 2, 2010

May 2, 1977 was the day I began my journey as the bride of Mr. Peter E. Bowers. It is a journey of great adventure. Sometimes sad. Sometimes totally over the top hilarious!

I have learned SO much with my dear husband. Like how to garden and can our own food. In our early married years, we canned everything from green beans to pickles to tomatoes. Pickles were the most fun, or maybe I should say funny. We pulled one cucumber off the vine that was over a foot long and decided to pickle it. We put it into a huge jar and measured ingredients out and fixed it just like the recipe said. After waiting the appropriate time for pickling, we pop the jar open to taste the rewards of our labor. After spitting the pickle chucks into the garbage and drinking tons of water we realized we must have been off on how much salt should have been used. Somehow one tablespoon had became one cup. And the strange thing is, Pete remembers this story totally differently than I do! But this is my blog, hee hee!

As I look through the pictures we have taken through the years I am amazed to remember my man with long silky hair, overalls and a beard. He maintained the beard for probably 10-12 years and then decided to shave it while I was away from the house one day. When Theresa and I walked into the room, he turned around with his 'naked' face, and Theresa burst into tears and ran from the room. She had never seen her dad without a beard. He grew it back. Guess the women in his life had a bit of say-so about his looks!

With 33 years of marriage behind us, I still see Pete as a wonderful, loving, extremely intelligent man with great integrity and a love for His God. He has faced down the giants of his childhood and stands victorious with strength that God has provided him through it all. He has faced down corporate ways with honesty and respect for the law and excelled in his profession. He has loved me through all of my physical problems and let me know on every step of the way that he will always love me.

I pray God allows us to grow stronger in Him and closer to each other. That in the years ahead, we will provide blessings for all we meet, and our love will continue to grow until it is totally ridiculous!

Pete, you are my best friend. My gentle lover. The joy God gave me 33 years ago. You are the one I belong to, and you belong to me. I love our inside jokes. I love that our lives are so entwined with each other that we finish each others' sentences. Thank you for the laughter and the strength through the tears. Thank you for choosing me to be your bride. Thank you for being my man!

Pete, I love you!

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (New International Version)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Year of Blessing - May 1, 2010

The onions are in the ground and growing. They are the multiplying onions I wrote about earlier. They will be nice once they get established, and we will be able to eat on them starting early Spring to late Fall.

I just wish Wilted Lettuce Salad was as healthy as it was when I was a kid. It is made with fresh leaf lettuce, green onions, bacon fried crisp, with the bacon 'drippings' (as my mother called the grease off the bacon) mixed with vinegar and sugar and poured hot over the lettuce, onions and crumbled bacon. Mmmmm it was SO good! But the health department said it was bad along with many other staple meals I grew up with like fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy. The wilted salad was a great side dish served with them.

Guess I will have my grilled boneless skinless chicken with a side salad and low fat dressing. It looks better on my waist than my childhood meals. Just wish it came with the same taste!

Ahhhh...the joys of growing up!

Numbers 11:4

The riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, "Why can't we have meat? We ate fish in Egypt—and got it free!—to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna."

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Year of Blessing - April 30, 2010

Another month gone. 2010 promises to go by faster than the years before. Each one seems like this. Time flies past! I see the years on my parents faces. I feel the years in my own body. My kids should be my grandkids age in my mind, and occasionally that shows up by me calling my grandkids by my kids names!

My daughter has taken my place as a mother. I have taken up my mother's place as grandma, and my mom has taken my grandmother's place as great-grandma. Life, in it's vapor-like passing disappears like the days on my calendar.

Yet there is a peace in time passing.

Patience is grown not in minutes but in years. As is wisdom. Both provide a solid peace in my life that I didn't have as a younger, less wise and patient person.

I find joy in the oddest places now, too. When I feel stressed, lonely, or hurt there is a deep, deep joy in God that I can choose to tap into, and like a deep, calm lake in the mountains, it is beautiful and serene.

Hope and faith, though, are working overtime on me. I still find myself wishing I were younger, wishing I had more time. But when I remember to lay aside my 'wishes' and lean on my faith in my Saviour, God comes blowing into my soul with the gentle breeze of Hope. The Hope of an eternity with Him in an unseen world where 'time', 'growing old', and 'dying' are words with no meaning.

Psalm 119:33-40 (The Message)

God, teach me lessons for living
so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
my whole life one long, obedient response.
Guide me down the road of your commandments;
I love traveling this freeway!
Give me a bent for your words of wisdom,
and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
Affirm your promises to me—
promises made to all who fear you.
Deflect the harsh words of my critics—
but what you say is always so good.
See how hungry I am for your counsel;
preserve my life through your righteous ways!

A Year of Blessing - April 29, 2010

Ahhh....the joys of photography! I just love to grab my camera and get some shots of...well...blessings! Little did I realize the danger involved in such a hobby!

More than once I have braved a busy highway to get a picture of a beautiful sunset or a thunderstorm. I have gotten scratched from sticker bushes getting pictures of unusual trees and roses, gotten cockle burs on my pants and in my socks taking pictures of fall foliage, fallen off a log while getting pictures of a buck with his harem, laid in the grass and gotten chiggers photographing bugs, and almost fallen into ponds taking pictures of reflections in the water! More than once I have been asked 'What are you doing?' either by passer-bys or authorities.

I come home sore from most photo shoots from the bending and squatting to get the right angle. I have even gotten sunburned a time or two from not putting on sunscreen for fear of getting it on my equipment (or just plain forgetting!).

Then there were the falls from not paying attention to where my feet are. Pete finally ran interference for me while photographing hoodoos in Utah for fear I would step off a cliff in my enthusiasm to get a shot of these beautiful formations!

I talked my parent into driving through Monument Valley to take pictures of the Mittens and other famous sandstone monuments. It almost tore their Suburban up with the holes and ruts we went through. I was unrepentant because I got some BEAUTIFUL pictures in that valley.

I am called 'Mamarazzi' by some of the less tolerant in my family, but I still love the photos I get of family get-togethers.

All this to say...batteries are a blessing! I use enough of them in all my photography adventures, that's for sure!

Psalm 50:1-2 (New International Version)

The Mighty One, God, the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Year of Blessing - April 28, 2010

While in a doctor's office, Pete showed me a magazine that had pictures of advertisements that were...well...a bit ridiculous!

The blessing? How many people do you see laughing in a doctor's office?!?

Romans 8:21-23 (The Message)

That's why I don't think there's any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

(Disclaimer: By the way, I was NOT visiting my OB/GYN doctor!)

A Year of Blessing - April 27, 2010

Here is yet another Spring blessing! The local Farmers Market...YEA! I just love the fresh, locally grown produce and the market in Broken Arrow has other enticements besides veggies. This time of year they offer plants they have sprouted to be planted in your own garden.

There was one man that already had leaf lettuce ready for sale. I asked him about fresh garlic, and he told me when to plant it, and when it will be ready to harvest (now is NOT the time, I found out!).

I mentioned I was looking for onions that would multiply. I had been given some 30 years ago when we lived in Arkansas and grew a lot of our own veggies. Our neighbor, and landlord, Mrs. Sullins, had a huge garden that she and her husband planted. Corn, okra, beans, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, carrots, squash, cucumbers, and of course onions were grown on about 1/2 acre of land. She would be out early in the morning tending the plants and pulling weeds. She never laughed or belittled our measly garden but encouraged us with her vast knowledge of planting, growing and harvesting.

One Spring, we had a thunderstorm roll through that dropped buckets of rain in a very short time. The creek that ran behind our rent house and the Sullins', started rising. It came over our garden and almost to our back porch! When I looked out at the Sullins beautiful garden, I saw that the back third was not only covered with water, but the current was running right across it! Her onion patch, three rows of corn (already two feet high), and her squash mounds were caught by the rushing water.

After the water receded, Pete and I went out and pulled debris off our fence and checked the outbuildings. Then headed to the Sullins. Corn was laying down with roots exposed to the now hot sun. Her onions were gone. We spend an hour re-planting and straightening their garden. Then I headed to the patch of onions Mrs. Sullins had given me. They survived the water and I replanted part of them back in her garden.

When the Sullin's finally came out to check on everything, they were very, very surprised, and so grateful, that Pete and I felt embarrassed by their emotional thank you's!

Thirty years later and back to the Broken Arrow man. He knew exactly what I was talking about, handed me his card and told me to come back on Saturday and he would bring us a bunch. I have been looking for multiplying onions for years and no one knew what I was talking about! What wonderful people God blesses me with, and what wonderful memories of a sweet, sweet woman.

Thank you, Father, for the reminder, and please say 'Hi' to Mrs. Sullins for me.

Matthew 13:18-23 (The Message)

"Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn't take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person's heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road.

The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.

The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it.

The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Year of Blessing - April 26, 2010

My miniature Iris are up and blooming! I call them 'my iris' but I didn't plant them. I didn't fertilize them. I didn't even water them! They came with the house we bought, but when we bought it they were buried underground without even a sliver of a leaf showing. They started poking their heads up about this time last year and I promptly called them mine! My miniature Iris were and are delicate and beautiful.

How many other things has God blessed me with, but I claim as 'mine'. A plethora of things pop into my head and I haven't even thought hard (notice I said MY head)! My house. My food. My phone. My water. My car. My body. My husband. My kids. My computer. My blog!

Now...I don't want to seem weird and make people around me feel strange by saying God's house, God's food, God's phone, water, car, blog! But they are. All of everything is God's.

Maybe I should start praying like my three year old grandson who thanks God for absolutely EVERYTHING he sees. The reminder would do me good.

I need to put MY pride in the grave, and let God have His place back.

1 Timothy 6:11-16 (New International Version)

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

A Year of Blessing - April 25, 2010

St. Johns is building a new hospital just around the corner from our house. It seems like it has taken forever for it to be built. Waiting for the land to be leveled, foundations poured, walls, drive, paint, lights, wind sock, and whatever went on inside, took a loooonnnngggg time! Now everything looks ready. The landscaping is even finished, complete with sprinkler system!

Obviously other people thought it was open too because they posted these big signs in front of the hospital. HOSPITAL NOT OPEN.

Jesus was born into a world needing a healer. But the world had 'signs' stating 'hospital not open' all around it:

The Pharisees made rules for the people that could not be kept: HOSPITAL NOT OPEN!

The Romans took over the promised land: HOSPITAL NOT OPEN!

The Zealots stirring up trouble: HOSPITAL NOT OPEN!

The tax collectors taking much more than their share of the peoples earning: HOSPITAL NOT OPEN.

Jesus arrived on the scene and called all people to come to him. He healed their sick, recruited their Pharisees, Zealots, and tax collectors. But still the sign read: HOSPITAL NOT OPEN.

Then he died, and it looked like the end. But Mary came to the tomb, and she saw the stone that was rolled away. And the lights came on! The tomb was OPEN! and Jesus brought healing for death itself!

I live in the Kingdom of the Great Physician! Where the OPEN sign is posted for all to come in!

Acts 4: 8-12

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is
" 'the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the capstone.'
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

A Year of Blessing - April 24 , 2010

I think I'm beginning to understand why the housing market is having so much trouble!

Some things are just too obvious!

Luke 12:32-34 (The Message)

"What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.

Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can't go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bankrobbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being."

A Year of Blessing - April 23, 2010

I have been ground from driving for five weeks now, so today a friend of mine called and said she was going to WalMart and asked if I needed anything. I said yes and she said she would be by to pick me up...but...she warned me she drove a convertible and if lightening struck it it would come through the top and electrocute us. The sun was shining so that didn't bother me.

She also told me that it was a little car and the big cars scared her so if one hit us we probably wouldn't survive. Now I was a bit concerned. But she offered to buy me lunch at Panera too so I figured maybe she could dodge the big cars.

Then she said she had bucket seats and for me to bring a big pillow because she knew I had back surgery and her seats would probably hurt my back. I thought about the pillow and decided if we got hit by another car the EMS people might wonder why I had a pillow and not treat me quickly enough... or if we were struck by lightening, pillows were quite flammable and that wouldn't be a good thing either.

At WalMart I found some cereal bars loaded with fiber and considered buying them but my friend warned me not to eat them while I was not at home because they had the same effect as prunes.

So let me see, if I ate the cereal bars and I had brought my pillow which caught fire when we were struck by lightening while getting smash by a big car...I think I would.... still have called it a great day!

I don't know who laughed the friend or me! But thank goodness we didn't eat those cereal bars before we got together!

Thank you, M, for being my friend indeed!!!

Proverbs 27:9 (New International Version)

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Year of Blessing - April 22, 2010

Well, here we go. Spring weather is a brewin' and the weathermen and weatherwomen are getting their 'excited' voices on. It really is funny! But as funny as the meteorologists are when they get excited, they are very respected! It is a wise thing to listen to them here in Oklahoma. I have watched enough tornadoes to know I don't want to meet one close up. But I have to admit a certain fascination with them. (Most Oklahoma kids think that the tornado sirens mean 'run outside and look for the tornado'! and when I mean kids I!)

How fierce winds are created by a severe thunderstorm is so complex, and new information is coming in every makes me realize how powerful and awesome our God must be. The fastest winds on earth were clocked in an Oklahoma F5 tornado, and yet our God is not impressed with our turbulent weather findings!

I wonder if He looks at our 'discoveries' and says, "Finally found that one, did you?" then waits in anticipation of us finding another one?

Job 38:22-30 (The Message)

Have you ever traveled to where snow is made,
seen the vault where hail is stockpiled,
The arsenals of hail and snow that I keep in readiness
for times of trouble and battle and war?
Can you find your way to where lightning is launched,
or to the place from which the wind blows?
Who do you suppose carves canyons
for the downpours of rain, and charts
the route of thunderstorms
That bring water to unvisited fields,
deserts no one ever lays eyes on,
Drenching the useless wastelands
so they're carpeted with wildflowers and grass?
And who do you think is the father of rain and dew,
the mother of ice and frost?
You don't for a minute imagine
these marvels of weather just happen, do you?

A Year of Blessing - April 21, 2010

After having back surgery, I realized that this tent God loaned me had gotten quite heavy. So as soon as my doctor gave me the 'ok' I started back to Weight Watchers with Pete.

We did really good until the cooler months came around and the vegetable stands closed down...and I went into hibernation mode.

We are back on, again, and really enjoy eating good food that is good for us! I can't wait for the Farmer's Markets to open up so I can get some fresh veggies! Plus, now we have a group meeting at church on Wednesday nights and I have lots and lots of friends that I am seeing less and less of every Wednesday night!! They are a great encouragement!

And I have lost a full dress size! Got a bit to go, but my back is saying 'Thank you!' already!!

Matthew 5:6 (Message)

"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat."

A Year of Blessing - April 20, 201-

Hannah and I got to have some Mema and granddaughter time. We don't often get to sneak off and play...just the two of us. But we managed some computer time and talking without interruption.

I grew up with boys...1 brother and 4 boy cousins made up my play group. My girl cousins all lived out of town and visited once a year, if that. Even when I had my own daughter, she was surrounded by 4 brothers and 2 boy cousins. Her girl cousins lived out of town too, and we only saw them occasionally. Now Hannah comes along and...she has 1 brother and 5 boy cousins close by. Her only girl cousin lives in California.

All of that to say what a precious blessing it is to have a granddaughter! And although I am much better at 'boy' type games, she is willing to teach me all the girl-stuff she knows!

2 Timothy 1:5 (New International Version)

I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

A Year of Blessing - April 19, 2010

The boys wanted to plant a vegetable garden and were so excited when Pete and I bought some storage tubs and put dirt in them!

Jake wanted to plant beans. So I explained how to make a mound of dirt in the first tub, poke his finger in the dirt, and plant a seed in the hole. He planted 5 seeds then we watered them. I told him it would take some time for them to grow and we would keep them watered every day.

Zack planted lettuce in the second tub. I showed him how to make rows in the dirt and carefully put the seeds in the row. Then I poured some of the tiny seeds in his hands. He promptly put them in the middle row...all in one spot...brushed his hands off and wanted to water them. I managed to plant some more in the rows and cover them with dirt before he got to the hose!

The next two tubs needed more dirt. We told the boys we were going to get more dirt at the store and showed them the three bell pepper plants and two tomato plant we would plant in them when we got back.

The boys were already in bed by the time we got back from Lowe's, so we planted the peppers and tomato's while there was still a bit of sunlight left. We finished up with watering all of them in the dark and felt blessed to share a bit of 'farmin' with the Jacob and Zach.

Early the next morning I was startled to hear Jacob screaming, "Daddy! They grew! The plants! They Grew! THEY GREW!"

I think I have a bit of explaining to do...

1 Corinthians 15:41-43 (The Message)

You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we're only looking at pre-resurrection "seeds"—who can imagine what the resurrection "plants" will be like!

This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we're raised, we're raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that's planted is no beauty, but when it's raised, it's glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Year of Blessing - April 18, 2010

Happy Birthday to Kristi and Dad!!

What a blessing you both are!

Kristi: I love your strength in the Lord and your overcoming spirit! You are beautiful inside and out! You are a blessing to all those around you, and you teach, not only your students at school, but all the people that come into contact with you, that Jesus is the provider of your life. You live as an ambassador of Him. I love you, Kristi! (Dont tell Grandpa...but you are my favorite!)

Dad: You gave me life. You helped me grow. And although your life was not always an easy life, you have lived it with integrity and honesty. You inspire me with your love of learning, especially with your church family, and the joy you are gaining in the Lord is...well... just awesome! I love you, Dad! (Don't tell Kristi...but you are my favorite!)

Ephesians 3:20-21 (New International Version)

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.

A Year of Blessing - April 17, 2010

THIS moment was fun!

Being a grandparent brings out the better part of me. I love just watching my grandkids play and listening to what they have to say. They are much wiser than I was at their age.

And even though I still wish I could sit on the floor and play or run around and wrestle with them, God in His wisdom makes me quietly watch from the sidelines.

From this vantage point I can pray over them a prayer of victory. I can no longer pray a prayer of safety and comfort for them (as much as my grandmother instinct wants to!!). Safety and comfort are not guaranteed in this life. So I pray for them to joyfully conquer every terrible dart satan may throw at them. I pray for them to find true strength, true safety, and true comfort only in the Lord.

Oh the hope I have for my grandkids in the victory of Jesus!

1 Corinthians 15:56-58 (New International Version)

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Year of Blessing - April 16, 2010

Pete and I found a place we would like to live. It is out 31st far as you can go! It is a lot overlooking a beautiful valley. It has mature oak trees covering about 1.4 acres of land. A house could be built in such a way as to catch the valley below in every window facing the back of the property. Imagine what that land would look like in the Fall or Winter! Too bad it cost an arm and a leg just to purchase the land...much less to build the house I'm thinking of!

So I will settle for a picture and a dream. Those are much easier on the pocket book!

Psalm 46:1,4,7,10a,11 (New International Version)

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

"Be still, and know that I am God;

The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

A Year of Blessing - April 15, 2010

I am privileged to do a very wonderful job at our church. I get to edit some of the church's worship and sermons. This means I go through a Sunday morning with a fine toothed comb. I hear every song and see every part of the service several times before a DVD or CD is complete. It is like worshiping in surround sound and 3-D...with the ability to push 'instant replay' whenever I want!

I see good things in our worship...and a few not so good. I hear good things in our worship...and a few not so good. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I laugh out loud, I sing along, and sometimes I cringe. I edit out what I can of the cringing moments and try to make the DVD better, in some ways, than the service.

It makes me wonder how God views our congregational worship of Him. I think His editing is absolutely perfect because He edits out the physical and looks into the heart of our worship. To Him we look and sound like His sons and daughters...absolutely beautiful, clothed in His Son, and singing in His Spirit.

John 4:23-24 (New International Version)

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

A Year of Blessing - April 14, 2010

I am standing with Godly people: people who show me God inside themselves by their kindness; by their love in the work they do; with the gentle words they speak.

I am standing with God's ambassadors; God's holy priests; His anointed ones. I see the light of the Spirit in their eyes and the strength of the Lord in their joy.

They are running a good race and encouraging others like me along the way.

They are holy, set apart to do good works and they praise God.

They are doing the good job that God had planned for them before the world was made...and they are doing it well.

They have peace. They have patience. They are good, gentle people.

They walk in discipline as disciples of Christ.

They are my friends.

They are Christ to me.

Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Year of Blessing - April 13, 2010

I really can't consider blessings without some reflection. Oh, I could move from 'thing' to 'thing' and call them blessing (because they are), but some blessings are not tangible. Meditation, for example. I am becoming a friend of meditation. I used to fight it...I don't have time to meditate; I'm not smart enough to meditate (yeah...stupid, huh); I fall asleep when I meditate (which I do, occasionally); and meditation sounds too radical and, well weird. Now before I give the wrong impression, I'm not talking about the 'sitting-cross-legged-reciting-ohmmmm' kind of meditation, just the kind of meditation that takes a scripture or truth about God, thinks about it, then allows God to speak that truth into my life circumstance.

For example: Romans 5:1-5. I started studying that scripture many years ago when I discovered that the Holy Spirit lives within me. And now I am still finding facets of God's truth in the same scriptures. Recently it is faith, hope, and love. Sounds like I Corinthians 13. So I compared them. Then in prayer and meditation I brought my 'findings' before God and ask His wisdom on what I discovered. I waited. Thoughts relating to different areas of my life are brought up, and I think of them in the light of the scripture, and faith, hope, and love. Then I choose the one thought that seems most pressing in my life and I lift it to God. Right now it is the hope that the pressure Pete is under at work will be lifted. I was almost afraid to hope for that relief because what if it doesn't happen? I would be SO disappointed! But the truth is 'hope' doesn't disappoint because God's love is poured out into my heart. In faith I stand in the grace of God and rejoice!

Throughout the day I am able to reflect on this truth and find strength in my Lord that would not have been there had I not taken the time to meditate and allow Him to quietly speak hope into my life.

What a blessing!

Romans 5:1-5 (New International Version)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

A Year of Blessing - April 12, 2010

Luke Skywalker. He was named before I got him, but with his whiney meow the name is appropriate. He is just one of many kitties I have had, the first one going back to when I was in first grade. His name was Snowball and he was solid white. He was the opposite of my Shetland pony, Blackout...which is another story altogether.

The next one was an inherited kitty by the name of Sonya. She would wake me up purring in my ear every morning. She stayed with my parents when I went to college and I never got her back.

Then there was Melanie. She was born on a farm in Arkansas and even though she was de-clawed she could climb trees and catch moles. She was given to my parents when we rented a place that didn't allow cats. But she was much happier in the country with them than in the city with us.

Sam was next. A HUGE Siamese. The vet called him 'maxie cat' because he was 22 pounds of solid cat. He would run through our house and make a leap on the back of our rocker only to knock it backwards on to the floor! Then he would fuzz up like it was attacking him. He got out of the backdoor one day and I never saw him again.

Next was Scrabble. A laid back Siamese that loved to get in the middle of anything I did. He got his name from climbing onto the Scrabble board as a kitten and knocking the pieces around the board in his own little game.

Scrabble was joined by Sassy, a Brindle Calico that my parents found abandoned on Green Leaf Creek. My dad, who swears he hates cats, who can't swim, and is terrified of snakes, heard Sassy on the banks of the creek. He waded weedy, snake infested, muddy, water of unknown depth, to rescue her out of a tree on the shore. David, my oldest son, was with him and my mom, and fed her coffee creamer and granola bars.

Scrabble and Sassy was joined by Simba, a grey tabby. She was a small compact cat but unfortunatly started having seizures. She lived about 8 years.

Scrabble and Sassy both lived to be 18 years old and were buried under some trees at my parents house. Scrabble in a casket made by my uncle. Sassy in a beautiful basket lined with a baby blanket.

That brings us back to Luke. He is my comfortable friend that I share with Pete. He has coffee-time with me every morning, follows me around during the day. He loves me unconditionally and doesn't know my faults. He is approaching Senior Citizen cat years and I know he will not stay with me forever.

My blessing? My feline friends, of course, but also the knowlege that life here is temporary. Yes, mortality is a blessing. A sobering one, but still a blessing. It is wonderful to think that some day I will shed this tent to soar in an eternal glorified body made by my Lord! Until then...I'm blessed here...with my kitty.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (New International Version)

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Year of Blessing - April 11, 2010

I love the buildings of downtown Tulsa and the churches are my favorite. Some are simple and some ornate...tall and squat...colorful and monochrome...I'll stop before I sound like a Dr. Seuss book.

It's really neat to think of people gathering to worship in each of those buildings...but I didn't used to think that way. I used to think there was a right way to worship and a wrong way to worship God...and the closer I worshipped like the people of Acts the better God liked it. My worship had to be 'acceptable' to my God or it didn't count so I would have my check list ready to make sure I didn't forget to do something. Oh how very, very sad and fearful I was.

But the very number of churches are a clue as to what God is really all about. Each church lifting hearts to God in a tradition handed down through our culture. A culture made up of a melting pot of people from different countries. And a God of all cultures and continents. The people of Acts worshipped very differently than we do because they were a different culture, but rather than fight that fact, I take comfort in it! My God is bigger than any and all cultures combined! And He chooses to work and live in all.

I still have my check list, though. After all I have to make sure to do things 'right'. But there is only one thing on that check list now: the name of Jesus. Being in Him, I have no fear coming before my God in worship nor embracing others who do the same...and it doesn't matter if our 'buildings' are alike or not.

Romans 8:1-3 (New International Version)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Year of Blessing - April 10, 2010

I LOVE garage sailing and junking with Pete! It is just one more thing I get excited about every Spring!!

We look through TONS of stuff that other people have decided to get rid of, and have seen everything from precious antiques to trash.

We have opinions about quite a bit of the stuff we find...what's good...what's bad...what exactly IS that?...

Once we held a competition: who could find the ugliest candle holder. We found candle holders made out of logs, lamps, shells, cups, dog bowls, turned wood, and an old stove. The competition ended in a tie.

Sometimes we have a goal. Right now it is to find inexpensive outdoor toys for the boys.

But the best part? We simply enjoy each other's company. A day of peeking into other people's trash to possibly find a treasure, but going home with the best treasure of all - each other.

Proverbs 3: 13-17 (New International Version)

Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
the man who gains understanding,

for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.

She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.

Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.

17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.

A Year of Blessing - April 9, 2010

Daniel blessed Pete and me with a dinner at Ted's! The dinner was an unexpected gift, and a very sweet way of saying 'thank you' for opening our home to him and the boys. He called it a Parents Appreciation Dinner with an invitation to eat anything we wanted. His gratitude is evident everyday and we emphasis that our house IS his house right now. He is home, with the understanding that someday, he will move to a place that is his very own.

Home...waiting for a place of my own. That is how I view my life. I am living at home in a tent that God made for me. Living a life of growing into His son. With a purpose of doing good and giving glory to my King. Preparing for a wedding day with the Prince of Peace. Loving with His love. Living with His Life. Rejoicing in all He has given me! Knowing I will have a place of my own with Him some day!

I can't wait for next Sunday when I can have a Parent Appreciation Banquet with my brothers and sister to show Abba how grateful I am!!

John 14:2-4 (New International Version)

In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.

(Again I am amazed how God has taken this blog...I was going to talk about the total OCD-ness of Daniel arranging the bowls of dip!!)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Year of Blessing - April 8, 2010

Zach has an ear infection and instinctively seeks comfort. So much so that when he was suppose to be taking a nap on the couch, he quietly snuck into my office and snuggled down near my chair. He slept on the floor, comforted by being close to another person.

Comfort. I like that word. It creates warm feelings and relaxes tight muscles. My soul longs for comfort and instinctively reaches out to my God creator. I follow that thread of comfort straight to the throne room of God where I can rest at His feet. Snuggled in warm love. Safe. Comforted.

Blessed comfort.

Psalm 23 (New International Version)

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Year of Blessing - April 7, 2010

As I sat in a McDonald's drive thru, I noticed a pretty yellow tulip blooming all alone. It had been planted next to a very ugly pipe and really seemed out of place in that empty landscape. Yet it bloomed. With its God design built into it, the tulip continued to grow and flower even when the area around it look dead and ugly.

I continue to struggle against God in 'blooming' where He has put me. I really don't want to embrace the life of limitations! Yet here I am: Don't lift anything over 10 pounds; don't fall; don't run; don't drive; don't drink coffee (yeah...this one really hurts!); don't sit too long; don't stand too long...and on it seems to go. And after looking over that list, I just wish I had a sarcasm font! Seriously?!? When just a year ago I was hauling sod and chasing grandkids everywhere?

I feel just as out of place as that tulip. I am not used to being limited. I have things I would really, really like to do. I have things I put off to do later...and now I will never be able to do them. I grieve over what I have lost!

But, unlike the flower, I have a choice: to bloom or not to bloom. And the God designed joy within me say BLOOM! So I CHOOSE to spend the rest of the day growing within my limitations. I CHOOSE to look at the blessing of being alive and still able to see what I am typing, type what I am thinking! I know I'm not the one in control...and I relax into that thought. I am free to wonder how God will use me to bless others. Free to do the work He planned for me to do before the world was created. Limitations? What limitations!??! I live in Christ! And that is a beautiful life beyond imagination!

What a God I serve that can use the ugly to show how beautiful things really are!!

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (New International Version)

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Friday, April 09, 2010

A Year of Blessing - April 6, 2010

In my fast paced world it seems to be harder and harder to concentrate on the really important things of life: love and relationship. I find myself engrossed in the 'busy' to the exclusion of the people I love. I loose myself in the fictional, virtual world to ignore my pain in the real world. And in the process I teach those closest to me how to 'live'.

In a class on prayer, I learned the phrase 'wasting time with God'. The concept is a very anti-American concept of learning to let go of the busy-ness and sit in total concentration of the unseen. To all who would see me, it would seem I would be 'wasting my time' doing nothing. But in reality I would be listening to the mighty whisper of my Creator. And in His presence I learn the importance of myself and others. I learn God-love.

Then my blessing would have a picture of my children and grandchildren wasting time with God. I am learning.

1 Peter 4:7-8 (The Message)

Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!

A Year of Blessing - April 5, 2010

Jake learned to toss a Frisbee! He was fascinated with it taking flight and guiding it to Papa. Then he learned to catch it and it was even more fun!! They spent a long time in the backyard polishing up Jake's skill as a Frisbee thrower. (Although the next day, he couldn't remember 'Frisbee' and wanted to throw the 'Hockey Puck'!!)

Learning is a blessing we take for granted too many times. A friend of mine works as a special education teacher in the public school system. She has stories of the children she loves that warm and sometime break my heart. She has a range of kids from kindergarten to fifth grade. Some can talk, others can't. Some can sit in a chair, some have to be held down. Some color, some eat the crayons. Some draw, some scribble. Some play on the playground, some eat the rocks on the playground. She is diligent and loving in her teaching and guiding even when she comes out with cuts, scrapes, and bruises from the very children she loves and teaches. Her joy in her teaching shines with the light that only Jesus could give her!

So, Vicki, you are my blessing today. I tried to get a picture of you, but my phone didn't get your 'best' side. I will have to bring my big camera to capture such a huge personality! I love you, dear. Thank you for showing me the Spirit in all you do!

Ephesians 5:1-2 (New International Version)

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

A Year of Blessing - April 4, 2010

Easter! The kids and adults alike love Easter! We hid eggs in the yard (in plain sight since we really don't have a lot of things in our new backyard yet) and the kids ran like crazy to find them! It didn't matter if they were older kids, or the youngest one, they ran to find as many as they could find. The adults? Cheered, laughed, and encouraged them on! It was as much fun for the spectators as it was for the searchers!!

The young, with all their energy, searched for eggs with surprises inside them. Zach, the youngest, expected candy. When he found a sticker instead, he threw the egg down and reached to open another in search of his 'expectation'. The more mature older kids, would look, gather their loot into a pile, find something that attracted them. Some liked the stickers, others found pipe cleaners and began to decorate the eggs with them or make animals out of them...creating really cool stuff to show the adults. Zach came around and watched them, and soon found the stickers were really cool because he knew what to do with them...decorate the furniture!

The adults encourage them with ooo's and ahhh's over their pipe cleaner creations, or with guiding them to decorate paper instead of furniture with the stickers. The day was a lot of loving fun and it didn't matter what your age was!

As a young person I was a lot like Zach. I persued my expecations of life, tossing out what I presumed was bad and keeping the good. As I grew older I allowed God to take the good and bad I had learned before, and use it to create my life in Christ. It was only then that I grew closer to HIS expectation and further from mine. And only then did I discover what a blessing He had ready when I allowed Him to lead my expectations!! He has Life...real Life...hidden in plain sight in the empty tomb!

It is so cool to grow in God. He allows us the freedome of choice to seek our expectations, with the Spirit guiding us to the best 'stuff'. As an adult (I heard that snicker!) I love cheering, laughing, and encouraging those younger than me. And I am learning to listen for the cheer, laughter, and encouragement of those older than me. Hmmm...I wonder if my spirit hears those that cheer from heaven? That's cool! So very cool!

Hebrews 12:1-3 (New International Version)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

A Year of Blessing - April 3, 2010

The rains came down and the flowers came up! (I know that is NOT the way the Vacation Bible School song goes, but for Spring blogging it seemed appropriate!) I am amazed at the intricate functioning of our world. I am not a science major or minor. Just a homemaker that appreciates God beauty in His creation and the way He made all things interactive with each other. Dependent on each other.

He wrote examples in the Bible of the interdependence of the human body and then equated the church, those who are in Christ, to be intricately functioning as would a human body, as the world He created does. A rhythm of life. A song played together on many instruments or with many voices. All in harmony. Beautiful when all parts blend and move as one song, but when a note or chord is sung or played that doesn't belong or is a bit off the whole...the WHOLE song is thrown off. Whether a little or a lot, the whole song suffers.

Just as in one body in Christ, when one suffers, we all suffer. But rather than try to eliminate that suffering, why don't I as a person, or we as a church, embrace that suffering as part of our lives. Move it into our center and allow Christ through us to heal it and use it with His power of faith and grace from the cross. What was meant to ruin a beautiful melody then becomes the grace notes of a bigger, better, tighter harmony, than it would ever have been if the suffering had not occurred.

Any who sing with a group knows how hard tight harmonies are. How the voice, hearing, heart, and mind ache right before a discord resolves into harmony. Oh but the beauty of the song because of the resolve!!!

I rejoice in the discords of life for I know that my Lord will be resolving any and all of the suffering I endure with His power. Not the power of force, but the power of grace. His intricate, interactive grace notes, resolving my life into His song.

Romans 5:1-5 (New International Version)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

A Year of Blessing - April 2, 2010

Thunderstorms in Spring are expected in Oklahoma. This one was a beautiful, fresh, and welcome one. It meant I didn't have to water the lawn after we had weed control pre-emergent put on it! Hey! Some blessing are just...simple, convenient, obvious! Like thunderstorms in Spring, in Oklahoma!

And the only scripture that came to mind:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (New International Version)

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

April 1, 2010

April first! I have completed three months of blogging! That is a feat for me. I struggle with any type of journaling and for me to write my thoughts for three months amazes me.

But today is also amazing. It is a day in the middle of Passover week. One of the roots of my faith in God is connected to the Passover feast, the Seder.

In years past, the feast was the highlight of my year. Yes year. During all of the very strict ritual of the feast, I was brought closer to my Messiah, my Lord, in each of the symbolic acts. I became a participant in an event that happened almost 2000 years ago. The Seder involves all of my senses: Hearing the blessings of God and stories of freedom, seeing the candlelight and food prepared with great intent, the washing of the hands and the touching of the wine to the plate in representation of the horrible plagues on Egypt, smelling the pungent bitter herb and horseradish of slavery and the sweet of the charoset of freedom, and, of course, the tasting. Tasting each of the foods representing the passage from slavery into freedom, taking it in with all of my senses. Making it a part of me.

Then understanding that my savior took this meal, with all of the ritual representations of his life and death. He then fulfilled each, including the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, the giving of His own life...for me. For all. And moved me from bitter slavery to sin, to the sweetness of forgiveness and a life of victory! I will never be the same again.

Remember Christ's Passover words...Easter is coming!

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (The Message)

Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord's Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said,

This is my body, broken for you.
Do this to remember me.
After supper, he did the same thing with the cup:
This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you.
Each time you drink this cup, remember me.

What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.

Friday, April 02, 2010

March 31, 2010

I was planning my normal 'calender' shot for the end of the month, but was interrupted by a Mockingbird singing his extensive medley of songs from the rooftop of our neighbors house. The wind was blowing so hard that he would move down the roof a bit followed by moving right back to the top! A very determined bird! With a song to sing!

Singing the songs He gives in the winds or the storms of life gives grace to those around. A grace from God that gives strength to those who sing. Sing on!

Isaiah 12:1-4 (The Message)

And you will say in that day,
"I thank you, God.
You were angry
but your anger wasn't forever.
You withdrew your anger
and moved in and comforted me.
Yes, indeed—God is my salvation.
I trust, I won't be afraid.
God—yes God!—is my strength and song,
best of all, my salvation!"

Joyfully you'll pull up buckets of water
from the wells of salvation.
And as you do it, you'll say,
"Give thanks to God.
Call out his name.
Ask him anything!
Shout to the nations, tell them what he's done,
spread the news of his great reputation!"

A Year of Blessing - March 30, 2010

I warned you about flower blogs in Spring! And here's another. Jacob came out with me to look at the flowers. He is facinated how they come up out of the ground and then grow buds and then flowers. But in his 5 year old understanding he ask me "Mema, what's up with that one?" pointing to the bush on the left. He wanted to know why it didn't have essence, what was WRONG with it.

In explaining that some plants take longer to flower than others, I started thinking how time comes into play with plants. They require the right time of year to bloom and grow. The right amount of time growing to produce leaves and buds and blooms. At one moment they look like dead sticks with sallow yellow leaves, then more growth occurs and the leaves are greened, but only at the right time will the flower appear. Not before its time, and not after its time. Only at the RIGHT time.

Looking at Jacob, I can imagine the man he will the right time.

So why is it that I can understand all about timing of plant and people growth, but miss God's spiritual growth timing? I am impatient when it comes to spiritual growth: wanting to bloom with patience before I grow in patience, wanting to bloom with wisdom before I grow in wisdom, wanting to bloom with kindness before I grow in kindness, and on I could go. I expect to be able to spiritually bloom before budding occurs, bud before growth, and grow in the middle of a spiritual winter!

I think it all starts with the seed (duh!). But right beside the seed in importance is the planting. My friend, Terry, uses this illustration at funerals sometimes. The seed must be planted and die before the beauty of the plant and flower are seen. So it is in death. The body is buried in the ground, with the assurance of the resurrection in Christ, to become like Him. But so it is in life right now! The seed of Christ is planted in our earthly body, His Spirit in us, and as we die to self, His Spirit grows from the inside out! To produce the shoot, leaf, bud and bloom of the Spirit, and ultimately the just the right time.

So I will continue to keep watering and nurturing His Spirit in me...and quit asking God "What's up with that?"

Galatians 6:7-8 (The Message)

Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.