There was something so perfect as we walked into church this morning. After six plus inches of snow the budding trees where blanketed with beautiful white tufts of cotton. The sun made each facet of God's intricate work glisten as if on display. There wasn't a breath of wind and the temperature was on the rise. It was simply gorgeous and I was blessed before I entered God's house.
After church the dogs were chomping at the bit to play. The ground is absolutely saturated and I knew they'd get muddier than all get out...but...if I ran them while there was still a thick pad of snow, the snow would serve to keep them cleaner. Certainly cleaner than once the snow melts.
So out we went and wouldn't you know God wasn't done blessing me yet! As I threw the frisbee for Ecclesiastes, something caught my attention. It was the most peaceful sound I'd heard in a long long time. I turned around to see the creek behind our home had become a beautiful bubbling brook thanks to the fast-melting snow. I had half a mind to grab a chair and sit by this majestic site for the rest of the afternoon. Instead, I threw the frisbee long enough to burn Ecclesi's energy, grabbed the camera, take these pics, and come in to blog. I plan to head back and absorb more of God's beauty as soon as I press publish!
"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20
March 29, 2009
March 27, 2009
Kansas City has the potential of getting up to a foot of snow tomorrow. With this in mind I took a quick inventory of the kitchen. Milk was the first thing I checked and while happy to see it was still fresh, I discovered a mild case of incontinence.
I suspected this weakness shortly after I purchased the carton. The bottom was always damp, even though I'd wipe it after each use. I kept thinking it might "clot" or do something to heal itself, but it never happen.
Since the milk is undoubtedly fresh, I put a quart-sized diaper on it by folding two paper towels into a square and rubber banding it in place. I think she's cute.
Anderson Erickson would be proud!
March 23, 2009
I recently memorized Psalm 23 because I've always wanted these words tucked deep into my heart.
"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 forever." Psalm 23
As I plant God's word in my heart I look for themes, bullet points, and various patterns. For me this chapter isn't difficult to remember because it paints such a pleasant scene. Green pastures, still waters, walking with God, a full table set before me, fine smellin' hair, and an overflowing cup. What's not to like?
But scripture is much deeper than the picture it paints on the surface. Not one word is wasted or lacking. Every word is true and even the smallest of things have great meaning. For example, I never thought a thing about God leading His children beside still waters, until last Sunday when couple of ladies in our class shared pictures and stories from their recent trip to Israel.
All the pictures of the Holy Land where beautiful and thought provoking, but one photo in particular sent my mind wheeling. It was one of their tour guide with a hand full of leeches. Pulling them from a fast flowing stream, he explained how shepherds always led their sheep to quiet waters because leeches live in fast currents. If their flock drank from leech infested waters, they would invariably get the critters up into their noses, causing infection and possible death.
This prompted me to think about which I would likely choose if tired and parched, a quiet stream or a bubbling brook. I'd never compared the two before, but without question a bustling river would look and sound much more appealing. A subdued brook, however, would not likely catch my attention. In fact, I'd likely miss it all together, even though it would be the only good choice for me. This dear sister is precisely why we need a shepherd to lead us! We must learn to listen to the special sound of His voice and determine to follow it, even though it may lead us away from the sound of cool refreshing water. Not all things that look and sound good to us are beneficial. They can in fact lead to our demise.
Thanks to a handful of leeches Psalm 23 now holds deeper meaning. Isn't that just the way God works? Only He can use a parasite to show how some of the most appealing things of life are in fact often very deadly in the end. Let's determine to hear and obey only the voice of God.
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."
It's been two years since I bought my brand spankin' new car. We buy the best cars we can afford and get ones that last, keeping them for 10-15 years. This one should last past the rapture and someone's gonna get a nice car when I'm gone. Till then I'm enjoying my new wheels. Anyway, the tags expire this month so off to the lovely license bureau we went to renew the plates.
I shouldn't complain about going to the license bureau but I don't know anyone who enjoys such a trip. I will say it's better than years past. When Dani was a little girl, Autistic as all get out, our cars had us visiting the bureau on a bi-annual basis because we had to renew every year. Back then there was no seating, just one long line that stretched out the door and down the side walk. Dani would get restless as we crept our way to the counter and invariably do something embarrassing. Like the time she got to eying the back of a man's crotch who was standing a tight 12" in front of us. With the Autistic wheels of her brain in high gear she suddenly reached forward and gave him a goose that sent him hoppin'. Turning around to face the source, he and I met eye to eye. Uncomfortable and at a loss for words, I did what any mother of a gooser would do. I apologized with a simply sorry. To this day I think he thinks I did it.
By the grace of God we now have a new bureau building. Up-to-date and modern we have tickets to measure our estimated time of wait, seats to sit in, CNN news on two tv's, advertisements on the wall to read, coffee to drink, and a vending machine to snack it up. Everything anyone would ever need to withstand the wait and avoid a good goose. But, even with all these amenities the workers don't seem much happier. In fact while waiting we noticed a young girl calling out ticket numbers who sighed and moaned like an old leaky tired. She was clearly having a bad day and didn't bother hide it. Her drama was so apparent I remember thinking, "I sure hope we don't get her" to which she promptly hollered, "Blue ticket number four!" and off to the counter we went.
I handed the girl my required papers along with a complimentary smile and happy hello. Sometimes a kind smile can diffuse a negative tone like nothing else can and to my utter surprise I was pleased to see it worked. Before I knew it Dani was reaching over the counter to shake her hand (thankfully no threat of a goose) and was signing all sorts of little things to her. Lo and behold, like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, the young girl began to smile. Her face relaxed and her shoulders loosened until soon it was clear she was a truly nice person, she just didn't like her job and felt no conviction to hide it.
As I stood at the counter looking down on this young girl, I couldn't help but put myself in her shoes. I wouldn't fancy her job either. The sheer thought of every customer looming over my head as they complained about taxes, tags, and time of wait made me cringe, much like the goosed man from yesteryear. I might not have acted much better had I had that job in my youth because only now, ripened with age, do I understand the importance of doing all work, even the mundane and irritating, to the best of my ability. Called to emit a sweet fragrance, I must never piece the ears of those around me like an old worn out tire. These qualities, however, often don't come naturally. Instead, they develop with age and knowledge of the word of God, which is why I am glad to be 49 and not 19. Every age spot, wrinkle, and grey hair represents one step further in my walk with the Lord and for that I am grateful.
Oh, how I pray this young girl at the bureau grows to know the Lord each passing year. I really think she has potential. Glory knows if God can take a quick tempered selfish little twerp like myself and turn me around to walk by His side, He can certainly draw her near as well.
March 21, 2009
I have a sudden case of spring fever and I know I am infected because:
- I have an odd but "pleasant" desire to clean all the window blinds.
- My sandals have emerged from the storage bin.
- Because of #2 my first pedicure of the season is complete.
- The hinges on the porch swing are warming up.
- My garden gloves have made an appearance.
- The deck umbrellas are in full bloom.
- I am searching for my cropped pants, but...
- Need to first apply a few coats of self tanner.
- Coppertone's sunblock is perched on the bathroom counter.
- I simply can't wait to begin my next Francine River's book, which I will read on my swing under one of the for said umbrellas.
- I often smile as I listen to the birds prepare their nests for their soon coming brood.
- Great peace floods my soul as fresh spring air blows through the windows reminding me of God's sweet Spirit as it permeates our home.
Are you coming down with a case of spring fever? If so, what sign and symptoms do you have and what sudden urges overcome you this time of year?
March 19, 2009
For a while now I've had to limit the news I watch on T.V. I used to watch the local news twice each evening until it finally dawned on me they are both same. Same song second verse. Double trouble.
For years I've wondered why the news programs don't share good information along with the bad. After all, odds are someone has done something good worth noting that could serve to boost our hope in mankind. Besides, wouldn't logic dictate that a combination of good versus evil is that sweet and salty mix sure to draw more viewers? I always thought so, but who am I?
Well apparently I am not alone and a lot of people are craving to see the silver lining around the dark clouds of world events. NBC Nightly News has made it a habit to shine a spot light on positive things people are doing to help others amidst these troubling times. They call it "Making a Difference" and each evening, at the end of the program, they share stories of hope and compassion from all around the country. It's a perfect way to end the news.
For instance, there is the anonymous shopper who put $50 in an envelop and began passing it down the grocery line. Instructions on the envelop told the reader to either use the money if needed or pass it on down the line. Some shoppers actually added money to the kitty before passing it on.
Then there is the cafe' in Denver, Colorado, that asks their patrons to pay for their meal if they can and if they cannot, it's on the house. This story has spurred viewers from all over the country to donate money to this establishment.
And then there's the man who loves ice skating so much he wants to share his passion with area children. He buys old used ice skates from garage sales and thrift shops, then stores them in his garage. He's collected a wide assortment of sizes and colors in order to give them to children who cannot afford to buy their own. His story has prompted viewers to donate their own used skates, many of which are in perfect condition.
Lastly, who can forget the man who donates his time and money to transporting cancer patients to their appointments and therapy. Oh, how it warms my heart to hear these stories of good people doing good things in a world where evil appears to prevail. People like you and me close as the person standing next to us in the grocery line.
I don't know about you but I need hope. Just a little goes a long way and when it comes to hearing bad news at every turn, it's imperative for me to top it off with something good, otherwise I find myself wanting to shrivel up and die. That's why when I listen to the news I pray. I pray for the victims of horrible crimes, criminals themselves, and the ripple effect these evil deeds causes. I praise God for working His good in the midst of all that is bad and strive to keep my heart and mind steadfast on the truth that He is faithful in all He says and does. He knew all these things would transpire before the foundation of the earth and He has a plan; a plan that will forever prevail. For me this is just the hope I need to carry me through these dark and trying times. I also plant His word in my heart and recite it back to Him. Here are just a few.
StrengthPhilippians 4:13 "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Daniel 10:12 "Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia."
Luke 9:51 "As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem."
Hosea 2:16, 19-20 “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’ 19 I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. 20 I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD."
What do you do to stay afloat? Feel free to share your favorite scripture or good deed you've seen or done lately. Like a good case of the flu it's sure to lift the hearts of others; just the kind of epidemic we need in the world today.
March 16, 2009
When I was a little girl the women of my church had a program called Secret Sisters where all ladies who wanted to participate would put their names in a hat and have a drawing. The name you drew was the person you'd secretly send cards or small gifts to in order to brighten their day. It was always fun to have a secret sister, but you never found who she was until everyone's identity was reveals months later at the end of the program.
I always thought how great it would be to know the lady you were paired up with in order to better get to know her through your time together, which prompted me to start the Special Sister program in our women's Sunday school class. Ladies who want to participate fill out a Special Sister Information Sheet with information about their family, occupation, favorite foods, hobbies etc. After I receive all the sheets I pray over the stack asking the Lord to pair the women. Once paired up, I mail each lady her new sister's information sheet. From then on out the women have four months to acknowledge, encourage, and pray for the person God has place in their life. It's a wonderful way to gain a new friend and prayer warrior.
Now, I'm curious. Do you have a similar program for the ladies in your church. If so, please share. I'd love to hear about it. If you would like to know how to start a Special Sister program in your class let me know and I'll be happy to help you get started.
Oh, that reminds me. I have to get a birthday card for my special sister, Dana. Gotta run.
March 13, 2009
Ever find a blog you love so much that you immediately add it to your bookmark bar? Well I just stumbled upon yet another creative and helpful blog that I'm happy to share with you.
Erin, the $5 dollar mom, has a blog dedicated to $5 dinners. She's cute as a bug's ear and her bio is not only fun but inspiring. As one who missed the blessing of being born with the culinary gene in tact, I struggle at meal time. The simpler the better and I kid you not, my favorite cookbook is "5-Ingredient Slow Cooking" by Better Homes. I bought it at the checkout stand for $3.99 and love it. I need no more than five ingredients and can assemble it in the morning when I have more energy and forget it. Come dinner time, when I'm hungry and tired, all we need to do is lift the lid and dive in. That's my idea of preparing a meal.
What I like about $5 Dinner.com is how Erin shares her love and talent for thrifty meals, all for the benefit of those like myself who might be a bit challenged in the kitchen. And even though I may not be a kitchen wizard, I am always open to allowing someone like Erin infect me with their passion. I too like a good challenge, so making a meal for $5 is icing on the cake.
Go visit Erin and tell me what you think. Her blog page is one that will be on my computer screen much of the time. I've never been one to let go of a good tutor very easily. Perhaps she can make mealtime a little easier for you too!
March 11, 2009
Finally. It's over and everyone has a good home and praise be to the Lord! If you recall our son's dog, Lyla, delivered nine puppies here in our home Thanksgiving morning. They were all healthy, strong, and beautiful, but oh the task of finding nine good homes. What were the odds? We found fabulous homes for six right off the bat, but three still remained. Drew took them back home with him and he worked his tail off caring for them in his tiny little apartment. Out numbered and overwhelmed at times he once told me he just couldn't take it any more. But sure as shootin' each time he felt like giving up, he'd invariably muster up more strength and perseverance, refusing to give them to anything less than the best of homes.
This week he released the last two sleek black Labrador girls, Rosie and Toostie. They will be together in their new home on acreage near our home here in Kansas City. God is so good and I praise Him for hearing and answering my prayers. I can't tell you how many times I prayed for them, in fact, I made it a habit to hold each pup several times a day and pray for God to guide that pup to its intended home. They were all so sweet and loving. What a waste it would have been for any to not be allowed to bless a home with their companionship.
Drew, you did a fabulous job. I admire your tenacity and courage to not take the easy way out. You took in one stray dog and wound up with ten. Mercy sakes alive. Who could have ever known. Bless your sweet heart. Many homes are blessed because of you. Ours has been especially blessed. Your father and I are proud to call you our son. You'll be a great daddy one day.
March 7, 2009
Yesterday was such a gorgeous day we loaded up the dogs and headed off to the park. Ecclesiastes is such a frisbee lover that we knew we could allow him to run free. He never takes his eye off the his favorite toy and as long as that disc is in his sights he sticks to us like glue.
Whenever we go out with the dogs people often approach us asking to pet one or both of them. Some people are attracted to Cocoa Bean because he's a puppy, while others want Ecclesi because he is so large and beautiful.
Today we met a woman accompanied by two young Down's Syndrome ladies. One of the girls only wanted to watch the dogs and had no desire to pet either one of them. The other gal, however, absolutely loved both. She let Cocoa drown her with kisses on several occasions and threw Ecclesi's frisbee over and over. It warmed our hearts to see Ecclesi's gentle nature as he allowed her to pet him and carefully obeyed each of her commands to sit, wait, and shake hands. (Of course she was holding his frisbee.) It was truly a blessing to watch the girls interact with our dogs and I couldn't help but thank God for enriching our lives with the beauty of His creation.
"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen..." Romans 1:20a
March 4, 2009
Seriously. Is this not the biggest bell pepper you've ever seen? The clerk at the checkout said he had to count the peppers twice because he thought there had to be more than three in the bag. Then, we laughed about them being on steroids. The only thing that beat their size was the price. 88 cents a piece. What a find.
As I stared at these red beauties I began to fancy the idea of omelets for breakfast. Just the thought of eggs, melted cheese, and these crunchy red bits with coffee and toast on the side and I was had. So, I filled the veggie bag to the brim. I couldn't even tie the top. They were too big.
Oh and it felt a bit odd leaving the store too. Five inches of snow on the ground and I'm buying humongous peppers that look like I plucked em fresh from of the Promised Land. Peter Piper eat your heart out.