Subscribing to Scribd

If you love books and have a bit of a budget for continuing education, then you might appreciate Scribd. Have you heard of it? It’s been dubbed the “Netflix for e-books.” Although there have been some serious accusations of copyright infringements since its inception in 2007 (by then Harvard student, Trip Adler), it is my understanding that at this point, Scribd has a clean bill of health and you can become a member without any concern that you’re doing anything shady. I joined last fall and have become a fan. For $8.99 per month, you can listen to as many audio books as you like, choosing from their vast collection of over a million titles and growing. Let me share just a bit of my own experience.

I love reading but all too often “don’t have time” for the pleasure of sitting and learning via the written word. To compensate, I discovered LibriVox (actually, my book-loving editor son told me about it), which self-identifies as “Accoustical liberation of books in the public domain.” This is a marvelous service, and you can access over 12,000 books that have no copyright issues. It’s completely free, closely affiliated with Project Gutenberg (another wonderful volunteer organization that has been digitizing culturally significant books in the public domain), and is always looking for volunteers who are willing to contribute their time and voice to adding to LibrVox’s listings with high quality books. Over the past 10 years, I’ve enjoyed a number of LibriVox’s audio books, and if you have no money for continuing education but have time and the means for listening to audio books, this is an excellent way to go!

And then, last year, I began hearing about more recent books that I really wanted to read but were (are) still under copyright. Again, my son came to my rescue, as did several friends, particularly one friend who travels by car extensively for her work. Scribd will let you have one month as a free trial, and within one month, I was hooked. (Also, if you’re a student and too busy during the year, you could still sign up just for the summer. 🙂 )

There is a seemingly endless array of possibilities out there, but I will tell you that I mostly read non-fiction Christian books, so not everything I want to read is available on Scribd, which is probably good. I love to underline, go back and rethink, and study the books I really love, so it’s good for me to OWN books. However, Scribd opens the door for learning at times that I just can’t read, like when I’m driving, folding laundry, or washing dishes. I hope nothing ever ends our desire to possess paper copies of precious books (the Bible most of all), but every avenue for growth and learning about God and good seems like a blessing to me.

Here are a few of my favorite books from those I’ve enjoyed since last fall (all of which could also be purchased, but I’m just giving you a sampling of what’s out there that I really appreciated):

*King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, by Timothy Keller (excellent study on the life of Christ from the book of Mark, for both seekers and those who have found!)

*Why Suffering?: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, by Ravi Zacharias (so helpful for gaining perspective on why a “good” God might allow suffering in this life)

*Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, by Stephen C. Meyer (highly technical but excellent information for those with scientific minds, providing solid philosophical and scientific arguments for the probability of intelligent design rather than random chance in the creation of the universe)

*Earth Psalms, by Francine Rivers (short, happy devotional thoughts about nature and God; easy listening for tired ears)

*A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Suffering, by Jerry Sittser (learning to accept and grow through tragedy)

*America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation, by Grant Wacker (fascinating, technical biography about one of our world’s most influential religious leaders)

*The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown (“The #1 New York Times bestseller about the Greatest Generation freshly adapted for the next generation” [that’s me]; wonderful account of a motley crew of young men who worked tireless to fulfill their dream of rowing their way to an Olympic Gold Metal back in 1936)

*The Classic Hundred Poems: All-Time Favorites, by William Harmon. The commentary on the poems alone was worth the listen; I felt like I’d taken a crash course in English poetry, and since I love to write poems, it seemed worthwhile to hear what the world loves best.

And more, although I won’t bore you. The point is, if you’re looking for a good resource for spirit and brain food, there are ways to promote learning and growth even during times when your hands are occupied with daily duties. Of course, nothing is as sweet and good as prayer and meditation, but if you have time for some audio books and $9 a month, you might also enjoy this avenue for expansion!

May Jesus bless you this summer as you pursue Him!

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:12-13). “Let no man despise thy youth” . . . or thy old age! Let’s be lifelong learners!!

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (39): To Resist or Not to Resist

The real problem with meditating on the commands of Christ is that many of them seem (and are) totally contrary to our human nature and therefore very confusing. It’s as if we’re on a hurdles course, and each new hurdle is higher or harder than the last in some respect. Last week, we learned about the need for a heart transplant, but at least we can rest in the knowledge that God, as our Great Physician, is standing by, ready to perform the surgery that only He can perform: Birthing within us a new spiritual heart that lives and breathes the pure, eternal life of Christ.

That is mystery and miracle enough, but what about today’s texts?!:

*Matthew 5:39 “Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

*Luke 6:29, “And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.

Wait a minute! This makes no sense at all, and I can prove it with a lot of other texts:

*James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

*1 Peter 5:8-10 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

*Hebrews 12:3-4 “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

Well, these verses clearly teach us to resist the Evil One and sin, but I guess they don’t really tell us to resist any and everybody who might be trying to take advantage of us. In fact, the New Testament teaches, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1). Some scholars believe that Jesus’ commands to withstand the abuses mentioned regard submitting to unjust authorities, since it was possible for a Roman soldier to demand a civilian to give the soldier his coat or carry the soldier’s burdens for a mile (or so I’ve heard).

As unpleasant and unpopular as it is, God wants us to submit to those who are over us in authority, such as wives to husbands (Oh, no!!! Oh, yes: Colossians 3:18), those who are younger to their elders (1 Peter 5:5), servants to their masters (and not just those employers who are kind and fair, 1 Peter 2:18: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward“), all of us to the man-made ordinances of government (1 Peter 2:13), and all of us out of deferential love for one another “in the fear of the Lord” (Ephesians 5:21).

Wow! That’s a long list of high hurdles God expects us to jump! I understand that God will take care of those who rest in Him when we are obedient but cornered: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day” (Exodus 14:13), but are their limits to how much abuse we’re supposed to take, and are we just supposed to become “doormats” for evil people to walk all over?

And, what about in the Old Testament? What about Joshua and David, and all the kings of Israel who fought against the surrounding tribes and conquered Canaan? Is it wrong to go to war against evil and oppression? Some people quote Romans 13:3-5 to say NO:For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” So, it appears to be reasonable, under the authority of your country, to defend “liberty and justice for all.”

I think the bottom line of Jesus’ command for us to “resist not evil” refers not to random acts of violence, but to authorized acts of unfairness . . . even EVIL ones, like the government “smiting us on the mouth” through an unjust ruling in court or demanding more of our money in taxes than we deem fair. Even on the personal level, we are told, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). This is a little easier to understand and work out, because it gives us an action point: Overcome evil with good. Seems a little easier than to “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:4). However, both are implicit in Jesus’ teaching. Sometimes we have to “take it” and sometimes we’re asked to “give it,” but always to give back good, even if we’ve been given evil.

Truly, I don’t think this is possible apart from the grace of God! In my flesh, I resist evil—especially directed against me—with every fiber of my being. But, there are times when God wants us to submit rather than resist, and I think only his Holy Spirit can give us the wisdom to know when to submit and when to resist, and then to provide the grace to do so.

Lest we become weary in well doing, God does give some promises along the way to encourage us: “Know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him . . . Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord” (Psalm 4:3,5). He will hear us. He will rescue us (1 Peter 8:10).

Finally, look back up at the verses listed above (and the passage listed below) on resisting. Each hurdle comes with a promise. If we “resist not evil” but submit first to God and then respond with patience and kindness, we will find that:

*The devil will flee from us.
*God will make us mature, establish, strengthen, and settle us.
*We will become partakers of his holiness and bear the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

Sound like what you’ve always wanted? No? Well, it wasn’t really on my bucket list either, but nobody said being a disciple of Christ would be easy or natural. It’s the way of the cross, but it’s the right way, and God wants us to walk in it! Maybe we can pray for each other as we practice trying to jump these high hurdles! God is watching, cheering us on!!

If you’re interested in the real-life struggles of two missionaries trying to grapple with this command, I highly recommend In The Presence of My Enemies, a heart-rending book about a couple who were abducted in the Philippines. I heard Gracia speak at a ladies’ conference a few years ago . . . amazing story of the power of God to transform us! Our heavenly Father is the Great Physician . . .but he is also the Final Head Master! Yes, the Force of All Good is with God alone, but it’s the greatest Force in the Universe!! May this Force be with us!!

Hebrews 12:3-15 “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”

Texts for this Meditation: Matthew 5:39 “Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” Luke 6:29, “And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.

Reubens, Rachels, and Californian Reuben Sandwiches

Ever heard of “Rachel” sandwiches? I think they’re so new they haven’t even made it into Allrecipes.com, and I’ve only had them twice—both this spring—once in Florida and once in Chicago. They are like Reuben sandwiches, only with coleslaw instead of sauerkraut. Around our house, we sometimes enjoy “taste tests,” so in order to test my hunch on how to make the sandwiches, I prepared three: a traditional Reuben, a “Rachel,” and a Californian Reuben. (Yes, and now they have “Reubens” made with fish instead of corned beef, which are becoming popular in Ohio and Minnesota, so . . . start your own trend if you want, and call it whatever you want!)

Since my taste test was for my husband, my youngest son, and myself, I made 3 sandwiches, and cut each one in three pieces, so we could each try each flavor. I’ll tell you what I did, and I was surprised to find that all three of us preferred the same sandwich, although you might feel differently!

All three sandwiches start out the same way: with pumpernickle bread (or rye bread) and Swiss cheese (although a swirled loaf of dark pumpernickle with light rye is very attractive). If you’re making Reuben or Rachel sandwiches, add several layers of sliced corned beef. If you’re making a Californian Reuben, use smoked turkey instead.

Traditionally, people use Thousand Island dressing or Russian dressing, but I don’t keep either, and I always keep mustard and horseradish, so that’s what I used. Suit yourself, according to what you have on hand and what flavors you enjoy. I like the kick from mustard and horseradish, and there’s mayonnaise in the coleslaw, so I don’t need more calories, but you can make them any way you please, and I’ll bet you’ll like them! For the “Reuben,” top the sandwich with heated, drained sauerkraut. For the “Rachel,” heap on your favorite coleslaw (I have a recipe here if you don’t already have a recipe: https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/a-love-affair-with-veggies-cold-slaw/ ). For the Californian, I put coleslaw on the top half and sauerkraut on the bottom, just to see which would be preferred by my family, but suit yourself. Remember the cardinal rules of cooking: have fun and cater to your own tastes! If you like something, others probably will too!

Next, butter the sandwiches well on both the top and bottom, and grill them slowly on low heat (about 325°F. if you have a thermostat, or on low heat if you’re using a frying pan). Grill them until they’re golden brown on one side, and them flip them over carefully (might take a hand and a spatula to flip them without losing too much of the filling) and grill them on the other side.

Grill time shouldn’t take more than 5-6 minutes altogether. (Here I’ve made Californian “Reubens” with crusty Italian bread, turkey, Swiss cheese, and coleslaw. Whatever you’ve got handy will work!)

I tested the “Californian Reubens” on some friends, because that’s where I heard about the “Californian” variety, although since I used coleslaw instead of sauerkraut, I’m not sure if it really qualified as a “Reuben” at all! Things were getting sketchier and sketchier, but everybody was amiable, so I think it passed.

And, what about the taste test with my husband and son? Surprisingly, we all liked the Rachel sandwich best: Pumpernickle, corned beef, coleslaw, Swiss cheese, mustard, and horseradish . . . sweet and sour taste points, sharp and mild flavors. If you try them, let me know which one you prefer, will you?

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul” (Psalm 138:1-3).

Sources for Senior Discounts

One of my daughter-in-laws posted the following information to my FaceBook page, and I thought it might be helpful enough to pass along to all of you (although I know many of you are from other countries, and another many of you would be too young . . . although you might pass the information along to your parents 🙂 )! I haven’t taken time to confirm that all these sources are actually correct, but hey—if you frequent any of these businesses, you can always ask, right?! Here’s how the story goes:

“As I was waiting in line behind an older gentleman at Wendy’s recently, I heard him ask for his senior discount. The girl at the register apologized and charged him less. When I asked the man what the discount was, he told me that seniors over age 55 can get 10% off everything on the menu, every day. (But you need to ASK for your discount.)

“Being of ‘that’ age myself, I figured I might as well ask for the discount too.
This incident prompted me to do some research, and I came across a list of restaurants, supermarkets, department stores, travel deals and other types of offers giving various discounts with different age requirements. I was actually surprised to see how many there are and that some of them start at the young age of 50 . This list may not only be useful for you, but for your friends and family too.

Dunkin Donuts gives free coffee to people over 55 .
If you’re paying for a cup every day, you might want to start getting it for FREE.

YOU must ASK for your discount !

RESTAURANTS:
Applebee’s: 15% off with Golden Apple Card (60+)
Arby’s: 10% off ( 55 +)
Ben & Jerry’s: 10% off (60+)
Bennigan’s: discount varies by location (60+)
Bob’s Big Boy: discount varies by location (60+)
Boston Market: 10% off (65+)
Burger King: 10% off (60+)

Chick-Fil-A: 10% off or free small drink or coffee ( 55+)
Chili’s: 10% off ( 55+)
CiCi’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
Denny’s: 10% off, 20% off for AARP members ( 55 +)
Dunkin’ Donuts: 10% off or free coffee ( 55+)
Einstein’s Bagels: 10% off baker’s dozen of bagels (60+)
Fuddrucker’s: 10% off any senior platter ( 55+)
Gatti’s Pizza: 10% off (60+)
Golden Corral: 10% off (60+)
Hardee’s: $0.33 beverages everyday (65+)
IHOP: 10% off ( 55+)
Jack in the Box: up to 20% off ( 55+)
KFC: free small drink with any meal ( 55+)
Krispy Kreme: 10% off ( 50+)
Long John Silver’s: various discounts at locations ( 55+)
McDonald’s: discounts on coffee everyday ( 55+)
Mrs. Fields: 10% off at participating locations (60+)
Shoney’s: 10% off
Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+)
Steak ‘n Shake: 10% off every Monday & Tuesday ( 50+)
Subway: 10% off (60+)
Sweet Tomatoes: 10% off (62+)
Taco Bell : 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)
TCBY: 10% off ( 55+)

Tea Room Cafe: 10% off ( 50+)
Village Inn: 10% off (60+)
Waffle House: 10% off every Monday (60+)
Wendy’s: 10% off ( 55 +)
Whataburger: 10% off (62+)
White Castle: 10% off (62+) This is for me … if I ever see one again.

RETAIL & APPAREL :
Banana Republic: 30% off ( 50 +)
Bealls: 20% off first Tuesday of each month ( 50 +)
Belk’s: 15% off first Tuesday of every month ( 55 +)
Big Lots: 30% off
Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days ( 55 +)
C.J. Banks: 10% off every Wednesday (50+)
Clarks : 10% off (62+)
Dress Barn: 20% off ( 55+)
Goodwill: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Hallmark: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Kmart: 40% off (Wednesdays only) ( 50+)
Kohl’s: 15% off (60+)
Modell’s Sporting Goods: 30% off
Rite Aid: 10% off on Tuesdays & 10% off prescriptions

Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday ( 55+)
The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: up to 50% off ( 55+)
Stein Mart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first Monday of every month ( 55 +)

GROCERY :
Albertson’s: 10% off first Wednesday of each month ( 55 +)
American Discount Stores: 10% off every Monday ( 50 +)
Compare Foods Supermarket: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
DeCicco Family Markets: 5% off every Wednesday (60+)
Food Lion: 60% off every Monday (60+)
Fry’s Supermarket: free Fry’s VIP Club Membership & 10% off every Monday ( 55 +)
Great Valu Food Store: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
Gristedes Supermarket: 10% off every Tuesday (60+)
Harris Teeter: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
Hy-Vee: 5% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Kroger: 10% off (date varies by location)
Morton Williams Supermarket: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
The Plant Shed: 10% off every Tuesday ( 50 +)
Publix: 15% off every Wednesday ( 55 +)
Rogers Marketplace: 5% off every Thursday (60+)
Uncle Guiseppe’s Marketplace: 15% off (62+)

TRAVEL :
Airlines:
Alaska Airlines: 50% off (65+)
American Airlines: various discounts for 50% off non-peak periods (Tuesdays – Thursdays) (62+)and up (call before booking for discount)
Continental Airlines: no initiation fee for Continental Presidents Club & special fares for select destinations
Southwest Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
United Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
U.S. Airways: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
Rail:
Amtrak: 15% off (62+)
Bus:
Greyhound: 15% off (62+)
Trailways Transportation System: various discounts for ages 50+

Car Rental:
Alamo Car Rental: up to 25% off for AARP members
Avis: up to 25% off for AARP members
Budget Rental Cars: 40% off; up to 50% off for AARP members ( 50+)

Dollar Rent-A-Car: 10% off ( 50+) Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 5% off for AARP members Hertz: up to 25% off for AARP members
National Rent-A-Car: up to 30% off for AARP members

Overnight Accommodations:
Holiday Inn: 20-40% off depending on location (62+)
Best Western: 40% off (55+)
Cambria Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
Waldorf Astoria – NYC $5,000 off nightly rate for Presidential Suite (55 +)
Clarion Motels: 20%-30% off (60+)
Comfort Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Comfort Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
Econo Lodge: 40% off (60+)
Hampton Inns & Suites: 40% off when booked 72 hours in advance
Hyatt Hotels: 25%-50% off (62+)
InterContinental Hotels Group: various discounts at all hotels (65+)
Mainstay Suites: 10% off with Mature Traveler’s Discount (50+); 20%-30% off (60+)
Marriott Hotels: 25% off (62+)
Motel 6: Stay Free Sunday nights (60+)
Myrtle Beach Resort: 30% off ( 55 +)
Quality Inn: 40%-50% off (60+)
Rodeway Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Sleep Inn: 40% off (60+)

ACTIVITIES & ENTERTAINMENT ;:
AMC Theaters: up to 30% off ( 55 +)
Bally Total Fitness: $100 off memberships (62+)
Busch Gardens Tampa, FL: $13 off one-day tickets ( 50 +)
Carmike Cinemas: 35% off (65+)
Cinemark/Century Theaters: up to 35% off
Massage Envy – NYC 20% off all “Happy Endings” (62 +)
U.S. National Parks: $10 lifetime pass; 50% off additional services including camping (62+)
Regal Cinemas: 50% off Ripley’s Believe it or Not: @ off one-day ticket ( 55 +)
SeaWorld, Orlando , FL : $3 off one-day tickets ( 50 +)

CELL PHONE DISCOUNTS :
AT&T: Special Senior Nation 200 Plan $19.99/month (65+)
Jitterbug: $10/month cell phone service ( 50 +)
Verizon Wireless: Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan $29.99/month (65+).

MISCELLANEOUS:
Great Clips: $8 off hair cuts (60+)
Supercuts: $8 off haircuts (60+)

NOW, go out there and claim your discounts – – and remember — YOU must ASK for discount —- no ask, no discount.
I Know everyone knows someone over 50 please pass the one on!!!!!”

Now, back to me (Kathi) writing! If you know of any other places, please let us know. I’m thinking to just start asking, “Do you have any special discounts for senior citizens?” and see what they say. All of us “old folks” might be happily surprised! What a kindness to those who are older, most of whom are retired and on a fixed income! Thank you, all you who represent businesses that give special breaks to the elderly!

Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man,
and fear thy God: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:32).

Meditating on the Commands of Christ (38): Stop Swearing!

Even though reared in a non-religious home, I was still taught it was wrong to “swear,” but to me, that meant “don’t use the terms ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ as a way of expressing anger or negativity.” I didn’t understand why, but I obeyed. Looking back, I’m sure this came from America’s culturally Judeo/Christian ethic, reflecting one of the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20:7, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

I have Jewish friends who are so careful to protect God’s name that they won’t even spell it out! They write “G-d” instead to honor the preciousness of His holy name. Today, God’s name is used “in vain” (“as nothing”) so commonly that it’s hard to go anywhere without being affronted by people disrespecting the highest and holiest name on earth and heaven. Even if people don’t believe in God or Jesus, why would they slander and disregard what is precious to others? To me, it’s just another proof that God really does exist . . . and that people are prone to rebellion!

This type of “swearing” doesn’t refer to taking God’s name in vain but means promising to be truthful. It doesn’t happen often today, except in a court of law, when we are asked, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” Historically in American courts, people were supposed to swear on the Bible that they would tell the truth, although this tradition is not currently kept in many courts. In Britain, people of other faiths are allowed to base their oath of truthfulness on their own holy book, and atheists are allowed to affirm their oath to truthfulness without basing it on anything.

However good and right it is to protect God’s name, that not exactly what Jesus is teaching in Matthew 5:33-37 when he says, “Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

In truth, ( 🙂 ) I think the atheists have the “most Christian” stance on this issue, at least if I understand Jesus’ command: “Swear not at all.” Rather than basing our truthfulness on some source outside ourselves—or even on our own “head” (meaning according to our ability to remember correctly??)—Jesus tells us to simply let our “Yea” be “Yea” and our “Nay” be “Nay.”

Oh, to be such people of our word that when we say “Yes!” we can be counted on to mean that we agree and will perform that which we’ve affirmed. “Can you come to my party?” “Yes!” But then, a more interesting opportunity comes along, and so our friend skips off to pursue something they prefer. Really? We say, “No,” but when pressured, we give in. Really? Oh, I just changed my mind! Really???

In a world where relationships seem to be built on shifting sands and keeping our word is no longer prized, let’s follow Jesus’ example of being men and women who can be trusted to keep their word. As a young person, I was profoundly impacted by the list from Psalm 15 that speaks about those who will be blessed, and one of the causes for blessing is, “He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.”

God expects us to be faithful, even when it’s harder than we expected (and isn’t that almost always the case?). God is the ultimately faithful one, and for this reason we can trust him and hope in him: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.24 The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him” (Lamentations 3:22-24).

Wouldn’t you love to have a friend who was always faithful and trustworthy? Wouldn’t you love to be a friend who is always faithful and trustworthy? Jesus would like us to be! In fact, he commands us to be. What a challenge!

Text for this meditation: Matthew 5:33-37 “Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Key Lime Pie

On our honeymoon (46+ years ago), we went to the Florida Keys and experienced our first Key Lime Pie at Hilda’s Restaurant in Islamorada. It was love at first taste!

Key Lime Pie served on a recent cruise

Over the years, Alan and I have continued our love affair with Key Lime Pie and often order it if it’s on the menu and we’re celebrating some special occasion.

Key Lime Pie from Charlie’s Crab in Grand Rapids, MI (our 46th anniversary)

I’ve also practiced over and over again until Alan thinks what I make possibly outshines and outlimes the best of them, so when some dear friends mentioned missing out on having some Key Lime Pie recently because the wife ended up in the hospital and they had to abort their trip, I decided it was time to make them some Key Lime Pie. They approved too, so I’ll pass the recipe along to you.

Mouth-watering Key Lime Pie

Graham Cracker Crust:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a mixing bowl, add:
7 crushed graham crackers
½ stick melted butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3. Mix thoroughly and arrange evenly in the bottom of an 10″ pie plate
4. Bake at 350°F. for 10-12 minutes, or until starting to brown on the edges
5. Remove from the oven and fill once you’ve made the filling!

Filling for Key Lime Pie

Start by washing about 6 limes and “zesting” (grating with a grater such as the one above on the left) enough of the outer peal of the limes to make 2 tablespoons of “zest.” Then squeeze enough of the fresh limes to make 1/2 cup of juice. Many recipes call for “Key Lime Juice” as a concentrate, but don’t fall for it! Use fresh-squeezed only! In fact, genuine “Key Limes” come from the Florida “Keys” and are very small, but they are hard to come by. Regular limes work just fine. The key is in the “fresh” more than in the “Key.”

Since I hate to waste anything, I also use the rinds (which hopefully were well washed before zesting) to add some flavor to water. Stuff them in a jar, add cold water, and store in the refrigerator. You can use one part lime juice to about 6-7 parts water, and add more water as you use the juice if you want. However, the longer I keep the water, the more bitter and acidic it becomes, so after a week (or less), you may find it’s time to use it up or throw the remainder out!

Next, in your blender, combine:
1.5 cups sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
24 oz. sour cream
¼ cup melted butter
2 eggs
½ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon lime zest
½ teaspoon vanilla

Bake at 350°F. for 35-40 minutes or until just barely done (may still be slightly jiggly in the very middle, but it should firm up okay). Cool on the counter and then refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it.

Before serving, crown the pie with whipping cream and sprinkle the rest of the lime zest over each piece as you serve them up. For the whipping cream:
In a mixer, add:
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar, then beat until medium peaks form. Or, for a different look, just whip until soft peaks form. If the pie is super fresh, the whipping cream will drip over the sides, which makes it look particularly dreamy! 🙂

Of course, no matter how you serve it, it tastes creamy and pretty much melts in your mouth!

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men” (Philippians 4:4-5. This may be the summer of pies for me. So often I am hard at work trying to diet, but this summer, with so much company, I will be making all my favorite pies to share most likely. I’ll try to intersperse them with more healthy options, but I thought it might be worth noting that a little dessert on occasion is probably not bad for you unless you’re overweight or have other health issues that prevent you from using any sugar. If that’s you, please just ignore these pie ideas! I think the Bible recommends “moderation” as the key in living an abundant, healthy life.)

Family Flock arriving!

One of the curious surprises of this summer has been watching four families of Canada geese rearing their families on our lake. In this first photo (if you can see well enough), you’ll notice one goose out in front with four other families coming along behind. One couple has five goslings; one pair has four goslings, and two pairs each have three goslings. I don’t know the facts, but they get along so well and travel as a group, so in my imagination, they are one big family.

The fascinating thing to me is that the family of geese are exactly representative of our four oldest children, all of whom live out of town, but all of whom are (or will be) visiting us this summer. One couple has 5, one couple has 4, and two couples each have 3 children. If I imagine Alan out in front, as the old patriarch, these geese are the perfect picture of our family!! It seems too exact to be coincidental, and so I watch them with even more interest than I might normally, wondering just what lessons the Lord might teach me.

Pair of Mute Swans

This is the first year in my memory that we have had so many Canada geese. For years, a pair of mute swans reigned supreme. They looked absolutely peaceful and regal, but in fact they were territorially challenged and wouldn’t share the lake with the geese, routinely driving them away as effectively as they could.

After twenty years of monarchy, the swans have died (I think), and none of their cygnets have come back with new mates, so the Canada geese are now free to claim summer campsites wherever they please on the lake. Similarly, here at Tanglewood Cottage, we’ve already had the pleasure of a visit from Aaron, his wife, and their four sons, so we’re off and running!

Our second son, Michael, and his family of five will be visiting too, and when they come, the house will ring with the voices of merry children . . . not unlike the sometimes boisterous calls of the geese on our lake!

Our third son’s family of three will be visiting too, so you can imagine the joyous chaos!

Our daughter, with her family of three, will visit a bit later, so we won’t be able to enjoy them all at exactly the same time, but we will definitely be experiencing a lot of action between now and the end of summer!

Favorite activities include swimming,

boating, campfires, fishing off the dock,

and exploring in the woods.

And, of course, a lot of good eating!

We’ll be exhausted by the time they leave,

but also completely disconsolate that they have to go!

If you have grandchildren, I’m sure you know what I mean! I used to feel like swarm of locusts or a tornado blowing through our parents’ homes when our seven kids were little and we visited. Still, Alan’s mother would write soon to say she hadn’t had the heart to wipe off the tiny fingerprints from her windows just yet. 🙂

I think with all the company, I may not be a very good correspondent blogger until the flocks have come and gone, but I’ll be treasuring up good memories to share, and I hope you’ll be storing up happy times . . . perhaps with your families too!

Enjoy these precious times with loved ones! If you’re young, help your parents, will you? If you’re old (like me), remember that children are of infinitely greater value than any material possession.

Whether you’re the grandparent, parent, or part of the youngest generation, let’s all pray for each other, determine to love each other no matter what, and take pleasure in all the chaotic ups and downs of sharing real life together!

I think time passes more quickly than we realize, and the time to love and invest in our kids is now. Today. This summer! This year. Life is fleeting, and before we know it, our kids will grow up and move away . . . or our grandchildren will grow up and not be able to visit because they have summer jobs.

I am so excited to have all four families coming to visit us this summer, and if I am very, very blessed, perhaps Alan and I will live long enough to have them all come again! But, if not, I want to make the most of every moment of this summer, and I hope you will too! God bless you!

How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!
therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.”
(Psalm 36:7)