Category Archives: Trying to be our best inside and out!

A Race to the Finish Line

My oldest son’s family (with four boys) are arriving one week from today for Christmas, and this is the room where they usually sleep on the pull-out couches.     What do you think? Am I ready for company? No, I don’t think so either.   😦 We’ve been trying to update our 30-year-old kitchen because our laminate counter tops were worn through and showing spots of white and the drawer hinges had been replaced so many times that the company no longer sells replacement hinges! I realize that Christmas is the wrong time to redo your kitchen, particularly when you’re expecting 24 people to visit, but when we started this project (6 months ago), they said it would take 6-10 weeks. Wrong! But you know, sometimes the only way out is to just keep trekking, so that’s what we decided to do! After all, eating out of the frig off the floor is over-rated! I can totally recommend the guy who’s doing our remodeling. The timing had nothing to do with him (had to wait on the cabinets to arrive, and then the order was incomplete, etc.). Jeff is doing an impeccable job (just for the record).  Unfortunately, he needs foot surgery, so he’s been working long hours to try to get things in shape for us so that I have a functional kitchen for the holidays. The counter tops and new sink will take another month. On top of that, he’s trying to do some extra things that somehow didn’t get into the contract. The lady at the store said, “Oh, he can put in temporary counter tops for you!” but failed to put that in the contract, and of course, I failed to realize that she failed to put that in the contract (along with various other necessary items, such as the strainers for the sink [whatever those are] and the supplies to convert our new range from propane to natural gas)…which Jeff is going to try to do for us (although he’s never done it before), because the company who is supposed to do can’t until after the holidays, and I need a stove!!     So the dust is flying and the living areas are pretty much a disaster area!                            Will Jeff be able to finish before the company arrives?  If so, will I be able to get the house put back together so we can eat at the tables?  (BTW, how in the world did I accumulate so much stuff in just 45 years?) I’m not sure the answer to any of those questions, but I’m praying it works out! Have you noticed that doing things “right” almost always seems to take a lot longer than we think? It generally costs more as well. There are hidden expenses (not just financially, but emotionally and spiritually)…all sorts of things we need that we didn’t know we’d need, not to mention human errors in communicating and planning. Still, God calls us to keep moving forward, doing the best we can and praying for help! I’m believing this is going to work out… somehow, and I hope that if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by life this holiday season, you will also keep looking up and trusting God to see you through!

“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord. (Proverbs 21:31)

 

Beyond the Board to Break Through

(Written by my dear friend, Lisa…)

Do you have six seconds for a powerful object lesson?

My daughter passed the first part of her Black Belt test in Tae Kwon Do and broke through 2 boards with her elbow for the first time at the test. In practice, she hit the middle of the board but didn’t break through, leaving bruises but no broken boards. It’s tempting to focus on the center of the boards because if she aims too high or too low, the boards won’t break.   The object lesson for me came from her training. She was taught that she can’t focus on the boards but must focus beyond them at the man holding them. If she aims for his chest, instead of the boards, she will have enough momentum to break through.

It reminded me that in prayer, it is tempting to focus on the challenges that I’m praying about, but that is the equivalent of looking at the board. We need to look beyond the problems to God and seek His heart, trusting Him to break through. He holds the ‘boards’ and us in His hands, and He is able. So I want to remember to look beyond to board … to the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 9:8, it says that “God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

I appreciate the repetition: All. All. All. All. No exceptions. God is able!

So I say with confidence, I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure” (Psalm 16:7-9).

Rise Up, My Love 262: The Mary Lesson

Song of Solomon 8:4 “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.” As we end the Thanksgiving holiday in America and begin preparing for the Christmas holidays around the world, here is a precious thought to help us focus our minds and keep our priorities straight. It’s fresh from the heart of God to you today…even though it comes from Solomon’s 4,000 year old song!

The bride warns: “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.” This is the third repetition of that refrain. The first was in 2:7 after the bride had become secured in her position as the true object of her husband’s singular desire and affection and was luxuriating in the rest of their love. The second was in 3:5 after the young wife feared a loss of that intimacy and had gone on a desperate search for her husband, stopping at nothing until she felt the wonderful peace of communion restored. This third time the refrain is heard in the midst of the busy-ness of their mature and very productive life together. It is not out of contentedness that she demands uninterrupted slumber for her husband, nor is it out of insecurity and possessiveness.

This time, the wife is demanding rest primarily for the sake of her husband, not herself. She has initiated their working together at what she knows he loves and needs to do; she has offered her love to him; she has prepared gifts for him; she has desired to give him her body and the sweet offerings of her mind; and now she protects him from those who would trouble him before he’s completely refreshed.

Three times the bride exclaims her charge: “stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.” Three times, the symbolic number of fullness in Scripture…the completion of perfection. Throughout their marriage the refrain is heard: At the first bud of secured love and loyalty, during love’s early testing and blossom, and now when their love is truly in full bloom and more beautiful and fragrant than a summer rose! When wrapped in love’s embrace and resting in love…do not end those precious moments until your Lord so please! If only we could learn this lesson…thrice repeated.   This is the “Mary Lesson.” Of course, Solomon’s bride had learned the secret centuries before Jesus walked on the earth, but it was demonstrated for us again in the New Testament when Mary sat unperturbed at the feet of Christ. The “Mary Lesson” is learning to love Christ above all else. Actually, it is nothing more than learning to maintain the intuitive understanding shared by passionate lovers of all generations. It is learning how to appreciate your greatest treasure while you have it!

God wants us to be like Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to Him. She did not care that there were other people milling about. She did not care that her sister was anxiously trying to play the perfect hostess for all the visitors wanting Jesus’ attention…and was frustrated because Mary wouldn’t help her. In fact, Mary did not care one whit about who wanted her to do what when or why! All she cared about was being with Jesus and listening to the things he wanted to tell her. Their time together meant more to her than anything or anybody else in the world, and well it should have, because this was likely the last quiet moments they had together before Jesus’ death.  Did you know that? Have you thought about what that would feel like? The supper that Lazarus, Martha, and Mary had invited Jesus to was just six days before the Passover…the night before his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and beginning of his “week of passion” which ended just five days later in his crucifixion. This was the night that Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with spikenard, and Jesus defended her, saying that she understood this was preparation for his burial. Other than the mention of women weeping at the foot of the cross, there is no record of Mary seeing Jesus again before his death.

How would you feel if you knew it was the last night you would be able to spend with the one person you loved more than anyone else in the world? No wonder she wept as she anointed his feet! But, bless Mary! Many had come to the feet of Jesus to be healed and receive miraculous help, but she alone of all mankind came to express her love and gratitude. Oh that we might so love Jesus, coming to sit at his feet in the quiet of the morning…or in the heart of night when we awake.Can you hear him calling you? Can you visualize his arms opening wide for you and feel the power of his love drawing you? What an incomprehensible privilege! “Come,” he calls. So may we come! Haven’t you experienced that passionate power of love? Is there anything you long for more than time communing with the one you love above all else? Do you protect your time “sitting at the feet of Jesus” drinking in His Word each day? That should be our first priority in life. If we learn to abide in the Vine and open our hearts to the flow of his Spirit at the beginning of each new day, we will be wonderfully nourished and revitalized…filled with “sap” and plump again like a limp flower rejuvenated after a refreshing rain!

Just as Prince Jonathan—weary from pursuing his enemies all day—was refreshed by dipping the end of his rod into the honey comb “and his eyes were enlightened” (I Samuel 14:27), so our hearts will be refreshed and our eyes enlightened to discern good and evil if we satisfy our souls by feeding on honey out of the Rock each day (Psalm 81:16). If you glean nothing else from this book, please learn the “Mary Lesson”…learn to be intimate with God by sitting daily at the feet of Jesus, listening to and obeying his Words…loving him, and gratefully expressing that love to him.

“Stir not up nor awake my love until he please.” Sit still at his feet… and in his embrace …until our lovely Lord Jesus is pleased to send us forth again into the heat of the new day.

Sweet Thoughts from Face Book Friends

Face Book is mainly a joy to me because I love to see photos of my friends and their families and hear all the news, but it’s also just plain fun at times, because there are so many crazy jokes going around, and it’s also uplifting to read the encouraging thoughts that friends share. Today I want to share some of these inspiring thoughts with  you: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:14-15).

Everywhere You Go There’s a Zacchaeus Up a Tree

I think everybody needs to keep a book handy in their purse or pocket…or at the very least, on their cell phone.  🙂  On our recent trip to India and Nepal, I kept Everywhere You Go There’s a Zacchaeus Up a Tree: Small Town Faith and Words of Wisdom tucked away for quiet moments while waiting at the airport for flights or at the hotels for folks to gather for meals or meetings. The book contains a dozen dozen (as in 144, but not a dirty dozen, a clean and uplifting dozen dozen) pithy devotionals—quick and easy to read, but with a punch that refreshed me like a glass of…well…punch! The stories where lovingly edited by Timothy Campbell from the portfolio of his father, Roger Campbell. Roger left a lifetime legacy of stories and thoughts as a pastor, author, radio broadcaster, and newspaper columnist who was published in over a hundred papers.  The book starts with “Five to Help You Thrive” (which I found right on) and “Leaving That Old Baggage Behind” (pretty apropos for someone on a trip, huh?).

If you’re looking for a devotional book not quite so old-fashioned and classic as  L.B. Cowman’s beloved Streams in the Desert, but something that still carries the aroma of small town America and the quiet joys of life from yesteryears, you might really enjoy the honeyed heartbeat of Roger Campbell as he explores life, faith, and love through the past 30+ years with an ageless wisdom that still rings true in 2017.

In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me (Psalm 56:10-11).

Corned Beef Hash: Breakfast of Champions (At Least My Champion)

Do you have an all-time favorite breakfast? If you’re married, do you know what your spouse’s favorite breakfast is? Your kids’? My husband goes out once a month with two of his closest friends, and he always orders the same thing: Corned beef hash with eggs and toast.  I always thought his favorite breakfast was eggs and bacon with hash browns, and that may be true, but now I’m not so sure! Maybe that’s just his favorite breakfast that I make! It struck me that I should learn how to make corned beef hash and add it to our menu. It’s so simple, I don’t know why I never thought of it before!

Corned Beef Hash for Champions
(per serving)

Fry together:
1 tablespoon butter
1 potato sliced and chopped into bit-sized pieces
2 tablespoons finely diced onion
Dash of garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

After the potato and onions are tender add:
2 oz. chopped corned beef (which you can buy from almost any deli). Mix and fry until heated through and starting to brown.

Serve immediately, offering ketchup, salsa, and hot sauce as condiments. (Got to keep up with the restaurant Jones, right?!)

PS—Do you have any favorite recipes for breakfast that you especially love or are family favorites at your house? I’d love for you to share them!

And there went out a champion out of the camp…” (1 Samuel 17:4). I wonder if Goliath had forgotten to eat his Wheaties for breakfast before challenging the Israelites?! “They” say breakfast is our most important meal of the day, so I hope you’re eating a breakfast for champions before taking off to conquer the challenges in your life each morning!

 

Follow Me, Boys!

If you’re ever in the mood for a charming Disney movie about small town America in the 1930’s, especially if you have any grade-school aged boys or budding Boy Scouts in tow, you might really enjoy watching Follow Me, Boys When our boys were growing up, they loved all the old Disney movies with Fred MacMurray, like The Happiest Millionaire, The Absent-Minded Professor, and The Shaggy Dog. They were family “cult classics” that got watched repeatedly.  We also had a lot of laughs over the Disney movies starring Kurt Russell like The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, Now You See Him Now You Don’t, and The Barefoot Executive. By the way, did you know that Walt Disney personally signed up Kurt Russell with a ten-year contract when he was just a kid, and Kurt became one of their studio’s leading stars in the 1970’s? Somehow, we all missed finding the earliest Disney movie where Fred MacMurray and Kurt Russell starred together: Follow Me, Boys! It might be because it was so old (1966), but it’s full of good-spirited fun and all the themes that make Disney movies memorable!Fred MacMurray plays the role of a young musician who decides to give up city life and settle down in a small Midwest town, where he becomes involved with the Boy Scouts. Kurt plays the role of a young boy who struggles with finding his own identity because his father is an alcoholic. Although you can kind of guess the plot from the beginning, there are some twists and turns along the way, and it’s a refreshing break from modern life! It’s good to remember a time when America was safer, life was simpler, and boys were free to enjoy hard work with lots of challenge while still having fun.Both my older brothers were proud Eagle Scouts in the 1950’s, and I’m really excited that my oldest grandson has just joined Boy Scouts! If your church doesn’t offer Awana or some other program geared to help kids grow up wise and capable, at least consider Scouts. But, maybe watch Follow Me, Boys! first. By the way, there’s something even better than following a good role model who will teach you how to tie knots, fish, and work hard as a kid, and that is a role model who will teach you everything you need to know about life both now and forever. There is only one such perfect role model, and his name is Jesus. Jesus can teach you not only to fish, but to be a fisher of men!  Do you know Him? Are you a follower? It will be the most challenging thing you’ve ever done in your life—much harder than becoming an Eagle Scout— but you’ll never regret it!

“And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world:
he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
(John 8:12)

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)