Saturday, December 31, 2011

The New Forever

Tonight my husband and I are celebrating New Year's Eve at home with rootbeer floats and an old Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck movie called "The Lady Eve." The title seemed to fit the occasion.

I'm not sure how all my loved ones are spending the evening, but I know there are two of my siblings who are having a great time together in North Carolina. The best part of any holiday celebration is not what you do, but who you spend it with. I so wish I could be down there with them to bring in the New Year.

Someday we will be with our loved ones at the greatest celebration of all. We will not only bring in a New Year, but a new forever. At Christmas we honor the First Coming of Jesus, but we can't keep our focus there. The Second Coming is what we are to look forward to. A New Year is nice, but I'm ready to begin a new eternity.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Fresh Eyes

Our entry into a new year is beginning with new doctors for both Dean and I. We saw one of the doctors today, a first visit, and I think the change will be good. Not that our previous doctors weren't good doctors, but after years I just felt that we needed someone to take a fresh look at our health issues and perhaps see something the other doctors missed.

In a similar way, as a writer and proofreader, I find that someone going over your work after you think you are done almost always turns up some errors that were made. Ones that you may have read over a thousand times yourself and missed.

It makes me want to have Jesus, the Great Physician, take a look at my life every day. Please, Lord Jesus, use your "fresh eyes" and uncover anything I need to correct and likewise change the treatment plan for my sin-sick soul, if needed.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Unexpected Gift

Today I received an unexpected gift from a home health nurse. She will be coming here weekly to assess my husband's medical needs. But bless her heart she noticed that his fingernails were getting pretty long and she talked him into letting her cut them for him. I've been trying to get this accomplished for six months now, so you can imagine my joy when the task was done. I told her as she left that she had just given me my best Christmas gift.

A tiny bit of normalcy has returned to our household with this one, seemingly trivial, event. I have come to treasure all the tiny details in my life though. It's like having a zoom lens on a camera. Caregiving can do that to you. Or being a parent. Or anything that causes you to focus on someone besides yourself.

Joy comes through the simplest of gifts, viewed with God's" zoom lens." Look for them. They are all around us. I'll see one of mine every time my husband takes my hand.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fur Types

Today I gave our little dog a bath. She is such a tiny thing, only about five pounds, so bathing is fast and easy. Her fur is so thin and fine, compared to the Sheltie we once had. I can't help but notice the difference in bathing, based on fur type alone. It took forever to just get the Sheltie's fur wet, and after soap was applied, rinsing was equally time-consuming. With Minnie, it's just get her in the tub, zip, and we're through. Even drying is a shorter process.

What does all this have to do with you and me? I think we all have different personalities and needs, just like fur type. Consequently, some of us require more maintenance to keep our relational and emotional forces working properly. Do we recognize which of our friends and loved ones are those requiring more maintenance? Or do we even care?

This holiday season I should take a closer look at my card list, address book, Facebook page, and all my methods for keeping track of friends. It won't hurt to make a phone call, write a little longer letter or email, or even visit in person those who need a little more maintenance. It will mean as much to me as it will to them. I'll enjoy richer and closer friendships, and it will be as nice as having a clean-smelling dog around the house.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sweet Respite

Today was a "me" day and I basked in the freedom this day at home all alone brought me. I left lights on in rooms I had vacated. The toilet seat stayed in one place with the lid up and the seat down. I ate my dessert before my dinner. I even had cranberry sauce on my oatmeal in the morning. I read a book whenever I felt like it and didn't even look at any bills or my checkbook. Amazingly the phone didn't ring while I was in the shower. Oh, sweet respite when my hubby goes to his adult day program once a week!

My daughter called later in the morning and wanted me to go shopping with her and to the library. I was going to the library anyway, so I said sure. I got to spend quality time with her and my two little granddaughters for a few hours. Who could ask for anything more?

Of course, I can't forget the respite time God gave us at creation. The Sabbath was given to us for just this purpose too. So we can break away from the world on the special day He blessed and spend it with Him. Jesus told us the Sabbath was made for man. Are we using it for the purpose He intended? Don't throw away His gift. Use it wisely, and you can have a delightful respite just like I did today.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Our Case Manager

With the holidays winding down, there's more time for relaxation and reflection, at least in our household. I've been looking back at my life, compared to the last year or two, and sadly, I can see changes that point to increased dementia in my husband. I don't want to recognize the signs, but they are glaringly present, and must be addressed and dealt with. These are not pleasant observations, but necessary ones for the ongoing task of caregiving for him.

Fortunately, God is in the caregiving business too, and His omniscience allows Him to constantly assess our situations and needs. We don't know the future, but this wise and all-powerful God does, and it's much less daunting for me to know that He is "on the watch". We couldn't have a better "case manager."

I pray that all my loved ones will allow God to orchestrate their lives. And He graciously does just that, when we totally and unconditionally surrender our lives to Him for that purpose. Don't wait another day to give Him the "reins" of your life. He will steer you through the roughest waters. It may be a rough ride, but He will see you all the way to our destination with Him, where all the worries in this life will fade into nothingness.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Gift of Love

Christmas Eve and like children all over the world, I am having a hard time falling back to sleep. It's not the excitement of presents in the morning, because we had our family gathering and gift sharing earlier this evening and my daughter's family have left for home hours ago.

I think it's mostly just thoughts and prayers for our family that keep me awake tonight. Granted, I probably have physical insomnia issues (like with the meds I'm on), but I try to use this non-sleep as a time of meditation and prayer for loved ones anyway.

Do our loved ones know how much we do care about them? If the current holiday season serves no other purpose than to connect us with loving ties to those we care about in our lives, it will be well worth the commercial hoopla, even if Jesus' name was never heard. For God is love... Let's share love this Christmas, or whatever you call the time of year. It's the only gift worth giving or receiving. Let it come with each package you open or wrap.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Maranatha, Come Quickly, Jesus!

This day, one year ago, was bittersweet for me in so many ways, but I try to think of the sweetness of it only. My father got out of the hospital, which he was getting tired of after almost a month. He hated hospitals and doctors, so nothing was sweeter to him than to enter his house once more. His little dog was there to greet him, and he had two daughters to wait on him hand and foot. We fixed his favorite foods for supper, and got him settled in bed. He was so overjoyed to be there and, snuggled up with his little dog for the night.

It turned out to be his last night at home though. That night he went to sleep in Jesus. It was the end he would have wanted. He was ready to leave this world, as it had truly lost all luster after losing our mother just three months earlier. Their passing has left a big hole in our lives, but the things they taught us and the memories we still cherish are able to somewhat fill the gap. The children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren live on to remind us that their lives did have meaning.

We look forward to the Resurrection Morning when all who love and follow Jesus will be raised to meet Him in the sky at His Second Coming. I have no doubt that my parents are both "resting in peace" and we will have a grand family reunion someday. Maranatha, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Keep on the Meds!

This is a critical time in the life of my cold. I am starting to feel better, and it gets easy to skip medications for my lungs, or at least pace them out further apart, just due to getting busy with life again. But when I get lax with the medicine regimen, I am in danger of my lungs drowning in mucos/phlegm. Not good for me, because if a cough produces mucos that gets caught in my throat, my lungs are so wimpy, I start to choke. I can't cough it up.

We are drowning in a world of sin too, and if we get lax with the "medicines" God has provided for us to take on a regular basis, we will find ourselves without the power to get that sin out of our lives. The "medicine" regimen God has put us on consists of daily prayer, Bible study, and sharing our faith. Let's don't get apathetic or too busy with life to follow His program. We all have "wimpy lungs" when it comes to fighting sin.

So, when temptations start letting up, it is not the time to slow down on God's program. We must persevere on our God-given "meds" as long as we're in this world of sin.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Candy Gratification

Christmas is creeping up on us much too fast. Today when I was in a store looking for something for the granddaughters, I realized that I hadn't gotten anything for my husband yet. One of the standard things for him to open on Christmas has always been a box of candy. So he found the one he craved and I got it for him.

Unfortunately, he ripped the box open in the car on the way home, offering me two chocolate covered cherries, which I accepted, while he pillaged the rest of the top half of the box before we got home! I tried to sneak the rest of the box, or what was left of it, into the house to wrap it. But he discovered my secret and couldn't wait to dive into the rest of the candy. I had to say good-bye to some of my best gift wrapping paper in the process, but such is the life of a caregiver.

This scenario reminded me of how I pillage God's plans sometimes. I dive into a project or an activity, without thoroughly testing it in the waters of God's design for my life. How I must spoil His fun by my desires for instant gratification. Help me, Lord, to wait on you, to postpone my pleasure for an eternity of beauty and love.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Tonight we say good-bye to our nephew for just a week, as he travels back to his old stomping grounds, Florida, for a holiday visit. Leaving this 20-degree Nebraska weather for sunny 80-degree Florida has to have its perks, but I'm sure at the same time it will be hard for him to see loved ones again for such a short time. Sometimes our lives demand sacrifices though that are hard to understand.

The biggest sacrifice of all, that of God's dear Son, is definitely one we have to ponder when we are faced with emotionally-driven events that don't always make complete sense to us at the time. Jesus not only made a sacrifice by dying for us, but the fact that He left Heaven to do it, is something we will never come close to simulating in our life situations here on earth.

Yes, what He left and what He did reveal sacrifices that don't make sense to us at all. Unless you remember the force that drove those sacrifices. It was love. Love demands sacrifices, and sacrifice demands love.  The sacrifice will follow, but it must begin with love.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Caregiver's Caregiver

Today was unusual in that the doctor appointment I went to was for me! It felt rather strange sitting in the examining room all by myself, waiting for the doctor to come in. As a caregiver, I'm more accustomed to being with a loved one, being their voice, and seeing that all their needs are addressed. I felt like a student pilot the first time they fly solo. I was really a bit terrified that I might not remember everything I needed to consult the doctor about. But at the same time, the freedom was exhilarating.

There is need for even a caregiver to have an Advocate though. In the courts of heaven, we all need Someone to speak up for us. We don't understand exactly what it is we need, but there is Someone who cares about us the same as a caregiver does. Enough to die for us. And He offers us the opportunity to cast all our cares upon Him. I Peter 5:7 is one of my favorite verses. It lets me know that there is a Caregiver for the caregiver.

I didn't need anyone else with me in the doctor's office today. Jesus was right by my side the entire time--the best Caregiver of all!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Bigger Program

Big event today was seeing my oldest granddaughter in her first Christmas program. It was a simple affair; the little ones just got up, held a candle "light", and sang a couple of familiar Christmas carols. But Jenna, three years old, did her part so well. She just looked out at the audience bravely and sang her heart out.

We adults forget the courage it takes to be out in front of others like that, whether it be a play, singing in a choir, or any activity that others are watching your every move.

As human beings on this planet, where sin has been allowed to run its course, we are on a stage of sorts. Angelic beings throughout the universe are watching to see how we deal with temptation and how we manage to remain close to the Father, with so many opposing forces against us. Let's be brave and sing out praises to God with all our heart. God and the universe are watching.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Mr. Nasty Cold still has his grip, but so far I haven't bowed to his power over my lungs. I'm using a nebulizer (machine to deliver drugs to my lungs, like for asthmatics), a cough expectorant, and antihistamines. Although I hate using so many medications, it's the only way I can keep from going to the hospital with my colds. Did I mention I have restricted lungs from scoliosis?

Just for the record, I'm also using the natural remedies of water, diet, fresh air, rest, and trust in God. And when this cold's over, I'll try getting the sunshine and exercise part again. We don't often think of these as medicines, but they actually do aid in our recovery, and more important they work as prevention!

I've always been amazed at how resilient our bodies are and yet how delicate its composition. Today, the seventh day to "remember" our Creator (see the Fourth Commandment), we often look at God through nature, but part of that nature is our created bodies. How wonderful that of all creation, our bodies can be "born again", or recreated. What a wonderful God we serve!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Another Voice

This cold I caught the other day has stolen my voice! It has made communication with my hard-of-hearing husband nearly impossible, because no matter how many times I repeat myself, he still cannot hear me. So, we have come to the place where we aren't doing alot of talking with each other. Loud whispers, when necessary, are about all I can muster.

I missed writing this blog last night; just wasn't feeling up to it. But tonight I suddenly thought that even though I can't talk with my mouth, I do have a second voice. The written word can be just as useful to communicate as the spoken word. Is that what God was faced with when we caught the "sin cold" and could no longer hear each other? He now speaks to us through the Spoken Word.

I'm so glad God did not give up trying to reach us when we became inadequate to speak face-to-face with Him. We may miss the direct approach they enjoyed at first in the Garden of Eden, but no one is to blame but ourselves. Let's listen to God now--in whatever way He can reach us...through the Bible, observing nature, good friends, and our conscience. All tools that God has placed at our disposal, if we will just use them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fighting a Cold

If there's one event that stands out in my daily life, it's coming down with a cold. Therefore today an outstanding event occurred. I'm coming down with a cold! And I do mean DOWN. Due to my restrictive lung disease, an average person's worst cold in their life, rates as one of my average ones.

There's just no way life will go on as normal for me the next few weeks. I will be using a nebulizer and  prescription meds to conquer this thing and not end up in the hospital. Natural remedies don't seem to make a dent in my recovery (and believe me, I've tried them all). With the exception of drinking lots of water to stay hydrated, and resting, at least as much as possible for a caregiver. (Lots of microwave meals this week for hubby!)

It's taken years to master my cold remedy regimen, but I think I'm prepared to tackle another bout with my worst enemy, Mr. Nasty Cold. I got to thinking about another regimen we all had better master though. How to handle Mr. Nasty Temptation. He tries to get us down on occasion too, but do we know how to minimize the effects of his unwelcome visits? And most importantly, do we have the necessary tools on hand to manage this ugly intruder called sin? We must be prepared and ready to fight the enemy, whether it's a nasty cold or a nasty temptation. Check your medicine cabinet NOW, call the "Doctor", and get ready for the fight!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gift exchange?

Tonight we went to my husband's monthly support group for brain injury survivors. Of course, being December, we made it a social event, with potluck supper and a gift exchange. It was nice to just focus on having fun.

As I thought about having a gift exchange, it just didn't make sense that you would bring a gift and come home with a different gift that someone else had brought. Why not just keep the gift you brought in the first place? Chances were good that your gift was something you liked anyway. Seems kind of silly, when you think about it. But people seem to enjoy it anyway.

Wouldn't it be more Christian to give a gift to all the significant people in your life and not get anything in return? After all, Jesus gave the Gift of His life, so that we could live, and He doesn't expect anything in return. But then, I thought--wait a minute, maybe Jesus does expect something from us. He expects our whole hearts, all our love and trust. Of course, our gift could never match His, since the whole world has benefited from His death on the cross. But there is an exchange going on in this act of salvation. God receives a relationship with His children, in exchange for His mercy and grace.

So, I think I'll keep going to gift exchanges. It really is a "give and take" world, even when it comes to God.

Monday, December 12, 2011

True Sisters

The other day I was shopping in the store with my daughter and two granddaughters. I saw some house slippers that fit the oldest granddaughter, but not the youngest one. So, I got the ones for the three-year-old and not the one-year-old. Figuring she wasn't aware enough yet to mind not getting something when her sister did.

I was rather surprised to have her mother tell me as soon as they got to their car that the older sister was upset that little sister didn't get something too. I hadn't counted on her awareness and sensitivity to the needs of her sister.

There are many people who depend on others to look after their needs. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, yet how often are we overlooking the fact that we have plenty and they are struggling? Lord, help me to be sensitive to the needs of those around me, and not focused on my own desires and wishes, especially during this holiday season.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Day We Forgot

Today I happened to be out shopping and noticed the flurry of people out doing the same. I realize it's getting close to Christmas, but I've noticed over the years that Saturday AND Sunday seem to be ordinary business days for most people. Special maybe in the sense that it is the weekend, but also days for doing whatever needs to be done that you didn't have time for on the weekdays.

Nobody has time for a "day of rest" any more! Sunday-keeping Christians for years have used what they call the Lord's Day as a day set aside for God. And I believe initially that included resting from ordinary work that can be done on the other six days. Ask your grandparents, or great-grandparents.

God designed the world and even our human bodies to appreciate one day of rest every week, just as God himself rested the seventh day from His work of creation. So, how has the Christian world fallen so far away from seeking God on His special day?

Upon investigation years ago, I came up with an answer that satisfied me. But you have to go back to the eternal, unchangeable Ten Commandment Law written with the very finger of God. God specified not only A day, but WHICH day we are to reserve as holy. And He even told why...because HE BLESSED THAT DAY, a day that would point to the Creator, the Author and Finisher of our faith. It's the only Commandment that describes who we are to worship. In a sense it is like His autograph and placed right in the heart of the Law itself.

Man is trying to make a day holy that God has never blessed--and it hasn't worked. It was the only Commandment prefaced with "remember", but somewhere along the way we "forgot".

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Real Magic

So thrilled to see a live nativity performed by our church tonight! This was the first year we tried it and it seemed to go well. The church grounds and parking lot were the stage of Joseph leading Mary on a real, live donkey, the angel talking to the shepherds, and wise men bringing gifts to the Baby in a manger.

Some of the "magic" of the scenes may have been compromised for me, since I knew all the actors by name. These were people I see every week in church. Just ordinary people playing outstanding Bible characters. It was exciting, but perhaps not as "magical".

But then I thought that the people we read about in the Bible were just ordinary people too. They were asked by God to follow His will. Isn't this what God asks of us? Sure, Mary and Joseph's lives have impacted alot of people for eternity. But we have the opportunity every day to influence others for God. None of us has any idea how far reaching our words and actions will be on others. Let's take our role in this world more seriously and see how many we can win for God--even by doing something simple like portraying the Story in a live nativity.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Box of Memories

Nothing stirs up memories like long-lost photos. My husband just got a whole box of memories today from his sister. They were the prizes won for emptying out his dad's house after he passed away recently. It was such a joy to see all the photos we hadn't seen for years and many we had never seen. Once we got started, we just couldn't quit until the box was empty and the photos were somewhat sorted.

Both of us had started looking through the box on our own at different times today, but it was decided that we just had to wait till we could do it together. Aren't memories like that though, so much more enjoyable when they can be shared with someone?

Isn't this the kind of relationship God wants to have with us? One of closeness and sharing? And even if we haven't always been close to God all our lives, we can get close to Him easily. Because He shares our history, the same as our siblings and spouses. He knows all our experiences already, and He is so anxious for us to share with Him through prayer all our joyous moments, and our trials. Nothing is too personal to bring before the Lord. He longs to help you sort through your box of memories too.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New Tires

I had no idea getting new tires on my car would be so important. This was pointed out to me since our recent snows caused me to get stuck three times on the first day! Spinning tires is so unproductive. All that energy under the hood, but it doesn't get you anywhere. The surface of our tires is such a small thing on a car, but without it you are at the mercy of ice and snow. Just try driving a car in the winter with no traction and you'll know what I'm talking about. It's downright scary!

Is there some small thing, like tire traction, in my life, Lord, that is a hindrance to my getting somewhere in my relationship with you? Don't let me start spinning out of control before I discover what it is. I need your mechanical prowess to assess my maintenance needs and recommend what I need for this "car" to get me where I need to be. And that is on the road to heaven and my home with You!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pulling Out Drawers

Have you ever pulled a drawer out too far and spilled all the contents? My granddaughter did that very thing today. I didn't chide her for it. Heaven knows, I've done it myself a few times. But I did encourage her to put the things back in the drawer and put it back the way it was.

Thinking about the incident, I was reminded how many times I've grabbed hold of a problem and pulled at it with all my might. All too often, I'm left with a mess at my feet and lots of work to get things back to normal.

But there's still something positive gained from the experience. In putting things "back in the drawer" I am put in touch with what was "IN the drawer." Benefits include something found that was lost, things are more organized when I am done, and I am just forced to slow down and take stock of the situation and what resources I have to help with the problem.

So, although "pulling out drawers" isn't recommended in every situation, when it does happen, take advantage of the event and grow from it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Where's Your Coat?

How do you convince an elderly gentleman (won't mention any names here) that he needs to wear a coat when it's 9 degrees out? When the outside thermometer didn't convince him this morning, I resorted to bribery. I asked how bad he wanted me to fix supper tonight. He finally relented some and agreed to wear a vest.

How does this small detail fit into the larger picture of life? Is there something here to be learned about all of us? Yes, I think we are often like obstinate children (or stubborn senior citizens), who refuse to do what God thinks is best for us.

God patiently shows us the thermometer Bible, and even throws out the "carrot stick" of heaven. And even then, some of us aren't convinced. When will we learn that God is God and this Creater of ours happens to know what's good for us? We'd be so much better off if we'd just "listen and do," in other words, "obey," instead of doing what feels good to US.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Cold

We are experiencing our first bout with snow in Nebraska this year. Even though it's pretty to look at,  you don't want to stay long outside. As a matter of fact, I thought our little dog would be having less requests to go out because of the cold. There seems to be just as many, but her visits are of a shorter duration.

Looking back over my life experiences, I find many cold, wintry times, when I needed to be out there doing my "business." But fortunately, I too have a Master at the door welcoming me back into a warm home. He knows just how long I can stand it out there.

I look forward to an eternal Spring. When we won't have to deal with harsh winter days any more. But right now, I'd settle for a temporary spring...bbbrrrrrrr! CLOSE THAT DOOR!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Joy in the Morning

I would like to be lighthearted and cheerful on my husband's birthday today, but it just hasn't happened. This day last year and this year, as it turned out, have both held some very disastrous events for my family. Too personal and horrific to even mention in this blog. But nothing that almost everyone will have to go through at some point in their life.

Suffice it to say, I'm glad the day is over. There is some hope as the sun set on this heartrenching, stressful day though. The Bible says that joy comes in the morning--Psalm 30:5. But even with hope, I can hang on. Just help me, Lord Jesus, to hang on.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Way Home

I was thrilled when someone I knew years ago asked me "out of the blue" to edit his book. Through the process I have felt that providence sent me this task, because the book seems tailormade to several people in my life who are looking for the answers this book provides.

Its title will be "The Way Home" and I will let everyone know when it becomes available. I think it will greatly enrich the spiritual walk of many Christians. I know it has mine already.

We are all on a journey and our paths do not cross haphazardly when we commit our lives to God. For me, I feel all events in my life are God-planned. That is such a comforting thought, especially when heartaches arrive. I may not know all the "why's" and "how's", but there is a Being out there who does..."And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God..." Romans 8:28

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Wings of Forgiveness

Joy to the world, happy holidays, and merry Christmas--bright and colorful lights to cheer us and chase the darkness away. But for many people, this time of year holds no cheer...

Whether it's a sagging or non-existent bank account, no job prospects, a terminal disease diagnosis, or a failing marriage, there are many present burdens that keep us from feeling the joy of the season. In the same vein, there are nightmares haunting us from the past--memories too painful to mention--that keep us enslaved and unable to experience the peace this season is supposed to bring.

There is only one thing untouched by tangible events--our future. And we have to pin our hopes on that element of time. The past is over, the present is all around us, but the future is yet to be lived. This is where Christ, the Christ of Christmas, can come to our rescue. This Christ can give us hope, peace, and yes, even joy. It comes on "angel wings" of forgiveness. When we are forgiven and are able to forgive others, true love will be acheived and all the rest will follow.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Penguin Confetti

This evening I was with my three-year-old granddaughter and we worked on a small paper project--coloring the parts of a penguin, cutting them out, and pasting them together. After some attempts at coloring, I gave her a pair of safety scissors and she began cutting away. She repeatedly refused my offer to help cut, even though her penguin soon began to take the shape of, well...confetti.

Throughout the time we spent on our little "craft", I kept telling myself that the end product was not as important as the fun and skill acquired by the process used to get there. In other words, our adult definition of success (having a wonderful product to show for our effort) may not be the same for someone younger (the thrill of discovery and learning through the experience).

How does God measure success? Well, I know He doesn't measure our love by how much we love our friends, but by how much we love our enemies. And He doesn't measure our faith by how we trust Him when things are going wonderfully in our lives, but by how much we trust Him when trials and suffering are all around us. How much love and faith will God find in your life? Are you ready for HIS measure of success?

Studio Smiles

Today my daughter and I picked up some studio photos we had taken of our little Julia at a Wal-Mart store awhile back. I remember the day the pictures were taken. We spent over an hour and only managed to get two or three "half-smiles" out of this one-year-old. She was a tough cookie to crack! And I have always bragged about Julia's sweet little smile she has for anyone. A smile is just her natural facial expression. Evidently not when she's in front of a camera though...

I wonder how many times we are not ourselves "when the cameras are rolling." Either we are sweet and cuddly in our private lives and totally out of character in public. Or perhaps we keep our nice personality up front only when the public is there to witness it, but are very difficult to live with at home.

Lord, help me to show only one side of my character and let that side reflect the lovely Lord Jesus. This is the best way to be a witness to others, including all the others we come in contact with every day. I pray our little Julia will learn this also as she grows up...but maybe, just maybe, she'll at least have the smiles down the next time we are in a studio!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Life Busy-ness

Busy Monday, as usual. Filled with doctor appointment for husband in the morning and running errands in the afternoon. Several "things" to do yet this evening. I'm beginning to understand the title of a book for caregivers called "The 36 Hour Day".

Alot of us need a 36-hour day to get done with all our life "busy-ness". It just dawned on me where the word "business" comes from. Life in and of itself constitutes a business. Hey, we're all small business owners, if you have a life! And being a caregiver, doubles your business, because you are not only looking out after yourself, but your loved one. Same for parents. Think of yourselves as small business owners, because you really are.

Getting back to the 36 hours... Unfortunately God only allows us 24 hours each day, but He has built in a cushion for us each week. It's called the Sabbath and has been blessed for us to "use" clear back when our world was created. Man has tried to get rid of it, change it (Daniel 7:25), and just outright ignore it. But the sacredness of the day stands, and true rest, physical and spiritual, can only come from heeding its call. It's a call to worship the Creator and found in the very heart of God's Ten Commandment law.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Still Thankful

I'm not sure about your family, but this is day four of eating Thanksgiving food around here. Not sure how many more plates of sweet potatoes and dressing I can handle, and there's even some leftover green bean casserole that I'm feeling responsible for, not to mention quite a large bowl of my "from real cranberries" sauce staring back at us when we open the fridge door.

All this food was so delicious the day we fixed it and sat down to eat it on good china and a lace tablecloth. When did it start to lose its appeal? Our blessings on the food are sounding pretty mundane lately, compared to the flowery ones we asked on Thanksgiving Day.

This food situation, crisis for some, reminded me of the manna that fell from heaven for God's people in the wilderness. I wonder how long it was before some of them were complaining about the monotony of their menu too. Let's not be forgetful of where our food comes from. If we remember the Source, straight from heaven above, maybe all our food can gain back its appeal. Hmmm... I think I'll go have some green bean casserole.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Message of Gideon

My thoughts tonight are of the sermon I heard this morning. It was a very special sermon--a dramatic presentation by the pastor in a biblical costume that became a message that stays with a person. Wasn't that why Jesus told parables? The stories He told about everyday life were easy to relate to and easy to remember.

The overriding message this morning was that our God is a God of the impossible. The story of Gideon and how his small army defeated the great Midianite army was a demonstration of the victory that can be ours, even against overwhelming odds.

Many of us today feel just as hopeless as the Israelites back in Gideon's day. Some today are battling health problems, struggling with financial difficulties, facing divorce and other strife on the homefront, worrying about family members out in the world, or grieving over the loss of a loved one. And there are some who are facing all of the above. How can God help us survive in this sinful planet that we have been asked to occupy until He comes again? The only answer is to trust and obey...just like Gideon.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving--Round Two

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving again to include family that was absent yesterday. I was just thrilled to get my daughter here, even though it was "the day after." It was an in-law situation, and one I'm sure is encountered multiple times with other families.

It must be even more complicated to get together for stepfamilies and those who are separated geographically. Not to mention the heartache of not seeing someone at all, as the case with many military families.

The point is to be thankful for whatever situation you find yourself in this Thanksgiving, as Paul advises us to do in Ephesians 5:20: "giving thanks always for ALL things..." Don't let anything deter you from giving thanks to God our Father. He's someone we should never spend the holidays without. And we never have to! Praise God!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Memories

As I set the table from the dishes in my Mom's hutch this afternoon, I pulled out a tablecloth that had many memories attached. My nephew and I both commented on its not-so-pretty color and I immediately headed to the hall closet for one of my lace ones. The truth was I just couldn't bear eating on Mom's favorite tablecloth again. We've missed her so much this past year she's been gone.

We all have memories in store that are brought to the surface during special times like holidays. As a matter of fact, one of the things we should be thankful for on Thanksgiving IS our memories--both the past ones and the ones we are creating each day we live.

There are many folk among us who have memory loss, especially short term memory. So be glad you can remember tomorrow what you did today, or even an hour ago. Be thankful for your memories AND your memory!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for Onion Sandwiches

The other day I was checking up on a fellow church member who is 96 years old and living alone. I asked him if he had any plans for Thanksgiving and he said no. I was a bit surprised because he does have a son who lives close by. But perhaps they were traveling somewhere. He said he didn't mind being home on Thanksgiving--he'd just have an onion sandwich, which is his favorite, I understand.

On this Thanksgiving eve, how many of us are thinking about all our holiday plans--cooking a big meal, cleaning house, packing up to travel, seeing family we haven't seen in awhile...just so many details to attend to? Naturally we want to think of things we're thankful for, but how many of us are really going to express that thanks in any way other than saying a blessing before the big feast tomorrow?

Wouldn't the greatest expression of our thanks come in the form of SHARING our blessings with others less fortunate? I'm hoping to bring some food over to my friend who will be all alone tomorrow, as he is every day. Is there someone in your life who will be happy eating "onion sandwiches" tomorrow? Why not bring them some of your holiday food, or better yet, invite them over and show your thanks for ALL you have! Happy Thanksgiving to EVERYONE!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Life Is a Headache

This morning I woke up with a terrible migraine headache. But it came at a very bad time, because my blood pressure was also running high. I struggled for over an hour which problem I should treat first. The migraine medicine raises my blood pressure even higher, which would require medicine to lower it too, and I really don't feel good when I take both medicines too close together. The headache won out, even though it made my blood pressure alot higher than I like it to get, before I could take the other medicine.

Life in general can get complicated like this. Seldom does one have just one problem to deal with at a time. Trouble seems to come in duplicate or even triplicate, and we don't always know how to sort it all out. I'm glad for a Heavenly Sorter and Solver. He can always be depended on to help us make wise choices. And the best part about His services is that He is on call day or night--you don't even need an appointment. It's worth the call!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Phone Peeves

They say Monday is a bad day to make business calls because phone lines are particularly busy that day. Unfortunately with all weekend to think about them, by Monday I usually have a list as long as my arm of calls that need to be made. I've tried spreading them out during the week. But no, since I detest it so much, I force myself to get it all done and over with on Monday (probably the cause of all the busy lines).

My phone peeves include trying to decipher foreign accents (don't they know only Midwestern Americans really know English?), menus so long and complicated you need an advanced college degree to understand them, and then there's the "hold" status which make me feel like I'm a plane hovering over an airport waiting to land. Not too bad, if you can stop thinking of running out of fuel, which in this case, is more like patience. People get ugly when they run out of patience, and no one wants to sacrifice their good looks on a petty business call.

I'm so glad for another phone line we have access to every day of the week. It's called prayer. There's no worry about understanding each other. The Holy Spirit is our heavenly translator. And menus aren't even necessary because we have instant access to the party needed. Besides that, we are never on "hold". And here's the real icing on the cake. Instead of an ugliness risk, we actually become more beautiful the longer we're on the line to divinity. Make your call today--God's company is open 24/7.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


One more day till my husband gets his foot X-rayed again to see if his foot fractures have healed enough to take the "boot" off. We have waited months for them to heal, so needless to say, I was mortified when he fell again today in a store!

Fortunately, he didn't appear to be injured this time, even though he went totally down to the floor and needed some help to get back up. Many times he has fallen and not gotten hurt. I think he just knows how to land well. He goes down so gracefully. Heaven knows he's had lots of practice with falling down during his wild, barroom days. It's the only explanation I can come up with, except that there are also angels orchestrating his downward spirals and cushioning his tumbles.

Psalm 91:11 and 12 says "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways, They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." Yes, I do believe he fell into the arms of some angels today. We'll have to watch out more for those "stones".

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bixby, the Guide Dog

At church dinner today we had the pleasure of having a guide dog in attendance at our table. Bixby, a new addition to his master's life, is fast becoming a hit with church members, young and old. There is a rule, however, that he can't be petted unless his "guide harness" is off. It's his signal that he is "off duty".

Certainly this harness concept must relate to our Christian walk. We must constantly be "in harness" and "on duty" for God's service, as we guide others to an understanding of God's love. But will God ever allow the harness to be removed and the petting to begin?

I believe He's making provisions for that time even now. Somewhere in heaven there are "petting" mansions being built, where God's people will be pampered supremely when Jesus comes again. (John 14:1-3) And I'm sure there are angels who are eagerly waiting for the chance to get to know the human race on a more personal, up-close level...just like our desire to pet and make friends with Bixby.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Caregivers Unite

Today I went to the State Capitol Building and witnessed the signing of a proclamation to recognize November as National Caregivers Awareness Month. Then we met on the lawn outside and tied awareness ribbons on a tree. As an added bonus, we were invited across the street to the Governor's Mansion to enjoy a delicious dinner and a tour of the Mansion.

Caregivers are valued members of society because of their service to others. But we are all called to give care to those around us, so this title should include every Christian. The reason we are called to this service is because it is a primary characteristic of our God. I Peter 5:7 says "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." Jesus is the caregiver of the caregiver!

As important as my day was, all of these activities pale in comparison to future events, spoken of in Biblical prophecy, which will include a proclamation that "it is finished", a magnificant feast for all God's children, and mansions being prepared for US even now. I pray we are all united in our efforts to prepare for THIS Day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shoofly Pie

Tonight I made a shoofly pie. I had heard of them in books, but had no idea what they would taste like. The name came from the fact that the pie was so sweet that flies would have to be shooed away from them while they were out cooling. The main ingredient of molasses was offset by the zest and juice of two lemons in the Amish recipe I used, so I think it came out about right in the sweetness category.

Isn't this like one's personality? Sweet communication is, of course, to be desired, but we do need a balance of firm resolve and serious contemplation. When Jesus is an ingredient in our personality recipe, we will attract people, just like my pie would attract flies...if I hadn't slapped mine in a pie container! Not taking any chances!!! Now I just have to figure out a way to shoo people away from it. My husband has already been in the kitchen asking for a second piece and the night isn't over. My daughter's family is coming over with some homemade lemon sherbet to go with it. Yummmmm...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God Has a Plan

I knew it was going to be a busy day when my daughter called ten minutes before library storytime and asked if I could meet her there and help watch one of the granddaughters. Fortunately, it only involved putting my shoes and jacket on and going out the door, but I thought on my way there that only for my daughter and her little ones would I be making such an impromptu and rather inconvenient trip. I did have other things lined up for the morning before she called.

And then I thought, am I as willing to go on God's errands? Would I be just as anxious to drop all my plans and follow His? The answer lies only in how much love is motivating me to do it. It has to come from a pretty close relationship, just like with my daughter.

Lord, help me to hear your voice and, no matter what I am doing and where I am going in life, to just go where you want me to go and do what you want me to do. I may not be able to make sense of your plan, and it may cause hardship and sadness to me, but I trust you to lead the way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Watching the Gauge

This afternoon when I decided to take a nap, I discovered that my oxygen concentrator had a problem. It didn't seem to be a big problem--the gauge that tells you how much oxygen you're getting wasn't working. After a phone call to a repairman and some simple troubleshooting, I found out that there was a small crimp in the oxygen tubing that caused the gauge to malfunction. How alarming that a tiny crimp in the tubing would be so important to my getting enough oxygen.

When I think of my spiritual life, I wonder if there are any "crimps" in my lifestyle that would cause the full delivery of the Holy Spirit to miss reaching me. I don't want anything to stop the flow of God's Spirit, sometimes referred to as the Breath of Life.

The only way to discover a malfunction is to keep monitoring the gauge. So, in this case we must keep our eyes on the Bible, our measuring tool for discovering any problems in our life. It won't fix the problem. For that, you'll have to get on the phone with the Master Repairman Jesus. He knows just where the "crimps" are and what to do about them.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Special Son-in-law's Birthday

This evening we celebrated my son-in-law's birthday. I have truly come to feel like a mother to him. For a year, he escorted me faithfully on many trips to care for my parents, who had cancer and finally both passed away just a few months apart. With no car radio and an hour's drive each way, we had many chats about some serious topics, including life and death.

That's one good thing about adversity. It brings people together in ways that may never happen without it. I'm sure that the closeness we developed on those car rides will give us a special bond that will last throughout the years.

When hard times come, it should draw us closer to God as well. He is waiting for some chat time with us even now though. The closer you are to Him in the good times, the more you will benefit from His presence when you really need Him. Don't wait another day to get to know this wonderful family member, our Heavenly Father God.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Payday Thanksgivings

Today my husband became upset, as alot of husbands would, because we were moving and changing some things in the house and garage. Some of HIS things, he pointed out rather forcefully. Awhile later, I saw him reading in his recliner and felt the the Holy Spirit must have guided him to just the right article. He read me a few sentences and it was about how God owns everything we have.

This is a truth that we are likely to forget and has to be one of the reasons God instructs us to return one-tenth of our income to Him. How blessed we are that He only asks for one-tenth! After all, it's all His anyway. This ten percent, or tithe, is also a sign that we love and trust God. It allows God to be our business partner and enables Him to bless the 90% that's left. You wouldn't believe the ways God has looked out for us with our shrinking income these last few years since disability has hit our household!

In these insecure economic times, many are questioning the wisdom of returning to God what is rightfully His share. But for those of us who are aware and convicted of the Biblical requirement, can we really expect God to look out for us financially or to help us become or stay employed, when we refuse to obey Him in this matter of tithing? Think and pray about it if you aren't tithing. And for those of you who already are, rethink the reasons you do it, and let every payday be a thanksgiving to God!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Pink Tutu

I was at the store the other day with my daughter and two granddaughters and it was brought to my attention that Jenna, the three-year-old, has been begging to wear a dress every day, even though the temperatures are colder now and demand something covering her legs. She says she wants to feel "bootiful" and loves to twirl around and around like a "ballerwina".

As a result of her request (or demand, as the arguments had been escalating), we bought her a frilly pink tutu skirt that day which she could wear over all her long pants or jeans and would satisfy both mother AND daughter. Hopefully this would make their mornings at home a little less dramatic and traumatic.

My thoughts were drawn to the robe of Christ's righteousness that is talked about in the Bible. No matter what sinful ugliness is underneath, when we are covered with His robe (which I'm sure is even more "bootiful" than a pink tutu), we can be assured that the world sees only the loveliness and beauty of Jesus' noble character. Ask your mommy (in this case, the Holy Spirit) for your tutu today!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dad Was a Soldier

I can't think of Veteran's Day without thinking of my dad, who passed away a year ago. He gave his youth to the service of his country. World War II was just winding down and he was just fifteen when he tried to enlist. The Navy wouldn't take him without a birth certificate, but the Army would require only a parent's signature.

Most of the men in his unit were much older, or so it seemed to a young teenager. But they bonded with him, if nothing else but to look out after such a young recruit. Dad never talked much about his time in Japan until a few years before his death. I had no idea, for instance, that he came very close to being in the thick of the Pacific arena. As a matter of fact, his ship was headed for duty in that part of the world when the atomic bomb was dropped. So instead, he was part of the occupation forces that tried to repair some of the damage. Obviously, it was still a very dangerous duty. The Americans were seen as the enemy by the populace for quite some time.

I even learned recently that he had seen numerous dead bodies in a river over there. I had always thought it odd growing up that Dad would never attend funerals of even close family members. But I believe now that he was just very anxious about seeing dead bodies again. It took the fortitude of a true soldier to attend his own wife's funeral, just a few months prior to his own. To see her dear face again in a casket was, I'm sure, the hardest duty he ever had to perform.

But like all duty, when it is driven by love--whether love for country or love for a spouse--God provides the strength. So I'm praying this Veteran's Day that we all have the strength to face the hard duties in our life. God didn't just promise us eternal life and freedom from sin, but also strength and power and peace of mind. So while we are thinking of our vets, who have and are sacrificing so much, let's also take hold of all that Jesus offers, as a result of His sacrifice for us...and our duties will seem much lighter.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Who Has a Flashlight?

A few days ago I desperately needed a flashlight to go down in my parents' totally dark basement to turn on their furnace. The house has been empty for months now, and we are hoping to sell it soon. But I was worried about the water in the pipes freezing and needed to get that furnace on again.

My dad would never have been caught without a flashlight and we found numerous ones of various sizes and styles in their house and in his car as we emptied them out, including boxes of batteries. I was driving his car now and believe it or not, there was not one flashlight left in the car and I was fifty miles from my own house! Where did all his flashlights go? I knocked on two doors in their neighborhood and both of them said they had no flashlights either. I was forced to go to a nearby convenience store and purchase one.

Driving home, I thought about disaster preparedness and how totally unprepared many of our homes are without even a flashlight--the most basic of all security items. Are we this unprepared in our spiritual lives too? The Lord is coming soon. If your neighbor knocked on your door for some Holy Spirit, would you have to send him to the store to get some?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Proud to Be Humble

“The Story of Ferdinand” has another story; not about Ferdinand, but about the storybook itself. The book, which I checked out awhile back, has been due at the library for a few days, and I have begged my daughter to look for the book at HER house, because I was sure she took it home to read to her girls. Today I had the very humbling experience of discovering the book behind MY couch! Ouch…
My daughter had a humbling experience of her own today too. She was feeling very good about getting “fixed up” to go out on some errands. She didn’t often go to such lengths to make herself presentable, so she actually felt proud to have just the right clothes and makeup on to go out and meet the world.
Just as they were about to go out the door, her three-year-old daughter told her she had “mud on her bottom”! Well, it wasn’t “mud”, but some embarrassing substance she must have sat on somewhere! What a relief she hadn’t made it out the door yet. It just goes to show that none of us are as good as we think we are.
So, why do we lowly human beings find having humility so difficult? I’ve actually found myself feeling proud of myself for being so humble. Maybe it’s because the sin of pride has been around longer than any other sin. After all, pride was behind Lucifer’s downfall in heaven. Our only hope is to keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ…who left the highest position in the universe to reach down to our level (with books behind our couches and “mud” on our bottoms), which, face it, is about the lowest He could come. Talk about humility…

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Seeking the Lost

Today I drove 50 miles to help with a caregiver awareness event at the veteran's hospital. It turned out to be a rather small affair--just three tables, but there was alot of traffic in the lobby due to free boxed lunches the Red Cross were passing out to people.

I was encouraged by one passerby, a young lady and her little boy. She saw the information about brain injury on my display board and related how she had fallen down some stairs. She recognized some of her symptoms in the brochures I showed her. I told her about some of the resources available to help her and she seemed truly appreciative.

As I was driving home today, I compared in my mind how much more thrilling it is to see and help someone on a personal level, as opposed to reaching them with a media barrage or even some big event or conference.

And it's the same with our witnessing methods. We have to vary our approach, just as Christ did. He spoke to the multitudes, yes--but He also shared the gospel with one woman drawing water from a well. I pray the Lord will lead me to the "lost sheep", but also to that one lone little lamb, wandering off on his own.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Housekeeping Recipe

This recipe is guaranteed to create a sweet heavenly home, if served daily with love.

Ingredient To-Do-List for the Entire Family:

T--trash (garbage, paper products, etc.)
D--dishes (dirty plates, cups, glasses, etc.)
L--laundry (clean and dirty clothes)

1. Pick up all trash and put in designated trash cans, or better yet, pick it up right after it falls or before it gets laid down. (Take trash cans out daily.)

2. Take all dishes and eating utensils to the kitchen sink, preferably right after eating from them.  (Wash them daily, along with the rest of the kitchen.)

3. Deposit dirty clothes in a designated hamper and clean clothes to proper drawers and closets. (Visit laundry facilities weekly, or use them at home, as needed.)

(Some of us just need it spelled out in 1, 2, 3 format!)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Frosty the Snowman Warmed Me Up

Tonight I happened to be in a department store, had made my purchases, and was waiting for someone I was with to finish shopping. Sitting there, I had time to notice the music playing on the intercom, and you guessed it, it was Christmas music.

Maybe because it's so early in the season, but I was rather enjoying the mood it was designed to create. How can you not smile at "Frosty, the Snowman", I mean the old Burl Ives version from when I was a kid? Forget that the rationale behind the music was to prepare you to start your Christmas shopping and spend all your money, before the mad December rush.

But then my thoughts went to another preparation time, one we are asked to make every week. On Friday, called the preparation day in the Bible, we are called to prepare our homes for the Sabbath. But isn't God mostly interested in the preparation of our hearts?

Next week, I'm going to make sure I listen to some good quality worship music WHILE I busy myself with the many Friday housekeeping chores, so my heart and spirit will also be prepared for the sacred event of the Sabbath. Music--let it create your mood too!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sunshine Visiting

I did some visiting today. Not just your ordinary "catching-up-with-friends-how-are-you-today" kind of visiting. This was special for two reasons: my granddaughter was with me--and the people we visited were people who don't get alot of visitors or even get out of their home very often.

It's such a blessing to bring a little sunshine into someone else's life. My little sunshine's name is Jenna and she's three years old. I want her to know the joy of giving a little of herself like this. She's still rather shy in public settings, but I find that she will warm up to strangers one at a time.

Alot of us adults are the same way. You would never catch us in front of a crowd performing a song or delivering a sermon (although there's nothing wrong with that, if you can). But our light can still shine in very small, and sometimes dark, places. As a matter of fact, the dark is where the light of Jesus' love is needed most. My goal is to find some dark place every day, just so I can have the joy of lighting it up!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Waiting for Snow

Today is a first- snow "teaser" day. The sky looks right, the temperatures are about right, and there is definitely some precipitation in the air. But whether the raindrops will morph into some flaky stuff is up for grabs. Some are waiting with anticipation and others with dread.

Isn't that how it will be when our Lord Jesus comes? Some will rejoice and cry out, "This is our God and we have waited for Him and He will save us!" Isaiah 25:9 And others will cry for the rocks  to fall on them and hide them from His presence. Revelation 6:16

Which side will you be on, my friend? The waiters or the hiders?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Food for Thought...and Service

Today I started my monthly grocery shopping and once again tried to keep one rule in mind, due to working with very limited funds. There's a verse in Isaiah 55:2 that says, "Why do you spend money on what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance."

Now I realize in context this is speaking about listening to God, and therefore feeding on His Word, but I think we can also take to heart the part about eating what is good and apply it to the vast food offerings we have in our stores these days. So much of it is not good and in some cases could hardly even be considered "real" bread or food.

Making wise food choices will keep our minds sharp and our bodies fit, which in turn equips us for better service to God. Let's honor Him in the grocery store and in our kitchens and you'll find as I have, that you CAN eat  healthy on a very tight budget. Dean and I, on retirement earnings, are eating better than we ever have, and we thank God for continuing to help us improve our diets.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Halloween Dilemma

"Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." What a shame that the one holiday with a name that partly means "holy, consecrated" is associated not with Our Father, but with His archenemy.

The pagan origin of Halloween has caused it to fall into disrepute with most Christians today. Indeed, other Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter, have ties to idolatry and spiritualistic religions, but they are not viewed with as much disdain as Halloween.

The biggest dilemma for how to celebrate any of these secularized "holy-days" falls on the shoulders of parents. Peer pressure is powerful at any age and the best defense is gentle instruction and example. Children shouldn't feel punished for not participating. Other fun activities can be provided that will plant seeds of joy, rather than seeds of rebellion. And don't forget to teach, teach, teach why your celebrations are of a different spirit and character.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Salsa Nosedive

We were making haystacks for supper tonight and someone, who will remain nameless, was taking ingredients out of the refrigerator. Suddenly something came crashing to the floor with a thud. Knowing that it wouldn't be pretty, all eyes were still drawn to the floor where the item that fell came to an untimely demise.

The big bottle of salsa (fortunately plastic) now was sharing half its contents with the kitchen floor. Evidently, the bottle had been placed too close to the edge of the stove before it made its nosedive performance. No one pushed it; it just wasn't designed to sit so precariously for any length of time.

Aren't we like that bottle of salsa? We find ourselves sitting on the edge of making a full commitment to God. Don't wait till the natural pull of gravity-sin pulls you over the edge and you find yourself in a messy heap on the floor of your life.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dog Sense

This time of year all our little dog Minnie wants, it seems, is to sit out and soak up the sun. Even with the cooler temperatures, she just loves it outdoors, where she can catch the squirrel and rabbit scents floating on the breeze. Even when she's on a leash and her hopes of running after that inviting prey are hopelessly limited, she wants to be out where "the action is."

She has a perfectly good view of the outdoor world from her little perch on the back of the sofa. The picture window there allows her to see that occasional rabbit and squirrel. But the sight is just not as good as the scent to her. She has to experience that smell for her happiness to be complete, even though she knows that catching her prize probably just isn't gonna' happen, even when she is briefly allowed the joy of the chase.

We are often like Minnie, in that we aren't content with what we have in life. We are always wanting to experience more. Even when "more" isn't the best or safest thing to experience. But how do we know what is safe and best for us? I guess, just like Minnie, we have to trust our Master. We don't want to be content with anything in this world, but on the other hand, we need to be content with the plan our Master has for us, even when it doesn't make sense to us at the time.

The Price of Grace--It Isn't Cheap

Two things stood out for me in my Bible study this morning. First of all, that  there are two kinds of "cheap grace". We ruin the gospel of grace when we think we can add to it by our works, or when we think we can use it as an excuse to sin. I had never thought of legalism as another form of "cheap grace". But the legalist is saying, in essence, that grace is insufficient to save him.

Also it was pointed out to me that Jesus' sufferings were mainly not of a physical nature, although we know the crucifix was a tortuous form of execution. "...with the terrible weight of guilt He bears, He cannot see the Father's reconciling face. The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Savior in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man. So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt." The Desire of Ages, p. 753.

No portrayal of the Passion story is adequate to convey the extreme mental suffering and guilt that He bore on that cross. The movie screen or the stage doesn't come close to conveying the whole story. The Bible is God's movie script, and the scenes it evokes in our mind are all we need to assimilate the gospel lessons that are taught there. Thank you, Jesus, for The Book.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pain Management

Today as I sat in the waiting room of a pain management clinic, I was pondering the term "pain management". No doubt most of the clients there considered themselves in dire need of pain reduction or even better yet, pain elimination. However, the name of the clinic gave no such hope. Their only promise was for better pain management.

So often, this is how we approach God: "Please, God, take away the pain--or at least lower the pain so I can bear it." God, on the other hand, would much rather work on US than the source of our pain. As a matter of fact, He wants to be the Chief Pain Manager for ALL the hurts in our lives.

Can you trust this Heavenly Healer enough to include Him in your search for pain management? His clinic is just around the next prayer closet...and services are surprisingly affordable.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Treasure or Junk?

Today an appraiser came to the house to give us an idea of the value of some railroad items that belonged to my dad (b. 1929--d. 2010). I was amazed when he shared the value of some of the "treasures". What I thought were almost worthless, he got real excited about. What I thought were almost priceless, were actually not valuable at all.

The experience makes me wonder about other "things" in my life. If God came by to give an appraisal of my "heart's treasures", would I be astonished at the price He gave to several things I've been hanging onto. Gold, for instance, the stuff jewelry is made of, is a precious metal on this earth, but in heaven it will be pavement material. Anything that I value here will seem like nothing compared to the riches in heaven.

Psalm 139:23-24 says "Search me, O God, and know my heart [give me an appraisal]: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way [worthless junk] in me, and lead me in the way everlasting [where the REAL treasures are]."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Garage and Mind Clutter

Winter is baring down in Nebraska pretty fast and one of the preps many of us are facing this fall is organizing our garages, and in my case, clearing out the clutter of three generations (parents' house we had to empty and daughter's overflow from their small apartment, not to mention 12 years of my belongings that no longer "belong").

Thanks to my nephew, I can now pull my car completely into the garage and even have room on both sides for entering and exiting the car doors! There is no way I could have achieved this garage remake were it not for his help and a neighbor's truck to haul it all off.

I am reminded of all my mind clutter collected over the years. Without God's help every day, I am in danger of getting lost in the shuffle of unneeded and even harmful mind clutter. Clutter can be neutral (neither harmful nor beneficial), but all of it can have a negative impact if it takes up room that should be reserved for God and His plans for my life.

The best things to store in our mind's garage are passages from the Bible. How amazing that our brains are built for unlimited storage room for this valuable commodity--God's Word. It will never go out of style, become unsightly, or lose its value. And ultimately we will end up looking as beautiful to the world as my garage now looks to the neighbors driving by.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Shall We Wear?

My thoughts this afternoon went to the weather again. My 3-yr.-old granddaughter has to trust me and her mother on what to wear that will keep her warm, but not too warm, on these unpreditable autumn days. She has to trust our judgment for what are appropriate clothes for the day's outside activities. She, however, is very obstinate about making these choices herself, as all mothers of toddlers can attest.

We adults, on the other hand, are at times just as distrustful of God's judgment when it comes to our inward and outward attire. But God, in His infinite wisdom, is totally trustworthy because He KNOWS the future. Even the best weather forecasters can't match His predictions.

Where are God's forecasts, you might be asking? In the Bible, of course. And the Bible clearly points us to appropriate seasonal attire in Ephesians 6:10-18. Dress yourself in the armor of God and you will be ready for the vilest weather this earth can produce!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Getting Turned Around

I'm hoping to share my thoughts and insights with others with this blog. It's a new avenue for me to accomplish this. But I'm hoping others will benefit from my "Teresa Talk" as much as I have benefited from others' blogs.

 First I must confess that autumn is my least favorite season, maybe because it speaks so much about the coming winter. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind winter too much, except that it makes the roads and sidewalks slippery.

Did anyone ever hear about my adventure going to a women's church  meeting one night and my car which I was driving did a complete cookie/circle on the corner of S. 48th and O St.?!!! I mean I was suddenly facing the oncoming traffic and had that weird feeling when you realize that you are faced totally opposite the world around you. Fortunately, I was driving slow enough that it all happened like in slow-motion, so my passenger and I suffered nothing but our hearts in our throats for a few seconds. I do credit her for being brave enough to ride with me after that though. As a matter of fact, the memory has been a source of amusement for us both.

Thinking back on it, I'm thankful that the Lord turns us around totally when we need it. We'd all better get used to going opposite those around us if we want to follow that radical, rebel, rabble-rouser of a guy called Jesus! He'll turn your world around too!!!