Monday, December 31, 2007

More or Less

I love fresh starts. It's new year. I'm hoping for more. And less.
More walking, less sitting.
More space, less stuff.
More journaling, less scribbling on the back of envelopes.
More strength, less side effects.
More invited guests, less mice and fleas.
More filing, less piling.
More notes and cards, less good intentions.
More streamlining, less stockpiling.
And more of Jesus, less of me.

And I pray this, that your love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight Philippians 1:9 NET

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thanks for Asking

It's a simple question really. "How are you?" I don't know what to say. I am not snapping out of this MS episode like I thought I would. So I'm not better. But I've been worse. Twelve years ago I was in bed full-time, and I mean full-time. I did not set foot in my kitchen for three months. Today I can be up and around my house. I don't have much stamina for leaving the house. I am unsteady on my feet. I never know when my mouth will lock up and I can't get the words out. So, how am I? Just happy to be here. And taking it one day at a time.

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, Colossians 1:11 ESV

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Just One Word

I'm big on recycling. Every new year I haul out the same list of resolutions. And it could be any one's: this is the year I'm going to exercise regularly, eat more fruit and veggies, take my vitamins every day, and so on.

But I have a new minimalist strategy. I have a one word focus for the year. In 2008 I want to be fruitful, as in "bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10). That means pruning unnecessary distractions and clutter from my life. I want to be free to create and serve. I can make good choices about what I eat so that I am in the best health possible. With God's help, I can be renewed for His purposes.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 ESV

Friday, December 28, 2007

Round Table

I love my husband's Christmas present. He gave me a dining room table. It's a pedestal oak table with one leaf. It looks suspiciously like the sturdy table we've had for several years. In fact, it is the same table. He organized and cleared my books, papers, games, and other items taking up precious flat surface area. The idea was to move things out of the office so they could be sorted and dealt with. But life went on. We ate our meals on the counter like we always do. And the piles sat there. Driving me crazy. Hence this gift. I also appreciate what he didn't do. He didn't toss things wholesale without looking or asking. He didn't sigh or huff or roll his eyes. That's love. The best gift of all.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Ephesians 5:25 ESV

Thursday, December 27, 2007

P with J

They say don't pray for patience. Or you'll really need it. That doesn't stop me. I know I need patience and I need God's help. I am so bold to ask God for patience with joy, just like the Apostle Paul prayed in Colossians 1:11: "May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy," (ESV). I like that, P with J. Not to be confused with the sandwiches I pack in my daughter's lunch: PB and J (peanut butter and jelly). So when one family member is not ready to leave and you will be late, patience with joy. Or this week, when the printer eats your mailing labels, patience with joy. May God richly bless me with P with J.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, James 1:2 ESV

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Truck Stop

I was ready for the truck. Or the kick in the gut. I cleared the calendar and stayed home. Every other week my MS medication has knocked me flat. It starts with a headache an hour after my inter-muscular shot. A couple hours later, bam, I'm slammed! I do what they told me: pump fluids and take ibuprofen before and after the shot. Last week a heating pad on my back and a heated rice bag on my neck helped with the aches. This time I took a different pain reliever--Alleve. But then the truck never came. I had a headache but nothing else. I don't know if I am getting used to the medication or if God answered the prayers of the faithful who are praying for me. Either way, I am grateful.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Like Being There

For the first time in our married life, we are spending Christmas apart. We always travel to Oregon to see my husband's family. This year we had transportation issues--how do you fit six people in a five-passenger car? I still don't have energy for going places. Plus Christmas falls on a Tuesday, which is now "shot day" in my week. I get a headache an hour after the shot and then aches and pains for the next 12 to 24 hours. I didn't want my children to miss spending time with their cousins and aunts and uncles. My husband reluctantly agreed to go without me. We never would have considered this if my parents weren't nearby.

I spent Christmas Day with my mom's family and now my parents are spending the night at my house. I am thankful for time with my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. We sang Christmas hymns with beautiful harmonizing, just like when Great Grammy D. was with us. Even at 106 she could sing the hymns, first and last verses please. Tonight my son coached me how to use Skype to have an online live conversation, complete with video. Me in my PJs at home and them playing games in my brother-in-law's living room. I miss my family and they miss me. But we are celebrating Christmas together in spirit.

And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" Luke 2:10-14 ESV

Monday, December 24, 2007

More Blessed

And to think I almost squelched that giving spirit. I told the family I didn't need to put my name in the hat for drawing names. I wasn't playing the martyr-I-don't-need-anything card. I wanted the children, ages 7 to 20 to focus on gifts for each other. But they wouldn't hear of it. We opened gifts tonight. How did my seven-year-old select the perfect gifts for me without spilling the beans? She was more excited about me opening my gifts than her own. I love the Pyrex glass one-cup pitcher. It's adorable and practical for cooking and baking. My 16-year-old daughter helped type up a recipe for banana bread to include with the "We bought it new, Mom" glass baking pan. And new purple socks? I love socks and never buy new ones for myself. Thanks! I'm so glad I let my daughter have the joy of giving. We were both blessed.

them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17 ESV

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Go Ahead

Feel free to jump in and complete my sentence. I'm still having trouble with my speech, three and a half months into this MS episode. I can be talking when suddenly there's a short between my brain and my mouth. I can't quite get the words out. If you know what I'm trying to say, go ahead. I am not offended. Really. And if you guess wrong, I'll let you know. But most of the time, friends are spot on.

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 ESV

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cup of Heaven

I saw that coffee cup too. I didn't know what to think of that quote. But I never would have thought of sending the author a book about Heaven. But five people did. What happened next is interesting. You can find out on Randy Alcorn's blog. Follow his link to the LA Times article part-way through his story. I need to reread Randy Alcorn's book about Heaven. In the meantime, I want to get to know the One I will be spending eternity with. I pray my friends will join me.

http://randyalcorn.blogspot.com/2007/12/joel-stein-starbucks-and-heaven.html

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-stein21dec21,0,7680698.column?track=rss

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14:1-3 ESV

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thanks, I Needed That

I never know how or when. But God always provides just what we need. I used up the last egg the other day. And I like to keep them on hand. You never know when you need to fix a quick breakfast or lunch and scrambled eggs on toasted English muffins are good to go. Add some cheese and ham if you can. A friend stopped by with some food they didn't need. How about a dozen eggs? Perfect. Our supplies have been a little low because I haven't had the time or energy to make a list and do the grocery shopping. We've all been busy but we're getting by. My son complained that we had plenty of salsa but no chips. But then my parents stopped by and what did they bring? A five-pound (!) bag of tortilla chips. My mom told me she had been watching for turkeys on sale without success. No problem, my friend just blessed us with a 20-pound turkey. That should be perfect for our Christmas Eve dinner.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17 ESV

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Family Christmas

At first we were annoyed. Then year after year it became a family joke. It didn't matter when we tried to have our own family Christmas time to open gifts, someone would show up. And we were flexible! We were willing to open gifts Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, or even two days early. But what I remember about my childhood in Taiwan as a missionary kid, was that sharing the good news of Jesus' birth trumped our honored family traditions. First things first. And my parents did make Christmas special for my two sisters and me, even when we were busy with guests, church programs, and big Christmas rallies. Too bad I missed the rally where my dad dressed up as Santa and joined other churches for the big city-wide rally in Taipei. I don't know when my mom found time to shop and wrap all those gifts for our stockings. I appreciate her getting up early or staying up late to make cinnamon rolls, year after year. We'll be celebrating Christmas together this year. If I give her some M and M candies, maybe she can make a Christmas tree of cinnamon rolls, for old times' sake.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" Romans 10:14-15 ESV

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Good and Plenty

Now which one should I choose? I feel like a kid in the candy store. I'll take some chewy pink and white black licorice Good and Plenty, thank you. Or do I feel like chocolate today? I've been sampling the music at the website, forevergratefulmusic.com with scripture memory songs by Mark Altrogge. I read his blog, The Blazing Center, that he writes with his son Stephen. He shares 16 reasons to memorize scripture. I know how much the Seeds children's cds have encouraged and challenged me. I'm ready for some new music with scripture to hide in my heart. I jumped in and ordered The Word of the Cross because it had some longer passages in the ESV version. But the more I sample, the more I wish I could buy. I'll have to put them on my wish list as money allows.

http://www.forevergratefulmusic.com/index.htm

Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD." Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

She Would if She Could

My second grader gave me permission to share her wish list for a class assignment . She said she would give me a wheelchair because I "can't walk very good." I actually have a wheelchair but it is heavy so we don't haul it out of the shed. I use store wheelchairs when I need to. My daughter pushed me around a store this weekend and it was a big help. She wishes she could give her 18-year-old brother a car because he wants one of his own. And an iPod. He will have to settle for being the family chauffeur for now. She would like to give her 16-year-old sister some earrings because "she doesn't have that many." Sounds like a realistic Christmas gift idea. And she would like to give her grandpa a hot tub because he's wanted one for a long time. He's on his own for that one. My daughter is only seven years old, but she is very perceptive and tender-hearted.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:13 ESV

Monday, December 17, 2007

Wish List

No one said world peace. But one girl said she would give all her stuff to the people who lost everything in the recent floods. Today my husband's second graders wrote what gifts they wish they could give for Christmas. My husband thought about his dream list. At first he wished there was a cure for my Multiple Sclerosis. Then he thought about all the good things that have happened over the years as a result of my illness. During one of my down times, my parents returned to the United States. My dad ended up in the hospital needing quaduple bypass surgery--and wasn't out on a ship in the middle of the ocean as they had planned. When I was in bed full-time, my husband reduced his work hours so he could take care of me and our (then) three young children. That led to him being available to build our home as part of a self-help building program. I have learned to depend on God as my solid rock when everything around me is spinning, and so has my husband. And recently we have felt the outpouring of love and support of friends and family that we wouldn't experience in the same way if I was well. So what my husband wrote was: "I would give Mary the clean and organized house she wants because it would make her happy!" He knows me well. And I know he'll do everything he can to make that happen.

He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. Psalm 40:2 ESV

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Best Gift

We made a big deal of my oldest's first birthday. My grandparents made the drive to Oregon, my sister and her husband came straight from their honeymoon, and I made hundreds of frosting stars on the Winnie the Pooh cake. But what were my son's favorite gifts? The boxes that the presents came in. Empty boxes. I wonder if we are in danger of doing the same thing with Christmas. The family gets together, we have good food, and there are presents. But are we finding our joy in the wrappings, not in the real gift of Christmas? I don't want to lose sight of the most precious gift of all. Jesus.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:4-8 ESV

Saturday, December 15, 2007

About ALL

I like the speedy checkout line at our favorite grocery store. It says "About 12 items." Works for me. But what about a thrift store that has a sign outside reading, "ALL children's clothes $1.50" with the ALL in caps and underlined? I found a beautiful Christmas dress for my niece but the manager rang it up as $5.00. "That's too nice to sell for $1.50." I didn't purchase it and refrained from asking what the "all" on the sign meant. And I didn't bring up the 50% off Christmas items sale. How about we all say what we mean, mean what we say, and don't be mean? In fairness, I should add that the store includes sizes baby through 16 for children's clothes.

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 ESV

Friday, December 14, 2007

Breakfast Date

I didn't remember until he reminded me. My dad reminisced with me about our breakfast date years ago. Oh, that father-daughter chat. I'm so glad my dad loved me enough to tell me the truth. He could not give his blessing or approval for my relationship with the man I was dating. It was hard to swallow, but I never doubted my dad's unconditional love for me. And of course he was right. I thank God for my earthly father's love and my Heavenly Father's protection.

Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Psalm 34:11 ESV

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Good Call

Sometimes the thing is not the thing. In other words, sometimes the reason I call someone ends up being not as important as the resulting conversation. Tonight I made some calls to see if I could improve upon my son's arrangements for getting home from college tomorrow. That didn't work out but I had some conversations with people I don't see very often. Several years ago I called a friend about going somewhere with me. She started crying and told me her husband had left her for someone else. She never would have called to tell me, but I'm thankful I called her and opened that door. Today I renewed some old friendships. I'm so glad I called.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33 ESV

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dear Son

Our oldest returns from college in a few days. I need to warn him about a few things.
Son,
The house might smell a little funny. The night that the county and surrounding counties flooded, we woke up to our own flood. The hall bathroom malfunctioned during the night and soaked the hall carpet. We cleaned up as best we could with towels and fans. If it smells like we own a cat, we don't. The odor should be better now that your dad ripped out the hall carpet in preparation for new flooring. You might want to wear slippers or shoes in the meantime. And then there was the mouse that invaded the kitchen and living room heating vent. Maybe we should get a cat. But your dad caught the varmit and we haven't heard any more scratching noises. The odor is dissipating. We thought our range (commonly referred to as the stove) was toast. We were going to scrape together some money and buy a used range (yes, another one!). But today I cranked up the stove, I mean range, and it's not too bad. Even your sister and brother, and you know what a sensitive nose he has, thought it was okay. The mousey smell is going away. We still have some traps set in the kitchen. That's why we barricade it at night. Just watch your step and you'll be fine. And don't tell him I told you, but your dad loves to pretend a trap got him. Makes me jump every time.
Welcome home, it's good to have you back.

I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. 3 John 14

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Critique Group

Now I'm accountable to all of them. My youngest is seven and a good reader. She enjoyed reading some of our old Christmas newsletters today. "Did I really say that, Mom? That's embarrassing." I promised I would let her approve this year's letter before it goes to print. I better get back to work. I have a lot to do before it's ready for my staff of editors.

Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, "Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!" Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long. Psalm 35:27-28 ESV

Monday, December 10, 2007

Uninvited Guest

So, where are you going with all that insulation? We are in "not again!" despair. We replaced our gas range after the last mouse invasion. Replaced twice if you include the first used range that was weak sauce, to quote my husband. We can hear and smell the mouse under our kitchen cupboards and in the heating duct. It removed some insulation around our dishwasher. It came out to lick the peanut butter off the trap. Got a smart one, have we? My husband has just begun to fight. He is buying more traps at this very moment. I continue to pray for God's deliverance. And I am thanking God for the opportunity to demonstrate how to respond to life's frustrations.

Next morning update: Caught one in a snap trap! We don't know if there are more yet.

You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah Psalm 32:7 ESV

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Past

A Visit from St. M. Sclerosis

copyright 1995 by Mary Lofthus

An Adaptation of A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the day before diagnosis, when all through the house
Every creature was stirring, except for the spouse;
The clothes they were washed and all dried with care,
In hopes that help folding would soon be there;

The children all snuggled and crowded Mom's bed,
While visions of monkeys danced in her head;
And Mama in her nightgown
Wondered when her brain would settle down.

When neurologist number three
Couldn't say what the matter was with me;
Away to Portland, Oregon I sped
To see what a leading specialist** said.
(**Dr. Roy Swank)

This man who stays abreast and in the know
Checked my reflexes, poked my toe.
When what to my blurry eyes should appear,
But a diagnosis coming near.
With a history so plain, it's more than a guess;
I heard in a moment it must be St. MS.

More rapidly than previously the symptoms they came,
Don't whistle, don't shout. Here they are by name:
Now, Tired! now, Tingling! now, Dizzy! and Numb!
Double Vision! Weakness! and Stuttering some!
To the couch, to the bed!
Now knock it off, knock it off, knock it off head!

As dreams that before the dawn do fly,
Or when they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky,
So life can change courses, bidding adieu,
With a bag full of tricks--St. M. Sclerosis says, "How do you do?"

And then in a twinkling, I felt with a start
The darting and dancing of fears in my heart.
I kept my head and was asking around,
If help for St. M. Sclerosis could be found.

I was assailed at once from every side,
Costly drugs, magnets and bee stings, some have tried;
A bundle of tips, only some of them orthodox.
And I feel like Pandora just opening her box.

My doctor, he's researched MS four decades,
His diet and infusions deserve accolades!
This low-fat diet may hold off a disabling blow,
And when my energy gets low, I know where to go.

A snippet of light I hold tight in my heart,
While the prayers of the faithful do their part.
God gives me grace and plenty of tenacity
To keep me steady when my legs turn to jelly.

MS is hard--no jolly picnic;
Yet I can laugh, in spite of being sick.
A sense of humor and being creative
Soon gave me to know I lack nothing to LIVE.

God speaks through His Word working miracles in me.
And fills my heart with truth to set me free,
And I gladly lay down my empty dreams, Father,
And take up your gifts that are infinitely better!

I look to the day when we hear the trumpet blow,
And away fly the saints like many a sparrow;
And I hear Him exclaim, ere we cease to roam,
"Well done my good and faithful servant!
Welcome home!"

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

Saturday, December 08, 2007

God Remembers

I can't remember the last time I felt teary reading a blog. But Mark Altrogge's post on the The Blazing Center got me. Check it out for yourself at:

http://blazingcenter.blogspot.com/2007/12/did-god-forget-my-mom.html

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. Genesis 8:1 ESV

Friday, December 07, 2007

Love Notes

I speak the love language of scissors and glue sticks. Give me some magazines, newspaper comic strips, and tattered children's books, and I can tell my husband how much I love and appreciate him. My husband is fluent in many languages. It was his faith and character that got my attention. Then he wooed me with kindness. He excels at acts of service, big and small, day in day out. He fills our home with happy songs and humor. My children are blessed. And so am I. Happy 22nd anniversary, Scot! I thank God for you every day.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might Ephesians 1:15-19 ESV

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Buried Treasure

It has to be here somewhere. Nope. We read the children's Advent story, Jotham's Journey by Arnold Ytreeide, to our three older children one Christmas. My husband might want to read it to his class of second graders. I hate to pay retail ($12.99), but I have a coupon for 25% off at the Christian bookstore. Not so fast. It's out of print. Okay, try online. What? Used copies are going for over 100 bucks? Or buy one now at ebay.com for $84.99 plus $9.05 shipping. My son can take me to the Goodwill. Nada. It's a long shot, but my friend can take me to our small local thrift store. Religious section. Zip. Christmas section. Zero. Children's section: scanning, scanning, scanning. I FOUND IT! It's mine for one dollar and fifty-nine cents. My son said I should sell it. No way. I would give it away or loan it out before I sold it. My husband probably doesn't have time to read it to his class but we should do it again as family. They tell me we never completed the book last time. Now I have all year to find the two sequels: Bartholomew's Passage and Tabitha's Travels.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17 ESV

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

How Many?

It sounds like a light bulb joke. How many people does it take to give a weekly shot? Start with one person who is trying to screw up the courage to give it to herself. Add one mother-in-law to give the first injection when the daughter-in-law can't do it after three hours of trying. Bring in one nurse friend to come give support and then do the second injection when the patient can't do it yet. And then on week three, that would be yesterday, one brave 16-year-old daughter does what her mother can't quite do. Don't forget the 18-year-old son who does the countdown from a respectable distance away. Plus there are many friends and family members praying for strength for all parties involved. In case you're wondering, my favorite light bulb joke is:

Q: How many jugglers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One, but it takes at least three light bulbs.

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 2 Corinthians 3:5 ESV

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Water, Water Everywhere

One day you're driving down the freeway, and the next you're stuck on one side or the other. My parents are in Portland, Oregon and can't return home to Washington until the water goes down, way down. Yesterday my teens couldn't attend college classes because a mudslide blocked the highway between our town and the next. Our county was hit with snow, then wind, warmer temps and record rain--a recipe for flooding and landslides. I am thankful for our home on higher ground. We only lost power for 7 hours. My heart goes out to the families who have lost homes and property--or more. Tonight I heard about a young man in our county who lost his life in a mudslide. I ask God to show us how to live each day to the fullest and bring grace and mercy to others in need.

Here's a slideshow of viewer photos on a local tv station's website:
http://www.kirotv.com/slideshow/weather/14757071/detail.html

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." James 4:13-15 ESV

Monday, December 03, 2007

Hold On

My friend thinks I have the ability to see the good in hard times. I have to work at it. In fact, I have to fight to hold on to what I know is true. And I won't let go until God blesses me.

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, "Let me go, for the day has broken." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me." Genesis 32:24-26 ESV

Sunday, December 02, 2007

What's Cooking

I love to play the WCIMWWIH game. That is: What Can I Make With What I Have? The other day I had a bag of Yukon gold potatoes left over from Thanksgiving and some pork chops in the freezer. I found a recipe online for crock pot pork chops. I substituted a can of low-fat cream of chicken soup for the mushroom or celery soup. It was easy and 4 out of 5 people liked it. No one noticed the thinly sliced onion, ha! It brings me great joy when my children play the game. Tonight my daughter found some frozen spaghetti sauce with ground turkey in the freezer in the garage. Cook noodles, use up frozen veggies in the freezer, toast up some English muffins from the bread drawer, and dinner is served. I had a jar of a friend's home-canned apples in the pantry. How about apple crisp for dessert? I found out my husband isn't crazy about the organic Raisin Bran cereal I bought on sale. And no, it was NOT from our local bargain store, family. Sounds like some bran muffins are in order this week. I'll have to call my mother-in-law for her recipe.

Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, Proverbs 30:8 ESV

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Choose Better

I have a choice. If I'm low on energy and frustrated about that, I can make things better or worse. I can wallow in self pity, go off my diet, and get cranky. And what good is that? As Will Rogers is quoted as saying, "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." Enough of that. I apologized to my family and ask God for new resolve. Tomorrow is a new day.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:1-3 ESV.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Weather Forecast

I predicted winds of change by now. Sustained gusts of energy. Instead there are only occasional flurries of activity. Go to church one day. Rest the next. Throw dinner in the crock pot, bake some muffins, and call it a day. Experienced lows today. Patches of dizziness. Better hunker down. It might be a long winter. I can focus on the second part of Colossians 1:10. I will minor on bearing fruit in good works and major in increasing in the knowledge of God. Time for more Mary, less Martha.

And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:39-42 ESV

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sugar and Spice

My friend came to clean my kitchen today. Am I blessed or what? I woke up from my nap to a sparkling and spotless kitchen. But good thing she left one pot untouched. She didn't clean out the sugar and spice syrup sitting on the stove. It was for my spicy Sailor Jack muffins. So after I baked and glazed them, my daughter drove me to deliver a plate to my friend. It's the least I can do. And I discovered that it is not as easy to be a food photographer as the websites and blogs would make it seem.
Sailor Jacks recipe (Adapted from TheRecipeWorks.com)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cloves
(I add 2 teaspoons ground coriander)
2 1/2 cups water, divided
3/4 to 1 cup raisins (I skip this)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups cake flour (I use whole wheat flour)
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 2/3 cups vegetable oil
3 tablespoons honey

Mix together in a large saucepan, sugar, cinnamon, salt nutmeg, allspice and
cloves. Add 2 cups of the water and raisins. Bring mixture to a slow boil over
low heat. Remove from heat and let stand overnight. (In the morning, it will
look like thick slime.)

The second day, mix together flours, baking soda and baking powder. Add oil,
remaining 1/2 cup water and honey to the sugar syrup and mix well. Combine this mixture with the flour mixture and mix well. (Do not be afraid to overbeat this.)

Grease muffin tins with shortening and dust with flour. (I only use spray oil.) Fill cups no more than 3/4 full with batter. Bake in 375 degree F oven until muffins test done, 20 to
25 minutes.

Remove from pans while still hot; place on cooling rack. Dip tops in a thin glaze of sifted powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Cool. Enjoy! And don't forget to share with your friends.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen muffins.
http://www.therecipeworks.com/archives/s/sailor-jacks/

You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 2 Corinthians 9:11-12 ESV

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Unsolved Mystery

I'm not on the roads enough to add to my virtual collection of interesting custom license plates. By interesting, I mean more than the owner's name or make/model of car. My family is glad I haven't had the opportunity or nerve to ask owners what their license plates mean. For example, what are the 9HABITS? And is YESDEAR sarcastic or genuine affability? And could someone please help me dicipher this one? Some time ago I spotted a white car in our town bearing the plate: XMASKIW. (I don't know if that is a one or letter I.) Is it Christmas something, a former something (ex) or none of the above? In case anyone wonders, if I could pick a custom plate, it would say: GOWITH. And that means, "Go with God."

The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. Proverbs 20:5 ESV

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Help My Unbelief

I wonder what the disciples are saying in Heaven. "I can't believe we didn't get it back then." And, "Oh man, why does it have to be in print for everyone to read about for centuries?" Last week I faced something I couldn't overcome by sheer willpower alone. I went to the gospels to find where the disciples failed to heal the demon-possessed boy. The boy's father had his doubts. He told Jesus "if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us out" (Mark 9:22). "And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer."" (Mark 9:28-29).

I do not doubt that God can help me overcome my fear of needles and give myself a shot. But I don't know how long it will take. I let my friend give me a shot today. I will try again next week.

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" Mark 9:24 ESV

Monday, November 26, 2007

Group Therapy

It was just what the doctor ordered. The Great Physician, that is (Luke 5:31). It was healing to rejoin our Sunday school class yesterday. It wasn't my intent to neglect meeting together for three months (Hebrews 10:25). I haven't had the energy to leave the house and be out in public. I've missed the Bible teaching and fellowship. I was encouraged by the prayers of my friends. Hugs and hand-shakes too. And I have some nurse-friends ready to help me learn how to give myself shots. Tomorrow.

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. James 5:14-15 ESV

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Parting Shot

Every year it gets harder. And I thought it was difficult when they were little and squirmy. Our oldest was home for the weekend so this was the time for the family photo op. We should have done it on Thanksgiving but who wants to stop eating and say cheese? Today I made it to church for the first time in three months so all six of us were in one place. I had the camera but who can take the picture? How about just the four kids? Our worship pastor walked by and offered to take a picture of the whole family. We arranged ourselves and were ready. Click. And then the batteries died so we couldn't see what we had taken. And it's not half bad. Now we can work on our annual Christmas letter.

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3 ESV

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Out of the Fray

I am going to sit this one out. I do not want to get swept along with the crowds and enter the buying frenzy. And it's not just the, "so-and-so would love this for Christmas" temptation. As I watched a television ad I found myself thinking I wouldn't mind a pair of diamond earrings. Huh? Where did that come from? What's the alternative to shop 'til you drop and spend money you don't have? I don't think I can muster up enough energy to make gifts for family and friends. Maybe I can shop at home. I can start with my book collection. I have some other ideas that I'll keep under my hat for now.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16 ESV

Friday, November 23, 2007

Good Dog

She was probably the runt of the litter. One rainy day my husband and I followed a newspaper ad to a Christmas tree farm in our small town. Thirteen years ago my husband picked up a black furry ball and that was that. She wasn't big on playing catch, but loved swimming after ducks. We still laugh about my brother-in-law's shock when our dog came out of the lake. He discovered that our dog had the body of a black lab but the short legs of a border collie. Cinder adjusted to life in the city. Housebuilders down the street shared donuts with her and our neighbors saved barbecue ribs for her. She put up with the various dogs we have dog-sat or adopted. Who can forget the sight of Toby dragging her around by her tail? Cinder didn't ask for much but gave a lot. She liked to "talk" to us. She was a faithful companion and watch dog until she got sick this week. And then last night she died in her sleep. We will miss her.

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds--livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:24-25 ESV

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Great is the Lord

My son and I chatted while I peeled apples for pie. He asked, "Mom, what makes you happy?" Good question. Relationships, like family, are at the top of the list. It makes me happy to have all four children under one roof for the weekend. And it's great to have my parents, in-laws, and two of my husband's siblings and children here to eat turkey with us today. But my happiness doesn't depend on others. I put my faith in "God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17). I am blessed, and happy to boot.

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, "Great is the LORD!" Psalm 40:16 ESV

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Come Clean

Our son is home from college for the weekend. On the way home I warned him that our house doesn't always look like this. Our house is tidy AND clean! Some moms from the Christian School where my husband teaches are taking turns cleaning our house. They bless my socks off--and sort them too.

Son, while you were gone your dad has been busy. The dining room is a new color. No more dated stripey wallpaper. What do you think of burnt yellow? Take your time, you might need to get used to it. We're going for a clean modern look. The main bathroom is a work in progress. The wallpaper (same stripes) is gone. Enjoy the eggplant walls this weekend because they will be painted over soon. Did you notice something different about the living room? It is more open because we moved the big desk and computer out. You'll find the desk in your sisters' room and the computer in the office. Your room is looking good. Your brother worked hard to organize and display his sculptures and leave yours on the other side of the room. Your bed is cleaned off with fresh sheets. Welcome home!

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:13 ESV

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Stuck

I told myself that it was for my own good. I took some deep breaths. I practiced my technique on an orange. I counted to three to no avail. I prayed that God would help me do what I couldn't. And in the end my mother-in-law had to give me a shot in the thigh. So much for my training on how to give myself weekly injections. The nurse was great. She was calm and patient, even when I bumped into the three hour deadline. The good news is that I've made progress with my fear of needles. I stared at that needle and didn't come close to passing out. I just couldn't stick it to myself. I only had 1/4 of a dose today. Next week I take half. I haven't felt any flu-like side effects other than being tired and worn out. Next week I better do it in the first 5 minutes or it's not going to happen. I will get some prayer support because I'm going to need it.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV

Monday, November 19, 2007

Go Figure

Read any Berenstain Bear books lately? There are some good lessons in the children's books if you overlook the dad-doesn't-have-a-clue theme. I am on my second go-around with Stan and Jan's (hey, maybe that's why they like rhyme so much!) books. That's what happens when you have nine years between your third child and your fourth child. In "The Trouble with Money" we find out that Papa Bear only uses figures of speech when he is upset. "You must think money grows on trees!"

The Bible is a treasure chest of figures of speech. They help paint pictures. For example, "Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings," (Psalm 17:8). What is white as snow? "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool" (Isaiah 1:18). And I'm thankful for the sweet honey of God's word that is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:17).

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Psalm 119:103 ESV

Sunday, November 18, 2007

That's Better

I can sleep better. I don't have to worry about an earthquake toppling a mountain of books on my head. I finally cleaned off the bookshelf by my bed. Sometimes you need to pull everything out and see what's what. Where did all these books and papers come from? A library book sale here, a thrift store there, and a couple books purchased online. How many journals have I scribbled in over the years? I am pruning my save and file categories for loose papers. Finally. Do I really need this? Will I refer to this again? Will I miss it if I don't keep it? Today was one small step in the right direction. It's a start.

My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Ecclesiastes 12:12 ESV

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Come Back

Where did she go? And more importantly, is she coming back? I know a mom who did projects with her kids at Christmas time. There was the year they made chocolate-covered pretzels, don't forget the sprinkles. They put them in glass jars with spray painted lids and gave them to friends and family. One year it was painted wooden ornaments. I think they were hearts with words like love, joy, and peace on them. Then the kids had fun painting the puffy heart ornaments made out of paper mache. The mom must have had a thing for hearts. Once the mom sewed fabric gift bags for her children and their cousins. I don't remember what she put in them. She enjoyed making Christmas special for her kids and the neighborhood children. They hand-delivered invitations to all the families in their neighborhood and hosted a "Happy Birthday Jesus" party several years in a row. I know this because I am that mom. At least I used to be. I think it's time for a family meeting to find out what the children, who are older now, want to do. What can we do to make Christmas meaningful with my low-energy and our limited budget?

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. Proverbs 31:20-21 ESV

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sign Me Up

Occasionally I sign up for drawings and door prizes, not expecting to win. But you never know! I'm still waiting to cash in at Grocery Outlet. I could win the amount saved on my receipt, a $100 gift certificate to the restaurant of my choice, baseball tickets, or whatever. My parents and my husband tell me I'm a winner, but I don't win much. Maybe I should have my youngest try--she won a beautiful bicycle at a Christmas event one year. But she's not 18 yet. Today I got the email about results from one of my favorite blog's monthly giveaways. I wasn't holding my breath because I didn't put the word out and get extra entries for referring people. I endorse Tim Challies' blog wholeheartedly, by the way. But at the bottom of email, who's that in first place? That's my name! That's me! I won! I am excited about the ESV Bible on CD as narrated by Max McLean with his rich, melodious voice. Today he read Proverbs 16 to me, and anyone else who wants to listen to the Proverbs chapter of the day. And I get a 9 CD set of narrated Christian classics, such as Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Martin Luther’s “Here I Stand,” and Bunyan’s “The Pilgrims Progress.” I wonder what December's giveaway is. Sign me up!

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11 ESV

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Good and Then Some

Sometimes things don't come out quite right. I ran into a friend at the library and was talking about my driver--that would be my 16-year-old daughter. I said that I never thought I would be the one teaching my children to drive. When my oldest was learning to drive, my husband was going to school for his Master's degree. That was a busy time. Then I did a fair share of the driving with my second son. Now it's my daughter's turn. It works out well since I am not driving much. She has good car handling skills and gets an A plus for receiving input. Anyway, I said that I have survived two children learning to drive and am on my third. I followed that with, "God is good." Yes, God is good. But He is not good because things work out okay. God is always good, no matter what. What I mean to say is that I am thankful for God's good hand on my life.

and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy." And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me. Nehemiah 2:8 ESV

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

One Year

They say take it one day at a time. Yep. I jumped in and learned how to dog paddle. Reflect on your life, interact with Scripture, write, rewrite, pare it down to something pithy, post online, and eventually you have one year under your blog. I'm still working on technique and there's plenty of room for improvement. I'm going to streamline my labels and use them consistently. Add more photos. I dream of working ahead so it's not a mad dash to beat the stroke of midnight. And keep praying for God to work in and through me. I can do that.

Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. Philippians 4:14 ESV

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Get Glad

My middle name is Pollyanna. Not really, but I do like the Disney film starring Hayley Mills. I often play the Glad Game and try to find something to be thankful for even when things don't go as planned. I am thankful that today is the first sick day my husband has taken since he started student teaching, subbing, and teaching over three years ago. That's an amazing record. His fever has subsided and now he has to regain his strength. We trust that one more day at home will be all he needs. I am thankful that I was able to drive today for the second time in two months and take my youngest to the doctor for her persistant cough. Her lungs are fine and she can return to school tomorrow. And I'm glad I don't have to find a reason to be glad I can't find my son's test scores. The state's office of public instruction unearthed a copy of his scores so my son can graduate from high school without retaking the test.

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

Monday, November 12, 2007

Surrounded by Heroes

My grandfather is a good sport. I don't know how many times he visited my classes when I was a school girl to talk about his experiences as a World War 2 vet. I am proud of him and his service to our country. And I'm glad he came back safely. Today I'm thinking about veterans, past and present. I appreciate what my husband's classmate, Leslie Gould, writes on her blog about her veteran dad and husband. Follow the links for some interesting newspaper articles and practical ways to support our military personnel and families. It's not just the veterans who make sacrifices. It's the spouses, children, and parents. I am inspired by my grandmother's strength and my aunt and uncle's faithful prayers for my cousins in Afghanistan and Iraq. May God bless our veterans and the families of those who serve!

http://lesliegould.typepad.com/leslie_gould/2007/11/veterans-day-1.html
http://lesliegould.typepad.com/leslie_gould/2007/11/veterans-day-2.html
http://lesliegould.typepad.com/leslie_gould/2007/11/veterans-day-3.html

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Strength and Dignity

I don't understand God's economy. Some women don't have mothers. I have been blessed with a godly mother, grandmothers, and a great-grandmother who have been involved in my life. I have a mother-in-law that is one of my best friends. And that's not all. In college I boarded with a family. The mom adopted an awkward 18-year-old and helped her adjust to life in the United States. Who took me to get my wisdom teeth out and made me peach jello? Who helped with my wedding? Who welcomed me and my family when we needed a place to stay? Later I stayed with them while undergoing plasma infusions for my MS. I have seen how a woman blesses her own husband and family, takes care of aging parents, provides respite care for children with special needs, serves at church, and opens her home to young people and missionaries who need a place to stay. Today Ruth Perkins turns 70 years old. Happy Birthday, Ruth!

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:25-30 ESV

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Enough Already

I am an organized person trapped in the body of an disorganized person. It would help if I didn't love books and useful information (also known as pieces of paper with words on them) so much. I can't blame my piles on four children or even my health challenges. I brought stacks of papers into our marriage when I was young and energetic.

No more "I'll do it later." Dive in to the decision-making process. Seize what is worth keeping. File so we can access it again. Learn how to sort, toss, file, and maintain. Trim, okay, slash my collection of books. Take my filing system past being faithful in a few categories. I can find my organized self. And maybe in the process I'll find that elusive piece of paper my son needs. He needs proof that he passed our state's assessment of student learning so he can graduate from high school. I didn't know that we had the only copy of his scores. And second, I don't know how it missed going in the active file with his name on it. With God's help, I can get it together.

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27 ESV

Friday, November 09, 2007

Confusion Say

You'll have to forgive me if my brain is a little fried. I've been on the phone all morning. I regularly help my Chinese neighbor sort out insurance, medical bills, and anything else that comes up. I don't blame her for needing help. I am a college-educated native English speaker and even I have trouble decoding paperwork and navigating automated phone recordings. I had a few calls of my own to make. I am coordinating insurance coverage, delivery of my new MS medication, and the training of how to give myself shots. Good thing my speech is clearing up. I had to read a lot of account numbers and recite my birthdate and address multiple times. One of the calls was regarding my hunt for my son's test scores from when he was a sophomore in high school. He needs proof he passed so he can graduate next spring. He went off the grid when he attended a private school that year but took the test at our local high school. No one has a copy of the scores, including his mother who usually files such things. Meanwhile, the lady today was very helpful. Here's the part where my brain fried. I got his birthdate right, even though I have three children with September birthdays. But I couldn't think of my son's middle name. Sorry, Son. But I recovered. And she helped me figure out what year he took the test if he is a senior this year and took it as a sophomore. I'm so confused! Her gentle spirit and kind words made my day. And then I was online reading a newspaper article and the site wanted my zip code and year of birth. Okay, I don't care if they know. But at the last minute I said I was male. Oops.

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. Proverbs 12:25 ESV

Thursday, November 08, 2007

No News is No News

I have a few catch phrases in my bag. Some are more helpful than others. What benefit comes from saying, "When it rains, it pours"? Operating on "No news is good news" works most of the time. I don't believe in borrowing trouble. But today I read a woman's blog that begs to differ. Debi, (Deborah Taylor-Hough), editor of Simple Times Newsletter and author of the 'Frozen Asset' series and more, says:

And on a side note, I hear a lot of people say when they haven’t heard from someone who’s going through a crisis, “No news is good news.”

But I don’t believe that’s necessarily true. Sometimes the situation is so bad and so overwhelming that people can’t even put into words what they’re experiencing. I know there have been days when just taking a few minutes to pick up the phone to call a friend or drop an email to someone who cares was way too much work for me to handle.

So please don’t assume “no news is good news” in the lives of your friends, family, church members, neighbors, etc. Rather, assume your Loved One needs you to be the one to make the first move to check on them. Whether they’re in desperate need or not, they’ll still appreciate hearing from you, either way.

Granted, she's talking about people in crisis. And she should know. You can read her story at: http://dsimple.wordpress.com/where-things-stand-today/. But I hear what she's saying. People don't always want to ask for help. I know I don't. I never would have asked for help with the housework. Some friends from the Christian school where my husband teaches organized a clean team to take turns coming once a week. They have blessed me and my family with their labors of love. And I have appreciated the cards and the "thinking of you" emails. I can do a better job of reaching out when God puts someone on my heart. I can do that.

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 ESV

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Now What?

I am on the up-swing. I have a bounce in my baby steps towards being up and around. I felt perky today so I let my daughter park across the parking lot from my husband's classroom and went in to fetch my 2nd grader. Uh-oh, I'm not as nimble on my feet as I thought. And if I can't walk a straight line, maybe it's just as well I'm not driving yet. But it's time to start thinking about "Now what?" If I regain my strength and can resume a so-called normal life, what does that mean? For my life is not my own. God has a plan for me. Why else would I have the love and prayers of so many friends and family? I am listening, Lord.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hold Up

I don't want to over-analyze, but I believe things happen for a reason. We don't always know the reason. In fact we usually don't. We will never know what didn't happen last weekend. We were supposed to travel to Oregon for family weekend at our son's college. I was going to stay home but the rest of the family was all set. Two people got sick in the night before they left. That was a clear signal they were meant to stay home and off the roads. And so they did. My dad was supposed to have routine surgery today. He arrived early in the morning and was good to go. But not so fast. One doctor was concerned about his heart medications and called off the surgery. After some consultations my dad is going to have a laser procedure tomorrow instead. It doesn't help to wonder why. I just thank God for His good hand on our lives.

Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. Psalm 77:19 ESV

Monday, November 05, 2007

Good Sign

I think I am regaining some energy and strength. My daughter took me to the grocery store today. I let another woman take the last motorized cart. I am still using my cane. It feels good to select my own groceries and dream of what I might cook and bake. I bought some apples and hope to bake pie soon. If I run out of steam I can make apple crisp. I bought some cabbage for stir fry. It's been a while since I was up to slicing, dicing, and doing the stand by your pan thing. The stir fry chicken with cabbage and carrots (and half an onion finely chopped) was well-received. One reason I think I am feeling better is because I can walk AND talk. I might even try driving one of these days. It's been over two months since I drove. I haven't missed it except for the day that my teens rode the inter-city transit bus from the community college and I couldn't come pick them up. They had to walk over two miles uphill with heavy backpacks. At least it wasn't snowing. And now I can think about cashing in some rain checks. A couple friends have invited me to coffee when I feel up to it. Maybe soon.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 ESV

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Nailed

Sometimes I find nails or screws in my husband's work pants. And then when I check the laundry before it goes in the wash, it might be my pockets that contain all the loose coins, nails, screws, rocks, and bobby pins confiscated from other pockets. On his blog, The Blazing Center, Stephen Altrogge talks about carrying nails around in his pocket. He says:

I say the phrase "Jesus died for my sins," all the time. This is true, Christ died for all my sins. But I often forget that Christ died for very specific sins. Christ died for the arrogance and disrespect I showed my parents while growing up. He died for the fear of man that kept me from sharing the gospel with a friend. He died for the pride that kept me from listening to the wisdom of the other men on staff at the church. Jesus was crushed for the ungodly things I watched on television during my teenage years. Each of these sins was a nail in the hand of Christ, pinning Him to the cross. I carry the very nails of Christ in my pocket.

Isaiah 53:5 puts it this way, "But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed." Aren't you grateful that Christ was wounded for your transgressions? Aren't you thankful that each one of your many sins has been forgiven? Ponder your past for a moment and remember some of the specific sins that you committed. Christ died for each one of those sins. Can you hear the nails rattling around in your pockets?

I don't want to forget what Jesus did for me. I can confess and clean out my pockets every day.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 ESV

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Maiden Voyage

My daughter was scared. And I'm glad. Relieved actually. You should be scared to drive on the roads for the first time. My daughter has her permit and it falls to me to be the designated adult licensed over five years. She's been going in circles successully but was it was time to leave the confines of our loop. And so we did. She did great. She stopped at stop signs, waited her turn, and stayed in her lane at all times. I did great too. I only hollered a couple times. I've lived through two children learning to drive. I can do it again.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 ESV

Friday, November 02, 2007

Mix it Up

You win some, lose some, and some are a toss up. I'm trying to find some new recipes to please this crowd. The turkey meatloaf would have gone over better if the onion was more finely chopped. Then there was the tamale pie with ground turkey, tomato sauce, corn, and corn bread topping. It might have stood a chance with the under 40 crowd if I hadn't thrown those olives in at the last minute. But who could have predicted the lentil chili would be a hit with almost everyone? Even the leftovers were popular. Meanwhile everyone loves my old standby--creamed tuna on rice like my mom used to make. And they're even eating healthy brown rice without complaint. That's progress.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Stop Preaching

I need some fresh material. My children tell me I say the same things over and over. For example, I often point out that it only takes a minute to sort the laundry at the end of the hall before hauling it to the garage. When a commercial comes on for payday loans I warn about the high interest and how you can never catch up. Or as I wash up some dishes I mention how much easier it is when you deal with things right away. They've heard it all before. Many times. What hot new tips can I share? Or even better, how can I breathe life into some old advice? I can introduce a theme, like living out Psalm 1, and we can read the newspaper for examples of "walking in the counsel of the wicked, standing in the way of sinners, and sitting in the seat of scoffers." Stories stick better than sermons. I can work on that.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2 ESV

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Light Up the Night

We've done it all. We have abstained from all Halloween celebrations, including keeping our kids home from public school so they didn't have to be part of the "snake" or line of costumed children parading through the school, hosted alternative parties when we lived out in the country, attended church harvest parties,and now our youngest can dress up and do the church event before trick or treating in our neighborhood. We don't want to be part of celebrating evil yet Halloween is a huge event for families and children. Is there a way to redeem this night? I wish we could afford to offer some amazing treat with a spiritual message that isn't too hokey. How can we let the light of Jesus shine in our neighborhood? We have another year to think of something.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 ESV

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Do Hard Things

I would be thrilled if my two teenagers and my twenty-year-old rebelled. Rebelled against rebellion that is. The Rebelution is a counter-cultural youth movement among Christian young people. The Rebelution website explains:

The word 'rebelution' is a combination of the words "rebellion" and "revolution." So it carries a sense of an uprising against social norms. But in this case, it's not a rebellion against God-established authority, but against the low expectations of our society. It's a refusal to be defined by our ungodly, rebellious culture. Actually, we like to think of it as rebelling against rebellion.

And I can adopt their battle cry for my own life.

The battle cry of The Rebelution is just three words, but it's an explosive concept: Do Hard Things. That's it. And "do hard things" is a mentality. It's a mentality that flies right in the face of our culture's low expectations. The world says, "You're young, have fun!" It tells us to "obey your thirst" and "just do it." Or it tells us, "You're great! You don't need to exert yourself." But those kinds of mindsets sabotage biblical character and competence.

"Do Hard Things" is just the opposite. It's how we build character and competence. It won't drop to meet the low expectations, it won't just do what comes easily, and it won't become complacent. It applies no matter who you are or what level you're on, because there's always something harder to do, something that will take you outside your comfort zone and cause you to grow.

I can model doing what is right, even if it is hard. With God's help, I can do that.

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 ESV

http://www.therebelution.com/about/rebelution.htm

Monday, October 29, 2007

Living Large

My son said, "Mom, you might want to watch this." He was right. It was fascinating to see the PBS program about extreme gardeners: Lords of the Gourd: Pursuit of Excellence. I joke that my husband loves to work in the yard and I love to watch him work in the yard. I'm glad he doesn't go overboard like the extreme gardeners who devote their lives to "one obsessive goal: to raise the biggest pumpkin in the world." We're talking hundreds of pounds, upwards of 1000 pounds. One man couldn't attend his children's soccer games because he needed be home watering his pumpkins. I could relate to the woman who set hundreds of mouse traps. Pesky critters! But seriously, what do I devote my life to? What am I passionate about? I read an article about Pastor Bill Hybels in Servant magazine. He said that after he's gone, he would like his children to say he was the biggest cheerleader they ever had. I'd like that, and to also have pointed them in the right direction. In the meantime, our library has the dvd on order. I'm second in line when it comes. I don't know if my mom should see it. She might want my dad to build her a monster hoop house for her garden.

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. Colossians 1:28-29 ESV

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Time Well Spent

My goal is to use my online time well. It's part of my "walk/live/blog in a manner worthy of the Lord" quest from Colossians 1:10. I'm glad I figured out the whole blog subscription thing. All I have to do is open up Google Reader and see what's new at my list of blogs. It saves me from needless clicking and reclicking. One of my favorite blogs is Tim Challies' blog with what he describes as "a compendium of articles, information and book reviews. If the blog has a primary focus, it would likely be commentary on the contemporary church and its interaction with the culture around us." I look forward to receiving his book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, when it's hot off the press.

Yesterday he led me to The Blazing Center blog written by Mark and Stephen Altrogge. I recently found their album, In a Little While, at the Sovereign Grace Ministries site. Tim Challies says, "Mark and Stephen love the gospel and are continually drawing their readers' hearts and minds back to the cross and back to the good new of salvation through Jesus Christ. They take every day situations and use these situations as a bridge to teaching eternal truths. " He commends their blog and so do I.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Musical Cars

I need one of those coach's white boards to illustrate each player's, or in this case, family member's moves. It would show who goes where in what vehicle. This week I watched my daughter's soccer game from our car parked by the field. My husband came after work and parked his truck in the parking lot. He sat in the car with me for a while and then joined his parents and my two other children in the bleachers. After the game my in-laws drove my husband and youngest daughter to where I was. I traded places with my husband so my in-laws could give me a ride home. My husband drove our car to the parking lot and got back in his truck. My son was free to drive our car home with my older daughter after the next soccer game. Whatever it takes. And special thanks to Coach Grandpa for coming up with the exit strategy

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:6 ESV

Friday, October 26, 2007

In His Arms

My friend's 12-year-old daughter is not suffering with a brain tumor any more. Labri Dirkse passed into the arms of Jesus at 4:08 p.m. today, Friday, October 26th. Since her diagnosis in May, she has been busy enjoying every day with family and friends, making memories, and writing poems. I haven't seen her Mom, Heidi, much since we moved away from Portland, Oregon 16 years ago. But I have followed this brave young woman's journey through an online journal at Caring Bridge. My heart goes out to the family and the many lives she has touched. God healed her by taking her home. And He can provide comfort in a time of grief.

www.caringbridge.org/visit/labridirkse

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 ESV

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hope Flows

Today is my favorite day of the month. Every day I pray one of the 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Kids by Bob Hostetler. On the 25th I pray for hope. "May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13). We all need hope. Hope that our lives have meaning and purpose. Hope that God is in control and can work all things to His glory. Hope that this life is not all there is. We have hope laid up for us in heaven (Colossians 1:5). And that hope is overflowing today.

For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Psalm 71:5 ESV

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Love is

Waking up with a smile and a song
Laughing with, never at
Giving honest feedback

Painting the living room one day
Painting the living room a different color the next day

Gracious to the passenger-seat driver
Figuring out when her left means right, or vice versa

Hauling her books to sell at the used book store
Hauling most of the books back to the car
Laughing about the parking ticket that wiped out any profit

Hauling old appliances out and new(er) appliances in as many times as it takes

Letting her read in bed when he’s asleep
Letting her read to him in bed when he was asleep

Only having eyes for her
Making her feel like the most beautiful woman at the ball

Holding hands at the grocery store

Being her biggest cheerleader

Making a cup of tea when asked
Making a cup of tea when it seems like the thing to do

Answering questions that have been asked and answered, such as, “Did you feed the dogs?”

Never asking, “what did you do all day?
Always listening to what all happened today

Defending her even when she isn’t at her best

Always being willing to “start over”
Being quick to forgive or ask forgiveness
Not bringing up the past

Sending her to Singapore to see her parents for Mother’s Day
Sending her to California for warm weather therapy (and good food) at her sister’s house
Doing a Design on a Penny on their bedroom when she is out of town
Buying her a laptop so she can blog in peace

Taking her to garage sales when she should be having one

Making the yard look beautiful

Seizing moments to get things done
Creating order out of chaos without being overwhelmed

Stepping in when she’s had it up to here

Praying for and with her
Searching God’s Word together
Saying “in sickness and in health” and meaning it

And love is being married to your best friend.
Happy Birthday, Scot!

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7 ESV

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Now We Know

It could have gone either way. My latest brain MRI could have shown no change, or new lesions and progression of Multiple Sclerosis. Today I found out that there are new lesions and the injected dye revealed an area that is "enhanced," or active. I am not shocked by the news or disheartened. It is what it is. And now we know that going on one of the medications is a good plan to slow the progression. After we sort out the insurance and drug coverage I will need to get over my aversion to needles so I can learn how to give myself weekly shots. It will take months to see any benefits from the medication. In the meantime, I hope to bounce back like I have in the past. No matter what, my life is in God's hands. He has sustained me this far.


The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. Psalm 138:8 ESV

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bedtime Questions

“Mommy, did you learn how to cross the monkey bars when you were a little girl?” Yes, but I wasn’t very good at it.

“Mommy, do you think you will get all better and not have MS any more?” I don’t know, Honey.

“Mommy, how old do you think you will be when you die?” I don’t know that, either. Only God knows. I want to make every day count. Do you know what that means? I want to live each day to the fullest. I want to live a life pleasing to God with no regrets.

We can do that.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I Wonder

Will we remember our questions when we get to heaven? If I write them in my Bible will that help? Just a thought. I know who I want to talk to. I don't think there will be huge crowds gathered around some of the lesser known figures. I want to know more about Epaphras who is mentioned three times in Paul's letters: "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God" (Colossians 4:12 ESV). I pray that God will bring modern day Epaphrases into my children's lives. And what about the Archippus Paul spoke of? "And say to Archippus, 'See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord'" (Colossians 4:17). He probably has some interesting stories about his ministry and the challenges that threatened to keep him from completing it. I pray that God will work in and through me too. He can do that.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 ESV

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Time Out

This is how my life is. I’m not on the sidelines. I’m not even in the bleachers. I’m sitting in the car trying to watch my daughter's soccer game from the parking lot. I wonder how long I will be here. At least I’m keeping warm.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. Psalm 103:2-5 ESV

Friday, October 19, 2007

Worthy?

I confess. Last night I succumbed to flipping. Channel flipping that is. Do I get a free pass to watch anything I want on TV if I don't feel like doing anything else? I watched some news and then paused at a celebrity gossip show. There was a story about a dog and a girl and a talk show host. I came to my senses and turned it off before I found out more or got hooked on the programs coming up.

What is it that I pray for my husband, children, and myself every day? I pray that we may "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord" (Colossians 1:10). Even if I'm not walking very well, I can live in a manner worthy of the Lord. I can stay in bed in a manner worthy of the Lord. I can spend my time worthy of the Lord. I can email in a manner worthy of the Lord. I can talk to my children and spouse in a manner worthy of the Lord. I can blog in a manner worthy of the Lord. And yes, I can watch TV in a manner worthy of the Lord. And that probably means turning it off. I can do that.

so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:10 ESV

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Oh, Charles!

They don't make them like that anymore. I never tire of watching reruns of Little House on the Prairie. I don't know of any other program that acknowledges the role of faith in everyday lives. When Pa doesn't know what to do, he prays for God's guidance. Today I saw the pilot movie that first aired in 1974. When faced with empty stockings for Christmas, Caroline reminds Charles, "It's Christ's birthday, not ours." There's an episode for just about every issue: bullies, gossip, courtship, marriage, losing a child, disability, injustice, prejudice, overcoming hardship, alcoholism, drug addiction, and so on. I'm glad there's something on television I can watch with my children.

What is your favorite episode or moment from the show? I remember Almanzo and Laura's first kiss.

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. Psalm 78:4 ESV

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Bible

Here are some of my favorite Scriptures.

Book for all seasons: Psalms

Chapter to live by: Romans 12

Favorite picture of Jesus: Good Shepherd John 10:11

Verse that sums it up: Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 ESV

Favorite character: Can’t choose between Nehemiah and Joseph

Favorite parable: Parable of the Seed Mark 4:3-20

Favorite proverb: Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. Proverbs 14:4

Favorite prayer for my family: Colossians 1:9-14

Favorite description of God:
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Say What?

You might wonder how my mind functions when my speech is impaired. It depends. Sometimes I know what I’m trying to say but my tongue gets in the way or my mouth can’t form the words. Sometimes I repeat a syllable until I can spit out the whole word. Fatigue makes it worse. I do have periods of brain fog. Huh? What were you saying? Let me rest, have a cup of tea, and get back to you. But don’t worry if I’m not sure what day it is. That’s nothing new.

My husband can tell you that my brain is still whirring along. Meanwhile, I’ll keep resting, speaking when I can, and trusting God to help me say what needs to be said.

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 ESV

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tale of Two Siblings

They can be the best of friends, they can be the worst of friends. So how is it going to work for my 18-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter to do Running Start together? As a high school senior and junior they can take classes at the community college to meet high school requirements--and if they plan it right, obtain an AA degree in the process. This quarter they are taking two classes together, Spanish and US History.

So far so good. They ride the bus together or carpool. They study together every night. My son fared better on the first pop quiz in history but then my daughter scored a little higher on the first Spanish quiz. My daughter was happy with her score on the first history test: 92. Way to go! How did my son do? How will he handle the competition? When the professor listed the scores on the board, my son wondered what nerd had wrecked the curve with a 102%. All eyes turned to a student who always speaks up in class. “Answer Boy, did you get 102%?" “No, wasn’t me.” Then my son saw his paper. He was that nerd!

It does a mother’s heart good to see her children bring out the best in each other.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 1 Peter 3:8 ESV

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Why Me?

I held out my little cup and asked God to fill it with grace. I asked with faith. But I didn’t expect to need pitcher after pitcher to catch the steady stream. Why has God given me so much? My cousin has other things to worry about on the frontlines in Afghanistan . Yet today he used precious online time to send an e-card. He is praying for me and my family and that God will heal me. I am humbled to be prayed for by friends and family around the world. I don’t know what God has planned for me, but He is at work.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:3-4,9 ESV

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Longest Hour

I was a little overconfident with my “I’m not claustrophobic” claim. And like childbirth, you forget the details until you go through it again. This was my 4th time being secured on a pallet and rolled into a cylindrical tube for Magnetic Resonance Imaging of my brain. I felt dizzy with some of my MS symptoms before it started. Lord, I can handle the “magic carpet ride.” But please let me get through this without the “rotisserie” sensation, or worse, the dreaded “sling” (round and round). I closed my eyes and vowed to not open them and see how trapped I was.

And so began one hour of “this segment will last about 30 seconds” and “this will last about three minutes.” I’m surprised I had any hearing left after the machine gun fire, alarm clock buzzers to wake the dead, and mallets striking chisels.

When the technician told me to try to not swallow for one segment, I needed to focus on something else. As I lay in darkness, I prayed for people I know who are trapped in darkness--whether they know it or not. I wanted to open my eyes but I was afraid I would panic. Focus, focus, focus. What are some scriptures? How does Philippians 4:8 go? Whatever is true, of good repute, lovely. What is the order? I know “true” comes first but then what?

How about planning a menu? I read that Gracia Burnham, the missionary who endured a year of captivity in the Philippines, wrote out menus to pass the time and keep her sanity. We haven’t had lentils in while. Maybe I should try my sister’s lentil chili recipe.

Now I remember how I survived this test before. Say to self: “I am feeling no pain. I am feeling no pain.” This is easier than childbirth. I can do this, with God’s help.

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:6-8 ESV

Friday, October 12, 2007

What are you in for?

“What are you in for?” I try to not ask personal questions when I encounter people I know at the doctor’s office. But this wasn’t a doctor’s office. It was the radiology clinic where I was having my brain MRI. Anyway, she asked me first.

I know the woman from church and we’ve already had the, “I have MS,” “So do I!” chat. She was diagnosed years ago, but she hasn’t forgotten the prayerful decision about treatment options. She was the first person in the county to win the lottery for the MS drugs. And the medication has helped her. She was at the clinic for an injury unrelated to her MS.

I have no idea what my scan will reveal. Are there new lesions? And if so, am I ready to jump on the medication bandwagon? What does the future hold? My husband and I can look back and see how God has led us safely through the fog, dark, and sometimes bumpy roads. He won’t quit now.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11 ESV

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bedtime Stories, Part Two

The two boys grew taller and the little sister became a big sister. The boys slept on a loft bed and a twin bed set. Rumor has it the twin frame was never the same after the boys watched a Karate Kid movie and imitated the crane move. Hi-yah!

A friend gave the family an antique double bed frame for the daughter. The older daughter slept on a squishy old mattress until they could find something better. An ad in the paper led the couple to a mobile home park in the outskirts of a nearby town. The woman had a double mattress set available, but wait, her 17-year-old son was still sleeping in it. He got up and the husband and wife paid fifty bucks for the firm yet comfortable bed.

The baby had a beautiful borrowed crib. And hardly slept in it--not for lack of effort to get her used to it. When she was bigger she had a toddler bed, and hardly slept all night in it. The big sister generously offered to share the double bed with her little sister. Gradually the little sister slept in there most of the time for most of the night. But the bed was crowded with both of them in it.

One day the mom saw a beautiful bunk bed set at the local thrift store on a half-price Saturday. The youngest liked it. What would the older sister think about the wooden set? She approved so they bought it for twenty-five dollars. Now to find two great twin mattresses. The dad set up the first bunk with the older son’s mattress. He was away at college and wouldn’t miss it. The mom scoured the online ads and newspaper ads. One sold before she could get there to see it. She scoped out the thrift store selection every chance she had.

The little sister slept on the new bed but wasn’t happy with the borrowed mattress. Could they find something more comfortable? One night the mom prayed with her daughter about the mattresses. God could provide just what they needed for the right price. The next day the mom went to coffee with a friend. She told the friend about looking for a mattress. The friend had an extra mattress at home. Her brother moved out and bought a new bed. That was a quick answer to prayer.

Another half-price Saturday at the thrift store rolled around. The husband, wife, and younger daughter looked for a mattress. There was a set, including a Hollywood frame. They all tried it out and deemed it just right. Sold. They would have to buy the whole set and dispose of the box springs themselves. When the husband returned with the truck, the set was gone. The clerks didn’t think they had resold it. Someone must have walked out the front door with the mattresses. It was frustrating but they got their money back. The daughter was philosophical: There must be a reason. Maybe they’d find a better one. The mom resumed scanning the online ads: too far away, too old, and too expensive.

Meanwhile they picked up the mattress from their friend’s home. It was a comfy mattress in great shape. One down. One to go.

One day the youngest came home from second grade with news that her classmate had a new bed. Better yet, his mom said they were selling his old bed. She was willing to sell the mattress from the trundle bed separately. It was purchased at Costco three years ago and never used. How about thirty bucks? Done.

The family thanked God for His bountiful provision and slept happily ever after, last we heard.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 1 Timothy 6:17 ESV