Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Read On!

Experts say: If you want to get organized, don't bring stuff home. I agree in theory. In practice I swing by our local library to see what treasures await in the free magazine bin. Today I scored some older Brio magazines for my daughter, the current National Geographic, the current Martha Stewart Living, and the best one, last summer's Pray magazine. I can read about open heart surgery, Valentine projects and recipes, and something I've been thinking about, "On-the-spot prayer." My goal is to Read, Rip, and Recycle. Maybe next time I'll find a copy of Real Simple.

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hang it Up

I know about hanging wash up to dry. I helped my grandmother hang clothes using a pulley system in her backyard. My mom hung our clothes on poles off high rise balconies or on hangers in every doorway. My sister saves on her energy bill by using a clothesline in Southern California. I realize now that my parents never aired anyone's dirty laundry in front of us. I have a low tolerance for disparaging comments. I try to think the best of others until proven wrong. I am teaching my children to ask, "Is it true AND helpful?" I want to do more than be silent in the face of gossip. I want to try out my friend Tracey's advice from her mentor. If you hear a put-down, counter it with, "You know what I love about so-and-so?..." and share a specific example of what you appreciate about the person in question.

But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Colossians 3:8 NIV

Monday, January 29, 2007

Pause and Rewind

Tonight I groused about my borrowed blue gloves being left outside by the basketball hoop. I hurt a six-year-old's tender feelings over a pair of gloves that can be washed--or replaced for a dollar. I apologized for my attitude and told her she is way more important than any gloves. I need to stop before I vent and ask, "What is the loudest message I want to communicate?" And thank God for notes that read:
"I frgif you. You love me. Were a famale [we're a family]."

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 NIV

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Bon Appétit

I don't read like I eat. I eat each item on my plate one at a time. I sample several books at once. The stack on my bedside table reflects my diverse tastes. I am treating myself to good clean fun in Ray Blackston's novel, A Delirious Summer, where singles hopscotch between churches to find their soulmates. I am reading the meaty War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles, by Paul David Tripp, one chapter at a time, and discussing it over coffee with my friend Carol. I am convicted that, "Idolatry is when my heart is controlled by anything other than God...Rather than being motivated by a love for God and my neighbor, I am motivated by a pursuit of what will bring me pleasure, and I am angry at anyone who stands in the way." I just started, Is it a Lost Cause? Having a Heart of God for the Church's Children, by Marva J. Dawn. She says, "People in the society around the Church do not want to 'work' at worship--they want 'fast food' speed and ease and accessibility. This contradicts all the biblical instructions about worship, which call for offering God what he deserves--our best in beauty, holiness, and artistry." I like food for thought.

What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:12-14 ESV

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pass it On

I found myself in The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Little Brown, 2000) by Malcolm Gladwell. I am a Maven, or "price vigilante" as economists put it. Gladwell says that Mavens aren't just passive collectors of information, they want to share good deals with others. Yesterday my friend reminded me that eggs are on sale at our local grocery store this week. Then today at the grocery store, I told the woman in line behind me that she could buy 18 eggs and get 18 eggs free with a coupon. I am thankful for my network of Maven family and friends.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3, 4 ESV

Friday, January 26, 2007

Sam I Am


Friends of ours rescued an abandoned golden retriever but couldn't keep him. We met Red, named for his striking coat, and fell in love with the sweet and gentle dog. We brought him home and continued looking for his owner without success. We are glad we didn't know that he would scratch up our hardwood floors. Yesterday someone recognized the picture on our Christmas letter. "That looks like Sam! He ran away from our neighbors and then ran away from his new owners." The owners have long since given up on reclaiming the two-year-old purebred so he is free to stay. Red seems happy to be here, sleeping in our son's room, greeting guests, and going for walks. Welcome to the family!

For everything there is a season...a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6 ESV

Thursday, January 25, 2007

All the Time

Today I went to a Christian Bookstore and looked at the calendars. I noticed that someone had ripped out the January coupon from the back of one and put it back on the sale table. I was shocked when the manager told me, "It happens all the time." My daughter tells me that she hears of high schoolers shoplifting from Walmart all the time. I am accountable to God for what I do, whether anyone notices or not. I want to quickly report undercharges as well as overcharges.

Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright. Proverbs 20:11 ESV

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Heart to Heart

Today I saw this license plate: YES DEAR. I assume that is a comment from one spouse to the other. In theory that sounds amenable, which Webster's College Dictionary defines as, "ready or willing to answer, act, agree, or yield; agreeable." I want to do more than nod and say "uh huh." My loved ones deserve my full attention and truth spoken kindly. I can do that.

And the Lord said: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, Isaiah 29:13 ESV

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Goodness Gracious

Yesterday I saw the license plate: O SURE. That sounds sarcastic to me, unless it's my husband saying it. I want to say what I mean and mean what I say, without being mean. I asked my six year-old to stop saying "Fine!" in a huffy way. And she can remind me if she catches me saying it.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24 ESV

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bog?

Seen on someone’s tee shirt: “I don’t care about your blog.” My computer’s spellchecker doesn’t like it either. Why do I post something every day? I started an online journal so my son away from home could stay in the loop. Like the Psalmist, I want to “remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands…Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” (Psalm 143:5, 8b ESV). I want to be like the Preacher in Ecclesiastes and find words of delight and uprightly write words of truth (Ecclesiastes 11:10 ESV). And I want to “share with you not only the gospel of God but also [myself], because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 ESV).

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Snow Friends



Our son (on the right) is making new friends at George Fox University in Oregon.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 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 55:10,11 ESV

Saturday, January 20, 2007

It's Good Enough for Me

I can't sing worth beans--I'm one of those make a joyful noisers. But I can hear music when I read the Bible, especially the Psalms. Tonight I heard Psalm 3:3: "But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head." And Psalm 32:7: "You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance." I am thankful for my musical heritage from growing up in the church.

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Psalm 95:2 ESV

Friday, January 19, 2007

What's Your Flavor?

My friend and I are still laughing about the time she gave me a Life Saver candy and I mistakenly called it a "life sucker." What kind of friend, parent, and wife am I? Some days I'm more lemon than Pep-O-Mint. With God's help, I want to be a sweet presence in others' lives.

For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother [sister], because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Philemon 7 ESV

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Snow Birds

I never thought I would be happy to see my in-laws leave town. Six years ago I was thrilled that they moved to our town the day after our youngest was born. Winter comes before I'm ready to say good-bye for three months. When my father-in-law called and said they were leaving tomorrow, I said, "That's great news!" I'm happy that my mother-in-law has recovered from being sick for a few days. And it probably was best they avoided the frozen mess in Portland. Godspeed!

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. Psalm 5:11 ESV

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Snapshots of a Godly Man

Student of the Bible
Teacher at Heart
Praying faithfully
On call for spiders, cockroaches, mice, and rats
Joyfully mopping white tile floor
Organizing and indexing storage boxes (then and now)
Parking a van with inches to spare on streets of Taipei
Set the bar high for expectations for my spouse
Ironing Sister’s wedding dress
“I just love being together with my family.”
Laughs at funniest home video moment of “rattled by raccoons”
Open Heart Surgery in 1995
Heart Attack/Stent Surgery in Shanghai in 2006
Stent Surgery in Oregon in 2006
Tells me he loves me and is proud of me.
Happy 68th Birthday Dad!

Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. Psalm 25:12, 13 ESV

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Staying In

Combine freezing weather and a couple inches of snow and you get a stay home from school pass. We are thankful for power to keep warm. What's a family to do? Some went sledding behind the houses and made home movies. Someone took a nap to catch up on all the days without naps. One intrepid soul tackled some housecleaning projects--bless that Man! The gang had a sock sorting party. We bid farewell to the unmatched and unloved ones. I skipped the tradition of having one final cleaning job before getting the boot because we don't want any to resurface in the laundry. We ended the day with a game of Where's the Mouse in the Office?, complete with book prodding and mother-jumping. I wonder what fun we'll have tomorrow.

She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. Proverbs 31:21 ESV

Monday, January 15, 2007

On Purpose

I don't practice random acts of kindness. I intentionally do things like I did tonight. I had 20 items or less but I got in line behind a woman with three shopping carts (I kid you not) full of groceries. I became a human buffer because I knew I could wait patiently. It was an act of kindess to the shopper and the cashier. It's a small thing, but I can do that.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 ESV

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Exit Strategy

“How late are we?” wondered my six year-old. We were on our way to a birthday party. We weren’t late—we were punctual for a change. I need to do a better job of writing things on the calendar and then checking it. We can plan ahead and have gifts and cards ready. Everyone in the family needs to know when we are leaving. We can change our ways. Next time my daughter can ask, “How early are we?”

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

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Pulling Something

My cousin introduced me to the internet bulletin board craigslist before it was famous. We bought our refrigerator on craigslist and my son sold his Playstation 2 on craigslist. There are plenty of scams so be careful. Don’t fall for the “I’m buying this for my son and need it shipped and I’ll pay double by money order” line. I’m in the market for a new (to us) gas range. I’ll spare you the story of how homeless mice invaded the insulation of our stove. I found this listing tonight. It goes to show that there’s something for everyone.

Wanted: someone to pull Bob’s tooth - $100
Bob broke a tooth or rather split it. The doctor won't do it for less than $350 which I do not have. You can use pliars, string, or whatever works. I will pay $100 cash. I'll hold down my pitbull Bob.

Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears. Proverbs 26:17 ESV

Friday, January 12, 2007

Common Ground

What brings four women in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s together? Me! I drank coffee with my mother-in-law and two friends this morning. One husband sociably sat at the next table with his newspaper. I knew one friend would be at a local restaurant, invited my mother-in-law, and ran into another friend on the way. We swapped stories and made new friends. Connecting people is one of my favorite hobbies.

We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 NIV

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ye Shall

In a conversation something popped into my head and I said it. “Beggars can’t be choosers.” My thought was that we need be grateful for the gifts we receive. I’ve been pondering that phrase further. Are we supposed to passively accept whatever comes our way? I am learning to boldly ask God for His provision and the discernment to recognize blessings in disguise.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14 ESV

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bear With

I am thankful for moments when the curtains part and hearts are revealed. I humbly accept the gifts of openness and vulnerability. Friends have shared struggles of children’s choices, finances, job seeking, and today the sudden death of a beloved kitten. I don’t have answers but I can take it all to our Loving Father in prayer.

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

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Teamwork

Today I lived up to my role as Stay at Home Mom. Most days I play taxi driver and errand runner. I had to be home from noon to five p.m. to wait for the refrigerator repair man. My mother-in-law helped by running my son from community college to volunteer job and even grabbed lunch for him en route. The Man came at 2 p.m. Called Hubby at work—yes there was frost in the freezer and yes there was a little puddle after we unplugged. Mystery solved--thanks Ken! Our recent power outage did a number on the defroster thingamajig. Tip to the wise: unplug next time! Tomorrow I will resume my taxi driver shift and snag some time at home to clean out the empty but now cold fridge.

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 1 Corinthians 12:18 ESV

Monday, January 08, 2007

Come and Gone

It was no big deal having our oldest home from college for the holidays. There was no awkward transition. It was good to scrunch six in the sedan and pickup. Now he’s gone and our family seems puny. Who is going to reach the high places? Who is going to play endless games with Little Sister? We are a party of five again, and look forward to his next visit home.

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

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Hungry Eyes

I heard that homeless people feel invisible. People don’t want to make eye contact with the man on the street corner holding a cardboard sign. I avoid eye contact because I feel guilty about not doing something to help. It’s not up to me to evaluate whether someone has a legitimate need. Every now and then my husband and I are led to buy someone a meal or fork over some change. Today I looked into the Siamese blue eyes of the man on the street. I put my palms up as a sign that I didn’t have anything to spare. That fleeting connection has stayed with me all day. I want to look at people and give them the gift of acknowledgement. I will help with physical needs as I am able and as God leads.

When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36 ESV

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Lights Out!

I used to think it wouldn’t happen to us. We live near the hospital and don’t lose power for more than a few minutes. That’s been true for the 8 ½ years we’ve lived here—until now. We lost power for one day in the big wind storm three weeks ago. Last night the wind took out trees and power lines near us. Mom and Dad went to bed and the kids had fun by candlelight. We were back in business this morning, then we lost it again this afternoon. We had to find a home with power so we could watch the Seattle Seahawks football game. (They won an exciting game!) Thanks In-laws, for taking us in and feeding us! It’s about time we stocked up on supplies like flashlights, batteries, and a radio.

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12 ESV

Friday, January 05, 2007

Coffee Love

I enjoyed gifts of time with friends and family this week. My daughter treated me to coffee on the way to her basketball practice. My cousin, who is redeploying to Iraq soon, treated me to coffee yesterday and today. It will be over a year before we can do that again. Today I had coffee with a friend who is home for Christmas and returning to England shortly. I hope to connect with my writing pal and a long-time friend soon. It might involve coffee.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11 ESV

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Logistics

I need to learn how to count backwards. I often leave my house about the time I’m supposed to be somewhere. I am committed to planning ahead and being more prepared. I need to allow travel time with margin for those things that always happen at the last minute. This morning it was the stray shoe buried in the clean laundry. My first lieutenant marine consultant (thanks cousin Evie!) advises me that “early is on time and on time is late.” Let’s roll!

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. Proverbs 6:6-8 ESV

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Small Town Living

They know me by name at the local pizza place. And it’s not because I’m a regular—I’ve known the employees since they were little. The barista at the coffee shop downtown knows I prefer nonfat milk. A teller at my credit union asked if my son was home from college. Yes! And am I ready for him to leave again? No way! After growing up in Hong Kong and Taipei, I thought I would never choose to live in a small town. Now I don’t know why I would live anywhere else.

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

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Gone with the Wind

I am down to my last bar, and I don’t mean Scot’s gift exchange stash of chocolate. The wind chime on the front porch is tossing metal bars around the yard and driveway. Today’s gusts may take the last one. I am flipping through last year’s calendar and writing birthdays and events in the new one. Will I be blown here and there by appointments and busy-ness? I want to invest my time in things that will last. I pray for wisdom to know how to manage my time and resources and make people a priority.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

Monday, January 01, 2007

All's Well That Ends Well

We ended the year with a bang at the 2nd annual New Year’s Eve gala with friends from church. The party had all the elements: food, fun, fellowship, and prizes. My friend organized a treasure hunt, game tournament, charades, and time to share resolutions. We had fun counting snowmen, nutcrackers, bows, and nativity scenes in the first floor rooms. Don’t forget to count the nativity scene in the bathroom! Our teams of four rotated through pool, ping pong, and Scrabble. One year from now we will check in and see if we read our Bibles regularly, ran a half-marathon, watched less TV, or went on an African safari. I can’t wait.

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Ecclesiastes 5:18 ESV