Wednesday, February 28, 2007

When to Walk Away

I might be a gambler. If I was a contestant on Deal or No Deal I would probably open one too many cases. One good find at a garage sale and I can't wait until the next one. I am on a quest for clothes for my growing six-year-old and Legos at the annual Lutheran Church rummage sale this Friday. I may even find a copy of The Lutheran magazine in the free box. (They have the best crossword puzzles!) I just read in the paper that a church in Olympia (twenty miles away) is having their rummage sale this weekend. I went last year and snagged my find of the year, a Gap baby blue down jacket for two dollars. I am going on record that I will abstain from the Olympia sale this year. I can't afford the time and energy to do both sales on the morning of the Peacemaker seminar with Ken Sande at Westwood Baptist Church . I trust that God will provide for the needs of my family and satisfy my treasure-seeking desires.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5 ESV

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Test Me

Today I was a good girl and followed my mom's advice. I went to the doctor and had a physical examination. I even let them take some of my blood, which I don't give up easily. I have what they call "rolling veins." They got what they needed on the second try after slapping my arm and hand and applying warmers. It's time for a spiritual check-up too. I need to let God reveal any hidden sins or idols in my heart. And I won't let it go so long between prayers of confession.

Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD! Lamentations 3:40 ESV

Monday, February 26, 2007

Home Again

I found a blog called, "Home is where you start from." Years ago I saw what was left of our home in Taipei, Taiwan after it was razed to make way for a highway. Only the kitchen wall remained. If you followed my childhood and young adulthood it would look like a map in an airline magazine with lines crossing the globe and back. Today my life is a dot on the map in small town, USA. Last weekend four generations gathered for dinner in the old cabin on family property. All but the youngest two out of twenty had called that place home at one time. The home looks different but it still is full of good memories. I am looking forward to making new memories now that my parents are retiring and living there.

For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1 ESV

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Step Back

There is a time to teach, reteach, correct, and encourage. And then there are the times you are glad you didn't say anything. This weekend I saw my children take the initiative to help without any prodding from me. My mom and dad hosted an extended family dinner for twenty of us. My fifteen-year-old daughter went early to help with the turkey dinner preparations. My seventeen-year-old son jumped in and helped serve, and my six-year-old daughter took hot drink orders. They are capable, helpful kids. How often have I robbed their joy by chiming in with suggestions and making it my idea instead of theirs? It's time to let go and let them bloom where they are planted.

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ESV

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sabbath Reflection

When I was young my family attended a Chinese church in Taiwan. I didn't understand much besides the familiar hymns until I learned Mandarin Chinese. My favorite part of Sundays was either going out to a Chinese restaurant after church or preparing and eating lunch at the church. Sometimes we helped wrap dumplings and ate until we were stuffed. When my children were young I wanted to make Sunday special for them. I wrote notes for them every Sunday and often made overnight coffee cake. I believe that keeping the Sabbath is important but I haven't pursued what that means for me and my family today. I still have two teens and a six-year-old at home. It's time we thought about how to make Sundays special by ceasing, resting, embracing, and feasting, like I'm reading about in Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, by Marva Dawn. She says, "We are much more able to be healers in this sin-sick world when we ourselves have experienced the profound healing that is made possible when we keep the Sabbath. Furthermore, our Sabbath reflection and worship make more urgent our desire to reflect the character of God, who cares about the poor, feeds the hungry, delivers the oppressed, and brings peace to the world."

"If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken." Isaiah 58:13, 14 ESV

Friday, February 23, 2007

Blessed to be a Blessing

I am inspired by my friend who is good at seeing a need and doing something about it. She recently gave some food to a street person. As she walked away in the rain, my friend thought about how she had a second umbrella at home. She went back and gave away her umbrella. I want to hold my stuff loosely. I pray that God will open my eyes to the needs around me and the ways I can get involved.

And he answered them, "Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise." Luke 3:11 ESV

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mr. Home Improvement

My husband improves our home and family all the time. This week he had mid-winter break from teaching 2nd grade. He tackled his "punch list" (contractor talk for "honey-do list") with enthusiasm. He fixed our toilet by putting in a new seal, put in a new kitchen faucet just before the old one bit the dust, put in a new thermostat after the last power outage fried the old one, sealed and grouted the tile entry way in preparation for the final hardwood floor installation by the front door, set up our new computer, and built a new work bench in the garage out of scrap plywood and wood, among other tasks. He amazes me how he can work in fits and starts and be available for the family. My husband brings out the best in me too. He encourages me to be the kind of person and mom I want to be. He models humility and a servant's heart. After twenty-one years I still love to hear him whistle while he works.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23 ESV

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lots of Love

My mom must have logged one hundred hours** rolling my hair up in curlers on Saturday nights. That was in the day of porcupine curlers that were no fun to sleep on. Sometimes she did my whole head in bobby pin curls. I'm afraid I didn't show much appreciation for all her efforts. Now I'm grown up and perms are a thing of the past. My mom and dad still show love in practical ways. Recently they bought a new car for their retirement. They offered us their "old" car for a song so we could drive something safe and reliable. My husband and I can't believe we're out of the 90's. We're sitting pretty in their 2003 Toyota Corolla with new tires and windows that go down and up again. The gal at the department of licensing said, "You got a great deal." Yes, and I have parents who shower me with blessings, just like my Heavenly Father does.

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

**This is my 100th post to this blog.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Seeds of Faith

If you could ask for anything, what would you ask for? How about peace on earth, health and safety for loved ones, or three more wishes? How I would respond if given the chance like King Solomon was? Solomon asked for wisdom to be a good leader and God blessed him. I recently came across the prequel. King David set his son up for success by making preparations for building the temple and gave him good advice. I think Solomon knew what to ask for because his father put the idea in his head, "...may the Lord grant you discretion and understanding, that when he gives you charge over Israel you may keep the law of the Lord your God (1 Chronicles 22:12 ESV). How am I preparing my children for the future? What words will ring in their ears when I'm not with them? I want them to want and wait for God's best. With God's help I can model a life of faith and integrity today.

Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:7, 8 ESV

Monday, February 19, 2007

Enough

I don't see the glass as half full or half empty. I thank God for giving me a glass and for however He chooses to fill it each day. I am thankful we had a car that worked well while we had it, with a few quirks. We were waiting to afford new tires. When the turn signals went out two weeks ago, I stopped driving it. Now we know the head gasket is going out. I am thankful I quit driving it before I got stranded somewhere. Today we sold the car to someone who can do the work on the car. I am thankful for God's hand of protection on our family.

... give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, "Who is the LORD?" or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. Proverbs 30:8, 9 ESV

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Peace Makers for Life

A friend told me he has no conflict in his life. He gets along with others and his family gets along, although they all live apart and never see each other. I think that is rare. Our house features conflicts over Hallmark versus sports channels. Who left the milk out all night? Is someone camping in the bathroom with the newspaper? Is it too much to ask for a little peace and quiet when I'm on the phone? I'm glad we have struggles because it shows us we need a Savior. It is also great life training for the future. I want my children to be prepared to deal with conflict in a way that honors God and honors others. I'm looking forward to the Peacemaker seminar coming to Olympia on March 2 and 3 with former lawyer/Peacemaker Ken Sande.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:1-3 ESV

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Home in the Range

Lessons Learned from a Mouse in the House

A little pest can do a lot of damage: Our gas range was toast after a mouse made a nest in the insulation.
Mouse Tales: Just like childbirth, almost everyone has a mouse story or advice to share.
Smart ones walk: Use fishing line to secure your bait or the smart ones take the bait without getting caught.
Word to the Wise: If you set traps in the oven, remove them before preheating the oven.
Set enough traps and you will catch it. Hooray!
Hot Commodity: The used range business is booming. People are going stainless, moving, converting from electric to gas or vice versa. Move on ads quickly or you will be out in the cold.
Looks aren't everything: We bought a used gas range for a hundred bucks that looked good but didn't have any flame power. We bought a second one for fifty that isn't as pretty and now we are truly cooking with gas!
God provides: God answered our prayers and provided just what we needed in His timing.

The righteous is delivered from trouble, and the wicked walks into it instead. Proverbs 11:8 ESV

Friday, February 16, 2007

Day at the Office

I was asked to cover the phone at the school today. I had a quick briefing, and oh, it's Friday and you give out candy at the end of school. My first phone call wasn't really a call--just the fax, ma'am. Finally my first customer needed me to page the 5th grade teacher. Oops, I paged the 6th grade teacher, but he was a good sport. Children traipsed to and fro the restrooms. One boy reported that his loose tooth was very loose. My first-grader did a double-take when she saw her mom behind the desk. I shooed a singer out of the boys' restroom after a long visit. Where's that handsome 2nd grade teacher when you need him? (That would be my husband, and he was on a field trip.) I did a little typing, took some messages, handed out some candy, and I was done. It's been a while since I was an office assistant in the Geology Department at Portland State University in the 80's--before computers were ubiquitous or I knew what the word ubiquitous meant. My friends Carol and Lynn can keep their day jobs. Bless them for keeping the school running so well.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23 ESV

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Flying Leap

I panicked and called the store when I got home. Did anyone find a bag of chicken and salmon at a register? As I waited on hold I realized that the bag of frozen chicken tenderloins and sealed individual servings of salmon were by my front door. "Never mind, sorry to bother you." I had jumped to a conclusion without getting all the information. How often do I do that? Granted, there are times to be quick on your toes. Most of the time you can pause long enough to find out what's really going on. James says it well: be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19 NIV). I can listen up, slow down, and respond accordingly.

The one who states his case first seems right,until the other comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:17 ESV

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mary's Mush

It’s Valentine’s Day. How do you say I love you to a second grade teacher?

I love you more
than Winnie the Pooh loves honey in his tummy
or Tigger loves to bounce cuz’ that’s what Tiggers do best,
More than Rabbit loves carrots in a row,
or Owl loves to spin a yarn,
More than Piglet loves to fret
or Eeyore loves misery,
I love you more than Kanga loves Roo,
And tomorrow I’ll love you
more than today.

(inspired by Holly Davis’s poem, Love Song in Ladybug Magazine February 1998)

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, Philippians 1:9, 10 ESV

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cup of Cold Water

My walking plan is "slow and steady wins the race." For me that means 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. I do a leisurely five minutes, twenty minutes at a brisk pace, and a five-minute cool down. Today was like that. I had an easy warm-up--my weekly Bible study with some moms and felt refreshed. Then it was chauffeuring, cooking, and confronting at a break-neck pace. I felt like quitting and hanging up my blogging shoes. Now I'm winding down with a Max Lucado e-card from my aunt and uncle and hearing cheers from my good friend. I finished my work-out and I'm ready to face tomorrow.

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

Monday, February 12, 2007

Put in a Good Word

After Pastor's convicting sermon about the tongue, I've been thinking about communication. I appreciate it when friends take the time to check in and make sure there was no misunderstanding. I'm not too old to glow when my parents tell me they are proud of me. I take it to heart when my child says matter-of-factly, "It doesn't improve the situation when you start yelling at everyone." I feel loved when a friend writes a card and tucks in a pack of seeds as an extra gift. I delight in thank-yous after taxi-rides. I am humbled when I break my own rules and say something negative. When I commented about my daughter's basketball opponents I didn't know I was talking to a parent from the rival school! I'm grateful that parent responded graciously and saw the humor in it. I want to share words of life and hope. By God's grace, I can do that.

we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:12 ESV

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Get More Done

I set my treadmill on an incline to get more out of my 30-minute walks. I could walk and watch a program but I choose not to since I'm on a reduced-TV diet. (Don't watch and you won't miss it.) I get a headache from headphones so I'm not a candidate for ipodding. I get carsick if I read in the car so I haven't tried reading and walking. Tonight I gave it a whirl and I was able to catch up on some World Magazines from my Grandpa. My time was up before I knew it. Works for me.

But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. Psalm 26:11 ESV

Saturday, February 10, 2007

With Love

Yesterday I thought about my response to the license plate, JSTPLYN (Just Playing). Today I'm thinking about my husband. He is just seeking God, just loving, just singing, just pitching in, just encouraging, just fun, just making up ditties, just patient, just shepherding his flock of second graders, and just romantic. At the Jazz Cafe event at church last night, he followed the instructions on our table for writing a haiku. He used a title inspired by one of my blogs as a wink to me. I love you, Scot!

Yes Dear

Your smile constrains me
because I love to love you
Your wish's all to me.

...This is my beloved and this is my friend,...Song of Solomon 5:16b ESV

Friday, February 09, 2007

Just Keep on Keeping On

I saw the vanity license plate JSTPLYN. I assume the owner is "just playing." That's not how I describe myself. I'm just loving, just praying, just hoping, just trusting, just believing, just thankful, and just passing through. I am not just a homemaker, wife, mom, and friend. I am a daughter of the King and He has work for me to do.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV

Thursday, February 08, 2007

His Mission

I try to be a lower case mom but sometimes I break out in capital letters. YOU WHAT?! I SAID NO! I can only go so far on my own good intentions. I need a Redeemer to save me and work through me. I appreciate Paul David Tripp's perspective in War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles. "Before we speak, we need to ask ourselves what the Redeemer wants to accomplish in the situation, and we need to be committed to be a part of it. We are meant to be on his mission." I am asking God to open my eyes to the real need of the moment and give me the grace to respond. He can do that.

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

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What's on Your List?

At coffee today my friend and I made plans for her to bring a quilt to my house. She jotted a reminder, "Bring comfort." That wraps up my friend. She is good at praying, listening, and encouraging. My to-do list is heavy on W's: Who has to be Where When, Who needs What, and don't forget, What's for dinner? I want to keep up with family needs and take time to bring comfort along the way. With God's help, I can do that.

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11 ESV

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Just What I Needed

I've been on a mission to help my parents find queen-size box springs to go with their new (to them) mattress and raise their standard of sleeping. I check our local thrift store and online ads regularly. Yesterday I called one hour too late on a newspaper ad. Today I mentioned my quest at my women's Bible study. Who knew my friend had just what my parents needed in her garage? In our lesson today we read about how the early church in Acts pooled their resources. Today we have the Internet to post our freebies, swaps, and auction items. It still works to share needs friend to friend. What do you need? I might have it.

There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Acts 4:34, 35 ESV

Monday, February 05, 2007

Salt and Light

What follows these words?
Bread and ?
Peanut butter and ?
Chips and ?
Green eggs and ?
Tea and ?
I was thinking of butter, jelly, salsa, ham, and just to mix it up a little, crumpets. I read and pray through Colossians 1:3-14 almost every day. I wonder if there is a correlation between "bearing fruit in every good work" and "increasing in the knowledge of God" (v. 1:10). A good way to get to know someone is to work side by side. I am asking God to show me where He is working so I can join Him.

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

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Much is Given

Sometimes I wonder, "Why me?" Why has God wrapped my life in a great cloud of witnesses? My family tree is loaded with generations of men and women of faith. I have no trouble accepting God as my Heavenly Father because my own father is faithful and true. My children have the examples of their grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and their own dad to light the way. I want to spend my inheritance wisely and make my life count.

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, Hebrews 12:1 ESV

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Unload

I am the oldest of three girls. Bless my dad for living in a hotbed of female emotion. He patiently and masterfully packed all our stuff in whatever vehicle we had at the time. My middle sister was a minimalist. (She can still travel to China with only a backpack.) My younger sister was a packrat. (She has reformed her ways and inspires me.) I fell somewhere in the middle. Today I am a certified stasher. I collect books and ideas. I want to change my ways and let my inner organized person out. I am thankful for a husband who puts up with me and my piles.Tonight I faced one shelf in my closet and said good-bye to some recipes and other papers I can live without. It's a start.

Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it. Proverbs 15: 16 ESV

Friday, February 02, 2007

Get a Move On

I started out gungho. I walked or went on the treadmill several times a week. Then I announced my accomplishment of 30 minutes on the treadmill four days in a row. My six-year-old looked me over and gently said, "Um, Mom, you're still not unfat." I lost steam over Christmas break and haven't found it again. Today the sun came out and thawed the frozen tundra. My six-year-old said, "Mommy, c'mon!" I said okay, one quarter-mile lap around our neighborhood. We did three laps and it felt great. Hooray for fresh air and a little prodding.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, Hebrews 10:24 ESV

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Turned Off

I have a reputation for stating the obvious. What do you think of the barbecue sauce? It's barbecue! The behinder I get, the behinder I get! The less television I watch, the less I watch. With TV, one thing leads to another. More teasers and promos. News at 11! The longer I go without watching shows, the easier it gets. I don't want my evening dominated by half-hour or hourly deadlines. I am thankful for the conversations I've had with my teens the last couple nights. And I want to practice what I preach. Is it appropriate and wholesome? If not, turn it off.

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Psalm 119:37 ESV