Saturday, March 31, 2007

Space Saver

I take baby steps around the house. I tackle immediate projects, one at a time. I dream of having a place for everything and everything in its place and handling everything once. My intrepid husband is my hero. He isn't paralyzed by the disorder and numerous projects clamoring for his attention. Today is his first day of spring break from teaching second grade. He boldly went into the garage and consolidated empty boxes, cornered loose items, and corralled the mountain of laundry. He had a vision for salvaging the former ping pong table top. He repurposed some saw horses and set it up in the new open space. Our older son can get in a few games before returning to college tomorrow.

For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. Psalm 18:29 ESV

Friday, March 30, 2007

Smart as a First Grader?

When I added oil to the water for homemade calzone today, my six-year-old said, "Look at the air bubbles!" Then she added, "That's because oil doesn't mix with water." Tonight we watched the dvd The Story of Jesus for Children. In the scene where Jesus calmed the sea she said, "The Sea of Galilee had lots of storms." When the Nativity Story came out, someone said Mary and Joseph journeyed to Jerusalem. Our young daughter piped up, "I thought they traveled to Bethlehem. It was about 80 miles." Our daughter has advantages from being born nine years after our third child and from the educational opportunities from a private Christian school. She is also naturally perceptive. She helps us focus on what is important--loving God and loving others. And I could have her teach me how to take pictures with my cell phone.

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

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Yellow Card Happy

Before today's soccer game started, the word was the ref was "yellow card happy." Sure enough, someone got a yellow card for talking back to the referee. A yellow card is a warning. It could be "unsporting behavior," dissent by word or actions, persistently breaking the rules, and so on. Two yellow cards and you get a red card, and are ejected. Sometimes I am a "yellow card happy" mom. I need to save my warnings for things that really matter. I can ask myself, "Is this something that needs to be addressed here and now?" What do players and parents want from the refs? Fairness and consistency. With God's help I can address real issues and let my children "play on."

for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Proverbs 2:8-10 NIV

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Break for Spring

It's great to have our oldest home from college this week. Too bad the rest of the family is busy with school, work and soccer. Today our son had lunch with his dad's second grade class. The second graders love his creative drawings and enjoyed his drawing lesson. Our first grader was proud to have her big brother come for "show and tell." He is a good sport. I've missed our Steady Eddie Big Bro and child-turned-adult friend. I wish we had more fun and excitement to offer him. He'll have to settle for a few good meals, hang-time with siblings, cheering at his brother's soccer games, and loading the dishwasher for old time's sake. I'm glad he'll be home for the summer before we know it.

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Day in the Life

Today my life looked like a string art project from 6th grade. I remember pounding nails in a circle and wrapping thread around the nails and going back and forth. I traveled from home to schools, back home, downtown to the gym where my son plays pickleball, and gave my neighbor a lift to work. I delivered lunch to my daughter and said hi to my husband who teaches at her school. I put dinner in the crock pot. Then it was time to make the pick-ups. I covered the same territory with a few extra loops, like taking my daughter's friend home from school. I took my son to his soccer game, and grabbed a few things from the store. I circled home before the game started at 5 p.m. We watched the JV game where my son scored a goal. Cheers! I picked up my neighbor from work and took my soccer player home to shower. Then it was back to the high school so he could watch the varsity game. Meanwhile my husband and assistants (my daughters) did their concession stand duty during the second game. I don't want to be on auto-pilot on my journeys. I am thankful that I was available to give rides to friends, who have been ride-givers to my family. I also snatched some moments of conversation during the day. I talked to both of my sisters, chatted with friends, and interacted with other shoppers. I'm glad my life is like art, not science. In 6th grade I did an experiment with mice and trained them to go through a maze (tried to, anyway).

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. 2 Chronicles 16:9 ESV

Monday, March 26, 2007

Just Do It

I'm not in the running for Aunt of the Year. I've already missed several nieces' and nephews' birthdays. I still plan to send "thinking of you" cards or comic strips. I will not let my failures stop me from doing what I can when I can. Today I had some time at home so I whipped up an applesauce cake for my neighbor's 16th birthday. My sons and I put a banner on their garage door before he got home from school. Recently a friend revealed that her family loves canned Spaghettios. She has a stash of cans under her bed so they don't eat them up too fast. (I hope they are not reading this!) For her birthday our Bible study ladies surprised her with a basket laden with gift-wrapped cans for her family and a fresh supply of chocolate for her. I can be rich in good works, big and small.

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 1 Timothy 6:18 ESV

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Mr. D

My grandfather is 86 today. Tonight we had dinner with my grandparents and two of their four children and spouses (my mom is the oldest), six of their 17 grandchildren (I am the oldest), and four of their 16 great-grandchildren (my four children). Many in town have known Mr. D. as a beloved teacher or principal. He is a well-respected church elder. He is a WW2 veteran, bibliophile, musician, carpenter, handy-man, gardener, golfer, and most importantly, a man after God's own heart. His family appreciates his devotion to his wife for almost 68 years and loving care of his mother, our Grammy D, who lived with them for the last five of her 106 years. Three years ago family members wrote poems to return the favor of all those treasured birthday poems and corny puns. Here is what I wrote:

Together

Made a memory at your knee
Doo dee doo dee doo dee doo-yipee!

Picked huckleberries by the cup
Gobbled Gramma’s pies right up.

Planted beans in a row
Watched fir seedlings how they grow.

Learned to swim forward on my back
Saw that Grampa had the knack.

Cut some poles and had a ball
Those stilts sure made me tall.

Built a maze for my rodents
Got a good grade in science.

Shared rides home with nary a rush
Stopped to pick some Indian Paintbrush.

Rowed a boat across the lake
Thought that water lilies were so great.

Learned to make music with some spoons
We marveled at Grampa’s tunes.

Cracked some jokes and spoke in pun
Learned that Grampa ain’t never done.

Journeyed to Far East Asia
And said, “Eat Your Toe-Ah”

Fetched and hauled me when I’d go
Took me to the Oly Bus Depot.

Delivered me to the train
Helped me catch many a plane.

Studied and lived the Word,
Helped me remember what I heard.

Showed me how to love my spouse
And let your mother live in your house.

Collaborated on projects big and small
And I’m sure, that’s not all.

Created poems for me and mine,
Now it’s your turn, so you can shine!

Happy Birthday Grampa!

Lots of love,
Oldest Granddaughter Mary

I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."
I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.
Psalm 40:8-10 ESV

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Row Row

I have fond memories of spending time at my grandparents' home on the lake. In the summer we used to swim or go out in the row boat. It seemed like the wind would pick up about the time we were rowing back to the dock. My grandfather encouraged the rower to "stroke! stroke! stroke!" Today I am out in the middle of the lake with my teenage children. There are days when the water is calm and we can enjoy the fresh air and beauty around us. Then the winds blow against us and it is hard work to keep rowing. I get fatigued from the busy-ness of life and don't know if I can keep fighting the strong winds of our culture. Fellow boaters can encourage each other to stay on course. I am trusting God for strength for the journey.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 ESV

Friday, March 23, 2007

Seize the Day

I get most weekly events down--Wednesday is garbage day and Thursday is high school youth group and my husband's Bible study. Every other week doesn't fly. Is today recycling or was that last week? Does my six-year-old daughter have speech class this week or next? This afternoon I drove to the high school for parent conferences but the gym doors were locked. I was a day late. Note to self: I need to diligently record everything on our family calendar and then check it. It's time to corral the numbers and dates bouncing around in my head.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 ESV

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Who Loves You?

Who lives an ordered life but doesn't look down on your disorganization?
Who is on your clean team when you're sick?
Who gives your bedroom a makeover when you're out of town for medical treatments?
Who makes food that follows your diet requirements?
Who feeds you and your children breakfast if you show up in the morning?
Who answers the cooking hotline?
Who loves your children and is on their emergency contact lists?
Who gives you honest feedback?
Who sews a quilt with your favorite pattern for your new baby?
Who is always good to listen to your adventures and woes?
Who wraps gifts beautifully and helps you wrap gifts for others?
Who plays Upwords in the hospital with you?
Who watches fireworks with you?
Who helps you plan parties?
Who shows up early to help you get ready for parties?
Who is a faithful pray-er?
Who leads a quiet life of faithful service to family and friends?
My friend Connie, that's who!
Happy Birthday, dear friend!

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Hot Air?

Some days I make a lot of noise but don't accomplish anything. I ran the bath water for my daughter and returned to find the tub draining as fast as it filled. Sometimes I vacuum a whole room before I notice I have it set for the hose attachment--which doesn't do anything for the floor. Today I called the state's senate hotline to record my opposition to a bill affecting sex education for our children. I didn't realize the vote was scheduled for today and my comments may be too little too late. I find myself harping on trivial matters at home. Does it really matter that hardly anyone refills the toilet paper holder? People just leave the roll on the back of the toilet. I want to focus my energy on what matters. And I see that the senate bill is now on the agenda for tomorrow.

Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little....And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. Haggai 1:5-6 ESV

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Jetsam

If you put your purse on the passenger seat and the seatbelt light goes on, maybe your purse is too heavy. After three weeks of neck and shoulder pain I decided that I couldn't heft my leather handbag. I am using a little string backpack like all the kids have now. I love the freedom that comes from lightening the load. I don't mind parking further away and walking at a brisk pace. I feel younger and more energetic. I wonder what else I have been lugging around without knowing it. Am I holding on to any grudges, hurt feelings, or unmet expectations? As I inventory and clean out the backpack regularly, I can ask God to reveal any garbage or clutter in my heart.

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

Monday, March 19, 2007

First Rejection Letter

Mary's Journal March 11, 1996 (Eleven Years Ago)

I've been watching the mails for a big white envelope with familiar handwriting or an official, smaller envelope with the Virtue logo. Today there was a large white envelope waiting. It was fatter and heavier than just my manuscript, but I knew it wasn't a "go-ahead." They can't use my article the way it is, but were very kind about it. She said my first seven sentences were a great start to a "One Woman's Journal." They want to hear more about my dealing with accepting MS. Getting into more about me and my struggle with this is hard for me. I don't really want to go there. I don't want this to be about me. I liked my "bedtime stories" because they were about lessons learned from the Bible. I'm not sure where to go from here.

Update March, 2007
I haven't formally submitted anything for publication since then, except for some newspaper articles for our local paper and lots of little bits and pieces for church and family. And Virtue magazine is not what it used to be. I hope I can unearth that first manuscript and reread my first seven sentences. I think I'm ready to talk about my struggles and journey of faith. I can share about God's steadfast love to me.

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O My Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love. Psalm 59:16-17 ESV

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Look Up


Some days all I can see is dirt. Other days I see the flowers in the garden. My daughter sees the light through the flowers. I want to look upward and keep my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2 NIV). With God's help, I can let His light shine in and through me.

for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10 ESV

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Go!

Today I attended a seminar on getting organized at the church women's retreat. I love organization. I collect books about organization. I watch tv shows about getting organized. And some things never change. I found this entry in my journal from June 2003:

Bedside table is a Jenga. Don't know when the piles will topple. Try to pull out a book, Bible, paper, notebook, and whoa! Everything slips, slides away.

I want to stop dreaming and start streamlining. What do I love? And what can I live without?

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. James 1:23, 24 ESV

Friday, March 16, 2007

Preacher's Wife

I was always the youngest in my peer groups. I skipped first grade when we moved to Hong Kong and I transferred into a British school. I graduated from high school when I was 16. Now I am in my 40's and I have friends twice my age, half my age, and others in-between. One of my dear friends turned 81 today. She went to bed eight-zero and woke up eight-one. Her preacher husband has a scripture for every occasion. I wonder if he shared Psalm 8:1 with her today. Together we can thank God for His many blessings to us. Happy Birthday Doris!

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Psalm 8:1 ESV

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Proud Mary, Keep on Rollin'

Mary's Journal December 1996

It's been a long road of acceptance for me. When I first suspected and then was diagnosed with MS I didn't want a wheelchair anywhere near me. I don't mind using a cane--it really helps keep my balance. A cane comes in handy for squashing bugs, pushing door bells, pointing and directing children. It's pretty simple--use a chair or stay home. Do I want to be a prisoner of my own home? Or I can get wheels and go back out into the world. A friend pushed me in one at a store where I didn't think I would see anyone. Then at Walmart I tried it when the store was mostly empty. I would like to go to church to worship and fellowship without the fear of collapsing somewhere. It's very hard to think about wheeling into church for the first time. My sister suggested I wear a disguise and a wig. The reality is that it is up to me to handle this hurdle in my path. I can accept the changes and challenges. I can lead the way. I have a picture of being carried up to the roof and being lowered. I want to worship. My friends can help me get there. And some day I may not need my "mat" or wheels any more!

March 2007 Update
I thank God for this season of health and strength. I haven't needed my wheelchair for over 2 years.

Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." Mark 2:3-5 ESV

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Before the Diagnosis

Mary's Journal January 1995

Okay Lord, I'm listening. I want to accept your will for my life, even if it includes:
inactivity
loss of control
disorder
charity
stress

When my brain goes "down" and my world starts spinning, I know it's time to s...l...o...w down, step back, and let the world pass by. I feel like I'm in a car on the highway, just barely off the shoulder with my emergency flashers on. Cars are speeding by. There's no room for anyone else to safely pull over and offer assistance. I don't even know what's wrong with my car, how could anyone else? When my car stalled in the past, myriads of opinions and suggestions came my way. My faithful car has revived after no apparent or obvious cure. I know preventive maintenance is important. I do the best I can. Despite my regular tune-ups, poof! I'm stranded on the highway again. Some drive by by not even noticing my plight. The music, distractions of children in the back seat, or thoughts of what's ahead blot out all else. I know others have seen my disabled car and lonely figure. Some smile and nod in greeting, others mouth the words, "I'll be praying for you," driving by as slowly as possible. I know I'm not alone, but friends and family feel a thousand miles away. I miss my husband and kids but I'm glad they're safely tucked in at home. I guess I'll just make myself comfortable and wait it out.

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I Psalm 61:1,2 ESV

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What Happened to Mrs. R. U. Tidy?

Mary's Journal May 1996

9-year-old's question: "What happened to Mrs. R. U. Tidy? She got MS?" (This refers to the mystery person--me--who did spot room checks and left notes and prizes.)

5-year-old's comment when I got out of bed and dressed: "Mom, you are so beautiful. I like how you dress up when you get up." And, "Sometimes when you are sick do you feel like you're not a mom anymore?"

Why I wish I didn't have MS
It makes people sad
Can't go on my children's field trips
Friends come to my house to clean, not visit
Don't drive much
Dependent
Miss cooking and trying new recipes
Can't commit to things

Why I'm Glad I have MS
I can read and write.
Slow down and focus on what's important
See my husband for who he is (incredible!)
For people I've met
Sensitivity to others
My dad's surgery (My dad needed emergency quadruple by-pass surgery and was in the right place at the right time because of my health struggles.)
Strengthen my faith
Reason to share about Jesus

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV

Monday, March 12, 2007

Once Upon a Time in Mary's Journal

December 1995

I'm not lying in state like Snow White waiting for the magic kiss of a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. I'm counting every day as a gift from the Lord. I'm learning to ask: How then should we live? What can I do with what I have? What is important for me to do today? Confession: Some days I feel like Snow White, but most of the time I feel like Grumpy. My husband's theme song could be, "Hi Ho, it's off to work I go." And yes, he does whistle while he works. My theme song could be, "I'm dreaming of a well Christmas."

March 2007 Update: My MS is in remission and I can walk and drive again. I have to conserve energy and take regular naps. With God's help, I am Happy more than Grumpy.

But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me and be gracious to me. My foot stands on the level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the Lord. Psalm 26:11, 12 ESV

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Busy Tales

Today I saw the license plate BZPLAYN (Busy Playing). That half-way describes me. My days are busy but I'm not playing. I am a stay-at-home mom who circles the town with drop-offs, pick-ups, and errands. I don't want my life to resemble the Veggie Tales song: "I'm busy, busy, dreadfully busy. You've no idea what I have to do. Busy, busy, shockingly busy. Much, much too busy for you." Schedules matter, but so do people. I want to make time for what matters. I have old friends to reconnect with. I have letters to write. I need to get BZCARING.

holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:16 ESV

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ready or Not?

This weekend my husband and I felt like we were given the royal treatment minus the limousine and driver. Our Sunday school dinner group met for the second time and this was no potluck. Our hosts put on a sit-down dinner with melt-in-your-mouth halibut and a full-course dinner. We feasted, conversed, and ended with prayer. We can’t redecorate our home to match, but we can improve our hospitality. We tend to serve meals family-style, meaning everyone pitches in to get the table set and food on the table. We want to be more prepared and less frantic when guests arrive. We need a count-down schedule for the week before. Our son is coming home from college in two weeks. If we start now, we can surprise him with our new and improved table manners.

She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household. Proverbs 31:15 ESV

Friday, March 09, 2007

Find Grace

I rather enjoy quiet time. I don't fill the house with the radio, tv, or music like others in my family do. I do like to drive with the guys. If I'm running errands at 12:30 pm I catch my favorite radio program, Money Matters by Crown Ministries. If you see me laugh alone in the car, it's probably something Howard Dayton or Steve Moore said as they take phone calls, answer emails, and give good advice about handling finances. If I am tapping the steering wheel, then my husband's cd is playing. I am hooked on Michael W. Smith's Stand. I play tracks 6, 7, and 8 over and over. Track 6 reminds me of my high school spiritual mentor (via cassette tapes), Keith Green, who sang Oh Lord, You're Beautiful. I need God's grace to wash over me and track 7, Grace, does that. As sensitive as I am to loud noises, it's hard to believe I crank up track 8 and groove to Stand. I can redeem my time on the road.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 ESV

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sister hood

I grew up as a foreigner in Hong Kong and Taiwan. By the time I returned to the US for college, I felt like an egg--white on the outside and yellow inside. Eventually I got married, had children, and felt at home in suburban America. One day a Chinese family moved into our neighborhood. The wife was a recent immigrant and expecting her second child. My young daughter and her son became fast friends. I dusted off my Mandarin Chinese and helped translate at doctor's appointments. I had the honor of being present for the birth of their daughter. Four years have passed with lots of garage sale adventures, shared meals, doctor visits, and another baby for them. I thank God for my Chinese sister who bridges my past with the present. Happy Birthday SY!

Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away. Proverbs 27:10b ESV
箴 言 27:10b
相 近 的 邻 舍 强 如 远 方 的 弟 兄 。

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Whatever!

My children know that I hate the retort, "Whatever!" and the contempt that lies beneath the surface. And I confess that I am equally guilty of rolling my eyes, shaking my head, and walking away in frustration. Is that how we are to deal with conflict? I want to take a deep cleansing breath before I dive into the sinking sand of Evil for Evil. Do I need to cool off? Is there something that needs to be said? Can I overlook the offense and extend grace? I want to speak the truth in love.

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14, 15 ESV

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What Do You Know?

How do you know somebody cares? The gift of understanding goes a long ways. My mother-in-law and other friends know I prefer my lattes fat-free and flavored with meaningful conversation. My husband blesses me with his faithful acts of service cleaning and organizing. This week a friend surprised me by speaking my language of Comic Strips. She cut a strip out of the paper that highlighted the need for peacemaking skills. Today I told a friend I had a mountain of housework to do. The next thing I knew, she was at my door ready to jump in and fire up the vacuum cleaner. Tonight someone used blog-speak to tell me he/she appreciates my daily blog. Thanks for the comment, Anonymous Blogger!

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 ESV

Monday, March 05, 2007

Wiggle Room

I had a flashback to a college writing assignment where we had to go somewhere and people-watch. I selected the Portland train station. Today I spent time in line at the local post office. I saw moms and squirmy toddlers, men with many packages (are they ebayers?), women buying stamps, an older gentleman wondering about a lost package, and my great-uncle came and went and never saw me. I talked about newspaper headlines with the woman standing next to me. One man had a heavy package to mail. The woman behind the counter estimated it was between 55 and 60 pounds, well below the 70 pound limit. She was a little off--it was 69 pounds and 14 ounces. The man had 2 ounces to spare. I can relate to cutting it close. I have made too many 4:58 p.m. post office runs to make postmark deadlines. I don't like living right up to the edge. I am too old to be chasing buses so my son can catch the transit bus. I am trying to add more margins into my life. I want to plan ahead and allow some wiggle room.

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

Sunday, March 04, 2007

What's in Your Heart?

I grew up seeing idols in the homes around me. Many homes and businesses in Taiwan have a god shelf with a place for incense and food offerings. I am learning that there are American idols. An idol is anything apart from God that I depend on to be happy, fulfilled, or secure. Something good can morph from a desire into a demand. This weekend, I heard Ken Sande, of Peacemaker Ministries, share "x-ray" questions that help reveal the silhouettes of idols in my heart. What is the first thing on my mind in the morning and the last thing on my mind at night? Is there something I want so much I'm willing to hurt others to get it? Is there something that when I don't get it, I become resentful? I want see what's really in my heart so I can replace idol worship with worship of the true God.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25, 26 ESV

Saturday, March 03, 2007

More Than Five Minutes

I have been known to tell strangers, "You need this more than I do." It started at a thrift store when I found a delightful children's book called, Five Minutes' Peace by Jill Murphy. The frazzled mom in front of me seemed to appreciate the gift of the book about a mother elephant seeking a few minutes to herself. I have since found and passed on the book to several moms. I can give away more than five minutes' peace. I attended a Peacemaker seminar with Ken Sande this weekend. I am learning to view conflict as an opportunity to glorify God, serve others, and grow to like Christ. I can model peacemaking and help others learn how to be peacemakers.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9 ESV

Friday, March 02, 2007

Lady on a Mission

I know how to work the rummage sales. Go early for the best finds and late for the closing deals. Wear comfortable shoes that slip off easily if you want to try some on. Take a tape measure and know your family's measurements. Grab an empty cardboard box and drop items in as you go. At today's rummage sale I didn't find much on my list, but I found something that made my day. In the book section I found a dozen The Lutheran magazines banded together with a note. It read: A lady was looking for "The Lutheran" at the last rummage sale, so please put these by the books just in case she comes again. I am that lady! I love the monthly crossword puzzle and make copies so our family can work on it together. I am inspired by my unknown benefactor who remembered a conversation from a year ago. I want to do meaningful acts of kindness like that.

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, Zechariah 7:9 ESV

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Pray Thee Well

My friend tells me I am a good influence on her but I think it's the other way around. My friend has a passion for praying God's will. I find myself praying more after I spend time with her. Tonight my husband shared a quote about prayer from a devotional he's reading. I just read that same quote in another book. I want to beef up my prayer life and move beyond "please" and "thank you."

"However, prayer is no panacea, no substitute for action. It is, rather, like a beam thrown from a flashlight before us into the darkness. It is in this light that we who grope, stumble and climb, discover where we stand, what surrounds us, and the course which we should choose. Prayer makes visible the right, and reveals what is hampering and false. In its radiance, we behold the worth of our efforts, the range of our hopes, and the meaning of our deeds. Envy and fear, despair and resentment, anguish and grief, which lie heavily upon the heart, are dispelled like shadows by its light."

From Quest for God by Abraham Joshua Heschel (quoted in A Guide to Prayer for all God's People Copyright 1990 by The Upper Room)

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, Ephesians 1:16-18 NIV