Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tea Times

Early in our marriage my husband learned that a cup of tea works wonders. A steaming cup of tea gets me going in the morning or after a mid-day nap. If I'm out of sorts, put the kettle on without saying a word. Make mine black: Red Rose or Lipton are good. I enjoy oolong or jasmine for a change of pace and I'm not afraid to strain it through my teeth. I'm not big on herbal teas. Sorry tea connoisseurs, but I don't like Earl Gray. As I'm streamlining my kitchen cupboards, I'm finding old friends. I have a little Chinese teapot from my college summer job teaching English in Taiwan. I sat in the tea store with my friends and drank cup after little cup. My gleaming white teapot was a Christmas gift from my husband 21 years ago. It traveled with us from Portland to Taiwan and back to Portland and then to Shelton, Washington. How many friends and neighbors have sipped tea with me? My brown teapot with blue glaze reminds me of our 5th anniversary trip to Hong Kong. And then there's the beautiful blue and white teapot my sister bought me in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. I'm letting my six-year-old have some of my other teapots. We should get out the Royal Albert yellow rose set I inherited from my paternal grandmother and have a proper tea.

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

Monday, July 30, 2007

Inside the Fence

My older children know the drill. They can finish my test question, "Is it true....AND helpful?" Stick with what you know to be true. It's not, "Who stole my stuff?!" but, "I can't find my stuff!" I am teaching my six-year-old how to stay inside the fence of what is true and pleasing to God. She can reframe her frustration into statements like, "I am really mad right now." Or her beyond-her bedtime-induced-angst into, "I don't like myself very much right now." I tell her, "You're leaving the yard. Can you come back inside the fence?" It's not okay to hurt others when we are upset. It's important to honor God even when we are mad at the world or ourselves.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:25-27 ESV

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cold Case

Sometimes I think, "Now what?!" It wasn't that long ago that we had to replace our gas range. Two years ago we bought a second-hand big beautiful fridge with water and ice in the door. Twice we forked over cold cash for repairs. I hoped we wouldn't have to repeat the harrowing drive with a refrigerator strapped in the back of the truck any time soon. This month the ice maker stopped working, the freezer stopped freezing, and the fridge wasn't keeping milk in the safe zone. The repair guy said it was probably an expensive repair. I checked online ads and began dreaming of a stainless steel miracle. Time for a reality check. I asked God to provide for our needs. Please Lord, how about something that works and isn't too ugly? Our good friends Dale and Carol offered us their back-up fridge. It's a cute white fridge that is clean and works. Perfect. I'm thankful for God's provision, good friends, and tie-downs that secure the load.

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

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bad Bill

My husband and I missed our turn. We were on our way to see a man about a house and a paint job. We saw a sign and made a quick detour to a garage sale. We met a woman with children about the ages and sizes of ours and swapped stories. She told us how she was almost arrested after her last neighborhood garage sale. She went to get a bite to eat and paid with a fake $20 bill. Bummer. And her neighbors also had the clever counterfeits. The person used the twenties to purchase items and get change. Sellers beware, when you run a garage sale don't take checks, and now you need a special marker to check your bills. Maybe it's a good thing my kids didn't have change for a fifty at their garage sale today.

"Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16 ESV

Friday, July 27, 2007

Red Ribbon Day

I tried to keep my expectations in check. I can't think of the last contest I've won. I faithfully submit my name for drawings at my favorite grocery store. I wouldn't mind a $100 gift certificate to the restaurant of my choice or $100 in gas. Hey, I'd be happy if they pulled my receipt for the win what you've saved contest. I usually save about what I've spent--spend $20, save about $20. So today I'm thrilled with second place in the muffin baking contest at the local fair! My humble apple pie even placed. They were still putting out the ribbons when I got to the fair this morning, so I'm not sure what my pie received. My daughter and mother-in-law received a purple "thank you" ribbon for their bar cookies. My husband thinks they should have had best of show, bar none. My fan club came to the fair to see how I did. Thanks kids, Mom and Dad, and in-laws! It was fun.

Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Ecclesiastes 11:1 ESV

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fair Game

My mother-in-law pushed me over the edge. I wasn't going to enter anything in the fair. She encouraged me to see how the judges like my oil crust in the apple pie baking contest. Too bad my grandparents don't have any gravenstein apples yet. Granny Smiths will have to do. While I was at it, I made some gingerbread muffins for the muffin bake-off. My family had mixed reviews but my parents and my neighbor liked the samples. My mother-in-law and my daughter made bar cookies for the adult-child contest. It was my six-year-old's first time entering the fair. Next year we'll be on the ball and make the art and photography deadline. Tomorrow the fair opens and we'll see if we won any ribbons. And then I can thank my mother-in-law. (Either way, she's a winner in my book!)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

For His Glory

My fifteen-year-old daughter went to Mexico to build houses. But the trip wasn't about the two houses she helped build. It was about learning how to live for God's glory, whether here or across the border. Along the way she bonded with friends from church, made new friends from other churches, got up close and personal with tarantulas, and was attacked by cactus. She's fine, but it was painful at the time. She saw how others live simply. She will never be the same. We thank God for bringing her home safely.

If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:11 NIV

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

While You Were Gone

Dear Daughter, It's been 15 days since we stood in a prayer circle in the church parking lot. After the bus pulled out your dad and I were too tired to go out for breakfast. I'm glad your birth certificate caught up with you before you crossed the border into Mexico. We want to hear all about your adventures with the other church teams. Did you use your hammer and build walls or did you work on the playground?

Some things have changed while you were gone. The refrigerator is parked in the dining room. We moved it for a project but don't plan on moving it back. You'll find milk and cheese in the freezer section. The freezer isn't freezing and the fridge isn't cold enough. Frozen goods are in the freezer in the garage. Watch out for empty laundry baskets on the landing in the garage. We're keeping the dogs from sleeping there. You might not notice, but the Plecostomus and goldfish are new. The fish died and we bought replacements. So far so good. You missed the record heat followed by unrelenting rain. Which explains the home improvement project--check out the new kitchen floor! Your brother helped with the funky cuts. Your dad's housepainting took a hiatus when it rained cats and dogs. The sun is back so your dad is working all daylight hours to catch up. Your oldest brother is helping and has a real knack for painting. You won't find him walking our loop at night. He joined a fitness gym. Ask your brothers about their adventures pulling water lilies for five hours straight. There's more work at your grandparents' if you're up for getting wet and dirty. Your little sister has a new craigslist camera. We met a guy in the Albertson's parking lot and paid $5 for an old digital camera. It works and filled the gap while you had the family camera.

Some things haven't changed. Your brothers like to be creative. There are paintings in the hallway and balls made of various things--the blue one is used painting tape and the foil one is your oldest brother's new hobby. Your second brother mowed a message in the grass for you. (Can you see "Hi"?) Welcome home would have been too long. We still have a basket of socks to sort. The office continues to be a work in progress. Little by little, bit by bit, as your dad says. I'm hoping to bake apple pie before you return. Your grandma thinks I should enter one in the fair tomorrow. I don't have any hope of winning since my muffins couldn't place out of ten entries last year. I can't wait to go for coffee with you. I've missed you! Love, Mom

Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. 2 John 1:12 ESV

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pull Heads

My daughter offered to pull heads today. She was referring to our giant hanging basket of petunias on our porch. And the term is "deadhead" which means to pull dead or dying blossoms off a flower. I am on a mission to prune my home of extra stuff. Tonight I trimmed dozens and dozens of Box Tops for Education so I can turn them in for our school. It would be easier to cut as I go instead of rip them off cereal boxes and drop them in the drawer. I cleaned out a stack of papers too. I should toss and file, not pile. I want to change my ways. I can weed as I go. Deadheading makes way for more flowers. I want 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).

Special thanks to a six-year-old photographer and gardener-in-training

And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. Luke 8:14 ESV

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Labor of Love

Ten years ago we started our journey toward home ownership. It was a nine-month project including 30 hours of labor every week. My father-in-law came from McMinnville, Oregon (about 3 hours away) every other weekend to work side-by-side with my husband. Together they worked on 8 homes in the Self-Help building program. My father-in-law collaborated on floor plan adjustments for a wheelchair-accessible home. We still count on him for good advice and wise counsel. We're glad my inlaws moved to our town almost seven years ago. Happy 68th birthday Dad!

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, Philippians 1:27 ESV

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Carpe Nimbostratus (Rainy) Diem

Rain is good for the soil, but it makes the house painter's wife fret. My husband has a string of houses waiting for new or fresh coats of paint. The work (and pay) won't commence until the weather clears. My husband says: when life gives you lemons, don't squirt them in your eye. He made the most of this rainy weekend by giving our kitchen floor a facelift. The vinyl tiles and plywood were in our garage waiting for such a day. I love how he can seize opportunities and move forward. He's my hero! And special thanks to our layout design genius, otherwise known as our seventeen-year-old son.
Carpe diem is Latin for "seize the day."

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

Friday, July 20, 2007

Make Good

My sister will be surprised to know that one of my favorite memories from visiting her is when their refrigerator went out. I'm thinking of the cooking extravaganza to use up odds and ends in their freezer. We had ravioli from Trader Joe's and ice cream and other leftovers. That ten-year-old memory surfaced when our freezer stopped freezing completely. I found a bag of thawing berries to use up. I made an awesome berry cobbler tonight, if I may say so. We even had some unclaimed slow-churned ice cream in the upright freezer in the garage. Thank God for our back-up freezer. My seventeen-year-old son had the best camping trip of his life recently. The highlight was forgetting to pack pans for cooking. My son and his cousins used aluminum foil to cook fish, potatoes, and everything they had. Even the unplanned crises can become the best of times.

All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15 ESV

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Too Late?

I believe you can teach an old dog new tricks. I want to create a new Modus operandi for myself and my family. We can unlearn years of poor timing, miscalculations, and serious lastminute-itus. I will start with myself. I can get things ready the night before. I can get up earlier in the morning. I can be more efficient with the knowns so we can flex with the surprises. We can celebrate successes. Yes, hope springs eternal. I put my faith in God who "began a good work in [me] and will bring it to completion" (Philippians 1:6).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Six Minus One

It doesn't matter who you take out of the equation. When one member of the family is gone, our family seems downright puny. We coped with our first-born son leaving for college but quickly reassimilated him for summer break. Our fifteen-year-old daughter is in Mexico with a church youth group to build homes. She is the perfect candidate for a mission trip. She is adventuresome, generous, and a tireless worker. And she left a big hole. We put off the empty nest by having our fourth child nine years after our third. Our second-born and third-born will graduate within the next two years. So this is how it's going to be. But it's not about the numbers. It's about the personalities they add to our family. We are family and we are friends.

that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 ESV

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mind Map Trap

My 6th grade science experiment didn't prove anything. The idea was to feed one mouse zinc to see if it helped him get through a maze faster than a mouse without zinc in his diet. My grandfather built a cool maze to test their smarts. They were both smart. They knew how to escape. I could use some zinc to get out of my mind map trap. Where do I start? Endless projects beckon. I can learn from my husband. He knows how to ignore the chaos and get things done. When it rains and he can't paint houses, he picks up where he left off in our house. Today he put trim around our door and in the entry way. I ask God to show me how to cut through the disorder and create a beautiful space.
(Special thanks to a 6-year-old photographer.)

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

Monday, July 16, 2007

Truth for Life

When my oldest was eleven I gave him a gift that will last a lifetime. I read through a wide margin Bible and recorded thoughts, comments, and prayers. The year 1998 included completion of our first home, my husband's job upheaval, questions about being able to keep our house, and my health struggles with MS. On the page where Moses gave his parting words and blessing to the tribes I wrote this letter to my son:

Dear Son, If I knew I was dying, what would my final words to you be? I'll have to think about that a while. Basically, I want to encourage you to keep growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18). My life verse for you three is, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (3 John 4). At age ten you show an amazing commitment to telling the truth. You are an example to me! Keep asking good questions and finding answers in the right places. I love you dearly, my son!

And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, he said to them, "Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess." Deuteronomy 32:45-47 ESV

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Negative Space Lessons

My college art teacher said anyone could draw. That's an important thing for future elementary teachers to believe if they are going to teach art to young children. She told us to stop looking at the object we were trying to draw. Look at the space around it and draw that. I use that technique in daily life. I am learning to see how God works by noticing what He DOESN'T do. So far God has not met our financial needs through shady deals. Last week I bought a wallet at a thrift store. I found what looked like play money inside. It was a $100 traveler's check. Even if I could have cashed the check, it belonged to someone else. I was able to track down the owner and mail the check to her. My parents reminded me that in my senior year of high school I was offered $300 (a lot of money back then!) to model swim suits. I declined because I didn't think it was modest to wear a bi kini. I choose to believe that if I do the right thing, God will meet my needs. I should stop trying to figure out how He is going to do that. He is full of surprises.

And he said, "Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Grill to Order

I prayed for a new barbecue for my husband. He works hard, takes care of our family, and is always willing to lend a hand to family, friends, and neighbors. I read about an event in a nearby town with a drawing for a gas barbecue. This could be the one. Unfortunately my daughter got carsick on the way. She recovered, we partook of the free food, and said hi to Friendly the Clown. We didn't win. I watched the online ads but opted to pass on the rusty relics. We already had one of those. Later a friend surprised me with a check in the mail. The children chipped in and we bought the best barbecue we could afford. Fast forward one year and it's time for a family gathering at my inlaws', only their grill can't handle the crowd. My husband loaded his barbecue in the back of our truck and cooked hamburgers and salmon burgers in their driveway. Now we're cooking.

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

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cheap Entertainment

I know, I know. If you don't want to be tempted to bring more stuff home, don't swing by the thrift store on your way to buy cold cereal. My mission, or excuse for being there, was to find greeting cards. The new manager rearranged the store and adds new sales every day. The cards are now 10 cents each. I found the perfect card for my niece last time, or so I thought. She is turning 3, not 2. Where does the time go? Today I found some good multi-purpose thank-you cards. I stayed on track until I found an old cookbook, More Remarkable Recipes by Mrs. Mark O. Hatfield. It was only 50 cents and my mother-in-law will enjoy the recipes and stories after I look through it. I am learning to ask, "Can I live without this?" and "Does this have a home?" There is a neighborhood of garage sales tomorrow. I think I'll stay home and write some cards.

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, 2 Thessalonians 1:11 ESV

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Zip, Click, Roll and Go

I am proud of my children. My six-year-old faced her fears and flew across the field on the zip line at day camp. I wish I was there to see it. Or maybe not. My seventeen-year-old is a volunteer photographer at the Church day camp. He quickly learned how to use the church's snazzy camera with zoom lens. You can see some of his work at the Summer Hummer website. My nineteen-year-old is helping his dad paint houses this summer. He is a conscientious, capable worker and is a godsend to my busy husband. I miss my fifteen-year-old. She took her tool belt and hammer and is ready to build houses in Mexico with high school teams from several churches. Carry on, everyone!

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 ESV

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Watch Where You Are Going

I looked right and left and pulled out. I forgot it was garbage day. I need to look down the road as well as keep an eye on my own driveway. Parenting is like that. I can do more than keep track of who has to be where when and manage the inventory. Are we out of milk already? I need to dig out Bonnie Runyan McCullough's Bonnie's Household Organizer from 1983. She asks, "What do you expect your children to have learned when they leave your home?" Are my children prepared to sew on a button, schedule an appointment, balance a check book, or cook for one or more? I want my children to be prepared for life. My oldest has left the nest but he is home for the summer. This is a good time to learn how to drive a stick shift. Watch out for those garbage cans!

shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 1 Peter 5:2-4 ESV

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Breathe Free

I know how to save money. Clean out your teeming garage and give your tired and poor huddled masses of refuse to the local landfill. It will quench the desire to bring more stuff home. Plus you will be too tired and dirty to go anywhere else. Happy dump day to me.

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV

Monday, July 09, 2007

Number My Days

From my journal, August 2006

When my energy is limited, I need to consider how to use the energy I have. Lord, teach me to number my steps. Likewise, teach me to number my minutes. How many minutes do I waste checking email multiple times, checking news, reading latest ads listed on craigslist? What about tv shows and news? Teach me to number my words. What do I talk about, request, comment on? Am I building up or tearing down? Am I just rambling or ranting and raving? Teach me to number my thoughts. What do I think about, mull over, contemplate, replay/rehash? Teach me to number my projects. What should I take on, devote time to? Teach me to number my purchases. How am I using my money? Am I repaying debts, keeping up on my tithes, planning for the future? Am I being patient and seeking God's provision? Is there something I already have? What can I do with what I already have? Teach me to number my prayers. Am I praying more than just petitions, bless so-and-so, S.O.S., or HELP! prayers?

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

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Easy For You to Say

Quick, what follows, "But as for me and my house...?" Many Christians can reply, "We will serve the Lord" from Joshua 24:15. It's easy to say I will serve the Lord but how often do I put God on hold while I do it my way? Family and children can become the center of one's universe. What about the gods of entertainment, comfort, personal gain, self-righteousness, or even bitterness and resentment? Some serve the god of NOW. This god demands buying it now, even if there isn't cash in the bank. Buy now, pay later or make easy monthly payments...forever. The god of NOW demands sacrifices of propriety, boundaries, and limits. Anything goes. Do what feels good. Life is too short. Then there's the god of LATER. The god of LATER will take your requests when you get around to asking. There's plenty of time for following through on good intentions. Why work yourself up into a dither? Take it easy. You deserve a break today. Have it your way, and get right with the Big Guy at the end of your life. I want to respond like they did in Joshua 24:16: Then the people answered, "Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods," (Joshua 24:16).

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! Psalm 119:10 ESV

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Paper Trail

It's taken me years to get here. I have been stashing newspaper clippings, comic strips, love notes, letters, and my grandfather's birthday poems in boxes. Add in overflow books, some-day projects, party supplies, wrapping paper, and kids' art supplies and you have a two-car garage with no cars. My husband and I were not the first to go through the boxes. Mice chewed pencils and made confetti out of paper. My daughter is missing sections of her 7th grade yearbook. I can let go of the Chinese newspaper from the day my second child was born in Taiwan. I found many notes and cards to my husband and children. I should bring back the "Have a great Sunday" note tradition. My children can have their collection of half-dollars and quarters from their late great-great grandmother. Thankfully the mice didn't touch one dollar bills tucked in envelopes. It was exhilarating to take the first step towards sorting, purging, and organizing my accumulation of stuff. But the biggest thrill is beating the mice to my grandfather's birthday poems. I found one of mine from July, 1990.

Birthday Wish!

Yes daddy's little lamb had Mary--
Way back in sixty-four.
And then of course they added two--
Before the final score.

Now why they quit I can not guess--
When things turned out so well.
We so enjoyed our Mary girl--
Her sisters, too, were swell.

But little Mary had growed up--
All nice and proper, too.
Great Scot! How things have changed--
That's what two boys will do.

Well anyway, it's time I think--
To stop this gibberish,
And simply here express--
Our special birthday wish.

WE WISH YOU-------
A VERY HAPPY 26TH BIRTHDAY!

Gramma and Grampa

When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. 2 Timothy 4:13 ESV

Friday, July 06, 2007

Bite-size Pieces

The hardest part of cleaning the refrigerator is getting all the shelves back in the way they came out. I tried stacking them in reverse order but it didn't work. I replaced most of it with only a few parts left over. My handy husband can fix it for me. I didn't feel like tackling the cleaning job tonight. I told myself I would do one shelf on the door. Then I did the next shelf. And the next, and so on. The next thing I knew, I had the whole fridge wiped down and organized. I didn't know we had a plethora of cream cheese. I can apply this strategy to other projects around the house. Start small and manageable. Maybe tomorrow I can declutter one shelf in my bedroom. And then find a recipe that calls for cream cheese.

The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you. Deuteronomy 7:22 ESV

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Speaks to Me

I try to limit my time hopping from blog to blog. I can let time slip away as I learn how to be frugal, cook, get organized, find new books to put on hold at the library, etc. I am always blessed by my regular visits to the Like Merchant Ships blog. The author encourages me in my walk as a parent, wife, friend, and faithful steward of what God has given me. And to use her words:

Thank you, Lord, for women like Meredith, who continue to teach me how make a better home.

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me. Psalm 101:6

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Transformer Trouble

I don't know what happened first--the small forest fire or the explosion taking out power to our neighborhood. The fire was in the woods just outside our loop--too close for comfort. Neighbors grabbed shovels and threw dirt on the fire until the fire trucks came. I unplugged the computers and tv. My husband came home and unplugged the refrigerator. Last time we lost power our refrigerator couldn't handle restarting and it was an expensive repair. Thankfully the fire was contained and the power was restored without incident. I made a mental inventory of what possessions would be lost in a house fire. Most of it is just stuff that could be replaced. If I had time I would grab some documents and the family photos. I would hate to lose three years of our family's journey recorded in the Bibles I read for each of my three older children. But how much of my home is filled with things that don't really matter? How much of my resources are tied up in consumables? I need a treasure-detector so I know what has real value. God can show me what to keep, what to toss, and what to pass on.

"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

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fireworks

When we first talked about getting married there were fireworks. It was the 4th of July in 1985 and we were driving back to Portland after visiting my grandparents in Washington. We watched colorful light shows as we discussed our hopes and dreams for a future together. We decided to wait, pray, and seek God's will for our lives. In a few days I left on a cross-country drive across America with my parents and two younger sisters. I made it as far as Detroit, Michigan before my parents sent a love-sick young woman back on an airplane. We got engaged the day I returned. We called my parents' motel room and my now-husband asked my dad, "Would you mind very much if I married your daughter?" We had a beautiful December wedding and honeymooned in Cannon Beach, Oregon. That starry-eyed couple had no idea what was ahead of them. We've lived a Proverbs 30:8 life with neither poverty nor riches and with food that is needful. Maybe we'll be blessed with 66 years together like my grandparents are celebrating today.

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:31-33 ESV

Monday, July 02, 2007

Peace Bear

I hugged my cub and put my mother bear on mute. My six-year-old left the house happy for a chance to play with the neighbor girls. She came back crying. One of the girls said my daughter couldn't play with them because my daughter wasn't wearing "rainbow colors." Huh? I'm glad I refrained from marching over there post-haste. What's a good peacemaker bear to do? As a Christian I am called to respond to conflict in a way that honors God. We are not going to return evil for evil (Romans 12:17). There are times to graciously confront and there are times to overlook an offense. We opted to let it go for now. I pray for wisdom to know how to help my daughter deal with hurt feelings.

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 2 Timothy 2:24-25 ESV

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Scaredy-Dog

We don't know our adopted Golden Retriever's past, but it's obvious that he is scared of loud noises. Soon after we adopted him, he made a flying leap onto our bed during a thunder storm. Now that we have early 4th of July fireworks going off, he won't leave my side. I often detect hidden fears in family and friends. Sometimes I will gently point them out and offer encouragement from God's Word. I used to be afraid of the dark and had my dad "tuck me in" (turn off the light) until I was in high school. I learned to trust that the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 is always with me. I don't like needles. My girlfriend used to go with me to my children's immunizations. After four children and lots of shots, I've managed to take them myself. "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). I just don't watch. Now my main fear is the "what ifs." For example, I hate caravan driving with my husband or son driving one vehicle and me another. I worry about seeing an accident involving loved ones. I am learning to capture those thoughts and put them to the Philippians 4:8 test. Hardly anything passes the "whatever is true" requirement. I ask God to reveal any lurking fears so I can deal with them like the spiders I don't care for.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 ESV