Saturday, May 31, 2008

Designated Friend

I'm not usually that prepared. Books and notebook, yes. Packing a lunch, not so much. Good thing, because the medical appointment for my friend took longer than expected. I took a lunch and my new book. I had some change in my pocket in case there was a coffee stand or garage sale within walking distance. But I found out that as designated driver and escort I couldn't leave the building. So I waited. And read. And prayed for good results. That's what friends do. Three hours later the results were in. Nothing serious detected. We were free to leave the building. Hooray!

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4 ESV

Friday, May 30, 2008

Made With Love

What makes a good mother-in-law? She loves God and it shows. She honors her husband. She raises a son (or four!) who knows how to love and serve. She has eleven favorite grandchildren. She knows when to offer help and when to pray. And she is one of my best friends. Happy Birthday Linda!

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:27-30 ESV

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Under Development

I need a trademark. Something I'm known for. Besides signing my name with only a capital M. My friend didn't plan this, but she is known for making sloppy joes when she hosts get-togethers. Last weekend we went to her open house hungry for sloppy joes, and she did not disappoint. We ask my mom to bring cabbage salad and rolls (among other things) to family gatherings. My mother-in-law is always good for some tasty dessert, whether it be sourdough cinnamon rolls, apple crisp, gingerbread, or cookies. My artistic sixteen-year-old daughter is ready to start her own tradition. She has new colored pencils and she's not afraid to use them. She is making birthday cards for family and friends. Maybe I can post a photo of one after the birthday rush is over. I used to be known for baking muffins at the drop of a hat. My basic Better and Homes Garden recipe got good reviews. My recent experiments with left-over steel-cut oatmeal aren't going so well. Today's batch didn't taste too bad but the texture was lacking. Who let the air out of my muffins? That reminds me, I make applesauce cake every year around this time. My neighbors expect it at the annual hello summer party on the last day of school. That could be my trademark. I wonder how it would bake as muffins?

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1 ESV

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stop Gap

Don't mind the screaming. It's just me. With a mouse in the house. In the front closet to be exact. Where did he/she come from? Lord, have mercy. Now to contain or catch the critter. Quick, find and set some traps. Meanwhile, stand guard and keep it from running loose in the house. One hour into my watch my Chinese neighbor comes over. She needs help with some paperwork. She assesses the situation and clears the coffee table and end table. Flipped on their sides they make a solid barrier in the entry way. Then she asks if it is okay if the mouse goes outside. Uh, sure. I open the front door and it soon runs out of the closet and scoots under the screen door. I replace the strip that came off the bottom of the screen door. No more gap for unwanted guests. I hope that's the end of that.

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Report Card

My family is gracious. They don't grade me on how I'm doing. Or throw old blogs in my face. I can do a self-evaluation just fine. Back in November of 2006 I said I need to face my fears about getting rid of stuff. That would be a big fat capital N for Needs Improvement. My inner critic can tell you that I have the desire and motivation but lack the gumption and follow-through. In December of 2006 I said I wanted to focus and tune in. I think I'm showing improvement. How about S for Satisfactory? I can work up to an E for Excellence. So what were you saying? Just kidding. I'm here. I'm with you. And one of these days I won't be surrounded by so much stuff.

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18 ESV

Monday, May 26, 2008

Check That

If something works in one part of your life, will it work in another? I'm checking boxes for my Bible reading plan. Two passages to read each day. Done. Five months and counting. Maybe I should make lists with boxes for other things. How many servings of fruits and vegetables do I get each day? It's hit and miss. I could make a list for that. And cross them off during the day. What about exercise? Better make a list for that. (And get walking!) After I have that going, I can make a master list of 15-30 minute projects in the house and tackle one a day. I can record my baby steps and milestones.

Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3 ESV

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pet Theories

I have some pet theories. Anecdotal, sure. About children: However many children you have, take up as much time you have. I'm developing some theories about the benefits of spacing your children apart so that the older ones can help care for the younger one(s). But I am still in the testing phase.

Here's a random theory: People either love or hate black licorice. And you may marry your polar opposite. I love Good and Plenty candies so that puts me in the love camp. My husband tells the childhood story of a friend giving him a piece of black licorice on the school bus. My husband didn't want to hurt his friend's feelings, so he accepted it. He put it in his mouth and kept it there until he got off the bus. And promptly spit it out.

I also believe chaos breeds chaos, but I don't think that is an original concept. Or: clutter breeds clutter. I decided to see if the opposite is also true. Can creating one zone of order radiate and spread? Again, I'm still in research phase. I started with one drawer in the kitchen. How many one-quarter measuring cups do you really need? I can see using two at one time. Maybe oil in one and sugar in another. One more dry ingredient and the sugared one will do. If the recipe calls for vinegar or milk, the oiled one will do. But mix them together and you have another science experiment. I haven't moved on to more drawers yet but I've had appreciative comments from the family about the new and improved implement drawer. Just wait until I tackle the land down under. The sink that is. When I'm feeling very brave and energetic.

I started a parallel experiment in my room. I trimmed the collection of books on the shelf by my bed. Even color coded for fun. Who knew I had so many orange books? I'll tackle the desk top next. Preliminary data on the contagious nature of such work is promising. My son cleaned his room without being asked. And vacuumed. He also pulled off a surprise by clean job in the kitchen and living room while the rest of the family was gone. And his designated chore is the laundry. I will continue with testing and evaluate the results. Stay tuned.

a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; Ecclesiastes 3:6 ESV

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Good Book Day

What makes me happier than a garage sale with lots of good books for sale? The fam team enjoying the experience with me. My kids helped select art supplies, books, and miscellaneous items that my husband would like for his class or for us to have at home. They helped schlep boxes to the cashier's table and to the car. And they were patient when I paused at the free box on the way to the car.

Today's stash included a copy of my favorite book by Jamie Langston Turner, Some Wildflower in My Heart. I buy it and give it away regularly. Then I found a delightful book of columns by Sharon Randall. As a bonus, this copy of Birdbaths and Paper Cranes is autographed. I have some Christian mysteries in a stack for when I have some time. I found a book by an author who freely shares her writing tips for people who want to be published. I feel like I know her from her website. Now I can read one of her works of fiction, Watching Tree Limbs. We're talking 10 cents, 25 cents, 75 cents, and a whole one dollar for Randy Alcorn's devotional about Heaven.

Who was it that asked, "How many books do you buy in year?" (Ann Kroeker). I buy a lot. Mostly second-hand non-fiction with some Christian fiction thrown in. Every now and then I spring for something new. I even pre-ordered the Harris twins' new book, Do Hard Things. And I'm pleased to announce that I donated some things to our local thrift store today. Made room for my new finds.

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

Friday, May 23, 2008

To Tell the Truth

Let me introduce the characters. This is from my Bible reading in 1 Samuel 23 and 24 today. First we have David, this is post-Goliath and pre-Kingship. Then there's the current king, Saul. And lastly there is David's band of men. Notice how each of them claim to speak for God. David starts by inquiring of the Lord, "Shall I go and attack these Philistines?" (1 Samuel 23:2). He inquires again in verse 4, 11, and 12. Meanwhile, when Saul finds out where David is, Saul says, "God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has
gates and bars" (1 Samuel 23:7). Later David and his men have the opportunity to end the duel, once and for all. David's men think this is God's answer. So who is right? Will the real spokesperson please stand up? You guessed it. That would be David. And notice how he kept checking in with God. Sounds like a good idea.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 ESV

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Read Me a Story

Quick, what's the first thing that comes to mind in this multiple choice question?

The Bible is:

(a). a topical index
(b). a dictionary
(c). an encyclopedia
(d). other

Paul David Tripp talks about how we view the Bible in his book for parents of teens, Age of Opportunity. He says we tend to have a "where can I find a verse on ..." approach. Tripp says, "The Bible is not a topical index, dictionary, or an encyclopedia. The Bible is a storybook." That would be (d) other.

"It is God's story, the story of his character, his creation, his redemption of this fallen world, and his sovereign plan for the ages. It is the one true and unalterable story. It is the story. All other stories of people and nations find their life, meaning, and hope in this story."

He goes on to expand on how we can share God's story with our teens.

I appreciate Stephen Altrogge's blog post about how to read the Bible armed with two questions. The first question is, "What does this passage tell me about God?" And the second, "What does this passage tell me about myself?" Like he says, "The Bible isn’t simply information to be digested, it requires a heartfelt response."

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-15 ESV

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

You Asked

What do they call it when people just want talk about their ailments? An organ recital? I'll spare you. I will say that my visit to my neurologist went well. I'm happy to report that my speech and balance are much better than they were six months ago. I don't think the new medication is the reason. It's just the ebb and flow of my relapsing-remitting MS. I will continue with the weekly injections in hopes that it will help long-term. And no, I have not been able to give myself an injection yet. My older daughter doesn't mind and it takes the stress out of it. The side-effects are becoming more manageable. Just a minor case of the flu for a few hours. Haven't been hit by a truck in a while. Been kicked in the gut most weeks, but not this week. It will be interesting to see what my next brain MRI shows in October. Thanks for asking.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 ESV

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Where's the Beef?

Let me tell you a story. You have cows, right? "Yep, 35. I'm a farmer boy!" He is otherwise known as a second grader in my husband's class. I was there to give one-on-one writing help. Okay. Picture this cow* out running in the field. He's running here. Running there. Doing his own thing. Do you have a barn? Well this cow needs to come in the barn. Get in his stall. You have lots of ideas. You're running all over the field. But for right here, right now, you need to focus and get this assignment done. Time to come in the barn. And he did. For a while. And then he started talking about other things and getting off track. He paused, looked at me, and said, "I'm out running in the field again, aren't I?"

So what about me? Am I chasing after pretty butterflies, losing track of time? Time to focus. And clean out the barn.

*Note: This city slicker is using cow as a generic term. I understand there are beef cattle and dairy cows.

And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 1 Samuel 12:21 ESV

Monday, May 19, 2008

All the Way

I used to get worn out with it all. Wiping noses, tying shoes, wrestling with car seats. Wait, we still have a booster seat. But she can buckle and unbuckle herself. In a good way, not a Houdini way. There were diapers and potty training. And accidents. But we're past that. Is it easier to parent now? No. Just different. The relationship side is pretty awesome. But the issues are loaded. After almost 21 years (when did that happen?) of parenting, I still don't know what I am doing. I just keep taking it one question, one decision, one response, one need, one crisis at a time. Praying all the way.

Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:23-24 ESV

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Stand By Me

I used to be older and wiser. Now I'm just older. Five years older to be precise. When I'm 80 and she is 75, will she still make me laugh until I cry? How many remember when stories will we have then? Hey Sis, remember when we opened the same cookbook and made the same lentils for the first time on the same day without consulting each other? But I think you did the curry variation. You always were more adventurous. And please don't stop giving me good advice and encouraging me in my journey to personal organization. I look up to you. Admire you. Love you. Happy Birthday, Baby Sister!

Take note of the one who has integrity! Observe the godly! For the one who promotes peace has a future. Psalm 37:37 NET

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Audience of One

I write for an audience of one. No, it's not the One from Whom all blessings flow. That goes without saying. Oh sure, more than one person reads my blog. But sometimes I wonder if I fit in to this blogging world. I don't do carnivals, memes, contests, or type words that are crossed out. I don't know who Mr. Linky is. Not that there's anything wrong with all that. What do I do? I share a slice of life. My life. And I point to the Source of hope and meaning. Dear reader, if you feel like you are the audience of one, bless you. Mom? Mother-in-law? Daughter? Friend? Yes, you. It's not my husband. He usually hears my blog, when he's not living it.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 ESV

Friday, May 16, 2008

Worth the Trip

I finally met my new niece. I'm glad my chauffeur didn't mind the detour to my sister's house after my neurologist appointment in Portland.

but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:14 ESV

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Go Around

You want a piece of this? Some days are like that. Phone calls, errands, favors, musical cars. Everybody needs something. After helping in my husband's second grade class I stopped by the grocery store for a late lunch. A turkey baguette would do nicely. I could split it with my older daughter. But then my sons were home. Okay, fine. A quarter for everyone. I can share. There's enough to go around. God will give me the strength I need.

whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:11 ESV

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Truck Start

I don't ask for much. Just let me turn the key and start the truck. But then intermittent problems became regular. And I hardly even drive my husband's truck. I got stuck with a dead vehicle and a son with a make or break appointment. When stuff doesn't work you take a deep breath. Say a prayer. Jiggle the wire. Call a neighbor. My husband bought replacement connectors for the truck battery. But then he figured out a leftover bolt from another project (our toilet, if you must know) would do the trick. Saved $40 bucks and the truck starts every time. When will I stop praising God every time the truck starts?

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13 ESV

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Three Words

How would I answer that? My son had to describe himself in three words in a scholarship interview. My answer would depend on the day, the time of day, and what is going on. Some days I'm distracted, stretched, and tired. Sometimes I focus on my wannabes, as in wannabe organized, wannabe productive, wannabe hospitable. What's important to me? I'm a truth-seeker, peacemaker, among other "-er"s. That would be partner, mother, daughter, sister, neighbor. Oops, that last one was an "or." And I'm over the three word limit. I'm reading Ephesians right now. So today my three words are: redeemed, rich, and loved. Thank You, Lord.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight Ephesians 1:7-8 ESV

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wait and See

Quick, what comes to mind when you think about Ruth in the Bible? Mother-in-law, Orpah (is it true this was supposed to be Oprah's name?), gleaning, sleeping at his feet (?), the shoe redemption thing, and then a baby. Last time I read Ruth I noted her care for her mother-in-law and good reputation. This time I thought about how Ruth took life one step at a time. She didn't know how things would turn out. Isn't that how it goes? Trust and obey. Wait and see. One day at at time.

Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:17-18 ESV

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What Goes Around

My son's kind words about his mother (yours truly) on Mother's Day could have been mine about my mother. Except for the sports fan part. I wasn't an athlete in high school. I don't think being on the badminton club counts. But there is no doubt my mom would have been on the sidelines if I played soccer or any other sport. My mom should get extra credit for typing my papers on a typewriter, not a personal computer. There is nothing hypocritical about my Mom. She serves, gives, loves, and prays. Day in, day out. My mom models a life of service--to God, family, and others. Thanks, Mom.

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:28-30 ESV

Saturday, May 10, 2008


My seven-year-old daughter gave me permission to share her writing assignment for Mother's Day. I hope I can live up to it.

The important thing about my mom is...
She's kind.
She helps me.
She love me.
She takes care of me.
She makes things for me.
She incereges (encourages) me.
But the important thing about my mom
She's kind.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 ESV

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ladies' Night

Your husband and three older children are gone for the evening. What are you going to do? Call it Ladies' Night and invite your mother, mother-in-law, and a friend to join you and your seven-year-old for dinner. It was supposed to be homemade calzone night, but I was too tired. Plan B: buy a roasted chicken and mash some potatoes. And if anyone wants, there are tortillas and some romaine lettuce for chicken wraps. While you're in the kitchen make some homemade pudding. Thanks to my mother for the recipe (love that vanilla butternut flavoring!) and for my mother-in-law's time-saving suggestion to buy a pre-made graham cracker crust. As a bonus, your husband and children cleaned the house before they left for the Mariner's baseball game. With love. Yes, Mother's Day weekend is off to a great start.

Pictured: Moms and Grandmas are honored in second grade today.

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

Thursday, May 08, 2008


It sounded like a children's book. "Mom?" "Are you my mother?" But it was just the wrong number. I hate it when I misdial. I apologized for bothering her and the woman on the other end was very sweet. She told me it was nice to talk to someone. She lost her daughter to cancer a couple years ago. Then she ended the call by wishing me a "Happy Mother's Day." She could have been snippy with me, but instead she shared a blessing.

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. Proverbs 15:4 ESV

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Reality Check

I have too many friends. I have tried and true friends and piles of maybe friends. I'm always bringing home new friends to try out. Some are mine and some are loaners. And then there are my pets. Taking up space. Projects, not peeves. And they overlap. The books and the projects, that is. For example, I cling to the idea that I will organize my home, clear a spot, and start sewing. The library books and crafty websites make it look easy. It's not going to happen. Any time soon. Time to trim, prune, clear, and gut. I need margin in my home. Room to think and create. And if inspiration strikes, I can find what I need.

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2 ESV

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Common Good

I don't know how other families get things done. We run a fluid operation. When one person is busy, another steps in and fills the gap. It's a dance. Occasionally we step on toes, but mostly we work in sync. I started the rice for dinner and my husband jumped in and cooked the ground turkey for burritos. I shredded lettuce and my seven-year-old diced the tomatoes (with a plastic knife). Tonight I was busy editing a newsletter for my husband's second grade class so he picked up the clippers and gave our 18-year-old son a crew cut in preparation for our son's scholarship interview tomorrow. Our sixteen-year-old daughter will drive her dad and little sister to school tomorrow so I can have the truck to take our son to his interview. Our traffic patterns would be easier if everyone knew how to drive a stick shift. But that will have to wait until summer break. Carry on, everyone.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 ESV

Monday, May 05, 2008

Deep and Wide

I never know what to expect at the Desiring God blog. I take that back. I can expect food for thought. They have different contributors and cover a range of topics. This week John Piper had me thinking about what the Pharisees in the New Testament got right. Here's a quote:

Truth is compromised where we fear man’s disapproval. Is our finger in the text or in the wind?

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you--but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. Matthew 23:1-3 ESV

Sunday, May 04, 2008

By the Grace of God

Our friend Darrin is one of those guys that probably shouldn't be here. But by the grace of God he is. And he has a story to tell. See for yourself on his blog at:

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:3 ESV

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Happy to Help

The guy I hired to move furniture wanted to stop for lunch. Okay, it was my husband and he was on a break from painting my parents' house. And he doesn't get paid to schlep my stuff. But he's a great sport about things like buying a dresser at a rummage sale. Meanwhile, back in line at the sandwich store we met an interesting man. Amazing what a little paint on your clothes does for starting conversations. The guy can't paint worth beans but he is good at plumbing. And loves to garden. Organic gardening. Certified even. He asked if we had any suggestions for what he could do with leftover carrot pulp after juicing. Organic carrot pulp, mind you. Off the top of my head: Muffins, cookies, cake and pie. (Can you tell I read cookbooks for fun?) And add it to your spaghetti sauce, like my mom did when we were growing up. But that wasn't organic or pulped. He liked my ideas. The organic gardener, that is. He left the store chanting, "Muffins, cookies, cake and pie."

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. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 1 Timothy 6:17-18 ESV

Friday, May 02, 2008

Cravings, What Cravings?

That's not what I wanted to hear. Why does it always have to start with me? Just look at Mark Altrogge's post about what to do when your pastor offends you. He suggests that when you are upset with a pastor--and I would add, it could be anyone, stop and pray. Then look into your OWN heart. See what I mean? This is what he says:

Next ask yourself, what does this offense reveal about my heart? What am I craving? Honor, recognition, or approval? Sometimes a strong reaction can indicate sin in our hearts. James 4 says the root of all anger is our cravings – we want things and don’t get them. What is it you’re wanting and not getting? Sometimes we have unmet expectations we’ve elevated to idol status. The pastor should visit me when I’m sick. He should notice when I’m absent. He should consult me before making decisions.

This father and son duo take turns writing on The Blazing Center blog. They regularly get in my face. And point me to God.

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:21-22 ESV

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Day by Day

Reading Judges is like a roller coaster ride. First there's the underdog Gideon who rises to the challenge. He is often remembered as the guy with the fleece (Judges 6:36-37). He goes to battle with a skeleton crew and saves the day. With God's help of course (Judges 7:7). And then there's Samson with his amazing strength. He killed a lion with his bare hands and took on the bad guys of the day, the Philistines (Judges 14:6). But Samson's fondness for women got him in trouble. Delilah was not the first woman to cajole secrets out of him. Today I read Judges 13 and I echo Samson's father's prayer: "teach us what we are to do with the child[ren]." I also ask "what is to be the child[ren]'s manner of life and what is [their] mission?" Even after twenty years of parenting, I don't have all the answers. I just keep asking God to give me wisdom. Day by day.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 ESV