Sunday, November 30, 2008

Don't Force It

I was ready to let it go. Just relax and enjoy the time together. It doesn't matter if we don't get a good family portrait this weekend. We can always use a summer shot for the Christmas letter. But take the camera along just in case. And we had an impromptu photo op after church before the two sons met their rides back to school.

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

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Matters

It only takes a minute to put things in perspective. Today we passed emergency vehicles on the freeway. We saw the paramedics performing CPR on the accident victim. Life is precious. And tenuous. I treasure the family times this weekend.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV

Friday, November 28, 2008

Full House

And then there were six. Again. Our two sons and two daughters. All under one roof. Even if it's not ours. We're at my husband's brother's house in Portland. Now to get us all home before we disperse again. We're going to draw straws to see who rides home with Grandpa and Grandma. (We love our Corolla but it only seats five.)

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! Psalm 133:1 ESV

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I am thankful

Faith, family, and good food. Happy Thanksgiving!

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Precious Time

I visited my former church last night. I saw people who shouldn't be there. Humanly speaking. People have survived cancer and other life-threatening illnesses over the years. I was able to hug a few and silently say a prayer of thanksgiving for allowing them more time. And all of us at the memorial service were able to honor the dear man whose time on earth ran out.

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

After All

Do you know who I know? You just might. I followed a link from Tim Challies' blog to a woman's journal of her African adventures on the Mercy Ship. Wait a minute, that sounds like the ship my cousin is working on. Sure enough. My cousin was shocked to get a "hi from your American cousin." I love that. Check out the website for inspirational stories and photos.

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

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mind Game

I know it's a game. But it works. I keep pushing the boundary. When I'm tired, I tell myself I only have to walk 20 minutes on the treadmill. It's better than nothing. But then I watch the laps on the screen and say I'll just get to 4.0 laps, one mile. Next thing I know, I'm at 25 minutes. Hey, I've made it that long, I might as well go for five more minutes. And I've put in my 30 minutes for the day. Works for me.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV

Sunday, November 23, 2008

All Hands on Deck

Steady now. We're heading for strong seas. It's easy to get swept along with the holiday currents. All the sales and gift items. Sneak previews of Black Friday. I caught myself thinking I might want to get up early and stake out a sale. Maybe I could snag a deal. Hold on. Get a grip. A family meeting is in order. It's all hands on deck for a meaningful Christmas.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 ESV

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hat Love

My neighbor blesses others with yarn. Colorful, soft yarn. Warm cozy hats that are oh so cute. My youngest got one in her favorite color of blue today. She outgrew her baby hat from eight years ago. Now she can keep warm when she plays outside with her friends. Thanks, Sue!

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
Proverbs 31:20-21 ESV

Friday, November 21, 2008

Come Together

I didn't have a plan for dinner. I was tired after being gone all day. Hmm. That TV ad for delivery pizza looks pretty good. But I have my homemade tomato sauce in the fridge. Love those home-grown tomatoes! (From a friend's garden.) I can make some pizza dough and throw something together. Enlist the calzone production team. Yum! Too bad my parents aren't joining us for dinner. But wait, who's knocking on our door? Come on in, you're just in time! Put on a pot of decaf coffee and defrost some monster cookies. Couldn't have planned it any better.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2:1-2 ESV

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Give Me Space

I'm not going for austere. Or pristine. I just want some space. Open space. Room to sit comfortably, eat, write, talk, laugh, and dance if we want to. How do I get there? Little by little. I can do that. Yes, we can.

"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

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Now Playing

All I have to do is ask. "Honey, what worship song has 'Redeemed, redeemed' in it?" And my husband can find the cd and cue up the song. I love this collection of 20 Contemporary Songs of Worship, Volume 2, from the early 90's.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14 ESV

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Just Wondering

Do they have a break room? Do guardian angels get together and swap "top this" tales? I'm sure they have some stories to tell. Do they have code names for their subjects? Maybe we'll get to find out in heaven.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11 ESV

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fit to Print

We are having communication problems. Do I have to bring in outside help? I tell you something and you act like you hear me, but then you just sit there. I walk away. Take a break. I say I want to start over. But nothing's changed. It's out with the old and in with the new. Maybe the new printer will work.

Update: We're not wireless yet, but we printed a school assignment successfully.

but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:20 ESV

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Home Entertainment

I used to tell people I fell off the treadmill. Until they believed I meant it literally. No, in a "fell off the wagon" kind of way. But I am back on the treadmill.

I'm not much for watching TV so I don't even try to watch and walk at the same time. Amazingly I can read and walk at the same time. This week I'm reading some Christian fiction. Death of a Garage Sale Newbie by Sharon Dunn, if you want to know.

But when my husband sneezed explosively during an exciting part, I about fell off the treadmill for real. I did a dance and jumped off. No one was hurt. And thankfully no video cameras were running at the time.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Prove Me Wrong

Sometimes I just go through the motions. I pray but don't really expect anything to come of it. Why is God so gracious to me? I prayed that my son would have a good time on a college fellowship retreat. He doesn't like that kind of thing. Being with a group of people he doesn't know. Sleeping in a different bed. Prove me wrong. He had a great time. I pray during conflict situations. But nothing will change. People won't budge. Wrong again. Lord, forgive me and increase my faith!

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." Matthew 21:22 ESV

Friday, November 14, 2008

Looks Aren't Everything

I'm trying to expand my repertoire. Add to my baking stand-bys. When I read about Meredith of Like Merchant Ships making an apple cake, I had to try it. I went to the Smitten Kitchen recipe and sifted through the bushels of comments. Sounded like a winner. I had apples and the rest of the ingredients. All I needed was a tube pan. I could have tried my bundt pan but four out of five polled in the thrift store voted for the heavy duty nonstick tube pan. The fifth person abstained from voting--it's up to you, Mom. So I peeled and diced the apples and layered the apples with heavy batter. And then checked the cake at regular intervals. It took almost two hours. And then it stuck to the pan. I put the layers back together. The verdict? Delectable. Like a cross between a pound cake and a coffee cake. With yummy layers of apples. But next time I'll borrow my mother-in-law's tube pan with removable base. That should help with the presentation.

She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. Proverbs 31:14 ESV

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Silence is Golden

You big crybaby. What are you doing outside my bedroom door at midnight? You think you need to sleep in my room? I don't think so. You're a big boy. You can sleep in your own bed. Or the garage if you want to pace all night. Now if you could keep the mice at bay, I'd grant you special favors. But don't worry, we're not getting a cat any time soon. But let us sleep, would ya?

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8 ESV

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Log Rhythm

I keep getting better. At keeping track of things. I started out with envelopes and random scraps of paper. Then I got one spiral notebook to record all phone calls and information. Dating each entry is a good idea. And recording the name of the person I spoke with and what he or she said. I regularly make phone calls for my Chinese neighbors. My latest improvement is having one notebook just for their phone calls. I should have started that six years and umpteen doctor appointments, insurance calls, school calls, immigration for both sets of parents, and that one round with a lawyer about a stolen car ago. Next up is getting the calendar online and updated.

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27 ESV

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Faithful Service

One day hardly seems enough. But it's a start. I am thankful for my grandfather's service during World War II. And glad he came back safely. We are still praying for the safety of my cousin, now on her third tour in Iraq. But today I also want to remember the ones who stayed behind. The home teams. My grandmother, who bravely cared for two little ones. My aunt and uncle who faithfully pray for their daughter in Iraq and welcomed their son home from Afghanistan. They are all heroes.

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 1 Thessalonians 1:2 ESV

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bargain Genes

Where do three sisters go in one weekend? Without coordination? My middle sister went to a Salvation Army in S. California on Friday. Half off everything! On Saturday we drove through Portland, Oregon and stopped by a Salvation Army. On the way there I called my younger sister, who lives outside Portland. Where are you? She was on her way to a different Salvation Army. She drove across town to meet us. And we had a mini-reunion in the thrift store. It was fun to see how my seven-month-old niece has changed since the summer. Too bad we didn't get to see the rest of the family. We'll have to plan ahead next time.

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27 ESV

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hello Son

What a difference a year makes. Last year I was having trouble walking and I think people were coming down with the flu. So we missed family weekend at our oldest's college. This year five out of six of us attended. Too bad our other son couldn't make it from his college up north. We are thankful for safe travels, despite pouring rain down and back, and good family time.

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

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Split Shift

It's not easy with the split shift. Our youngest needs to get to bed way before everyone else. It means guarding the calendar and making choices about who does what in the evenings. It means having a plan for dinner and then keeping track of time before the evening slips away. But the real challenge is getting this night owl to bed. My husband would sleep better if I wasn't reading away, clipping articles, and going "Honey, listen to this..." I can work on that.

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

Friday, November 07, 2008

Cleans Up Good

I can't believe my husband did that. His first and second graders (he has a split class in the afternoons) had ice cream sundaes yesterday. My husband brought home the bowls and washed them so they can reuse them. For painting or a future snack event. Way to recycle! And he washed up all the other dishes while he was at it. Bless him.

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 2 Thessalonians 3:13 ESV

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Long Answer

Are you fluent? That's what people want to know when they find out I speak Chinese. I never know how to answer. And I'm not just trying to be polite. I learned Mandarin Chinese when I was in junior high and high school. In the 1970's. One of the perks of being a missionary kid. Can I read and write? A little, but I'm very rusty. Can I carry on a conversation? Yes. And who would have thought I'd get to use Chinese in Small Town, USA? God gave me two Chinese "sisters" in my neighborhood.

So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 ESV

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

First Things First

If I play fast and loose with my energy, I run out of steam. So I get up with the morning people, pack some lunches, and wave good-bye. But before I hunker down for my daily nap, I do my daily Bible reading. I am learning to trust God with the firstfruits of my resources, and trust Him to provide what I need.

Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
Proverbs 3:9 ESV

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Get Out the Vote

How many good Samaritans does it take to get to the polls and back? I borrowed my husband's truck and offered to deliver his ballot. Done. But then his truck wouldn't start. I popped the hood and jiggled the wires, just like he showed me. Nothing. I called my husband and he sent a grandparent from the school to give me a ride home. Thanks, Grandpa Joe!

My Chinese neighbor needed help with her ballot. We went to the Elections Office and took care of it. She dropped me off at school so I could help with a reading group. One of the moms offered me a ride to the truck to see if we could get it going. This woman knows how to connect her jumper cables and gave me a lesson. Still no go. We prayed. A passerby offered his assistance. And finally it started! I drove straight home, with my friend following me. Now to see how the election turns out.

Photo Credit: Capitol Building, Olympia, WA taken by my youngest

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14 ESV

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Orange Chair

What's with the orange chair? I observed two third graders vying for the same chair. Both claimed to have a hand on it first. Never mind that there were plenty of padded chairs and several other orange chairs available for reading group. I didn't have time to address the heart issues so I left it at, "No one gets the orange chair today."

Lest I judge too quickly, let me ask: What about me? Do I have any orange chairs in my life? What do I hold tightly?

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

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Walk it Off

I opened the door just a crack. And let three little Whopper candies in. How about a miniature candy bar? They are so small it can't hurt. Throw in a Tootsie roll while you're at it. But what really did me in was sampling the Monster Cookie dough. Oatmeal is good for you, right? Enough already. I'm going to have to walk that off. I'm happy to report that I walked right by the beautiful cinnamon rolls in Sunday school this morning.

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Small Town Politics

It's not every day that a candidate for state governor stops by your little town. Let's go! Three of us joined the small but enthusiastic crowd at the senior center. My son wanted to attend a rally last weekend but it wasn't easy to make bus connections from his college. Son, the Governor-hopeful says he's sorry he missed you. And the candidate for state representative says hi. He remembers you from the county caucus.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV