Monday, June 30, 2008

Favorite Campground

Can I camp here for a while? I love Psalms. They got me through leaving home at age 16 to go to college. Psalms got me through reentry to my homeland. And I read Psalms when my heart was broken. (Lord, have I thanked You lately for saving me from that relationship and giving me my husband?) Of course, it's not the Psalms that got me through. It's the Good Shepherd of the Psalms.

If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, "My foot slips," your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Psalm 94:17-19 ESV

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Like to Thank

I have a team of secret weapons. I would like to thank:
  • my personal Chinese chef for fried rice, onion pancakes and potstickers. (My neighbor, not to be confused with my brother-in-law who is our chef when he visits from California.)
  • my capable cucumber cutter imported from Oregon (otherwise known as my husband's brother, not to be confused with his son, like I did when introducing them)
  • bakers of cookies and lemon bars (otherwise known as my good friends who bring love and sweetness to my life)
  • my long-time secret weapon, my Mom who can bake and cook up a storm
  • my personal assistant for the day (otherwise known as my sister-in-law who could be a caterer if she wanted to)
  • the guest of honor who cleaned the bathroom with a great attitude
  • my food artist (otherwise known as my older daughter who has a way with arranging veggie trays)
  • my right-hand man who bears with me before, during, and after our adventures (otherwise known as my loving, supportive husband)
But most of all, I thank God for giving me the strength to be up and around and put on an open house in honor of my son's high school/community college graduations.

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

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Little Things

You run around like crazy to pull off an event like an open house. And when the last guest leaves and the leftovers are put away, it's the little things that you remember. The joy of seeing your children work hard to contribute to a family project. Remembering that ten years ago today we had our first open house. Pastor Dick came that day with his heart pillow and we said a prayer of thanks for sparing his life. Bless his heart, he came today. In fact, we had five or six octogenarians here today. We probably had every decade covered, except for maybe the thirtysomethings. Not that they weren't invited. I love being pleasantly surprised at who comes. Introducing old friends to neighbors and new friends to relatives. Give me time, and I'll find a connection.

A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! Psalm 133:1 ESV

Friday, June 27, 2008

WIP

I am not going to apologize. I won't even make excuses. Our house is a work in progress. I can't hide it. But I am not going to let that get in the way of opening our home and welcoming friends and family tomorrow. Ready or not, here we are.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 ESV

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Love like That

I remember this episode. My daughter almost missed afternoon kindergarten a couple years ago. We were going to just watch the first part of Little House on the Prairie. But then Mary went blind and her parents made the wrenching decision to send her to blind school. Plot spoiler ahead, as they say: Mary met Adam and didn't know he was blind too. Watching Pa leave an angry Mary behind at the school gets me every time. That is love! I want to be that kind of parent. Do what my children need, no matter how hard it is. I know God is that kind of parent. He always has my best interest at heart, whether I believe it or appreciate it or not. Okay, back to work everyone.

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16 ESV

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Master List

At the family meeting I revealed the master list. It was my mother-in-law's idea to post a master list of things that need to be done before the open house. The tasks are in bite-sized pieces, like clean one shelf of the fridge, clean one mirror, and organize one shelf of the pantry. I told the kids my definition of "organize." Think "Sweet." SWT stands for Sort, Weed, Tidy. But wait, there's more. We have incentives. Do five jobs and pick a prize. They don't know it yet, but they are all sweet treats. Only my family thinks SWT represents "sweat." That too.

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Make Him Happy

I have a theme for our open house event. Besides survival. It's about honoring our son and having foods he likes. That's why I'm baking Sailor Jack muffins and freezing them. Minus a few for the family's breakfast tomorrow.

And for the latter part of the open house we are having Snow on the Mountain. Kind of ironic now that they are predicting 90 degree weather for this Saturday. Snow on the Mountain is a family favorite. It's creamed chicken on rice heaped with toppings like peanuts, lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream. We skip the coconut which would technically be the snow. I am also making my son's favorite chocolate cake.

It's not hard to make my son happy. Make me wonder. How am I doing at making my Creator happy? What pleases Him? The first step is caring about pleasing Him. Do I want to "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him?" (Colossians 1:10). With God's help I can do that.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 ESV

Monday, June 23, 2008

Work On It

What's working for me? I love the overnight steel-cut oats. Three out of six love it. Thanks to Ann Kroeker for her suggestion. Pop in the crockpot on low overnight and you're good to go in the morning. It helps to use the heat-safe container in a water bath for easy clean-up.

Make sure we have lunchable supplies on hand. Flour tortillas (Mission brand, please), a can of refried beans, and grated cheese make quick wraps. For here or to go.

What's not working? Keeping lists in my head is for the birds. Bird brains. My fear is that I will make the local paper's police report. "Local woman wandering around muttering to herself." Actually in this town I fit right in.

What kind of worked? The post card invitations (27-cent stamps aren't too painful) for my son's high school/community college graduation open house. My assistant converted the Publisher document into a jpeg file so it could be printed as a photo with sharp text. Nice work. But some of them are not arriving at their destinations. They are bouncing back to our address. I need to tweak the format so there is no confusion about who is sending them and who should receive them. Maybe next year we'll get it right.

What never works? Running around, doing projects and forgetting to stop and plan dinner. Gotta feed the troops.

What works in limited quantity? Skipping naps. I need to keep preaching to myself: Do what you can, with what you have. Don't worry about the rest. Amen.

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, Colossians 1:11 ESV

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Serving for His Glory

That was just what I needed. Our pastor's sermon today was about using our spiritual gifts. My 18-year-old son commented that he thought of me during the sermon. In a good way. I was reminded that I need to be faithful and God will provide the strength I need. I'm counting on that as we prepare for our big open house event.

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 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 4:9-11 ESV

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Again

Why are we doing this again? Oh yeah, because it's what we do. We are opening our home to friends and family and neighbors next Saturday. That's how we celebrate milestones.

Let's see. We had the moving-in open house 10 years ago, my husband's completion of his master's program New Year's Eve shindig, my older son's high school/community college graduation open house, my 40th birthday party with a spring chicken theme, and now my younger son's high school and community college graduation open house.

We invite everyone and see who shows up. Hopefully my sister-in-law can either come or provide consultation. My Chinese brother-in-law won't be in town to cook up a storm this time, but I have a secret weapon--my mom. Not to mention my awesome home team. Go team! We can do this. Again. We can honor our son and his accomplishments and put out the welcome mat for our guests.

If all goes well, we can do this again in one year, when our older daughter graduates. And then someone's Five-Oh birthday. But first things first. We have a house to clean and food to prepare.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4 ESV

Friday, June 20, 2008

Do With

It's not a new concept. But I have to regularly remind myself: I can't do everything. I had so many ideas for our 10th annual last day of school neighborhood party. I could solicit donations from local businesses. We could have tee shirts, entertainment, invite former neighbors, and so on. How about a blog with pictures of the last ten years? I started it, but ran out of time to complete it. But hey, we did what we could with the resources we had.

Next up, our son's high school/community college graduation open house. ONE WEEK FROM TOMORROW, no pressure. My husband had plans. Exhibit A: the stack of hardwood flooring in our hallway. But teaching, painting, helping friends and family have priority. I wanted to have more household organization and cleaning done by now. What's new?

So where do we go from here? Do what we can when we can. My main goal for the open house is to make it welcoming for our guests. This is not the Street of Dreams or HGTV or Martha Stewart's house. What can we do with the resources we have? Sounds like a family meeting is in order. Refreshments are on me.

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. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. Philippians 4:12-14 ESV

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On My List

If you're on my list, you're probably not reading this. But you never know. I have a list of people I am praying for. Specifically that they will be delivered from the domain of darkness (Colossians 1:13). There is hope. Anyone can be redeemed. And forgiven. Because of Jesus. Praise God.

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rock the Boat

It's amazing how the lost, wandering or rebellious ones can do that. I'm thinking about Jonah and how he slept while the crew was scared out of their minds. I've seen it in marriages when one person abandons ship, as it were, and seems unfazed. The stranded spouse mourns and struggles to stay afloat. Or parents see a child go on his or her merry way. The parents are left to battle the waves of sadness and worry. So what do you do? Pray for courage and faith. Brace for the storms that will rock the boat. Maybe even pray for storms to shake things up and wake up the sleepers. Hold on, God is in control.

Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. So the captain came and said to him, "What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish." Jonah 1:5-6 ESV

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hello Summer

I never know how it will come together. Can we organize and pull off yet another neighborhood party on the last day of school? That's where the Fam Team comes in. Husband, can you haul some tables from school? Daughters, can you make the banner? Paint this year, nice choice. Sons, time to move stuff out to the driveway. I'll run around the loop with reminder flyers. Two neighbor girls and I knocked on 60 doors in record time today.

Take your positions. Okay, ready, serve. Would you like chocolate, vanilla, or Superman (a colorful kid-pleaser) ice-cream? How about some applesauce cake? Cookies? Oops, grab the napkins before they blow away.

In the end we had about 45 men, women, children, and babies. There were scads of bikes and one dog. I met new neighbors and reconnected with others. Thanks to our next-door neighbor for taking pictures since our camera is on the disabled list. And special thanks to my sixteen-year-old daughter for gently asking, "Did you pray about it, Mom?" when I fretted over the dark clouds threatening to rain on our party. I asked God to help me give Him glory, no matter the weather. The skies cleared and people came. Nice work on the 10th annual Hello Summer party, Family!

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESVPosted by Picasa

Monday, June 16, 2008

Call Her Blessed

Who welcomed the college student on breaks? Who bakes the best apple, marionberry, or huckleberry pie? Or the best rolls ever? Who crocheted my afghan? Who sewed pillows to match the colors in my new house? Who sewed my maternity dresses? Who knitted sweaters with tiny stitches for each of my babies? Who loves her husband (of almost 67 years!), her four children, seventeen grandchildren, and seventeen (and counting) great-grandchildren? And who loves me? Happy Birthday, Gramma!
Love,
Your Oldest Grandchild

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 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." Proverbs 31:26-29 ESV

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Watch and Learn

Pay attention. Take notes. Investigate what you have. Daughters, think carefully about finding someone who treats you like your dad treats me. You can trust him, count on him, and learn about God from him. I married someone like my dad. I'm so glad my dad is around to bless your lives as he has mine. Sons, watch your dad. He works hard but always makes time for his family. Notice how he always backs me up and takes my side? You can be men of honor too. Happy Father's Day to us.

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalm 103:13 ESV

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Now That's a Bargain

I thought I had a good story. I told the volunteer at the thrift store about my purchases last time. I snagged four pairs of pants on the 25-cent rack for my son to try. One pair of dress pants fit perfectly--just in time for his high school graduation that night. The volunteer asked if I was present for the store-wide 75-cent clothing sale. Nope. Missed that one. She told me about the woman who found a beautiful wedding dress for 75 cents, make that 81 cents with tax. The woman was tickled. More power to her for being willing to shop at a thrift store.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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. Philippians 4:11-12 ESV

Friday, June 13, 2008

Two for Two

Two for two. That's graduation number two for son number two. Community College this time. It's not easy meeting high school requirements while taking college classes. And all those hybrid classes. Post this online by 5 p.m. today, comment on someone's post by 10 p.m. tomorrow. I don't know if I could keep up with it all. And this brings us to the end of a season with two children at the community college together. No more shared rides, study sessions, or discussions about who gets the computer. I'll miss seeing them practice softball in front of our house.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as 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 1:9-10 ESV
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Good Story

I love a good story. Especially when there's some takeaway value. Thanks to Meredith of Like Merchant Ships for pointing me to the diary of a former atheist.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 ESV

http://www.conversiondiary.com/2008/05/story-of-friendship.html

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Make it Happen

It's time to give some housemates the boot. Good-bye Woulda, Coulda, and Shoulda. And while you're at it, take Gonna with you. I brainstorm, gather ideas, plan, and basically spin my wheels. My seven-year-old doesn't mess around. Today she said, "I've been wanting to have a tea party so I made it happen." And she did. Celery and cucumbers arranged on a plate, granola bars cut into wedges, and "decaffed" tea with milk and sugar. Tea time for Big Sis and Mom. I can make things happen too. Watch me.

so as 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 ESV

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Divide and Conquer

I think the Proverbs 31 woman is a composite. But King Solomon was for real. Can you tell I'm reading 1 Kings? Today I read about King Solomon's divide and conquer approach to administration. Twelve officers each had one month of duty managing the provisions for the household. And this was one big household. Besides the people, there were 40,000 horses. I suppose the 12,000 horsemen had to eat too.

I only have 6 people, one dog, one pet rat, and one goldfish to manage. Before I had a chance to divvy up dinner duty tonight, my youngest offered to help. She sliced and diced the cabbage and broccoli while I peeled and grated carrots for the stir fry chicken. I have a plastic knife that I let her loose with. But she didn't stop there. She set the table, made place cards, and prearranged with her brother to say the blessing. And reminded him to make sure and give thanks for the hands that prepared the meal. When my mom went back to college my junior year of high school, my sisters and I had rotating meal duties. We should try that at home.

Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, who provided food for the king and his household. Each man had to make provision for one month in the year. 1 Kings 4:7 ESV

Monday, June 09, 2008

Press On

Most people have heard references to David and Goliath, whether they read the Bible or not. It's the classic tale of an underdog that triumphs. But if you read David's story in the Bible, like in 2 Samuel, you find out that there's more to the story. The giants kept coming. And even worse, some of them were David's flesh and blood. David didn't give up. He sought the face of the Lord (2 Samuel 21:1). There are no quick fixes. We have to stay in the battle. With God's help and each other's encouragement, we can do that.

He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip; 2 Samuel 22:35-37 ESV

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Bless On

Our Sunday school class is full of good pray-ers. They know how to use God's Word to pray specifically. I'm all about praying Scripture. I get that. I personally don't do much praying out loud. I believe in it, sure. And I appreciate it when others do. I've been on the receiving end of those prayers. It feels like you've been covered with a spiritual blessing. Is it my turn to bless others?

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16 ESV

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Milestones

In the last 24 hours I attended a high school graduation, a memorial service, and a wedding. All good events for reflecting on the meaning of life and God's direction. Who am I? Where have I come from? Where am I going? How do I get there? Who am I going with? (Answered that one 23 years ago, with no regrets!) And how on earth do I figure it all out? One step at a time. In the right direction. In God's perfect timing.

For you are my lamp, O LORD, and my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God--his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. "For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. 2 Samuel 22:29-34 ESV

Friday, June 06, 2008

With Honors

This is the kid who didn't learn how to walk. He went from crawling to running. With a few bumps along the way. Tonight he almost didn't walk. At his high school graduation, that is.

This is the year that the requirements kick in. Don't pass the state test and you don't graduate. Don't do a senior project complete with research paper and presentation, and you don't graduate. Or if you don't turn in your senior portfolio by 3 p.m. on a certain day, you don't walk at graduation. Whew, that was a close one. We had technical difficulties with the last minute printing, among other things.

Good thing my son is motivated, organized, and disciplined. He pulled off meeting the high school requirements, even though he never went to high school. He went straight into community college through the Running Start program. In a few days we will celebrate the completion of his AA degree, with honors. He gets to put on another cap and gown and walk through another graduation ceremony. We couldn't be prouder. Way to go, DANIEL!

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as 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 1:9-10 ESV

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Be the Somebody

Every year I say, "Somebody should bring coffee." The annual end of school picnic is invariably cold and/or rainy. This year was probably the coldest on record--maybe a high of 53 degrees. Not even the most intrepid (read: crazy) students or staff took a dip in the lake. And it's June, mind you. But this year I toted a 35-cup coffee maker, ground some Starbucks beans, and put on a pot. Even non-coffee drinkers grabbed a steaming cuppa joe to warm their fingers. Maybe next year we'll be wishing somebody brought the ice tea. We can only hope.

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

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Redemption

Today I made good on some promises. I wrapped up a care package for a high school graduate. Okay, so he graduated a year ago. But his birthday is this week and he has finals. Happy 19th birthday, Nephew! The sailor jack muffins are in the mail. I also took a plate of muffins to my next-door neighbor and daughter for their birthdays one and two months ago. And then I threw together an apple crisp and a rhubarb crisp for our family post-baccalaureate dessert honoring our second-born. Not bad for one day's work.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 ESV


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Kiddie Table

It's a fact of life. At large gatherings, not everyone fits at the adult table. So the youngest ones are nominated for the kiddie table. In our house, that usually means sitting at the counter. It's not a bad deal. You're closer to the food that way. Last week we had dinner at my grandparents' house with my parents and my visiting uncle and aunt. There were eight places at the table and four seats out on the deck. It looked like your average kiddie table set-up. My kids didn't mind eating alfresco on a beautiful evening with a view of the lake. But my uncle took his plate and joined them outside. That's my Uncle Bob, the pastor from Texas, and a Great Uncle to my kids.

But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Luke 18:16 ESV

Monday, June 02, 2008

Rock to Rock

The water isn't too deep. It's just moving fast. I'm trying to jump from rock to rock without getting wet. I go from deadline to deadline. Event to event. And this week, the water is swift and there are lots of rocks. That happens when you have four kids at home and one of them is graduating from high school and community college in the same month. When is the open house celebration? I haven't landed on that rock yet. I'm about about ready to take a flying leap. First let me change my clothes. I got a little wet when I slipped and missed my youngest's speech class appointment today.

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

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Prayer of Thanks

Prayer from last Friday:

Dear Lord,
Thank you I'm the designated driver/escort, not the patient.
Thank you for the time to read and reflect.
Thank you for a Chinese doctor to talk to my friend in his native language.
Thank you for cell phones to keep in touch with my husband and children and help them find each other.
Thank you it's a Friday not a Wednesday (the day after my weekly injection).
Thank you I have the strength to drive a friend somewhere instead of being driven.
And thank you I'm not wearing an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs like a patient at the clinic.
Amen.

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