Monday, February 27, 2012

Junior High Revisited

I was twelve, in the seventh grade and about as awkward as you can possibly imagine. Here's the picture to prove it:

I was insecure. I had horrible teeth...that were just about ready to get braces. I was nearly blind although I had boycotted my glasses this year. I was an average student. I had a crush on a boy who didn't give me the time of day, and let's not even get started on my hair. I'll just tell you that in the fifth grade my mom should never have agreed to let me get that Dorothy Hamill haircut....because when you let it grow out it looks like this.

The other day I was thinking about how life is so very much like junior high. There will always be some physical trait I don't like about myself, there will always be something that I am not great at doing, there will always be someone who doesn't give me the time of day, there will always be evidence of bad decisions. It's exactly like Junior High...over and over again...

if you let it be. What I didn't tell you are some of the other GOOD things that were going on when I was in the 7th grade. That was the year the music pastor at our church ask me to start playing regularly at all the services. It was also the year that I started playing basketball and hitting a pretty good percentage of my three point shots from the top of the key. It was the year I started working in the bus ministry at our church and the year that I began keeping a journal. That journal also led to my first ever writing competition which resulted in a first place ribbon.

I'm not bragging. I'm just proving a point. Lately I've been having to remind myself that God is always busy working on me. Some of that work is unpleasant. It's refining. It requires seeing things about myself that I don't like. The ugly parts of my heart. But in that same work and that same time He is producing something that is pleasant and good and first place. I may have to work through a bad haircut to see the beauty of a bus ministry but perspective plays a huge part in how we feel about ourselves.

Before you write yourself off, before you throw in the towel because your circumstances or situation is painful or overwhelming or lousy, be sure to list the good that He is working out in your life. That's what I'm preaching to myself these days and reminding myself that I don't want to be in junior high forever.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I've had a cold for about a week. There were moments that I wondered if I was going to make it...but don't panic- I'm still here. I'm miserable. I've taken a box of cold and sinus medicine, used a box of kleenex at home and at school, haven't slept good in a couple of nights and I'm tired of coughing. But probably what is most irritating is that my ears are a little stopped up so everything sounds muffled.

Now...before you think this is a post about complaining...don't go. Because you know there's going to be some sort of point...or at least I hope.

This cold has been distracting. I kinda feel like I've just been existing throughout the day. I'm functioning at the bare know...the house is a wreck, laundry is starting to look like Mt. St. Helens, meal planning was at an all time low this week, I THINK I bathed the kids sometime this week (ok..seriously, I did), I've laid around more than I've moved and to prove I'm not making rational decisions, there's a blow up mattress in the living room that is being treated as a trampoline by the kids. It's out of control.

The real tragedy is that while this is a very physical example, the same thing has been going on in my spiritual life lately. I've been distracted, unable to focus and the Lord's voice has been a bit muffled in my ear. It's weird because I know why and I've known how to fix it, but for a full two days I didn't. It's kind of like being sick and knowing that you need medicine but refusing to take it. I'm so proud. I was full of myself thinking I could fix this muffled sound myself.

You see Christ is the Great Physician. Matt. 14:14 gives us one of many examples of Him physically healing the sick. But more than any kind of physical healing I need, I need Jesus to heal all these broken and sickening parts of my flesh that cry out for attention. I found the medicine I needed for's the same thing He's prescribed anytime I was spiritually sick...Psalms 107:20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Isn't that beautiful? He has given us the healing we need through HIS Word. And that's exactly when I started feeling better spiritually, when I took the time to get into His Word and see what He had to say about things. 

I feel foolish for being lazy and avoiding the spiritual meds that Christ has given me at my disposal. So don't be like me...don't be stubborn or fleshly or lazy or self absorbed or . If you're struggling....go get the healing you need from His Word. Don't pretend you can handle it on your own. Don't waste two days of your life feeling sorry for yourself, feeling down or even feeling like no one understands. Don't believe your friends or alcohol or food or anything else can make it better. It can't. Those things weren't created to heal. Only Jesus. get rid of this pesky cold.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The People in My Neighborhood

They are unemployed, elderly, sick, mentally debilitated, raising grandkids, single parents, widowed, living on social security, poor, handicapped and some irresponsible, lazy and deadbeats. They stand for an hour in pouring rain, freezing temperatures and extreme heat--- for one for their families. I'm not naive enough to believe that every single one of them is legitimately needy, but for the most part, to the best of our screening abilities, they need the food from the food pantry our church operates.

Every month, on the third Saturday morning,  they line up outside a little brick house. One hour before the pantry opens you can find 15-25 people waiting before the pantry even opens. More come later. The first time I found out that they were waiting in the 90 degree heat an hour early my response got caught in my throat. Then today when I drove up and saw them standing in the rain...some with an umbrella and some without, it was almost too much. I know rain won't kill you, but we're talking about a group of people that I have grown to love and watching them, knowing what some of them are going through -- knowing that they had been waiting for food, ...something I take so for granted, was a sight to behold.

What gets me every time is the type of people...mostly elderly that our pantry helps. It's a lazy generation of children that will leave their parents to raise their children. But that's what they've done. They are raising 2, 3 sometimes more grandchildren while trying to juggle their finances and their retirements and their SSI checks and the month is longer than their money. The face of poverty in America has changed. It's no longer just the unemployed who needs a helping hand. It's no longer just the single mom who can't make rent. It's alarming...but it's the very people who should be honored in their old age...these veterans, these grandparents, this generation of hard working people who stand in the cold, in the rain, in the get food.

This day a group of 8 black women circled the tiny holding room waiting for their chance to get their food. They had already waiting in the rain. They were talking. The conversation was light until one of the women, 50ish, began to talk about her husband. Debilitated from some kind of accident, hardly knowing her anymore, sharing her soul, her heartache, her loneliness with this group of women. I listened. Wondering what advice to give. What help to offer. But, before I could say anything, one in the company of black women, said quietly, "take it to Jesus darlin" another quietly said "Amen". As you can picture these women each quietly sharing some nugget of advice, I sat there quietly, letting their message, their wisdom of years of dealing with heartache and their compassion oozing over this woman as hands reached out, hugs given, kleenex offered. And then a prayer...short and beautiful...with a soft "yes, Lord" and a louder "help her, Father". It was the presence of God in the brick house.  It was what the company of black women gave me this day.

So, these are the people in my neighborhood. They are my company of black women. Ones that I would hold my head up high to spend time with in public or at the food pantry once a month. They are amazing. They are the face of hunger in America...maybe not everywhere...but my neighborhood. I'm blessed and better for knowing them.

Friday, February 17, 2012

God at Work

Just like in construction, when God is working...

- It can be a muddy mess
- Progress can be slow
- You might not understand the necessary fixes that need to be done
- Much of the needed repairs happen where no one else will see them...but they will benefit from them.
- It might feel like He's busting up concrete...painful for the surface but good for the end result
- As the new materials are brought in, things start looking better, but still not finished
- Unlike patching up or temporarily fixing something, new construction is stronger, more secure

Let's face it, in a walk with Christ we are constantly under construction. He's making us into who He wants us to be...if we are willing. If you're like me though, sometimes I struggle against these beautiful changes He wants to make, thinking my construction is better. How foolish! I'm thankful that God's patient and willing to work with me again and again. He's the master foreman and until He returns....He's not finished with me yet!

Monday, February 13, 2012

What I Know About Love

1 Corinthians 13 (Message)

The Way of Love
 1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.    Love never gives up.    Love cares more for others than for self.    Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.    Love doesn't strut,    Doesn't have a swelled head,    Doesn't force itself on others,    Isn't always "me first,"    Doesn't fly off the handle,    Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,    Doesn't revel when others grovel,    Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,    Puts up with anything,    Trusts God always,    Always looks for the best,    Never looks back,    But keeps going to the end.

 8-10Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

 11When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

 12We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

 13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Menu Plan- February 13 to February 19

Hey Good lookin' whatcha got cookin'?  (Tribute to my mom who sang this little tune when I was a child)

Here's what's cooking at our house this week:

Monday: MANwich (Bruce is cooking), Chips

Tuesday: Spaghetti (Savannah is cooking), Salad, bread

Wednesday: Hotdogs, potato salad, brownies

Thursday: Roast, Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Salad, Bread

Friday: Sour Cream and Bacon Crockpot Chicken-  Recipe HERE , green beans, whole grain pasta salad

Saturday: Chili, Rice and Cornbread

Sunday: One Meal Out, One Meal Leftovers

Abandon and Abide

Abandon the worries…  and Abide in the Word.
Abandon the fears…  and Abide in the Father.
Abandon the hurts… and Abide in His heart.
Abandon the cares…  because Christ will never abandon you.
It’s what I self-preach again and again to the fearful sinner who is me: Abandon and Abide.

Monday, February 6, 2012

He is Able

A friend and I talk often about what it is like to be daughter's without fathers. She lost her dad a few years ago and mine's been gone almost 22 years now. Somehow...the pain is the same. Time has healed some of the ache, but mostly, we talk about all the things we wish they could have experienced with us. I think about the host of things I have missed the most about not having him here these last 22 years...meeting Bruce..the walking down the aisle at my wedding..the ministry that God called me to, the birth of both my kids and what I knew would have been a tender ear towards our struggle with infertility and miscarriages, watching the grands grow, watching me grow. And I think about the things I've missed by him not being here...his wisdom, his smile, his heart for giving, his patience, his ability to create anything from his wood shop...(boy would he love all the pinterest ideas I could throw his way!), seeing him with his grandkids....and the list could go on and on.

It's tough, this grieving process. It takes a lifetime to get over....and by then, if you're fortunate enough to have a loved one who knew Jesus, you get to be reunited with them. This past weekend Bruce and Savannah attended a father daughter dance in our community. I was reminded as they readied themselves for the night out that these will be the memories that Savannah gets to cling to one day when Bruce is gone. These are the moments that she will look back and think about how much she was loved and cherished by her dad. These moments will shape her view of men and eventually once day her husband. These are the memories that she will relive over and over with him.

I'm thankful for this time. I know it could be gone in a moment. These days...hours...minutes are being held in the palm of God's hand...and can end in an instant. I also am keenly aware that if they did God is able to extend grace and peace to grieving, sorrow stricken souls that cry out in the horrible pain of loss. It's difficult to understand why lives are snuffed out before our acceptable timetable. I think God chooses people who can radiate HIM to endure this incredible grief and loss because it is in our weak and vulnerable state that He is able to be strong for us. Strong so others can see HIM getting us through.

Is God helping you through a difficult process right now? Look into the eyes of the one who loves you more than your earthly father, husband, child or friend...and know He will be for you when you can't be anything. When the pain and hurt and anxiousness and anger are too much....He is able. And that is enough.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Menu Plan February 6-12

We've got a few things going on this week so....our big meals are going to bookend our week.

Monday: Beef Stroganoff ...get the recipe HERE. Served with Whole grain pasta and green beans.

Tuesday: Chicken Strips, Pineapple, Broccoli

Wednesday: Pizza

Thursday: Chili Dogs, Sweet Potato Fries

Friday: Out of Town...Dinner provided

Saturday: Spaghetti, Garlic Bread

Sunday: Out

What's cookin' this week at your house?

Saturday Goals (Updated)

I've got a few lofty goals for today....I'm prepping by sipping on a cup of Hazelnut coffee as I type...and there might be another in my midday future if the goals start getting the best of me!

Here goes:

1. Get the laundry washed, dried and put away

2. Clean and rearrange den cleaned...however, delayed rearranging until later.

3. Sweep and tidy back porch, take inventory of spring gardening needs.

4. Make menu plan for next week. You can check the menu out HERE

5. Clean Kitchen...sink, oven and mop  Here's a picture of how it looks now:

I all sounds like more fun than I can possibly handle....Better get going!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lemon-Raspberry Pie

I made this pie this week:

Here's the recipe:

Raspberry Lemon Pie

1 (10-oz.) package frozen red raspberries in syrup, thawed (I couldn't find the ones in their own syrup so I just added 1 cup sugar to the package and let it make it's own worked perfectly)

1 T. cornstarch

3 egg yolks

1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup ReaLemon lemon juice from concentrate 

1 (6-oz.) packaged graham cracker crumb pie crust

Whipped Topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In small saucepan, combine raspberries and cornstarch; cook and stir until thickened and clear. In medium bowl, beat egg yolks; stir in sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. Pour into crust; bake 8 minutes. Spoon raspberry mixture evenly over top. Chill 4 hours or until set. Spread with whipped topping and serve.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Four Year Old Faith

I pray.

Pretty much off and on all day. I need it. It's something that I do for myself, my family, others who I care about...and sometimes, complete strangers.

Today in class, one of my four years olds came to reading group and when I looked at her face I could tell something was wrong. Unsure of what it was, I asked her if she was ok. She shook her head "no" and big alligator tears rolled down her face. Her big brother had surgery earlier in the week and she was concerned. I listened and teared up a bit myself as she shared her concern...the way only a four year old can. Then she said, "Can we stop and ask Jesus to make him better?" Bingo. Yes. Let's do it.

So we prayed. We both cried and even the little boy sitting at the table with us joined as we bowed before the wonderful Savior that knows all about big brothers and little sisters and four year olds and teachers who rejoice when their students get "it" - the amazing peace that comes from bringing your hopes and dreams and cares and concerns before the only one who has the power to really change anything at all.

In beautiful four year old fashion, as soon as the Amen was said, she was ready to do her reading. Her cares tucked behind her dark brown eyes. She had talked to Jesus and she was ready for the next big thing. For her...reading groups. And I thought to myself...that's how it should be. Bring your concern, pray about it, get up and go on...leave it with God...embrace the peace He gives and get on with things.

Why do we make it so complicated? Why don't we have four year old faith? Where is our innocence in believing He's got it under control? I'm not sure, all I know is today's little lesson was for the teacher in the class...not the students.

Leave your worries with the final words of a prayer. Get up. Go on. And when you get overwhelmed again....Repeat.

Thanks for the lesson Lord.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February: Something or Another's Update

Updates are in yellow. Many of the goals are continuous from month to month.

1. Revamp current filing system for bills and important papers. Clean out ones we don't need and keep up with the filing on a daily basis so it never gets out of hand.  Completed on January 2

2. Eat out less. Ate out 6 of 93 meals....that's drastically different from any month in the last year. 

3. Grow a container garden (yard gardening doesn't work for me since my yard is so shaded...been there, done that, wasted a ton of money...and was very sad). 

4. Weekly Random Acts of Kindness with my kids. Savannah took brownies to share with her friends at AWANA.

5. Read from the Jesus Storybook Bible every night with the kids. 

6. Find a hairstyle that I actually like. Don't laugh if you see me experimenting...LOL! Decided to perm my hair and I like it much better....we will see how long it lasts...the liking and the perm.

7. Pray for Bruce more.

8. Live more healthy...meaning make more decisions in the right direction than the wrong. Since January 2 I have not bought a 2 liter diet coke. I have had diet coke when we have eaten out at a restaurant and at school I have had some....overall a huge change of habit. The eating out less has helped with the Diet Coke addiction and with the healthier eating. Even most of the recipes I'm making are altered to be slightly more healthy than normal. Down 5 pounds. 

9. Keep track of and write my first 1000 gifts using the app on my iPhone UPDATE: I have my first 90 done

10. Visit the shut-ins from church more.