A friend indeed

I don’t quite know what male-bonding looks like, but sister love can go something like this:

A true girlfriend will tell you when something’s amiss that is not showing up in the mirror.

A true girlfriend gives you her last Shout wipe when you spill grape juice on the front of your blouse.

A true girlfriend doesn’t mind (too much) that you snore at the lady’s weekend retreat.

And so it goes…

I like finding true comradeship in the most unlikely places—it’s actually something easily taken for granted. True friends don’t grow on trees; they grow in compost, in the refuse and throw-away parts of our lives.  When it all hits the fan, true friends are at their best.

Here are a few of my favorite examples: Continue reading “A friend indeed”

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To eat, or not to eat?

IMG_20150103_172451138Although my cooking prowess (or lack thereof) has not yet reached legendary status, there are nonetheless a few stories that can be told within my family.  Pizza, however, is one of my favorites. Not to cook, but to eat, and so I’ve become quite good at doing both, if I do say so myself (and I do.)

I am, currently at this writing, happily anticipating a brand new kitchen.  The contractor comes tomorrow to go over the final game plan, which includes knocking out a wall, etc.  His wife, who helps run the business, is well-versed in kitchens, and made the comment that even though I don’t like cooking at present, perhaps I will enjoy it when I get a new kitchen environment…. Continue reading “To eat, or not to eat?”

Jericho, and other ruins

IMG_20150103_172451138When I was a teenager, I was part of an organization called Young Life.  We used to sing a song, “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, and the walls came a-tumbling down, dooby-down, dooby-down, doo-wah”.  (Okay, so it was the 70’s.)

It was a fun song, and planted a little church history in our brains, I suppose.  The account is of the well-known story of the Israelites walking around the walls of this pagan city out of obedience to God, and on the seventh day, with a fair amount of trumpet blowing, the walls came a-tumbling down.  The city was captured and utterly destroyed, except for the family of one woman, a prostitute who had risked everything to help the Israeli spies. Continue reading “Jericho, and other ruins”

Projects take time

IMG_20150103_172451138The most-beautiful-three-and-a-half-year-old on the planet decided to help me do a little crocheting when she and her parents were visiting.  One of her favorite cartoon characters, the brilliant Richard Scarry’s Lowly Worm, was in the process of being recreated in yarn.  Not a terribly difficult project for a 58-year-old grandmother who learned to crochet decades ago (from my grandmother, BTW, only I was a bit older.) Continue reading “Projects take time”

Frogs, and other useful tools

IMG_20150103_172451138I rather like frogs; actually, I really quite fancy them.  (No, not to eat!) 

Along with the crickets, they sing me to sleep at night, and keep serenading me in the pre-dawn mornings on the patio before work.  Bob, my biology-professor husband, likes them also, but has a much more practical bent toward them.  Whereas I always want to catch them, pick them up, look at them eyeball-to-eyeball, the prof always says, “leave it alone, it’s a scared little creature”. 

How does he know if it’s scared? (Turtles, on the other hand, right, I know what they do…)  Besides, as far as I’m concerned, one of a frog’s life functions is to let me pick it up.  So there. Continue reading “Frogs, and other useful tools”

More than a cowboy hat

IMG_20150103_172451138When we formally met the man who was to become one of our sons-in-law, we wanted to give him “the tour” of the small Midwestern town our girls where we live and are girls grew up.  He is Swedish, but had lived and worked in both the Big Apple and sunny Cal.  However, he had not yet been initiated into rural mid-America.  Even so, he liked camo, and he wanted a cowboy hat. 

He came to the right place.

His soon-to-be sister-in-law, (daughter #2), decided it would be a good idea to devise a scavenger hunt throughout the town, hiding clues in places that would take him all over the familiar haunts including the high school, an old abandoned farm tractor who’s final resting place was behind a local grain elevator, a landmark eating establishment with the finest in traditional, heart-stopping American hamburgers and milkshakes, and the like. 

hat-2738831_1920Of course, the end point was a true-to-earth Midwest Farm and Home store, where he got to pick out his own real life cowboy hat. 

Together, they have since put on a similar “treasure hunt” for his nieces and nephews.  There’s just so much fun in watching the kids’ excitement as they follow the clues and find good stuff! 

Which gives me pause to consider that this enjoyment must have its foundation in Someone who similarly enjoys His children searching and finding.

“He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.”

There is a thought circulating that if God is so intent on us knowing Him, why doesn’t He just make it easier, speaking more directly, personally, getting our attention more efficiently.   Allowing this new member of our family to look for and find each clue was hopefully causing a greater connection with the town (experientially) and with us (personally).  It took some time and creative energy to put that together!  And he was worth every bit of it.

Granted, God has and still could use an occasional burning bush, talking donkey, or disembodied hand writing on the wall, I suppose.  Those tend to be a bit more compelling, but not necessarily as effective toward His everyday purpose.  Which is…?

Glad you asked.

“And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.”

Eternal life—not just pie in the sky by and by, but true moment-by-moment intimacy with Creator God.  Right now.  Nothing less. 

However, the funny thing about clues is that they are easily missed unless one is actively looking for them.

“The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him.”

We were not about to let our daughter’s loved one miss out on even one clue, as we gathered around him to help him out, (which is a huge part of what God’s family is supposed to be doing with each other as well.)  We knew what we had waiting for him at the end of the ordeal.  crown

And so does God.  Only it’s not a cowboy hat… 

John 15:17; John 17:3  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Here comes the bride!

IMG_20150103_172451138Planning weddings has become a multi-gazillion dollar business.  I fancy you could send their kids to college with some of the hoopla that society calls weddings these days!  I mean, c’mon, if half as much time, effort, and financial resources went into preparing for the marriage as it does in preparing for the wedding, well…the statistics would read a whole lot differently.

So there’s my soapbox.

Evidently, however, our 21st century Western culture is not alone in this absurdity.  Take another look at 1st century Judaism—

“The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.  The wine supply ran out during the festivities…

One source I looked at said that wedding celebrations typically lasted five to seven days, and the whole village would be invited!  Okay, they’ve topped us on that one.  I don’t know how much wine costs back then, but over a week, it would’ve certainly driven up the bill.

“…so Jesus’ mother told him, ‘They have no more wine.’”

 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

I love, love, love Mary’s concern for the bride and her family.  True empathy.  It could be that she has already married off daughters of her own, and can feel the coming embarrassment if something isn’t done, and quickly.  Very possibly, her own husband, Joseph, is dead by this time, so she turns to her nearest benefactor, her oldest son Son.  (How convenient.)

Her next remark is brilliant—

But his mother told the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”

Seemingly having just been given a bit of a brush off, albeit polite, she proceeds to clear the way for something extraordinary should God decide, in His wisdom, to do something…extraordinary.

Which, as we know, He did.

I don’t know if the bride and groom, or their parents, ever found out.  (Yet another example of how God comes to the rescue for us when we’re not even aware we’re in danger, but that’s another whole lesson, I suppose.)  However, the disciples knew what happened, and it made a decisive impact.

people-2576936_1920Which leaves me with another impression—shall I ask God for something and not “clear the path” for Him to do what only God can do?  Should I not also listen for His voice in response to my request rather than go on wringing my hands?

I think not.  I prefer Mary’s tack, doing what I can do at present to allow for future heavenly intervention.  Then, listen.  Carefully, and creatively.

(To be continued tomorrow….)

John 2:1-5 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Feast on which beast?

NR thanks
Thanks to Norman Rockwell for this amazing painting: Freedom From Want.

This is the time of year I really kind of wish I had a chest freezer down in the basement.  The 20+ pound turkeys are on mega-sale, and the fresh cranberries will only be around for a month or so.

No matter, as the traditional American Thanksgiving Day feast that so many of us are blessed to gorge ourselves on will, by God’s grace, come around again next year.  My sister-in-law is the usual head chef at our yearly family gathering.  (Personally, I prefer to stay in the background and help with the clean-up.)  The main thing with the traditional meal, however, is the fun and hilarity that can follow shortly after about the first ten minutes of feasting and before the tryptophan kicks in. Continue reading “Feast on which beast?”

Somebody clean the ox

IMG_20150103_172451138My house is not a clean house. 

Well, I mean it’s hygienic.  We have indoor plumbing and clean water, which, for context and perspective, is more than can be said for most of the planet. 

It’s just that, as Bob says, “my girl is a messy girl”.  Truth.  I really had to acknowledge that when all the girls moved away and the empty nest didn’t really reorder itself.  Nope. 

Just too many books to read, too many posts too write, gardening, projects, and then there’s this thing called a full-time job.  And a husband.  (They take time, too.  Well worth it.  And he’s the clean one of the duo.)

So I find at least some solace in this:

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”

Thank you, King Solomon.

Not that I consider myself a strong ox, although Bob says that I “come from good stock”, whatever that’s supposed to mean.  (He also says, however, that I can “work him under the table”.)

I think it’s probably also easier in parenting, for instance, to take a DIY attitude rather than let the kids learn by doing, because of the potential/probable mess, which makes more work for yours truly (which may or may not get done, see above disclaimer.)

Extrapolate: it’s likewise easier (translate “safer”) to not care so much, try so much, dream so much, reach out so much in this otherwise hostile world we live in this side of eternity.  It gets harsh, uncomfortable….messy.

This citation will probably put me over my word count, but it’s worth the read:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” –Theodore Roosevelt

I have not a clue whether or not good ole’ Teddy would have made it into the White House in today’s climate, but I sure do like this quote.  And if ever there was an ox in a Washington china shop (other than, of course, now) it was Teddy.

sweepSo while the laundry piles up in the stairwell and the dog hair in the kitchen, I’m off to a workday at the church.  The laundry will be there when I get home, and the dog hair never really goes away.

Proverbs 14: 4  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Ties that bind…or strangle.

IMG_20150103_172451138Several years ago, I read a study synopsis from a well respected site indicating that the most influential power in a child’s life was his parents. (Golly-gee-whiz, I wonder how many man-hours and tax dollars went into that one.)  Of course, ask any of the teachers in my middle school, and they could have told you that.  Better yet, I have a Book that pretty well spells it out from years of experience and Wisdom. 

Needless to say, there are some forces in the Universe that are inherently powerful, for good or evil, and parenthood is certainly at the top of that list.  It’s not that parents can take credit for all the choice their kids make (positive or negative), but their influence is still credibly incredible in some capacity throughout a person’s life. 

So it takes some real courage when a child, even an adult “child”, has to back up and re-evaluate patterns of thinking and doing that Continue reading “Ties that bind…or strangle.”