The “art” of baking….not.

Baking is an art form, one in which I am not well versed in.  I approach baking much like I approach gardening: instead of the manicured lawns with sculpted flower beds, I’m more the scattered wildflower variety with a yard fertilized by my dog.  Nonetheless, here are a few equally scattered thoughts about baking anyway.

Starting with friendship bread—someone gives you a small bag of tan-colored, semi-liquid mush, accompanied by a sheet of specific directions which, if followed correctly, will produce some very delicious sweet bread.  The unique thing about Friendship bread is that part of the instructions tells me to save some of the mush to give away to someone else.  The more I follow the directions, the more sweet bread is produced and the more I can give away (or eat).

Now, I kind of think faith is like that. 

Andrew Murray, in his book With Jesus in the School of Prayer, refers to some of the hard sayings of Jesus, liked moving mountains and all that.  Jesus even said that “greater things than these you will do since I go to the Father”.  Wow!  I mean, really, He brought people back from the dead, pulled money out of a fish’s mouth, withered a fig tree with a word, stopped a storm at sea, commanded demons into a herd of ham, and on, and on. 

Sometimes it’s tempting to sweep these sayings under the modern day carpet with excuses—He just meant that for His disciples at that time in history, or the generic He was referring to “something else”.  (Reminiscent of the serpent’s original question to Eve concerning eating from that certain tree—“Hath God really said…..?”)

Or else I can shrug my shoulders and relent that I just don’t have enough faith.  Now there’s a real cop-out. Or I should say, a half-truth, something the old serpent is equally quite good at.  Of course I don’t have enough faith!  Duh.  But that does not stand to reason that I don’t have ANY faith.  In fact, God tells me that He has given EVERYONE a measure of faith.

My pastor says that we all make choices, including choices concerning my relationship with Jesus. LIke my Friendship bread starter dough, I am given directions on how to increase the faith God has given me, improve upon it.  In essence, I am responsible for reading and following the directions:

  • I am given a measure, even a cup, of faith. I must receive it, even if it’s like a friend giving me the bag of ugly-looking mush. Doesn’t look too tasty to begin with! (1)
  • Mixing my faith with other ingredients particularly happens in regularly hanging around other mush-loving people. (2)
  • Lots of patience, waiting, comes in the form of study, and personal time spent alone with the Lord Himself, and my nose in His Book. (3) “Those that are pleased with Christ must study to be pleasing to him; and they will not find him hard to be pleased”, says a wise old commentator.  (4)
  • Shaking the bag regularly. You don’t have to be very old to know what the shaking of life is like. But it’s the shaking and squeezing of the mush that activates the yeast, which eventually makes the bread rise.  In other words, it gives the bread “character”!  (5)
  • Part of the directions include putting my faith into a hot oven for a specified period of time. Yeah, this is also a fun one. No explanation needed. (6)
  • Giving a cup away. As someone once said, faith is personal, but true faith is never meant to be private. Something about not putting a lighted candle under a basket… (7)

Like friendship bread, I am given a portion of faith, and it’s up to me to decide what I’m going to do with it. When you follow the directions, it’s pretty amazing what can happen with a bag of mush.

 

  • Romans 12:3
  • Hebrew 10:25
  • Jeremiah 29:13
  • Henry, Matthew (2010-11-07). Unabridged Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (best navigation) (Kindle Locations 136223-136224). OSNOVA. Kindle Edition.
  • James 1:2
  • Daniel 3 – I love this story!
  • Matthew 5:15

These Old Charming Houses

“Old houses have charm.”

Sure, okay.  I guess that depends on your definition of charm.  Like an obstinately leaking flat roof or creaky floor joists.  We have lived in our “charming” abode for over twenty years, and are s-l-o-w-l-y but surely getting it upgraded from charming to more functional.  Central air and the first attempt at a new roof came when we moved in.  Since then, we have successfully vaulted the flat roof, gutted and remodeled the downstairs bathroom, put in new ceilings, and improved the whole picture with new aluminum siding.  Currently, we are completely re-doing the upstairs “water closet”.

Of course, “we” is a euphemism for our wonderful and patient contractor, Dusty (which, personally, I think is a terrific name for a contractor, if you get my drift.)  Bob and I can barely hammer a nail in straight—that is, if we can find the hammer.  Dusty and his men really know their stuff.  And they didn’t even raise a stink when my over-curious husband checked out their work area to see the progress, promptly stepping into some construction goo that they had just carefully spread prior to laying the tile.  They have vision, and that gives them purpose.  They’re going for both functionality AND aesthetics!

 I love these guys.

But regardless of how careful and considerate they are (and they are!), when construction is in progress, you just can’t plan to dine a royal party in style in the middle of it.  And you also don’t want to rush the work, either.  It needs to be done properly and under experiended supervision so that the electricity doesn’t burn down the house and the plumbing doesn’t, well, you know.

Life is similar.  We all need to be remodeled, upgraded, re-done.  We are all under construction, and have our times of messiness.  People close by step in the sticky goo of our moral confusion, or have to be careful not to trip over the ripped off wallboard of our pain. 

Like my contractor, God is not deterred from His vision and purpose for us. All my goo, all my dust, it’s all temporary.  And Jesus didn’t die on a cross just to make me “functional”, although some of us would be thankful even for that!  No, He made the supreme sacrifice to make us beautiful, to make our lives count for eternity.

This Easter, don’t be afraid to hang up the “Under Construction” sign and put on a hard hat.  It’s what He now lives for!

#Mom For Hire

photo 2

Posted: MOM FOR HIRE, used but in acceptable condition.  Still capable of giving unwanted advice, making you wear a hat in the cold, and generally being an embarrassment in public. Does not do windows.  Inquire below–

That title is almost as pretentious as tagging myself as a “writer”.  But if so, it’s probably of little consequence, due to the nature of the blogosphere.  It’s not like being in high school when you had to read something and do a book report (I wonder if they still do that??)  And I know that this post is mere nano-particle in a galaxy of worm holes and flashy comets (yes, I was a Star Trek fan back in the day–the original version, to be clear.)

And yet, there is something to be said about starting my twenties by having three babies and ending that decade with selling Girl Scout cookies while putting their father through grad school.  (I.U.-Bloomington, go big red!)  My thirties were filled with prepubescence and flaming adolescence, braces, sporting events, and the task of helping the girls “find themselves”, despite the unfortunate fact that I didn’t even know myself that well yet.  That’s right, we have no sons, and I was informed that our house rules were “strict” by their friends’ parents’ standards.  My home became know as “the Convent” and I was nicknamed (affectionately, I hope) “Mother Superior”.  

Forty-something was the transitioning from a full house to my little goslings flying off to college one at a time.  I remember the night of my actual “empty nest” experience.  Our baby girl, Heather, was on her way out the door for her first night in her new dorm room.  Now granted, all the girls spent their first two years of collegiate existance at the small college where their dad is a prof.  Basically, down the street and around the corner.  But still, this was a bit of a milestone…at least for me!  Goodbye hugs, etc. No more boom boxes competing on different levels of the house.  No more choir concerts, band concerts, and various awards ceremonies at the high school. No more prom dresses, monthly allowances, or staying up waiting from someone to make it home by curfew.  Wow.

The college starts their year like most, in August.  Here in southern Missouri, August is not the most pleasant month, unless you’re a tropical iguana.  Naturally, Heather’s dorm room was hot and sweaty since she was living on one of the upper floors.  It wasn’t long (a few hours, max) before I picked up the phone hearing a request to bring herself and two or three of her new friends “home” to spend that night in the cool air-conditioning. 

The empty nest can be a bit overrated anyway…

People tend to refer to life stages as “seasons.”  My life is better described as “spasms”.  I am now in my mid-fifties, gray-er, somewhat more experienced.  I have grown to appreciate my parents, who are now in their 80’s, and the humor through which they process life.  I have grown to value my past struggles and mistakes, and embrace whatever God has for me (and my family) for the future.  

So there.  If you are over-heating in life, or even if not, I invite you to join my blog-nest, thoughts (and responses) from a well-used mother, from my home to yours.    —-    dawnlizjones

How ’bout some jelly on that #manna?

The Old Testament records the travel plans of the newly reorganized and very fussy nation of Israel on their way to the place that had been long promised to them as a special homeland.  Sometimes I’m tempted to think, “For crying out loud, people!”  (Which they did, frequently.)  I mean, after all, God had done some pretty amazing things from the beginning of this project, what with plagues and parting the Red Sea, Charlton Heston notwithstanding.  There was plenty of water from a rock to satisfy a couple million people or so, and enough quail to feed an army.

And then there was this thing called manna.  I think the jury is still out as to what this stuff really was, which is kind of a moot point, since it was obviously enough to keep them nutritionally sustained over time.  Kind of like the limbis bread of the wood elves in the Lord of the Rings.  (Yes, I own the trilogy of movies, directors cut and all that,… but I digress.)

I readily claim that I’m not a picky eater, and neither is Bob.  But admittedly we do enjoy some, albeit limited, variety in our palate.  I joke that I could live on pizza, but the reality is that even my homemade pizza would probably get a bit old over time.  So in a somewhat shaky defense of the Hebrew people, my very human side can relate to a diet of everyday manna bread and water, even though it made them very healthy indeed.  (I can only imagine the mothers of the five-year-olds….)

However, it seems that the people never quite learned how to address their grievances judiciously to the God that was so obviously trying to help them.  It wasn’t that they were hungry or thirsty.  They were just bored.  Bored with the desert, bored with constantly moving,….bored with bread, and more bread, and only bread.

Put that thought on hold to check out how their future king, David, managed his frustrations and fears and disappointing circumstances with God.  Here’s just a snipet of one of his many recorded communiques with his Lord:

Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me. My foes have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?
 You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?
 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call;
This I know, that God is for me.
 In God, whose word I praise,
In the Lord, whose word I praise,
 In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?  (see Psalm 56, NASB)

Now David wasn’t just having a bad day.  This was written in the context of his true enemies (and he had many) capturing him in his own wanderings prior to his providential promise of ascending to the throne.  David had no problem “pouring out his complaint to the Lord”, it’s just that he knew how to do it properly.  It’s not about using the right words; it’s all about having the right heart.  David didn’t mince words with God; he didn’t candy coat the problem or his own emotional response to it.  But even in the muck and the mire of dealing with life, he maintained that God was with him, God was in control, and no matter how long it took, he would continue to trust God for the outcome.

Deep breath.  Back to the Israelites.  They just hadn’t grown up enough to understand and appreciate with Whom they were dealing.  Unfortunately, as it has been said, desperate times call for desperate measures.  God sent in “the snakes” to do a severe work of judgment.  And then, in typical fashion, He also provides a way of healing once bitten.

  • I find it interesting that God uses snakes to do the dirty work, since Satan was described as a snake in the garden after deceiving Mother Eve. The original sin was pride, thinking that we should be allowed to “be like God” (which, really, we already were, being made “in His image”, all that.)  Like Eve, the Hebrews thought they were “entitled” to more than manna, more than what God deemed healthy for them for that point in the journey.  Hmmm….
  • The account goes on to say that the people became impatient (Oh!  That word!!) with the long journey and complained about the manna, i.e., God’s provision.  Not complained in the sense of David’s pouring out his honest frustrations to God “Whom he knew would do what is best, and trusted Him with his life, regardless of current circumstances” kind of complaining.  This was more of a “how dare you invite us out here and feed us nothing but bread” category, and the snakes were happy to accommodate.  There is a very important warning here: when I complain to God with a victimhood mentality, with a feeling that I am entitled to more than I have (instead of a humble “I know what I really deserve” kind of thinking) there are definite “snakes” just waiting for a piece of me.  Their names are Bitterness, Resentment, Jealousy, and Offense, and they have many, many sibling slitherers close behind that are just as poisonous to my soul
  • Interestingly, once the people asked for forgiveness, God didn’t just remove the snakes. They were still lurking around, waiting and watching.  But God gave the people a pole to look upon should they be bitten, and having gazed upon the pole, they would be healed.  Similarly, if, through unresolved heart issues, we allow ourselves to be bitten, we really have only one option for true healing, and that is to gaze upon the One Who was raised up on a cross for us. 

So yeah….shut up and pass the quail.

Time for #timechange…a pictorial reminder

IMG_20150307_091324946

They say a picture paints a thousand words.  So here are more pix and few less words.  

We never had to do this when I lived in Indiana.IMG_20150307_092228917

The whole “Fall Back” thing is pretty nice, getting that so-called extra hour in.

IMG_20150307_091411651

But when it comes to “Spring Forward”, gag!  That’s a little tough.  You wouldn’t think that one measly hour would make that much difference, little did I know!


Wish it didn’t have to happen leading into Sunday, but I guess we’re more concerned about people being late to work than we are being late to church. Just a thought.

IMG_20150307_091700397So here’s a double reminder,
all you fortunate 
ones that are at the starting line for that annual spring leap!

1. Don’t forget to set your clocks forward tonight, and  2. Get your butt into a pew tomorrow! (‘skuse me, this site is called “inspiration with an attitude”….)

And sometimes we need a little more strategic reminding>>>IMG_20150321_163031250

 

Hi!

rocker

Dear Audience,

I guess I could address this “To Whom It May Concern”, but that’s just too impersonal and business-like, and I’ve been at work all day anyway, so who want’s that?

Or I could say “Dear Sir”, but if someone is actually reading this, that someone might not be a sir.  Same thing for “Dear Madam”, and of course, now there’s a third option, but I don’t even want to go there…at least not right now.

Dearest Audience is w-a-a-a-y too familiar.

Hey, Gang!…too cheeky.

Wazup….definitely not my style, whatever that is.

Hmmm….

How about…..hello.  It isn’t catchy, or original, certainly not sophisticated.  It is, nonetheless, heartfelt, down-to-earth, and, well, me.  Now, the professional me, the one that wears a lab coat and takes temperatures spends too much precious time dispensing the collective wisdom of health and wellness to people who may or may not already know what they should do but don’t plan to do it.  The wife/mother me tries to be encouraging, listening, and probably over-compensating.  The facebook me is careful to not offend my “friends”, some of whom I don’t even know. 

Those are all part of me, to some degree.  But the blogger me, that’s just me.  Not worried about offending, not trying to keep the peace, or even put food on the table.  I write me.  And therefore, “my” audience is anyone who might find themselves interested in, um, … me.  Not my face, nor my resume, not my personal issues or political affiliations, educational degrees and certifications. 

Just me. 

And sooooo…..for anyone who might think anything coming from me might be something that they might be interested in…

….hello.

Life in the Recycled Bin

I love recycled things.  Most of my clothing is secondhand in some way.  Of course, when you have an inseam of 35”, it’s a little tough to find things at the mall like “normal” people do anyway.  That, plus the fact that frugality of budget is something I grew up with, so I turn to others’ castoffs to find my own brand of style. 

Here is my secondhand dog. IMG_20150220_160039564 His name is Buckley, the Mighty  Wonder Buck for short.  We found him at the local pound not long after he had been picked up and deposited there by the police.  He has nosed his way into our home and hearts.

This is a project from the Hobby Club that I’m a part of. IMG_20150222_071947978 Living in a small town, I do not have easy access to some of the different “ingredients” for the projects, so—that’s right.  Let’s find what I have and make it work!  (Or at least try it…!)  My NYC artist daughter made this cup as one of her first pottery projects in college.  Its newly recycled life is as a scented candle.

Quilting goes way back.  It’s a fine American artwork borne of necessity.  Why waste fabric if it could be turned into something useful for the family?  These two quilts have significance to me.  One is called the Crown of Thorns, quiltand the other is the Flying Goose pattern (my husband’s nickname is Goose.  Goes waaaayyy back.)IMG_20150131_120625791

I also have enjoyed making old-fashioned grandma booties.  Every scrap of yarn is recycled in some way.  Sometimes the yarn is “just leftovers”, sometimes it is unraveled from other projects that have been deemed damaged goods, excess baggage, or just no longer useful.  But they’re warm and fuzzy, like a nice hug for your feet. IMG_20150222_145722424_HDR

It’s all just a reminder that  this is exactly what Jesus does for us—taking what is otherwise damaged and despised, and turning it into something fabulous and functional.  So next time you feel your life is unraveling, trust it to the Master’s capable and creative hands!

And you might just get your socks blessed off!

#Hat or #Badge?

kevin

Still with me on the “pouring-out-that-with-which-you-sustain-your-own-life-to-feed-the-hungry” thing from a few blogs ago?  Good.  Got another thought.  I’d say one more thought, but that would be risky.  Anyway, here goes…

Once we are able to tap into that internal flow of life to pour out to others (the “what”), once we correctly recognize our congregation, hidden or otherwise (the “who”), it can become r-e-a-l-l-y easy to wrap ourselves in that as our identity.  Here’s one way of looking at it:

I reside in farming country and I love it.  I mean… I LOVE it.  Our little house is in the middle of town, and I can ride my bike less than ten minutes to be with the cows.  Here where I live, men wear hats for a reason, not necessarily for style.  A John Deere cap isn’t something meant to be pretty, but sweaty and dirty, because it’s been on the farmer’s head in 90+degree heat with equal humidity for 12-16 hours getting the corn or milo out.  Of course, they’re not the only ones that wear hats for practical reasons.  The surgeon’s cap can get somewhat wet about halfway through heart surgery…on a child.  The constructor worker’s hardhat has a definite purpose also, as does my bicycle helmet (also sweaty at times), as does the military helmet of the 20-year-old defending my country overseas.   The point is that, foremost, a hat is meant to be functional .  It speaks of what we DO.  We talk about someone who “wears a lot of different hats”, who does lots of things in various areas of utility.  Not only are hats for getting dirty in the line of work, we can change hats (functions and jobs, even throughout the day) without really changing ourselves.

Now a badge, on the other hand, speaks of who we ARE.  A badge is meant to identify us to others.  The badge I wear at work has not only my name written on it, but my position (nurse) and which buildings I am allowed to be in at my school system.  There is authority that goes with it, I might add.  Same with my American passport, and the sheriff’s badge even more so.  The challenge with badges is that they need to be kept clean, or polished, or otherwise protected.  Same with our identity.  Once it gets stolen, lost, or trashed, we’re in a world of hurt.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but the truth of the matter remains: I’d better make sure my identity is secure in something (Someone) that can’t get trashed or lost or stolen from me.  What I can pour out to others of myself may change as time marches relentlessly onward, but with my true identity in my Creator, I can be secure while He’s busy rearranging my hat collection for me.

Thanks again for reading….dawnlizjones

#johndeere #badge #wearingdifferenthats #farming

No pain/no gain–where’d THAT come from??

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The famous Missouri KATY Trail!

 

Just had my long-awaited and summarily needed doctor’s appointment for a couple of whining and complaining knees. This had begun to make itself known years ago, along with several other things; it’s like I turned 31 and the warranty on my body expired.  I honestly don’t care too much about doing any more 5-K’s—I hated running when even when I was in high school sports,(which wasn’t much back in the 70’s compared to today’s competitive environment.)  I would, however, like to walk without a limp, and pursue terrain hiking and off-road biking a little more than I have so far.

Unfortunately, one of our daughters has inherited her mom’s inconvenient orthopaedic anomaly, and on top of that, was considerably more athletic in high school.  There wear and tear on her knees drove her to more drastic measures at her young age, and in the process of physical therapy she was given a series of exercises that are a bit different from our culture’s machismo attitude of “no pain, no gain” mentality.   No weights, at least to begin with, no gym facility fees, just simple, isometric, and easy things to do for rehab.  In fact, she confessed that when she had stopped doing the prescribed exercises (given to her by the professional experts, I might underline, they seemed too easy) the difficulties began to return, and were improved when she started again.  Hmmm…

Similarly, we tend to think that being with God has to be hard.  I’m not knocking those that do the 40-day fasting kind of thing, but it’s probably not a good place for most of us to start.  It’s easy to think that if I can’t be proficient in something immediately, then why bother?  Starting and “failing” (however you define that) and starting again; it’s just too discouraging.

What we tend to miss in this line of reasoning is that, when it comes to getting to know our true Father, failure is only defined as not starting at all, and or once started, being persistent even the “small” things.  There are lots of other strategies for this divine relationship that I would like to explore in this format….later.  But suffice it to say for now, that just getting started in a way that seems far too easy is the first step, with surprising results.

Now it’s time to do those wall sits that my husband has been telling me to do all along.  (I’ll probably never live THAT one down…)     –dawnlizjones

Whose #camels are you watering?

pixabay
pixabay

The book of Genesis is so fun.  Challenging, but very human.  I recently read the part when Abraham sends his trusted servant bride-hunting back to their home town for the heir to the throne, Isaac.  Camels were the pack animals of the day, and water was a premium, so when he pulled into town, it was important to park at the local well, not only for himself but also for his livestock.

Per custom, the women were coming over to gather water for their needs.  So how was this guy supposed to pick out a bride?  Where does he even start?  Wisely, he started with a prayer.  Smart move.

As one young local approached, he asked her for a drink of the water.  To the servant’s great pleasure, the girl, whose name was Rebekah, not only gave him a refreshing drink, but offered (offered, now, was not asked) to draw water for all of his camels as well.  (!!)

A little research tells us that the water pots these women generally used held about three gallons.  One gallon of water weighs about seven pounds (plus the weight of the heavy pitcher).  One tired and thirsty camel can drink up to 30-gallons.  And since the servant was shopping for a bride for what was effectively a “prince” whose father was exceptionally wealthy, it’s not a far stretch to consider that Abraham had sent his servant with several camels loaded with gifts for the prospective bride’s family, ten to be exact.  You can do the math.  Rebekah’s offer wasn’t just generous; by our standards, it was extravagant.

From one act of unselfish servitude and kindness to unexpected elevation; from watering the camels to riding them as a soon-to-be-princess—we just never know what a little hard work mixed with a good dose of mercy will produce.  Now that’s powerful chemistry!

So, whose camels are you watering?