Friday, July 30, 2010

Looking Back...Planning Ahead

Since the first schools opened their doors the tradition of back to school shopping has been part of the fabric of our lives. I wonder if Mary took Jesus shopping for items needed for his religious training. As the hot humid summer days of August would draw to a close we did our back to school shopping when I was growing up. I can’t remember ever starting school before the last week of August when I was in grade school. Today they are starting school by the second week in some places. There were four children in our family and we lived on a tight budget. As a general rule we didn’t do much shopping but there was back to school shopping we were allowed to be part of.


The notebooks, pencils, crayons, erasers and rulers were required items. I longed to have the 48 count box of Crayola crayons, or the ultimate choice, the 64 count box. Beautiful colors lined up in a kaleidoscope of possibilities with the built in sharpener right on the back of the box. I was glad when I graduated from the box of 8 and was able to get the box of 16 color options but was very envious of the kids with all the color possibilities at their fingertips.

In the fourth grade I no longer had to use the tub of paste with the combination brush in the lid and was given Elmer’s glue in the squeeze bottle. A friend of mine showed me that if you left puddles of glue to dry in the groove of your wooden ruler before you left for home then when you returned the next morning you had fake fingernails.

Back in the day - before back packs I carried a book satchel for the entire school year in second grade. It was red with a red and white checkered fold down flap that had two metal clasps to latch it to the front of the satchel and a white plastic handle. Very un-cool back then and definitely by today's standards. In our family, if money was spent on something than you used it- cool or not. I was so glad to get rid of that ugly thing and move on to the third grade without it.

Several of the kids at school had the pencil box that had the multiplication tables. At one end was a pencil sharpener, the lid of the box was also a ruler and had the multiplication tables on it. Mom never bought that for me either…she said I would memorize them and wouldn’t need that fancy pencil box. I am ashamed to admit that I never did memorize them.


To this day I have to count 5, 10, 15, 20, 25…to figure out 5x5=25. Math and I never seemed to hit it off. Needless to say my husband takes care of the finances in our household. When I have done them I am paranoid about making a mistake and not realizing it until the notice comes from the bank that we have insufficient funds. That hasn’t happened since our first year of marriage but the math phobia has stuck with me.


In the sixth grade we had colorful options when it came to notebook paper. I was able to buy pink and purple colored paper for my binder. It was wonderful until the teacher decided it was too hard on her eyes to read sixth grade writing on anything but white paper. There was some white notebook paper that had flowers along the margin where the holes were punched; I spent my allowance money to have some of that paper.  I think there must be an artist gene somewhere in the family line, my daughter has the same obsession with pretty paper and she is an artist.  We both go nuts at Michael's craft store when we shop the scrapbooking aisle with the beautiful printed paper.


I loved taking our kids shopping for school supplies every year. I felt like a kid again looking at the boxes of crayons, markers and paper. At Target they had huge bins full of school supplies. It was like School Supply Heaven.


One of my husbands all time favorite commercials is the back to school commercial from Staples. He would sing it to our kids.



School supplies are out at every store so now is a good time to stock up on items that you can use come November for Operation Christmas Child. Churches and schools collect shoe boxes filled with little gifts for children. We did this while we lived in New Mexico; it was a fun way for me to buy kids things when I had no small kids living at home. Something to think about while supplies are plentiful and inexpensive. Besides it gives you an excuse to feel like a kid again and shop for those back to school supplies.


Thanks to my mother-in-law for the idea for this post.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook

I came across The Simple Woman's Daybook on someone else's blog. This is a journaling exercise that takes a snapshot of what's going on in my day today, focusing on simplicity and the beauty of everyday moments.



FOR TODAY
Outside my window...someone is building a house across the street so there's a flatbed trailer on the street outside my window with the building materials required to start with the basement.

I am thinking...about 2 ladies who share a Birthday today...I get to go to lunch with one, the other is my sister-in-law and I got to visit with her a few days ago.

I am thankful for...today, it's a chance to begin again, a chance to be a blessing to someone.

From the learning room...I'm trying to be more aware of Holy Spirit working through and in me to impact others. 

From the kitchen...peaches waiting to be prepared for the freezer...then I'm making a dessert with peaches for supper tonight. yummm!

I am wearing...a teal t-shirt, black capris, black and white flip-flops. Threw them on to drive my husband to work.

I am creating...a prayer guide for this weeks prayer meeting.

I am going...get in the shower and go to a birthday lunch with ladies I work with.

I am reading...Forgotten God: Reversing Our tragic Neglect Of The Holy Spirit by Francis Chan.

I am hoping (praying)...the repairs to my husbands pick-up truck don't cost an arm and a leg.

I am hearing...the hum of the computer and the air conditioner running.

Around the house...laundry needs to be done, my craft closet is a mess...again.

One of my favorite things...the smell and taste of fresh peaches, wonderful in-laws who drove me around to buy peaches and waited patiently while I took pictures. 

A few plans for the rest of the week: Drop books off at the library, get some groceries, spend time on the phone with a friend living in another state.

A picture for thought I am sharing...from our back deck the moon rising as the sun set.

Have a wonderful day, thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

He's Everything to Me

Music has always played a role in my life. As a child I listened to the music my parents listened to on the radio, or the record albums they bought and played. You remember record albums; they look like big black cd’s. That’s how a young teenage friend of my daughter described them several years ago during choir practice one Wednesday night at church. Every adult present burst out laughing.

My parent’s music was from the 50’s and 60’s. I remember mom showing us how to do the twist to Chubby Checker. I remember sitting next to my sister in the back seat of a station wagon, my legs not even long enough for my feet to touch the back of the seat in front of us, singing along to “Sugar Shack” playing on the radio. I was certain if I could visit the sugar shack there would be candy to eat which means the only line that caught the attention of my 3 year old mind was the repeated phrase “..to the sugar shack.”

Music is like a time machine that transports me to my past, memories flowing over me with each note. Some of the songs from the 70’s put me right back in a blue Chevy Malibu sitting next to my sweetheart singing along with the radio.

As I wrote my last post, listing some of the people who impacted my life for Christ, this song leaped from the dusty pages of my mind. When I hear it I remember the faces of those kids I sang with in our youth group. You may know it. Turn up the volume and enjoy.

I have felt the wonder of His grace! He is everything to me.





Monday, July 26, 2010

VBS

Tonight is the beginning of a week of Vacation Bible School at our church. The theme is “High Seas Expedition”. The transformation from your average church into the “sea” theme has been happening now for several weeks…months even. One of the halls we walk through to get from one end of the building to the other has been transformed into an underwater passage. The imagination of the organizers is amazing.

I didn’t grow up in church; it wasn’t until I was in the 7th grade that I began attending and learned about a Savior who died for me. I knew about the baby Jesus born in the manger but He never left the manger.  In my mind He was just another Christmas story.

Vacation Bible School, church camp, skating parties, youth activities, all those fun things that kids invite their un-churched friends to attend are important. We have to invest our time, energy and money into those kinds of activities. When budgets are tight and people are busy it may be tempting to scale back on activities or even eliminate them all together.

I’m a walking, talking testimony of the importance of programs that focus on children and young people. I was one of those youth who rode a bus, and later was picked up in a van so that I could attend church. The sacrifice of the people who drove, taught, organized, and led the youth and children may not have seemed to make any difference then, but God did not waste their sacrifice. My life is one of those that was changed because people gave of themselves.

Tonight a group of giggly, wiggly girls and loud and rowdy boys are going to descend upon a small church in small town America. They are going to sing songs, hear Bible stories, get crafty, devour snacks and play games. For some of them it will be their first encounter with church. For some it might turn out to be a life changing event in their lives. They will learn that the Son of God, Jesus, died for them a long time ago, that He loves them, and He wants to live in their heart. Some of them…maybe even just one of them…will believe what they learn about Jesus and ask Him into their heart. If that happens, all the time, energy, preparation and effort will have been worth it. In Gods economy nothing is wasted. Everything we give to see a child come to Christ is worth it.

The heart of a child is tender and open to the things of God. Jesus told His disciples to let the children come.

“The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.” Mark 10:13-16 (The Message)

I read in that scripture passage that I have to have the heart of a child. A childlike faith is what is required for me to enter God’s kingdom. We are God’s children. All of us need to know that God loves us, that He has a plan for our lives and He sent His Son to die for us. VBS is one of the ways God’s message is communicated to a community of children that they are important to God.

Do you have fond memories of VBS? I’d enjoy hearing them.


It’s Gratitude Monday. I’m adding to my list of graces.

51. All the people from the 2 churches I attended as a teenager who impacted my life for Christ…naming just a few here.

52. Charles…he drove a bus that picked up my sisters and I and then took us home.

53. Rick…a Jr. High Sunday School teacher who put up with our juvenile antics.

54. Floyd (aka Papa Brown)…drove a the van that picked us up and drove us home…sometimes stopping for ice cream at the Dairy Queen.

54. Wayne…taught my High School Sunday School class and never failed to tell us the importance of studying our lesson and reading the Word…knowing it went in one ear and out the other…he prepared and faithfully taught us every Sunday.

55. Fay…was my youngest sisters Sunday School teacher, she didn’t give up on that group of kids, took them on a trip to 6-Flags and invited me along.

56. My grandmother…prayed for her children and grandchildren every night.

57. My Aunt Betty and Uncle Raymond…my first memories of visiting a Church is with them.

58. My dads uncle encouraged my parents to allow us to attend church where he was an active member and would keep an eye on us.

59. The youth choir “The Ambassadors”…I learned to love the music of the church through my experience with that choir.  Charles and Wanda were our fearless leaders.

60. Lizzie (aka Mama Brown) invited us to her house after church many Sunday’s and fed us the most wonderful green beans fresh from her garden.

61. The group of teens from Lone Oak who piled into a van one Saturday, drove to our house and invited three sisters to church…I married one of the guys.

62. David and Ginger…they regularly opened their home to a group of young people to fellowship with one another, planned fun games, had snacks…such generous people.

63. Ruby…patiently endured our youth choir practices, taught us the music and played the piano.

64. Flossie…was encouraging me to teach the Preschoolers Sunday School class before I finished High School. She had such a heart for children.

65. Howard…ran Camp Allen - the camp I attended with my friends. Many good memories of worship and fun.

66. The generous people who gave money so I could attend camp.

67. The adults and the parents of friends who by the life they lived everyday showed me what being a follower of Christ looked like.

68. The Church that acted like the Church and reached out to three sisters and made us feel like family.

69. The people who faithfully prayed for me through my teenage years and beyond.

70. The kindness and encouragement of people who had no idea that church was a refuge for me as well as my sisters.

Join the Gratitude Community and share your blessings.



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Friday, July 23, 2010

From Strangers To Friends

I have a friend I miss a great deal.  I think it was five years ago that we met at a Women's Bible study.  I didn't know any of the women there, I just wanted to attend a study and heard through a woman I spoke to about churches in the area that her church was having a study on Tuesday mornings.

The first week I attended with the woman who told me about the study but she wasn't going to be able to attend after the one time as she worked.  The second week I sat at the table nearest the door, I arrived early and sat where I could make a quick exit since I didn't know anyone.

The next week I was a few minutes late arriving and there were no more seats close to the door.  I'm sure you've done it, trying to be inconspicuous you try to tip-toe into the room, scanning for the nearest empty seat and the only seats are in the middle down in front.  Making my way down I grabbed the closest chair and tried to quietly set my stuff on the table, scoot my chair in and not draw any more attention to myself.  It didn't work, the teacher made a point of interrupting her opening remarks to welcome me.  I came to love that teacher, she had such a heart for the women who attended her classes, such compassion for each of us and a deep love for her Savior and the Word.

The women at the table where I was sitting were all veteran Bible study-goers and had a familiarity with one another as this wasn't their first study together.  I was the newbie, made to feel welcome but still felt like an outsider.  The leader had each of us write a praise or a prayer request on a slip of paper then pass it to our right.  My request went to a woman with a British accent on my right and I received the prayer request of a lady with short white hair and sparkling eyes.  She had the kindest smile and was so warm towards me that I felt at ease with her right away.

During the break we talked and shared information about ourselves, by the time the study was over that day I felt like I had made a new friend.  After that we sat together when ever possible and would go to lunch after the Bible study on a regular basis.  We talked about everything.  We prayed for one another and each others families.  

The day I told her that we were moving away she was so supportive and began praying right away for my husband and I to have safe travel, for him to find a job, for us to find a home.  But she also told me she wished we were staying.  

It's been three years since I moved away and we keep in touch by phone.  I've been back to visit her once and hope to visit her in the fall.  She is one of my dearest friends, someone who is eager to know what's happening in my life.  When we chat over the phone it's almost like the miles melt away and we are sharing our hearts with one another just as we did face to face. 

The friendship we share is special, she and I talk about how quickly God made us the closest of friends.  I'm so glad that I was running late and the closest seat that day was one next to her.  I don't believe in coincidences and I believe that God set in motion the events that would lead to our meeting that day.  

I just wanted to tell you about my friend Monte and encourage you to strike up a conversation the next time you are seated by a stranger.  You never know, they might just be a special gift from God to you.  A friend who shares your burdens and joys.  A friend for life.

I love you Monte!  You are a gift!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Prayer Warrior? Me?


I’m involved in our church’s prayer ministry. When I first considered serving in this ministry I wondered if I was the wisest choice, there are others infinitely more qualified. You know…real prayer warriors who are faithful to keep a daily schedule of meeting with God in an extended time of prayer and intercession.

I work at it. I pray everyday but not necessarily for extended lengths of time, totally focused on prayer. I’m learning that the image I have in my mind of the prayer warrior isn’t always the calling God has on my life and the ministry of prayer.

For years when asked “How is you’re prayer life?” my answer was “I wish it were better”. Did I pray everyday at the same time for a certain length of time? No. Did I have enough faith? What was the ratio of answered prayers to unanswered prayers? Surely that was an indication of how strong my faith was and how well my prayer life was going. I have no idea how I came to that formula to evaluate the perfect prayer life but I know I never measured up.

Then a health crisis of an extended family member led to a cross country trip and taught me a lot more about prayer. The prayers for healing, the prayers for strength, the prayers for compassion, the prayers asking to be able to anticipate a need before it was voiced…it was a steady, ongoing conversation with God asking for help to meet the needs of someone recovering from major health concerns. I thought I understood what it meant to have an attitude of prayer and thankfulness but God showed me I had only been scratching the surface.

Prayer is just conversation with God. That’s it. The walls and stained glass windows of a church are not a requirement for prayer. Kneeling is not a requirement. Bowing your head and closing your eyes are not requirements. Once you understand that you can pray anywhere, and be doing anything while praying then it’s easier to be in an ongoing conversation with God.

When I consider all the times during my day that I talk to God while I am doing other things then I begin to realize that I spend a great deal more time in prayer than I originally thought. Amazingly, those short, spontaneous conversations with God are just as much “prayer time” as the extended times I share with Him.

“Pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

I have a great deal of learning to do when it comes to understanding what it means to be in relationship with the God above all other gods. The best way to learn is to make myself available to Him through prayer and reading His Word. But God doesn’t waste any of the time I spend in prayer with Him…driving, showering, washing dishes, scrubbing floors, pricing merchandise at work, whispered prayers in the dark of night, prayers asking for the right words to share. Every conversation with Him is time with Him.

I’m not going to beat myself up anymore when it comes to prayer. Someday I will reach the point in my relationship with Him that every waking moment is lived in awareness of being in His presence. Until then I will focus on having an attitude of prayer, praying about everything as it comes to my mind and not getting too busy or distracted to speak with the One who never leaves me.

If you have the self inflicted bruises of beating yourself up over prayer then put down the stick and ask God to show you how to pray without ceasing.  He has nothing more important on His agenda right now.  I don't mind having company in the school of prayer and would appreciate hearing about what He is teaching you.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Saturated With God

Unable to sleep last night I spent several hours reading and praying. If I fall sleep before ten o’clock and wake up I might as well get up because I’m wide awake for awhile.

I picked up my Bible to read my daily chapters:

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Isaiah 55:1-2

I read those verses over several times and remembered the rain we had just received the night before, in our neighborhood we had over 7 inches of rain. You could see the puddles in the streets, the standing water in the low lying areas. The weeds and vegetation along the creek banks and ditches had all been flattened down where the water had overflowed their banks. They weren’t kidding when they warned against flash flooding.

The ground in our area is saturated with water so it has no place to go…it just collects and flows over, the volume of water adding speed until it is flowing along overtaking anything in it’s path.

How often have I been thirsty for the One who is the Living Water and I have settled for less? Hungered for more and labored for what does not satisfy? How often have I been content to sit and vegetate in front of the TV and come away dissatisfied with what was offered?

Webster’s defines saturate this way: to satisfy fully; to fill completely with something that permeates or pervades.

God wants to pour out His Holy Spirit into the lives of His people. He wants to fill me with the Living Water that satisfies deep down to my toes. I need to be saturated in His Spirit, filled to over flowing.

I want the Holy Spirit to fill me so completely that the evidence of Him in my life is overflowing and splashing out on those I come into contact with. I want His love, His compassion, His gentleness, His peace to overflow my life into the lives of others. I want to be so completely filled up with Him that there is no room left over for anything else.

That will happen as learn to go to Him with my spiritual thirst and hunger; allowing Him to fill me with the truth of His Word and spend more time with Him in prayer. Only He can satisfy me completely, deep down, full to the top and overflowing.

I’m listening for the voice of the One who wants to fill me from a source that never runs out and is constantly flowing. Be careful, if you hang out with me you just might get wet!



Join the conversation at Walk With Him Wednesdays.


holy experience

Photo: from our home in New Mexico looking east to the Sandia Mountains

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Severe Weather Warning

“I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm."
Psalm 55:8

 
The storms in our area began before the ten o’clock nightly news. In fact the weather forecast was delayed due to lightening knocking out the meteorologist’s computer. She scrambled to reboot and bring up her graphics while the anchor filled time and went to commercial.


Our weather warning radio went off every time they had an advisory, severe thunderstorm watch, severe thunderstorm warning. We went to bed with the lightening flashing and the thunder crashing.


Sometime before 12:00 am the screeching of the radio warned of flash flooding, we listened then rolled over and fell back to sleep. Around 1:00 am the radio woke us up again with tornado warnings, followed by the sirens in town giving more urgency to the weather warning.


We got up and went to the windows, waiting for the flashes of lightening to light up the darkness, as if we could determine for ourselves how serious the conditions were. Rain was coming down in sheets. For the first time in the 2 ½ years we have lived here we heard a new noise, our sump pump kicking on. The Weather Channel showed the line of storms was part of a stationary front, streaming right across our area. Lights flickered and the cable went off. We had already put on our shoes, grabbed cell phones and now made our way to the basement. Once we were down there the electricity went out. The lights came back on and we waited it out until the sirens in town stopped then headed back upstairs. The tornado warning had lifted but the severe storm warning was in affect for several more hours.


Crawling back into my bed I thought of a song my children used to sing:

“Rise and Shine”
The Lord said to Noah
there's gonna be a floody floody
Lord said to Noah
there's gonna be a floody floody
Get my children
out of the muddy muddy
Children of the Lord.


I also thought of the many verses in the Bible that speak of storms, how God gets our attention through the power of storms; he also protects us in the storms. In Mark 4 Jesus calmed the storm.


Sometimes my storms are because of people or events that I have no control over, other times they are a result of my own bad choices. God doesn’t leave me alone even if they are of my own making; He walks me through them.


Through family squabbles, health problems, marriage difficulties, crying toddlers, troubled teenagers, doubts and fears, unemployment, an empty nest, through it all God is my refuge in the storm. Every time I have cried to Him out of the midst of my trouble to please calm the storm, He has answered…usually by calming me not the storm.

No matter what kind of storm it is, a literal storm raging outside or my own personal storm of troubles that no one knows about, God is right in the center of it. He has promised to never leave me no matter what I am facing. There are more storms in our forecast over the next several days…more storms in my future I’m sure. Come what may I’m safe with Him.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Multitude Monday

Continuing the count of things to be grateful for on Multitude Monday...
 
31. Left over chocolate birthday cake.

32. Taking my son and daughter-in-law to see a kid’s movie.

33. That the men in my family are not ashamed to tear up over a kid’s movie about children growing up and outgrowing their toys.

34. Christian radio in the car.

35. A dear elderly couple who always have an encouraging word.

36. Feeling safe during a severe thunderstorm at 5 o’clock in the morning.

37. Sunday afternoon naps.

38. A clean house.

39. The start of a new week…anything is possible.

40. Cumulus clouds – white, towering, puffy like cotton.

41. Peanut butter and plum jelly sandwiches.

42. The words “Thank you”.

43. Photographs that trigger memories of days gone by.

44. Cotton blankets fresh from the dryer.

45. Ceiling fans.

46. Long soaks in the jet tub.

47. Walking barefoot in the grass.

48. Craft stores and the endless possibilities to be creative.

49. Left-overs…no cooking tonight.

50. Mail addressed to me.



Consider joining the Gratitude Community and start counting your own graces.





holy experience

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sunday's Child

Forty nine years ago somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea a young Marine was called to the bridge of the USS Forrestal and given a message from the Red Cross. He had a new son and a new title...Dad. Congratulations were given and the new dad gave out cigars to celebrate.

It was a Sunday in July in a county hospital that a young mom met her new baby hours after the delivery. I imagine as the fog of the anesthesia wore off she longed to be able to share the joy of introducing that baby to his daddy. I can imagine her as she snuggled her first born close and breathed in the scent of new life. I imagine her touching his tiny hand and marveling at the delicate handiwork of God...this child...this gift...formed in secret. One day in the future she would cuddle his baby brother, more confident and sure of herself. On that Sunday a nineteen year old became a mom for the first time, counting tiny fingers and toes as well as the days until her Marine came home.

This morning I reached across the bed and held one of those same hands that she held when they were new, and marveled at the gift of her child, my husband. He is like his mom in temperament. Both are tenderhearted, loving, cautious, gentle, determined but not demanding. He favors her...he has her eyes. When he calls her on the phone he always says "Hey Lady". He is like his dad as well. Patriotic, generous, protective, resolute when his mind is made up...also defined as stubborn, depending on your point of view.


He kissed me as dropped him off at work, our affection for one another still strong and familiar. I breathed in the smell of shaving cream and toothpaste that mingled with the scent of him and prayed I never take his presence in my life for granted. I have a cake to bake and a birthday dinner to prepare. Our son and daughter-in-law are coming...our first born...turning out to be like his dad in more ways than he ever imagined as he matures. They share the same laugh!

I think of our daughter and wish she were closer so our family could all be together for the celebration. She is very much like him in temperament, like her grandmother before him. She has the same blue eyes...the family resemblance passed down generation to generation.

Don't we all search for the similarities among family members, those features, mannerisms, and character traits that tie us together and denote our kinship? We search for the resemblance that tells the world that we belong to a certain family and gives us a sense of belonging. Today I take a mental inventory of everything about my husband that can be seen in his children. What I see clearer than anything else is the love. Love for one another, love for family, for traditions, love for God and country. The memories that replay through my mind, the laughter and the tears, the holidays, the average days...they are all tied one to the other by love.

Funny, I never imagined him turning 49...I'm only a few months behind him...it seems like it just crept up on us while we weren't looking. It looks good on him...his gray hair, the smile lines on his face. He's still the one for me.

Tonight we will light some candles...not all 49 years will be represented by a candle. He will hear the Happy Birthday song for the 49th time and we will eat some "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake.

It's his birthday and our family is going to celebrate...some of us here with him...one of us in another state. Two will celebrate this day and remember exactly where they were and how they felt on the day God introduced him to the world. We will celebrate the love that brought him to us. Each of us feeling blessed because he fills a place in our hearts and lives.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Barnabas Box

In my bedroom, in the corner furthest from the door is a tall book shelf. It stands on my side of the bed, stuffed with books, several bibles, bible study workbooks, dictionaries and our weather alert radio. Several pictures sit among the books, a favorite one of my daughter and me, one of my sweetheart and me when we were about sixteen and a small picture of our son when he was two weeks old. On top of the book case where the dust can get so thick it looks more like a layer of gray fur than dust; sits a box. The box is my Barnabas Box.

It's named after Barnabas, a man you can read about in the New Testament in the book of Acts. After his conversion Saul (aka Paul), went to Jerusalem to join the apostles but they were afraid of him and nobody trusted him. Barnabas was the one who stepped up and spoke favorably of Saul and convinced the apostles that Saul was a true believer. His name was Joseph, but the apostles called him Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement. I named my box after him because it holds things that are an encouragement to me. Notes, mementos, cards, pictures, special things to me, things I treasure. No doubt you have the same kinds of things in a drawer, a tote or box somewhere.

When I open the box it’s kind of like opening a door to my past and taking a walk down memory lane. So many memories are held in that box. Cards and notes from when my sweetheart and I were dating, the receipt and price tag for my prom dress, the schedule for the 1978 football season. Birthday, anniversary and Valentines cards he has given me over the years, the card I got with the flowers he sent on our 21st anniversary.

Cards from my children, store bought and hand made. There’s a bookmark from my son for Mother’s day. One card he really liked, I have two of the same card given different years. He gave me a handmade Valentine in German, part of a German lesson from high school.

Creative artistic child that she is, there’s much more in the box from my daughter. Little notes that fold up and make their own envelope, post-it notes she wrote on, a letter of apology, a tiny paper box she made from an old Christmas card. There’s a drawing she did of my dad, drawn when she was twelve and given to me as a Mother’s day gift. Evidence of a budding artist in our family.  Her “Breakfast-in-a-box” pages…each page with a drawing of a breakfast item, along with some warm fuzzy black house shoes she gave me as a gift one year for Christmas.

I have cards from friends and family over the years, thank you notes, notes to encourage me and some just to make me laugh. There are many notes and cards letting me know that someone is praying for me or my family. One very special to me is from a dear friend who lost her battle with cancer. One day I will get to see Joyce’s face again, until then I reread her card and her sweet words about praying for my daughter while she was on a mission trip.

As I sifted through the items in the box this morning, touching the things that passed through the hands of people I love and care about, I was encouraged. Over the years so many people took the time to buy a card, write a note, or make something for me. Each item is an expression of their love for me. Each item represents a moment in time when they were thinking of me and acted on that thought.

How often does God bring someone to your mind that you haven’t thought about in a long time? Is there someone you know who is dealing with something and could use a word of encouragement today? Is there someone you usually only send a Christmas card to once a year that crossed your mind as you read this? Take a minute and write them a note, send them a card, let them know they were on your heart today. Text messages are great, telephone calls are awesome, emails are convenient, but a personal note or card of encouragement is something you can hold on to. It’s something you can read, tuck away into a box then pull out to read another day.

After you write that note or send that card, go find your treasures and remember the people who have cared about you. If you don’t already have a special place for them, get yourself a Barnabas Box and start filling it with the bits and pieces of love others have sent your way.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Give it a rest.

Some days it's more difficult than others to quiet my mind...today has been one of those days.


We went for our check ups this morning. Nothing bad to report, just the usual admonishments to eat right, exercise and lose weight. I’d managed to lose half a pound in 6 months…the only good thing to say about that is I didn’t gain half a pound. Since my appointment the mental argument has gone back and forth…


~I should have made a serious effort to get fit over the past 6 months.


Fit! Get serious girl…you’ve never been fit and you will never be fit!


~I can count the number of times I’ve exercised on ten fingers and have some left over; I can’t really say I made much of an effort.


Less than 10! That’s laughable…you are soooo lazy!


~My cholesterol and triglycerides remained stable.


Imagine how they would have looked had you tried!


~I am fearfully and wonderfully made?!


Maybe…but look what you’ve done to His masterpiece!


~I’m a mess! I’m so tired of feeling this way.


That’s the truth! And you call yourself a Christian.


The enemy was in rare form. Can anyone relate?


The bible tells us that our enemy wants to devour us—he sure was getting some huge bites out of me. Today it was my body image. Consistency in reading my bible and prayer are one of his favorite topics. Living an authentic life, being real about my struggles and challenges, my failures as a parent, my life compared to the Proverbs 31 woman. Satan has way more material than I have room to list. He’s like the energizer bunny. He can just keep going and going!


If I don’t get my thoughts under control I will become so battered and bruised that I won’t try to stand under the assault. I’ll give up and the enemy has won—my voice is silenced and no one hears about how my life has changed because of a Savior who died for me.


But—if I remember that the enemy is about condemnation, that his words drip with sarcasm and accusation, then I can turn it around. When my Father speaks to me through Holy Spirit there is no condemnation. There may be conviction but not condemnation. When He speaks it sounds totally different.


~I should have made a serious effort to get fit over the past 6 months.


We can begin again…I’m the God of second, third, and fourth chances.


~I can count the number of times I’ve exercised on ten fingers and have some left over; I can’t really say I made much of an effort.


Through My strength you can do this…don’t try to do it on your own…I will give you the strength day by day…step by step.


~My cholesterol and triglycerides remained stable.


You have been making some good choices…let’s build on that…ask Me for wisdom and I will give it to you.


~I am fearfully and wonderfully made?!


You are My daughter, My creation, I know you inside and out, I love you with a love deeper than the deepest ocean. Don’t be discouraged…you are exactly where you need to be. I’m working on you, you don’t always see it but progress is being made. You are beautiful. You are chosen by Me.


~I’m a mess! I’m so tired of feeling this way.


Hear Me and believe Me, you are holy and blameless because when I see you, I see my Son. The evil one cannot touch you, he is a liar. If he gives you anymore trouble, and he will, refer him to Me. I’ve been dealing with him for…well…centuries. Come to Me and I will give you rest.


When the enemy starts in on me with his bad mouthing and tearing me down, I need to run to my Father. Satan has no choice but to give it a rest.

God is my resting place, my refuge.

Resting in Him. 





Photo: relaxing with my man

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Creativity

I read that Jarbas Agnelli saw a newspaper photo of a large flock of black birds sitting on the wires and recognized that their configuration looked very much like a musical score.



I think the Creator of the universe shows off His creativity in all kinds of ways if we will just open our eyes and see.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Psalm 19:1-3

The musician who saw the picture of those birds and also saw musical notes had his eyes open to more than a group of birds sitting on a wire.  I think God opened his eyes to see the arrangement. 

God shows off His creativity every day in every way, like gifts left to surprise and enchant us.  The sunrise He paints every morning is just the beginning...the mist rising from the ground as warm and cool meet...the birds singing...the dew shining like diamonds as the suns rays hit it. 

Even the rain is a symphony as the rhythm of the rain drops hit the roof, the clap of  thunder, the crashing lighting.  The smell following a rain is indescribable.

Ever seen the aftermath of an ice storm in the sunshine?  Ice storms can be very destructive but also amazingly beautiful, friends and family in Southeast Missouri have stories to tell of power outages that lasted for days but the pictures they shared were breath taking.

The silence as snow falls and blankets the world in white...then a cardinal landing on the deck railing, his bright red feathers in stark contrast to the white of snow.

I wonder how many times I've been too busy, too self absorbed, too focused on my own things, to stop and see the gift God had on display through His creation?  

A child's laugh, a new born babies cry, a puppies wagging tail, the silky feel of a kitten's fur, the colors of a sunset, the multitude of stars twinkling in the night sky, the glow of the moon rising over the peaks of the mountains. 

Birds lined up on a telephone wire...God music.

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
-How Great Thou Art