Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Weekend Wit 26

                                                                                                                             It is not possible to live in this world without being impacted by sin.  It will infect each of us in at least one area of our lives in a harsh and unrelenting way.  That is where we find our devastating disappointment. It is also where we can find grace, hope, renewal and it is the place where we recognize Jesus for the first time.  It where we hear those words, "Come unto me all who are weary and burdened..."

We are all broken people and sometimes the way we compensate for our brokenness hurts other people. Maybe we need to stop compensating and cry out to Jesus.  He is the only one who can bind up the wounded and make us whole.

The cure for unhappiness is gratitude.  Look around and acknowledge the things in your world that you presently have and be thankful.  Discontent and griping can steal your very life away.

Often the world views Christianity as being just a restrictive way to live.  Nothing is further from the truth, in Jesus there are worlds  that open up that are filled with beauty and truth.   Run your own race apart from Him and your life will be pinched, small and dissatisfaction will creep in to all you do.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Weekend Wit 25

 I would much rather be loved, appreciated and understood by those who know me best than to be adored by the masses who know me not at all.

I don't want to be rich and famous. It is a trap.  Let me be an average person who lives in fellowship with a great God.

When we are young we have the beauty of youth.  It is fresh, untainted and painted on our skin.  As we age the paint washes off and through our faithfulness, our hardship and our endurance a different kind of beauty emerges.  One that will never fade away.

One simply cannot buy a beautiful life. It has to be created with out thoughts, our words and our hands.

My parents lived in their house so long that the love we shared as a family permeated the walls.

Don't be so quick to break your own bonds of matrimony because your feelings got hurt or you think somehow you are being stifled as person.  Satisfaction in a relationship is found on the road called longevity.

Monday, July 1, 2019

A Day in the Kitchen

One of my earliest and strongest memories is of my mama washing clothes in our wringer washing machine.  The washing took place on the old screened in back porch by the kitchen. The back porch was a treasure trove of ancient things that my depression era dad refused to relinquish.  There was a long wooden shelf that housed an ancient wooden radio, a kerosene lamp and an assortment of other treasures that collected dust year after year.   The rest of  the porch housed an enormous chest freezer that was filled every year with produce and meat from our small farm.

We had two wringer washers probably because Daddy seldom threw anything away.  Mama would fill one with wash water and powdered washing detergent.  The clothes would agitate and then she would put each piece by hand through the wringer.  She then moved each piece to the other washer that was filled with rinse water.  Once again the clothes were agitated and she put them through the wringer the second time.  They were then thrown in a basket to be taken to the clothes line.

 There were seven people in our family and washing was serious business.  We made a lot of laundry.  We had a long rickety clothes line with three sections that stretched to infinity.  After the clothes were hung out and dried one of the girls would be assigned the job of bringing them in.  It was not the days of permanent press so there were a lot of wrinkled cotton garments.  Mama had an old RC bottle that she filled with water and an aluminium sprinkle top that fit the bottle.  Mama and Grandma sprinkled the clothes and rolled them up to marinate in the refrigerator.  Then they ironed piece after piece until sweat ran down their backs.

I remember playing on that old worn kitchen floor  while the rhythmic sound of the washer cadence stimulated my mind.  Mama and Grandma would be busy with lots of other household chores while they waited on the laundry.  Often one of them stood at the old ceramic farm sink washing dishes and rinsing them in the old beat up roasting pan filled with water that sat on the counter.  I often stood on a chair so that I could be the one who got to rinse the dishes.  The windows and doors were open and the fresh air filled the kitchen that caused a draught  pulling in the smell of musty dirt and freshness of the outside.  The gingham curtains flapped in the breeze telling me that everything was right with the world.

Mama and Grandma kept busy in the kitchen peeling, or chopping whatever fruit or vegetable was coming in to the garden. The bounty would go into the canning jars and be put into the big pressure cooker that they kept on the stove through the summer. The freshly canned jars were covered with a damp kitchen towel as Mama and Grandma waited for each jar to pop signifying that the jars were sealed.  Often a big bucket of pickles were soaking in  brine waiting for the pressure cooker as well.  On the floor by the sink, they kept an old bucket where all the peelings and scraps were placed.  This was taken to the pigpen and mixed with ground corn and water so the pig could be slopped.

Eventually the morning went by and the kitchen table would be set with mismatched plates and silver ware.  Tea glasses were filled and every chair would be taken up by the family and the whole kitchen would feel like it was bursting at the seams with people.  The table was laden with whatever the garden provided.

All day long the washing machine whirred and all day long Mama and Grandma moved in a rhythmic dance back and forth across those old worn floors to make sure that the family had good food and clean clothes.  They did what they could to keep the family together and to provide for our needs.  I learned a lot from both of them. I learned the rudimentary art of cooking just from watching what they did.  More importantly I caught the idea that the way to love my own family was to serve them in practical ways.

Both of them were absolutely beautiful.  I am so thankful for their legacy.  I rise up and call them blessed women.

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;

Mama and Daddy
Daddy and my Grandma

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Weekend Wit 24

You can choose to make life beautiful, but you might have to be the one to....

Plan it
Say it
Share it
Forgive it

It takes choice, action and courage.

 Integrity always trumps reputation.

A lie is like cancer, it destroys things that are good and right but in the end all lies and liars will become undone. Truth will win in the end.

Popular culture is a poor source to choose as the foundation for your decisions.

We are at a crossroad, we must earnestly build strong moral men and women.

We are given grace in our lives but we often mistakenly think that we are getting the good that we deserve or that we have earned.   We develop arrogance instead of gratitude.  Arrogance won't help you in the day of evil.

Sometimes we are given the choice between "having it our way" or having the relationship.  Eventually we need the relationship more than we needed "having our way".

Divorce should be rare and reserved for those terrible, extreme situations.  It is not a solution to relational conflict. Every relationship has conflict.  Most of us are emotional dwarfs when we marry.  It takes a life of sacrificially choosing to love your spouse to change that.

Things are always better in the morning light.

The older I get the more I realize that I need to dig in and believe that the Scripture is true.

The same kind of sin that infects me, also infects everyone around me.  I shouldn't be surprised when I am sinned against.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Over Sized Hearts

Mother's Day is upon us once more.  Is there any other holiday that brings out a range of emotions than this day?  Some folks struggle because their mom is gone.  Others struggle because Mom was never there for them to start with.  Some deal with the guilt of disappointing their mom because of life choices.  Some mothers deal with the guilt of not being good moms.  Then there are the precious women who want so badly to be able to conceive and bear a child.  I sometimes think the holiday should be banned altogether, but there are many mothers out there who do deserve recognition. My sisters are such women.

 If there was ever a fiery soul as a teenager it was my oldest sister. She loved fashion, hairstyles and makeup and I never would have pegged her as the next Joan of Arc.  She has always been a caring person but motherhood gave her the opportunity to show just how sacrificial and dogged determined that a woman can be. Her marriage ended after about ten years leaving her as the soul supporter and caregiver for her kids.  She worked all kinds of crazy hours in order to provide for them.  She had to finagle money, time and energy in order to keep life and limb.  My sister refused any kind of government support because she didn't want her kids to grow up thinking that was the way to live.  When all of her kids were grown, she went back to school and become an over the road truck driver.  Over the years I have witnessed a woman who loves her kids and grandsons ferociously but that compassion has spilled out to others that she encounters as well.  The chick who was so concerned about appearance doesn't care what anyone thinks about her. The sacrifices of motherhood have morphed her into quite a genuine person.

My other sister  took care of our dad for years.  After she and her husband had raised their son she became our dad's surrogate parent as he aged. Mama had died years before and he lived alone.  She was the closest in proximity to him and she naturally became the one who invited him to every holiday and who dropped everything when he needed help.  She has always worked in the corporate world where she had a lot of responsibility.  She never let that keep her from solidly taking care of Daddy.  For years she had to deal with all kinds of issues with him.  She was the heroine in every way.  As he became more and more feeble he looked to my sister to be his strength and protection.  When someone tried to deal dishonestly with Daddy, they experienced her wrath.  She went to bat for Daddy with doctors, health care workers and administrators. She took him to countless doctor's appointments and spent hours working on the details of his life. She was also the one who sat with him and colored or read kid books to him when his mind became too feeble for adulting.  She spent a lot of money, time and energy taking care of him and giving him dignity in his last years.  She loved Daddy in a way in which  I am almost envious.  Her heart was devoted to him because she had invested the treasure of her life into him.  When he passed away, she was the one who was hurt the most. That is the way genuine love works.

My other sister is really my husband's sister.  This sweet, kind and generous woman has given of herself to her kids, her husband and now her grand kids in a way that is almost unbelievable.  She has dealt with chronic long term illness, hospitalization, many sleepless nights, emergency room visits and a lot of questions that have taken faith to wait for the answers. Years ago when my husband and I were in financial pinch she found a way to tangibly help us in our dire straits.  None of the things that she has been through have produced bitterness and anger, instead she has a gentle spirit who looks at the best in most people and keeps a buoyant happy spirit.

I can never do justice to my sisters in explaining the ways that they have dug their heels in and stood in difficult circumstances. I can tell you why my sisters are so special.  One day each of them became mothers and when they did they no longer counted their own lives as gain but day by day gave them away to their children. They found that genuine love is filled with action, determination and sometimes just being bone tired.  They found that kind of sacrificial love brought about ridicule and scorn from those who didn't live in the reality of their lives.  In the process a transformation took place where there hearts grew too big for their bodies.

If you too have one of those mothers in your life who have laid down their lives and now possess one of those huge hearts,  I hope that you find a way to honor her.  I hope you hug her and take some time to express some thoughtful words to her.  She is a giant. She should be deeply honored and respected. I hope you have eyes to see that.

Happy Mother's Day Linda, Gail and Donna!!!! I love you all and appreciate your faith, your love and your example all of these years.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Wolf Kahn Art Lesson for Kids

I found a Wolf Kahn art lesson here.  I decided that I would try something similar with the 4th graders.  They used chalk for the background and I cut up strips of different sized cardboard for them to dip in tempura paint to make the tree trunks and then they dabbed paint on for the tree tops.  We viewed a short video clip about Wolf Kahn like this one here.  I talked a bit about his life and his art before we started.  This is a sampling of the kids work.  Each one is pretty magical in my opinion.


" Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.…" 

I certainly can relate to these verses. The older I get the more I see myself in a clearer light. I am a little bit of nothing. The scripture describes that as being a vapor.  We all arrive on the scene and we are only here for a mere breath.

We all have to some degree physical imperfections, some more than others. I suppose given enough time, money and surgeries we could work on making them better but there is absolutely nothing that will stop the process of age and decay in our bodies.

Intellectually I am a midget compared to the brightest minds in the world. I might could revel in my IQ score on those little ridiculous Facebook quizzes. I can and have foolishly compared my intellectual abilities with the next person at the checkout but in reality sometimes a seven year old understands things that I have missed all of my life.  We are all intellectual midgets compared to the One who made the universe and keeps it all going.

I have been given some talents and abilities.  I try to use them to make life better for myself and for those around me.  At the end of the day, it is doubtful that the uniqueness of me will be remembered much past my own family.  I will become a name and two dates in a genealogy and nothing much more than that.

 I am certainly not of noble birth in this life.  I was born into a modest home of parents who were just common country people.  Even after years of living out in the world, I still find that my accent and mispronunciation of words leak out in my imperfect speech. My mannerism and mode of life is such that it would take years of work to make me understand and practice proper protocol in polite company.

I think that many of us are always looking to discover something in which to hide behind in this life because we all know deep inside that we are inadequate.  I don't think very many of us are truly confident in our physical appearance, our performance or even in our progress in this life.  It is because we were destined to be something far greater than what we presently are. Now we are bound and reduced much like the characters in Beauty and the Beast.  Before the Fall of man every single person would have been noble, perfect and powerful.  The most noble among us in this life is still a shadow of what was intended.

In our fallen condition, "the humbling" of a broken humanity is the only hope that we will ever look up and agree with God that, "yes" we need a Savior.  I need Him to give me eternal life in the future but I also need Him to infuse life into me today.

I am presently today not what I will be, but even on my lowest days of brokenness and humility I can revel that my present condition is a direct result of His mercy and grace in my life.

It seems that in our culture, that we spend a lot of time judging each other and pointing fingers.  Tearing each other down is a national past time.  I am just as judgmental as the next person.  On some days though I get a glimpse of myself in the proverbial mirror and I know that in reality that I am naked and laid bare and that I desperately need to be covered just like the rest of humanity.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Weekend Wit 23

If you want to know the answer to life, it is love.

Your happiness is found in your ability to be content.
Your contentment is found in being grateful for the things that you already have.

Everyone has problems.  Some problems are pretty obvious.  The community around us offers sympathy and empathy but many issues are matters of the soul and often there is no one who knows.  Those issues are left to fester in the dark where it makes the sufferer often angry, depressed or bitter.  It is in the light that those issues can be healed.  I am not suggesting that we bare are all to the world but finding someone to tell our deepest and darkest hurts is a necessary step to wholeness.

The world is going to beat you down, home should be the place where we are built back up and pampered. 

The things in our world that seem so very negative in the end are sometimes the very things that turn our lives around and put us on the right path.

Whatever your problems, they are common to man.  Someone else has already fought the same battle that you are fighting.  That means it is not an impossible task.  

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Christmas Poke

I have plenty to do before Christmas arrives at my door.  My house needs to be cleaned and I am still mulling over the food that I plan on serving.  I bought a bag of oranges today because in my world, Christmas is not possible without having a bag of oranges.  After my bowl of soup at supper I peeled one of my Christmas oranges.  That first taste brought back all kinds of Christmas memories.

Every year at church we would have a Christmas program featuring the little kids and then some kind of Christmas drama that highlighted the true meaning of Christmas.  The church would be completely packed for this event with everyone decked out in their red and green Christmas finery.  The little kids usually flubbed their lines but were adorably cute.  The Christmas drama was a small town attempt at theater with a bunch of men dressed in their bathrobes playing shepherds.  It didn't matter, it was always something that I  anticipated except for the year I was actually in the Christmas play, then it was terrifying.

After the play was over everyone from the young to the elderly went to the doors of the fellowship hall where the deacons and other volunteers passed out Christmas pokes. The Christmas poke was a brown paper sack with one large apple, an orange, a pack of Juicy Fruit gum, a Mounds Bar, an Almond Joy, a box of raisins, and an assortment of nuts still in the shell. I stood there a shivering disheveled, tired little girl in the cold eager to get my bag of goodies. It was honestly one highlight of the Christmases of my childhood.  We then would all pile back into our car clutching our bags eager to open up our pokes to examine the contents.

I don't know the reason why the Christmas poke tradition was started.  Maybe it was an attempt to make sure that everyone got a little something at Christmas.  I know that I loved mine.  It seems ridiculous now in our world where sweets and treats flow freely that a bag with a couple of candy bars and some fruit would be that enticing to a child.  In those days treats were pretty rare for most children.  We seldom had oranges and store bought apples except at Christmas time.

Fifty years later it still fills my heart with pleasure to think about the "Christmas Poke".   I am sure that many of those who packed the bags and distributed them worked pretty hard and they gave up valuable time in order to serve. Even small acts of kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness that are done in the name of Jesus are powerful. They have lasting impact on the hearts and souls of those who have been ministered to.  I feel pretty sure that those who handed the bags out to me as a child are probably pretty old, but more than likely they have already departed this world.  I hope they received a special reward for those "Christmas pokes".

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

In a world that is eager to hate and ridicule, we can't give up my dear brothers and sisters.  It is not that we are powerless as a church, but that we often think that the tasks we have been given to do couldn't possibly have any impact.  Nothing is further from the truth.  The Spirit still wants to lead His people sometimes through an act of generosity or a kind word.  We are to be a living sacrifice, laying our lives down daily in small and large ways for those in our influence and in our charge.   I hope that this Christmas and the days after that you will work to change the world one metaphorical "Christmas poke" at a time. There are still tired, cold disheveled little girls shivering in the dark hoping for some kindness.  That little girl may be disguised as your neighbor who was yelling obscenities from her yard or that coworker with the mean streak or that dude who wants to ride on your rear end every single morning on your ride to work.

Friday, December 14, 2018

I Found Christmas

Christmas is almost upon us.   At school the Christmas program is past and the kids are anxiously awaiting Christmas. The other day a couple of the four year old boys were racing around their room singing Santa Claus is coming to town at the top of their little happy lungs. The halls are a blur of red and green decorated with every version of the sacred and secular view of Christmas.  At home the tree is held together with strands of gold beads and winking at me with its little multicolored lights. The Christmas cookies are iced with pink, red, white and green frosting.  UPS is running night and day to keep up with package deliveries.  Christmas parties are in full swing and Christmas music is everywhere.  Hallmark Christmas movies are clogging up the airways.

I understand why kids are excited about Christmas.  They will have two weeks off from school, stockings full of goodies, and presents under the tree.  Parents, teachers, the community and the church work hard every year to create a Christmas experience.  The kids are always on the receiving end of that kind of production.

 By now some of the adults are just longing for the peace and quiet of January. At this time of the year those who have plenty of resources might feel a little angst at just how much Christmas will cost them this year.  Others are feeling a real panic as they try to buy things that meet societal expectations.  I remember years ago on a bitterly cold day,  Mama dressed in her old black long coat and hat standing in an old department store downtown near Christmas time as the cashier rang up her meager purchases. She carefully counted out the remainder of her money in her lean wallet down to the last pennies.  It was painful to watch.  There are many around us who are feeling that very same pressure that my mom felt so many years ago.

I buy gifts, I decorate and I participate in events but for me those things never really do have a lot of significance.  I am not trying to be a killjoy but Santa and Elf on the Shelf are just fun things for the kids the same way that a Hallmark Christmas romance is a fantasy for a billion women on the planet or that person trying to create the perfect family holiday complete with food, presents, and decorations.
Because I have tasted of the reality of the true Christmas I struggle with finding my joy in the shadow of it.

For years I listened to Christmas carols and just enjoyed the familiarity and the sentimentality of the songs.  At some point in my life my eyes were opened and I laid hold of what Christmas is for the Christian.  In those very carols lay the true meaning of Christmas.  The fear of death, the pain of suffering,  the reality of violence and hatred all mar our experience as humans, but God sent us His very own Son right in the middle of the mess to rescue us.  The God Man, Jesus, showed up at just the right time in history to save a humanity bound for thousands of years  under the curse, horror and weight of sin.  I am sorry but sentimentality can never compete with this kind of reality. I have included below some of the carols that speak so eloquently of the arrival of our Savior.  Merry Christmas friends.  I hope that you will never be able to hear the carols again without the words piercing your heart and sparking a joy that is not possible to extinguish.

Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Risen with healing in his wings,
Light and life to all he brings,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace
Hail the Son of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings
Mild He lay His glory by
Born that man no more may die

Come Desire of Nations come,
Fix in us thy humble home.
Rise, the woman's conquering Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent's head.
Adam's likeness now efface
Stamp thine image in its place

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessing flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Harvest of Righteousness

We have had lots of rain the last few days and the temperature has dropped considerably. It was quite brisk feeling when I left work.  I kept the heater humming in the car as I drove home past trees alight with fall color. This time of the year our chickens are often already in the coop by the time I pull in. I left my work paraphernalia in the car and walked out back to find  the chickens looking kind of bleary eyed on their perch with their feathers fluffed out against the cold.   I shut the big door leaving them to roost. I stopped by the vegetable garden to see what I could add to our supper fare. The frost has already done a lot of damage but I dug up several big sweet potatoes that I could see peeking from the ground and found the last two eggplant hanging onto the  wilted plants.  I picked a fat hand full of mustard greens and hurried into the house shutting out the dreary damp of the last remnants of the day.

My husband started a blazing fire in the fireplace and I put on a pot of coffee.  In a few minutes my garden treasures were washed.  The greens I cut up  putting them to boil on the back of the stove.   I cut one of the sweet potatoes in half and put the pieces in a baking dish.  I sliced the eggplant and dredged it in egg and flour and fried them.  It wasn't long before we had a country feast of fresh vegetables in the middle of November.  

I think nothing is more magical than a garden.  Most of what we ate tonight took a really small investment of money and time.  I don't use pesticides and the only fertilizer is the grass clippings that I pile up around my plants to control the weeds and to keep the soil moisture more even.  For the most part, it is free organic food from a small plot of ground next to our house.  It is a quite beneficial and profitable enterprise.

A garden in magical in other ways.  A garden can teach a lot of life lessons, like you reap what you sow.  Hmmm!!! I think I have heard that somewhere else.  I planted sweet potatoes, mustard greens and eggplant.  Today that was exactly what I got from the garden.  I didn't go out there and find corn and asparagus.  I didn't plant corn and asparagus.  We are funny that we think sowing and reaping only has to do with gardens, but it has to do with everything in life.  

I'd love to say that I had truly grasp this life lesson but I know it isn't true.  I am still prone to foolishness and stupidity.  I still somehow think that my words and actions are immune to morphing into something greater that I can control or handle.

The whole reaping and sowing thing has some very positive connotations as well.  If we sow generosity, kindness, forgiveness, fortitude that is what we will reap.  These are the kinds of things in which our world is in desperate need.

Seeds are pretty small and insignificant looking dried up little things.  Even small unkindness can grow into something ugly, convoluted and thorny, just as our daily pitifully small offering of right living has the potential to change the lives of those that we rub shoulders with.  We don't need to despair of small beginnings.   A harvest of righteousness will come if we persevere.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Tired Garden

Soggy grass before the morning has her moorings

Lingering sticky strands of gossamer stretched taunt

Purple iridescent morning glories

Barely dripping leaves

Composted dirt frosted with a thousand tomato green seedlings

Okra lurched tenaciously grasping her goliath pods.