Friday, June 23, 2017

MEMORIES

Memories – This can be a very dangerous word to use.  It can start you down the road of “back in the day” or it can start you down the road of “I do not want to go there.”  When I close my eyes and allow memories to float through, it is a combination of both.

My dad was a truck driver.  He was not home a lot.  That caused many of the “I do not want to go there” memories.  Dad being home/gone/home/gone resulted in confusion.  We always asked mom for permission to do something:  go swimming, go to the neighbors (Yes, we asked permission even though it was only one step over the property line.), or go to a movie.  But then dad would be home and expect us to ask him.  We would forget, ask mom and then dad was not a happy camper. 

Dad usually sat at the kitchen table, with a glass of water, a cup of coffee and a cigarette.  Except for an occasional Saturday night when he would come into the living room and we would watch the last of a movie, change channels and watch the last of another movie and change channels and watch the last of a movie we had no idea of what was going on.  (There were only three channels.)  That is a back in the day good memory.

At breakfast the other day, we were talking about living with no air conditioning.  To be honest, we had an early form of air conditioning.  The windows were open and fans moved the air around.  At night we slept where the air was moving the most.  Maybe in bed, but usually on the floor somewhere.  (That made for getting up to go to the bathroom a challenge.  You never knew where someone would be stretched out.)  I used to take naps in the porch swing.  I would wake up to kitchen chairs propped against the swing so I would not fall out.  Another good memory.

I love to watch storms.  Even as a kid.  I would sit in a corner of the porch where rain never reached.  If it turned chilly, I would wrap up in a blanket.  The clouds would swirl.  The rain would come.  The thunder would roll.  The lightning streak.  And I would sit there taking in every sound, sight and smell.  I love the smell after a storm.  Clean!  And the colors after a storm.  Green.  Blue.  White.  As if God opened a new box of crayons and colored away.  For sure, a good memory.

Memories keep floating around in my head and heart:  Mother made the best peanut butter pie ever.  Dad played board games and croquet with us but was always changing the rules.  Seeing my very tall dad washing dishes beside my much shorter mom. 

But I also remember never hearing my dad tell me he loved me and that leaves a hurt that never goes away.  There were four of us kids, but my mother had only one child:  the oldest.  When I asked her about that, she said, “There is something special about your first born.”   When I asked about the second, third and fourth, she said nothing.  Another memory which left a very deep scar.

Now this last “I do not want to go there” memory is going to make you wonder what kind of a Christian I am.  We were sent to church but neither mom nor dad attended with us.  Fast forward many years and my mother started going to church.  Know what?  I was mad!  Why couldn’t she have gone when we were kids?  Kids with no parent beside us in the pew.  She went to Bible study.  She bought a Bible Commentary.  And she told about her Sunday School class and getting hugs each Sunday.  Now why should I be mad and hurt because my mother started attending church? 

It took me many years to understand that the home my dad grew up in is where he learned about love and that it was shown with actions (providing for his family) instead of words.  It took me many years to accept the fact that mom did love my brother in a different way than she loved us girls.  It took time for me to be thrilled that mom was going to church. 
When I finally looked back.  When I finally understood.  When I finally accepted.  When I finally let go.  When I finally forgave.  I realized something.  I love my father.  I love my mother.  They were not perfect parents.  But they are my parents!  I have directed many conversations upward and I do believe we have it all worked out.  

<  <  <  <  <  >  >  >  >  >

Life is made up of memories.  Some good, some bad and some are just there.  What we do with those memories is what is important.  We can allow them to give us joy.  We can allow them to make us bitter. 

Some memories we want to hold dear.  I saw a quote that said:  Memories are timeless treasures of the heart.  So true.  Never let those good memories go.

BUT some memories we need to let go of and move forward.  We need to see that God does not want the past to hold us from the future HE has planned for us.

Brothers, I don’t regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14

Life is made up of memories.
Some good, some bad and some are just there.
What we do with those memories is what is important.
We can allow them to give us joy.
We can allow them to make us bitter.


What are you doing with your memories?

Friday, June 16, 2017

BROKEN MEASURING CUP, SMOKE FROM THE OVEN AND JOY

I was off for a day with a 13 year old grandson.  A day-a-week-during-the-summer with this set of grandsons is a tradition.  Now it is usually just me and the last of the four boys.  Last summer Tim wanted to learn how to cook.  We did main dishes.  His family liked coming home and finding supper ready to put on the table.  This summer we are working on desserts.

Our day did not go quite as planned.  First up was a dump cake.  Easy to make and it was quickly in the oven.  Since it was a quick and easy dessert, Tim was also going to make a rhubarb pie for his grandpa.  I ask for a mixing cup.

Oops!  It slipped right out of my hand.  Glass everywhere!  In the rug in front of the sink.  Over in front of the fridge.  Across the kitchen and under the table.  Just how far can glass bounce?  A long way and it can break into a lot of pieces. 

I cleaned the glass up.  (Remember – 13 year old boy and we all know how they are at cleaning.)  I mopped the floor.  I looked close.  I picked up pieces of teeny, tiny glass slivers which hid from the broom and mop. 

Than it was back to baking.  Tim cut the rhubarb.  He measured.  He put the pie together.  He put the pie in the oven. 

The pie ran over!!  I opened the windows.  Turned on fans.  Just how much smoke can one pie make?  A lot!  Luckily the smoke alarms did not go off and the alarm company did not call because the alarms were going off and the fire department was not called because there was smoke rolling out of those open windows.

And then the joy began!  Tim sampled his cake and licked his lips.  Success!  He then tried the pie, which he knew he would not like.  He licked his lips.  Success!

Tim teased me about dropping the cup.  (He also made sure his mother knew I dropped the cup, not him.)  We were amazed at the amount of smoke lingering in the kitchen. 

Funny how joy comes ….. Well, joy comes at the most unexpected times. 

PSALM 30:11 (reworded to fit the day)

You turned a broken cup into dancing (around pieces of broken glass) and removed the smoke and surrounded us with joy.

= = = = = = = = = = =

Where do you find joy?
Joy is everywhere.  Allow it to be a part of your day.  A part of your life.
Then share that joy with others.


Friday, June 02, 2017

Young - Old - Young

Age is such a changing value.  I can remember years ago when I was the youngest person on the funeral dinner committee at church.  Later, I remember looking around the table at a woman’s Bible study and thinking, “I am the oldest lady taking this study.  How did that happen?  How and when did I get old?”

Age is such a changing value.  Just this week I gave a message at a retirement home chapel.  I looked around and thought, “I am the youngest person in this room.”

That evening our grandson came for a visit.  When he walked in, I ask, “How does it feel to be a Senior?  You have no idea how fast this year is going to go.”  He said, “It feels strange to be a Senior.  But this next year cannot go any faster than the last one.”  I gave him a “just you wait” grin and we sat and talked.  My mind was whirling:  When did he get this old?  He should still be a little boy.

A couple weeks ago, another grandson informed me, “Well, grandma, you are young at heart because you are only 19.”  Sounds good!  I do like contemporary Christian music, have an Instagram account, am on Facebook and, for sure, do not feel 70 on the inside.  (The outside knows it is 70 and has grey hair and some aches and pains to prove it.)  Actually, I can celebrate both.  I will be 19 in September because I died in 1998 during an operation.  Or I will be 71 in November when I celebrate the day I was born.

Age is such a changing value --- and we all have a big change ahead. 

Are you ready for A BRAND-NEW LIFE?

(John the Baptist speaking)  “I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life.  The real action comes next:  The main character in this drama – compared to him I’m a mere stagehand – will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out.  He’s going to clean house – make a clean sweep of your lives.  He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.”
Matthew 3:11-12 from The Message

What a God we have!  And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus!  Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven – starts now!  God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.  The Day is coming when you’ll have it all -- life healed and whole. 
1 Peter 1:3-5 from The Message

Sometimes we dig deep into the Word of God (a good thing) but sometimes we need to go back to Religion 101.  The basics. 

Religion 101:  Your life will change.

Baptized by Jesus = The Holy Spirit living within you = A changed life
Jesus was raised from the dead = A brand new life = A future in heaven

Are you young?  Are you old?  Know what?  It does not matter.  Your new life and your future in heaven begin the minute you accept Jesus. 

Are you ready for A BRAND-NEW LIFE?  There is one waiting for you.


Friday, May 26, 2017

MEMORIAL DAY

Memorial Day
A day to remember the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

I know that – sorta.  For some reason, there is a gap in my understanding of Decoration Day/Memorial Day.  Somehow, I missed the part about it being for those that had died while serving in the military.  Did I learn it wrong in school?  Well, after all these years, I have no idea.  My best guess; in my mind, the holiday is what I saw around me. 

My dad served in WW II.  He rarely talked about it.  And only when he and one Army buddy were together.  The war was left behind.  It was not something to be discussed at the dinner table.  It was not something …. it was not something he wanted to remember.  He did not go to Decoration Day services so we did not go either.

My memory associates Decoration Day with families placing flowers in old fruit jars, going to various cemeteries and placing those flowers on the graves of their family.  It was a time to pull weeds around the head stone.  It was a time to tell the annual story about grandpa building a fence and forgetting to put a gate in.  And, of course, he, the horse and the wagon were inside the fence!  These annual stories always brought smiles and tears.  It was a time when families laid their differences aside and honored their ancestors. 

Maybe that is why my idea of Decoration Day/Memorial Day is a bit confused.  History books, society and the news told me one thing but the actions of my parents and family told me something else. 

You would think I would have figured this out when they renamed this day to Memorial Day in 1967.  But honestly, when the name was changed to Memorial Day I was busy being a bride of two years, raising a one year old and trying to make ends meet.  

Where am I going with this?  I have no idea.  I do not know what to write next.  I do not know how to end this.

Oh, yes I do.  I kept the idea of respecting our ancestors.  I moved honoring soldiers, alive and dead, to Veteran’s Day.  That way I was not confused about this day.

There are many things that confuse us in life.  We are a product of what we see in our day to day lives.  What our parents teach us.  What school teaches us.  What we read in the paper and hear on TV.  We get confused because we then pick and choose what we keep and what we do not.

Well, I thought I knew where I was going.  So, here is the deal.  Now that you have read this, think about what you know to be true (Example:  Memorial Day is to honor those that lost their lives while serving) versus what you really want to think (Example:  Memorial Day is a day to honor my ancestors).  Apply that to your faith.


The end.

Friday, May 19, 2017

UNEXPECTED ENCOURAGEMENT

The other day hubby and I went out on a farm drive.  If you live in a rural area or are the wife/child/friend of a farmer, you know what a farm drive is.  “Hey.  Want to go for a drive.”    That is what you hear.  This time of year what they mean is, “I want to go see if the field is dry enough to work and you can help me check it out.”  (My sweet hubby knows that if he really wants me to go, all he has to do is use the words “back roads.”  Those words are the equivalent of dangling a carrot on a string and pole before the horse.)

So off we went to find those back roads.  He found dry fields.  I found encouragement printed on a sign, in a front yard.

The sign said:  YOU MATTER

My heart shouted thank you to the home owner because I could picture all the people that sign encouraged.

  • An exhausted person after a very long shift
  • A parent driving to yet another practice/game/?
  • A widow/widower going home to an empty house
  • A teenager who feels invisible
  • A child of divorce who spends weekends with the other parent
  • A teacher who had a rough day
  • A minister on the way to a hospital visit
  • A spouse along on a farm drive 
  • ANYONE AND EVERYONE

Unexpected encouragement – what a gift! 

AND -- Not once but twice.  A few days later, it happened again.

There I sat.  Waiting on the train to pass.  Looking at the graffiti.  Thinking some of that is pretty good art.  When I saw it.  Right there on the side of a car.  Almost to the end of the train. 

Spray painted in large letters:  YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Again my heart sent a thank you to the person on the other end of that spray paint can. 

Encouragement – we expect it from those we love.  People at church.  People at work.  Friends.  BUT what a blessing when encouragement is unexpected.  Words that are slipped in the routine of our day.  Words that leap out and wrap themselves around us.

YOU MATTER

YOU ARE NOT ALONE


These words are true.  Read them aloud.  Allow them to wrap around you and encourage you.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A SPRING COLD

The sun is shining but do not say it out loud.  You might scare it away.  It is a lovely day.  At least I guess it is.

I have the dreaded spring cold.  Started small.  Just a tickle in my throat.  That tickle did not hang around long but it left behind a raspy voice.  Quickly joining in to make it a quartet are the sneezing (Should have bought more Kleenex the last time I stocked up.), the plugged up nose (I hate the plugged up nose because breathing is rather important.), and the cough (For sure not your sweet, quiet, ladylike cough you see on TV.).  Bless hubby he made a trip and I now have cough syrup sitting beside the open-your-nose pills and boxes (plural) of Kleenex. 

My head is so full I feel like a bobble head doll. 

All this means I am only at the computer long enough to write a very short blog.  (I saw that smile.)

Sin is a lot like my spring cold.  That ole devil sneaks up, tempts us with a sin and we need to be ready. 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace,  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.      Ephesians 6:10-18

I sent hubby to the store to get what I need to fight my cold.

To fight Satan’s plans, I go to God.  There I find exactly what I need. 

I have to go lay down now.  My head no longer wants to stay upright.


Have a blessed week.   

Friday, May 05, 2017

RAIN, GIGGLES AND LAUGHTER

Last weekend three other ladies and I headed to a “Girl’s Getaway Weekend” in Hannibal, Missouri. 

We started making plans for this weekend a month ago.  Motel rooms were reserved.  Getaway bags ordered.  Added to the bag was a crazy light up glass which could be filled over and over.  (With water of course.)  We were sure the band would be loud.  We studied the activities the merchants had scheduled.  We were ready.

One of the things we have absolutely no control over is the weather, so we started listening to the weather channel.  We kept our eye on the weather app.  Rain Friday.  Rain Saturday.  Rain Sunday.  OH MY GOODNESS!  What do we do? 

Well, duh!  We got in the car, of course.  We drove in the rain.  We got out of the car.  We lifted our umbrellas high.  And we got wet.  REALLY WET!  We had a blast!!!!!

We giggled as we stuck our heads through a picture board and made silly faces.  Oh, you never get too old to make silly faces.  Especially when your head is stuck through a sheet of plywood!

We made earrings and bought popcorn.  We bought chocolate too.  Remember, chocolate is a food group!  We took a Haunted Hannibal Tour.  Two of the girls climbed the stairs to a lighthouse and came back extremely wet.  I have perfect timing and decided to fill the car up with fuel during a break in the rain.  That break lasted long enough for me to get out of the car.  Not long enough to fill it up.  I changed clothes when we got to the motel.  I think those jeans are still wet.

We laughed as we shared stories.  So much fun being girls, lying across the beds and saying, “We really should go to sleep.”  Made us all remember those slumber parties from when we were silly teenagers. 

Then we drove home – in the rain.

Making plans was fun.  It gave us something to look forward to.  There was rain but there was joy.  Sorta like my Christian life.

I know where I am going!  There will be rain and there will be joy as I travel the road toward my final destination.  There will be friends to lighten my burden, when it is more than I can carry.  There will be friends to share in my joys.  There is one who always has His eye on me. 

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look!  God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”    Revelation 21:1-4

Do you know where you are going?  Are you making plans now?  Do you have a church family and friends who will walk beside you?  Do you talk to the one who always has His eye on you?

May your journey be full of joy
and

may you always find support and love when it rains.