This is just a blog about my thoughts, my family, my everyday life. Because I am a Christian and have ups and downs like everyone else, I hope it will encourage others to either turn to Christ for the first time, or lean on Him when times are rough. Often life is just random and funny. I started this blog after many years of writing to my church about our vacations. They began to encourage me to blog and finally I am. Thanks for reading.

"Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace!" Nahum 1:15

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. John Piper

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Love Without Approval

I want to know how to truly love someone without approving of their actions, words, choices, etc. It is harder than it should be.  Everyone I have talked to looks at me as if my head were on backwards. They shrug an "I don't know' and admit that they handle those situations by not handling them at all. Knowing that others struggle with this brings me little comfort, yet at least I am not the only one failing in class.
It has been my practice in the past to shut down communication for a while.  Making silence my weapon was a poor choice, but that habit was repeated simply because it was the easiest way to show disapproval, hoping that the person in question would rather give in to my wishes than keep the tension between us.  Sadly, my method often worked and shame on me for it..  (These moments of confession come with much apprehension.  I hope you will write a blog someday and spill your guts on my behalf.)
Anyway, what I was actually conveying to the other person was, "I love you when you are lovable and doing as I wish. Now please stay inside the boundaries I have in place so I can love you."  It was performance based love and according to scripture - not love at all.
I want to love, period.  For one reason only: Because Jesus loved, loves, and will love - me.  He did not put any conditions on my behavior, looks, choices, or words when He chose to love me. He saw the worst in me and He just loved me and kept on loving me into obedience.
This lesson has become so very real to me over the past eighteen months.  My faith has been challenged, my love for others tested, and it has caused me to come face to face with my failures. The bottom line is that I can't love, can't have faith, and can't succeed in gaining these things on my own.
When I realized that love can't be won, or manipulated, or guilted into existence, then I had only one choice left and that was to just love.  In spite of all the obstacles I see Lord, let me love.  Astonish me, teach me, overwhelm me with the ability to love in the face of any opposition.
I will leave the approving part up to You.
Man is not what he does, looks like, or chooses...not really.  These things are temporal and easily changed.  When a soul is at stake, bypass the external and reach for the heart.  Love.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Window Breezes

Open windows always flood me with memories...of clothes flapping in the wind as they hang on the clothesline and moms talking over fences about their day and my grandma working in her garden.  I opened my window because the day was not as hot as usual and I was longing for a memory.  Birds' music seems sweeter when heard through a window and the flowers outside blew me a fragrance I could not bottle if I tried.
I miss that.  My AC roars outside my window and kills the memory for a moment...but then it reappears.  I can't stay here, cooling the world from the inside out, but I do miss the days of attic fans and screen doors that slam with every opening.  I miss the night's wind across my bed that left me with sniffles after sleeping with wet hair.  These are memories not to be repeated, but never to be forgotten, just cherished.  This is just me, lost in the past for a minute or two.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Remember Your Creator

Ecclesiastes 12:1-5 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, "I have no pleasure in them";  2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain,  3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed,  4 and the doors on the street are shut - when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low -  5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets - 

6  before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern,  7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 

Can you imagine?  You are about to fill your pitcher at the fountain and it shatters.  Your wheel breaks at the cistern...and life is over.  Just when you are preparing to do your daily tasks as usual, they need doing no more by you.  Unexpected expectations.
We know it will happen, just not when.  We are to remember our Creator in the days of our youth.  
Someone once said, "Youth is wasted on the wrong people."  There is truth hidden there, I guess.  It isn't until you are grayed and wrinkled that you see life as it really is and are able to discern the things that matter most.
Remembering Who made you will help you prioritize your day, love more, laugh more, give more.
Don't waste your life.
The cord will snap, the bowl will break and the silver and gold will remain here.  You won't need it anyway.  Our greatest Treasure awaits us.  Finish well.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Praises..Just Cuz.

We praise God for all kinds of reasons...for what He has done for us on a certain day, by meeting a certain need, or maybe just in grateful prayers at mealtime.  He deserves each and every adored thought, word, song.
But, what if we decided to praise Him just because...for no reason at all, other than the fact that He is our Creator and Lover of our souls?  Let this be a day of praise - just cuz.
Read this hymn by Joachim Neander who lived only thirty years: 1650 - 1680.  I am so thankful he spent part of his short life giving us this wonderful hymn.
"Let the Amen sound from His people again!"

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.
Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.
Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Our Mad Careers of Sin

I am doing a study with a friend on the book of Philippians.  Together we decide how many verses to cover in a week and then we find our own sources to help bring truths to light and seek out applications.  It has been good to read different commentaries and compare our notes.
Philippians 3:12-14  Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

Barne's commentary puts it this way: " we are employed to His service." When Christ Jesus makes us His own, we are then in His service.  So, how am I doing as an employee?  Am I signing in each day? Am I productive in fruit bearing?  Do I strive to please and do my best?
He goes on to say that "Christ arrested us in our mad careers of sin and that He has by His grace contrained us to enter into His service."  What an amazing statement!  Our mad careers of sin are interrupted by grace!
"A man will accomplish little who allows his mind to be distracted by a mulitplicity of objects. A Christian will accomplish nothing who has not a single great aim and purpose of soul. That purpose should be to secure the prize, and to renounce everything that would be in the way to its attainment. Let us then so live that we may be able to say, that there is one great object which we always have in view, and that we mean to avoid everything which would interfere with that."
Employed forever, June

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Christmas Purging

In my quest to scale down belongings, I talked my sweet husband into dragging down the Christmas boxes.  I told him we would do only four boxes.  Then I thought, 'well why not two more?'...which led to two more and eventually all nine boxes were sitting in my living room floor.  (This is nine plus three smaller ones in a bedroom closet.)  Let me say it for you.  Ridiculous.
Letting go of homespun memories is hard stuff, so I went easy on myself.  I actually unwrapped each ornament to make sure I wasn't chunking a valuable and precious homemade ornament from my forty year old son's first grade class. (Some treasures are unidentifiable at this point.) After carefully culling the two to three hundred ragged, glittery, meaningful, and meaningless objects that get thrown on the tree each year, I suddenly remembered that we got rid of our tree after last Christmas
Well, now.  Being faced with the choice of 'tree or no tree' brings a new issue to the table.  All the while, my husband is silently reading in the recliner.  When I posed the question to him, he simply replied, "Well, we will see what happens when it comes time to decide."
He was right.  This could wait.  (Often I think I must take immediate action in situations like this.) And who knows?  We might be ready for extreme measures by then.  I pressed on with my task.
I knocked 'nine plus' boxes down to six, with one of them begin strictly blankets and stuffed snowmen, etc, and one being strictly kitchen paper goods, tins, and things that will be disposed of -having bought them in the Christmas aftermath frenzy. Sometimes those after holiday bargains become catapults to extra least for me. And I mistakenly label it 'justifiable' in the name of frugality - only to find that the number of boxes in the attic has again increased.  (You see my dilemma.  I am my own worst enemy.)
So, Tommy hauled my excess to Goodwill.  Adios and goodbye forever.
Christmas isn't wrapped in paper and bows, but in swaddling cloths.
It isn't surrounded by glitz and glitter, or green and red anything.
As we sit in the midst of our squander and delight and claim that the best present is Jesus, do we really mean that?  Does He believe we mean that?  He sees my heart and I pray He does see that my desire is for Him to own all of me - lock, stock, and storage boxes.
I may be standing here with a cup in my hand at the end of all this purging...but, it sure feels good. Purging on...
Do you think I have enough?  Again...ridiculous. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pre Korea and Unintended Footprints

My son Luke and his wife YuJueng and daughter Mae are flying out of Houston, headed for Korea. YuJueng's family lives there and they have not been back for several years.  I am dog-sitting for a month.  I begged them to let me keep Mae too, but alas, no.  So, yesterday being Mother's Day, we had a wingding grilling with family.
My patio served as the canvas.

Bella loves Aunt YuYu

"I'm done."

The hideout.

My ward.
For all the great drawings they made with their hands, my favorites are the unintended pictures: footprints!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Are You the Answer?

The Lord gives us an example of prayer in Matthew 6 and Luke 11.  He begins with acknowledging God for Who He is, followed by confession, a request to lead us in the right direction, and ends with glorifying Him and His kingdom.  It begins and ends with God.
I like to use the acrostic ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.  I learned it long ago and it has helped me keep first things first, instead of skipping straight to my 'oh, so urgent' needs/wishes/ if He did not already know how important they are to me.
Then by the time I get to Supplication, I am ready to list the things heavy on my heart. My spirit is calmer and my cares seem less burdensome after praising Him, confessing sins, and being grateful. When finished, I usually just get on with my day.  There is nothing wrong with that, but what if He wants to use me in some way to meet one of those needs?  What if the fact that I was burdened about something, meant that I was the answer?  I might be.
Believers are the only Jesus some will see.  Are we being Jesus?  He showed love to those around Him and saw their true conditions.  He acted.  We can't do all Jesus did, but maybe you and I could be someone's miracle just by offering them our hands and feet.
God places all kinds of things on our hearts, from world issues to people and their circumstances. Why do you think He does that?  Just maybe you and I are someone's answer. Think about it.
Romans 14:12  So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. 
Colossians 3:17  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

People Only Do What They Want To Do...

Tommy says that people only do what they want to do.  I thought that was absurd.  I do lots of things I don't want to do and I bet you would agree with me.  However, he went on to say that we make choices on how we spend our time.  We choose to do what we do, even if we don't want to do it.  If we do it, we made a choice to do it.
Okay.  I get it.  We do many things that we don't really want to cleaning toilets, folding clothes, changing sheets - (I guess this is my list, isn't it?)  I often take on the task for the end result. If I want to get it out of the way, I will choose to do it first.
Soooo.  If I neglect to read my Bible because I am busy, then the choice has been made.  If I am too lazy to serve others, a choice has been made.  Do you get my point?
We make choices every day, all day long.  How many of them honor the Lord?  Good, better, best. OR  Best, better, good.  Best things first...which sometimes calls for some rearranging of my precious schedule.
Ending the day with jobs done well is fullfilling.  But spending time with the Lord is the very BEST thing we can do for ourselves and should take first place.
A disclaimer - I recognize that in places around the world, people are forced to do things they would never choose to do.  More times than not, though, we still make our own choices.  Choose well.