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

Thursday, October 29, 2015

It Ends With Nehemiah?

Have you ever been surprised by what you didn't know?  It isn't like I thought I knew it all, but there are some things I thought I knew, but then I discovered that I didn't.  I didn't know that I didn't know. If those sentences make sense to you, then you will understand.
I am taking a class called Old Testament Survey on Thursday evenings at my church.  I wanted to know more about the chronological order of the Old Testament and how it all fits together and points to Christ's birth. Something wonderful occurred during that class.  I was struck by lightning.
Each week, Corey (the teacher) draws the same timeline (from memory, mind you) on the board and then adds new information for us to copy.  But every week he starts from scratch (and we do, too) repeating the sequences of dates, books written, who lived then, etc.  (By the time this class is over, I should be a genius regarding time lines.  Except no, probably not.)
We meet in the library at a conference table and I sit on the very end with all my books and notebooks sprawled out before me. It is a very casual, laid back atmosphere and we talk and share openly until Corey cracks his imaginary whip to press on.
Our homework for that night was to have pre-read (large) portions of Kings, Chronicles, Daniel, Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah.  I was ready. As he drew the time line to Nehemiah, he said the most profound thing.
He said, "Okay, that's where the Old Testament ends."
Everyone else in class looked perfectly normal while I just sat staring at him like he was speaking Russian. I was processing and scrambling through the pages in my bible.  He was right. Every book of the Old Testament after Nehemiah was written during the period from Genesis to Nehemiah.
I finally found some words to say and responded.  "Are you telling me it ends with Nehemiah?"
Corey:  "Yes."
Me (totally UNembarrassed to make my lack of knowledge public):  "How come I don't know this? Why is this not taught?"
Corey:  "It is hard.  If you put all the writings and inject them into their proper times, then all of the History books get all broken up and mixed together.  They overrun each other."
I was just speechless with this new information and I was not sure why.  I have taught Old Testament stories to children for decades.  Decades.  This made everything so much clearer and more beautiful and God's plan became more real and meaningful and tangible to me.  I just did not know it ended with Nehemiah.  That's what I did not know.  I did not know God finished there.  It meant that His prophets going out to the Jews with the message to repent was His last ditch effort.  That was it. The value of these faithless, but much loved Jews increased immensely in my mind.  God's endeavors to reach them became more significant to me than it had ever been before. You would think I could add all this together and see it before now, but no, not me.  I need things s-p-e-l-l-e-d- out.
If you were writing a story, wouldn't you leave the most important message for the last chapter? That's what God did.  His most important message for the Jews was repent and obey.  He shouted it through so many men.  He did it out of His magnificent love for them.
The bottom line is: (in my feeble words)
The Old Testament actually runs from Genesis to Nehemiah (chronologically Esther comes after Ezra) - and lots of guys wrote stuff and their writings got tagged on after that (not even in sequence, mind you) so that we might know how much they looked forward to the coming of Christ and how much God loved His people and how He pursued them with His love and called them to obey...again and again and again.  (I could write 'again' about fifty more times, but I'm not going to.) Prophet after prophet preached and pleaded with the people of God while His chosen people, chose other gods time after time.
They sinned - troubles came - cries of repentance - God's forgiveness - restoration, and then they sinned again... The never ending cyle...and then: NOTHING.
It was as if after those events happened. God sat down....for 400 years.
Four hundred years of silence.  God ruled in silence - not idle, just silent.  He was orchestrating the governments and setting kings in place until time was pregnant for a miraculous Birth.
God's relationship with man has always been personal.  He loved/loves His people.  He delivered them from bondage. He provided for them in their exodus.  He gave them the Law.  He protected them over and over again. All He asked for was obedience.
What a picture of patience, love, and grace!  He did all that was possible in using mere man to deliver them and meet their needs.  He worked in the hearts of the wicked for His own glory time and again in order to bless His own.  But His own forsook Him.
Then it was as if He closed the book for a while.  And when He opened it again, centuries later, He wrote a new chapter and gave Himself/ His Son to His people, in the form of a Baby. This Baby, this God/man became a 'once for all' sacrifice and conquered death for His people.  And all who believe become His people.  All.  Not just Israelites/Jews, but all. That means me and that means you.
So allow me to be the first to say it:  MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Our God has spoken.  He still speaks to us through His word.  I know, because He spoke to me on that Thursday night and told me about how Love came for His people.
Love always had a plan.
Love loved, and still loves.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Utah 2015

We recently visited my son who is a Music Professor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.  He and his family moved there this summer, so we made a quick trip to see their new surroundings. Here are some pix of our fun!
This was a little ski resort where we stopped for lunch.  No one was there, except workers getting ready for the season, but the lunch was great!

This guy would set his phone to play Beach Boy tunes and then dance while he worked.  It did not seem to bother him at all that we watched.

YuJueng and Mae

Luke and Yuyu were in the middle of a water spout.  The malls are very family friendly with lots of places for kids to play.  It is open air, but can be closed over in bad weather.  Very nice.

I really have no explanation for this.  Perhaps it is for use in an HOV know looking as if there are more in the car?  Odd things happen all over, don't they?
Salt Lake.  The water was low, but the scenery beautiful.

No, I did not climb up, although my arthritis was much better while I was gone.  Altitude actually helps!

At a local coffee shop with Mae.
This was my favorite place to shop!
Luke and Tommy were trying to watch the Astros wherever they could find them.
And with that, I will say, "Good night!"

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Standing in the middle of anything can sometimes be a dangerous place.  Choosing middle ground might work well in some cases, but often neutrality isn't a trait to be is just choosing not to choose at all.  I was watching a documentary the other night...the other sleepless night...when a statement yelled at me through the television. "To stand in the middle of right and wrong is to stand with the wrong". That caught my attention for a while.
I grabbed my pen and notebook and pursued this subject of middleness, mainly because I have been dealing with some issues of my own.  Jesus said He would rather we were hot or cold than lukewarm. He spews lukewarm away from Himself.
Revelation 3:15-16  "'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." 
Have you every met someone in the middle in order to compromise on a given subject? Have you ever refused to compromise when asked?  Standing for right with the best intentions sometimes feels like standing in the middle.  Can a heart ever cross the line for the sake of another?  Surely that line is blurred at times. When those we love choose paths that lead them beyond the boundaries of what is right, does goodness never step over to follow or woo?  How far?
Sometimes I can't see the line.  It grieves me to stand and watch while another runs so unaware from a Love that is only good, right, and pure.  Does love ever breach borders? ARE there any borders in love?  Surely Love has no limits and reaches far beyond man's ability to outrun it.
O Lord, stretch out Your loving hand to hinder the one who vies so desperately to escape Your grasp. Save us from ourselves and our poor choices and misdirected pursuits.  Break our hardened hearts.
May the things that entice us to run to the middle lose their flavor and beauty, causing us to return to to find our greatest pleasure in pleasing You.
May Your unseen hand be at work and may none of Your gifts escape Your call on their hearts leading to salvation.  Love does cross borders - unmarred and unhindered and often unseen.  While my feet remain planted firmly in solid ground with no sway or bend in root, let my love go out to the wanderer. May I stand strong in truth with an allegiance to a greater Love than the one manifested by mere man.  It is to this Love that surrender must fly.
With every blow designed to hinder its very existence, love grows stronger.  With every arrow intended to stifle, it springs forth with renewed vigor.  I can't understand it.  Where darkness took its stand, Love invaded, deeper and stronger than ever.
Jeremiah 17:7-8  "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.  8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." 
James 5:19 -  My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.  
Love the wanderer to the Lord. It is love that wins over middle ground.

Monday, October 19, 2015

It Does Get Easier, But...

Ezra 9:6  "O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens."

Recently I was listening to John MacArthur speaking on a discussion panel.  The subject was personal holiness.  He said that his students once asked him if it ever got any easier to live a holy life.
His answer was, "Yes, but the guilt you bear from sinning will grieve you more and the burden will be heavier."
I have to agree.  The longer I serve the Lord, and desire to walk closely with Him, the deeper agony I feel when I fail Him.  It is love that makes the difference in my life.  As I have sought to love Him more, I am more grieved when I disobey and sin.
May we never be comfortable with our sinful choices.  May they instead become increasingly distasteful and repulsive to us as we grow in His grace and love and may their weight cause us to abandon all that comes between us and our Lord Jesus.

Colossians 3:14-15  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

You Have An Audience

Psalm 84:4  Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah 
Sunday mornings mean church for some.  We sing, listen to beautiful instruments, and then the preacher shares God's word with us. It is only human (right...only HUMAN) to think that we are the audience to all of this 'entertainment,' though nothing could be further from the truth.  We can get it soo backwards sometimes. True worship is God-centered, not man-centered.
We are the ones making music, bringing praise, giving worship.  Our hearts are to be open and pouring out thanks and love and adoration for our Lord and Savior. He is our Audience.
So, remember you are the one 'on stage.' What will your offering be? Pay attention to the words you are singing. Pray that your heart is open to His truth.  Be an active participant. Your Audience is watching.

Psalm 111:1  Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.  
2 Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.  
3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.  
4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful. 5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.  
6 He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations.  
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;  
8 they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.  
9 He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!  
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! 
...and Happy Fall!!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Taxi Drivers

I can remember as a little girl, riding in a taxi with my grandmother from here to there and back again because my grandparents did not own a car.  Ever.  The taxi driver would make light conversation with her while other voices came in over the radio, dictating his/her next pick up and delivery.
Today there are moms who drive 'taxis' - delivering their livestock to school, soccer games, ballet, piano, and karate - according to the wishes of those on board.  Only in these cases, it is often the driver handing over the cash.
We've all been driven somewhere by someone.  Sometimes the driver is unaware of the passenger, and vice-versa.  Often we claim in such instances that the 'destination' is insanity as in "You are driving me crazy." To which one might reply, "Well, it's a short trip."  And thus the ride is made a little longer.
I myself have driven my kids mad just by singing off key or telling unfunny jokes...on purpose.  They have done the same to me using their own unique methods of torture.
Life's circumstances are often beyond our contol and we are driven, pushed, prodded, even catapulted, and dumped before the throne of God.  People are tools in the Lord's hands to be used by Him for His own glory. He will bring us to Himself by whatever means necessary. Drivers wear many faces: that of a family member, a friend, an illness, an addiction, rejection, heartache, grief, and worry. They can be ugly and offensive and corrupt.  How we arrived is not as important as the fact that we ended up helpless before the Helper, with nowhere else to go and no other solution or answer. Sometimes, the cross is the end of the line.
Therefore be thankful.  Each and every trial is meant to direct our attention to Christ. Though we might arrive beaten and crippled, we can leave strengthened in His might.  Let us be grateful for everyone and every thing that drove us to this point. It is always, always for our good.  So, the next time you and I are dropped off at the feet of Jesus, let's ask Him for an extra portion of His love for those taxi drivers because they need it, too.
2 Corinthians 4:8-11  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Love in a Cup

Sometimes love comes in a cup.  I met some friends at a coffee shop - Sycamore Grounds in Pasadena.  It was a rainy day, but we escaped to some quiet moments.  I am not a coffee drinker, but I love the aroma.
Our waitress showed us a you tube video on how to make that little heart in the middle.  Not a skill I intend to learn, but she was very good at it.  Hearts just make things taste better, right?
This would be more my style.  Michele, Kristen and son Callen met me for some sweet fellowship. Victoria showed up as well, but I failed to snap a shot of her as I was carrying Callen outside to watch the drops fall off the porch roof.
It was a lovely afternoon and a bright spot in my week. Take some time to share some time with someone else. You both will be blessed.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sugar Cookies, Sugar Eaters, and a Foot

Me and my forty-four year old Better Homes Cookbook can make a mean sugar cookie.  I always double or triple the recipe because they are kind of a pain to make, but so worth the effort.  I am in no way a picky decorator as you will see in the pictures below...although little people decorated these yummies.  (Mine look the same.)
They had alot of fun choosing the sprinkles they wanted and were not hindered in any way about the amount sprinkled.  What are Grammies for, anyway?
So, I am posting my secret recipe that isn't really all that secret, though you would think it was by the way people ask for my cookies.  Mind you, they don't want to make them...hence the doubling of the recipe.  Enjoy!

The paper is so yellowed and part of the words are missing in the middle. :/

Ivy says, "Bye!"