Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Days of our lives...

Dr.David Jeremiah shared this poem on TV recently...

Methuselah’s Diet

Methuselah ate what he found on his plate,
And never, as people do now,
Did he note the amount of the calorie count.
He ate it because it was chow.

He wasn’t disturbed as at dinner he sat,
Devouring a roast or a pie,
To think it was lacking in granular fat
Or a couple of vitamins shy.

He cheerfully chewed each species of food,
Unmindful of troubles or fears
Lest his health might be hurt by some fancy dessert,
And he lived over 900 years.


I know that I won't live 900 years, but the amount of years that I DO live are full of decisions and choices every day, most of them are choices that only I can make!

One of my dad's favorite one-liners was... 'do you know the secret to living a long life?' And with a big smile he quietly said... 'don't die'. Then he would grin again at the thought... one of those sayings that we as his children would groan over, and he thoroughly enjoyed!

Of course we all know the truth about how long we will live...

We don't know.

But right on the heels of that thought, is the sure knowledge that God knows, and has ALWAYS known exactly how many days we will live on this earth. He knew when He planned our lives and created us into being.

It's one of those things that makes me wonder sometimes, and after a little reflection, I am sure it is best that I do NOT know. If I knew the day and hour that Jesus had in mind for the end of my life, I wonder how I would cross the finish line. I pray that it would be like my friend Judith, who crossed that line a few weeks ago, with such grace , purpose and faith, that all who knew her were impacted and challenged. (This memorial was written by Amy, Judith's daughter in law.)

No matter what the day or hour, the amount of days that I live is not going to catch God off guard.

My greater concern is that I spend the days He has given me, doing it HIS way, every day.

I am excited about a New Year... 2012, and I am intentional about many things that have been on the 'fringes' of my life. I have heard God reminding me to address these things, and I have grabbed the bull by the horns in some areas that have needed change. There is NOTHING He has asked from me that WITH HIS STRENGTH living in me, cannot be done!

How about you??





Thursday, December 22, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas then and now... part three...

Fast forward from Norway, to California, and now to Texas...

The Christmas traditions that began with my mother in Norway are the same in our home each Christmas.

The preparation begins right after Thanksgiving, and plans always include what we can do for someone else, just like you do in your homes. It's such a special time to share, and God always puts the right people in our path or on our hearts.

On Christmas Eve, the whole gang comes to our house. We have a Christmas Eve buffet, with appetizers and tempting dishes of every kind, and lots of yummy desserts! We have 6-1/2 grandkids, and each of the 6 decide which song or scripture to share at our Christmas Eve service in the den of our home. I print a program, and they each take part. Last year our son and his kids built a manger, filled it with hay and the kids all dressed up and acted out the nativity as The Revelation Song played in the background. (Note the staff of the youngest, a last minute empty wrapping paper roll). I love how each of the kids do their best, and participate so sweetly.

One of our sons plays the guitar, so we all join in singing several carols with the candles and tree lights twinkling, and the sound of Christmas filling our hearts. It's one of the best times of my whole year!

We read the Christmas story from Luke, and we thank God together for the miracle and the hope of Jesus, because He was born and came to live and die for us. Miracles of all miracles!

From our home to yours this Christmas... MERRY CHRISTMAS to each one of you. You bless my life every day of the year. We are a whole bunch of kindred spirits and our sweet friendships will continue as another year begins....

May your hearts and homes be filled with HIS peace and joy, during Christmas and every day!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas then and now... part two...

Tromso, Norway...

Way up in the cold frozen northern part of Norway, beyond the arctic circle, is where my Christmas traditions began, in the childhood home of my mother.

In her words, as she shared this story with women's conferences and church groups all through her life, and as I read them tonight on these now fragile sheets from her journal...

"Let me invite you to take a trip with me to the land of the midnight sun, to my country, Norway. We will fly over the top of the north pole, but you won't see much there, only snow and frozen land, and finally, after landing in the capitol city of Oslo, we board a small plane and fly much farther north to Tromso. Now I invite you into our large old home to share Christmas with us...

My father was the mayor of the town, and there were 7 of us children, and a constant flow of guests coming and going. Christmas came like a bright light every December, and we children were filled with expectation and excitement and we all pitched in to help shine the copper pieces that hung on the walls, and bake the never ending sheets of cookies that went in and out of the oven. All month the cookie baking continued and they began to fill the jars and tins, which were stored up in the attic.

"For days, leading up to Christmas Eve, friends and neighbors would drop in and visit each other in their homes, bringing their cookies and baked goodies, and their children. They would sing Christmas carols together and no one seemed to be in a hurry.

"We celebrated each day as 'tiny Christmas', until Christmas Eve finally arrived and all the planning and baking and cooking was almost finished. All the children were scrubbed in a hot steam bath in town, and our braids froze on the way home. The shoes were lined up to be polished, the goose was filled with apples and prunes and ready to bake, and the last excited secrets were whispered between us as we wondered with expectation what would be in the boxes. The gifts and the Christmas tree were decorated and kept in the large parlour where NO ONE was allowed to go until Christmas!

"I remember as a child hiding up in the attic about 3 or 4 in the afternoon and listenting to the church bells ringing in Christmas. I hadn't yet come to know Him, whose birth I was about to celebrate, but I stood by the window, looking out at the blinking lights and boats in the harbor, and I knew that God had sent Jesus to be born at Christmas, and I worshipped in a child's way, Him who I didn't yet know.

"And then suddenly, the bells started from one church, then from another, and soon together they joyously chimed all over the city as they rang in the news 'Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord"...

Now me...

When I visited Norway more than a year ago, we had to fly that same route from Oslo far to the north, into Tromso... There, on the main street of this most picturesque and beautiful city, was my mother's family dry goods store. When we were there, we saw the building, it has been modernized, and like many things that have changed, the new isn't nearly as wonderful as the original!

In northern Norway, during the winter months, it was not only cold and piled high with snow everywhere, it was also dark. One of the most cherished memories she shared were the lights, all around Tromso, in homes, in the windows, in the stores and on street lanterns, tiny dots of light made the whole scene like a dream. Candles and lights were always part of our growing up Christmases in California, and I still love them.

Side note on the attic in her home... During the winter, they hung their washed sheets in the attic to dry and they were as stiff as boards from the cold frozen temperatures. My mother did confess to playing among those sheets and if I know her... there was probably some peeking and snooping along the way as Christmas came closer!

At her dad's store in town, each window was decorated with a different Christmas scene. She said they covered all the windows with paper while they went to work and created a picture for the people of the town. When the windows were unveiled, people came from all around excited to see what this year would bring. One window depicted a cozy warm home with a fireplace and Christmas tree and candles glowing everywhere, one might be a candy store scene or a church choir... it was magical to the children to be part of such a tradition.

Then Christmas Eve finally arrived...

The whole family bundled up and headed out into the snow to their large 'state church', for the Christmas Eve service where by candlelight they joined together singing Silent Night and heard the familiar scriptures read. Finally they all headed back home for the feast ahead and 'the gifts'...

As the final preparations were put together and the goose was browning for the last few minutes, my mother would take a quick walk through the empty snow piled streets with her father, and pass by the lovely homes where they could often watch through the windows at the people singing and walking around their Christmas trees, hands joined, in a circle, babies to grandparents.

After the feast had been devoured, her father read the Christmas story one more time from Luke, and prayed. Then they all shook hands, wishing each other a Merry Christmas, she said their was a lot of handshaking with 7 kids and all the relatives. Then they each sat in one place until every gift tag was read by her father and distributed, before anyone could open a gift. And then, the papers and ribbons flew!

I can't sing or hear Silent Night, without thinking of Norway. It's a funny thing, but I have tears in my eyes, good tears, as I write this and remember Christmas in Norway, even though I was never there. The memories and stories and the twinkle in my mother's eyes as she shared her December dreams of long ago, are as real to me as if I had been there myself. When she met and married my dad, and followed him to America to begin life as a preacher's wife, all that was familiar and dear to her was left behind in her beloved country, but she instilled it in each of her 3 children with great joy. She kept her traditions going in our home as I grew up.

I am keeping that love for Norway alive in my heart and in our home...




Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas then and now... part one...

I find myself thinking of Christmas when I was growing up... a lot..

(everyone tells me it's cuz I'm getting older and that's what older people do... look back!!)

I'm not buying it!!

Instead, as I look back, I can see how the Christmas traditions we celebrate in our home now, were formed in the home I grew up in, probably most of yours were too.

The whole month of December was just different than all the other months, and it still is. There is a special glow to December. Everything is intensified, joy and fun and laughter are brighter in December. Sorrow is also deeper for many in December.

I have not found a single picture of our family at Christmas as I was growing up. Our kids today not only have gazillions of photos of their kids, but full movies as well, and lots of them are contained in the mystery of that little cell phone...

With or without photos, my memories of Christmas at 270 South Parkwood are as clear as a bell.

My mother baked all month long, and she gave away her Norwegian cookies by the hundreds, probably 1000's... but she also saved enough to satisfy the 3 of us all through Christmas.

She was born in Norway, and they celebrated on Christmas Eve with their gifts and dinner, and later the midnight church service in the frozen snow of Tromso, Norway. Her traditions were also ours as I grew up.

All of my dad's family came on Christmas Eve. The 3 of us kids could hardly stand it until that night came. Our tree was piled high with gifts for everyone. We didn't have a lot of money, but we sure knew how to use Woolworth's 5 & 10 cent store and wrap it up like gold! We used to ask my mother WHERE did you buy that? Her answer was always the same... 'at a nice department store', and we knew it was W.T. Grant or Woolworth's!

After a scrumptious dinner, the grown ups always insisted on doing the dishes before we finally got to the tree. We were practically jumping up and down by the time they were finished.

Dad always read the Christmas story from Luke, and we sang carols and Dad prayed. The candles were gleaming and the love was all around...

But part 2 is really part 1... it began as Christmas in Norway, when my mother was a child...






Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Amidst the chaos...

November is almost over, December is close behind!



I am in and out of town over the next week and a half, so I was thinking quickly of a blog to post before the chaos hit, and as I looked around my home, I see that it's too late!


There are boxes and bins all around, and somehow it takes me at least 2 or 3 days to get 'Christmas up' and the bins back into the garage until Dec.31st.


This is the view of my den today, and it's always like this when I decorate for Christmas... always!


BUT, I am more mindful with every passing year, that what really matters is not the way the house looks, or even how the food tastes, but the reminder that there is PEACE within, even when there is chaos all around!! Now that's a good thought to ponder on.


As I enter into December right alongside each one of you... the hope and peace in my heart is glowing stronger than ever. I want to be sure that JESUS is honored, in my heart and in our home... every day of December 2011, and beyond.


So... Happy end of November and start of December to each one of you!!





Monday, November 21, 2011

THANKS!...

To each one of you, my blogging buddies, who have become heart friends...

Happy Thanksgiving!


Day after day you affirm to me that we are all in this together... we share struggles, joys, thoughts, prayers, and most of all... a love for Jesus that changes everything.


So THANK YOU... and may your hearts and homes be filled with thanksgiving, as we take this special time to celebrate the blessings we have been given.


At a time when so much in this world is uncertain, aren't you glad that the God we serve never changes! I sure am.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Christmas...

I check the 75-90% sale racks all year long, just a quick look, whenever I go to my favorite stores, and if there is something special, I quickly pick it up and add it to the bins in the garage that hold next year's Christmas stockings for our 6 grandkids.

This morning I found some more treasures, and as I am adding them to the stash, and thinking about what will go where, and maybe even personalizing some of it... it occurred to me how carefully and joyfully I prepare for Christmas all year long, and how it intensifies when December comes.

The next thought was...

Do I prepare for eternity with the same diligence, preparation and joy?

Some days... yes.

Other days... what on earth am I doing?? I can go running around and hours go by without one thought of anything eternal.

Oh how I pray that my heart and life would treat God's work and His kingdom in the same way I treat the celebration of Christmas.

So that... every day my life will say Merry Christmas Jesus!





Thursday, November 10, 2011

A soft answer...


"A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger. " (Prov.15:1)

Of all the verses I remember being used in my home as I grew up... this one may have been quoted the most often.

I KNOW, not think... but I KNOW the truth of these words. I have lived them out both ways so many times, and never have I found a harsh word to be healing, to me or to the person receiving it.

I've told my husband, and he has told me... 'it's the WAY you said it'... it either brings a good and productive response, or makes me want to stand straight up and explain how wrong he is!

This quote caught my eye on Pinterest one day, as I thought... this is not anything new, God spoke about it right from the beginning, and He knew it was something we needed to learn.

It's not 'my way' or 'your way', but the RIGHT way... God's way!

I've never been disappointed when I obey God on this. Instead, I am blessed, the 'fire' is quickly extinguished, and peace returns.





Monday, November 7, 2011

GUILT FREE pizza & 50 calorie muffins!...

I am so happy with these little pizzas that I have to share what I did.

I am one of those eaters who wants to LIKE what I eat, and that is half the battle when weight loss or maintenance is a factor. I LOVE good food, and if it's healthy and low calorie, bring it on!

The other goal is to have the sense of feeling full, not hungry. These pizza's make you feel full and satisfied!

These pizzas were probably someone else's idea, but I have added my own twist, and here's what I did. There is very little fat, and it's full of veggies, which I tend to ignore sometimes, as well as very low calorie...

one pkg. of whole wheat pita breads
bottled spagetti sauce

add as much or little of whatever you like the best of these ingredients:

fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
can of artichoke hearts, chopped
purple onion sliced very thin
mushrooms, also sliced thin
zuccini sliced thin
red & green bell peppers, thin
or any other veggie you like, asparagus, broccoli, etc.
(if you like it better stir fried, toss all the slices into a pan with pam and saute them a couple of minutes first)

add sprinkles of bottled red pepper flakes

(My hubby likes sliced black olives so I added some of those too)

fresh grated parmesan cheese sprinkled lightly over the top of the whole thing. (bottled is fine too)

If you want the extra protein, I add browned Laura's Lean Ground beef sprinkles over the top, or pre-cooked chicken cut into pieces, Both are delicious additions. (add the calories accordingly, but it's protein, so it's good!)

Bake on cookie sheet at 375 for 12-15 minutes.

Slice each pizza into 4, and you can have 2 whole pizzas for about 400 calories!! Or just one with some soup or fruit. Now THIS is the way to eat when you want to be both leaner and healthier!

It's crispy and just perfect! Each pita is 150 calories, (check the cal. on the pkg., they can varie) the only additional is the small amount of sauce and the parm. sprinkles... I never even count the veggies. I am always on the hunt for healthy, filling, very low fat and calories but also delicous things to eat. This one is perfect!




This is a recipe that my mother made all through the years.

It is LOADED with health, and it tastes declicious. I make the little muffins, 24 makes one recipe, or 12 regular. Regular works out to about 50 calories each, or 2 little ones for 50 calories. I have 2 little ones for breakfast.

God is interested in the 'whole man', and that includes what I eat, not to mention how MUCH of it I eat. I know that eating right makes me happier, healthier and more confident. Good grief! I sound like one of those rah rah people who 'preach' fitness. If you knew my track record with 'this issue', you would be laughing out loud with me right now!

SIDE NOTE: My husband does NOT like bran ("shredded hay"... OR raisins, but he asks for these muffins all the time! :)

Try these, and let me know if you like them.




Friday, November 4, 2011

Amazing!...

Amazing grace.


This morning I was thinking of how God extends His grace to me, over and over. Yes, His discipline comes my way too sometimes, but even that is part of His grace.


All through each day, God does things that I barely take time to stop and ponder. A close call with another car who turned too soon, a bargain we need at the store, or the right little thing to do for another person who may need to hear from us, or someone sent our way to say just the right word, and on and on...


When we truly trust our whole lives to His care... ALL that happens to us is known by God.


When we were kids, I used to ask my mom & dad... 'how do you KNOW that God had something to do with that??'.. their answer was always the same.


"When you trust your whole life to God... He is in ALL of it."


I'm not sure I really 'got that' as a child... I sure do now!


It never gets old, does it... the knowledge that our lives are held secure because of God's Amazing Grace!


Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,


Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!


Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,


There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.


Grace, grace, God’s grace,


Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;


Grace, grace, God’s grace,


Grace that is greater than all our sin.


Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,


Freely bestowed on all who believe!


You that are longing to see His face,


Will you this moment His grace receive?




Monday, October 31, 2011

From the sublime to the ridiculous...

When I look over the titles of past blogs I've written, they are all over the ballpark!

This one is no exception.

Isn't life like that? I can be caught up in a deep new spiritual truth in the morning, and know that God is specifically speaking to my heart... and by the afternoon I am caught up in the traffic on the main street close to where I live, and wondering how the guy who just cut in front of me could be so rude as to force his way into our line of cars who have been patiently waiting for a long time. I don't do it, but I FEEL like honking my horn and telling him how rude he was!

I am thankful every day for the grace of God!

I need His grace, about 100 times every day. I'm so glad that since I am created by God, He cared enough to include many facets into each one of us. I am serious, hilarious, spiritual, ridiculous, emotional, sensitive, creative, hopeful, etc. I am, most of the time, content with a life that holds lots of laughter, as well as tears, joy and happiness as well as sadness.

One of the special things He designed into us is humor...

Today is just plain for fun, and maybe you can relate to this time in your own life, even though it's been awhile...

Questions on pregnancy and child birth...

Q: Should I have a baby after 35?
A: No, 35 children is enough.

Q : I'm two months pregnant now. When will my baby move?
A: With any luck, right after he finishes college.

Q : What is the most reliable method to determine a baby's sex?
A: Childbirth.

Q: My wife is five months pregnant and so moody that sometimes she's borderline irrational.
A: So what's your question?

Q: When is the best time to get an epidural?
A: Right after you find out you're pregnant.

Q?: Is there any reason I have to be in the delivery room while my wife is in labor?
A: Not unless the word "alimony" means anything to you.

Q: Is there anything I should avoid while recovering from childbirth?A: Yes, pregnancy.

Q: Do I have to have a baby shower?
A: Not if you change the baby's diaper very quickly.

Q: Our baby was born last week. When will my wife begin to feel and act normal again?
A: When the kids are in college.


(photo is courtesy of Google)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Revival??...

Revival and prayer.... prayer and revival...

Those were the 2 things that filled my dad's heart and ministry all through his life. These are some of his books on the subjects.

Prayer is something I live every day, and so do you. We think prayer, we speak prayer, we pray as we think, our hearts constantly voice our needs, thanks and requests. We keep a running conversation with God through our days.

Revival is a word we don't use as much.

What does it mean, and do we need it?

I'm not the one to write on this subject, but my dad sure was, and through the years I saw his heart and I also can't ignore his vision.

I'm talking about the kind of revival that isn't necessarily scheduled for a week in our local church. I'm talking about the kind of revival that draws the hearts of believers back to their first love, to go deeper with God. I wrote about it here, when my mother became a christian in one of the great Norway revivals, where she was born.

As I look back on dad's life... I see so many things now that I probably missed along the way. He LIVED prayer, and he prayed his whole life for churches to be revived, for christians to experience revival in their own lives. Revival as in renewal, renewal of all that we first were so smitten with when we trusted Jesus way back when, and knew that our lives were never going to be the same.

Dad saw that need, all through his life... the need to stay open, obedient and pure before God. .. I see it now.

So many churches today are good, many even great... good sermons, wonderful worship and music, even lots of mega churches, and then what??

I may be stepping on some toes here, but I seldom see the kind of soul stirring 'fire in the heart' desire for more of God, and I sadly confess, it's been true of me too. I WANT that, but my pursuit of God has been too soft and often irregular.

Revival means a deepening and new insight and nearness of the Lord. A desire for more of Him. A new commitment to obedience no matter what. It's costly.

A couple of quotes from one of dad's books:

Conviction of sin is the hallmark of genuine revival, and the lack of both shows how needy we are...

When christians repent, sinners will repent...

Non- christians will deal with their sins according to the way christians first deal with theirs...


The church must be concerned for the world if the world is to be concerned for the church...


When christians walk in the light they have, sinners will see the light in and through them...

I wish my dad could hear my heart today, and maybe he can... I get it dad.

God has told us ...

"You will search for me and you will find me, when you search with your whole heart"... and

"If my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN will I hear from heaven and will forigive their sins, and will heal their land."

I pray for revival, and I pray that it begins in my own heart.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What does your hair say about you??...

If my daughter is reading this, she is already laughing.

I don't change hairstyles.


Years ago it was a shorter 'bubble', now it's a longer style, not a bubble, but not what a modern hair stylist would endorse either. What it really is NOT, is this picture I've posted from Pinterest. That hair exists only in my dreams.


I don't have that swingy casual beautiful blonde hair that I always dreamed about. I still stop in my tracks when I see it on someone else. I love shiny, thick, swingy blonde hair (or any color that does all that, blonde just happens to be what I was born with).


No, my hair has NO style, UNLESS I get it right when I comb or brush it out, and then cover the whole thing with a strong protective 'helmet' of hairspray to make sure it doesn't move.


I'm sure those ladies with the swingy hair do NOT use hair spray! If they did, their hair just would not swing like it does when they shake their heads!

The truth is, without hair spray... I don't have a hairdo! It falls and it goes flat and just lays there. I am not a good straight haired person. I wish I were. I use those huge Wal Mart rollers, pink and green ones, and my hubby has faithfully endured that all these years.


In California where I grew up, it was better... the climate was dry. In Texas, no way on earth can I leave the house without my shield of spray. Now, here is an interesting thing. I have gotten comments in the store about how pretty my hair is... WHEN I have sprayed it thoroughly INTO that style. When I HAVEN'T... I get looks of sympathy and maybe even horror!


Moral of this story... the picture you see on my sidebar is not likely to ever look very different. Hairspray saves the day! As to the blond color... another blog entirely!

One more thing... my daughter has stick straight long hair, and it swings! Go figure.





Friday, October 21, 2011

Godly heroes...

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to go to a christian boarding school in Zellwood, Florida. My dad was a minister, and this school was loaded with PK's and MK's. One of the MK's (missionary kids) was the younger brother of Elisabeth Elliot.

Jim & Elisabeth Elliott and 4 other missionary families had flown into the remote area of Ecuador where the Auca Indians lived, and there they began to live among the indians and share their faith in Jesus with these natives.

During that school year, Elisabeth's husband, Jim Elliott, and the other 4 other missionaries were murdered by some of the Auca's. I remember clearly the day we all got that news during a chapel service.

This is a round about memory, so bear with me...

Fast forward from those days, to a Billy Graham World Congress on Evangelism, Amsterdam 2000, which my dad was a part of.


The story that still gives me goose bumps, is dad coming home and sharing with us the most memorable thing of that conference... the riveting testimonies from 2 of those Auca Indians whose spears had murdered the 5 missionaries years earlier. They stood and told their stories, their hearts and voices full of emotion, as they shared how their lives were completely changed, because of Jesus. Dad said it was utterly amazing...there was not a dry eye among those 1000's of ministers and leaders in the audience that day.

Some of the wives & families of the men who were killed, Elisabeth Elliott, Rachel Saint, and others, had returned to that land after their deaths, to continue to minister to the Auca's. They saw God's life changing power transform many of them, including these 2 who stood and emotionally told their stories, and gave praise to God with the story that never gets old... the story of redemption!

Doesn't it build your faith when you read about the testimonies of how God has intervened and changed lives and made the old new... just like He's done for us.

You've probably read their story, and seen some of the movies on their lives. Still... in this day and age when we elevate people to hero status over so little, I love to read and re-read the stories of those who really lived what they claimed, and were willing to die for their faith, as Jim Elliott said...

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."





Monday, October 17, 2011

I accidentally murdered some fish...

If you're looking for something deep, today's blog is NOT for you.

When we were moving, many years ago... I emptied the kids aquarium, fish and all, into a dark green glass pitcher sitting with about 100 other kitchen items, next to the sink.

As the move drew closer, and all the rest of the kitchen stuff needed to be boxed... Into the garbage disposal went the 'water' in the dark green pitcher... and the fish.


As I turned on the disposal, it dawned on me!!!! I shrieked and called my hubby to come quick...

It was too late!

That was more than 30 years ago, and not once, when the subject comes up, has he failed to grin and remind me that he thought he heard the fish 'screaming as they went into the sink'... I'm not sure what it is, but his 'funny gene' seems to get a kick out of that story. Is it just men??

Before you shake your head and wag your finger at me... it's with a certain amount of relief that I also remember this verse....


"You're familiar with the command to the ancients, 'Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother 'idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell 'stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. Matt. 5:21(Msg)


Now I'm smiling... as I am reminded that none of us are exempt, from either calculated or accidental deeds.

Just a fleeting memory... about as fleeting as the lives of those poor little fish.



Monday, October 10, 2011

Why do I pray?...


"I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God - it changes me. " C.S.Lewis.

We pray because we HAVE to pray, we pray about everything... our needs are immediate, ongoing and constant. As he said, waking and sleeping. (It's for sure, mine seem to be that way!)

The part of that quote I love the most is the last sentence..."It doesn't change God - it changes me."

And that is the whole point!

Prayer CHANGES things. GOD changes things.

There is always hope, because He hears every prayer and because He changes things, lives, circumstances, outcomes, past pain, attitudes... all of it!

When I really understand that, clear down to my toes, it makes my prayers so much more alive, and with such hope that all of it is beyond me ... but NONE of it is beyond God!

What a strong way to begin another week. knowing that God hears every prayer, and that He is at work on the prayers of our hearts!...



Thursday, October 6, 2011

From my treasure box...

Once in awhile I get out one of my 'past treasures' boxes or bins, and I get a brand new blessing out of the original blessing that came my way.

This was today's... sent to me from my daughter a while back.

When our 3 kids were little, it was the hope and prayer of my heart that as they grew up and became adults, that our relationship would be the kind that would bless and encourage them as they married and became parents themselves.

This card reminds me that so many of those prayers have been answered. We are so blessed by our 3 children, and we share a friendship with them that enriches us every day. They are definitely the 3 jewels in our earthly crowns (if there is such a thing!)... Not to mention the 6 tiny jewels that have also been added with our grandkids. :)







Sunday, October 2, 2011

Do you think women are hard to understand??...

The title of this picture is:

"Now Out in Paperback, a Book on How To Understand Women"...

Really though, are we that hard to understand??

Maybe so, since my husband's first response was a good chuckle. Was he agreeing??

I don't think we are that hard to understand...

Even when I don't know what I'm talking about, I understand what I'm trying to say!

I especially understand other women... we tend to think alike. It's one of the best reasons to spend time with our friends, there is a fellowship we share with each other that blesses, challenges, and sharpens us!

I share with so many of you a true heart connection. I've said it before... even if we never meet face to face in this life, I am so sure that we will recognize each other in heaven!

'Oh look... there's Debbie from Heart Choices, or Kathleen from Sassy Granny, or Janette from Janette's Sage, and I see Lea from My Letters to Emily, and Lisa Shaw with that big smile on her face from way across the room, Sharon my old pal from Westmont, Elaine from Peace for the Journey, Debbie from Words on Wheels, Kim from My Field of Dreams, Andrea, Lidia, and my good sister from Norway, Felisol, my first blog friend, Andrea, Shirley, Beth, Mary, Melanie, Cindy, Debby, Debra, JBR, Marsha, Anita ... and I could go on and on. If I left your name out, forgive me...


All of you and more, I think you know who you are, since I comment on your pages every week, and you encourage and challenge me over and over. You have made me laugh out loud, and brought me to tears with your sharing...

Each one of you whose blogs I faithfully read have become my friends! I feel that way, don't you??

Even though we know there won't be marriages in heaven... my mom used to say that 'maybe God would reserve a tiny section in heaven for she and dad', since he had traveled and preached away from home so much during their lifetime...

Maybe there will also be a section for blogging buddies whose hearts have been so connected through our words and expressions on the pages of these blogs!

Again, I have no theological backing for this, but on the other hand...






Monday, September 26, 2011

Shake it out!...

This week we celebrate the birthday of one of our 3 kids...

Today I was in the store looking at cards, and they were pathetic! (No wonder we love your beautiful cards, Cindy!)

Things like...'may your day be bright and full of light'... or 'have a rich year with whatever you want the most'... or 'your birthday makes us think of you and we are glad you came our way'... like I said, pathetic!!

Then I started thinking about the way each of our kids (and now their kids!) open their cards... they snap off the envelope and shake out the money! It never is about the card. (I think I can write better card expressions than whoever 'they' are.) So we just send our usual love & hugs... and they proceed to shake the contents out.

You know how it is when your mind gets a picture of something, so I started thinking about 'shaking things out'...

I thought about shaking out the truths that are contained in my own Bible, which reminded me there cannot be any shaking of my Bible... the end pages are too full of notes, quotes and special things! If it is REALLY special to me... it finds it's way to either the front flap or the back flap of my Bible... to be enjoyed more fully, over and over again.

When we shake open something that was lovingly written especially for us, good things will fall out! Good things 'fall out' of God's word every day, every morning when I open it, out pops something I've never seen before, or an old truth reaffirmed, strength for today and hope for tomorrow.

My dad used to end every phone conversation by saying 'shake the love around'. There is nothing more profoundly life changing than shaking the truth right out of God's Word and into the pages of our hearts.

We have been given a book full of love, love from our Father straight to our heart. It is bursting with His promises, His love for me has been written on every page. It's FULL of all I want and all I need.

I am shaking harder, and the contents are falling into my life.






Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The big red check...





No... not money!



I'm talking about that 'check in your spirit'...



Do you know what I mean?



It's that caution in your heart that immediately raises a big red check mark or flag, that says...



Something isn't right about this person, this situation, or whatever it might be. So slow down, take a close look and see what is causing this check...



Do you pay attention when you sense a check mark in your own spirit?



I think that God gave us as women a sense when something isn't quite right. I don't mean that we go around looking for bears behind every bush, but...



I have learned that usually there is something to it when I feel that 'check in my spirit'. I think my mom shared about this when she spoke at christian women's conferences, it's for sure that she spoke about it to us.



Perhaps it's as simple as the spirit of God speaking and cautioning us... maybe it's something He designed into our makeup.



I haven't felt that big red check for awhile, but I know I will again, and even though it may not be as serious as a lurking bear... it signals caution, and there may be a good reason for it.





Friday, September 16, 2011

Beware of leaning...

I like order.

I function better when loose ends are tied down, relationships are smooth, and circumstances don't get me riled up. Don't we all!

When things are unsettled or uncertain... I begin to meander in my mind and run the whole series of what to do, how to do it, should I do this, or that, or what??

God says:

'Trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart... and LEAN NOT to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.'

This verse not only says clearly what I should do, it says very clearly what I should NOT do!

I'm afraid my tendency many times is to begin to 'lean' as I seek solutions to what may be going on.

I know I've told you before that I love a good visual picture. I like a message that is clear and to the point. Even if the message is long, it's the bottom line that I carry away with me. (maybe it's as simple as the fact that I can only remember that much!)

Not only does He tell us to trust Him with all of our heart... what follows is something that I need to remind myself of just about every day...

Lean not to your own understanding.

Like this little guy in the cartoon, he leaned and then lost his balance, probably not even aware that his feet were about to slide out from under him because as he leaned, he stepped onto a banana peel...


Not only should he not have leaned in the first place, the perils it brought were more than he bargained for.

If we begin to lean, we can loose our footing, and the consequences will appear before long. The thing that I love is that there is no gray area here. God is clear. Trust Me with ALL your heart... DON'T lean! When I begin to lean, I always have to go back to the place of obeying the second half of that verse.

My own understanding is limited. My own understanding includes my past experiences and some common sense, and what God has taught me to this point. It also includes what His Word says... but it doesn't include what God already knows about the whole situation or about the future... until I trust Him with it. ALL of it! Then He begins to 'unfold' the right answers.

Trusting God with every circumstance and relationship doesn't leave room for the 'leaning' part. Those are His words, His instructions.


I love it when His Word says it so clearly that even my 'leaning tendencies' are left with no wiggle room!

THAT is safe ground!






Monday, September 12, 2011

Lessons...



When my mother and dad went to heaven 10+ years ago, (one year and a day apart)... I went through a dark period in my own faith.


Two very important things I have learned in the past 10 years:


Much of my walk with Jesus through the years was based on the strong faith of my parents, it was as if THEIR faith was MY faith.


I know in looking back, that I rode on their coat tails for a lot of my christian walk. If I was worried, or fearful, I was okay with it because THEY were okay with it. They had lived through their lives and learned who their safety net was. I sensed that and thought that it was the same for me. They 'did the work' of learning God's ways.... I put that on like a warm coat, and felt safe.


When they died, I felt the normal feelings of grief and sadness, we were very close. But I also had an additional grief... where did my faith go, it seemed to have disappeared, and God seemed so distant.

This first great lesson God taught me was... the same God that was THEIR God is also MY God!

It was later that I re-learned... 'He was there all the time'... I was already His, from the time I invited Him into my heart at 5 years old.

Second...

The things they learned and lived in their lives were not mine simply because I was their child.



That may seem so obvious, but it wasn't as clear to me. Just as my parents learned to know God through their daily walk and obedience... so do I.


My life is my own responsibility, and what I learn of God is coming because of my choices, not theirs.

Yes, they taught, they lived and they showed me by example, but it is not MY experience until and unless I have obeyed God in the ways He is teaching me. His plan for my life is for me. He has a special blueprint with my name on it. The title is "Sonja".

We begin this life with a clean slate, even though the sin nature is there, and what we do, what we choose, how we live, how we obey God... is what we are filling the slates of our lives with.

Sometimes I feel like my slate is coming along pretty well...

Other times I know that it looks like a confusing mess.

But...


Above all, I know that HE is the one who enables me to add, eliminate and clarify what it written on the slate of my life, and it is never too late for the confusion and the mess to be cleared, organized and made right!

A couple of lessons I'm learning as I journey onward...






Tuesday, September 6, 2011

PRAY BIG...

PRAY BIG...



This is a wall in our son and daughter in law's home, and the minute I saw it I loved it. They have the sign right next to a huge clock and the whole thing struck a chord.



What does it mean to pray big??

I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean praying for huge ideas of 'pie in the sky' stuff, although I do pray for the things that are the desires of my own heart, and once in awhile I know that I veer off into praying for things that are sort of like cotton candy... even then... I know He understands.



No, I think PRAY BIG means to pray KNOWING that our God is able to answer BIG requests, BIG needs, BIG concerns, BIG problems. The BIG things that are part of our lives, the things that are way beyond what we know how to solve... the BIG things.



Sometimes I pray big, and then after time passes, and the answer didn't come the way I had hoped, it fades out, and I sort of stick a 'please Lord' onto the conversation I am having with Him, after I've wrung my hands and pleaded for His help. I am sure I have stopped short of His answer when I didn't see it come the way I thought it would, or when I thought it would.



But maybe it's even more than this.



Maybe PRAY BIG means 'go ahead, stand straight up and trust that He is going to answer this!'



I think it means that my PRAY BIG is backed by all of the promises of a God who IS big! He has said 'go for it'... trust me with it... trust me for the answer! You can PRAY BIG because I am a BIG GOD!