Saturday, July 30, 2011

Maybe it's the heat...

It could be that these thoughts are springing from a run of over 100 degrees for the last 30 days, and no end in sight...

or it could be that I've seen so many blogs this summer that are reminiscing about days gone by...

whatever, it has triggered some in me as well...

This post is Janette's fault! She did a recent post on old movies and music, and got me going... I commented that we had heard a small group one night when we were high school kids, and we ventured over to 'cruise' on Hollywood Blvd. The group was singing in a tiny little pub or burger club and they were called The Beach Boys... we loved them, and the rest is history...

I was thinking about those years...

Growing up in southern California was wonderful! We lived in Pasadena, so every year we had the Rose Parade which went straight down the main street, still does... Colorado Blvd. In the younger years, we lived 3 blocks from the parade route. When I was in high school, we moved up close to the foothills, about 3 blocks from where the parade ended.

It was the thing to do for a Pasadena high school student ... 'working the floats'... from after Christmas until New Years Day. There were huge warehouses where the basic floats from all the entries were driven or constructed. We signed up through our schools to work during that intense week before the parade. It was our job to glue every single flower, stalk and leaf into the perfect place and make it a showpiece. You can't imagine the HUGE amounts of flowers that were shipped in from all over the world, orchids from Hawaii almost looked common, there were so many. Seeds, grass, florals of every description, they were all there for us to create from. The warehouses were refrigerated, so it was COLD as we worked. We worked around the clock during that week before the big day, and it was so much fun.

Our church youth group would go to Colorado Blvd. the night before the parade and the street was lined with groups of people, sleeping bags, ladders, food, etc. We claimed our space, and then walked the whole street, for miles, meeting and greeting the thousands who had invaded our city. All the restaurants were open, and they were filled all through the night.

Finally the next morning, the whole crowd began to buzz as the sound of the parade could be heard back at the starting point.

I went to Pasadena High School, and the Tournament of Roses queen and her court were chosen from our high school back in those days. Yes, I did try out, and no, I was not in the court. I did manage to get through some of the eliminations, but the process was scary to me. You had to walk the length of the pool at the Huntington Hotel, while a huge group of judges silently watched every move! I had never done anything like that, and I was NOT a natural... but my friend Margarethe Bertelson was, and she was chosen as Rose Queen that year. I recently saw a program on ebay from that year with her picture on the cover. I've often wondered what happened to her...

Times sure seemed so much more simple in those days, and somehow not as fast paced and 'out there' as it is today.

...or maybe summer is just a good time to reminisce...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A few final thoughts about weeds...

Just a few more thoughts on weeds...

I have just come inside and I finished weeding the whole front garden. I noted an interesting thing... the weeds from this year were easy to pull out, but the weeds that remained from last year or before... stuck like super glue!

1. the soil...

We had our front flower bed re-done last spring, and they added a lot of mulch and turned that hard black clay until it was mixed into a rich but workable soil. Weeds do NOT grow as tight and ugly in good fertile soil. Their grip is not as strong. They are easier to get up by the roots and remove. When you try to remove a weed in hard black clay... it's nearly impossible without a whole lot of digging and sweating!

The soil of our lives should already be full of enough of God's grace, that even when the weeds come, and they will come... the removal process should be a lot quicker than it sometimes is.

2. the tools...

When I pull them up with my hands, it so often doesn't get the whole weed, especially not the root. If I use a spade or shovel, it's a quick dig under the roots and most of them come up pretty well.

Our spiritual tools for removing those weeds of our minds and hearts are readily available... His Word is loaded with promises for every one of them. But sitting and looking at our Bibles is not going to feed our own souls with His truth and promises. It's the tool we most need to pick up every day, and the directions are all there.

3. the disposal...

When we have done some good thorough weeding, inside and outside... put the weeds in the trash and get rid of them! If we let them lie around, they will take root again and the process the next time will be even more tedious. God is the only real remover of both the weeds and the roots, and He removes them 'as far as the east is from the west'...

My neighbor behind us has a beautiful iron fence with Carolina Jasmine covering the whole thing. But this summer, one of those green jack in the beanstalk vines has gotten intertwined in the jasmine, and now it kind of looks like a jack in the beanstalk on steroids! Not only that, but that vine has 'jumped' up the hill into my garden, and I pull out new vines every week. It has definitely spread...

Her vine will eventually be pulled off and cleared away... just the way I want my weeds and vines to be. Weeds are okay out in the pasture on a barren field that no one is using...

but I want them OUT of my garden!

P.S... It was your comments and emails from the last post that got me 'digging' a little deeper on the weed thing. There are many other lessons to be taught and learned about weeds... they are the lessons of life. I learn from you every day. You are such a wise and funny group of blogging friends, and I love each one of you.

Monday, July 25, 2011


My mom was a speaker for christian women's conferences. One of the things she talked about was marriage.

Her story of meeting my dad is almost like a fairy tale. I've written about it here.

When my mother met and married dad, she was head over heels in love. She shared that it was so perfect it was almost like the Garden of Eden, until...

there began to appear 'some weeds in the Garden of Eden'...

The human part of her knight in shining armour began to show in little ways, and her own little less-than-perfect traits would also appear from time to time.

There isn't a single one of us who have not had the experience of discovering 'weeds in Eden'... for some of us there have been times when the weeds may have threatened to overtake the whole garden!

It's a picture of life.

We deal with weeds on every level.

Our personal struggles, our families, friends, even our spiritual walk... there is always the threat of a weed or a lot of weeds.

What do we do with them?

I get impatient with the weeds in my outdoor garden, and just start yanking them up when the mood strikes. Lots of what comes up in my hand doesn't have the root, only the annoying part above the ground. In my impatience, the root still remains, just under the surface, and boy does it grow back in a hurry!

Best to deal with those pesky weeds and be sure they are removed with the whole root. For us in real life, that means choosing to cultivate the qualities that our lives must display because we are His children... love, patience, truthfulness, forgiveness, overlooking small annoyances, holding back a quick retort, praying instead of reacting, and on and on... pretty soon our gardens begin to look more like a real garden, not just a weed infested mess.

We all recognize the weeds... we also have the power to pull them out by the roots!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Helm's Bakery truck...

I grew up in southern California, and one of the best memories I have is the Helm's Bakery truck, this beautiful shiny yellow truck that came down our street a couple of times a week.

The driver would blow his whistle, and we would all holler and run outside to the truck.

When he opened the back end, it was fitted with steel shelves that rolled out fresh pastries, cinammon rolls, bread and donuts. Some were still hot and steamy.

It was sensory overload!

We never bought much, but the opportunities abounded.

Before we selected our treat, we studied each shelf, we pointed and discussed the fillings, the toppings, etc. I remember that driver being patient and putting up with us, he was probably used to it. No doubt the same scene repeated itself on each street.

The memory is still strong, but the trucks are long gone.

I think the reason for this blog is because I am midway in my weight loss and fitness program... back to where I used to be... :)

So for today, the Helm's truck provided a snapshot back in time, as I eat my Vita Muffin with 100 calories, 10 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein... I'm good with that, but it didn't come in a shiny yellow truck, and no one blew a whistle. I miss that.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Are you 'called'??...

Ministry... are you called??... am I?

...and having asked that, I have never thought there was a question about it... if we are His... we ARE the called.

The answer is YES... each of us who belong to Him and want Him to be the Lord of our lives... is called.

My dad, and our son, were called to full time christian ministry and service, as ministers. I am no less 'called' as His child.

I remember my own mom and dad... the call of God upon their lives was clear...they both knew that and they answered and obeyed. But the harvest was often small, and looked like so little. Some of us have been there, maybe are there now.

No accolades, no applause, no real interest or even encouragement many times from a human perspective. And even worse, the desire and capacity for more of God among those even within the church, was many times so weak. By the world's standards, their ministry was not front and center.

I have such a different view now, now that they are both in heaven...

Maybe it's just that I am getting older, and my thinking is changing... but I am so sure that the jewels in their crowns is the fact that they were faithful to what God gave them to do... all through the years. Their vision and their passion for His purposes did not dim.

There are so many who are held up as christian heroes in our world today. Some of it is deserved, lots of it is not.

Here's what else I know...

My dad was the mentor and minister to many other ministers, some of whom are carrying out that vision God gave to my dad, and the work is thriving and flourishing in ways that didn't happen when dad was living. But it was always GOD'S work, my dad was just being obedient. My dad ministered... he didn't minister because of the feedback, but because His desire was to obey God..

My mom was the example and teacher to her 3 children and so many others that she ministered to, who now continue what she taught them.

I hope that this encourages some of you who may feel they are discouraged in what God has called them to. There are times when I... one of those not in full time ministry, but one who wants to do His will right where I am... feel so small, and maybe without much value in terms of His kingdom.

That is another one of satan's lies!!!

Before you and I were born, God chose us, created us, and His call has always been on my life, and yours.

One of the verses that was a life line in our home growing up was...

"Be not weary in well doing, for in due season, ye SHALL reap, IF ye faint not!"...
It's a promise I claim constantly, and for any of you who feels any of the above... it's your promise too!

There are so many faithful children of God, all over the world, who are living out their lives, both the 'called' and the untitled 'called' (me)... without always seeing the results their hearts have hoped and longed for... yet!

Don't be discouraged by what you may not see... STAND on what you know God wants you to do... the rest is His to perform, and that is His promise.

"Knowing this, that He who hath begun a good work in you, WILL perform it until the day of Jesus Christ".

Wow! I just read this over and it sounds like a sermon, if so... I'm preaching to the choir!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Pickers...

Do you ever watch the American Pickers?

We get such a kick out of watching Mike & Frank as they head down the road in their van to find 'whatever is next'... They get into old barns, houses or warehouses with their flashlights, they don't know what they are going to find till they start digging.

What a great adventure!

It's a little like when we head to Canton every month. Canton is a gigantic antique and decorators market about an hour from where we live. The first time I ever went there, I was about 7 or 8 months pregnant with our first child. We've been going there ever since. We have found so many neat things through the years. My husband always thinks of it as a giant Easter egg hunt for adults!

Isn't life like that sometimes? There are treasures to be found, often in unlikely places.

Sometimes it's as simple as meeting someone in the grocery store, and the unplanned conversation becomes a quick blessing to both of us...

Maybe it's lending a hand or baking a casserole to give a neighbor or friend who is having a hard time...

or... like Mike and Frank... sometimes a treasure is only found after you dig a little deeper, and then make a discovery that comes as a real surprise. Often with me, it's the reaching out to someone that I might have hurried past at another time, and this time the words exchanged had a sweetness and blessing that was like a gift, and often it's right in those conversations that God opens the door for some real heart sharing.

I know that when 'the pickers' find a rusty piece that is hidden in an unlikely spot... sometimes it turns out to be even more than the treasure they were hoping for.

How many times have you opened your Bible and found not only a good word for the day, but more than you even hoped for, it spoke to a specific situation, and something that confirmed an answer, or just made your heart sing?

I want to think of this journey of life in the same way... heading out into each new day with hope and anticipation. Some days will yield very little, others will be disappointing, but some will hold treasures that we didn't even dream of...

Proverbs 2:1-5

"My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Yesterday's manna....

I have quoted Dr.John Stumbo many times. He is a minister who recently received his doctoral degree, and who also in the past 2 years has gone through tremendous physical pain and heartache with a rare blood disease. He is close to putting his journey into book form.

Here is what his blog today said, in part...

"In the uncertainty of our current journey, I’m going back to the most basic of principles: I have all the grace I need for today. I don’t need tomorrow’s grace until tomorrow. Yesterday’s “manna” doesn’t save very well. But, I definitely have what I need for today—actually more than I need."

He has a way of challenging me to think in new directions...

'Yesterday's manna'... the grace God gave us to live out our lives yesterday... that was 24 hours ago. I have moved into today, and I need a new dose of grace and manna for this day.

It has already been provided!

Today's grace is mine, and yours. Tomorrow's manna will also come... tomorrow.

...Our source for manna and grace has no limits.

...Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

I do have to add a personal note about manna, since I often find myself in the same sandals as the Israelites who were not always thrilled at God's provision...

Manna does not always look like I wish it looked...

If I were picking the manna, I would probably select lavish food falling down on a silver tray. Oh how ridiculous and selfish our thoughts can be. The silver tray contained the life of Jesus, offered up for me. The daily grace and manna is still another gift... all of it undeserved.

I am living right now, in this new 'today', with every need of my heart, mind and life, provided for.

Today's grace and manna is enough... as long as I trust in the God who provides all of it.

I choose to trust Him.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dad preached, we went along for the ride, final chapter...

I have such a love for farms!

I know that it goes back to our summer travels. We were city kids, and when we traveled to small towns in the midwest, many of the members of the little churches where dad preached lived on farms and raised crops, animals, etc. For them, it was a living and a way of life. For us, it was a whole new world and we just loved it!

One summer in Michigan, we were invited for lunch to a local farm, close to the church. The wife had baked big loaves of homemade bread that smelled so good we couldn't stand it... we all followed the scent into the kitchen. My brother, at the time a young teenager, took her invitation, sat down and ate one whole loaf of that bread, with real butter and homemade strawberry jam!

They let us go out to the garden and pick carrots and potatoes. It was a miracle!! You pull the green tops up and out pops a real carrot! We were so thrilled with the whole idea that we kept pulling them up, even the ones that were so small there was no carrot at the other end yet.

Another time, we visited some church people for dinner, and behind their home was an apple orchard! The smell of those apple trees was more like an apple than an apple pie baking in the oven! There were swings hanging from the bigger trees and we jumped on and went as high as our legs could pump.

Right down the country road was a creek that flowed under the road. We sat there and dangled our feet into the little stream. It was clear and cold. Then we walked across a field to the swimming hole. It was a huge deep round body of water surrounded by enormous trees. It was very still and even a little dark in the shade of those trees. There was a heavy rope hanging from one of them and we grabbed the rope, sailed out over the water, screaming the whole way, and dropped in.

That whole summer was kind of a 'sonjaberry finn' adventure!

Everywhere we traveled, our hosts were the kids whose parents and families belonged to whatever church dad was preaching in. They showed us the local sights like no one else could. We saw how they lived, a different world from what we knew, and the memories have stayed with me for a lifeime.

I'll always be thankful for the experiences of visiting small town America and getting a taste of farm and country life. I'm still 'city', but with a definite 'country' leaning!

And one more thing... small town America has some of the most special people I've ever met anywhere. They opened their hearts and homes to us and we could write a book about their kindness and hospitality... I think I just have, since I've written 10 blogs of those summer adventures!