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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

TIPS for the UNorganized

The goal of this post is to correct the misperceptions of my friends.  Those who think I am organized.  I AM NOT.  Seriously, I am not. I really really really wish I were.  I so admire organized people!  I long to be so.  But I am not.  "Organized" applies to many of my friends, too many to name in fact.  Friends whose pantries have order to them.  Not places where many things have to be moved in order to get an item out.  Friends whose linen closets have sheets neatly stacked.  Not one where it's luck to even find flat sheets that match fitted sheets.  Oh, snap, to even find both types of sheets, much less ones that match!  Friends who use systems to group together bank statements or recipes or photos.  Systems that surpass a file folder crammed full with contents that spill out so the folder has to be housed in a bag.  Friends who calmly retrieve papers or items or facts w/o panicking thoughts that perhaps early Alzheimers is the explanation for inability to do so. 

Organized I am not.  But out of self-defense, I have developed coping mechanisms over the years and I want to share some with you.  In hopes that you can discover a new tip or two that will help.  If you're looking for organizational guru suggestions, try Pinterest.  My thoughts aren't pinnable.  But there might be one or two that give you hope. Or keep you from dissolving into tears over missed appointments. 

So, for the month of January, I will share things that I do to survive.  I am planful and perhaps efficient and putting these traits in action keep me from drowning.  Or running away.  I would love to hear some things that you do, too, because I am perennially on the lookout for more things that make life easier for my UNorganized self.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

The kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared.  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law that we might receive the adoption as sons.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Duck Dynasty Firestorm

The Duck Dynasty firestorm.  Seems like every other news story or FB post weighs in on it.  I kept my mouth shut...til now. When I read a post that insisted Jesus wouldn't agree with what Phil Robertson said and that He didn't even support public prayer citing Matthew 6:5 as proof, I could not keep silent.  I am probably going to succeed only at ticking off 99% of readers because I agree with both sides...and neither side.  I am not in the middle nor on the outskirts.  I am everywhere else.

I could so easily be Phil Robertson OR A&E.  Doctrinally, I align more closely with the duck caller and have often said things that offend. But I have also been in the position of distancing myself from something I thought wouldn't benefit me.  Caring too much what others might think and reacting from a standpoint of fear or reprisal. And I have probably also been in the place of insecurity and fear of condemnation that organizations such as GLAD are in, demanding to be acknowledged and affirmed.

Here's some things I've pondered as I processed:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

God's Work...and ours

And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night  Nehemiah 4:9


A little background.  God's people are rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem which had been devastated by enemies and looters.  They had returned from long years of exile and were set on restoring their city to beauty and safety.  Although commissioned by Almighty God, the work was not without setbacks and discouragement.  The opposition came initially in the form of jeers and verbal abuse and eventually led to threat of invasion.  Thus, verse 9.  (Ultimately, the source of discouragement came also from within their ranks, not from the outside.  But that's another post!)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Less is more....check up

Lots of us began this year with a project:  31 Days towards Living with Less.  Remember the "purge the closet" idea?  Well, now's the time to check those hangers.  And get rid of the clothes we didn't wear.  Donate them - somebody else can make good use of them. 

I'd love to hear from you -- how much were you able to give away?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Planning. Simplification. Preparation.

My tips for reducing holiday stress and returning it to a time of peace and joy -
Planning.
Simplify.
And now, preparation.

Remember the ant we extolled when looking at planning?  (Proverbs 30:25 - The ants are not a strong people, But they prepare their food in the summer;)  Well, the way the ant plans for the winter is to be prepared.  Planning alone is an inadequate step.  Lots of folks can get plans on paper.  It's moving them onto the pavement that makes the difference.

Here are some arenas in which preparation can help de-stress your life:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Planning....simply

Luke 10:41,42
41 But the Lord answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her

This passage is rich with not only spiritual but also practical meaning and application.  You might be familiar with the story -- Jesus has come to visit His dear friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  Martha can hardly enjoy the visit because she is so busy trying to get dinner on the table.  And she's irritated with her sister who, instead of helping Martha accomplish her agenda, is just sitting with Jesus.  She even (self-righteously??) implores Jesus to make Martha come help her.  Verses 41 and 42 record His gentle answer.

Last week we considered the ant, who plans in advance for what is coming.  Application of that principle helps me get things done, weather emergencies , take advantage of unplanned opportunities, and minimize my stress.  The principle of simplicity is at least as important as that of planning. How does planning dovetail with simplicity?

Let me explain....

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

ThanksLIVING update

I hope and pray that the updates I share about what Betsy and I are doing are received as they are intended -- as ideas for you to springboard from, not as boasting.  They are such simple ideas that it would be pitiful boasting material for sure!  But I truly hope you know my heart.  I am encouraged and inspired when others let their lights shine for all the world to see....and give glory to our Father who is in Heaven.

Here's what we've done since the last time I posted:

Made cards that said "Random Acts of Kindness to wish you a Merry CHRISTmas" and taped candy canes to them.  Then we drove all over the east side of Athens and taped them to ATMS and bus stops.  This was so fun!  Especially when the same state trooper spied us twice in the act :)

Made coffeecake for our church staff and delivered for their staff meeting

(Betsy) wrote a thank you note to an adult who has had a significant impact on her life

(Betsy) wrote a note to encourage a friend.

If you're doing some things like these, I'd love to hear your ideas!!  Thanks!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The sibling test

The post "Just some things we must tell the children" is one of the most popular ones I've done.  And one of the most frequent comments is "what's the sibling test?"  I've answered the questions briefly but now it's time for a post for "the rest of the story"

The sibling test is really quite simple.  When pondering a serious relationship, our family members rely on the feedback of their sibs.  We've seen it time and time again -- brothers and sisters know one another in a dimension different than anyone else.  Their love goes back further and down deeper than anyone but parents and they are able to assess potential relationships with wisdom that belies their years.  Without overstepping their bounds and interfering in a sibling's love life, our kids have proven their ability to appraise a suitor with such accuracy that we have come to the conclusion that a sibling's approval is as important as a parent's. After all, they have to share the Thanksgiving table with them forever so they oughta have some input!

Now for the background....the sibling test originated in my own dating life.  In my era, we didn't have "DTR" talks nor did we ponder the seriousness of a relationship based on Facebook status.  Most of my peers in the 80's dated lots of folks simultaneously, had lots of harmless fun, and didn't get exclusive until marriage was on the radar.  One of my husband's favorite stories to tell our kids is the time he was my 3rd date...in one day.  I saved the best for last - what can I say?  In spite of the lack of relational commitment, we gals (of course) were always sizing up the fellas to determine if they were "MM" - that would be "marriage material".  Dozens of guys came and went.  Lots made it home to meet my family and come under their scrutiny.  During the time I was dating the tall dark handsome man who is now my husband, I was, nonetheless, "keeping my options open". There were lots of dates to be had and I didn't want to miss any! However, this one continued to appear on the scene,and my family figured it was potentially serious.  My brother remarked to my Mom (and of course the comment made its way to me!) that this would be the one I would marry because he was the only one that wouldn't do what I told him to!  Initially, that insight irritated me.  That didn't sound like true love to me - a man that wouldn't do what I wanted, well, my goodness!  But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me.  The magnetism I felt for this man was founded on respect.  Admiration that he was not able to be manipulated or intimidated by me.  Instead of feeling like NON love, it felt awfully secure.  Respect.  Yes, there was chemistry.  But there was more to this relationship.

 And somehow my brother could sense it.  Somehow he knew that this tall slim fresh out of college kid would not only love his sister with all his heart, provide him with 3 nieces and 1 nephew to love, help care for his parents, share the ups and downs of UGA football like no other, but also be his best friend for life.

27 years, 4 kids, grandchildren, some tears, lots of laughs, some stresses, an unshakeable faith, a life full of kindness and love....and my brother's still right -- this man still won't do what I tell him to!

And, guess what....I'm so glad.

The sibling test.  It worked.

ThanksLIVING update - Days 1-5

So far, our little service project endeavor has been a lot of fun...and not a lot of extra work for Mom.  Hate to sound selfish but just being honest -- if this idea had added too much to my plate, there would not have been a sweet spirit to go with the living of thanks.  Just sayin :)

Here's what Betsy and I have done so far--
Made cookies and homemade cards and delivered to a dear neighbor
Delivered cookies and card to the police department
Wrote TY notes and added small gift cards for her Sunday School teachers
Today we deliver cookies to our friends at the Post Office

Do you see a theme here??? F-O-O=D!!!!  That's how my family spells "LOVE"....and apparently "Thanks" !!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Holiday plans

The ants are not a strong people, But they prepare their food in the summer;  Proverbs 30:25


I love Christmas.  I should say I love SOME things about Christmas!  I love what we celebrate, I love expressions of affection towards friends and family, I love being purposeful about spending time with family, I love the halo effect of cheer and kindness that often prevails, I love the spirit of generosity that permeates the atmosphere.  I think that's what Christmas is all about.

But there are some other things that I don't love about Christmas.  It can feel like a program, even a "Christmas machine" that looms ready to roll right over me and smash me flatter than a pancake.  Do you know what I mean?  Presents to buy, interminable to-do lists, decorating, children's performances, office parties, memories to make.  All fun things....until I cave to what I perceive are the expectations of others.  (Note that I deliberately say "perceive" -- often these expectations are in MY head, not the minds of others).  I can stress that someone will be disappointed (in me), something important will be forgotten, or an opportunity will be missed.  If I'm not mindful of my propensity to operate under the burden of perceived expectations rather than the Spirit of Christmas, I find myself longing for Dec 26.  Guilty that I spent too much money.  Sad that I didn't achieve the magic desired.  Irritated that I had so much to do.  Exhausted because I tried to do so much.  Defeated.  I don't think this is what Christmas is all about.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Day 1 - ThanksLIVING

I promised updates on our ThanksLIVING focus.  So far today, I explained the concept to Betsy, gave her the ThanksLIVING "Advent" Calendar.  Day 1 project was to make cards for the police station, our neighbor across the street, and the post office.  Tomorrow we will make cookies and deliver them with the cards over the next couple of days.

Betsy is "all in".... at least for now.  And the chocolate kiss for each day helps :)

Oh, and this next idea has become a family tradition.  Not sure how long we have done this but we love it.  Paul distributes $10 to each of us with the charge to find someone to bless with it in some way.  Can't be an organization, has to be an individual.  Preferably a stranger and something we wouldn't have done otherwise.  We have until Christmas to bless someone somehow.  Then we share the blessing by telling our story when we gather Christmas Eve.

Are any of you doing random acts of kindness for Christmas?  Please share if you are!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

ThanksLIVING

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 107:1

We are celebrating Thanksgiving at our house today.  That's the way the schedule worked this year.  And I am thankful to have 20 feet under, whatever day it is! I love to gather with family and friends and feast on favorite foods.  Yummy.  I love the smell of turkey roasting in the oven, my Mom's dressing (we don't do stuffing over here!), and cranberry relish in my pretty glass bowl.  It HAS to go in the pretty glass bowl.  I love Thanksgiving.  Love the festivities.  The fellowship.  The intentionality of reflecting on God's abundant grace towards us...and thanking Him for it.  We aren't sticklers for rigid traditions nor for legalistic religious observances but our family started something a couple of decades ago that is a treasure to us all.  We all look forward to this and willingly arrange our Thanksgiving schedules so we can do it each year.  We go around the table 5x and each person shares one specific thing he or she is thankful for from this year.  Then we record it all in our journal.  It's precious time together.  The most fun is reading back the posts from previous years!  Hilarious!  We've seen boyfriends come and go, new babies announced, and gratitude for odd things like pine cones.  But it's one of those things that a Mom keeps stored up in her heart forever, looking round the table and hearing the hearts of her family praising our Heavenly Father for His steadfast love to us.  It's sweet indeed.

Now, I know that traditions aren't to be trifled with so I'm not about to change this one.  In fact, I gotta go locate that journal right now cuz it got packed up with my dining room stuff when we moved my folks in last week!  But I am gonna try something new this holiday season with regard to thanksgiving.  Let me explain....



For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.  Mark 10:45
I want my life to not only be one of GIVING thanks but also of LIVING thanks, a pouring out of service for others.  Because the Son of Man loves me....and I love Him...and His people.  So He gave me this idea for us to try.  I'm a little hesitant to just put it out there, because I am not too creative and my presentation of things leaves a lot to be desired.  But I thought you might want some ideas, too, about how to live a life of service, some ways to demonstrate that for your kids, some projects to help them think of others instead of only themselves.  Maybe you can take my idea and customize for your crew and snazz it up a bit!
I thought of 24 simple projects that can be done from December 1-24.  An Advent calendar idea.  I wrote each one on a piece of paper and placed it in an envelope.  Then I taped all 24 envelopes on a piece of poster board and numbered them.  To make it a little sweeter :) I included a Hershey's kiss, too! The plan is to open each day's envelope and perform the project assigned within. And to eat the chocolate, of course!!!  The projects aren't complicated nor are they revolutionary but my hope is that Betsy and I (and Chip & Mary if they're home!) will pry our eyes off ourselves, pour out our lives to serve others, brighten a few days for some other folks, and have ourselves some fun in the process.

My goal is to post our activities regularly, just to give you some ideas of what we're doing.  But I know myself and I'll bet I don't get the post done every day.  Hopefully, the ThanksLIVING project will get done each day!

Wish me luck :)


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Victory begins with a song

Today's Wednesday's Word  is a whole chapter - 2 Chronicles 20.  I won't post the entire chapter here but I urge you to read it.  It's that good.

I don't normally find myself in the book of 2 Chronicles.  1 Chronicles either, for that matter!  But this chapter has a compelling story with a potent message for us.  I'll summarize the first part and then we'll look at a couple of verses to find that message....

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The best defense.....

The best defense is a good offense.  I've heard that (and its reciprocal) proclaimed often in my den during football season.  The way to defeat an opponent is to score more points than they do.  Duh. 

That said, how do we "score points" against our enemy? 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

There's no place like home....

Surprisingly, I didn't bawl my eyes out.  I went home....to Mama and Daddy's.....for the last time.  Packed 'em up and moved 'em here with me.  And didn't cry.  Any of you that know me, know that I cry over most everything meaningful.  Weddings. New babies.  Sweet letters.  Everybody home for the weekend.  Holding hands.  And loads of other non-meaningful things.  I cry.  Except this time.  I thought I would lose it.  But I didn't.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Helmet of salvation

In keeping with our theme in recent Wednesday's Word posts, let's continue with our armor.  Next piece - helmet of salvation.

  and take the helmet of salvation Ephesians 6:17a

First, what is it?  The helmet, obviously, protects the head.  Our heads need protection because the mind is where the battle takes place.  The helmet provided for the Christ-follower is "salvation". To understand this significance, let's consider the fact that salvation has three facets to it.  The first is "justification", God's declaration that a person is made acceptable to Him by grace through faith in Christ, receiving the Spirit of Christ.  The second facet is "sanctification", the process by which a Christ-follower is conformed to the image of Christ, the work of grace through the soul. The final aspect of salvation is "glorification", when a believer enters Eternity and is transformed in body to be immortal and incorruptible.

This protection of thought with regard to salvation gives the believer confidence that the relationship with God is secure, that God is indeed doing the work of transformation in one's life, and that one's eternal future is assured. Such confidence wards off the thoughts of doubt and fear and insecurity propelled by the Enemy.

This helmet is also a reminder to the believer to renew one's mind through Scripture, thus transforming one to the image of Christ....further protection from the darts of the devil.  This commitment to  mind renewal undergirds the confidence just mentioned.

One final thought on the helmet.  The helmet referenced in this passage was one worn by the Roman soldier.  It was made of metal and covered not only the head but also the face.  Atop the helmet was a plume, a large colorful feather that identified the army to which the soldier belonged.  Get the picture - in battle, you would know who your allies were by the color of the feather on their helmet.  What message is conveyed to us by this feature of the helmet?  A conspicuous lifestyle, one that clearly identifies us as a follower of Christ. That offers great protection from the Enemy in the battle.

Confidence that our salvation is assured.  Commitment to renew our minds.  A conspicuous lifestyle that tells the world who we belong to.  Our helmet.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Help! I feel attacked!

 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one  Ephesians 6:16

We've seen how God supplies the breastplate of righteousness to protect our heart, the belt of truth that gives us confidence in our relationships with God, ourselves, and others, and shoes of peace to walk out the Gospel in the lives of those around us.  What about the shield of faith?  How exactly does it put out the flaming darts of the enemy of our soul?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

All the single Mommies

This is a pat on the back to all the single Mommies in the world.  You are doing a great job.  Maybe there are some exceptions to that but all the singles Moms that I know are doing a really great job.  And I, for one, want to tell them so.

As I consider my friends that are solo in the parenting role, I realize that they are usually weary, often scared, and mostly lonely.  Yet I cannot recall a single one of them ever complaining or wishing they could check out of this job.  This role that they didn't sign up to do alone.  Whether by choice or circumstances, they have not only accepted this load but have embraced it.  And they are good at it.  And I am so proud to know every one of them.  So stinking proud of them.  What they are doing is really really really hard.  I don't think I could do it.  Seriously.  Wow.  Their path is steep and hard and long.  And lonely. 

Those of us with a cohort in this parenting thing,let's just think about it for a minute.  These gals (and I know there are some men that have to walk this path, too, so I also applaud them.  But for right now, I'm just thinking about my girlfriends) work all day.....so they can keep the lights on and pbj's on the table.  Then they come home and have no one to help slap the pbj's together and tag team to soccer practice, ballet class, and homework.  Then there's bedtime prep and hoping to remember to slip prayers in tonight cuz there wasn't time the last 47 nights when they had to referee the sibling wars and navigate the book bag contents and make sure there was something accessible the kids could wear the next day.  Clean might have to wait til next week.  Once that was done, there were bills to prioritize...as in which ones could wait til the next paycheck...then there would be prayers for a miracle.  Even a small one that would mean survival for a little bit longer. 

I know some Moms have to do all this and more even with a cohort...but, let's be real.  Sometimes we get a break.  Truly.  And we often get encouragement and support and at least someone else to discuss options with.  These Mommies don't.

When there's a sick baby, there's nobody to share the days off from work.  Or the night shift.  Or the decisions about care. Or the worry. No arms to hold them...or to hold them up. 

Nobody to say thank you.  Or tell them they are doing just fine and their kids are gonna be OK.  That's their main fear.  Not one of the single Mommies I know has ever worried about themselves but they admit to me their terror that they are not covering all the parenting bases.  Now, I know all Moms fret about that....but when there's Daddy in the picture, he's there to quell those fears and insist that the mistakes are not life-altering and to point out the good that we don't see in ourselves.  These single Mommies never hear that perspective.

So I'm gonna give it.  And I'm asking God to grant you grace and peace and strength...and hope. 

If you've got a single Mom in your circle, send her a text and tell her.  She's doing a great job.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Lessons I want to be sure got through....

Several months ago, I posted a couple of lists of "just some things to tell the children".  My little tax deductions are moving more and more into adult life (marriage, parenthood, job interviews, college decisions, etc) and my Mommy-heart is aching for the days when they all sat at my breakfast room table 3x a day...every day.  Wondering if the really important stuff got through, sandwiched in between Latin and handwriting and Chemistry.  The real life lessons.  And most important of all - that they are my world and I love them nearly as much as I love Jesus and their Daddy.  Enough to make my heart nearly burst. 
Did those truths get through?  In the midst of chores and holidays and my mistakes?  I don't know.  So I am reposting the combined lists. My Chambers quartet - I love you!!

How well does your belt fit?

In keeping with the theme of our last couple of Wednesday's Word posts, today we will consider another piece of the armor God has provided to keep us from injury -- our belt of truth.

Ephesians 6:14  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth.    Sounds like this belt helps us stand....how so?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Heart health

Living a life of faith is the most wonderful path possible, I am convinced.  But that doesn't mean it's easy.  Sometimes - lots of times - it's downright hard.  Our goals seem to often collide with those of the world around us, resulting in stress.  The enemy of our souls is clearly in opposition to a life of faith, which means continual conflict.  Not to mention the war going on inside us, the struggle to think the right things, do the right things, stand for the right things.  More stress.  More conflict.

God doesn't leave us defenseless.  Ephesians 6:10-18 explains how He equips us to successfully wage the wars we will inevitably face.  Not that we get to avoid the war, mind you.  But how to avoid injury and defeat.

Last week we noted our shoes of peace.  I hope that encouraged us all to walk in directions we might otherwise not have taken.  Today, let's see what the breastplate of righteousness can mean for us in the battles..........

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Couple more that sound yummy.....

Crockpot ravioli casserole from Mary

1.5 lbs ground beef, browned
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp each oregano and Italian seasoning

Put in crockpot for 6-7 hours
Then add for 30 minutes:
10 oz frozen spinach (or fresh)
16 oz. bowtie pasta, cooked and drained
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese


Creamy Chicken Pasta from Brionne

2 cups uncooked pasta (penne or ziti)
4 chicken breasts
1 can chicken broth
8 oz cream cheese
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper
3 chopped roma tomatoes
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Cook pasta.  Slice chicken into 1 inch cubes.  Cook chicken in large skillet with 1/2 chicken broth until no longer pink.  Add cream cheese, spinach, as much remaining broth as needed, garlic, salt and pepper.  Heat 3-5 minutes until cream cheese melts.  Add tomatoes.
Toss with drained pasta and cheese.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Update of Love for my Living Letters

With the whole gang here, I'm in cooking mode!  So I've got an update on Love for my Living Letters - check it out (especially the peach pound cake recipe.....)

Click here


NOTE - This link is currently inoperative - I'm working on it and I'll let you know as soon as I figure it out.  Sorry!!!!






https://www.dropbox.com/s/1ywkj3xxyvq9eg8/Love%20for%20my%20Living%20Letters.docx?dl=0https://www.dropbox.com/s/1ywkj3xxyvq9eg8/Love%20for%20my%20Living%20Letters.docx?dl=0

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Recipes :)

Cream Cheese Spinach Stuffed Chicken Rolls - from Amanda

Ingredients
o 6 boneless chicken breast halves
o 1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
o 1/2 cup cooked spinach, well drained
o 1 tablespoon minced garlic
o 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
o seasoning salt and pepper ( or use cayenne)
o 2 large eggs ( mixed with 2 teaspoon water)
o 1 1/2 cups dry unseasoned breadcrumbs
o 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
o 1/3 cup melted butter
o 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


Directions
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Flatten the chicken breast to about 1/4-inch thickness.
3. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, spinach, garlic, nutmeg, seasoning salt and pepper (or cayenne pepper) until well combined.
4. Mix the dry breadcrumbs with Parmesan cheese in a shallow bowl; set aside.
5. Mix together the melted butter with garlic powder; set aside.
6. Spoon equal amounts of mixture across the narrow end of each breast.
7. Roll up jelly-roll style, and secure with toothpicks.
8. Dip the stuffed breast into the egg, then roll into the dry breadcrumb mixture.
9. Place into a buttered baking dish, seam-side down.
10. Drizzle with butter/garlic mixture.
11. Bake for about 30 minutes.

These shoes were made for walkin'

 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peaceEphesians 6:15

We've all been admonished to "walk a mile in their moccasins" in order to understand someone else's point of view.  Good suggestion.  But we are exhorted in Scripture to walk in a different manner.  Our feet are to be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.  Let's unpack that verse....

First of all, this verse is in the midst of the passage sometimes referred to as "The Christian's Dress for Success"  -- putting on the armor of God so that we can successfully withstand the attacks of the enemy.  What do shoes have to do with it?

Well, the writer of this epistle is drawing on a picture quite familiar to the readers of his day -- that of the Roman soldier.  The image evoked here would be of thick shoes, strapped onto the feet of the warrior.  The bottom of the shoes would be studded with iron nails which provided better traction on rugged terrain as well as protection from razor sharp spikes stuck in the ground as enemy traps.  The shoes were strapped on with secure binding so that they wouldn't come loose in the battle.

The Gospel of Peace prepares the Christian to walk successfully in the battle, to endure the rugged trail, to avoid injury from the traps set by the enemy.  But how?  This Gospel of Peace is not referring to our peace with God (that's taken care of by the breastplate of righteousness...but that's another post).  No, the Gospel of Peace is referring to our relationship with others. 

The counsel given here is that having peace with others is a key to victory in our walk of life.  Peace, reconciliation, that is possible because we have peace with God ourselves. 

When there is not peace with others, we are prone to stumble along the trail.  To get cut by the spikes set out by the enemy of our souls.  To be unable to walk or stand, sustaining injury.  Practically speaking, this looks like bitterness towards a sister.  Hard-heartedness towards a neighbor.  Avoidance of a former friend.  Private pains of loneliness, feelings of rejection, depression over unmet needs, isolation.

Maybe we need to strap on the shoes of peace and walk to someone today for reconciliation.  If this brings a name or two to your mind, I hope you'll walk on, sister.  Walk on.  Victory's in sight - for you - not to mention what it will do for your comrade.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Savory Crescent Squares


Got some ideas coming in!  Here's one for tonight and I'll post more tomorrow.  Merci, my cooking friends, merci!!! :)

Christy's Chicken Crescent Squares

INGREDIENTS


3 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. salt
3 T. melted margarine
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 cups cooked, cubed chicken (approximately 3 boneless breasts equal a cup)
2 T milk
1 T chopped chives or onion
1 T pimento
8 oz. Pillsbury Crescent rolls - 1 can makes 4 chicken squares (I use the reduced fat crescent rolls and can't tell a difference)
3/4 cup seasoned croutons, crushed

INSTRUCTIONS


1. Blend cream cheese and 2 tablespoons margarine until smooth. Add chicken, salt, pepper, milk, chives or onion, and pimento. Mix well. Separate dough into 4 rectangles. Press perforations to seal in each rectangle. Spoon 1/2 cup meat mixture into the center of each rectangle. Pull 4 corners of dough to top center over mix, twist slightly and seal edges. Brush tops with remaining 1 tablespoon melted margarine; cover top and sides of each square with the crouton crumbs. Bake on un-greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown. Serves 4.

Need a little help from my friends

OK so it's not (quite) life or death but this is an SOS that I'll bet every woman can relate to.  I've hit a brick wall when it comes to what to have for dinner.  I am completely aware that the internet puts all sorts of menu planning options at my fingertips but I want ideas from real people like YOU.  What did you feed your family for dinner last week and what are you planning for this coming one?  No take out suggestions please (I can cite those in my sleep!!).  I'm looking for simple, inexpensive ideas using ground beef or chicken.  No Tazmanian gingerroot - I don't have time to shop for it.

Please give me some ideas.  NOTE:  If you receive this via email, I do not receive your response if you try to "reply" to the email.  You'll need to comment on FB or on the actual blog site.  Otherwise, your life-saving ideas will wander around in cyber space and never reach me.  And my family will starve.  Or maybe have chicken enchiladas or spaghetti again.  Again.   Again.

Please help.

Thanks.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Treasures in the darkness

Have you ever noticed that some people have a depth that sets them apart from other folks?  For some, it is manifested in a quiet compassion that not only feels the pain of others but especially moves to meet their needs.  For others, it's insight that surpasses prevailing wisdom.  Or it might be a heart that seems to always notice the needs of every situation and matches with a willingness to serve. But always with an attitude that never seeks to be applauded or even noticed.  Confident humility. 

I've studied these folks and found a common denominator.  Each one has known difficulty, brokenness, disappointment, heartache, pain.  Even defeat.  But then survival.  Sustaining endurance.

That's where the depth of character came from.  Isaiah 45:3 says "And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden wealth of secret places, in order that you may know that I am The Lord, the God of Israel".  Treasures aren't found lying around on top of the ground.  They are located deep down, in dark places.  To get to them, one has to go to the depths, to the darkness, through the hard spots. 

Treasures that only come from the darkness.  Wealth that is hidden but shared with those that go into the deep places.  Places immersed in trials or heartaches or pain. 

We don't usually choose to go into life's hard places.  But maybe if we remember they are the only places that these treasures can be found, we won't run away from them when God takes us there.

Treasures in the darkness.  Getting to know that He is The Lord.  Treasure indeed.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tips for good service

Mark 10:45   For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve"


Good service.  We all want to get it.  Actually, we all expect it.  How good are we at giving it?

Christ set the example for us -- He, for whom and by whom all things are created, sets His priority on serving.  What can we learn from that?

1.  There is much joy in serving.  Especially when it's inconvenient.  When I meet a need for someone else, I am rewarded with a deep satisfaction, a treasured  happiness that can only come when I strive to please someone else instead of myself.  Simple things, complex acts - doesn't matter.  Serving someone else is sweet.

2.  Begin at home.  Frankly, its harder to serve here than at church or in the community.  Even though these are the folks we love the best and presumably want to serve the most!  Go figure.  But service should be at home first and best above all other places.  I think we women have an advantage over fellas when it comes to serving.  We seem to have serving programmed into our DNA but, trust me, it still is a choice.  A daily choice.  Now I firmly believe that children should do chores (yes, little urchins of mine - lots of them!!) but Mom should be the greatest servant of all.  "Great" in terms of not only quantity of service but especially quality.  Cheerful service.  Glad spirit.  Willing heart.  Doing things noticed and unnoticed. Without complaining. Wives, don't let your husband out-serve you.  Allow me a brief moment on the soapbox here.....the Church has done a great job instructing husbands in being servant-leaders.  And so they should.  But I fear that we have all too happily seated ourselves in our easy chairs while our husbands perform their "rightful" service.  Treat your hubby like a King.  OK, I'll get down now.  Gotta get cheese grits finished for my house's King :)

3.  Serve at home and then serve at church.  Most folks I know are doing a great job at this.  It hardly needs a mention.  In fact, I worry more about folks that are doing too much rather than not serving at all!!!  But just in case you are merely warming a pew, I suggest that you find a place to serve. A regular commitment.  A place where it matters if you don't show up.  And then serve your heart out!

4.  Look for the serendipitous chances to serve.  Picking up paper towels off the floor in public bathrooms is a favorite of mine. (Yes, Mom, I wash my hands after!!!)

5.  Serve others in their times of need.  Now, I gotta tell you - I think the community I am part of does a great job at this.  Taking meals.  Helping out with others' kids. Acting as personal moving service.  Providing Christmas for needy families.  Praying for each other faithfully. On and on and on.  If you need some real live examples, come check out the crowd I get to hang out with at Watkinsville First Baptist. 

I have heard folks excuse their lack of serving with "It's not my gift".  Well, my goodness, how convenient.  But how wrong.  All those spiritual gifts that we seem to want to pick and choose?  Well, Scripture actually commands us to exercise each one of them.  Yep.  Check it out.  We will have one or two that dominates our motivation but we are all exhorted to give, show mercy, teach, prophesy,  have wisdom and faith.....and to serve.  Especially to serve.  Christ is our example.


Don't expect to be applauded or even noticed for your service.  In fact, hold out hope that you won't be!  Because  your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

One last tip for good service -- if you're like most women, you are much much much more comfortable doing the serving as opposed to receiving the serving.  Probably you protest "no really I'm fine!" and decline offers to help.  Don't.  Even if it makes you uneasy, sometimes you need to let somebody else relish the joy by doing something for you. :)



Thursday, September 19, 2013

To the soldier at Krispy Kreme

We must've seemed silly to you, all dressed up in pirate garb, just to earn a free dozen donuts.  You looked a bit perplexed.  You wondered why there was such a long line at 9 PM when the red HOT light wasn't even on.  When I explained, you just shook your head and looked away.  Your wife shared that you had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan.  I thanked you for your service and asked if I could shake your hand.  You were gracious.  A few other costume-clad Jack Sparrows chimed in and told you "thanks".  But the focus on you was short-lived.  All attention returned to the delicious smelling circles of dough bobbing up in the grease, waiting to drain a bit before being doused in the liquid sugar at the next phase of the donut assembly line. 

I lost my interest in the glazed treasures, thinking about your re-entry to American life.  I wanted to get out of line and join you in the back and ask about your tour.  I wondered how long you'd been gone, what you did...and what you missed while you were gone.  You looked about my age.  Did you miss out on a graduation?  Or a grandbaby being born? Fourth of July picnics and Christmas mornings?  Games between the hedges?  Long walks with  your wife?  A second cup of coffee on Sunday mornings?  Funny little things like Cow Day at Chick-fil-A and Pirate Day at Krispy Kreme?

I'll bet our impatience over long lines for free donuts is more than perplexing to you.  And I wonder if you are bothered when you hear somebody complain about traffic or a slow checkout clerk.  Do we seem self-centered to you when we pay more for a vacation than some folks you served with make in a month? Are you glad you chose to serve our country, to represent a bunch of eye-patch-wearing, sword-holding, donut-eating carefree Americans?

  I hope we aren't ungrateful for the sacrifices you've made to defend what we hold dear. I wanted to say so much to you.  For all of us.  To you and to your family. I felt the urge to climb up on a table and clap for everyone's attention and lead us all in "God Bless America" or a few verses of "The Star Spangled Banner".  Shoot, I'd have settled for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"!.  But I've embarrassed my kids enough times. And since this time I had only one there and she'd have had to bear the potential pain of my public patriotism alone, I refrained. So I did the only thing I knew to do.  I bought your donuts.  I hope the clerk got my message right when your turn at the cashier came.  I just wanted to say Thanks. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Class info

I am currently teaching a Bible study at Watkinsville First Baptist Church called "Equipped for Battle Victory".  We're learning about how to live a life of joy and peace and confidence in the midst of chaos, turmoil, and attack.  I'd love to have you all join us but for some of you the commute would be a hassle :)  Some of you asked about getting the workbook, etc.  If you want to listen to the class lectures, they are on the WFBC website  www.watkinsville.org  Go to the "ministries" link, then the "women" link.  The audio recording link is at the bottom of that page.  The workbook is also there for download or I can mail you one if you want one.  They are $12, payable to WFBC.

If you can make it in person, there are two options for class - Tuesday mornings at 9:30 or Wednesday evenings at 6:15.  Even though we've already started, it's not too late to join in.

MY Race


Hebrews 12:1,2 :
 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God


My Betsy is a swimmer.  She was blessed with the long torso, lean body type that proves an advantage for competitive swimming.  She also has the tenacity and work ethic that have resulted in some summertime blue ribbons.  She's a natural in the water.

There's this one habit, though, that her coach has worked with her hard to break.  When Betsy is speeding through the water, she has a hard time not glancing over to the lanes on either side just to check on the competition.  More than once, this has cost precious milliseconds that made the difference between 1st and 2nd.  This is very common among young swimmers.  You see it all the time - a kid gets out in front and decides that relishing the position includes looking back at those behind.  And that wasted motion means time lost for the lead. Betsy's been swimming for a while but even so, she has to fight hard that natural tendency to look at the other lanes.  For her, it's not to enjoy her lead but rather to see if she's still got the lead. She measures her progress, not by the finish line, but by the other swimmers.  On the side of the pool, her coach shakes his head (or shouts "No, Betsy!!"), wondering how he can keep her from worrying about somebody else's race.

Friday, September 13, 2013

To the Mommy at Baskin Robbins

I don't know your name.  Or your story.  But for just a moment yesterday, you were me.  Or I was you.  You loaded two adorable little girls in your minivan and called a quick "Buckle up!" over your shoulder.  They appeared to be about 3 and 6 and you dressed them alike.  Except for their blonde ponytails, they were mine a couple of decades ago.  I couldn't be sure but I think I even saw an infant seat on the other side.  You were me.  Hurried and a tad bit harried.  Yep, you were me.

And I just wanted to call out to you and hug you and look in your eyes and tell you that you are a great Mom.  I don't know what brought you to Baskin Robbins an hour before dinner but the milky smears on the little's one face that didn't get quite wiped off tell me it was worth your trip.  Way to go, Mommy.  Way to go.  I'm glad you didn't worry about it ruining their dinner.  It probably did but there'll be dinner tomorrow and next week and the week after.  And there won't always be time for an ice cream cone.  There'll be things to hurry to forever but you won't always get to dress them alike and fix those ponytails.  I am so glad you did today.  Way to go.  You are doing a great job. 

I don't know your story, it is true, but I'll bet you wonder sometimes if you are doing a great job.  Even good enough.  But I'll bet you are.  And I wish I could speak life into you and promise you that what you are doing matters.  I wouldn't tell you to "enjoy it because it'll be gone too soon".  Nope.  I would tell you that you are a doing a worthy work and I would cheer from the sidelines.

Parenting is hard. It is the greatest blessing of my life but it is hard.  Every single stage has tough parts to it and no matter in which one we find ourselves, we think it's the hardest.  And we try and convince anyone in another stage that our current one is tougher.  But I remember the "dress-alike-ponytail" stage.  I loved it.  And I wondered if I would survive it.  I think the Marines stole their theme line from Moms -- MOTHERHOOD is the toughest job you'll ever love!!

Ice cream Mommy - keep it up.  Way to go.  I hope you got donuts from the shop next door, too.  Just because they asked. And I hope you didn't even worry about a sugar high or what anybody else thought.  I hope that somehow, across the parking lot, you could sense my silent applause.

Next time I see you - or one of the hundreds that seem to be my reflection in the mirror - the ice cream's on me.  Atta girl!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What I don't do

Sometimes I'm asked "how do you do it all?".  A couple of times recently I've had requests for a post on how I balance all I do and how I manage to "get it all done".  So I'm responding.

I will share some tips that help me be more productive and efficient..

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remember

Probably everyone who reads this remembers where they were and what they were doing on September 11, 2001.  I was pregnant with my youngest.  At home doing school with my older 3.  My hubby was in Atlanta.

My Mom called me about 9:15 that morning.  She saw it on the news.  Events were still unfolding.  We had no idea that subsequent attacks were pending.  I was torn between wanting to get the information and wanting to protect my children.  But I wasn't torn about wanting everyone home.  Glad my babies were right under my wings but I wanted our protector home.  Atlanta was a lifetime away. 

We all recall the horror.  The disbelief.  The aftershocks of grief and fear and anger.

But I also remember the spirit of unity among our people and the realization of our need for God.  This was bigger than American pride.  We had been brought to our knees all right, but not in desperate humiliation...rather we responded to the crisis with confident reliance on our God.

On this 12th anniversary of the greatest tragedy our generation has ever seen, may we remain in just that same place.  Just where God wants us.  On our knees.  Needing Him.  Trusting Him.  Seeking Him.  Finding Him.

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.  Luke 18:1


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gold rings for pigs

Proverbs 11:22 says "As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion."

Women, all women, desire to be beautiful.  Personally, I believe God wired us up this way.  It's not only not a sin to be beautiful, I believe that doing the best with what we have to work with can honor God.  After all, He created beauty!!!

What spoils God's design for beauty is a lack of discretion. 

So what's discretion?  Webster defines it as "the quality of being discreet, especially with reference to one's own actions or speech; prudence or decorum".  Ummmmm, what's discreet?  "modestly unobtrusive; unostentatious"

Hmmmmm.  Apparently the litmus test of gold rings for pigs is how much attention we are trying to attract.  By our dress or our make-up or our actions.  Or - I just gotta say this - our lack of dress.  Lots of noise lately about our "right" to dress like we want to and our "right" to look attractive.  Let's us girls be careful.  Gold rings are pretty ----- but not on pigs. What a waste of treasure!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Love for the Living Letters

If you have read many of my posts, you know that I spell "LOVE"  "F-O-O-D" .  By no means am I a gourmet cook, or even a great one!, but I love to love folks with food.  And, like all families, mine has some favorite dishes that I prepare for us and that I want to pass down to my offspring.  And if you like to try new easy recipes, then you are welcome to check these out.  I am just beginning to compile our favs so the plan is to add to this link over time.  But I have been planning to do this for months and I figured the best way to get it done was just to begin.  Then I'll eventually get it done.

Hope you enjoy....and I'd love it if you would share some of the recipes that you use to love on your family!!

Click here to download Love for My Living Letters.   I'll let you know as I add to the collection in the future!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

No missing pieces

I was playing with my grandson, Jonathan, on the floor today.  We were having the best time!  (Primarily because he is so handsome and extremely smart and winsome and obedient and....well, you get the idea).  One of our toys was one of those wooden peg / hammer things.  You know what I mean - the colored pegs fit into nice snug holes and you can hammer them in. And out.  And in.  And out.  Again. And again.  It's a lot of fun.

Except that we have misplaced one of the pegs.  That empty hole doesn't bother Jonathan too much but it drives me crazy.  I keep looking under furniture, on the porch, in the toy box, trying frantically to locate that missing peg.  No such luck.

As I crawled around on the floor, I pondered my peculiar obsession against missing pieces.  I don't like incomplete puzzles.  Or unattractively mismatched china.  Or broken door handles. Or light bulbs that need replacing.  Or holes in my screen door. Or books with the covers torn off.  Or toys without all their proper attachments.  Shabby chic, I like.  Missing pieces - not so much.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

God's Who's Who

Ever since I was a teenager, I've read books and heard talks that sought to inspire the recipients to reach for the stars, dream the big dreams, do the impossible.  Those messages are appealing and inspirational indeed.  And I am all for doing things excellently, not shabbily.  But today, I'd like to examine these messages through the microscope of Scripture and see if perhaps we need to exercise caution in our reaching and dreaming and doing....

First, I concur that we should heed Colossian 3:23  Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.   Christians should be known for being the best workers, most cheerful attitudes, and of greatest service to the organization.  The problem I have with some of these books and talks, though, is that the last phrase of this verse is often unheeded.  They don't encourage us to do great work for the Lord's reputation, but rather to enhance our own.  How to "get ahead", how to "succeed", how to "have a great career/marriage/kids" etc. Including "how to have a big church...." as opposed to how to advance HIS fame.

Next, on the "dream big" thing.  Check out this verse and see if you think it is consistent with that mindset.....

I Thessalonians 4:11,12

11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.   

I know I am in unusual territory.  I know it doesn't sound right for me to suggest to teens and young adults "Don't aspire to be great.  Just aspire to lead a quiet life and work hard and treat people right"  I now that doesn't make for great conference speeches or book titles or conversation fodder.  But isn't that exactly what this passage teaches? 

Work hard, yes.  But not to advance your own interests.  Be ambitious, yes.  But let your ambitions be to lead a life that is not "grand" or "admirable" but rather one that treats others right.  Sometimes grand things do indeed come but they should come from God's hand, not from our pursuit, for His fame, not our pleasure.

The world will probably not make note of our accomplishments if we obey these verses.  Most likely, we won't be applauded or acclaimed or emulated very much.  At least not here.  But check out what God says in Malachi 3:16  Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name.

A book of remembrance written for the Lord Himself.  Better than any earthly listing in Who's Who.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Grief Observed

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.

Habakkuk 3:17-19
 
Yesterday I went to see a friend who suddenly and tragically lost her 18 year old son.  I went, bearing food, knowing I had no words that could help but hoping to minister to her just the same.
 
Instead, I was on the receiving end and she did the ministering.
 
Let me share some things I observed while visiting just a short while:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Body

I'm reading an old classic - In His Image by Paul Brand, M.D.  It reads like a physiology text and I am loving it!  For today's Wednesday's Word, I will share some of my impressions after ingesting what he has to say.

The physical body is made up of a bazillion cells (can you tell this is in my own words?).  Each cell is distinct, yet connected.  Every cell in my body contains my own unique DNA, which links each one to one another, making them all belong together.  Yet they are separate from one another, individual.  Some work together and function as a group, different from other cell groups, yet all orchestrated to operate in harmony with one another. Every single cell in my body responds to orders from my brain...and every single cell recognizes an inherent bond with every other cell in my body, responding to their needs.  When cells, at least most of them, work as they are designed to do, I am healthy.  If enough rogue cells have their distorted way, my whole body can suffer.

Indeed, this is the picture of the Body of Christ.  We are all separate individuals, yet, because we are imprinted with the DNA of Jesus, we not only respond to His commands but also to the needs of others. In fact, many of His commands involve meeting the needs of others!   Think of the numerous "one another" exhortations in Scripture - "wash one another's feet", "love one another", "serve one another", "teach and admonish one another", "pray for one another", "confess your sins to one another", "comfort one another", "bear one another's burdens", "forgive one another".  When we all "do to one another as we would have them do unto us", the Body functions in beautiful, beneficial, healthy harmony.

 And the world takes note.

"We will, in all things, grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  From Him, the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work"  Ephesians 4:15,16




Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Breakfast at Suzie's

After the last post which mentioned my cheese grits casserole, I got some requests for the recipe.  I have never been one of those cooks who guards her recipes with the secrecy of Fort Knox - I am so delighted someone likes something I have prepared that I hold the world's largest conference call so I can share it.  So here it comes!  After all, the way I show my Living Letters that I love them is with FOOD!!

I'm including a couple of other family favorite breakfast recipes.  Maybe you can fix them for first day of school breakfast!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer is ending.  The school supplies have been out in WalMart for weeks.  I love summer and wish it could last forever.  It's not that I don't want to start school (I teach, ya know!).  It's that when a new school year begins, it means I am that much closer to working myself out of a job.  My kids are one step closer to the completion of their time at home.  And I'm pretty much wailing, just thinking about it.

Call me strange but I've never been one of those Moms who couldn't wait to get away from her kids.  I think I caught that trait from my own Mom.  She loved being with my brother and me and we knew it.  She still does.  And, if she could right now, I think she'd still come get me out of school when it snowed so I could play with her!!  Or let me stay home so we could work on Valentine Cards together.  Or sit up late so she could hear all the (boring) details of my evening.

I am sure there will be plenty to do once all my kids are gone.  I've never been one to be bored.  But if I could just hit the pause button for a bit, I'd do it.  I already know what it's like to set less places at the table.  To start to fix cheese grits casserole and remember that the one who loves that best won't be at breakfast that day.  To be able to finish laundry in 1/3 less time. To spend less at the grocery store. (OK, that part's not so bad!) To have fewer soccer practices and piano recitals and AWANA lessons.  I know that when I lie down in the hall outside the bedrooms late at night to pray, some of the beds are empty now.  And the only way they come home now is with a suitcase.

OK I'm in full blown sob mode now.  Can hardly see to type.  All because of what it means when summer ends. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The path to joy


Psalm 16:11 is definitely one of my most favorite verses.  We've already looked at it in another context (the path of life) but today let's focus on the joy part.  God tells us in this verse that in His presence is fullness of joy.  Psalm 15 tells us how to get into His presence so that we can find that fullness of joy.....

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy Birthday to my Mama

Today is my Mom's birthday.  I would gladly share how old she is except that I don't know.  She has told so many fibs about her age that she herself probably doesn't even know!  In fact, I cannot even be sure that her driver's license is accurate!!!

Oh,well, that's my Mama.  Fun and funny. I'll bet she is the only person in this country that can dial a rotary phone with her toes or jump up and down and click her heels together twice before she lands.  For real.   Never a lack of laughter when she's in the room.  Kind.  Whether it's dispensing candy to all the kids at church, delivering the most delectable brownies ever to a neighbor or including someone on the fringe in her circle, she is kind to her core.  Empathetic.  She can rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep better than anybody I have ever seen in my life.  No wonder there has been a constant stream of people to her door for the entirety of my life.  Once you've spent some time with my Mama, you just plain feel better.  Servant.  She is the most authentic example of servanthood I have ever seen.  Has absolutely no desire for attention or recognition (runs from it like a jackrabbit, actually!) But if there's a need anywhere in the county, she'll find it...and meet it.  Before anyone else knows it exists.  Maker of memories.  Cookies and lemonade at the end of my day.  Sitting at her kitchen table to tell her my troubles.  Picnics at Dowdell's knob.  Daytona Beach vacations.  Black bags at Christmas. Secret keeper.  Putting up peaches in the summer to enjoy all winter.  Early morning birthday calls.  Iron-clad promises of prayer. Rocking my babies.  Complete acceptance.  Unfailing love.  That's my Mama. 

She's all those things and lots more.  But most of all, she's my Mama.  If, by God's mercy and grace, some day, my children feel about me like hers do about her, I will consider myself the most blessed woman in the universe.  I love her with all my heart and want to be just like her when I grow up.

Happy Birthday, Alice.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The path

I was whining the other day.  Not out loud or anything.  And, of course, not to God (ha ha!!).  Just whining to myself in the car.  Generally about the demands on me for this particular stage of life. Looking at the grass on the other side (wherever that is).  Complaining to myself about all sorts of things.   Having a pretty good pity party, actually.  Too bad no one else could come! 

Apparently the Lord heard me, though.  Because I heard Him say something like "count your blessings".  I ignored Him and continued on my way, carrying out some task that was being required of me at that moment.  Sigh.  Poor me. 

As I was driving back home, I passed a house with a large something at the end of the driveway and a sign that said "FREE".  Well, I am Queen of Frugality and I know that you can't get much better than "FREE".  So I slowed down to take a look at the large something, fully expecting a pile of trash.  (Remember the frame of mind I was in!)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Aha!

I've missed blogging.  Sometimes I write posts in my head...but when I get to the computer, I can't find them!!  I noted recently that I've been empty.  So I shared my cleaning tip!  (That was quite well received, actually!  I guess lots of us have gunky showers.) 

I had an "aha" moment about my lack of content.  About why I've had a hard time coming up with things to write.  I've been writing elsewhere!  I am working on a Bible study to teach this fall and it takes everything in me to write the lectures and especially the homework.  So I've missed being able to share more Living Letters but, boy, am I having some fun on this study!  It's about spiritual warfare -- "Equipped for Battle Victory".  We're in this thing to win, not just to fight!  So I'm getting ready to share some rules for engagement with fellow warriors!!!

If you are in the Athens/Watkinsville GA area, I'd love to have you join us.  There will be two sessions offered, beginning in September - one will be taught on Tuesday mornings and the other on Wednesday evenings.  Both classes are at Watkinsville First Baptist and childcare is available.  Let me know if you need other info.  Once the class is done, I hope to have the link to audio lectures and download for the workbook available through Living Letters.

Until then, let's keep in touch here!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

If only...

 It seems to be human nature to wonder if one's life would be different (aka better...) if one's life circumstances were different (aka better...).  We sometimes think "if only I had been born in a different place" or to different parents or in another time or socioeconomic situation, "life might be better".  Maybe, instead of thinking "if only", we feel guilty that we don't have adverse beginnings to overcome and feel compelled to succeed lavishly so as to "earn" the good life spot we've been given.

This week's Wednesday's Word is a passage that explains the " why, when, where, and to whom" you were born. 

Acts 17:26,27
And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him.

God, in His loving sovereignty, orchestrated all the details of your birth and mine  to put us in exactly the right spot so that we would seek Him.  Whatever circumstances best cultivated the soil of our hearts to receive the Good News of our need for Him and His gift of grace are the ones He designed for us.  "Having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place".  When and where and to whom.  Not an accident.  Not an oversight or a tragedy.  But rather purposed with love..."that they should seek God".  "And perhaps feel their way toward Him...and find Him"

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cleaning tip

Sometimes I don't feel too inspiring.  Lots of times, actually.  Pretty much every post I wonder if any of it's worth reading.  But I keep writing cuz I have stuff inside that just has to get out.

Today is different.  I feel compelled to write but there's nothing to share.  Empty.

SO I decided to tell you about a great cleaning tip.  Seriously.  This past weekend was full of household projects and it was quite gratifying to get some things done.  Painted a shelf to use in the kids' bathroom.  Hung some pictures.  Started a DIY project.  Etc.  Fun stuff.

But the most fun was getting the caulking around my tub clean.  For real.  I am not a clean freak (as in "hope you are up to date on your shots when you come to my house")  but the state of my tub has bothered me for, well, a long time.  Too embarrassing to even guess how long.  And it's not that I haven't tried.  I have.  All sorts of cleaners.  Bleach, Greased Lightning, Lysol Tub Cleaner, etc etc etc.  Some of them showed promise but nothing that really zapped the gunk (OK - it's mildew!) and looked clean for more than a day.  I even got to where I left the cleaner in the tub and used it every day after my shower.  Negligible results. 

Then I saw something on Pinterest.  And tried it.

I bought some of those long cotton strands that they use for perms and stuff.  At the beauty supply place.  (THAT was an interesting trip !!  Maybe inspiration for another post...) Poured straight bleach in a bowl right there in my tub and stuck the cotton strands in to soak it up.  Then I c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y laid them along the gunky places on the tub.  Left them over night.  Closed the bathroom door - that bleach smell is STRONG. 

Next morning.  Prettiest tub you ever did see!  The caulking looks brand new!  I have smiled for 3 days straight. 

We'll see how long it lasts.  Smile.

There it is.  Perhaps my most inspiring post!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ALL things? Really?

Philippians 2:14 says Do all things without grumbling or complaining.  Whoa.  ALL things?   Really?

Yep.  That's what it says.  And since "grumbling and complaining" are activities of the tongue, we're including it in the Tidbits on the Tongue series.  ALL things.  Hmmmmmmmm.

The audacity of the Apostle Paul to pen these words.  ALL things indeed!  Did he have to put up with the mate that you do?  Or the co-worker?  Or the toddler???  Did 30% of his paycheck go to a government that wasted his money frivolously?  Did his family dump all their work on him and then neglect to appreciate him properly?  And what about his in-laws -- did Paul even have any in-laws?  Did he plan all sorts of wonderful family activities, in an attempt to be a marvelous parent and raise marvelous children with marvelous memories, and then have the weather ruin the whole day? And what about health - does he know what it's like to battle a terminal disease?  Or live with debilitating pain day after day? Maybe if Paul had to put up with some of what you put up with, well, then maybe he wouldn't be so glib about instructing us to do this stuff without any sort of grumbling or complaining.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sometimes....Some times...

Sometimes things are so hard.  Little things like broken dishwashers or a toothache or inconvenient disruptions.  Big things like the end of a friendship or loss of a job or terrifying doctor's report.  We've all been there and we all know that dreaded knot in the stomach, the strain in our voice, the anxiety endured.

But, thankfully, sometimes things are so good.  Little things like double rainbows and a happy toddler and an unexpected hour to relax.  Big things like enough money at the end of the month and a teenager at peace and successful surgery. 

Today has been a good day.  This weekend was a great one.  And I just want to go on record saying "Thanks".  To my family and my friends and especially to the Giver of all good gifts.  Thank you.

I know things aren't always peachy keen.  But sometimes they are.  Like today.  And, for the record, I am going to enjoy every moment of it.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Shhhh...

Sometimes the best word we can speak is to say nothing at all.  Check out these bits of wisdom from Proverbs 17:

vs. 10 -
Whoever covers an offense seeks love    but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
.
14 The beginning of strife is like letting out water,
    so quit before the quarrel breaks out.


 27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
    and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
    when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.


Let's keep quiet sometimes...........we might look wise!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Criticism

I was blessed to grow up in a home where criticism was not part of our vernacular.  We simply did not criticize. Or complain.  Not even when it was "merited".    How my parents achieved that, I do not know! 

I became a quick learner, though, let me assure you.  On my own, I managed to master the art, even falling prey to the idea that criticism was "helpful" to others.  How would they ever change their ways, I reasoned, unless I told them where they were wrong?  This "skill" grows exponentially when practiced even a bit, I soon learned. The more I criticized, the more things I saw that "needed" criticizing.  Once put into motion, criticism can quickly become a way of life, a lens through which all persons and activities are filtered. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July.  I hope you have a wonderful holiday, celebrating with family and friends.  I love this country.  I suppose most citizens love their home country but I think we have something really worthy of admiration and adoration here in America.

Where birth does not determine societal rank.  Where ideas are discoursed and debated without fear of authoritarian reprisal. Where power belongs to the people and authority is peaceably delegated and transferred.  Where diligence and perseverance can make the difference between putting food on the table and not.  Where "poor" is a relative term.  Where generosity is the norm.  Where differences of politics and opinions and religion don't have to impede the  joining of forces to help those in need or standing together to weather tough times.  Where watermelon and fried chicken and homemade ice cream are enough to guarantee a good time for all.  Especially if it's peach.  Just sayin.

Yes, I know there's a lot wrong with this country.  I don't like the stonewalling and hypocrisy and overspending that seems to characterize the center of government.  I think it's a big problem that those we have elected sometimes forget who they work for.  The power of special interest groups irritates me.  And I think we have strayed from the Constitutional framework of our founding.

But I still love this place.  There's no where else I'd rather live.  We can solve the problems.  Generations before us have solved problems and we can, too. 

God Bless America.  And may America live so that we will be a blessing to Him.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Have you heard....


When I was a little girl, a popular TV show had a segment where a group of girls sang a song that went something like this "You'll never catch one of us repeating gossip...so you'd better be sure and listen close the first time!"  Hee-Haw.  Made us laugh every time we saw it.

It's not so funny being the victim of gossip, though.  Can you relate??

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Jonathan

I promised a picture of Jonathan.  Took me a week but finally got it.  Well, actually Chip got it.  Anyhow, here it is.  Cutest little boy alive.  And his gorgeous Mommy.  Happy birthday, again, Jonathan!  We had a great time this weekend.  And, remember - what happens at Suzie's stays at Suzie's .  :):) Especially what you got to eat for breakfast.......