Beware the “Smooth Patter” Corrupting Simplicity

stone-jewelJesus has been impressing the message upon my heart that it’s all about intimacy.  He’s calling us to intimacy.  He’s calling up to ferocious, radical, heart bending love.

“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3 NIV)

The New Living Translation says it this way:  “But I fear that somehow your put and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted . . .”

light my lamp 72The Message says it this way:  “The thing that has me so upset is that I care about you so much – this is the passion of God burning inside me!  I promised your hand in marriage to Christ, presented you as a pure virgin to her husband.  And now I’m afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ.”

Wow… it’s so easy to drift into performance.  IF I only can obey this Christian practice then Jesus will love me.  IF I don’t do all the right things – then He’s mad at me and  . . .

I’m guilty of measuring myself . . . Let’s see:  I read my Bible five extra minutes each day this week so I’m a good girl and God loves me.  So, if I don’t read my Bible at all this week that means I’m a bad girl? . . . and God doesn’t want to talk to me now?  But my righteousness is as dead as a stone in the picture above.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished.  And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:32-5:16)

This is the best witness. This is what we need today.  The boldness and wisdom that comes through being with Jesus. Religiosity is subtle, sneaky, deception trying to slither its way into our holy intimacy with the Lord.

Show me your ways 72I’m hearing this for you and me this morning:

Don’t struggle . . . run to Me.

Don’t try . . . run to Me.

LET ME BE  the solution to every problem that you face.  

I measured up . . . so you don’t have to.

It is by MY righteousness, not yours, that the way is open to you.  Run!  Quickly!  Run to Me.

I love you friends, but BEST OF ALL, Jesus does.

If you’d like to hear a wonderful message, listen to this young man : Jefferson Bethke

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Happy Birthday . . . Humbug!

Happy Birthday, Senior Citizen!  Humbug.

Well, I know I just wrote – but this is too good to pass up.  I know God has a sense of humor or He wouldn’t have invented a senior citizen.  I don’t mind being reminded by God that I’m getting old, but that’s where I draw the line.

My birthday is not until the 19th of August, but I guess these folks wanted to be sure I got their “best wishes” in case I croaked before the actual date!  This came in the mail today:

happy birthday Senior

Whhoo-hooo!  You KNOW you’re old when the only Birthday cards you get in the mail are from your financial advisor and your healthcare provider! (No, not Obama)

This “Happy Birthday”greeting came with instructions: if you smoke – quit.  Examine yourself and decide where you need to improve (?????) and, if you’re not smart enough to come up with your own answers you can call the Health Coach hotline and some lady in India will read to you over the phone.

But the kicker was on the second page…

colonoscopyHappy Birthday, Marjorie… now let’s talk about colorectal cancer!  “We just want to take this occasion to remind you of the fun plans we have waiting for you – it’s colonoscopy time!”  Sweet.

In case you haven’t gone there yet, there are two fun things about a colonoscopy you can look forward to: 1. As soon as it’s over you don’t have to go back for ten years, and 2. the drugs they give you make you forget everything that’s just happened!  I can remember my poor husband got looped.  They must have given him too much.  He came weaving his way out of the colon clinic declaring, “THIS is how I’m meant to feel ALL the time!”  And he repeated that five times before we got to the car!

Wow, where’s the respect.  If you have to remind me of the more unpleasant things of life,  don’t do it under the pretenses of my birthday . . .  send chocolate.

I don’t know about you, but I’m being inundated with hearing aid advertisements, real estate brokers who drive slowly past my house like hungry bears at a barbecue: “she’s getting up there, fellas,  she’ll have to sell soon.”

Then there’s the AARP cards that started coming the minute I turned 50!  That’s a lot of trees wasted over the last 17 years!

In the bookstore nowadays, I’m automatically asked if I want the LARGE PRINT edition.  This comes from clerks young enough to still wear undershirts.

Coupons for denture cream, medi-alert necklaces, bathtubs you walk into, and recently an ad announcing a sale on SCOOTERS!  I want to scream: I JUST RODE TEN MILES ON MY BIKE AND NEVER BROKE A SWEAT, YOU MOROON.

Well, I say, fake it as long as you can, people.  You’re only as old as you feel . . .? or is it “only as young as you feel?” or . . .? oh what the heck, I forget.

 

 

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I don’t Want To Make You Jealous

 

DSC01710 DSC01712

I’m not telling you this to make you jealous – but I’m going to London!  England!

Yes, the passport has come (though I don’t recognize the person in the photograph), I’ve saved my money for scones and pubs and . . . well, bye, bye.

A vacation.  FOR ME! I’m traveling with my older brother, Bill.

It’s amazing to me with all the excitement ahead, I’ve been all weepy-creepy this week.  The conversations have gone a bit like this:

Anxiety: “I wish I was going with my husband.”

Girl with big girl panties pulled up:  “Face it, if he was alive, he wouldn’t want to go.”

have I got everything 2Anxiety: “What if I need something I didn’t pack?”

Big Girl:  “Relax, they DO have stores in London.”

Anxiety:  “My kitty will be sad.”

Big Girl:  “Now you sound like your mother-in-law!  That same kitty kept you up all night looking for her, and it didn’t bother her one bit.”

Anxiety:  “I feel more comfortable when I stay at home with the same routine.”

Big Girl:  “YOU’RE NUTS!”

have i got everythingAnxiety:  “Where’s my list?”

Big Girl getting annoyed:  “IN YOUR HAND, STUPID.”

I don’t know if it’s a widow thing, a getting-older thing, or I’m in a serious fruitcake . . . but making myself do this is taking some work.

Pushing through anxiety is a challenge, but a challenge we all must conquer.  If I let my life be ruled by what is comfortable, I’d never get my face out of the ice cream container.

Recently I bought a bike.  The biggest hardship was figuring how to get my helmet off.  Then anxiety tried to squelch that fun too:

Anxiety: “What if you fall down?” and  “The trails are isolated, maybe a serial killer will be lurking in the shadows?”

That’s when I’m reminded of  words from my beloved husband who used to roll his eyes and sigh,  “I don’t know HOW you live with your brain.”

You could say, anxiety driven stinkin’-thinkin’  is just the downside of a vivid, over active imagination.  Or, it’s just a part of walking in the brave new world of widowhood.

Big Girl:  “Who cares where anxiety comes from?  It’s not from Jesus so don’t hold on to it.”

gasp . . . I forgot to pack some Bandaids  . . .

 

 

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Oh The Stories We Concoct

Scarlet n box

scarlet closeup w web

Should I seem a bit off , it’s because I’m working on two hours of sleep choppily executed over a very long six hour period.  Scarlet, the mitten-toed rescue cat, squeezed between my feet when I opened the door last night and disappeared into the night.

I never let her out in the evening because of the coyotes and fox in the back fields.

She escaped, fearlessly into the evening’s lure.

By 10:00, when she had not returned, I got in the car and drove over to the farm.

“Marj, what are you expecting to see?  A charcoal cat in a charcoal night? Not smart.” I told myself.  But love looks.

When I got home, the comforting crunch of the potato chips I had hiding in the pantry seemed the logical choice for the hour. (I’d bought them for the grandkids’ lunch visit today)

A half bag, and a stomach ache later, I called her for the umpteenth time.

“SCARRRRRRR…LET,  Here kittttteeeeee…”  Seriously, how many times can you do that before you annoy the neighbors?  Now I was really annoyed because she made me eat all those potato chips!

Finally, I surrendered to the pillow at 12:30, after one last drive down the road with my head out the window.

Oh the stories we construct when we’re worried.

She’s hanging by one of her extra toes from some branch in the field, and she’s surrounded by yellow-eyed, drooling, snarling coy dogs waiting  to devour my . . .

“SCARRRRRRR. . .LET, Here kittttteeeeee…”  I screeched from my porch at 1:30 in the morning.

The dark night, lighted eerily by a full moon, surrendered not my beloved.

I tried my pillow and prayer again only to be met with more stories.

Oh no, she’s on someone else’s roof, hovering about the gutters, peering into the darkness. Afraid.  Too high to jump, especially with the spiked, poison tipped branches set below.

2:00 a.m.  “SCARRRRRRR. . .LEEETTTTT!”

Nothing.  I retreat to my bed again.  Lord, please bring my baby home.

Worry is draining, and oh, what stories we tell ourselves.

At 4:00 a.m. I hear a tired, “Meeeeeee” at the screen door.  (feline mantra)

Lunging from my crumbled bed, I dash to the door.

“Where have you been young lady?  Do you have any idea what time it is?  I’ve been up all night worried sick.”

(Ever hear that one before?)

She strolled confidently past me, her tail high, her motor running, brushed against my bare leg and strutted into the kitchen.

cat window“Is that all you have to say? Young lady, you’re grounded!”

I return to my scrunched and wrinkled nest. was near sleep when my boarder’s radio alarm slowly increased in volume until it was blasting out K-Love’s canned, and redundant songs.

My ears began bled annoyance until I surrendered to the day at 5:00.

Now, Scarlet sprawls peacefully on my desk, her butt on the edge of my keyboard like nothing happened, cleaning her most beautiful mitten toes.

God bless YOUR day.scaarlet 1

 

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Negotiate the Rugged Terrain

fawn w verse 72

Agility: having the ablity to move quickly and easily; able to think and understand quickly.  It means nimble, light-footed, sharp, perceptive and quick-witted.  It’s the opposite of clumsy, slow and dull.

“He gives me the agility of a deer . . .”

“An adult white tail deer can really jump. In fact, the average white tail deer can jump over an obstacle that is not 5, 7, or 8 feet high but 12 or more feet high– taller than virtually any barrier deer fence. In fact, to the astonishment of deer control experts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rates white tail deer as being able to jump 15 feet high.”

Deer jump the highest when they’re in danger. A deer is not inclined to jump high unless they have to, because what goes up must come down, but chased by coyotes or dogs, they have amazing agility to jump whatever is necessary.

I love the quote by Emily Dickinson, “A wounded deer jumps the highest.”

I think what she is saying in this poem is that those going through suffering are often able to do remarkable things.  God gives us the agility of a deer “to negotiate the rugged terrain.” (Psalm 18:33)

A white tail deer, or any other type of deer, usually don’t take the trouble to jump high if they can go around, through, or under an obstacle, but under duress, it has amazing ability.

What is your “rugged terrain?”

For me, writing my book has been a journey requiring strength beyond my natural ability, just to stay focused and not get distracted. I’ve had many false-starts to this book as I’m wobbled through an emotional and wildly new terrain, but I sense a new agility.

fawn 5

These little fawn were right outside my window next to my desk.

It was amazing to watch them leap when they sensed my presence.  “My lover is like a swift gazelle or a young deer. . . Look, here He comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills . . .”  (Song of Solomon 2:8 NIV)

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.”  (Habakkuk 3:19 NIV)

When Joah, Abishai and Asahel, the three sons of Zeruiah, were among David’s forces, God gave Asahel the ability to run like a deer. ( 2 Samuel 2:18)

The name Asahel means: made by God or made of God. One source defined Asahel:  God did.   I love that because we know for a man to run like a deer it has to be something that God did.

I also studied out Asahel’s mother’s name, Zeruiah.  The definition of her name is controversial.   Some sources define it: stricken of the Lord.  Zeruiah was a widow.  Her three sons were some of David’s mightiest warriors and were in close relationship with David.  Others say her name means: the Balm of God.

I put them together.  Even with the difficulties of being a widow, and watching her sons go into battle, she raised a son who had the agility of a deer, swift and sure-footed, a warrior of courage and stamina.  Perhaps she was “stricken of the Lord”, but she also knew the comforting, soothing and restorative balm of God.  She grew faith and courage through the rugged terrain in which she travel.

Christ invites us to arise from sloth and discouragement, leave our sins and vanities, to leap on the mountains with Him.  This is an invitation to run, like one of David’s mighty men, in close fellowship with Him.

fawn 6I watched the little fawn walked clumsily across the grass, so vulnerable, and magnificently camouflaged by God.

The next day, four BIG BOYS lumbered onto my lawn.  They walked proud,  sure-footed, courage full-grown, and wise.  What a thrill to see.

buck

buck 2

Are you facing rugged terrain?  Take comfort in knowing that Your God calls you to leap with Him – over whatever mountain you face.

God bless you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Every Morning – Even After Cappuccino Chunk and Moose Tracks!

fawn

The little fawn in this picture appeared outside my studio window this morning.  There were two other little ones the same size. I grabbed my camera, but only captured one shot before they spooked.  I think the mother delivered them in the trees on the edge of my property.  Their spots were much whiter than what I was able to capture through a dirty picture window.  It made be think about new beginnings. . . and Windex.

“The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.”  (Lamentations 3:23)

In context, Jeremiah is lamenting because things were so difficult, he was tempted to believe God had turned against him: “And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace, and I said, ‘My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD.’ ”  (Lamentations 3:17-18)

As Jeremiah states his distresses, he also shows us the way out: by acknowledging the compassions of the Lord.  With each morning there dawns the mercies of Jehovah.

It’s in the acknowledgement of the truth that our faith rises.

Yesterday, I fell off the diet wagon and did a face-plant into a bowl of ice cream.  I woke from a nap thinking: I have to have some.  There was no contest.  “My treat,” I told my friend. “There’s a great place two miles from my house.”

Not soon enough: “I’ll have a scoop of Cappuccino Chunk with Peppermint Moose Tracks on top.”

eating chocolate 72Before you could say, “A chunky is as a chunky does,” it was gone, except for the dribbles down my shirt.

“You spilled some,” said my friend offering me a napkin.

“That’s for later,” I snickered.

After she left, the house was quiet and I was feeling lonesome, (no excuse) so I made popcorn . . . with extra butter.  I think the feast would have continued had I not eliminated all the junk from the house.

Alluring visions of Potato chips and Honey-Nut Cheerios danced in my head, as I searched through every old hiding place.

Darn, I hate it when I’m thorough.

Have you ever wondered why a binge never includes broccoli?   What is it about greasy-crunchy-starchy-carbos that is so alluring?

It may seem like a minor thing to you.  After all, what’s one ice cream cone and a little bowl of popcorn, right?  Well, first of all, it was a BIG bowl, and second, I’m on an assignment, which God has been given me great grace, to trim down and get healthy.  Part of the journey is “no breads or sweets.”

The GOOD NEWS:  no matter how you messed up yesterday, God’s mercies are new every morning.  A new beginning awaits you with every dawn.  We can begin again.

I tend to beat myself up when I fail.  Do you?  “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” (Alexander Pope)  One thing I’ve learned in my sixty-odd years: though the Lord hates sin because it separates us from Him, He loves it when we reach for His salvation and call upon His mercies to begin again.

When the Lord forgives . . . it’s over.  Unless we keep it alive.

Father, be with my friends today. Thank you for the blood of Christ that cleanses us of all of our sins. Whatever the struggle. you will give us a fresh start. Today, we turn to You.   Shower us with Your tender mercies and loving kindness.  In Jesus name, Amen.

 

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When Words Don’t Fix The Tears That Fall

hugs 72I heard the screen door slam and familiar footsteps, “Mom . . .?”

I didn’t tell him I’d been crying.  I didn’t tell him anxiety greeted me in the wee hours of the morning before light softened the dark edges of my room.

“I’m in here, honey.”

“What’s up?”  he asked picking up my mail.

“Same old same old.” I replied. “Gee, I’d make you breakfast but I’m out of eggs.”

“I can’t stay, just wanted to check in.”

“I love that about you.  Are you okay?” I asked.

“Same old same old.  Busy.  Well, if you’re okay, I gotta run,” he said, opening his great big arms.

I folded into his embrace and smelled the sweet skin on his neck.

Little boy . . . my first, my joy.  Little man . . . so tall, so grand.  Man full-grown . . . you still come home.

The screen door slammed again. I watched his truck back down the driveway, wishing he could have stayed, but so grateful for every moment, his watchful eyes, his amazing hugs so freely shared.

His hug set the tone for my day, not the anxiety, not the tears.  Sometimes it’s all we need to keep going, whatever the struggle might be.  The magic of an accepting hug, can reach beyond where words can go.

When living’s hard and we’re reminded life’s a war, the power of a hug can keep the courage bubbling in our bones and trim our lamps to shine again.

There is a hug awaiting you, kissed my the Word, the Savior’s arms.  When no one reaches out for you, remember on the cross His arms stretched wide – you’re not alone.

Heavenly Father, I ask that You will send a hug, whatever shape it might take, to every friend you’ve given me and friends of friends and their friends, too.  Send hugs of hope to struggling hearts, and those with pain to carry.  In Your embrace, remind us, Lord, of  dreams You dream for each of us, the hope awaiting every day.  Hug our children with Your grace and keep them safe from this harsh world. Give us clear vision of Your love and hug us with fresh purpose and conviction.  In Your precious name I pray, Amen.

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Will You Please Do Me A Favor?

writing morningOkay, it’s reevaluation time.  I know it’s summer and people are spending less time on the internet in leu of outdoor activities.

But, if I may take just a moment of your time,  I’d like to ask you three things.

1.  Will you help me promote this website?  It’s easy . . . just share it. I’m trying to set some new goals for this year.  One of my goals is to increase traffic.  If you have been blessed by a post, will you please share it with your friends?

2.  What would you like to read about?  What subjects peak your interest?   Inspiration, Bible study, humorous stories?  You tell me.

3.  Have you visited my youtube channel?  Stories with Mimmy?  or the new Creative Hands Community website?   You can also visit stories with Mimmy on Facebook.

Here’s your chance to give me some constructive criticism, too.  I want to grow.  It’s your time to speak.

If you don’t want to leave a comment on the blog, you can write me at stevens.marji@gmail.com.

This blogs’ for you . . . so I really want to keep you visiting.  Help me towards excellence.

Hope to hear from you soon,

Marji

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So Many Babies Launching Out Into the World.

caricature

I had my caricature done at a graduation party… LIKE?  He made me look so young and thin I wanted to kiss him.

Our little babies are launching out into the world.  See this  “HAPPY”  fun clip.  It’s graduation time.

Oh the parties. . . Two dear friends have kids graduating.  I’ve been up ladders helping one friend put Dr. Seuss ‘trees’ ten feet in the air.  I’ve chopped veggies (then forgot to bring them)  I’ve tasted more rich food in the past weekend then I’ve eaten in a year. . . yum!  Would post pictures but I also forgot my camera.

Mothers are getting ready to say good-bye as their kids prepare to launch out into the world of college . . . oh God, protect them.

kyle and IIt seems like yesterday my sons graduated from High School.  This photo is Kyle and I in the 90′s at his graduation party.  I remember trying to keep tables level on our lawn, praying for nice weather, and all the relatives (many gone now) gathering to celebrate.  Now, seven grandchildren later, they’re in their forties!  This doesn’t seem possible as I’m still in my forties – right? (if you love me, don’t burst my bubble)

I watched the kids last night dancing – hopping, jumping, shrieking, leaping.  All I could think of was, if I tried to do that it would cost me a fortune at the chiropractor.

This photo is Jonathan graduating from college, sprouting a beard!  (my hair always photographs red)

jon and IBittersweet.  We celebrate and yet we mourn.  I remember when my eldest son was preparing to move out. We’d been loading up his car all afternoon. I was trying NOT to cry, instead I just got grouchy.  Everyone was tip-toeing around my cranky-self.    I was taking out my frustration scrubbing to death a few dishes in the sink, when a piercing thought came across my mind, “He’s not going to sleep in his bed anymore.”

The dam broke.

“Mom,” Kyle said softly. “I’m sorry if my moving out is causing you pain.”

Now you can see why I was sad – what a man.  My answer was smarter than me, “Son, it caused me pain to bring you into this world, and it causes me pain to let you go into this world.  But, it’s a natural pain, meant to be. I release you with no regrets.”

“I release you with no regrets . . .”  I said that to my husband, my mother, my mother-in-law, and those giving me an empty nest.  It’s life . . . yes, but it’s God if we can say that.  Only with His help can we build a life with no regrets.

I didn’t say, “no mistakes.”  We all fail at times as children, mates and mothers, but through His mercy our mistakes can be forgiven and washed away. I remember wondering:   did I do a good job?  Did I prepare them for the world?  Will they look back and remember all the times I lost my temper, or will they cherish their memories of me?  I remember agonizing over that one.

One of the most touching moments with my son was after one of those times I’d lost my temper and said something out of anger that was totally untrue and unkind.  I remember hurrying into his room moments later and saw his little body lying on the bed staring at the ceiling.

“Oh my son,  please forgive me, what I said was very, very naughty, I didn’t mean one word of it.”

He sat up and reached his little arms toward me.  It broke my heart.  “Please pray for me,” I said,  “that God will help me be a better mommy.”

He laid his little hands on my arm, closed his eyes, and prayed, “Dear Jesus, please help my mommy be a better mommy, so she will be happy. Amen.”

I choke up thinking about it.  But Jesus. . . for all of us. . . But Jesus. As we fumble our way so imperfectly through life,  our blessed hope is the grace of God and the gift of forgiveness.  We get to tell them: “Look to Jesus for your perfection.”

I’m so thankful for that. . . aren’t you?

 

 

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It’s What The Devil Is Doing. . .

bible7The poem below was written by a 15 yr. old school kid.  I do not know his name.

The Lord’s Prayer is not allowed in most public schools anymore because the word ‘God’ is mentioned.  A young man in Winnipeg, MB wrote the attached new school prayer:

“Now I sit me down in school where praying is against the rule

For this great nation under God finds mention of Him very odd.

If scripture now the class recites, it violates the Bill of Rights.

and anytime my head I bow becomes a Federal matter now.

Our hair can be purple, orange or green, that’s no offense; it’s a freedom scene.

The law is specific, the law is precise. Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.

For praying in a public hall might offend someone with no faith at all. . .

In silence alone we must meditate, God’s name is prohibited by the Province.

We’re allowed to cuss and dress like freaks, and pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks . . .

They’ve outlawed gun, but First the Bible.  To quote the Good Book makes me liable.

We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen, and the ‘unwed daddy’ our Senior King.

It’s ‘inappropriate’ to teach right or wrong, we’re taught that such ‘judgements’ do not belong. . .

We can get our condoms and birth controls,  study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles, 

But the Ten Commandments are not allowed, no word of God must reach this crowd.

IT’s scary here I must confess, when chaos reigns the school’s a mess.

So, Lord, this silent plea I make: Should I be shot; my soul please take!

Amen.

 

Terrifying, isn’t it?  But if  there is one young man on fire for God, there must be many who see the light of this nation flickering.  Underground, hidden in caves and Catacombs, believers unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, cannot be extinguished.  God has ordained that under extreme pressure diamonds are created.  I pray believers will multiply with the pressures around us as it squeezes the carnal from our bones and make us stand and say, “No more!”

Jesus said, “If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father.”

The phrase “Take heed” is mentioned 49 times in the Bible. When Christ tells us to “watch and pray always” He does not say to watch just world events.  One of the things that we have to watch most closely is ourselves.  

“Take heed to yourselves…” what we are allowing ourselves to do; what we are getting involved in; who are friends are, how much time we are spending on this, and that.  How close is our relationship with God?  That is what we much watch and take heed of.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come will close on you suddenly like a trap.”  (Luke 21:34)

If there was any word to describe out current culture it is the word: “dissipation.” Evidence of this is even in the church.

Dissipation means:  to be spread thin to the point of vanishing, like water soaking into the ground.  To be foolishly/heedlessly expended, to suffer irrecoverable loss as in the loss of heat.  It also means wasteful expenditure or consumption. Intemperance.

A chilling, evil wind is blowing, and it’s desire is to cause the fire in our hearts to become cold – like the slow turning of a lake to ice.  I believe it is imperative that we realize this is much more than our need for better time management.  It’s what the devil is doing! To battle this takes more than buying a new calendar – and we will not succeed without a vital relationship with Christ, and self-denial.

Our self-indulgent culture spreads its traps before us like a silver platter full of tantalizing, buttery pastries, and says, “Come on. . . just this once,” or “There’s nothing wrong with a little fun. . .”

Fun is a healthy thing – but only in balance with the serious issues of life.

Today,  I’m hearing the Lord’s plea:  “Watch out. . . beware. . . draw close . . . don’t slip.”

Father, we need You more than ever.  Show us if we’re on the edge.  Highlight the narrow path again.  Forgive us, Lord,  for barely thinking of You.  Ignite our hearts again.  In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

 

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Writing=Angst? Is It Worth It?

apples of gold

I haven’t written a blog in a while because I’ve been working on my book.  Can’t write after writing…my brain would blow-up.

The book hasn’t had my attention in quite a while.  Most of my energy has been on art, preparing for my ordination, and the first Creative Hands Community one-day retreat. 

Now, the grandkids are about to blast into summer with another year under their belts.  That will keep me busy, too.  (By the way,  fourteen-year old Owen got 100′s on every test but Math, that was only a 96.  Oh boy, grandma can’t relate to that experience.)

image-320x200I also bought a bike that actually rolls forward and the brakes work.  I thought it would help the weight-thing.  A few recent pictures of me confirmed I really can’t give up on this.  So, I thought a bike might help.

Still have trouble getting my helmet off!

I’ve been sitting on my beam for the past two weeks,  and I’ve got 25,000 words under my belt.  What triggered this writing spurt you ask?  One encouragement from a dear friend, Jerry Thompson.  All he said was,  “I really think you should put together a book of your blogs – pick one theme – I’ve read almost all of them and they’re really good.”

Bing!  The starter bell went off and here I am 25,000 words down the stretch.  That’s the power of a “word in season”.

“Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.” (Proverbs 25:11 NLT)  The neat thing is, Jerry didn’t know God was using him.

Photo-on-2012-02-04-at-10.44-2Writing causes some problems, however.   1.  I sit, and like warm play dough, my hips keep spreading under the weight of the top half of me.  Writing and diets don’t go together = angst.

2. Dust settled gets stirred up in my face.  Writing my memoirs as a widow is a noble task, but a lot of what was behind me gets kicked up  again = angst with sadness.

3. Self-doubt and writing seem to go hand-and-hand.                                             Who wants to read this Photo on 2012-01-27 at 09.57garble?  Who do you think you are expecting that people would want to read your stuff?  Oh, yah,  it’s really challenging to push through all that mental dribble trying to prevent you from writing all this garble you fear no one will read = angst and discouragement.

So, I guess, if you believe my ‘stuff’ is worth it, I’m asking you to pray.

Too much in my life translates into angst.  That’s just me in process, but I’m not giving in to it.

One phrase I hear often:  “if only one is blessed by what you write, it’s worth it.” Sorry, doesn’t motivate me to spend 100,00 hours in front of my computer.  I believe more than one will be blessed by the lessons I’m learning and the sweet encouragements the Lord faithfully gives.  At least two!  I want my words to help others who are suffering loss, to understand they’re not alone, and know there’s another soul who understands their journey. . .then, I’ll be happy.

 

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Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Common Snapping Turtle“There’s a giant snapping turtle in your driveway!” The screen door slammed.

Everyone jumped up from the table and ran outside to see, but it was gone.

“Reeeeally, it was right here.” she said defensively.  “Where could it have gone?”

We started combing through the bushes.  Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a spot in my newly mulched garden that was all torn up.  I bent over to smooth it and brush mulch off a ‘rock’ and . . . wait . . .

“Hey, here it is!”  I yelped accidentally tapping it on the back.  “It’s not a rock, it’s burrowed under my Sedum.”  Only half of its shell and thick, homely tail could be seen.

“She’s come to lay her eggs in your garden?  This is really rare.” But, the next morning a wide sliding trail across the garden revealed her departure.

That day she was seen all the way over at my son’s farm. That’s a huge distance for such a slow-moving, clumsy creature.

“Is there a nugget here, Lord?” I whispered.

Instantly the thought came:  Slow and Steady.  “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof, and the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.  In your patience possesses ye your souls.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8 KJV)

The greatest service we can give to God is persistence in continuing to do the work of God, day after day.

Paul says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day . . .”

It’s a temptation to think the work of the ministry is only when something BiG happens, a huge spiritual boost or event. or a mission trip overseas.  We minimize daily prayer and Bible reading, being present for a friend, or the flavor we create in our homes as something other than the work of the ministry.  We are always in the ministry – every moment, every expression and comment, either works for the Kingdom, or it does not. God will reward us for who we are more than for what we do.

In the Disney cartoon of Aesop’s fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, the lesson comes across perfectly:  “Slow and sure wins the race.”

The rabbit was a streak of light, an explosion of speed and show.  His arrogance however cost him the race. He got distracted by applause and lost sight of his purpose. The tortoise was a yawn – not flashy, not popular, but steadfast, consistent and patient. He was not impressive,  just steadfast.  He kept his mind on the task, and kept going.

Like weight loss, it’s not the fad diets that work in the long run.  We may burst through 15 pounds in a month and get all excited, but that’s the weight that quickly returns. It’s the slow and steady lifestyle of wise eating that wins the permanent weight loss.

Whatever you are facing remember Toby the Tortoise – “slow and sure” will win the prize.

Quiet place song2 72

Quiet - Vol 2 back 72

Quiet Place of Song – Volume Two – includes Run The Race and The Highest Call, two songs that herald the importance of the race of life.

This CD includes: To the Keeper of My Heart, and Lebanon Cedar,  two full length albums in one for only $10. plus shipping.  TO ORDER

 

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“Mimmy, Quit Faffing!”

chapel with toastWednesday is Chapel-Day.  No, I don’t go to church, that’s my two-year old grandson’s name.  I’m in love. He is a total delight.

This week I got totally hysterical laughing  watching him eat a salad.  I sat him on the kitchen table and pulled up a chair to suposedly supervise. I just can’t get close enough.  It won’t be long before he’ll begin to push me away when I stick my face in his.  They all did.  I mean, who wants someone starring at them with their face close enough to catch the drips with their tongue.  I can’t help it, he’s so stinking cute.

This week I couldn’t stop laughing.  I was over the top.  Chapel held up his finger and whispered, “Shhhhhhh, Mimmy, stop faffing.”

My grandkids make me “faff.”  I just wanna squeeze ‘em.

quit faffingHazel was entertaining me last night with a routine of giggles-jerks and wiggles: “I went into a Chinese restaurant . . .”  she said with a made-up accent. Then she’d go into gales of laughter and blissful silliness enjoying every moment of my undivided attention.

hazel laughingI laughed until I got face-cramps.  “I’ll have to take Advil after this visit!”  My daughter-in-law just shook her head.  Emotionally, Hazel and I are about the same age…8.

Delight . . . what does it mean to you? It means: to take great pleasure in.  To please, captivate, thrill, gladden, gratify, entertain, amuse, divert.  It means to luxuriate in great joy.

I tried not to laugh, at Chapel’s request, but it just kept bursting through.  After one explosion, spraying his face, I said, “Oh boy, I’m in trouble now.”

His face softened and he said, “No trouble, Mimmy.  No trouble.”

It’s so affirming to get the okay that your silliness is tolerated, even from a two-year old.  Oh dear, he has me beat.

I can’t imagine God having a giggle-fit over watching me eat!  However, the Bible does say he DELIGHTS in us.

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17)

After the promises of taking away sin, follow the promises of taking away trouble.  What makes us holy will also make us happy.  He will be Jesus . . . he will save his people from their sins and give them joy.

The idea of delight occurs over 110 times in Scripture in various forms. In the Old Testament, the most common Hebrew term for delight is hepes, which means: to bend towards, to be inclined towards (an object or person)… and rasa: to delight or take pleasure in.

He IS in my face!  He bends toward us with great pleasure!  Wow.hazel bending

We are encouraged to delight in that which pleases God.  In our obedience ( 1 Samuel  15:22), honesty in business (Prov 20:23), a blameless life (11:20), truthfulness (12:22), the prayers of the upright (15:8) the list goes on.

God also delights in showing mercy. (Micah 7:18)  and when we come to Him with all our faults He’ll whisper, “No trouble, you are forgiven.”

Father, help us embrace the depth of your love . . . help us to always bring you delight. Bend toward us today, God, and bring us joy.  In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

 

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Just One . . . How Can That Hurt?

 

weighing with bimbo 72With the nice weather upon us, I’m not sure who’s reading this but I’ve got to say:

“Diets SUCK!”

(my apologies for the expression – but it sure works here)

I’ve been dawdling around one weight for about two months.  Up a pound . . . down a pound,  Up three . . . down three.  It’s maddening.

(Of course, it’s not my fault, it’s the diet’s fault)

After eating something never prescribed for a dieter I’ll complain: “D—-! Diets don’t work!” (I know, it’s weak) But it’s ice cream season!!!  I mean, come-on.  I normally don’t swear, but if there’s anything that can bring out the expletives deleted it’s this.  I’m trying as hard as I can to eliminate this ‘fleshy side’ of me (pun intended).

Just one?  How can that hurt?pit in mouth72

This time of year I automatically think “macaroni salad.”  What’s that about?  I don’t even like macaroni salad!  Temptations literally float in the air with all the pollen . . . sneeze. . . ice cream, hot dogs, chips, lemon aid, more ice cream.  I tell myself, “Just one” and say, “I deserve this,” or “it’s a special occasion,” or “but it’s a picnic, you can’t eat broccoli on a picnic it’s un-American.”  Then I blame the scale and the diet when I’m up a pound or two, or three.  Sigh.

But, miraculously, I’m back on track. Water – walks – veggies – fresh fruit – lean meats – no sugar – no wheat – no corn syrup or refined products. . . the list goes on.  Still, there is a sinister little voice in the back of my head that whispers . . . Just one.

OMG faceAfter going up five, I’m now down three . . . and determined. (I’m always determined in the morning when I’m not hungry) It helps motivation to have someone take pictures of you.  I felt rather trim until I viewed them!

My LORD!?  Who is THAT?! 

I blamed my ‘blues’ on post-conference fatigue, but it was really frustration over those WIDE ANGLE blimp-shots that did it.

I’ve never been good at math.  People keep asking me how much I’ve lost and I can’t figure it out . . . too much adding and subtracting.  I’ve probably lost over 40 if you count the three pounds I keep losing and regaining.

It sounds funny when I write about it, but diets do this to people.  Scales can warp out your mind.  Seriously, I was happy as a clam until I saw the reading on my scale!  I ask you, “Who has the power now?

When I saw this video on YouTube I had to share it.  “Just one . . . come on . . . no one will know. . .   ”   The Talking Cat and the New Fish  enjoy!  It’s hilarious.

One truth about dieting:  No matter what happens, don’t lose your sense of humor! LOL

 

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Custom Designed Love Language

deer“I think God is trying to tell me . . .”  she said all aglow as she watched the deer disappear into the hedgerow.

Whether it’s a little deer. . . a butterfly. . . a flower blooming on our path . . . those sudden unsolicited signs from God are all around us, and so deeply personal.

“Just when I thought I couldn’t go on, a little butterfly landed on the window right where I was sitting and I just knew . . .”

For me, every time I see a Cardinal I am immediately reminded: it’s all through the blood of Jesus.  It seems every season of my life will have a certain, personal, something that shows up unexpected to say, “I love you . . . I’m here.”

My husband responded to certain breezes, sweet and warm.  He’d put his head back and sigh, “Smell that air . . . ”  I never smelled what he did, and my little ‘butterfly’ never did a thing for him.  That’s because the subtle encouragements from the Lord are custom designed – like a ‘love language’ between you and your Maker.

It’s easy to forget we have this kind of God, or become so stressed out with life and running constantly, that we totally miss the little blessings.  I hope this a gentle reminder.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1 NIV)

Constantly, the glory of God, His character and awesome greatness, drips from the world around us. The expanse of it all is declaring the work of His hands.

The Message says it this way:  “God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.  Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening.  Their words aren’t heard, their voices aren’t recorded. . . unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.”  (Psalm 19:1-4)

Father, open our eyes and ears to Your voice.  Forgive us for our busyness and help us to take the time to stop and watch how You show-off Your glory all around us.  amen.

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