Archives for November 2007

The Amazing Race

Know what I did yesterday? I competed in my own version of The Amazing Race. For those of you unfamiliar with it, The Amazing Race is a reality show that follows the adventures of several teams of ordinary people racing around the world competing for a prize of a million dollars. Don and I watch the show each week, and as I chronicled my day’s activities for him late last night, I finally breathed a sigh of exhaustion and moaned, “I feel like I’ve been on The Amazing Race!”

No, I didn’t get on a plane, ride a bike, row a boat, or compete in challenges like milking camels or eating unappetizing international foods. I simply went Christmas shopping. Think I’m being overly dramatic? Think again. Since we have very few places to shop in our town other than Wal-mart, I always have way too much to do when I go to T-town for my monthly writers meetings. With Christmas shopping added to the mix, I found myself running The Amazing Race, not just watching it.

I didn’t have a partner like the teams on the show do (the friend I go to the meetings with is battling bad knees right now). My only competitor was the clock, but that was enough. I went armed with my list of stops and gift ideas, knowing I had only x-amount of time to try to conquer it all. After making the drive and parking in front of my first stop, I pulled out my list, reviewed it, put on my game face, and started walking. Or maybe I should say sprinting. I move fast on marathon shopping days — just ask my family.

I didn’t stand in lines at airport ticket counters, but I did stand in lines at almost every check out or customer service. I wasn’t required to search through hundreds of assigned items trying to spot one with a special mark, but I certainly scoured aisles and shelves in store after store trying to find what I had in mind for those on my list.

While driving from place to place, I ate my lunch and plotted new strategies to deal with the roadblocks and detours that presented themselves — stores that had closed, stores that had moved, discontinued items, out-of-stock items, high prices, wrong color, wrong style, a phone call late in the day from an unnamed family member finally giving me a list of ideas… You get the picture. My roadblocks and detours were certainly different from those on the show, but they challenged and stressed me just the same.

I didn’t give up, though, and along with the frustrations, I also experienced some pleasant surprises and successes. I pressed on until I reached the pit stop for my race — the restaurant where I met my friend for supper. She can attest to the fact that I showed up looking a little rattled and frazzled, but I made it by the appointed time. Problem is, I didn’t accomplish all on my list. I guess the clock won. I did the best I could, though, and my trunk was filled with the proof :)

I would rather my Christmas shopping be more leisurely and “merry”, but sometimes our situations don’t afford us the luxury of our “rathers”. And so for now, I may have to compete in The Amazing Race from time to time. What about you? Are you in the midst of a race of some sort or faced with the prospect of one? I encourage you to put on your game face and start walking — or sprinting or whatever you have to do. Press on and don’t give up. Bet you’ll have a friend waiting for you at your pit stop, too.

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1b NIV)

Handing It Down

I’m back in blogging business after a nice little Thanksgiving break. Hope your holiday was filled with good food, good times with family, and a few extra memorable moments. As the week unfolded for me, I found myself once again carrying out traditions both old and new.

For most of my married life (over 30 years now!), I have spent the day before Thanksgiving making homemade rolls to take to our Thanksgiving gathering with Don’s family. Now these are not just any ordinary rolls, these are my Grandma Hoy’s homemade crescent rolls. The melt-in-your-mouth, pure heaven variety. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the only kind worth going to the trouble to make. At least they’re the only kind I go to the trouble to make :)

Grandma Hoy actually got the recipe for the rolls from Grandpa’s sister, my great-Aunt Alice. I don’t know who Aunt Alice got the recipe from, but I do know that it’s being handed down through the generations. I first grew to love these rolls at Grandma Hoy’s Thanksgiving gatherings. They became even more a part of our family’s life as my mom adopted the recipe and brought it into her generation of holiday meals. I’m not sure about my other sisters, but I do know that Carolyn and I have continued the tradition of making Grandma’s rolls. Know what else is really exciting to me? My daughter Kristin has already taken up the roll-making mantle as well. She made rolls this year and took them on a 7-hour trek to Shawn’s family’s Thanksgiving gathering. It looks like the rolls have secured a spot in yet another generation :)

I love seeing things handed down through the generations. It makes me realize that if I can touch the generations around me and those that follow with something as simple as a recipe or holiday tradition, surely I can impact their lives with more important things as well.

The Bible gives an example of this principle. In one of Paul’s letters to Timothy he says, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV)

I realize everything I’ve handed down thus far may not be as admirable as it should be — you know, things like attitudes or fears, etc. More than any negative thing, though, I pray that I am handing down a love for God and a thirst for His Word and a way of life that is filled with prayer, love for others, and an attitude of service.

Handing valuable things down through the generations, whether traditions or virtues, is not an easy thing to do. It takes effort, consistency, and love. But one thing is certain — it’s always worth it. What would you like to hand down?

**Wishing you could have the recipe for Grandma’s rolls? Here it is!

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. hot water
1 TBSP salt
2 pkg. improved yeast
5 1/2 c. or more flour

Mix 1/2 of the flour with the sugar, salt, and yeast. Mix hot water and shortening until melted (actually just soft). Add it to the flour and yeast mixture along with 2 eggs and beat with mixer. Add remaining flour (not all at once — in parts). Kneed about 5 minutes. Cover and let rise until double (1 1/2 hr.). Punch dough down and divide in two parts. Roll out each part in a circle, spread with butter, and cut and form into 18 crescents each. Cover and let rise another hour. Bake in 400 oven for 8-12 minutes (depending on your oven — I actually start checking mine at 6 minutes). Enjoy!

A Holiday Frame of Mind

Ready or not, the holiday season has arrived. We’re headed into Thanksgiving week, but I must admit my mind has been on Christmas the past few days. Indulge me and let me explain before I leave you with some Thanksgiving thoughts.

Wondering what has put me in the Christmas frame of mind? You might guess Christmas shopping — and I did, in fact, do that one day earlier in the week, but that wasn’t the thing that gave me my first Christmasy feelings of the season. Those came as God gave me the words for my Christmas poem this year.

My Christmas poems are a tradition. This year will mark 26 years of including an original Christmas poem in my Christmas cards. You may be wondering how I can come up with a new idea for a Christmas poem each year — believe me, I wonder the same thing every November. I like to get the poem written before Thanksgiving so I was planning to write it this past Thursday and Friday. Many times I have a phrase or an idea that has come to me earlier, but by Wednesday night, I still had nothing. My prayer that night? “Lord, please help me with this. Please give me an idea.”

When time for writing came Thursday afternoon, I still had no ideas, not a clue as to how to start. So I did what all writers do — I did other things instead. Now they were things that really needed to be done, but I still felt guilty for not giving any of my time to writing that day. My prayer that night? “Father, pleeease help me. Please give me an idea…” In that moment as I finished out my sentence, a couple of words grabbed my attention. That was it. God had given me my idea through my prayer. Pretty cool, huh? The next afternoon after I scrapped a couple of my initial approaches, I cried out to Him again. He blessed with words that seemed to come out of nowhere — that’s certainly where I was on my own. But He didn’t leave me on my own. He came and wrote with me — and left me feeling very Christmasy :)

Sometimes I wonder when I will ever learn. Our God is faithful. I had nothing to offer in the way of words for a poem this year, but He had everything to give. Thank You, Lord!

I pray that you will have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Here’s a little something I wrote a few years ago that might help put you in the mood. Hope you enjoy! (By the way, I won’t be posting again until next weekend — gotta eat some turkey! Also, don’t forget to sign up for the November Giveaway — check the Nov. 1st post.)

Overflowing Heart

On this Thanksgiving Day
My heart is overflowing,
The blessings in my life, dear Lord,
Just seem to keep on growing.

How can I ever thank You,
Where can I begin,
To show my appreciation
For the forgiveness of my sin?

Apart from You I am nothing,
No glory is my own,
From Your hand comes all I have,
Your goodness I’ve always known.

My health, my home, my family,
You’ve given me by grace,
Help me Lord, to give them back
To serve You in life’s race.

Oh God of all the universe,
I will ever sing Your praise,
I will forever thank You,
I will honor You all of my days!

Altered Horizons

Every now and then, especially when I am pressed for time, I’d like to share some things with you that others have written. Today consider these thoughts on prayer written by two great men of faith:

Andrew Murray said, “Take time in the inner chamber to bow down and worship; and wait on Him till He unveils himself, and takes possession of you, and goes out with you to show how a man may live and walk in abiding fellowship with an unseen Lord.” Too many times when we pray, we skip right over taking time to quiet ourselves in God’s presence, don’t we? Murray’s words are a good reminder to spend time in worship. As we do so, we’ll soak up the very atmosphere of heaven and of God Himself.

Oswald Chambers had this to say: “Every time we pray our horizon is altered, our attitude to things is altered, not sometimes but every time, and the amazing thing is that we don’t pray more.”

Have you experienced this altered horizons truth when you pray? Boy, I have — and am I ever thankful that the Lord is able to change my attitudes and outlooks when I turn to Him with my problems and concerns. I’m afraid I would be one miserable mess if He didn’t do this for me.

Acts 4:13b (NIV) says “…they took note that these men [Peter and John] had been with Jesus.” Spending time with Jesus changes us. Let’s give Him the chance to do it.

International Investment

Don’t you just love surprise blessings? They come in many forms, and one of mine this week was a phone call. Kayoko (Ki-yo-ko), a Japanese student I befriended a couple of years ago, called me the other day from her current university just to hear my voice and talk with me about some things she is going through.

Let me give you some background. My sister Debbie actually inspired me to get involved with local international students. She and her husband Keith have been reaching out to internationals for several years on the campus of a major southwestern university and have blessed the lives of many who are so very far away from home. As they touch these students with friendship, they also many times have the chance to share their faith in Christ — a pretty neat opportunity considering most of these students follow other world religions and may not have had many opportunities to learn about the Christian faith.

Inspired by their wonderful experiences, I decided to try to befriend an international student right here in our community. I contacted the international student advisor at our community college, and she happily plugged me into her Match program which “matches” international students with local families. The result? A sweet friendship with Kayoko, a wonderful young woman from Japan.

While Kayoko was here, we enjoyed (though it wasn’t easy because of language differences!)many conversations over ice cream at Braum’s or other sweet treats at a local coffee shop. Taking an evening out to celebrate Christmas with Kayoko each year she was here is something I’ll remember always. That first year when I pointed out that there was a gift for her under our tree, she couldn’t believe it. She excitedly said, “I’ve always dreamed of having a gift under a Christmas tree!” She went on to explain that in Japan they don’t put gifts under their trees. Was I ever glad I had that gift for her! It was such a blessing to help make one of her dreams come true.

Kayoko has since moved on to another school, but we are trying to stay in contact. Luckily, the university she is attending is only about 75 miles away from us. I don’t expect to hear from her very often because college students are so busy, especially international ones who have to study even harder because of their language challenges. When she called the other day, I wondered what prompted her to call me in the middle of the morning. As we talked, the reason came out, and she told me I was like her American mother and that she knew she could talk to me. That really touched me.

So what have I found out? In reaching out to bless and hopefully influence the life of international students, I myself have been greatly blessed, not only through the genuine love and friendship that develops, but also through the amazing opportunities to experience first-hand a taste of other cultures. Is the investment of time, energy, and sometimes even expense worth it? You bet. And only eternity will reveal the full impact of befriending these special students.

What about you? Are there internationals in your community who might need your friendship? Maybe even just some smiles and pleasant conversation? Go ahead — make the investment. You’ll get a rich return.

“The alien [foreigner] living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself…” Leviticus 19:34a NIV