Archives for August 2008

Sweet Comforts

I’ve been out of town all weekend having fun with family (yes, I’m usually the one acting silly!) so thought I would share a couple of quotes with you. Some good food for thought, I think. See if you agree:

Former First Lady Barbara Bush said, “At the end of your life you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.”

A couple of centuries ago, Jane Austen had this to say: “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”

No, I didn’t stay at home this weekend, but I did go home to my mom and dad’s. Family gathered, and we had a great time catching up on news, eating Dave’s magic cookie bars, going on walks, playing games, and crowning our time together with homemade ice cream and chocolate sheet cake :) Anyone out there enjoy the comforts of home or friends and family like I did this holiday weekend? Tell me about it — I love to hear your stories!

“…who can comfort you?” Isaiah 51:19

**Special Note: Wanted to pass along a wonderful opportunity. Find out how your small (or large if you prefer!) donation can make the difference in the lives of women recently released from prison. Check out the Aug. 28 post on Suzie Eller’s site.

Side by Side

There we are, side by side, ready for another birthday adventure. Lucky for me, one of my best friends, Teri, has a birthday today, less than two weeks after mine, and we like to make sure we have big fun together at some point between the two. Yesterday was the day. We went to T-town for a day of shopping, gabbing, and indulging in chocolate. By the way, those activities are not listed in order of importance :)

We got silly before we ever left Teri’s house. I knew I would want a picture of us for the blog so we decided to try taking one on our own. Our daughters are experts at this — holding cameras at arm’s length and snapping shots of themselves with friends and family. I don’t know what made us think we could do it as well. The picture above represents at least 30 minutes of trying with two different cameras :) Chalk that up to the first nonsense of the day :)

Other highlights? Catching up on all our news and finding ourselves still talking as we pulled into Teri’s drive a little after 10 p.m., lunch at Mimi’s (home of the best muffins ever!), examining and discussing nearly every item at The Savory Chef, a couple of sweet shopping victories for each of us, and the icing on our birthday cake?? Dessert at Cheesecake Factory, of course. And yes, we got two different desserts. It was ridiculous :) I came out of there feeling like I had chocolate smeared all over my mouth :) Okay, I don’t want to totally mislead you — neither one of us could eat “the whole thing”. We gave up and walked away with take-home containers.

You know besides all these fun things, another thing that’s so great about celebrating our birthdays together is that we both turn the same age in the same month. Yep, we’re growing older side by side. And I’ve discovered having a friend to do this with sure makes it less painful. In fact, having Teri by my side has made a lot of things less painful over the years.

One of the first acts of friendship Teri extended to me was bringing a meal to us after Kelli was born. That was 25 years ago this month. And where would I have been if she had not led me by the hand into Hobby Lobby and helped me prepare for Kristin’s wedding? Those of you who know me well know that I’m craft challenged. Without Teri, I would never have had the courage to walk into a Hobby Lobby store. Now I’m hooked — who knew they had all that other great stuff! :)

Everyone needs a side-by-side friend like Teri. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll have more than one. If you don’t have this kind of friend, I encourage you to ask God to provide you with one. Be prepared to befriend someone you seem to hit it off with and then invest little by little in the friendship. Before you know it, 25 years will have gone by, and you’ll have a side-by-side friend — a friend for life. One of God’s greatest blessings.

“…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24b

On the Blink

Don’t you just hate it when one thing after another breaks down? No sooner than we got our lawnmower situation solved last week, another problem presented itself. Our big tv went on the blink. Luckily, we have another one we can use while the 36 inch one’s being fixed, but now we’re stuck trying to watch a 13 inch tv. Good grief, we’ve almost needed a magnifying glass to see the last few days of the Olympics :)

I know, we’re spoiled. But we can’t even use our dvd player or Tivo. The old standby tv is just too old — doesn’t have the hook-ups. I guess I should be thankful the cable can still be used, even though we’re not getting nearly all of our channels for some reason. We’ll just grit it out until our good tv is fixed. This time, one thing on the blink has affected other things, though, and I’m probably missing the Tivo more than anything. I got spoiled on that in no time flat.

If something had to quit working, I’m glad it wasn’t anything more serious than a tv. The worst is when our bodies go on the blink. That’s another time when one thing going wrong can certainly affect other things. When Paul compared the church body to our physical bodies, he pointed out that “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…” (1 Corinthians 12:26). When we experience pain, not only do we hurt, but we deal with exhaustion, we have difficulty thinking clearly, and many times we have to cope with other limitations as well.

It can be scary when our bodies malfunction. We can be left feeling vulnerable — fearful of what the future holds. I know. While I was only in my 30s, I dealt with the onset of a couple of different ongoing health concerns. One was inflammatory arthritis. Thank goodness, it hasn’t developed into classic rheumatoid arthritis, but in the beginning, we weren’t sure.

At first, my flareups were confined to my right thumb and wrist. Extreme pain and inability to use my right hand during those times impacted my life in a number of ways. I’ll never forget, though, the fear that gripped me the first time one of my knees was affected. I knew the devastating toll rheumatoid arthritis could take on a body. I had no control over what was happening, and I was afraid. Would I one day end up in a wheelchair?

As I poured out my concerns to God, He graciously comforted and assured me with the words He spoke to Paul when Paul pleaded with the the Lord to take away his thorn in the flesh. The Lord said to Paul — and to me — “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'” (2 Corinthians 12:9). I knew that no matter what the future held, God would be with me and give me the grace I would need to face any situation. And now, all these years later, I’m so thankful that my fear of being crippled by arthritis has not been realized.

Yes, when our bodies go on the blink, it’s frightening. If it happens to you, let me encourage you to run to the Lord with your fears. He may give you the same answer He gave me and Paul. Or He might speak different words of encouragement to you. Just give Him the chance. Turn to Him. He’ll be there.

p.s. Anyone else faced with an “on the blink” situation? Feel free to share. If it’s something serious, we’ll pray for you. If it’s a nuisance, we’ll empathize :)

Ready To Go

I don’t know how he pulled it off, but Don managed to get a new “toy” for himself on my birthday last weekend. To be honest, we spent that day shopping for several things, and he did try to dissuade me (weakly!) from spending any time at all looking for a new lawnmower for himself. But I insisted we take advantage of the fact that he actually had the time and opportunity to look that day, and so…voila! Don is now the ridiculously proud owner of a new TROY-BILT 3 in 1 Push Mower. It has a mulching feature that has him in Lawn Man heaven :) (First, he was Canyon Man, then Paint Man, and now his predominant identity comes out — he can most often be seen as Lawn Man!)

I must admit it was time for an update. His old push mower has been, I’m sure, driving the whole neighborhood crazy all summer with its sputtering death rattle. Or should I say Don has been driving everyone crazy as he ran the engine and worked on the dying mower for hours on end. After trying everything he knew — as well as a few things others suggested — he decided it was time to let go of some cash and get something that could actually cut grass :) (By the way, he uses his rider on most of our yard but still needs a push mower for certain parts of it as well as for the lawn he mows for an elderly neighbor. What a guy, huh?!)

I wish you could have seen him as he got his new mower set up and ready to go. He could barely wait to get it out into the grass and give it a test run. Just like a kid on Christmas morning, he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face as he stopped just long enough to give me his first report. “Man, this thing just glides through the grass. It pushes so easy — it doesn’t shake and vibrate like the other one did. This is great!” And then he was off again, even mowing parts of the lawn he usually does with the rider. When I caught his attention long enough to ask him what in the world he was doing, he just smiled. Before I knew it, he had taken off to do our neighbor’s yard. I began to wonder if he would do the entire neighborhood before he came in :)

It was neat to see how excited Don was to get to work and use his new piece of equipment. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we all displayed the same kind of zeal over using the talents and abilities that God has given us? Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”, and Paul tells us in Romans that “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us…” (12:6a).

What gifts has God given you? What did He create you to do? Let’s get excited about using our God-given equipment. Let’s be ready to get to work. Let’s be ready to go!

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received…” 1 Peter 4:10a

Celebrating Birthdays

Okay, I’ll fess up. I had a birthday yesterday. I won’t get into specific numbers or anything, but since I did turn another year older, I thought I would celebrate by taking it easy and keeping this post short. Besides, I need plenty of time to savor each delicious bite of the fancy chocolate truffles Don gave me :)

I actually have another kind of birthday I can celebrate, too. A spiritual birthday. One summer Sunday 46 years ago, I gave my heart to Jesus and was born into the family of God. Yes, I was young. Just seven years old. But even then, I knew I did wrong things and had sin in my life. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. I knew I was part of the “all” who were sinners and needed a Savior. I wanted to ask Jesus to forgive me. I wanted to give my life to Him. So I did.

My life has been forever changed by that one simple act of faith. Not only did I receive God’s free gift of eternal life (“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23), but my relationship to Christ since that time has meant more to me than anything else in the world.

The Lord is my source of joy, peace, strength, encouragement, and guidance as I face my daily life. I don’t have to experience that feeling of emptiness that so many feel because He fills that empty spot. He’s always ready to forgive when I mess up and sin again (and I do!). He loves me just the way I am — weaknesses and all. I can’t imagine facing life without Him. He is my stability. I’ve had my share of spiritual struggles over the years, but I just try to stay close to Jesus and keep my eyes on Him.

So instead of thinking about all the candles it takes now on a birthday cake of mine, I’ll just think about how long I’ve been in God’s family. Now that’s a birthday I don’t mind celebrating!

How about you? Do you have a spiritual birthday? How old are you in the Lord? If you don’t have one yet, it can be today — just talk to Him about it. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to come into your life and be your Savior. “…’Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'” (Romans 10:13 NIV).

Let’s praise God for loving us and giving us eternal life. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so…” (Psalm 107:2 KJV).

*Flickr photo by dichohecho, Creative Commons License

p.s. I think it’s impossible for me to keep a post short!! :)