Little White Gloves

Young girls carefully slip the perfectly white gloves onto their little hands, working to fit each finger inside the correct hole.  Almost instantly, it seems, they are whisked away to a land of make-believe. Transported to another time and place, they begin to speak in a polite accent, go through the motions of being “proper”, and hold their tiny plastic teacup with a pinky pointing up.  Time seems to slow down and manners suddenly become impeccable.

This is a sweet reminder of past social graces, now only a costume.  An accessory for playing dress-up.

As I watch the transformation take place, I am keenly aware of the fact that these little beauties fell right into character with no coaching– no one demonstrating for them what the proper behavior is for wearing these satin-y white gloves.   It’s as though they instinctually understood that the wearing of white gloves is something special, and that  slipping your hands into them somehow changes the person that you are– whether your hands were clean beforehand or not.

Is it a wonder that we love to slip on a glove that is smooth and silky and perfectly white?  A history that dates back to early antiquity, white gloves were worn by priests to cover their dirty hands to represent purity and cleanliness.  

And somehow it is fitting.

Reinventing Your Passion

I woke up to a new reality.

A sobering thought.

A haunting question:

What if?

What if the passion I have is misguided?

What if my thoughts–my desires are not from Him?

Does this passion that I have honor the One I have declared to be my Lord?

The One True God.

The Maker of heaven and earth,

and

the maker of my heart.

Am I blind to my own weakness?

My tendencies?

Do I want to be heard,

or to make Him known?

When Forgiveness Seems Illusive

I long to be the one who makes you smile.

From deep within me is a person who wants to be that somebody who makes every person feel like a somebody.

I really do want to be an encourager, but far too often I leave a conversation thinking about what I wish I had said [ please tell me I’m not alone! ]

As a blogger, it’s easier for me to write down the words and pour my heart into a post; but those same words don’t as easily come out of my mouth. That’s how I often see myself, but I know that it isn’t healthy for me to ignore my insufficiency if I truly want to do better in my personal relationships.  “Words of affirmation” seem to be the love language of almost everyone around me!

Not a bit surprising, really, that just about the time I start working on an area that needs improvement–real life steps in to teach me a lesson.

Reading Through the Bible: Colossians

I love to read.

When I open the cover of a new book, I am filled with a sense of awe–like I am setting out on a new adventure.

Turning the page of a book is like opening the door to something yet undiscovered.

And then life happens.

At some point you have stop, put down the book and get back to the real world.  Places to go, things to accomplish, and bills to pay.  Unlike a novel, this is real life.  People get sick, lose jobs, have failed marriages and face uncertain futures.

But God.

I love that phrase, because all through scripture–right in the middle of the mess, God steps in.  He takes all of our worldliness and brokenness and turns it into something useful.  Something valuable.

“But God proves His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners Christ Died for us!”  Romans 5:8

Opening the pages of the Bible in our search for truth, it is easy to see that some parts of God’s Word are harder to swallow than others.  Because this is not a novel.  This is the living, breathing Word of God.

Five Annoying Habits in a Happy Marriage

We all have them.

Those little things that drive us crazy.  They flip our switch and spark a fire.  The question is, if we want a happy marriage, how do we respond to those little idiosyncrasies that get under our skin?

“If you let them, idiosyncrasies can take the joy out of marriage.  Those peculiarities you didn’t notice, chose to ignore, or thought were cute before your wedding day now seem irritating.  How are you to live with them for a lifetime?”  —We All Married Idiots, by Elaine W. Miller

Can we possibly have a happy marriage with so many annoyances?

I sure hope my husband thinks so, because I know it must be difficult for my everyday hero to understand why his wife always seems to need rescuing.  Whether it’s a frantic phone call because my car won’t start or a frustration over what to cook for dinner, he at least knows that I depend on him like no other.

As cute as they might have seemed when we were young and still dating, the very things that caught our eye back then just might start to feel more like a grain of sand in our eye.  Rubbing us the wrong way, it scratches and irritates us the harder we try to remove it.

“Funny, how our perspective on idiosyncrasies changes under different circumstances.  Many will admit the very thing that bugs them is what first enticed them to their beloved, and what they will miss most when their loved one is gone.” —We All Married Idiots, by Elaine W. Miller

So how did this metamorphosis happen?

Cleaning Your Plate and Shuffling Neglect

When I was young I hated peas.

You can ask my Mom and she will tell you that she still remembers me shuffling peas around my plate for what seemed like an hour, trying to make it look like I had actually eaten some of the green balls of goo.  While it never bothered me if my food touched, I still thought it quite unnecessary to mess up a perfectly good casserole by adding peas.  Mom never really asked me, she just expected me to eat them anyway, and eventually I learned to like them.

Notice I didn’t say, “love them”.  I did learn a life lesson, though.  By being forced to eat those dreaded peas I absorbed a simple truth:

Sometimes we have to swallow the yucky things in life so we can get on to the better things.

Maybe not so profound, but you guessed it–I’m not just talking about food.

Often we are faced with a plate that is so full that it seems like we are just pushing it all around, shuffling neglect.  We spin our wheels trying to cross one thing off our list–avoiding or even pushing aside those little things that are just not quite as appealing.

Well, maybe it’s time to clean your plate.

Babies, Bibles and Bologna Sandwiches

It’s not complicated, really.

These three things that seem to have so little in common bring back a flood of memories.

Memories can take us back to places we sometimes need to revisit.  Maybe it was a time that you learned a lesson the hard way, or maybe it was just an epiphany moment that you’ve long forgotten.  This particular memory reminds me of a simpler time.

We were young–and “living on on love”.  It was a phrase that we jokingly used to express how little money we had, though we were rich in other ways.  Out of necessity, cheap meals and dates that didn’t cost anything were at the top of our list.  Paying a babysitter was not an option, so most of our anniversaries were celebrated with four children around the dinner table, and maybe a special ice cream treat for mom and dad after the kids were put to bed. (Sorry, guys!)

Thinking back on the life we enjoyed during our early years conjures up a certain nostalgia for this simpler time.  It’s not uncommon for us to even repeat some of those cheap meals just for the sentimentality of it. (Did anyone else live on beans and cornbread for dinner?)

Back in the day, bologna was a cheap meal for a large family.  I grew up eating it, and I had no problem adding it to my grocery list when we lived on a tight budget and had four kids (and often more) to feed.  I’m not really sure if any of them would even eat it now, but they liked it when they were children–mostly because I didn’t make it a habit to give them choices.

Let me just say, bologna is not my favorite food.  Slices of smashed meat that has been pounded to look like a new creation is just not that appealing.  Quite unhealthy, it’s easy for me to pass on this by-product–that is, until I have a fresh summer tomato still warm from the sun and ripened to perfection to top it off.  This cheap substitute for meat is suddenly transformed into a delicacy fit for a queen.

Here’s my point.

Being thankful doesn’t require anything more than a willing heart.

Despising the Dishes

It’s not that I don’t love a beautiful table.

I do.

Really I do.  I have white dishes just so I can create a table setting for any season just by adding colorful napkins and a centerpiece. (I’m practical that way.)  It is a joy for me to put together the pieces, adding a touch of Pinterest and my own personality in the creative process.  There’s a certain pride that comes in seeing the final product and knowing that your effort speaks volumes.

Creating a comfortable place for my family to gather says “welcome home”.  My meager efforts to make these moments special may not be remembered, but as I pray for each one that we are blessed to have around the table, I also pray that they will always remember that they are loved.

Sometimes the things that we value, or that we cherish, can easily be just that–things–instead of moments.  If I put too much emphasis on the plans and preparations for a meal, then I might forget who it is that I’m doing it for or get easily frustrated if things don’t turn out like I’d planned.

If I am more concerned about a clean house than I am about a snotty-nosed grandchild or the smallest of handprints on the glass, I will miss out on something much more valuable.

A bit of heaven-on-earth for me is when our crew is all together at once.  It is a crazy, loud, fun place to be with crawling babies to step over, bikes and scooters scattered over the yard, kids stuck in trees and sports blaring on the T.V.

And I love every minute.

Until… time for the dishes.

Even as a young girl one of my chores was to do the dishes.  I would fuss or try to escape to the bathroom in order to avoid them like the plague.  A tomboy, it seemed completely unfair that the boys could run out and play while I had to stay behind and help in the kitchen.  Yes, we all had to pick up our own plates and help put away, but being the oldest daughter I was left to wash and/or dry.  It was like I was being punished for being a girl.

Only I wasn’t–and looking back, I am thankful.

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.”  James 1: 2

Don’t laugh!  I know dishes are not a trial, but let me explain why I’m thankful.  I know that my parents loved me.  I know that the “chores” they had me do were to prepare me for adulthood.  My role as a woman has been clearly defined as different from a man since Adam and Eve.  While some modern women may disagree, I saw this training ground as preparation for learning the responsibilities of being in a family and keeping a home.

Do I still hate doing dishes?  Some days.  Mostly because I feel stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is off enjoying their time together.  On those days I just decide that those dishes can wait, while the moments we have together as a family can’t.

Can men help in the task of doing dishes?  Of course.  The real issue here is not a gender role dispute.  It is choosing to be grateful in the midst of the chaos or while performing mundane tasks.

Seeing the great blessing of a big family and lots of dishes to wash, I can focus on the chore or on the blessings behind it.  God allows us to see the world from His perspective if we will just keep our eyes on Him.  He is the giver of all good things, and though I don’t deserve even one, He fills my life with more than I can count.

Though I’m going to try.

“Happy are the people with such blessings. Happy are the people whose God is the Lord.”  Psalm 144:15

Just One Thing

There is always that one thing.

You know–that one more thing you needed to do.  One more thing you wanted to say.

Until you can’t.

When it’s too late to turn back, or the moment is lost in oblivion, you have to face the reality that life must go on, and that only God can fully know the consequence of

unfulfilled promises,

set aside plans,

and

lost moments.

Commonly carrying the weight of “what if” or “if only I would have or could have”, we are burdened with the past instead of focused on the future.

“So what now?”  Where do we go when we seem to be drowning under the weight of our regrets?

The Blessing of Cheerfulness

Cheerful.  Kind.

I know people like that, don’t you?  People you just love to be around.  People who make you smile and laugh.  People you are glad you met.

I met a beautiful couple like that just this week and their spirit reminded me of what I want my life to look like.  They were not merely polite–they wore a kind smile, and more importantly, they had a kind heart.

“A merry heart doeth good like medicine.” Proverbs 17:22

I know and have seen this verse to be very true, haven’t you?  Maybe someone’s face comes to mind when you read it.  If you have been the recipient of that kind of biblical medicine, you know what a benefit it can be emotionally and spiritually and sometimes even physically.

Why, then, don’t we choose it more often, knowing it is the better choice?

When my children were small and would wake up on the grumpy side of the bed, I would ask them a simple question to motivate them toward a better attitude:

“Who is it that chooses whether you will have a good day or a bad day today?”

A gentle reminder that so often it is a choice.  Even when we wake up with gum in our hair or our favorite breakfast cereal is all gone–we can have a “No good, very bad day” like Alexander from one of our story books, or we can choose to see the good in every situation.

Deep down it’s what we really desire even if it seems illusive–until we run into that one person that always seems to have a smile on their face or an encouraging word to say.

And we are reminded that there is still goodness in the world.

If we aren’t careful we might be tempted to question their authenticity–or your cynicism might even challenge them to remain so.  Negativity can easily squash an opponent, but a simple choice to swallow the “good medicine” can turn your hurting, grieving or tired heart into the tiniest of smiles.

If you see the blessing that a person like that can be in your life, should it not lead us to the obvious conclusion that maybe–just maybe–we could be that for someone else?  Not seeing this as coincidence, if we instead see joy vs. happiness the way God sees it, often He will open the door of opportunity for you to put this into practice.

In my half-century of life I have seen two common threads that seem to always be woven into the fabric of a life that is cheerful:

A cheerful life not only contains joy,  but it produces joy.

Dandelion--JOY.PNG

The misguided notion that circumstances or possessions can bring joy will leave you feeling empty.  Only as we are filled with God’s truth can we overflow with His love, His joy, and His peace.   As we begin to fully understand how much God loves us, gratitude will fill our heart for who He is and what He has done, and the result?  Joy.

“We wait for the Lord; HE is our help and shield.  For our hearts rejoice in Him, because we trust His holy name.” Psalm 33:20-21

[*This post was shared on Salt & Light’s weekly link-up Facebook page]

How to Pray Scripture for Yourself and Others

Another blog on prayer, you say?  Truth is, it is an area that I continue to grow in.  While I crave the written word, and have learned to converse easily with God, there are times when, if I’m honest, I struggle to know what to say.

I know that prayer is a responsibility and a privilege.  Because the God of the universe knows my name, and is able to discern what is in my heart, I see that the only real prayer is honest prayer.

Speaking to Him in reverence and awe, I know that He not only hears–He answers. Because of my faith, and because I believe what the Bible teaches, I am confident that God knew me, and each of our children and grandchildren before they were even born.  (Read Psalm 139!)  I also believe that He has created them for a purpose and I am praying that each of them will choose to follow God’s plan for their life.

“It’s my goal in life to be your hero!”

I might be joking when I say this endearing phrase, but there is something in my heart that makes it partially true.  While I will never be the perfect example, I know that if my only goal were to be a fun grandma, I would be missing one of the greatest opportunities of my life:  praying for my children and grandchildren.

Just as my children grew and began to depend on me less and less, these precious littles will soon be catapulted into the world where they will pursue an education and/or a career, and hopefully start their own little family.

While it is hard to imagine now, the reality sets in as our oldest grandson is approaching double digits.  Turning ten this year means that we only have eight more years until we see him step into adulthood.  While in my daily prayers, I am praying for the decisions that will affect his future,  nothing is more important than praying for him to grow spiritually.

One of my favorite ways types of prayer is to take a scripture passage and pray it for them specifically.  If you have never considered it, I highly recommend it.  While it might sound repetitive or clinical to some, taking God’s Word and using it to guide me in prayer helps me to focus on God and His will, and not just my own desires or wants.

So the question you might have is, how do you do that?

Summer Time List

Yep.

I’m a list maker.

There’s just something about crossing something off a list that inspires me to do whatever it takes to completely eradicate whatever it is that’s ON that list!

It’s kind of a love/hate relationship, isn’t it?

1. We love making a list.

2. We hate that the list is so long.

3. We love crossing things off the list.

4. We hate that we barely release the rumpled paper into the trash can before feeling the need to start a new list!

Even when I don’t have a list on paper, there are lists in the back of my mind:

  • Things I Need To Do
  • Things I Need To Do–If I Have Time
  • Things I WISH I Had Time To Do
  • Things I ABSOLUTELY MUST DO
  • AND Things I Want My Hubby To Do 

Always in the summer when my kids were not in school, the change of schedule would mean that we could do things a little differently.  Summers fly by and so being intentional about how we spent our time together might involve a list of things we would like to do for our summer break.

While it’s fun to get ideas from the kiddos, this printable can give you a guideline for organizing your days:

You’re A Good, Good Father

That song.

You know–the one you can’t get it out of your head–and yet, you don’t really want to.

“You’re a Good, Good Father, it’s Who You are…”

“…And I’m loved by You, it’s who I am.”  [Chris Tomlin]

Being a parent is the hardest, most rewarding job on the planet, and the reality is–

We all fail.  We fall down.  We mess up.  We make mistakes.

Yet, those littles still love us and want our approval.

We all feel inadequate sometimes.  Overwhelmed.

Yet, the love that we have for our children is

undeniable,

unending.

Yes, my father is a good one.  He was from a generation of really hard-working men. He would work 2-3 jobs to provide for his family and never let us go without.  He taught us the principles of hard work and discipline and consistency.  And we knew that he loved us, even if he didn’t say it often.  He could be tight and generous at the same time.  Economics demanded that he save and prepare for the unknown future, but out of love for us, he freely gave us everything we needed and more.

Fathers are often judged unfairly because they fail to be maternal.  We want them to be soft and emotional, but God created them to be the provider and leader of their homes.  This king of the jungle is reduced to a purring kitty cat that just needs petted and fed once in a while.

Unlike previous generations, men of this generation often have their authority questioned; their God-given mandate to lead perceived as a negative personality trait.

“So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.”  Genesis 1:27

Then He blessed them and gave them each their own responsibilities.  Responsibilities that were specific to their gender.  Women had babies.  Men provided.  As a result of the fall, both were given hard labor–ours in childbirth, theirs in working to provide for their families.

Taking Your Stand in a Fallen World That Needs Grace

The problem with falling down is not just the initial shock or the pain of blunt force trauma to your backside, but the consternation and wounding of your pride as others look on.  Worse than that is when the fall is not physical at all, but a spiritual, emotional or moral tumble that leaves you even more deeply wounded.

Not only do others see, but they mock, they laugh, they judge.

As if the spectacle itself isn’t enough, speculation and supposition run their course.  Verbal and public attacks on social media take on a life of their own, and soon the issue is more than just a wounded pride–it is a broken spirit.

If we all fall down sometimes, why has criticism and judgement become so rampant on social media?  

Whatever happened to Christian charity and godly discernment?

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient.  We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)

“We too all previously…”

Have we forgotten where we have come from?  Do we not all fall?  Since when has kicking someone who is down become a sport that is championed and cheered?

BUT GOD.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” Ephesians 2:4-5

There is not one among us that hasn’t made a rash comment or at the very least taken another to court in our mind… but if grace is what has saved us, shouldn’t grace also be the mantra we live by?  The battle of words that we see so rampant today is a sad testimony to the world around us.  Criticism and disagreement in the public forum has trumped the biblical method of rebuking one on one.  What should be spoken out of love and concern often looks more like a public lashing.

Lessons Learned from a Lost Dog

Every day you wake up thinking, “maybe today will be the day someone finds her.”

Our story is a common one, unfortunately.  Looking for a lost dog, we have heard all kinds of stories about beloved pets who decided to journey into the unknown.

So I pray.

Of course I pray.  The creator of the universe is not blind, nor does He ignore the prayers of His people.  He is always working and even in this, this struggle to do everything humanly possible to find her, He is doing something.  While we are trying to be patient, we are holding on to the hope that someone will find her and bring her home.

“Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight.”  Luke 12:6 

While I choose not to get into the discussion of whether “All Dogs Go To Heaven”, I do believe that God carefully created every animal and that He blesses us daily with His creation.

This is not our first dog.  As a matter of fact, Mochi is my daughter’s dog who happened to be keeping company with our dog–at our house while we were all away on vacation.

We are a family of Sheltie lovers, and Mochi is the second in their young family.  A new puppy, she was welcomed into their home after their first Sheltie died a ripe old age.

Losing a beloved pet is never easy, but somehow this is harder than death because we can’t know what happened to her.

While we can’t always explain the “why?”, here’s the “what” God is teaching me in this circumstance:

%d bloggers like this: