Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Lesson from Thanksgiving Leftovers

"So they ate and were filled, 
and they took up seven large baskets
of leftover fragments"
Mark 8:8

Okay, if Thanksgiving dinner is the best meal of the year,

{which I'm not necessarily saying it is... 
every once in awhile you have a steak dinner
 or some ribs with homemade spice rub 
that turn out to be especially memorable...}

... but if, for the sake of argument, we agree that Thanksgiving dinner is the best meal of the year, then leftovers the next day have to be in second place. 

For some people, the highlight is a repeat of what they ate the day before:  turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, etc.  But for me, it's all about the turkey sandwich.  Turkey, mayo, cheese and pickle on soft bread.  I know; it doesn't sound like much, but it's what I'm hankerin' for on every fourth Friday in November.

So I'm thanking God for something kind of strange today ~ leftovers.  Or to look at it another way:  extras.  By-products.  The things we get from the things He gives, even if they're not the things He gave, ya know?

Like, I prayed to God for a car, several years ago, when mine was breaking down frequently.  And not only did He provide a way for us to buy a new car, I was able to get one in a beautiful color, and with a sunroof.

And I prayed to God for children, and not only did He give me a child, He gave me two.  And they're smart and interesting and thoughtful and loving.  Far more than I thought to pray for.

We pray for things we want or need, but we trust Him to give us what's right for us.  And with that, we get blessings we never anticipated. 

So enjoy!  Thank Him for what He gives you, and then thank Him for what He also gives you.

~ "Every good gift
   and every perfect gift
   is from above,
   and comes down
        from the Father of lights" ~
James 1:17

Friday, November 29, 2013

'Twas the Day after Thanksgiving

"a dinner of herbs where love is"
Proverbs 15:17

Thanksgiving is ending as I write this.  We've spent the day hanging out with my folks and a longtime family friend, eating just enough ~ but not too much ~ turkey and stuffing and potatoes and Brussels sprouts, with gravy covering the whole shebang.  I hope it was much the same for you ~ if Thanksgiving is your thing, of course. 

But the fun continues tomorrow.  The Apple of my Eye has the day off, of course, and for him, it's a day of relaxation, sleeping in, maybe getting some things done around the house.

But for the kids and me, it's one of our favorite days of the year:  the day we get out all the Christmas decorations.  We'll turn on some Christmas music while we box up all the Autumn, and pull out all the Winter stuff.  We won't get our tree quite yet, and we probably won't put the lights on the house tomorrow, but by the end of the day, the halls ~ and the rest of the house ~ will be decked.

And we'll have something fun for dinner, and watch a Christmas movie.  And the season will have officially begun.

But you know what will happen the next day?  Nothing.  That will be Saturday and he won't have to go to work, and we won't have to do school.  We'll do some more stuff around the house and we'll watch TV.  And then Sunday will be a repeat, except we won't sleep in, of course.  We'll go to church and then come home and enjoy a restful Sunday.

Four-day weekends are a gift.  A joy.  The change of routine is welcome (although I'll be nearly as glad to get back to the routine come Monday). 

But the best thing about the next few days is how much time we'll get to spend together.  Can I just tell you how much I love hanging out with my family?  Each of us doing our own thing for a bit, and then coming together to eat or watch a movie or get something done.  This is what I'm most grateful for this Thanksgiving ~ that God loved us enough to send His Son to die for our sins, but He didn't stop there.  He chooses to bless us here, in this life, with joys we don't deserve.  He doesn't just love us, He surrounds us with love.

~ "that I may be encouraged together with you
       by the mutual faith both of you and me" ~
Romans 1:12

Thursday, November 28, 2013

And I know there was more sleep than last time

"shall neither slumber nor sleep"
Psalm 121:4

I don't suppose, by any chance, you remember the last time one of my offspring had a sleepover?  That was my boy.  We had a little talk that day, about not letting lack of sleep affect your attitude.  He is normally an upbeat, cheerful kid, but he was a little off that day.  So I told him what I was noticing. 

Well the other day, my sweet child had a sleepover again.  Same friend as last time.  Then the following day they hung around the house and played until nearly dinnertime.

When it was all over, and the friend had gone home, I asked my boy if they'd had fun, and how they slept.  And we chatted a little bit about the games they'd played, etc.  And then my son said to me, "Was I better this time?  I really tried to be better."  I smiled, and said, "You did?  How did you try?"  And he said, "I don't really know... I wasn't sure what to do... but I remembered, and I tried to be better than last time."

I had no complaints about how he was this time.  Other than the fact that when my kids hang out with a friend I hardly get to see them.  But that's only temporary, right?  But I was so touched by his sincerity.  I had such a thrill of joy in my heart that he remembered, and tried to do better.

This is why I knew I should say something last time.  I knew that even though it wasn't a huge problem, I should let him know I noticed.  Because my kids try.  When I bring something to their attention, they listen, and they try to do better.

They don't always succeed.  We all have our weaknesses, and sometimes those are always weaknesses for us.  But I think God just loves our trying to do better.  Our wanting to do better. 

Sometimes when a friend comes to me wanting advice on a decision, I give them my best opinion, based on Scripture, as near as I can come.  But then I reassure them that when you really want to do what God wants you to do, you can't do the wrong thing.  There are no mistakes when you are walking with Him, because He's going to work things out for your good and His glory.

Isn't that reassuring to know, that all we have to do is try?  Makes success seem so much easier, which is good, because we can't accomplish anything without Him anyway.  Try is all He's ever asked of us.

~ "I can do all things
   through Christ who strengthens me" ~
Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Look to Him, no matter your condition

"Give to him who asks you, 
and from him who wants to borrow from you 
do not turn away."
Matthew 5:42

Okay, well, I'm gonna do a little mocking of a loved one here.  But it's going to be gentle mocking, and I'm going to mock something I've done myself a time or two, and I'm not going to use any names, so my loved one can maintain their dignity.

A few weeks ago, one of my loved ones used my conditioner.  Out of the shower.  Which is not a huge deal, really.  The only reason I call it "mine" is that it's for curly hair, and I'm the only one in the house with curly hair.

So, someone was out of conditioner, and used mine.  So I got a new bottle of conditioner out of the cupboard and took it to said loved one, who responded, "Where did that come from?"  I said, "from the cupboard." (The one where we keep all our extra health and beauty stuff.)

And you know how my loved one responded?  "Oh."  So I said, "It was right in plain sight."  And he/she responded, "Oh, well I never looked."

Now, I didn't make too much fun of my loved one, because, as I say, it's something I've done myself.  But you have to admit, it's ridiculous to not even look for something you need, in a place you know you're likely to find it.

Why do we do that?  Why do we just assume we have nothing, when we have something?  Why don't we even look?  God provides us with what we need.  And when we think we're out... when we think we're empty, we're not.  He has more.  More what?  Grace.  Peace.  Understanding.  Faith.  Love.  He is the source.

Seek, and you shall find.

~ "Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God,
and there is no other." ~
Isaiah 45:22

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Growing in Tandem

"as a vegetable garden"
Deuteronomy 11:10

I was reading an old magazine the other day, that I forgot I had.  It's a magazine aimed at women and the home, with recipes and gardening tips and stuff on how to raise chickens.  I like it because it reminds me of a time when everyone used to raise chickens, and it reminds me that there are still people who do it.

I'm even related to a few.

And I love the gardening articles in this magazine, for the pure and true reason that I am not a gardener.  Which is a pity, because I love gardens.  I love plants.  I love greenery, and all the plants that refuse to be green, because they want to be different.

This is from our trip to the re-created Jamestown Settlement a few years ago.  Our guide here was talking to us about crops.  That's tobacco in her hand.

I love flowers and fruits and seeds and leaves that are the "pretty" of a plant because they change color.  I mean, what's up with poinsettia?  Amazing.

And I love reading articles about gardening so that I can live vicariously through the writer.  Because I am a terrible gardener.  I have a few houseplants that I manage to keep alive, mostly because they are forgiving, and they happen to thrive on the type of care I'm able to give.

Same with our outdoor plants.  Two trees in the backyard that are alive and healthy but refuse to get any taller.  Our apple tree, which was already mature when we moved in.  A palm tree because who can kill those in Southern California?  And in the front yard, a red ash that I love because it loves me.  A birch that we planted, and its neighbor, which we also planted.  Except that one died.  No idea why one lived and one died.

Oh, and some honeysuckle out by the mailbox, and some star jasmine by the front door, which smells heavenly for a few weeks in the summer.  The jasmine, not the door.  Poorly constructed sentence there....

Anyhow, this article I read the other day was so interesting, and if I ever have the time and develop a talent for gardening, I'm gonna try this.  It was about something called the "Three Sisters" planting method.  It means to plant corn, beans and squash together, enabling them to "encourage" each other in the growing process.

As for the reasons, the Old Farmer's Almanac puts it this way:

As older sisters often do, the corn offers the beans needed support.
The beans, the giving sister, pull nitrogen from the air 
and bring it to the soil for the benefit of all three.
As the beans grow through the tangle of squash vines 
and wind their way up the cornstalks into the sunlight, 
they hold the sisters together.
The large leaves of the sprawling squash protect the threesome 
by creating living mulch that shades the soil, 
keeping it cool and moist and protecting weeds.
The prickly squash leaves also keep away raccoons, 
which don't like to step on them. 

I just think that's beautiful and amazing.  I love the idea of someone (in this case Native Americans) realizing that these plants would benefit one another.   And I love the idea of that someone teaching other someones. 

But most of all, I love what these plants do for one another.  I love the teamwork, if you will, even though they're just doing what God created them to do.   It reminded me of an article I read years ago, about athletes competing in a triathlon.  But these athletes were all handicapped in some way, and each of them was only able to compete in one portion.  So they teamed up with others, and it was sort of a relay-triathlon.  I thought that was so beautiful.  These teams of three, competing together and creating one whole athlete, in a way.

We are who we are, each of us.  We are growing and becoming all the time.  And if we are living for Him, then we are growing more like Him, becoming more complete, and ever closer to perfection.

But in the meantime, He has provided us with helpers.  People who are in our lives, and we in theirs, for the purpose of each of us growing. 

Sometimes you're the beans and I'm the squash.  And sometimes I'm the beans and you're the corn.  But as long as we're reaching toward the Son, we'll keep growing.

~ "But other seed fell on good ground
      and yielded a crop that sprang up, 
     increased and produced" ~
Mark 4:8

Monday, November 25, 2013

Giving Thanks

"something sweet"
Judges 14:14

I have a sweet tooth.  It must be a genetic thing, 'cuz my father has one, too.  And so does my son.

But of course, a penchant for sweets does not mean loving all things with sugar.  I'm partial to Ghirardelli dark chocolates, and ice cream.  My father likes a few specific kinds of cookies, and Twinkies.  And ice cream.   And my boy's current passion is tapioca pudding.

Oh, and ice cream.

And parenthetically, did you know that tapioca is extracted from the root of the plant manihot esculenta.  Due to a high concentration of cyanide, it is poisonous in its raw form and lethal if prepared improperly.  Tapioca is also indigenous to Brazil as is the cocoa bean, from which we get chocolate, the best pudding.

So let's talk about chocolate pudding.  It's our lesson for the day.

A few weeks ago, our church had an event for kids, and they had some fun snacks on-hand.  And after the event was over, the lady in charge gave me some of the leftovers to take home.  There was an open jar of peanut butter, I think, and maybe some goldfish crackers.

But there was also some chocolate pudding.  A few of those "snack-pack" things.  Which I kinda love.  They're not something we buy on a regular basis.  They're not really cost-effective.  I figure if I'm gonna eat pudding, I should buy the powder and make it myself.  But I don't do that very often either.

So I was excited about the unusual treat in our fridge.  I think I had one, and then the next time I went to have one, a day or so later, they were gone.  Somehow my boy and my hubby had finished them off, and I had only gotten one.  

It wasn't a huge deal, of course, but I did give my sweetie a hard time about it.  Just a little teasing, you know?  But that was the only mention I gave it.

About a week later, I had forgotten about it, when I opened the fridge and saw pudding in there.  Chocolate pudding.  Apparently my husband had picked some up for me while stopping at the store for something.  I didn't know anything about it, but when I saw it, I knew it was for me. 

There are things we need, and things we want.  Things we hope for, and things that surprise us.  But every day there are things in our lives that are just for us.  Provided, prepared, personalized.... by Him.  For me and for you.

This week, in the US, is the week of Thanksgiving.  It's a time for remembering the origins of our country, so special and sacred to us.  But more than that, it's a time for realizing our blessings.  It's a time to remember how much we take for granted, and how much we owe Him.  And while that's something I try to do throughout the year, I'm grateful for the reminder this time every year. 

Wherever you are, however you're blessed... thank Him today for the sweet and beautiful things He has provided for you.

~ "Oh that we would give thanks to the Lord
for His goodness,
and for His wonderful works
to the children of men!" ~
Psalm 107:8

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Lesson From Shepherd's Pie

"they sat down to eat a meal"
Genesis 37:25

I was going through my recipes today, looking for a recipe for banana bread.   We have a few unappetizing looking ones in the fridge, that no one wants to eat.  And frankly, I can’t blame them.  But banana bread will be just the ticket. 

I’m also going to have to look for my pumpkin bread recipe soon.  We have a few pumpkins that have been our Autumn decorations, and we’ll need switch them out for the Christmas stuff in a few days.  At which point I’ll bake the pumpkins, and make bread out of them.  *yum*

While I enjoy browsing through cookbooks every now and then, what I love even more is going through my collected recipes.  Those are the tried and true.  Those are the memories, either of the person I got the recipe from, or of times when my family has eaten the food.  Maybe we enjoy it every year on a holiday, or maybe it’s one of my kids’ favorites.

But you know what I came across today?  A recipe for shepherd’s pie.   My kids love shepherd’s pie.  It’s a favorite for all of us, but it was something I had to learn.  We didn’t eat it when I was a kid.  Or if we did, I don’t remember, so it wasn’t something my mom did a lot. 

So at some point in my married life, I decided I needed to learn how to make shepherd’s pie.  I loved the idea of it.  I love foods that are intrinsic to a certain culture, and I think the idea of all those beautifully mashed potatoes on top appeals to the Irish in me.  

So I learned how, and now it’s one of my go-to recipes.  I love that it’s warm, I love the potatoes, and I love that I can doctor it up with whatever vegetables I happen to have on hand.  Or I can use ground turkey instead of ground beef.  Cheese or no cheese.... Options: gotta love ‘em.  

I smiled a little bit to myself when I saw that recipe.  It was just something cut out of a magazine, and tucked in the notebook I use for recipes.  I glanced at it and smiled, then I pulled it out…

… and I threw it away. 

And that made me smile, too.  

I threw it away because I no longer need it.  I've made shepherd's pie so often, I can do it with my eyes shut.  

Well, I'd make a mess, and I might burn myself, but I could do it. 

I smiled when I saw it, because I could hardly believe there was a time when I needed instructions for this process.  And that is an example of practice makes perfect.  

Repetition... following the instructions to the letter, as many times as you have to, until you know what to do.  Until you no longer have to think about it, because it's automatic.  

It works that way with spiritual stuff, too.  We can become kinder, more forgiving, more prayerful.  We just have to go through the motions several times ~ maybe for a few weeks, maybe longer.  We have to carefully follow the instructions until we have the method memorized.  And we might need to ask for help, the way we might need a second pair of hands in the kitchen until we have a recipe down pat.  

But it will come.  You'll learn what He wants from you, and it will become part of you.  And the best part is, when that happens, you'll be able to help someone else learn it, too.

~ "The things which you learned and received 
  and heard and saw in me, 
these do,
and the God of peace will be with you." ~
Philippians 4:9

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Oh, how He loves you, oh...

"the animals that followed"
2 Kings 3:9

Blissfully quiet day at home today.  Cool and a little rainy, the kids and I just snuggled down and puttered around.  School, reading, nice warm soup for lunch... it was a wonderfully quiet day. 

For awhile I was in my daughter's room with her.  We went over her math lesson ~ Algebra 2 this year ~ and worked our way through a couple of practice problems to make sure she was comfortable.  And the whole time we did, she had a cat in her lap, and I had a dog in mine.

The cat generally shows up in her room in the afternoons, because that's where the sun shines in.  Today she was there not for the sun, but for some cuddling.  My girl was doing her schoolwork under a blanket, and the kitty was happily snuggled in her lap.

Our kitty, Hazel-rah {Actually it's Hazel.  But I call her Hazel-rah.  Nickname courtesy of Richard Adam's masterpiece, Watership Down.}

The dog, on the other hand, stays close to me when the Apple of my Eye is not at home, so while I sat on the floor with my girl, the dog sat next to me.  And on me.  And stuck her little wet nose in my face.

Holly.  They don't come any sillier, or more sincere.

And I started thinking about the different "needs" our pets have, when it comes to love.  Holly, the dog, is literally in-your-face needy.  Never far away, and frequently asking for attention.  Never out loud, though.  She only barks at salesmen.  And mailmen.  And gardeners and neighbors and deliverymen and joggers and garbage collectors, ad infinitum...  The only time she barks at us is when we're playing ball with her.  And for all I know, she's barking at the ball, not us. 

So she's quiet in her neediness, but still needy.  Loving.  Present.  Available.

The kitty, Hazel, has a far different personality.  She's not aloof the way cats can be.  She sleeps a lot of the day of course, but when she's awake, she's quite social.  As a matter of fact, you can't even walk by her without her talking to you.  A meow, a trill, a purr.... she's got quite a vocabulary for a cat. 

This is not mine.  This is my sister's cat, Finnegan.  Also a snuggler.

She snuggles with us, too.  She walks across chairs and tables and couches to get to the lap of her choice, and then she sits down, bathes herself, and then settles down for a good long cuddle.  Of course, she doesn't care whether we have plans or not.

This is my sister's other cat, Honey. 

We love our pets, more than we love any other animal in the world.  And our pets love us, such as animals do, more than they do any other people in the world.  They trust us.  They miss us when we're gone, and they want to be with us, but each in their own way.  And so we love them each a little differently.  Our attention and love and even how we discipline them is unique to each of them.

This is my other sister's cat.  Not to be confused with my sister's other cat.  Nala.  The name is Swahili, I think, and means "I have no dignity.  Please give me some privacy."

Now, I don't know whether you're a dog-person or a cat-person.  Or maybe even a bird- or snake-person.  But I do know that God understands and loves you perfectly and uniquely.  Talkative or needy, or even a little standoffish.  He gets you.  He receives your love, in the way that you offer it to Him, and He gives you love in the way that's right for you. 

~ "Yes, He loves the people" ~
Deuteronomy 33:3

Friday, November 22, 2013

Everything and More

"Abraham I will remember"
Leviticus 26:42

Well, it's a couple days late, but we were busy the last two nights...  We watched the movie "Lincoln" tonight, in honor of the 150th anniversary of delivery of the Gettysburg Address.  We saw the movie last year, when it first came out; one of the few times I've seen a movie on Opening Night.  I was a Lincoln scholar in college, and even though I don't have a chance to read much about him anymore, it's still enjoyable anytime I pick up an article or something.  It's familiar, but there's always something new, too.

It was fun to watch the movie again.  Though we own the dvd, we hadn't watched it yet, so this was the first time since a year ago.

I'd been eagerly anticipating the movie, but I had my reservations, too.  I wanted the movie to be done right, you know?  I wanted it to fit my expectations, based on everything I'd read and studied.  And it did, in almost every way.

The characters looked the way they should ~ I could tell right away who the members of his cabinet were, because they looked exactly like the people they were portraying.

And the personalities were what I expected, too.  The relationship between Mr Lincoln and his wife; and between him and his son Robert; his Secretary of State, William Seward.... I would have been puzzled or disappointed if their portrayals did not stay true to everything I know about them.

The experience is somehow more enjoyable to me because it's true to what I've read, and I realized today that I can anticipate heaven in the same way.  I've spent so much time reading about Him ~ His characteristics, His attributes, and the glimpses He has given us of eternity.  And it's both exciting and comforting to know that He will always be everything He has promised.  Who He is in Scripture is who He is.  And what He says will be exactly has He has said.

There was one thing in the movie that surprised me.  A quote, by Edwin Stanton, Lincoln's Secretary of War.  The morning after the assassination, when the doctor announced to the gathered men that the President had passed away, Stanton broke the silence that followed.  His words were, "Now he belongs to the ages."  A statement worthy of the situation, to be sure.

But in my mind, that statement sounded different than it was in the movie.  Stanton was a big man, with a formidable personality.  And I always imagined that the words he spoke to be a sort of declaration.  I pictured him proclaiming Lincoln's legacy, in a booming voice, in a silent room.

But in the movie, the actor spoke the words quietly.  Sadly.  With exhaustion and resignation.  And it was so fitting.  It was truer, and better than I had imagined it.

That, too, is true about God, and about heaven.  We have words, but we don't always have understanding.  We are finite and frankly, He is incomprehensible.  We can picture... we can imagine... and we'll be right.

And yet, at the same time, we'll be wonderfully surprised, too.

~ "Though now you do not see Him,
yet believing,
   you rejoice with joy inexpressible" ~
1 Peter 1:8

Thursday, November 21, 2013

You're not gonna fool me on capitals either

"a country away"
Genesis 36:6

One of my least favorite things happened while I was teaching my kids a few weeks ago.  It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's both infuriating and disconcerting.

It was on my daughter's work.  Geography.  She had a map of part of Europe, and she was to label countries and cities and bodies of water.  Which she did admirably.

And I know European geography pretty well, so I was able to grade most of it just by looking it over, but I did need the Answer Key for a few parts of it.  And that's when I noticed. 

Denmark.  It was huge.  And.... what's it doing over there?  Yeah, that's not Denmark, that's Norway.  Mislabeled on the Answer Key. 

It happened a few years ago, too.  Different curriculum company, different subject.  Math.  I was grading my son's math homework, which for a long time, in the early years, I could do without an Answer Key.  But as they got older, if I were in a hurry, I'd use it.  Or I'd double check myself if I was distracted that day.  And I started to see errors.  Several.  Whole groups of problems, with incorrect answers.

Are you kidding me??  The answers are wrong?  I don't have time to be doing every problem with them, to take every test and read every chapter.  If there's one thing a teacher ought to be able to count on, it's the infallibility of the Answer Key! 

Well I contacted the company, and found out they were aware of the problem.  They sent out fixed pages for me, and I was able to use those for the rest of that year.  And that was fine.  I guess accidents happen, right?

But it took away my confidence.  Ever since then, I find myself doubting.  I'll be working a problem with one of my kids, and if we have trouble, and we're not getting the same answer as the Key, I generally assume it's our fault.  We're doing something wrong.  And we re-work the problem.  But if it happens again, I immediately doubt the Answer Key. 

Now, 99% of the time, it's still my fault.  My kids and I make far more mistakes than textbook writers do.  And yet I wonder. 

There are a couple of lessons for me in this.  Number One, I need to trust myself on the things that I know that I know.  I know where Denmark is.  I know how big it is.  And if I find myself looking at a map that has it up where Norway should be, I'm right to doubt that map. 

Number Two, I'm reminded of the joy of trusting Him.  There truly is nothing on earth that we can trust the way we can trust Him.  Completely and wholly.  He's the only thing we can count on.  I forget that sometimes.  Or I remember it, but forget to appreciate it.  I just take it for granted.

I'm grateful for the reminder, whether from math or geography.  Or history.  Or economics, or family matters or politics.  Trusting Him is a life-changing lesson every day.

~ "Blessed is the man who fears the Lord...
his heart is steadfast,
trusting in the Lord.
His heart is established;
he will not be afraid" ~
Psalm 112:1,7,8

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Lesson from a Clam

"bring hidden things to light"
Job 28:11

I was out with some friends last night, at a planning meeting for an upcoming event, and after we were done with the agenda, we got to chatting.  Of course. 

The topic turned to the different things people find revolting (one person can't stand spiders, another is not fazed by them, etc.) so naturally I shared my family's experience with dissecting a clam yesterday, and how my poor girl was even more icked out by it because she's allergic to them, so it kinda doubled her nervousness.

But then someone asked curiously, "So, is there anything in there?"  I knew what she meant:  of course there is something in between a clam's shells, but is there anything identifiable?  Is what's in there really more than just a blob?

So I shared how interesting it was.  I mentioned some of this yesterday, but there was the foot, and the siphons, which are where water enters and exits.  There are two sets of gills, which are quite distinguishable from the rest, actually.  There are the muscles, where it attaches to the shells.  There is the mantle, which becomes the shell, little by little.  The rings on a clam's shell are actually growth rings, that indicate its age.  I didn't know that before.   And then, of course, there is its heart and digestive tract. 

My friend ~ and I, frankly ~ assumed that all that was inside a clam's shell was a pinkish, squishy globule.  But there's more there than meets the eye. 

Therein lies the lesson.  "More than meets the eye".  A reminder that we know so much less than we think we know. 

I saw a friend last night, at Bible study.  A sweet, wise, very gentle friend, whom I've known for years.  We made eye contact as we were walking towards each other.  We weren't headed to talk; we each had something to do, we were just gonna pass each other on the way.  And I don't know what she was thinking about at the time, but as she made eye contact with me, she was positively glaring.  She looked upset with me.  But then we passed each other and as we did, she smiled a little and said hi. 

She had just been deep in thought.  Difficult thought, as I found out later.  But if I didn't know her as well as I do, it would have been easy to assume that she's a grumpy person.  I might have avoided her if I didn't know that her "resting" face is sometimes dour looking, even though she's a lovely person.  She laughs frequently, with a lovely smile, and she's a very caring woman who goes out of her way to show love.

Reminder #1:  There's more there than what meets the eye. 
Reminder #2:  Only He knows. 
Reminder #3:  Don't judge, don't judge, don't judge.

Oh, and #4?  Check out a clam when you get a chance.  God's done some amazing work in there.

~ "There is only one Lawgiver and Judge,
the One who is able to save and destroy.
But you ~ who are you
     to judge your neighbor?" ~
James 4:12

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Suffice to say they really do clam up

"a creature living in the water of the seas"
Leviticus 11:9

Adventures in dissection, today.  Have I mentioned how much I love homeschooling?

My girl had instructions to dissect a clam, for her marine biology course, so we bought one this weekend, and set out to do the distasteful thing this morning. 

A clam may seem only mildly distasteful to you, but she's allergic to mollusks, so she had more than a little trepidation about handling one, even with gloves on. 

That's my girl and me.  She's the one wearing the hazmat get-up.

But as it turned out, the most difficult part of the whole experience was just getting the darn thing to open. 

We had our tools and our gloves, a clean, well-lit workspace, and my boy taking pictures for posterity and for my girl to look at later as she studies and reminds herself what she learned.  But our preparation amounted to nothing as first she, and then I, took creature in hand to force him to teach us. 

Needless to say, we don't eat a lot of shellfish here.  I did when I was growing up.  My whole family loves fish of almost all kinds (we fondly remember the all-you-can-eat dinners at the Chesapeake Bay Seafood House) and my dad cooked a lot of it himself.  Apparently I was busy setting the table or making the salad or something, because I certainly never learned how to open a clam. 

We read in her textbook what to do.  And we tried.  Then we looked it up online.  And we tried.  Then we found a video online, and we watched and followed along.  At least, we tried.  We switched tools a couple of times, since we don't own a clam knife.  And all the while I could swear I could hear bi-valve laughter. 

But what I heard more than that was, "Please don't hurt yourself, Mom."  Forty-seven times.  Per child.  Which was partially because I was holding a semi-sharp object in my hand and aiming it in the general direction of my other hand; partially because I was doing something I'd never done before, and they knew it; and partially because I am ever-so-slightly accident-prone. 

{"Ever-so-slightly" meaning that I don't hurt myself a lot, 
but when I do, I do a good job.  
Wanna hear about my broken toe?}

Well, of course we finally got into the little sucker.  We inspected the gills and the foot and the mantle.  And we identified what we're pretty sure was the digestive tract and the siphons.  All-in-all, I think it was pretty interesting, and not bad smelling, as dissection goes. 

But I hurt myself.

Not a bad hurt.  No slipping, stabbing or bleeding.  But I realized, about an hour after the Battle with the Clam, that I was red and sore on my finger where I'd been pushing on the knife, trying to get it in between the upper and lower shell.  Just a bit of a pressure or friction thing, ya know?  And I kinda laughed to myself because my kids had warned me, and still I hurt myself.

Pain's a surprising thing sometimes.  It catches us off-guard.  Or worse, catches us when we're on guard, but for something else.   It's why God tells us to put on our armor ~ so we don't get hurt in any way that's unnecessary.  And it's why He tells us that in this world we will experience tribulation ~ so we don't feel shocked and unprepared when it happens. 

There is expected pain, sometimes, that we know is likely, but we take the chance anyway.  Like playing catch with a young child.  And there is careless pain.  Pain we could have avoided, but were too lazy or skeptical to.  "Nah... I don't need the helmet; I'll be fine."  But there is also the unexpected pain.  The pain we never thought would happen, like being betrayed by a friend.  I think that's the worst.  That pain that comes from choosing to be vulnerable in some way, and then being stabbed in the back. 

Some pain God intends, but some He doesn't.  That doesn't mean He won't make good from all our pain, but obedience will protect us from a lot of it. 

And He will heal us from all of it.

~ "Heal me, Lord,
  and I will be healed;
save me
and I will be saved,
    for you are the One I praise" ~
Jeremiah 17:14

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lack of Understanding

"Then you will understand"
Proverbs 2:9

Ah, the subject of wisdom.  It's all over Proverbs, isn't it?  We just finished studying Proverbs in Bible study, and I find that the more I study, the more I see the benefits of wisdom.  But the more I study, the more I see how much wisdom I have to gain, too.  What's that saying?  "The more you know, the more you know how much more you need to know."

Wisdom is mentioned countless times in the Bible, many in the Book of Proverbs, but this verse, Proverbs 2:9, taunts me with its promise:  that wisdom will enable me to understand what is right and just and fair. If there's one thing I often find myself longing for, it's understanding!

I completely and totally and wholeheartedly trust the Lord.  I know that He is just and fair, and that His timing is perfect.  I know that His plan is perfect.  I know in my heart the truth of Romans 8:28 ~ that He works all things in my life for good, as I am called for His purpose.

And I rely on the love He expresses in Jeremiah 29:11 ~ that He has plans for me ~ to prosper me, not to harm me; plans for a hope and a future.  I know that I know that I know that He has me in a place that is right, and just, and fair; that I am on a good path.

But I do not always understand.

I do not see His logic.  He is mathematician who does not show His work; a firm parent who responds to "Why?" with "Because I said so."

He created me, however, to take very little of what I see at face value.  He created me with an inquisitive nature that seeks to analyze; to explore until I am satisfied.  So I struggle mightily with not being allowed to understand.  I trust in His decisions, but I do not understand.  And it's a new battle, sometimes moment by moment, to accept what I do not understand.

Until I have the wisdom to understand His righteousness, justice, and fairness, I will walk with faith, in grace, along the good path, to the hope and future He has promised me.

~ "Then you will understand
  what is right and good and fair;
  every good path" ~
Proverbs 2:9

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Warning: Copious amounts of sarcasm ahead, followed by a heaping helping of sincerity

"Stay and enjoy yourself."
Judges 19:9

My sister did something terrible today.  Shameful.

And I told her what I thought of her decision.  But she did it anyway.


The vile, disgraceful thing she did?

Run errands.

I know, right?

But for those of you who need more information, the detail that made her crime so despicable was that where she lives, it snowed today.

And still, she ran her errands.

I know, I know... she works full-time and Saturdays are a day she needs to get things done.

And I know, I know, I know... she was out of town the past couple of days and probably had a pretty good-sized to-do list.

But still ~ snow!

I, of course, live in Southern California, where, of course, it does not snow.  I mean, up there in the mountains it does, but not down here at sea level.  I see snow under only a few conditions:

     a) My family heads up to the Southern California mountains,
        which we hardly ever do.

     2) We visit my sister in Utah.

     d) We visit my other sister in Nevada.

Snow is a rare commodity for us.  A treat.  Beautiful, peaceful, inspiring... once a year, if we're lucky, so it's a thing to be celebrated.  Treasured.  And it calls for a very specific response, including a blanket, a fire in the fireplace, and hot chocolate.

I reminded her of that, but she ran her errands anyway.  And then I talked to her later in the day, and she wasn't a bit remorseful.

The question is:  what am I taking for granted?  I get so bored with the beautiful sunshine, because we see it nearly every day.  But there are places in the world (like that town in Norway) where they treasure what I ignore.

My family, a soft bed and a comfortable chair... plenty of food, and the time to eat it... luxuries and the time to enjoy them.  Not only am I not (outwardly) grateful for them, I expect them.  And if one of them were to be missing from my life, I'd wonder why God had abandoned me.  

To be honest, I think maybe God doesn't look too harshly on us for sins like this.  I think He understands, in the same way I understand that my dog is afraid when the Apple of my Eye checks the battery on the smoke alarm.  I shake my head with a little smile on my face, because I know that's just how she is.  She's a dog-of-very-little-brain.

Is that what He does?  Does He just shake His head with a little smile, because He knows I'm a child-of-very-little-thanks?

Oh, I so don't want to be that...  I want to revel in sunshine and family and joy and blessings, just like I wanted my sister to pause for a day and delight in the snow.  I want to want not what I want, but what I already have.

I'm grateful, though, that He does know how grateful I am.  He knows how I adore my family and my life.  I just wish I would say it to Him more often.

~ "Sing to the Lord with grateful praise" ~
Psalm 147:7

Saturday, November 16, 2013

We don't know what we don't know

"no one can find out"
Ecclesiastes 3:11

I got myself into a fit of rumination last weekend.

I love it when that happens... chewing my cud on a verse or a concept in the Bible, trying to get all the nutrition I can out of it.

The verse in question is Ecclesiastes 3:11, which I came across in my Bible Study lesson.   The complete sentence is "He has put eternity into man's hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end."  That's the New King James Version.  But in our lesson, it in the English Standard Version, and it says, "He has put eternity into man's hearts, yet so that he cannot find out... etc."

I thought the wording was interesting, grammatically speaking.  "Yet so".  That was my focus.  And I wondered, does that verse mean:

1)  that God put the concept of eternity into our hearts, but we're so dense we cannot understand the work that God has done


2) that God put the concept of eternity into our hearts, but in such a way that we would not find out the work that He has done

The writers of the lesson I was doing had some supporting Scriptures, that pointed to Option 1.  But I kept thinking it seemed like Option 2.  So I looked at several versions of the line.  A lot of them echo one way or the other; the notable word differences are:

"He has placed eternity in their hearts, without enabling them to discover..." (CEB)
"He has given them awareness of eternity, but in such a way that they can't fully comprehend..." (CJB)
"He gave us the ability to think about His world, but we can never completely understand..." (ERV)
"He has put a sense of eternity in people's minds, yet mortals still can't grasp..." (GW)
"He has given us a desire to know... but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding..." (GNT)

And I also was intrigued by NET which says "He has placed ignorance in the human heart, so that people cannot discover..."

There are verses to support both interpretations.  Isaiah 55:9 says "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."  That one sounds like we simply cannot understand all that He is and does.  Which is true.

But there's also Deuteronomy 29:29, which says "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever," which tells us that there are things He chooses not to tell us.  Which is true.

It doesn't really matter, of course, which way this verse is intended.  Both meanings convey truths about God.  But I do love the wondering.  And I love the reminder that I don't know near as much about life as I think I do. 

When my kids were little, and they thought they'd gotten away with something until I called them on it, they would want to know how I knew they had done something wrong.  I would just tell that that because I'm their mother, God gives me what I need to know.  No more, no less.  Sometimes our knowledge seems like not enough, but we have what we need. 

It's as if God has said:  "I taught them everything they know.  But I did not teach them everything I know."

~ "By wisdom the Lord laid the earth's foundations;
by understanding He set the heavens in place;
by His knowledge the deeps were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew" ~
Proverbs 3:19-20

Friday, November 15, 2013

Loveless ~ and Love

"written with the finger of God"
Exodus 31:18

I read something so beautiful today.  It was inspirational and heart-warming, and it reminded me of just how much God loves me.

But it wasn't in the Bible.

It wasn't even in a devotional.

It was in a cookbook.

I'll back up a little....

I was reading through one of my cookbooks today, looking for an interesting recipe or two to try in the near future.  And the book I chose was one that my mother-in-law gave me a few years ago, from a restaurant outside Nashville.

The restaurant is called The Loveless Cafe, and they're famous for Southern Country Cooking.  We were fortunate enough to have a chance to visit in 2010, and let me tell you, I am ruined for fried chicken now.  The Colonel just ain't doin' it for me anymore.  The bad news is, Loveless doesn't deliver.   Well, not their fried chicken, they don't. 

The other winner for me there was the strawberry jam.  It is ~ there's no other way to put it ~ perfect. Just the right amount of sweetness, just the right texture for spreading (not too lumpy, not too thin). Happily, that, they'll deliver.  Well, ship, really.

photo credit:  The Loveless Cafe.  mmmm..... gonna get me a spoonful right now...

But here's what happened:  I was reading the author's acknowledgements in the beginning of the book, and he wrote the following line: "Like many writers, I tend to write with particular readers in mind ~ readers who motivate me to do my best."

I never thought about it before, but I realized that as a writer, I do that.  I want to write in a way that appeals to the "-est" reader ~ the neediest, the smartest, the simplest... the one who needs the most encouragement, the one who needs the reminder, the one who needs the challenge.  That's who I hope I'm reaching, whether it's here or in another endeavor.  I may not know who that person is, but I'm writing for them.  I'm thinking about them.

And then I excitedly realized that's how the Lord must feel about His Word.  So many different books, each appealing to a different sort of person.  Some simple, some challenging, some historic, some poetic.  And because He knows each and every one of us ~ those who live now, those who came before, and those who are yet to be born ~ He knew how each of us would react to different books, and maybe even different parts in those books.

Don't you just love the idea of Him thinking of you?  Writing for you?  Crafting and planning and perfecting His Words, for your growth and encouragement and learning?  What a beautiful sense of joy it brings to feel that known, and be that loved!

~ "Yes, He loves the people;
  All His saints are in Your hand;
They sit down at Your feet;
   Everyone receives Your words." ~
Deuteronomy 33:3

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Seek and you shall find

"Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah..."
Esther 2:7

I'm thinking about Esther today.  Someone very close to me is struggling, and we had a chance to talk a little today.  First I tried to help her put her emotions and fears in the background, so that the facts would rise to the top.   I tried to help make things clearer for her.

And then I advised her to read something in the Bible.  But what to read?  So the next part of our conversation was about the Bible.  When I'm in an emotional place, or when I'm in a quandary, I try to choose purposefully which book I should read.  When I need beautiful words, I go to Psalms.  When I need wisdom, I go to Proverbs, or James.

Some of them are sort of obvious, I think.  I mean, most people know that Proverbs = wisdom.  But other connections are personal.  John's gospel, and the Book of Joshua are comforting to me.  I've loved them for years.

The Book of Acts is one I go to when I feel like things are confusing.  Acts is very much a book of facts.  They went here and did that and said this.  Straightforward history.

Some books are good for simply taking my mind off of my own life.  Genesis has so many great adventures by some great Bible heroes:  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph...  And 1 and 2 Samuel have a lot of David's life for us.

Esther and Ruth are good for that, too.  Fairly short, almost novels.  Interesting characters; good guys, bad guys, and a compelling plot.  And all true!

Sometimes, however, I might find I need a good talking-to.  In those cases, I'll head to one of prophets.  Jonah, Haggai, Amos, Malachi... they tell it like it is.  Paul's letters are good, too.  After all, those were written to people in the very same circumstances in which we sometimes find ourselves:  misled, confused, off-track.

I asked my friend what book she thought she should read.  What book she'd like to read.  And at first she didn't know.  She was crying and frustrated, and almost couldn't think.  "I don't know," she said a few times. 

But after a minute, she quietly said, "I like Esther."  I kinda grinned to myself, because I should have remembered that.  I know she loves that book.  I should have sent her right there.

But maybe it's better that it wasn't me who remembered.  This way, He's the one who sent her there. 

He is the giver of all good things, and that includes His Word.  Read it, know it, love it.  Seek it, hear it, receive it.  Find the books you love or need, and sink deep into it.  It's for you.

~ "you shall rejoice in all the good things 
     the Lord your God has given to you" ~
Deuteronomy 26:11

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

To Do or Not To Do...

"what I want to do, I do not do"
Romans 7:15

Well, the past couple of days have been all about priorities for me.  A hot spotlight of focus on the things I do, the things I need to do, and the things I like to do.

First issue ~ my computer has been acting up.  It started yesterday afternoon, only staying on briefly before dying.  I wasn't panicked, though.  The Apple of my Eye is a whiz at, well, all things Apple, frankly.  But of course he couldn't look at it until he got home, which was shortly before bedtime.  Long day for him.  

So in the brief moments when my computer was working, I had decisions to make, and not long to make them.  Do I check my emails?  Check online news?  Play solitaire?  Listen to some music?  Write?  Do research?  Do school prep for the kids?  Grade the kids' work (some of the answer keys are not printed)?

I almost felt panicky, because I knew the computer might crash any second, so whatever I was going to do had to be decided and done quickly.  But decide and do, I did.  And whatever didn't make the cut would just have to wait.  

Then today, there were several fires that had to be put out (thankfully not literally).  My son needing physical attention (for what appears to just be a mild cold, but still, a little TCL is in order); two friends needing spiritual attention; another friend having to make a decision and needing my help (even though I thought she'd already made the decision, but okay, babe, I'm here for ya!)  

Plus teaching, showering, laundry, dishes, portioning and freezing the chicken stock I made yesterday.  Oh, and my hubby looked briefly at my computer, but wasn't able to make an initial diagnosis, so it's still acting up while he does some more research.  So all those same decisions I made yesterday as far as using my computer.  

It's been slightly stressful.  Mostly because when a day is not routine, I'm afraid something is going to fall through the cracks.  My brain is trying to remember, my hands are trying to do, and I'm trying not to take my distractedness out on my kids.  

But at the same time, it's been helpful.  That spotlight of focus has caused me to realize the importance of some of the things I did automatically.  Like play solitaire first thing in the morning, as I try to wake up.  Responding to important emails, and recognizing which can wait a day or two.  And not letting anything ~ anything ~ pull me away from that which has to be done.  Some fires, I've decided, are fakes.  Attention-getting, noise-making, panic-inducing liars.  So I ignored them.

I guess it's kinda like what Socrates said:  A life unexamined is not worth living.

~ "I must be about My Father's business" ~
Luke 2:49

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Friends and Brothers

"Saul's son Jonathan went to David
and helped him to find his strength in God."
1 Samuel 23:16

This verse is yet more evidence of one of the most blessed friendships in the Bible – that of David and Jonathan.  David was one of eight sons of Jesse, but even with seven brothers, we see no evidence of any friendship between David and any of them.  If this story were written by anyone but God, David and Jonathan would probably be bitter enemies, with one of them killing the other in a duel.  After all, Jonathan is the son of King Saul, and David is the man anointed to be the next king.  If this were a TV miniseries, the only thing missing would be both of them in love with the same woman. 

But like all deep friendships, these two men have something in common.  This was a friendship based in the Lord.  The ways in which David and Jonathan showed their friendship to each other are examples of how God wants friendship to be.  Jonathan and David made a covenant with one another, and Jonathan gave David the very robe he was wearing, along with his tunic, his sword, his bow, and his belt.  As these were property of the king’s son, they were probably beautiful items, made from the finest material available.

When Jonathan finds out that his father is trying to kill David, he does everything in his power to help David escape, even to the point of lying to his father.  Jonathan did this because he was one in Spirit with David.

There are probably countless ways that David and Jonathan showed friendship to each other, but this verse in chapter 23 is so inspirational to me.  Jonathan went to his friend, who was running for his life, hiding, afraid… and he helped him to find strength in God.  What better gift can there be?  What better way to help a friend who is weak?  Can others say this about me?  Can my husband, my children, say that I help them find strength in God?

There is much to be admired about David:  his courage, his strength, his faith… and we are privileged to take strength and inspiration from his psalms to God.  But I would be remiss if I did not learn from Jonathan, too, about friendship in the Spirit of the Lord, about loyalty and devotion, about being the friend that sticks closer than a brother.

~ "the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, 
and Jonathan loved him as his own soul" ~
1 Samuel 18:1

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mistakes erased, as promised

"writing with my own hand"
Philemon 1:19

I was at a gathering with friends a few weeks ago, and the hostess had a few gifts for all of us.

Just little things ~ a sachet of potpourri, a small notepad, and a brightly colored pencil.

{Parenthetically, are you like me?  Do you have a love for office supplies?  Pencils, pens, highlighters... crisp new legal pads or spiral notebooks... they just stimulate creativity, don't they?

Not to mention organizational tools that make me want to go home and rethink how I have everything organized, even if it's working fine the way it's currently organized...}

So we all got one of these fun, cheerful pencils.  But here's the sad part:  we each also got an eraser, too.  One of those small, pointed ones that fits on the end of a pencil.  Why is that sad?  Because I was glad to get one.  Because I knew there was a good chance that the eraser that was already on the pencil wouldn't be that good.  So often they aren't.  Either they leave a gray streak on the paper, or they're so rough they tear it.  So I knew I was probably would be needing that eraser.  And if I didn't need it for that pencil, I could use it for one of the cute, fun, bad-erasing pencils I have at home. 

When I got home and sharpened that pencil, and started using it, I found out that actually, that eraser worked just fine.  Happy, happy, joy, joy!  So I put the eraser on another pencil, which is also cute and fun, but with an eraser that doesn't work.  A few days later I used that other pencil, made a mistake, and started to erase.

And the eraser broke.  Tore.  A crack up the side.  And it fell off the pencil.  The very first time I used it.


A pencil with an attached eraser is supposed to do two jobs:  write and erase.  A pencil-tip eraser is supposed to do two jobs:  hang on to the pencil and erase.  Is it so much to ask that these products do what they were designed to do?

It makes me grateful for God's promises to forgive and forget all our sins ~ to erase them. 

And grateful that He keeps His promises.

~ "He will again have compassion on us,
and will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea." ~
Micah 7:19

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Learning the hard way

"he began to be in want"
Luke 15:14

When my children were very young, and we would go to the park, as they walked near the swings I would warn them about getting too close to kids who are swinging.  I explained that they were liable to get kicked if they were too close. 

But I only warned them a few times.  After that, I just let them learn the lesson.  You walk in front of a swing two or three times, and get kicked, and you're gonna remember.  And you're gonna say, "oh, that's why mom was telling me not to do that..."

I didn't tell them not to because I'm a mean mom who likes to stop my children from having fun.  And I didn't let them get kicked because I wanted them to be punished for disobeying me.  I warned them, and then let them find out the truth the hard way, because I love them, and I don't want them getting hurt. 

I thought about this today, after a discussion with a friend yesterday about all her daughter is going through.   Which is a lot.  And we talked about how some people seem to have one trial after another, while others seem to travel through life unscathed.   And I think maybe God knows what needs to happen in our lives, in order for Him to get through to us.  Some of us are harder-headed than others.

In Luke 15, in the account of the prodigal son,  the father gave the son over to what he wanted.  And the son found out the hard way that he had been wrong in his desire to live a life of fun and frolic.  He was cold, hungry and lonely.  But he came home and his father welcomed him.

God does not force us to obey.  He gives us the freedom to make choices, even in our minds and attitudes.  When we see that we have sinned ~ even in our thoughts, or our lack of faith ~ and acknowledge that to Him, He forgives.  Instantly and repeatedly. 

But we don't apologize for things we don't think are wrong.  So sometimes God lets us get hit in the head with the swing.  So that we'll learn. 

I don't know about you, but it's long been my prayer to learn fast

~ "When we were controlled by our old nature, 
sinful desires were at work within us,
and the law aroused these evil desires
that produced a harvest of sinful deeds,
resulting in death.
But now we have been released from the law,
for we died to it
and are no longer captive to its power. 
Now we can serve God...
in the new way of living in the Spirit." ~
Romans 7:5-6

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Things That Mattered. (Or at least I thought they did.)

"when I have a convenient time I will call for you"
Acts 24:25

I have a love-hate relationship with my cellphone.  I didn't even have one, long after they became "necessities".  My husband finally bought me one for Christmas ~ not for me, but for him.  So that he could get a hold of me. 

I love my cellphone for three reasons:  the Apple of my Eye, my Awesome Girl, and my Amazing Boy.  I love having instant access to them when we're apart, especially the ability to text an "I love you" or "I'm thinking about you." 

And of course there's the helpful and convenient, "I'm on my way" or "Hello, Auto Club?"  I love the convenience my cellphone brings.

But I also hate it, because there are times ~ a lot of them ~ when I don't want to be "gotten".  I'm teaching my kids, I'm cooking, I'm studying, I'm vacuuming, etc.... And if I do talk on the phone, I would rather it be on the home phone because it's so much easier to hold, and the reception is better. 

So if you call, and I don't answer the home phone, it's because I'm doing something, so don't bother calling my cellphone, because I'm not going to answer because I'm doing something.

Seems so simple to me.  And yet I must be in the minority, because most of the people I know want to be called on their cellphones.  To each his own, I guess.

Anyhow, I told you all that so I could tell you this:  I just pulled my old cellphone out of a desk drawer.  The one I currently have I've had for several months ~ maybe even as much as two years ~ but I kept the old one because I still had photos on it, and I didn't know how to get them off.

Yesterday, I finally enlisted my hubby's help to get them off, and on to my computer.  And a lot of them were puzzling to me.

This photo has obvious appeal.  It's my sweet dog-of-very-little-brain.  But I have no idea why I took a photo of her.  I live with her after all.  And this is what she does for several hours out of every day.  So why take this picture?

Sunset.  I love sunset.  No two alike, and I wish I could capture every minute of all of them. 

That's a mama duck and her ducklings.  We saw them when we were driving home from church one day.  They crossed the street in front of our car, and we stopped because the ducklings couldn't make it up the curb.  I boosted them up with a magazine I had in my car, and they all continued on their way.  Sweet.

Sunset.  'Nuff said. 

My only guess is that my hubby wanted me to buy more of these, and I took a picture of the labels so I'd know I was buying the right product.  But still:  ???

Okay, I can come to no conclusion, other than that I took a photo of my half-eaten dinner.  I do love steak and potatoes, but I still don't know why I took this.

I don't remember where I took this.  I think in some sort of garden.  I think this was a bench placed in memory of this man.  I loved the sentiment, and I'm glad to be reminded of it.

A baseball game, obviously, but when?  who?  And why did I take it?  Was I trying to get what was on that screen, which I can't even see now?  Whatever my goal was:  fail.

Not sure about this either.  For some reason I think this was about sending a photo to my hubby to make sure I was buying the right thing.   Next question:  why didn't I then delete it?

There are things that seem so important to us in the here and now.  And then there comes a time ~ sometimes soon ~ when they don't matter at all.  So either I'm wasting my thoughts on things that are unimportant ~ like Old Spice and half-eaten steak ~ or I'm forgetting things I should be remembering ~ like sunsets and stranded ducklings. 

For the most part we have little control over what we forget and what we remember.  But I know I have successfully prayed to forget things in my life.  And I have.  I just don't remember what.

But it stands to reason that He'll help me remember, too.  And I trust that if I entrust my memory to Him, He'll lead me to rid my mind of things that are not worth remembering, and bring to my remembrance the things that matter.

~ "I will remember the works of the Lord" ~
Psalm 77:11