Friday, January 31, 2014

Praying Prayers

"regard the prayer which Your servant 
is praying before You today"
1 Kings 8:28

I had another session of pondering, recently, that was based on the collision of two separate thoughts, from different sources, entering my head at roughly the same time. 

Sort of like those old Reese's peanut butter cup commercials, where the chocolate and peanut butter came together accidentally, and the result was good. 

I love it when that happens.  'Cause I love pondering.  And wondering.  And musing and contemplating and meditating and ruminating and chocolate and peanut butter.  All good.

The first, was a conversation with my sister.  We were talking about prayer, and she asked me my opinion on a specific aspect of prayer that was troubling her, to wit:  how to pray for everything.  Or, how to cover in prayer all the things she thinks of that need prayer.

It's a good question.  Sometimes that's a hard aspect of prayer: the tendency of the mind to wander to things that each prayer request reminds you of.  Like, if I prayed for my daughter when she was taking the practice SAT test, then I might think, "Well, I should pray for all those other kids taking it, too."  And then I might start thinking about the college she'll end up at, and pray about wisdom in that decision, when the time comes, and then think I should pray about her eventual roommate, and her eventual boyfriend and her eventual best friend and her eventual best friend's parents, 'cuz what if she enjoys visiting them for dinner sometimes, they might have some influence on her life and do they go to church and oh, will she have any trouble going to church when she's in college if that's not near here and where will she be and will it snow there andI'dbetterprayforherdrivingcuzthatcanbetricky foragirlwhogrewupinaplacewhereitneversnows....

*pant, pant*

So I tried to put my sister at ease, because I think she was a little concerned about this.  You see, she's an oldest child, and a lot bit of a Type A personality, so it can be difficult for her to do anything to less than whatever standard she thinks is optimal. 

And then a few weeks ago I read this, from a friend of mine who puts out a monthly prayer calendar for worldwide ministry in which she's involved:  "Once again this month I was gripped by the audacity of fitting prayer and praise requests for children and adults worldwide, into the space of a box on a calendar that holds, at most, 215 letters and spaces.  What if, in our limited vision, we are asking wrongly?"

Now, I don't know if this friend of mine is a Type A oldest child, but that's much the same worry that my sister was having. 

Truthfully, this is not something I've ever worried about.  I believe that our prayers are precious to Him, even when poorly spoken.   In Revelation 5:8, John describes in his vision of heaven, twenty-four elders, who fell down before the Lamb, "each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."  Isn't that awesome?

So I don't worry about the timing of my prayers... I just found out that a long-lost friend of mine had heart surgery a few years ago.  We weren't in touch at the time, so I didn't know, and wasn't praying.  But as soon as I heard, I automatically prayed, counting on God to apply those prayers retroactively.  After all, He's outside of time and space, so why couldn't He?  And why wouldn't He?

And I don't worry about the length of my prayers... Sometimes I just say a name in my mind, or picture a person or a situation.  He knows.  He doesn't need details.  On the other hand, sometimes my mind wanders uncontrollably, from prayers to my grocery list, and back again.  I know I never lose Him.  He never tunes me out. 

And I don't worry about the wording of my prayers... Sometimes, whether praying out loud in a group, or in my own head, my words get jumbled or won't come.  I'm too overwhelmed, too overwrought, too tired, too whatever.  But Romans 8:26 says, "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.  For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

No, there's no such thing as a perfect prayer.  But I trust Him to take what I offer, and make it perfect.

~ "Lord, teach us to pray" ~
Luke 11:1

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Handy Prayer

"strengthen their hands"
Ezra 6:22

So we all sit down for dinner this evening ~ spaghetti and meatballs.  And my husband asked my son to say the prayer.  We kinda loosely take turns with this.  Either someone volunteers, or my hubby or I will ask one of the kids, or each other, to pray.

My boy prayed a lovely prayer, thanking God for our day, and some of our many blessings, and thanking Him for our food.  And then, at the end of the prayer, he asked God to "bless the hands that prepared the food".  It was a cheeky little prayer for his momma, who had boiled water, added spaghetti, and doctored up a jarred sauce, to personalize it, make it healthier, and make it go farther. 

The reason it was cheeky was because of the wording: "The hands that prepared the food".  Have you heard this expression?  I'm not sure where it originated, but I hear a lot of it in group prayers before meals.  The first time I heard it, it was at a retreat center and I thought it was so sweet to pray for the many people behind the scenes who had worked to prepare food for such a large group. 

I've heard it many times since.  And so have my kids.  But about a year ago, we saw a video of a very funny Christian comedian named Tim Hawkins.  And he did a stand-up routine about that phrase, saying, "Why just the hands?  Why not ask God to bless the whole person??"  And ever since then, we've had trouble taking that prayer seriously.  We'll be in a group, and hear someone pray those words, and inwardly, we are each stifling a giggle, and thinking about each other. 

And when it's just the four of us, my boy makes sure to include those words, as a little inside joke for all of us. 

So this evening, after we said our "Amen's," I looked him and grinned, and then started thinking again about the oddity of that phrase.  Shook my head a little bit and wondered. 

But then I thought about what a great prayer that is.  My hands do need prayer.  They write and type and punch numbers on the phone every day.  They shred and dice and stir, and sort and fold and scrub, and grade and point and carry and lift and hold and hug.  I serve people with these hands, and it doesn't get any more important than that.  Yes, Lord, please bless my hands!

And my feet, and my mouth, and my ears, and...

~ "But you, be strong,
and do not let your hands be weak,
for your work shall be rewarded!" ~
2 Chronicles 15:7

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Bees in the Tree

"for the bee"
Isaiah 7:18

The weather has been unusually warm in Southern California the past few weeks.  Which, I have to be honest, I have to work at appreciating.  I'm not a hot-weather girl.  I'm not even really a warm-weather girl.  I love it chilly, and I know I can't really expect very much cold in So Cal, but I'd at least like it to pretend like its winter. 

But it's not.  It's pretending like it's spring.  And it's fooling our apple tree into putting out (very lovely) blossoms.  And it's fooling the bees into thinking it's spring. 

I love bees.  I love how busy and happy and all-about-their-work they are.  And I love what they do for us.  The only bees I don't love are any that are currently stinging me.  And since that seldom happens ~ not since I was about thirteen ~ that just leaves me loving bees.

So I sat down to think and appreciate, and the tree was literally humming with bees.  I just watched them flying in circles, lighting on a flower for a few seconds, then moving on to a different one. 

The bees all had very noticeable pollen sacs, but they were of very different sizes. 

photo credit:  Wikipedia

 I was sort of fascinated by that.  Did some have bigger sacs because those bees were stronger and could lift more?  Or had they just gotten a head start in the morning, or maybe gotten to the blossoms that had more to give?

But I felt like each of them was doing his best, collecting like he was supposed to, with no worry about whose pollen sac was bigger.  I believe there are no show-offs in the bee world.

And you know what I started thinking about?  That story in the gospels about the woman who was healed just by reaching out to touch Jesus' hem as He walked by.  To be honest, I'm not sure why.   It might be that my thinking had to do with the idea of "a little is fine", or the way I watched the bees seemingly do nothing more than land on a blossom.  It seemed so effortless for them to do their work, but I know there's more to it than I can tell.

And by the same token, the woman needed nothing more than to touch Jesus' robe.  She didn't need His attention, or an eloquent, flowery prayer from Him.  She only needed proximity, and the slightest bit of contact.  Her little bit of reaching out was enough.

This might take some more pondering.  There might be a lot for me to learn from bees and trusting women of the Bible.  But I can think of nothing I'd rather do that sit under my apple tree, watching His creations do their thing, and thinking about Him.

~ " 'Be of good cheer, daughter;
     your faith has made you well.'
  And the woman was made well
   from that hour." ~
Matthew 9:22

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Just another manic Monday

"a time to build up"
Ecclesiastes 3:3

I got a little gift today.  An unexpected largesse from the clock.  Or my calendar.  Or something...

It went like this...

My Mondays are wonderfully orchestrated.  Mondays and Tuesdays are the days when it's most important to me that everything go smoothly.  I'm a fairly wing-it kinda person in general, but Tuesdays are my busy day, so that has to go well.  And Mondays?  Well, they're Mondays.  I feel the week is off to a good start if I hit the ground running.  So I keep to a pretty good routine. 

The gift today was an extra couple of hours of time.  While I teach my Adorable and Amazing Boy every morning, it's a little different with my Attractive and Awesome Girl.  For her, I put together a week-long lesson plan, and then she works independently.  We do math together, whenever during the day she's ready, and she comes me to me if she needs help on something, but all the prep for her learning is done by me on Mondays. 

I figure out what sections or chapters need to be done in what subjects, and write it down in my book and hers.  Then I need to make photocopies or print out any necessary worksheets.  Sometimes I need to type them out, if I'm diverging from what the curriculum is doing.  Other times I need to type up tests for her, or print out already prepared tests.  The whole thing can take 90 minutes or even two hours. 

But I didn't need to do that today.  She was sick a couple of days last week, so she's not ready for me to dump a new week's worth of work on her.  She was working hard today, to get caught up, so maybe tomorrow she'll feel ready for me to assign her work for the rest of the week. 

Naturally, I took advantage of that extra time today.  But not by tackling any project like cleaning out a drawer or organizing a closet.  No, I did some of the stuff that's going to need to be done on Tuesday.  Or Wednesday.  Or ~ well, you get the point.  I got ahead, is what I'm sayin'.

The same thing happened last week, actually.  My Monday needed to go a little different than usual, and I found myself with extra time.  So I got ahead.  And by Friday, boy, was I glad I had, 'cause the rest of my week was not on my side.  But everything went smoothly, even though unexpected things happened, and that's because I had built up a bit of a lead. 

That feeling, of being glad I had over-prepared myself, reminded me of something my boy said several months ago.  He was talking about the Dodgers, and the fact that they had just lost four games in a row.  But this was in a season where they had achieved a record-breaking, nearly month-long streak of wins.  And though my son was disappointed they had lost four in a row, he said, "Well, that's why we built up a lead; to prepare for something like this."

I was glad he had realized that.  Things are not always going to be good.  But you can always be ready.  You can have what you need, if you're thinking ahead.  Doing everything possible, while things are in your control.   Money set aside for a rainy day; time or materials organized in case of an unexpected bump in your schedule, and yes, even your faith strengthened and solidified for the trial that's heading your way. 

Appreciate and take advantage of what you have now, for when you might not have it.  Work hard now, and you'll appreciate the dividends later.

Ask Him now, for what you'll need then.  And then trust Him to provide. 

~ "Go to the ant...
    Consider her ways and be wise...
She provides her supplies in the summer,
And gathers her food in the harvest" ~
Proverbs 6:6,8

Monday, January 27, 2014

Grateful for January

"in the first month"
Genesis 8:13

It almost happened again.  I almost lost a January. 

Well, not "again," really.  I've never lost a January.  I did almost lose a November one year.   And yet here I am, losing track of January. 

January is a great month.  It's blue and white and fresh and new.  Well, that sounds a little like a Dr Seuss title, but you get my point.  January is all the winter coziness without the Christmas planning.  It's a new year and a clean house and new priorities.

But somehow this January has seemed like back-to-back surprises.  A few minor issues that needed attention, some illness in the house, and of course school and general busyness. 

And a couple days ago, I flipped the page on my page-a-day calendar, and realized January is almost over.  I've been forgetting to "rejoice and be glad," for each day the Lord has made. 

Maybe that's why we should be thanking Him for everything we can think of.  Because there will always be something we're forgetting to be thankful for.

~ "Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever" ~
Psalm 145:2

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Gift of the Magi. Sort of...

"your love abounds toward each other"
2 Thessalonians 1:3

I've got a sweet little story for you today, that would make O. Henry smile.

The Apple of my Eye hung a retractable clothesline in the backyard for me today.  I asked for it for Christmas, and it was one of his gifts to me.

He attached it to the post of the patio cover, using the power screwdriver he got for Christmas.  It was one of my gifts to him.

I had a clothesline already, but this one will take better advantage of the afternoon sun, and enable me to hang more laundry.  My providing him with fresh-smelling clothes and towels, dried economically, is one of my gifts to him.

Et cetera, et cetera. 

We are using our gifts to bless each other.  Just as God intends.

                      ~ "Therefore comfort each other
and edify one another,
just as you also are doing." ~
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Measure of Love

I have a guest post for you today.  My sister has a blog on being the mom of an autistic son.  It's called, cleverly:  You can find it here

She wrote a piece a few weeks ago that I found very touching, and I wanted to share.  Enjoy.


Yardstick not required.

Someone once said to me "I love you this much," and held up his thumb and forefinger stretched as wide as he could.  I said "what about this much," my arms stretched wide.  He said, "That's the same thing - my love is represented by how far I can stretch, whether it is stretching both my arms or my thumb and forefinger." 

The other day we stopped for lunch at a well-known west coast fast food restaurant.  When we went into the restaurant, it was lunchtime, crowded, with a lot of noisy activity.  We made it up to the front of the line to order and my son started being unable to process the sensory input.  He covered his ears and looked up at me.  "Do we need to go outside?"  He nodded, his eyes large.  We placed the order, and then let our companions know we were going to wait outside. 

We stood in the parking lot, resting against the car, enjoying warm sun in December.  My son explored in detail the mysteries of asphalt while I watched the traffic and folks going in and out of the restaurant. A man came out of the restaurant pushing a woman in a wheel chair.  I remembered seeing them in the restaurant while we stood in line, the man feeding the woman a bite of hamburger which she clearly relished.  They were both older, and she apparently did not have use of her arms or legs.  I watched as he carefully locked the brakes on the wheel chair and folded the footrests up.  He opened the passenger door of his car and then lifted her into the seat, her arms and legs dangling.  He arranged her limbs and leaned across her, drawing the seat belt over her to secure her.  His gentleness and her comfort suggested to me they were husband and wife and had been for a long time.

My eyes prickled.  The relationship I was observing was in its sunset years, and her condition was probably permanent. There was likely no hope of recovery for her, no strategy for improving her health or her ability to care for herself.  His actions were those of love with no goal other than continued caring until death. 

There are many things we do to show the measure of our love.  It might be making coffee for your mate every morning.  It might be listening with a caring heart to a loved one's deep fears and worries. It might be folding laundry the exact way your child wants.  I looked at my son and realized I was doing the same thing for him as the husband was doing for his wife.  Arms-wide feeding a hamburger to someone paralyzed, or thumb-and-forefinger safely removing someone from a distressing, high stimulus environment, are immeasurable acts of love, continued caring, regardless of the potential outcome.  How far you will go, the distance of your love is endless and measurement becomes, in the end, irrelevant.

Final note - As the man backed his car out of the parking spot and drove away, I saw the woman in the passenger seat.  She was leaning back against the headrest with her eyes closed in the sun's warmth. She was smiling.
~ "A new commandment I give to you,
     that you love one another" ~
John 13:34

Friday, January 24, 2014

Slip Sliding Away

"what causes (her) to stumble"
Ezekiel 14:4

So we're moving along in Bible study, studying the Book of Job.  We're having great discussions about Job's trials, and the effect they are having on his psyche.  A friend of mine said, the other day, "Job has been knocked flat on his back, and the only place to look is up!"

And that line brought to her mind a story I had told her years ago.  A story I didn't even remember until she brought it up.  Apparently it stuck with her! 

It was probably seven or eight years ago.  My kids were young and my days were busy.  Busier than they are now, I think.  Or at least I was busier, because my kids were less independent.  Well one day, in a hurry to get things done, rushing around my house, I slipped on the tile in our kitchen.

I think I took a step forward and put my weight on a wet place.  My right foot went farther forward than I intended ~ quickly ~ and I went down on my left knee.  And just like that, I found myself in a praying position.  I'm pleased to say that I realized it, and I prayed.

I was glad my friend reminded me of this story, because the lesson is good.  And it's the same lesson I'm seeing in Job.  Just like Job's troubles had him reaching out to God for answers, my slipping and falling (and yes, hurting my knee) caused me to stop in my rushing around.  It could have been caused solely by me, not being careful.  It could have been caused by satan, wanting to mess with my schedule, and increase my frazzled-ness.  Or it could have been caused by God.  But no matter which, it was used by Him. 

He maketh me to lie down.  And sometimes, He maketh me to fall down.

~ "He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
 He leads me beside the still waters.
    He restores my soul" ~
Psalm 23:2,3

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Of course, it's hard to go wrong with bacon...

"Put on a pot, set it on,
   And also pour water into it."
Ezekiel 24:3

I made something new for my family tonight.  Cauliflower and bacon soup.  It was awesome.

My daughter had volleyball practice this evening, and our routine is that the Apple of my Eye takes her to practice, and I have dinner ready for us all when they get home.

Tonight, I new I wanted to make soup, because my girl's got a bit of a sore throat, and I wanted to help soothe that.  So I started looking through my recipes for inspiration.

Minestrone?  Well, maybe...

Cream of Broccoli?  Nah....

Chicken Noodle?  Not her favorite...

Cauliflower?  Hmmm.... Now that's interesting!

I've been intrigued by the idea of cauliflower soup for quite awhile.  I love cauliflower, so soup seems like an interesting way to enjoy it, but I wasn't sure what it would look like.  Cream of?  Cauliflower and something?  What would complement cauliflower without overpowering it?

I actually had cauliflower soup several years ago, in a restaurant, but I didn't enjoy it all that much.  I didn't think they did it right.  Which is to say, they didn't do it the way I would have...  As I recall it was quite peppery.  The cauliflower was the foundation but not really the flavor of the soup.  I knew then the only way to have it the way I want it, would be to do it myself.  But then I had to find a recipe as a guide, and then think of it, on a night when I actually had cauliflower in the fridge.

My kids love cauliflower, and my hubby tolerates it quite well if I prepare it right, so I knew I had a good shot of pleasing them all, but it went even better than I expected.  They loved it, and so did I.

The funny thing was, I was actually working from three different recipes.  I'd collected them over time, and ended up making all of them.  Or none of them.  What I made was a fourth version.  My version. 

One recipe called for parsnip, which I like, but it didn't sound like the best complement to cauliflower to me.  One called for carrot, but I detest, loathe and abhor cooked carrots.  So that was out.  One recipe called for celery, but cooked celery usually doesn't go over well with my kids.  So no celery.

But the parsnip recipe also called for bacon.  Yes please.  And one called for parsley, which I thought sounded both tasty and attractive.  Half and half?  Don't have any.  Milk will have to do.  Chicken stock?  I could.  But since most of my recipes call for chicken stock, how about beef stock in here? Let's switch it up a little bit. 

It was a triumph.  I love it when that happens.  But I think what makes it so wonderful is that all of the details worked.  A combination of what I felt like cooking, and what I had in the house, but also taking into consideration what each of my loved ones would like.  There was love involved in the preparation of this meal, and it showed.

It was just like He said:  All of these things worked together, and it was good

~ "you shall rejoice in your feast" ~
Deuteronomy 16:14

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

With Him

"I will meditate in Thy precepts"
Psalm 119:15






















God's Word





~ "I will meditate on Thy precepts
         and contemplate Thy ways" ~
Psalm 119:15

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Just because the view changes doesn't mean you should turn back

"those who have turned back"
Zephaniah 1:6

I have a friend who runs a ministry at her church.  It's sort of a mentoring position, along with other adults who work with teens.  They pray with them, counsel them, help them with their studies, etc. 

Well recently, one of the women who volunteers with her called her and told her she was feeling frustrated.  She said she felt like there were "too many" adult volunteers, and she wasn't needed.  She felt unused.

My friend tried to convince her of the impact she was having on those kids, but as far as I know, the woman pulled out of the organization.  It seemed like such a pity to me, especially since she only joined the group a month before.

My friend could see what the woman was accomplishing by being there, but the woman herself couldn't see it.  But feeling unused doesn't mean we are unused. 

There are a myriad of places in the Bible where someone's perspective was off; where they did not see what was happening, or what God was doing in their lives.  Sometimes we just have to stay the course.  I, of course, don't know for a fact that she didn't pray about her decision, but didn't say anything about feeling God was calling her out.  All she talked about was her feelings.

Sometimes I think we get caught up in where we think we want to go, and what we thought it would look like when we got there, and we don't check with Him.  There is no "wrong" way when He leads. 

Planning is good.  Changing your mind is not necessarily bad.  But what's best, is to find out what He's doing in your life, and then join Him.

"He led them forth by the right way"
Psalm 107:7

Monday, January 20, 2014

On wood floors, dead batteries, and broken sunglasses

"showers of blessing"
Ezekiel 34:26

So.... yesterday I went to a baby shower.  And while I was gone, my daughter got home from volleyball practice and, well, took a shower. 

Now cut to dinnertime.  We sit down, we hold hands, we close our eyes, and the Apple of my Eye says our prayer for us.  In that prayer, he thanks God that her practice went well, and that the shower went well.  Of course, he meant the baby shower, but after the "Amen," my daughter laughingly told us that for a minute, she had thought that he was thanking God that her shower went well. 

But as we all laughed a little at that, we also talked about how we should thank Him for our showers.  Hot water, the chance to be clean, plenty of towels, etc. 

Today my girl had a volleyball tournament, and all day, I was feeling thankful.  For big things and little things...

* I'm thankful that her coach noticed and pointed out that our team had been given too many points.  That's the kind of person I want leading my girl.

* I'm thankful that God is merciful.

* I'm thankful that for the wonderfully courteous and thoughtful AAA driver who charged our battery when it died.

* I'm thankful that God is forgiving.

* I'm thankful that my back didn't hurt, even though there were no seats at the arena, and our only choices were sitting on a wood floor (with nothing to lean against), or standing.

* I'm thankful for salvation.

* I'm thankful for the clouds that made it feel less like the 82 degrees it was.

* I'm thankful for the Bible.

* I'm thankful for my son, who is amazingly cooperative and cheerful in all circumstances, including getting up at 5 in the morning, and sitting on a wood floor all day.

* I'm thankful that God is love.

* I'm thankful that my sunglasses broke.  Well, I'm not glad they're broken, but I'm glad I had these for so long before breaking them.  I used to lose and break my sunglasses with shocking frequency.

* I'm thankful that God is wisdom.

* I'm thankful for coaches in general, devoting their time and effort to teaching and encouraging kids in sports, teamwork, and fair play.

* I'm thankful that I have so much to be thankful for.  

~ "giving thanks always for all things
to God the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" ~
Ephesians 5:20

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Who cares what they're wearing, on Main Street or Saville Row?

"from her dressing room"
Joel 2:16

I went to a baby shower today.  A friend of mine is going to be a grandmother in a few weeks.   It was a lovely afternoon of chatting with some friends I haven't seen in awhile.

Getting ready to go was a little tricky, however.  It's January, but it's also been in the 80s lately, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, weather-wise.  I get colder quicker than the average bear, so I wanted to wear pants, but I chose a top with three-quarter length sleeves that's very tropical looking.  I thought that was perfect because I had some sleeve, but not too much, and the feel of the shirt would be summery.  That was important because I knew (and I was right) that a lot of my friends would be in sleeveless dresses and sandals.  So I didn't want to look too cold weather-y when they all looked warm weather-y.

I had to give some thought to my shoes, too.  I needed to run an errand before going to the shower, so I wore my comfy shoes, and brought my girly shoes to put on at the last minute. 

My hair gave me a little bit of trouble today.  I think my bangs need to be trimmed, so it took me a little extra work to get my hair to look the way I wanted it to. 

It also took me a few minutes to decide on my jewelry.  I wear bracelets in warmer weather (short sleeves) but then I put them away for the winter (long sleeves).  So I had to get that little box out from the out-of-season storage under my bed. 

I thought about changing my purse, to something a little more party-ish, but decided that was too much trouble, and stuck with my regular bag.  I don't carry a giant bag anyway, so mine was fine.

Okay, now I'm sure you're wondering why I'm going into such detail about my dressing and primping.  And if you know me at all, you know I'm not one to be very concerned about my appearance.  I mean, I want to look nice, but I'm not a girl for whom clothes and shoes and purses are a priority.  Well here's why I'm giving you all these details:

My friend ~ the one whose daughter and grand-baby we were celebrating ~ asked me, and three other women, to pray over the baby at the close of the shower.  She asked us to pray for the baby's mind, heart, spirit and body.  Isn't that a lovely idea?  My part was to pray for his mind. 

Now, I gotta be honest, I was a little nervous about this.  It was just such a sweet honor.  I've prayed in public hundreds ~ maybe thousands of times, but this was a little unusual.  I'd been thinking a lot over the past week about what I should say, and hoping my part would be what my friend had in mind when she asked.

And as I finished getting ready, looking in the mirror to decide I was done, I realized that I was also "primping" in a spiritual way.  Readying my spirit, sort of.  I was thinking about prayer, and sort of praying already.  Praying about praying, if you will.

I think that, sadly, was a first for me.  While I often pray in the car on the way to wherever I'm going, it's generally a last minute, "I'm ready to go, so now I have a little time to pray" thing.  I'm not sure I've ever stopped before I left the house, and asked Him to prepare me.  To give me what I need to be able to please Him in whatever I'm doing, wherever I'm going.   I mean, I'm sure I have, before important or anxiety-producing things, but not on a regular basis. 

It struck a chord with me.  I realized my "getting ready" should be about far more than what I wear and how I look.  I should not be praying before I arrive at my destination, I should be praying before I even leave my bedroom.  Even if I'm only going as far as my family room.

I think, to paraphrase an old saying, "I'm never fully dressed without a prayer."

~ "And Joshua said to the people, 
'Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow 
   the Lord will do wonders among you" ~
Joshua 3:5

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Eight Verses

I was robbed. 

Well, not really, but that's what it felt like.  You, see, there was a typo in my Bible study lesson book last week.  It told me to read through Job chapter 26, verse 6. 

It seemed like an odd place to divide the chapter, when it continues for another eight verses, but the writers of the lesson have studied and prayed over these lessons, so I figured they knew what they were doing.   Sometimes our lessons are divided in the middle of chapters, when the theme or setting happens to change there.

So I read and studied the first six verses of chapter 26, as instructed.  But when I opened my Bible and my lesson book to begin this week's lesson, I saw that we were told to read chapter 27.  There was no mention of the remainder of chapter 26. 

I realized that I was supposed to have read the whole of chapter 26 last week, even though we had no questions that pertained to the last eight verses.  It had simply been labeled wrong in the heading of last week's lesson.

And then I read the verses I had skipped.  And oh, what I had been missing...

"He stretches out the north over empty space;
He hangs the earth on nothing.
He binds up the water in His thick clouds,
Yet the clouds are not broken under it.
He covers the face of His throne,
And spreads His cloud over it.
He drew the circular horizon on the face of the waters,
At the boundary of light and darkness.
The pillars of heaven tremble,
And are astonished at His rebuke.
He stirs up the sea with His power,
And by His understanding
He breaks up the storm.
By His Spirit He adorned the heavens;
His hand pierced the fleeing serpent. 
Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways,
And how small a whisper we hear of Him!
But the thunder of His power who can understand?"


Don't miss whatever you're missing.   Treasure every word.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Hearing Him When He's Not Speaking

"Do not be silent to me"
Psalm 28:1

I read an interesting quote the other day, by C.S. Lewis. 

photo credit:

It was in a letter to his brother Warren, and he referenced a time in which a series of his letters had not reached Warren.  He said, "I was delighted to get your letter this morning... I had deliberately written nothing to you since (the disappearance of my last two letters).  Not that I was tired of the job, but because I did not feel disposed to go on posting into the void.  That seemed a process too much like prayer for my taste.  The trouble about God is that He sometimes like a person who never acknowledges one's letters and so, in time, one comes to the conclusion that either he does not exist, or you have got the address wrong."

And I must say, I have certainly felt that way.  It can be frustrating to pray, especially when we're going through a trial and want explanation.  Or when we have a decision to make and we want God to show us what to do.

But I also recently read this, about God's communication with Abraham after the near sacrifice of Isaac:  "God never spoke to Abraham again.  Abraham's reward for obeying God's voice was never to have to hear it again."

Now, there's lots of opinion in these two quotes.  Lewis clearly thought it was a bad thing to not hear from God.  The second author {I'm so sorry I can't remember where I read that quote} is of the belief that Abraham was relieved by God's silence. 

Lewis' words are his own opinion, but it's a little hard for me to fully accept the words about Abraham.  We don't know for sure that God never talked to Abraham again, we only know what's recorded in the Bible.  And even if that was the case, we don't know if Abraham was sad or happy about it. 

The author of the Abraham quote also said, "We say we want to hear from God, but what might He say to us?  What might He ask of us?"  I thought that was an interesting way to look at silence from God.  Even when I'm wishing I could hear from God, there's always the chance I won't like what He has to say.

Which side do you fall on?  Or maybe somewhere in between?  It's a good reminder to be grateful for what we do get.  A reminder that communication with Him is just another area in which we need to trust His judgement. 

The good news is, I don't really have to ever feel that God is silent.  We have His Word ~ which Abraham did not.  I believe that everything I need is in there, and it's up to me to apply His wisdom to my life the best I can.

And regardless of whether or not I "hear" Him the way I want to, I'm content to remember that He always hears me.

~ "please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open,
that You may hear the prayer of your servant" ~
Nehemiah 1:6

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Flying His Course

"fly above the earth"
Genesis 1:20

My dad sent me a youtube clip the other day, of the Blue Angels flight squadron.  There were cameras attached to the planes in a couple of different places, and there were some incredible views of the ground, the sky, and the other planes.

We used to go to Air Shows when I was a kid.  A lot.  My dad had been in the Air Force when he was right out of high school, and he loves all things having to do with aviation.  The Air Shows were always interesting.  It seems like one airplane would be just like another, but I don't recall ever thinking that.  Which is funny, because with cars, one is a lot like another to me.

But more than just wandering in and out of different airplanes, I loved watching the pilots do their stuff.  Like the Blue Angels ~ all the pilots completely in sync, completely aware of where the other guys are.  It seems like the planes are way too close together for safety, but they know exactly where to be, and how to keep adjusting to one another.

In short, this is no place for autopilot.  That's what I found myself thinking while I watched. 

Autopilot is an amazing thing, isn't it?  I assume it's a lot like cruise control is on a car.  I personally have never been too fond of cruise control.  I prefer me in control of my car. 

But I know cruise control has its place.  Its purpose.  I'm sure it gets better gas mileage, being steadier and more constant.  But I think it's also dangerous.  I'm afraid it will lead to relaxing too much; letting down my guard.  Instead of just relaxing my foot, maybe I start relaxing my hand on the steering wheel, too.

Autopilot is risky.  And so is getting myself into too much of a routine in my daily life.  It's nice to have an expectation of my schedule, but if I'm not careful, I just set myself on "auto" and don't get off.  Which means I'm so caught up in what's supposed to be next, that I don't think of things like making a phone call to a friend, or writing a thank you card, or reading something that isn't "required reading" for teaching or Bible study.

God puts diversions and opportunities in our way sometimes, and if we're too laser-focused on our set course, we'll miss them. 

And all of that was a complicated train of thought, and a brief lesson, brought on because I sat down to watch a video of the Blue Angels.  God teaches, if we're learning.

~ "Therefore, as we have opportunity,
    let us do good to all" ~
Galatians 6:10

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Smelling the Colors

"the green tree dried up"
Ezekiel 17:24

My house smells wonderful today.  Like orange and green.

Well, not like orange and green, the colors.  Although that would be so cool if you could smell colors.  Makes me wish I had that kind of synesthesia. 

No, my home actually smells like oranges and evergreenOranges, because I'm making orange juice.  I got a bag of homemade oranges a few weeks ago, and I feel like they're not gonna last much longer, so I decided to juice them.  I like juicing oranges ~ I get to tailor the pulp content.  But I don't just love the juice, I love the process of juicing.  The fragrance is amazing:  from the juice, from the pulp, from the rind... The cutting, the squeezing... all of it brings out that wonderful smell.

And my home smells like evergreen because I've been de-Christmassing my house.  I know; a lot of you are done already, but I've had several busy days since Christmas.  It's not that I've done nothing, but I'm far from done. 

The tree is mostly down.  The ornaments are put away, which means all that was left was taking apart the tree.  Except we don't have a "take apart" tree; we have a real tree.  I've come to love that tree since it came into our home, just as I do every year, and I'm reluctant to get rid of it.  But my husband insists.  Every year.  Something about being a fire hazard, blah blah blah...  ;-)

So anyhow, every year when I take down the tree, I remove all the lights, and then all the ornaments, and then the branches.  I get out the clippers, and remove the branches one at a time.  I like doing it that way because it enables me to really be sure I didn't leave any ornaments in there, but I also because I just really appreciate the tree.  It's so interesting to see how the branches are distributed on the trunk... where they are clustered and where they are more spread out.  The thickness of the branches. 

Plus every year we try to get a different variety of evergreen tree (Noble, Nordmann, Grand, Douglas, etc) and it's interesting to note the differences between them.  How are the needles clustered?  Are they completely green or is there a silver or blue tint to them?  Getting to know the tree closely is the only way to do that. 

And then there's the smell.  The evergreen smell comes out so strongly when you cut into the branches and bend or break the needles. 

And it occurred to me, while enjoying these two perfumes, that both of these smells came to me so strongly because I was "abusing" the items.  Cutting, squeezing, bending, breaking, squishing... All of these unkindnesses brought out something wonderful.

Just a reminder, if you're doing through something difficult... He's bringing out something beautiful.  You are a sweet fragrance to Him.

~ "we are to God the fragrance of Christ" ~
2 Corinthians 2:15

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Running on Empty

"I went out full"
Ruth 1:21

We did a lot of driving around this weekend, so the Apple of my Eye filled the gas tank in my car.  I just love having a full tank, don't you?  I was with him when he did it, but when I got in my car this evening, and saw that full tank, I kinda thought, "Oh, yeah!" 

I love that he did it for me, because even though it's not really a huge hassle, it's kind of a hassle, ya know?  And he cleans my windshield for me, and I rejoice greatly that I don't have to do that either.  Cleaning my windshield is always a source of frustration for me because I can never get it clean enough to suit me.  There's always streaks or drips or that spot in the upper corner that I can't quite reach.  And the more I try to clean up those last couple places, the more I re-streak a place that I'd gotten clean. 

I guess I have a little bit of an OCD streak or something...

But more than I love my Sweetie washing my windshield and filling my tank, I love knowing that I don't have to worry about it for a couple of weeks.  I love to see the needle all the way up at "Full", and look at the digital display that estimates how many miles I can go before I need gas. 

I'm sort of fascinated by that gauge.  When I'm doing a lot of freeway driving, it gives me a higher range, of course, than when I'm driving around town.  But when I'm doing a lot of stopping and starting, the estimate goes down.  It's like it looks at the the mileage I'm currently getting, and it's telling me, "If you keep going the way you're going, here's what you can expect."

I would love if I had something similar for my spirit.  I would love a warning that I'm relying on myself too much.  My gauge would be high right after reading my Bible or praying, and then I'd notice my range getting smaller as I got busy and stopped thinking about Him.  My digital display would read, "You can only go another eight minutes being loving, unless you get a fill-up," and I'd be reminded that I need to lean on Him.

Because the truth is, we're just never that far from "Empty".  So we should never be far from Him.

~ "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." ~
Isaiah 55:11

Monday, January 13, 2014

Semi Homemade

"savory food...
which she had prepared"
Genesis 27:17

Well I need to preface this by saying that I really need to go to the grocery store.  I meant to go on Friday, because I thought I didn't have any veggies for dinner.  But then we decided Friday would be a good night to go out to dinner to celebrate my parents' birthdays. 

And then I didn't go on Saturday because it was a busy, busy day, and I really didn't want to, and then I found some zucchini in the fruit drawer, so we were good for Saturday dinner.

And then it was Sunday, and we still didn't have any veggies for dinner.  Well, I had carrots, and corn, and potatoes.  But the Apple of my Eye is on a two-week no-carb, no fruit diet that also excludes carrots and corn and potatoes. 

But I just hated the idea of running to the store.  I've been working on a project that has to be done in a couple of days, and I've been trying to make good use of my time the past few days.  So I really wanted to try to figure out a way to manage dinner with what we had in the house. 

And I did.  With a few tomatoes, some onion, lime and cilantro, I made some pico de gallo. 

{Or salsa.  I'm not sure what the difference is.  
And then there's picante sauce.  
You'd think I'd have a better grasp of all this 
after living in Southern California for so long, 
but I don't.}

And we had some tilapia in the freezer.  Some refried beans and some chopped lettuce rounded out the plate. 

It ended up being a sort of ersatz fish taco, but without the tortilla.  Or the sauce that's generally on a fish taco.  And lettuce instead of cabbage.  But, ya know, ya gotta work with me here....

Some black olives on top, and a little shredded cheese.  Yum.  And the refried beans on the side.

The thing is, I needed the lettuce and tomato to be our veggies.  But I didn't think it would be all that appetizing do just do a salad on the side of the fish, so I combined things and used some seasonings and made it all work together. 

I love it when that happens.  I love it when I find a way to make what I have suffice.  But I only notice it when it happens to be about dinner.  Really, I think it happens every day, for all of us, in dozens of different ways. 

A situation calls for kindness, but we're tired.  So we summon the patience we have, and God multiplies it and makes it genuine. 

Or we struggle to forgive someone when we're still hurting from what they did to us.  And we find that our desire is enough for Him to work with, and we feel a peace in our heart where we thought that was impossible.

He takes what we have, and He makes something out of it.  Something colorful and healthy and delicious.  Oh, no, wait ~ that was dinner.  What He makes is something peaceful and loving and gentle out of nothing more than our desire, and our efforts to be in obedience to Him.

And for the Creator who created everything out of nothing ~ that's a piece o' cake.

~ "be glad and rejoice forever in what I create" ~
Isaiah 65:18

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What we had here was a failure to communicate

"she came to test"
1 Kings 10:1

So my girl took the practice SAT test today, and it was just as we expected.  Four hours of hard work and brain exercising, alleviated only by ten minutes of boredom if she finished ahead of the allotted time before the next portion. 

But there was something that was slightly unexpected and seemed a little ridiculous for my daughter - the rule that you couldn't have your phone in the testing room with you.  I know; it seems logical to most of us.  We understand that they are being cautious, and that cheaters are clever and sneaky. 

But this is a girl who has grown up in the era of cellphones.  We waited for quite a long time to give our children cellphones ~ after all, they are with me almost 24/7 ~ but since getting their phones, they have rarely been without them.  Fortunately, they don't use them all that much, but they are used to having them in their pockets.  And she certainly knows not to use it, or even turn it off in circumstances when she's told to.  So the rule seemed overly cautious to her.

I was reading a book the other day, and the author ~ a pastor ~ talked about the many times he has heard people say how cool they think it would be to have lived when Jesus lived.  The idea of walking and talking with Jesus; to hear His voice, to know how tall he was, what it felt like to have His hand touch your shoulder, or cup you under the chin...

But then the author pointed out that if those people lived now, they'd probably ask us what it's like to have the Holy Spirit in us, and to be able to pray directly to the Father without having to go through a priest, and make a sacrifice. 

We get used to being able to communicate.  And if that ability is taken away, we can feel frustrated... stymied... helpless, or even frightened.  But even though that's true, we still don't take advantage of the privilege we have, to be able to access Him in prayer whenever we want. 

Just imagine if that ability were taken away from you.  Sobering thought, isn't it? 

He's with you always.  Are you with Him?

~ "Seek the Lord while He may be found, 
Call upon Him while He is near" ~
Isaiah 55:6

Saturday, January 11, 2014

For good or bad. But really it's all good.

"The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away"
Job 1:21

I had a very brief, but thought-provoking exchange with a friend the other night at Bible study, based on the first two chapters of Job.  As you may know, satan reports to God and they get to talking about Job, and how faithful he is.  satan says he's only faithful because God blesses him so much.  So God calls satan's bluff and tells him he's allowed to "unbless" Job.  So satan, using weather and enemies, wreaked havoc* on Job's life.

{ * Is it even possible to wreak something other than "havoc"?}

The discussion that my friend and I got into was about who we blame (or credit) for the difficult things that happen in our lives.  She said, "Whenever anything bad happens in my life, I assume it's satan."  I thought that was kind of funny, because whenever anything bad happens in my life, I assume it's God.

The truth is somewhere in between, of course.  Some things are God-directed, others are satan-directed but God-allowed.  Still others are just the consequences of bad decisions, whether ours, or someone in our life. 

But when explaining to my friend why I assume everything in my life is God's work, I said I think it's because I know He's in control.  And I know He's going to work everything for good in the end.

But I also think it's because I know He has so many ways of working in our lives.  There are so many variables and people and events through whom He can bless or grow us.

When my kids were young, I had a multitude of ways to discipline or reward them.  If they needed consequences for something, I could decide not to take them to the park.  Or I could wait and leave later.  Or I could still take them, but take a detour to emphasize the point that I had control:  "No, this isn't the way to the park, but I can change my mind any time I want, and still get there..."  I was the one who had the power to reward or discipline them.

Sometimes if they misbehaved, I would tell them, "We could have gone to the park today, but that's not going to happen now."  I would say that even if I had never even planned on going to the park.  I think that made me feel better, because I knew they weren't really missing out on going to the park, because it was never going to happen anyway.  But at the same time, they felt the loss of something that might have been, and maybe that made them think twice about the bad decision they had made.

God will accomplish His good for us, in the way that He chooses.   Sometimes it's in ways we cannot see or understand.  And sometimes we think He was mean, when really it was satan working through the weather, or our enemies, or our own stupid decisions. 

But ultimately, always, power is His.  satan could ~ and can ~ do nothing without the Lord's consent.  Which means, when it's all said and done, since every good and perfect gift comes from Him, and everything that happens in our lives will be for our good, we have Him to thank.

~ "I will cause them to know My hand
    and My might" ~
Jeremiah 16:21

Friday, January 10, 2014

Somebody's knockin at the door; Somebody's ringin' the bell. Do you a favor: open the door and let Him in

"... nor thieves...
will inherit the kingdom of God"
1 Corinthians 6:10

I was going through some old papers the other day ~ sorting through things, wondering which items were keepers and which had a date with the recycle bin.  It's funny how something can be so valuable, like the kids' old artwork or school papers, until you have a whole box of artwork or school papers, and then one starts to look a whole lot like another.  Then the unusual or special ones stand out, and you have a better idea of what you want to save.

So some of this was artwork and crafts the kids did in their early years at Bible study.  This Bible study that we've been involved in for the last 13 years has the most amazing Children's program.  It's a wonderful, international organization called Community Bible Study, and the kids registered are not just with caregivers, they are being taught

As a matter of fact, when the kids were about 5 and 2, we decided to move to a church that was a little closer to our new home, so we spent several Sundays attending different churches in the area.  And not only was I interested in the pastor and the church itself, I was also interested in the children's classrooms.  I would visit those, and talk to the teachers and find out about the program and the goals of the teacher.  And finally one Sunday the Apple of my Eye said to me, "Sweetie, you need to stop comparing all these Sunday Schools to your Bible Study.  You're not gonna find that anywhere else." 

And it was true.  Children's ministries can be amazing, God-filled classrooms, but they can also be staffed by harried volunteers, pressured into service by someone at the church.  We've seen both over the years.  So it helped me to know that my kids were covered ~ they were hearing about God, and learning about the Bible at church, at Bible Study, and at home.  And if any one of those three (including me) were lacking in something, someone else would be picking up the slack.

As I looked through that artwork from long ago, I remembered a very interesting conversation I had with my little girl when she was about five.  I asked her if she was willing to obey God and to live for Him ~ did she "have Jesus in her heart" ?

She looked at me pityingly (she did that a lot when she was five) and said exaggeratedly, "Yes, Mom."  So I said, "How do you know?" she said, like it was obvious, "Because, Mom, I'm not a robber."

It made me laugh, because it seemed so plain to her, but a lot of people think that way.  I remember hearing a Christian athlete in an interview, saying he'd been asked once if he was a Christian.  He said yes, and when asked how he knew he was a Christian, he said, "Because I'm an American."

As patriotic and heartwarming as that might have seemed to him, however, it means nothing.  Not everyone who lives in America ~ even thirty years ago ~ is a Christian.  Not everyone who goes to church on Sunday is a Christian.  Not even everyone who reads the Bible (or attends Bible study) is a Christian.  And not being a robber doesn't mean you're automatically going to heaven.

The point I needed to make with my daughter is that she had to invite Jesus into her heart.  He is the Redeemer, but in a way, it's all on us.  That's the whole "free will" thing, ya know?

So, what say you?  Are you a robber? 

Kidding.  But even if you're not, you're a sinner.  But you can be washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus.  And all it takes is asking.

~ "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. 
  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
  I will come into him and dine with him,
and he with Me." ~
Revelation 3:20

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Q & A. But mostly Q.

"Have you considered My servant Job?"
Job 2:3

So, as I've mentioned, we've started studying the Book of Job in my Bible study.  It's a tough book to read, I think, partially because it's rather depressing because of all that happened to Job.  Of course, getting through the first 37 chapters leads you what I believe are four of the best chapters in all of Scripture.

I also think it can be hard to get through because it can seem like the same thing chapter after chapter.  Bildad, Eliphaz, Zophar, each having their say, Job responding, then repeat as needed.  But, as I say, just get to chapter 38, and it's all worth it.

Of course, Job is an incredibly valuable book.  We learn things in Job that we wouldn't know otherwise, about God's authority, and the power and work of satan.  And we are reminded of God's might and majesty, His wisdom, and that He is worthy of our faith.

But the main reason I love this book is the questions.  We get to see Job's frustration at the turn his life has taken, and that frustration includes a lot of questions.

Some are rhetorical, asked not of anyone in particular, such as, "Why did I not die at birth?" (3:11) and, "What strength do I have, that I should hope?" (6:11)

Others are directed to his friends, challenging their words to him, such as: "Shall your words of wind have an end?" (16:3) 

Still others are directed at God, or would be if Job was allowed to talk to Him the way he wanted to, like:  "Does it seem good to You that You should oppress?" (10:3) and "Why do you hide Your face and regard me as Your enemy?" (13:24)

I love questions.  So I love that God loves questions.  I love knowing that even when the wondering is frustrated, and directed at Him, He's okay with it.   

And the Book of Job also shows us that we will get answers.  They may not be when we want them; in fact, our timing might be way off of His.  And the answers may not be what we want to hear.  When God does get around to answering Job, He doesn't even respond to all of Job's wonderings.  He simply reminds Job who is God, and who is not. 

God is wisdom.  God is knowledge.  Sometimes that reminder is all the answer we're going to get.  It might not be the answer we want, but it's always the answer we need. 

~ "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of glory,
may give to you the spirit of wisdom
and revelation in the knowledge of Him" ~
Ephesians 1:17

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The world's standard

"it is a testing"
Ezekiel 21:13

My daughter is taking a practice SAT test on Saturday.  And not surprisingly, she's not all that thrilled by the prospect.  I mean, four hours of test-taking, even with breaks, is hard.  And tiring.  And boring.

Even though we homeschool, she has taken standardized tests before.  And she's always done very well.  She's smart, and she works hard, and that is a pretty good combination.

But even so, I hate that she has to take it.  Usually when I "force" my kids to do something they don't want to do, like a particular class or subject, or an unpleasant task, I explain why.  I tell them what this experience is going to do for them; about how this or that muscle (or their brain!) is going to benefit - "you're going to learn/ be better/ be stronger for having done this thing."

And I know the same thing is true of the SAT.  Everything God brings to our lives makes us stronger.  But I also know that my child is going to be judged on the basis of this test.  That's what I dislike about it.  I don't believe in One Size Fits All.  Or even, as some clothing tags now say, "One Size Fits Most".

I mean, it's an okay guideline for clothes, but not for basing conclusions about a person or their abilities, ya know?

I know colleges need some way to compare apples to apples.  And I know they look at more than SAT scores.  And I'm not worried at all about her performance on tests, practice or otherwise.  But I'm reminded once again of how thankful I am for how well God knows me.  That He knows my heart, my good intentions and my ulterior motives.  And He comes to no conclusions that are not 100% accurate.  Because He's God.  And all He ever wants is for me to walk in obedience to Him, and be the best me I can be.

And yes, sometimes we have to toe the line in this world ~ march to the beat of the same drummer that everyone else is, simply to get along.  But He will never judge us by any other standard than His.  And His is the only test that matters.

~ "without faith it is impossible to please Him,
for he who comes to God must believe that He is,
and that He rewards
 those who diligently seek Him." ~
Hebrews 11:6

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Lesson from Cream of Mushroom Soup

"I have prepared my dinner"
Matthew 22:4

I had cream of mushroom soup for dinner tonight. 


With beef. 

And it took me back several years to a dinner at a hotel in Colorado Springs, when I first invented Cream of Mushroom Soup with Beef.

Yup.  That was me.

No one in my family particularly likes cream of mushroom soup, so once in awhile I make some and freeze it in portions just big enough for myself.  Then I can have it for lunch, or for a dinner when they're all gone. 

They were all gone tonight. 

And when I pulled the baggie of soup out of the freezer, I realized it was right next to another baggie that had the last of the standing rib roast from Christmas dinner.  There wasn't much of that left, but I don't like to waste food, so I stuck it in the freezer until I found a way to use it.  And it occurred to me this would be a great way to use it.  Makes a mug of cream of mushroom soup a little more.... special, wouldn't you say?

The first time I had beef in cream of mushroom soup was in Colorado Springs.  I was there for a conference, and the buffet included both the soup, and the beef (among other things).  I took a little of both, then thought the meat might get cold too fast, so I decided to cut it up and add it to my soup.  And it was delish.

Now I know, of course, that this concept is many years old.  That people have been adding beef to cream of mushroom soup for generations.  Probably since shortly after someone first came up with the cream of mushroom soup!

But I'd never seen it before.  It was an idea I had, when I saw the soup near the beef.  No one suggested it, no one showed it to me.  I just had a thought and acted on it.

This, to me, is the joy of studying the Bible.  Thoughts, realizations, connections, inspirations... wondering something and then finding it out... I'm pretty darn sure that when I have some deep and amazing spiritual insight, I'm not the first one to have that particular insight.  But it's exciting, because it's new for me, and it came to me not through a pastor or a teacher or a commentary, but from my own brain and heart, and the Holy Spirit hard at work in me.

And it's funny how, once I come upon a discovery, it forever feels like mine.  Just like my soup.

~ "Give instruction to a wise man,
and he will be still wiser;
Teach a just man,
and he will increase in learning" ~
Proverbs 9:9