Friday, June 29, 2007

My grandkids have super powers...

Every morning, I settle in at my computer to attempt my daily blog, Every morning, my 5 year old grandson creeps up to my right elbow and watches me as I boot up the screen and begin my routine.

"Grammy, are you going to work now?" He always asks the same question after about five minutes of silent staring.

"Yes, Jack. I'm going to write my blog and answer my e-mail. Why?"

"Because I was wondering if we could play a game together on your computer?"

If there were super hero powers to melt a granny's heart, Jack was endowed with them in abundance!

"Give me an hour, Jack, and we'll play, Okay?"

"Okay," he says as he scampers out to the living room to watch the morning kids' programs.
After the first half hour programs has aired, he's back. "Grammy, is it an hour yet?"

"No not yet, Jack. You have to watch one more program."

Away he scampers, returning after each commercial with the same question. "Is it time yet?"

At the end of an hour, I have to grin. "Yes, Jack." Sometimes I have to ask for a few more minutes, and other times I just call it a day and say, "Okay Jack. I'm ready."

For a half hour or so, we spend time laughing over some silly game, making bread or doing some other activity around the house, but all day I bask in the glow of having spent that time with him.

I have learned that relationships are important. I won't always have my married children and their kids close by. As a matter of fact, if things go well, Jack's family might be moving to Florida by the end of July. If they do, it will be a long time between visits and he will grow up to the point he won't stand by my computer when we visit and ask to play with me. Those days will be long gone.

There will be time to write more another day when the emptiness of my nest threatens to overwhelm me. But until then, I'll do what I can as far as writing goes, in my spare bytes of time.

So, come on Jack, my super-powered, heart-melting grandson, let's play!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What do you need from Me?

In "Other" Words
This week's quote is:

"When there is little awareness of real need there is little real prayer."
~ Donald S. Whitney ~ Spiritual Disciplines For the Christian Life

I love the story of Solomon. Shortly after he became king in place of his father, David, God appeared to him and asked, “What do you need from Me?” (2 Chronicles 1:7)

Being a young man, Solomon realized how big his father’s shoes were to fill. David was loved by God. He had united Israel and kept its enemies at bay, despite his own family turmoil. The family turmoil threatened to continue even after Solomon became king – his brothers were jealous and tried to usurp the kingship in spite of David’s wishes.

After a time of soul searching and prayer, Solomon realized what he needed. More than wealth, more than power, he needed God’s wisdom to rule Israel well. He needed God with him to stand up against his brothers.

Solomon’s request pleased God so much; He rewarded the young man with the wisdom he requested as well as wealth and power. His kingship was firmly established over his brothers and the kingdom remained united under his rule.

Several years ago, during a time of emotional healing in my life, I was confronted by that same question from God. “What do you need from Me?”

I struggled with it because I really didn’t know what I needed from Him. I knew what I wanted - I wanted the inner turmoil to cease. I wanted to be free of the emotional pain of depression.

But what did I really NEED? In the midst of all the struggle and hurt, I discovered His presence. It was so close and comforting. He was so real during the turmoil; I could almost sense His arms around me. I could hear His voice affirming that He loved me so much He was investing His time and energy into my healing so I could become a vessel of honor for Him.

Like Solomon, I discovered that I NEEDED Him with me. I could go through any difficulties, any pain as long as He was there with me. It meant real communication with God – learning to know Him, leaning on Him and talking to Him one-on-one, up close and personal.

What do you NEED from Him today?
If you would like to join us today, be sure to visit "Laurel Wreath" to read her take on the quote and to leave your link along with the other participants.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Decorating Blues...

It's almost like a reality TV show. We have a $100 budget to redo the basement bedroom....

When we first visited our church here four years ago, we stayed in the guest bedroom downstairs. Apparently it had been used by a teen-aged member of the former pastor's family. She had a strange taste in decorating - opting to paint the walls black and use foam stamps to imprint swirls and other designs in fluorescent paint on the walls.

While it didn't bother us at all, there were some who expressed their horror about the room, apologizing profusely for our having to stay in such a dreadfully decorated room. "Sure we'll repaint it," we said, with good intentions.

However the old adage "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" prevailed. Since the room is in the finished part of the basement, the only time we thought about it was when missionaries or evangelists came to visit. Then I'd go downstairs, air out the room and clean it in preparation for our company. "Uh-oh," I'd say. "We really need to redo this room after our guests leave." And of course, I'd forget about it again.

Now it has fallen to my daughter-in-law to redecorate, since they are using the downstairs as an apartment right now. Discussions on paint and primer, wallpaper, borders, window treatments have ensued. Can we do this on our budget? Can we ever decide on the type of wallpaper or color of the walls?

Call in Hildy, Frank and Andrew the carpenter.... Call in the WYWO crew... HELP!!!!!! The only good thing about it all is that we don't have to finish it in 2 days...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The case of the ill-fitting armor

We had a blast in Children's Church this morning. Maybe because our kids were still revved up from our VBS this week? Or maybe I'm the one who was still powered up. Whatever the reason, it was good today.

We finished up our unit on the armor of God and as always, I prayed that God would give us a lesson that would stick with the boys and girls. I wanted to tie everything together and challenge them to make good use of their armor.

God reminded me of the story of David and Goliath. When David first volunteered to fight the giant, King Saul took him aside and had him outfitted in the best armor Israel had to offer. But the armor didn't fit right and became a hindrance to David. He opted to trust his own armor - his relationship and trust in the Lord to be his protector and deliverer.

As I told the story, I chose one boy from the group and outfitted him in a pair of large blue jeans with a belt for the belt of truth. My husband's umpire gear, specifically his chest protector, represented the breastplate of righteousness, An over-sized hat for the helmet of salvation sat atop the umpire's face mask (shield of faith). An outlandish pair of tiger slippers brought gales of laughter from the kids for the "feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace," and a cordless screwdriver represented the sword of the Spirit.

Then I handed the young man a toy sling shot with a squishy ball and instructed him to shoot the giant (a large piece of plywood with the face of a giant on it with a hole cut out in his forehead, probably where the stone would have struck the giant.) Struggling to hold up his oversize pants while holding his screwdriver "sword.," he wasn't able to fight Goliath very well.
Even though he had his armor for protection, it didn't fit him very well.

The moral of the story is that you need a fresh experience with Jesus in your own life through prayer, Bible reading and time spent with Him each day - you need your own well-fitting armor - to overcome the hurts, fears and problems the enemy tries to inflict on us each day. Wow! God is awesome.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Day The Butterfly Died

Two weeks ago my son-in-law turned 30 years old. We celebrated with ice cream cake, a special lasagna dinner and lots of balloons.

Unlike the regular latex balloons, those mylar foil balloons are great - they stay afloat for weeks and when they stop floating at last, they can be reinflated all over again for pennies.

Because we have five grandchildren here, we bought five mylar balloons for Josh's birthday so each child could have one to play with. One died a sad, untimely death in the car on the way home. The poor thing was stabbed by a new toy.

At least 2 others escaped out the front door after a day or two around the grand kids... (Sometimes my favorite song is "I'll Fly Away" too - on those days when solitude is sold at a premium.)

But one die hard butterfly balloon flitted around the living room ceiling for the past two weeks. Having lost it's ribbon days ago, it was content to remain aloft, out of reach of little hands.

About 5 a.m. this morning, I was rudely awakened by a noise that sounded similar to a series of gunshots. As I struggled to awaken, I heard it again. I struggled out of bed to see what had caused such a clatter - I knew it wasn't the time of year for reindeer hooves on the roof.

I arrived in the dining room in time to see the suicidal butterfly attack the ceiling fan for the third time unsuccessfully. By this time Josh was also awake. He grabbed the poor butterfly before it flitted upward again and put it out of its misery permanently.

I'm not sure whether he just didn't want to see the poor thing suffer or whether it had something to do with turning 30...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ahhh! Peace and Quiet...

In "Other" Words

This week's quote is:

"As Christians, we are called to convert our loneliness into solitude. We are called to experience our aloneness not as a wound but as a gift--as God's gift--so that in our aloneness we might discover how deeply we are loved by God."

~ Henri Nouwen ~

Most of my life I was active, involved with extra curricular activities during my school years, then participating in almost every church activity I could find to do - mostly because I was afraid to be alone with myself and God.

You see, being alone with myself would have forced me to examine the hurts, the fears, the doubts and inner “secrets” I had harbored in my heart. All my energy was devoted to keeping those things buried.

But there came a time, when the energy was exhausted and those buried traumas were beginning to break through the surface of my life, affecting how I related to others, myself and God. He brought me to a place in my life where I was forced to set aside all the activity to be alone with Him and the hurts inside.

Only when I was truly alone with Him could the healing work begin. It was there in the void left by the cessation of activity that I began to hear His voice. For the first time I heard Him say I was worth the time and energy He was investing in me. I learned to know His unconditional healing love as He helped me unearth all the ugliness and shame I had hidden inside.

It took a long time to haul out the garbage in my heart from my damaged emotions and the hurts left by the careless acts of others. But I began to value the solitude – the peaceful time of fellowship between my Lord and me as He reverently handled each of my hurts before healing them. His presence was so soft and comforting, so near and precious.

That kind of closeness to God can only be found in solitude – precious time spent alone with Him, where everything else is pushed aside and there is nothing to hinder His words to your heart. It is the only place we can truly “discover how deeply we are loved by God.”

If you would like to join us today, simply blog about the qupte on your site, then visit Christine at "Fruit in Season" to read her take on the quote and to leave your link along with the other participants.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Yeastless and wheatless...

Last week, we spent a day with my mother-in-law. The quiet of her house provided a welcome break from the cacophony of children’s voices at my house.

Mom suffers from severe pain and cannot get around d like she used to. Her doctor suggested food allergies might be to blame and tested her to see which foods she needed to stay away from. One of them is wheat and wheat products and another problem food is yeast. Both are the most important ingredients in bread – a staple food of our diets.

I can’t imagine having to go for one day without some kind of bread, let alone six weeks until she can begin to add foods back into her diet to see what she can safely eat. So it wasn’t surprising that she complained about having a craving for a piece of bread so she could have a little sandwhich – “Just a little one because I’m so tired of vegetables.”

So I’ve been commissioned to find a yeastless / wheatless recipe for bread that will help satisfy her cravings between now and July 4th when we see her again. Help!!!!! Anyone out there know of a recipe or website that might offer healthful alternatives for regular wheat bread? In the meantime, I’ll be searching the Web to find SOMETHING to help out.

Thanks in advance for any help you have to offer! Likewise, I’ll be sure to post any results I find.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Today is Day one...

"Today is the first day of the rest of my life." I don't know who said it, but I have found it to be true. No matter what happened to me yesterday - whether it was betrayal, loss or any number of circumstances beyond my control - I can move on today in forgiveness and love if I choose to.

16 years ago, I began the arduous process of healing from a cloud of recurring depression which had been with me most of my adult life. But before the healing process could begin, I had to be ready to heal; able to fully understand what the causes of the depression were and able to consciously choose to take the necessary steps toward that healing.

The choice was mine. I could choose to harbor anger and bitterness about the past - condemning myself to a life of emotional pain. Or I could choose to forgive and grasp the helping hand of my Friend to rise above those hurts. It wasn't easy.

So many of my ways of reacting to things were deeply ingrained - almost cast in cement. I had to struggle to overcome the lies that I wasn't good enough and that everything was my fault that resulted from the hurtful actions of a significant person in my young life. Each time that inner critic reminded me of those lies, I had to stop and consciously remind myself of what God said about me - that I am His child and He doesn't make junk. A very time consuming and arduous process!

I know a woman who suffers excruciating pain from arthritis. Medicines haven't been able to diminish her pain and in some instances have made things worse because of allergic reactions.

Ever since I have known her, she has always complained bitterly about how she has been treated by others. Knowing how intertwined our physical, spiritual and emotional beings are, I have to wonder if she would experience a measure of relief from the pain if she chose to forgive those who had hurt her and see herself as valuable in God's sight rather than choosing to hold everything in and complain.

Forgiveness is hard, but its rewards are immense. It doesn't let the other person off the hook for harsh or harmful attitudes or actions, But it does free me up to move on rather than be caught forever in a loop of anger and bitterness.

Forgiveness takes time. I may say I forgive someone, then find myself stewing again a few hours later. I have to go back again and again to consciously choose to forgive. Eventually it really does become a part of me and I realize my heart is lighter; I am moving forward with more ease. Today truly is the first day of the rest of my life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bearing the Shield of Faith

In "Other" Words

This week's quote is:
"Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading."~ Oswald Chambers ~

Faith, mighty faith the promise sees and looks to God above. Laughs at impossibilities and cries it shall be done!

Whenever I think of faith, I remember that little chorus which I learned many years ago at Vacation Bible School at my home church. It's simplicity has often inspired to have faith in the One who leads during times of difficulty. It has encouraged me to believe in God's promises and use them to protect my heart when the enemy tries to destroy me through hurts and discouragement.

This past Sunday our children's church lesson was on the armor of God - more specifically on using the shield of faith. I wanted to leave the children with a good illustration on using faith to help protect themselves from the "fiery darts" of the enemy - something that God could use to remind them of His power and promises in the same way the little chorus above stayed with me.

I created a large cardboard shield with a handle on the back of it so they cold hold it like a warrior might hold a shield in battle. Then I printed words depicting the way Satan attacks us (through our feelings or by the acts of others toward us) on sheets of white copier paper - hatred, harsh words, lies, anger, discouragement, hurts etc.

The children were instructed to wad up their papers and throw them at the child who held the shield. That child used the shield to deflect the paper missiles so that none of them could touch him or her.

No hatred, harsh words, lies, anger, discouragement or hurt that Satan can bring our way can hurt us when we put our faith in the Lord to protect our tender hearts from danger. It is when we lower our shield or try to handle these things by ourselves that we run the risk of being badly wounded.

If you would like to join us today, visit "Sting My Heart" to read her take on the quote and to leave your link along with the other participants.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Never-Ending Story - from the mind of a 7 year old...

The weather was so nice this afternoon, I HAD to move my computer outside onto our deck. The shade from the oak trees and the light breeze felt great. Actually, I hoped it would help me break through some writer's block I had been experiencing.

Lately I sit at the computer and want to write, but my mind feels like a fuzzy blur due to some stressful situations and decisions that must be made. But as I sat out here, enjoying the day, I put on some wonderful prayer and praise music from It has rested me from the inside out.

As I began a story for Chicken Soup for the Do-It-Yourselfer's Soul, my 7 year old granddaughter came out onto the deck and said, Grammy, can I write a story with you.?"

How could I resist such a plea? So she began her "Once Upon A Time" fairytale as I typed away trying to keep up with the "and then's" and dark, dark, dark clouds, bright lights, fairies and even crocodiles.

At one point I had to interrupt her to explain that with a story, things had to get worse before they could get better, so every few paragraphs, she stopped me to ask, "How can we make this scarier, Grammy?"

So the never ending tale continued for an hour, as she dictated one scary event after another for her three princesses and princes who play together. One recurring theme I noticed is the longing of all her characters to make new friends.

They say an author's first "novel" is a baring of the author's heart. Perhaps my little granddaughter is really unveiling her own loneliness since they moved away from their home to come here for a time. So as I write with her, I pray a little of her loneliness will ease and that God will provide them a wonderful new home and place of ministry (her parents are ministers) so she can make lots of new friends.

I do know one thing: her eagerness to share the writing that I love has blessed me today and I am thankful for God's sweet gifts to us through others. Good things do come in seven-year-old packages!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Avery "Trump"...

Avery is only two, but already he's got the young executive thing down pat.

Yesterday he had me in stitches as he walked around the house with his own cell phone (a discarded phone with battery removed.)

He pretended it rang, flipped open the phone and began to jabber away in totally unintelligible gibberish. After a few words, he paused as though listening to the other party, then began to jabber again. In the middle of his conversation, he said, "yes," very clearly, then went on jabbering. One minute later, he said "goodbye," and closed the phone, only to repeat the whole process several times.

I can only wonder who he was "talking" to and what he was saying, but I really think we'll be in trouble when he learns how to use the real phone. Donald, I think he's got your number...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Pieces of the Bigger Picture

Several weeks ago, my daughter and her family went with my husband and I to visit his mom and dad. They live about three hours away and they hadn't seen the grand children in a long time.

Mom has severe arthritis and can't do much. She sleeps downstairs and recently had a bathroom put in on the first floor so she didn't have to struggle to climb the stairs. She tries to keep things handy where she can reach them without too much trouble so things have a tendancy to get piled up in the corners and under tables.

The baby was only 11 months old at the time of the visit and had just started walking. As he toddled through the house, he grabbed ahold of a piece of cardboard lying on a card table. Mom had been putting together jigsaw puzzles there and had one partially completed. She used the cardboard to hold the spare pieces while she concentrated on certain areas of the puzzle.

Of course the cardboard tipped, sending all the pieces flying. We picked up as many as we could find among her bags of sewing notions and fabric pieces stacked around the table. Mom called later to tell us she had found a few more pieces, but there were about 5 that were hopelessly lost. She wasn't angry, but made a point to tell us the pieces were gone.

This morning, God reminded of the puzzle incident and gave me of the verse in Romans 8:28

"We are assured and know that [[a]God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose." (Amplified)

My life is a puzzle right now with changes God is bringing about in my life and church. He reminded me that He is putting all the pieces together - they all fit into His plan though I many not be able to see the finished picture yet, He is in control, even when it feels like all the pieces are spilling onto the floor. Unlike the lost pieces of Mom's puzzle, He knows where each piece is and how it fits into His bigger picture.

Help me to trust You and be obedient Lord, as You fit them together one by one.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


In "Other" Words

This week's quote is:
"What used to make us stumble, God can use to make us stand. What once made us bow our heads in shame, He can use for His glory." ~ Joanna Weaver~ Having a Mary Spirit

It never ceases to amaze me how God can take something bland and broken, making it into a staple of life. Yet we serve a Creative God Who takes delight in doing just that. He gives us so many illustrations of His power to bring good out of the hurtful or shameful experiences of our life – just check out the ingredients in your kitchen!

For example, yesterday I purchased a 25 pound bag of flour. Pizza is a staple in my household – especially with 5 children and 6 adults living here right now. I have found it’s much less expensive to make 4 large pizzas than to buy them.

If you ate a mouthful of flour by itself, you’d probably choke on it. It has little taste and the powdery texture would be difficult to manage. Whatever you do, don’t inhale!

The flour started as a stalk of wheat which grew to maturity, then was cut down, beaten to separate the grain from the stalk and pulverized until it became a powdery consistency. Ouch! Been there – hurt by the deliberate acts of others.

By itself, the flour is bland, unappetizing and not really good to eat. When you add some water, oil, sugar, salt and yeast, something happens. It begins to take shape and even grow, though it is still an unappetizing, sticky mass. But it is still a work in progress because it has to be kneaded, left to rest, then pressed, stretched and worked into shape on the pan. (Sometimes I wish it didn't hurt so much when God works on my life!)

Though it’s starting to look more appetizing, the pizza is still not done. It has to be topped with sauce, cheese and any other toppings you choose. Here we do one with mushrooms, one with just cheese, one with pepperoni and the 4th with ham, cheese, onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, sausage, broccoli and whatever else we can find.

Once the flour dough has been beaten, stretched and pushed into shape and dressed, it’s ready for the final step in the process. It is the exposure to heat that creates the finished product which blesses and fills each family member.

How thankful I am that God invests His time and energy in me to recreate the hurt and broken parts of my life into something He can use - something appetizing and nourishing for others.

If you would like to join us today – simply share your thoughts about the quote on your blog, then visit: "Joy in the Morning" to read her take on the quote and to leave your link along with the other participants.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Lenora's place...

Driving down the back roads you’ll find them if you look hard enough - those little home storefront businesses which are so much fun to visit and give the community “character.”.

Being in a rural area that has a significant Amish population, we are blessed with several such businesses. Today I took my Daughter and granddaughters to Lenora’s Place. Allissa is from the Triad - Greensboro, Highpoint and Thomasville NC area where she can shop at every store imaginable, so rural Garret County MD is like a culture shock for her.

But I’m working hard to charm her with our community’s out of the way treasures. Lenora’s place is one of them. We waited all week to go because Lenora is only open on Friday and Saturday. We weren’t sure she was even open, except for the little red “open” sign in her window as we pulled up to the white barn-like structure.

The inside of the shop surprised my daughter as she found buttons of every size and color tucked into Ziploc containers, zippers, and quilt fabric in the first room. But she was even more surprised as we trekked into the second room – a large open barn style area full of ends of bolts of tee shirting, quilt fabric, denim, and even a table of black knit socks for 25 cents a pair.

I found a piece of plum color tee shirting material to match Eve’s skirt she made earlier this week for $1 per yard. There was another precut piece of white that I picked up just in case the plum didn’t match well. I even found inexpensive bolts of John Deere fabric to make summer shorts for my 2 year old grandson, Avery, who loves his “turaters.”

But that wasn’t all – there was a third large room full of yarns and cotton threads for weaving cotton carpets. Material wide enough for king sized sheets adorned one table along with other fabric in a large box for $1 per pound. Hand made carpets and comforters were piled helter skelter on another table. Leona used to have real wool along with spinning wheels and knitting machines in that room as well, but she has downsized some.

My daughter will be talking about that shop for some time to come. Hmmm. Next time I think I’ll have to take her to Yoders …

Saturday, June 2, 2007

How to survive the YS season...

Yesterday, for the first time this season, I went "yard saleing." This is a sport I love to participate in each year, though when I was working full time, I didn't have much opportunity. (Now, I don't always have the money! LOL)

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a good sale and come home with lots of items you don't really need, spending far too much money that you don't have... So I've developed a life saving strategy to make the most of my YS experiences.

1. I check out the list of yard sales and make a round trip route based on how far I want to travel and what items they have for sale.

2. I go to the bank and take out only a certain amount of cash - when that's gone, I'm done, (though I always take the debit card and have a list of nearby ATM machines so I can get more out if I find something I absolutely have to have and can justify with my budget, but it costs just a little more than I have with me. LOL)

3. I go armed with a list of items I need or want - usually children's clothes for the grand kids, with a complete listing of sizes and types of clothing I need (seasonal, etc.) or specific household items (anything from microwave safe cooking dishes to household decorations). Of course there's always a miscellaneous line item for things I see that I didn't realize I wanted or needed before I started out.

4. Occasionally, I take a friend with me so they can tell me "NO," and hold me back if I'm tempted to buy something absolutely unnecessary. I'm available to do the same for them. but what usually happens is that they help me find reasons to justify the purchase.

5. I have a date in mind so I can set up my own yard sale near the end of the season to get rid of all the unnecessary items I bought that year or the things I was able to "replace" with new/old YS items.

Okay - I guess I don't really have a strategy for YS survival. So the moral of the story is, "Let's just have FUN out there!"

Friday, June 1, 2007

A stitch in time...

When my granddaughter first moved in with us, she wanted to learn to sew doll clothes, so I began teaching her how to hand sew little designer originals for her babies and Barbies .

I have some very fond memories of "sewing bees" with my neighbor's niece on their front porch during warm summer days. I still remember the scents of their house, the crinkling of the fabric and plastic cushions on the outdoor furniture and the warm fuzzy feelings of having a "best sewing buddy" for that summer week she visited. How fun to sort through scraps of fabric, choosing just the right one for a new Barbie sarong or skirt.

Now I have those same memories with my granddaughter. But then an inspiration hit me! She should also learn to use the sewing machine and learn to make clothes for herself. I know, she's only 7, but she was eager and ready! So we went to WalMart and bought patterns, fabric and notions to complete a great peasant skirt.

Since it was all straight seams, it was fairly easy. What fun! Eve helped me pin and cut the pattern. Then she sewed and pressed the straight seams. Two days later, voila! She has a new skirt that she helped to make herself and I have wonderful memories.