Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Taking off the armor...

In "Other" Words

This week's quote is:

"Under the banner of God, victory is always assured; but apart from it, defeat is a certainty. When the banner of God's rod was not held high, Amalek prevailed.
You can't do battle against the flesh under your own power."
~ Kay Arthur ~
Lord, I Want to Know

If I could have designed my own family banner as a young Christian, I would have pictured a knight standing on a hillside facing the enemy, resplendent in her polished armor, red plume on the helmet waving in the wind of adversity and a lance with bright blue streamers attached to it in one hand. In her other hand would be a sword, poised to strike as she stands ready to do battle to protect her territory.

That was the way I always pictured myself as a young person and a young Christian. Can you see the problem with that mental image? Right! I always pictured myself standing there ALONE, poised to fight for my Lord, rather than with Him.

In reality, I was fighting for my life – developing coping strategies to live with the damage from abuse and pain in my young life. I needed to portray an image of strength and control to myself and the world around me for if they saw my vulnerability, they might be able to hurt me again.

I didn’t even want Jesus to know of the hurting child behind the armor plating. Not only did the armor keep me from getting hurt again, but it held my frail heart together within its confines, It also kept out the healing love of Jesus that I desperately needed.

But He is never fooled by the shining armor and brave hillside stance. When I finally collapsed under the weight of my own protective armor, He was there, gently removing the helmet and protective metal, ministering to the hurting heart inside all the while.

by Bonnie Winters © 2000

Today You asked me for the key
To the secret place of my heart.
I stood before You naked and ashamed,
Desperately wanting to hide
The unclean thoughts, the secret fears,
My angers and jealousies,
All the things I know You hate.
Somehow, You might love me less
If you knew of this ugly darkness.
”I will do more good works for others,
I’ll be a better person, You’ll see.
Just don’t look inside my hidden heart.”

My child don’t you understand?
I already know your hurting heart.
By keeping y our fears and failures
Hidden from My loving view,
You only deprive yourself of the love
And mercy of My outstretched hand.
I want to open the old wounds,
And bathe them in forgiveness
Until they are wholly cleansed
And your heart is pure before Me,
For you are the work of My hands,
The beloved creation of My heart

If I were to design my family banner today, I think I would picture a woman in street clothes, standing on a hillside. In one hand she would hold the Word of God, her sword and shield. With her other hand, she would be holding tightly to His hand. No more armor, and definitely not ALONE. We are fighting together under His banner and we are winning!

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


Monday, August 27, 2007

Elephant Burgers, Anyone?

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time!

Can you tell I feel a bit overwhelmed? Standing in my spare room filled from floor to ceiling boxes, I find myself wondering, "Where will I put everything?"

The temptation exists to just pull everything out of the boxes and stick it ANYWHERE just to rid my room of boxes. Then my sanity takes over and says, "If you put it where it belongs now, you won't have to move it around later."

So I'm taking my time, thinking hard about the contents of each box and trying to figure out where it fits into this new house puzzle. I have to admit, it's working pretty well. My office has never been this organized. It may take longer to unpack, but in the end, it will be less stressful later on and worth the time to do it right.

When I moved deeper into relationship with Christ, I brought an elephant-sized mound of stuff with me - past traumas, the results of poor choices, damaged ways of coping with things, plus a lot of good experiences, friendships and traits I thought were worth keeping or developing.

I am so thankful God is patient with me and helps me sort through all those things one life lesson at a time, helping me prayerfully consider where each thing belongs in relation to Him. He sees value in much of the junk and has spent time fixing it before placing it in its proper place. And He has tossed a lot of things I thought were worth keeping in my life.

Though it has taken a lifetime so far, He is helping me deal with my elephants one bite at a time, relieving tons of frustration and creating a beautiful space in my heart where I can spend time with Him.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thanks for being there!

Thanks to all my cyber friends for being patient with me during this "moving" experience!

I wish I had something profound to say this morning, but I'm still up to my elbows in boxes here in my office. I hope to get everything straightened around soon.

In the meantime, I appreciate all your prayers and messages of encouragement (now that I finally have my Internet working again.) I amazes me how dependent I've become on technology to feel "connected" to the outside world. LOL!

I just wanted to let you know I've missed blogging and reading yours too! Looking forward to "seeing" you all again on a regular basis starting next week.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Anything that can go wrong...

I've known it all along - good old Murphy even enjoys showing up for church dinners...

Today was the funeral for a dear saint of God, a long time church member and mother of our youth pastor, Cyndi. Of course, as a love gesture toward the family, we wanted to have a meal for the family following the commital service.

Those who normally plan and work in the kitchen at such meals were unable to do it this time - one had a spouse in the hospital, another had a medical appointment and couldn't be there. Of course, this being County Fair week, several church families had commitments to work in booths or exhibits at the fairgrounds. Others were working at their regular jobs which left me to make the phone calls asking for menu items.

Not that I mind, you understand, but I'm not real good at delegating and exactly how much ham DO you buy to feed 50 people?

I decided to fix scalloped potatoes, baked beans and coleslaw. I had most of the ingredients for those recipes. That's when old Murphy showed up with his book of outrageous laws. #467 clearly states that when you have packed all of your baking dishes in preparation for a family move next Tuesday, you will need them and you won't remember which box you put them in!

Okay - back to WalMart for some of those nice aluminum baking pans so I could do the potatoes. So far, so good. My coleslaw turned out fine, but that's because Murphy was busy sticking his fingers in the beans. I soaked them and found a wonderful recipe online (since my recipe books were packed too - law #468) But for some reason, they just wouldn't cook right and were still hard Friday morning.

Murphy laughingly pointed out law # 573 - unless I bought the canned baked beans and doctored them up, my beans were doomed to failure. This time I sent my husband to WalMart.

In the meantime, my daughter-in-law burned the sauce for her 2 large pans of mac and cheese (because my Teflon coated pan was packed - laws #466 and #351) and my potatoes didn't finish cooking until the dinner was halfway over (law #111). We planned for 50 people, but some of the family members didn't stay so there were only about 25 - I bought WAY TOO MUCH ham (law # 492)

Well, by that time, I'd had my fill of old Murphy but he didn't stick around at the church very long. Goodbye Murphy - Hello Jesus! The Lord sent him packing with his book of silly rules as He blessed the food and fellowship around the tables - His comfort was offered and love shared.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Walking In The Wilderness

In "Other" Words

This week's quote is:

"Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name..."
~ Matt Redman ~
Lyrics from "Blessed be Your Name"

Some of the most beloved novels I have read are the epic “journey” tales where the main character is faced with a challenge that they must meet, causing them to leave family and friends and set out on a long trip (Pilgrim’s Progress, Lord of the Rings, Hinds Feet on High Places, the Narnia chronicles, etc.).

Sometimes they are being chased along the way by an enemy, either seen or unseen. Other times they must fight the enemy within in order to move forward on their life’s chosen road. But invariably, the main character comes to a wilderness – a bleak, vast expanse desert-type experience which they must cross in order to continue their quest.

In the wilderness, the character often has a respite from the physical enemies he or she faces. The landscape may seem the same day after bleak, weary day. There is a sense of aloneness, like they have been forsaken by their mentors or their companions. Of all the times in the story, it is the time when they are most tempted to turn back and forget the whole thing.

But it is in the wilderness where internal conflict is at its peak. Here the character must battle their inner selves, to overcome doubts and fears. Here they must resolve the questions like “Who am I?” and “Why am I doing this?” “Is it really worth it?”

Is it any wonder God, the great Author and Finisher of our faith, uses wilderness experiences to shape us in our life-long “journey tales?” In those bleak times when the landscape looks the same day after day, when we feel alone, even forsaken by God, we can discover the most beautiful touches of His Hand upon our lives.

When we take that second deeper look outside our woe-be-gone selves, we discover the amazing flowers that bloom in the desert, the variety and intricate creative design of the desert dwelling animals. We learn the intimacy of His Presence in a way we can never see Him amidst the chaos and busyness of our lives. Our personal wilderness experiences are truly used by God to enhance and strengthen our spiritual lives if we will learn to focus on Him.

Just as the characters in a journey tale will come out of their wilderness experiences strengthened and with renewed purpose for their quest, our wilderness experiences become God’s gift to us to strengthen and help us face the arduous road ahead

“Though I walk through the wilderness, blessed be your name…”


If you would like to join us this week, simply blog about the quote on your site, then visit Iris (eph 2810) over at Sting My Heart to read her take on the quote and leave your URL along with the other participants.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What do you do with your zucchini?

Oops! I did it again - I missed out on an important holiday. According to one online friend's local newspaper, Thursday was "Dump your extra zucchini on your neighbor's doorstep day." I guess I missed it because I don't have a garden overflowing with zucchini and apparently none of my neighbors do either because I didn't find any on my doorstep.

Over the years, I've heard a lot of interesting theories on what to do with extra amounts of this prolific green veggie. I think it was Erma Bombeck who once suggested allowing the kiddos to use them as baseball bats....

But really, I LIKE zucchini. And since I don't have a garden, I actually spend money to buy this beloved green veggie throughout the dog days of summer.

One of my favorite ways to fix it is goulash fashion - to saute it in a little bit of butter with garlic, then add diced tomatoes, cooked macaroni and Polish sausage with some oregano and other favorite Italian spices.

My husband likes it sliced about a quarter inch thick, dipped in egg substitute and cracker crumbs, then browned on the George Foreman grill- another adaptation to reduce fat and calories that tastes pretty yummy. He also likes it stuffed with a cracker crumb and cheese mixture, then covered with tomato sauce and baked in the oven.

Then of course there's the traditional zucchini bread which is always a hit around here. I even found a wonderful version for my Mom-in-law that uses oat and white rice flour instead of wheat flour.

Have you ever made a chocolate zucchini cake? That was a great way to get the kids to eat their zucchini when they were growing up.

But I found this really interesting recipe in my friend's blog called Zucchini Ricotta Fritatta. I am planning to try it just so I can roll the name off my tongue a few times... zucchini ricotta fritata...zucchini ricotta fritata... (You can find that recipe at Simply Recipes - )

So how do you like your zucchini? Send me a comment with your favorite recipe - I'd love to try it and pass along the results. Oh, and if you have any extra zucchini, I have a large doorstep...

Happy belated "Dump You Zucchini On Your Neighbor's Doorstep Day!"

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Another one of "those" days...

"Avery, don't pull those papers down." I watched as my two year old grandson deliberately pulled a stack of bills off the desk before I could reach him - the same stack I spent an hour organizing.

"Don't pull that stuff out of the box!" The next minute, the half full box was again empty.

It was one of "THOSE" days where in a split second, a terrible two year old alien would take over my sweet grandson's body and wreak havoc through the house while I tried to pack or take care of everyday things.

Yes, he probably just wants attention because his little world is topsy-turvy right now. First his cousins leave after being here with him for several months. Then boxes begin appearing while shelves, cupboards and drawers begin to get emptied. He already went through that once when his parents packed up to move here so he knows something is up.

I know I've come a long way from the time my children were small and behaved like that during a family move. Too often, I found myself losing my temper and taking out my frustration on them.

But I have more patience with my grandson - I try to stop and play or hug him to reassure him that though he's moving... again..., he is important too. Then he's okay for a few more minutes until the terrible two alien child snatches his body once more.

When life feels uncertain and I feel upset or frightened, I am a lot like Avery. I want and need extra loving attention and comforting reassurance from my Heavenly Father. Those are the times I need to seek Him out and rest in Him rather than letting my frustration levels rise to the point where I "lose it."

The difference is that He doesn't follow me around, trying to prevent me from making a mess of things because of my fearful, temperamental nature. Rather than becoming frustrated or angry with me, He waits for me to recognize my need and come running to Him. He stands there with His arms open wide and hugs me tight when I come.

Lord, today may be another one of "Those" days! I need Your love and touch more than ever on my life. Thank You for being there.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Taking Stock

Everyone should move at least once in their lifetime - it really helps put things into perspective.

For instance, one of my hobbies is to make and give homemade cards. Over the years, I have collected various paper crafting tools including rubber stamps, paper punches, a crimper, a light table and paper trimmer. Whenever I visit a craft store, I make a beeline for the paper aisle to see what is on special. Often I will use the 40% off coupon to buy a paper stack which contains 180 sheets of 12 x12 patterned paper - a real bargain!

When I began packing up my paper stash for our move, I found a wonderful box that was a perfect fit for my 12" x12" papers. I placed stack after stack in the box, until the 8 " high box was filled to capacity. Then I realized it didn't all fit - there was still about an inch thick slab of paper left over. So I figured I'd just keep the left overs out in case I felt like making some cards during my "rest periods" from packing.

After much searching, I found another box just the right size for my 8 1/2" x 11" card stock. This one was even taller than the first box. But sure enough when I filled the box to the top with card stock, I had some left. I didn't think I had THAT MUCH paper! Looks like I have a lot of cards to make before I buy any more paper...

It's a good thing God causes me to take stock of things at times - like counting my blessings. When I take time to really look at all the things He has done for me, I don't have room for depression, anxiety or loneliness inside. His joy fills my heart to overflowing so that there's no room for the negatives.

Taking stock of His blessings also reminds me not to "hoard" all His goodness for myself but to spread His joy around to others who need encouragement, comfort and a taste of His love.

Thanks Lord!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Thanks for the Memories...

I spent Saturday afternoon boxing up our family photos - pictures from Christmases and holidays with our children and grandchildren as well as the vintage photos of my parents and their parents in preparation for our upcoming move.

Many of the oldest photos came from my parents home a few years ago when we cleaned out their house to move them into the assisted living apartment. What a wonderful treasure trove of family history! I didn't know they had such amazing old pictures.

After the packing was completed, I ended up with four Avon sized boxes full of memories. I have a huge job awaiting me after we get settled - to organize the photos and create scrapbooks for my children and grandchildren.

I can't wait to create a scrapbook of their ancestors - to tell them the stories of their great, great great grandfather who was a basket maker; their great, great grandparents who lived through the Great Depression; their great grandfather who fought in an important campaign in WWII: their great grandmother who was raised in a Mennonite home with a long history of ministers in the family tree; and the stories from my own childhood.

Those family histories are an important part of my grand children's heritage as Americans and Christians. It will help them understand who they are, where they came from and even why they like or dislike certain things.

It is one of the things I love most about the Bible too - it is a "family" history: a collection of word paintings and stories of those from my spiritual family that helps me understand who I am in God, why I do what I do and what I can be.

Thank You Lord for carefully preserving my family history in Your Word! It is a precious gift to me.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Happy Blogversary!

I began my bolg almost a year ago this month on Yahoo 360 through the encouragement of a friend and writing mentor. She helped me to see that building relationships with readers was important to grass roots success as a writer.

At that point, I committed myself to writing a daily blog even though only a handful of friends and fellow writers read it. Each day I prayed about what to share and took an hour or two to write whatever God laid on my heart.

Some days the words came easy. I was bursting with something new to share. Other days, I struggled and felt like, "What's the use?" But I kept at it anyway.

Then something wonderful began to happen - I began meeting new friends who just happened to "stumble" across the blog. Coincidence? NOT!

Some were writers and others were new acquaintances who added me to their "friends" list. I increased the number of places where I published my blog and found even more new friends. I joined web rings and participated in weekly frolics like the writing challenge at Faith Writers and In Other Words from Christian Women Online.

These new friends have been a real source of encouragement to me as a writer. Even when life feels a little overwhelming as it has these past few months, I am prodded to write as often as I can because I know my friends check back every so often.

God has used blogging to build my confidence as a writer too - when I first started writing several years ago, I worried that I wouldn't have anything to say. Yet day after day, as I commit my writing way to Him, He gives new insights, humorous stories and all kinds of things to write about.

And the wonderful comments people leave at my blog sites have been such a blessing! It is fun to see where they're from and visit their sites too as much as I can.

So thank you my blog friends for sharing this journey with me! May God truly bless each of you. Happy Blogversary!

Christian Glitter by

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A Merry Heart Is The Best Medicine...

This morning, I'm packing up things in the kitchen that I don't use as much and can do without for the next two to three weeks until we move. When I opened the drawer under the stove, I wrinkled my nose.

Yup! These things hadn't been touched in months or maybe it was years???? I found myself wondering, "why do I keep them anyway?" as I prepared to wash them all.

Well, one thing led to another and soon the whole stove stood in the middle of the floor while I cleaned the vent, the wall, the side of the cabinet and the floor. The drawer sat on the counter and its contents soaked in hot soapy water.

Then everything needed to be dried and either packed away or returned to its original position. Meanwhile my inquisitive two year old grandson delighted in walking across the freshly scrubbed floor and playing with the assorted pot lids drying in the rack.

I think God tickled my funny bone with an angel feather because the whole morning suddenly seemed hysterically funny.

A wise friend once told me I needed to learn to laugh at myself because I was way too serious. She was right. Perhaps it comes with age or maybe it's an added benefit of the healing God has done in my life. I don't know, but I an so thankful that God has given me a merry heart. It is His best medicine for the stresses of life.

Thanks, Lord for the double dose today!