Friday, November 30, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: good beginnings and happy endings.  I just finished reading "same kind of different As me," a NYTimes Bestseller, true story published by Thomas Nelson.  It is the story of a rich Texan art connoisseur in the trade of fine art, a poorest of the poor share cropper from Louisiana, and the battle against cancer by the woman who brings them together.  It is one of those stories where truth is stranger than fiction because of the grace of God.  I also read a pirate fiction book by an old favorite author I haven't read in years who really does her historical research, Linda Chaikin.  I also discovered a new Christian fiction authorI'd never read, Catherine Palmer.  Today I came across and read a short compilation of Welsh legends which included the story of Madoc who sailed to America from Wales in 1170, which happens to be the subject of a novel I've written lately.  Like I've said before, my selection is often random according to the finds at thrift stores.  (Goodwill is moving to their new location and books, as well as everything else, was 75% off, thus a nice stack of bks for $2.50...even the library costs me more: late fees.)   My favorite is reading verses in the Bible which jump out as if I'd never read them before with new meaning for each day.  God's my favorite author.  I like the happy ending for His readers.  As far as good beginnings go, I also love His divine imagination sending His Son to earth to be born in a stable.   How unexpected! 

"She is too fond of reading and it has addled her brain."
Louisa May Alcott
I'm also reading "The Oxford Book of Carols."
Here is an old Welsh Carol
"Awake were they only, the shepherds so lonely,
On guard in that silence profound:
When colour had faded, when nighttime had shaded
Their senses from sight and sound,
Then Lo,--broke a wonder, then drifted asunder
The veils from the splendor of God,--
When light from the Holy came down to the lowly,
And heav'n to the earth that they trod."
"Thus says the Lord,
"Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool.
Where then is a house you could build for Me?
And where is a place that I may rest?"
Isaiah 66:1
Imagine that!  God!  Since we cannot build anything suitable for the Creator of the earth, He sends His Son to a barn, to be laid in a manger that He may find a place to rest. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude:  the Christmas Spirit...I'm tardy, late with my Christmas giddy-up.  My Christmas CDs are playing, I decorated the church, made the Christmas cards for teens to sell,I made the sign for the Christmas parade, I made and delivered the invitations to our neighbors for a Christmas open house(with the wrong address!), but the tree is still in the garage.  This is the latest I've been in years getting my Christmas decorations up.  I trained my daughters well who have their homes all radiant in the Christmas spirit.  Laura even decorated her tree twice (it fell over and they had to do it again.)  Tomorrow is the day, after I clean the garage to make a pathway to bring in the boxes.  Chaos will reign until the Christmas spirit, like fairy dust, will settle and make it all worthwhile.  Jesus, like the tiny baby in a manger He once was, won't notice the ambience so much as the heart of love that rejoices in Him.  That is the true Christmas spirit.

"Our God was such a shameless lover,
God is so in love with us
that He was willing to become a helpless thing..."
Mark Conner

"And Mary said: 'My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.'"
Luke 1:46-47

One of the earliest recorded carols was sung by nuns in Medieval England, 1425.
 "He who made the starry skies, Lully, lully, lu,Sleeping in a manger lies,
Ruler of the centuries, Lully, lully, lu, Humbly clad the King of kings,
Joys of heav'n to earth He brings, By, by, by, by, by Sweet above all earthly things,
Mother pray thy sweet childing, Lully, lully, lu, Us eternal joys to bring,
That His praises we may sing, By, by, by, by.
Joseph brings a garment there, Lully, lully, lu, Mary wraps up her child so fair,
Rests Him while she sings a prayer, Lully, lully, lu, On His mother's breast he lies,
She will kiss Him if He cries, Lully, lully, lu, Ruler of the earth and skies,
Whilst we run this earthly race, By, by, by, by, by, Then throughout all time and space,
May He grant us hope and grace, Lully, lully, lu.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This bear hangs in my brother's living room, yes on a swing.
Attitude of Gratitude: hedgehogs...It's all Beatrix Potter's fault and her darling little books with Peter Rabbit, Two Bad Mice, and all the cute little anthropomorphic creatures, including a hedgehog.  Now all my daughter, and her husband, and her children want is a hedgehog for a pet.  The adorable curled-up-into-a-spiney-ball thing just wants to cuddle, to burrow into your arms and attach itself to your heart so much so that you won't mind giving it a bath with a toothbrush or cleaning it's cage when it suffers loss of bowel control while gleefully running on its wheel.  The amazing thing is that I was innocently shopping the other day and accidently overheard someone's conversation on their phone saying, "Yes, but I'm afraid they are going to have to find a new home for the hedgehog.  They just don't have time for it."  Well, what would you do?  Of course I did, to perfect strangers.  "Excuse me, but did you just say that someone is looking for a new home for their hedgehog?"  They were nice and took my number, but so far no one has called.  I think parting with hedgehogs is harder than one thinks.  They bond with your scent and you with their, a, with their...spines.  What do you want for Christmas?  A pony? A puppy?  A kitten?  A turtle? A hedgehog?

In the Old Testament, several times it refers to pending devastation..."Both the pelican and the hedgehog will lodge...Birds will sing in the window, Desolation will be on the threshold..this is the exultant city which dwells securely, who says in her heart, 'I am, and there is no one besides me.'  How she has become a desolation, a resting place for beasts!"  Zephaniah 2:14-15

Wouldn't it be nicer to live in an exultant city dwelling securely who says in her heart, "God is great!  There is no one besides Him"?  Then you could still have a hedgehog for a pet and it wouldn't be lonely living there without you!"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: allowances.  Just like reading my food diary of everything I ate in 8th grade, looking back on how I spent my allowance growing up is a little strange.  My first purchase was a can of Hersey's syrup.  Next was a mail-order doll, a knock-off of the Ginny doll.  I purchased beautiful porcelain angels as a gift for my mother when I was eight.  I learned to save so I could shop at the Timberline Craftsmen gift shop in Lake City, Colorado on our vacation every year. In 6th grade, I discovered yard sales.  As I got older in Junior High, I bought a London Philharmonic Orchestra Greensleeves record, a subscription to American Heritage, and my own camera and film development.  I purchased my own wardrobe in high school, which wasn't much, and record albums like Joan Biaz; Peter, Paul, and Mary; Simon and Garfunkle; and the Carpenters.  I bought a plane ticket for a flight home from Santa Cruz (San Jose to LA) for my own personal vacation with money saved from my babysitting job the summer before 9th grade.  These choices reflect my lifelong appreciation for chocolate, beautiful things, music, photography, reading, and travel.  "Even a child is known by his doings."  What do your purchases say about you?

"Measure wealth not by the things you have,
but by the things you have for which
you would not take money."
"Suddenly all the gold I ever wanted
Let loose and fell on me.
A storm of gold
Starting with a rain
A quick sun catches falling
 And in the rain...
a whirl of yellow leaves."
Robert Francis

"I am rich today with autumn's gold,
All that my covetous hands can hold...
Oh, who could find a dearth of bliss
With autumn glory such as this!
Gladys Harp

The easiest recipe for gluten free turtle candies:
Take one carmel calcium chew (from Walgreens)
Take one dark chocolate Dove candy
Take a small handful of pecans.
Chew them a few bites at a time together = YUM & good for you!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: Advent...When I grew up, Christmas was special, but we never did the Advent thing.  One church especially had a spectacular Christmas musical, but most evangelical churches didn't use Advent candles and readings.  I did not know of Advent until a few years ago.  Advent means expectantly waiting, for us, the coming of the Son of God.  Each year we celebrate this pondering like Mary what salutation this could be.  At home the children have an Advent calendar to open and a family Christmas devotional.  Today was the official first Sunday of Advent.  The mothers of young babies will bring their enfants before the congregation as we light each candle remembering the young mother Mary and child.  Today Tiarra brought little two month old Andru before the congregation to be adored reminding us how precious the life was that God gave.

John the Baptist sent word to Jesus, "Are You the Expected One?"  It is like falling in love, "Is this the one?"  Give your heart to the Expected One this Christmas.  Let Him be the joy of every longing heart.

"Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free.
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne."
Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

"One Small Child"
by Esther S. Buckwalter
One little more, no less--
And could His mother Mary guess
Salvation for the human race
Depended on that night, that place?
And did she know this child would cause
All heaven to rock with glad applause?
Would cause the angels to rehearse
Their midnight song of sacred verse?
Would cause a star of strange design
To leave its orbit, and to shine
A brilliant path, from east to west?
Would cause wise men to choose the best
Of hoarded treasure, and to search
The nations from a camel perch?
Would make a king (in craven fear)
Destroy small man-children near?
To this small child the nation thrilled,
For He was prophecy fulfilled.
But could HIs mother, even, guess
While rocking HIm with tenderness
The whole import of His advent,
This one small child - from heaven sent."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: family conversations...We were riding home from our third Thanksgiving feasting (with a dinner at the Salvation Army, with our family, with Amy's family, and one to go the next day with extended family), and we were having a nice talk with  the boys when Hank said, "Dad, what's a homeless-sexual?"  What would you do?  We laughed, then explained in the briefest of terms.  Can you tell that they are adjusting to their dad working at the Salvation Army helping those in transition?  Actually, we are all in transition since we have a home promised in heaven, and it's not "is that all there is?" There is something better waiting, kind of like Advent, the waiting for the promised Gift.  Family and feasting are good during the holidays especially, but there is a marriage supper of the Lamb that will beat it all and the biggest family reunion waiting with all our Christian brothers and sisters.

"Thank you for the food before us,
The friends beside us,
And the heart between us."
"I am on a journey -
With my work, my explorations,
And a few sad stories
I travel with a suitcase full of outrageous blessings -
I am on a quest for truth,
beauty and quiet joy..."
"A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
God makes a home for the lonely..."
Psalm 68:5-6
Our re-homed pug.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: feast days...When we were first married, our families lived only a few blocks from each other which meant we stuffed ourselves by gorging ourselves at first one house then the other.  I don't think I did much but help wash the dishes.  When we lived in newly-married-housing on campus, a converted set of girls' dorm rooms, I only had a toaster oven not even big enough to cook a turkey leg - even a cake pan didn't fit -,  but we planned for the future. A major purchase was a turkey roasting pan we used for a dish pan to wash our dirty dishes in since our shallow bathroom sink wasn't big enough.  But it was an investment for the future. It has cooked many turkeys over nearly forty years.  It was probably one of our best investments from the days of our kitchen with a hotplate on an orange crate.  Since those early years, I've collected a lot of china, antique silverware, crystal goblets, even my mother's Franciscan Pottery Apple Dishes, but the enamel-ware turkey pan has been used most of all on holidays turning out a perfectly cooked turkey browned to perfection.  How about you?  Did you ever live in a primitive state of domestic bliss making do? 

"Live simply, expect little, give much, love extravagantly."
"Sometimes I need only to stand
wherever I am to be blessed."
Mary Oliver
"Each day I am thankful for nights that turned into mornings,
friends that turned into family,
Dreams that turned into reality,
And likes that turned into love."
"All you need is less."
"...I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperty...I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:12-13

Friday, November 23, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: commercialization of the holidays.  I must confess I like the aisles of Christmas decorations that have crept into stores in November.  It makes me feel good hearing Christmas music on the loud speakers and has inspired me to listen to holiday music at home and in the car, before Thanksgiving.  My closets are bulging with Christmas gifts.  With fifteen grandchildren and six kids plus spouses including two boys still at home, I can't afford to wait till Dec.  I start in January.  I must confess I'm tempted to give gift certificates in order to regain access to my closet.  My rules for shopping are  1.) is it a good deal?  That about sums it up.  That brings me to Black Friday.  I enjoy the thrill of the frosty drive in the dark in the wee hours hoping I am truly awake enough to be safe before the caffine kicks in. That brings me to the Black Friday Rules: 1.  Stay up late the night before to balance the check book and let reality be your guide.2.) Consume plenty of coffee: beware, the call of nature only comes after you've stood in line for two hours for the Lopsy Loopy Doll and you're next but you can't wait a second longer. 3.) Wear comfortable shoes: slippers are permissible.  Let's face it, do you have any memories of what the masses wore for footwear last year?  4.) Bring all the newspaper ads because you won't remember why you are shopping in the middle of the night wandering aimlessly in crowded stores looking in others' carts at the good deals you missed. 5.) Don't buy anything so heavy that you will be paying the money you saved to the chiropractor for adjustments.  6.) Divide and conquer: strategize with friends and families since not even mothers can be at every store at 3am leaping over long lines in a single bound.  7.) Don't go in your pajamas: you will get too hot and will have to take your coat off in front of everyone you've ever known in the Twin Cities and have to greet them in jammies as if it was some flash mob slumber party. 8) Smile: you look bad enough at that time of the morning under the store's flourescent lights anyway and snarling and snapping are not pretty. 8.) Be Kind: think, "What would Jesus Do?"  Easy: He would have stayed at home and read Matthew 6:25-33  " not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air...Observe the lilies...for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you."  That's when you know the thrill of the hunt is over and it's time to go back to bed.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

     Attitude of Gratitude:  Thanksgiving!  Do your math and count your blessings! I am counting you, gentle reader.  To thank you for your readership, I am giving away a free copy of my book, "Miss Ruby from Texas" to the person who writes the most comments on my blog from now till Dec. 1, my way of saying "thank you."  I would love to have more dialogue on my blog, to hear back from you. 

As for our house, we are disrupting the scheme of things, centuries of tradition, overthrowing Black Friday and having our dinner on the day after Thanksgiving because of family's work schedules.  Squanto is rolling over in his grave!  How about you?  Ham or Turkey?  Both?  This is my first year gluten free, a real test of will power not to eat Laura's home-made yeast rolls or green bean casserole whose ingrediants are not gf.  Even self-basting turkeys have been infused with no-no's.  Dressing and most gravies are out.  I will attempt a small gf version on another day.  The good thing is realizing my thankfulness is not based on food, but on health and other blessings.  We will also spend Wednesday night eating with the Salvation Army clients, being served by city servants, again counting our blessings.  Thus, I leave you to enjoy your holiday with these thoughts of the seasons...

"The goldenrod is yellow
The corn is turning brown,
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down."
Children's Song
Harvest home, harvest home!
We've plowed, we've sowed,
We've reaped, we've mowed,
And brought safe home
Evans load."
A song

Just before the death of flowers,
And before they are buried in snow,
There comes a festival season
When nature is all aglow."
"The golden grove...
Talking in soft undertones."
Sergei Essenin
"Now is the time of the illuminated woods
...every leaf glows like a tiny lamp;
one walks through their lighted halls with a curious enjoyment."
John Burroughs
"What season do you feel the fairest --
The season of sowing or growing,
Or season of mowing and ripeness,
When hay may lie new on the ground?"
William Barnes 

The Course of Time
Scottish Pollock, 1799-1827
"Pleasant were many scenes, but most to me
The solitude of vast extent, untouched
By hand of art, where nature sowed, herself,
And reaped her crops; whose garments were the clouds;
Whose minstrels, brooks; whose lamps, the moon and stars;
Whose organ-choir, the voice of many waters;
Whose banquets, morning dews;
Whose heroes, storm;
Whose warriors, mighty winds;
Whose lovers, flowers;
Whose orators, the thunderbolts of God;
Whose palaces, the everlasting hills;
Whose ceiling, heaven's unfathomable blue;
And from whose rocky turrets, battled high,
Prospect imense spread out on all sides round,
Lost now between the welkin*  and the main,
Now walled with hills that slept above the storm."
*the vault of the sky

Happy Thanksgiving!
"Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindess is everlasting,
And His faithfulness to all generations."
Psalm 100:4,5 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude:  fashions have faux pas & passe styles, but the true beauty remains...When you've been around a while, so much fashion is on recycle.  I've looked like Michelle Duggard-minus the perm and a few kids (but not as cute as Jamie). The eighties were as bad as aerobics on steroids and they've made a comeback  now, side pony and all; think Farrah Fawcett.  The seventies were the days of the hippies, the jean skirt peasant dresses, gunnie sack and grannie dresses, all long.  In the sixties we had mini skirts, tent dresses and hip huggers with wild prints and Beatle hair cuts and wished we could look like Twiggy.  The fifties were the beehive hairdo's or pony tails, flaring skirts and sweaters with oxfords: we wished we could look like Debbie Reynolds or  Annette from the Mickey Mouse Club.  I mostly wore baby clothes.  I think the tailored styles of the forties were beautiful with fitted waists and full skirts.  The twenties and thirties went from the flapper to the flour sack cotton clothes and overalls from the depression.  The beautiful, but uncomfortable Victorian era was before that.  I don't see that coming back, do you?...Oh, except for the Downton Abbey crowd.  Which style period do you wish you could go back to?   True beauty is not what one wears, but who one is. 

"On her cheek an autumn flush,
Deeply ripen'd, such a blush
In the midst of brown was born,
Like red poppies grown with corn."
"Ruth,"Thomas Hood, 1798-1845
"Nothing is more fleeting than external form,
which withers and alters like the flowers of the field
at the appearance of Autumn."
Umberto Eco

"Beautiful young people are accidents of nature,  but beautiful old people are works of art."
Eleanor Roosevelt

"The trick is to grow up without growing old."
Frank Lloyd Wright
Just remember, God's plan was the au natural look...
"Who told you that you were naked?"
Genesis 3:11

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: rainy days to read.   I have random books I read depending on the ones I find at thrift stores.  Right now I'm reading "Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly."  I almost didn't pick it up because I have such a dislike for Mary Todd Lincoln.  Abraham Lincoln rose to the challenge of guiding our nation through its most perilous time crediting his moral course to his angel mothers and I would add, overcoming the disadvantages of whom he married.  Abraham Lincoln's first love died before they could be married.  It is well known that Mary Todd trapped him in an engagement that he did not wish to be in but was too honor-bound to break: even though he tried, she would not release him seeing him as a man who would go somewhere.  Mrs. Lizzy Keckly was one of her only friends, an unusual alliance since Lizzy  was a slave who bought her freedom by becoming a dressmaker for the elite.  It is a picture of our nation polarized by the issue of slavery, the nightmare of what it meant to be used and abused as a female in slavery, with a common enemy of death, financial hardship and ruin.  I don't know if I will watch the Lincoln movie partly because no actor can truely portray this hero of my heart.  Seeing the previews and hearing his voice, do not match my image.  What have you been reading? Are you going to see the movie?  Tell me what you think.

"Books are the quietest and most constant of friends;
they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors,
and the most patient of teachers."
Charles Eliot
"That moment when you finish a book,
look around, and realize that everyone is just carrying on with their lives...
as though you did not just experience emotional trauma at the hands of a paperback."

"A book hangover: inability to start a new book because you're still living in the last book's world."
I also read a Christmas collection of Christian Amish stories (so-so, I kept putting it down bored), a Celtic Warrior Woman Christian story (strange and too bawdy for a Christian novel), Francine Rivers' "Redeeming Love" which many love which is a retelling of Hosea & Gomer in a western setting (mixed review: good message wished it had been severely edited).   
"A wise man will hear and increase in learning..."
Proverbs 1:5 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: children and the joys of reading.  It has its down side too.  Now my grandson is reading, he is beginning to ask questions about business signs.   It is drive-by sex education in Linda, when one goes past the strip club where he asked, "Why is there a Naked Girl's Strip Club?"  His mom and dad exchanged glances that said, "You tell him," "No, you tell him."  So Dad gave his explanation before Mom added, "It's sad that girls feel like they should work there and that men think it is ok to go there."  His response, "Why would  guys go there since it is a girl's strip club?"

"Relationships are harder now because conversations became texting, arguments became phone calls, feelings became subliminal messages, sex became easy, love became hard."   
What do I think when I drive by this establishment?  I think of the beautiful young woman who was one of my Sunday School girls who told me she works at this kind of business and say a prayer for her and others like her caught when sin was crouching at their door.
"He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her...Did no one condemn you?...Neither do I condemn you...Go, and sin no more."
John 8:7-11

"There is therefore now no condemnation..."
Romans 8:1

Friday, November 16, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: fall fires.  Growing up in the Midwest, my memories are centered on fall, the streets lined with stately trees that changed into gaudy autumn attire, the piles of leaves of every color of a melted box of crayons to jump in, picking and pressing the prettiest into a scrapbook, then later fires in their mounds sending fingers of smoke into the blue, plaids and brick buildings of school days, a nip in the air promising snow.  My father brought home the pheasant with gorgeous shimmer of fall color in its feathers as the pointer quivered with the excitement of the hunt.

"The mellow autumn came, and with it came
The promised party, to enjoy its sweets.
The corn is cut, the manor full of game;
The pointer ranges, and the sportsman beats
In russet jacket; -- lynx-like in his aim;
Fall grows his bag, and wonderful his feats.
And nutbrown partridges!  And, brillant pheasants!
Lord Byron

"And I do love the varied hue,
And I do love the browning plain,
And I do love each scene to view,
Thats mark'd with beauties of her reign.
From "Autumn" by John Clare, 1821

"Praise the Lord from the earth...
Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;
Mountains and all hills;
Fruit trees and all cedars...
Let them praise the name of the Lord...
His glory is above earth and heaven."
Psalm 148:7-13
Attitude of Gratitude: harvest of  nuts.  Part of the holiday at my house growing up was a bowl of nuts and the nut cracker.  Start cracking, jokes, that is..."My imaginary friend thinks you have a serious problem!"  There's an old joke about the little Sunday School boy who was asked, "What is brown, likes nuts, and has a bushy tail?"  He said, "It sounds a lot like a squirrel, but I know the right answer is Jesus."   We may be a little squirrely, but I hope we resemble Jesus too.   There was a time that Jesus' own mother and brothers came to take him home fearing he was derranged:

"And He came home, and the multitude gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal.  And when His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, 'He has lost His senses.'" Mark 3:20-21 

Another time, "He came into His home town...the many listeners were astonished, saying, 'Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by his His hands?  Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James'...And they took offense at Him.  And Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor except in his home town and among his own relatives and in his own household.'" Mark 6:2-4

Another time, "His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him...But He answered the one who was telling Him and said, 'Who is My mother and who are My brothers?...Behold, My mother and My brothers!  For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.'" Matthew 12:46-50

In otherwords, to resemble Jesus, to be a part of His family, you will sometimes be thought nuts too. 

"The greatest man is he who chooses the right with invincible resolution; who resists the sorest temptations from within and without; who bears the heaviest burdens cheerfully; who is the calmest in storms, and whose reliance on truth, on virtue, on God, is the most unfaltering."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: God is great, God is good, and we thank Him for our food.  There is a bonding of baby and dog when the crumbs fall from the highchair.  The creature will persevere with the squeezing of his neck and the tugging of its ears to follow the toddler around hoping for a tidbit.  Occasionally, the overanxious canine will grab a bite right out of a child's hand that was not intended for the pet.  Bad dog!  We have been in the land of plenty so long that few know real hunger.  Would we follow our Saviour more closely if we truely knew our need and accepted everything from His hand?  Like little children who don't know that milk comes from cows, not the grocery shelf, so too  we forget where our provision comes from: "every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights..." James 1:17  "Got milk?"  Thank God.

"If we did but know how little some enjoy of the great things they possess,
there would not be much envy in the world." 
"The more of God's blessings and wealth, the more weeds of carnality and vanity;
and the rich to the world, the less righteous to God..."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ladies Retreat 2012
Attitude of Gratitude: Thankfulness for others...As I do my laundry, put on my stew, do my dishes during the day, I am thankful for those who work a full day of work and come home to do all of the above with no energy left to give, but still give.   As I carve out a few minutes to babysit my grandchildren, I am thankful to their mommies who do it 24/7, the beautiful sleep deprived women of God that they are clinging to their Bibles and sticking to their guns.  As I shop for food, I am thankful for God's provision and pray for those who must count their few pennies to buy the little food they can afford.  As I go to the doctor or emergency room, I am thankful to all in the medical field, for those who endured so many years to get the education so that they can serve me and those I love, to bring health with their educated guesses to treat these marvelous, mysterious bodies God has created.  As I vote, I am thankful to all the men and women who have served and to those who died or were wounded to make this still the  greatest country in the world.  As I teach children's church, I am thankful for tender hearts who have ears to hear, who Jesus called the greatest in the Kingdom.  As I enjoy my pets, I am thankful for their unwavering love and loyalty and trust that I will care for them, a picture of what I should offer my Master.  As I think of my husband, I am grateful to a man who loves God supremely and serves his family loyally with a high standard of a work ethic and who has loved me faithfully as an example of how Christ loves His Church.

"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul
 than their simplicity might suggest."
Thomas Moore, 1779-1852
" a time of great despondency among the first settlers of New England, it was proposed in one of their public assemblies to proclaim a fast.  An old farmer arose, spoke of their provoking heaven with their complaints, reviewed their mercies, showed that they had much to be thankful for, and moved, that instead of appointing a day of fasting, they should apoint a day of thanksgiving. This was accordingly done, and the custom has been continued ever since.   

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: a patient God.  Hank has ADD.  This morning he has tried to watch two movies and lost interest in both.  He wants to play a Skylanders video game, a computer game, a game cube game, and go play with friends.  His mind can't sustain a thought longer than a butterfly can sit on a flower.  If he puts something away in his room, he comes out with something else that peaks his momentary interest.   He blusters his brother about each choice demanding instant access to whatever his fleeting thought happens to grab him.  Last night it was commercials.  He demanded I buy some new ear wax gadget.  He NEEDED it.  He also realized he had dry mouth and needed a certain product as well as some vida-betta-prostate medicine.   Oh Lord, how much are we like that, ADD with all our demands, Attention Demanding Disorder.  Thank you for being a patient God and not giving in to our every sudden want and whim.

"And again and again they tempted God, and pained the Hoy One of Israel..."
Psalm 78:41
"Someone else is happy with less than what you have."
"Faith is holding spite of your changing moods and circumstances."
C.S. Lewis

Monday, November 12, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: guilty pleasures.  Here's a partial list: listening to Christmas CDs in November; sitting by a glowing fire; orange juice milk shakes; watching PBS opera till the wee hours; Duck Dynasty, Antique Roadshow, and Downton Abbey; MacDonalds (gf) hot fudge Sundays; reading, reading, and more reading; Chiptole (gf) fajita bowl; holding a sleeping grandbaby; writing, writing, and more writing; thrift store shopping; (gf) dark chocolate Dove Bars.  These pleasures are guilty when I think of the East Coast after the hurricane destruction and the suffering there.  We've been through a flood, and it is traumatic.  Life doesn't get back to normal for a long, long time. Government did very little for us except for bringing big dumpsters for us to fill or like bringing us a bottle of bleach and sending some young thing with a badge to follow me around while I was doing clean-up asking me if I was okay emotionally handling it.  I wasn't in the mood to deal with an uninvited walk-on counseling session.  Churches sent donations.  It was something like a beautiful antique quilt that someone donated which warmed my heart.  We may not be able to physically help the East Coast, but we can bring blankets or clean socks to the homeless in our community.  Share with the needy, and then enjoy your simple pleasures without the guilt.  It's called "counting your blessings."

"The best portion of a good man's life is the little, nameless,
unremembered acts of kindness and love."

"For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."
Philippians 2:13 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude:  the grandeur and value of Christ that even Napolean bowed to saying...

"Every thing in Christ astonishes me.  His spirit overawes me, and his will confounds me.  His ideas and his sentiments, the truths which he announces, his manner of convincing, are not explained by either by human obeservation, or the nature of things.  His birth, and the history of his life; the profundity of his doctrine which grapples the mightiest difficulties, and which is of those difficulties the most admirable solution; his gospel; his apparition; his empire; his march across the ages and the realms, --every thing is for me a prodigy, a mystery insoluble, which plunges me into a revery from which I cannot escape--a mystery which is there before my eyes, a mystery which I can neither deny nor explain.  Here I see nothing human.  The nearer I approach, the more carefully I examine.  Every thing is above me.  Every thing remains grand,--of a grandeur which overpowers.  His religion is a revelation from an Intelligence which certainly is not that of man."

"Christ is not valued at all unless he be valued above all."

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Lake Tahoe

Taking a walk with twins in a stroller is lovely driving through piles of autumn leaves crunching, watching birds in a bold blue sky, observing the gradual blush appear on oranges on the tree, pumpkins on porches, and cats sunning secure in the knowledge they are out of reach of toddler hands.  Observing the world, finding joy in the little things as a child on a walk, is true thanksgiving.
Attitude of Gratitude: fall sunshine. 

 "Thou blossom bright with autumn dew
And colored with the heaven's own blue,
 Hope, blossoming within my heart."
William Cullen Bryant
"From brightest blue
Spills glitter of afternoon..."
Robert Penn Warren
"All those golden autumm days
the sky was full of wings.
Wings beating low oer the blue water of Silver Lake,
Wings beating high in the blue air far above it...
Bearing them away to the green fields in the South."
Laura Ingalls Wilder
"Praise the Lord from the heavens,
Praise Him in the heights above..."
Psalm 148

Friday, November 9, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude:  a nice quiet evening at home with dogs snoring, a good book, and Duck Dynasty on the television.  It is more than you ever wanted to know about skinning a frog and so much more entertaining than watching election results.  This family that prays together frogs together.  Have you ever eaten frog legs?  It was a midwest delicacy.  In our first church in the mountains of northern Cal,  we had a church bbq with squirrels on the platter.  They taste as cute as they look.   Keep your sushi, give me the varmits, as long as someone else does the fixing!
John the Baptist ate locusts and honey and would fit right in with this bearded dynasty.  The beards are back. 

What not to ever do if you have a beard.
As a hangover from the hippie days, I'm partial to beards.  My man has grown the furry things many times.  Inexplicably, I never once noticed when he shaved one off.  One day little Robin noticed that something didn't look right and said to her daddy, "How come your face looks so fat?"  If your man is going to grow a pet beard, maybe you ought to name the thang.  I heard of one man trimming his fur when his hand slipped and his vanity was all over the vanity.  My son-in-law doesn't have a man cave, but he did start a man club for bearded wonders.  Manliness is next to godliness.

A Little Bearded Bible story...

"Then David said, 'I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.'  So David sent some of his servants to console him concerning his father.  But when David's servants came to the land of the Ammonites, the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun their lord, '...Has David not sent his servants to you to search the city, to spy it out and overthrow it?'  So Hanun took David's servants and shaved off half of their beards, and cut off their garments in the middle as far as their hips, and sent them away.  When they told it to David, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly humiliated.  And the king said, 'Stay at Jericho until your beards grow, and then return.'"

You can imagine the rest after this supreme insult to the beards...Even the Amish have been taken to  court recently for cutting each other's beards as an abhorant punishment.  Fear the beards.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: wings better than the angels...Unlace the shoes that cover these feet of clay, let us take up wings.  We have always been aliens, a remnant, not of this world.  We were meant to fly.

"Let thy face ever wear a smile, let thine eyes sparkle with gladness, live near thy Master, live in the suburbs of the celestial city; as by and by, when thy time shall come, thou shalt borrow better wings than angels ever wore, and outsoar the cherubim, and rise up wither thy Jesus sits...even as He has overcome, and has sat down upon His Father's right hand."  Spurgeon.

I believe we can take up wings now in prayer and worship and come boldly before His throne.

How do we look like angels?  Be a ministering spirit.  
"And He was in the wilderness forty days...and He was with the wild beasts,
and the angels were ministering to Him."
Mark 1:13
"Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine,
 even the least of them, you did it to me."
Matthew 25:40

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude:  a new day.  "Peace of great doors be for you.  Wait at the knobs...for the great hinges."  I'm writing this before the election results are known.  I'm thankful for the freedom of speech, the freedom to vote, and thankful for the thousands upon thousands who gave their lives in the forming of our great country as well as our military who has protected it.  Our greatness was because citizens were not willing to stand in moderation.  Now we stand in a new doorway...

"To your enemy...forgiveness,
 To your opponent...tolerance,
 To your friend...your heart,
 To your fellow man...service,
 To all,
 To every child...a good example,
 To yourself...respect.

"This is the way, now walk ye in it."


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lake Tahoe
Attitude of Gratitude: God and Country...I love history.  I see the present as the making of history.   Today is no exception.  VOTE!  Only one candidate stands for biblical values.

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Til all success
Be nobleness
And every gain divine.

"...Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just;
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust!'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."

"Our fathers' God, to Thee, Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing
Long may our land be bright
With freedoms holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!"

"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people."  Proverbs 14:34

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."  Psalm 33:12

"Four things in any land must dwell,
If it endures and prospers well:
One is manhood true and good;
One is noble womanhood;
One is child life, clean and bright;
And one an altar kept alight."

Monday, November 5, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: more on the Word of God...

"For I have for many years made it a practice to read through the Bibe once a year.  My custom is to read four or five chapters every morning immediately after rising from my bed.  It employs about an hour of my time, and seems to me the most suitable manner of beginning the is an invaluable and inexhaustible mine of knowledge and virtue."  John Quincy Adams

"There are no songs comparable to the songs of Zion, no orations equal to those of the prophets, and no politics like those which the Scriptures teach."  Milton

  "The truths of the Bible are like gold in the soil.  Whole generations walk over it, and know not what treasures are hidden beneath.  So centuries of men pass over the Scriptures, and know not what riches lie under the feet of their interpretation.  Sometimes, when they discover them, they call them new truths.  One might as well call gold newly dug new gold."  Beecher

"From the time that, at my mothers feet, or on my father's knee, I first learned to lisp verses from the sacred writing, they have been my daily study and vigilant contemplation.  If there be any thing in my style or thoughts to be commended, the credit is due to my kind parents in instilling into my mind an early love of the Scriptures."  Daniel Webster

John Wesley, "I am a man of one Book."
"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God
 as a workman who does not need to be ashamed,
handling accurately the word of truth."
II Timothy 2:15

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: His unchanging Word.  I'm reading an 1870's book full of quotes; here are some that inspired me... 
"'Thank God, I have a Bible!' said a poor old woman in London.  'What should I do without my Bible?  It was the guide of my youth, and it is the staff of my old age.  It wounded me, and it healed me; it condemned me, and it acquitted me.  It showed me I was a sinner, and it led me to the Saviour.  It has given me comfort through life, and I trust it will give me hope in death.'"

"An old man once said, 'For a long period, I puzzled myself about the difficulties of Scripture, until at last I came to the resolution, that reading the Bible was like eating fish.  When I find a difficulty, I lay it aside, and call it a bone.  Why should I choke over the bone when there is so much nutritious meat for me?  Some day, perhaps, I may find that even the bone may afford me nourishment.'"

"In 1632, Baker and Lucas published an edition termed since 'The wicked Bible' because the little word 'not' was omitted in the seventh commandment.  The printers were heavily fined by the High Commission, and the whole edition destroyed."

"In France lived a poor bind girl, who obtained the Gospel of Mark in raised letters, and learned to read it by the ends of hr fingers.  By hard work, these became callous; and her sense of touch diminished, till she could not distinguish the characters...She felt that she must now give up her beloved book, and weeping, pressed it to her lips, saying, 'Farewell, farewell, sweet word of my heavenly Father, food for my soul! I must part with thee!'  But to her surprise her lips, more delicate than her fingers, discerned the form of the letters.  She read, 'Gospel according to Mark.'  Her soul, overflowing with gratitude, pours out thanks before the throne of her Father in heaven.  All night she perused with her lips the holy book, and her heart overflowed with joy at the new acquisition."

"An African prince was sent on an embassy to the court of Queen Victoria, when he asked her to tell him the secrets of England's greatness.  The queen did not bring out her jewels, like Hezekiah, but, handing him a beautifully bound copy of the Bible, said, 'Tell the prince that this is the secret of England's greatness.'"  while centuries earlier, "In the reign of Henry V. a law was passed against the perusal of the Scriptures in England.  It is enacted, 'That whatsoever they were that should read the Scritures in the mother tongue, they should forfeit land, catel, life, and godes, from thyre heyres, forever; and so be condemned for heretykes to God, enemies to the crowne, and most errant traitors to the lande."
 In conclusion: "Help fight truth decay - read your Bible!"
"He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called,
The Word of God."
Rev. 19:13 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: beauty of sparseness.  I unpacked my fall decorations earlier, then unpacked my vintage happy Halloween (not scary) decorations.  What goes up, must go back down in the box, already, so soon.  Sparseness is not usually my style but it sure makes clean-up easier.  However, sometimes the soul needs cleaning out, not filling it with do-dads of distractions. 

"Autumn asks that we prepare for the future, that, we be wise in the ways of gathering and keeping.
But it also asks that we learn to let go-to acknowledge the beauty of sparseness."
B.W. Overstreet
"Autumn is the mellower season,
and what we lose in flowers
we more than gain in fruits."
Samuel Butler
"Summer is already better,
but the best is autumm. 
It is mature, reasonable and serious,
it glows moderately and not frivolously...
It cools down, clears up, makes you reasonable..."
"How beautiful leaves grow old.
How full of light and
color are their last days."
John Burroughs
"Beauty for some provides escape,
who gain a happiness in eyeing the...
Autumn sunsets exquisitely dying."
Langston Hughes
If we clean off the lenses of our soul,
we can better see the beauty of the season.

 I almost slammed on the brakes the other day at the sight of a huge yellow shapely leaf lying alone on the asphalt.  It would have been lost in the abundance of leaves on the tree, but its vulnerable fragile solitary beauty took my breath away.  I wanted to rescue it, treasure it up, but I knew it was of the moment.  It was but one bite of the lovely to be savoured.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: a bushel and a peck of wisdom...I like to harvest wisdom and words well spoken by the bushel full.  It should be crisp, at the peak of ripeness, polished, with a lingering beauty.

"We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out."
Winston Churchill
"Anger is only one letter short of danger."
"Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place,
but far more difficult still,
to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment."
Benjamin Franklin
"Language is the apparel in which your thoughts parade before the public."
George Crane
"Not being heard is no reason for silence."
Victor Hugo
"Open your mouth only if what you're about to say is more beautiful than silence."
"Like apples of gold in settings of silver
Is a word spoken in right circumstances."
Proverbs 25:11

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude: falling leaves, falling rain, falling in love, and falling on our knees...

"A man may fall many times, but he won't be a failure until he says that someone pushed him."
Elmer B. Letterman
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming
that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction
that I had no where else to go.
My own wisdom and that of all about me insufficient for that day."
Abraham Lincoln
"Every leaf speaks bliss to me
fluttering from the autumn tree."
Emily Bronte
"One drifting yellow leaf on a window sill can be a city dweller's fall.."
E.B. White
"Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods,
And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt."
William Allingham
"I'm forever tantalized by the way the rain falls in dizzing patterns, and yet
I still long for the warmth of the sun on my skin."
"Raindrops are the perfect lullaby."
"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."
John Green

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless with great joy."
Jude 1:24
1.  He keeps us from falling (living without willful sin)
2.  Makes us stand in His glory (strong in the Spirit)
3.  Makes us blameless (complete forgiveness)
4.  Gives us great joy (inevitable result of all of the above!)