Tuesday, April 30, 2013

One of the smartest parenting choices my parents made was to move to a small town with a wonderful church during my high school years.  It was a church start with our Sunday School class meeting around a pool table and the sanctuary, a dance floor with a player piano.  Midweek we met in homes.  Our little, as in a handful of us, in our youth group were tight.  We would dune buggy together, hang out after church as different couples hosted us each month and walk between our houses and the dunes on the sand spit between Los Osos and Morro Bay. 

My best friend's mother was my other mother.  My brother and I started high school in Morro Bay living with them while our parents finished selling and waiting for our house to be finished. Vivian was a character.   She was an artist type who liked walls and furniture to be painted purple and thought landscaping should be a little on the wild side.  Our family was quiet.  Their family was loud.  After boisterous fuming and fussing during the day between parents and children, they had a Walton's-style bedtime routine calling across the house, "Goodnight...I love you."  No one did that in our home: it was something we felt, but hardly ever expressed.  Vivian would squeal with delight at something that touched her sense of beauty and tilt her head and look at us with half-closed eyes as she pondered whether to give a stamp of approval on our thoughts and activities.  It was the same look she gave when she scrutinized her vibrant oil paintings that were done in bold strokes and colors.
 The Russell family worked hard and played hard whether it was riding horses, or being in a demolition derby.  Vivian inspired me to be a better artist, mother, and Christian and broke the ice for me to be prepared for the noisy house I raised my kids in.  I've always heard that the colors in heaven are bright beyond compare.  I don't know, but I do know that it is brighter with Vivian there.

"In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity."
John Wesley

An early preschool memory is making a huge mud puddle in the back yard at my babysitter's and wanting to find out what it felt like to be black.  I was covered.  It was in my ears, up my nostrils. I was feeling pleased with myself until Calle came out, gasped and said, "Well, she has to get washed off now."  My punishment was the painful cleansing with a garden hose.  In 5th grade I read, "Black Like Me," and was telling my friends all about it at recess: it was the sixties.  My junior high in Pasadena tried mass walkouts during the Watts riots.  Though they fizzled because gates were locked, I sat and watched the students run in mass first one direction, then another; then without direction, sit down and eat their lunches.  I worked in an all black school in the seventies in the worst school in the poorest district.  A young teacher I worked with told me how her grandmother had not been allowed to learn to read and how she herself had been turned away from the same old apartment building we lived in because it was in a white district, and she was black.  The school doors locked behind us as we left. One day I came out to find all the teachers' cars' tires were slashed except my Ranchero's. Another time, an off-campus ruffian tried to start a fight with a teacher while I held her up on her feet as she was being kicked to get her to her car.  I was pulled over in a black part of town only because I was a white girl driving a Ranchero and stuck out like a sore thumb, reverse racial profiling. When we bought our first house one block within the white district, a poor child crossing my yard to play with the neighbors was called the "N" word by angry whites driving by.  In my yard!  A child!  Prejudice.

"It's very depressing to live in a time
where it's easier to break an atom than a prejudice."
Albert Einstein
The world is a shrinky-dink now with jet flights and electronics that keep us all on a short leash.  Cultures are watered down due to the exposure. (You can't even be guaranteed to hear a Texas accent while visiting that state.)  Our little sister cities here are said to have the ethnicity of New York City.  It's not the same world that I grew up in: that has its good parts and bad parts.  Boston saw a bad part.  That doesn't mean we must brush up on our prejudices.  We must remember we are aliens ourselves, grafted into God's vine.  We need to brush up on our grace and thank the Lord for the freedoms we enjoy that are a magnet to a hurting world.  We must be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. By the way, mud that washes off doesn't help to understand another's skin, but being a friend does.
Our church has a wonderful heritage working in the Underground Railroad and for women's suffrage.
The work with Native Americans, especially among the Lakotas is encouraging, and reaches around the world. 


A true friend: "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins." James 5: the last verse.

Straying from the truth is like the lost sheep.  Sin can be subtle, besides seductive, or we can become careless instead of vigilent.  One of the strongest powers on earth is the power of rationalization: I can do this and still go to heaven; or repent in time; or if they can do it and call themselves Christians, then I can too. The last thing Jesus said to Peter, "Do you love me? Shepherd my flock." Jesus gave the example of the good shepherd who left the 99 to go after the one who was lost.  The sheep must also come to the realization that it is lost as well.  In the famous pictures of the parable, the lamb is caught in brambles or off a cliff.  Spurgeon challenges us to write "condemned" or "forgiven," to assess our spiritual condition.  What would you write?

Cats and water usually don't mix.  Our Siamese cat liked to sit on the side of the bath.  Slowly, but surely her tail lowered until it sank unnoticed down into the nice warm water.  It wasn't until she moved that she realized that it was now cold and wet and was indignant.  Sitting where we don't belong, we can slowly be relaxed into doing what we used to abhore. 

A very old illustration of sin that I read tells of an Indian asleep in a canoe above the Niagra Falls, perhaps in a drunken state.  No amount of yelled warnings from the bank was able to arouse him.  By the time the roar of the great falls woke him, it was too late. 

Another old illustration: "It (sin) hath many secret ways of insinuating; it is like a Delilah...The first thing that sin doth is to bewitch, then to put out the eyes, then to take away the sense and feeling; to do to a man as Noah's daughters did to him,--make him drunk, and then he doth he knoweth not what.  As Joab came with a kind salute to Abner, and thrust him under the fifth rib, while Abner thought of nothing but kindness, so sin comes smiling, comes pleasing and humoring thee, while it giveth thee a deadly stab." Anthony Burgess.

If you are to turn a sinner back onto the straight and narrow path, you must first walk it yourself.  I can think of a sinner or two who needs to change directions.  That is the meaning of repentance, to change directions.  I am praying that we can be used to save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

An old Beetles cartoon shows Sarge fallen off a cliff barely hanging on to a tiny branch yelling to his buddy, "Give me a hand," whereas Beetles responds by clapping. What kind of friend are you,
one who leads astray or to the right way?  Do you go after the lost or applaud them in their peril?

I'm trying to make sense of my case of shingles.  Stuff happens, and I'm not exempt.  But life can teach us lessons especially if we are slowed down enough to listen.  I'm thinking about the pain that can be felt, but not seen.  In public, I suddenly suck in my breath or utter, "ouff," when I get a jolt along the affected nerve, but look "normal" on the outside.  The rash/blisters are not a pretty sight, but fortunately are hidden.  How many of us carry pain and wounds that are not visible to others.  Pain can senselessly seize us or we can have tender spots from wounds.  Pain affects how we go about our daily lives.

Unseen pain often comes from fear.  "People fear tangible things such as being injured, robbed, or cheated.  They also fear intangible things like being rejected, experiencing failure...If you want to overcome your fears, you must have faith that God can conquer them." (Bickel and Janz) Fear of abandonment is a big one. What is your fear?

Sometimes I picture my father, who received terrible inner wounds during childhood from a violent alcoholic father,  as a bottomless dry well.  No matter how much affirmation given by my loving mother could ever fill that pit.  He was on an endless search for significance, a walking wounded.  We can never fill another's hole: only God can.  My adopted sons bear such terrible wounds that the eldest has suffered post trauma.  Both have ultra vigilence as a norm that make it difficult to concentrate on schoolwork as their brains don't allow them to filter out every distraction.  Adrenaline from an environment of violence bathed the youngest in uteral that affected his development. 

Our response?  Many take out their anger on God and other authority figures.  " You not care that we are perishing?"( NAS) His answer after saying "Hush" to the winds, "Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?" Mark 4:38-40 (NIV)

Take the rebuke to the storm as a calming lullaby, "Hush, little baby..." Rest in His care.  Just as he heard the cries of the Hebrew children as slaves under the lash of the Egyptians, so He can hear the inner weeping of broken hearts.

Just as we rationally can't avoid public events for fear of bombing or ban fertilizer plants because of horrific explosions, so we can't keep our fears as inner wounds.  We must seek healing and trust our Father, no matter what kind of earthly father we have.  Are there irrational ways of behaving that dominate and control your thinking because of carrying your hurts on the inside?

Peace, be still.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to go to those victims and families of the injured and families and first responders in Boston as well as West, Texas.

Beckie challenged us in Bible Study, "Do we love the commands of God as much as the promises of God?"  Hmm.  Besides putting this in the memory bank, I took this to the Little League game.  Many times managers of even minor teams stack the players leaving the not so shining stars to play on a team like warmed-over leftovers from several meals thrown together.  But don't we love to cheer the underdogs!  Our team is in the middle between the awe-inspiring offspring of puffed-chested fathers and the losers with a capital "L."  We played one of those teams this weekend, as in it began with an "L."  Our kids' coach tried to undo all the advice he had taught the boys about stealing bases and squeezing in extra runs so as to not run the score up against the weak team to a ridiculous number.  But the boys didn't get it.  When the coach said, "Hold up," they slid into home.  When he held up his hand to stop them, they rounded yet another base.  The promise of not just a win, but of glory by pounding another team into the ground propelled them onward ignoring their coach's wisdom and compassion and commands.  Before the season is over, the cleats might be on the other foot. 

Do we want the goodies of God without the obedience?  Do we prefer to ignore His commands to bump up our own score by taking advantage of another?  Standing on the promises is not one-up- manship.  Listen to the Coach.  Sometimes we just have to sit the bench.


I like the shirt, "Another day has passed and I didn't use algebra once."
Sometimes I think I need higher math to count how many are in our family now:  kids + spouses + grandkids + great-grandson + us = 28,  all because two people fell in love.  How did it all start?  My niece just posted, "I feel all mushy about someone...I kinda make myself wanna barf."  As for me in the beginning, "I turned out liking you (my man) a lot more than I originally planned."  As for him, "When I first met her (me), I knew in a moment I would have to spend the next few days re-arranging my mind so there'd be room for her to stay." (F. Scott Fitzgerald Gatsby) 

But what I really want to multiply...
I want to be a window to His love,
so when you look at me you will see Him.
I want to be so pure and clear
that you won't even know I'm here,
because His love will shine brightly through me.
I want to be a doorway to the truth,
So when you walk beyond, you will find Him.
I want to stand so straight and tall,
that you won't notice me at all,
but through my open door
He will be seen.
A window to His love.
A doorway to the truth.
A bearer of the message
He'd have me bring to you.
And with each passing day,
I want to fade away
'till only He can be seen
And I become a window to His love.
And someday shining through my face
You'll see His loving countenance,
because I will have become like He is.
Julie de Azevedro, "If Grace Was an Ocean"
"And Stephen, full of grace and power...
And fixing their gaze on him...
saw his face like the face of an angel."
Acts 6:8,15


Ella, Noah, Laura, Avery

Grace, Jane, (Laura,) Elizabeth
Zane & Madylen
Hank, Derrick
Addie, Ella, Avery, Ezra

One of the strangest exchanges in my life was an offering of a tithe. A young Christian missed church but was very concerned that he had not given his tithe.  It was an unusually large sum, over a thousand dollars.  He was afraid that if it stayed in his possession he would not resist the temptation to spend it because of his addiction background.  My husband was out of town, and this gentleman called and insisted that he give it to me a.s.a.p.  We met in town, in a parking lot, with furtive looks around as he counted out the bills into my hand.  It looked like a drug deal.  It was a tithe.  "The Lord loves a cheerful giver."  Have you ever been that anxious to give the Lord his due?  What if I had been dishonest and did not put the tithe in the church coffers?  I would be a thief.  What if we don't give God His tithe?

One evangelist told us that what tithe we held back from the Lord was Satan's to steal.  Instead of using it on ourselves, our car might break, or we get a ticket, or a major appliance might die, or a hospital bill runs up, get the picture.  Disobedience in the tithe, gives our enemy one up in the score and he runs with it!  A tithe is a tenth of your income as directed in the Old and New Testament.  The church is dependent on free-will offerings.  Often, if just a board would tithe, the church could barebones run on that income and certainly would be free from worries if all the members tithed.  We as a church also pay a tithe on our income to our district.  We would like to do more.  If you are not paying a tithe, watch what is stolen from you and see if it is true that the devil will get his due.  I prefer not to find out.

Silverton-Durango Train Robbers.

When Jesus was confronted to pay taxes, he told Peter, "lest we give them offense, go to the sea, and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater (Equivalent to two denarii or two days' wages, the temple tax).  Matthew 17:27
The point is that Peter, the fisherman, was sent to fish, not for sushi, but for money. If you want to bring your offering likewise in a fish's belly, we'll gut it for you!  Seriously though, God doesn't need your money as much as your heart of generosity. Christ called his disciples away from making their living by fishing to fish for men.  Does God have you hook, line, and sinker?  The last thing to be surrendered is usually the wallet.
My grandmother's diary was discovered which detailed the first year of my mother's life.  When little Harriet was one, she was given a penny to put in the offering.  Instead she popped it in her mouth.  Do we do the same thing?  God loves a cheerful giver, not a money-sucker.
The family had a gathering Sunday.  What can thirteen cousins do in a backyard on such a beautiful day while parents laze around watching and visiting?  Climb the treehouse, catch frogs, pick "balls" (grapefruit) from the tree and throw them, talk over the fence with the grandma next door, throw the football, battle with stick lances, shake a baby cherry tree nearly to death and strip the iris blooms, try to catch a goldfish in its little pond, put sticks in the fountain, throw balls for the dog, find the baby so irrestible that the older one hits her on the head, wave a homemade flag, ride trikes, and all be immensely happy until taken kicking and screaming home, an end to a perfect day.

"Indeed today - another of those days which I seem to have described so often lately, the same winter sunshine, the same gilt and grey skies shining though bare shock-headed bushes, the same restful pale ploughland and grass, and more than usual of the birds darting out their sudden, almost cruelly poignant songs - today I got such a sudden intense feeling of delight that it sort of stopped me in my walk and spun me round.  Indeed the sweetness was so great, and seemed so to affect the whole body as well as the mind, that it gave me pause ..."  C.S. Lewis

Sometimes, when the earth is so delightful and filled with shared joys, I think I would have to be taken home kicking and screaming too. 

A secular article said, "...the less happy among us tend to share traits like frequently comparing ourselves to others, rationalizing often, and dwelling on unhappy events.  Happy folks meanwhile, have a greater tendency to store up positive moments in their memory such as random acts of kindness, counting their blessings, thrift vs overspending, parenting, savoring positive experiences.

"I always knew
looking back
on the tears
would make me laugh.
But I never knew
looking back
on the laughs
would make me cry."
I think God collects the happy tears in His bottle as well.
"How blessed for brothers (and cousins) to dwell together in unity."
Psalm 133:1

Monday, April 29, 2013

"The world is so fun of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings."
R.L. Stevenson
This is my mantra, my excuse for not doing housework: there are so many other wonderful things to attend to!  However, dustballs accumulates faster than a dirty snowball rolling down a hill heading straight for me.  My response is to
"A clean house is a sign of a broken computer."
"How to clean the house:
1.  Open a new file in your PC.
2. Name the file "housework."
3. Send to "RECYCLE BIN."
4.  Your PC will ask you, "Are you sure you want to delete housework permanently?"
6.  Calmly press the "Yes" button.
and when all else fails,
"Keep calm and carry a wand."
Some of us have avoided cleaning house for years, our spiritual house.  Adam and Eve hid in the garden.  How long have you been hiding?

"Do not let it be imagined that one must remain silent about one's feelings of rebellion in order to enter into dialogue with God.  Quite the opposite is the truth: it is precisely when one expreses them that a dialogue of truth begins."
Paul Tournier

I'm reading a book by Pam Vredevelt, "The Power of Letting Go."  Here are some quotes...
"In our times of letting go, God is the one we need to run to because He knows us better than we know ourselves.  Run to God.  It sounds so basic.  But when we're distressed, our natural tendency is often to retreat from everyone, including God.  We run in all kinds of directions by keeping ourselves excessively busy.  We turn activities, food, alcohol, novels, shopping, entertainment, and other people to mask our pain.  Rollo May said it well: 
'It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.'
Oftentimes our saying, 'Yes, Lord,' simply opens the door to the grieving process.  We suddenly find ourselves at the very core of our pain and sadness: the heavy emotional burden that has to be released before we can feel right again.  By allowing the grief to enter through the front door of surrender, healing can slip in, quiet, and unnannounced, through the back door."
Pam Vredevelt
'"The tendency is strong to say,...'God won't be so stern as to expect us to give up that!' But he will;
'He won't expect me to walk in the light so that I have nothing to hide,' but he will;
'He won't expect me to draw on his grace for everything;' but he will." 
Oswald Chambers 
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,  and He will make your path straight."
Prov. 3:5-6
So if you have been leaning on your own understanding and feel like it was just knocked out from under you, go to plan B: BE honest about your need to trust Him.
And we should all be as happy as our King!


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Laying low while sick, it's been awhile since we've done anything, gone anywhere.  On the spur of the moment-I-think-I'm-up-to-it, we went out to dinner and a movie.  I think I could count on my fingers without using toes how many movies I've been to in the theater, so this was a big, stinking, family deal and fun.  We saw "Homerun," a movie with an unapologetical Christian theme.  On the way home, we were so tired and silly, we laughed till we cried.

In our neck of the woods, most of the characters live which you might spy in one of those gross you-tube videos of weird people who populate Walmart.  This week the boys and I saw an old pick-up with not one, but two plastic horses clued on for hood ornaments.  The rest of the time, we would bounce off  each other a new idea for a hood ornament.  The drive home from the family outing was dedicated to this.  Derrick wanted a cheetah; Hank a dog.  Hank changed to a lion; Derrick,  a unicorn.  Derrick chose a pink Pegasus; Hank, a G.I. Joe and a Barbie.  Derrick chose a G.I. Joe turned into a faun; Hank, a Barbie-Pegasus combo.  We proposed a line of such hood ornaments with super magnets in their feet to hold them onto metal hoods.  Instead of stick figure decals, we could have action figure hood ornaments that represent everyone in the family: our hood would be full.  For my husband's car, I found a small glass bottle in the shape of a little boy "watering" like the classic outdoor fountains.  What hood ornament would you choose?

"Always laugh when you can.  It's cheap medicine."
Lord Byron
"Four Things You Can't Recover:
The stone after the throw,
The word after it's said,
The occasion after it's missed,
And time after it's gone."
"A joyful heart is good medicine."
Prov. 17:22
Put those last two together and make sure you don't miss an occasion to laugh.
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
John Powell
"For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance."
Song of Songs 2:11-13
I picked a bowl of strawberries out of the garden and sliced them immediately upon a small bowl of ice cream.  The blueberries are ripening, and the pomegranite tree has ruby blossoms.  The pink wild rose bush is heavy with blooms, and the iris are waving like purple flags.  God gives us beauty to color our world.  Don't miss it.
"There are joys which long to be ours.  God sends ten thousand truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing ahile upon the roof, and then fly away."
Henry Ward Beecher

Henry Ward Beecher was the brother of the famous Harriet Beecher Stowe, the one Lincoln called "the little woman who started a war," because of Uncle Tom's Cabin revealing the plight of slavery. Harriet and Henry were the closest of siblings out of thirteen children born in their austere home.  Their father Lyman Beecher was a Calvinistic Presbyterian preacher who led his family in prayers and hymns morning and night and discouraged "undue frivolity" so Christmas and birthdays went uncelebrated.  Henry recalls that he did not have a single toy throughout his childhood.  He had a stammer and was considered slow-witted.

Yet, he became an eloquent speaker, preacher, abolitionist, supporter of women's suffrage, temperance, an author, and one of the most well-known leaders of his day.  He raised funds to buy weapons for those willing to oppose slavery in Kansas and Nebraska, and these rifles became known as "Beecher Bibles." During the Civil War, his church raised and equipped a volunteer infantry regiment, and he pressed Lincoln to emancipate the slaves through a proclamation. His church held mock auctions at which they raised money to purchase freedom for slaves, the most famous for Pinky for whom they raised $900.  Beecher obtained John Brown's chains and preached standing upon them.

"I would rather speak the truth to ten men than blandishments and lying to a million...try what it is to speak with God behind you,--to speak so as to be only the arrow in the bow which the Almighty draws." In spite of this, a shadow of an accusation of adultery fell on him though he was exonerated in a well publicized trial.  Yet Beecher said, "Hold yourself responsible for a higher Standard than anyone else expects of you.  Never excuse yourself."  His last words were, "Now comes the mystery.

His beautiful words continue to inspire...

"Do not keep the alabaster boxes of your heart tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead.  Fill their lives with sweetness.  Speak approving, cheering words while their ears can hear them and while their hearts can be thrilled by them." H.W. B.

Friday, April 26, 2013

"Heaviness in the heart of a man maketh it stoop:
but a good word maketh it glad."
Proverbs 12:25
Do you need a good word as much as I do?  A friend's baby has a devastating diagnosis, another friend's health is deteriorating, a young mother's recovery is touch and go, marriages are on the rocks, your own body has let you know with pain that it is not happy, your husband is exhausted from being a good provider, and the list goes on.  
Isn't it good to know that God hasn't changed His address in all these years, except for a temporary green card that enabled Him to work in on our planet.  A good Word is available every moment at our fingertips. 
"...when my heart is faint;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For Thou hast been a refuge for me,
A tower of strength against the enemy.
Let me dwell in Thy tent forever;
Let me take refuge in the shelter of Thy wings."
Psalm 61: 1-5
"You are clearly not in control of the details or destiny of your life, yet as a rational, purposeful, emotional being, you cry for a deep and abiding sense of well-being.  In your quest, what you are actually discovering is that you were hardwired to be connected to Another...In this way, every human being is on a quest for God...There is a Rock to be found.  There is an inner rest to be experienced that is deeper than conceptual understanding, human love, personal success, and the accumulation of possessions.  There is a rock that will give you rest even when all of those things have been taken away...In his grace, he won't play hide-and-seek with you. In your weakness and weariness, cry out to him.  He will find you, and he will be your rock.
He is the rock for which you are longing, he is the one who alone is able to give you the sense that all is well.  And as you abandon your hope in the mirage rocks of this fallen world, and you begin to hunger for the true rock, he will reach out, and place you on solid ground."
Paul David Tripp, "A Shelter in the Time of Storm"
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
C.S. Lewis
"Hardships often prepare ordinary people
for an extraordinary destiny."
C.S. Lewis

Thursday, April 25, 2013

When I was little, I wanted to be either a cowgirl or a ballerina.  Alas, I am neither.
Hank is at the age where anything is possible, to be a professional baseball player, a Navy Seal, a guard for the President of the United States.  Somewhere in our constitutional belief in the pursuit of happiness, we get mixed in there the concept that we can be anything we want.  To tell our children otherwise is unamerican, or is it?  What we really need to teach them is the fear of God and that they are not God  It was the devil's temptation for Adam and Eve, the original sin, to want to be like God.  We've been falling for it ever since.  There are some things that might be too difficult for us
--being a ballerina is one of them for me--
but God has not met a too-difficult that He doesn't like yet, whether it be the creation, the virgin birth or the resurrection.  For Him it's all in the timing; some of it, the end-timing.

"Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh;
is anything too difficult for Me?"
Jeremiah 32:27
"And they shall be My people, and I will be their God;
and I will give them one heart and one way,
that they may fear Me always,
for their own good, and for the good of their children after them."
Jeremiah 32:38-39
"Behold I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them;
and I will reveal to them an abundance of peace and truth...
And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me,
and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have transgressed against Me.
And it shall be be to Me a name of joy, praise, and glory before all the nations of the earth,
which shall hear of all the good that I do for them,
and they shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the peace that I make for it...
the voice of joy and the voice of gladness,
the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride,
the voice of those who say,
'Give thanks to the Lord of hosts,
For the Lord is good,
For His lovingkindness is everylasting';"
Jeremiah 33:6-11
Hey, I want to live there! 
  If you ever wondered what God thinks about, there it is.  This is His desire, His motivation in sending Jesus to the cross and out of the grave to His right hand to make intercession for us.
Dear Lord, please give us this fear of the Lord for our good and the good of our children. 
Please cleanse us and bring the healing and peace and joy.  Give us that voice of gladness because You are good and Your lovingkindness is everlasting.
With Mary we can say, "Nothing is too difficult for Thee."
But here's my list...
1.  Marriages. 2.   Health 3.  Those lost in sin. 4.  Jobs  5.Wisdom  6.  Children & grandchildren...
...What's on your list of not-too-difficult-things-for-God?
Is there anything you're afraid to put on the list because you're not sure if God can handle it?
"When God has deepened us, then He can give us His deeper truths,
His profoundest secrets, and His mightier trusts."
"Streams in the Desert"

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A prominent antagonistic atheist said recently that Christians do little more than click  their "like"  buttons for their Bibles rather than read them.  "You would laugh if someone expressed belief in a rabbit's foot dangling from his key chain.  Sadly, some of us relegate our Bible to the status of 'good-luck charm.'  Somehow we get a warm, fuzzy feeling just knowing that it is propped up in the bookshelf or lying on the nightstand.  But we never read it.  Only if it is opened, read, and studied can you access all of God's wisdom that the Bible contains.  Move it off the shelf and into your heart."  (Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz)  There's an old southern gospel song, "Dust on the Bible."  It's like having to dust the exercise equipment if the Bible needs dusting.   

"Thy word is a lamp to my feet,
And a light to my path."
Psalm 119:105
Are you stumbling in the dark without light?
It is a sword.  The Queen of England cheated death while narrowly missing being sliced by a Lord of London as he swung a sword carelessly at the funeral for Margaret Thatcher.  Swords are not meant for funerals, but for our soul's protection in this dangerous world we live in.  Regardless of where you stand on the weapons controversy in the news, take up your weapon.  People have died so that we can freely wield it.
At Disneyland it was thrilling to watch a swordfight between Peter Pan and Hook up on the mast and ropes of the ship with fireworks exploding in the background.  Around my house, foam swords are the weapon of choice, certainly better than steel or even sticks for a parent's seal of approval.  Yet, there is something about a sword that tempts one to wop or stab another unprovoked. Even foam can give a child a sense of power and an urge for stealth attack that commands tears. 
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."
Hebrews 4:12-13
Perhaps this is the reason we don't take up the Bible, the sword of the Spirit, because we have to use it on ourselves first.  It is a living thing that takes on a life of its own apart from our handling.  We get nervous about being laid bare and open having even the intentions of the heart judged.  It is more comfortable to lead an unexamined life and thrust the weapon at others. 
"On guard!"


Monday, April 22, 2013

Thoughts for the meteor shower tonight...
Have you ever sat around a campfire at night on a mountainside and looked up at the stars?  The thin, pure atmosphere and absence of other lights makes them appear close enough to touch.  Somehow, in the pressing glow of earthly endeavors, the heavenly light dims.  Get apart and look up into God's face, close enough to see the twinkle in His eye?  My stars!

"One night when Robert Louis Stevenson was a small boy, his nanny called him to come to bed.  Oblivious to her summons, he was staring at something outside his nursery window.  The nanny walked over, stood at his shoulder, and inquired patiently, 'Robert, what are you looking at?'  The little boy, without taking his eyes away from the window, exclaimed in wonder as he pointed to the lamplighter who was lighting the streetlamps, 'Look Nanny!  That man is putting holes in the darkness!'  You and I may not be able to change the world, but surely each of us can put a hole in the darkness!" Ruth Graham Lotz 

Are not stars places where the veil is torn
and eternity is peeking through? CJ

"Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works
 and glorify your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:16
("God doesn't need our good works, but our neighbor does.")
"While the stars that ever sprinkle
All the Heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight..."
Edgar Allen Poe
"Where were you...
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
Job 38:4,7
"I am the bright morning star."
Rev. 22:16

Part of my husband's early rising devotional routine is going out and seeing the bright morning star.
Sunday thoughts:  Today I turned off the television and the music and opened the window because I wanted to hear the birds rejoice on such a beautiful day as today.  The music that floated in was, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." The ice cream man was driving slowly by.  What a way to squash my bonding with nature. I wanted to join the other reindeer and call Rudolph names, but even a deer out of season couldn't steal the joy away from an almost perfect April afternoon.
"Winter's done, and April's in the skies;
Earth, look up with laughter in your eyes."
John Masefield
"Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses..."
George Herbert
"O sweet wild April came over the hills..."
William Force Stead
"You don't have to attend seminary to gain insights into God's character. 
You need only to walk outdoors and look up - or look down. 
Nature reveals the enormity and power of God.
It also reveals His creativity and attention to detail."
Anne Graham Lotz
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes,
His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen,
being understood through what has been made,
so that they are without excuse."
Romans 1:20

In the Garden
"I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing..."
Austin Miles, 1912

And it isn't Rudolph's song.
"The book of Nature is an expression of the thoughts of God."

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Have you ever fed barking seals?  Is that what it's like at dinnertime at your house like it is at mine?  There's a term for this "Hangry, anger fueled by hunger; a cranky state resulting from lack of food, especially sweet things."  It's the one time I get the boys to do a chore without too much grumbling: "as soon as you set the table, dinner will be ready."  Today they came in from swimming--yes, swimming--and were on the verge of hangry demanding immediate food.  5 minutes was too long to wait.  If it's not growing boys, it's the dogs.  Sometimes I feel like I will be trampled to death in my chair when they let me know it's feeding time at the zoo.  Now the cat is more polite and waits until everyone is asleep before yeowling that her bowl is empty.  Are we ever this anxious to be fed by God?

I don't get to go to church this week because of my shingles, but I know the seals will be barking anxious to be fed the Word, well not barking, but I hope clapping and making a joyful noise.  Alas, I will be hangry at home and have to feed myself.

"Let everything that hath breath, praise the Lord.

Psalm 150:6

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Death defying, truth denying...From the "I didn't do it," to the death's not coming to knock on my door," we deny truth.  By eating the fruit to make them wise with the sad knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve had to deny the truth of God's word, "Do not eat...or you will die," and exchange it for a lie.  Sometimes I think that whenever a lie is told, something dies in the conscience.  Enough of these exchanges of the truth of God for a lie can turn us over to a depraved mind.  We see a lot of depraved minds around our world.

It happens in accountability issues around here, "Who did this," with hiding and denying.  I would need security cameras to find out who left the towels on the floor or who started the ant farm in the bedroom by leaving dirty dishes there? The dog doesn't do everything around here.  It happens in our world too.  Some deny that astronauts went to the moon.  There are elements that deny the Holocaust ever happened.  There are those who deny that 911 happened, including the mother of the two young men, and probably them as well, who just bombed the Boston Marathon.  Now, their family is denying that they did this horrific deed.  They deny the truth of the security cameras saying they were doctored.

We deny that we will die.  I would like to delay the RSVP to that invite as long as possible, but it is inevitable: we all have a date with death, or should I say, for the Christian, a date with the ever-after in paradise.  One translation of paradise is "a walled garden, "Eden.  For others, it's a hot date.

Searching for the truth...

As the old saying goes, when you point one finger at someone else, three fingers are pointing back at you.  The only way to deny truth is to displace blame, like in the Garden.   For example, right now a Wii remote is missing.  We know who used it last, but they insist it couldn't possibly be them.  Someone else had to have lost it.  The truth is, it is missing by carelessness, not by design.  No ill intent is accounted to anyone just as no innocence is automatic:  "No, no one took it from our house just because you say you couldn't possibly have lost it."  Maybe a security camera wouldn't be such a bad idea.  It would help us find lost remotes and the truth.  I wonder if they make one that can be mounted to the pointy finger?

Give boys hammers, nails, and redwood planks and let them build. Yes, the box of nails were left to rust in the rain and more were bent than hammered through, but now the garden is their's.  They've helped to pull the weeds, spread the bark mulch and built a boardwalk through the garden. 
"A beautiful garden is nature...reduced to human size and made to serve mankind.
It is our best shelter against the violence of today's world."
Luis Barragan
Being still with a view to outside beauty is restorative.  God's hand in our world moved from garden

to garden, and His Word uses gardens as illustrative of His care for us. 
Rest your mind upon these lovelies... 
"The grass so little has to do,
A sphere of simple green,
With only butterflies to brood,
And bees to entertain."
Emily Dickinson 
I enjoy reading the Miss Read books by Dora Saint full of tales of English village life:
"She is one of those writers lucky to have never forgotten what it felt like to be a child
and...'even today could take you to the spot where (she) found violets or a robin's nest more than seventy years ago.'"  She lived in the days when "the muffin man walked the winter streets with his wares balanced in a tray on his head...the lamp-lighter cycled from lamp post to lamp post as dusk fell...all the women had skirts that swept to the ground...and I had lots of maiden aunts who'd sweep me onto a lap and read to me "Peter Rabbit." 
Catherine Calvert
Spring had come once more...
lingering along through April and May
in a succession of sweet, fresh, chilly days,
with pink sunsets and miracles of resurrection and growth."
L.M. Montgomery, "Anne of Green Gables" 
April Showers
"Thou dost visit the earth, and cause it to overflow;
Thous dost greatly enrich it;
The stream of God is full of water...
Thou dost water its furrows abundantly;
Thou dost settle it with showers;
Thou dost bless its growth...
The pastures of the wilderness drip,
And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.
The meadows are clothed with flocks,
And the valleys are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, yes, they sing."
Psalm 65:9-13
"Awake, O north wind,
And come, wind of the south;
Make my garden breathe out fragrance,
Let its spices be wafted abroad.
May my beloved come into his garden
And eat its choice fruits!"
Song of Songs 4:16


Friday, April 19, 2013

I do not like snakes.  I grew up with tales of copperheads and have seen a few rattlers who would have liked to sink their fangs in me.  I have held a harmless snake or two but I didn't kiss them on the lips.  An eerie moment is seared into my head.  It was a baptism at a river here with little children playing on the rocky shore.  The place where I sat, I noticed something wriggling: tiny baby snakes. It is said, the smaller they are, the more potent is their poison.  Not knowing if they were baby rattlers, I covered them not so gently with rocks and moved away, but not so far away that I couldn't warn others if they got too close.  I thought it ironic that the celebration of the work of the Son of God to give new life was next to the image of the enemy of our soul.

"And the Lord God said to the serpent,
'Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than every beast...
On your belly shall you go,
And dust shall you eat
All the days of your life;
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise (crush) him on the heel."
Genesis 3:14-15
As we are crushed with recent tragedies, we realize that the snake is still bruising us.
"I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. 
And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."
Romans 16:19-20
"The devil who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone...forever."
Rev. 20:10
Here's what Billy Graham's daughter Anne Graham Lotz had to say...
"As a girl growing up in western North Carolina, I loved to hike in the mountains.  But whenever I set out, my mother's admonition, 'Watch out for snakes!' would ring in my ears.  Although I can remember killing only one snake myself, I was present several times when snakes were killed by others.  Each time I observed a fascinating phenomenon.  After the snake was killed, its body invariably continued to twitch until sundown.  Even though its head was crushed, rendering it powerless, the dead snake's writhing body was enough to keep me at a distance.  We need to remember that ever since the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Satan has been a defeated foe.  His head has been crushed.  As we seek to climb higher in our faith, what we are confronted with is merely the twitching body of that old Serpent, the devil, will be destroyed."
Even the severed head of a rattlesnake can deliver a deadly bite.
We are between the times of the curse, the bruising of the head of Christ on the cross and His resurrection crushing the snake under His heel, and the final casting away forever.  Yes, there is evil loose in this world, the body of the snake is writhing and the severed head is still biting, but
Satan, eat my dust!

Did I tell you the one about the elderly man who couldn't stomach his wife's cream of wheat anymore.  A friend stopping by asked him what was the matter noticing he hardly touched his breakfast, and he didn't look so good. The neighbor checked the box the little wife was using and it was Borax.  The poor man didn't survive his wife's cooking.  True story.  The end. (Fortunately, there was no premeditated poor eyesight murder charge.)

Cooking disasters 101:  around here, kiss the cook means "keep it simple stupid" in the kitchen.
I know how to cook, it's just that I like to eat a lot more than I like to cook.  Reading directions is not one of my favs.  I'd rather cook from memory which shortens the menu.  Learning to cook gluten free has been challenging, but good for me, so I'm not the dullest knife in the drawer.  I have gotten so good at making gravy that we all look forward to my once a week roast, mashed (instant) potatoes and gravy plus veggie du jour.  I've learned how much better vegetables taste roasted in olive oil with sea salt that I'm a big girl now and eat all my brussel sprouts.  Well, I forgot to put the seasoning on the beef when I put it in the oven, then when I woke up from a little nap, and jumped up to put the zuchini to roast.  Finally, I go to make my salivacious gravy: using whatever drippings from the roast, gf cornstarch mixed with water and a pint of cream, stirring constantly until the right thickness (which means when you accidently drop a spoon in it, it sinks slowly out of sight.)  We sat down to a nice rushed dinner before baseball practice and something just didn't taste right.  Did I tell you one of my nightmares is killing my family at the table, not "et tu Brute style," but by food poisoning?  I finally finished waking up to realize I had grabbed the baking soda instead of the cornstarch.  It was the first time we had not fought over the last of the gravy since I became its queen.  I kept my crown because of the enormous relief that nobody was going to die.

Other disasters are when I switched cinnamon for chili powder in the tacos, interesting; and the classic, salt for sugar.  My favorite was when my father thought my snickerdoodle dough was for drop biscuits, and we had some enormous cookies for breakfast.  The worst was when I found out too late that pineapple juice has an enzyme that breaks down meat, and that the steak we couldn't really afford to buy turned into mushy baby food by the time it marinated overnight.  My tried and true was to invite company over and forget to turn on the oven and having nothing but raw chicken to serve after church.  Time for pizza! The repeat offender was to invite people over for Sunday dinner and they are a no-show thinking it was an evening repase instead of the traditional after-church meal: by the time they arrive, we'd overeaten all the food and have nothing left to serve.  Pizza time again!

God didn't make us cookie-cutter Christians, (thank goodness men's leisure suits with white belts and white shoes are ancient history), but we still need to go by the Book.  We each have our own spice and flavor nuance, but death is still possible if you do not follow the directions.  Afterall, all the mess humankind is in is because of what the woman cooked up, "Here, Adam, have a bite..."  True story.  Death.  Fortunately it wasn't the end.  There was another Adam, Jesus Christ.

"And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.'  Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him...' When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate." Genesis 2:16-18, 3:6

Let them eat cake!
By the way "stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts."  I think I have the solution for my shingles!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thinking about fish...Colorado rainbow trout are my all-time favorite, caught out of the snow-melt freezing water, rolled in cornmeal and fried.  When camping, I would eat the left-overs cold for breakfast.  One morning the disciples found Jesus camped on the shore cooking fish over a fire for breakfast.  He's my kind of man!

The lesson on Jesus telling the disciples how to fish is worth pondering.  Simon Peter and Andrew had met Jesus around the time of John baptising Jesus.  Then Jesus came to the seaside and asked to preach from their boat if they would push out a little ways from shore.  Then He told Simon Peter, who had already cleaned his nets, to cast out his net again.  The man was already cranky from staying up all night without anything to show for it but a carpenter telling him how to fish.  But he did it, and got so many that he and a buddy's boat he called alongside to help were sinking.  So what did he do?  He walked away from it all, the biggest catch of his life. Peter left his boat, nets, fish and family to follow Him. 

Fast forward to the days following Easter.  Peter and the disciples were behind locked doors afraid of Christian-crucifying Romans, and Jesus walked through the door without a key to show them his scars, twice.  Peter had had enough.  He went back to fishing, back to what he knew without all the spooky-wooky walking through locked doors, empty mummy cloths in a tomb and  scary soldiers and crosses, and his buddies went with him.  He wanted to leave roosters behind him out on a calm, peaceful sea.  No luck.  At daybreak, somebody crowed from the shore,  "Hey, kids, you don't have any fish, do you?"  "No." "Throw the net out on the right side."  Why did they do as he told them?  Do seasoned fishermen take orders from a stranger on the shore?  Can't a school of fish swim under a small boat and still get in the net on one side as well as the other if there were any fish around?  But, these tired fishermen did what this strange dude called from the shore and caught 153 big ones.  Dejavu. It finally struck them: it was Jesus!  Peter was so excited, he dove in and swam to Jesus leaving the rest of the crew to haul in the catch.  Jesus already had fish on the fire and told them to bring more.  It was just like old times.  Then Jesus changed the subject to sheep.  "Peter, do you love me?...Tend My lambs...Shepherd My sheep...Tend my sheep."  After the third time, I'll bet Peter expected a rooster to crow, but this time instead of denials, he had professed his love for his Lord three times.  

Is this just a fish story?  Why did Jesus bless them with a big miraculous catch both times then call them away to do something that would be a hard road, even to their deaths?  There's obedience in the story.  There's a picture He's painted about becoming fishers of men.  Then another picture of a shepherd and sheep. Jesus was showing Peter and the others that there never would be a return to "normal" after following Him.  Blessings only came from Him who God "dost rule over the works of Thy hands...all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas." (Psalm 8:6-8) Unless Peter would love and care for His flock, he would be denying his Lord all over again.  He was to be a fisherman turned shepherd.

What about you?  Do you feel like the big one has gotten away, like your world is out of kelter like this picture?  Don't be downcast: cast down your net on the other side.  Do something outside of the old normal.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Just because of a terrorist act, I wouldn't say everyone should be like me and not be a runner to be safe.  That would be ridiculous.  Run to your little healthy heart's content and I'll cheer from the sidelines.  That seems to be the more dangerous place anyway.  I expect the registration for next year's race to be bigger.  American is the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I'm glad I didn't know that a distant cousin was running.  He was fine other than the pain of running the long distance. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families  who aren't fine, especially those who gave their lives, including an eight year old, for just being Americans.  It was the blast heard round the world on Patriots Day.

It is sad that there are those who hate us for being a Christian country, a generous nation.  It is sadder that there are Americans who want to wipe that identity off the face of our nation and use revisionist history to make us forget our Christian heritage.  In God we trust.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We've been burglarized more times than a cat has lives, but only one time did I hear the intruder snoring in a dead drunk in my guest room. He was covered in dried blood from a brawl the night before and had found a side entry locked but not shut all the way: he chose to sleep it off in our parsonage while my husband had driven off at daylight unaware of our sleepover.  I called the police.  The officers thought it was funny as they woke the drunk and escorted him outside where they made me do a citizen's arrest in my bathrobe.  "Go ahead and make my day," and I did.

Did you hear the one about the husband who told his wife a joke and someone laughed in another room, a burgler?  Don't let the enemy steal your joy.  Joy: the acrostic "Jesus, others, and you" still includes you.  You are no good to Jesus or others if you are fizzled out or a wet blanket.  Around our house, that is called an "Eyore." What you feel may be real, but is is the whole truth?  We base our feelings on what is true, not on a roller coaster ride of emotions.  Joy is merry-go-round: you might go up and down a little, but it goes around like a song as if you were part of a music box.  Don't let the music stop.  A babies' laughter is about the prettiest sound in the world.  We should remember that and keep our joy bubbling on the surface.

Now that I have shingles which wraps around my left rib in a jolting pain, I am reminded of the little boy who came home from school with a side ache saying, "I guess I'm just having a wife." I think the shingles is in my funny bone.

My six year old granddaughter Grace is singing a made-up song,"What will I do with eighteen kids?"  It goes on and on until now she's up to 29 kids.  The verse says, "Now my only friends are parents."  Fortunately, she is continuing, "I can't have more than thirty kids, because I have to live with them."  It hurts to laugh, but it hurts more not to laugh. She also informed me that kindergarten is really a garden of kids.  Remember, your garden of kids has to live with you too.  Plant plenty of joy to share.

"Everlasting joy will be theirs."
Isaiah 61:7c
A few years ago, I hosted a weekly "Moms in the Mornings" for mothers of toddlers who sometimes can feel isolated.  We talked over the babies and toddlers with many interruptions and very loosely followed a book for young mothers as a devotional.  Since we stopped meeting, facebook has come along and young mothers can comment amongst themselves.  Truly it is not the same as face to face, but it is an avenue that was not available before.  Whereas a phone call would be interrupted,  with fb one can choose to respond or not, at their own schedule without it interferring with the demands of the urgent.  We may put our best foot forward in order to savor the precious or vent about the crazies.  I blog because I enjoy writing as well as to "teach what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children..." Titus 2:4.  I also want to pass along what a friend passed on to me years ago, laughter.  Parenting needs a sense of humor.

God had a laugh in His heart when we became parents of young children again in our forties.  As an older woman now, I have to live out the advice I give young mothers as I do the parenting all over again along with the grandparenting.  We still need friendships.  As the little child who was afraid said, "I need Jesus with skin on."  Young mothers can be lonely.  I'm looking forward to a weekly swim date with kids at Robin's as a summer get-together.

Fathers use fb and some read my blog too sometimes.  It's like a 6'7" friend of ours at the high school Pride meeting last week who was brought up short when someone said, "Here, I think you dropped this."  It was his little preschool daughter's undies that had unstuck from his pants leg from the dryer to be dropped at an inconvenient time.  Oh, the joys of parenting! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Be sure your sins will find you out.  The dogs were alone in the house with a full bag of flour.  I had it out to give our daughter since I am going guten free.  Well, the dogs thought it was the best thing since sliced bread because they scattered it to every corner of the house. It looked like we had a blizzard inside while we were gone. Did they fight over it?  Was it a chase?   Did they really think it tasted good?  We didn't need to dust for finger prints: their paw prints were obvious.  I wish I had the video.  They tried to act like everything was normal demanding a late dinner when we returned.  Have they no shame?  The clean-up is almost complete: I still have to mop the fine flour dust up, but we are enjoying skating in our socks across the wood floor in the meanwhile.  The house really did go to the dogs,  They couldn't very well blame the cat.  Neither could they say, "The gold fish did it."

Sometimes our sin is so obvious to everyone but ourselves because we have been busy excusing it, rationalizing it, and finding a partner in crime to blame, "He does it too."  The mess means a painful clean-up, and the dogs aren't very handy with a broom and dust-pan.  Sin does not happen in isolation: it always effects others.  It's not what Scripture meant, "Though your sins were as scarlet, they shall be white as snow."

It may just be a beer around the house, then it is an all-nighter with the buddies, then it's a marriage,  and a reputation.  James says, "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.  Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren." James 1:14-16.  Sin is like one of those tall metal slides on the playground: each step takes you one step higher, then it's a fast slide down.  Usually there's a mud puddle at the bottom, and splat, you've sunk in the muck. 

As for the dogs,
they will have to go gluten free from now on:
no more bags of flour for snacktime.

Hello, my name is "No,No, Bad Dog."
What's yours?