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Thursday, July 31, 2014

 
My dogs followed me around while I swept the dust bunnies acting like they'd never seen such a peculiar sight, me sweeping.  Come on, I wasn't gone that long...well, thank you Teresa M. & Laura for helping me keep my house clean while my neuralgia was so bad.  So, maybe it was an unusual sight, what can I say?  My pain is  little better, but my love of housekeeping is not so much.  The diagnosis is disliketocleanaphobia.  I have been working on overcoming it for sixty years, ever since my mother told me to pick up my dollies.  Do any of you suffer from this disorder?


  Even my laptop is a dust magnet that I have to blow on occasionally.

 
Did I miss something in my marriage vows?  I thought they said something about cleaving when they might have said cleaning.  Perhaps the vows should be changed to "To dust and to clean from this day forward."  
 
 
 
Adam was made from dirt but not Eve. 
Maybe it's been a bone (rib bone) of contention ever since.
But until we complete the dust to dust cycle,
we are to be plagued by a dirty house.
 


"An excellent wife, who can find?
...She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness..."
Proverbs 31:10, 27
 
As the dogs are my witness, I swept the floors before I ate the bread of idleness, okay?


For many, their favorite verse is Isaiah 40:31.

 

 "Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary."
 
 
I like that because even if I am not a runner,
I can appreciate the promise to walk and not become weary.
But the earlier verses are some of the greatest Scripture verses as well.
 
"Do you not know?  Have you not heard? 
The Everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth 
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power,
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly...
 
 
In other words, I don't believe God give us strength of our own
as much as He wants us to lean on Him to look to Him for His strength.

 
Have you ever seen a baby learn to walk
holding on to their parent's hands?
You get the picture.

 
The "mount up with wings like eagles,"
could be compared with Exodus 19:4

 
"You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians,
and how I bore you on eagles wings,
and brought you to Myself."

 
If man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings.
Well, He did:  His wings

"Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
That hovers over its young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions."
Deuteronomy 32:11


And this is the other thing He does with His wings.

Jesus' lament over Jerusalem...

"How often I wanted to gather your children together,
the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,
and you were unwilling."
Matthew 23:37


"He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark."
Psalm 91:4
 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

 
"The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, 'I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt...
They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion,
And they will be radiant over the bounty of the Lord--
And their life will be like a watered garden,
And they will never languish again...
For I will turn their mourning into joy
And will comfort them and give them joy for their sorrow.
I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance,
And My people will be satisfied
with My goodness,' declares the Lord...'
There is hope for your future,'
Set up for yourself roadmarks,
Place for yourself guideposts;
Direct your mind to the highway...
For I will satisfy the weary ones,
and refresh everyone who languishes.'
At this I awoke and looked,
and my sleep was pleasant."
 
Selections from Jeremiah 31

 
 

 
I awoke today and my sleep was pleasant.  Of course, my man was up hours before me as usual.  He accomplished much while I was being refreshed by sleep and now by the promises of Scripture.  Of course in Israel, rockets are raining overhead and these promises are for their future as well as mine in my calmer world without bomb shelters.  It gives a new meaning that the rain will fall on the just and the unjust. 
 
I want my life to be like a well watered garden with an abundance to share.  There is hope even for the weary ones, refreshment, joy even.

 
 
We have a special friend, close to our age, who has been in and out of the hospital.  A doctor even told him he needed to get his affairs in order.  Since he nearly collapsed on his release, they sent him to a place of convalescence.  When my husband went to visit him, this comparatively young man (that means close to our age) was busy playing bingo with the older women.  He was finding refreshment even in the senior setting.  He no longer was languishing.  He has a hope for his future.

 
 
 
 
I hope your sleep was pleasant.  Direct your mind to the higher way and be satisfied and refreshed.
 

 
 

Monday, July 28, 2014

When it's hot, stay out of the kitchen!
But if you have to cook, don't touch the oven!
 


 
Hints: cook in a ballerina outfit when it's hot
and Ken should definitely shed the sweater!
 
 
Menu for the week without using the oven:

Monday: tostados platter with refried beans/salsa/cheese/onion/avocado/sour cream/lettuce/tomatoes & serve with tortilla chips

Tuesday: spaghetti with salad and wheat sour dough bread (toasted in toaster-not oven)

Wednesday: shrimp (seasoned with curry,cumin, chili powder) stir fried with bell peppers on rice.

Thursday: BBQ skirt steak, potato salad, pea salad (froz peas/celery/onion/lettuce/cheese/mayo/s.cr.)

Friday: breakfast for dinner (sausage & eggs) toast with homemade jam

Saturday: pizza (already cooked) take-out with BLT salad

Sunday: chicken salad (cooked and cubed chicken seasoned with curry; combine with celery & Thompson grapes & slivered almonds & mayo & sour cream to taste.)*Have you ever stopped to read the historical marker on the way to Colusa about Thompson Seedless Grapes?  I haven't either. Hmm.

Oh, and ice cream doesn't require an oven either!



"She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar."
Proverbs 31:14
 
Wait a minute...did it just say a good wife brings her food from afar, like take-out?
Sounds good to me!  Scratch the above menu for the week.

 
There's a new baby in the house, one with soft fur and silky ears.  She plays hard and sleeps long.  We are letting her cry herself to sleep at night with a little mournful howling in the dark from her cage.  In spite of our vigilance, the little critter has accidents that require us to follow with the paper towels occasionally.  Now that there are the other dogs to play with, she is not so eager to seek our attention, satisfied to be the puppy that she is.  The week of vacation bonding with the little thing was sweet.  She did not seem to miss her mama even though we had robbed the cradle taking her at seven and a half weeks.  She has been learning her name and coming when called.  Miss Maggie's biggest adjustment is the heat: the thermometer has gone up considerably from her Oregon home, and she would much rather stay inside with the A.C.


 

 

God is longsuffering with us as well.  He says,
 

"I have called you by name; you are Mine!...
Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love you..."
Isaiah 43:4, 7
 
 
"'Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he a delightful child?
Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him, 
I certainly remember him;
Therefore My heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,'
declares the Lord."
Jeremiah 31:20-21
 
 
God has called His people sheep; Ephraim a calf; Jesus, a chick under His wings.
I don't think it's a stretch to let the puppies antics be a reminder of how longsuffering God is.
You are precious in His sight.
He knows and calls you by name.



 
 "Be still and know that I am God."
Psalm 46:10 
 

 


 "Come, behold the works of the Lord..."
Psalm 46:8

 
 
 
 
What did I carry away from five days of camping in a campground (called cheater camping from the way I was raised)?    I've never seen so many women in one place who were growing out their grey gracefully going back to their natural roots evidently in more than one way.  Very few women were concerned with make-up.  The perfume was the pleasant whiff  of the odor of a campfire which I sadly washed out of my hair and clothes upon returning home.

 
The sand that has infiltrated my purse will take longer to be rid of than that which I washed out of my hair.  The weather was pleasant, even the fog, the drizzle, the wind, and of course the coastal sunshine which  puts to shame this sizzling valley heat.  Perhaps that is what I miss the most, the cooler temperatures. 


Nothing beats fresh fish at the harbor, which for me was grilled cod, not battered fish and chips, our biggest splurge.  My husband is of the mind that coffee is not a destination, except when introduced to Starbucks in the mornings via gift cards: he almost admitted he might become an occasional convert. 
 

 

A simple meal roasting hot dogs over a fire made life easy.  Of course this was followed by the boys roasting marshmallows.  When the coastal temperatures dropped at night, hot chocolate or hot lemonade was our cup of choice (Have you tried that?  That's a childhood camping favorite for me.)  We went to bed when it was dark time, and rose slowly with our creaking bones in the morning, not too early, not too late, but just right.  (I will skip the part about getting up with a new puppy to walk her at least twice during the night.)



We choose each day what to do with little planning ahead, but captured precious moments whether it was the Jedidiah State Park and the Smith River, Harris State Beach, the Indian Museum at Paul Bunyan's tourist stop, or reading in the car while the boys went to a movie, a rare treat for them.


 
A willing model...
 
 
an unwilling model...
 
 
and a brief glimpse of him Big-Footing it away...

 
 
Miracle of miracles, I wasn't even tempted to shop in any stores, not even the multitude of thrift stores along the way.  All this to say, it was a perfect choice for relaxation.  I must admit, the boys are good travelers with less fighting on the trip-even in the car-than at home.


After the up close viewing of the herd of elk with two majestic bulls sporting huge racks and their harem of cows with calves, miles down the road Al and I looked at each other and finally said, "Is your heart still beating fast too?"  I've seen lots of elk, mostly in Colorado, but never this close or with more magnificent antlers.

 
Driving along on a cliff with an ocean view, I was amazed to spot a whale far below.  It was still flipping its tail by the time we pulled off for everyone to enjoy the sight.  On another day we saw the spray and watched the huge bodies rolling in the ocean.  They seemed to enjoy playing in the water as much as my young'uns.

 

What have I taken home from this vacation?  A deep breath of fresh air, a fresh perspective, a camera memory card full, and sand, the confetti of the sea.  I've been saving this poem to share this summer by e.e. cummings...

 

"Maggie & Milly & Molly & May
went down to the beach (to play one day)
 
and Maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles, and
 
Milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;
 
And Molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles: and
 
May came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as  large as alone.
 
For whatever we lose (like a you or  me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea."
 

Our Maggie at the seashore
 
"How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them,
they would outnumber the sand..."
Psalm 139:17-18
 
 
 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Stranger Danger...
 
 

Taking your family on a vacation makes you more vigilant about strangers.  In a campground of like-minded back to nature wanna-be's in their $50,000+ RV's, well, okay, KOA rustic cabins, there might lurk a stranger in the herd of campers.  With a darling soft new puppy to lure them, we felt like perhaps we were the stranger danger as children came to pet and beg to hold our new puppy or wandered freely while we kept a tight reign on our own.  Didn't their parents warn them? 

 


Yet, when we got home and read the papers, a friend--a nice mother of a family who, for a while, faithfully brought her family to church, her children to VBS and children's church--was arrested for attempted murder shooting the gun she held to her husband's head.  Somehow, she had become a lost sheep. Even in that condition, prior to her crime, she had shown up one Sunday distraught, needing prayer.  Drugs and being one of the flock don't mix well.  We are greatly saddened for all concerned, her children and grandchildren especially who were once part of my little flock of children to teach.



Jesus told a story of a sheepfold, a measure of safety for his herd.  Even up to modern times, stone walls are stacked, sometimes up to twelve feet tall topped by barbed mesh of thorn bushes, to keep the flock safe.  But in the Good Shepherd's time, what was to be found to be a gate?  The shepherd Himself would lie in the opening.  Nothing or no one could go in or out except over His body that was laid down for His sheep.  Robbers and thieves could not penetrate His manner of protection.  There is only one way in or out.  He even said to BEWARE of wolves in sheep's clothing. (Matthew 7:15)  We saw a wolf's hide in a museum that was almost as big as the bear hide mounted next to it, big enough to put the fear of God inside you.


Jesus also said His sheep know His voice. He says that His sheep hear His voice, and He calls them by name. He leads them.  The Shepherd goes before His flock.  Scripture also says that He goes after the lost sheep who have wandered off defenseless in this world of danger.  Jesus gives the picture with Himself as the Good Shepherd carrying them on His shoulders when they are too weak to walk even to follow Him on their own. (Isaiah 40)


There was an article on the news a few months ago of a mother who literally laid down her life for her toddler twins.  They were buckled safely in their car seats yet when she got out of the car, it started rolling down a dangerous slope heading into disaster.  The woman threw herself down as a human speed bump to slow the car down.  It was enough for a neighbor to be able to stop the car and remove the children.  She suffered multiple broken bones, but her babies were uninjured.
 



Jesus warned us of stranger danger.  He is willing to lay down His life for His sheep.  He calls us enough so that we should know His voice, hear His voice in His Word.  He loves us enough to call us by name.  He also leads us.  "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...His rod and His staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23)  So even when we stray, we should find comfort in His crook of correction.  We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture" who should "Enter His gates with thanksgiving..."
(Psalm 100).



We took care of a "bummer lamb" once and kept it in our bathtub feeding it out of a big bottle for a friend who had a small flock.  It needed constant care as its mother had rejected it, a lost lamb who needed a shepherd.  We helped out for a weekend being a surrogate mother to the motherless lamb.



In all of this, Jesus reminds us of His perspective: "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent?  And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:29-31)




The good news is that while we were on vacation, darling babies were born, little lambs, proof God is not done with this world.  We must be His flock to help to raise these lambs, to be an example, to follow Him.