Monday, June 30, 2008
Taking a Fresh Look at Familiar Faces
I forget what it's called, I even forget what book I was reading that mentioned it. Something on relationships, friendships. It basically explained that we meet someone, and as we get to know them in those first impression stages, we put a label on them, define them, if you will. They are 'romantic', or not so much; they are spontaneous, or a bit of a stick in the mud. They're prone to quick judgments or stating their opinion loud and clear, or they're a bit of a wall flower, keeping thoughts to themselves. They're the life of the party, or a bit dull to spend time with.

Whatever the label (and don't we have a load of them), it tends to stick. In spite of time spent together, getting to see more sides of this person, mentally we don't make the shift. Whatever the first label, they tend to live with it forever, whether they want it to or not, whether they even deserve it or not.

I've earned a label with girlfriends for 'not being a romantic' because The Bachelor just is not my cup of tea. I've tried to like it. I go to the season's kick-off party, eat the nachos and salsa, take notes with everyone else, set my tivo at home to record the following episodes and never do watch it. I've also planned (and paid for) several weddings, so wedding talk doesn't interest me much either. That doesn't make me anti-romance. I can sit through a good chick-flick with the best of them.

My dayplanner is filled out, up to next June. I like to know the plan, remember birthdays and schedule my days so they're not all packed to the gills. I earned the label of 'non-spontaneous. That's not really me, and if you phone me with a great offer of lunch, or coffee, or walking the trail I'm pretty apt to join you. Still the label sticks to me.

After some time of being aggravated over this, I began to take a look in the mirror. Don't I do the same? That woman who has been opinionated, hers differing from mine (and if it was the same would I possibly have just seen her as standing up for what she believes in?), don't I label her? How about that friend or aquaintance who I've labeled as 'talks too much', or 'a bit ditzy', or 'gives, but in measured amounts'? Could I not wear all those labels on given days?

I'm so anxious for others to take fresh looks at me, to see me in a new light, a better light. Realizing I need to do the same with others - I believe we'd call it 'extending grace', or maybe even just being a good enough friend to give everyone around me a new chance at who they are trying to become, that doesn't come so easily. But it's sure worth working at, praying for God's help for it become a bit more second-nature. Sanctification - in daily doses - will do the trick.


  posted at 4:34 PM

I Won! Stacey Won!
First - I participated in Gretchen's 'Sizzlin' Summer Book Giveaway Carnival'. Stacey at Kisses From the Father - won the 'How to Study Your Bible' by Kay Arthur. She was #4 and that's what Mr. Random Number Generator chose, so I'll be popping it in the mail, on it's way to her.

Then, guess what?! Out of ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-ONE ENTRIES, I won this:

Sandy, at 4 Reluctant Entertainers was doing a giveaway and I entered. She asked what our biggest entertaining challenge was, and mine was entertaining at all. (So I have a long ways to go on the hospitality scale.) I rarely enter them, since I so seldom win, but this was just too cute to pass up. And I won! Not only can I barely believe I won, out of 191 entries, but it's such a great giveaway. Look at all that sweet pink, a picnic cookbook which I think will be great for lunches served by the lake in a year or so, pot holders, towels, chocolates, and a personalized apron - Sandy emailed and asked me what I'd like embroidered on it. I chose 'Reluctant Entertainer', just like her apron, hoping wearing the same apron will somehow make all that wonderful entertaining ability flow through the air, from her home to mine. I'll at least feel inspired every time I don it. Next year we're moving to an area that is going to be much more social than our current lifestyle, so I need all the help and inspiration I can get. I'll be reading every single post Sandy does. She makes it sound at least doable, opening my home, having a beautiful table, and food that is edible.

Thanks, Sandy, for such a great giveaway, but even more for all your encouragement to me / us, to open our homes and hearts to those around us. I promise to only wear this when we're actually entertaining, and to wear it out!


  posted at 9:16 AM

Sizzlin' Summer Book Giveaway Carnival

This is a sticky post and will stay at the top of my posts, til the drawing on Monday, June 30. For newer posts, please scroll down.

Gretchen, over at Jewels in My Crown Someday is in the middle of a book giveaway carnival, and goodness knows I have plenty of books. I scanned my shelves, looking for duplicates and found this:

I have a tendency to lean more toward non-fiction than fiction, but this is a great book, if you're inclined to serious Bible study. Kay Arthur's method, which is the Precept Upon Precept Inductive Approach, is one of the best out there, and this little book makes it easy to understand.

I also thought, after my recent "What I Believe" series, this was an appropriate giveaway for my little blog. If you'd like to win this, leave a comment. I think we're to draw a winner on Monday, June 30. For more blogs who jumped into this fun giveaway, you can head over to Gretchen's place to see the complete list on her sidebar. So many books, so little time!


  posted at 7:43 AM

Saturday, June 28, 2008
Last Times
A few weeks ago, Lisa, over at The Preacher's Wife, was having a garden party. I planned to join. Alas, I'm very late. My gardens are even a bit late, as I'm STILL planting and the 4th of July is just around the corner.

I shared this photo of my front porch clematis around that time, and it's still covered in blooms, leaving a lovely carpet of purple on our front door mat. Mrs. Jenny Wren, who build a nest in the birdfeeder just above the chair, has a lovely view I think. Do wrens like purple? I hope so!

This front bed looks better now than it did when it's photo was being taken. What I think is yarrow is now blooming, that deep purple clematis is strutting it's stuff, and the other little petunias, marigolds and celosia have filled in a bit. In other words, less dirt shows.

This long bed runs across the front of the house. When we moved in, three not-so-attractive tall 'trees' were lined up, like soldiers on duty, in front of the columns. Not really being into military-style gardening, we pulled them down the first week. This bed was started with a garden hose to curve around the ground, then a can of hot pink spray paint, followed by layers and layers of newspaper. I can only imagine what the neighbors must have thought when this was in process! It amazes me how much everything has grown in the years we've been here.

There are daylilies, black-eyes susans, a holly bush, two types of azaleas, some pretty grasses and several varieties of hostas. I fill in every year with impatients and begonias, and we keep fresh water in the bird bath for feather visitors who need to cool off a bit. I planted the taller shrub on the left, specifically to hold white lights at Christmas and it's grown to be taller than me. It's twin sits just across the sidewalk, in another long flowerbed to dress up the other side of the house. That bed has rhododendron, azaleas, black-eyed susans, grasses, and periwinkle for ground cover, with impatiens added each summer. (You can see a glimpse of it in the photo below.) We added the white porch railing a few years back, for a backdrop to the flowerbeds.

Twelve years ago two less-than-lovely prickly shrubs sat at the end of the sidewalk, which was also in bad shape. We hooked each of the shrubs to the back of our little S-10 pickup, and tore up the driveway, quickly removing them, rootball and all. In their place we planted ground-hugging shrubs, day lilies, a few other perennials I can never remember the names of and every year I pop in some geraniums, petunias, celosia, whatever full-sun plants I bring home from the garden store. The brick sidewalk was one of our more crazy efforts, also a few years back. I love it, but am not at all sure I'd tackle it again. It's back-breaking work. Still, a brick sidewalk calls out, "come on in!', don't you think?

Just outside our front door, behind that long flowerbed, is a nice place to chat on the phone, or curl up with a book and some sweet tea (not that anyone else up here drinks sweet tea!). It's not enough porch to keep you dry in a downpour, but is better than no porch. If you look closely, you can see the test patch for the new paint job. We're having the house painted a soft khaki, with very dark green shutters, later this summer, whenever the rain finally stops. I think it'll set off the white columns and porch railing, and any girl needs a new look after 35+ years.

I also added a new monogrammed rug, with a big 'G' in the middle. There's just something about monograms - I love, love them. I'd have a monogrammed toaster if they made them.

The back yard gets a bit wild and wooly, with woods so close behind us. This bed was in serious need of weeding when I shot the photo. It's since been cleaned up a bit. That board, across the archway, is to keep the turkeys and deer out. My daughter, Sarah helped me make the little Mary Englebreit birdbath, out of clay pots turned upside down, and stacked, one on top of the other. Having a birdbath in your yard will really increase the number of feathered visitors.

This funny little strawberry patch grows like crazy every year, and we've never, ever, ever gotten a single berry from it. The birds grab them all before we get a chance. I've given it over, and just enjoy how it looks.

A fence badly in need of painting, but it's the one that trashed my knees last summer, so when Mr. Painter shows up, he's going to tackle this. In the meantime, I squint so all I see is the black-eyed susans, peonies, lamb's ear, coneflower, and Miss Addison's pink rose, planted in honor of her first birthday. I plan to dig up the rose, when we move, to deliver to Sarah for planting outside Addison's bedroom window. I'll replace it with another for the new homeowners.

What's supposed to be my herb garden. Herbs grow here, I just forget what they are. I know there's basil, mint, and chives. We planted two lilac bushes, too close together to get quick impact, and there's also columbine (Colorado's state flower), in honor of my husband's home state, plus more black-eyed susans. You can't have too many of them. Hostas abound, there's a animal feeder that's squirrel friendly, and our dearly departed golden retriver, Lindy, is also planted here! In an urn. That we will deliver to middle daughter, Leslie, when we move away. I know - might be a bit creepy to some, but she and Lindy were dear friends, and it's just ashes, in an urn. I personally think Lindy would like being under the squirrel feeder.

Someday, not too far down the road, we're going to pack up everything, and pull out from this place, turning around for one last look. I pray already that the family who moves in here will love it as much as we have. That the woman who works to turn this house into their home will enjoy having beautiful flowerbeds to care for. I imagine now that she'll come out here, in the early evening when it's cooled off, pulling on her garden gloves and grabbing her little trowel. She'll spend time out here, thinking through her day, about her life, adding her own new perennials, rearranging the ones I'm going to leave behind. Hopefully she'll add her own front porch rocker, and spend some time there, with a book and a glass of tea, even if it's unsweetened.

And I'm confident she'll put little white lights on those two shrubs we planted. Surely that's the type of woman who will want to call this place home. In the meantime, it's likely my last summer to enjoy these flowerbeds, so today, even though it's a bit too late, I'm going to pull on my garden gloves, grab my trowel, and plant just a few more petunias.


  posted at 9:30 AM

Thursday, June 26, 2008
Warning! Warning! They're Out There, Just Waiting to Get You - Really!
Last week, at quilting circle, the subject of social security cards came up. Specifically, carrying your social security card in your wallet. Of the ten or so women there that day, more than half did not realize they should NEVER keep their card in their wallet. I got my SS# when I was 16 years old, about to begin my first job, thus receiving my first paycheck. Back then (and doesn't that - combined in the same paragraph as 'quilting circle' - make me sound 100 years old), parents didn't have to submit a SS# for each child on their income tax return. Most people didn't get a card til they got their first job, thus joining the world of paying taxes to Uncle Sam.

When I married I went to the SS office and got a new card issued, with my changed name. I've had the same little cardboard document for the past 27 years, and it's stored in our safe, along with my husband's.

When each of our children got married, we gave them their original card, telling them #1 memorize the number #2 never carry it with them #3 keep it in a safe place, literally a safe at home, or safe deposit box at a bank #4 never, ever give it out to anyone, for any reason, over the phone, especially if it was a phone call they'd received rather than placed, #5 shred any document that had their SS# on it, rather than throwing it in the trash.

I was surprised that many of my group of friends did not know they shouldn't have their card on their person. We're mostly of the generation that grew up having to worry more if your bike or laundry, hung on the clothesline to dry, was stolen, rather than personal information. When I googled this subject, here's what came up from the Privacy Rights website:

6. My wallet was stolen and it had my Social Security card in it. What should I do?
We strongly advise that you do NOT carry your Social Security card in your wallet except on days when you need to show it to, say, to a new employer. You should take the steps given in number 2 above *to reduce the risk of new accounts being opened in your name. For more information, please read Fact Sheet 17(a) available at: (*See full article at website listed).

If someone has your social security number they can do vast damage to your finances so fast it would make your head spin. You'd be better off losing a credit card, which usually has a limit to the damages that you are responsible for, than if anyone gets ahold of your social security number. So ladies, to anyone out there that this is news to, think of all the phone numbers we remember, the pin numbers, birthdates, etc. Memorize your number, put the card away, and let your family members know to do the same. Every single time this has come up in conversation, I've been surprised how many people whip out their wallet and produce their SS card.

What reminded me to post this is an article I read in today's paper. There's a new, lovely scam out there. The article said, not only are 'official sweepstakes' cons abounding these days, telling people to send in a money order or certified check to cover the fees for money they've won (which will NEVER happen by the way, you don't EVER have to pay fees to win something legit, regardless of how official it may sound, it's not), but now that 'economic stimulus' refund checks are coming in the mail, people are reporting to the Federal government that they are receiving emails, supposedly from the IRS, asking them to submit an online application ensuring fast processing of the check. Some are even receiving phone calls that have been electronically altered to show a Washington D.C. area code. It generally requires the person to submit banking information, account numbers, so the 'funds can be deposited electronically'. The article said, 'the IRS does NOT contact consumers by email, nor do they ever request bank account or financial information online. If you receive this email you can contact to report it, or call the attorney general's office at 1-800-441-2555 or online at

I know this, and yet I've been almost duped more than once by an official looking website, looking almost exactly like PayPal, or Amazon, even my bank, or other online vendors, asking me to submit my banking information to verify an account. We no longer live in a world where we have to worry only about bikes or washday laundry on the clothesline being stolen. While I personally think there's a special corner of hell for the people who commit this type of crime, let's not make it any easier for them, shall we.


  posted at 7:53 AM

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Feathered Friends
See those little sticks, sticking out? Right before we sold our camper, my daughter Leslie gave me this as a Mother's Day gift. Tiny little camper birdhouse, and I popped it on a plant hanger at the front of the house. Within two weeks someone had moved in. Many varieties of birds actually build two or three nests every season.

I happened to catch a glimpse of one of the residents of this little abode, sitting on top and taking a break, but by the time I grabbed the camera she was gone. Pretty soon I'll begin to hear little cheeps when I step outside to water flowers or grab the newspaper. If I venture too close, I just might get a warning - back off! Sometimes that's how I know a nest is near, birds dive-bombing my head! The little camper bird house with sticks, sticking out? Sweet, sweet. The look on Leslie's face when I showed her a family had moved in already, even better. Better yet - no gas involved pulling this little camper here and there. It's just parked right outside my front door for me to enjoy. Best? T.C. (Tomcat), who lives next door, won't be grabbing any of these babies. They're up about seven feet off the ground, out of his reach.


  posted at 7:51 AM

Monday, June 23, 2008
A Winner and a MIRL
Commenter #24, Diane at Bunny Trails , was the number that Random Generator threw out at me to win "Know Why You Believe". Diane, if you'll email me an address I'll pop the book in the mail to you this week. I hope it'll be encouraging and equipping to you.

I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting someone special yesterday. Andrea at Decipher the Fog, emailed me a few days ago to say she was going to be traveling very near my home, and would I be willing to meet her for a quick lunch? Absolutely! I told her to watch for someone dressed a bit like a referee, driving a champagne-colored gas hog, at the local McDonalds. I pulled in, and waited for someone with Ohio plates to pull up, and sure enough there she was! A minivan full of travel-weary people, being driven by a husband gracious enough to pull off the highway for us to meet each other.

I not only got to meet Andrea and her husband, I had the pleasure of dining with her daughter and son, and learning the story of Kung Fu Panda to boot! It was very sweet to see this person who, face to face, was a perfect stranger, but still we felt like we knew each other a bit, for having read each other's blogs, reading what was on our hearts. Andrea's daughter was gracious enough to entertain her brother in Playland while we tried to fit a whole friendship into one fast-food lunch, and we didn't do such a bad job. After about an hour together, I felt like I knew her much better, we talked of subjects, light and deep, and when we hugged goodbye, I thought how much I will now enjoy going over to read what she has to share. Staying in touch through reading blogs - nice. Meeting in real life - wonderful! Thank you, sweet Andrea, for taking the time at the end of your trip for the best time I've ever had at a McDonalds.


  posted at 8:30 AM

Know Why YOU Believe - Giveaway!
I reordered copies of Know What You Believe, and Know Why You Believe for my bookshelves, and added another copy of Know Why... to give away to someone who followed my last series of posts.

If you'd like to enter to win this book, brand spanking new off the Amazon shelves, please leave me a comment, with either a blog home page, or email address. I'll keep this at the top of my blog til the Random Number thingy on Monday morning, June 23 at 8:00 a.m. when I'll announce a winner.

Not light reading, but worth your time. This book was selected by Christianity Today as one of the fifty books that have shaped evangelicals the most. "The Classic Answerbook on the Christian Faith - offering solid ground for those on an honest quest for truth". I'd love to send it to a questioning heart out there.


  posted at 7:55 AM

Sunday, June 22, 2008
Strawberry Season!
If I was his momma, I'd be trying to sell this to Hallmark, and putting the money aside for his college fund! Berry juice down the belly - irresistible!


  posted at 11:42 AM

Thursday, June 19, 2008
Bubblicious Baby Love!
We had unexpected dinner guests tonight. After supper, it was time for some entertainment. Bubbles from the Dollar Store were just the ticket.

It's not easy learning to pucker and blow at the same time!

Mama blew on the wand while Landon did the Bubble Dance!

Pure joy! That we should all be this happy, even once a day...

Smelling Miss Addison's rosebush, "Social Climber".

Grins and giggles for Grammy.

Okay, I'll let you figure out which photo is my hands-down favorite...


  posted at 9:55 PM

Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Let's Have Coffee (Or How's It Hanging?)
It's supposed to be lazy summer, so let's just stop and have a cup of coffee together and do some catching up. I'm going for a caramel latte.

I'm feeling a little hyper, there's been so much going on. Days lately have felt like if I turned a corner I'd meet myself coming around it! So in nothing resembling order, here's what's up.

My hair!!!! Any girl knows how important hair is, and mine got butchered last December. It's been six months and it's finally looking good again. Thank you God, for Nina. She's worth every dime and I'd go to generic TP and mac and cheese before I'd switch, or let anyone else touch my head. She's so great she even tells me tips to color my own hair, how to make those color resistant grey parts suck up that color like crazy! How can I not love her?

I'm maybe, just maybe, meeting a sweet blogger for lunch this Sunday afternoon. I'm not telling who yet, but she and her family are traveling from NY state. She emailed me that they would be very close to my home and would I be interested in meeting? Absolutely! So see, if you're ever anywhere near Pittsburgh, click that email on the sidebar and we'll get together. And Gretchen, I'm just going to come to Seattle someday, with DH in tow and we'll all go to dinner, yes we will. Since we were separated at birth, I think it's the right thing to do. For any of you down south, I think we should have a meet and greet at my lake house, after I get settled in, I'll invite my mom and sister and daughter, and you can meet them too.

See this:

This is the system my daughter, Sarah mentioned in her blog. Big weeks and little weeks. This week was a big one, and I got the master bathroom painted. Not the baseboards, door or window. Not the window treatment sewn. Not the vanity painted. But the walls, two coats, and that's worth celebrating. To celebrate I ordered monogrammed towels from Land's End. I've always loved the look of monograms. So the house staging continues. My husband asked me tonight if he could really use the towels. I surprised him and said 'yes'. I didn't tell him they're white and can be bleached if he gets them dirty.

Books!!!!!!!!!!!! Summer is made for reading, but I have books coming out the whazoo! I don't even know where to start.

Sarah sent me two for my birthday, I special requested two at the library and they came in today (thank you to the blogger who recommended "I Feel Bad About My Neck"!), and I got another today as a birthday gift. I'm in the middle of three right now and have another stack of four or five on the kitchen counter. DH must feel like he's living on some floor of the public library. Not enough time to read! How I would love to just curl up for the whole live-long day and read away the hours.

You know how you get presents, and they're sweet and special, but some just hold a special place in your heart. Every Christmas I look forward to my mom's package coming, especially if it has squiggle ribbon on it, because it's one of those warm, fuzzy memories for me. My sister and I both ended up using squiggle ribbon on all our packages too. This arrived from my big sister, Barb today.

Perfect gift! Kiwi green paper, great summer read, new Celestial Seasonings tea that I can't get here, and coconut shower gel and lotion from Bath and Body. I'm crazy about anything coconut, which she of course knows, being the big sister and all. And to top it all off, a sweet little green squiggle bow.

Remember Craig's List. We sold furniture. Then we sold the camper. This week I sold this:

In ten minutes. Bought by a young couple for their first home. I love Craig's List!

My DH is home! After three weeks of traveling and being gone more than home, he finally pulled in tonight and said no more trips to Virginia for quite awhile. That means no more staying up til 1:00 am for me, no more eating Lean Cuisine's at my desk, no more painting at 9:30 pm, back to cooking, packing lunches, doing laundry, etc. etc. etc. I'm so thankful he's home again. He was involved in a dangerous shaft-filling project, and I literally prayed for him to not get blown up. One of the kids called tonight to make sure he made it home safely, because I'd asked them all to pray for him too. I think God must delight in hearing our prayers, and I prayed specifically that my husband would be so protected that he would feel the brush of angel's wings. (Thanks Mom for that saying from your post. Love that!)

I've had three sessions with the therapist now, and all I can really say is that if there was any dust between my ears, it is gone. Hard, hard thinking. But good. And of course she has me reading a book. Deep book. I'll come back and share more, after I've figured it all out a bit. For now, I'm just busy thinking hard, and hoping that burns calories.

Speaking of calories, I've done two weeks of First Place and have lost two pounds. That's two more pounds than I've lost in the last year, so hip hip hoorah for that! Amazing how watching what you eat and exercising works. We ordered an ellyptical to exercise in the basement.

And speaking of the ellyptical! DH put it together, down in the basement rec room, so I could use it while he was out of town. He came upstairs and told me it needed to be dragged into the storage room because we are both too tall and when you stand on the ellyptical, our heads would hit the ceiling panels. I explained ever so sweetly that absolutely would not work because I would not be able to watch the 1,000 Tivo'd 'how to sell your house' shows I'd taped, while I exercised, and I can hardly bear to exercise with entertainment. Without - it's not happening. So I explained that we will simply remove the one panel and our little heads will be half in the room, half in the ceiling. It works. Looks a bit strange but it works. Who has adjustment disorder? I'm all about adjusting to the disorder that abounds at our house right now.

So how are you? What have you been up to? (I think guys sit down to a cold one, scratch a bit and say "how's it hanging?" Thank the Lord we weren't born guys.)


  posted at 10:23 PM

Monday, June 16, 2008
Missing In Action
How can you know for sure if you're OCD? If you keep a running list in your head of anything you've ever lost, irregardless of whether it's at all useful or not, or even wanted, and you are constantly on the lookout for those items.....well, put a 'Y' in the little box.

I Can't Stand to lose anything. I can't even stand for others to lose anything. Tell me your keys are missing and I'll hunt high and low. You lost a contact, wait, let me get the flashlight, turn down the lights and we can hunt til we're blue in the face. Your debit card, or cell phone, or anything really important, I'll hunt ALL NIGHT LONG. After you've turned into bed you'll hear me tiptoeing around the house, flipping cushions, opening drawers. When I finally give up and go to bed, I'll toss and turn, trying to come up with places I didn't think to look. I'll been known to make people twitch because I Won't Quit.

Here's what's missing in this house right now:

12 dominoes
part of a deck of cards (we rarely play, doesn't matter)
Cindrella movie, I have the case
Case for Jumanji movie, I have the movie
Selah CD
One Cutco steak knife

Six items, all important stuff I can't live without. Doesn't everyone need their dominoes on a daily basis? I suspect when I find any of the first four, I'll find the other three. They're likely all huddled together in a little corner, or wedged in the crease of the sofa, looking out and laughing at me. If you look for something long enough it starts to take on a personality, with annoying human traits. The CD likely isn't with the others, and that thought makes my head hurt. It doesn't matter at all that I have burned a copy of that CD, I NEED the original one, in it's case, on the shelf where it belongs.

I seriously wondered if the puppy ate the cutco steak knife after I heard a similiar story in dog obedience class, but when he didn't show any signs of internal damage, and it didn't show up in any of the places it could or should have, I resigned myself to the fact it probably got scraped off a plate, right into the trash.

Growing up in a house with six kids born in less than eight years, we were constantly losing stuff. Sunday mornings were spent trying to get us all out the door to church, and invariably one of my brothers had lost a shoe. Considering we each had only one pair, how could he lose a shoe? It used to make me crazy, looking for someone else's shoe, so why on earth do I pursue others' missing items now with a vengeance usually saved for boney hound dogs chasing 'coons up trees? Or my dogs, who can be relentless at butt sniffing when anyone else's dog comes to visit. Yeah, like that, only less icky. Alas, I have 'missing in action' issues.

That empty slot on the knife block taunts me. What if the knife is NOT in some landfill, buried under dirty diapers and banana peels and coffee grounds? What if it's at the bottom of the toy bin, or in a drawer within reach of little hands, or in the piano bench I forgot to check, or shoved down in a sofa cushion too deep for my fingers to find, or out in the yard where someone went digging for worms, or maybe it somehow got stuck under one of the car seats, where we found that rotten hamburger meat several days after we'd purchased it, back in August of 2005.

I have NEVER lost my car keys, or cell phone or debit card, or driver's license, or wallet. I did lose one of my children, once, for a few hours, but we found him safe and sound. After calling the police, after driving up and down the streets of our little town, shouting his name out the window, when I walked in the church, and saw him standing there, oblivious to the fact that I was in a half-crazed state, I grabbed him, hugged his scrawny little body to my chest til he started gasping for air, while I burst into gulping sobs, well - what can I say, he had been LOST.

And if I happen to find all twelve of those dominoes shoved down in the sofa cushion, next to the missing cards, smashed up against the Cinderella movie that's inside the Jumanji case, I'm convinced I'll see that the Cutco knife has been holding them hostage, daring them to shout out. If that happens, I'll feel much better. Then I'll go searching for that Selah CD like nobody's business.


  posted at 9:00 PM

Sunday, June 15, 2008
What's Snot to Love about Blubbery Women
Sometimes I'm really serious, sometimes I think deep and long and hard about things. Like this:

At our second meeting of First Place, I was sitting third from the corner. We went around the room, doing the typical 'share who you are in three sentences or less'. I was very deep. "When you're tall you can get away with eating more Butterfinger candybars than the average gal, but I know the truth. This roll of glob greets me every morning when I sit up in bed. It's been around so long I'm considering giving it a name and buying it Christmas gifts. And by the way, I'm married, three kids, four grandkids, blah, blah, blah." We continued around the room. The woman in the corner started to share, then just stopped. Unable to talk, she began to cry. We, being women, stopped too, while she took a deep breath. She told us her husband had died in a car accident last fall, her daughter was critically injured, and she was there because she needed a group of women. She only shared for a few minutes, in sentences broken by long pauses, but by the time she stopped talking the entire room was crying.

Fifteen women sitting in a circle crying.

The leader began to grab boxes of kleenex that had been tucked into the corners of the room, and started passing them around. After we'd all gotten our wits about us again, I noticed the kleenex, because it would have just been tacky to do so before, but Look At Them! Black and white toile instead of a nice lavender with big ole flowers in varying shades of pink, or teddy bears and ducks, or manly stripes of dark blue and burgundy.

I oohed and aahed over them til the leader told me she found them at Walmart, in a set of three, and of course I asked what the other two looked like. She said they were tolerable, but not quite as cute. The next day, when I went grocery shopping, I checked out Kmart. One box of three, the one toile and the other two passable for the guest rooms. Then to our grocery store, and they also had the packages of three. One had two of the black toile, which was like hitting the lottery jackpot of kleenex, so I threw them in my cart. Then I spied, in the back corner of the shelf, two individual boxes of these black toile kleenex, and oh my, to not have to buy the others, which were only tolerable, but just these, of course they went in, adding to the mountain of kleenex growing in the cart.

The checkout clerk didn't say a word about the fact that I was buying something like 99 boxes of kleenex and most of them matched. If they stop making them, I obviously need a lifetime supply, and I think the clerk understood that, in spite of being a male. Yeah, I'm sure he totally got it.

It would be an understatement to say I'm ready for some serious allergies, or the monsoon of colds with post-nasal drip. Or circles of women sitting around talking about their kids heading off to pre-school or college, or their husband who doesn't quite understand them, or when their child, Tunchie, who was four, fell over the balcony, landed on his head and laid there for awhile and she thought she'd lost him, or why they just can't get rid of this ten pound albatross that has been living around their waist for, oh say, twenty-five years. Yep, I'm set.

I'm not completely heartless. I realize there are bigger things in life than what my kleenex boxes look like. I sent a note of encouragement to the woman who is struggling with her profound loss, telling her I would commit to pray for her this week. And the balcony thing - absolutely happened during a Bible study a few years ago. When I heard that Tunchie made it, and it had happened forty-five years ago, well let me just say I felt such immense relief because the woman sharing was well over sixty and I had been sitting there wondering why on earth she had a child so late in life.

Women - deep, tender-hearted, with a God-given need to share, the light and hard and silly and profound things of our lives. I'm set to have them gather in a circle around my living room, with lovely black and white toile boxes of kleenex tucked into the corners. Women who will cry, forty-five years later about when Tunchie fell and landed on his head. So fling the front door open wide, plump the pillows and put on some coffee - I'm all about that kind of gathering. With the right kleenex tucked into the corners of the room, and maybe even a little less of this waistline hanging around like a rude albatross.

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  posted at 9:47 AM

Saturday, June 14, 2008
Completely Clueless
This gorgeous clematis plant greets me every morning when I retrieve the paper. It's obviously getting just the right amount of sun & shade, because it's gone from a very small twiggy thing, to this, in about four years. My husband gave it to me as a Mother's Day gift.

I am completely clueless what it believes, where it stands on the hot topic items of our society today, and who it would vote for in the upcoming election, if it could. After this past week, I'm content with that, just to enjoy it's beauty, waiting right outside my front door.


  posted at 9:40 AM

Friday, June 13, 2008
What I Believe (THE LAST Part 5)
‘I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting’.

I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe He comes to live inside me when I place my trust in him. I can, and do, grieve him and there are surely times when he’s thinking, ‘Bev, just be quiet’, or ‘don’t say it’, or ‘don’t do it’. And I do anyway. He convicts, he strengthens, he intercedes. I'm confident I don't fully grasp or wonder enough at the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I was raised Catholic for a period of my life. I learned about venial and mortal sins, one bad, the other worse. I’m sure at age six I missed some of the points, but since then I’ve come to understand that sin is sin is sin when it comes to the payment required. (And gracious, after this week, I'm sure not bashing anyone's choice of religion, so please don't give me a comment-beating on this! If you think I'm way off, feel free to tell me so, preferably nicely...) The payment has nothing to do with me, I can’t pay for it with confession (although I am to do that), or lighting candles, or going to church more, or giving more money away, but it can only be covered with the blood of Christ, and it was, once and for all, in my life when I was about 25 years old. That said, Scripture tells us God sees some sins differently than others. It says he detests some, it says some are an abomination to him. He hates pride as much as any, and none of us escapes that one. That alone should keep us all from getting self-righteous.

Some things have to be absolutes. Right is right and wrong is wrong. If we don't have that to stand on, then we're standing on a foundation of shifting sand. How can we raise children today, if we as parents don't know what is right and wrong according to Scripture, and are brave enough to call it so? There is a difference between being 'judgmental' and judging someone's actions and calling them sinful. Jesus himself did not shirk from that. In John 8:7 Jesus told the group of scribes and Pharisees who were ready to stone the woman caught in adultery, jump in and judge her if you're without sin yourself. They all walked away. Then he told her he was not condemning her, and he WAS without sin, he had the right to do so. He ended by telling her to go and 'not sin any more' so he clearly considered her to be sinning, by his choosing not to condemn her and telling her to stop. This has to be the perfect example to us - we don't judge THE PERSON because we are sinful ourselves, but we are still to judge the sin, call it what it is - 'sin', not 'lifestyle', or 'choice', or 'after all, it's her body', or ... , we've come up with a lot of new names for sin, that sound a lot better than what Scripture calls them. The word 'adultery' is rarely uttered anymore, it's been swapped for 'having an affair'.

The entire book of Jonah tells the story of a prophet who was sent by God to call sin sin. To warn the people of Nineveh, so they could repent. When he didn't he ended up being vomited by a whale onto the beach, so he could have another shot at it. It's not that he didn't want to call out on sin, he didn't want the people to have a second chance, because he knew they'd take it and be saved. There are countless stories in the Bible of God sending a prophet to speak gloom and doom over a people because of their sin, to warn them of the consequences of their actions.

We are so molded, affected by the world, the culture all around us. We're told in Scripture to be 'in the world, but not of it'. People magazine’s cover features the latest sans marrige Hollywood couple awaiting the birth of a child, while we hold our breath for a glimpse. We applaud, support, and enjoy those who promote a lifestyle that clearly goes against God’s word. We're not too picky whether children are born before or after the wedding, or if it even ever happens. In Hollywood or our own families.

I myself have been guilty of that one. That was 28 years ago, and I am not the person I was then. Not that I don't blow it daily, but that was pre-Christ Bev. I've since been redeemed and am accountable for standing up for what I believe and living a life in accordance with Scripture as I understand it. And I know full-well I don't understand it all.

This has been an interesting week for me. I've seen subscriptions to this blog drop. I've gotten some tough emails on the side, and some pretty hard questions asked in my comments. I've also gotten lots of cyber-hugs and high fives, and I appreciate them. I respected the sincerity with which some of the questions were asked. Some of you are really searching hard. This series has encouraged me to learn more, to search harder. I hope these past few posts have encouraged you to grab your Bible, and really search out for yourself. What does Scripture say about....? Then go to the Christian bookstore and spend some money on good books that will equip you to understand what and why you believe, and defend your faith when called on to do so. We are called to be a 'communion of saints', to join together as one body, to bring glory and honor to him, and to shout his name from the rooftops of the world, a world who desperately needs him. But we can't shout out or defend what we don't know. At least, we shouldn't.

For another look at what the Bible has to say about homosexuality (which is what started this whole series, so it seems appropriate to address it again here, at the end), GO HERE. You can also go to Focus on the Family's website and type in the search bar, where there are many good articles for you to read. I'm not against a nice, light fiction book, but maybe, just maybe you might take a stab at apologetics, the defending of your faith. Me personally, I want to know that I know that I know. A few good books to dive into:

"The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception, John MacArthur
"The Case for the Real Jesus", Lee Strobel
"More Than a Carpenter", Josh McDowell
"Evidence that Demands a Verdict", Josh McDowell
"Mere Christianity", C. S. Lewis
"The Case for Faith", Lee Strobel
"The Faith, What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters, Chuck Colson
"Know What You Believe", Paul E. Little
"Know Why You Believe", Paul E. Little
"Discipleship Journal" (a good magazine if you'd like to think hard)

Finally, unless The Rapture comes first, I'll die, and someday I'll be raised from that grave, taken up in the air to join him forever. Every graveside service I've attended, that was officiated by our pastor, he reads these words "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel's voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore, encourage one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:16 &17)

I hope you have been encouraged here. Next week, some lighter, and shorter stuff. I'm a bit worn out from all this :-)


  posted at 8:33 AM

Thursday, June 12, 2008
What I Believe (part 4)
‘He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.’

After Jesus overcame death, came out of that tomb, showed himself to the disciples and others which included showing his scars, he hung out on the beach cooking fish, then went back to heaven, where he’d started to begin with. I believe in Heaven, as a real place. Those who have acknowledged their sinfulness and inability to do anything that will cover it, and accepted Christ's payment in full, will go there. I assume it's 'up' since that's the direction he went when he left this earth. We're also told to watch the skies for his return, someday.

This life on earth is easy to cling to, for me anyway. When it’s an unusually wonderful, blue-skies kind of day that I'd like to go on forever, or a day spent riding roller coasters or water slides, or eating corndogs with mustard at a state fair, or sitting on the deck, bundled up in blankets and watching shooting stars move across the night sky, or smelling fresh-cut grass, I start to cling. Then I remind myself that's just silly, considering what waits for those of us who have placed our trust in him. If this earth is so wonderful, heaven will be off the charts.

I believe we’ll all have jobs in heaven*, things to do, and it won’t just be singing praises all the time, although Scripture does say we'll all do some of that. I wonder what my job will be. Hopefully it has nothing to do with administrative duties. Surely there's no paperwork in heaven. Just one Book of Life, and I won't be responsible for keeping it. Maybe I can run a little bookstore, or work in the library, or tend flowerbeds. I'd like it if heaven has a library with no overdue fines.

I can't wait to meet so many who are already there. Ruth - she married Boaz, a family name. Esther - you go girl, a regular Wonder Woman in my book! Job - how did he keep from cursing God, and how did he put up with that wife of his? Noah - talk about faith, building an ark and it had NEVER rained at that point! Can you even imagine that we get to meet Moses, and Daniel. David - what a heart. Peter - I can identify with Peter. Rahab, what a makeover story! Then there's Ruth Bell Graham, and by the time I get there probably Billy too, and Elisabeth Elliott. I'll avoid Oswald Chambers because I think he'd be a bit intimidating to try to have a chat with. Maybe I'll stand back a bit from Paul too - I suspect he's a little deep for me. I wonder if he'll tell us whether he wrote the book of Hebrews or not... I think I'm going to look around, and see all those I loved during my time on this earth, who had placed their trust in him, and we're going to be rejoicing to beat the band, that we're there, that we're together, that we're there forever. I imagine I might meet a few sweet bloggers too :-)

I've seen those photos of the 'wonders of the world', or even the Grand Canyon, or majestic mountains covered with snow, mighty waves rolling in from the ocean, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, rainforests across the world, and nothing, no nothing, no nothing can compare to what we're going to see when we get there. And that's not even taking into account seeing Him. Stop for just a minute and think about it - take it in. To stand there, face to face, and finally see his eyes. Haven't you ever wondered what his eyes look like, what it will be like to look at him and have him look back at you? Awesome.

Elisabeth Elliott believes pets go there. I don’t know about that. I used to love the idea, but I’m not so sure anymore. Maybe dealing with shedding should be confined to this earth. If Heaven is as wonderful as Scripture makes it sound, then I probably won’t miss my cat Miah if she isn’t there. I'll enjoy her now, but hopefully I won't get too clingy. While I won't have to keep that Book of Life, I know my name is written in it with permanent ink, and that gives me a whole different perspective on this life, here and now.

*For a great read on what Heaven is like, taken from Scripture, read "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn. I'll finish up this series tomorrow morning.


  posted at 8:00 AM

Wednesday, June 11, 2008
What I Believe (Part 3)
‘He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead.’

I believe Hell is a real place, and I don’t want to go there. We all have a choice, even that child in Africa who has never heard his name but has seen proof of nature (Habakkuk 3:14), and I don’t understand that either. I believe in, but don’t completely understand predestination. (Romans 8:29) His grace is available to all, some will accept it, some won’t, and that all falls within his will somehow. Yet he desires that none perish (2 Peter 3:9) and trying to grasp that makes my brain feel like it's on fire.

I have a very small understanding of what Hell is like. God is not there, there’s ‘gnashing of teeth’, it’s hot and horrible, and once there you don’t get to change your mind. Hell is not only real, it’s getting fuller by the day, because 'wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13). A segment of our culture believes Hell isn’t a real place, but Christ referred to it repeatedly through scripture. If it doesn't even exist, then was he a liar? And why would it exist if nobody went there?

As much as I hope my deceased brother is in heaven, he never showed any signs he had trusted in Christ. There was no fruit in his life that I could see. God is not a big teddy bear or loving grandfather. He is a God of mercy and grace, but also of justice. In his grace he gives us the choice to accept or reject him. If we don’t ever choose, then we’ve chosen. I'm able to set down the weight, of where my brother is, because not only it is far too heavy to carry for the rest of my life, only God really knows. I don't believe everyone just ends up there. That's what they said at his funeral to comfort us. (He did not have a christian funeral.) Scripture doesn't support that warm, fuzzy idea yet it's uttered in funeral parlors every day.

I believe there is only one way I can guarantee not ending up in Hell, and it has nothing to do with a scorecard of my good and bad days. It's simple - recognizing without him, I'm doomed. Scripture says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). My eternal destination hangs completely on me accepting that Christ paid, in full, the penalty which I deserve. "Jesus answered, "I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6). 'through Me" means Christ paid the price. Nothing else will do. Nothing else is required. Christ alone. Period.

We like to come up with other ways someone can get there, especially when it's too late. "They lived a good life", or "they never hurt anyone", or "they went to church their whole life, or maybe the most frequently uttered - "they did so much good." I heard a teaching, right after I became a christian, on Isaiah 64:6 "All our righteous acts are like filthy rags." The speaker told us the 'filthy rags' referred to were those used by women during their menstrual cycles. So much for thinking good deeds will get us anywhere! There is no heart so unobjective as the one who loves someone. The truth hurts too much to grab onto, so we lie to ourselves, or at least don’t speak the truth. When we start to interpret God’s word so it lines up with our life experiences, keeps our hearts from breaking, or lets us do what we really want to do, live the way we want, we’re in trouble. Eternal trouble.

'The third day he arose again from the dead....' Just as he said he would. He overcame death. No leader, religious or otherwise, has ever overcome death, come back from the grave. I believe he did, just as the Old Testament prophesied he would, just as he said he would, just as scripture says he did. That gives me assurance that he can do everything else he said he could. He not only turned water to wine, healed the lame and blind, today he can still cover sin completely, give us abundant life now, and hope that there is life after death. For today, I'll stop there - at hope.


  posted at 8:00 AM

Tuesday, June 10, 2008
What I Believe (Part 2)
‘Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried’.

I believe Jesus left heaven, came to earth, in the form of a newborn baby, brought forth from the womb of a virgin. I think that’s an important fact or God wouldn’t have bothered to point it out to us. He spent a lot of scripture telling us the story, of Mary's angst and reassuring talk with the angel, her obedience to being used by God, of Joseph's concerns, for the character of this young woman, then her reputation, and another angel visit. Interesting that Jesus started out his life, in a small town, an illegitimate son. If he had been conceived as a result of the union of a human man and woman, then he couldn't have been God. So that's an unmoveable for me. Some have argued that 'virgin' means 'young girl' and it does, but further scripture makes it clear she was a 'young girl' that had 'not known a man', and I think it's pretty clear what Mary was saying there. She'd known men, she just hadn't 'known a man'. What I believe about whether Mary stayed a virgin her entire life or not, did Jesus have siblings that were younger or older than him, while it's a point of contention for some, to me it's not worth arguing over, so I'll keep that to myself. I know some of you will feel differently, and that's quite okay.

I grew up with a little nativity set, covered with moss that we'd pulled out of the trees in Louisiana, and tossed all around the floor, then set cows and sheep down, pointing them all at baby Jesus. I remember our mom would not let us put baby Jesus in there til Christmas morning, and the wise men, they had to wait til January to make their visit, because they weren't there when he was born. That warm fuzzy look of a little barn is nice, but history tells us he was probably born in something that more resembled a cave. It's hard to make a cave charming, even with Louisiana moss, so I'm glad we've clung to that dimly-lit barn tradition, even if it's possibly not accurate.

I believe he was fully God and fully man, always, all the time and I don’t understand that, I just believe it. Because, again, Scripture says so. He didn’t grow into the job of being part of the God-head, as some religions believe. I do sometimes wonder when did he realize who he was, how did he come to know it? Anne Rice touches on this in her book, Christ the Lord Out of Egypt, and it's interesting, as long as you remember it's fiction.. Full of suggestions that make for good questions, in heaven someday...

Scripture tells us he felt every emotion you or I have ever felt. He was tempted. Unlike us he didn’t succumb, not once. I assume that means he was sexually tempted, but he never lusted. I don’t know if he was ever married, as Anne Rice promotes in her two books. If we were supposed to know for sure about that then God would have made it clear. And he didn’t. He told us clearly Paul was not married, and Peter was, and it seems to me if Jesus was he might have mentioned that once or 99 times, and when Jesus was hanging on the cross, spending his last breath to assure his mother was cared for, I think he would have mentioned his to-be-widowed wife too, but he didn't, so I tend to think he wasn't. If Dan Brown (Davinci Code) or Anne Rice (Christ the Lord Out of Egypt and the sequel) is right, (and again they both say they're writing fiction), that Jesus married, then what if he and his wife conceived a child? That would be a whole different ball of wax. I believe we can take a stand sometimes on what is not stated in Scripture, especially if doing so would be a major point of our doctrine. Babies from Jesus and whoever running around would likely be worth mentioning. We have to be careful what we "believe' and what we 'think'.

We're told he got angry and didn't sin. I'm not sure I've ever pulled that one off. Usually I sin, then I get angry, and then I sin again. A cycle I've mastered. My anger / sin cycle usually always involves pride, and I've read that pride is at the root of all sin. So Jesus really did have 'righteous anger'. When he was throwing tables in the temple, he was angry and not sinning. Anytime I've ever thrown anything out of anger, I'm pretty confident sin was in the room. We accept that he was God, but don't we sometimes miss how amazing that is? That he lived his life out on this earth, amongst all us sinners, and he was perfect, without sin. He never once was jealous or envious, never gossiped, never lazy, never overate, never commited a sin by not doing something, he was never selfish, or prideful. I'm capable of sinning when there's nobody even around me, and the minute you put me around other humans there are so many possibilities. Yet he walked amongst us, for 33 years, being misunderstood, mistreated, and was without sin. Wow!

I believe He willingly went to the cross, and died a horrible death, because that’s what was needed to cover even my one teensiest sin, and it did, plus all the others of all mankind who choose to embrace him as the only way to an eternity with God. Past, present and future sins - all covered in that one moment when he died. He experienced all the emotions we do, he felt grief, sorrow, loneliness. He so dreaded the brutality of the cross that he asked God to remove that from him, if possible, and when God didn't, he went, not even defending himself in the process. He did not speak on his own behalf when falsely accused, and how easily I speak up, defending myself, a bit like a pre-loaded porcupine. He died. He was really dead, for three days. Just stop and think of those days, when Jesus was not alive on earth, what that must have felt like. Did even the air feel heavier? How did God feel those three days, sad, or victorious? Or both.

Liberals would likely call me a ‘Conservative’, while Conservatives could label me a ‘Liberal’. I'm somewhere in the middle of it. I attend a conservative, non-denominational church. (And to answer someone's previous question, we welcome gays' attendance, but we would not accept into membership someone who was currently living that lifestyle, just as we would not accept someone who admitted to currently being involved in an extra-marital affair, or co-habitating with someone of the opposite sex, while unmarried. Sinners are welcome at our church, since otherwise the pews would be empty, but membership requires an acknowledgement of sin, need for a savior, repentant heart, then you can join and serve!) There are issues at our church that I don't see eye to eye on, but every church will have that. My husband and I agree on the main doctrines our church holds forth, so that's where we attend, serve and give our money. When it comes to politics, I’m going to vote for whoever I think will defend the morals of our country, over who can fix the economy, or save the environment, or bring our troops home. The one is more important to me than the other because I believe the one to have eternal consequences, and I'm not sure about the other. I don't like today's gas prices, but I doubt they will matter 100 years from now. I don't care if a candidate is male or female or black or white, but their morals will matter to me. I'm not real thrilled with any candidate this year. I will vote for someone, because it's my right, my privilege, my responsibility, and I don't get to complain for the next four years if I don't bother to go to the polls. Like most Americans, I like to complain.

Feel free to disagree with me, on any or all of it. Just don't go sit in a corner mad, and keep it to yourself. Most of us aren't going to meet this side of heaven anyway, and when we're there none of this will matter. So let's talk about it. It's good to know what we believe and why.


  posted at 2:36 PM

Monday, June 09, 2008
What I Believe (Part 1)
Note: This subject is too big to address in one post. I’ll be posting throughout the week, in several parts, to allow room for discussion. Feel free to leave comments, in agreement or even strongly against, with your name, homepage, email, or anonymous. I don't delete comments unless they're inappropriate. Who knows what God can accomplish amongst his people when we share our hearts…

What do I believe? Years ago I chose my life verse as 1 Peter 3:15, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." In spite of sharing here for over two years, I apparently haven't been clear. Shame on me.

The last writing I did touched, albeit accidentally, on what I believe about homosexuality, actually what I think is God’s take on it. My intention was to do a fun little post about my first experience with therapy, mixed in with sweet memories of my first kiss from Danny Bacon. (I recalled his name correctly while planting marigolds this week. He wasn't Tommy after all.) I don’t have a confrontational bone in my body, so if you’d asked me to write on my stand on homosexuality I would have politely declined. But here I am.

I don’t have it all figured out. Some parts of scripture I don’t understand. Some I just don’t like. Some I find myself asking, how does that play out in today’s culture since I don’t think Jesus wants us ‘cutting off our hands’ or taking 'an eye for an eye’? That 'current culture card' seems to be something we play for our own comfort or convenience, or sometimes to keep our hearts from breaking. It’s one thing to say whether I’m for or against war, it’s quite another if my son is over there serving. It’s one thing to say where I stand on abortion, another if I or someone I love has that choice in their past. When we know what we believe, and our world gets rocked by some personal hurt or loss, and we start taking another look and change our stand, our belief, then maybe we've put ointment on a wound we're not sure is ever going to heal otherwise. 'Personal' can change everything because our hearts can only bear so much. But it shouldn't. It should change how we feel, what we wish for, what we pray for, but not what we believe. It doesn't change what scripture actually says, just the way we see, or sometimes, interpret it.

The first time someone told me about submission of women to their husbands, I was a very new christian. The more I learned about it, the less I thought of the idea. When I found out it was Paul, and not Jesus, then I thought I could just go around that one. It took me a few years to learn that 'all scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.' (2 Tim. 3:16), even the parts, written by Paul, that I didn't much like. I'm not really crazy about tithing, or trying to avoid gossiping or envy, and I've even been known to lust now and then, but no free tickets to those either. It's not pick and choose, nor 'interpret' away.

Books have been written on the subject (whether scripture can and should be taken literally in today’s culture), and probably every one of those sticky subjects within – are women still to be silent, can they preach, serve as elders, what about head-coverings, sexual relations during menstrual cycles, (Leviticus 18:22), tithing, marriage, divorce, remarriage, etc. so I won’t be attempting that here. I’m not qualified and don’t have the time or desire anyway, and I don't have all the answers. I didn’t go to a Bible college, I actually didn’t go to any college. But my Bible has gotten beaten up over the years, I’ve sat in a lot of Sunday morning pews under preaching that involved looking at original Greek wording, looked up some Greek words of my own in Bible studies, etc. Not that you'll hear me saying I understand it all, or know it all. Hopefully you won’t hear anyone saying that. Except maybe J. Vernon McGee, he might have been able to claim that. Okay, add Billy Graham, maybe him too. They're about my only two exceptions.

I believe all scripture to be the inspired word of God, written over a vast amount of time, by many authors with many styles. Some scripture was given to guide believers on how to live at that time, to protect their health, or to straighten out problems in the early church such as women squabbling, or how to share wealth when living in a community where some had too little. When Jesus told believers (in Matthew 5:38-42) to 'turn the other cheek' and to 'give their tunic to whoever wanted to sue them, he wasn't referring just specifically to that situation, but rather how to handle being persecuted in general. I don't believe, however, that any immoral act labeled as sin when scripture was written has changed since then, just because it's become tolerable, even vogue, in our society today. I don't see God changing his mind on what is and isn't sin. I'm pretty sure there's a difference between whether or not women need to cover their heads today and whether pre-marital sex is still wrong or suddenly moved to the 'okay with God' list. If what is 'sin' changes enough, then maybe eventually Jesus didn't even need to die?! I don't think so.All that said, I thought this a good place to begin:

‘I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord’…

I believe God is a someone, and he’s a he. There is no evidence in Scripture, anywhere that I know of, that God is a female. Fathers are males. He created everything we see and everything we don’t. His Son was Jesus Christ. Both of them have always been and neither is a feeling as Oprah apparently has decided. Seems to me all that money somehow got to her good ole Baptist roots. I'm convinced she must have a grandmother or great aunt or someone out there shaking their heads, wondering what happened to all those times they took her to church, trying to get her soul saved. Admittedly, I'm not a big Oprah fan, I don't really enjoy talk shows. I realize she's got the #1 talk show in the country, so I know I won't win any points here for slamming her. I'm obviously in the minority. I just happen to think the woman is confused, and doing damage when she opens her mouth to such nonsense that 'God is a feeling'. A little like Rosie, Oprah does a lot of good, but it doesn't cancel out the junk she shares that misleads people, that might lead them to an eternity of being lost. Just maybe.

While we're on the subject of talk show hosts, don't even get me started on Jerry Springer. I even find Regis and Kelly a bit wearing. I do somewhat enjoy David Letterman but he's on too late, so it's more of an enjoying in theory than in reality.

Enough to chew on for a day or so. Again, I'm trying to "do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience. " It's not my intention to attack anyone, or any one group here, but rather to be clear on what I believe, and why. BTW, most of the time I'm still not real crazy about submission. Unfortunately I haven't heard yet that God's changed his stand on it either.I'll be back later with more of 'Bev's take on the Apostle's Creed'. Whether you join me is entirely up to you, but I hope you will.


  posted at 8:00 AM

Sunday, June 08, 2008
Stay Tuned!
Hey everyone, thank you for the stop-by's and good wishes for my birthday, which is going quite lovely. Don has bailed on me for much of the week, so it's lean cuisine for dinner, then pulling on new pjs dropped off by a dear friend, and early to bed with a book. Lots of sweet cards, and calls from kiddos, and that was all a gift in itself. The older I get, the less I need gifts, truly. Life itself is a gift, and I mean that in spite of the fact that it makes me seem 99 years old.

Still, it was okay that DH took me out to a new mexican restaurant for dinner Friday evening, then to see Narnia (which was fabulous, and if you're under 10 you'll love the mice, and if you're over 30 and male, maybe not so much), then he let me hit the sales rack at Chico's and what woman doesn't love being a size 2 and 5'10" at the same time?! (They only go up to size 3, which is a 14-16, size 2 is a 10-12). So it's been a dandy birthday all around. The alternative, of not having them anymore, not so good, so I'll go with growing older.

In regards to my last post which started a wildfire, I'll have my FIRST OF FIVE posts for the week, out tomorrow morning bright and early. I'm doing a take on The Apostle's Creed, which I still love reciting in church now and then. So I'm closing comments to my last post, and moving on. But I'll be interested to see what you all have to say, once these posts begin to come out. I didn't hold back, and reading the comment of my daughter, Sarah, 'In the Midst of It', I'm glad I didn't. I love that girl of mine is sassy in all the right ways, and every dime we sent to that college of hers was money well spent. A solid foundation she has for sure.

I stood up, spoke the truth. Don't know whether you'll enjoy it or not, but I spoke it, loud and clear! Talk to you all tomorrow. xoxo


  posted at 7:05 PM

Friday, June 06, 2008
Rosie O'Donnell & Me
We watch Gray's Anatomy, or at least we did. I don't know about next year. Really, Meredith and McDreamy are never going to get together, until the final year right before the show goes off the air, and I can jump back on the bandwagon then. We're switching to The Office this fall because not only is Michael a complete hoot, I've read that sitcoms are good for your health!

In Gray's Anatomy, Meredith has begun counseling. She started right before I did, although that's not completely true, she began it four shows before this season's finale, but we're a bit behind at our house. Knowing I had my own appointment on the couch, I was curious what happened behind that door. Meredith's therapist has thin lips and should have worn more moisturizer when she was a younger lass, her look is a bit hard, and she sometimes downright badgers Meredith into answers, with both of them screaming at each other! Since I've worked at a counseling office and never heard much screaming there, I trusted it was screenwriting to get ratings, rather than based on real life stuff. So I kept the appointment.

I walked down the stairs, and saw Joann through the open door, an attractive woman about my age, dressed professionally enough to make me think she knows what she's doing, and casual enough to set me at ease. No thin lips or pinched look. She didn't look like a screamer. The office had a few seating choices, gathered around each other in a circle. She told me to take my pick. It seemed hoggish to grab the blue velvety settee, but next time I might - it looked the most comfy with room to curl your legs up under you.

She's a professional listener, the really great kind, the kind that listens, never, ever interrupts, and feeds back to you what you're saying, with pointed questions as needed. I could go to counseling just to learn to listen like she does!

Being there did not feel awkward at all, like first-time things have a tendency to do. I'm thinking back to my first kiss by Tommy Bacon, who had freckles, a flat-top haircut, and lived on the corner, my first dance at a slumber party held in my girlfriend's basement and we'd snuck in boys. Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline" played while we shuffled around, and I wore a pink, one-piece, slinky pajama get-up. I got grounded six months for that little outing.

At the end of our session together I told her that I'd seen Rosie O'Donnell years ago, and decided we had one thing in common, in spite of the fact that I cannot stand her, and that goes back before she became completely obnoxious and popped out of the closet. Rosie said, 'with me the cycle stops.' She was referring to whatever unhealthy cycles had been in her family line for years and years. I don't remember the specifics of what she was referring to. I just knew it would become a mantra for me. The cycle of failed marriages, kids who didn't go to college, substance abuses, low self-esteem, having too many days left after the paycheck was long used up, family who lived too far apart and struggled to keep connected, those cycles. My family tree could have worse cycles that affected me. I'm thankful for the nurturing while I was growing up that gave me the wherewithall to hope for something better in my own life. That doesn't happen by accident, but rather by God's grace and at least a few people watching out for you.

I told Joann I thought it funny Rosie decided 'the cycle stops here' with her, then came out of the closet, 'married' a partner of the same sex, and began to raise children with them. It seemed a strange way to stop a cycle. Rosie and I don't have a lot in common but we do share that one driving desire.

Maybe, just maybe, we all have something in common with those we think are the least like us?

She laughed, we laughed. It was a good way to end the first time together.


  posted at 8:20 AM

Thursday, June 05, 2008
Ladies We Have a Diagnosis!
'309.28, Adjustment Disorder' - She told me that was the diagnosis after I filled out four pages of questions and we spent an hour chatting.

Adjustment: to change so as to fit, conform, make suitable, etc.; to settle or arrange rightly; to resolve or bring into accord; to adjust oneself to new conditions; to decide how much is to be paid in settling a claim or loss.

Disorder: a lack of order, confusion, jumble; an upset of normal function; to throw into disorder; to upset the normal functions of health.

There you go. In fairness, she did tell me this diagnosis sails through on insurance claims, and covers a multitude of sins.

I drove home from my first appointment, my brain a bit like the suitcases I lug along on vacation - stuffed to the max plus some, zippers bulging!

I found myself thinking about that diagnosis, and couldn't that apply to most of us? How hard life is, how often we suffer wounds at our own hands or others' and how tough it is to adjust to life as it shifts all around us. The confusion it leaves, our lives anything but 'normal'. Adjustment disorder - when you bring that first baby home, or when they get on the bus to go to that first day of kindergarten; or when they climb in the car to drive away to college; or someone moves far away, or leaves to go serve our country for a year or more, or that marriage doesn't hold up, or there is an unexpected death, or friendships die, or maybe spouses or, or, or... Who the heck makes it through this life really 'well-adjusted' anyway? Isn't that a diagnosis most of us could wear at some point in our journey here on earth?

She asked me, in the next seven days before we meet again, to think about some family relationships and, if it were up to me, what they would be like, look like, feel like? She asked questions that were hard enough I couldn't give an answer. I'm not used to thinking that deeply, not used to skipping past the quick answer for what really lies down there, buried and dusty because I've been going for the quick answers so long.

She talked about putting up calloused walls, a pattern that has developed over years because it's worked well for me. She talked about wounds that have scabs. The scab is just a temporary fix. That's why scabs are ugly. When that underlying wound is truly healed we hopefully end up with a new growth of skin, and maybe a scar or two to show we've been through a battle.

She asked, several times, 'how did that make you feel?' and I didn't know. Not only did I not have an answer, it made me stop and think how seldom we ask each other that. When someone has a problem, or hurt, or issue, we don't really listen much at all, and then we try to fix it with pat answers, and what on earth would happen if we just stopped and asked, 'how did that make you feel?' and then we were really radical and waited for their answer, which was neither right or wrong but just was.

She started with each of us praying, and she ended the same. Trusting that God was there amongst us, that it's only His Holy Spirit that is capable of mending our hurt places, of giving us wisdom, of changing us, for we surely can't change ourselves.

309.28 - now we know what we're working with, and it's been covered in prayer. A great start.


  posted at 8:00 AM

Wednesday, June 04, 2008
The City is a bit too sexy for me
I drove to the local mall, met nine other women to have lunch at Panera's and take in a movie that's the talk of the town right now. When the email came out last week, suggesting we 'celebrate the end of the school year' with this get-together, I'd heard of the movie, but emailed that I'd never taken in a single show. We don't get HBO. I have issues with HBO, and being a bit expensive isn't one of them. Several other women were in my boat, but we agreed to make it a date. It was suggested we dress up, in keeping with this movie's theme - which I thought was mostly girlfriends, shoes, lunches out, etc. Some of us dressed to the nines, some wore jogging suits and ballcaps and everything in between. We bought our tickets and marched in.

One woman in our group, the oldest at close to age 70, told us right before the previews began that she'd never seen an 'R' rated movie, on purpose. One asked if it got too bad, would any of us be willing to walk out. Several of us said 'yes', we'd be right behind her.

So, in review - the movie started by fitting in the big 'F' word within 30 seconds, to secure the rating. I thought, 'okay, well that happens - moving on.' As I got to know the characters (and a good number of our group had never seen the show) I realized one was a bit enthusiastic about 'doing the tango' with the opposite sex, and the sharing of her escapades was TMI. I think they could have left out a scene or two, gave us an idea where it was going, but left something to the imagination. They obviously disagreed.

Call me naive. I did not know semi-full frontal male nudity was 'R'. I'm pretty sure what we saw used to be 'X'. It came in snippets, and I confess I never saw it lasting long enough to head to the door, but as I looked around our group, there were eyes averted. One pulled her hat down over her eyes. I would have been embarrassed to watch it with my kids, or my mother.

Should I have walked out? I don't know. I enjoyed sitting at lunch, looking around at the faces of the women in our group, seeing the bonds that have grown over the years. Two have husbands out of work, one is moving very far away, one has a young son in the Army, one is in an empty marriage, one has cruel parents who continually inflict hurt on her. Women who care about each other, share the ups and downs of their lives, friendship. I enjoyed that. A year from now, when I move away, I will leave that behind. There will certainly be friends where I'm going, but friendships like this take time. So I sat and savored that a bit.

I think the underlying theme of the movie was what I was savoring. In real life, as opposed to on the screen, these women I have called dear friends for more than a decade rarely talk about our intimate lives, and even then it's with a bit of humor or complaint. What could have been a really good movie, about how our lives weave in and out of each other, how we're there to support each other, tell each other the truth when we need it, and listen to us lie to ourselves when that's all we can bear - the movie could have stopped there. I gleaned the good stuff out of the 2 1/2 hours we sat through, but looking back, I think I have to say - skip the movie, go out for coffee with one or nine of your girlfriends and call it good.


  posted at 8:36 AM

Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Open Hands
After a good five years of owning what might have been the oldest pop-up camper, we bought this little gem. We named him Cub Sweetheart, after a little blue velvet crown worn by DH back in his high school days. Well, one of us named him that. For two summers we pulled him behind us, here and there, to the beautiful wooded campgrounds of Pennsylvania. Nights spent seeing the dancing of fireflies through the windows, and hearing crickets and such calling out "Goodnight John Boy". Smelling the campfires and hearing the chatter of little people gathered around, surely roasting marshmallows. Bike rides through the parks, or fishing at the ponds, picnics along the way, curling up at night with a barrel of popcorn and a movie, when sometimes the rain came down so hard on the roof we couldn't even hear the movie, and that was wonderfulness too.

But it's a time of changes. This time next year we hope to be settling in Texas, 1200 miles from here. Since the moving menagerie already includes two dogs, one cat, houseplants and all the other stuff the movers will tell us can't go in the van, or shouldn't go in the van, we decided to lighten our load and not pull this behind us. Sell it now, when camping season is beginning, hoping it would go to a family who would spend a lot of nights in the woods, curled up inside.

One week on Craig's list and it's gone. Six inquiries, some from Ohio and even New York State. Craig's list works! So no more camping trips in our near future, and we're a little sad about that. But I told DH if we can't say goodbye to the camper, then how do we even begin to leave our home, our church family, our friends, his job, and last - and the biggest hurdle - our daughter and her family? The camper is likely the easiest. It's also the first in sure steps toward our next leg of life.

Open hands - empty hands - ready to hold the next thing God has in store for us. Not hands that are white knuckled with gripping what we have in them now. Open hands, one step at a time.


  posted at 7:40 AM

Monday, June 02, 2008
Symphony of Friendship
The last tickets to the symphony this season, sitting there on the counter so we wouldn't drive off without them. My outfit hanging on the outside of the closet, ready to pull on. Then the phone rang.

When I saw it said 'Colorado' I almost didn't answer it because I was flying out of the house to show the camper to someone, and was running a bit late. I thought it was either a sales pitch or one of my brothers and I just didn't have time right that minute for either, but something in me decided to grab the phone.



"It's Wayne."

At first I thought he'd said 'Dwain' (my brother) but then realized it didn't sound quite right. Then I immediately began doing mental callestintics, did I even know a Wayne?

He heard the pause in my voice, then said 'Wayne and Betty'.

Don's best friend since kindergarten, and that's getting to be awhile - his eighty year old, widowed mother and her widower friend. Okay at least I know who it is. No idea on earth why they are calling, they've never called before.

'Hi Wayne.............."

"Hi, we're in Washington and thought we'd stop by."

"Washington DC?" (Hours away from us...)

'No, Washington, off I-70, I think we're just south of you."

"Why Wayne, yes you are just south of us, very close actually (and I'm proud to say I think I sounded completely normal here in spite of the fact that I was hyperventilating.) You're just TEN MINUTES from us."

So we chat for a minute and I realize they really are just down the road, and will be here, at our house, very shortly. In the meantime I'm running out of the house, jumping into our car, charging up the hill past our neighborhood. About six houses up, I realize I'm still talking on the house phone and we're going to lose reception any ole minute. So I told Wayne that I had oh so calmly, because I'm not the least bit flustered that they are going to be at my house in nothing flat, but I've taken the land phone and we're going to lose reception, so could you please take a potty stop and maybe get a coke, and sit right there and I'll phone you right back after I run out and show the camper to this nice couple, praying they don't ask me anything technical about it. Wayne said, sure, no problem. We'll just wait here.

Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh......!!!!!

I phone my husband and tell him in the nicest, most submissive way possible to get his hiney home because his best friend from kindergarten's mother and her friend are about to be at our house to be entertained and I have no idea what on earth to talk to them about to keep them happy for an hour and a half til he normally gets home, because I barely know them, so come home please, ASAP!

I show the camper, call Wayne and Betty back, they are now five minutes from my house waiting for final directions. I run home, lock up all the dogs, fly through the house, check the bedrooms, the potty and clear off the kitchen counter, and sure enough they pull in the driveway. They'd apparently been on a month long road trip and we were the second to last stop, and much like my own father would do, even though they'd considered coming to see us THREE WEEKS AGO at the beginning of this trip, it didn't really occur to them to call us say a day or two ahead. I really think if they had been able to find the way to our house, they would have just pulled in.

So we adjusted. The weekend plans had obviously shifted, I quietly threw the symphony tickets in the trash when they weren't looking, poured some iced tea, sat down and asked them about their trip.

No food in the house to really speak of, so we took them to Bob Evans, picked up a pie on the way out, came home and visited with them til late in the night, then got them situated in the yellow room. They slept 9 1/2 hours, and at 76 and 80 years old if I'd been on the road for three weeks straight I might not have gotten up at all. When they came down the next morning I'd managed to whip up some chocolate chip pancakes and thank the Lord there was a canteloupe in the fruit drawer, fresh coffee and a smile. We sat and lingered over breakfast, watching the 'red birds' as they call them, come to the feeder off the deck.

They pulled out mid-afternoon, ready for the next stop that they hadn't called ahead for. I imagine that niece heard from them about ten to fifteen minutes before they hit the edge of St. Louis and I hope she, too, was able to just close her calendar and enjoy an impromptu visit.

The house wasn't perfect, I didn't cook much of anything, but the sheets were clean, the pillows were plump, I know they got a good night's sleep, and when they drove off and she gave me a big bearhug, it held more music than any night at the symphony ever could. I don't expect they will ever be at our home again, but they'll go home and tell Don's best friend that they enjoyed being with us, and years from now they won't remember the strawberry pie, with mounds of whipped cream, nor the semi-dirty kitchen floor. They'll just remember they felt welcome, and were rested the next morning when they pulled out.

If you're, like me, stretched to entertain, I've been mightly encouraged by this woman's blog, 4 Reluctant Entertainers, that it's not about the house or the table or even the food - it's always, always about the symphony of friendship.

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  posted at 7:58 AM

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