Thursday, September 30, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to the kitchen

We live in a rather unusual multi-leveled home, when we moved into our house three and a half years ago we had no idea how many oddities we would discover over the years.

Last year we remodeled the hideous pink and gray bathroom. The counter top was not a standard size, the floor tiles were adhered with some sort of super-concrete mixture that wouldn't come up and when it came time to install the surround for our new tub we discovered that the walls in the bathroom were not square.  I am very pleased with the end result, but the bathroom project was a nightmare. Nothing went as we thought it should. I should have known that the project for this fall would not go as planned either.

Our refrigerator is perhaps living it's last productive days. My husband, Galen, and I have talked about what we would like to have for a fridge and decided on a french-door, freezer on the bottom model with water and ice in the door. We have learned our lesson on prior projects so we measured and remeasured the size of the current hole for the existing refrigerator. True to the rest of our house the existing space is about 2 inches smaller than the majority of family-sized refrigeration units on the market.

Being the trooper he is, Galen said, "Pick the fridge you want and we'll make it work". Music to my ears. We looked and looked and found the perfect fridge, got all it's measurements and went back to the kitchen. My husband and father-in-law determined they could cut out part of the (non supporting) wall and trim 1/2" off the bottom of the cabinet to allow space to easily accommodate the normal-sized refrigerator. A couple hours with a saws-all and a little drywall and they have it ready to go. Unfortunately someone, who will remain nameless, wanders in and innocently asks , "Why didn't you cut the cabinet", "We don't need to cut the cabinet because we have the 69 1/2 inches we need." "Um, boys, you need 69 3/4" not 69 1/2!"  It was written down, really it was, right in front of them on the counter! Regardless of the measuring snafu they decided to pick up the fridge anyway to see if it fit. That is when the fun really began.

I can only say that I am really very thankful that I was not home to witness this 3 hour saga to get the refrigerator into the house. Nobody ever thought to measure the entryways. I did get a play-by-play via text message from my 16 year-old daughter who was the only witness to the action.  While still in the box the fridge was a full three inches wider than the door. They boys removed the packaging and still couldn't get it through. Daughter gleefully reports, "They are going to remove the handles!"
"Good idea", I reply.
"It says AVOID REMOVING HANDLES right on them"!
"I don't think I want to know anymore!"
"Okay, but you are going to have to come in the back door when you get home".
Ugh. Double ugh. I was able to get through the front door when I got home. I had to trudge through what looked like a major explosion of packing material, but the refrigerator was inside the house. Bless his heart, Galen smashed his finger and got  the handle of the freezer scratched up, but the refrigerator is in the house! Today, the girls were checking out the new fridge and noticed that it says very clearly on the front door of the fridge that if the unit won't fit through the door do not remove the handles but remove both doors entirely. They chuckled about men never reading the directions-- I can't imagine where they would have heard that before! (Gulp!)

We still have to address the little measuring issue that occurred earlier to get the fridge to fit, but we are moving in the right direction. Hopefully by the end of the weekend the fridge will be where it belongs.  I am thankful I missed most of the drama, I got home in time to clean up the mess and kiss the wounded finger.

Things in life just don't always go the way we plan them. Some bumps in the road are so painful it takes years to recover our footing. Some bumps you just have to laugh at because it just isn't worth making a fuss over. Life is too short. God is with us for the big bumps and the little ones. I am thankful that when the going gets rough he will be there, day or night- even if the fuss is only over getting the new refrigerator in the house!
I would imagine there will be more surprises to come for whatever project awaits us in the future. God already knows what those troubles will be and is patiently waiting for us to come to Him when the time comes.

In His Peace -

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Balance Beam

Are you living full-on for God or are you taking the safe route?

This interesting, thought provoking video message is from Francis Chan, a pastor in California. As I watched I wished the video clip was longer. Enjoy.

How are you living your life?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

In His Peace -

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How is Your Sense of Direction?

How is your sense of direction? My husband, Galen, has a great sense of direction and never gets lost. He has an almost uncanny knack of memory when it comes to places and direction. He tries to direct me by landmarks, which is helpful, but I need street names, too. I often get lost by over-thinking the directions that I have been given rather than trusting the person who told me. 

My husband and I have totally different skill sets when it comes to driving places, too. If we were to set off from the same place with the same destination it would be very likely that we would not get there the same way. It is sometimes comical, but more frequently a bone of contention between us if we are riding together. We'll be cruising along and I will be expecting him to turn and he doesn't. This raises my level of concern, certain that he is confused about our destination - I blurt out, "Where are you going?” Of course, he knows where we are going; he just isn't going the way I would go. I try not to ask, but if time is an issue I really feel like I must make sure we are going where we I think we are, much though I know it annoys him.

Do you suppose God feels that way about us sometimes? When we veer from the path He has planned for us can you just imagine him smacking his palm to his forehead saying, "Child, WHERE are you going? That is not the path I created for you to walk on!" Our feet are placed upon the wrong trail by the choices we make. Often we pray without waiting for an answer or willfully make a decision without seeking guidance. Then we turn around and complain when we end up broken and miserable in the mess we have created through our  disobedience.  Have you ever chosen a path you thought was the right one that ended up being a huge mistake? I certainly have. Hopefully we learn from those and come back stronger and wiser than before. Some decisions are just so hard to make. Which way do I go, Lord? What are you asking of me? PLEASE make it clearer to me! Are giant neon signs too much to ask? Wouldn't it be nice if every once in a while God gave you one of these:

No mistaking that sign at all. Looking back at my own life I can think of several occasions where a sign such as this would have been extremely helpful! Thankfully, God didn't leave us alone here to wonder what we are supposed to be doing with our lives. He provided us with a fully loaded instruction manual, the Bible. God also provided us with wise council in the Holy Spirit. We just have to quiet ourselves enough to listen to that small voice inside guiding us. When we fill our every moment with noise it is impossible to hear what the Spirit is saying. "Be still, and know that I am God". (Psalm 46:10)

God is with you at every turn. When you step the wrong way, He is waiting patiently for you with open arms. Don't think the mistakes or the poor choices you have made are too big for your God to forgive. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

For the big choices you need to make, make the time to spend communicating with your Creator, listen to your Counselor and read the provided manual. Save those minor directional problems for your friends, Tom-Tom and Garmin. Or, if you are lucky to be married to a directional genius like me, just pipe down and let him drive! I guarantee he will appreciate your efforts! : )

In His Peace -

Friday, September 17, 2010

Being "Openhanded"

There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. (Deuteronomy 15:11)

Last week, Amanda Jones, who is the daughter of the much loved Bible teacher, Beth Moore, wrote a blog that rocked my world. Amanda, who is also the wife of Pastor Curtis Jones and a young mother of two, spent five days in Guatemala on a mission trip with Compassion International. Amanda wrote about her experiences through this highly impoverished area while she was in country and moved me to tears with every entry. I believe that God worked in mighty ways in and through Amanda on this trip.

I don't know about you, but when I read statistics I tend to think, "Wow, how awful" and move on. Those are merely numbers and very difficult to translate into human reality.  Amanda, through her beautiful, heartfelt writing, along with those of other Compassion bloggers really brought the human factor to life for me. The statistics on childhood hunger are truly staggering: "In 2008, nearly 9 million children died before they reached their fifth birthday. One third of these deaths are due directly or indirectly to hunger and malnutrition. The current global economic recession has pushed between 100-150 million people into poverty".( One hundred fifty MILLION?

We live in the most prosperous country in the world and there are almost 17 million children in our own country that come from families who are struggling to put food on the table.  That is one of every 4 children! If you have a child in school imagine his or her classroom of 28 kids. Using these statistics, seven kids of your child's class could be going to bed hungry. Can you look into those little faces you know and do nothing? We have the power and ability to facilitate change both here at home and across the globe.

What can you do? The options are almost endless. You can purchases a couple of extra non-perishable food items each week and deliver them to the local food pantry or homeless shelter once a month. You could start or help keep stocked a food pantry at your church. Our community food bank has a backpack program where people can go to the food bank and pack bags of healthy food for kids to take home from school each Friday. Without these small bag some kids would go without food at all. Heartbreaking, but a harsh reality for more kids than we are comfortable imagining.Volunteering to help ready these packs is a simple way to help feed the kids in our community. I would imagine there are similar projects in your community. If there isn't, maybe you are the one to light a fire and get one started.

There are two wonderful programs that provide food, clothing, shelter and Christian education to children all over the world. World Vision and Compassion International  are two well-established, legitimate organizations that provide services in many countries. They offer sponsorships in which you can specify the location, gender, age and even birth date of your sponsor child. Typically sponsorship is about $40 a month. If you sacrifice one meal out a month a child can receive Christ-centered education and food for an entire month. You could literally save a life. The delightful addition with these two programs is you have the ability to communicate via regular mail with your sponsor child(ren).

God did not request or suggest in an offhand manner that we give to others, he commanded. Prayerfully consider how you and your family can make a difference in the lives of others.

I encourage you to read the blogs of the folks that went to Guatemala. Compassion has a site with excerpts from many of their mission trip attendees here. Amanda Jones posted on her own blog, Baby Bangs, be sure to back track and read all her entries from her trip. I believe you will step away from the computer with a whole new perspective.

I pray that God moves you to act. I pray that in your action you then will strive to move others to help those in need as well. Even a small pebble can make a large ripple. Do this so we may all someday hear,
"Well done, good and faithful servant"

In His Peace -

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Music Therapy

This morning as I was delivering my children to their respective schools, the folks at KLOVE were asking listeners to phone in and tell the hosts what they used, be it a word, phrase or action to reset them when they were feeling out of sorts. As you can imagine there was a vast variety of responses.

I started thinking about times when my heart was troubled,  or the days where I felt like where I was walking was so far from where I should be that everything felt off kilter. You know those days when you feel like you got up on the wrong side of the bed or when the hormones are stacked against you? How do you move from being cranky and me-centered to being at peace and more God-centered? Some days it is just easier said than done, but with effort and prayer can be accomplished.

For me, music is amazingly therapeutic. I have a few go-to songs when I just need a few minutes to fully immerse myself in the glory, majesty and abundant love of God. Sometime this gal needs to practically bathe in it to have the ability to reset myself and act like a human being. It is best to have the music up very loud so I can sing along and still not hear myself. You have no idea how much I am looking forward to my eternal voice- the one that is worthy of singing along with the angels in heaven! I am going to sing my fool heart out and nary another saved soul will have to cringe or plug their ears! Glory! This makes me happy just thinking about it. So happy I would like to insert a big old smiley face here and I would if I knew how, but I can only produce a goofy sideways one, so that is what you get....  : ) 

Music trips my happy trigger in a big way and I love how Christian praise music just fills me up. This is not a replacement for spending time reading the Bible or time in reflection and prayer, but a quick way to refocus on what is most important in my life. 

"They ministered with music".... 1 Chronicles 6:32. Music certainly ministers to me.

How about you? 

What helps you recenter on an off kilter day?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What is Required?

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8 NIV)

Have you ever applied for college or for a job? Wait, let's broaden that a little. Have you ever had to fill out a myriad of paperwork (school, doctor, dentist, housing, assistance, etc.)? Forms that require you to dig deep into your memory bank or into the bottom of your purse trying to correctly fill in all the blanks. Long, detail oriented forms that require you to fill out information about yourself or a family member in minute detail. Do you have a good picture of what I am imagining?

Depending on the circumstance, the information required to fill out these forms can be daunting. Every piece of paper on the clipboard requiring more and more from you in order for you to obtain the services you seek.

Does the Lord require pages of detailed information from you whenever you need Him?  Absolutely not! You not only get to avoid paperwork, but also long lines, germ-filled waiting rooms and unfriendly clerks! You have the ability to go right to the One you desire without delay!

What does he require from you in return? Not much, really. We are simply required to believe in Him. We are to love the Lord with all our heart, mind and strength. Most of us are familiar with the verses containing Jesus' teaching in the New Testament, but there is another nugget of wisdom from the Old Testament in the book of Micah.  We are to act justly, which means in an honest and fair manner. He also asks us to love mercy. Mercy being an act of kindness, showing compassion or simply being a blessing to someone. Finally God asks us to walk with humbly with him, being courteous and respectful and not arrogant or proud.

Wouldn't the world be a much different place if we all followed the simple steps outlined in Micah 6? I am thankful that He loves me regardless of how stumbling my walk with Him may be. I challenge you to keep this verse in the forefront of you mind this week as you go about your days. Let me know if it changes your interactions with the world. How brightly can we shine the light of Jesus this week?

In His Peace -

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Giving Gifts

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him
(Matthew 7:11) 

Some people are great gift givers. Others really struggle to find just the right thing. Then there are those who just pick something without much regard for the recipient. I have a friend who is a great gift giver. She has such a heart for others and is always paying attention to what the people around her need and enjoy. I am always delighted by the gifts I receive from her and awed by her ability to select just the perfect thing for me. Gift giving is not one of the areas in which I excel. I believe some people are just gifted in gifting. I try hard, but it is certainly not something that comes naturally to me. I do enjoy the "ah-ha!" moment when I find something I feel will be enjoyed by someone I love.

Tying into the last blog about gratitude -have you realized how much God has given you? Have you thought about that this week? Have you tried to have an attitude of gratitude? We humans are flawed and sinful and we are capable, with thought and effort, of providing wonderful gifts. How much more amazing are the gifts of one who is holy and perfect?

When I was growing up we had a large weeping willow tree. The willow tree was one of my favorite places to hang out. It had a large low, horizontal branch that I could climb up and sit upon and the weeping branches were low enough to reach the ground. I could sit up in that tree and read or play and no one even knew I was up there. It was like a secret hideaway.

As an adult, I have always desired to have a weeping willow tree of my own. We have never managed to purchase and plant one. My father-in-law, whom I love dearly, is not a fan of the weeping willow tree so my husband has not been motivated to get one for our property out of respect for his father. Last fall we bought two new trees, an oak and a birch tree. When we purchased the trees they each came with a bag of mulch. My dear husband planted the trees and mulched them as needed. This spring after the mounds of snow melted we went out to check on our new trees and were delighted to see both survived the winter no worse for wear. I found in the mulch of the oak tree what I thought was a weed. When I pulled it up I realized it was not a weed, but a small willow tree!

The mulch that came with the two new trees must have contained chippings from a willow tree. There was enough of a twig remaining from a willow that it grew roots and leaves and was trying to grow just laying there on the ground. I showed it to my husband and we decided that if that little twig survived after being through the chipper and buried under snow all winter, we ought to plant it and give it a chance to grow.

Our little tree has grown in leaps and bounds this summer. I put it into a pot after we pulled it out of the mulch and next year we will plant it in the ground. I am delighted to have a willow tree of my own. God knew what I wanted and provided it in a surprising fashion. It will be a reminder of a gracious God who gives good gifts -- even when we don't ask Him for them.

Has God ever surprised you with a gift?

In His Peace-

Thursday, September 2, 2010


"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. ( Paul from Philippians 4:11-12)

Paul had experienced many uncomfortable situations during his ministry, yet he remained content regardless of where he was or how he felt physically. When Paul and his companion, Silas, were stripped, beaten and thrown in prison for preaching the Gospel, they could have just laid there in defeat and grumbled over their harsh treatment and painful wounds. However, Paul and Silas, brutally beaten and locked in prison chains, opted to sing hymns and pray instead (See Acts 16). I can guarantee you they didn't feel like it, but they chose an attitude of gratitude.

Do you tend to grumble about life or are you grateful and content? For most of us that answer would depend on how are day is going, how much sleep we got and our current hormone level! The Bible tells us that we should give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18) not just the ones that are pleasant for us. (Anyone else besides me feeling convicted by that statement?) Look around as see what you have and thank God for it. Thank Him for loving you, for creating you and caring for you.Your daily circumstances may change but HE does not.

In the verses above from Philippians, Paul said he had the secret of being content. Do you know what his secret was? Jesus. "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Phil 4:13) You know what the secret is, you just need to tap into the source. He is waiting for you every hour of every day. 

Practice your attitude of gratitude. What are you grateful for today?

In His Peace -