4/6/17

Just a House

Today I signed my name and said goodbye to an important part of my history. My boyfriend of 50 years kissed me at the front door, but the porch light didn't flash and a little sister didn't jump out of the bushes. There were only a few roses in the flower beds and no potted fern on the porch.



Buying this house and land was a huge step for my frugal parents. All our meals were home grown and my mom told me in later years that they were afraid of not being able to pay the loan.  They loved that old rock house with its red rock, fossils and petrified wood. The original owner told us that she had prayed for an oil well so she could have a new house. When the oil started to flow, she gathered rocks from her travels around the world and built her dream home. Her favorite and most precious rocks are in the porch and fireplace. 


They have been gone ten years. Renters have come and gone. Colors and carpets and lights have all been changed. I wasn't going to be sentimental. I was not. But one day I was there alone cleaning when the house started coming to life. I heard the laughter of preachers, visiting evangelists, relatives, and neighbors around the dining table. The sweet notes and the off notes from the piano practises were there. I remembered the entire summers of filling the freezers with black-eyed peas, corn, green beans, peaches, and apricots. I heard my sister crying as she sat on the low rock wall because she missed the old house we had moved from. The grandchildren sat on a blanket spread on the floor and were served like royalty by their doting grandmother. Oh, the memories.


Today an excited young couple and their four year old cowboy move in. It is their first home. To them it's not just a house, but  hopes and dreams and love. I wish them green grass and flowers and music and laughter. I wish them peacocks and chickens and colored eggs . I wish them fine horses and fat cattle. I wish them the very, very best and a long happy life. 

"Peace and prosperity to you, your house, and everything you own." (1 Samuel 25:6 NLT)


4/5/17

This is Love


It all started when our missions minded full of love daughter had a layover in Amsterdam, on her return trip from Uganda. She brought me a bag of tulip bulbs from the airport gift shop.  One wondering glance at that bag of bulbs and the huge empty flower beds turned into the hubby ordering more tulip bulbs along with a few daffodils. 200 more bulbs. The back breaking bulb planting day was the day the Christmas lights came down. Then on the official first day of spring the flower beds were full of blooms.


















"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but delights in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)


And love is tulips. And love is daffodils. 

So, if you pass by my house today, enjoy the love.

1/26/17

Merging and Purging at the Poor Farm


We've been back in Texas for a year trying to merge kitchens, closets, medicine cabinets, garages, and offices from a house in Texas, two houses in North Dakota, a creekside cabin, and an RV. Without a doubt, we have too much stuff

We played a game with coffee mugs. Which is your favorite? Put it in the coffee cup cupboard. Cupboard. That's a nice word I learned to use up north. Which is your least favorite? Put it in the thrift store box. How in the world did we get so many?


When I got to the kitchen drawers that wouldn't open without sticking my hand inside to rearrange, I just dumped them. What I found was shocking: Shocking.

138 toothpicks, 
114 bamboo skewers, 
36 corn holders,
17 bottle stoppers, 
13 metal skewers,
7 lid grippers,
5 bar-b-q lighters,
4 pair of kitchen shears,
4 temperature guages,
4 rubber spatulas,
3 can openers,
3 jalapeno seeders,
3 biscuit cutters,
2 melon scoops,
2 bar-b-q brushes,
2 pizza cutters,
2 garlic presses,
2 pair of Pei Wei chop sticks,
and not one of anything.

But while I was sorting staples, scissors, pens, pencils, and note pads - I had a serious flashback to a day in another life time. I was keeping a close eye on my paper clip at the bank's drive-thru window. I just didn't have many precious paper clips to spare or money to buy another box. That teller had better not keep my paper clip, I thought. 


Was I poor? Did I think I was poor? Today, I think poor is relative.

Proverbs 13:41 says, "When you are kind to the poor, you honor God."

"The rich and the poor shake hands as equals - God made them both!" Proverbs 22:2

Poor is defined as lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society. Maybe it depends on which society. 

1.2 billion people worldwide live on under $2 per day, according to Wikipedia. Two Dollars.  Most of us waste that much every single day. A medium size Dr. Pepper will cost you two dollars and five cents at Dairy Queen.


Today, I can buy a box of paperclips for $2.00 or less or a lot less. Or maybe four boxes or maybe ten.

Ed and Rosa Salo, Mama and Papa to children at the Lily of the Valley Orphanage in Aldama, Chichuahua, Mexico (click here to visit their website) spoke at church about compassion, connections, and rewards. Samuela, who who was the Salos driver on their journey north, was, according to Ed, a bruised, battered, bleeding nine year old, when he came to Lily. He now works along side Ed and Rosa to bind up the wounded hearts of the children.  Our church has supported them for at least 10 years and several years ago, I joined a group from church, to visit Lily. We freely crossed the border with food, clothes, and bedding. Today, no one is allowed to cross with these items. There are so many needs there. The children seldom eat meat. Their buses are broken and they have only one van to shuttle the children to their schools and doctor appointments, and we, as in the church, have purchased a van for them. These children came from the poorest of the poor, and are richly loved and cared for in the safe haven of Ed and Rosa's care.

Mexico, according to a 2013 report, has a 21.3% poverty rate. 21.3% of Mexico's population live on less than two U.S. dollars per day. My friend and neighbor went to Mexico recently. She took my bags of closet cleanouts in suitcases to her family in Mexico. She can cross with them, because the cases are viewed as vacation clothes. She says, "When you are poor, everything fits." Sometimes, she walks across the border and meets her sister on the bridge to exchange suitcases.

Guatemala, Mexico's neighbor to the south, has a 62.4 poverty rate, according to the same report. We have helped His Appointed Time Ministries (click here) a little and seen the needs in person.

Uganda's poverty rate is 88.2%. Do the math: only 11.8% of the population does not live in poverty. Houses are mud and grass. Floors are dirt. Food is very little and medicine is almost nonexistent. We have sent sewing machines, blankets, and schoolchildren sponsorships to Uganda via, His Joy Ministries. Click here to view.

The poverty rate here in the United States is 13.5% according to the 2015 census. I have a suspicion that the poorest of the poor here in the US might seem wealthy in Uganda.

And if wealth were judged by the number of loose paper clips on my desk or coffee cups in my cupboard, then I am truly a wealthy woman. Even without counting those things I am wealthy. I am thankful and blessed beyond measure. Count your blessings.


12/9/16

Worship Him


For as long as I can remember this little nativity set has been in my life. My newlywed Mama bought it at Perry Brothers for 4.99. She passed it on to me as a newlywed and my girls grew up with it. For as long as I can remember, there have only been two wise men in the set. Those two wise men and the shepherds have always been turned so I can see their faces, away from the Infant Savior asleep in the hay, mostly posing for admirers. 


Through the years, I have added to my collection of Nativity Scenes. They come from Department Stores, Thrift Stores, Garage Sales, and even Italy, so the tag says. They are all posed beautifully for the photographs and the memories.


 Once in a lifetime someone comes along and turns you world upside down and your thinking right side up - like Jesus - or a granddaughter. 

This year, Amazing Granddaughter helped unpack and set up all but the oldest, because that old story was packed away somewhere else.


She turned the shepherds and the sheep and the magi and the little drummer boy toward the Creator of the Universe, who left the comforts of heaven to become one of us. She has done it this way since her little fingers could hold baby Jesus.


Not everybody recognized Him then. But the wise men and the shepherds on the hill saw the truth. Not everybody recognizes Him now. But this almost twelve year old still sees Him as we all should. 


God made flesh.
 The Way, the Truth, the Life. 
The great I AM.
 The Bread of Life. 
The Light of the World. 

He was born at a great cost of suffering and died a brutal death, but he brought with Him peace to willing hearts. He brought peace on earth. He is our peace while we are on this crazy earth. 


The grace and love and forgiveness and peace He brought to this anything but peace while on earth  was not cheap. It wasn't a dime store or garage sale variety of peace. It was costly.


This Christmas season, let's rearrange our thinking. Let's turn it all around and upside down and backwards and right side up. Let's worship HIM.


"And suddenly there was with the angel,
 a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 
Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, 
good will toward men."
(Luke 2:13-14)

Click here to read an old Christmas post featuring granddaughter and Baby Jesus.

Merry Christmas Friends.





10/10/16

GO. BE.

Jesus said it, and it's in red - "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And, behold I will be with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

Jesus said it. It's not an option. 

GO. Just go.

October seems to be Missions Month around here. Some girlfriends are going to Guatemala, Amazing Daughter and her girlfriends are heading to Uganda and 21 of my girlfriends and I are packing for Ohio. It's been a month of fundraisers, garage sales, and bake sales. We've made and adjusted travel plans. We've sent hundreds of emails and texts and emoji's with instructions. Jesus said, "go" and we are going.

All three groups will be going to work alongside other ministries in those places. We, collectively, as in all 35 of us short term missionaries, are gathering gifts and stuffing suitcases. We are packing socks, gloves, hats, and scarves for the homeless winter in Ohio, Bible study materials for rescued women in Uganda, gifts for weary servants in Guatemala, and shoes for missionary children living in remote places.  Retreat and conference attendee packets, books and bags are tagging along too. Oh, yeah, throw in some school supplies. Stacks of projects are in various stages of travel readiness all over our houses. My house has something for each team. And no, my friend, it is not a vacation.

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus tells us disciples that we are "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world".  He said, "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

Yes. We are to GO into all the world and BE salt and light.


We, these three teams, will be highly visible as we GO north, east, and south. We'll each have matching shirts emblazoned with our group name and our mission, mostly so we can stay together in airports. Amazing daughter's team shirt says, "If Not Us, Then Who?"

Another girlfriend, who has spent some years in a missions unfriendly country, says, "Oh, they recognize the light". She was in a place that did not allow church, or missionaries, or Bible studies, or teachings about Jesus.  But she and others Christians in that country were recognized as salt and light. She had many people approach her and ask her to explain the light.

May we be ever mindful and sensitive to encounters with other travelers.

 Let's GO BE salt and light, but let's not rub salt in their wounds or blind them with our light.

I believe they will recognize the salt and light in us, without us putting it on display.

We've packed and prayed and studied and prepared.

Now, let's just GO and BE.

GO. BE.





7/9/16

A Lesson in Trust

"Go with us", they said. "It will be fun. It's not hard. You'll be glad you did it." So I paid the money, signed the waiver, and strapped on the harnesses and clips and ropes and caution-light yellow helmet. Then granddaughter gave her short bit of eleven year old advice: "It's all about trust."

Great. Just great. Trust.

The back of my t-shirt is emblazoned boldly with Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Surely Paul the prisoner did not mean zip lining through tree tops at 30 miles an hour. The scripture I carried on my back and in my heart may have been bold, but I was trembling.

What was I thinking.

Up three flights of narrow steps. Take a picture. Stand on the mini platform.  Hold the rope here. Yell as loud as you can "Scared silly grandmother zipping."  Lift your feet and do all things through Christ's strength. 

I hung on to that rope with all the strength I could find in my flabby granny arms, because when you come to the end of your rope, you tie a knot in it and hang on. Then my grip slipped and my double harness and pair of ropes held me. Do it in His strength and not mine for when I am weak He is strong.

It's all about trust.

We zip through life and hang on with our own weak strength going from one shaky platform to another when all we really need to do is lift our feet and relax.

And trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understandings.  Proverbs 3:5

6/13/16

Almost There

This wagon train has been on the road for two days heading for Montana. As we listen and sing to Alan Jackson's Mama's favorite hymns, I keep my trusty iPad close to research campgrounds, places to eat, AND occasionally sneak a few pages of my digital book. We wonder about the buffalo and the Indians and the pioneers. The Wagon master has never in 45 years stopped at one of those brown historical markers, a National Historic Site, or a National Monument. Well, maybe twice. I read them all but never get to see them. But now I have this magical little device that tells me what happened at all those places. I read them to the wagon master and we are both happy.

My book was a freebie on Amazon.  The author is Lauraine Snelling,  a Christian historical ficton writer and a native daughter of North Dakota.  And, yes, thank you very much for asking, (drumroll), I have met her. Her books are full of Scripture and faith, which I love.

Today her characters are on their way to Oregon in covered wagons, amid all kinds of challenges and hardships. They have just left Fort Laramie, where they picked up supplies for the long trek over the mountains. You'll have to read it yourself for the rest of the story! 
Driving through rain clouds and green grassy prairies today, I looked up from my device just in time to see one of those sweet little brown signs announcing 

"Fort Laramie National Historical Site" 

and then another about

 "The Oregon Trail "

What?
WHAT?

"Surely Wagon Master will take his eyes off the goal for these important pieces of history", I thought. I think too much, because while I was thinking and being amazed , I missed the exit.

But just to think, I was there.

Almost.

In the mid 1800's, 400,000 people traveled this route in the greatest migration our country has every experienced. They came until the railroad from the west joined the railroad from the east - somewhere in Utah - where there is another brown sign. I am sure.

An incredible piece of history and we are right there.  Almost.

I borrowed a few pictures from Mr. Google and wrote this entire post on my little magic device, which doesn't always spell or format correctly. But isn't it a fun story?. 
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