12/28/14

A Thousand Words

She came for just a few days.  She sewed, cooked, watched movies, drove the four wheeler to the pasture, shot the guns with Papa, and she read books.  She read in the car. She read in bed. She read at the table. She read the notes on the fridge and the art on the walls. She read standing and she read sitting.  She read Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys, and Junie P. Jones, and books I didn't even know lived here. And this long-legged reader even straddled her great-granddaddy's saddle with a mesmerizing vintage book she found on the shelf.


I told her that I was a reader when I was 10 years old too, and that I never outgrew my love for books. She says that she has books going all over her house - in the kitchen, in her backpack, by her bed, and in the car.  I, too, have them everywhere - by my bed, by my chair, in my bag, and on the e-reader.  


Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge graces my Texas bedside table. 

 The North Dakota bedside table is empty because I have just finished a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs. 

 I am working on Eat, Sleep, Move by Tom Rath,  The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife, and I Saw the Lord by Anne Graham Lotz.  That's a pretty crazy mix of literature.

From where I am sitting at my computer, I can see four unshelved books: The Joy of Signing by Lottie L. Riekehof, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, The Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD, and The Inspirational Study Bible by Max Lucado.



I'm positive that all these books and all this reading drives my husband crazy. Positively positive.

But I am also positive that I passed the passion on to my daughters and my grandchildren and it's not a bad thing. 

 Just this week, I ran across this precious picture of my own little readers from a just a few years back.  Yes, this picture is worth a thousand words.




Dr. Seuss said it well:

"The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you'll go."

so,

"Fill your house
with stacks of books,
in all the crannies,
and in all the nooks."

Happy Reading!

12/16/14

Where is He?



"He's not here."

 (Hubby looks confused.)

"He is not here.
 Santa is here.  The elves are here. The snowmen are here. The angels are here. The reindeer are here. The candy canes, and icicles, and snowflakes, and puppies, and hedge hogs are here.
 I've looked at shelf after shelf and store after store.
 But Jesus is NOT here."  


The sad girl at the checkout  says, 
with no expression in her voice, 
"Happy  Holidays."
 This rebellious old granny stands straight and tall and
 looks deep into her eyes, and says

"Merry Christmas".  

 She just looked at me with empty eyes.
 I could (and maybe should) have said so much more.




What that girl really needs is a hug. 
 And Jesus.


What is Christmas?
Christmas. Christ Mass. Worship of Christ. 
Christ - the anointed one, the Messiah.
 The Messiah -  savior, liberator, King, high priest.
Christmas is worship of Christ.


So where is He?  Where is JESUS


Jesus said to his followers, while he walked this earth,

"I am in my Father,
and you in me,
and I in you.
(John 14:20)


Let's not get so hung up on Jesus not being allowed 
on the courthouse lawns and the schools and the malls, 
that we forget the mystery of where he really is.


In Colossians 1:26-29,
the Apostle Paul, says, speaking to other followers of Jesus
and us,

"This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time,
but now it's out in the open.
God wanted everyone, not just the Jews,
 to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, 
regardless of their background, 
regardless of their religious standing.
 The mystery in a nutshell is just this: 
Christ in you
so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory.
It's that simple.
That is the substance of our message. 
We preach Christ,
warning people not to add to the message.
We teach in a spirit of profound common sense
so that we can bring 
each person to maturity. 
To be mature is to be basic.
Christ!
No more, no less."
(The Message)

CHRIST IN YOU,
the hope of glory.
(Colossians 1:27 NIV)


Merry Christmas!

11/27/14

Normal Thanksgiving?


Norman Rockwell's iconic painting, "Freedom From Want" seems to have set a high standard of expectations for our Thanksgiving celebrations.  The evidence is in grocery stores and conversations from all last week.  We have shopped and chopped,  shared who is coming, where we are going, what we are cooking, and what is already in the freezer ready to warm.

 Thanksgiving is my favorite of all holidays because it's about being thankful, it's about God's goodness, it's about family, and I like the food.  It also hasn't been terribly stained and changed by commercialism and I like the food.

"Offer unto God the sacrifice of thanksgiving." Psalm 50:14

The last few days I have been reflecting on Thanksgiving Days of years past - especially the atypical ones.  Those are the one's that have little in common with the Mr. Rockwell's famous depiction of the holiday. Those are the ones that seem to stand out in my fading memory.

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: Give thanks unto him, and bless his name." Psalm 100:4

The first atypical Thanksgiving memory was of the meal served on a hospital tray the day after baby girl number one was born.  The food was most likely untouched because this new mama fainted every time she lifted her head off the pillow.

"O, give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good. His mercy endures forever"  Psalm 107:1

The next one I remember was when baby girl number two was just a few weeks old, in Dallas's Children's Medical Center ICU.  This mama and daddy drove to a Hotel Restaurant across town for turkey, dressing, and every trimming except the rest of the family.  We ate the traditional meal with lonely, heavy hearts.  

"In nothing be anxious: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God." Philippians 4:6

Several years we cleaned off the table, washed the dishes and said, "Let's go to DALLAS!"  Christmas decorations were out and we shopped through one Christmas winter wonderland after another.

"Sing unto the LORD with with thanksgiving." Psalm 147:7

Then there's the one where we showed up for the family meal in our black leather pants, boots, and jackets.  After the dishes were done, we headed to the Texas Hill Country on two wheels of rolling thunder.  That Harley was our therapy and our healing after great loss.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I came to Texas last week to celebrate baby girl number one's birthday with a little road trip.  She hosted our our wonderful Thanksgiving meal last night, because I have a ticket to go back to Papa and snowy North Dakota this Thanksgiving afternoon. While she cooked, I played with grand kids and was crowned "Really Cool Nana" by the neighbor kid who says that his Nana just wants to nap.  So does this one....but I didn't confess that to him. 



Last night's atypical Thanksgiving meal was a healthy cleaned up lighter version of the traditional turkey, dressing, and  trimmings - turkey breast, gluten free dressing and bread, corn casserole with yogurt instead of sour cream, and veggies cooked in coconut oil instead of butter.  We ate on paper plates and played games instead of washing dishes. 

"I will praise the name of God with a song. And will magnify him with thanksgiving." Psalm 69:30 

Our usual "I am thankful for ________" comments around the table were expanded by thought provoking questions wrapped around our napkins.

"Have you ever waited for something and later discovered that the delay was for your good?  Describe why you are now grateful for the waiting time"  Children, grandchildren...

"What has God changed in your life for which you are grateful?" Answers: children, grandchildren, jobs, moves...even North Dakota

"Death and loss are a very difficult part of every one's life.  Share a loss that in the end brought great meaning to your life." Besides the obvious answers that brought tears, someone found great meaning to life in the loss of her DSL because there was only one game lost with it. (Insert smiley face)

"Name five gifts from God that you can see from where you are sitting right now." My answer was easy and obvious, and the answers moved down the table to the not so silly counting of fingers and toes.






"Why do you think God told us to be thankful in all things?"  Because being thankful takes our focus off our problems and ourselves and onto HIM.  Because he is God and we are not.  Because it lightens our hearts.  Because it brings us joy. Because it brings HIM joy. (I thought of some of those later.)

So in a few hours, I will pack frozen leftovers for Papa, give hugs, go to the airport, check my bag, endure the security check, and wait, wait, wait with other holiday travelers for a flight back to the frosty tundra of North Dakota and Papa. I am so very thankful to be able to travel back and forth to family.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing....I pray you are able to do it with a grateful heart.  


Happy Thanksgiving!

"Giving thanks always for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to God...and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...and be ye thankful."  Ephesians 5:20, Colossians 3:15


11/12/14

E.A.T.

A plan, according to Merriam-Webster is "a set of actions that have been thought of as a way to do or achieve something" - for example a kitchen remodel.  I have been planning this set of actions for three years.  I have drawn it, clipped, posted it, and pinned it.  We have plans A, B, C, and D, which I will not bore you with.

Then we realized that the television crews from HGTV, DIY, or Kitchen Crashers were "no-shows".....and we rolled up our sleeves and did our own DIY on a Dime, except it was more like a penny - a shiny new copper penny!

When we moved into this old house, the kitchen had well built white cabinets, copper hardware, a dishwasher that was older than me, milk chocolate walls and ceiling, and acrylic craft painted countertops.  The countertops looked pretty good three years ago, but lately Mrs. Prather's pink has been peeking through. Early on, we repainted the walls and replaced the dishwasher.  Then we just decided to just live with it for a while.

After months of researching Pinterest, I ditched all those ideas of painting the cabinets in a weekend, and went with simple. Keep it simple. Keep the cabinets. Keep the hardware. Keep the countertops.  Keep the floor.  Keep the appliances (except for the dishwasher). The cabinets and hardware got a good scrubbing and touch-up paint on the cabinet's chips and scratches.  

I painted the countertops black with a Rust-Oleum product (according to directions) especially made for that project.  The faux tin paintable wallpaper on the backsplash looked worse than faux, so it came down almost as soon as it went up.  I think it was the installer, not the product.


By now, the man of the house decides he had better get involved and we moved on to the next plan . All we needed were 9 sheets of faux tin ceiling tiles, a man who understands a tape measure, and the right tool for the job..  


The instructions said it could be accomplished in a few hours.  It was more like all day, because there were four light and switch plates to cut around.  I'm so glad he helped. He's so smart. 


Keeping the copper hardware gave us a new purpose for thrift shopping. $15 for the whole box of copper stuff.   A bargain here, a find there, and we had every decoration we needed, and then some. 


I would have never chosen all that copper if it hadn't been for keeping the handles and hinges, but it's beginning to grow on me.  


Then I got the brilliant idea to glue pennies on cardboard letters from a craft store.  Brilliant.  Except that all the weight is on the front and it took some creative engineering (mostly E6000) to get them to stand up!  So as a word of warning - buy wood letters if you are glueing pennies.


The reminder to E.A.T. and the copper boiler rummage sale find, work perfectly on the garage sale oak hutch with it's fresh coat of black.  The brass handles turned copper with a little help from Rust-Oleum hammered copper spray paint


AND the second hand on the second hand bargain box clock is hopelessly broken.  It just hangs there at a the six.  I like it.  We E.A.T. breakfast at six.  We E.A.T. supper at six. 

 Other than that, I figure it's six o'clock somewhere and someone is E.A.T.ing!


And now (drum roll...) the moment you have been waiting for....you are waiting for this moment, aren't you?

BEFORE


AFTER




BEFORE


AFTER

Here is proof that you don't have to spend a fortune updating your old kitchen to make it look like a newer one.  And just maybe it will inspire someone to tackle their tacky kitchen with a little facelift.


You'll never see this kitchen remodel on the cheap in a magazine or on a how to site.  But if you'll come over for supper (at six) you can see it in person and we'll bore you with all our stories.  

Y'all Come!
(We'll E.A.T.)

10/31/14

The Bakken Blessing



There has probably been at least a dozen documentaries made about the Oil Boom of North Dakota - the Bakken to be precise.  I have finally quit looking at them because they focus on the negative: crime, road conditions, truck traffic, human traffic, crime, infrastructure, water, bars, prostitution, flares, trains, trucks, and crime.  



This week I had an opportunity to inject my personal opinions about the boom here in Peaceful Valley, North Dakota, when an interviewer (also making a documentary) crashed our Ladies Bible Study to ask our opinions.  


He started with the natives and asked specific questions:

"What changes have you seen here in your peaceful valley?"

"It used to be a sleepy little town.  We knew everybody and their relatives."

"We never locked our doors before, because some neighbor might get caught in a snow storm and need to find shelter in our home.  We lock it now."

"The police chief says there hasn't been a vehicle break-in in a year and only  one house break-in." 

 "It was my house.... a very inebriated man just walked in looking for his friend."



"Have you seen any positive changes?"

"Yes, we have met all these wonderful people from all over the world."

"We have a new grocery store, a new hardware store, new restaurants, new convenience stores.  The school, the hospital, and the city pool are all getting renovations."

"All my children and grandchildren have moved back here because there are jobs available.  We are all together again (except for one grandson who is only 80 miles away."

"I love it here.  I would never move."



Then to us transplants he asked, "What brought you here and what stories have your heard?"

"Well, while North Dakota was in a BOOM, the rest of the nation was BUSTED.  Many, many people came here for a fresh start (and maybe out of desperation) after they lost homes and businesses."

"It has made a difference in the lives of a lot of good people."

"I have been richly blessed. Not just financially but richly blessed by knowing the wonderful people here."

"As for me, I have experienced North Dakota Nice at it finest.  Neighbors have invited us over for our first Thanksgiving away from family.  They brought homemade bread, jelly, rhubarb, beets and garden fresh carrots.  They have helped me rake my yard, used their snow blower on my drive, pulled our stuck truck out of the snow, and helped us pull up a dead tree. Oh, yes, and they stop for you to cross the street."

"I just came for a visit, but when I decided to stay, the ladies at church brought me winter clothes and rounded up furniture for my apartment."



"Have you put down roots here?"

Two said "yes" and my fan club across the room told him that I wasn't going to be allowed to leave.  Ain't that sweet?  My, answer, "North Dakota will always be in my heart."


But the best story came from the mama of five, who came when the logging industry crashed and her man took an entry level job in the oilfield.  They got here in January when the temperature was -22 (that is twenty-two degrees below zero) and lived in a travel trailer (remember, five children) in the city park. A lady in town brought muffins and offered her home, her kitchen, and garage if they ever needed anything.  They showered in the park restrooms. This family lived in the park for two years (in a travel trailer with five children).  They have now purchased a home and a business.  Her husband is climbing the oilfield ladder of success.  She says the ladies Bible studies helped her keep her sanity in those early days in the travel trailer with five children.  And, yes, she is here to stay. 



"One last question.  Since this is a Bible Study, do any of you have a scripture about what is going on here?"

After a long silence, this Texas gal told him about how her man had worked in the same place for 40 years and they had lived in the same house for 40 years and they had done the same things for 40 years.  Then when the opportunity came to work in the Bakken, she ran across a scripture about God talking to his children who had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

God said, "You have circled this same mountain long enough.  Now turn north." (Deuteronomy 2:3)

With that, our interviewer snapped off his camera with great flourish, a nod, and a little smile.  "That's exactly what I was looking for."


As he walked out the door, I heard him almost whisper, "North Dakota Nice. I like that."

10/16/14

No Fear



Yesterday I ran across some notes I made a couple of years ago while studying Psalm 91, because sometimes I can get into my Bible study nerd mode.


"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence."

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge: his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day, not the pestilence that stalks in the darkness nor the plague that destroys at midday. (Psalms 91:1-6)


Whoa.  Stop.  That's where my notes come in - pestilence - DEADLY PESTILENCE.  What does it that word even mean?  Pestilence.   Webster defines pestilence as a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating; specifically: bubonic plague.  Plague is defined as a disease that causes death and spreads quickly to a large number of people.

Then my notes take up with a list of the Top Ten Worst Plagues throughout history. There were quarantines, destruction of infected private property, protective walls built around cities, wars won and lost, and spread through soldiers, merchants and caregivers. Hundreds of thousands of people died in the plagues now thought to be the black plague, bubonic plague, smallpox, measles, and typhus. There were horrors and there were heroes.  And there was fear.

When I was studying this scripture earlier, I was thinking about things like cancer and old age and dementia and Alzheimer's disease.  But if we fast forward to the present, we find Ebola, a definite pestilence plague with it's horrors and heroes and FEAR.  News reports tell more information, some true and some not, than we need to know and the real outbreak just might be FEAR. 

There is a wonderful warm fuzzy quote going around that says something like:

The phrase
"DO NOT FEAR"
is written in the Bible 365 times
That's a daily reminder to live 
every day being fearless


While I was counting the scriptures, to check the validity of that statement, I came across someone who had already done the math.  Just as I suspected, the quote is not true. But even if God had said it only once, wouldn't it be enough for every day of the year? Just once. Some other clever, creative Bible study nerd made a more correct sign.  You can go to her blog to download and print it.  I like it.

Click here to download and print 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

God said,
"DO NOT FEAR."


The guide at the Hjemkost Center in Moorhead, Minnesota, said the Scandinavian builders of the original stave church used more Christian symbols than Viking symbols, indicating they were growing in their trust of God instead of dragons to protect them from evil spirits. No Fear.


She also said that people infected with the plague, would have stood outside in the passageway, hungry for the word of God, and listen through the small window in the sanctuary.  Fear Not.


God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)  Fear Not.



To keep the fear beat back, read Psalm 91 again and see that God says that not fearing comes from living in the shelter of the Most High, resting in His shadow, telling Him that you trust Him, hiding under His wings, and the result will be that He will save you, be your shield and you WILL NOT FEAR the deadly pestilence or the plague.  

It's a command not a suggestion.  

FEAR NOT


9/11/14

We'll Never Forget


In a prominent place in a cemetery in the next closest town, is a 9/11 memorial to a North Dakota daughter who was employed and perished in the World Trade Center. That town will never forget.  North Dakota will never forget. Texas will never forget. Our nation will never forget, nor will the world.  


Our own daughter, Heather, also left this world on 9/11, but the year was 1996.  Eighteen years ago.  She was 18 years old.  She has been gone as long as she was here.  Cystic Fibrosis took her much to young, but we got to keep her longer than we ever imagined when she was diagnosed at birth.


We will never forget her dreams and hopes and plans.  We'll never forget those mischievous eyes cutting over at us or her easy laugh. We'll never forget how everything held in her hands became animated at her bidding, even when she was 18. And we wish her niece and nephew could have played silverware puppets with her at the dinner table.  


We'll never forget her dolls and tea parties and stuffed animals with IV's in their puffy little arms and oxygen tubes taped to their button noses.  We'll never forget that her doctor called her "Heather Feather".  I remember that one time she said that she didn't really want God to heal her because that would mean she couldn't go to "CF Camp" anymore.  She loved that camp.


We'll never forget that she loved and worked with our little community theater for 5 years. We'll never forget that she drove a little sport car with a handicapped tag in the window, and she had a scholarship and had started her college classes.  We'll never forget that she studied art and left us a portfolio full of framable masterpieces. We'll never forget that she thought it was better her than her sister have that disease.


Maybe we'll have a footlong cheese coney from Sonic, or a dip of Blue Bell Rainbow Sherbert, or a Victoria's filet from Outback in her memory.  Or maybe we'll just remember,


because we will never forget.





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