Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Blessing Part II...God blesses us (A)
The Bible opens with God's blessings upon creation.
Genesis 1:22 tells us that God blessed the creatures of the water and the birds of the air. He also tells them to be fruitful and to increase in number.
Likewise, God blessed the man and woman whom He created in His image. "God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. Then God said, 'I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.' And it was so." In creation, God's blessing is linked to fruitfulness, multiplication, the giving of a purpose for life and work, and God's provision for man and animals.
The state of being blessed has been defined by some scholars as the state of being in a right relationship with the Lord. In the beginning, man and woman enjoy the sweetness of walking with the Lord and talking with Him face to face. Man and woman bear God's image and serve as God's agents on Earth. Everything in creation is good. Everything works in harmony with God's good will.
Satan tempts Eve with the lie that God has withheld certain blessings from Adam and Eve. Sadly, Adam and Eve try to obtain these supposed blessings for themselves. They cross the one boundary the Lord has set for them. They vainly look for blessing outside of God's loving care and outside of fellowship with Him. This breach of faith on their part introduces sin and its destructiveness into the world. Sin brings with it barriers to a relationship with a Holy God, as well as spiritual and physical death.
God, in His righteousness and holiness, pronounces penalties for man's sin. Mankind will now experience the opposite of being in a blessed relationship with the Lord; he will experience the curse of living in a fallen world. Man's work will be harder, for the earth is no longer so harmoniously ordered and no longer yields its fruits easily. Woman's pain in giving birth will be increased. Physical death becomes inevitable. Only by God's grace can man be saved from spiritual death.
Mercifully, however, God mitigates the curse with His gracious blessings. He promises that He will send a Savior, who will bring redemption and restoration. He continues to love fallen men and women, and He continues his covenants with them, despite their unfaithfulness. In His grace, He still bestows blessings even to the undeserving.
All of this leads to the pivotal point when God calls Abraham. "Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Go forth from your country and from your relatives and from your father's house to the land which I will show you. And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great. And, so you shall be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." Genesis 12:2
From that point, God works with Abraham and his descendants. Through Abraham's lineage, He brings Christ into the world. By this incredible gift, all of the families of the world are indeed blessed, just as God promised. Though we have all sinned just as Adam and Eve did, we all have an opportunity to respond to Christ's offer of grace, redemption, restoration, and entrance into the kingdom of God. This is made possible by Christ's sufferings on the cross, in which He paid the penalty for our sins. Christ accomplished what we cannot, He saved us from sin and spiritual death. Those who answer the call to "the obedience that comes through faith" (Romans 1:5-6) in Christ dwell in God's grace and are supremely blessed, both now and in the age to come. "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." I John 5:11-12
Monday, December 28, 2009
Bless; blessing; and the Keeper at Home...Part I
I've been inspired recently by a lesson I heard someone do to study out the concept of blessing in the Bible. What a huge and important subject this is! God blesses us, and He wants us to bless God and others -- even our enemies. (Matthew 5:44) The keeper at home has many opportunities to enjoy God's blessings, to bless God and thank Him for the blessings that He showers on us through his grace; to live the kind of life that God considers blessed and the kind of life that blesses others; and to shower her family and neighbors and others with blessings.
Here are just a few verses to start us thinking about the concept of blessing:
"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech." I Peter 3:8-10
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Proverbs 31:28
...but He blesses the home of the righteous. Proverbs3:33
The memory of the righteous will be a blessing. Proverbs 10:7
Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed. Proverbs 11:11
He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy. Proverbs 14:21
Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD Proverbs 16:20
The righteous man lives a blameless life and blessed are his children after him. Proverbs 20:7
Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble. Proverbs 28:14.
Here's a bonus question for you: Which of the American Presidents names' means bless, blessing, or one blessed by God and is similar or equivalent to the Hebrew word for bless? (This is not a political question -- just an interesting study of a name.)
Monday, November 23, 2009
Outside my window... soft looking November sky
I am thinking... how grateful I am that my father had a wonderful turnout of friends for his 90th birthday celebration.
I am thankful for... a hubby who took care of me during a two week respiratory virus -- He did his own work and some of mine, too, as I could not do much at all.
I went... to take my dad to the dermatologist today. My poor dad has been battling the effect of sun damage on his skin for forty years now. If you are fair-skinned, wear your sunscreen! Even if you aren't, wear your sunscreen!!
I am reading... My Bucket of Sand by Sheila Jones
I am hoping... to catch up on some cleaning after being sick; am grateful did get bottom of pantry swept out and neatened, as well as a load of clothing
On my mind... What I read the other day in Romans about the downward spiral of sin and pain that begins with not honoring God as God or expressing gratitude; thinking what a great month this is to enjoy the upward cycle of praising and thanking God -- good time to develop deeper habits of praise and thanksgiving.
One of my favorite things...curling up in a warm bed on a misty night and reading a book. Even better if my cat is nearby. Way even better if my dearest hubby is also nearby.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Happiness is yellow daisy mums in a blue bowl in my blue kitchen. I'd take a photo, but my dearest has the camera with him at work.
Roses and daisies vie for being my favorite flowers, though I must admit that I have seldom met any flower that I didn't like. Most of the year, roses are my all-time favorite. But, in late summer through the fall, daisies jump right on up there. I also love tulips, magnolia blossoms, azalea blossoms, crepe myrtle blossoms, gladiolas, geraniums, begonias, periwinkles.....
What's your favorite flower?
Strange happening at Wal-Mart...
I bought a pretty journal at Wal-Mart and brought it home. In its pages, I discovered a rusty looking straight-edged blade, a blade such as might fit in some type of cutting tool. I suppose it was left in the pages by accident. But, I've never encountered anything quite like that before. This is not a complaint about Wal-Mart. I'm just pondering what this is and why it's in the pages of the journal. Luckily, I did not cut my fingers on it.
Friday, October 23, 2009
My Quote of the Day: We don't stop dancing because we get old; we get old because we stop dancing...Author Unknown
Until this was pointed out to me in a class, I did not realize that many of my favorite Bible verses actually form a theme. They relate to the idea that, in Christ, we don't merely get by, but we overflow or abound with the treasures God pours into our hearts.
Here are some examples:
Colossians 2:6-7 -- Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
Romans 15:13 -- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I Thessalonians 3:2 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.
II Corinthians 8:1-And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.
II Corinthians 1:5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
Isn't it a lovely promise that we can overflow and abound in our walk with Christ? It's challenging, too, though, for I don't always see myself as overflowing with love, joy, hope, and the comfort of Christ. When something overflows, you can't miss it. An overflowing cup, an overflowing pipe, or an overflowing river command our attention. In the same way, we are drawn to an overflowing spring leading to a pretty creek or the cascading overflow of a tiered fountain. So, I ask myself: would my family, my friends, or strangers I should chance to meet notice an overflow of these qualities of the Spirit in me? Do I truly allow myself to be filled to overflowing by the Lord? Or, do I choke the stream with other things flowing out of my heart, such as complaining or frustration or anxiety? Am I satisfied to level out spiritually where I am, or do I seek to grow in the knowledge and grace of the Lord so that I can overflow or abound more and more with the fruits of the Spirit living within me?
Since November is coming up, it's a good time to pray about and focus on overflowing with gratitude.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Are you someone who re-arranges your furniture a lot? Or, do you leave your furniture as it is for a long time? Most home keepers fall into one of these two camps.
I tend to move smaller things around, but leave furniture as it is. One reason is that I get used to things being a certain way and overlook possibilities for improvement. I also have some rooms that have limited possibilities for re-arranging furniture due to the placement of doors and other items.
I appreciate friends who have a good eye for how things in a room can be arranged for new effect. Some people I know are wonderfully talented in this area. Some can see a wonderful re-design using the things they already have right away. Others keep moving things until they come upon an arrangement of furniture and other items that is most pleasing.
Of course, the keeper at home can always consult a professional re-design expert. Since that can be a budget-breaker, it's worth the practice it takes to learn this skill for yourself. By trial and error, studying beautiful rooms, and even asking for the help of a friend, you can learn how to use your furnishings for best effect. Even if this is not your natural talent -- as it is not mine -- you can do a lot to develop your own eye.
Some items to keep in mind when re-arranging furniture are
1) What is the focal point of my room? How does everything else in my room relate to this focal point, just as everything in a painting relates to a focal point? Have I inadvertently created competing focal points in a room? Is this jarring to the eye? (Note: One common problem with creating a focal point is when you have a fireplace and a TV or entertainment center in the same room. Some homes are designed so that the TV is directly above the fireplace, which makes it easy to use that wall as the focal point. In other cases, you may have to tweak things a bit so that the fireplace and TV don't compete with each other.)
2) What built-in architectural details do I need to accommodate?
3) What are the natural traffic patterns in the room? Where do people enter and leave the room? Do people have a clear path to pass in and out of the room and can they easily walk to seating? Can they access shelves, desks, etc.? Do you wish to encourage the traffic flow in a certain direction.
4) Where will you place lamps?
5) What feels comfortable to you and your family? Often, what looks nice in a decorating magazine or what seems like a great idea in your mind's eye might not really be comfortable in a real room. Don't be afraid to arrange things once again until you find an arrangement that is most comfortable.
6) Is there a piece of furniture or a rug or an accesory that you are using in one room that might actually be put to better use in another room?
7) Do you have too much furniture in a room? Too little?
If you consider these things, you'll likely come up with an arrangement that suits your family's needs and is also pleasing to the eye.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
"We who live in this nervous age would be wise to meditate on our lives and our days long and often before the face of God and on the edge of eternity. For we are made for eternity as certainly as we are made for time, as as responsible moral beings, we must deal with both.
"'He hath set eternity in their heart,' said the Preacher, and I think he here sets forth both the glory and misery of men. To be made for eternity and forced to dwell in time is for mankind a tragedy of huge porportion. All within us cries for life and permanence, and everything around us reminds us of mortality and change. Yet that God has made us of the stuff of eternity is both a glory yet to be realized and a prophecy yet to be fulfilled. ...The marks of the divine image hae been so obsured by sin taht they are not easty to idneity, but is it not reasonable to believe that one mark may be man's inssatiable craving for immorality?
"'Thou wilt not leave us in the dust. Thou madest man, he knows not why; He thinks he was not made to die and Thou has made him; Thou are just.'
"So reasons Tennyson, and the depest instincts of the normal human heart agree with him. The ancient image of God whispers within every man of oeverlasting hope; somewhere he will continue to exist. Still he cannot rejoice; for the light that lighteth every man that cmeith into the world troubles his conscience, frightening him with proofs of guiltand evidences of coming death. So is he ground between the upper millstone of hope and the nether stone of fear.
"Just here, the sweet relvancy of the Chrsitan message appears. 'Jesus Christ...hath ablished death, and hath brought light and immortality to light through the gospel.' So wrote the greatest Christian of them all just efore he went out to meet his executioner. God's eternity and man's mortality join to persuade su that faith in Jesus Christ is not optional. For every man it must be Christ or eternal tragedy. Out of eternity our Lord came into time to rescue (Us) whose moral folly has made us not only fools of the passing world but slaves of sin and death as well."
I paused when I read those words. Haven't we all felt that yearning for immortality, yet, at the same time, a knowledge of our mortality? I think that double-sided view comes keenest in those bittersweet moments when we celebrate the joy and pain of a passage in life. We rejoice, for example, that a beloved child has happily married, but, at the same time, we miss the days when that child was a toddler in our arms. We celeberate a wonderful wedding anniversary and rejoice over the happy and full years we've shared together. At the same time, if we are of a certain age, we may wonder if we have more years behind us than before us.
I've also been feeling this glimpse of mortality and immortality in returning to dance exercise after being away from specifically dance exercise for a long time. I've had the joy of doing some of the steps I learned in my youth, as well as an increase in strength and sense of well being. But, at the same time, I know the pang of realizing that no matter how hard I practice or how much better I become from this point, I will not wake up tomorrow and be the lithe young person that I once was. Nor, will I have the malleable, strong, ready-for-training body that I once had. For me, ballet and dance can only be a plesant form of exercise and not a serious pursuit. I will have to stick to what the middle- to senior-aged body can achieve. There have been some rare individuals who have achieved wonderful things in dance at advanced ages. However, even they cannot achieve what they could in their younger years. So, while I don't know exactly where my age-related limitations are, I do know that they are there.
The glory is, though, that, as it says in 2 Corinthians 4:16, "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day."
So, our bones may ache more than they used to, and we may never be invited to dance with the Bolshoi or to participate in the Olympics. Our face may have new wrinkles, and our hair may be less luxurious than in our youth. It may take us a moment longer to remember something than it used to. While we do the best we can to maintain health and beauty, the truth is that our outer glory is fading. It does not matter, for inwardly, we are being conformed to the image of Christ, being made more fit every day for our true home. That is a glorious blessing, a blessing which time and mortality can not take away from us.
Intimations of our mortality may cause a momentary sigh, but they actually bless us, for they remind us to look toward the horizon -- toward the eternal life we will have with the Lord. At the same time, if we are true disciples of Jesus, we have the comfor of knowing that we have the seed of eternal life already within our hearts. Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." John 5:24
What have we here on Earth that will also exist in eternity? Our relationship with the Lord, of course. Also, the people we have influenced to know God. These are treasures that do not fade away.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The wanderer comes home...
After spending several days and nights indoors, our cat became a little stir-crazy. She also reverted to cat schedule, and wondered why we were not eager to play at 4:30 AM. So, when she asked to go out on Sunday afternoon, I obliged and opened the door for her. I did not expect that she would stay gone until later this afternoon, when she finally answered my call for her. I was just a short time away from putting up "Lost Cat" signs.
Her absence was a little concerning considering that it rained off and on for four days in a row. Not only that, but she does have a nemesis in the neighborhood -- a huge black cat who spends most of the time outdoors and wants to consider our yard part of its territory.
She came home looking sound and healthy. We're guessing that she found some friendly souls who sheltered her inside their home until this sunny afternoon. She has been known to wheedle neighbors into feeding her. If dogs have owners and cats have staff, as the saying goes, she seems to think that most people are hers to claim.
At one time, she and the dog next door were on friendly terms. One evening, our neighbor heard her dog barking up the stairwell, something that he never does. She went up the stairs to see what might have provoked his barking. In the darkness, something furry brushed against her. It was our cat, who had somehow gotten inside their house and had made herself at home.
Now, she's sleeping and eating and relaxing in the house where she belongs. We are glad she's back.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Words without thoughts never to heaven go. William Shakespeare
Jesus said, "Out of the heart, the mouth speaks." Luke 6 He also said that we would have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word we have spoken. Matthew 12:36
I find that whenever I'm under stress, that is the time that I am most likely to make a careless comment. And, just as Jesus said, the things I say without thinking reveal my heart to myself and to others. My words signal whether I have stayed close to God or if I have spoken in my own flesh. They also signal what I've been thinking about or meditating about. They show where I am being conformed to Christ and where I need to repent and be more Christ-like.
Right now, our nation seems to be in a time of stress. It seems that the country is polarized about what direction our government should take. My purpose in this article is not to comment about the political situation. It's to point out that with emotions running high on both sides, we -- as a nation -- could stand to mind our thoughts and watch our words.
As someone who studied journalism in college, I'm not excited about the state of the media right now. Fewer people are turning to written media, and more are getting their news from TV, talk radio, and the Internet. So many of these sources have become so openly biased one way or the other. While we expect editorials and talk shows to be opinion based, we expect hard news stories to be factual, well-researched, and presenting all points of view. Unfortunately, good news writing has given way to outright preaching of either a "left-leaning" message or a "centrist-to-right leaning" message.
It's great to stay informed about the events that are taking place right now. But, I'm finding that it's getting harder and harder to find the facts among the opinions. I'm also finding that I can watch only a small amount of TV news without it affecting my own thoughts and my own words for the worse.
Bloggers have a great opportunity to bring calmness into this national debate. We can choose to write about things that are true, as well as things that build up rather than tear down. Yet, I have read many blogs and many comments on blogs that are vitriolic. Many in the blogosphere use mean, condescending, and foul language. Perhaps, we all forget at times that there is a real person with real feelings behind every blog and behind every comment, and we take liberties when we shouldn't. It's just as wrong to be cruel on the Internet as it is to be mean to someone in person.
That's one reason why I enjoy reading the blogs that you, my lovely readers, write. Most of us in this corner of the blogosphere chat about things such as home, family, thrift, and other useful, practical things. I can count on your blogs to be uplifting and encouraging. I liken reading your blogs to walking through a beautiful garden in the middle of a crowded, dirty, sooty city. Your blogs are spots of peace, beauty, and practicality in the midst of the busy information highway.
Our country has been through times of tumult before, and I'm sure we'll pass through this one soon. In the meantime, we can do much to uphold high standards of speech and writing.
Here are a few ideas:
1) Be careful about picking up "facts' or "news" on the Internet and repeating it without doing some research of your own. Internet stories spread rapidly. Many are written by PR specialists (I know, because that's my field) or by people who want to promote a business, a philosophy, or a political point of view. Many are quickly written and few are checked by editors. Many are not intended to be factual, but are openly based in someone's opinion. That's not to say that we can't glean and share valuable information from the net. It is to say, however, that we need to use caution when repeating something, just as we would exercise the same restraint about news we heard from our neighbor over the back fence.
2) Run the things you listen to, say, read, and write through the filter of Phil. 4:4-8. Is this true? Is it noble? Is it lovely? Is it of good report?
3) If you read an article which has received a number of heated comments, you might want to leave a polite, well-thought out comment of your own. It's possible that your sweet influence will permeate a web site and encourage others to be thoughtful about their words. On the other hand, realize when it would be counter=productive to enter into a discussion.
4) Choose your news sources wisely. Be aware if that source has a particular bias and take that into account when analyzing the news you receive from that source.
5) Take note of when you, yourself, are tired, hungry, stressed, upset by something you heard or read, bothered by something said to you in person, or otherwise are feeling out of sorts. Times like these are when you most need to give extra prayer and thought to the things you say in person and the things you write on your blog.
6) Love your enemies! Do good to those who mistreat you! The news media and fellow bloggesr are not your enemies. However, if you keep firmly in mind the principle of doing good to others, even when you disagree violently with them, you can respond to people and situations with love, gentleness, and respect.
7) Know what you believe and why you believe it. This, too, will help you speak respectfully and thoughtfully to those who may have a different point of view than you do. Focus on discussing the issue, rather than attacking individuals.
Most of all, keep your words sweet...
You never know which ones you'll have to eat!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Save the post office!
I'm just curious. How many people think that the U.S. Postal Service is really in trouble because people are writing emails and texting more than they are sending old-fashioned cards and letters? I have heard this and have a feeling that it might be true, though it would seem that junk mail alone would keep it functioning. My mail box is more full of the stuff than ever! :)
Of course, when it comes to packages, the post office cannot compete with Fed-Ex or UPS. So, that is another source of lost revenue for our letter service.
Though I love email, Facebook, phone texting, and other systems of instant communication, I don't think that they replace the wonderful feeling of receiving a hand written letter. Do you? And, somehow for me, e-cards don't replace real cards that you can hold in your hand and store away to savor on a later date. That is, e-cards don't seem as meaningful when it comes to my closest friends and family. I do think they are a lovely way to communicate with people whom you don't see as often, but whom you really do wish to remember with special greetings.
Also, it seems that feelings can somehow be communicated with more accuracy in a hand written letter than via email. I know of several cases of hurt feelings caused by misinterpreting email, while I have heard of very few instances of this with snail correspondence. I wonder if that has to do with the quickness of email conversations, where the written word flies back and forth quickly, without the usual conversational cues we glean from tone of voice and facial expressions. When this happens so rapidly, perhaps, it is easier for emotions to escalate.
In letter writing, we don't have those extra conversational clues, either. However, I think that people probably put more effort into writing a snail mail letter than in dashing off an email. Also, the person who receives a written letter probably takes more time to read it thoroughly.
Whatever the case may be, I truly do hope that we will continue to be able to send letters and cards via the post office. The p. o. has been in trouble before, so this wouldn't be the first time it has pulled out of a crises -- if it does. I know I'm going to do my part by sending cards and letters when appropriate. I'd also actually like to have an old-fashioned pen pal, though I suppose that our instant forms of communication does meet that desire in part.
What about you? How often do you send snail-mail letters and cards? Do you think it's important to do so, or is that something you can easily live without? Does it seem strange to send a written letter to someone whom you regularly email, even if they live out of town? Or, do you like to do that once in a while just to add another dimension to your friendship? If you live in another country than the U.S., how is your postal service faring?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Outside my window...
It's 92 degrees and humid. Actually, that's not bad for this time of year, when we could easily be experiencing upper 90's or even low 100's. But, it still feels hot after an unusually cool June and July. I was wilting when I went out for a morning walk and, then again, when I went about the yard watering things.
Have you ever heard that old saying, "Women glisten, men perspire, and only horses sweat?" I'm only glistening, I keep telling myself -- as the water runs down my face and back.
I am thinking...how much my husband and I enjoyed visiting our daughter and her husband. They live in a walk up apartment in a charming neighborhood, where they can walk to so many things -- including public transportation.
From the kitchen...
I am contemplating making chicken and dumplins'.
I am wearing...black pants and black top -- which I can't wait to change out of and into something else after I take a much needed shower. I'm waiting until the afternoon heat dies down a little.
I am creating...a cleaner house.
I am going...nowhere today, but have lots on tap for the rest of the week.
I am reading...Isaiah, along with selected other verses and "The Triple Whammy Cure" -- a book by a doctor who practices both conventional and alternative medicine. It specifically addresses health issues that women face due to the triple whammy -- more problems utilizing serotonin than men have, modern stressful lifestyle, and continually changing hormonal levels -- which affect the serotonin. There are a lot of wonderful nuggets of advice in the book, but you have to sort them out from some other things that, imho, are not as helpful. I, am excited, however, about putting the good things into practice.
I am hoping...to improve my health via the program outlined in the above book
Around the house...I've been catching up on some things, including laundry.
One of my favorite things...This week, I got to see both of my children and their spouses. Since they both live out of town, that's a real treat.
A few plans for the rest of the week: meeting up with friends.
Friday, July 24, 2009
I'm still pondering the following quote:
"Abraham Lincoln had it right. Our task should not be to invoke religion and the name of God by claiming God's blessing and endorsement for all our national policies and practices -- saying, in effect, that God is on our side. Rather, Lincoln said, we should pray and worry earnestly whether we are on God's side.
"Those are the two ways that religion has been brought into public life in American history. The first way -- God on our side -- leads inevitably to triumphalism, self-righteousness, bad theology, and, often, dangerous foreign policy. The second way -- asking if we are on God's side -- leads to much healthier things, namely, pentitance and even repentance, humility, reflection, and even accountability."
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday on Tuesday:
Simple Woman's Daybook:
Outside my window: We had another in a long line of unusually cool days. The predicted high was only 81 degrees. We've also had more rain this year. I actually like this cooler trend, as it keeps the trees, grass, and flowers looking lush. Having a summer this cool does make me wonder what the winter will bring, though.
I am really enjoying and am thankful for: the bluebonnets that are blooming in a container on my deck. I brought the seeds back from a trip to Texas. I'm also thankful for the butterfly weed that is blooming in a container on the edge of my raised garden bed.
I am thinking: How much I enjoyed dinner and doing a few errands with my beloved hubby tonight. I'm also thinking how nice it is to spend a cozy sprinkly evening indoors.
From the kitchen: I picked a perfect squash from garden today and need to cook it soon. I also was about to harvest another squash and a beautiful tomato when I realized that some little creatures had gotten to them ahead of me.
I am wearing khaki colored capris with a bit of embroidery at the bottom and a white embroidered tunic.
I am hearing: the movie I'm watching with my beloved hubby, as well as the buzz of the dryer saying that I need to attend to it soon.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Some ways to overcome a slump....
Everyone hits a slump once in a while. Some low periods are simply normal cycles in the ups and downs of life. Others occur while recovering from an acute illness or when enduring the flare up of a chronic illness. Some slumps might be tied to monthly hormonal changes, to hormonal changes after childbirth, or to perimenopause or menopause. Still others might be caused by a period of fatiguing overwork or after experiencing a time of distress, such as an illness or death in the family. Some slumps can even be a natural let down after wonderfully happy times. There are any number of reasons why we experience low periods from time to time.
In using the term "slump", I do not mean a prolonged period of deep depression or a severe physical illness. What I'm talking about is those times when you just don't feel up to par. You're a little tireder than usual. Or, maybe, you're just a bit blue. Maybe, you've overextended yourself for a time, and, perhaps, the resulting fatigue is bringing some touochy emotions closer to the surface. Maybe, you have moved far away from home, and you're having a bout of homesickness. Maybe, you are encountering a few aches and pains from aging. Perhaps, you just feel a bit sluggish for no particular reason.
For purposes of this article, I'm assuming that your symptoms are of the sort that will pass in due time and that they are manageable on your own. One caveat: If you experience new and troubling physical symptoms, it's wise to consult a physician. Sometimes, a period of new and sudden fatigue or a vague feeling of uneasiness can be the only symptoms of a physical ailment. For women, these things can even be signs of heart disease, which presents differently in women than in men. Also, prolonged or closely repetitive slumps might signal physical, emotional, or spiritual difficulties. If you have any doubts about the cause of your low period, be quick to seek help. Be urgent, but not panicky. Most likely, you will be reassured that nothing is wrong. Or, if a problem is uncovered, it will probably be something minor and easily treatable.
Otherwise, there is much you can do on your own to overcome down times. The first step is to admit to yourself that you are in a slump. Pretending to yourself that you are fine when you aren't won't make your slump go away any faster and might make it last longer.
Secondly, it's wise to avoid going these two opposing extremes: 1) expecting more of yourself than you can give in the current circumstance or 2) withdrawing and expecting so little of yourself that your days feel even heavier.
Some ideas for pulling out of a slump are as follows:
1) Set aside some time each day to think about things that nourish and uplift you.
2) Work in times for extra rest, recreation, and devotions. If you are a busy wife and mother, be creative in finding ways to work recovery time into your schedule. Consult your spouse for help in finding some time to recoup.
3) Declare a "fun day". On this day, keep your tasks simple. Make the beds; tidy the house; get dinner; clean the dishes. Then, dedicate the rest of the day to wholesome and fun activities with your children. If you do not have children in the home, take some time to do some things you enjoy. Include at least some time in your fun day for coffee or lunch with a friend.
4) Keep yourself well groomed, even if you don't feel like it. This is good for your spirits and for the spirits of your loved ones. Even if you feel bad enough to take to your bed, you can still keep your hair and teeth brushed and your face clean. You can also slip into sleepwear or lounge wear that makes you feel pretty. Don't reach for those sweats!
5) Resist the urge to become self-focused. Attend to any distressing emotions that accompany or precipitate your slump. Set aside some times to cry, pray, and talk things over with trusted friends, if you need to. If you are mourning a loss, expect that you will feel moments of sorrow at odd times. Otherwise, let your thoughts and conversations be as positive as possible, and do little things to show your love for others. Keeping an overall outward focus will do you good.
6) At the beginning of a slump, a day in bed might be just what the doctor ordered -- if you can manage it. Curl up with a good book or a bit of handiwork.
7) Overdoing rest time can be as draining as refusing to slow down. If a slump persists beyond a day or two, start setting simple goals every morning. Allow for the fact that you may not be able to keep up with your full schedule. However, it is most likely that you can accomplish a few things, even if your slump is due to the flare-up of a chronic illness. Setting small goals and achieving them will help build positive momentum, as well as provide the satisfaction that comes with accomplishment. At the day's end, focus on what you did get done. Do not dwell on what you could not do. If, on a given day, you complete your simple to-do list before noon, push yourself to do a few more things in the afternoon. Allow breaks between activities and tasks if you need to.
8) Resist the urge to over analyze the source of your slump. This is akin to keeping an outward focus, rather than becoming self-absorbed. A little prayerful reflection might be helpful, as it could reveal some area of your life that requires attention. Your spouse and trusted friends might also offer some objective insight. As I've mentioned, certain circumstances might indicate that a medical check-up is needed. However, if you find no obvious cause for a blue period or a period of fatigue, let it pass without dwelling on it any further. Consider such a slump as merely a passing cloud in the otherwise bright sky of your life, and go on about your days as best as you can.
9) If you suffer from a chronic illness that waxes and wanes, don't let your physical discomforts dominate all of your thinking. Do educate yourself about your disease. Also, come to terms with your limitations. However, don't get so caught up in your symptoms that you reinforce a fearful or brooding mindset. This will only add to your suffering. Instead, spend some time counting your blessings. Even if you don't feel well, you will find many things to be grateful for. Also, stay interested in the lives of others around you. Ask about their interests and be a good listener. Don't overwhelm others with conversations about your symptoms or your down times. The temptation to talk on and on about our ailments grows stronger the longer we endure a chronic ailment. It also grows stronger as we grow older and acquire more aches and pains. We do ourselves and others a service by thinking of more pleasant topics to discuss. That's not to say that we shouldn't be truthful about physical suffering or that we shouldn't ever express the frustrations that come with an ailing body. Talking about these things at the appropriate times and with people who can give us support can be extremely beneficial. However, we don't need to dwell on this in every chat that we have with someone else.
10) Don't waste time moping about past regrets or worrying about the future. Live one day at a time. When you are in a slump, this may be easier said than done. However, disciplining your thoughts to making the best of today is well worth the effort. This will help your mood tremendously. And, anything that helps your mood might also provide a little extra physical energy, as well.
11) Don't wait until you "feel like it" to take positive action. When you are in a slump, you might not feel like doing much of anything. However, you do not have to have just the right feeling in order to love God, to love your family and others, and to meet what you can of your daily responsibilities. Choose to do good, and your feelings will likely follow suit. You will probably find that your spirits lift quickly. Even if they don't, you will have made a positive choice to do something good. While our feelings are important, they are our servants and not our masters. Even when we don't feel inspired, we can choose to be patient and kind, to forgive, to act and speak politely, and to put into practice all of the qualities of love mentioned in I Corinthians Chapter Thirteen.
12) While you are in a slump, the last thing you may want to do is to pick up the phone and call someone or go out to meet a friend. It is possible that you may, in fact, need some extra private time or extra time within the comfort of your family circle. However, don't let this need isolate you. Take a day of privacy if you need to, but quickly get back to your friendships. Even if you are going through a difficult time, you can probably manage at least a short phone call a day or a weekly lunch with someone. We often find solace and renewed enthusiasm in the company of the people who know us best. If your friends and loved ones have a hard time understanding what you are going through, don't take it personally. There are still benefits to be gained from keeping up your relationships.
13) Some people who are perfectly well experience occasional slumps. If you are healthy, get a physical exam once a year or so. Then, unless new or alarming symtoms presesnt themselves, don't worry about your health.
14) When you are in a slump, you may find it harder to concentrate than usual. You may also find it harder to be decisive. Here's where some short-term planning can be helpful. Plan the next week, taking into account the fact that you are not running at full speed. Plan rest times. Plan goals. Plan easy dinners. Get input from your spouse if you need help with clarifying your priorities during your slump period. Planning ahead can help you focus, even when your brain feels foggy, and it can also help you eliminate guilt about not being up to your normal schedule. If you get to feeling well before the week has ended, go back to your normal routines.
15) Sometimes, you can predict when a slump might occur. If so, plan for it. If you know that you are not your best at that certain time of the month, schedule more difficult tasks or appointments during what will be your best weeks. Also, if you have a chronic illness and you know that you have a physically taxing event on the calendar, plan for a few days of rest afterwards. Think through events that might trigger fatigue or a flare up of symptoms, and cook extra meals beforehand. Also, do some extra cleaning if possible. You can always add activities to your schedule if you feel better than expected.
16) Sometimes, when you have a chronic health issue, it's tempting to overdo on the days when you do feel well. Do not skimp on sleep or nutrition even during your peak times, however. If you exhaust yourself too much, you run the risk of bringing on another slump.
17) When in a slump, ask yourself if you have attended to the basics of life. Have you taken time to seek God? Have you gotten regular sleep? Have you been eating nutritious meals? Have you gotten some exercise? We all get off course, at times. A slump can be a signal that we need to get back on track. Sometimes, merely returning to good habits quickly restores our good health and good spirits.
18) You may not be the only one in your household who is experiencing a slump. If your family has been through a loss together, your spouse and children may be feeling a bit sluggish, as well. Or, if your family has just come back from vacation or been through the holidays, your children may need some help adjusting to their regular routine again. If you have all passed around a flu bug or some other type of illness, everyone may still be a bit tireder than usual. Don't forget to look out for the emotional and physical needs of your household.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
A Faith to Share...Otherwise Known as Some Foundations for my Faith
I've pondered whether or not to include a statement of faith on my blogs. You see, my little scribblings are about things that interest me, particularly in the realm of home keeping, and they include lots of personal opinion and experience. You know what they say about someone's opinion. That and $5.50 will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbuck's...
On the other hand, it's hard to write about my interests and my days without talking about Christ, who is at the center of it all.
Since it is God's word and not my thoughts that are of ultimate importance, I've decided simply to offer some scriptures on various subjects. These form a basis for some of my cherished convictions. I've created a link in order to separate these Biblical verses from writings that are simply my thoughts on things. I hope you'll take a look and that you'll enjoy studying these passages, too. Of course, I cannot include everything God's word has to say on these subjects, so I hope you'll use these ideas as a springboard for your own study.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Outside my window…slightly overcast
I am thankful for…a relaxed Fourth of July
From the kitchen…Hmm, what shall we have for dinner?
I am creating…hoping to make a little arrangement of roses from my garden to take somewhere with a little card attached
I am going… to take a healthy cooking class on Friday
I am reading… The Elephant's Swimming Pool by Malco Cox...a devotional book about the book of John in the Bible. The unusual title comes from a quote -- usually attributed to Augustine -- which says that John is like a body of water in which an elephant may swim, yet a child might wade.
I am hoping… my dentist appointment tomorrow doesn't turn up too many things that need fixing in my sore mouth.
I am hearing… the sound of Bonanza coming on. Don't laugh!
Around the house… laundry is underway
One of my favorite things… reading my Bible with my cat curled up by my side. Why are napping cats so relaxing?
A few plans for the rest of the week: Alas, the week includes more doctor's appointments than I care to participate in, but I hope that all this will be my 100,000 mile tune up and I will be back to tip-top running order soon.
Thanks to Grandmother Wren's site for providing the daybook links for the summer, while Peggy is on break...Here's her site address:
Friday, July 03, 2009
Happy Fourth of July Weekend!
Only by walking with God can we hope to find the path that leads to life. That is what it means to be a disciple. After all—aren't we 'followers of Christ'? Then be all means, let's actually follow him. Not ideas about him. Not just his principles. Him." ~ John Eldredge, Waking the Dead
Would you believe that we're actually having a cool spell on the Fourth of July weekend? We're only reaching the upper eighties today and tomorrow. When I took a walk this morning, I was happily surprised by how cool and pleasant it was.
Last weekend, we had family over, and I tried two whole wheat, oatmeal, and raising recipes by Sue Gregg -- or rather I combined two oatmeal recipes into one. One was a nonfat recipe, and the other contained oil. I made the nonfat recipe but added half of the oil in the second recipe to it. I was pleased with how they turned out. Everyone kept nibbling on them, including my husband --who is always somewhat suspcious that whole grain and low fat desserts will turn out tasting like sawdust. I'll post my combined recipe later.
One of my goals for the year is to try 20 new recipes. I will count this one, but, in general, if I alter the recipe in any way, I'm not counting it. I do frequently alter recipes. How about you? Do you follow recipes exactly, or do you use them as a general guide, while working with what you have on hand?
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
"We, little fishes, after the image of our Ichthys, Jesus Christ, are born in the water." Tertullian.
My lavender has spread out everywhere! I suppose, like most herbs, it is a vigorous grower. It always has been in my garden, at any rate.
In the past, I've dried it just by tying it upside down and letting it hang. Do any of you lavender growers know if there's a better way to dry it? My goal is to make sachets out of it, both for use in my closets and to give as gifts. Is there something special I should do to use it in a sachet.
The texture of my dried lavender doesn't seem to be quite as uniform as dried lavender I've bought.
This is a photo taken some time back. The onions/leeks in the foreground have now opened into huge, round, beautiful purple flowers. I was hoping that they would attract bees and butterflies to my garden, but, so far,the flowers are drawing some kind of wasp.
Friday, June 19, 2009
After looking lush and showy this spring, all three of my rose bushes -- two established and one new -- are looking less than spry. I've got some major rose surgery and nursing to do.
We are visiting our son and his wife this weekend. They have become quite the good cooks and work well together. Our son barbecued some chicken he had marinated in lime juice, olive oil, and garlic, while our daughter in law prepared the rest of the feast.
I'm reading a book called, "The $64.00 Tomato". It's about a couple's adventures in putting in a large vegetable garden on the slope of the large, old house they had bought and refurbished. I haven't gotten very far into it, but it seems like it' s going to be a fun gardening journal.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Friday, June 05, 2009
Can it be Friday already?!
I had a delightful time last night when our beloved daughter in law was in town for a work visit. My own dear husband was out of town for the evening, so she and I made plans to meet for a quick salad before she headed off to another appointment. Unfortunately, she got lost on her way to the restaurant, as I had given her only a vague address and her GPS system sent her down the wrong Interstate. Fortunately, she was able to get in touch with her husband -- my son -- who stayed on the line with her and directed her safely to our predetermined dining spot.
Have you ever wondered about some of the descriptions in Song of Solomon? We understand perfectly when the bride is described as a rose of Sharon or her eyes are compared to dove's eyes, because we find those to be lovely images. How about when the groom says: your hair is like a flock of goats; your belly is like a mound of wheat; your nose is like the tower of Lebanon?
A bride of today might tear up if her groom said those things to her. Are you saying I'm fat? Do you think I have a big nose?
According to a book I'm reading, the Bible often uses word pictures to describe the essence of a person or a thing, rather than providing an exact description of what that person or thing looked like. This is not always true; for example, we have very exact descriptions of how the tabernacle was to be built and what it looked like. However, in other cases, our attention is directed more to a person's life and character and to an object's use and meaning than to exact visual details. Sarah, we know, was a beautiful woman. Yet, how tall was she? What color were her eyes and hair? We know the exact dimensions of the ark and the wood that was used to build it, but what did the bow look like?
So, in Song of Songs, which is one of the poetic books, the groom describes his bride in terms of the response she evokes in him. He sees dignity and strength in her profile; hence, her nose is like the tower of Lebanon. He sees in her a readiness to bear children; hence, her abdomen is fertile like a mound of wheat; he sees abundance in her healthy, long hair.
This reminds me a bit of how Jesus looked at people and saw their potential. He looked at Simon and named him "the rock". He saw Nathanael and called him a true Israelite, in whom there was no guile.
How about us? Do we verbalize to our spouses and to our children the wonderful inner things we see in them? What about all of the people we encounter during our lifetimes? Do we take the time to look beneath the surface and see the inner qualities and potential in every soul? Do we know people on a deeper level or on a superficial level? I know I need to take more time to recognize and verbalize the wonderful qualities in the people around me.
Monday, June 01, 2009
onion bulbs and lavender
Outside my window...90 degrees! Vivid summer colors -- blue skies, white puffy clouds, everything green and flowery...soon, we'll move into the softer, hazy skies and colors of a southern summer, but, today, all is bright.
I am thinking... how nice it is to have a fan blowing on me and a glass of water by my side.
I am thankful for... a new Bible on order
From the kitchen... still pondering what I shall create
I am reading... still in the gospels.
I am hoping... to get some important things done.
I am creating... pillowcases, crocheted dish strainer --
Around the house... time to do a little tidying and freshening
One of my favorite things... swinging with dearest in the swing that hangs off of our back deck.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...See the onions above. These are the first onions I've ever let go to seed. They were planted last year, and I failed to pull them up before winter came. Now, they're growing and going to flower and seed. Don't laugh; these are actually the remains of a bunch of green onions I bought in the grocery store produce department last year. I stuck the ones I didn't need in the ground. I found that if you have green onions left over and you stick them in the ground, they will take root and keep growing. You can pull them up when you need them. As you can see, I didn't use them all, so they're still growing away. I am fascinated by the dome shapes they form right before flowering, so I'm just letting them go. I planted leeks alongside them last year, so some of what I'm seeing may actually be the leeks. At any rate, I think they look neat -- Don't you? I assume that once they've gone to seed like this, they might be bitter to the taste and no longer usable for cooking. Does anyone know?
Thursday, May 28, 2009
The wandering path of worry versus the straight path of trust...
I found this interesting thought in a longer quote on the lovely blog, very CALM: "Yet more than this, anxious care often leads to acts of sin. He who cannot calmly leave his affairs in God's hand, but will carry his own burden, is very likely to be tempted to use wrong means to help himself."
I don't know that I've ever formed this idea in such succinct words, but it truly hits home with me. I can look back over my life and see times when I took things into my own hands, rather than trustfully depending on the Lord to meet a need. This was especially true in my pre-Christian days, when I looked for happiness down some winding, dead-end roads. In my case, I did try some fruitless and faulty means to assuage worries and insecurities. God used some hard lessons learned to turn my feet toward Him.
One of my youthful follies was to worry about what people thought of me, which often led me to follow the crowd rather than to follow righteousness. Though it takes a much different and more subtle form now, I still find that I must guard my heart against such worry. It's interesting to me that Jesus says in John 5:44, "How can you believe if you accept praise from one another yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?" Chasing the approval of people over the approval of the Lord leads to unbelief.
I see this truth that worry leads to other sins played out in God's word. One example that springs to mind is Sarah, who worried that the Lord would never send her the child he promised. She pushed Abraham into fathering a child by her maidservant, Hagar, a move which didn't turn out well. (A lack of trust never turns out well!) Likewise, Abraham worried that a king might try to kill him in order to take Sarah, and he persuaded her to tell half-truths in order to save his skin. Yet, the Lord was watching out for them all along, and had they rested in this truth, they could have avoided painful sin. Happily, these were but episodes in otherwise faithful lives, and they are known as the father and the mother of the faithful.
Worrying can take you down some twisty, winding dead end paths. Someone once advised me, "Never make a decision based on fear." It is hard to make righteous or even rational choices when your mind is divided by worry. It is easy for the anxious mind to grasp at any means of comfort or security, even if those means provide only a temporary and deceptive relief.
Trust, on the other hand, shines a light on the straight and narrow path that leads to life. One of my favorite verses says,
Monday, May 25, 2009
More from the Trace...Trail up to an overlook.
More Thoughts On Beautifying America...
Is it just how I'm perceiving things, or have you noticed a judgmental spirit taking hold in America? I suppose I'm thinking about that more now, as I just studied Jesus' words about what is and what isn't proper judging. The Bible instructs us in some areas not to judge and, in other areas, to make some judgments for the purpose of discerning truth from falsehood and also to help others. So much depends on the context and the heart. Well, out of my heart, I can so easily cross the line from judging justly into the self-righteous judging that Jesus forbids.
My beloved and I were doing very well about not watching much media, but I've slipped back into having the TV on more. I've noticed how very much of the news nowadays is based exactly on news anchors and "experts" making judgments about situations. Since our culture now has news available to us 24 hours a day, the news networks have a lot of time to fill. So, in addition to just reporting the facts to us, they now employ all sorts of people to give their very definite opinions about what some person in the news should or shouldn't be doing or how a situation should or shouldn't be handled. Many news shows are now more entertainment shows centered on judging and arguing from a particular viewpoint.
Sometimes, the anchors and experts are very far removed from the situation under discussion and couldn't possibly know what a person's motives were. Nor, are they likely to possess all of the background information that is necessary to properly analyze a situation. Even some representatives of science, who are supposed to be unbiased, use studies and findings to further a particular agenda and a particular set of beliefs. They are critical of those who do not share their viewpoint.
It seems that we, as a nation, are ever fascinated with celebrities -- and many politicians and reality TV show participants and crime victims and other people find themselves in the category of celebrities today. We feel that we have a right to know and judge every detail about their public and private lives. This quickness to judge, it seems to me, extends itself into the blog-0-sphere, as well. This seems to be true whether discussing political events or celebrities or theories of government or religion or how to protect the environment or almost any issue you can think of. So many times, the line is crossed from presenting a well-reasoned line of thought into saying harsh, cruel, and profane things.
This censorious spirit is also found in general conversation, as well. I know two bright and creative young people -- neither of whom know each other -- who have each decided to reject Christianity largely because they view Christians as being judgmental and they don't want to be so. Yet, out of each of their mouths come the most vehemently negative statements about other individuals. I'm not picking on them; I'm just bemused by how easily the sins of judgmentalism and hypocrisy beset us all. Only Christ can help us overcome a critical spirit or any other sin, so rejecting Him leads us back into doing the very things we don't want to do. Romans Chapters Seven and Eight so poignantly describe the frustration of trying to live a righteous life without the power of Jesus. On our own, we all fall short of the glory of God, and we all need the blood of Jesus to redeem us and to purify us and to enable us to live lives of love and holiness.
Back to the media. Some people can handle watching a lot of news during the day, but I have found that I simply cannot. Listening to judgment laced commentary for too long tempts my own inner weakness toward judging and leaves me with an unsettled spirit. It doesn't matter whether I agree or disagree with the opinions stated; either way, it tempts me toward a fretful spirit. I personally am better off if I obtain enough news to know what's going on in the world and to make informed decisions without meditating on it all too much. It's also better if I direct my thoughts about the news toward how I can help and pray, rather than toward criticizing people whom I don't even know. I am happier and more productive if I limit my exposure to the media and the Internet and if I choose wisely those Internet sites which I will and will not visit.
Perhaps, this is one area where we can help beautify our corner of the world -- by rejecting the weeds of self-righteous judging within our own hearts and replacing it with the flowers of compassion, mercy, and true discernment. Perhaps, we can also school our words to speak the best and our ears to hear the best, as well.
Here's a Great Idea: Keeping a Kitchen Journal
I took this photo along a trial up to an overlook on the Natchez Trace on May 23. It doesn't have anything to do with today's post, but I thought I'd attach it anyway. I love all of the tiny flowers and fruits that God scatters everywhere in His world.
Back to the subject at hand: I read a post in which the author suggested keeping a notebook handy in your kitchen in order to jot down thoughts that come to you while you are working, your family's particular likes and dislikes, and any notes you want to make about recipes, etc.
This made total sense to me, as I always seem to think of things that I need to jot down while I am in the kitchen. Rather than trying to carry my calendar or notebook with me, it would be easier if I just kept a notebook in the kitchen specifically for that purpose. The only problem with that is that you do need to make sure that you transfer any pertinent "to-dos" to your calendar or master to-do list.
This subject reminds me of an idea I wish I had known as a young bride. I read about a woman who used one main cookbook. Every time she referred to a recipe in it, she jotted down a few phrases in the margin. Her notes were about such subjects as how the recipe turned out, who in her family liked it, who was there to eat the finished product, if the dish was prepared for a special occasion or holiday, any changes she made to the recipe, little things her children might have said or done that day, notes about the weather (She lived in the Colorado mountains, I think), and any other little snippets she wanted to include about the day's events. She didn't write large entries -- just a sentence or two. I'm sure some favorite recipes accumulated many little thoughts recorded in the white spaces on the page. Though I don't think this was her intention, this cookbook became a treasured diary of family happenings. After many years of using this book, she had recorded many precious memories.
Wives and mothers are busy people, and they sometimes don't have time to keep journals or elaborate scrapbooks. But, you can usually get a few minutes in the kitchen to jot down a little note. If you don't mind writing in a favorite cookbook, this might be an easy and quick way for you to keep a home diary. Just write down one or two sentences or phrases, and be sure to date them.
What about you? Have you found some quick and easy ways to record memories? Is it important to you to record them on paper, or do you store them in your heart? Or, are you a person who prefers to live in the now, rather than to meditate on memories -- happy or otherwise. We are all different in this area. Share with us your thoughts and ideas.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Way back in my childhood, Lady Bird Johnson, who was then the First Lady, embarked on a campaign to "beautify America". I'm too young to remember exactly what this entailed or how well it worked. But, I do know one thing: Mrs. Johnson loved wildflowers and had a desire to see them protected and planted so that people could enjoy them.
I was reminded of that recently when my darling husband and I took a trip to Texas, the state where we lived when we were newlyweds. While visiting the lovely town of Fredricksburg, we were every near a state park that had been named in honor of Mrs. Johnson.
Today, I decided to find out more about Mrs. Johnson's beautification program. I found this quote from Mrs. Johnson: "Ugliness is so grim. A little beauty, something that is lovely, can help create harmony that will lessen tensions."
Of course, as we know, the time in which the Johnsons were in Washington was a time of great turmoil in the country and the tensions to which she referred did need soothing. Large segments of the population enjoyed some degree of propserity and peace, at least on the surface. However, that peace was often interrupted by demonstrations against an unpopular war, a burgeoning gap between how generations saw things, a disagreement between political parties over how to do things, a growing drug problem, greed and materialism, racial strife, poverty, inflation, and high rates of crime. President Johnson came to power after the shocking assassination of JFK, and, during his term, Martin Luther King was also assassinated. Apparently, Mrs Johnson believed that conservation and beautification could improve the mental health of the nation, as well as aid what she saw as her husband's efforts to fight crime, to fight poverty, and to otherwise improve the well-being of the country.
Mrs. Johnson started with an effort to clean up Washington, as she thought that our capital district could serve as an example to other cities in the nation. The Washington clean-up program was two-fold: 1) to beautify tourist areas and, thus, create a capital city that America could be proud of and 2) to provide inspiration for those citizens who lived in decaying, crime-ridden, racially tense neighborhoods by making their surroundings clean and attractive.
The First Lady did not confine her efforts to D.C. She also tackled projects to beautify the entire country, especially along the nation's Interstate Highways. It's largely due to her efforts that we have fewer billboards along our Interstates than we might have even today and that the medians are sewn with wildflowers. Apparently, as part of her efforts, she also inspired school children to scatter wildflower seeds, training them to prize nature's beauty, as well. In her later years, Lady Bird devoted herself to preserving Texas' trees and flowers.
Lady Bird Johnson seems to have garnered tons of support for her ideas, and, while he was alive, her husband backed her efforts, as well. Did some find her ideas to be impractical? Did they wonder how ridding the nation of billboards and roadside auto graveyards, while building new benches and planting flowers could heal a nation beset by such looming problems? I don't know. I did see the title of a speech from 1969 that said, "If you really want to beautify America, feed a child." I have no idea if the speech was making a pointed comment about the Beautify America campaign or simply drawing attention to impoverished school children in need of proper nutrition.
How much did Lady Bird Johnson's work impact our nation? Did her efforts to clean up neighborhoods and highways and to conserve our nation's flora effect lasting benefits? Did it really soothe tensions and heal great hurts in our society? I don't know enough about that to make an assessment, though I do enjoy all those wildflowers that are part of her legacy to the country.
Today, we have made great progress in overcoming racism. However, we are fighting another unpopular war -- albeit one that has more support than the Vietnam Conflict did in the Johnsons' Day. Plus, we still have poverty and crime, the rates of which go up and down over time, but never go completely away. We are still a populous divided over which political solutions we think will really fix our problems. We are experiencing the fallout from the sixties' in terms of a relaxed attitude towards abortion and morality and problems that have resulted therefrom.
While I am very happy to live in our country, with our system of democratic representative government, I don't look to any government program to eradicate all the ills of a fallen world. Though the Lord does determine the times and places for the temporary governments of this world, it will be His Kingdom that lasts forever. Any real victory over the pain that results from sin and death rests with Him and His reign.
Having said all that, I do think that somewhere in the legacy of Mrs. Johnson's Beautification program, there must be some inspiration for us today.
What if each one of us embarked on our own personal campaign to beautify America -- or, rather, to beautify our little corner of it. How about beautifying our homes? Our neighborhoods? And, while we're at it -- how about beautifying the blog-o-sphere? Is it just me, or does anyone else find the snarly comments, mean language, and rude assumptions that litter the information highway to be even uglier than physical trash on physical roadsides?
I'm not necessarily thinking just of planting flowers and eliminating physical eyesores, though I do believe that lovely surroundings can be inspiring. But, what about scattering everywhere seeds of faith, kindness, thoughtfulness, unselfishness, wholesome and healing words, and loving deeds?
Of course, for me, embarking on my own personal Beautification program starts with eradicating weeds and clearing out junk in my own heart, as well as sewing good and lovely thoughts into the soil of my inner being. From there, it involves dying to my natural selfishness and consciously reaching out to others, making the most of every opportunity.
Here's to beautifying our little corners of the country and the world!
Monday, May 18, 2009
Outside my window... sunny, with flowers and green everywhere! It's gorgeous.
I am thinking... how much fun it was to have a wee little man visit for a couple of hours, even though he didn't quite get his nap out.
From the learning rooms...God has brought home to me in a number of ways lately the importance of always learning to know Him more deeply and how to love others better.
I am thankful for... the gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure my husband gave me for Mother's Day and for the calls and thoughtful gifts from my children, as well.
From the kitchen... beans and a starch with veggies.
I am wearing... blue dress, no shoes, hair up. I really need to get those shoes on to do a proper job of house keeping, but I love to run around barefoot inside during the warm months.
I am reading... Kingdom Come -- a study of David Lipscomb and James Harding
I am hoping... to get to many tasks that need doing.
I am creating... pillow cases -- See my other blog: Project Home Economics to follow my progress -- as well as a crocheted dish strainer.
I am praying... for my loved ones, always.
Around the house... All is quiet; laundry is going.
One of my favorite things... blooming roses.
A few plans for the rest of the week... I have an unusually packed week, with some happy things, but also medical appointments, so I am praying for stamina