Saturday, March 31, 2007

Hello, Spring

As we say goodbye to March, let’s say hello to Spring. She was officially due about ten days ago, but was a bit hesitant to push her way in at that time, as Winter can be a bit of a ruffian. He was, unfortunately, arrogant and determined to overstay his allotted time again this year, a bit sour because his presence was interrupted by Unseasonably Mild for more days than usual back in December and January. Another reason for Winter's cantankerous behavior is that Snow had called and cancelled out several times until late in the season. Since Snow was a no show for so long, at least around here, Winter made a determined effort to not let him make a mockery of the whole thing, so he forced Snow into a couple of weak appearances late in the juncture.

At any rate, Spring has haltingly arrived and hopefully Winter will not attempt any curtain calls. She’s rather shy, you know, and as I said, Winter can be a scary sort of fellow when he’s disgruntled.

Dear Spring, she’s such a sweetie, kind and caring in so many ways, even with her tendency towards weepiness. Even when she’s delayed, isn’t it so nice of her to send Mr. Robin and Mr. Cardinal to serenade our weary souls and lift our hearts? Crocuses often have to endure the bitterness of Winter’s last ditched bites, but Spring tells them to lift their heads courageously and do their duty for a struggling humanity. Sweet Spring. How lovingly she summons the smiles of her sisters, Warmth and Sunshine, to cheer our spirits and call us out of our housebound existences, ready to walk, bike, garden, and so much more that strengthens and enlivens not just our spirits, but the bodies as well.

I am so thankful that she has come afresh, in all her beauty, aren’t you? I have no doubt that our Father in heaven sends her to us every year. We need her. I for one will receive her with a warm welcome and thank Him for Spring this year, once again. Even though she does bring caterpillars.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thursday Thirteen 1

Thursday Thirteen is a blog meme which occurs every Thursday all over blogdome. Folks share thirteen things about everything under the sun and its purpose is for bloggers to connect with each other and get to know each other. At first, I made the decision not to get involved for various reasons which I won’t go into, but after reading more about it and after the response I received from an inquiry to the official website, it seems you’re not obligated to use their code or join their blogroll. So, going under that assumption, I changed my mind and have decided that I’ll post my thirteen whatevers as an “outsider” rather than and “insider”, and certainly not every week. Hopefully, I’m right that they are also flexible about using the header graphics. Perhaps some of you, my friends, will want to check this out.

After that long explanation, here is my first Thursday Thirteen post. I’ll pose a question to myself: If you could choose, what thirteen qualities of character would you most like to see in your grandchildren? So far Selena is my only grandchild, but I hope there will be more. Here is my answer:

1. Obedience – I hope they learn to obey at a young age. It may help them to obey God as they grow older.
2. Unselfishness—“It’s not about me.” Little ones like Selena haven’t learned that yet, but I hope it becomes characteristic in her life as time goes by.
3. Honesty—I pray they’ll be truthful and shun deceitfulness.
4. Industry—How much they’ll accomplish in life and for the Lord if they will be hard workers!
5. Courage—Oh, that they won’t fear to do what’s right, especially while they are young.
6. Compassion—May they be caring and concerned about others, with a desire to give a helping hand.
7. Thankfulness—You may not have noticed, but this is often lacking in today’s society.
8. Forgiveness—People will always fail them. They will have a hard life if they can’t forgive. Besides, Jesus requires it.
9. Self-control—If there’s a lack here, it will lead to all kinds of ills.
10. Contentment- What a blessing to see someone who is satisfied with the little things in life. Complaining is quite the vogue nowadays.
11. Loyalty—Another rare jewel. Faithfulness to family, friends, church and country.
12. Generosity—There are so many ways to give. I hope it gives them joy.
13. Humility—J.C. Ryle said that this is the rarest and most beautiful of graces. “Please, Lord, give this virtue to my grandchildren. It will help with all the others.”

I wonder what graces you desire for your children and grandchildren. Only Jesus can mold their characters. So let's all pray that they'll come to know Him.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An Addendum

This is an addendum to yesterday’s post. By the time I got to the evening hours, I realized that there was no way that I was going to be able to do anything at all regarding the income taxes. I was called by too many household chores which had priority. So, I decided to wait and get started today when I was fresh. First thing this morning though, I got a call from Bev who came down with a stomach virus overnight and needed help today with the baby. Sad for her, but great for Neesie and me. Now don’t you think I’d rather help take care of my granddaughter than do the income taxes? Yippee! We had a great day in almost eighty degree weather!

Maybe I’ll think of another excuse tomorrow. And we teased Bev, who some of you know was almost going crazy with her state taxes yesterday, that it seems she’ll do anything to get out of it—even to a the extent of a stomach thing!

Monday, March 26, 2007

This Too Will Pass

As your days, so shall your strength be. Deut. 33:25

I’m coming on with a prayer request. Even though I did have a blessed Lord’s Day, had sweet fellowship with the brethren at church and home, I still felt grumpy when I woke up today. I know a big reason for this is that I’ve purposed to start working on our income taxes today. Every year, I have this same attitude about doing our taxes. If there’s anybody out there who enjoys this less than delightful American privilege, please raise your hand! I've got to to pull myself together here. Pray that I'll have a better attitude. I should play the “glad game” again with my daughter Beverly, who posted about that a few weeks ago. I need to be thankful for the money that has to be accounted for and for the strength of mind and body to do it. I’m also grateful (I think) for the H & R Block online program that I used for the first time last year, which makes it a bit easier. And if I really do get going on it today, I’ll be happy that it will be earlier than it usually is. It’s normally April when it gets started.

I want to post a hymn. We sang this last night at church and we found out that this is the favorite of one of our members. This lady has trials in her life and I can see why she loves it. I hope someone reads this today and is uplifted. It was written by a Swedish woman, after a great tragedy in her life when she was just 26 years old. So these words came from a broken heart. If there are any broken or troubled hearts out there, hopefully these words will help ease your burden. When I think about the trials that some people are going through, my grumpiness over the income taxes seems so petty. These moments are going to pass anyway.

Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what he deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day the Lord himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares he fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow’r,
The protection of his child and treasure
Is a charge that on himself he laid;
“As your days, your strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me he made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust your promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within your holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

~Linda Sandell Berg, 1865

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Have a Nice Lord's Day

Tomorrow is Sunday, the Lord’s Day. Are you going to be in church? If health and circumstances don’t prevent you, will you be worshipping God in His house with other believers? If you’re like me, you consider it a blessed privilege and a joy to gather together with other saints and praise our God once a week on His day. I hope it’s a day that all of us always hold dear to our hearts.

Are you teaching your kids about the importance of this day? I know a book that will help you. I am still highly recommending this book and urging you young parents (and older grandparents) to look into it. Leading Little Ones to God by Marian M. Schoolland will really help you teach your children about God and the Bible, including helping them to understand about the Church, worship, and Sunday. (See Sections 77 and 78 in particular.) Hope many of you can get this book soon—a picture of it is on the sidebar. The place I’m linking to has it at a good price!

And I hope your time tomorrow, meeting with the Savior and His people is sweet!! Blessings until next week.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Where Are They?

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10

Where are they? Those being persecuted, where are they enduring their various forms of suffering? They’re in China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Columbia, India, Iran, Cuba, Indonesia, Egypt, Russia, Laos, Bangladesh, North Korea, Afghanistan,…The list goes on and it’s long. Too long.

Where are they? Whatever you and I have included in our plans for today, whatever dreams we may be dreaming, or worries we may be worrying, persecuted believers are somewhere suffering their afflictions. Some of their miseries are more than we can allow ourselves to think about. I’m thankful for Voice of the Martyrs, which has been serving the persecuted church for many years, bringing the “somewhere” closer to us, and giving us the opportunity to help as our circumstances allow.

It’s not pleasant to see their bloody, tear stained faces, but we cannot and must not turn away. So I’ve decided that I’ll join other bloggers who are writing occasional posts devoted to this worthy cause. Primarily, I’ll be writing about this at my business blog, but sometimes I hope to write something here too.

I don’t ever remember writing an acrostic before, but thought I’d try my hand at this one. It’s my way of reminding all of us of what is true about these persecuted believers, even while they are suffering:

P recious in God’s sight
E ternal life is theirs
R edeemed by the blood of Christ
S anctified—set apart unto God
E nduring affliction for His sake
C ross-bearers – eventual crown wearers
U nion with Christ
T heirs is the kingdom of heaven
E lected before the foundation of the world
D elivered from the penalty of sin

Hallelujah! Go to the
VOM blog to read about specific situations, and please remember to pray. And remember, God knows where they are.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sneaky Nutrition - Milk

…desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. 1 Peter 2:2

Serve up the calcium to your family! Serve up the healthy bones and teeth! But that’s not all. Did you know that this wonderful mineral helps our hearts to beat regularly and the old muscles to contract like they should? I could go on and on talking about our old friend calcium. It’s one of God’s most important provisions nutrient-wise. Our kids need it and we need it. I know it’s available from many sources, but as far as I’m concerned, milk is the most convenient and most popular way to get it. So, this is a plug for milk.

I know I’m not a cow, but at this stage in my life and I suppose since I was weaned (not too terribly long ago), it’s been cow’s milk for me. As far as I know, there is an abundant supply of calcium in it—and protein and other good stuff. Okay, some folks are big on goat, soy, rice, sheep and other milks, and other people have various intolerances. I know about these things. That’s not my point here. I’m here today to talk about the fact that I don’t like to drink milk, but I do like to eat it. I have a daughter who has the same problem. I thought it might be nice to discuss some of the ways we can get more of this precious white beverage into our systems to deliver calcium (and much more) to our teeth, bones, muscles, nerves, arteries, and other bodily mechanisms that need it:

1. In recipes, I’m a big proponent of evaporated skimmed milk. You’re supposed to dilute it with an equal amount of water, but I often don’t. Use it full strength in some recipes and get a double portion of the nutrients without added fat. You might want to find instances when you can do this. Add it to coffee or tea instead of regular milk.

2. Add non-fat dry milk to some of your muffins and other breads, even when you put in the regular liquid form listed in the ingredients. Usually a fourth of a cup doesn’t affect matters too much. Live dangerously and try it! Adjust next time if need be and I take no responsibility if your muffins fall!

3. Have macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and creamed vegetables a lot. Use the canned skim whenever you can. I know it’s less flavorful with the non-fat version, but it’s worth adjusting yours and your children’s taste buds to the lighter versions.

4. Have hot cereals often. They’re quite good with the fat free variety poured straight out of the can.

5. Remember to have
“Skinny Pancakes” when you can. Lots of calcium and protein there.

6. Here is my favorite rice pudding recipe. I keep changing it over time, but this is the way I make it now. It’s nice to have it cooking in the oven on a cold, rainy or snowy day. It takes long and smells good. Cook until the liquid is absorbed; it bakes into a golden brown color. Sometimes I have it for breakfast, and I usually pour more canned milk on it when I eat it!

3 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1 cup water
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 cup sugar (or Splenda)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup uncooked regular rice (not converted)

Mix all ingredients and bake in slow oven (300 deg.) for about 3-1/2 hours.
Note: Sometimes I use brown rice and cook in crockpot for 8-10 hours.

If you and/or your children enjoy a tall glass of milk, that’s all the better. Hopefully, you have three or four a day like they say you should. But if you’re like me and some others who don’t like to drink it, maybe you can sneak it in by trying some of these other ways.

As I final word, I hope the Bible verse at the top will be a reminder to all of us to get in that needed milk of the Word on a daily basis. That’s even more important!

Friday, March 16, 2007

ME2 Response

Well, here is my promised “take” on “The Jackdaw and the Pigeons” fable:

My Moral: A lack of contentment often brings unfavorable repercussions. God has made each one of us as He sees fit (He is the Potter, we are the clay) and He provides for us from His bounty as it pleases Him. Coveting and envy have no real place in the life of His children, and as this little fable teaches, these failings often lead to deceit and sometimes far worse, resulting in lost blessings. In some places this fable is called “The Vain Jackdaw”, this title alerting us to an issue of vanity also. Need I say more? When, if ever, does self-love lead to a good end?

Thanks for the responses! I notice that the two married ladies saw lessons similar to mine. The two younger girls who took a stab at this moral come from a different perspective, which had gone unnoticed by me. They had legitimate words of wisdom concerning the two “groups” in the fable; their lessons relating to the pigeon and jackdaw communities were worth our consideration. If you get a chance, read the responses by Sara and Neesie. Thanks, girls, I am finding that I often get fresh insights from listening to the young.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Much to Learn

Later today, I am expecting to be at tea with a small group of six ladies of various ages. I’ll be the oldest one there and Selena will be the youngest. Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot to count Selena. Seven people will be there counting my dear granddaughter. I’m worried about her manners, though. You know, when we’re at tea our best manners should be in practice. But I’m afraid Selena will probably do some things that will violate the standards of good behavior that we should have for such occasions. I think she might belch loudly while we’re at the table or maybe do something even worse. Sometimes, actually usually, she decides that being at the table is a good time to “poop” (excuse me), and it’s always quite noticeable. You see, she’s not courteous enough to be reserved about it. Another thing she’ll probably do is bang her spoon or plastic cup on her highchair tray and make a display of herself. Ladies should never be brash and draw attention to themselves, you know. Well, let’s hope she’ll be forgiven because of age. But let’s hope she’ll learn by and by.

These little ones have so much to learn, don’t they? They need to learn manners and they need to learn about life in general. But more than anything, they need to learn about God. And, of course, we need to teach them. A month or so ago, I briefly mentioned one of the treasures I have on one of our bookshelves, one that has been in my home for over twenty years. I wanted to make a point of recommending it here. If you want to teach very young children good Bible doctrine, then this volume would be at the top of any list of books you want to get.
Leading Little Ones to God , a Child’s Book of Bible Teachings, by Marion Schoolland was first published in 1962 and has stood the test of time. [Cover picture on sidebar.] It is broken down into 86 sections starting with “Our Hearts Ask for God” and ending with “Praise to God Forever.” Each section is a perfect length to read to children who are quite young or to use at family devotions. Each has a Scripture verse, a suggested Bible reading, a hymn, and a prayer.

I guarantee that your little precious ones will learn much about Jesus from the time your family spends together in this beloved book. They’ll learn about who He was and what He came to do. And as they do, you will be leading your little ones to God.

While you’re doing that, don’t forget to teach them their manners.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mind Exerciser Number Two

I mentioned before that I’ve been a fan of Aesop’s Fables for some time, one of my passions being to rewrite them for children, trying to keep out the brutality or violence which is often featured. As you may already know, they are fun to read and usually come with a moral. It’s been my experience that frequently you will see a lesson other than the moral that’s given and oftentimes a fable can be applied several different ways.

Well, here’s one for you today, adapted just a bit. I see a particular lesson here, and I wonder if there are not several applications. There probably are. Read it and see what you think. If you feel inclined, tell us. There’s no right or wrong on this and no winner. Just a little exercise in thinking. Next Friday, I’ll give my version of the moral, which I’ve already written out on paper. Enjoy!

The Jackdaw and the Pigeons

Once there was a jackdaw who was watching some pigeons in a farmyard and noticed how well they were fed and how well they got along. Filled with envy, he determined that he would disguise himself as one of them, in order to secure a share of the good things they enjoyed. So, he whitened his feathers and slipped in among the pigeons one evening just as it was getting dark. As long as he kept silent he escaped notice, but soon he grew bolder, and feeling very jolly in his new home, he burst into a hearty laugh. His voice betrayed him and at once the pigeons saw through his disguise. They pecked at the poor jackdaw unmercifully and drove him out from among them. Afterwards, he tried to join the other jackdaws again, but his old friends did not recognize him in his white dress and would not allow him to eat with them and drove him out from their society as well.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

About the Wind...

Whatever the Lord pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places. He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightening for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries. Psalm 135:6-7

Last night while I was in bed the wind was howling like an angry madman. I didn’t dare look outside at our tall, old oaks, which don’t need much to cause them to bend and sway like someone in a drunken stupor about to pass out. I tend to worry that they’re going to pass out on me and my house! Last night, the fierceness of the sound was worse than ever, so I buried my head under the covers, worrying my usual worries. The Lord gave sleep, thankfully, through most of it. But I should have remembered that it was He who had sent the wind.

When I got up this morning the first thing I saw was that the hanging feeder, which is the gourmet center of our restaurant, had fallen to the ground and pieces had broken off. I thought it was done for and, of course, my “customers” were noisily flying from branch to branch in protest. My first thought was to get over to WalMart for a new feeder (that’s how devoted I am), but my dear husband suddenly appeared, somehow salvaged what was left, and put the feeder back up. I tell you, he’s a Wonder Man! It wasn’t the best start to a new day, I was thinking, but then I needed to remember that the Lord had sent the wind.

So, listening to the news, we hear about all of the destruction in Alabama caused by tornadoes. I hear about the President’s visit there, about the unbelievable damage to property, about families whose lives have been torn apart, and about the loss of lives, even young lives. Well, again, I need to remember that it was the Lord who had sent those winds. I don’t and can’t understand why, but He sent them. And as I’ve said before, we have to keep on trusting, even those things we don’t understand.

Every day, I have been hearing more reports from various fronts about this one and that one who are being buffeted by a tempest. A tempest of sickness, or of death, or of some other heartache. Even though today my worst catastrophe so far has been a fallen bird feeder, I don’t want to forget about the many storm battered folks I’ve been hearing about lately. We all need to remember that there are going to be times when we’re going to be whacked by the gale forces. I hope when they come, that we’ll remember that the Lord sends the wind. And that He’s in it. In it with us. Even if we don't understand it.

I know this is similar to my post a week ago, but it still seemed to be what I needed to say today. Hopefully, I can be a bit more cheerful next time. Today’s poem from Streams in the Desert may not apply exactly, but I couldn’t resist it. Especially since you know that I’ll take any chance I get to post something about my little feathered friends. And as we found out last night, winter is still with us:

The soft, sweet summer was warm and glowing,

Bright were the blossoms on every bough:
I trusted Him when the roses were blooming;
I trust Him now...

Small were my faith should it weakly falter
Now that the roses have ceased to blow;
Frail were the trust that now should alter,
Doubting His love when storm clouds grow.

--The Song of a Bird in a Winter Storm

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Happy One-Half Birthday, Sweetie!!

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. Psalm 139:14

Tomorrow our little “Leana Beana” will be a half year old! It’s hard to believe that she has been with us, in the flesh, for six whole months. She’s still a little bitty thing, and we love every inch of her, as tiny as she may be. Time has gone so quickly since the day that I made that
post announcing the arrival of our first grandchild. She’s learning so much, some things which are hard for her, but she’s delighting in life, while happily investigating and enjoying her world. She can eat real food now, can pick things up with her fingers, and is almost sitting up alone—so “life is good,” as her daddy often says.

How thankful her PopPop and I are for her, having loved her since she was in the womb. We still hope for all of the same things for her as we did last summer when I made that first official post as a blogger, over at the initial Yahoo blog at our business site. Most particularly from that post, I hope that someday when she’s asked the first children’s catechism question: Who made you, Selena?, that she’ll answer with a resounding: GOD!

May she know His love early. And may she love Him early, is my fervent prayer.

Early let us seek thy favor;
Early let us do thy will;
Blessed Lord and only Saviour,
With thy love our bosoms fill:
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still;
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still.

Friday, March 02, 2007

ME1 - We Have a Winner!

I promised that I would give the answer to Saturday’s riddle today and I’m here to do that and to announce that there is a winner. The answer is “fingers” and even though it was ever so hesitantly, our friend Sara was the first to say it. Mark and Beka got it too (but too late) and I’m proud of them that they figured out the “Let your fingers do the walking” part from the old yellow pages ads. (See line 5.) So, here’s how it goes:

Count on us, if ever need be,
Flexible and useful, so are we.
Always available, if ask you would,
Helped small men and great men who knew we could.
In times past, tramped to find what you need,
Now call on helpers who have much more speed.

Who are we?

Line 1. Some people still resort to counting on their fingers. Sometimes I do.
Line 2. Mine aren’t as flexible as they used to be, but for most people they are.
Line 3. Is there anything more available?
Line 4. Whose fingers haven’t helped them, no matter who they might be? (Unless, of course, there’s a handicap.)
Line 5. I already mentioned that one.
Line 6. Not too many people use the yellow pages anymore. We just let our fingers call on computers to find what we need.

Okay! I promised an “ad” for the winner, so here goes: Sara is a sweet young lady, about to graduate from high school which she does at home. She has a blog over at Xanga which she calls “Princess” (the meaning of her name). She posts hymns and songs, Scriptures, cute pictures, and she tells about some of the goings on in her life. Her blog reflects a young woman of God, seeking to glorify Him. Go visit her whenever you can!

Next week or so, maybe we’ll try something else to work that old soft mass in the skull, hopefully to make it more useful for God.