Seasons of Life

What a joy it was to become a grandmother when my first grandchild was born. It was one thing to love our son, but there is something so precious about holding your child’s baby. It seems like yesterday that he was just a toddler running around our home at warp speed. This week he went to middle school. How did that happen? That little boy grew to be taller than I am and is ready for the next stage in his life whether I am ready or not. 

My daughter has two little girls who are six and three. They started first grade and Pre K 3 year olds. This is the first time that both girls have been gone all day to school. I have spent the last few years going to their home on Tuesday afternoon to keep them on Wednesdays. The younger one and I had all day on Wednesday just for the two of us while the older granddaughter was in school. Of course I had both of them during the summer. We have had so much fun cooking, painting, drawing, and doing crafts. We added science experiments to our list of things to do this summer. We memorized the Frozen movies and sang like we were the main characters. We almost wore the rocking chair out with all of the books we read. We have loved reading Bible stories, too. My favorite time is bedtime and the snuggles that I get from sleepy little girls. There is something about rocking a precious little one when they are falling to sleep. Then, there is the joy to pray over each one for salvation, safety, good health, and that person that will marry them one day. 

Just as children grow in the blink of an eye, the life of a grandmother changes quickly, also. On the first day of school, I waved to them as their mother drove both of them to school. The silence in the house was deafening. The only noise was the occasional sound of the ice maker. 

This is a new season of life for me. I will no longer be needed for all day on Wednesday until next summer arrives. Yes, I will still visit and play with the girls but it will not be the same. Our scheduled visits are over. I will cherish all of the time we have spent together. They are changing so fast. 

Before I know it, they will be in middle school and the grandson will head to college. I rejoice that all three of them are happy and healthy and doing what children are supposed to do. I pray that God will protect them each day and keep them safe. I pray that they will learn what is set before them to learn and then build on those skills the next day. I pray that they will seek God’s divine will in their lives and live life to the fullest. 

This week, I have just been reminded once again that:

1 For everything there is a season,

a time for every activity under heaven.

2 A time to be born and a time to die.

A time to plant and a time to harvest.

3 A time to kill and a time to heal.

A time to tear down and a time to build up.

4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.

A time to grieve and a time to dance.

5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.

A time to keep and a time to throw away.

7 A time to tear and a time to mend.

A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

8 A time to love and a time to hate.

A time for war and a time for peace.

9 What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 NLT

Making It Home: Cooking From the Heart

“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31:31

When I think of home, I think of food. I love a good, home cooked meal. Now that there are just two of us, I don’t cook as much. I remember going through cookbooks and figuring out something new to try. I don’t have as many cookbooks anymore. I find it easier to google a recipe and look at the choices that come up. Those recipes are generally very good and easy enough to prepare. But sometimes, getting a recipe off the internet just doesn’t seem good enough.

That’s when I go back to the little brown box with the decoupage rose on top with my mother’s recipes. Some are in her handwriting and some are in mine. Some recipes are on 3×5 note cards and some are on little pieces of paper. Others are typed. I know the typed ones are the ones she shared with others. People always wanted her recipe for Sour Cream Pound Cake, Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, and her Chocolate Pound Cake with Never Fail Chocolate Fudge Icing. I have enjoyed making her recipes and these are some of my family’s favorites. I don’t have to ask what kind of cake my two adult children want for their birthday.

There are other recipes that are special to me too. I want to be sure that even with the convenience of internet recipes, these recipes get saved through the years. I have begun to digitize the recipes in my Mother’s handwriting even with the places that have cake batter and splatters on the recipes. My Mother’s favorite punch recipe and her favorite Date Nut Loaf that she made at Christmas are still favorites of mine. I can smell the smells of these favorite foods in my memories of long ago, or I can make it myself and remember all over again. These special recipes bring my memories of home to life and make me remember what it was like to be a child helping my mother cook and then as a mother myself, to cook with my children. The love shared in the kitchen and the smells of delicious food is a wonderful memory of home to be passed through the generations. 

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Share with us in the comments one of your favorite recipes!

Praying on Cruise Control

It had been an unusually busy Sunday afternoon and my time got away from me. I had a meeting at church at 5:45 for a project some of us were working on. I had updated my notes for this meeting but had not printed them. It was time to leave but I had to print my notes. I turned to my computer and clicked print. I heard the printer start up so I ran (walked quickly) for my shoes. The printer was still printing. Ok, purse, folder, phone, keys. What was that? Beep! Beep! Beep! Printer problems. No paper. Ok. I can handle that. I looked at the time. I was really trying to be on time today.

Finally, the pages were printed. I opened the basement door to call to my husband to tell him I was leaving. He called back that he had turned my car around and it was ready to go. How nice. It had been parked in an unusual place that day because of what was going on in the basement. As I pulled out of the driveway, I checked the time. I really don’t like being late.

I hurriedly zipped around the curves on the main road and was making up for lost time when I realized I had not prayed for this meeting before I left home. As I said, “Dear Heavenly Father” I noticed the speed limit sign. Then I glanced at my speed. I can not pray and speed at the same time. God convicted me of that a long time ago. Why did God give me such a lead foot? I began to slow my pace. It took a while but I got my speed back to the speed limit and pressed cruise control. Ah! Now I can pray. “Please forgive me once again for speeding. Thank you for your loving, merciful forgiveness.”

Oooops, There was another speed limit sign. 35 miles per hour. I have trouble driving 35 miles per hour on this road. I know all of the curves and could drive it with my eyes closed. Then the speed dropped to 30 miles per hour. Where did that sign come from? 30 miles per hour? You have got to be kidding me! There was no way I could do that. The cars were already backing up behind me. Nobody drives 30 miles per hour on this road. But I need to pray.

I was almost to the church by now. As I stepped out of my car and grabbed my notes, I thanked God for a safe drive to the church. I have frequently been told that the angels jump off when you go over the speed limit. I cannot find a biblical reference for that but a pastor told me that so it has to be true. As I hurried into the church, I asked God to remind me to pray before I left home the next time.

James 4:17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:9]

Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

What is Beauty?

How do you define Beauty? A beautiful person, a beautiful day, a beautiful song…

I recently went to a beauty pageant. I grew up watching the Miss America Pageant. It was fun to dream about being the most beautiful contestant and to be the winner. The problem was, I did not usually agree. I understood that there were judges who had the responsibility to make their choice but they rarely chose who I would choose. 

The pageant I went to was with little girls. They were all beautiful. Yes, some had been in many pageants and had everything from a suitcase that folded out to be a makeup table with mirrors to the power strips to plug in all of their curling irons. Some knew how to walk and how to turn. Some had very expensive dresses. There were some that were there just to get all dressed up and have fun. There were many in this category. They were precious. The pageant started out with babies. How does anyone decide which baby girl in tutus, ruffles, and bows is the most beautiful? Then there were several different age categories during the pageant. It was cute to watch the girls sitting in the audience with their friends waiting for their turn. The giggles, the twirls, the looking at each other’s dresses…….

 I would never make a good judge. 

I know that judges have certain things they look for and have a judging process. I get that. Yes, I know it was a beauty pageant. The judges were looking on the outside – The overall package, the dress, the hair, the makeup, the walk, the poise. All of the things that come from their definition of beauty. It was a pageant, after all.

It is just that is not how I define “Beauty.” Do you know the expression “Beauty is as beauty does?” One of the most beautiful ladies I have ever known would have never won a beauty contest. She would have never have even considered it. She was burned as a child. She never thought of herself as being beautiful and yet she was the first to help in time of need. She was the best cook and she took the best food to those who needed to feed their family in a time of crisis. She could sew and would make beautiful clothes for those who could not clothe their children. She loved the Lord. Her beauty came from inside. I don’t remember her name after all these years but I remember that she was always there and she could always be counted on. Her beauty came from the heart and from all that she was.

It is just that is not how I define “Beauty.” Do you know the expression “Beauty is as beauty does?” One of the most beautiful ladies I have ever known would have never won a beauty contest. She would have never have even considered it. She was burned as a child. She never thought of herself as being beautiful and yet she was the first to help in time of need. She was the best cook and she took the best food to those who needed to feed their family in a time of crisis. She could sew and would make beautiful clothes for those who could not clothe their children. She loved the Lord. Her beauty came from inside. I don’t remember her name after all these years but I remember that she was always there and she could always be counted on. Her beauty came from the heart and from all that she was.

Are you beautiful? What kind of beauty do you have? Does the Beauty of our Lord splash out from you when you walk past people? 

Isaiah 52:7 NIV “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news…” 

Psalm 139:14  “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

1 Samuel 16:7  But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

I am not big on participation trophies either, but I was so happy to see that all of the girls received a Princess trophy. They were all beautiful!

When the Power Isn’t There

My car was packed and I was ready to go. As I pressed the Start button, all I heard was Click, Click, Click. My  first thought was that maybe my foot was not securely on the brake so I tried again.

Click, Click, Click, was the only sound I heard. Questions started running through my mind like Do I have the remote, Are the indicator lights on, Is there a message on the dashboard? I thought Ok now, let me try this again. Just because it didn’t start the first two times doesn’t mean it won’t start the third time. The car went Click and then everything was silent.

As I got out of my car, I reached for my phone and then reached back in the car for the remote. As I closed the door, my car locked and refused any more instructions. The remote was charged but the car was not.

As I went back in the house and figured how my fingers were going to get my remote off the keyring, I was thankful for that tiny key that I knew was inside of the remote that would ultimately unlock my car. That tiny key would be the only way that I could open the car and pull the hood release. Without that key, nothing could be done for my car. That one, tiny key that I had always known was in there but I had never even seen would provide a way for getting the necessary help I needed. That key was part of the car maker’s plan to get the driver out of trouble if the battery went dead.

God has provided us with a key to help us get out of trouble. His Word has all of the answers.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105 NIV

God’s Word is the lamp that provides the energy to make the light to guide us on our way. With God’s Word, we have the power to move forward. God’s Word provides the charge we need for our daily life.

Sometimes God works to get through to us in the silence, that moment when everything seems dim. God is always with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)

God has little nuggets throughout his Word to make it possible for us to move forward with our day. Do you need a Word from God today? It is right there for you in His Word. Even if you do not have a physical copy of God’s Word, you have your phone. Go to the search and type in what you are feeling and then the word, scripture. Let God speak to you. Let him give you that charge you need to send you on your way.

The Theology of a Two-year-old

One of the sweetest sounds in the world is the voice of a child.

My 2 year old granddaughter is increasing her vocabulary, but still has long dissertations that have no word that even remotely sounds familiar. Today she has been singing “It’s a Small, Small World” at the top of her lungs. She doesn’t sing all of the words, but enough that she stays on track and I know what she is singing. We always sing when I am rocking her at bedtime.

Tonight, we sang our songs and then she started singing “Happy Birthday” to every member of both families. Then she was counting, and then she started talking in words that I couldn’t understand. My mind began to wander to the events of the day in Washington D. C. and our nation. I was thinking about the distress of the two sides that have formed in our country. I began to hear familiar words from my granddaughter singing “red, yellow, black, white….. precious in His sight, Jesus loves the children of … world…for the Bible tells me so.” How precious are the words of a child. She is listening. I pray that these words will always be in her heart and on her lips.

There is a part of me that worries about the children of today. What kind of world are we leaving to them? How will they survive. I recently saw a Facebook post about how God could have pulled Joseph out of the pit his brothers had put him in, but then he wouldn’t have ended up in Egypt to save his family from the famine. God could have kept Esther out of the king’s palace, but then she wouldn’t have been able to go to the king to save her people. God could change what is going on in our nation, but He is teaching us as He calls forth His faithful. I hope I am here to see the fulfillment of what He will do with His faithful in the years to come. We, like those in the Bible, do not always see the fulfillment of the covenant, but God is always faithful.  He always keeps his promises. Praise the Lord. 

Dear Heavenly Father, 

I give you my children and grandchildren to protect and to use for your glory. Help us to train them up in the way that they should go so that when they are old, they will not depart from it. May they grow in wisdom, stature, and in favor with you, Lord and with those around them.

In Jesus’ Holy Name I pray. 

Amen

God’s Special Spot for You

Each week as I travel to my daughter’s house, I pass through a very large intersection. It is a Crossroad of two 4-lane roads with turn lanes. The intersection is bustling with cars no matter what time of day I drive through. As I approach the intersection, I can hear horns blowing from many directions. They are not blowing at other cars but at the man on the corner. The man with the cowboy hat. The man who doesn’t care if the weather is hot or cold or if it is sunshine or rain. He bundles up in the cold weather and dresses lightly in the summer.

No matter what the temperature is, he always has on his cowboy jacket and his cowboy hat. He is there with his signs that say Jesus loves you and Jesus Saves both in English and Spanish. He waves at all the people from both directions. He acknowledges the horns that are blown to encourage him accompanied by a wave back in his direction. This is his spot of service. He has been there for years.  I look for him every time I drive through. He walks back and forth in his spot sharing a smile and a wave with his sign declaring Jesus’ love and salvation. 

God does not call all of us to stand on a corner day after day, but He does call us all to ministry. What is that special spot that God has called you to serve? 

Lue 2:36-37 (ESV) tells about Anna – “And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.”

Matthew 5:16 (ESV) – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

What spot on this earth has God placed you on to do service to him? Are you covering that spot with ministry? Are you sharing the love of Jesus with those who cross your path? Do people who see you as they pass your way see Jesus?

Matthew 25:40 (NIV) – “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us”.

Serve wherever God has planted you! “Serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

The Blessing

What does it take to be a blessing?

How beautiful it is to be blessed. We can receive a blessing from the most unexpected places.

A very dear friend of mine has recently gone to be with the Lord. His wife, Sandra, is one of my dearest friends. Vernon had a stroke several years ago and his speech was affected. Sometimes he could be understood and sometimes I could not understand anything he said. Vernon loved to tell stories. He was a big talker and always had a story to tell. I loved to just listen to him talk so when the stroke took away most of his speech, it was difficult. Many times he would talk and no words could be understood.

One of the last times I saw him before he died will always be a special memory for me. I took his favorite soup, Panera’s broccoli and cheddar soup, for Vernon and Sandra to have for lunch. Sandra put the meal out on the table and helped Vernon get to his chair. As she sat down, he looked at her and said, “Blessing.” That word was so clear. Sandra began to pray and ask God to bless their food. Then Vernon prayed. The prayer went straight from his heart to the ears of the Lord. He prayed passionately and joyfully. Even though I did not understand any of the words he prayed, I know that God did. The God who created Vernon heard and understood each and every syllable. The God who loved Vernon before he was even born, understood the prayer of his heart and his thankfulness for the food.

The God who knew the number of Vernon’s days accepted Vernon into heaven a few short weeks later. How beautiful that greeting must have been. Vernon was completely healed. He was able to worship his Lord and Savior not only with his heart but with his words. He heard Matthew 25:23, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

I will never forget hearing this blessing. I will always be blessed by a blessing heard only by God. Thank you Lord for Vernon. 

20/20 Vision: I Am Becoming My Mother

Making cookies has always been fun for me. My Mother and I baked many different kinds of cookies. She never needed a reason to bake cookies. I now enjoy making cookies with my granddaughters. They do not want the kind of cookies that have premade dough. They want to actually “make” the cookies. It is amazing how big of a mess two little girls can make while making cookies but that is part of the fun.

Recently, we were making cookies, and I was trying to read the recipe off of the chocolate chip bag. The print has been getting smaller and smaller on those bags. I was trying to read how much sugar was supposed to go in the recipe. The fraction was printed so small that I couldn’t read it. I knew my choices would be ¼, ½, or ¾ but I just could not see enough of a number to figure out what it was. I took my glasses off and still couldn’t read it. Then, I put my glasses back on and tried to adjust my glasses through all the progressions that my glasses have. I finally found a tiny area of my lens that could read the fraction. The recipe called for ¾ of a cup of sugar. Note to self: buy a magnifying glass for the kitchen. I was reminded of the first time my mother had to ask me to read a recipe for her. I thought it was funny and started laughing. She told me to stop laughing and tell her what the recipe was. I know my Mother would have gotten a big laugh from me struggling to figure out how much of the sugar I needed.

What is an area of your life that you cannot see clearly? Do you need spiritual glasses to help you to see?

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

If you need clarity in your life, look to Jesus. He is the way. Even if you cannot see clearly, look to Jesus and your vision will clear for him to help you to see the way he has prepared for you. 

Searching for the Light

Have you ever looked in the sky to see a search light? When my brothers and I were young, businesses would set up huge search lights to send out strong lights into the night sky. You could see them for miles around. Sometimes there would be just one light but others times there would be many lights all starting from the same place circling through the sky. We would climb into our car and go out in search of these lights. The light was on a rotating base and would move in a circle around the sky. We would watch for it as we moved in the direction of the beginning point of the light. My Daddy would zigzag through the roads to look for where the light was shining. There was so much excitement when we would finally find the business that was using the search lights. We would get out of the car and be so overjoyed because we had found the reason for the light. There would usually be refreshments or something fun going on. It was a celebration! We had Found the Light!!

As I think about lights in the sky, I cannot not help but think of the Star that the Wise Men saw. They knew the stars in the sky. They knew that there were stars that stayed in position and other stars that were moving stars that we understand to be planets. The Wise Men were probably mathematicians that had mapped out the heavens. They would have known the stars and would have identified them, so they would have been excited and filled with wonderment about a new star that appeared. The Wise Men were diligently looking to the heavens so they recognized the new star.

If the star was so visible in the sky, why did King Herod’s advisors not see the star?

They were not looking for it. They were not diligently studying the heavens.

Jeremiah 29:13 says, “Your will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

In John 8:12 (ESV), Jesus tells us “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” 

Are you looking for the Light? 

Are you seeking Jesus?