Thursday, February 14, 2019

Compliant Hearts vs Rebellious Hearts

Father & Daughter
by Allsa
flickr.com_photos/38484636@N06/4536997362
CC BY-ND 2.0
If you love me you will obey what I command. John 14:15

Compliant children obey the rules, keep the peace, and respect authority. They're agreeable, reliable and trustworthy, yet easily over-looked because they don't demand constant attention.

Strong-willed children break the rules, argue often, and question authority. They're disagreeable, demonstrative and usually nonconformists. They get all the attention because their behavior demands it.

As parents, we wonder how such opposite children came from the same lot.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Weeding


If you're visiting from Encouragement Cafe, welcome! Make yourself at home.

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. " Luke 8:15 NIV


Weaving through narrow, shoreline roads dotted with whitewashed gingerbread cottages, my sister and I simultaneously gasped, "How beautiful!" Peeking far above the picket fence of this corner lot a splash of nature's colors caught our attention: bright yellow, lacy white, hot pink, purple, and orange. All fashioned in their natural vases of green, this European flower garden was absolutely breath-taking.


I marveled aloud at our shared joy of flower gardens we inherited from our mother. No matter where we lived as kids, our mother always planted a flower garden. In her early retirement years she won the neighborhood "Best Garden" award for her work a number of times. One of my earliest memories is following behind her while she weeded in the hot summer sun. I'm not sure she ever formally taught me the reason for weeding or other gardening techniques but I learned just by following her.


First, weeds are sneaky. They creep up on you quickly and if they go unattended, they can choke out the healthy plants. It's essential to pull them out before they take over the whole garden.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

More Than Conquerors


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Image by US Pacific Fleet
Flickr.com_photos/compacflt/7414859100_CC BY-NC 2.0

In all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37 NIV

Death crept in, uninvited. He’d invaded my husband’s body without a sound and caught us unaware. 

My husband was familiar to the uncomfortable waves of aching pain across his abdomen, but this newer, unrelenting ache was different than six weeks prior, now accompanied by unshakable malaise.

The CT scan showed an inflamed appendix and surgery ensued. Post-surgery, he felt brand new, like he’d received a fresh release on life. 

And, he had.

The surgeon explained, “In the lottery of life, you won big!” 

Friday, January 4, 2019

More

Farmer's Market Quilt by Bennilover
Flickr.com_photos/75885098@N05/41450757415
CC BY ND 2.0
"...while every branch that does bear fruit he trims clean so that it will be even more fruitful."         John 15:2 NIV

We don't usually ring in the New Year with thoughts of pruning and discipline. No, it's usually rung in with celebration, feasting, dancing and dreams of prosperity. More, if you will, than the previous year.

More. It's my One Word for 2019 that God's given me to focus on. More. "More what?" I asked.

"More 'becoming.' More good fruit," was God's reply.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Why is saying "thank you" so difficult?

Image by petalouda62
Flickr.com_photos/30990153@N03/4833540833
CC BY NC ND 2.0
"Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?" Romans 8:32 (NLT)

Her petite frame bent low, worn from nearly a century of living. Small in stature but oh, her heart - full and generous and always giving - barely containable. One could never out-give her, never repay her. "Just say thank-you, that's all," she'd say.

Open hands to receive and a grateful heart is all she asked in return. She gave what we couldn't earn. She gave more than we deserved. All because she loved - delighted in providing for others. And today, nearly 14 years since her passing, my heart spills gratitude; not for the gifts but for the giver.

Sarah Young, in Jesus Calling reminds us, "Sometimes {God's} children hesitate to receive {His} good gifts with open hands.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Rhythm of Transformation: the Art of Waiting

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."
Hebrews 10:23

 It stood up to infant artwork, toddler hand prints, foot scrapes, furniture nicks and vacuum mishaps. Ready and armed with a scraper in one hand and half and half (not the cream but the potent vinegar and water mixture that promises to melt the toughest glue) in the other hand I felt invincible and the rhythm of stripping wallpaper began.

Spritz, spritz, scrape, peel. Spritz, spritz, scrape, peel.

It wasn't quite the waltz I imagined.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sandwiched

Sad Sandwich www.flickr.com/photos/powellburns/9911704733


Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
 for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:29-10 NIV

The phone rings and I take a deep breath wondering who's on the other end. Is it the insurance company inquiring about our snow damage? Is it my husband asking for help at the office? Is it the nursing home or my mother needing help? Maybe it’s my child needing empathy or advice or simply my grandkids asking for a special outing?

At my weakest moments when the fatigue of caring for everyone else’s needs wreaks havoc with my emotions, I fall into my husband’s arms weeping. "Where do we turn? Who's there to care for us?"

Members of the sandwich generation are everywhere. I see them on Facebook, at the grocery store, in the doctor’s office; adult children with an aging parent on one arm and their grandchildren on the other. Our parents are living longer, thanks to better nutrition and modern medicine—three and four generations needing support simultaneously. So, just when we’re starting to enjoy our empty nests, our parents, children and grandchildren all need us, too. Some days caring for the older and younger generations can leave me feeling like a soggy tuna fish sandwich!

With so many people tugging at our shirtsleeves how do we keep our sanity and build healthy boundaries for our personal lives and marriage?