Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Five: HGTV Edition

Rev Gal wil smama is redecorating her newly-built and recently-purchased home. She says "Some of the fun was picking out upgrades and major decor items to my taste rather than walking into a previously owned home that needed to be upgraded room by room (pink and teal tiles in the bathroom, anyone?) many times do you get to have a do-over on kitchen cabinets/floors/countertops? And so, my questions to you this fine Friday involve your home past, present or future..."

1) If you could, what room in the place you are currently living would you redo first?

Our bedroom. It is just too small, especially since we have a king-sized bed. I love my bedroom furniture, but it really fills up the room. "Redo" in this case woudl mean knock out a wall and extend the room out back about three square feet.

2) What is the most hideous feature/color/decor item you have ever seen in a home?

Well, I don't know if it qualifies as the worst, however the one that comes to mind right away is a lamp. The home we owned before this one was a nice, older, sound little house, but it was a 70s nightmare. I mean, we all know that the 70s was not a high point in decorating, but even for the 70s this entire house was decorated in very bad taste. The thing that made us laugh out loud, however, was a lampshade in the master bedroom. The wallpaper was red and black flocked, and in the center of the room hung a ceiling lamp on a chain covered with a bright red, fringed lampshade with plastic beads around the edge. The room looked like seventies bordello. It was so hideous it was hilarious.

3) What feature do you most covet? Do you have it? If not, is it within reach?

A hot tub in a glassed in sun porch. Alas, it is not within reach.

4) Your kitchen - love it or hate it? Why?

I love it and I hate it. It has a breakfast bar at one end that I like, a lovely view out the window over the sink, nice counters. However, it is a galley kitchen. Yuck. Much too small.

5) Here is $10,000 and you HAVE to spend it on the place you are living now. What do you do?

I put on a nice front porch, with pillars and a roof. A suitable porch for a hanging swing, playing with dolls, sipping lemonade.

BONUS: Why do you think there was such a surplus of ugly bathroom tile colors showcased in all homes built from the 1950's right through the early 80's?

Perhaps an unknown side affect of early birth control pills was a large number of babies born with just a slight degree of color blindness? Or maybe it was an undiscovered consequence of watching too much black and white television.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winter Snow

The back door to Jubilee - from the parking lot.

The front door to Jubilee - from the street.

Now aren't all you folks from warmer climates wishing you lived where I do? Huh? Sure you are.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How About You?

I found this over at Dr. Platypus' place.

I like Pentecostal joy, Episcopalian reverence, Presbyterian order, Lutheran grace, Salvation Army service, Methodist experience, Catholic mystery and Disciples of Christ ecumenism. They are my friends, not my foes, my brothers and sisters, not enemies of my family.

Walter B. Shurden

Sunday, January 25, 2009

One More Prayer--and Some Trusting and Obeying

This last week I've been praying for those of you who responded to my initial post asking if I could pray for you. Some of you I mentioned by name in the posts over this past week. That was because the request seemed to fit the topic of the day.

I have prayed for each of you whether or not I mentioned you in a post. As I looked once more today at the requests I was struck by how about half of us are seeking similar things--focus, clarity, renewed passion, direction and discernment.

This week I faced down some fears in order to be obedient to what I believe, as best as I can determine, was the prompting of God's Spirit. It was not easy, and it is not over yet. It is not likely to get easier anytime very soon.

I did not sense God's presence this past week, nor God's peace, exactly. I just became aware in a more specific way that I had to do something that I have been afraid to do. Perhaps I will share more in a future post, but for now I'll just say that my thoughts and prayers have been with those of you who, like me, long for more--more discipline, insight, focus, strength and wisdom.

As I struggled to take a frightening step of faith, I had an amusing experience. Some may call it coincidence, but I cannot. During the week of prayer, people were invited to come and spend some time in a little room designed for that purpose. There were candles, a Bible, and a small boom box that played quiet music in the background. Each day I turned the music on in the morning and left to go work in my office. Sometime each day I went back into the room for some quiet contemplation and prayer. Each time, the same song was playing. About the third time it happened I assumed that I had mistakenly set the c.d. player to "repeat" mode. I checked. I hadn't. The fourth time, when I heard the same song, I left the room and came back about ten minutes later, sure that it would be repeating. It wasn't. I checked the c.d. jacket. The player was playing through the c.d., exactly as it should.

Thursday night when I came in the room to set up a communion table before our scheduled prayer service, the same song was playing. I said aloud, "Holy Spirit, are you messing with me?"

After church today I visited with a woman from my church. She went to the bedroom to hang up my coat, and during that time I went over to her piano. A hymnbook sat open on the rack. Why did I care what page it was on? Beats me...but...there it was again. The same hymn.

The song, on the left side of the hymnal, was 'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, the same song I had heard all week at the church. And across on the right was Trust and Obey.

I get it. I'm stepping off the cliff, so to speak.

Dear Lord, be with me! I do not want to crash at the bottom of a ravine. I pray for myself and for those who requested prayer for wisdom, direction, clarity, strength...all those things I am most longing for right now in my own life. We agree together, Lord Jesus Christ, in your name, that we will know your voice, however it comes to us, that we will have the strength to trust in your goodness and mercy, and that we will obey your instructions to us. We give your our lives, once again, and we say "Do with us as you will." Amen

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Week of Prayer - Saturday

Pray for Leaders in Government

I Timothy 2:1b-2 Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

"Intercession is truly universal work for the Christian. No place is closed to intercessory prayer. No continent - no nation - no organization - no city - no office. There is no power on earth that can keep intercession out." Richard Halverson

From The Presidential Prayer Task Force come the following suggestions:

Give thanks and praise to God for the many wonderful moments in Tuesday’s Inauguration festivities, thanking God for the great joy experienced - by those who were there, by our nation and by many around the world. Praise God that there were no major incidents, and that crowds behaved well. Give thanks for the many notes of faith in our mighty God that were sounded.
Pray for members of the Senate as they continue confirmation hearings this week, giving thanks for ease of the process thus far. In a single, unanimous vote, the Senate approved Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Peter Orszag was also approved as head of the White House budget office. Pray for the continued process of inquiry and confirmation, asking the God’s will is done and the truth is revealed. Pray for President and Mrs. Obama and their daughters as they seek a local church to nurture them spiritually. They graced Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington with a surprise visit last Sunday. Pray for God’s guidance and wisdom as they seek a strong and wholesome environment.

Give thanks for the fragile peace taking hold in the Middle East, asking God to continue to move leaders’ hearts to end all violence and attacks. Pray for the rebuilding process that now must take place, asking that services will return to normal soon. Give thanks for the call to serve that has arisen from Washington this week (, praying that many will come forward to work on behalf of others, fulfilling the appeal to “serve a cause greater” than themselves. Pray for our nation to unite as we move forward under the leadership of our new President. Give thanks for the safe return to Texas of President and Mrs. Bush, thanking God for their efforts to have a smooth transition. Pray for their adjustment as they return to private life.

The first 100 days are crucial to any regime or administration. For President Obama, they are vital.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Week of Prayer - Friday

I'm late with everything today!

Pray for Those Who Need Physical or Emotional Healing

Jeremiah 17:14 O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!

"Prayer is the secret of power." Evan Roberts

Dear God, the list could last a lifetime. I thank you that you know that we are "dust" and need your strength. I pray for encouragment for Mary Beth's parents as they face the inevitable changes of aging. May they find joy in new kinds of thigs. For Doodlebugmom I ask not only for less stress but also for a release from pain, however that can come. I pray for dear Cody as he deals with a painful and distressing situation. May your comfort and also your godly wisdom, sustain him till he comes out on the other side of the emotional storm. Bless dear Iris with renewed physical, emotional and spiritual strength so that she may fulfill her calling. I pray for Cheesehead's loved ones with cancer, for Chuck G, for GA. I pray for M2P's continued journey to wholeness, and I rejoice in her victory concerning B. I pray for strength for medical helpers of all kinds. I pray for renewed hope when hope is lost, release from pain when the time is right, strengthened faith in your love, peace in uncertainty, clarity of thought, forgivness, release from fear, dispair, depression, and anguish. I rejoice that the day will come when all will be whole and tears, sorrow, pain and death will be gone! Amen

A Cabin Fever Friday Five

I host the Rev Gals Friday Five this week.

Here in snow country we are settled in to what is a very long stretch of potentially boring days. The holidays are over. It is a very long time till we will get outside on a regular basis. The snow that seemed so beautiful at first is now dirty and the snow banks are piling up. Our vehicles are all the same shade of brownish grey, but if we go to the car wash our doors will freeze shut. People get grumpy.

Of course, not everyone lives in a cold climate, but even in warmer places the days till springtime can get long. Help! Please give us five suggestions for combating cabin fever and staying cheerful in our monochromatic world.

Here are mine. Now I just need to DO them!

1. Have a party. I'd like to have a beach party if my house were larger. Without the beach of course, but with towels, tropical music, summer food, and so on. Alas, my home is small. My backyard is large, but parties in the snow are no good...

2. So many a small dinner party. Bright colors on the table, flowers (from the supermarket), happy food, fun and games.

3. Movie night with girlfriends...popcorn...pajamas...sappy chick flick or two...problem is I have to get Ken out of the house.

4. When we lived near Minneapolis we'd go to the Como Park Conservatory. I posted pictures of a winter trip there a couple of years ago. It is fabulous to go inside a humid space and see brightly colored flowers and lush greenery. I haven't found a local place that fits the bill, but I do think a trip to The Domes in Milwauikee (not all that far away) is in order soon.

5. Indoor games are a must...dig out the Monopoly, or cards, or whatever you can find, make buffalo wings and other junky food and have fun.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Week of Prayer - Thursday

Pray for Forgiveness and a Pure Heart

Psalm 51:9-11 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

"If the Christian does not allow prayer to drive sin out of his life, sin will drive prayer out of his life. Like light and darkness, the two cannot dwell together." M.E. Andross

In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells how her family sheltered Jews in their home in Amsterdam during the Second World War. They were found out and sent to a Nazi concentration camp. Corrie was the only one to survive the war and, after it, she committed herself to working for forgiveness.

Following one of her talks, a man came forward to thank her. It was a former guard from the camp, one who had been particularly cruel to her beloved sister, Betse. Corrie froze as he reached out his hand, unable to return the gesture.

Anger and resentment raged within her as memories from the camp flooded her mind. Then, she silently prayed, "Jesus, I cannot forgive this man. Give me your forgiveness." Through that prayer, she was given the grace to forgive.

Sometimes in our lives, this may be all we can do. Forgiveness may not be humanly possible, but as we read on Tuesday, with God, all things are possible. Forgiveness is a grace and a power which outstrips human understanding.

God who forgives, I ask your forgiveness for my own sin. My faults and failures are sometimes more than I can bear. Create in me a clean heart, and help me to make wise and good choices today.

I need your mercy and grace in order to forgive those who have hurt or wronged me, but I know I must do it. Like Corrie ten Boom, I ask, "Lord give me your forgiveness."

As I seek to walk in forgiveness toward others, may I also learn to forgive myself.

Ah, Lord God, that is usually the hardest of all.

I forgive others. I forgive myself. Thank you for your abundant supply of mercy! Amen

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Week of Prayer: Wednesday:

Pray for Salvation for Loved Ones

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn't slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.

“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen.” Andrew Murray

I never quite understand why some of my friends from differing streams of the Christian faith do not like to speak of "salvation" or of people being "lost." Perhaps they have seen a few too many signs proclaiming "Jesus Saves" or encountered a few too many people who think they know exactly who is lost and who is not, or who think there is only one way that can happen, and that is by repeating a prayer.

Years ago someone repeatedly painted JESUS SAVES on the sidewalks in downtown Milwaukee. Each day as I walked to work from the parking garage I would step over several of these little declarations, and I would always wonder who in their right mind would think that defacing public property was a suitable way to proclaim the good news. Well, perhaps the painter/preacher was not in their right mind. Nonetheless, "saved" and "salvation" are words used many times in scripture. "Saved" shows up 104 times in the King James Version and "salvation" 158 times. As for me, I can joyfully sing "I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see."

God of Salvation, my heart rejoices that you came not to condemn but to save. We pray today for those who are lost in despair, in fear, in prisons of confusion and brokenness and sin. We pray not just for our own loved ones (though I am naming some of those)--we pray for your loved ones--all the world. Since the song "Come Thou Fount" has been playing here for some days now, I keep thinking of the line, "Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the throne of God..." I praise you that you, God, seek us, your frail and fragile and foolish human creation. We ask that your light shines into the darkness today and that the darkness will not overcome it. We pray for all to come to your throne of grace. Seek them, Holy Spirit, until they are found. Amen

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rambling Thoughts on Inaguration Day

No one reads this blog to discover incisive political commentary. So much is being said and written today that I can't add much anyway. However, it is my blog, so may I just say...

I am not starry-eyed about Obama. So I surprised myself several times this morning as I watched the television coverage of the inauguration by needing a Kleenex. I hope and pray that our new president and his administration will continue to make us proud. I was proud today as I watched another peaceful, gracious, and uneventful (praise God) transfer of power.

I cheered both the Revs. Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery. Some said Warren's prayer was a tad exclusive because he prayed "in Jesus name" and because he closed with the Lord's prayer. I disagree. He is a Baptist Christian, and that is how he prays. I loved that he closed with the Lord's prayer, and I thought his prayer was gracious, inclusive, warm, and sincere. And as for United Methodist pastor and civil rights statesman, Joseph Lowery, I mean, was that prayer not wonderful? As he was praying I was smiling and thinking to myself, "People are going to want to say 'Amen' at the end" and then he pulled it off in the most remarkable way--and everybody said Amen!! It was great... So was Obama's speech--well, mostly--minus a couple of arrogant jibes I could have done without. I was surprised at its gravity, but somewhat relieved to hear it... The music played by four of the most talented (and ethnically diverse) musicians in the world was such an appropriate touch... And Michelle looked regal and Laura looked lovely...The Obama daughters are cute as can be...Did you see Aretha's hat? My Lord, only Aretha Franklin could wear such a hat--but she did it...

God have mercy on our new president. Four years from now he will be a very changed man.

Prayer for Barack Obama

Here is a link to the Assemblies of God General Superintendant George O. Wood's prayer for Inaguration Day.

Week of Prayer - Tuesday

Pray for Situations That Seem Impossible

Luke 1:37 For nothing is impossible with God.

"Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things 'above all that we ask or think.'" Andrew Murray

God of the Unexpected, we believe. Help our unbelief. Gayle and Doodlebugmom and Betsy and I, and many others that come to mind, are facing situations that seem overwhelming. It is one thing to say we trust you and it is quite another to walk in that trust and peace day by day. I ask that you meet our needs in such a way that we know you were aware and near to us. Help us to pray with what faith we have, and as you answer, may our faith increase. Meanwhile, help us to walk in your abundant grace. We ask this in the name of our Savior, Jesus. Amen

Monday, January 19, 2009

Week of Prayer - Monday

Monday: Pray for God’s Will to Be Done in Your Life

Psalm 31:3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name may you lead and guide me.

“Therefore, whether the desire for prayer is on you or not, get to your closet at the set time; shut yourself in with God; wait upon Him; seek His face; realize He is there, and pray.” R. F. Horton

Lord God, I pray with the psalmist today that you will lead and guide us. There are many of us who are unclear about our next steps, or just what you would have us do, or who need renewed clarity and passion for the path we are on...Presbyterian Gal, Kievas, Sista Cala, Gayle, and others. I pray that each of us will be reminded that you are our protection in an uncertain time. We want to be a blessing to others in this world and we ask guidance not only for our own sake but for the sake of those around us. May we we bring glory to your name. And help us to pray with consistency, even when we do not feel like doing so. Amen

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Week of Prayer - Sunday

Sunday: Pray for Missionaries Around the World

Mark 16:15 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”

“There is no other activity in life so important as that of prayer. Every other activity depends upon prayer for its best efficiency.” M.E. Andross

God of Love, we pray for those who have left their homes, families, perhaps lucrative employment, in order to carry the gospel of your love around the world. We pray for protection, favor, provision, health, and open doors of ministry. May they know the sweetness of your presence today. I pray especailly for missionary Jim as he mourns the loss of his dear wife, Maralyn. Grant hope and peace as well as comfort to him and his family, and make his pathway clear. Amen

Friday, January 16, 2009

Take Me, Baby, Or Leave Me Friday Five

Rev Gal Songbird gives us a short and sweet Friday Five today.

Whether it's new friends or new loves or new employers, what are five things people should know about you?

1. If I seem stuck up because I "ignore you" when you wave, or honk, or whatever, it is likely because I am nearsighted and really did not see you. (I'm a little shy, but I'm not snobby.)

2. Don't talk down to me.

3. Sometimes I talk a lot. Sometimes I'm quiet. It's okay.

4. You don't have to "read between the lines" to figure out what I'm really trying to say. I will tell you.

5. I'm not great with small talk. Let's be real.

Monday, January 12, 2009

May I Pray for You?

Many blogging friends have been pondering 2008 and its passage into 2009. Honestly, I'm afraid to think about it much. I'm glad to see 2008 recede in the rear view mirror. Somewhere along the way I seem to have lost some things that were always a part of me--and now are not.

Next week my church and I will be spending a week in concentrated prayer. We do have a focus for each day and I will note that. But I also realized this a.m. what I am longing for (personally, just for me) more than anything else. It is hard to put into one sentence, but I did.

God knows what has transpired, and what comes next, and who I am designed to be, so...for myself I pray for renewed passion.

This applies to every area of my life.

May I pray for you next week too? If you would like, share a sentence in the comments and beginning next Sunday I will compile them and pray for each of you every day. Make this for YOU, not for your church, or the world, or you parent or whatever....what are you longing to see in your life?

Will you pray for me too?

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Lemonade Award

I received the coveted (come on, you know you want one) Lemonade Award from my friend Much2Ponder over at In Case you Were Wondering.

The purpose of this award is to give it to someone who is showing gratitude or a good attitude ("if life hands you lemons, make lemonade") within their life or blog. Here is what Much2Ponder said about me..."the list of hardships is too long to mention because I wouldn't know where to begin. You get an extra helping of lemonade for your ability to push through one difficulty after another and keep your sanity. Your true heart that seeks to love people amazes me."

An extra helping! Thank you, Much2Ponder! Good thing I like lemonade, huh?

The rules:
1) put the logo on your blog
2) nominate blogs that show great attitude and/or gratitude.
3) have your friends pass it along to more bloggers!

I nominate:

Chris over at His Unfinished Work. She is not bubbling over with happiness right now. She is sad, but that is because she has had a miserable year. She needs some time to get back on her feet and then Chris will be making lemonade from the lemons again, sharing insight and wisdom and funny stuff and making me laugh with how she can tell a story of a disaster and make it humorous.
Danny G., the Once and Future Methodist. He has plenty to cope with but still posts humorous and/or insightful posts and some wonderful pictures. Mostly steeple pictures! What a church guy, eh?
Sue over at InnerDorothy has been suffering terrible pain for a long time--and recently found relief (Thanks be to God). Through a very rough time she continued posting and hoping and now she is rejoicing to be back half time at her church. I'm rejoicing with her!
I'll leave it to the three of you if you want to nominate others, and how many, and so on.

Friday Five: Pancakes

This is the first Friday Five I've been able to post for a while. This week, Sophia writes, "...It's time for something light and fluffy (literally). ..So pull up a chair to the kitchen table and tell us all about your pancake preferences."

1. Scratch or mix? Buttermilk or plain?

I usually use Bisquick buttermilk pancake mix, which is just flour with the salt, baking soda and powder in it already. I've tried totally scratch and found I like Bisquick (or Jiffy) better.

2. Pure and simple, or with additions cooked in?

Both! Plain is yummy, but so are the additions of peaches, strawberries, and so on. Sometimes when we are playing Bearded Eagle and SingingOwl we get authentic and go for buckwheat pancakes. Don't tell, but they are much better with some regular flour added...

3. For breakfast or for dinner?

Either one!

4. Preferred syrup or other topping? How about the best side dish?

My son in law introduced me to peanut butter on pancakes. I like it. My preferred topping most of the time is real Wisconsin maple syrup. I also like strawberries and whipped cream. Mmmm!

5. Favorite pancake restaurant?

I really like the whole grain pancakes at the International House of Pancakes. Since there is no IHOP for at least 40 miles, I'll tell you that if you can go for french toast instead of pancakes, well, come visit and I'll take you to Just Otto's at the Osthoff Resort and treat you to the most fabulous french toast ever. Cream cheese and orange....wonderful stuff!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A New Year's Meme

Several of the Rev Gals are doing this meme. If you'd like to play, here's what you do:
Take the first sentence of the first post of each month in 2008 and see if you notice any pattern or common theme.

I do not like the fact that how I felt as I wrote my first January 2008 post and how I feel now in January 2009 are just about the same (except that both my mother and sister have gone to eternity). What is up with that? Time for a few answers! It was good for me to note that my first post of the year and my last post of the year spoke of hope.

January Lately it seems to me that I have many questions and few answers.

My sister, Darlaine, passed on this morning.

March If you note such things...Larry Norman, the so called "Father of Christian Rock Music," passed away a few days ago.

April It was an interesting District Council.

May How I pray depends on the circumstances.

June Six weeks ago our church unveiled a beautiful new banner and I preached...

July Mommy and Daddy and Trinity are camping.

August Iris from "Manna Word" has given me an award.

September This basket of ripe peaches sat on our table...

October The Assemblies of God is providing a 31-day election prayer calendar

November Early yesterday our son, Josh, called to tell us that his...basset hound JJ...was struck by a car and killed.

December Isaiah wrote words of hope...about 700 years before Christ came to earth.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Little Video With Mom's Favorite Hymn

If you can't hear the music, click on the title, "Come Thou Fount."

Monday, January 05, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam

Flying is not what it used to be. I used to feel like a guest on a plane, with polite flight attendants, a meal (sort of), a little pillow, music, and at the very least a bag of peanuts. Not so these days. Not even a bag of pretzels! Not even a stale cookie! Pack a lunch, fliers. And do not forget that it costs to check a bag. And put those lotions in a baggie! Baggies will keep us all safe from terrorists. And wear shoes that are easily removed. And expect grumpy people.

Do you recall the days when people dressed up a bit to get on a flight? I actually remember my mother-in-law telling me I should have worn gloves. Man, I am a dinosaur. Jeans and sweats are the order of the day. And it seems that a shower and deodorant are optional. Sigh.

During a three hour layover I had lots of time for people watching. An airport is a great place for that. At one point I sat waiting with two people from Wisconsin that looked just like the couple from "American Gothic" except she was a bit stout. I could hardly keep from grinning when I looked at them. They rarely spoke and never cracked a smile. Then there was the blond from St. Louis who wore pink sweat pants, pink snow boots with pink fur tops, a pink parka with a pink fur-lined hood. She ended up being my seat mate on a short flight from Minneapolis to Green Bay, and she shivered the whole flight and said she wished she had dressed warmly.

A Goth couple sat and held hands in the terminal, looking sad. As the flight was announced, they stood and kissed passionately. I was wondering how, in this day and age, he had gotten into the terminal without a boarding pass. Then they broke their embrace and both headed down the tunnel to the plane.

On the first leg of my trip home I had boarded the plane from Dallas and located my seat. It was the dreaded B seat, neither next to the window nor next to the aisle. I saw that I would be sandwiched between two men, one of them quite large. Most Texas men of my acquaintance are polite. I stood there waiting for the hefty guy, who I will call GTM for Grumpy Texas Man, to move. He didn't. I said, "Excuse me, but I have the seat in the middle." He scowled and got up without a word as I vainly tried to locate a spot for my carry-on bag. He stood in the aisle, watching me struggle, and I eventually said, "I need to move past you, sir, so I can see if any of the overhead bins are empty." He did not move and did not speak. I reached beyond him a bit and rearranged a guitar case and started to move a package to a spot near the guitar.
GTM finally spoke, "NO! That is a HAT."

It was a very large hat, judging from the size of the bag, but it was a soft package and could have sat atop the guitar. GTM moved so I had to back up, away from his hat. The flight attendant watched all this, finally saying flatly, "Sorry, Ma'am, all these bins are full." "So, what am I to do?" I asked. GTM scowled. The attendant said, "Well, maybe we can find a spot in first class for your bag." She took the bag. GTM snorted and moved up the aisle away from me.

I sat in the middle seat. A few moments later GTM returned to retrieve his magazine and strode back up the aisle to an open seat. Fine. More room for me. I moved to the aisle seat.

About half an hour into the flight he came back and opened the overhead bin, removing the precious package containing the HAT. He opened it and carefully placed the hat on his head, returning to the seat up the aisle without a word. The hat was enormous, much bigger than the one in the picture. It was the biggest cowboy hat I have ever seen, with a wide flat brim. It was white. I wondered why he couldn't have worn the hat earlier so I might have found a spot for my bag.

I wasn't fooled by the white hat. He was not one of the good guys. I decided that enormous hats probably indicate compensating for small....oh never mind.

Why does everyone in Texas, even little old ladies, drive an SUV?

And why does one town need eight Baptist churches?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Lovely Things

There were some good things, difficult things, aggravating things, funny things, and sad things about this last week. I will share some soon. Some aren't suitable for posting :-o and some should be forgotten. But here are some lovely things that are on my mind right now.

My long-time cyber friend, Psalmist, (she's a Rev Gal now but she is also part of ECA and I met her online a long time ago) was able to pick me up at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport. This saved my cousin, Shirley, a second trip since my sis and I arrived at quite different times. Psalmist and I have joked that we are long lost sisters because there are so many things alike about us. The ride to Shirely's home was all too short--except we did stop at Whatabuger--so that extended our visit a bit. I was touched that my friend did this for me, and I only wish we could have spent more time together. Well, maybe not that night. I was not at my best, to put it mildly, but sometime. I love you very much, Psalmist, and I thank you for your kindness.

Rev Gal Mary Beth from Terrapin Station had planned on attending the funeral. Due to a family mishap, that did not happen, but even though she had other things to do she made a point of coming to Haskell on her way to her parent's home. She stopped in during the visitation time the night before the funeral. It is funny how you can know that you would "click" with a certain person. Even though I just know Mary Beth from her blog, I recognized a friend and kindred spirit. It was so kind of you, Mary Beth, to take a moment to chat with me, and to pray for me as we stood by the casket. You were an encouragement.

It was good to be with my sister, Paulette. We missed our sister, Darlaine. We cried together, but we laughed together too. Three of her five children (Michelle, Vickie and Kelly) were able to attend the funeral, and it was so good to see them. One of Darlaine's granddaughters (Sharon) lives in Texas and so she came too. What a nice surprise that was!

Those of you who know me or have read my blog for a while know that our Texas family was always so dear to Darlaine, Paulette, and me--who were the California cousins and were able to see our family only rarely. Paulette and I loved that we got to spend a little time with a few of them (Trey, Vicky, Shirley, and Pam). Poor Shirley was getting sick and so did not attend the funeral, but she shared her lovely home with us. We also were able to have short visits with two of our aunts. Both were sad to miss the funeral. Aunt Pauline (Shirley's mother) is the last of eight siblings. She is blind, and she is aged 94. Another aunt, Lee, was married to our uncle C.G. These two women are special to us.

I want to thank you, my blog reading friends, for your comments, emails, and phone calls. It really does help, I discovered, to know that people are thinking of you. The love and concern from Rev Gals and Pals, ECA friends, and others was truly a blessing to me. I appreciate you all.

I was already very tired before I left for Texas. The days at the nursing home as my mother spent her last hours, dealing with not just one but two funeral directors, arranging flights (the most stressful thing I did), arranging for some things at the church--all took a toll. Then after I arrived I had almost no sleep for days. I should have slept like a log, but I didn't and neither did my sister. Funerals are, of course, stressful too. On our last night in Texas it was after midnight when we were finally able to go to bed, and we slept soundly, but had to get up well before dawn in order to catch our flights! Arrgh. I slept for about 14 hours when I finally arrived home.

What I am saying is this--I am certain that God's grace sustained me, and I bless each of you who held me and my loved ones in prayer.

Here are a couple of pictures.

My sister, Paulette, and my nieces, Michelle, Vickie and Kelly.

Paulette and me in the middle with Deb (Trey's wife) Trey, Pam and Vicky.
Paulette and me with our grandneice, Sharon.
Clowning around with Sharon.

Our Aunt Lee, a gorgeous 82 year old, and her daughter, Vicky.

Paulette and me with our Aunt Pauline, aged 94 and the last of my mother's seven siblings. She looks like our mom, doesn't she? All the sisters looked alike because they all looked like their mother.

I think I'm going to take a nap. I can't believe I still need sleep! Thanks again, everyone.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Back from Funeral Trip

The Owl is home. She has not slept much for three nights so she is beyond tired...sleeping....shhhh....zzzzzzz... She will be awake soon.

Week Five ~ Seek ~ Day Seven

Our final devotion in our OASIS series for Advent, Christmas and beyond is from Kris. We hope you have enjoyed our little devotions and that God has blessed you during this season. We wish you many blessings in the NEW YEAR!

2 Chronicles 7:13-15
At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

What does it mean to seek? The dictionary says :
1. to go in search or quest of: to seek the truth
2. to try to find or discover by searching or questioning: to seek the solution to a problem.
3. to try to obtain: to seek fame
4. To try or attempt: to seek to convince someone

We are told over and over again in the Bible to seek God, but do we really understand what it means to seek? If we are truly seeking something, we are searching with our whole heart and being.

Have you ever watched a show about serious treasure seekers? They spend every effort to find the treasure they believe is out there. They spend years searching the ocean floor leaving no stone unturned. Some never see the fruits of their labor, but they don’t stop. No matter what other’s believe or say, they believe that there is a treasure waiting for them.

This is how we should seek God’s direction in our lives. If you are troubled by the world around you, pray. If you are concerned about the direction that society is going, pray. Fall on your knees and SEEK God’s will, purpose and direction for you. Then follow his leading even if you don’t know where the end will be.

God says in the verses above that his eyes and ears are attentive to every prayer. Every prayer! God is never turning a deaf ear to you. God is listening and waiting for you to speak.

Challenge: Spend this week “seeking” God’s word for you. Read the Bible every day. Perhaps read commentaries to help explain the scripture. Then pray for direction and take time to listen for the answer.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Week Five ~ Seek~ Day Six

Today's devotion is from guest blogger, Kris.

Proverbs 3:5 & 6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do,and he will show you which path to take.

“Seek his will in all you do.” Does that seem like a silly request? Really all I do?

I ask, Why not? God is able to and wants to be involved in all areas of your life, and I do mean ALL areas of your life.

I heard a story from a preacher about how she was visiting her Grandmother who had been a Christian for many years. As they were talking in the kitchen, Grandmother couldn’t find her cinnamon. She prayed, “Lord if you could, please help me find my cinnamon.” Her granddaughter thought to herself, “Well that was odd! As if God cares about her spices.” So she said out loud, “Well Grandma, I’m sure I can find your cinnamon.”

She looked in the cupboards and on the shelves that Grandma couldn’t reach, but no cinnamon was to be found. As she finished searching, the doorbell rang. There was Grandma’s neighbor standing on the porch with a spice jar of cinnamon. As she opened the door, he said, “I just remembered that I borrowed your cinnamon and never gave it back. Thanks again for loaning it to me.”

As the door closed behind the neighbor, her grandmother said, “Thank you, Jesus; it just wouldn’t have tasted right without the cinnamon.” How enlightening it was to see a living example of “pray without ceasing” and to witness God’s involvement in a small detail of life.

Too often we only go to God for help on big decisions, but if we trust God in small things perhaps we wouldn’t find ourselves needing help with a big thing.

Do we ask God to guide us before we spend our money? For example, might we sense a “no” (what some call a “check in the spirit”)because God knows that in two days a tire will need to be replaced and if you spend the money now, you will not have the money for the repairs later?

Jesus longs to be a part of your life. Imagine how your life might change if Jesus was walking alongside you at all times. Now realize that he is. If you seek wisdom for life’s choices, God will lead you in a life that he has chosen for you. God is big and he has enough time to be with us even in and through the mundane, everyday stuff.

Challenge: Talk to God as if he is sitting in the room with you just like a friend or family member. Ask for advice on the “little” things as wells as the big things.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Week Five ~ Seek ~ Day Five

Earlier this week we considered the unseen shadow of the cross that awaited the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the One who had come to show us what God is like. This was what befell the Creator at the hands of His creation—an almost unbearable tragedy—what someone once called “a scandalous beauty.” But was it a defeat? Let’s use our imaginations. Let’s take a peek into the throne room of God to see how Heaven’s inhabitants feel about the death suffered by the King of Kings:

From Revelation 5
But one of the elders said...“Do not weep… And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne…stood a Lamb as though it had been slain…the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many… thousands...saying with a loud voice:
“ Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying:
“ Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”
Prayer: Glorious Christ Child who became the Lamb of God, I join the hosts of heaven in giving you worship and honor and praise! Hallelujah!