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Archive for March, 2010

Brown Paper Packages

Some days I’m amazed at what a child I still am at heart.  I’m not sure I’ll ever grow up—and I’m not really sure I want to!

This week one day I went to the mailbox to find a brown paper package crammed inside.  I tugged and twisted and it finally came out and the first thing I did was flip it over quickly to see who was the lucky recipient—me, or my husband!  I hate to admit how much I was hoping it was for me!

And it was!  Eagerly I tossed the other mail aside as soon as I was inside the door and started picking the corners loose on my package.  I saw that it was from a special friend in Indiana (thank you SO much, Judi Wiles!) and I could hardly rip the paper off fast enough.  Inside were two nice little hand towels for my kitchen, and I will hug her in my heart every time I wipe my hands on them.

It makes me stop to think of what a gift mail is in general.  A few years ago my husband and I moved halfway across the United States to live nearer to our grown children and their families, and I have never appreciated as much as I do now the gift that we have of mail.  And I wonder…why, oh why, do I hear so much complaining about the cost of a stamp?  What else can bring such joy to a lonely heart than a hand-written letter that cost less than fifty cents to mail?  In my estimation, cards and letters are some of the best-spent money in the world!

Yes, I hear the argument that email is free, but it has lost a LOT in my estimation.  It just doesn’t compare to opening a letter handwritten on lovely stationary, sitting in a sunny window to read it, sometimes sipping a favorite ‘cuppa’ something yummy and relishing every word and thought.  While reading it I envision those very precious hands that wrote it, and the smile on that face of the one we love so much as they write their loving message.  Even though I like to have everything in its place in my home, a handwritten letter may lay open on the coffee table or end table for days so that I can pick it up and re-read it time and again.  It connects me more than words on a screen can possibly hope to do.  I have to admit that the towels Judi sent laid folded neatly on my kitchen counter for several days before I finally put one in the drawer and hung the other one up.  I would walk by and touch them and know that Judi had touched them not long before and had lovingly wrapped them up and sent them to me.

Besides letters, when receiving a package with a little gift inside—well, it just brings out the little girl in me!  Our grandson is now starting to use crayons and stickers.  Do you have any idea how much I enjoy opening something in the mail from them?  I show it to everyone and imagine his precious little hands as they write and I can see his little eyes looking up at his mommy for help and…oh, my!  My heart is melting as I write it!  I’m enjoying those lovely additions to my refrigerator door more than I would have believed possible!

And besides all the fun of receiving mail, I have fun mailing packages too!  We live in a small town and our friends at the local post office are so very friendly and helpful.  What fun it is taking it to the post office to be weighed and stamped and watch as it is tossed into a basket, knowing that my loved ones will be opening it in just a few days, all the while chatting with the friendly faces at the Post Office window.  I’m sure they hear all the time “It’s a cute little book for my granddaughter” or “It’s a Christmas present for my grandson” or a package for our children or parents or friends or whatever.  But they are always gracious and act excited too.  That’s all part of the fun.

So, my friend, let me encourage you to think of someone who might be lonely.  (A relative?  A widow at your church?  A friend who has moved away?)  If you own no stationary, make your own!  Write a letter with a pen and paper and get it in the mail!  You never know how you may be brightening someone’s day!

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I have a real issue with drugs.  ALL kinds of drugs!  Some have their place and are beneficial, WHEN used with discretion.  Buy by and large, I think our country has become drug addicts as a whole!  How many do you take?

When is anything synthetic ever better than what God has given to us?  For most of our ailments we have the option of fresh herbs and vegetables that God has created for our good, and plain old common sense.  But somewhere through the ages we have started believing the lies and have bought into the ‘necessity’ of using synthetic products.

Ok, one really good example is medicine for colds and flu—and especially flu vaccines.  I have a real problem with the whole fear tactic used.  Do you know, if you get enough rest and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, you will rarely get the flu if ever.  However, if you get an injection of the vaccine, you will have the flu symptoms immediately because it has just been given to you—with your permission!  And you probably paid someone to do it!  If a person will eat a bit of onions and/or garlic in some form (cooked or raw) every day, they will rarely catch a cold or have the flu.  It’s NOT an old wives tale!  I’ve been doing it for years and it does work!  I can’t tell you the last time I had a fever or vomited!

Another issue I have is the ear infections and insertion of tubes in children’s ears.  If we will listen to the older generations and keep our children’s ears covered and warm in cold weather, we won’t have to deal with this issue either.  I know, I know!  I’ve heard doctors blabbing that an infection cannot be caused by cold air.  I want you to think this through with me.  Have you ever gone out in cold damp weather without gloves or shoes?  Well, probably not shoes, but sometimes maybe gloves, right?  What happens?  Your hands get very cold and sometimes chapped.  And if exposed long enough will get frost bite.  Let’s say we’re just dealing with chapped and not even frostbite.  What happens?  The skin is swollen and red and very tender.  It can crack open and bleed.  Any possibility of infection there?  Well, of course!  And that is just hands!  Think about how very tender the ear canal is and how quickly it can become frostbitten, tender, and even swollen and bleeding sometimes.  Think how quickly one can get infection in a tender place like the ear canal!  Of course cold weather has a LOT to do with an ear infection, and it can be prevented by something as simple as earmuffs or a hat that covers the ears!

There are so many, ailments that can be cured with common sense instead of drugs.  Let’s take high blood pressure.  This one is harder for sure, but if we will lose weight, slow our pace and try to avoid stress, we can keep blood pressure under control for a lifetime.  As I age, I struggle with the extra pounds myself.  When the pounds are above normal, so is my blood pressure.  When I can keep my weight under control, my blood pressure follows suit.

At this point in my life, the big six-oh number is looming ever closer, (in fact, this is the year!) but I am to date drug free.  Yes, I took synthetic hormones for a while at the insistence of a doctor that I was seeing at the time when I entered the menopause years, but when I understood the dangers of that drug, I quit immediately.  I take a few vitamins and my bee pollen, but as long as I can, I’d like to put off taking drugs, and possibly forever.  (Yes, I will take an ibuprofen once in a great while if I need it, but I try to even keep that to a minimum.)

And do you know what?  I never have to worry about side affects!  That’s good for the blood pressure right there!

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Spring Surprise

March has always been my least favorite month of the year.  Growing up in Indiana, March could never quite decide if it was still winter or not.  It often dangled spring just out of reach until I was crazy to be outside—but in Indiana it’s impossible in March!

Now we live in Virginia and the weather is MUCH milder.  I am already hanging sheets on the clothesline to dry and the vinca is in full bloom on the hillside just outside the window by my computer.

I have checked my flower gardens regularly and have seen the starts of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and campanula already and have been child-like in my impatience for blooms.  And today I was rewarded!  As I walked around the house checking growth I found blooms!  One stand of daffodils is in full bloom today!

I remember our first spring in this house when there were no blooms at all except in the corners where I had pushed the campanula bulbs.  Oh, how I missed the brightness of the burst of bright color I was so accustomed to!  But I did make gardens immediately and last year was rewarded splendidly!  And this year…well, we’re sure off to a great start and I’m excited.  I can hardly wait for the parade of color to begin!!!

And I wonder, how can anyone look at one of these beauties and say there is no God?  Well, I’m personally saying, Thank You, God!!!

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Campanula

I love flowers and I love growing flowers.  I love the gardens that I can create with specific color themes.

When I was young, I loved pastels.  My favorite color was pink—any shade of that rosy color, but the softer shades leaning toward rosy white were my very favorite.  But somewhere through the years pink has moved WAY down the ladder of my preferred colors, and especially in my gardens.  I have no idea why this has happened, but it has.  Now I want only vivid colors with intense shades there, and my preferred colors are bright red, intense yellow, and any shade of blue there is!  ESPECIALLY in the spring!  Go figure!  When everyone else is parading pinks and lavenders and soft yellows in Easter bouquets, I want RED and YELLOW and lots and lots of deep BLUE!

A few years ago our first daughter-in-law’s mother sent me some small white bulbs in an envelope one time when Ruth came to Indiana to visit us.  I had never seen anything quite like the little smooth white balls, and since she sent them for my birthday in July and told me I didn’t need to plant them until fall, I laid them aside a bit.  Well, soon after my birthday the move to Virginia began happening and so I never did plant them in my Indiana gardens and I am SO glad!  I tucked that envelope in among my garden tools that we moved, and that October amid unpacking and painting and laying flooring I took a break one day and went out to push those little white balls into the ground in a few corners of the yard, even though the previous owner had no gardens and I had not the time to begin landscaping yet.

Thanksgiving and Christmas and then winter and spring came and I nearly forgot those little bulbs until one day I noticed LOVELY blue bell-like flowers around the yard!  They look somewhat like a lily-of-the-valley, only slightly larger and intensely blue/purple!  Oh, my!  They are GORGEOUS!  I can’t remember ever enjoying a surprise as much as I did those flowers!

As I began making the flower gardens that I absolutely MUST have to endure life on this earth, I carefully marked and later moved those bulbs and was thrilled to see that they had multiplied.  I now have them tucked into gardens all over the property.

Well, it’s March now, and we are beginning our third spring on this property and guess what I have already been watching for!  You guessed it!  My campanula!  And I have seen them already starting to shoot their energetic green shoots toward the heavens, feeling to see when it is warm enough to open their blue gifts before my waiting eyes.  I can hardly wait!  Thank you, Abby!!!

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Email Forwards

Dear reader, today I write my blog thoughts with a heavy heart and deep concern.  It is regarding one most fashionable of all communications:  email!

Email is handy and quick and inexpensive and easy.  It is a wonderful tool and resource, but there is one aspect of email that I’d like to address:  it is called ‘forwards’!  Virtually everyone receives forwards, whether or not we want to.  Some are funny, some are cute, but many seem innocent but are, in truth, wicked and evil.  And what concerns me most are the ones that are so subtle that we pass them on without a thought, and there’s the rub!  Should we EVER pass something on without a thought?

Ok, first I want to address one type that irritates me.  They have all sorts of little glittery, blinky, cutesy things such as ‘cherubs’ (or babies with wings added) or ‘angels’ (adult women with wings) and verses saying that if you pass this on to a certain number of people something good will happen to you, or some such nonsense.  What’s this about?  Are we really so simple-minded and superstitious that we really believe this?  If we don’t, then why in the world do we pass it on?  Honestly, it ties my stomach in knots when I receive one of these from someone I consider to be a godly person.  Is it ignorance?  Do we give no thought at all to what we are doing?

Now, the second type of forward that I want to address is the political one.  I just today received one I’ve received numerous times before.  These forwards demean and rip and tear at our president and others in authority.  This more than irritates me—it angers  and yes, even frightens me.  People!  Do we not care one whit for godliness and obedience to God’s Word?

I will admit to you (although it is no one’s business really) that I did not vote for our current president.  But do you know what?  Romans 13:1 says:  “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.”*  (This is a direct quote from scripture.)  Whether or not we voted for a specific ruler, it is our obligation and duty to pray for him and to be obedient.  If it was not God’s will, it would not have happened!  He would not be in office!  Now, the really frightening part is in verse 2.  It says:  “Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”*

I Timothy 2:1,2 says:  “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”*  This is not a suggestion folks!  It’s a necessity!  How can the poor, simple man do anything right at all if God does not guide him?  And how will God guide him if God’s people are too busy criticizing and forwarding stupidity to pray for the man?  And…(here’s the rub) he can do NOTHING without God allowing it!  So if we are criticizing something our president is doing–help me here—Who are we ultimately criticizing?

And so, my friends, I say all that to say this:  email me your news, email me your thoughts, even email me your opinions, but PLEASE!  DON’T send me a forward and expect me to pass it on.  It won’t happen!  I love hearing from you—even when you disagree with me.  And as for our rulers, instead of forwarding criticism, let me urge you to pray for them.

And to all those who have and do send these forwards to me, yes, I will still love you and you will not stop being my friend.  But I promise you they will stop here.  I will not send them on.

I would encourage us all to take I Peter 3: 8-10 to heart.  It says:

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.  For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.  He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’”*

My goal is not to point fingers or criticize anyone here, but to encourage us all to stop thoughtlessly sending this stuff on.  Let’s stop forwarding and start praying!  And yes, you have my permission to copy and paste this blog into an email and send it to whomever you desire.  It won’t bring you any luck, but hopefully it will help us all to be more gracious and to stop and THINK before we pass on another email forward!

* All scripture is quoted from the New International Version of the Holy Bible (NIV).

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The Dregs of Winter

Today is one of those days I would call the dregs of winter.  It’s cold and gray and dull outside.  Even my faithful cardinal couple did not make their appearance today.  There was no rain or sleet, but the skies were white and distant and I haven’t a clue where the sun was!  It’s the kind of day that begs gloom, but my heart is still singing from the warmth of yesterday.

I spent the day yesterday with a dear friend who is packing her house for remodeling.  It’s exciting seeing the progress they are making on the huge project and fun being included to a small degree in the preparation.  We packed kitchen goods and made a party out of it.  It was a glorious day of togetherness with my friend and I still bask in the warmth of the memory of the day of hard work and merry laughter.

And today I have chatted with another friend a good bit; a friend from Indiana with whom I have not talked much in the last two years since moving east.  It was good hearing what God is doing in her life and sharing bits of our own life and happenings with her.

Another friend from Indiana emails me off and on throughout the day quite often.  Today was her anniversary, and my husband performed their wedding 20 years ago today.  We emailed several times remembering that day.  She has blessed me in many ways through the years, and most recently has been the number one promoter for my book that was just released last month.  What a blessing she is!

And today I am reminded that it has been nearly two months since my dear friend Bonnie left earth for heaven.  I do still miss her and always will, but just as the sunshine in our hearts can replace the grayness of the dregs of winter, so God brings friends to us in many ways to fill the gap when one is lost.  My human nature wants to sigh when I think of my loss, but my spiritual nature, the Holy Spirit within me, reminds me to look at what I still have.  I have been so very blessed, and so tonight I am thinking of many good friends and even in the dregs of winter I have to smile.  I am SO blessed!

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Wisdom on tap

Even though this name sounds perhaps a bit flippant, there is nothing at all flippant in my heart about the goldmine of God’s wisdom that is available to us if we but ask.  Matthew 7:7-11 says this:  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?”

And then in James 1:5 we are told:  “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”  There have been many times in my life when I have stopped to briefly pray for wisdom, and one such time was as follows:

Because of issues in his home, a young boy the age of our oldest son spent a few months with us several years ago.  I believe the boys were somewhere around junior high school age.  We were aware that he had not been raised with the same values (good or bad) that our sons had been taught, and so we tried to be on our guard at all times.

One day I stood in the upstairs bathroom doing a bit of hand laundry in the sink.  The door stood open and our oldest son, Nathan, came up and I could tell something was on his mind.  Soon he said something like, “Mom, I need to ask you something.”  (First clue that it’s a biggie is when they warn you they are about to ask something instead of just doing it.)  Immediately I began to pray in my heart for wisdom and a calm spirit.

“Mom, what would you say if I asked to get my ear pierced?”

My first impulse was to laugh.  But I didn’t.  The wisdom of God in my heart warned that if I laugh or make light of this, it would become an issue.  At this point, it was still just a question.  He didn’t ask if he could get it pierced.  He only asked what I would say if he should ask such a thing.  I continued to pray in my heart.

Suddenly, it was as though I was outside of myself watching this wonderfully calm mother handle a major turning point in this young boy’s life.  The conversation went something like this:

“Well, Nathan, have you given this a lot of thought?”

“I don’t know.  Some of the guys at school are doing it.”

“How do you think it looks on them?”

“I don’t know.  I guess I’m not used to it yet.”

“Well, I’ll tell you what.  Give it some good thought and be sure it’s what you want, because if we do this thing, it can’t be undone.  If it’s something you really want to do, then I will take you to a place that’s safe so you don’t get infection and so that it won’t be quite so painful.

“And while you’re thinking about it, think about how it will look to an employer when you are applying for a job.  Will it make a good impression on the kind of person you want to be working for?

“Nathan, if it’s something you really want after giving it a lot of thought and prayer, you will need to talk to your Dad, but I won’t stand in your way.  You are a good boy.  You make good grades.  You obey us and love the Lord.  If this is something you really want to do, I will not say no.”

He had been so ready for an argument that he didn’t know what to say.  Finally he said, “Mom, if I decide to do it, will you talk to Dad for me?”

“No, if this is something you want, you must talk to Dad yourself.”

“Ok, Mom.  But I’ll think about it some more first.”

I felt sure he didn’t want it.  It just wasn’t his personality.  And it was very much the desire of the other boy.  I hoped with all my heart the issue was closed.  But in the meantime, I told my husband about the conversation and warned him what might be coming.  I told him what I felt the Holy Spirit had prompted in me, and he totally agreed that it was the right way to handle the situation.

A few days later, Nathan approached his dad.  My husband responded almost identically to the way I had responded.  Again Nathan said he’d give it thought.

We never heard another word about body piercing in our family until just not long ago when that same son came with his little boy and said,  “Mom, do you remember when I asked about getting my ear pierced?”

“Yes, I certainly do.”

“Mom, that was the best answer you ever could have given.  It wasn’t my idea.  Justin* dared me to ask you.  All I had to tell him was that you said I could if I wanted to, but that I didn’t want to do it.  I’m so glad I never did get myself pierced!”  I admitted to him how desperately I had prayed for wisdom.

We both chuckled.  It seems funny now to think of that handsome, very godly and masculine man with an earring.  It just doesn’t fit in the picture.  (And his wife is glad too!)

*Name has been changed for privacy purposes.

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