Sunday, August 28, 2016

Let's Live Together

I took a Ziploc bag of frozen pork chops out of the freezer and set them in the refrigerator to thaw.  I decided to make one of my favorite crock pot recipes with them.  I threatened the husband with a black eye if he ate the last of the sour cream because I needed it for that simple recipe.

The next day, I carried my crock pot to my island in the kitchen and mixed the sour cream with an envelope of onion soup mix and decided to rinse the defrosted meat at the sink before adding to my recipe.  Then I noticed something.

They weren’t pork chops.  To my surprise, I witnessed defrosted chicken thighs.  Very big chicken thighs; it must have been a hippy chicken.  The freezer bag’s label read Dec. ’15 in the husband’s writing.  I assumed it contained pork chops.  I was wrong.

Write it like a man.
Thinking like a man would think, he probably guessed that any fool could see these are chicken thighs when he placed them in a clear gallon freezer bag and put them in the freezer for later use.  No need to spell it out on a label.

What’s funny to me, he even asked me the day before:  “What are you going to do with the chicken in the refrigerator?”

I corrected him and told him “It’s for my slow cooker and its pork chops, not chicken.”

I felt sorry for him because, typical man, he loves pork chops.  And he wasn’t getting any.

Similarly, miscommunication results when we assume things about others.  I have a friend whom I’ve known for a few years.  When we first met she asked me if I had an open door policy in my home and could she drop in anytime for chats and doing life together.  I discouraged that immediately because I’m quietly productive and respectful of my husband’s space too since we are retired and live in the same house. 

However, the boundary I set in place was ignored.  The woman dropped in often.  So then, I asked her to give me a call first before showing up.  She ignored that boundary, too.

In discussing my irritation recently, it amazed me when she responded that she didn’t know I am a private person.  She then instructed me as a private person to set boundaries.

I conclude that there is a hefty surprise in store for us when we refuse to hear what the other person is saying whether its pork chops, chicken or friendship.  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Days of Vines and Prayers

I moved to the Verde Valley in Arizona over twenty years ago and I got it in my head right away that I wanted a prayer garden.

We chose the spot, planted bushes, filled containers with flowers, laid the patio stones and even found a comfortable outdoor chair.  It took me several tries to communicate to the husband the picture in my mind of how it should look right behind my chair.  We agreed that the trellis arch in my vision would be a lattice effect supporting a grape vine.  It turned out better than my imagination! 

My prayer garden thrives not only because I meet my creator there, but I have harvested white and purple grapes every August for over 15 years!

A local TV channel featured Arizona vineyards recently.  The documentary points out that the Verde Valley in Arizona has the widest temperature range between early morning lows and late day high temperatures of almost a 41 to 44 degree difference which allow the grapes to thrive.

I like to stroll through the beautiful vineyards five miles down the road from my house which attracts tourists to their wine tasting rooms.  The grounds host a lovely wedding venue as well. 

We laughed that we were cool before it was cool to grow grapes here in the Verde.  For me, it started with a prayer garden!  Someday I will know the fruit of that too.

King David’s son, Solomon, built a lavish temple for the Lord.  I read in 1 Kings about the extensive details describing the foundation and all the precise tools used by talented workers to create the special house of God.

It took him 20 years to finish it!  Then on that great and glorious day, King Solomon gave a speech.

The king gathered the community of Israel together and lifted his hands in front of the altar proclaiming the greatness of our God who keeps covenant with his people.  "How can anything made with human hands contain such a great and mighty God?" Solomon asked.

He went on to pray petitioning God:

Lord, be with us and never abandon us.
 Give us the desire to do Your will.
 Let us be obedient to Your commands.

Solomon declared:  “The people all over the earth will know there is no other like our God!  May we always be faithful to Our Lord.”

Solomon’s words are beautiful to me to consider not only for dedicating a temple or prayer garden to Father God.  I inhale them in the inner part of my soul.  How humbling to reflect that we are temples of the Living God.  He is only a prayer away!

Can you feel Him?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Who Says?

Simon says “wiggle your toes!”  Simon says “raise your left hand!”  Put your hands on your head!  A-ha!  Simon didn’t say to put your hands on your head.  You lose.

We played Simon Says with the little ones on our weekend family reunion at the Hampton.  It cracked me up to watch little two-year old Amy follow every command whether Simon said it or not.  Her big sister would point and yell Amy, don’t do it unless Simon says!  And lil Amy would clap her hands and giggle in glee showing us all her teeth.  You know why?  Amy didn’t realize she was the loser in the game; she saw herself as the winner.

A devotional arrived in my email today.  “Look around you and you will learn an important life lesson from a child,” the writer declared.

This doesn’t pertain to me since I’m not in the company of little kids, I thought.  But the Holy Spirit reminded me about playing with Amy and observing a winner reaction to a loser label someone puts on you.

I can react like a winner when my back-seat driving husband criticizes my lack of talent when I park in tight spaces.  I smile and say, I’m going to back out and do it again knowing I’m a better driver than him any day even if it does take me a few tries!  No argument follows.

I can react like a winner at the Rec Center when the woman exercising next to me shouts me down for cleaning the equipment before (as well as after) I use it.  I never know if some big sweaty guy just ran off.   I see it all the time, I say with a big smile before I step on the treadmill!  No argument follows.

I don’t have to berate myself when scrutinized by anyone because, like Amy, I know I’m a winner even if I did it wrong in their eyes.  I belong to Jesus, the God of second, third and many more chances in order to get it right.

That’s the lesson I learned from a child today.  The enemy would love to take us down in the small things as well as the big.  Don’t let him.  Remember who created you.  Just smile and keep looking cute, okay?  Simon Says! 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Feeling the Love

It’s our wedding anniversary today.  We’ve been celebrating all weekend!  Yesterday we woke up early, got dressed and headed to the Sedona Red Rocks.  I climbed up those red rock hills determined, even in my dress, to breathe in the fresh morning air.   The sturdy jagged mountains, copper colored, spotlighted from the warm morning sun surrounded us; I experienced a rush of gratitude.  God blessed us generously over the last forty-five years!

Our trek in the steep red elevation exhilarated us.  We drove through town and found a cute cafe for breakfast.  A burly, outgoing man, the owner, welcomed us while the woman drinking coffee at his table complimented my dress. 

“We’re celebrating today.  It’s our 45th wedding anniversary,” I replied.

The little cafe filled up quickly and we were surprised when the owner stopped by our table and loudly exclaimed that he had an idea to make “our” day special!  He burst into song: “Happy Anniversary to you…”

Everyone chimed in and serenaded us, clapped their hands and shouted their congratulations.  I guess 45 years rings of achievement to some.  The friendly owner longed to make our day special and he made it memorable for me when he shouted: “Hey, everybody, can you feel the love?”

I feel the love.  I felt loved in the party of strangers!  I felt Tom’s love more than his embarrassment.  Clearly we made it this far because we both soaked our marriage in our Savior’s love!  

We cherish you, friends!  We send hugs to you for all the prayers and love you send our way.

We’re grateful to our children for all their support over this past year.  They whisked us off for a special weekend of celebration.  They created good family times and wonderful memories for our 45th year!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Looking for Jesus

I laughed hard when my pastor began his sermon with a funny story.  He told us that he drove past the church during the week and noticed the parking lot full of cars.  For the life of him he couldn’t remember any event scheduled there for that time and racked his brain to figure it out.  He joked that maybe he missed an awesome time of worship or something and maybe the Lord came back for everyone except him?   He found a place to park and walked over to someone asking if they knew what all the excitement was about in our church parking lot.  He learned all the folks were looking for Pokémon.  

Simply, Pokémon Go is a video game that links to your phone’s GPS so you can play the game with other players.    The purpose, if I understand it, is to connect with these people and find Pokémon in the game.

Our pastor’s funny story brought to mind an old memory.
My husband returned home late one afternoon from a company trip.  He encountered too much stress at the airport and told me he didn’t want to attend our weekly prayer meeting that night.  However, the meeting took place in our home!  He hunkered down with the kids, then very young, in their room and I led the group.  When the last person left our house, I checked on my sleeping children and worn out husband.  I laughed when he asked about “the break.”  He didn’t understand the silence after he heard our voices singing praise songs.  He wondered if we were taken up and he remained left behind to raise the kids by himself. 

I will never forget how the Holy Spirit fell on our group for those ten minutes that night.  We couldn’t speak if we wanted to.  God moved individually in our hearts and we knew he held us in his loving arms. 

Scripture promises that one day Jesus will appear in the clouds and the church will rise with Him.  Who will be taken up with Jesus?  It will be those that are taken up with Him now!

I’m not looking for Pokémon.  But I am looking for Jesus.

For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves.   Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.  1 Thess 4: 16, 17