Saturday, January 31, 2009

two bags and a good book

A few months ago I wrote a post about my book bag, a sturdy yet rather shabby blue backpack containing a treasure of good books. So, my family bought me a new book bag for Christmas. . .

The dear one who drew my name for family gift exchange chose a lovely green bag, rectangular with shoulder strap-however, another member insisted that a wool messenger bag- charcoal grey, would be my first choice. So, I am a blessed woman. . . and fashionable-like the woman who changes purses to match her outfit- one month, or season, my sporty green bag and the next the handsome grey one, imagine that!

The Gospel Primer for Christians, by Milton Vincent, is a good book in my new bag; I'm quite aware that when I totter in my walk of faith, often it's because I forget the gospel-I've set the gospel on a spiritual shelf, saved there to share with a non-believer while its vitality in my own life has dimmed. But the gospel IS the main point for Christian living! The gospel is the old old story, and brought into the present tense, its vibrant truth should color my daily life.

Milton Vincent's small book is a wonderful resource; Part I, Reasons to Rehearse the Gospel Daily includes 31 brief selections which remind and direct me to the practical blessings of rehearsing the gospel daily. Parts II & III contain A Gospel Narrative, both a prose and poetic version. And at the bottom of every page there are Scripture references which support the truth recorded.

So, over the past six months I've grown to love this primer; I carry it side by side with my Bible, using it as a worthy tool, helping me to preach the gospel to myself every day.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

beauty in the process

I enjoy the process of forcing bulbs indoors in the winter-it's tradition; in November after Thanksgiving, I fill a shallow glass dish with pebbles and push in the bulbs, six or seven side by side-Paperwhite Narcissus work best. Next water and watch- little green shoots appear almost immediately; roots branch out, pushing the bulbs to the service of the pebbles. I love to watch the process. . . water and watch as the weeks pass.

And by January Paperwhite stalks and leaves are straight and tall, the blossoms fragrant. The entire process is lovely- I think I enjoy the process as much, maybe more, than the blossoming bulbs. Isn't it that way with other good things in life. . . a baby learning to walk, bread dough rising in the bowl, the parts of a little sweater waiting to sew up, pen and paper on the table-the process of composing a letter to a friend far away. And sometimes, while there's beauty in the process, the end result doesn't quite measure up to the expectation, you know how that is-and there's still much value, much goodness in the process.

For I'm confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6). So, I've been thinking about the process of sanctification in my life-hmmm. . . sometimes as I labor to put off sin and to put on righteousness-well, the process doesn't seem very lovely-I want it to be complete, and now. . .

But Beauty rests in Christ. . .this is His work, and because He's commited to my holiness, because He won't give up on me nor stop working this good process in me til the end. . . that, dear ones, is beautiful indeed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Getting personal. . .

The other day I received a note in the mail with this comment jotted as a postscript, "blogs can be just too impersonal". I'm not sure if the sender was referring to my blog, but I know the dilemma. . . share my life, but just how much?

So, this week I had my gall bladder removed, actually on Saturday I celebrated my 59th birthday and then on Tuesday I had surgery-my very first surgery ever, imagine that? And there were blessings, noteable blessings which accompanied this very personal aspect of my life:

Daughter-in-law: Gabrielle offered to come and sit at the surgery center with me; John commented, "You have the most wonderful daughters-in-law!" (indeed, I have two and both are the best!) So, Gabrielle came before my surgery- there I was laying in the little gown with my feet sticking out the end of the bed, waiting, just waiting. . . we had girl talk and it was comfortable. Then post surgery, there she was again, sitting close, waiting to help me into my clothes. With daughters, we have lots of opportunity to get personal during the growing up years, but with daughters-in-law the personal takes awhile. . . .if you know what I mean? So, it was good to have Gabrielle there close during my physical weakness, when life seems very personal.

Dinners: John and I have been getting food this week-yesterday it appeared asthough a restaurant came to my house; some of the dinners have come from younger women, the ones I meet with over coffee and the Word. Now they are serving me generously, creatively-and I'm thankful for their personal care.

So, I'm recovering-it doesn't hurt too much if I don't laugh, so I'm trying to live seriously this week. And, of course, John is here. . . "More hot tea?" he asks, and I answer, "Sure, more hot tea and the hot water bottle too, please. . ." (did I say I turned 59 last week?)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

knitting a wee hat on double points. . .

So, I've knit lots of baby hats-it's fun and quick and there's always room for a hat project in my book bag. However, this week, I've been creating the tiniest hat ever, knit on double pointed needles, using sock yarn. . .this one is intended for Kate and David's wee boy, Aaron, who was born last week weighting 1 pound 15 ounces. Imagine that?
Gazing on Aaron in the NICU, I could only marvel at the God of All Creation- Aaron is fearfully and wonderfully made. . .

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139: 16)

. . . so today I'm thinking how all the experiences of Aaron's life were written by God before he was even born, weighing a fragile two pounds-hmmm, every day, every experience, and it's the same for me, for each of us. . .

"Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name" (Psalm 97)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

this old house-part 2 ( no grumbling)

We moved into 2305 St. Anthony St. nineteen years ago; searching for a big place in a downtown neighborhood,we found this old house-the kids all fit, and then John began teaching in the neighborhood school eight blocks from home.
So, our girls and boys grew up-neighbors have come, gone, remained-and there are memories here. . .

One morning last spring I was enjoying coffee and conversation with a woman in my sunny livingroom when the mailman knocked and delivered two certified letters from the city's code compliance office, letters listing two pages of repairs which we needed to make on this old house-and within 30 days! - required. . .not optional. Paint, paint, paint, trash, cracked windows, front porch repair, more paint . . .we appealed and the officer gave us more time to make the repairs-required. . .not optional.

I've discovered that struggles in my heart are first born as thoughts zipping through my mind:
What right do they have?. . .we pay our taxes! . . . have they looked at the other houses in the neighborhood? . . . no money for paint. . .trash you say? that's not trash, just fallen tree limbs! . . .and the neighborhood children-my husband has invested years.

my mind droned on. . .while the children of Israel "grumbled in their tents" against God, I was grumbling in this old house against God. . . and forgetting God's instructions to me, for my good, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God" (Romans 13)

So, the repairs are progressing-the house looks good! And last month, the code compliance folks made another visit, this time the complaint concerns our backyard deck cover, take it down or repair it-required, not optional. . .and really, it's not about my house, it's about my heart, about God drawing me, convicting and changing me into the likeness of his Son, and he's using this old house in the process.

Friday, January 2, 2009

this old house-(part 1)

The girls and I were shopping last month and noticed this bumper sticker, "Support your local plumber!"
Well, I do-I live with my plumber. . .and my painter, electrician, mason, carpenter, mechanic. . .
thanks, dear handyman, for fixing the oven-how wonderful that the gas stayed ignited while cooking the holiday goodies.

. . .but this plumbing issue, a hot water leak in the bathtub-a persistent, steady stream. My plumber has changed out all the simple parts-no success; now when not in use, we just turn off the hot water at the source!

At the beginning of a new year, it's fun to read back over my old journals. In March 1997 I wrote about a faucet leak in this old house, "We have quite a few leaks around here-one profuse drip from the bathtub faucet. Jeremiah found the wide masking tape and taped it up; then he announced to me that he had repaired the leak!"

What's that?. . . a leak from the very same faucet 12 years ago? I assure you, it hasn't been leaking for 12 years. . . however, sometimes, living in this old house, it feels like the leaks and cracks have been forever and will persist forever. . .

Ah, yes, this old house-it's a good place. . . I love the hardwood floors, the high ceilings, light flooding in through the windows.
And when my mind gets fixed on faucet leaks-then it's time to examine my heart . . .time to preach the gospel to myself, time to be thankful, for God delivered me from the domain of darkness and transfered me to the kingdom of his beloved Son, Imagine that, Soul!

(and my plumber just informed me that he's ready to pull out and replace the entire unit, and maybe. . . just maybe he'll add pipe and fixture for a shower!)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

things we do in Texas

Autumn color is dim in Texas. . . however, we can harvest beautiful broccoli in December and January!
The four plants in my fall garden each produced a lovely broccoli-
I gave three away and saved one for a holiday family meal- broccoli cheese soup! I like the Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe with a few of my own modifications-here's for the New Year!

1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 medium onion
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup half & half, 1 cup milk
2 cups chicken stock
large head of broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
8oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese
Steam broccoli til crisp tender, coarsely chop, set aside. Saute onion in butter, set aside. Cook melted butter and flour, using whisk over medium heat. Stir constantly and add milk and half & half. Add the chicken stock; simmer for 20 minutes. Add the carrots and onion; simmer over low until carrots are tender. Add the chopped broccoli and cheese; simmer til heated thru, add salt and pepper to taste.