Sunday, January 31, 2010

a tender concern

Kindness is tender concern for others, a desire to treat others gently just as the Lord treats us (J. Bridges)
Sigh-sometimes I'm kind and gentle, but alot of times I'm not. . .a relative tells me, "if women ruled the world, there would be no wars!". . .I only have to look into my own heart to confirm my potential for brutal fighting!

I've discovered that sometimes I am not tender because I evaluate a person's situation from my point of view rather than God's-selfishness and pride ensue.
I hesitate to remember the time my dear husband was suffering from kidney stones and my attitude communicated, "you'll be fine, couldn't be that bad. . .I birthed 8 babies, buck up!" I didn't actually say those words, but my relative indifference to his pain and comparing his experience to mine, did not convey gentle tenderness. (now we laugh about it. . . and he is gracious!)
So, our kindness should reflect the legacy of God's kindness to us. I've been praying through Isaiah 40, and I stopped to meditate on God's tenderness:
"Like a shepherd He will tend his flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs, and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.". . .that's our mighty, majestic God- gently, tenderly shepherding his flock, tenderly shepherding me!
I can display God's tender kindness with simple thoughtfulness- by being aware of others, focusing on those around me. So, where is my focus? my concern?
a smile to a store clerk, a thankyou to a waitress, an encouraging word or note-all so basic, not costly in time or money but such expressions of kindness require that I focus on others, that I am concerned for their happiness.
Do I show concern for others that says, "I just want you to know I care." Do I listen-really listen to others? . . .such gentle, tender kindness would adorn the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tea and Oats. . .

I love oats-mmmmm, oats in any form; so when I came across this recipe for Oatmeal Shortbread, I had to give it a try; here's the recipe, take care to carefully measure the flour, not adding too much:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
So-preheat oven to 325 and toast the oats on a cookie sheet til lightly browned; cool completely.
In food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, 1/2 cup cooled oats; process until finely ground; add butter and pulse until mixture is texture of fine meal.
Press into 8 inch square pan (I used round pie plate) and sprinkle remaining oats on top, press in lightly. Bake until firm and lightly brown (I baked for 20-25 min.)
Immediately score the shortbread with a sharp knife into squares or triangles; let cool completely on a wire wrack before removing from pan. gently break along scored lines.

This shortbread kind of reminds me of the round biscuit cookies I enjoy with coffee when visiting my children in Spain. . . so-today I'm taking a break with oatmeal shortbread and tea, Earl Grey with milk, and musing about my upcoming visit to Spain and London. . .

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sorely tempted to unkindness. . .

"What is desireable in a man is his kindness." (Prov 19:22)
Being kind is desireable. . .then why is it so hard?
I have a young friend who lives in another city-we email and talk on the phone; last month when I asked her to pray for me as I prepare to talk on kindness, she wrote back: "Kindness! It is so hard to be kind! if you have any notes as you study about kindness, please email them to me. I am so unkind to my siblings more than anyone else, and it is so sad; they are the ones who see me every day. I really always have to be aware of that and make and effort to be kind to them, because it definately doesn't come naturally!"
hmmm, I love that girl-and isn't it true that the temptation to unkindness is often greatest with those who are closest?
What is desireable in a woman is her kindness. . .but sin thwarts kindness, our own sin and the sin of the people in our lives.
The human heart is so deep, complex, as is our tangled web of sin-
Selfishness thwarts kindness: kindness is the sincere desire for the happiness of others, but naturally, I am concerned about me, concerned about my plans, my problems, my interests. So I struggle to be kind when someone or something thwarts my plans, derails my agenda, doesn't do things my way. I ignore the example of Jesus in Philippians 2:3-5
Anger thwarts kindness: expressions of anger reveal sinful desires in our hearts.
"what causes quarrels and conflicts among you? Is it not the desires that wage war in you members" (James 4:1)
So, my desires-wanting my own way- is the force behind my anger.
Am I craving peace and quiet (just 1/2 hour of uninterrupted peace!), convenience (the dryer repaired), ease, an orderly house, appreciation. . .after a holiday trip, my friend came home to piles of laundry; she decided that in a snap she could wash and dry at the laundramat; after she loaded up the dirty piles, her husband expressed his preference that she not go to the laundramat-errrrr. . .we talked about how her desire for ease provoked angry feelings towards her dear husband!
How about irritation, the subtle companion of anger? I asked a friend if she ever gets irritated? she said, "Slow! slow shoes, slow eating, slow picking up toys, slow in the bathroom, slow-slow-slow!" her desires, not slowness, caused her irritation.
Bitterness thwarts kindness: in Feminine Appeal, Carolyn Mahaney writes that bitterness is based on someone else's sin against us, usually someone's sin who is close to us-I admit, that's been true for me. Remember, those closest to us will surely wrong us.
from Ephesians 4:32 we know that kindness involves forgiving others their offenses against us-perhaps great offenses; for me, it's been helpful to remember that no one has sinned against me to the extent that I have sinned against the Savior. If we do not forgive oneanother, we will become bitter women. . .
Each obstacle to kindness is born and fed by self love; if you are a believer, kindness is an expression of God's work of grace in you-grace which expands your thinking outside of yourself.
What then to do? When I am unkind, I must confess my sin to God and humbly ask forgiveness; I am comforted that if I confess my sin, He is faithful to forgive my sin and to cleanse me of all unrighteousness. I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior! (wrote John Newton of old)

Enough for this very long post-but there's more. . .

Sunday, January 24, 2010

challenged to imitate

So, I had a teaching opportunity at a recent women's gathering-the topic was Kindness. I'm thinking on God's legacy of kindness: He is kind to all men-all, without distinction; God's kindness draws us close, kindness that draws us to repentance; and God's kindness compelled action-He sent his Son to die. . . .
"God's children should bear the indelible stamp of His moral character. Since He is loving, gracious, kind even to His enemies, we should be like Him." (McArthur)
We should be like Him. . . imitators of God as beloved children. I chose some Scriptures to remind myself of God's instruction to imitate Him in kindness:
"And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God has forgiven you." (Eph 4:32) . . .tender, forgiving
"As those chosen of God, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience." (Col 3:12) A wise person wrote, "Kindness refers to a goodness towards others that pervades the person, mellowing all harsh aspects."
hmmm, I love this verse and the quote. . .kindness mellows all harsh aspects.

"Applying all diligence in your faith. . .in your godliness, kindness."(2 Pet 1:7) diligently work at being kind.
"the Lord's bond servants must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all." (2 Tim 2:24)
Ah, the quarrels that are on my lips, in my heart-Be kind!
So, we have a worthy challenge and divine instruction to pursue kindness. . .
again and again I see myself failing, struggling to be genuinely kind; I can generate a degree of external kindness, and conclude that on my own, at the heart, I am an unkind woman.
Jerry Bridges writes, "Kindness is the inner disposition created by the Holy Spirit that causes us to be sensitive to the needs of others." (causes and enables us)
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to companion and help believers; be assured, kindness is the fruit of the Spirit's work in our lives. . . and I cry out, Lord, make me a truly kind woman!
there is hope.

enough for one post-but there is more.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

legacy of kindness

I have kindness on my mind-for the past month I've been preparing to give a talk at a women's gathering. "Older women. . .encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind. . .that the word of God may not be dishonored" (Titus 2:3-5)
So, on Tuesday I gave the talk-kindness is still on my mind, Kind- just one tiny word. . .
Jerry Bridges writes in The Practice of Godliness, "Kindess is the sincere desire for the happiness of others."
hmmm, to desire the happiness of others- to leave a legacy of kindness. . .I typed the phrase into my computer search engine and discovered how all sorts of people are acclaimed for exceptional kindness, people with a myriad of models and motives. So, for me, a Christ follower, what's different? Christians, of all people, should be the most kind, right?
afterall, God himself has left us a legacy of kindness-a legacy of unfailing kindness.
"Love your enemies and do good, for God is kind to his enemies, to ungrateful and evil men (Luke 6:35). . .It's the kindness of God that draws us to repentance (Rom 2:4). . .We were utterly lost and hopeless, but when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us." (Titus 3:3)
So, if we have tasted of the kindness of the Lord, 1 Pet 2:3 (ahh, to think of tasting God's kindness!), having been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God, then we know and continue to experience God's unfailing kindness-imagine that!
About God's legacy of kindness, I want to remember and model:
He is kind to all men, ungrateful, wicked, hopeless, rebellious, without distinction.
His kindness drew us to himself, drew us close.
God's kindness compelled action-He saved us!

Enough for one post-but there's more. . .

Monday, January 18, 2010


Today's a school holiday for John, so we biked through our southside neighborhood and enjoyed breakfast at the Guenther House (cherry streudel for me, more for him)- a birthday tradition. . .yesterday I turned 60-I'm a low-key birthday kind of person (I can't believe I'm blogging about my birthday); it's sweet to remember the little things. . .
I love how my birthday fell on a Sunday this year; early, in the church parking lot, we were swarmed by little Franklins, would we come to their house for lunch? Of course- they didn't know it was my birthday-nice! But somehow they knew, and quick quick there was lunch and a birthday cake and singing for me-a memory for my 60th.
Today Gabrielle invited me for birthday lunch-my favorite things: butternut squash, potato soup and berry cobbler with whipped cream, fellowship with dear friends-perfect!
And I'll remember the cards, calls, email wishes from family across the ocean-they shared their news, the best gift ever.
Yesterday morning Amaleah and Julia took the Amtrak train to Dallas with Luke-at night we chatted about my birthday and their train adventure. I asked them, "Remember when Laua and Mary went on their first train ride in The Shores on Silver Lake? was it like that? did the conductor punch your ticket? did you eat in the dinning car? Julia! you used the bathroom on the train six times! Really?"
Then I talked with Luke, "Mom, there was a woman on the train today who was writing a novel-I think you would like the train!"
Reading-writing-knitting on the train. . .we're expecting a little grandbaby in Dallas this summer-just maybe my 60th year will hold an Amtrak adventure.
Lord, help me to number my days that I might present to you a heart of wisdom.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

when the girls came to stay

Sometimes as I peruse the rooms and closets at 2305 St. Anthony, the remnants of raising 8 children in this old house jump out at me-reminders of cherished children, a cherished season of my life. . .but then I resolve: it's time to shed this stuff- decluttering is a worthy pursuit, right?
Then last week our little grandaughters came to stay. . . visiting this old house just as a canadian norther iced our town. Aye, they'll be cold. . .they won't like it here, I thought.
But I suppose for the very young, clothes layering is fun. . .aswell as snuggling together in Aunt Mercy's bed, shivering by the stove-oven turned on in the morning, drinking steamy little cups of GranPapi's mud (hot chocolate), racing around the empty upstairs rooms, running running to warm up. . .
And then the remnants of Daddy- and the 4 aunts and 3 uncles who grew up here-to me it's clutter, to them it's treasure; the aunties' closet yields the best- formal dresses, scarfs, fabic shawls and shoes, oh the shoes!. . . Amaleah always chooses Aunt Rachel's pink pumps and Julia the glittery spiked heels; and there are accessories, fluffy, lacey, velvety-Julia claims the feather boa, always.
So nice to have them here in this old house.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

things we do together

On the first Saturday of 2010, John and I drove to Comfort, an hour from home in the Texas Hill Country-a spur of the moment decision; we only had half a day free but it was good to think of doing something together, something simple, just the two of us.

So, John rode his bicycle for an hour while I visited The Tinsmith's Wife, the yarn shop on Comfort's main street; he bicycled in the chill and I knitted away in the warm little shop. . . Noro, the shop cat, settled down on my Noro yarn! (imagine that? a camera in my knitting basket. . .)
Then we walked to High's Cafe on High St. for lunch-some of the best cream of mushroom soup ever. I'd like to practice and perfect a good mushroom soup in 2010-and continue making time, even spur of the moment, to do things together with this dear man.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"my mouth will speak the praise of the Lord"

thinking about my new blank book. . .
Last month Kate and I finished our study of "Trusting God"- what next? Kate suggested we study prayer. . .good-so I shuffled through a stack of resources and chose a book to give our pursuit some guidance and and a little structure; I like how the book encourages "open book prayer". . . praying Scripture. For December, we agreed to base our praise and worship on Psalm 145.
"Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever (vs 2). . .On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate (vs 5). . .The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkinness (vs 8). . .The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works (vs 9). . .The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds (vs 17). . .My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord; and all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever (vs21). . ."
hmmm, it's been good-January we'll open the Scripture and pray Isaiah 40:9-31.
Maybe I'll fill my new blank book with reminders of a worthy pursuit.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

a lovely blank book. . .

On New Year's Eve day we strolled along the new extension of the San Antonio Riverwalk with Noah and Jamey; Luke joined came too with Julia and Landis in the stroller. Before descending to the river level, we wandered into The Twig bookstore, newly moved to an upscale location-and there were memories for me. I remember outings to The Red Balloon, the children's bookstore adjoining The Twig, with all my children together; we would browse, sit and page through new books, shuffle through the bucket of free children's book posters, selecting a few to paper our walls-from time to time we would buy a book, but not often.
But on this visit I bought a book, a lovely blank book for the new year-I couldn't resist; I'm enjoying just thinking about how to fill the pages in 2010 (I have stacks of filled blank books. . .)
nice memory, nice purchase. . .with worthy potential.

Dad, is it too heavy for you to push me and Landis uphill in the stroller?

Friday, January 1, 2010

unwavering resolve. . .

Last month John and I drove to Memphis for Josiah's graduation. The trip is 12 hours from San Antonio to Memphis-plenty of opportunity for worthy reading; on the drive there we read "The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards" by Steven Lawson- actually a gift for Josiah, so I read aloud fast; it was so good, I scribbled some notes. Edwards' earnest resolutions focus on issues of his heart, on the glory of God; I'm intrigued. . . and on the first day of the year, I'm thinking about my own resolve. . .

In the chapter titled "Precipice of Eternity", Lawson writes of Edwards' commitment to keep his eye on his own death, Christ's return, and the world to come, and so doing, he would help himself live for God's glory in the present. Jonathan Edwards was a young man, a teenager, when he first penned his 70 resolutions-a pattern for his life.
"Resolved, never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life," he wrote.
not to sound dramatic. . .but I'm on the precipice of a new decade of life (with my birthday approaching-far from a teenager!) Lord, help me to keep my eye on the final hour of my life, so that I might keep away from temptation, live for what is best-the glory of God.