Saturday, December 17, 2011

respectful demeanor

A wise woman builds. .
So, I've been writing a lot about how disrespect tears down-enough of that. . .
Stop tearing down! Begin to focus on your husband's good qualities even if these are not the qualities you want him to have. . .start to build.
"Respect is a demeanor that should characterize wives in all their conduct towards their husbands and in all their communication to or about their husbands--this means courtesy in the home where the husband is treated with honor." (Nancy Wilson)
I ruminate on this good quote and certain words jump out-Demeanor: the way a person behaves towards others.
So, respect for my husband is a demeanor that involves:
Eyes: respect for my husband grows as I activiely look for ways that God is at work in his life. Vigilantly study your husband, looking for qualities to respect and pray that God will open your eyes-you know, a critical eye blinds. List all the things you appreciate and admire about your husband-some may seem trivial.
Recently I invited a woman to my home for coffee; later as I walked her out to her car, I noticed and commented, "Look at that-my husband is awesome, he pulled the trash can to the curb this morning!" Now then, the trash can on the curb is trivial, and frankly, more often than not I think a critical thought when my husband doesn't. . . .
But that day, I noticed-and I respected my husband infront of my friend. . .God's grace, indeed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

airport? bus station?

I've been traveling a bit, visiting my children and grandchildren in Dallas and Memphis. I pieced together a travel plan including train, plane, bus, car-a travel mosaic!
I purchased an airplane ticket on line, one-way, Dallas to Memphis. I knew the plane would be small. . .but not so small. I should have suspected when the clerk asked, "Your weight, Ma'am?. . . you'll have to buckle your bag into a free seat, or you can check it." So, I checked it-we were 9 passengers, no empty seats.
The first flight landed in central Arkansas and taxied up to a little building- like a bus station.
"I didn't receive a boarding pass for the next flight," I told the fellow at the little counter.
"We don't give boarding passes, Ma'am."
Of course, my name was on a list, on a little clipboard and I spied my one lone suitcase on the tarmac; the guy with the clipboard stuck my bag into the belly of a little airplane-a 6 seater, really. . . (I didn't sign up for this)
We were in the air and I couldn't ignore the sky-the outside was inside. . .(I didn't sign up for this.) Through the engine noise I wanted to call to the pilot, "I've had enough, let me off," but instead I kept knitting really fast.
We landed in Memphis and Lindsey called, "Where are you? I'm at baggage claim."
I could see the airport in the distance-Where? maybe I'm at the bus station, I thought.
Later I related my day to John-he laughed, "If I had been with you, then we would have had fun together!
So, now I'm home-I love the mosaic of people who filled my travel days. . .

Gwyneth in Memphis

Friday, December 9, 2011

disrespect focuses on differences. . .

the foolish woman tears down her house with her own hands. Disrespect focuses on differences. I married a man-more mud, more wet towels, more noise; while differences may tempt me to disrespect my husband, the biblical response to difference is forbearance. My husband has a Thomas Edison bent but I like to play it safe (well, not totally safe- my safe is just different!) Once my husband built a catalytic converter for our van; he envisioned amazing fuel economy-but his invention just set the engine on fire. Then I look at my face in the mirror. . .do the differences between my husband and me make me smile or make me irritated?

Disprespect focuses on weaknesses. We're not all strong in the same areas- some are more susceptible to discouragement, to anxiety, some struggle more with physical weakness. Considering my husband's weaknesses, I may be tempted to say, I don't know why this is such a problem for you!

So, at my house I see and hear words-my husband sees pictures and diagrams; I write words on paper-he sketches and doodles. One Sunday morning we discussed our afternoon plans-lunch after church at a friend's home, but since my husband had a meeting, I would ride with the hostess and he would follow --simple enough.

"Would you ask Mary to draw me a map to her house?" my husband asked.
"Really- draw you a map? Couldn't she just tell you the directions? (and my mind belittled. . .)

My scenario has to do with differences, but also with weaknesses; my husband and I are different in the way we communicate, and each is strong in a different way.

Aye, what's a woman to do? Well, I can choose to repent, choose to respect my husband, to remember God's grace upon grace. . . right there is the Gospel applied to my heart. . .and your's.

more later-the wise woman builds. . .

Monday, December 5, 2011

a critical eye

. . .the foolish woman tears down her house with her own hands.

So, I observe in myself and in other women how disrespect criticizes. . .
I"m out of town for a week, visiting my children and grandchildren, and when I come home. . .well, I have to guard my heart-I know the temptation to look around my house and wonder, "What did he do while I was away?"
And I wonder-does your husband ever fail to meet your expectaions?
Perhaps your husband is working on a job around the house, but he doesn't complete the job according to your expectation. . . instead of believing the best about your husband (1 Corinthians 13:7), instead of remembering that his priorities may be different than your's, you believe the worst. . .you might think, He's been playing solitare on the computer! (or riding his bike). Then maybe you nag him. . .
"I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement." (Romans 12:3)
I've been thinking a lot about that verse -when I'm critical of my husband (or others), then I' thinking more highly of myself than I ought to think-Ahh, hideous pride.
Remember, a critical eye blinds. . .blinds you to the many things to respect about your husband.
(and there's more. . .)

Friday, December 2, 2011

cranberries and cake. . .

Cranberry Coffee Cake is a favorite family-20 years ago I cut the recipe from a magazine. . .
last week when the family came for the holiday, I pulled the cranberries out of the freezer and made the cake. As is the custom, we ate it for breakfast and throughout the day-til only the rich crumbs remain on the plate.

Rich Cranberry Coffee Cake

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (I add a little extra) mixed with 1/4 cup flour
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Combine dry ingredients and gradually add to butter mixture. mix 1/4 cup flour with whole cranberries; fold into batter (it will be very thick). Spoon batter into 10-inch fluted tube pan, greased and floured. Bake at 350 for 65 minutes (I check after 55 minutes) or until cake tests done. Let stand 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool on a wire reack and dust with powdered sugar.

(I still bake this cake in a cast iron bundt pan with chipped orange enamel on the outside-a wedding present; it's tradition.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

a trifling thing. . .

. . .the foolish woman tears down her house with her own hands.
I've noticed how the temptation to disrespect my husband inches in by way of petty annoyances-like where he parks his bike or stores his tools . . .whether he drapes his shirts or closes the closets . . .when he looses his keys. . .
Petty: of trivial importance, a trifling thing. . . in a heart beat, in our minds, a trifling thing grows huge.
Early one morning I stepped out of the shower and caught a lovely wave of classical music, then pound-pound booming from the kitchen; it was my husband, attacking the block of Mexican brown sugar with an ice pick, sugar for his hot cocoa. . .a petty annoyance, noise in the morning, irritating, disturbing my peace (and where? I wondered, did those little chips of brown sugar fly off to?)
Today- identify a petty annoyance that provokes you to think a disrespectful thought about your husband-then repent.
1 Corinthians 13:7 whispers. . .love does not insist on its own way, love bears all things.

and of course, there's more. . .

Friday, November 25, 2011

At bedtime on Thanksgiving I read to Julia, An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (Louisa May Alcott).
. . .Down among the embers, saucepans simmered, suggestive of an approaching feast.
"That's what we had today-a feast!" she exclaimed.
I'm not suprised, since Julia was the girl narrating dinner, "Oh, the turkey is so good, the mashed potatoes so good . . ."
Sometimes you plan a feast-plan, invite, shop, prepare; then maybe everything and everybody is ready but the turkey is undercooked-
Tilly, whatever made you put wormwood and catnip in your stuffing? asked Ma.
-the stuffing, overcooked, sticks to the pan-
The pudding was an utter failure-as hard and heavy as one of the stone balls on a great gate.
And the pies, so lovely to look at, aren't so perfect afterall. . .
but the guests are gracious, grateful--and it's still a feast.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

For as a woman thinks. . .

The wise woman builds her house but the foolish woman tears it down with her own hands (Pro 14:1)
What a graphic word picture! And it's about women, imagine that?
Let's consider the destructive affects of disrespect: the wife who disrepects her husband tears down her house one board at a time with her own hands-the more she disrespects, the more she sees to disrespect.
So, what does disrespect look like? Sometimes disrespect bellows, but most often it sneaks. . . disrespect belittles, cut downs, talks down to, criticizes, nags, ignores; disrespect is sarcastic, impatient, rude. . .
Recently my 4 year old grandaughter sent me an email, dictated to her mom, "Gran, I hope you are not being rude to your Papi!" Ahh, I love it-I can hear her mother say to her, "Selma, love is not rude!" Selma's question makes me think of the connection between rudeness and disrespect.
Disrespect begins in the mind. . ."For as a man thinks within himself, so he is" (Pro 23:7)
Do you notice the arrows of disrespect that zing through your mind? (this is not my job. . .he makes more work for me.)
So, here's a challenge: Listen to how you talk to yourself about your husband. Catch and put off the subconscious thoughts that lead to disrespect.
And don't daydream! Daydreaming leads our minds down the path of disrespect; we're tempted to replay old offenses; we're tempted to compare. . .
Disrespect begins in the mind. God has given us criteria as to how we should think about our husbands; my pastor calls Philippians 4:8 the leash law for the mind. . .Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

I like to envision the leash, reigning in my wayward thoughts.
enough for now. . .but there's more

Saturday, November 19, 2011

remembering. . .

Last week my siblings and I exchanged a flurry of emails, memories of our mother; it's been a year since she went to heaven.
So, the other day I lost one of my favorite earrings. I poked around my little box and choose some pearls to wear instead; my mother wore pearl earrings- often she lost one, and then she would buy another pair, pearls again.
So, I have a pair of Mom's earrings-I think they match. I'm not a pearl earring girl, really-but I've been wearing these all week, and thinking about Mom. . .
Then Reader's Digest came in my mailbox. . .Mom sent the subscription (or was it Dad?). Reader's Digest isn't my reading preference-it's still coming to my mailbox. Last week I browsed the pages and thought about Mom. . .
And last Friday we hosted an early Thanksgiving dinner for our Bible study; I made the coffee, set out cups, sugar, spoons to stir, and I filled the little pitcher with cream, Royal Copenhagen china, and I thought about Mom-good remembering, indeed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

the problem

. . .and let the wife see to it that she respects her husband.
When I struggle to respect my husband, the root of the problem is my own sin, really-
Scripture doesn't give me permission to make the sins of my husband my first priority-but I'm tempted. . ."God, give me the desire and strength to obey you; make me attentive to my own sin."
Now then, attentiveness to my own sin will create humility in me, and that's a good thing. At the heart of my struggle to respect my husband is my pride-I think more highly of myself than I ought; God tells me to think of myself with sound judgement. (Rom 12:3)
In his book, When Sinners Say I Do, Dave Harvey writes, "Cultivate a healthy suspicion of your own heart motives."
hmm, sinful heart motives-like pride, selfishness, lack of love, desire to control, discontent, speck focused. . .speck focused? "And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" (Matt 7:3-5)

"An excellent wife is a crown to her husband, she who shames him is rottenness to his bones" (Prov 12:4)
Think for a moment about a rotten thing, you know-how a rotting thing looks, feels, smells. Disrespect rots! when I disrespect my husband, I dishonor God (who purchased me with his blood) and I shame my husband.
So-all this is sobering, my own sin problem, the rottenness of disrespect. . . and while sin erodes and destroys relationships on a horizontal level, sin impacts our relationship with God.
Sin is wrong not because of what it does to me or to my spouse or child or neighbor, but because it is an act of rebellion against the infinately majestic God. (Jerry Bridges)

enough for now. . .but there's more.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Last month when I was in New York John drove to Bastrop to meet our sons and their families. He called me, "I'm in Texas holding Gwyneth and Adalyn!"
"I'm in New York holding Florence." I said.
"You are the gold star grandmother and I am the silver star grandfather," he said.
"How can that be?" I questioned, "You're holding two sweet grandaughters and I have one."
"You are the gold star grandmother. . . because I miss you."
Always good to be home-

Thursday, November 10, 2011

when it's hard. . .

And let the wife see to it that she respects her husband.
"Do you think this is such a struggle for all wives?" a woman asked me recently.
Well, yes-a struggle for all wives, because to obey God is to go against our nature.
But, no-not such a struggle, for some the struggle is less arduous, for others more, and frankly, some husbands are more difficult to respect (and some wives more difficult to love!)

Perhaps you are that wife in a particularly difficult situation; perhaps it seems asthough your husband is actively working against your efforts to obey God's command.
It's hard. . . looking through a biblical lense then, I know this is true:
1) God's command in Ephesians 5: 33 is true for all wives, without exception. And God is on the throne, his sovereignty rules over all. God doesn't get off the throne, stop ruling, when life is hard-so I remind myself. A firm reliance on God's sovereignty will help you and me to obey God.
2) Focus on God's glory. While pleasing God must always be my motive, a wife's conduct can impact her husband.
"Wives be subject to your own husbands so that even if some do not obey the Word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives when they see your respectful and pure conduct." (1 Pet 3:1-2)
What an amazing passage-God says here that a wife's respectful conduct has influence. It doesn't mean that she never says a word; we're told in other parts of Scripture to speak the truth in love, to be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us, and a biblical reproof may be the most loving response to a husband who is sinning. However, this wife doesn't preach at her husband-she speaks fewer words and her respectful behavior is a powerful influence in her husband's life.
3) Trust God. . . Ah, yes, trust God. Scripture tells us how the holy women of old trusted God. Sarah respected her husband, calling him Lord; she hoped in God not being frightened by any fearful thing (1 Pet 3:5-6). That example is for you and me.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. . .we can do that, even when it's hard, because of Jesus-
because we know that Jesus is the author and perfecter of faith. . . (Heb 12:2)
Aye, sorry so long-enough for now, but there's more. . .

Monday, November 7, 2011

orange things. . .

On Wednesday, Luke and Gabrielle returned from their trip and we returned their children. For an entire week two sets of grandparents divided the grandchildren, half-n-half. . .
Saturday at our house we read Molly's Pilgrim (Barbara Cohen) and talked about it; then we ate orange things-baby carrots, cheddar cheese cubes, gumey pumpkins, tart and sweet pumpkin candies, orange juice. The next day we made pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting. We ate them- and drank Pumpkin Pie Soda. I couldn't resist, the label and packaging were amazing (surpassing the taste.)
What's a grandmother to do?
And the thoughtful parents brought gifts for the grandmothers, blue for Martha, orange for me; I can't wait to fill it with salsa or guacamole-and I can't wait for the next time (now that I've cleaned up and rested a bit). . .the grandchildren come to stay.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

thinking biblically about respect-a command

A few weeks ago I wrote some thoughts about thinking biblically and about focus-about where I choose to focus the lense of my mind. I was preparing for a teaching opportunity. . .Thinking Biblically- Respecting Your Husband. So, I prepared it-and last Thursday I taught it. . .
Respect: to be in awe of, to honor, to treat as someone special, to esteem, to admire, to pay proper attention to (not ignore!), to show consideration for, to treat courteously, to heed (to listen to).

Ahh, a worthy pursuit, a huge topic, and no, I don't have it all figured out- but truth challenges my heart.
So, first the command: ". . .and let the wife see to it that she respects her husband."(Ephesians 5:33). Sometimes I chafe, imagining that God's commands just dangle, unattached. . . Soul, remember His character- our God is holy, not harsh-loving, not capricious nor fickle; every command He gives is meant for my good and assuredly, He gives the means and grace to obey. When I'm tempted to doubt God's goodness in this command, I remember. . ."He Himself bore our sins in his body on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness." (1 Peter 2:24)
The wise will give heed. . .consider the loving kindness of the Lord (Ps 107:43)
God's command in Ephesians 5:33 is addressed to wives-all wives, without exception.
Wives are commanded to see to it that they respect-the command is worded in such a way as to lay the responsibility squarely on the wife's shoulders. (Have you ever noticed that as wives we see to it that alot gets done-errands, bills, meals, car pool, coffee, laundry, knitting, reading. . .?)
In Ephesians 5:33 respect is a verb, something we do or show. We know that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks- so, respect begins in our hearts and is displayed in our words, attitudes, actions. . .toward our husbands.
"I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of the wife is her husband. . ." (1 Cor 11:33)
It's about God, about His design; He has set the husband as head, and He calls the wife to honor that postion. I've been thinking about it, focusing my biblical lense. . .respect is to be rendered to my husband because God has required it, not because my husband has earned it. Respecting my husband is a decision I make to obey God's Word. It's really all about God-and me.
Enough for now. . .but there's more.

Monday, October 24, 2011

kitchen day

Ahh, Central New York has apples, so many kinds of lovely apples. . .and I have memories of our orange Fiat, full of windfall apples in Oregon and crates of apples in Zacatlan de las manzanas in Mexico-years and years ago.
So-it's nice to spend all day in the kitchen. . . well, not every day-but from time to time, especially when there are at least 2 cooks, each focused on her recipe; then over a coffee good talk fills in the cracks.
Abi and I spent one entire day in the kitchen. . .we baked scones in the morning for tea guests, and in the afternoon she baked 3 loaves of bread while I cooked up 2 different soups- Abi's kitchen has just one pot large enough for soup. (we are resourceful women)
Then we took a break from the kitchen and delivered 1 soup and 2 breads to a friend who has a new baby; finally we sat down-and ate the other soup and bread.
But the pinnacle of our kitchen day was Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake-here. it was so good, chunks of apple rolled into a cardamom yeast dough.
So, if you like apple and sweet bread. . . carry on!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

a carpet and a quote. . .

The leaves make a carpet. . .and one day over lunch, we purused quotes by G..K. Chesterton--here's a favorite . .

Feminism is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free
when they serve their empl0yers but slaves when they help their husbands.

Monday, October 17, 2011

one about focus. . .

brown eyes, blue eyes

I'm trying to become a better photographer. . . Florence and her sweet Mama make a lovely subject, don't you think? So, I'm practicing with aperture and shutter speed, attempting to figure out lighting and focus-I'm working at it.
And I'm studying for a teaching opportunity at the end of the month. Think biblically, I scribbled at the top of my page. Biblical thinking is a lot like focus with my camera. Sometimes the wrong image is in focus, the bush rather than the boy- sometimes everything is out of focus- Blurry! I notice how my camera focuses on what appears to be the prominent image--but really, I need to tell it where to focus!
Likewise, by thinking biblically, I'm telling the lense of my mind where to focus. . .I choose to view my circumstances through the lense of the gospel, remembering that I've been redeemed wtih the precious blood of Christ, He loved me and delivered himself up for me!
And I view my life through the lense of eternityItalic-set your mind on the things above where Christ is. . .and through the lense of truth, God's Word-for the grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of God endures forever-

Hmm. . .so we'll see where this takes me--with my camera, with the teaching topic at hand-and in my life, amid it all. . .where I chose to focus the lense of my mind.

We make it our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to the Lord (2 cor 5:9)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Sink Room

I love to have people in for visits and overnights. I tell them, "Overnight at the Newton's is a bit like camping." (mmm, I just need to say it. . .)

I arrived in New York on Friday while Abi and Nathaniel were hosting out of town guests; so I spent a night with Jeremy and Lucinda, on the hill in the big yellow house. I slept in the sink room.

I climbed the stairs with Lucinda and peeked in the doorway--windows and light, lace, a curved wooden bed frame, an arching lamp with a little table beside- and of course, a tiny sink at one end of the room, just right for washing up.

I think the sink room is perfect - well, not a perfect magazine kind of room. . .a lovely room in an old house, with vestiges of 12 children who filled it, grew up and went away.

I wonder if Lucinda is ever tempted to add a postscript, "Overnight at our place is a bit like camping."

(Really, friend, overnight at your place is lovely)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

brother banter

Yesterday I arrived in New York- I'm visiting Nathaniel, Abigail, and sweet Florence; tomorrow we'll drive to Vermont for a family wedding and I'll see autumn in the Northeast-for the first time!
But I'll miss the 24 hour bicycle race in Texas next weekend- my boys are competing in the race. (sometimes it seems like my children perform their lives on revolving stages. . .)
Think about it, mountain biking for 24 hours, in the dark-it's crazy, but they love it.

Recently John and I spent the weekend with these 2 -they're hungry to win. I overheard them talking about the other brother,

"Tell him to eat more meat- he better bring his A-game to the team or we'll replace. . ."
Then I remembered years of loving exhortation - Boys, encourage each other, don't cut your brother down, no sarcasm, don't choke your brother, love each other. . . (back then was my voice sweet?)
And now they're grown men- still brothers, still a team. . .
I"m glad-

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

make no provision

The women at Tuesday Bible study answered the question, How does God provide help for every woman's struggle against sin? "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regards to its desires." (Romans 13:14)

"So, how do you make provision for the flesh? And how do you make NO provision for the flesh?" I asked.
A vigorous discussion insued. It was really good, a worthy pursuit. (no wonder I never make it to the end of a lesson. . .)
And throughout the week the question and application resurfaced-over lunch on Tuesday, during a skype conversaton on Wednesday, over coffee at my house on Thursday, at a fast food restaurant on Friday, in an email correspondence, again and again- How do you make no provison . . . it wasn't the other women who needed application and encouragement-it was me, really.
It all begins in my mind, maybe like this. . . my married children all have wonderful new families (but I have to learn to share). I'm tempted to think, "Ah-again, my daughter is spending time with that other family. . .they've forgotten us." I wallow in my mind. I'm filled with envy in a heartbeat-I crash over the cliff.
(and of course, I can choose to make no provision- by believing the best, by being thankful that they have new families who love them. . .)
Ah, yes, every woman struggles against sin . . . But Jesus, "He can sympathize with all our weaknesses; he has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, to receive mercy and grace to help in time of need." (Heb 4:14-16)
Lord, this is one of my times of need . . .

Monday, October 3, 2011

assembly required

When you must rip out knitting-and sometimes you must. . . then the yarn looks like ramen noodles-til you knit it up again, or throw it in the trash, or give it to your darling grandson to trot around in his pocket.
So, I've ripped this little boy vest-ripped 3 times and started again with renewed confidence.
One day I was ripping and muttering.
John said,"Knitting--assembly required!"
I kept ripping.
"That's a joke. . .you're suppose to smile." he said.
he makes me smile- and this post is for Rachel, who faithfully rips to create something more beautiful!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Saturday morning Gabrielle and the children invited me out for bagels and then to the Botanical Gardens-lovely. I arrived home in the afternoon- John and the neighbors were working in the garage with crow bars, shovels and lifts. (our garage leans)
"You had a phone call-she'll call back," my husband said.
She called at 9 P.M. "Sorry. . . I only call you when my life is a mess."
"I'm glad you called," I said- and I listened.

No temptation has overtaken you but such is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Cor 10:13)
That's what I wanted to remind her, for sure. . .that the way of escape is endurance and that God is faithful to give enough grace.
I told her. . . and she listened.
So, she's coming to my house tomorrow. I want to embrace her-and tell her that a woman who trusts in the Lord is like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream, that will not fear when the heat comes. . .nor cease to yield fruit-nor cease to yield fruit. (Jer 17: 7-9)

And I want to tell myself-

Monday, September 26, 2011

Violet's stool. . .

It seems like I have a new piece of furniture when I move an old piece to a new spot. . .
My grandfather made a tall three legged stool for my grandmother, Violet. I've heard that Violet would sit on her tall stool peeling carrots.
Now it's my stool, but I love to think about my tiny grandmother sitting on it, peeling carrots. . . did her legs dangle? did the stool todder?
So, last week I was standing over the recycle bin, flipping fast through magazines, and I saw this idea-Violet's tall stool could be a little table, maybe. . . it works next to my favorite chair; it holds my pile of books smartly, but will it hold a coffee cup-without a todder?
This week I've invited two women over for coffee. I'll try out Violet's stool first, with my coffee cup-and I'll watch for any hint of todder.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

good grammar

The other evening John and I drove our grandaughters home from an event, "Tell me about school." I asked.
"Grammar is hard!" Amaleah said.
"Oh, no, grammar is good (I love grammar). . . tell me what you're learning." I said.
"You know, about sentences- declarative, interrogative, imperative- and we're suppose to replace weak verbs with strong verbs. . ."
"Sounds good, no whimpy verbs allowed." I said.
The next morning I read Psalm 28, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults."
Listen sweet grandaughter, My heart trusts in Him, therefore my heart exults. . .
declarative sentence, strong verb-

Monday, September 19, 2011

a visit and a psalm

(ahh, a little metal pitcher with Peter and the cabbage leaves. . .)

Last week I visited my friend, Jennifer- we drank tea in china cups and ate little cookies and tender biscotti. . .special treats from Amy in Mississippi.
The house was quiet-nice (but not necessary) for tea and talk. Jennifer shared Psalm 13; I pulled my travel Bible from my book bag and followed along-
"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?. . .consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes. . .but I have trusted in your steadfast love. . ."
I remembered-no matter the season or circumstances, the challenges in a woman's life are the same-the clothes are different, the heart's the same. . .and God's Word restores.
Then Jennifer left to pick up her children and I drove home.
The house was quiet- at my desk I opened my worn old Bible and read Psalm 13 again; the page is wrinkled, words are scribbled in pen and pencil in the margin, "I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me." (vs 6)
Worship. . .scribbled in the margin

Thursday, September 15, 2011

my mind rambles. . .

Women's Bible study started up on Tuesday, a new year- I can't wait. There are new things ahead for me, opportunities not planned by me. . .
And on Tuesday I met new women- so nice.
We circled the group, introducing ourselves, and I could only think of one thing to share; you see, Tuesday was Josiah's birthday, and Noah's birthday-they share the day, 5 years apart.
So, I told the women, "Today my sons share a birthday, born 32 and 27 years ago!"
Now my boys are fathers -I imagine my sons with sons, but God has given them daughters. I love to watch . . .
Boys! keep training and loving - supporting her head, holding her hand and all the rest. . .for a very very long time.
(Now I need to remember what those dear women shared with me about themselves. . .)

Monday, September 12, 2011

a space between each book. . .

Last week I visited Caroline-she showed me her clean, organized pantry.
"Lovely! Leave the door open for a few days." I said.
I told her about my bookshelf cleaning project-dusting, sorting, giving away, rearranging.
a clean bookshelf is nice. . .you know, a shelf with little spaces between each book. And I love that empty middle shelf. . .
I discovered some treasures and a bunch for the give-away box; Wild Alaska belongs to Josiah, sent from his dear grandmother who filled the title page with a personal letter; she also promised to send him an ample collection of books about Alaska. (I only found one)

So-John started a new school year and I started cleaning the bookshelf-I thought about Psalm 16, "I have set the Lord continually before me, because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

I have set the Lord. . .not a person, or vision, or ministry or any good thing. Then day by day my children and grandchildren started back to school, teaching and attending-universtities, high school, elementary, home school. . .in Mexico City my 3 sweet grandchildren began a new school year.

I recalled past school days. . .with a hint of longing. So, I kept cleaning the bookshelf and I prayed for them, for me. . .

I have set the Lord continually before me, because He is at my right hand I will not be shaken. (Ps 16:8)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

just a button

So, I'm writing a post about a button-curious, but then the tiniest details seem to weave our lives together, don't you think?
This sweater is ready to send off to sweet Florence, but it needed a button- just one.
So I spilled out the button jar and quickly chose 4 or 5 possibilities. Then I asked my husband his opinion. . .fully expecting that he would respond, whatever-all good. . .
But he didn't-instead he chose the large colorful button, and really, I love it- and I love that my husband had an opinion about my handiwork. . .

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Consider Him. . .

Friday night after Bible study I sat with a friend on the edge of the pool- our legs dangled in the tepid water.
surrounded by noise, splashing, laughter, conversations -she shared, "I want peace, this relationship is still broken, what more can I do?"
A tangled mess. . .that's what she described. we had discussed it before, her part in pursuing peace.
As much as possible with you be at peace with all men.

I hear my friend's confusion and feel her sadness; I want to smooth out the trouble for her, take away the hostility, somehow bring about reconciliation. . .
today I've been thinking about our world broken by sin- and about the gospel. . .
"Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted." (Hebrews 12:3)
So, today I'll call and encourage my friend . . .remember the cross! the gospel applies here, now, Consider Him. . .

Friday, September 2, 2011

dry but thirsty

Amaleah called on Monday, "Gran! it's 102 degrees-are you and Papi okay?"
so sweet. . .actually, at 5 P.M. the temperature outside was 105 degrees and I was driving home from cool Starbucks. I stepped inside my house, slipped off my sandals-the hardwoods felt hot.
And such is south Texas at the end of summer, hot and dry.

Last week I ate lunch with a young friend, "I wanted to ask you about this. . .I feel spiritually dry." she said.
Dry?? I look around me and dry means cracks-like the ground cracks, walls crack, skin cracks. . .but I understand my friend, and I know what it's like to feel dry on the inside.
Sometimes I feel parched. And the inside struggle flares when I don't thirst, or when I thirst for what is dead.
So, I keep putting the living God before me- My soul cleaves to the dust; revive me according to your word. . . (Psalm 119)

It helps to cultivate thankfulness. . .for small things.

Today I'm thankful for a new screen door. . . John is building, piecing, repairing, painting it. There are still cracks all around me, but I'm focusing on the lovely door.

O God, my soul thirsts for you, my flesh yearns for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Ps 63)

Monday, August 29, 2011

a little cheer

Fanny Crosby wrote, "All the way my Saviour leads me. . . He cheers each winding path I tread."
So, I sing it, believe it. . .
Sunday after church meeting, John handed me a brown paper bag containing a lovely golden brioche. That evening we sliced and ate it- toasted, with butter and jam. Perfect
Monday I got an email from Michelle, "I know your kitchen is hot; you probably don't bake bread in the summer-I thought you'd like some homemade. . ."
Wednesday John and I munched goodies in the kitchen, "I keep meaning to thank you for buying these dates!" he said.
"Me? It's our friend, Patricia-every time I visit her, she sends me home with dates!" I said.
I love to think on the particular ways the Saviour leads and cheers. . . and how He uses people with bread and dates and more-
And this week my boy sent me a text, "students are back, bike shop is crazy busy, no day off for 2 weeks."
hmm, how to cheer his path? I sent a fast food gift card- Yep, fast food.
2 days later he texted, "Thanks, Mom, you're the best!"

Monday, August 22, 2011

love in the Gospel. . .

Today John started back to school-prepared to hug weeping 4 year olds.
And Mercy went back to college on Saturday, after a consult with the optometrist.
"Yes, you do need vision correction-wear your glasses all day!" he said. Sigh, she probably needed glasses years ago (she's #8 . . . )

Mercy and I traveled to California for Molly's wedding, just the 2 of us. Mercy meets people, puts herself out there; one evening she got to know Eddie's family-some of them don't speak English. I love that about her.
So, on the flight home we shared people stories.
Mercy and the cousins talked about worldview and practical faith, about living selflessly or selfishly-how does it look?
(where was I during that worthy pursuit? I was distracted by mountains of fresh peaches.)
We talked and I had an opinion- the topic under youthful examination seemed clearly defined, but maybe not-
So, I've been thinking,"do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit. . ."
These days John and I are doing an unselfish deed. . .outwardly I appear totally, radically unselfish. But in my mind sometimes I hear ghastly selfish thoughts, feelings-shocking!
I can't make myself be more selfless-
Heart, remember God's love in the Gospel. . .
"We who live in him are no longer to live for ourselves, not even for our good record, our family's approval, or our clean conscience. We are to live for Him who for our sake died and was raised." (2 Cor 5:15)
Ah, so totally unselfish. . .

Thursday, August 18, 2011

from house to house. . .

We spent the last weeks of our summer road trip traveling house to house, visiting our own children. We walked the older neighborhood where Josiah and Lindsey live in Memphis.
And we craddled our newest grandaughter, sweet Gwyneth.

I watch and listen to all these children of mine . . . and their unique and varied lives. They've lived in places I couldn't have imagined 10 years ago-California, Colorado, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Spain, England-this summer one couple moved to Mexico City (mega-city!) and another to Ohio (college town!) . . . And not only the places, but the pursuits-Ah, so this is what God was preparing her for. . .I had no idea! (Mother's think like that)

I remind myself that God has a good plan-mostly I pray that each would follow Jesus, especially in hard places. . .and sometimes I'm grateful that they are young, and I am old, just watching, cheering them on. Dear Ones-Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. (Ps 37)

Monday, August 15, 2011

There were pinwheels for Molly and Eddie's wedding-lovely.
then my camera battery died.
so sad-but the good part. . . no camera means more conversation!
I met Fern and Merv, retired missionaries from Africa and Mexico. They just celebrated 55 years of marriage. Last year Fern had a stroke.
"I don't really do anything now," she said.
"You pray, don't you?" I asked.
"Yes, I pray. . .and I enjoy my husband!" she touched Merv's knee.
"Do you have marriage advice?" I asked.
And without hesitation Fern said, ". . .stop-sit down-have a cup of coffee-and enjoy one another!"

I'll be remembering. . .

Friday, August 12, 2011

in the path of old saints

Rachel texted me, Glad you got home safely. . .with stories to tell, I hope??
Indeed, I have people stories. . .
So, I want to park myself in the path of old saints, Christ followers who have followed and followed, followed fully; you know the kind, they're like gold. . .
The sweet lady on the left is Helen Kay-she's grandmother, aunt, mother-in-law to this group.

Helen Kay is gold. One morning we sat together and I asked questions; her life is marked by adversity, a particular affliction with no earthly end in view.
But Helen Kay doesn't talk a lot about her circumstances-today I see her face as I work on Colossians 2:6-7, "Therefore as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith. . .abounding in thanksgiving."
We hugged goodbye, "Darcie, I'm not very deep. . .I just skim from the top." she motioned with her hand.
Oh no, Helen Kay, you live deep with the Saviour. . .
And I can learn much-

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

home is good. . .

And for those souls (like me) who love to travel, there's a time to be home-mmm, home is good.
after 5 weeks on the road, 6,000 miles, and a quick trip to California for my niece's wedding, I'm home to stay-at least for awhile.
Today I'm resisting the temptation to react to the undone, all that waits for me. . .to resist making 20 appointments this week- (perhaps 1 or 2)

This morning I sat- simply sat in my regular spot, at the regular time, with my favorite worn out Bible. . .I'm back to the beginning of Psalms.
In the morning, O Lord, you will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to you and eagerly watch (Ps 5)
And it was good.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

cooking, critiquing, and more

This isn't a cooking blog, really. . .but then women cook together, cook and talk. I do that a lot.
So, in Indiana Rachel and I made a key lime pie. Brett squeezed all the key limes. We ate it and critiqued it. . .
Brett made a few gracious suggestions for next time. Dave ate it up-no critique (but I think Dave is content with whatever Rachel cooks for him).
The next morning I offered to make scones-my recipe.
"I think the recipe is in my head." I told Rachel.
"After last night's pie-I don't trust you. . ." she said.
hmm, I thought I'd posted the recipe on this "non-cooking" blog, but I guess not-so here goes:

Darcie's Cranberry Scones
(this recipe comes from Southern Living, but I've been making it for a long, long time. . .)
2 cups flour
2 Tbl sugar
1 Tbl baking powder
1/2 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or more)
Mix the dry ingredients, cut in butter til crumbly, add cranberries, mix in buttermilk.
Pat dough into an 8" round on floured surface, cut into 8 pie wedges, place on lightly greased baking sheet, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes. (careful not to over bake)

Monday, August 1, 2011

in Indiana. . .

Brett amd Rachel live in a home that once belonged to Brett's grandparents; they live with Dave, Brett's Dad. It's small town Indiana-the house sits on a highway, and across the highway, a university. The flower bed along the house is new-I love its curve and the perennials that Dave chose to fill the bed.

Tuesday evening we walked to the nursing home where LaVerne, Brett's mom, lives. LaVerne has early onset Alzhiemer's-she's my age, our birthdays are 2 weeks apart.
Dave and LaVerne married in 1972, just like John and me- almost 40 years of marriage for them, for us.
-over 5 years ago Dave and LaVerne began a journey with Alzhiemer's.
These days Rachel cooks in LaVerne's kitchen; last week we cooked together.
Memories of my own first years of marriage flooded in. . .the same yellow tupperware, small flowers on white Corning Ware.
Photos of young Dave and LaVerne picture little Brett sandwitched between 2 sisters. In the 70's LaVerne sewed a polyester leisure suit for Dave. . . while I embroidered on denim for John.
We all followed Jesus. . .

LaVerne sits with us on the patio at the nursing home on Tuesday; she wears 2 bracelets-lavender, her favorite color.
Brett asks, "Mom, do you remember who gave you those lavender bracelets? David! He's your husband, do you remember?"
Then I wonder, Does LaVerne understand that her dear son is married. . .married to my daughter?
Sometimes words like confused-helpless-broken sceam in my mind.
Heart, remember redemption, the cross, blood shed for me, for her. . .and faithfulness
I think about faithfulness in marriage, of Dave's testimony to love and care for his wife, for 39 years, into the unknown, til the end. . . and of God's faithfulness to LaVerne and Dave, to John and me, into the unknown, til the end. . .All the way my Saviour leads me, Cheers each winding path I tread, Gives me grace for every trial, Feeds me with the living bread. Though my weary steps may falter, And my soul a thirst may be, gushing from the Rock before me, Lo! a spring of joy I see.

Friday, July 29, 2011

a week of sweets

So, when we visit our Syracuse family, sweets abound-like a little drawer in the kitchen with shortbread (for me) and dark chocolate (for John) for tea time-with the white teapot. . .and more.

On Thursday we planned a day trip to Buttermilk Falls in Ithica, but early in the morning Abi and I worked on dessert for the evening. . .Strawberry-rhubarb Pie was preferred, but there wasn't time for a pie that day.
Instead we made sauce, and really, it was abolutely perfect- a bite of sweet strawberry and tart rhubarb, spooned over vanilla ice-cream.

Rhubarb-Strawberry Sauce
3 cups strawberries, 3 cups rhubarb, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water.
We defrosted Abi's local fruit, cooked the rhubarb in a saucepan with water and sugar for 10 minutes, then added the strawberries, simmering for about 7 minutes.
That evening we took our sauce and ice-cream to a gathering . . .tart, sweet, smooth, cold, red, white-just perfect.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

morning with a friend. . .

It's nice to share grandmothering with a friend, so I've discovered.
hmm, sweet Florence-really, Lucinda and I could eat her up. . .

And with Lucinda, there's lots more to talk about. . .when I came to Syracuse in January we spent a whole day together, leaving conversations dangling-
So, last week we squeezed in a morning together at the bagel shop; we talked fast, picking up unfinished thoughts, broaching new ones, yet to be completed, and as we explored personal issues, some complex- my friend reminded me of a clear and worthy purusit-
Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and it leaf does not wither. . .
Then Lucinda dropped me off at Nathaniel and Abi's, for it was time for the day to move on-it's that way in a woman's life, no?
But in the evening Jeremy and Lucinda joined us for dinner.
"Darcie, there are 3 things we didn't talk about this morning. . .we didn't talk about aging!"
(really, dear friend, we talked all about aging. . .)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

3 kitchens and a recipe

Last month my kitchen was 100 degrees and Gabrielle's kitchen was under construction. Sometimes it's easier to face a challenge in someone else's space.
So, one day I offered to make dinner for the family at her place. I tried a new recipe-Mediterranean Orzo with Olives and Feta; between our kitchens I collected all the ingredients, and we agreed- it's good.

Last week in Syracuse , Abi and I cooked together in her kitchen. We had some lovely hospitality opportunities and one evening I made the orzo salad-try it!

Mediterranean Orzo. . .
Cook 2 cups orzo, drain and rinse
Add: 2 cups chopped raw spinach
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomato (oil packed)
1/2 cup feta cheese
3/4 cup sliced kalmata olives
chopped red onion
1 (6 oz) jar marinated artichokes, drained and quartered
reserve marinade and add to your liking, tossing pasta lightly. Serve with extra feta.

(And invite some folks in to share. . .)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

sojourning- 4 weeks

This morning I read Psalm 146, The Lord watches over the sojourners. I'm sojourning. . .we've been traveling for almost a month; I like road trips-the adventures, but mainly the people.
Sometimes as we drive along I peek at the other drivers, Who are they? Where are they headed? I wonder what it would be like to be old and travel around in a monstrous motor home visiting parks, lakes. . . And a road trip always provides the opportunity to trust God with the unknown-so I've discovered.
We left Lancaster on a Friday, headed for Nathaniel and Abigail's home in Syracuse. The car lost electricity just 15 miles into the day; on the roadside John diagnosed the problem- something broken on the fan belt pulley.
So, up the road a few miles in Reading we found a VW dealer (I'm in Pennsylvania at a VW place?). they didn't have the part. Should we drive to Harrisburg or Scanton?
John told the clerk, "Not Harrisburg. . .we're heading north to New York."
And I said, "But Harrisburg is close. . .Scanton is far."
He said, "We'll be fine-our VW has a diesel battery!"
Trust the Lord. . .and trust my husband -
So, 2 hours later in Scranton we found the VW place; then John discovered that the problem wasn't the fan belt, but the alternator.
He returned the unneeded part, purchased the needed one, and in the July afternoon sun in Scanton, Pennsylvania, my husband decided not to try his shade tree mechanics on the side street.
"What if. . .we charge the battery at Auto Zone for an hour while we eat lunch and then drive to New York?" he asked.
Trust the Lord. . .and honor my husband.

Then we drove on a curvey highway in a heavy downpour, and once we crossed into New York it seemed earier to trust. Surely Abigail and Nathaniel would rescue us if need be. . .

hmmm, the Lord watches over the sojourner. . .and that's life, all of it, a sojourn.

Monday, July 18, 2011

in Pennsylvania. . .

Tuesday we drove to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to visit Joy and Clarence.
Ahh-on this road trip I keep discovering hydrangeas-and each bush is more amazing!

I love to sit with Joy in her sunroom- wicker, cushions, little tables for writing, morning sun.
How to keep up with our children?
for her-2 daughters and 5 sons, for me -4 sons and 4 daughters, all growing up, moving out, away from us. . . How to wisely fit into their lives. . .to be a blessing, to glorify God in the midst?
"Consider Him" because if not, I'll certainly "Consider me" every time.
I was alone one morning in Joy's sunroom; I read Psalm 143; then Joy came around. . .Friend, I prayed for you and me, "Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!"

And we met Beltron . . .Hug, Hug, tickle, he calls.

Joy and Clarence are adopting Beltron, 8 years old, from a Peruvian orphanage. We prayed for this little guy- now we've held him, talked and played with him.
And Beltron sings. . .

Thursday, July 14, 2011

in New England. . .

After a wild ride through New Jersey and New York City, I think a GPS would be a worthy purchase-John agrees.

It seems just right to spend 4th of July weekend in New England, dont you think?
On the town square in Havehill, we located the church where Adoniram Judson was commissioned to go to India; someone said we'd find a statue in the commons - I whipped out my camera. . .no statue of Adoniram.
But really, we traveled to Haverhill to visit Mel and Marsha. . .our friendship goes back to 1976 when we were in missionary candidate school together, then language school together (Marsha and I carried our girls, Naomi and Mandie, together) and then Mexico together-so, friendships are forged. . .

In Haverhill we workshipped with a young church in an old building and spent the 4th in Newport, Rhode Island; we picniked and ate ice cream like the young, remembered the past, considered the future. . . retirement?
And we looked at pictures-lots. Our friends just returned from a 2 week trip to Haiti where they traveled the island by truck, visiting the places where Mel was born and grew up.

My son says I can download my pictures onto my computer. . .one man helped another.

We wanted to see all 1,500 pictures, hear all the narration, ask questions, discuss. . .

Sometimes old travelers fade fast.