Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In Other Words

"Under the banner of God, victory is always assured;
but apart from it, defeat is a certainty.
When the banner of God's rod was not held high, Amalek prevailed.
You can't do battle against the flesh under your own power."
~ Kay Arthur ~ Lord, I Want to Know

I must confess that, at first blush, I thought I would be unable to post today. Apart from a general agreement with the sentiment set forth by Moses' example, I didn't feel any relevence for today in Kimberly-land. Do not misunderstand. My world is as un-idyllic as anyone else's, and I have done battle with the enemy. I have met against him with the Lord's strong shoulder nearby. I have called upon my mother to assist me in prayer at such times. The battle is very real, although today has been relatively free of skirmishes. At least to my human eyes. And that brings me to what the Lord showed me today.

First, the Lord gently reminded me that I have been suffering more bruising from the enemy than necessary. And in that regard, the enemy has gained a toehold in my life.
I've always had trouble making close friends. I think everyone has had times when our friends have let us down, even hurt us. I've had a few more than my share lately. My best friend (at the time) decided to divorce her husband. She divorced all of her friends too; and after an odyssey into an abusive situation, drug use and turning her back on the Lord she lives in spiritual and physical poverty - a lonely alcoholic who won't let anyone in.

My next "best friend" didn't wrong me per se, but her teenage son abused my young son in the worst way imagineable. She abjectly refuses to even consider that he could have done such a thing. Thus the end of friendship #2 - necessary, but still painful.

Many years later, I befriended the mother of my son's classmate at karate. We became instant friends, closer than sisters in a matter of months. What happened? Yup, she moved to Houston. We're still very close friends, and I love her like a sister, but it's just not the same.

Now why did I just dump all of that on y'all? To get to this: the Lord showed me today that I had been actively avoiding new friendships in an effort to avoid getting hurt again. Pushing people away, or just not letting them close in the first place.

Really, I knew it down in my heart, but didn't want to admit that it was wrong. Yes. Wrong. I'm admitting it. I've gone out of my way to avoid people in 'real life' and in the process I missed out on so many blessings. I see now that I can't continue holding my arms up alone. And while my mother is faithful to the end if the Lord tarries she won't be here forever. My precious husband is always there for me, but sometimes cannot relate to things the way a girlfriend would.

God showed me that I've been wondering why my arms were so tired, when I was shooing away those who would offer some relief. OUCH

When we are as in tune with our spiritual vision as we are the physical, we will begin to see that the battle is never really over. It can't possibly be; the war is still on. There are days when the war rages in our hearts and minds, and we cower before the Lord pleading mercy on our own or a loved one's behalf. Then when the battle eases, we rest. But we rest thanks to the those in the heavenly realm who continue the fight on our behalf. Those in whom the Lord has placed some of our spiritual and - I believe - occasional physical protection. What a wonderful God we serve who not only meets but exceeds our needs!

If you've ever read any of Frank Peretti's books, you'll know how easy it is for me to picture it. Close your eyes with me.

See yourself - holding your arms aloft as you prayerfully watch your child battle in the valley. God's word is in your hand, and the eyes of your child look to you over and over. Searching, seeking the courage to stay the course. Looking to you for the example of how to fight the good fight. Your arms begin to falter, shaking with exhaustion. The storm clouds are thick, and the thunder is rolling low and ominous. The Lord is there, you know, but He has entrusted you with this particular fight. He seeks to increase your faith.

Just as your right arm begins to collapse, one of the angels appears to help you. This is no cherub or seraphim. This...this is a warrior. A beautiful being created as a servant to God himself. And he is here. Helping you, a sinner saved by grace. There is his sword, you see? The sword of the Spirit that is so sharp. It's in his other hand, ready to ward off that which threatens your precarious perch on the edge of the cliff. With his free hand, he grasps your elbow and bolsters your grip. Your other arm feels like jelly, you're nearly spent when another angel appears at that side to help you along. You feel his help, his support and devotion to the creation of his God.

Whether in the form of angels ministering or friends supporting, isn't is grand to know He cares for us? In so many ways! Friends DO matter. They are a gift from a loving God. Now, let's be clear: Like all of creation, angels are under God’s authority and subject to His judgment. They are not divine and are not to be worshipped. More on angels at this link: http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=711#

And now I see where I was wrong. No more pushing away for me. With God's help, my wall-building days are over!

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Kindred Spirit

"What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow." -Martin Luther

Rebecca has this quote scrolling at the top of her lovely site. I absolutely LOVE it. How wonderfully blessed we are to be entrusted with such great responsibility!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Work in Progress Wednesday

This little project has been in the works for a while, but I've just resurrected it. At my place of employment, in our office area we have a mural of a pier and ocean complete with parrott and sailboat. During the CHRISTmas season, we put up a beautiful tree adorned with seashells and nautical themed ornaments. This year, I'm hoping to have a stocking for each of us...in theme, of course!
This is the first and very rough "draft" It has not yet had the back added, thus the rough edges. It is made of felt, the palm fronds at the top will be relocated to the fold-down white top of the stocking. when it is added. I'm thinking of adding just a very few pom-pons or sequins to the fronds to simulate ornaments, but am pretty much undecided on that one still. Every element will be stitched (simple running stitch) but is currently put together with FabricTac.

As I didn't have a pattern at all, I'm doubtful as to the shape of it. I would very much like any input or suggestions! Creative criticism is okay, I can take it! I think. ha.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Today we had Kentucky Hot Browns with iceburg/pepper salad and turtle brownies for dessert.

Tuesday: Chicken Divan, steamed asparagus and corn

Wednesday: Turkey, sweet potato casserole and greens

Thursday: Chicken Dip, peas and hominy

Friday: Meatball Subs, salad, raw veggies w/dip

Saturday: Salsbury Steak, Consumme Rice, grilled zucchini

Sunday: Grilled Steaks with Blue Cheese, cauliflower salad, green beans


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Life Began in a Garden...

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.


And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.


I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go;
through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.


Words: Charles Austin Miles (1912)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Small Cute Dog + Small Cute Skunk =

Big ugly stink! There is an adorable, if pungent, skunk that visits our house each evening now. Apparently, she considers the dog great target practice!

About 2 hours ago, DS let her in. I was on the phone with Papa-Dew and noticed. an. odor. In less than one minute, she managed to spread the joy throughout the house. Said dog, however, is now consigned to jump at the front door until Papa-Dew gets home and saves her. She won't be coming in here again until she's been de-skunkified.

And of course, the preacher and his wife are coming for supper Monday.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Discovering Home

Meredith wrote today about their local discovery. Here's a lovely, local place we looked into not so long ago...

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We enjoyed the boat tour and panning for gems!

I'm not super crazy about the liberal slant here but I do agree with being more green as good stewards of the earth entrusted to us. Not to mention the frugal and educational benefits of exploring at home!


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This is the best pic I've ever taken of DS. I was sitting beside him as we awaited the lightnin' bug parade and just lifted my arm and snapped the pic without even looking. Every other pic, he saw me coming and I had a full memory card of goofy faces. This, this is the one.

I wonder how the gracious Jewels gets those stunning pics of her kiddos. 'Fes up, you wear camouflage, right? ;-)

I have to sneak around or disguise myself as a sofa to get a good pic. harrumph.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Blessed be Your Name...

“Blessed Be Your name

When I’m found in the desert place

Though I walk through the wilderness

Blessed Be Your name…”

~ Matt Redman

These are powerful words, from a powerful song. They echo a sentiment I learned the hard way... God is good. Even when things seem to be going so wrong. When pain has taken up residence in my heart. When tears sting my eyes at the most inopportune moments.

One of the first desert places in my adult life was at Vanderbilt UMC neo-natal intensive care unit. That's where my son was born. At 27 weeks gestation. That's about 3 months early. 2 pounds, 3 ounces. Quite possibly dying. But God was there. And I learned to bless His name at every stage. Whether gasping a prayer during a Brady event (breathing/heartbeat stops) or rejoicing over another 6 ounce weight gain. He was right there, walking through the desert with me. And His name was blessed.

When walking through the wilderness associated with the discovery of a potentially life threatening disease in the same child years later, He was still right there with me. And I'd learned enough by then to bless His name - even before I felt like it. The more I praised Him, the more I meant it, and the easier it got. What a relief it was to cast every burden on Him. And later to rejoice at His assurance that He would provide healing in a miraculous way. And He did. There are doctors from Kentucky to Boston still scratching their heads over that one.

I'm not naive enough to think - or even hope - that there will be no more desert or wilderness experiences. What I do know is that He is there through it all. Holding me. Comforting me. Loving me. Blessed be His name - forever and ever.

Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. - Psalm 113:2

Who really practices "Come Ye Apart" any more?!

I've got a post swirling around my brain and I have no idea how to convey it without sounding trite or whiny so I suppose I'll just jump right in. Hang in there with me to the end...

In their effort to "connect" with young people, I see changes in the church with which I'm uncomfortable. Now, by "the church" I'm speaking of the corporate body of Christ - not necessarily ours in particular.

Some are merely different methodologies - the use of a screen and PowerPoint presentations. To me, they are a distraction - an intrusion even. To others, a welcome addition to the worship experience. After going to the Lord about my feelings, I realize that neither method is inherently right or wrong. Thus, I've resigned myself to staring purposefully at the bulletin or hymnal to avoid distraction.

The switch from hymn-based worship to chorus-based has been difficult as well, but I think is still a difference in methodology. Although I do really, really wish my son would grow up hearing those wonderful songs of old regularly in the service. It's one thing for a 5-year-old me to request the song, "Bringing in the Sheeps" (LOL), another for my 8-year-old to have to be taught "Victory in Jesus". I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for traditional-hymn CDs to listen to at home and in the van. (Do you have a fave? Let me know what it is!)

Here's where the water muddies a bit for me. This past weekend involved a "prayer journey"...there were "stations" set up around the building and you were to go at your own pace around. It was basically a series of object lessons. One had rocks you were to clean, there was a mirror at another, a map at another, and instructions on how to participate at each. Papa-Dew made the decision for our family to leave, and we did.

There were several different reasons for his decision: 1) We had an extremely hyper boy on our hands who thought this was playtime. 2) Papa-Dew and I were both extremely uncomfortable with the whole process. I can't list all of his reasons, they are his own and private.

But to me it felt rather superficial. I know everything was symbolic. What I need to learn and work on with regard to prayer is not symbolic at all. It is so very private, making myself so very vulnerable before the God who loves me and knows me by name, that to put it in a box - do this here, pray for this here, take a drink here, write a letter here - is to make it somehow seem less holy.

Human nature is too prone, I think, to put a great deal of stock in the symbolic. That's why I no longer have a prayer journal. For some people, it's great. Not so much for me. I caught myself just writing prayer requests down in it instead of actually taking them to the Lord. Once I realized that it wasn't for me, my prayer life increased. I still don't have a specific time each day that I devote to prayer. It's more like speaking to a loved one on an hourly basis. I'm so ADD that when I see a need or receive a request, I stop right then and pray...no matter where I am or what I'm doing. I've found that this way, I have a daily, hourly, sometimes every-minute running dialogue with the Lord. Of course, there are times when I feel the need for a season of prayer/spiritual warfare, and I search out a quiet spot and do so, but for the most part, I speak to the Lord every few minutes. I need to work on listening more often, I know.

Now, am I going to leave the church over a prayer journey? Of course not. Just because it wasn't for me doesn't make it wrong. But I have to wonder how we got so far away from the very basics of worship & praise. Why are the old ways being abandoned so quickly? Why are we so quick to change things to 'appeal to those outside the church'?

The church managed to win souls in the 40s without adding big bands. The 50s somehow saw increased church attendance without the allure of Ringo Starr in the choir loft. The 60s? Well, we won't go there. But the church did manage to hang around. The 70s and 80s saw the genesis of "Jesus Music" and the birth of contemporary Christian music. Petra was shockingly "rock-like" but remained on the record and cassette players of the youth group (I have lots of Petra on my iPod...they really mean what they sing!). The 90s ushered in the era of the 'mega-church' - where Sunday School included latte and donuts, small group ministries came into vogue, and suddenly abortion and euthanasia were 'political matters' and were verboten in the sanctuary.

Where are we headed with all this? Several denominations have sullied their fine histories by condoning things God calls abomination. I'm NOT speaking of loving and ministering to those in the lifestyle - we are called to do that! We are called to care for those who are homeless, downtrodden, poor, widowed, elderly, single parents, the hopeless, those who do not know Him. We are to love them, bring them in to fellowship with the Lord who loves them! In our quest, though, to "connect" with those, are we letting go of too much of ourselves?

I'm a fan of the show "24". I know, but it is really a roller-coaster ride thriller for a news/political junkie like myself. I'm a recent fan, so I've been watching older shows to catch up. In one plotline, Jack Bauer has inserted himself into a drug cartel/family. To seem "authentic" and show that he's "for real" he has been taking a drug. Heroin, I believe. True to form, his mission was moderately successful. He managed to ingratiate himself to at least one member of the family. But when all was said and done, when the situation was over, Jack was a junkie. No cute words...just a junkie. He'd done what he thought was necessary to get into that private circle. But he still had to pay the price.

I wonder...if we change our ways to appeal to the world, will they still appeal to God? Or will we have a price to pay? Can we reach the world without changing? I think so. You see, He's not changed. He's forever the same. Is all change bad? Of course it isn't - but change simply for the sake of change is not always wise. If we must change, perhaps we should begin not with the order of service - but the type and regularity of our service to others. Perhaps the words of Petra lyricist will illustrate the type of change I think is needed most:
Another sleepy Sunday, safe within the walls
Outside a dying world in desperation calls
But no-one hears the cries,
or knows what they're about
The doors are locked within,
or is it from, without...
Looking through rose colored stained glass windows
Never allowing the world to come in
Seeing no evil and feeling no pain
Making the light as it comes from within, so dim...
Out on the doorstep lay the masses in decay
Ignore them long enough, maybe they'll go away
When you have so much you think,
you have so much to lose
You think you have no lack,
when you're really destitute
Looking through rose colored stained glass windows -
Never allowing the world to come in -
Seeing no evil and feeling no pain -
Making the light as it comes from within, so dim
so dim!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

I've always wanted to (dot) (dot) (dot)

As you either know or may have guessed, I work in the creative field. Much of my work is done from home, at outlandish hours, and in something of a controlled frenzy.

But now you know that you'll need protection if you interrupt one of my "hands-on" creating sprees. I've been known to crochet, sew, paint and scrapbook - all in one day! (Yes, I'm somewhat ADD.)

To be utterly honest with you, dear reader, I've been blessed by compliments from co-workers and clients as to the quality of my work. My impression, however, is that while it is acceptable and my very best effort it is certainly nothing to "write home" about. The Lord has enabled me with a tiny bit of creative ability, and I thank Him for that.

There are other folks whose creativity is just not their cheif ability. And thank the Lord for that! What would we do with a police officer whose greatest achievement was to draw a pretty picture of an escaping criminal, or an accountant whose "creativity" landed him in prison and his clients in the poorhouse?! Not everyone can (or should) be creative for a living.

I've been noticing something for a long time and it all kind of came together for me today. Consider this for a moment: How many times have you heard someone wish they could be more creative? Probably a lot, especially if you are geared toward creativity. It always amazes me how many acquaintances or clients hand me their ideas on paper - or even a completed project - and say something to the effect of, "I'm a little bit of an artist myself, you know." And they're an incredibly gifted accountant/manager/technician...but maybe not so much an artist. And again, I don't want to sound snotty. I'm not "all that" myself. I have co-workers and contemporaries whose abilities far outshine my own.

Now, how many times do you hear someone wish they were less creative, or more business/mathematically oriented. A few times for certain, but most likely nowhere near as often as the first.

Why is that? I've often wondered, but as of today have a theory.

There must be something that Cs (creatives) and NCs (not-so-creatives) have in common. And since everyone on the planet falls into one of those categories whether they know it or not, it would have to be something rather broad in scope. And I think I've figured it out.


To understand my convoluted haven't-had-coffee-today theory, let's consider my 8 year old precious precocious son. You can always tell what movie he's seen, book he's been reading (!) or story he's heard most recently. Last week, we saw National Treasure again. His days were filled with copying the Declaration (Mama's no dummy! lol) and running around the house with it in his document holder (paper towel tube with a yarn handle).

Friday evening we watched some friend's karate videos on youtube. So what was going on in my house? Yup, full scale sparring mixed in with some freestyle kata for interest. Monday he began reading a Star Wars book I got (at a yard sale for 10 cents!) so Monday evening he hummed the SW theme and wore a cape. We also had a fantastic light sabre duel in the front yard. Today he was an earth bender al a Avatar. Complete with plaid blanket kimono, bathrobe cloak, socks for long gloves. I wish I'd had a camera handy. It was cute.

Do you see where I'm going with this? The point here is that when you see something that you love or admire, it is only natural for you to want to imitate it. So when we long for creativity (or more creativity) in our lives, I think it's a natural outgrowth of longing to be like the Creator. To connect with Him on a very basic level. Whether they claim kinship with Him or not, on some level each created recognizes and longs to be like the Creator.

An Answered Prayer

He did it on his own.
That's what a friend of mine calls "kisses from the Father" - and she's right!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Mama's Manic Monday (with a menu!)

My turn to join in on all the fun! Since we started back to homeschool today (hurrah!) - I just decided to do my menu plans on the weekend when I do my lesson plans. It's really going to be a winner of a system, I think. So here goes:

Today we had hot dogs, dressed eggs, pork 'n beans & chips.

Tuesday: Tuna Salad, raw veggies, cottage and hard cheese

Wednesday: Rotel Chicken and Spinach Balls (I'll post the recipes later.)

Thursday: Meatball Subs, Broccoli Casserole & fresh Corn

Friday: Chinese Restaurant (Dad's Day Off!)

Saturday: Grilled Chicken Salads with Fruit

Sunday: Crockpot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots, Corn, Green Beans & Sliced Tomatoes

Monday: Schtuff (hamburger/tomato/noodle), Peas and Apples

Reminds me of watching Hee Haw as a kid - "Hey Grandpa, what's fer supper?" Guess you don't remember that, huh?

Man, I feel old.

Friday, August 3, 2007

While you're clicking around...

be sure to look at Monica's most recent blog entry to see her cute-as-a-bug Christmas tree!

Jewel had me weeping...her site is filled with praise, thanksgiving and gentleness.

And of course, Like Merchant Ships is always a joy to read.

And the Duggars have #17! I'd love to have #2!

A Sisterly Shoebox Swap!

Guess what Monica at The Homespun Heart is up to! I'm participating - perhaps you would like to as well. Here are the details:

You are invited to participate in the first Sisters' Shoebox Swap hosted by two real-life sisters: Carrie and myself! Our swap theme is refresh. Isn't that such a beautiful word? Now, here are the details of this event:*

To sign up, please send an e-mail to sisterswaps@hotmail.com
and include your name, mailing address, e-mail address and blog address if you have one. You do not have to have a blog to participate in the swap.*

When we receive your request to sign up, we will send you a short list of questions which will be sent to your swap partner to help them get to know you and what you like.*

The swap goodies should all fit inside a shoebox (please include several items) and be built around the theme of "refresh". This is a broad idea, so there is plenty of room for creativity! There are no specific expectations about types of items, for example there does not need to be a homemade item, though that is fine if you so choose.* We will accept international swappers on the basis that we have other swappers who are willing to ship internationally. Please indicate this when you sign up.*

Sign-ups will be open from Monday, July 30 through Wednesday, August 8. Swap partners will be assigned and sent out as quickly as possible after that date. Boxes should be mailed no later than Friday, September 7.*
Please make sure that if you sign up, you really want to participate and
will follow through so that no one is disappointed. Also, please mail using a delivery confirmation number, which should be sent in to sisterswaps@hotmail.com so we make sure everyone gets a swap.

Finally Frugal Friday!

In the chaos of the recent design marathon, I realized that I wasn't seeing well when finally I turned from the computer screen to other "housely" duties. I'd been noticing more eye fatigue than normal, and finally did something about it.
Today I purchased a lovely 19" LCD monitor at Staples. Before you report me to the frugal authorities, let's look at the purchase from several angles. I think we can agree that it was, indeed, frugal after all.
  1. I had the money. The Lord in His goodness has provided a great deal of freelance work for me this month and I praise Him for it!
  2. I had a coupon downloaded from a money-saving/coupon site for 12% off the purchase - found 10 minutes before leaving the house. These web sites can be a real help if one is careful to confirm the legitimacy of the savings/price/coupon - and doesn't abuse the system. I have two or three places I check regularly, and have saved a great deal of money between them on items I would have bought anyway. ( www.fishingfordeals.com www.fatwallett.com and www.slickdeals.com are just a few of the sites out there. Just be sure you have a good adware and spyware blocker - not that those sites are bad, but it's just a good idea when following linkies!)
  3. It is cheaper to prevent eye strain than to recover from it. http://www.naturaleyecare.com/ says
    Use a good monitor. Usually the higher the resolution (the more pixels) the better. Monochrome displays usually have better resolution than color. For color monitors, look for smaller dots per inch (less than .28mm). Higher refresh rates (flicker speeds) are preferred, at least 70 Hz. Make sure the monitor has a high enough illumination to match the surroundings (be aware that antireflection screens reduce illumination).
  4. On a whim, I asked the Sales Associate at Staples if they price-match. Indeed they do! In fact, if you find a cheaper price on the item purchased within 14 days online or off they will refund the difference plus 10%! The moment I got home with my purchase (and I do love it!) I searched the internet for a lower price. Within 5 minutes, I'd found one! $50 lower! I printed the page, and tomorrow I will be going to Staples for my refund. I'll be in the area anyway, so the gasoline expenditure will be negligible.

All in all, I'm very happy with my purchase. I think it will save a lot of time and headaches (literally!) in the near future.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The aftermath of my frenzied design marathon...

Shield your eyes, it isn't pretty! But before you look you should know that of all places in my home and home office, my desk is generally the neatest...almost the the point of severity. I simply must have order to work efficiently. So here goes:

Now you know. Goodness, was I tired when all was said and done. But depositing that check in the bank today more than made up for it!

The funniest thing about my office is that my dear hubby loves to fly remote controlled airplanes. Actually, he loves everything about them...building, flying, crashing. Well maybe not the crashing part! What does that have to do with my office? How well would YOU work if there were 3 planes circling overhead? I do that all the time! It used to be a major source of contention with me. Now, I've decided to go with it. The office will be getting a much-needed vinyl floorcovering to replace the decades old brown shag. The walls are going to be painted a lovely gray with just a hint of lilac for color, and the ceiling? Sky blue with clouds, of course! I've even threatened to get the ceiling fan that looks like the nose of a plane...so I'd have 3 circling and one headed straight for me! What do you think? I am a graphic designer after all, and we are supposed to be a bit on the <> unusual side, right?!