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2017 Holiday Season in Full Swing

Perhaps it was the new Pumpkin Praline Pie that I took along with the pumpkin and mincemeat pies, or maybe it was because I gave too much information in my post about Mincemeat. There was a lot of Mincemeat Pie left over after our Thanksgiving meal. I chose to see the pie pan half full and enjoyed large slices for breakfast on Friday and Saturday.

Yes, beef is listed as an ingredient.

This one is a keeper!

My two sisters handled hosting the most anticipated dinner of the year with style and impressive calmness. When I checked on them three hours before fourteen guests were to arrive, they were playing cards. The family gathering was full of joyful (noisy) conversation, delicious food, and expressed gratefulness.

On Friday morning, my sisters were ready for our annual Black Friday outing. The three of us have made it a priority to drive to a nearby city for shopping and lunch each year. We head out later than most folks and make it home  by dinner time. It’s our day to catch up and enjoy being sisters. More gratefulness.

My husband’s large family gathered at a nephew’s home on Saturday for a celebration of football, food, and family. It was wonderful to see our two sons and our daughter-in-law at both family parties. The three days of Thanksgiving ended, and Dave and I journeyed home to be in church on Sunday morning. Ah, Sunday.

Designated days resumed on Monday, now known as Cyber Monday, a day to make on-line purchases. I took advantage of a 40% off deal on some Love and Respect books and also ordered some items my husband needs. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving became Giving Tuesday in 2012. The worldwide movement encourages support of non-profit organizations with some donations being matched by corporations. On November 28, on-line contributions to good causes totaled at least $177 million. Our donation went to the LIFE TODAY Mission Feeding Program.

Today is Wednesday – just Wednesday as far as I know, except that we are now “officially” in the Christmas season. I’ve been asked if I’ve put up my Christmas tree yet. No, however, I have put away fall decorations and set up our lighted village buildings*.

*Full Disclosure: This is from a previous year. We don’t have the cords strung and little figures in yet.

December will arrive on Friday, and Sunday will mark the beginning of Advent for the Christian Church. It’s time for me to make some choices about more than which gift to purchase. Each day of this season, I hope to do these two things:

  1. Choose to bless, not impress. This has become one of my life goals. Keeping it simple avoids stress   and helps me to use my own gifts and time to bless people without comparing my efforts to what others do. I’ve decided to spend less time on Facebook. I don’t need any more recipes or decorating ideas. Less, I believe, will result in more. More time for my second choice…
  2. Choose to seek and to serve Jesus Christ. As a believer who is saved by grace through faith in Jesus, I worship Him, not as a baby born on Christmas, but as the Lord and Savior who will return for me. He is the Prince of Peace, and I need his peace. I was reminded at a prayer meeting tonight that we can be very busy and fail to accomplish anything worthwhile. My choice is to be still enough during this season to hear God’s voice in prayer and to seek to know Him better through reading the Bible.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

 

 

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Why I Bought These 3 Books (when I still had 3 to read)

I am not a voracious reader. Reading doesn’t seem productive enough. Fiction isn’t my thing and nonfiction takes effort. There are books that I think I should read or even want to read that I don’t read. When I have “spare” time, I’d rather pick up my crochet hook. Unless you find them at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet or Half Price Books, books are expensive.

Nevertheless, I’ve just purchased three new full-priced books. And for good reasons.

  1. An Author I Love.  When Emerson Eggerichs, PHD, publishes a new book, I add it to my library. Dr. Eggerichs is a pastor and master of communication whose Love & Respect message  has impacted my marriage, my faith, and the lives of others with whom I have shared it. His new book, Before You Hit Send, is not just for social media users, but for each of us to learn “how to prevent misunderstandings and, when verbal or written blunders are made, allow for understanding.” Who couldn’t use a little help in avoiding communication disasters that bring headache and heartache?
  2. A Desire for Greater Understanding.   As I wrote last week, I’ve decided not to bury my head in the sand and go on believing that the problems people have are usually of their own making. There are serious issues that need to be addressed in America. One of those is racism. After I determined to do some listening and reading , as well as  praying and pondering with regard to racial tension, a podcast episode from Phil Vischer, Skye Jethani, and Christian Taylor highlighted historical reasons for today’s sensitivity. During the discussion, Jethani again recommended Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, and this time I headed to our bookstore and bought a copy. Now to take the time to read it and possibly finish a blog post that I keep starting about racism.
  3. A New Favorite Psychologist?  The first words of my first blog post were “In the winter of 1990, a man who I was paying to help me through some depression…” I was in my late twenties and the counselor I was visiting suggested that I might enjoy reading some books about psychology. (I had called him out for trying to trick me into labeling my fears “irrational.”) Twenty-five years later, I found a psychologist on the internet who calls himself Iron Shrink and writes books about relationships and the human mind. I ordered a couple books, but while I agreed with some of his analysis and advice, I didn’t feel confident that he sees God as the creator of our bodies, souls, and spirits.  Then, last month, one of my Facebook friends shared an article about the effect that screens (TV, computer, phone) can have on young children. I clicked on the link and read the article. I noticed that I was now on a website called Mad in America. Interesting. So I poked around a bit on the site and scrolled through the list of writers, thinking that Emerson Eggerichs would be a great contributor. Among the experts’ bios, James Schroeder’s caught my eye. His book entitled Wholiness: The Unified Pursuit of Health, Harmony, Happiness, and Heaven was said to “focus on the ways in which the pursuit of holiness is synonymous with the drive towards wholeness.” Dr. Schroeder practices in Indiana and is possibly my new favorite psychologist. Of the three new books, his is the one I’ve started reading. Wholiness addresses the integration of the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of our being, something that I believe would greatly help the hurting people around us. Schroeder’s advice is to read only one chapter a day, but I’m having trouble complying.Three chapters in, he says, “If anxiety is the biggest deterrent to love, then pride is the biggest deterrent to truth.” That seems worth unpacking!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—

this is your true and proper worship. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,

but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Romans 12:1-3

 

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This Father’s Day, Say It With Respect

What do you respect about your father? Does he make sacrifices to provide for his family? Is he great at solving a problem or fixing what is broken? Have you ever thought about what he would do to keep you safe? Is he the one who takes you on vacation or spends time outside with you? Do you call him when you need some advice?

Fathers have a unique and very special place in our lives. Father’s Day is a great time to express that to them, often with a card.  It takes some effort to find cards that honor men rather than make fun of them. Sure, he’ll laugh at the fart or beer joke, but doesn’t he deserve some heartfelt appreciation for who he is and what he means to you?

My husband and I have two grown sons who are terrific at selecting cards for us. The guys consider our family’s blessings and challenges and present us with printed cards or handwritten notes that come from the heart. When we read those messages, we both find ourselves tearing up a bit.

As the only female in our family, I’ve been quick to express my love to my husband and my sons. About six years ago, I began to understand that there are other sentiments and words that have special meaning to men – words that women can be more intentional about using. “I love you to the moon and back” may be how we feel, but a message that conveys respect reaches the hearts of our men and boys . My understanding of this difference between men and women has come from the Love and Respect teaching of Emerson Eggerichs that I first heard in 2011. As Father’s Day approached that year, I used Walmart’s website to make this custom card for my husband:

   

The Father’s Day cards I purchase are not for my dad since he passed away many years ago. I’ve taken some time to remember the eighteen years I had with him and to recognize the honorable man that he was. I would want my card for him to say “Thank you.” Thank you for building us a great house to live in, complete with my own chartreuse bedroom. Thank you for going to work every day to provide for our needs and to make it possible for Mom to stay home with us. Thank you for supporting me in my activities and goals. Thank you for the camping trips to Michigan. Thank you for the day trips to fun places like the Columbus Zoo, where I took photos for my 4-H project and realized after we had walked through the rain to our car that I had left my camera on a picnic table. You went back for the camera.

Dad has his hand on my head as Mom turns on the lights.

See how my sister’s bedroom in the background is elevated?

Mom designed our unique split level home and Dad made it happen.

It’s not always easy to tell the people who mean so much to us how we feel. Many of us have felt regret for not noticing and appreciating the day-to-day efforts and sacrifices of our parents. A card may be the way to tell your dad what it is that makes him special. You might do it by adding a personal note after the punchline of a funny card. I found a  list of meaningful Father’s Day messages for fathers, husbands, and grandfathers at LovePop if you need help getting started.

Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly, and the pride of sons is their fathers. Proverbs 17:6

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Wedding Words

When Dave and I married in 1984, we set up a tape recorder to capture the songs and words of our ceremony.  Thanks to some digital magic performed by our son Eric since then, we are still able to listen to the recording.  A few weeks ago, we marked 33 years of marriage and are now anticipating Eric’s marriage to Amanda in just a few days.

Dave and I listened to our wedding recording during a recent car ride that was sandwiched between attending our Best Man’s mother’s funeral and taking our sons and future daughter-in-law to a concert.  That may have been more sentimentality than my husband needed in one day!

What fun it was to listen to the love songs of that time.  We were blessed to have the music played by Molly Rondeau and sung by our friend, Julie (Schoenberger) Monk.  I laughed as we drove along, remembering how I forgot to have my mom seated until most of the theme from Ice Castles was over.  Meticulous plans are sometimes forgotten during the excitement of the day!  Dave experienced his own nervousness that day when our participating priest didn’t arrive until just before the ceremony began.

I was definitely paying attention as the first chords of the Bridal March were played.  I took the arm of my 14 year old brother and walked the aisle with a  smile that never gave way to tears.  However, listening to the recording in the car over three decades later, I heard words that caused me to weep with JOY.  Father Missler opened with a blessing, praying, “Increase their faith in you and in each other and, through them, bless your church with Christian children.”  Hearing those words, I suddenly realized that the prayer was answered!  Dave glanced over to see me crying, barely able to say, “He did it!  God did it!”

There was more to come. We repeated our Words of Intention, Dave being cued by the priest, and I following my pastor.  We promised to love, honor, cherish and sustain each other and to be faithful to each other as long as we both shall live.  What we didn’t say is something that I sheepishly tell the wives in my marriage classes about.  When Rev. Steindam previewed the wedding vows with us, I asked if we could leave out the word “obey” since we wouldn’t be bossing each other around!  He consented.  (I cringe when I remember how smart I thought I was at 23 years old.)

Riding along, we listened to Father Missler read from the fifth chapter of Ephesians about wives being submissive to their husbands and husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church.  Rev. Steindam then gave a message describing how two people who were strangers to each other are drawn together in an irresistible way – a gift from above – and how we must not allow commonplace experiences or difficulties to cause us to lose the vision that brought us to this day of commitment.  He finished by challenging us to read the Bible passage from the book of Ephesians many times throughout the years.

My eyes welled up again as I thought with amazement how God has brought us through every life experience to this moment in 2017 when I am honored to share with women in our church what the apostle Paul taught to the believers in Ephesus about a wife’s respect and submission (see A Different Approach for Wives).  Because of Love and Respect Ministries, I have come to better understand why my husband needs respect and how blessed a couple is when they obey God’s instructions for marriage.

On that day in March of 1984, Dave and I lit a unity candle as a “symbol of one new life that has been created out of two lives”.  Praise be to God!  We are His and He has made us one. I eagerly anticipate hearing the joyful music and  the Wedding Words as our son and his beautiful bride marry.  We will pray with them, applaud them, and celebrate with both families as their new life as husband and wife begins.

The LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:23

 

 

 

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