Monthly Archives: October 2009

Sermon in the Shadows

Since I’ve moved to the PNW, I’ve learned to love shadows. I think I just took them for granted living in the Midwest. Because the sun was almost always out, so was my shadow. In an area where you don’t see the sun for an average of 226 days out of the year, your shadow becomes an elusive friend. Someone you’ll see only when you hear the call “sun-break!”

Little Miss Beka crowned with my shadow. I love this picture. To me it shows the role of a Mom as a child grows and develops their own faith and life skills. You’re still always there, you’re just not always in the foreground. You’re in the background, waiting, praying, pondering…knowing you’ll know when to step from shadow into flesh, and when to step back again.

We love being together, so even our shadows are friends. Good foreshadowing for the years to come, I hope and pray.
Shadows flee when the sun hides its brilliance. Job compares our lifespan to a fleeting shadow.
Job 8:9, “for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.”
Everything on earth is a heavenly reminder. Next time you see the length of your shadow, think of your length of days. When your fleeting days are over, will you be with the Son who casts your shadow – who gives you every breath while you are alive?

Where Do Eggs Come From?

While having dinner with friends one sunny October day, Beka got the opportunity of a lifetime to find out the truth of “where eggs come from” and decide “what came first, the chicken or the egg?”

I love these life Science lessons that just happen. We didn’t plan this, but were blessed by the experience.

She was a bit hesitant to open the door and let all the chickens out. She kept asking me if I was sure that was what Rick had said to do.

As soon as the door opened, the chickens marched out, making those chicken noises that really don’t sound like “cluck, cluck.”

Preparing to go in for the hostile takeover.

One momma guarding her nest. Beka was a little intimidated, but boldly approached their thrones of carpet, lost feathers and icky chicken poo.

She was a little grossed out that they actually poop in their beds and on their eggs. She keeps thinking of the eggs as their “babies.”

When we brought our eggs into the house to wash them we left the door to the chicken coop open. The chickens went right back inside their little home. Beka was SO relieved they hadn’t run away.
The organic eggs from free-range chickens tasted SO good. Made me almost wish we could have chickens in our backyard. Amost.
As for the “what came first dilemna” Beka figured it out. “Did God make chickens, Mom?”
The Lord created the chicken with seed, the egg, to reproduce after its own kind. Yep, the chicken came first.

Christmas in October

In an attempt to maybe have that magazine perfect Christmas, I invited Kelly-Across-the-Street over to make Christmas cookie dough to put in the freezer. That way, we’ll be more ready for baking Christmas cookies with little ones who are more intent on alternately spilling and eating the frosting and decorative sprinkles, having to go poddy just after you’ve washed your hands for the fourth time or trying to tell you something important the minute you turn the mixer on.

Kelly is sifting with my Gramma Geneva’s flour sifter, working on Gramma Geneva’s red chrome table, and using Gramma Geneva’s recipe for rolled out sugar cookies. This cookie has been a holiday tradition as long as I can remember. But, for years after Gramma died, I couldn’t make her cookies. Only in the past few years have I been able to bring this tradition back into my life without pain.

The spritz cookie recipe was from Gramma Alice, a dear older Christian woman who raised six kids, saw them all marry believers and raise scads of Christian grandchildren for her. Alice and husband Marvin welcomed Scott and I into their hearts and home and we learned much from them about marriage, parenting and the Christian faith. I celebrate her spiritual influence on my life every Christmas by using her recipe for spritz cookies.

I am using my new Bosch mixer, a dream come true servant. Since I don’t like learning how to do anything new, Kelly read the directions for me. I threw in four not-so-soft sticks of butter, sugar and vanilla and we watched through the clear top – marveling. Tim the Toolman would LOVE this mixer. So much power. You think you love your 325 watt Kitchen-aid mixer, try the Bosch 800 watt motor. Read that and weep. Lotsa power. Never again will I worry about not thawing out the butter long enough. If you want to check out incredible cooking gadgets, recipes and spiritual encouragement visit Urban Homemaker.

Since the kids were SO disappointed we weren’t going to EAT any of the Christmas cookies that day, they mixed up a $1 Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix for the Easy Bake Oven. Don’t let marketing strategy fool you, you don’t have to buy their $5 mix to make 6 little cookies. You actually can use the grownup pouches and make WAY more cookies.
Since it takes several minutes to roll out the cookies and 7 minutes to cook four teensy-tiny cookies, the kids were kept out of our way for a long, long, long time.
Kelly and I were able to make double-batches of gingerbread, green and red spritz, sugar cookies and the nummy filling for peanut butter cups.
Next week, we’ll make four more kinds of dough and then we will be ready for the fun part – baking, decorating and hiding the cookies from our husbands until we are ready to display them Martha Steward style on gorgeous trays, next to shimmering candles with the strains of Christmas music wafting through the air. Accompanied by the jostling and fussing of children debating over who gets the tree cookie or who gets the last peanut butter cup, of course.

When the kids got tired of making their teensy-tiny cookies, they decided to make forts, take the Barbies camping and touch everything they could find under the four foot high parameter in my
living room. I didn’t care. They were having a blast. Rebekah has so few opportunities to play with kids, I needed her to play with abandon. They needed to play, pretend, imitate, dress-up and be kids. When Kelly and kids arrived I had informed them, “I didn’t clean for you.”
That doesn’t mean they aren’t important to me, that means I am comfortable enough to let them see the real me. Not the perfect me I wish I could at least to pretend to be while blogging and posting pics of my wonderful life. The real you-gotta-shovel-a-path-thru-the-living-room me.
But, because I didn’t clean, it didn’t matter if the kids messed it up. A lesson in hospitality I have learned over the years.
Gramma Geneva’s Sugar Cookies
Cream together:
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 t. vanilla
2 beaten eggs
Sift together and add:
3 cups flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. soda
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
Chill dough. Roll out and cut with cookie cutters. Bake 350 for 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown.
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Gramma Alice’s Spritz Cookies
Cream together:
1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond
food coloring (It’s easier to add to wet ingredients, make it darker than you want it)
Sift together and add:
1 t. baking powder
2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 t. salt
Mix, add and put through cookie press. 350 for 8 minutes or until lightly brown.
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Only 58 days until Christmas!
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What are you working on? I’d love to be inspired more. That magazine perfect Christmas just might happen this year…..maybe…..just maybe….

One Little Word

I’ve been traveling the thyroid cancer road for five years. Five years of walking a new walk of faith, some physical suffering, some spiritual growth and a lot of changes. Changes in how I view the world. Changes in how I react to the world. Changes in my personality, due to artificial thyroid hormone. Changes in my strength and stamina. Changes in my priorities. Most things were hard, all are good. I truly believe Romans 8:18-28. I have lived it. The Lord has spoken to me through this passage over and over and over. I have wept over His promises, knowing He wrote this years before I needed it. It was there waiting for me all the time. Read it.

They have used four different tests to check my status. Blood-work is the most common. Needles, needles, needles. Ick. They have used a thyroid uptake scan, MRI and PET/CT scan.

I have gone through three endocrinologists, trying to find one I want to walk with on the journey.

I have had two surgeries to remove papillary thyroid carcinoma. During the first one I lost my thryoid and 30 lymph nodes, the second surgery they took 6 nodes.

Now, there is one word my new doctor is using I haven’t heard in five years, of four tests, three doctors and two surgeries.

One little word.


R E M I S S I O N

One little word that causes us all the marvel and wonder and weep and praise God. OK, so maybe you aren’t a crier, but I know you are rejoicing. He is SO Worthy of our praise!

At my follow-up appointment on Monday and I had out my bright red notebook and a heart-engraved pen from my honey, and was trying to ask questions and write down answers. Really, a lot of this doctor stuff goes over my head and I often wonder if I really should understand all this stuff and research, or just let the doctor worry about it. She went to school for medicine, I didn’t.

The lumps are still there, but show no sign of cancer on the sonogram.

The antibodies are still in my blood, but at a lower level. They mess up the reading of thyroglobulin, the cancer-marker, so it is hard to get an accurate reading for blood-work.

She doesn’t recommend Radioactive Iodine Treatment at this time (yahoo!!!!!) and doesn’t need me to come in until January to repeat blood-work and sonogram. Three months off? To those who get a little tired of doctor visits, this is a break.

Then she used that little word, REMISSION.

You would think I would have jumped up and down and screamed with delight. I was silent. To be honest, it felt like my ball-game had been rained out. I was SO ready to play.

My first endocrinologist told me, “You will never be cured, you will never be in remission.”

My second surgeon said in June, “You won’t die from this, but I expect to see you every couple of years for a surgery to remove more cancer.”

I spent the summer recovering from surgery #2 and gearing up my heart, mind and soul to take on whatever the Lord had for me. I thought it was a lifetime of cancer. I was ready.

Then, I was given a break. I was sent away with a smile and told to enjoy my holidays.

I told my sister, Laurie, “I am not sure I know what to do with myself. I have been cancer so long.”

When I called my Mom and she cried a little with joy, I truly understood what I had been given. A rest. A time of refreshment. A time for people to stop worrying about me for awhile. A time to be Mindy again.

I realize it is a difference only in philosophy. My medical history has not really changed. My lumps don’t usually show up to be cancer in the four tests. They are proven cancerous during surgical biopsy. The presence of antibodies in the blood turned out to be indicative of cancer there with surgery #2. My new doctor just feels there isn’t enough to worry about at this point.

I could or could not truly be done with this. But, somehow, the word REMISSION gives me permission to let go for awhile. It gives me the chance to take of the cancer-colored glasses and look at the world through different eyes for as long as He gives me rest and remission.

It’s just one little word, but I’m praising God for it.

The Man She Married

Please welcome my guest blogger, my husband Scott.
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You think a man who found the Love of his Life would be married happily ever after. This is the rest of the story in  Happily Ever Afters Don’t just HAPPEN.”

Many years ago, while in college pursing enough degrees to look like a thermometer, wondering what I should become when I grew up, the Lord allowed me to meet the Love of my Life. From that point on, I believed  since I had finally found the girl of my dreams, I would cherish her, be kind to her, always be there for her, love her with all my heart, and most importantly, love her as Christ loved the church.

Sitting in the library together one day while dating I asked, “Do you ever wake up in the morning and you DON’T feel the warm, gushy-mushy, lovey-dovey feelings for me?”

She said very quickly, “Of course I do, all the time.”

In dismay, I asked, “How do you deal with that?”

Her response sticks with me to this day, “I know love is a commitment.”

At that moment I was ready to commit myself to her for a life-time; Lord-willing, I would marry her, for better or worse, richer or poorer. I just wanted to be with her. Little did I know, that was the easy part of marriage; falling in love and saying, “I Do.” Later I would learn there was more to marriage than saying those two words.

After graduating from college and having our first child, we moved to Kansas and I began my teaching career. We had the role model marriage; love, affection, contentment, and happiness.

Then the disease started. The “Take Her For Granted Disease” began slowly with the expectations that a wife should clean, take care of kids, cook, do laundry, you know, and all that “wife” stuff, while I was out “playing” in my free time because I worked all day. This went on for several years, during which my loving and caring wife cherished me and her children and was faithful to her calling from the Lord to love, honor, and submit to her husband. Wouldn’t you think after seven years one would learn to pick up after himself, carry the baby into Church, be kind, gentle, patient, loving, and really treat his wife as the love of his life?

Seven years later, we moved and I was hired by a company that required significant travel. Travel is not a good ingredient to make either a successful marriage or a godly Christian life. My career was taking off, award after award, raise after raise, city after city, but I was racking up miles across the country, and miles between my best friend and me. For another seven years, the airplane, hotel room, and the next city were my best friends. In this phase of our lives, I’d roll out of bed at 4am, kiss my wife good-bye, and say, “See you in a week.”

The first few years were tremendous, for me that is. I was able to see cities, meet many people, and live the dream so many wish for. All the while my wife was at home missing me deeply, trying desperately to hold all things together, wishing she had a husband at home, leading, guiding, and loving her as he once did. (Remember, love is an action word)

My perspective of travel: I was doing exactly what God wanted, making money and providing for my family. Traveling got to the point that if I was away for a week, the first 4 days of the trip she would miss me, then the last 3 days, I wouldn’t be her favorite person. The worst part of traveling all those years: I had become blind, numb, and calloused to the needs of my wife and kids. I thought I was fulfilling her needs with “things” when all along she wanted me.

One thing my wife never gave up on during all those years was prayer. Her prayers and desires were to see her husband change, to become a spiritual head of the house, to love her as Christ loved the church, to be involved in the children’s lives. But, she was watching the love of her life spiraling down the path of deception the world’s successes and riches had to offer.

Until one day . . . God got a hold of my heart, in the strangest place, with the strangest circumstances, but with a voice from Heaven that could not be mistaken. I was in the middle of the week on a trip to who knows where, for who knows what. I got into my hotel room late one night, the familiar stink had become a nauseating smell and the familiar sight represented loneliness. I turned on all the lights, and needing noise for company, turned on the TV and began to unwind like I had done a hundred times before.

 

 

The TV was on some singing video station, and in front of me was Kenny Rodgers, singing a song, called “Buy Me A Rose.” The words of the song sunk in quickly and deeply, and as his story began unfolding right before my eyes, God spoke, “This is you.” At the end of the song, there is a turning point in the marriage, and he begins paying attention to the “little things that mean the most in her life.” That became my turning point. God was clearly speaking to me to love my wife not in word only, but in action.

I called her that night, and though I don’t remember what I said, but I remember how the story ended.

So, I bought her a rose and have made things right, by doing the little things that show her, she’s the Love of My Life.

Thankfully, I’m not the man she married.

HAPPILY EVER AFTERS Don’t Just HAPPEN

Everyone, especially women, adores love stories with the Happily Ever After Ending. They have this fairy tale idea that the Happy Ever After automatically begins right after the honeymoon.

 

Grandkids and Wedding Cake Topper 056

 

 

We’ve all heard the saying “The Honeymoon’s Over.” That saying isn’t without cause. When the wedding planning, the ceremony and the honeymoon are over, it’s time to roll up the sleeves and WORK on the marriage. Sometimes I wonder – if brides put as much effort into planning their marriages as their weddings, would our divorce rate divebomb instead of skyrocket?

There’s a delusion that a girl’s loneliness, problems, and inner struggles will be solved IF she can just marry the prince.

Truth be told, issues will only be magnified by the marriage until they can be resolved. They aren’t resolved by the signing of the marriage license or by saying “I Do” through a misty, romantic lace veil. Marriage isn’t a band-aid to put over owies. Marriage is the union of two people committed to stay together to love one another, heal one another and help one another be transformed into a more Christ-like image.

A few days ago, I blogged about my husband. Young single women may have sighed and longed for a spiritual man such as my husband. Young brides may have been inwardly disappointed that their husbands aren’t quite like mine. Older women probably smiled knowingly, understanding what was written between the lines. Because, I didn’t tell you the whole story.

That isn’t the man I married.

I didn’t marry a perfect man. I married a man with a Perfect Savior and one who allowed trials, older believers and the Word of God to transform him into the man he is today.

Happily Ever Afters Just Don’t HAPPEN.

This isn’t to indicate that I was the perfect wife, that I upheld the marriage single-handedly and transformed my husband into the man he is today. We both had faults, we both were immature, we both needed to grow. But, we loved one another fiercely, we were committed, and we were best friends. I don’t want to sit and list all of his mistakes, they are as far as the east is from the west. I don’t want to talk about mine either, at this time. I just want to talk about my role as a HELPMEET during our formative, growing-up-together years.

1.  I loved him. No matter what, I chose to love him. Titus 2:4
2.  I prayed about each character issue, fault, or sin I thought I saw in him. I purposed to not say anything about the issue until I had prayed about it at least three times. That reduces the fleshly tendency to nag. It reduces irritability. It forces you to be humble before the Lord; as you begin to confess your husband’s faults, you get convicted about your own. Sometimes you begin to see the log in your own eye. Matthew 7:3

3.  I purposed to be a helpmeet. In Genesis 2, Eve was created to be a “help-meet” to Adam. In the Hebrew it simply means “one who helps.” Are you willing to help with all areas of your husband’s life? We only think of helpmeet in terms of household chores and spiritual ministries. What about besetting sins? What about weaknesses? What about sins of omission? It is still your job to help. Remember the old-fashioned vows – for better and worse?

4.  I submitted. This is not a word the world loves, but since the Lord uses it, we should understand it, love it and honor it. I learned to submit with a pure and loving heart, not just gritting my teeth and displaying outward physical obedience. I knew submission had to begin inwardly and I understood I was following the Lord as I followed my husband.

5.  I trusted the LORD to continue the work He began in my husband. Philippians 1:6 Women sometimes think they can marry any man and make him into the man they want him to be. An older woman, Ann, once warned me, “You get what you marry.” It wasn’t my job to change him, it was the Lord’s.

The overall goal in our lives for our husbands has to be for their good and for the glory of the Lord, not for our own benefit. Do we want our husbands to grow so they can be intimate with the Lord, or so they don’t irritate us as much?

 

For our 20th anniversary, my husband planted a beautiful  rose bush in our front yard so he could bring me red roses often. We learned to prune correctly to force, not hinder growth. To keep damage from spreading, we  pinch off and pick up all leaves with fungus and bugs. We fertilize and water. Even when we do all these things and the roses bloom month after month, there are still the thorns. Because of the beauty of the flower, we continue to put diligent work into the bush, even though we often get scratched. Sometimes we bleed.

A beautiful rose just doesn’t happen. Neither does a marriage.

 

 

Read my husband’s story and why he’s glad he’s not
The Man She Married
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MM Meditation – What Do WE Want From the Lord?

Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.

It says clearly that she worshipped Him. She probably fell upon her knees and kissed the hand of the Lord in token of reverence before she made her request. Her ask?

21,” And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”

She wanted her sons in a place of prominence in the kingdom of Heaven. So, when we look at her behavior of physical worship, then look at her fleshly request, we are a little stumped. Was she truly worshipping with her heart and was just totally ignorant of what she was asking? Or, was she going through the accepted motions of worship, using false humility to try to have her petition granted? Either way, ignorance of the Lord and His purpose or using religious motions to gain favor, she was wrong.

The Lord had to respond to her by saying in verse 22, But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask.”

It surprises me a bit that a mother would think her children worthy of such an honor. I have six children, and even on their best days, their most spiritual moments, I know their hearts, I know what is honorable and I know what is lacking. I love my children, I am thankful for my children, I see their faith and love for the Lord growing daily, but I also see their faults and pray they would be more Christ-like. How could they be that perfect, anyway? They have me for a mother!

In the dog-training world, they use the term “kennel-blind.” It refers to the condition of an owner being so high on his own dogs, he can’t see their true faults. He can’t see his dogs aren’t holding a point and aren’t instantly obeying commands. The owners get caught up in the emotionalism of watching their dogs gracefully run through a field, trying to flush out birds, and they can’t see their faults.

This dear mother was kennel-blind. If she saw her two boys as we all should see ourselves, she would feel, as John the Baptist did, that her boys weren’t worthy of tying the Lord’s shoes. If she was honest about herself, she would have been kneeling in thanksgiving for having her sins forgiven.

But, before we are too hard on this dear mother, who obviously loved her boys and desired good things for them, let us examine ourselves. Are we asking things of the Lord that aren’t in alignment with His Word? When we feel our prayers aren’t being answered, we need to closely examine if our prayers are lining up with the heart and purpose of the Lord as revealed in His written word. And, is our worship a formality, or are we filled with true joy, love and thankfulness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

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Are we asking the Lord to “bless” our children, when we aren’t willing to teach them how to approach Him with true worship? Do we focus on the outward rewards of Christianity, prizes for Sunday School memorization, AWANAS badges, but not the true riches of personal intimate faith and dependence on the Lord?
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We worship not to GET, but because He is WORTHY OF WORSHIP.

May we bow, today, in true reverence, may we “kiss” the Savior with our devotion to Him, and may we pray in accordance to His Holy Word.