Thursday, September 27, 2012

Oh Gary


If you need a chuckle, browse around on the Catalog Living website – it’s a dry little jab at the excesses of our culture, seen through the eyes of an imaginary couple – Gary and Elaine – who live in the pages of those home décor catalogs.  Here are a couple of my recent favs:

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"Gary, what did I tell you? You leave the back door open and the patchwork ceramic dog is going to come after our food."



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"You actually did get more birthday presents than this Elaine, but they didn’t match the shelving unit so I had them destroyed."



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"Gary was torn. He wanted the lumbar support offered by an additional pillow, but he couldn’t help but be afraid he would forget how to
get to the beach the next morning."


I  don’t know why I like these so much.  I’ve blogged (here and here) about Gary and Elaine before.


And then there’s this – the making of the audiobook…

“You know, some of these are really better if you see ‘em.” 


It’s one of those things that make me say "I wish I’d thought of that!" because I think it would be so much fun to write these captions full time!  Of course it would be more fun if a whole bunch of us were in the same room looking through a catalog together but…

Let’s try one, shall we?  Leave a comment with your own caption:

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**Here's mine:  Gary couldn't quite pinpoint the foul odor in the air whenever he watched TV in the living room.


 Come on, you know you want to!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

On the farm



 August and September are tomato months in Oregon.


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 Getting to ours requires a tromp through the flower beds…


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But with good helpers it doesn’t take long to gather a bunch of sweet grape tomatoes and some Early Girls (very small ones).


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I have to laugh at what a BIG DEAL it is for these girls to pick tomatoes.  They’ve traveled all over the place, have all the latest technology and don’t lack for any new toy or gadget.  But they get so excited to come over to their aunt and uncle’s at harvest time!  (Do two tomato plants count as crops?)


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I sure love these cuties!
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Friday, September 21, 2012

Let's go to the movies!


I know it feels like whiplash when I switch from recipes to Old Testament miracles to yurts.  Some bloggers like to have a purpose - you know, identifying something they're good at or knowledgeable about then writing about it in a way that's interesting or instructive.  I say "BORING!"  I like to keep you wondering 'What kind of a blog is this, anyway?"  (No one knows.)  

So... I found some videos!  Some of them are funny.  Some are helpful. Some just odd.  You can decide which is which!


This would have been more apropos in June but I have actually been doing this for a couple of summers now and it's a must do if you like iced coffee!



I honestly have no idea why someone did this but I found I kept watching for something really cool to happen.  It didn't.




Poonitra.  This is an old one that still makes me smile.
Because I am so done with commercials for prescription drugs.




Her children are going to have a tough time taking her keys one day.
Actually she'll be the one taking the keys from them because her kids are probably getting into their 80's!










Get a tissue.  Oh my.


Tune in next week when I just might delve into how to install a zipper followed by my thoughts on the NFL referee lockout.  

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Stopping the Sun


http://www.public-domain-image.com (public domain image)

Here’s a question I had written in the margin of my bible in Joshua 10:

Does what I pray for acknowledge the unlimited power and authority of God?

This was written next to the story when Joshua asked God to stop the sun from moving across the sky.  It could also be written beside a prayer to raise someone from the dead.  Or to bring a victory when you are feeling defeated.

I don’t think anyone would ever say of me, “She is always believing God for miraculous things.”  

Honestly, I’ve been on a journey to become a pray-er because I’ve struggled so much – not with God’s ability but with what His will is.  My questions have usually gone something like:  How can I pray with faith believing when I don’t know what Your will is in this situation?  I trust You to do what’s best but should I just pray ‘Your will be done’ and not believe You for anything specific?  How can I ask confidently when I don’t know if it’s what You know best to do?

I think one of the enemy’s most effective schemes is to keep us from going to God with our big questions, doubts and struggles.   We can tell Him honestly everything we’re confused about, hurt over or don’t understand – even when we feel like we should be much more ‘spiritual’ than that.  I finally got wise to this and started asking God to help me in my prayer life.  Instead of not praying (scores 1 for the devil) I am praying about prayer.

The first way He’s answered is to encourage me to pray anyway.   I need to pray and ask, according to His word – I don’t have to understand how He answers to obey in this.  He keeps reassuring me that I won’t ever fully understand His ways while I’m on earth.  He is God.  I am not.  His purposes are bigger than my mind can comprehend.  Just pray.  Don’t stop asking.

The next thing He has been showing me is to pray for His glory in however He answers.  So I can say:  Do this thing I am asking in a way that brings You the most attention, credit and praise! 

I can’t tell you how this has helped me.  I ask God to do something huge – something that is promised in the Word – and to do it in a way that brings Him the most glory.  I don’t know all the ways He is working that are unseen, that affect others I don’t even know.  So when I pray that He gets the glory, I know that however He answers it will be for His fame – in the timing that makes that happen, in the sphere of influence to affect the most people and in eternal significance - not only what I see now.  I certainly don’t know what those things would be but He does.  Huge burden lifted.

The third thing I’ve been reminded of is to keep my attention on Him, not on my requests.  I love these verses in Jeremiah 32:

Ah Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for You… O great and powerful God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, great are Your purposes and mighty are Your deeds!  vs. 17-19

Everything I’m facing or believing Him for takes its place under the greatness of my God! 

I bet you’re like me and that you’ve got quite a few things in your life that seem impossible.  We can pray "God, please bless this or that."  Or we can ask Him to do sun-stopping kinds of things that bring Him much glory. Today He is saying to us:

I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. 
Is anything too hard for Me?

Jeremiah 32:27
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mix-up


I have a daughter who tends to throw things away a lot.  Where did she get this habit?  Not from my husband – let’s leave it at that.

One day after her visit home when she was going through old boxes of her stuff, Jeff found a ‘few things’ in the waste basket that he knew were perfectly good and that someone, somewhere would LOVE to have.  I usually give him a hard time for his love of all things used.  But included in his reclaimed treasure was a full bottle of body lotion.




Even I had to admit how incredibly wasteful this was. 

I scooped it up and began using it.  24 hour moisturizer!  It had a strange but wonderful cocoa-butter kind of scent that I loved and it worked!

I mentioned this to Lisa one day on the phone, knowing she would get a chuckle out of her dad’s teeny dumpster diving.  (Us Purgers have to stick together and make fun of the Hoarders in our midst.)

I told her I was so surprised the Johnson’s had a scent like that – I was expecting more of a baby-lotion smell.  When Lisa began to laugh uncontrollably, I knew immediately what had happened.

When my girls were little, they gave me a very special gift one Mother’s Day – they had combined several lotions, some perfume and who-knows-what-else, poured the grayish/purple stuff into an empty container and carefully wrapped it.  I can still see their happy faces and three sets of blue eyes watching for my ecstatic reaction.  All mothers know about those moments when you very carefully adjust the expression on your face.  Unfortunately, one of the girls found that bottle of ‘lotion’ in the trash several years later and was deeply offended.

So Lisa had merely been up to her old tricks with this bottle of moisturizer and then she threw it away herself! 

This reminds me that everyone in my family except me also likes to mix their drinks when they’re filling a cup at the self-serve drink fountain.  Eww.  None of this stopping your cup under each spigot for a squirt of each kind of pop for me.  Give me Diet C*ke with nothing added – not even a lemon. 

But I have to admit – this lotion is pretty nice!  If only Lisa could remember what she put in it I would share the recipe on Pint*rest.
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Monday, September 10, 2012

Group



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I’ve been involved in small group bible studies with women for lots of years.  I started as an 8th grader who just found out she could be in relationship with God.  I would unzip my white, faux-leather RSV and read it with the woman who introduced me to Jesus Christ.   

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I asked a lot of questions in that first 2-woman group.

When I was in high school, I got involved in Young Life and in a group called “Campaigners” (YL used to be called ‘The Young Life Campaign’ thus the odd name). There were guys and girls Campaigner groups that met once a week early in the morning before school. I couldn't wait for Tuesday mornings. I took my green Living Bible which I underlined profusely with colored Flair markers. 

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From that group I remember studying Jonah, praying out loud for the first time, eating donuts and being amazed listening to other girls my age who thought about and struggled with the same things I did!

For high school graduation my mom gave me a new, bonded leather NASB with my name on the front.  I took this off to college and switched from colored markers to ballpoint pen.  I also wrote in my bible.  A lot.

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I was learning so much.  We had ‘Bring A Friend’ bible studies in our dorm.  When I worked in Young Life club, I led Campaigner groups early in the morning before the girls went to school.  I met with friends on campus to look at what God’s word said about all kinds of things – the Holy Spirit, the body of Christ and forgiveness.  We laughed together, cried together, prayed together.  I still have very close friendships with these sisters from that time almost 40 years ago. 

After college I had a a new Campaigner group, a small group of women in leadership training and later a group of high school girls in the youth group Jeff helped to pastor.  I took my NASB (which was not small) with me to church and to all those small groups and it grew quite tattered. 



I was full of false humility over that thick, marked-up, beat-up book, as if being seen with it somehow proved how spiritual I was.  Instead of my name in gold letters, I could have engraved on the cover:

“Rebecca:  Pharisee”

When I got married, I switched from NASB to NIV so Jeff and I could be reading out of the same version.  It was my first opportunity to 'submit' in our marriage and I didn't go down without a fight.  But he won.  You’ll be glad to know I quit carrying around a big bible.

(It’s so embarrassing to think about myself sometimes.)  

Over the years that we pastored on three different church staffs, I had the privilege of being in and leading many women’s bible study groups.  One of my favorites was the last group of 20-something young women who I met with for four years – we called our group "Girlfriends".  We always shared a meal (usually with a theme – Mexican, salad bar, fondue), studied the word, talked and prayed together.  How I love those girls!

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They have all ‘grown up’, married and have kids of their own and I miss them a bunch. (Hi Girlfriends!!)

Since moving back to the Northwest, I got right back into bible study and have had a group of women to study the word with each season of the year.  I’ve done most of Beth Moore’s studies with these groups – this summer we met at my house to do her ‘Mercy Triumphs’ series on the book of James.

It was sometime last year when God began to put that 20-something age group on my heart again.  I asked a dear friend Patti if she’d like to pray with me about starting a new Life Group for women at this stage of life and help me co-lead it.  We really didn’t even know too many girls that age (other than our own daughters who are all at college or on their own) and we knew that God would have to put the group together because we sure couldn’t! 

And He certainly did.

Out of thin air last January, He brought five girls who didn’t know each other.  Two had to go out and buy bibles because they didn’t own one.  One brought a tiny pink Precious Moments bible she got for catechism. 

Two of the girls asked Christ to be Lord of their lives this summer.  Isn't that amazing??!!

They ask lots of questions.  They share honestly.  They admit their failures. They don't mind spending time with two women who could easily be their mothers.  They don’t want to take breaks from our times together.  They even clue us in on everything technological… 
  • one of their bibles has those QR codes: SweeterThanSweets-Etsy-QR so you can watch videos about the verses on your smartphone
  • they’ve shown us apps they’ve found to help you memorize verses  

Patti and I knew right away that this was going to be a God-led group and we’re holding onto Him for dear life as He directs it.  It’s been amazing.

Do you sometimes avoid being a part of groups with other women?  Small groups of women can be challenging.  I've had experiences in small groups of women that, when I think back on them, make me shudder.  Working with women usually means dealing with comparison, insecurity, confrontation, hurt feelings, competition, talkers and silent-types.  But I’ve found that meeting together for bible study is worth the effort because women are also sensitive, encouraging and vulnerable with trusted friends. 

I need other women in my life because they help me see God’s grace.  They inspire me to believe God more in my own circumstances.  They almost always make my own insecurities obvious and rub off some of my own rough edges.  They remind me of how much I need God’s help - and I like that a lot.  
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Happy New (journal) Year!



September will always be the start of a new year for me.  Back to school.  New pens and paper.  New clothes.

I don’t have any children still in school but as I’ve begun to put away my summer white pitchers and get out my box(es) of fall stuff, it still feels like something new is beginning:  my favorite time of year!

I’ve also begun a new journal – something I do almost once a year.  I use a blank book as I have my time in God’s word in the mornings to write down anything that speaks especially to me, verses I want to meditate on and prayers about what’s on my heart.


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I especially like these journals (above) that I get for a good price at Walsmart – they are large, college-ruled and hard-back (a must for writing in your lap).

I love to be able to look back at what God has spoken to me through the Word, ways He has encouraged me when I’ve felt despairing, direction I’ve received when I needed it desperately and answers to prayer.  Especially answers to prayer.  Because sometimes it seems like God isn’t answering, doesn’t it?  I’ve found, in looking back at my old journals, that God was working in ways I couldn’t see then.  When I read the words I wrote from the vantage point of a few months or years ahead, I clearly see some of the ways He was at work behind the scenes

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I was getting something out of my nightstand last month and found I could barely open the drawer because it was so heavy.  I realized that my stash of old journals had become a bit too much for that little drawer and I’d better find another spot to keep them.  Then of course I got sidetracked as I sat on the bed and began to read through my thought life over the last several years since we moved to Oregon. 

Here’s what I read:

~ God has faithfully led Jeff and I just as He promised He would.
     I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths
     I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make
     the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake
     them.  Isaiah 42:16


~ I am further from perfection than I used to think I was (ha!) and that’s a good thing to know about yourself.

~ There is not one problem, situation, relationship or responsibility that God is not more than able to handle.

~ I absolutely must have the Holy Spirit in authority over my thoughts and feelings.  They are not the boss of me.  He is.

~ I need to pray.  Don’t wait for more understanding about how God answers, how to pray with more faith or how in the world I can ever pray about all there is to pray about.  Just do it – pray.

~ Pride will always be my most formidable enemy.  Humbling myself over and over is the way to defeat it.  Just don’t ever ignore it.

~ God is doing something good in me – through pain and struggle and tough relationships – He is completing what He started  over 40 years ago. 

I’m reading Joshua now in the mornings.  In chapter 4, God tells the Israelites to take stones from the middle of the dry riverbed (after He had cleared a path for them to cross into the promised land) – proof of the miracle He did for them – and use the stones as a memorial to themselves, their children and you and me of how faithful He is to His promises.  It made me wonder what a memorial stone would look like today.

I guess my journals are kind of like my ‘memorial stones’.  They remind me of who God really is and that He does what He promises.  They remind me of my own bankrupt condition.

I recommend keeping a journal – thoughts, prayers, study notes, questions… anything that helps you remember.
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hello Fall

 
New blog header.  a
Pumpkin candles.   a
School buses in the morning.   a
Snack-size candy on the store shelves.   a
Christmas decorations at C*stco.   a

Crisp, cool weather…   not quite yet.




Once I get my feet back on the ground after vacation time away, I’ll be posting about the end of a good summer and the start of new things!  Talk to you soon…
 
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