"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Wall Design

“You are now entering the mission field.” a wall design reads above the door as I exit my church. It has been there for some time. There are times now, I no longer notice it. It has simply become part of the décor. But the truth of that message is always at the back of my mind, and I rest in the comfort that my church is one that recognizes such an important commitment and encourages members to walk in that instruction. I was so moved the first time I read it because of the simplicity of its message. It is very simply a reminder of the Great Commission given us by Jesus before He ascended into glory.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” ~Matthew 28: 19-20
I believe there are a number of ways in which we can spread that Truth. It doesn’t mean we have to stand on a street corner and preach “repentance or suffer eternal consequences”, although there may be a time for that. It doesn’t mean we have to go door to door with tracts and Bibles and other literature. Certainly there may be a time one is led to do that. It doesn’t mean we have to stand before a crowd and share our personal testimony; although, there may be a time the Lord leads us to do that as well. Most often, the sharing of the Gospel is begun by offering an encouraging word, offering tangible aid, or maybe by offering an invitation to church. Most often, it may be revealed through our walk which others may be observing even without our knowledge. The way we live our life is our greatest testimony, and if that doesn’t line up with the rest of Jesus’ teaching, we quite possibly do more harm than good. One thing I know; if we are to bring others into the fold, we must live lives that represent something worth seeking.

What is often overlooked in this command is that the Great Commission is three-fold. Not only are we (1) to spread the Good News about Jesus, we are then told to (2) baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. This demonstrates a commitment. And further, (3) to teach those whom are receptive, to observe all that Jesus taught. We are not to invite one to salvation and then just leave him there all alone.

When asked once during an interview what Rev. Billy Graham’s biggest regret might be, he responded that he wished he had done more follow-up with those that had responded to his Gospel message. Rev. Graham understood the need to aid in the instruction of new believers; to welcome them, to instruct them and to encourage faith, fellowship, and righteousness. Staying in the Word and staying in fellowship is the key to ones growth.

One thing is certain; this is an instruction that begins with the word “go”. It isn’t a suggestion, it is a command. Obviously we are not all able to go to foreign lands where the Gospel is so desperately needed. What I believe the Lord intends us to see, is that there is no place where His message isn’t desperately needed. We all came from one of those places and we would be wise to remember from where we came. There is no room for pride in the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One can’t bring some one else along until they have first traveled that path they hope to offer some one else. It is to start with us individually and it doesn’t always necessarily begin with words. There is no high place to begin while we work our way down. We must start at the Foundation, the Chief Cornerstone, and work our way out.

We worry about the state of our church and sometimes act as if we will undoubtedly lose it. I’m sure if it depended merely on us we surely would. But God promises us that He is building His church and He will never lose it. That comforting promise though, doesn’t excuse us from doing our part. Jesus assures us in this passage that we all have a part in the Great Commission and it isn’t simply about bringing people in to the Kingdom; it also includes helping those that come, learn how to live there. The best vessel to achieve this end is the local church, where a multitude of gifts come together to be utilized in directing the fulfillment of the Great Commission….every part of it.

Finally the Great Commission comes with a wonderful promise for us to share. Jesus tells us: “Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.” What an important message to share with those whom have never known our Savior. He promised to be with us always. We never have to be alone. The scarier and more conflicted this world becomes, that’s a mighty important thing to remember. How fitting His final words on earth, would offer a promise that comforts.

While there are some that are called into foreign missions, it is not typically most. But that doesn’t excuse the rest of us from the mission field right where we live right now, wherever it is that we might call home. With all the chaos in the world these days, I am thankful for a church willing to remind and equip its members to be witnesses on a mission field the Lord intended specifically for us – the one right where we are.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Spending Treasure V- The Singing Gymnasium

"Go you Chicken Fat, Go Away!
Go you Chicken Fat, Go!"

Anyone remember that??

I don’t know why that song started running through my head recently. It is certainly hanging in there, though, with the tune running over and over in my thoughts.

It is from an exercise program that we used while I was in grade school. The teacher would set up the little black phonograph on a table at the head of the gymnasium and we would do our exercises to that tune. Whoever was singing the lyrics, would instruct us at intervals saying…”Run in Place; Touch your toes…or whatever. ...I don’t even remember it all. But I remember it was very popular with all the students. Some of the girls had heard about it before some of the others. They were very excited the first time we got to do this program and told those of us that were "in the dark" about it, that we would love it. Sure enough; we did. It is one of the few things I remember about P.E. class.

Most of all, though, I remember that big, old gymnasium! I remember the smell, the feel, the old hard wood floors and the stage where the cake walk was held at the annual fall carnival. It was also the stage where the 7th grade choir performed and embarrassed our teacher almost to tears when we all got the giggles and couldn’t stop laughing. Oh my, she was angry with us after!

My 8th Grade Graduation
The school gym was where our Camp Fire Girls Banquets were hosted, and I know I attended quite a few Boy Scouts events there when my brother was a cub scout, a Webelo, and a boy scout. The gym housed our class dances, as well as a place where we were offered square dance lessons.  The 8th grade class graduated there every year as the final activity at our little school, before going off to 9th grade and the big school in the city. 

The gymnasium was where my oldest sister was crowned “Princess” of her class. I can still picture her there on a platform set up in the middle of the gymnasium floor standing with the rest of the “royalty” while they received their crowns. She was the prettiest one there and I knew she deserved that crown! I was so proud of her.

Below that gym was a basement that held our school cafeteria. I loved it down there, too. It always smelled like dinner in the oven and it was always warm and comfortable. The walls were simply cement, but painted with a grey lacquer. It had a rather low ceiling and one small bathroom tucked away in the corner of a coat room where coats hung on metal hooks.  There were shelves all along the sides of the cafeteria, where we were to place our lunch boxes. There is a story coming about that, some day. Another lesson learned well that never left my mind or heart….but that will be another post.

The tables were all lined up in rows and we always knew where our class was required to sit. Holy cow! I have a memory from just about every table in that room. For example, like one day when I asked my 6th grade teacher that I might be excused from the table. I had just gotten a permanent in my hair that I absolutely hated. My 6th grade teacher was my first male teacher. When I walked to the head of the table to ask his permission to leave, he complimented me on my hair and I was absolutely mortified. I didn’t know how to respond. I wanted to tell him I hated it and it embarrassed me. I think I just turned red and got out of there as quickly as I could. 

Then there is the memory of my first grade teacher quietly praying before her meal each day. Oh, how I loved to see that…and how I loved my very first teacher. She complimented my mom’s cinnamon rolls one day. It wasn’t long before she came to school with her own homemade rolls, but they just didn’t quite compare. I always felt bad hers didn’t have the same gooey sauce that my mom’s did, and I always felt bad that I hadn’t offered her a taste of mine.

I also remember when I went back to visit my old school as an adult, I was surprised to see actually how small that gymnasium really was. It seemed so large when I was a kid. The old gym is gone now. Not sure what year it was that they finally tore it down. It has been some time ago. I loved that old building, and all the warm memories there. Who would have ever thought though, that 45 years later I would still be singing to myself a song I had once learned there…"Go you, Chicken Fat; Go!"

How about this one? “Bend and Stretch. Reach for the sky. Stand on tippy-toes. Way up high…” Ha ha…that’s for another post too. ;-)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Recipe Worth Keeping

When I owned my book store, I tried to feature rare collectibles and old classics.  Somewhere along the way, I came across an old cook book that I decided to keep for my own. I displayed it on my shelf, but labeled it “Not For Sale”.

It is a 1902 edition titled Mother’s Cook Book containing “Recipes For Every Day In The Week.” It was published in Chicago, by Homewood Publishing Company. The title page informs us that it contains “Chapters on the Preparation of Soups and the Cooking of Fish, Meats, Poultry, Game and Vegetables, the Making of Bread, Cake, Pie, Pudding, Pickles, Sauces, Preserves, and Special Dishes." Glancing through the index, one will find it also includes recipes on "Drinks" such as "Green Tea", "Lemonade", "Eggnog" and "Fine Milk Punch". It includes a chapter on "Invalid Cookery" with great recipes that are helpful when your family is ill; and a chapter entitled “Cosmetiques” with information on “Complexion Wash”; “How to Clear a Tanned Skin”; and “Wrinkles in the Skin”.

The highlight for me is the way in which the recipes are written. I absolutely love the simplicity; but also that we can learn a bit of history and understand the way things once were by what is written in something as simple as a recipe. I thought it would be fun to share some examples:
Larded Grouse

Clean and wash the grouse. Lard the breast and legs. Put a small skewer into the legs and through the tail. Tie firmly with twine. Dredge with salt, and rub the breast with soft butter; then dredge thickly with flour. Put into a quick oven. If to be very rare, cook twenty minutes; if wished better done, thirty minutes. The former time, as a general thing, suits gentlemen better, but thirty minutes is preferred by ladies. If the birds are cooked in a tin-kitchen, it should be for thirty or thirty-five minutes. When done, place on a hot dish, on which has been spread bread-sauce. Sprinkle fried crumbs over both grouse and sauce. Garnish with parsley. The grouse may, instead, be served on a hot dish, with the parsley garnish, and the sauce and crumbs served in separate dishes. The first method is the better, however, as you get in the sauce all the gravy that comes from the birds.
Yum! And how about this one!
Potato Soup

Potato soup is suitable for a cold day. Make it in the following manner: Get as many beef or ham bones as you can, and smash them into fragments. Add a little bit of lean ham to give flavor. Boil the bone and ham for two hours and a half at least. The bone of a roast beef is excellent. Strain off the liquor carefully, empty the bones and debris of the ham, restore the liquor to the pot, and place again on the fire. Having selected, washed, and pared some nice potatoes, cut them into small pieces and boil them in the stock till they melt away. An onion or two may also be boiled among the bones to help the flavor. I do not like thick potato soup, and I usually strain it through a hair sieve, after doing so placing it again on the fire, seasoning it with pepper and salt to taste. A stick of celery boiled with the bones is an improvement. Make only the quantity required for the day, as potato soup is best when it is newly made.
Mother’s Cook Book also includes little pieces of advice such as this:
Coal Fire                                                                                                          If your coal fire is low, throw on a tablespoon of salt, and it will help it very much.
Ok; just one more; rather two:
Pearl Water For The Face
Put half a pound best Windsor soap scraped fine into half a gallon of boiling water; stir it well until it cools, add a pint of spirits of wine and half an ounce of oil of rosemary; stir well. This is a good cosmetique, and will remove freckles.
Wrinkles In The Skin
White wax, one ounce; strained honey, two ounces; juice of lily-bulbs, two ounces. The foregoing melted and stirred together will remove wrinkles.
I think I should try that one! This is a book I intend to hold on to for a long time. It is simply a joy to read and offers a taste of history to keep. Oh, also at the back of the pages is a chapter entitled "Miscellaneous". This chapter includes a wealth of information Mother might want to offer to others, including: "Sunlit Rooms"; "Pleasant Homes"; "How to be Handsome; and Laughter".
...Laugh heartily, laugh often girls; not boisterously, but let the gladness of your hearts bubble up once in a while, and overflow in a glad, mirthful laugh.
"Sunlit Rooms" - Without which I feel like I could not live!  Therefore a favorite of mine from this book.
...The importance of admitting the light of the sun freely to all parts of our dwellings cannot be too highly estimated.  Indeed, perfect health is nearly as much dependent on pure sunlight as it is on pure air...It is a well established fact that people who live much in the sun are usually stronger and more healthy than those whose occupations deprive them of sunlight.  And certainly there is nothing strange in the result since the same law applies with nearly equal force to every animate thing in nature.
Ah, how I love the sun!  Finally in "Items worth Remembering":
A poor book had best be burned to give place to a better, or even to an empty shelf, for the fire destroys its poison, and puts it out of the way of doing harm.  Better economize in the purchasing of furniture or carpets than scrimp in buying good books or papers.Our sitting-rooms need never be empty of guests or our libraries of society, if the company of good books is admitted to them.
Well, there you have it. I hope you have enjoyed my sampling from a book that offers a taste of history that I intend to keep.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Walkin’ Talkin’ Country Song And Other Interesting Characters

"A Little More Country Than That"
I have loved each step we have traveled on the path that has led to Matt becoming an adult. It has been exciting to see each aspect of his life that has taken him from childhood to becoming a young man. Sometimes, it’s sad; because there is part of me that would like to keep him my little boy. But seeing the person he has become is a wonderful feeling.                                                                

Yesterday, some friends invited him to lunch and a movie. Any time there are people around, Matt is happy. He was very glad his schedule (and pocketbook) allowed him to go.

He had a great time; he told me when he got home. Ever since Matt was little, he has been the type of kid who loves to share his experiences. That is probably one of the things I enjoy most about who he is. When he was little, while playing with other kids and something exciting happened that he knew his dad or I would enjoy, he wouldn’t hesitate to run get us to share the experience; or he would call, “Hey Mom! Come look at this.” He would call us to watch the funny antics of a pet, the beauty of a sunset, or he would call us to hear the moving lyrics of a song.

Coming home from a church camp, or a CAP event, he would start at the most exciting moment and work his way down to the very last thing that he had enjoyed or “got a kick out of”. He simply likes to share his joys and I love that. So it was yesterday; upon arriving home, he gave us a "low-down" of everything that had happened during his time in town with friends.

He was just about done telling us all that he intended to share about his day; and I had a big smile on my face, not so much for the details, but more so because of his obvious enjoyment. That is simply how Matt lives life. Excited, and joyous; not full speed, because he is most often slow and deliberate, but rather he lives with full gusto, I guess I would say. Anyway, before it was all over I was in full belly laughter, when he told me how they walked into a candy shop after the movie and the clerk behind the counter asked them if they needed help. She some how noticed Matt’s belt buckle and said “Hey what’s on your buckle?” So he put both hands on the buckle and tilted it out for her to see. “It’s a Coast Guard buckle” he said. A friend had given it to him a couple years ago, and though not large or gaudy, it is indeed an interesting looking buckle and he loves it.

“Awesome,” the clerk replied. “Well, what’s that say on your ball cap?” she inquired.

“Homeland Security” Matt told her. “It says: ‘The Second Amendment – America’s original Homeland Security.’”

She laughed…convincing, deep, real laughter. But it doesn’t end there. This woman was most likely a “people person”, too; and she was having a blast getting to know Matthew.

“Ok, she said…well you might as well tell me what that says on your T-shirt.” “Isn’t that a little chilly for this time of year?” She must be a mama, I thought as Matt continued his tale. I was getting a visual picture in my mind of this woman, as well. But I had to ask at this point. “How old is this woman?” I inquired.

“Oh, I would say she was in her 60’s or so,” he told me. “Maybe a bit older than you.” (Ouch.) “And I think she was from the south”, he informed me.

So anyway, at her request Matt pulled his jacket open so she could better see his shirt. The shirt was one of his favorite T –shirts with an appliqué of a cowboy and his horse, the cowboy is kneeling at the foot of a cross. “It says, ‘It’s hard to stumble, when you’re on your knees.’” And I could picture him nodding his head in approval as he told her.

“Well you are an interesting character!” she exclaimed as they ended their conversation. He got a nudge and a smile from a friend over that comment; and as each friend knows him so well, I’m sure a laugh from all.

That was about it, I guess. The conversation ended…maybe the other kids facilitated the ending…I don’t know; I didn’t ask. I had my own revelation to grasp through my laughter.

Yep! That’s my boy. Isn’t there a country song written about someone like that?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Updated Pages

If you haven't done so already, you might want to check out my "Pages"...or check back frequently as I hope to be better in 2011 at adding new photos, quotes and other fun stuff.

Photos Page

~ I have finally added some photos!

Quotes Page

~ A wealth of wisdom here!

Treasure Page
~ Some of favorite poems, thoughts, and well....treasure!

JC's Books
~ A Great On-line Book Store!

Bible Page

~ Some of my favorite Bible Verses!

Reading List
~ You might find some great "reads" here!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Good Morning, 2011!!

What a wonderful evening we shared with friends last night! We shared our kids, we shared our thoughts, we shared our dreams.  We shared our Lord.
We said goodbye to 2010 with a kiss, and ushered in 2011 with a prayer.

The morning is bright with family on the way, and we stand hopeful for the New Year.

"For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth."  Psalm 71: 5

Hope, Love and Prayers to you in the New Year.

Hope for the Coffee Addict

I woke to a new layer of snow this morning. The weatherman said it would be coming. It is indeed beautiful, as I watch from the window just before dawn has made her entrance. Everyone else is still asleep, so it is peaceful and still. Well, that is, except the knock, knock, knock and occasional chirp of our friendly, neighborhood flicker.

As I watch, enjoying the serenity, I also observe that not everyone is happy. Skeeter appears to be a bit angry at the newly fallen snow, this morning. He can’t get to the grass. He is pawing, pawing, pawing; desperately trying to dig it all away. He finally gives up and lies down to roll. But I don’t think that quite did it for him either. He gets up abruptly, tosses his head, and throws out a couple of kicks, ending with rearing on his hind legs and slapping at the wind with his front hooves. His is the only temper tantrum that is ever fun to watch. “It isn’t time for breakfast yet, Old Boy. And if you continue acting like this, your tantrum won’t be fun for much longer, either.”

I tried to make the morning coffee only to find there is none. Hmmmm. That simple fact pretty much analogizes this past year. Everything was just about right, but with an edge to it; not quite complete; not quite comfortable. Actually even that isn’t quite accurate; it was just plain and simply a doggone hard year. I’m not sorry to see it end.

It’s difficult not to reflect this time of year, with the new one beginning just a few days from today. We are almost trained as a culture to do so…reflect that is. And so today, that is how things started for me. I woke at 5:30, pleased to see it was at least that late as I looked at our illuminated digital clock. If it had been any earlier, I would have tossed and turned, trying to go back to sleep, until I was alert enough to realize that if I could not go back to sleep, then I actually could use the time to pray. As I looked at the clock, I was also encouraged by the fact that we are now about 7 days past the shortest day of the year; and with each new day, daylight will be ever-so-slightly increased. And hey! I am a believer that moments count! Spring is on the way!

This morning, as my thoughts turn toward the end of 2010, I realize that it will not be long now until Matt graduates and moves on into his own life. This is really where my mind is focused more and more often these days. No worries. I do know it is a beginning, and not an ending; it's the beginning of Matt’s life on his own, but it is also the beginning of our new life as empty nesters. Not that we are in any hurry for him to leave; he is welcome to stay here as long as he needs before he is really ready to spread those wings; but I am cognizant of the fact that things are indeed changing; and that is exactly as it should be. This past year held growth and learning experiences for Matt; and the fullness of understanding of who he really is for his Mom and Dad. We saw him make right choices but not without the struggle of decision. It’s sad and it’s happy as he moves forward. It’s life. A lot like this past year and I guess this change that is coming brings a little more introspection of our life as 2010 comes to an end.

There were indeed a lot of difficult aspects to our year. We lost a number of loved ones; my sister said it best of one, “The Silver Valley is missing a main gypo.” In that same vein which she so poetically composes, I will say to those that remember the northwest timber - a great cedar also fell with the setting of the sun. He, too, is greatly missed.

We learned friends had been stricken with serious illness, three of whom would not overcome, and we also shared grief with family members who were the recipients of an extremely difficult diagnosis. A family member experienced a serious injury; we lost beloved animals, and probably wasted precious time. But we also experienced triumphs like promotions and accommodations for Matt, but more importantly we watched as he made wise decisions and accepted new challenges. We experienced tender moments - like receiving a precious letter from a loved one affirming her love, appreciation and memories; and we were offered kind heartfelt compliments given only because someone cared. We experienced a temper tantrum from one, but grace and forgiveness from another. We watched faint-hearted fickleness fade into the hope of life learned well. We gained new friends and reconnected with old ones. We connected with the past in a good and healthy way, as we looked toward and planned for the future. We sacrificed, we gleaned. We gave up and we gained hold. We did indeed experience the highs and lows of life. Though we know it shouldn’t be so, the lows did seem to dominate this year. Was that just a frame of mind? Maybe; but it sure doesn’t feel that way. But I guess how one handles adversity is what is important in the end. I know I don't always do well. But I do know focusing on despair is not a right attitude, so along with my guys, we hold on tight to all that is good and forge forward with hope.

And yes, this past year, we sometimes went without; but compared to most of the world we lived abundantly. Yep, it was happy and it was sad. It was life, but never without our Hope. This past year was all very much like a peaceful morning after a storm, with snow that softens the earth in beauty while friendly flickers say hello. The only thing is, you know you eventually have to shovel. But that is exactly as it should be. The moment is worth it. At least this past year was for the most part without temper tantrums. And yeah, a beautiful morning indeed, but simply without the coffee. That is certainly nothing for which one should complain. We choose Hope.