Old Stuff Day

Today is Old Stuff Day – the premise of this weird holiday is to break out from doing the same old stuff and do a new thing!

I was surprised to find this interesting passage about old stuff in Leviticus 26:

‘So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you. And you will eat the old supply and clear out the old because of the new.

2011 is my campaign to clear out the old ‘stuff’ that’s collected in the house.

But even more important than that physical stuff, this passage got me excited to think about the new spiritual “stuff” that has cleared out the old since last year’s old stuff day.

The promises in Leviticus have been lived out in my life:

1.     I will turn toward you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you – I especially felt this  regarding the conference in New Mexico – How God turned toward me, and blessed me not only with the scholarship and other financial helps so I could attend, but the opportunities, and contacts which have borne fruit since then.

2.     I will confirm my covenant with you – So many prayers answered in the past year, regarding my mother’s care, being a blessing and healing to family members, specific verses with direction, comfort, and assurance, sermons right on target with what I needed to hear at that moment, and again, the fellowship, the agape love and the words and prayers of confirmation and humbling devotional experiences at CCWC were a highlight of my year

3.     You will eat the old supply and clear out the old because of the new. The Message translates it to mean that” You’ll still be eating from last year’s harvest when you have to … make room for the new”. From the commentaries I’ve read the ‘eating’ and ‘supplies’ are spiritual.  One described ‘eating the Word’ this way: “ take the meaning of it, understand it aright, admit it into thy heart, apply it, and be affected with it; imprint it in thy mind, ruminate and chew the cud upon it; take it as it is entire, and make no difficulty of it, nay, take a pleasure in it as thou dost in thy meat, and let thy soul be nourished and strengthened by it; let it be meat and drink to thee, and as thy necessary food; be full of it, as thou art of the meat thou hast eaten.”   Wow!  That’s reading, meditating, studying, enjoying, praying it…and It is true – I’ve had so much blessing from the Word that I have to keep digesting, keep making room for the NEW STUFF!  And keep letting my soul be as full and satisfied at The Lord’s Table, as I am when I’ve gone for 2nd and 3rd trips at Old Country Buffet!

Thank God for Old Stuff Day.

It’s been a great opportunity to review what I’ve gotten rid of this year, and more importantly, what NEW STUFF God has done in my life.

Hidden Blossoms

I know many of you garden and don’t kill plants as often as I do.

It’s not intentional, but to give you an idea of my ‘black’ thumb, when my kids were small, they would frequently join me, painstakingly selecting the next green ‘family’ member.  At least welcoming the plant to the family is what I thought they were doing as they would give it a name on the way to the car.

I must not have been listening.  Or didn’t realize the girls were not talking to each other, but to the new plant.   I decided to start a new hobby right after I heard this conversation:

“Oh, you poor plant.”

“Yeah, Ferny, we hate to tell you this, but you’ve prob’ly got about 48 hours to live.”

Anyway, with this background, you’ll understand the scene today: I brought home a daisy in a container (it’s not that I don’t give up, it’s that it was cheaper than a bouquet!). As I reached for empty pottery from the south window shelf to protect the table from the open-holed container, I was dismayed to notice the condition of a flowering Kelanchoe a friend had given me at Christmas.  All the flowers were dried and drooping and several leaves appeared to have portions of transparency.  It must have frozen.

Not wanting to traumatize the daisy, I whisked the poor Kelanchoe out if sight to the sink and began surgery: gingerly removing the dead buds, and damaged leaves, and was about to give the dried-up dirt a drink – just in case it decided to live with me a bit longer.

Imagine my surprise, as I lifted the bottom leaves to pour the water in, to find some delicate new buds and flowers…  Despite all those signs of death – below that dismal outlook was new life! Tears rose up as I was reminded of Isaiah 41 telling how God plans to put unexpected life into the deserts of Israel that others will see and know that God was there and it was He who had done this  – and I’m thinking it’s a reminder that He has hidden blossoms in my desert too.

Isaiah 41:14… Don’t be afraid. Feel like a fragile insect, Israel?  I’ll help you.

I, GOD, want to reassure you.

The God who buys you back, The Holy of Israel.

Isaiah 41:17-20 The poor and homeless are desperate for water,

their tongues parched and no water to be found.

But I’m there to be found, I’m there for them,

and I, God of Israel, will not leave them thirsty.

I’ll open up rivers for them on the barren hills,

spout fountains in the valleys.

I’ll turn the baked-clay badlands into a cool pond,

the waterless waste into splashing creeks.

I’ll plant the red cedar in that treeless wasteland,

also acacia, myrtle, and olive.

I’ll place the cypress in the desert,

with plenty of oaks and pines.

Everyone will see this. No one can miss it—

unavoidable, indisputable evidence

That I, GOD, personally did this.

It’s created and signed by The Holy of Israel.

Baggage Carousel of Life

Packing for a recent writer’s conference out of state was record breaking for me. Everything I took was contained in one carry-on suitcase – clothing, toiletries and even an extra bag for on the way home!  For a “clothes-horse” like me, that was a miracle.

I’ve often compared our life back-story as baggage we hauled into our marriage.  Watching others lug a gigantic suitcase, or 3-piece luggage sets off the baggage carousel made me think of when I left home after high school.

Emotionally battered, it felt like I was hauling the entire carousel on my shoulders!  One side affect of abuse is a confusing longing to be accepted and loved despite being told I was worthless.  Longingly, I’d watched others who were popular and well liked.  There seemed to be three types – rich, loose and good.  Since I’d been told most of life that I was not and could not be good, strike one. I was not rich, strike two. I tried for loose, but found I couldn’t even do that right when I “tried out” for the local gang, and failed the first step – to inhale a cigarette.

Now I’m grateful for that failure, but at the time, it added another rock to the weight of baggage I was carrying. Obsessing over clothing and makeup got attention, but not the kind I wanted. Ironic isn’t it – that I would add artificiality to my body, and then be surprised and disappointed when the response was also artificial.

Finally I made friends with a ‘good’ girl at school. She was not loose or rich, she dressed modestly and did not attend dances or do things to attract the boys’ attention, but she was well liked, because she was genuine.  Loreen’s popularity did not depend on the ‘right’ clothing or layering on a new exterior. She had an otherworldly happiness and an inward beauty that did not need to  ‘seek after its own’ attention. Her quiet confidence in Christ and lack of baggage gave me hope. Then I met Ken.

We had a quick courtship (engaged 3 months after we met) and agreed we needed a spiritual standard for our marriage to present our children.  We agreed the Bible was God’s Word and began reading, obeying and applying it.  The more we learned about the Lord and His love for us, the more we loved him, and trusted Him to carry another batch of that baggage.

It’s been some years since all that began, and the many stories of specific events of “losing’ or giving up that baggage – and learning to make the choice to leave it in the  “unclaimed baggage center” would take up far too much space here.

My trip to New Mexico was a definite illustration of emotional healing – as I left the airport carrying less baggage than ever before I thanked God it was more than an illustration – I’m truly lighter– inside and out.

Simpledown Month Two

Yea – close to making it to end of Feb. without increasing debt.  Making use of all the tidbits I’d previously popped in the freezer or pantry. Every day a container or two get re-created.

Other creative efforts to avoid shopping:

Coconut cream – add water and make coconut milk – use for curried coconut chicken, coconut rolls and smoothie base adding pineapple, ice and a few strawberries.

Huge commercial size can of tomato sauce – poured into muffin cups and froze in portioned servings.  Use for Pita or English Muffin Pizzas, or sauce for stuffed Green Peppers.

Portions of veggies – create a quiche, fritatta, or stir fry with chicken broth and rice wine – add chicken chunks and voila! dinner’s ready in 8 minutes.

“Leftovers” – I so dislike that term – let’s say “Abundances” – meat, cubed or in food processor, veggies, chopped – sprinkle on grilled “Flats” – thin whole grain pitas – add mozerella or mexican cheese, fold over and cut in strips – Ken has welcomed quickie quesadillas to his short list of favorites. (I like to add spinach and onions)

Abundance Soup: Keep a 1-2 quart container with lid in freezer.  Add any small portions of cooked vegetables.  When filled make Chicken soup – adding stock saved from cooking whole chickens, or use pre-packaged containers of stock and chunks of canned or fresh chicken.  For beef, I will cook a soup bone in vegetable juice, then add the vegetables or brown 1/2 pound hamburger with onion and celery, then add juice or broth, then thawed vegetables in last 5 minutes.

Re-reading books then removing at minimum 2 books either to paperbook swap (4 this week) or to box for rummage sale.

Going through a shelf or drawer a week and finding at least 1 bag of either clothing or household goods for annual church rummage sale.

“Shopping” in my house, basement and garage –  for others who need items like Racine Freecycle, missions or needy individuals.

Re-using notes (I x off one side of page when done, turn over and replace clean side up in note paper box on desk), foil, etc.

But the most unexpected method sure to result in not shopping was agreeing that granddaughter Faith could be my  ‘personal trainer’ – Oh my – when I suggested we start with stretching she brought out some DVD with 60-90 minute segments of exercise!  Once I got up to walk again, I did feel better.  Just kidding – you really do feel taller after 60 minutes of stretching – I wonder how tall I’d eventually get if every day’s stretch was cumulative…Today was Banish the Belly followed by back exercises with a ball.  Tomorrow she says she’ll teach me what the “Core” really is… forget shopping… I want a nap.

 

 

 

 

Ask Your Doctor if it’s right for you…

I thought of a recent Proverbs study when I saw one of “those” commercials today – you know the ones – they start out cheery and upbeat, telling about a drug that can help us fight allergies, alleviate arthritic pain, lower cholesterol, or whatever.

Actors portray patients experiencing no side effects from the drugs: happy people bouncing amid flowers that used to cause uncomfortable reactions and energetic pain-free seniors cheerfully walking their pets or playing with their grandchildren

And then the kicker comes in a softer voice at the end of the commercial…

  • May cause kidney and liver damage, cancerous tumors, damage to your brain and eyesight…don’t take if you are over 35…
  • Allergies may take many forms from mild skin rashes, to fatal shock
  • May cause blurred vision, sudden loss of vision, seizures, confusion, weakness or difficulty moving one or both sides of the body, or loss of consciousness
  • May cause mouth or throat swelling that can lead to death…

Yikes!  With all those warnings, it seems stupid to try the products and see what happens.  Yet spiritually speaking, I wonder how much I’ve listened to the similarly sly voice of temptation.  Enough to purposely chose to ignore the dangers, or just enough to believe the side effect would never happen to me?

The pithy verses of Proverbs reveal the truth behind temptation that looks good, or sounds good and illustrates how many are foolish enough to make decisions blindly without investigating the potential “side effects.”

I imagined God’s Word making quite the opposite kind of commercials – while the enemy is softly whispering it’s safe, no side effects, “come on down”…God is shouting:

  • Avoid it
  • do not pass by it;
  • Turn away from it
  • pass on.

In other words: Run!

Prov. 27:12 The prudent see danger and take refuge,but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

As the commercial closed, I thought, well,  at least the final words apply if I have a decision to make –  “Ask my Healer if it’s right for me …”

Motivation

A recent change in my vision prescription prompted the doctor to recommend some vitamins and an anti-inflammatory diet, while reminding me that processed foods are not only worthless actually cause the body to degenerate faster.  Remember, she told me – whatever is good for your body -avoiding foods that cause inflammation, drinking water, exercise…will be good for your eyes.  At my stage things like hair color and clothing fit and style often become a focus and motivation to a healthy lifestyle.  You’ve heard it before, “I’ve lost about a thousand pounds, 10 at a time – over and over.”

I’ve done it all in the past – I’ve taken the vitamins before, and I’ve followed the diet before – sometimes faithfully, sometimes occasionally, sometimes not at all.  Once I start ‘cheating’ like I did at Christmas, I seem to not only lose the motivation to return to the healthier lifestyle, but find I also crave the big 4 (sugar, salt, animal fat and flour).  The only way I can eliminate those cravings is to daily get in the Word for encouragement and to detox for a tough 24-48 hours of total elimination of unhealthy and processed foods. But I have motivation to determine to turn from them to what I know is better.

It makes me ask –  what is my motivation?  Why has it so often failed?

To look good for Ken or to fit in my clothes better is a moderate motivation.

To improve my vision and overall health is a more meaningful long-term motivation.

And to have the  opportunity for the Word of God to be fulfilled in me is the greatest motivation:

2Corinthians 6:16 Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way:   “I’ll live (dwell – abide – become one) in them, move into (walk softly with) them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.

Wow.  God wants to make this vessel (my body) His home? That place where He is most comfortable, and where He has the key to access every area?

I’ve got to get going –

I’ve just gotten new motivation to fix up this home for its very special guest – I mean – resident.

More than I asked for…

I visited my Mom to day in the nursing home.  Got a lot of work done, replacing clothing, cleaning closet and drawers, etc. Brought her a few bits of bling for Valentine’s day including one fun piece of costume jewelry– a stretch ring with a huge faux “diamond”.  She loved the attention she got with that thing!

When we got done cleaning we rolled in Ken’s gift – a little wooden chest on wheels.  Mom’s response was priceless.  She said, “I’ve been praying and praying for some things, and here you bring things that are better than what I was asking for – and something I didn’t even know to ask for.”

Isn’t that just like the Lord!

We think we know what we need (and want) and yet He gives us far more than we can ask for or even think of!

Here is how The Message describes it…

Ephesians 3:20  God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!

 

Local Elections are coming! Should we care?

I just came from a meeting for election workers. Many indicated that people were surprised to hear there was going to be an election, and some asked what for. It got me to thinking…

Admittedly there often isn’t as much hoopla and advertising for local compared to national elections, but shouldn’t people be aware of these contests for their city officials? I mean we keep date books for all sorts of things – sports games, hair appointments, our kids or grandkids recitals and games, family celebrations, small groups, church events, social events, etc. I even mark on the calendar the few times annually when we can dispose of hazardous household products! But do I plan for elections, or depend on community resources and candidates advertisements to form my thinking?

What are my responsibilities as a believer? I believe these verses tell me not only what, but how:

1Tim. 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone

1Tim. 2:2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

1Tim. 2:3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,

1Tim. 2:4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1Tim. 2:8 I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.

So – just as I have a list of church leaders and missionaries that I pray for I should have a list of local and national government leaders that I remember with:

Requests – ask for needs – FOR EVERYONE

Prayers – address God as the solution to all human problems FOR EVERYONE

Intercession –mediate – attempt to reconcile differences between people or groups (or between man and God) – FOR EVERYONE

Thanksgiving –an expression of thanks to God – FOR EVERYONE

We can surely pray that they would be found to be righteous leaders as Daniel:

Dan. 6:4 Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.

We should care enough to pray these scriptures for our leaders: http://www.prayingscriptures.com/government.shtml

Oh yeah, and without anger or disputing

It’s Better to Give – A Simpledown Lesson

I know, I know – it’s scriptural to give instead of worrying about receiving.    It’s not that I’m obsessive or anything, but this goal of staying credit card free this year, and paying off debt, has taken on a life of its own.

First there was Ebay – what a disaster. It takes me a couple of days to prepare things – photograph, measure, weigh, estimate postage, write descriptions, etc. Items hanging everywhere, boxes stacked, it’s messy and time consuming.  Some you sell, some you don’t.  Some pay on time, some don’t.  Then they deduct the costs – cost to list, cost to sell (percentage of what you sold), cost to receive payment.  When I looked at the net gain for all the time and work expended, we’ve decided it’s not worth it. Won’t do that again.

Someone said try Craigslist –  That ad brought one person saying they wanted an item who didn’t show up, one person  gave a downpayment, then came to get the money back because they found something else later that night, and then I got tons of spam emails.  Won’t do that again.

Then I decided to see who I could bless with a few things rather than selling.  Three easy steps – Pray, follow the nudge – bless and get blessed.  The reward so much better!  Here’s just a few of the places I found: Missionaries that need things.  Family or friends whose kids are starting out that need things.  Local family has fire and needs everything.  Friends mentioning they enjoy authors whose books I just read… I set a huge book on quilting to go to Goodwill by my front door and one of the ladies at the Bible Study was oohing and aahing wondering whose is this wonderful thing.  She was very excited to find out it was now hers! Collections are being made for soldiers www.give2thetroops.org/items. There’s a shoe charity for people in need: www.soles4souls.org. Local department stores collect business clothing.  Area missions like Salvation Army, Purple Heart, Goodwill.  Burlington’s Cottage 14 for homeless veterans.  Shepherd’s home and other area ministries have lists of needs on their sites.  Church libraries appreciate additions of recent books that I would only read once…I even found a lady looking for recipes after I thinned out the cookbook collection!

That I will do again!

Acts 20:35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’  It’s not only better to give – it’s a lot less stressful!

Antidote for shopping

I got an invitation in the mail today.  I was invited to audition for a play at Racine’s Theater Guild. 

First thought:  how sweet of them to think of me…

Second thought – wait a minute – this is a play about a handful of 80 year old women!

Third – (rather desperate thought) – Someone must either have a great costume and makeup package or    think I have highly defined acting skills 🙂

Contributed thought: Maybe they just enjoy watching someone who enjoys laughing at herself. (Ok, ok, it was more like, maybe they need a good laugh…)

The play is kind of a humorous Arsenic and Old Lace.   My dear DIL thinks I would fit right in the part (she calls me when she sees ‘mature’ female detectives and says they reminded her of me) but she also wonders if I have time for the practices…   Maybe if I hadn’t agreed to write the parts between songs for the Memorial Day cantata and hadn’t already paid for dance lessons, or applied for that part-time job, or…

The play is a couple weeks in April and there is usually 6 weeks of practice every day before the play.  They do let you list at tryout any previous commitments, so….

Fourth (spontaneous and fun thought) Maybe it would be fun just to try out.  Cheaper than shopping!

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