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Parable of the Two Boxes

Parable of the Two Boxes

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I’ve always loved the parables that Jesus told, and appreciated that each time I read them I receive a different lesson or even a repeated lesson that helps me in my daily walk with Christ. Over the years I’ve even received inspiration to write a parable or two and so I may share some of those here. This one is a parable that came to me around Christmas time as I watched my youngest daughter and my granddaughter open their gifts. I hope you enjoy reading it and that it blesses your soul for the Lord. Here it is…

Parable of the Two Boxes

There once was a man who came to his door each day with thoughts of what the day would hold. Each day he would look out hoping for a blessing, but usually all he saw was a beggar woman, homeless, dirty, and begging for a handout. Each day he yelled out at the woman to leave his yard because she made his beautiful home look worse. He did not care for her needs in any way.
Then one day when he opened the door the man noticed two gift wrapped packages lying on his doorstep. Each was addressed to the resident of the house. He noticed that one box was very large, and one was quite a bit smaller. The smaller package was wrapped in a plain brown colored wrapping, and looked quite beat up. It was tied with simple twine, and was torn a bit exposing the plain brown box underneath. The smaller package looked dirty as if it had been drug through the mud. The second package, which was huge compared to the other, was wrapped in the shiniest red paper which was adorned with beautiful golden crosses on it. It had a golden ribbon stretched around all four sides and was topped with a big, beautiful golden bow and streamers of golden ribbon.
The man also received a card with the two packages. When he opened it, he noticed a simple set of instructions that he needed to follow. The man was instructed to choose between the two packages. He could only have one for himself, and the other package would then be taken and given to someone else at a later time.
The man set the card down and decided to take a good look at the two boxes before he made his choice, even though one glance at the packages had already influenced his decision of which one seemed more pleasing to take. Looking at the smaller gift, he was already disgusted and did not want to lift it at all. It was filthy, torn, and couldn’t hold anything of value by the looks of it. The man could tell that it had a rough journey getting there, and whatever was in it was probably broken from the abuse it received. It looked old, and he figured it must have been rejected many times in the past. Why should he choose something no one else seem to want either?
The second box, however, was quite appealing to the man. He is filled with excitement just thinking of the treasure this grand box must hold. The box looked brand new, as did the wrapping. The man thought this must be the first time it had been offered to anyone, and was honored that he had been the chosen recipient. He reveled in the fact that it was so grandly wrapped, thinking that something so beautifully wrapped must be expensive. He felt encouraged by the appearance of the golden crosses, no one surely would put anything in a package that bore the mark of God. Surely the person who gifted it was a good person who believed in God, and would do him no ill. How was he going to choose which package he wanted?
He chided himself for wanting to choose the beautiful one too quickly. He must look as if he really put some thought into the process.
The man decided he would shake the packages. This will make the neighbors think I found the smaller to be broken. He picked up the smaller gift, feeling disgusted at the feel of the dirt on the outside. He made a mental note to wash his hands as soon as he returned inside with his chosen box. When he shook the box, the man was not surprised to hear a rattle because he expected that whatever it held was already broken. He quickly put the box down, not giving it another thought. The man than lifted the larger box, which he thought was extremely heavy and unbalanced. It must contain more than one thing, he thought. He was surprised to hear the large box rattle as well, but thought to himself that it must contain coins or jewels that were banging together as he shook it. He knew than this was the perfect box for him, but the man thought he still must look as if he was being thoughtful about his choice. Who knows, the giver might be watching him? The man thought, maybe if I appear to have taken great measures to choose the one gift, the giver might in the future bestow another gift of great value on him for his efforts.
After a few moments of posturing himself as if thinking seriously about both packages, the man, knowing which gift was perfect for him reached down to pick it up and carry it into him house. He knew this was the perfect gift and had everything going for it from beautiful packaging, to having the mark of godliness upon it. It offered him the greatest possibilities of security and hope, and the promises of only the best and richest of treasures. Quickly he picked up the second, more ornate box, and turned to take it into his house. As he turned though, the man used the heel of his foot to boot the smaller box off his porch and into the front yard, causing it to land with a hard thud onto a dirt patch in front of his home, the dirt patch where the homeless woman sat day in and day out. That homeless woman just arriving to her usual spot grew excited at the gift that lay where she usually spent her time seeking a little help to get her through her rough life.
The man could not wait to get his gift opened. He thought about ripping off the wrapping, but then he didn’t want to ruin it, after all it looked expensive. Knowing he could always save himself some money later by reusing this wrapping, the man slowing removed the ribbon and bow, then opened each taped edge even slower as to not rip any of the edges. He wanted to preserve the wrapping so no one in the future would be able to tell that it was reused gift wrap. The man was surprised to see that the box under the wrapping was just as wonderful as the paper itself. He just knew that the gift inside must be very special for the giver to spend so much to cover it up. So the man again took his time to open the box, preserving it as new for later use. If anything when he shared with his family the gift he was given, he could show them how wonderfully it had been wrapped. They would surely think he was someone special to have received such an expensive and wonderful gift.
Meanwhile the homeless woman, having nothing but struggles throughout her life, opened up the smaller, rejected gift. She had such meager possessions that even though the gift was battered and beat up she held it in her arms as if it was the greatest treasure ever found. Quickly, the woman tore off the twine and the brown wrapping paper, and ripped open the lid of the box. The box inside was not a struggle to open because it was just as beaten up as the wrappings that once covered it. It, too, carried the markings of a long, hard journey. At the sight of the worn wrapping paper and box, the woman felt a kinship with the package. Her journey through life had been a difficult one also. Both she and the package had been misunderstood, tossed aside by the world, and mistreated by so many in their past. Before looking inside the woman lifted the box into her arms again and pulled it close to her, she hugged it as if to let it know that she understood and the woman promised to treasure this gift forever because of what it had been through just to be given to her.
The woman thought to herself, “I’m not worthy of this gift, but I will accept it because it must have been meant to help me…maybe even to save me from my hard existence.”
The woman, feeling a great surge of hope and mercy, slowly lifted the lid of the box to peer inside. She showed great respect, love and compassion for this gift that had travelled a similar journey to her own. Now finally it had come into her life, so she could possess and care for all that it held for her.
Two different people, two different gifts being opened and possessed fully by their owners. One gift in brightly ornate, expensively decorated wrapping. The other gift bashed up, and wrapped in dirty, torn, bruised wrappings. Two new owners of the gifts, one entranced by the outer adornment of his gift, and the other treasuring the kinship she feels with her gift because of the similarities of what they both had gone through to get to this point where they are together. You might be wondering what was in each gift when they finally opened up the boxes, well let me tell you.
The woman’s box contained a simple, warm blanket, a wool coat, a pair of shoes, a loaf of bread, and a canteen of water. It also contained a letter with the promise to the new owner of a mansion waiting for them at the end of a journey they must take to get to know the sender of the gift. The letter gave them directions on where to go to find the sender and a map to follow, with instructions that the items in the box would be helpful for the trip. The woman quickly put on the shoes, packed up the box, and started on the journey. She knew that she couldn’t leave the box behind, that this journey they would make together and it would be a joyous time for both of them. At the end they would meet the sender and thank him for bringing them together.
The man’s gift, however, did not contain the same things as the woman’s gift had held. As the man opened his gift, his excitement had grown. His thoughts varied from wanting to share the gift to not wanting anyone to touch his great treasure. With each time he moved the gift to undo its trappings, it would rattle, and with each rattle he heard the man just knew that this must be something of great wealth and value just for him. With each thought the man’s self-pride grew, and puffing his chest out, he thought what a special man he must be for someone to send him such a valuable gift. Even more now he could not wait to hold the treasure in his hand. How the world would look upon the man’s greatness for the treasure from this gift that now he possessed. The man closed his eyes as he lifted the lid and reached into the box, wanting not to see it until the treasure actually lay in his hands. Seconds after reaching into the box the man dropped to the floor, and breathed his last breath. He left the world with a look of fear, regret, and horror. Around his body, and from the open box slithered the most dangerous and poisonous snakes of the world. The treasure that he coveted most, turned out to be the thing that would end his life. He had been a fool for the grand outer adornment of the promised gift.
The moral of this story is based on an old, but wise cliche’…”You can’t judge a gift by its cover.” Jesus, God’s greatest gift to us, came in a simple stable, laid in a crudely built manger, and walked on dusty roads to share God’s love with all who would hear. He was beaten, mocked, bruised, rejected, and died on an old rugged cross. Jesus was buried in a cold, dark tomb, and rose from the dead to return to heaven to prepare a place for all who would believe in him, and come to treasure their relationship with him. Jesus walked our same roads, journeyed through the struggles and trials of life on earth, just as we have, and came so that we would not have to struggle alone anymore. With Christ comes a future for us eternally in heaven. He has given us directions and a map to follow that will lead us to him and the mansion he is preparing for us in his kingdom. All we have to do is accept him as our Savior and Lord. Have you asked him for forgiveness of your sins, and asked him to cleanse you from that which covers your soul with filth? Are you willing to trust him to help you through the trials and tribulations of life?
In this world there will be many who come to us like the ornate gift the man received. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, saying they know what God really wants for you, that there are many paths to heaven, that God will take everyone to heaven no matter how much you sin or even if you don’t believe. These charlatans will promise you the world, riches, wealth and fame, and they will set all kinds of temptations before you. But beware these are all false promises. They may seem beautiful from the outside, but inside they are just the trappings of Satan, the great evil serpent from the Garden of Eden. They will lure you in with the beauty of the promises and then snatch your life away with the deception they deliver once you are involved in them. In the end they will leave you with nothing but an eternity of fiery Hell, and a death mask showing regret, shock, and even horror for the world to see, all earned from the choices you made out of lust, greed, and vanity. Now which choice really is the best for you?

 

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Perfection and Preservation (Spurgeon’s Faith’s Checkbook)

From Charles Spurgeon’s “Faith’s Checkbook”
Perfection and Preservation
November 1
Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)

What will He do? He will sanctify us wholly. See the previous verse. He will carry on the work of purification till we are perfect in every part. He will preserve our “whole spirit, and soul, and body, blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He will not allow us to fall from grace, nor come under the dominion of sin. What great favors are these! Well may we adore the giver of such unspeakable gifts.
Who will do this? The Lord who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light, out of death in sin into eternal life in Christ Jesus. Only He can do this: such perfection and preservation can only come from the God of all grace.
Why will He do it? Because He is “faithful”–faithful to His own promise which is pledged to save the believer; faithful to His Son, whose reward it is that His people shall he presented to Him faultless, faithful to the work which He has commenced in us by our effectual calling. It is not their own faithfulness but the Lord’s own faithfulness on which the saints rely.
Come, my soul, here is a grand feast to begin a dull month with. There may be fogs without, but there should be sunshine within.

From the Faith’s Checkbook Mobile Devotional Android app – http://www.LookingUpwardApps.com/fcb

 

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Possess, Not Only Profess (Spurgeon’s Faith’s Checkbook)

From Charles Spurgeon’s “Faith’s Checkbook”
Possess, Not Only Profess
June 16
For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance. (Matthew 13:12)

When the Lord has given to a man much grace, He will give him more. A little faith is a nest egg; more faith will come to it. But then it must not be seeming faith, but real and true. What a necessity is laid upon us to make sure work in religion and not to profess much, and possess nothing! For one of these days the very profession will be taken from us, if that be all we have. The threatening is as true as the promise.
Blessed be the Lord, it is His way when He has once made a beginning to go on bestowing the graces of His Spirit, till He who had but little, and yet truly had that little, is made to have abundance. Oh, for that abundance! Abundance of grace is a thing to be coveted, It would be well to know much but better to love much. It would be delightful to have abundance of skill to serve God but better still to have abundance of faith to trust in the Lord for skill and everything.
Lord, since Thou hast given me a sense of sin, deepen my hatred of evil. Since Thou hast caused me to trust Jesus, raise my faith to full assurance. Since Thou hast made me to love Thee, cause me to be carried away with vehement affection for Thee!

From the Faith’s Checkbook Mobile Devotional Android app – http://www.LookingUpwardApps.com/fcb

 

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So Much To Do…So Little Time!

 Lately there has been a lot of to-do over an attack on women here in the United States…mostly aimed at Stay-at-Home Moms like me.  The “liberated” women feel we don’t really do anything, and don’t consider what we do as “work”.  In the same way many Stay-at-home moms feel that these liberated moms need to spend more time being  a mom and wife at home.  In the middle are those moms who do both, or have done both…this is where I have fallen in the past. Truth be told, I’ve been in all 3 areas now.  I’ve been that stay-at-home mom, the mom who stayed home that worked part time or worked full time from home, and I’ve been that mom who works full time outside the home.  Of the 3 the two that are the hardest to do are to be a full-time stay-at-home mom, or a stay-at-home mom who has to work part time or work from home at the same time.

When I only worked outside the home and didn’t have to do all the housework, deal with children’s needs all day because they were in school while I worked, or do all the cooking, I had only a third of the responsibility that I have now.  I was able to come home and cook every 3rd night since my husband and 2nd oldest daughter took turns cooking the other 2  nights, or because there was more money in the budget we could eat out more often.  We cleaned house on Saturdays as a family, each carrying an equal share.  With my youngest in preschool while I worked I didn’t have to deal with half the day of her needs, and when we were all home, my husband, older daughter, and I were able to split the time she needed in the evening and on weekends.  Things were a lot easier, and that made working easier.  The downside was I missed many of my youngest daughter’s milestones.  Before this time I had been a single mom, who worked sometimes 3 jobs to support my daughters, and that was hard because I had to do all the cleaning, cooking, and still work while my daughters were either in school or at a babysitter.  I missed even more than.

As a stay-at-home mom, working part-time or full-time work-at-home jobs I carried both my work load and all the normal mom and wife responsibilities.  I worked either in theater and had to take my daughters with me so I could keep an eye on them, or for a while I worked as a home reader for Focus on the Family, which meant getting my daughter off to school, walking to the office, picking up mail, then walking to the office and dropping it off when I was done coding it to go to the proper office, walk home and pick up my daughter at the bus stop, then spend the rest of the day, cooking and cleaning, doing homework with my daughter, sewing, and whatever else was necessary for each day.  I didn’t have a dryer, so I often had to sneak in a load or two of laundry, and hang them on the clothesline to dry.  I often ate no breakfast and snuck in a light lunch of fruit and a salad just to get through the day.  My ex husband didn’t think what I did counted as work, so when he came home he expected me to carry all the house chores including mowing, weeding, caring for the garden, and dealing with my oldest daughter’s need.  He would just come home and sleep or watch sports on television.  I often went to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning when my house work was done, and rose at 6 to get breakfast for the two of them and prepare my daughter for school.  I really never had time to read a book, relax, and I can’t even tell you of one television show or movie that I watched back then.

As a stay-at-home mom now, my cup is full and overflowing!  My to-do list for just this week and next is unbelievable.  Here is what that list looks like…

1.  Do laundry…this is a daily thing with my daughter and husband, even more when my granddaughter is here.

2.  Clean the top floor of the house which includes the home office that I don’t use, 2 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms, the hallway and staircase, and my sewing room.  This means dusting, wiping down glass, picking up toys, clothes, school things, trash that doesn’t seem to make it to the trash cans, cleaning the toilets, showers, tubs, mirrors windows, sweeping and mopping.

3.  Clean the main floor, which includes the kitchen, livingroom, a bathroom, and formal diningroom.  With this there is sweeping, mopping, cleaning the fans and lights, vacumning both the floor and furniture, carpet cleaning, dusting, window cleaning, glass cleaning, counter cleaning, appliance cleaning, cleaning the refrigerator, cleaning out cupboards and the pantry, besides the normal routine of doing dishes, and clearing counters and tables off.

4.Clean the basement, the staircase down to it, and organize the basement closet.  This entails me to do more sweeping, mopping, clearing out things, dusting, cleaning windows, and straightening up all the things that Jk and my granddaughter have played with.  The storage closet has to be organized to make room for emergency supplies, and I have shelves to fix in there that the kids have broken.

5.  Clean the front porch, which entails me to sweep it, wash it down, water the herb garden and cut some of these herbs to dry for use.  No one likes to do this job because of the bugs and spiders that collect on it.  Since I’m not afraid of spiders this has fallen on me.

6.  Sew culottes and shirts for my daughter to wear to camp next week.  I have 6 outfits and a one piece bathing suit to make.

7.  Sew summer clothes for my granddaughter.  Her mom is a single mom, who doesn’t sew, and can’t afford to replenish her clothes for summer and for school next year.  So grandma said I’ll do the summer clothes so that my daughter could concentrate on getting her school clothes.  This is what happens when a father isn’t involved in helping with his child, physically, emotionally, or financially.

8.  I have a stack of books to read and review for 3 different sites, and they need to be done this month.  I’m talking like 20 books.

9.  Cook meals.

10.  Work on crocheted and sewn Christmas gifts for family this year.  This includes about 8 prayer shawls, a couple of ponchos, a couple afghans, 2 quilts, and some fabric books and crayon holders.

11.  Make a couple of dresses for a friend’s granddaughter.

12.  Sew 2 new shirts for my husband.

13.  Homeschool Jk through the summer for things she has struggled with this year.

14.  Shop for groceries, and put them away.

15.  Do Ironing.

16.  Do all the mending for the family, tears, buttons, and hemming.

17.  Clean and organize closets.

18.  Write reviews for two books I’ve finished reading, and submit to 3 sites to publish online.

19.  Watch my granddaughter, entertain her while Jk is at camp.

20.  Get Jk ready to go to church camp next week.  Clean her clothes, sew her clothes, and pack her clothes.

I could go on and on.  This list doesn’t include my  blogging, writing poetry, practicing my guitar and singing, tring to get a prayer shawl ministry at the church, or doctor’s appointments for the family including my own for my health issues.  There is so much to do and so little time to do it in.  In the past I would have conquered this list in no time flat.  I had health, energy, and youth on my side.  But now it is impossible and I have to decide what to put aside.  The house cleaning seems to take the most loss.  My health issues make it difficult for me to do certain things like wiping the floor boards, bending down to clean lower cabinets, and anything else that means bending near the floor or sitting on the floor to do.  No one likes to clean toilets so I have to do that.  I have to keep the fans clean because of my allergies, so that has to be done.  Tubs and shower cleaning are split between Jk and I.  She does her bathroom and I do the other 2 in the house. Jk tries to help, but she is more apt to make messes, than to clean them up.  She likes to do it quick, but not right, which means I have to go back over what she has done.  I find this easier than getting upset with her all the time.  She has really become better at it.  She likes to cook, and so does breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner for us, but she is still learning to cook so I often have to help and guide her through dinner.  She has taken over the dishes for me, so that helps.  She does help with the laundry, often changing them over because it hurts my back to bend over to do it.  I fold the clothes, and everyone is responsible for putting their own up.  My husband will help with dinner sometimes and usually makes sure Jk does her chores right.  If I ask he will do some of the cleaning, but usually just gets in my way because he wants to do the things I can do.  But I appreciate his wanting to be helpful, just as I appreciate Jk’s help.

Everyone wants a perfect home, and thinks you should be able to keep it perfectly clean, and that is the way I used to be.  I was almost obsessive compulsive about it.  But with Fibromyalgia and Arthritis I have had to change the way I think about cleaning.  I’ve had to accept that I can’t do all the things I use to.  I’ve had to decide to be happy with a lived in house that is free of germs.  If a magazine or book is left somewhere, I have to be happy with that as long as the table below it is dusted.  If the dog is laying on the carpet, I have to not be annoyed by the thought of it shedding and be happy that I have a new vacumn cleaner made to deal with dog hair, and that Lady is a good family dog who seems to sense when any of us are sick, and who loves to just be loved by the family.  You see I’ve had to learn to give and take, to compromise in my feelings on what is done and how it is done.  I have to take one day at a time, and do what I can in it.  I have had to learn to work on something until my back hurts unbearably, then sit with my feet up and a heating pad on my back until I can get up and work again.  There are a lot of things I need to get done, and very little time to do them in, but I will do what health and time allow me to do.

Being a stay-at-home mom is far harder than any of the others.  I didn’t even include all the things that most stay-at-home moms have to do that I no longer do.  They are taxi drivers for their kids…We have only 1 car so that has been crossed off my list for now.  They are usually changing diapers, caring for babies, toddlers and school age kids at the same time.  They are pulled in a myriad of directions, as they deal with homework for different aged children, cook dinner, deal with sibling rivalry, getting kids to do chores, disciplining, consoling, and loving their children, while dealing with a mental list of things to do to prepare for their husband coming home.  A lot is said about them sitting home eating Bon-Bons and watching soap operas.  I can tell you from experience that this isn’t so.  Most women turn the television on to hear adult voices to keep them sane, since most of the time they are communicating with children and teens who have their own forms of language.  They may eat Bon-bons or other candy, but it isn’t constant, but for that sugar rush that will help them get things done, or because they have no time to stop for lunch or breakfast.  Moms of toddlers are often stopping to be the playmate for their child, to remind those little ones of safety issues with a “don’t do that”, and dealing with naptimes for these little energetic children.  They are rocking babies to sleep, feeding them, and it never stops.

One thing that it is hard to make people understand.  When you work outside the home, you are working 9 to 5, then going home.  Your “work” is done for the day, and you don’t have to deal with it until the next day, and you get paid for it.  Stay-at-home moms don’t get paid a cent for what they do.  Their job never ends even after their kids grow up and leave the house.  A stay-at-home mom doesn’t win rewards, bonuses, or promotions for what she does, and rarely even gets a thank you or any form of gratitude for what they do…SACRIFICIALLY, every day.  They don’t get me time, not even when they are in the bathtub.  I can tell you, children do not care when a mom is in the bathroom for any purpose.  They will not walk in on dad, but don’t think twice about walking in on mom.  I know, because in my house my daughters think that when I’m in the bathroom for any reason, they believe this is the time to talk about their wants, needs, problems, and so much more.  I often say to them…”Does this look like a conference room?”  It’s like they have you cornered at that moment, and they know it is the best time to ask for anything, because all you are thinking about is being alone.  If you add to all this the nursing and doctoring moms have to do, and being the family receptionist, scheduler, and therapist, a stay-at-home mom’s life is pretty full to the point of overflowing.  She is an amazing woman who can change a diaper, repair simple plumbing problems, build shelving, do room design and fashion design, along with a myriad of other jobs at the same time.   She is a chef, an entertainer, a multi-tasker, a personal assistant, and Wonder Woman, all wrapped up in one.  When she goes out in the Job World, most employers don’t even consider what the Stay-At-Home mom has been capable of doing.  They just consider her to be the stereo type of a housewife. and never consider the talent it took to do all she does daily.  The thing is she will be all these things the rest of her life, without notice, without pay, and without thanks.  So the next time you ask your mother or your wife,  to do something…think about all the things she is already doing for you, and show her some appreciation for it daily.  The best way to show you appreciate her…HELP!  Do some of the things on her list and do them right without being asked.  Make a mom night, where she can sit and watch television, while other members of the family cook and clean without her help.  Send her out for a spa day once in a while.  Husbands, take on the kids when you get home, whether outside to play, or inside playing a game, just give mom a break from them.  Also husbands, realize that when you get home and your wife wants to vent, it is because she needs to hear an adult voice, or needs to feel adult love and compassion from you.  She needs to feel that she is loved and appreciated.

If you are a stay-at-home mom, realize your potential, your gifts and talents, and realize what a special woman you are.  The world could not turn without you there in it!

 

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And the Award Goes To…

In the past few weeks I’ve been honored to be nominated for a couple of awards.  I’ve been having trouble with my internet connection through our cable company (the only one in our area for some reason I’m oblivious to), and so I haven’t been able to blog these awards without losing my connection 15 minutes into writing.  Well, I’m going to try again today, and hope I get through it. 

The first of these is the “One Lovely Blog Award”.  I want to thank http://hometogo232.wordpress.com/posts/ for the nomination.  I have to say there are certain blogs that have become so much like family to me that when this internet connection thing is working I can’t wait to see how they are doing, and what words of encouragement and life they have for everyone in the blogosphere.  Home to go 232 is one of those for me.  Her words of faith, and of overcoming her struggles in life are heartwarming and really have urged me to press on.  Thank you Home to Go232!

Now the rules for this award are as follows…

    • Share who gave it to you with a link back to their blog.  (see above)
    • Write down seven random facts about yourself.
    • Give this award to fifteen other bloggers.
    • Let them know they’ve won.
    • Pop the award on my blog.

Now for 7 random facts about me…hmm.  Now this is kind of hard for me, because I’ve never been one to focus on myself thanks to my mom who was a humble woman and taught me to look away from myself as much as possible.  For that reason, I’m going to try to give you facts that my mother would share with you.  Some of these I remember, but others are stories my mother would tell about me from when I was younger than 4.

1.  When I was a 2 year old my father was stationed in the Azores.  My mother had 2 stories about me during that period of time.  The first was about my little brother and I, and how we responded to the native Portuguese children who would rummage through our trash.  My mom used to tell about how one day we were playing outside and she heard a bunch of children crying.  When she went outside to see what was wrong, the children told her that my brother and I had bitten them in the backside when they were looking in our trash cans.  Of course we got in trouble, but those children never got in our trash cans again.  Lesson learned, toddlers are better at watching out for your home than a watchdog.

2. The second story my mother would tell about my terrible twos is about a time when I got into something I wasn’t suppose to.  When we lived in the Azores there were no Protestant churches at all.  So the military families that were stationed there had to find Bible studies and Prayer meetings that were being held in fellow military members homes.  My mom and dad were one of the families that started having meetings in our home.  Many of the local Portuguese women worked for military families as maids and nannies, and we were blessed to have a lady name Maria who worked as both for us.  That is pretty much the reason my baby brother’s first language was Portuguese, and I spoke both English and Portuguese by the time I was 4, although both of us have forgotten most of the Portuguese now.  Anyway, we had a maid’s bathroom in our home, so that she would never have to wait for our large family to get into the restroom.  This room was also used to store things that were being worked on.  My mother at this time had decided to varnish our kitchen chairs on the day we were hosting a Prayer Meeting in the evening.  When she finished with the last chair it was time for her to get ready for that meeting, so she put the lid on the varnish and set the last chair in the maid’s bathroom, along with the varnish, paint brush and screw driver, and decided it could dry there until the next day.  As the time neared for my dad to come home from work, the house was a-buzz with preparation.  My oldest sister was in the family’s bathroom getting ready, and taking longer than usual because her fiance’ was coming over for the meeting.  When dad came in, he was in a hurry because he had diarrhea.  When he couldn’t get into the family bathroom, my dad rushed to the maid’s bathroom.  It only took a few minutes before he was screaming at the top of his lungs.  When mom went into the bathroom to see what was wrong, she found my dad stuck to the toilet seat, and much of the sink, toilet, and shower covered with a fresh coat of varnish, just sticky enough to trap anything that landed on it.  The can of varnish was open, the screwdriver handle was wet with varnish, and varnish dripped from the paintbrush.  Mom began looking for the culprit and when she came to me and asked if I had been in the maid’s bathroom, I proudly proclaimed in my 2 year old voice…”Yes Mommy, and I made it all pretty like the chairs.”  Yes, I had gone into the bathroom, figured out how to open the can of varnish, and painted everything I could reach.  The paint was just sticky enough that when my dad sat down he was stuck real good to that toilet seat, and he was angry.  It took my soon-to-be brother-in-law an hour to get dad off that toilet.  Lesson learned…never leave painting supplies within reach of an artistic toddler.

3.  Mom used to tell of how as a 3 year old I sang Christian songs in a group with two other 3 year old girls.  We would travel from meeting to meeting sharing Jesus in song.  Just before I turned 4, my father was stationed back in the states, and we had to travel from the Azores to Mississippi.  Mom said when we were on the flight from the East Coast, I decided to entertain the crowd on the plane, which included many southern senators leaving Washington D.C. for their homes in the south.  According to mom, I walked up and down the aisles of that plane singing “Jesus Loves Me”, and various other Christian songs, stopping to tell people in between that Jesus loved them too.   She said though that even the senators thought it was the cutest thing and applauded at the end of each song.  Lesson learned…even a young child can be an evangelist when they believe in Jesus.

4.  We finally got to Mississippi, and settled in a “Family Barracks” until we could get our housing assignment.  Here is where mom tells most of the stories about me, her very imaginative daughter.  One of her favorite memories was of one day when she was working in the kitchen and heard me singing in the front room.  Like any mother she snuck in to see what I was up to, and to listen to me sing.  What she saw, was this now 4 year old standing on the big Family Bible singing at the top of my lungs, “Standing on the Promises”.  It was mom’s first realization how literal I took everything.

5.  While we were living in the family barracks at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, we often went out to play with other children living in the barracks too.  My mother, because of her German heritage, had developed a quick friendship with a fellow military wife named Maria, who was actually from Germany.  Maria had married a airman when he was stationed in Germany, and had come with him to America when he was restationed back in the states.  My mother and Maria were often together, drinking coffee, helping each other with laundry, and watching the children.  One such day, as they came out to hang clothes on the clothesline to dry, they found me sitting and digging up the ground below  the clothesline.  They asked me what I was doing, and I ignored their question and kept digging.  For the next probably a half hour while they hung clothes up, they continued to ask me what I was doing, and I continued to ignore them, but grew frustrated with the way they were bothering me.  In my mind, I kept thinking…”Really, you can’t see I’m digging in the dirt?”  Even then I tended toward having an attitude.  Finally, fed up with their constant questioning, I decided to give them an answer.  “I’m digging for the devil!”  Maria and my mom stopped what they were doing and looked at me sort of stunned to hear that answer from a 4 year old.  “Now why would you do that?”, my mother asked.  “Because I’m gonna take him to church and get him saved!”  “Wow, I never thought of doing that,” my mother said with a tad bit of motherly pride.  “Well, then we will leave you alone, but let us know if you find the devil.”  With that my mom and Maria went back into our living quarters to share a cup of coffee, and I returned to my digging.  But I didn’t stop until I found this nice black rock, sparkly and smooth, and I decided that I would tell them this was the devil and would take it to church every Sunday.  I would not let anyone think my search for Satan was futile, nor would I let them think I hadn’t kept my vow to take him to church.  Whether he got saved or not was between him and God.  So each Sunday after that I sat that rock next to me in the pew and when someone asked I just answered…”This is the devil, and I brought him here to church to get him saved.”  Lesson learned…Don’t bug a creative child when she is really making mud pies, because she will give you something really ingenious to think about.

6.  Around this same time, I noticed that Mommy was putting on quite a bit of weight, but never asked her why.  I always thought it was all that coffee her and Maria drank each day.  But one day I saw Mommy being taken away in an ambulance, and I didn’t know why.  You see issues of sex, childbirth and other womanly things were not talked about in our family, so I was clueless as to what was going on.  I was crying, and went to my sister, Nelda (yes, the same one I wrote about her anniversary), and I asked why they were taking mommy away.  Her answer was Mom has a headache, and they have to make her feel better.  A few days later, Mommy came home, but she had a wiggling little bundle in her arms.  I was introduced to my new baby brother, the youngest of all 9 siblings.  From that day on, I thought every time someone had a headache they were going to have a baby.  Thank you, Nelda, for sharing with me the facts of life!  Lesson learned…Don’t depend on an older sister to really tell you the truth…especially if she is the mischievious one.

7.  This memory is one that I’ve had to explain over and over to my daughter, Jk, this past week.  Why am I missing 1 permanent tooth on each side of the bottom of my mouth?  At the age of 7, we were finally in our new base housing, a brick house with a carport attached to it.  Between each house was a wooden fence about 6 foot tall, allowing each home a bit of privacy.  At 7, I suddenly got the hankering to be a circus performer.  I wanted to be the most amazing tightrope walker, and decided I needed to practice.  So one day I decided to use that fence as my tightrope.  I was a little tomboy, and so climbing trees were a norm for me.  Climbing up to the fence was nothing, but the challenge of walking across it was a challenge, and about halfway across I fell off, smacking my cheek on the cement and breaking off the tooth on the lower right side of my mouth.  Mom came running out to see what had happened, and found that I had broken no bones, but had a bleeding gum, and broken tooth.  She took me to the dentist on base, and deciding it was too damaged, the dentist pulled this broken permanent tooth.  After a day or two, my mom asked how I fell and why I was walking on the fence.  I told her that I was practicing to be a tightrope walker.  She told me that if I continued to practice I would probably knock all my teeth out eventually.  I guess she knew trying to get me to stop would be like pulling a tooth because I was her stubborn child who would not give up until I mastered whatever I was attempting.  I didn’t stop either.  About a month later, after my gum had healed from the first tooth being pulled, I tried again, and again I fell off the fence.  Sure enough I hit the other side of my face and broke the tooth on my lower leftside of my mouth.  Another trip to the dentist and another permanent tooth pulled, and I finally gave up my future in tightrope walking.  There was no way I wanted to walk around toothless for the rest of my life from more accidents from walking on that fence.  I was lucky not to have broken anything else in this venture.  Lesson learned…Pick a safer future than tightrope walking…something closer to the ground.  I won’t tell you how often this penchant for tightrope walking was used in working theater, but this time it was usually 2 or 3 stories up, and I had learned to be safer than I was as a child.

Well there are 7 stories that my mother loved to share about me, much to my chagrin when I was a teenager.  Now, onto nominating 15 bloggers to recieve this same award.  A Lovely Blog award should go to lovely blogs. So I’m going to share those blogs that I feel share beauty and love in special ways.  Instead of commenting on each one, since I took up so much space with the facts about myself from my mother’s repertoire of stories, I’m going to just list them and let you find out how lovely they are on your own.  For the guy bloggers listed…sorry, but even men can be lovely at times.  Here are my 15  picks…

http://e1aine.wordpress.com/

http://losingself.wordpress.com/

http://faithrises.com/

http://iwu2012breanna.wordpress.com/  I Timothy 4:12 blog site

http://connectingdotstogod.com/

http://wheremytreasureis.wordpress.com/

http://adifferenceforyourlovedones.wordpress.com/

http://modernchristianwoman.wordpress.com/

http://liliessparrowsandgrass.com/

http://sharinhislove.wordpress.com/

http://changedbyhim0510.wordpress.com/

http://artbycamila.wordpress.com/

http://throughthehealinglens.com/

http://waltbrite.wordpress.com/

http://terry1954.wordpress.com/

I could have listed a few more, but I noticed that many of those have been inundated with these awards, and I know if they are like me, they would prefer to just write about what they need to without stopping so often to do these award posts.  So I decided to list some newer ones that I’ve found not only intriguing, but lovely and inspiring to me.

Thank you again, http://hometogo232.wordpress.com/posts/ for the nomination!  May God bless you with immense traffic to your site, so that your heart can be an inspiration to others.

 

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The Prayer Shawl

This past year I watched as all the things that happened in this world started having an affect of many of my friends and family, even to those in our home right now.  Military budget cuts caused massive layoffs for those working in the military contracting area, my husband, Don being one of them.  For a guy who had worked all his life, including serving 22 years in the military, it was devastating and quite worrying to him, to say the least.  With no federal budget being passed, and very few jobs open in his area of expertise things didn’t look promising.  As a pretty new babe in Christ, having something hit you from out of the blue can be a real trial on your newfound faith.  What made it worse is the way he was laid off.  We had been away at his father’s funeral, and just returned the day before.  He got up that Friday and went into work like usual.  For some reason his key pass didn’t work and a fellow worker had to let him into the building.  He went straight in and began his work day, doing what he knew he was suppose to.  About  2 hours into the day, one of the bosses came walking into the room he worked in, and asked my husband what he was doing there.

My husband looked at him puzzled, and said, “I’m working.”

“I can see that, but why?  What are you doing here today?”  The boss was as puzzled at Don’s response, as Don was at his question.

Don paused, and looked at the boss, sizing up what he must be talking about, thinking he meant why had Don come instead of staying home the extra day after the loss of his father.  Don finally responded, “Oh I just couldn’t set at home today.  I figured it would be better for me to keep my mind busy working.”

The boss suddenly looked down, shuffled his feet, and said, “No, I mean, why are you here today?  Didn’t they tell you that you were laid off yesterday?”

To say the least, Don was stunned!  No one had called, emailed, sent a letter, or even spoke to him face to face.  Not one of the leads at his job had thought to let him know, although they all knew he was gone at the funeral of his father.  Not one even after that tried to explain how it all happened, or the reasoning behind it.  It was months before he  finally found out what all took place and how the failure in communication came about.  Nor did they seemed concerned about their failure, or about how their failure affected Don at that time.

I’ll never forget the look on his face when he walked in that door 4 hours earlier than he usually would.  To say he was downcast would not cover it.  We didn’t know how we were going to get by, because we had just used our savings to travel up north for the funeral, and for expenses while there, and we had to put out most of it before time on a replacement for our refrigerator, dishwasher, and the clothes dryer.  We knew we were looking at some tough times ahead.

Most people would have gotten angry,  downcast, even angry with God.  I knew that with new believers that happens often because their faith isn’t built up to the point of total trust in the Lord.  But for me, it was old hat.  I had been a single mom, who had to trust the Lord to help me through, even to provide for our daily meal at times.  I knew that my God was faithful and if we turned it all over to him, that the Lord would care for our needs during this time.  It was the best gift I could give my husband that day, my love, the encouragement that the Lord would see us through, and a hug filled with all the love and hope I had in me.  Of course the Lord took care of us, for over 6 months my husband was without a job.  The house payment was met, the utilities, gas for the car, medical needs, and even groceries were taken care of all during that time.  God was faithful to care for us, and all during that time we felt his loving arms around us, showing that love and compassion to us daily.  Yet, there were so many we knew going through similar things, and some going through worse things.  What in the world could we do to help so many?

Jesus with a prayer shawl.

It was during that time, a friend said to me, if I lived closer I would be giving you a hug right now, to let you know just how much you are cared for.  I live quite a distance from my dearest friends and my family, so this thought from her was really something that got me through, and it is what the Lord laid onto my heart in showing my own love, care and compassion for others.  There have been so many times that someone I knew was going through something and I wished I could be there to hug them, love them, and encourage than, but I couldn’t physically do so.  I knew that prayer is affective and I could do that, but I wanted to do more, and have them know that I was indeed praying for them and sending them warm hugs and comfort.  That is where the idea of making prayer shawls for my loved ones and friends came from.  Led by the Holy Spirit, I decided to do something that would wrap my love and prayers for them whenever they needed them.  But it wasn’t just about making the prayer shawls, or in giving them.  It was about putting prayer for the person who would receive it, in every stitch and line of the crocheting.  I knew to really be a shawl that would share the love and comfort of the Lord, then the Lord must be in every single stitch.  I knew that my heart would have to be in prayer for the person each time I picked up the shawl to work on it.  I would sit and pray for their needs, their health, their salvation, even the simplest parts of their day, their goings and comings, rising, and sleeping.  I knew during the week or two that I worked on the shawl, I would have to make an effort to find out how they were doing and if there were any special prayer needs.  It became a full out prayer campaign for that one person for the period of time it took to make, and send the shawl to them.  Like most humans, at first it was about what I was doing for someone else, never realizing what the process was doing for me.  Inside me something miraculous was happening, and much like the Grinch whose heart doubled in size when he felt the warmth of love and giving warm it, my heart was growing into a fervant heart of prayer and love.  God was laying something bigger into my heart that is setting me on a new mission for His Kingdom…a prayer shawl ministry for my local church.  It is just in the infant stages, but the urgency in me for it to come to fruition is great.  Each Wednesday our church has a prayer meeting and each week there is a new list of prayer needs for us to pray about, and we literally take each to the alter of God right there on that night.  Some pray by themselves, some pray in couples, and some pray in groups, but everyone prays.  There have been times I went to the altar, prayed with my husband, or by myself, and there are times when I have been blessed to pray with these two wonderful elderly women who are the strongest, mightiest prayer warriors I have ever met.  They don’t miss a name on the list, even if there are a hundred of them.  Each is given the love and prayer that could only come from one who knows how the Lord sees them as if they were the only one in the world. They pour over each name as if that were their own grandchild needing love, mercy and grace, and they come before God’s throne boldly.  That is how I knew I would need to pray for those I would give the prayer shawl to, as if they were my dearest family, and before the Lord boldly and in faith that he would answer each prayer.  But I would also have to pour the love that was in my heart for them into each stitch too.

This whole lesson to me about prayer, planted the seed of this ministry deep into the soil of my heart, and I began seeing that list at church in a different way.  Those on the list for prayers of salvation began to appear as hungry orphans needing food and hope.  The soldiers on our list of Military to pray for, in my heart became pictures of patriots long ago at Valley Forge needing to know that they would find strength and courage through the Lord, and his divine protection upon them.  Those on the list for prayer who had health needs, in my mind, were in a hospital that was filled to overflowing, to the point that there were not enough doctors and nurses to care for them, so would need the care that only a mighty and compassionate Lord, and Great Physician could give them.   The more I saw these mental pictures of their needs, the more that seed grew.  I had no car to go see each one, and my own health issues doesn’t always allow that, or the distance they are away as in our military prayer requests.  But with the help of our church and other crocheters and knitters like me, we could be able to wrap each one in love and prayer, through the warmth of a prayer shawl or a prayer lap quilt.  I’ve been praying about God’s leading on this, knowing that my health was limiting me on being part of the music ministry through the choir.  And God is answering my prayer, as the Music Minister/Assistant Pastor at our church has written me this week that he felt God telling him that we also needed a ministry like this.  For a woman to think so would be as common to me as Jesus appearing to a man first after his resurrection.  But God doesn’t work that way.  Mary was the person during Jesus’ time that people would have felt Jesus least likely to appear first to, and a man who doesn’t knit or crochet in our day and age would be the least likely to feel led to start a prayer shawl ministry .  So I know that this is God’s leading.  The funny thing is, God hasn’t stopped getting my attention about it with just this.  It seems like at every turn around now I’m introduced to someone new in my life, my blogging world, my facebook friendships that is involved in a prayer shawl ministry, or starting one up at their church.  It is like God is opening doors for me to learn more on how to start the one at our church, or sharing ideas with others who are involved in one.  There are times like these that I stand at the garden gate of God’s Kingdom and watch him at work, and I am as amazed as a child looking at the first robin in Spring, or the first earthworm to wiggle through the winter hardness of the soil, or the very first bloom bursting through the bud on an early Spring day.  I stand amazed at the fullness of his plan for me, and at the way he picks, waters and prunes the idea, then opens the doors to let the sunshine down on it, so that it make come to its fullness for his Kingdom.  That is where I am right now, looking at that garden, knowing that I have been planted for a purpose and God is the gardener, helping me bloom into his Will.

Here is a poem that the Lord gave me, to include in with each prayer shawl that I made last year, and with those that will be given in the future.  If you would like to use it feel free to copy it, but please don’t take credit for writing it, this one is of God, for God, from God, and to be used by God.

I will be updating this post with pictures of some of the prayer shawls I have already crocheted, and some I will finish in the near future.  None will be similar, because no two people are 100% the same, and so my heart says each shawl should be an individual too.

THE PRAYER SHAWL

Nothing in this world

Is as comforting at prayer.

Nothing draws us closer

As when the Savior’s near.

As you wrap this shawl

Around your shoulders tight,

May you feel the love and prayers

That have poured out day and night.

Prayers for your happiness,

For joy, hope, and peace,

Prayers that God’s blessings

For you will increase.

So as you wrap this shawl,

And feel its comfort there,

May you always feel assurance

That  the Savior, Jesus, is near.

 

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Handimals…A Very Cute Family Activity

A sign dispaying some of their Handimal family units.

This past Saturday, my husband and I took my daughter Jk, on a homeschool field trip to a  local zoo.  It was a great day that I will blog on later, but for this I want to blog about one of the cutest ideas I saw at the zoo.  It is called Handimals.  Basically you paint your hand and press it onto a piece of paper, or other medium for painting such as canvas, newsprint, or even fabric.  Then with permanent markers you turn that handprint into an animal of some kind.  When I saw this being done at the zoo, my mind started racing 100 miles per minute thinking of ways I could use this idea.  What I loved was that they made family units from these handprints.  They would not only have the children make a handprint, but mom, dad, and even grandparents.  I thought what a wonderful way to teach children about animals and about the family in one project.  I took pictures of their display and am posting them so you get the idea.  My daughter just finished a unit learning about the different types of animals, land, desert, artic, ocean and so on.  In each she learned even more about the animals, whether they were mammals, reptiles, birds or amphibians.  She learned about what made each animal special to their environment.  It was a wonderful way to instill in her how vast and awe-inspiring creation is, and in the same way how awesome God is to have created it down to the tiniest bit of DNA.

Usually with each subject we tackle I try to give her a fun project to work on to share what she has learned.  I want to use the idea of Handimals in a project for this portion of her Science for the year.  I thought maybe a quilt for one of her nephews with Handimals on each square.  Another thought was a family tree with each person represented by an animal.  Since she is so close to being a teenager and loves purses and other girly things, I also thought maybe a totebag or purse that she could carry.  Of course knowing my daughter it will have either a leopard, cheetah, or zebra as its main focus.

With this in mind I’m going to let you join in on my decision on what to give her to do.  Do you have an idea on how I could use these Handimals for a project that a tween would love to do?  Please leave a comment giving your idea.   For those in foreign countries, please write in English.  My German, Spanish and Portuguese are very limited, and as far as other languages, I wouldn’t have a clue as to what you are saying, and I really am interested in your ideas no matter what country you are in.  Thank you!

 

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