A BOOK REVIEW for a great prayer map.

How is your prayer life?

I don’t often post a book review, but I do want to share this resource with you.  I received a free copy from Barbour Publishing, and it is in fact compiled by Barbour Publishing.  Although the title says for women, it is equally relative for men.  Following the review I posted to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Christian Book Distributors, I will explain what led me to add my review here.

The Prayer Map for Women

I am impressed with this prayer journal. The title is an excellent clue as to what is inside.  Truly it is a great map to find a deeper, richer prayer life. 

There is a two page spread included for each day.  We write the date in, and then the map leads us to greet our heavenly Father before doing anything else.  We move on to a time of thankfulness before going forward to making a list of people we are praying for that day.  There is a place to list our worries or concerns, and a place to note what is happening in our life at the moment.  The map then shows us where to put our needs.  The next stop on the prayer map is a place to share anything else we want to talk to God about.  The map ends with a scripture verse and Amen. 

I feel this is exactly what I need to enrich my prayer life.  In my experience, I pray more consistently and fervently when I write things down.  I have a separate journal for scripture journaling; the focus of this book is definitely prayer.  I like having a prayer journal for two main reasons:  it is helpful to write things down to keep our focus on our prayer, and we can look back later to remind us of what we prayed and noting how the prayers were answered. 

Physically, the journal is a perfect size for grabbing a cup of tea and going outside for prayer time.  The wire binding makes it easy to turn to the current page and write in without needing a table.  The cover seems to be good quality, and I suspect a small spill or drop of jam could be wiped off without damage to the cover if done quickly although I have not had to test that yet.  Colors are mostly soft so they do not overpower what you write. 

So far, I have not found anything about this prayer map journal that I do not like.  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their prayer life.  I also feel this book can be a great resource in a class or workshop about prayer.

Now let me get back to my original question. How is your prayer life?  Let me state that another way…how is MY prayer life?

For some time, I have been very concerned over my prayers.  It seems to me my prayers have become too vague and repetitive.  God and I talked about that, but I don’t think I was in a listening mood.  Once I even caught myself saying to God, “but I don’t need to tell you that because You already know what I am going to say.”  Really Susan?!  I lamented and stewed and pleaded with God, but never really put any effort into changing.  I confess, at one point in my life, I did a lot of praying and a lot of listening to God.  Perhaps I took it for granted, but I don’t think that is what happened.  I think I simply got too busy, too involved, too tired…whatever.  It isn’t that I didn’t want to pray but more that I was skidding through prayer without digging deeper.  I was letting outside thoughts seep into my prayer time.  (Even the work you are doing for the Kingdom can intrude on your prayers at the wrong time.)  You might say I was letting the cares of the world make my prayers unfruitful.

I am positive God often shakes His head and lovingly says, “Susan, Susan, Susan.”  When I was pleading with God a few months ago to deepen my prayer life, little did I know that I would be asked to review this book. Let me say that it doesn’t tell me anything new, or that I didn’t know.  However it reminds me that I need to take time to greet my heavenly Father and praise Him and tell Him how much I love him BEFORE I get into the I needs and I wants.  It reminds me that if I list the people I will be praying for today I am much more likely to remember to actually pray for them throughout the day. It reminds me that I need a consistent way to organize my prayers to be more effective.

It reminds me of the song we used to sing as children.  Deeper, deeper, in the love of Jesus, daily let me go….(deeper yet I pray. And higher every day.)

Gotta go.  It’s time to pray.  And I am excited.



Password Please

Passwords are a necessary part of our everyday life.  I’m not a fan of passwords.  My brain can only hold so much and that inner file labeled PASSWORDS is full and overflowing.  There are passwords for home, passwords for work, passwords for blogs, passwords for crafting sites.  There are confirmation numbers for orders, plane tickets and work orders.  When I got married, all I needed to remember was my phone number, my driver’s license number and my social security number.  Yes, I’ve been married that long.

Years go by, things change, progress happens and I find myself with a LONG list of passwords.  In desperation I start a computer list of my passwords, in a file named passwords.  I have printed them out, thankfully, because that particular computer was infected by a ransomware virus and I can’t get to my list.  I try to take great care of that list of several pages and keep it in a safe place.  I just don’t always know where that safe place is located.  I even bought a notebook titled Online Organizer.  Slowly but surely I have been transferring the passwords to the organizer.  After 2 years I have only entered about 5 passwords, so it is taking me a while.  Ok, truthfully, I only write in the password when I get a new one.

Nowadays it is not uncommon for me to use several passwords in a day.  There is a voice mail on my phone, so I retrieve it and hear the words, “Please enter your password, then press pound.”  Then I go to my computer that is used for multiple purposes and have to enter my password to get started.  Since I am working on ideas for the two craft retreats and a ladies retreat that I help with, I browse craft sites and notice a pattern or idea I want to save.  Enter my password.  Check recent medical test results on my physician’s health portal.  Enter my password.  Any day now I expect to pick up my phone to make a call and hear a voice saying, “If you wish to make a call, please enter your password.”

It was bound to happen.  I can’t find my list.  Anywhere.   At all.  There is no doubt in my mind that I probably packed it so it would be handy during the crafting retreats or ladies retreat.  After all, I still have a box or two to put away from church camp crafts, packing up my personal stuff from my job that was cut due to funding, the craft retreats, a family reunion and the ladies retreat. I mean two boxes or so for each event, not two boxes total.  Let’s not get sidetracked and talk about that.  Too embarrassing.

Back to my password list.  Today I needed a password that I simply can’t remember.  The area in my craft room where my list was supposed to be was already cleaned looking for the list last week.  Hated to do it, but I even cleaned out 2 boxes of stuff looking for the list.  In my mind’s eye I seem to remember putting it in my laptop case but it isn’t there.  A tote bag maybe?  Do you have any idea how many tote bags I have?!

I’m really embarrassed to say this, but I decided to write on this blog and…um…well.  Ok, I’ll just come right out and say it.  I can’t remember my password!!!  You can stop laughing now.  I mean it!  This really isn’t that funny.  In order to express myself I had to change and reset password.  This password business is totally getting out of control.

This world is also out of control in so many ways.  If a person wants to, they can change their address, their name, their gender, and if one state has its way, their race, just because they want to change.  This is too much for me to comprehend.  Identity can be determined through eye scans, fingerprint scans, or implanted technology chips. And to do many of the things I do on a daily basis I must enter a password, pass code or confirmation number.  This has gone too far.

There will come a time when I no longer need to remember all these passwords.  I will trade this troubled world for an eternity in Heaven.  Yes, I know that is where I am headed and have made my preparation. I have my confirmation.  When I approach Heaven’s gate, I don’t need to remember the confirmation number or password.  I have an advocate to do that for me.  You see, when I get there, Jesus will supply the simple, easy to remember password.  One word.  Forgiven.


Practicing for Heaven

I was thinking about heaven a few days ago as I was driving home from an outing.  Hubby was at home, and I was driving along with my thoughts to keep me company.  Suddenly out of the blue heaven popped into my mind.

Thinking about some of the comments and conversations I heard in the past, it seemed as if God put a whole zip file in my mental computer in an instant, and I started un-zipping and unpacking the file in my mind.  I’ve heard comments like, “I believe everyone will go to heaven because God is a God of love.  (Sure He is, but He is so much more than that, and I’m not betting my eternal future on that statement alone!)  “I can’t wait to see the mansion that has been prepared for me.” (I am positive our mansion will be great, but should that really be our main focus?)  And then there is this one. “What are we going to DO all day.  I mean, you can only sing praises for so long before you get tired and want something else to do.”  (REALLY?  Words escape me.  Perhaps some picture heaven as being a place they can do what they want all day as long as they have choir practice first.”  I don’t begin to have all the answers, but my view of heaven is a little different.  God loves us, yes.  And He prepared a way for us to get to heaven, but we need not think you can get there any old way.  There is only one way. Jesus.    Mansion? Great. Streets of gold and gates of pearl? Amazing.  Seeing Jesus and praising God?  Well HALLELUJAH!  Now that’s what I’m talking about.  As for needing something else to do other than praise Him,  God has a plan.  But I really can’t see that plan including us gossiping over the fence with our neighbors or sitting discontentedly in a heavenly corner saying we are bored.

All that was in the first folder in my mental zip file.  Then came this thought.  Practice.  Yes, practice.  Think about it for a moment.  A fine musician spends hours practicing. There are drills and runs to keep fingers nimble and flexible.  There is new music to learn to improve technique.  There are practice sessions to learn and absorb the music until it becomes a natural part of us.  And what about an athlete?  From pro baseball (or football, or soccer or whatever) to T-ball, if we want to get better from week to week we must practice.  The more we practice, the better we become.  Years ago (too many to mention) I worked at a Tastee Freeze  For those of you who don’t recognize the name, it was an ice cream and sandwich fast food dream.  Anyway, one of my jobs was to make an ice cream cone using the soft serve ice cream machine.    The cone had to swirl around and end with a curl on the top.  And it had to weigh an exact amount.  I became pretty good at that, but my first attempts were laughable.  So what did I do?  Practice.  It occurs to me that even though I don’t know exactly all of God’s plan for heaven, I can be practicing now.  I can practice being kind to others.  I can practice being an encourager.  I can practice singing praises.  I can practice worship.  And the more I do these things, the more natural and meaningful they will become.

There was a lot more in the thoughts God gave me that day…far to much to write about in one sitting.  But I have to stop for now.  I need to go out and catch up on a little practice.


Today is such an exciting day!  Hubby and I are having a new refrigerator delivered.  If I could dance on my tiptoes I certainly would.  Now that is a mental picture right there!

Let me back up a minute and explain our joy a bit. I know I get a bit wordy, but you will get to my point if you keep reading.  A year or so ago, our refrigerator, I am sad to say, died.  And it died at a most inconvenient time.  Now I know what you are thinking.  Anytime is a most inconvenient time for a refrigerator to quit.  And you are right, but this came at a time that money was t.i.g.h.t. and then some.  Oh dear, I know what you are thinking again.  “Do you mean to say you waited 2 years to replace your fridge?  You must have gone through a lot of ice for the cooler.”  It wasn’t that bad, truly.

Instead I read and reread the bank statements.  I checked our piggy bank.  I even looked in my secret fabric discretionary fund.  Yes, I have one and that is all you need to know.  Finally I decided we didn’t need a nice big refrigerator with a good amount of space.  After all, there are only two of us at home now.  A smaller fridge should be fine, and it is hundreds of dollars cheaper.  If we tightened our belts, we could afford a refrigerator.  So off to the store hubby went, and before many hours had passed (I don’t call him minute man for nuthin’) I got a call at work to discuss the refrigerator he had picked out. It fit the criteria, which means it could keep things cold and we could pay the price.  The refrigerator was delivered and the old one hauled away.  And that is the beginning of the story.

It didn’t take many weeks for me to realize that the extra cubic feet in the old refrigerator were very important.  On day 2, I banged my head hard as I reached in the refrigerator and forgot to make adjustments for the difference in size.  Then things started falling out.  I would reach for the bowl of leftover spaghetti, and with it would come the container of margarine.  I would push something in on one side of the rack, and something would fall out as things shifted on the other side of the rack.  You get the picture.  If you don’t, it is probably because you have a nice big refrigerator.

This went on for some time.  I didn’t give hubby my opinion of the refrigerator.  After all, it wasn’t his fault.  We are committed to not spending more than we have, and he did the best job with what we had.  But recently I heard a crash and a yelp when a jar or something fell out of the refrigerator right on my husband’s foot.  And contents went everywhere.  That was enough for me.  I apologized for insisting we get a smaller fridge.  We would have been better off to use a cooler for a few weeks.  Turns out we had the same opinions but hadn’t voiced them.  However, this not being a post about communication, I won’t go into that now.

About this time, we heard of someone needing a smaller refrigerator.  A dorm size refrigerator would be much too small, but a large fridge would be unnecessary and take up too much space.  The light went on and bells rang.  At least I think they were bells.  My ears ring all the time so it might have been that instead.  Suffice it to say that we would give them our fridge that seemed the right size for them, and we could get a bigger fridge without feeling so guilty.  Checking all our funds again, we came up with an amount we could afford.  We did our research and rehashed what we didn’t like about this fridge that we wanted different with the new one.  Hubby went back to the store, picked out a fridge, and came out to the car to tell me all about it, since I had stayed in the car with our dog.  Back in he went…hubby, not the dog, and paid for the fridge and arranged for delivery.  We made our preparations and cleaned the space for the new refrigerator, preparing for the moment it would arrive.  We were ready!

All that brings you up to today, when I am excitedly wishing I could dance on my toes.  We were given a window of time for our refrigerator to be delivered.  So here I am, sitting in my chair.  I hear a noise and run to the door. Not the truck.  I hear a noise and look out the window. Sigh.  Sitting back in my chair, I turn at every sound.  The neighbor decides to cut their grass.  Really?  Now?  At least 20 vehicles go past our house on what is normally a relatively quiet road at this time of day.  And don’t forget the airplanes.  They could have picked a better time. Peering out the window, peering out the door…honestly I think that last noise was the whisper of butterfly wings but it sure sounds like a delivery truck to me!  I watch.  I wait.  Every fiber of my being is attuned to being ready when that truck turns in the driveway.  Finally my watching and waiting is rewarded and the truck arrives!  This time I think I really do dance on my toes just a bit.

Then in a quiet moment I hear the whisper of butterfly wings again, but my heart knows it is God talking.  In the flash of a heartbeat, I hear Him whisper, “Are you looking for the coming of my Son with the same intensity you have been waiting for this refrigerator, this gift I have given you?  Are you excited?  Do you watch at the window of your heart for Him to appear? Have you made your preparations? Are you ready?”

Do I get so caught up in life that I get more excited over a “thing” than I do the coming of my Lord?  Whew.  Something to think about.


The Chocolate that Didn’t Melt in my Mouth

This is an absolutely true story.  I won’t even try to disguise it…if you know me, you know this is totally me.

I have never been a fan of cleaning.  Although I love a neat and tidy house, I’m just not good at making it happen.  Mom tried.  Really she did.  She taught me most of the right things.  (She didn’t teach me as much about laundry because she liked doing it herself.  I did however learn how to hand clothes on the clothesline and collect them when they were frozen stiff. Ugh.)

Hubby left subtle and not so subtle hints, and before any one says what is wrong with him helping, let me tell you he did help, and well as working 40+ hours a week outside the home.  The thing is, I don’t mind working.  I just prefer working outside.  Or working on a project.  One year I negotiated with my parents to let me do the gardening instead of the inside chores.  That was one of my favorite years. The sense of accomplishment and joy is still a vibrant memory.

Now my loving hubby tries to do as much as he can to help with the housework since he is retired and I still work part-time.  I really appreciate his efforts.  He also makes sure I have time to work on projects.   What a keeper!

However, I still fight a battle with guilt.  I should do more around the house.  I should be a better housekeeper.  I should, I should, I should.  Then every so often I roll up my sleeves, put my big girl socks on, and try to see what I can accomplish.  Sometimes I pay a price when I can’t move the next day, but I do try.

One such day occurred last week.  When I got up in the morning I felt pretty good.  I made my list (I love lists) and got to work.  I attacked the kitchen with vim and vigor, proud that I was making a difference. Soon it was almost finished.  Then, when I was ready to clean our kitchen cart…you know, one of those metal 3 shelf jobbies on wheels that lots of people had years ago…often red, but mine was yellow…I saw it.  A huge bag of M & M’s that I didn’t even remember sticking on the shelf.  Ecstatic, I reached for the bag.  After all this work, I figured I deserved a reward and I haven’t eaten dessert since Christmas.  Ripping open the bag, a few tasty morsels fell to the floor.  I did what any self-respecting person would do after just cleaning the kitchen.  I grabbed them up and dusted them off.  Since it was a big bag, I figured I would only take a handful plus of course the ones I rescued from the floor.  I could almost taste that chocolate before I even put one in my mouth.  The yellow M & M came closer and closer.  I opened my mouth and…

…and…AND THEN I WOKE UP!!!!  I should have known it was a dream.  I don’t even have a yellow metal 3 shelf jobby on wheels.

Reading, Writing and Parenting

Today I was looking over some of my early attempts at writing.  I’m sure somewhere deep down in my inner being there is a story to be written.  Or maybe I should be thinking along the lines that there is a story to be read…its much easier to read than to write.  Anyway, since I was little, I have loved to write.

Part of that is because of a combination of events early in my life.  I am number 5 of six children.  The first four are a at least 8 years older than me, with the baby being somewhat closer to my age.  My oldest sister left for college about the time I was discovering how to hold a pencil.  My mom encouraged me to write to her.  I wasn’t content to draw a picture and write a word or two.  No, I had to write a whole letter.  I had learned to write my letters, but couldn’t spell worth a hoot (hadn’t started school yet you see) but that didn’t stop me.  Mom and all my older siblings would patiently spell out each word so I could write the letters, one by one.  I really thought the idea that I could put letters down on paper and stick a magic stamp on the envelope that would take that paper to my sister several states away was pretty cool!

Then in third grade I had the most amazing teacher.  All the good things teachers are doing today she was doing waaaaaay back then.  We did experiments and wrote about them in our journal.  We raised butterflies and wrote about them in our journal.  We learned about poetry and wrote our own poetry in our journal.  Wham!  I hooked to poetry like it was industrial strength Velcro!  The beauty and flow of words and rhyme.  The rhythm.  Words drawing pictures and evoking emotion.  Here is one of my 3rd grade originals

In School

In school we have spelling,

And a time for work and play,

And just like at home

I could do my work all day.


But do you know what?

Oh, please try to guess.

Well … Glory Be

I think I should have my recess.

Ok, that isn’t really ready for publication, but you get the picture. And I’m sure my mom would have something to say about my willingness to do my work at home all day.  I HATED washing dishes!!! Added to my love of writing was my love of reading.  That got me into trouble more than once when for some reason I couldn’t read and hear at the same time. I still get into trouble for the same thing!

Mom always wanted me to write, which eventually led me to start this blog in the first place.  It’s ok that I don’t have hundreds of people following the blog.  I just love to write, although sometimes I forget to allow myself time to do so.  But now I have started something new that melds my love of writing and my love of reading together.  Recently I started reviewing books.  I was invited by Barbour Publishing to join their Review Crew.  Aha!  They will send me a book to read and review if I so choose.  Perfect.  Now I can say, “But dear, I need to read this book for my review.”  Hubby loves me and is happy I am getting a free book to read.  I am happy to have a new book to read and I even get to “voice” my opinion. Shame I wasn’t invited back in my school days.  It would have saved a lot of misunderstanding with my mom.  I remember one time….well, never mind that.  You don’t want to know, I’m sure.

Now don’t worry, I don’t plan to review every single book here, but this recent book is too good to pass  without a comment.  The book is a parenting book by Dan Seaborn, entitled Parenting with Grace and Truth.   I have to say I really enjoyed this book.  Those of you who know me personally know our children are grown and have children of their own.  That didn’t stop me from gaining a few tips starting from the first chapter.  Several times I picked up my pen to take notes. The suggestions given are good ones, backed up with scripture, examples and real life experiences and application.  And the language is easy to understand.  Mr. Seaborn doesn’t just say, “This is what you must do!”  He shows you how to develop your own life rules by looking at character traits that are important to you.  Parenting is hard work, and he understands that and gives encouragement.  He even covers parenting through a crisis and parenting blended families.

After reading this book, I feel I can recommend it to anyone who has any contact with children.  Whether you are a parent, hope to be a parent, or know someone about to be a parent this book is a great read.  Are you a pastor, a teacher, work in children’s ministry or operate a day care? This book is helpful.  Or in my case, are you a grandparent who wants be a good role model for grandchildren?  Then this book is for you.  Yes, at the bottom of this I have to tell you that I was given this book*, but I was not required to review it, especially here on this blog.  If you want to see my official review, it is on Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, and Barnes and Noble. But here, I just want to share with family and friends a book I think is very helpful.

Now all this talking about early writing has caused me to want to pick up my pen and paper.  Gotta go!  I have a story to write!

*I received a copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.




Frolicking in the Snow

There is something special about seeing big fat snowflakes swirling around, dancing around on puffs of wind and coming to rest on the ground where it will soon be joined by its sisters and brothers and cousins.  No matter the forecast, they make me smile.  In fact, if no one is around to hear, they make me giggle.  I will sit by the window for hours watching, afraid to turn away in case I miss one.

Today is a snow day. The flakes started their merry dance before dawn, and by the time my eyes finally opened, the ground was covered.  In awe, I watched their merry dance without even being aware of the passage of time.  Occasionally I would leave my post at the window long enough to heat some soup for lunch (what else would we have on a snow day) or to do some small chore. Some VERY SMALL chore.  Every so often, like this very second, a gust of wind would come along and a few dry leaves dropped from the tree and scurried across the snow.  Bit by bit, the sad-looking flower bed became a thing of pristine beauty, made clean by the washing of the snowflakes.

This is the very first snow for our golden retriever, Rusty.  His first time out today, says hubby, he frolicked about as if he were in a pond swimming from one spot to the next.  The second time he was so excited I couldn’t even get a picture…just a blur of excitement.  The third time, we questioned whether he really needed to go outside, but who takes that chance.  Not us!  So out we went.  Hubby had the leash, I had the camera.  Don’t worry, I gave him privacy when he needed privacy, his but the rest of the time was fair game.  First thing he did was to take giant leaps in the snow.  Being about 8 months he has plenty of leap in him. I, on the other hand, am older than 8 months, or 8 years for that matter.  My leap has slowed down to a shuffle.  Standing on the back step, I tried my best to capture him frolicking around frantically, trying to taste each snowflake.  The joy on his face was something to behold.  Finally he plopped down and looked up grinning as if to say, “Isn’t this great stuff?  Wanna come play?” To which I answered in order, “Yes!” “NO”


I admit at one point I did go out and frolic in the snow a bit.  Only for a few minutes, long enough to get proof I was outside.  And since you are friends and believe me when I say something, you don’t need to see that proof, right?  Of course not. Ahem.

Personally, I think God likes to see us finding joy in the snow.  I think He wants to watch us enjoy the good things He has provided for us.  But most important, I think He wants us to look at the snow and remember that His Son Jesus is waiting and willing to cleanse us by His blood and make us pristine, whiter than snow. And that, my friend, will fill you with such joy and gladness you will want to join Rusty in frolicking in the snow.

Making a Difference

This past week or so the news has been filled with the loss of both Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds who died one day apart.  That led to discussions of whether it is possible to die of a broken heart. People were interviewed who told how these two people had impacted their life even though they had never personally met as well as the memories of the films they were known for.

Personally, I am not as familiar with Carrie Fisher, but Debbie Reynolds starred in the first movie I ever saw at a movie theater.  She sang the song, “Tammy” and I still occasionally sing a wee bit of the song.  I was a young girl totally enthralled at seeing a movie with  my cousin.  (Before you start trying to figure how ancient I must be, let me assure you I had seen movies before with my family at the nearby drive-in.  But to be invited to accompany my aunt and uncle and cousin to a restaurant AND a theater was major!)

Having said all that, this piece really isn’t about two well-known celebrities.  It is about making a difference in someone’s life.  It’s about making an impact in the life of those around me.Sometimes I forget to think about how I might be affecting someone by  my words and deeds.  I mean seriously, I wasn’t put on this earth to say HERE I AM.  NOW EVERYONE MAKE AN IMPACT ON MY LIFE.  Certainly many people have made a difference in my life, one way or another.  But while all that has been going on I have the responsibility of being a good steward of the impact I make on others.

Think about this a minute.  If I am quick to offer complaints and criticisms, am I bringing down someone around me?  Do I offer a word of encouragement?  Is my need to be”right” important enough to hurt someone else?  What about my neighbors…are they seeing an example of right living, or do my actions encourage them avoid me at all cost.  Do I even know my neighbors?

In most circumstances I can choose the impact I have on others. Don’t get me wrong, there are times we are blindsided by events that drop us to our knees, and we may stay down for a bit.  But then its time to pray, and get back up.  I remember going through an extremely difficult time in my life, and I thought I hid it well.  Then one day a coworker came to ask if I was okay.  This was a person I would never expect to ask this question.  I didn’t think I had much of an impact on him.  But here he was, wondering if I was ok because he hadn’t seen me smile in a long time.  What a wake up call.  Instead of wallowing on my knees, I realized it was time to ask some warriors to pray that I would get back up, dust myself off, and do what had to be done.  A smile, or the lack thereof, can impact someone we don’t even think is watching.

All this in the news made me remember that I want any impact I make to be positive.  I don’t need anyone to remember my name. However, I do want them to remember that someone took the time to listen when they needed to talk or to be a friend when they needed a friend. I want to smile at someone and hope they will pass that smile on to someone else rather than be so self-absorbed in my own little world that I forget anyone else is even around.

I want to make a positive difference.

Pancakes…a Life Lesson

Recently one of my granddaughters and I were discussing cooking and food.  Nothing new here…we often discuss food.  I remember how special it was one day to tie an apron around her tiny waist, stand her on a chair and let her help me cook.  I think we made mac and cheese in a saucepan or something similar to that.  And of course, before you click your tongue, I had turned the stove off during the time she was “stirring” and I did everything with her safety in mind.  Really, what else would you expect.  I guard my treasure and my grandchildren are some of my treasures.

Anyway, we got on the topic of pancakes.  Both of us love pancakes.  We even both love blueberry pancakes!  With visions of  preparing a family breakfast together, I asked her if she had a special blueberry pancake recipe.  No, she declared.  She only likes blueberry pancakes from iHop!  FIDDLE!  My visions melted away, but it did start a trip down memory lane.

One particular memory stays vivid in my mind.  It haunts me a bit and I hope it always will.  You see, I didn’t always like pancakes.  I remember like it was this morning a time when my frustration with pancakes bubbled over…and frustration bubbling over wasn’t something you did in my family growing up.  We had too much respect for our parents, and had been raised well if I do say so myself.  But this particular day my younger brother and I had been playing outdoors after completing our chores.  It was probably a summer weekday or else other siblings would have been home from their summer jobs.  I’m guessing I was somewhere between 7 and 10 years old. (Age has never been super critical to me so I’m not entirely sure.)  I remember Mom calling out the door that we were to come in for lunch.  With a big smile she gave us each a pancake that she had sprinkled sugar on and rolled up like a jelly roll.  “Take it outside and eat it.”  Normally I would be thrilled to eat outside, but seriously- a pancake?  And not even any syrup?  As we scampered out the door without a backward glance, I remember saying, “I HATE pancakes.”    It seemed to me we had them often, so obviously Mom must love them a lot.

It wasn’t until years had passed that I realized what had probably happened.  You see, we were loved so much that I didn’t realize we were poor.  Never did I realize as a child that other families may live differently than us.  I thought Mom loved sewing so much that she enjoyed making our clothes.  I thought Dad loved his work and that was why he spent so many hours there.  Oh, I knew there were a few kids with more “things”, but I just thought they were probably spoiled kids, you know?  In my heart’s eye I can see my mother looking out the window at her two youngest children, saying to herself, “Lord, what can I possibly feed them today?”  I can see her opening the cupboard doors and seeing a few basic staples on the shelf.  (That woman could make more from a few basics than anyone I ever met!)  I can see her taking out the flour and sitting it on the counter and reflecting that she was blessed to still have some flour on hand.  My heart almost cracks as I mentally see her mixing up batter…enough for two pancakes.  Trying her best to make it special, I can see her looking in the sugar bowl for those few grains of sugar and deciding she didn’t want sugar in her coffee anyway.  Then, my heart cracks a little more as I see her cheerfully calling us to come get lunch, and sending us outside on a little picnic so we wouldn’t see the empty batter bowl and notice she wasn’t “hungry” for lunch.  And then pain slices through me as I hear myself say, “I HATE pancakes!”.  And in retrospect, I can see Dad coming home that night and mom greeting him at the door with a kiss, and a look into his eyes that said how much she appreciated his efforts to provide for his family.

I learned several lessons from this childhood memory. I’ll quickly share three.  One is that poor is a state of mind. The fact that I never considered us poor speaks well to the upbringing our parents provided.  We may have scraped the bottom of the barrel at times, but we never went without something to eat, clothes to wear, and a roof over our heads.  We did things as a family, and had fun!  Another lesson is that love is a powerful force that can embrace and protect in amazing ways.  (If you don’t think so, just think about God’s love.) It isn’t about keeping our loved ones from hard experiences, but about helping our loved ones THROUGH hard experiences.  Tough times will come, but we can get through them…together.  And finally, when we dig deeper in trying to learn and understand one another, our preconceived perceptions often change dramatically.

What can I say?  I LOVE pancakes.  Thanks Mom.  Thanks Dad.

Pulling Weeds

Feeling a bit energetic today, I went for a short walk outside.  Of course my first stop was our garden.  Hubby has taken over almost all of the gardening.  I love it, but my knees don’t.  Funny, for the last 5 years I have don’t all the gardening pretty much by myself with the help of some Grandies now and then.  Hubby wasn’t able, so I did the best I could, loving every minute of it especially when grandkids were in the garden with me.  Now my body yells if I thing garden, but Hubby has retired and is now back to gardening all the time!  Hmmmm, sounds a bit like teamwork to me.  But that is a rabbit trail and I need to get back to the main path of my thoughts.

The garden looks great, and I was able to plant a few plants that somehow hadn’t made their way to their permanent home yet. That felt good to my soul; gardeners will know exactly what I mean.  Then I came back to the house briefly to get the fresh nectar for our hummingbirds.  They are such a pleasure to watch that I try hard to make sure their feeder is filled every few days.  Walking back outside, I strolled to the large flower bed planted right outside the living room window.  It probably looks like a strange location to passersby, but it is perfect placement for us to watch the birds, butterflies and bunnies that visit.  I had planted petunias, geraniums, dahlias, marigolds, and a host of other flowers earlier this year.  I took great care to notice which area would get shade and which would get full sun, placing the flowers carefully.  Then I put some shepherd’s hooks with finch feeders and cardinal feeders, along with my hummingbird feeder- spaced just so among the flowers.  Two small bird baths were added, and the fairy garden that the Grandies have been working on was moved close to the hummingbirds.  Every time I looked at that flower bed, I had to smile and reflect on the loving God that made such a riot of color possible.

This morning, however, something didn’t look quite right.  We have had a few bad storms recently and I hadn’t actually been in the flower bed for a week or so.  The plants that had been so beautiful were drooping and fading.  The growth wasn’t what I expected, especially from the petunias which can tend to take over.  Hmmmm, what to do, what to do?  You know, just because I love gardening doesn’t mean I have a green thumb.  And then it happened, standing right there between the petunias and the purply flowers (whatever they are called).  God gently reminded me of a lesson or two He had taught me before and now needed to remind me.  Flower beds, like our faith and our prayer life, need attention.  It isn’t enough to plant the seed and let it go. The seeds and plants need to be nurtured.  They need to be inspected for leaves and flowers that are no longer productive.  My son would say they need to be “deadheaded” and have a haircut now and then. Anything that is hindering them from growth, like weeds, needs to be removed. They need a bit of food now and then to keep them healthy.

Our faith and our prayer life need to be exercised and nurtured.  It isn’t enough to say I have faith and then sit down and dwell on that fact.  It isn’t enough to pray a quick prayer now and then when I remember it.  We need to be intentional in our walk with God.  Speaking to me now, but you can listen if you want, I need to see what in my life is keeping my faith from growing.  Some things aren’t bad in and of themselves, but if they take away from  God’s plan for me, then they are bad for me. What in my life is hindering my prayers from being more regular, deeper, more intentional?  If I’m not growing, then I’m standing still, which is the same as going backwards.  Is busyness keeping me from time in the Word?  Are other interests taking up too much of my time, keeping me from putting my faith into action?

Well, I thank God for the nudges and reminders He gives us.  I believe it is time for me to get out my spiritual food and action plan (Bible) and see what else God has to say to me today.  It isn’t always comfortable when God has to dig around in my heart, especially when He has to use His pruning shears, but it is necessary as He makes me into the beautifully blooming, productive  and growing Child of God He wants me to become.  Something to think about, in a quiet moment.

Turning to gaze out the window one more time before I get busy reading God’s Word and pulling some spiritual weeds, I see the hummingbird perched and looking right at me.  It seems he might be smiling.  And you know, I’m convinced the flowers look just a wee bit brighter already.