Monday, May 29, 2006

Sometimes Good Things Must Go

Two years ago I planted a couple of grape tomato plants in my garden. Big mistake! While I was thrilled at first to see them thriving, it wasn't long before I began to resent their invasive takeover of my garden space. It seemed everywhere I looked, grape tomatoes were entwining themselves around and choking out my other plants. Oodles of little red bulbs overflowed onto the paths between the beds and were promptly squished beneath my feet. Never again, I vowed, as I tore them out at season's end.

But last spring, I noticed little tomato sprouts popping up all over my garden. Having a tender love for all things green, I could hardly bring myself to pull them out. And so we had a sequel: Invasion of the Grape Tomatoes II. Needless to say, I've learned my lesson. This morning as I worked in my garden, I ruthlessly uprooted the devilish little buggers right along with the weeds.

As I worked, I couldn't help but feel God speaking to me. It's so easy for me to clutter my life with good things. Good things that somehow manage to choke out the best things. I find it very easy to relate to Martha of Bethany when Jesus had to gently rebuke her in the midst of her frustrating dinner preparations. No one can deny that she was involved in a worthy cause and important tasks, but somehow she missed that "better thing" - time with God. (Luke 10:38-42)

I'm not sure exactly what this means for me right now but I have a pretty good idea that I need to reevaluate some areas of my life. I'm sure there are lots of good things that are crowding out the best things.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

New Digs (Part 2)

As promised, this is a continuation of yesterday's post. I have a bad habit of starting posts and saving them as drafts but yesterday I got this bright idea of putting out a little tease for readers of this blog.

So, about this new joint I've found. Well, if you read carefully, you'll notice I did not say I found a new house. Nor did I say Mike and I are moving. Just me. Bad news? No, not exactly, because I think this has to be an individual thing.

See, this year for some reason has been one of those toughies. I've kind of been living in the pits, something I'm sure anyone can relate to from time to time. But I haven't just hit a bump in the road; I've been choosing to camp out in that pothole.

Anyways, I woke up the other morning and said, "Enough of this! God, I can't live this way anymore!" I've been reading in Nehemiah but decided to head for the Psalms that morning - to one of my favorites, Psalm 91. It begins,
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." I've read that chapter umpteen times through out my life, even memorized most of it in college. But for the first time the other day it hit me - I need to move. I need to dwell in the presence of the Lord. I need to abide in him daily. It seemed everywhere I turned that day, there was that thought - on the little devotional calendar Mike and I read that morning, in the worship songs I listened to on the way to work, even as the theme verse of another blog I've been reading (Psalm 84).

So that's my big move - just a decision to make God's presence my dwelling place. I read a good thought the other day - one of those sayings printed on the paper towel roll, of all places. "I can't change the direction of the wind but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination."

I hope I haven't disappointed anyone but I think you'll agree with me this place is a much better location than any I could ever find in the homes magazine and hey - no mortgage!

New Digs!

Nope, I'm not moving my blog or anything. I'm moving, I think. I found a place that is exactly what I've been looking for. My husband and I often pick up the bi-weekly homes magazine and scan it for the perfect house. I think the hardest thing about looking for a new place is not knowing what it is you need. That has to be the starting point: do you know what are you looking for? But I think I've finally defined what I need in a dwelling place:

Peace (and quiet)
Space to live clutter-free

More on this later; I'll try to post a picture if I can find one.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Drop It!

"Drop it!" That utterance usually works like a charm, causing my little Boston Terrier, MacGyver, to drop whatever he's got his mighty jaws clamped onto. Unless it's a really cool toy, perfectly slimed, that he's just not willing to part with quite yet. Then we begin the games. "Look Gyvers - a treat!" (No response.) Raised voices: "GYVERS - now!" (Nothing but two big sad eyes staring up at us!) Finally the ultimate psyche out. "Let's go outside!" Like magic, he drops the toy and heads for the door. Okay great, but now we actually have to take him out, so he knows we always mean what we say. (See I'm thinking all this dog psychology would actually be useful with children someday!)

My friend told me today that over the weekend they had to resort to the shock collar to get their dog to release the dead bird he was toting around in his mouth! Ugh!

On Sunday, our pastor preached from Philippians 1:12-30, the third in a series. This one was entitled "Welcome to a Life of Freedom." One of his points was that Paul was free because he refulsed to carry around to the baggage of resentment and bitterness.

Wow - that really hit home with me. What am I holding on to? The things I hold onto are not exactly beautiful things that enhance my life. I'm not in a place where God is asking me to lay aside comfort and convenience to serve him. No, he's inviting me to give up the ugly things that weigh me down. He offers me a life of peace and rest in exchange for my frustration and despondency, but sometimes I feel like my little dog. I've got my heart so firmly entwined around my own issues that I just can't let go. I'm hanging on for dear life! I know, it's really up to me. I want that life of freedom and victory - I really do. I just need to "drop it!"

Thursday, May 18, 2006

It's Good to Know: 5 Things You Might Not Know You Can Do on Google

1. Enter "define" in the Google search box, then a colon, then a space, and then the word or expression you want defined. (This really works - goodbye!)

2. Find out what Google thinks about just about anything or anyone (including you) at (Unfortunately Google does not know much about me yet - or so it says. Probably a good thing!)

3. Enter an airplane's tail number in the Google search box to find out the plane's service history. (Yeah, I was awake all night wondering about this!)

4. Red Sox or Yankees? Heaven or hell? Pen or sword? Which one gets more Google hits? Find out this and much more at (Huh?)

5. Enter a few key ingredients to get many recipes. (Yep - this really works - pretty cool!)

(Source: David Hochman in The New York Times)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tip of the Day

At the suggestion of IslandSparrow below, I have linked this tip to "Works for Me Weds" at Shannon's Rocks in My Dryer blog.

I don't have a lot of time to spend cooking, yet I enjoy making good meals. I started buying and cooking a whole bag of boneless chicken breasts and three pounds of ground turkey as soon as I bring it home from the store. I usually dice the chicken first, or at least cut it in strips. After the turkey is browned, I put it in a colander in the sink and run HOT water over it. That helps remove any last little bits of grease. Then I freeze in 1 quart bags pressed flat, just enough for a meal for the two of us. The turkey comes in handy for tacos, spaghetti sauce and stroganoff. The chicken usually finds it's way into a stir fry, or I use it for chicken salad sandwiches nice to have on hand when someone drops in. I get about 10 meals for my hour of effort!

This has been the best time-saving tip for me; hopefully it will be a help to someone else. Have a super day!

Friday, May 12, 2006

CopyKat Post

Katrina over at Callapidder Days has a sweet post listing some things she appreciates about her husband and son. It made me stop and take some time appreciating my hubby. So here's my Terrific Ten (since this is the tenth year we've known each other):

  1. He's a man of integrity.
  2. He's honest and genuine, in a "what you see is what you get" sort of way. I knew he was the man for me when he told me on our 2nd date that he just knew I was the one for him!
  3. When he puts his mind to something, there's no stopping him.
  4. He's kind and gentle.
  5. He's very tenderhearted towards others.
  6. He's a very devoted to his parents, and family is important to him.
  7. He's intelligent, in a practical way (unlike me, i.e. "book girl" who has all sorts of useless info floating around in my brain!)
  8. What's important to me is important to him.
  9. He looks after me (very important to a girl in the habit of losing her purse, car keys, etc.!)
  10. He loves me and reminds me of that fact daily.

Thanks, Katrina, for this exercise in gratitude today.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Okay, So I'm Crazy!

DISCLAIMER: My dear friend at work took this quiz too, and it returned some really bizarre results, basically implying sexual perversion. I haven't seen any such results by anyone else that's taken it, but if your results are likewise negative, my apologies and my advice: pick your own book :)

I took the book quiz . . . huh? Okay, I never read this book - is it one I should? Strangely enough, there's a bit of truth to these results, and that I find scary! Mainly the part about acting like nothing's wrong. I have no complaints about the company I keep. I think I'm going to take this quiz again until it comes up with a character I like!

You're Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Your life seems utterly bland and normal to the casual observer, but inside you are churning with a million tensions and worries. The company you surround yourself with may be shallow, but their effects upon your reality are tremendously deep. To stay above water, you must try to act like nothing's wrong, but you know that the truth is catching up with you. You're not crazy, you're just a little unwell. But no doctor can help you now.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Everyone Has a Story

. . . but does every story need to be told?

That's the question lingering in my mind after I finished reading a very difficult book. I say "finished," but actually I barely skimmed through the last hundred pages. Just enough to learn the main character's faithful loving husband committed suicide in the end. The story was based on a real person's life, set during an interesting period in American history, but even that wasn't enough to keep me (a history freak) hooked.

So what do you think . . . does every story deserve to be told? I guess it's just a matter of differing opinions; I'm sure there are some who'd have been captivated by this story.

That said, several months ago, I decided I didn't have to finish every book I start. Well, typically that's the case with most non-fiction books I read - I get within 2-3 chapters of finishing and something distracts me, causing me to put it down and forget to pick it up. Used to be I'd never let a novel go unfinished but something in my just said why should I waste my time if a book doesn't really satisfy? I don't need perfect, all-loose-ends-tied-up stories but if something's missing - strong characters, engaging plot line, etc. - it's time to move on.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Diner

Every since we first bought our home, I've insisted on having bird feeders around the house. I grew up in the country, and love being surrounded by the wonders of nature. I enjoy the predictability of their morning wake up calls, especially on Saturday mornings when my husband would rather sleep! Thanks to them, I don't need an alarm to ensure I'm up early.

Unfortunately, I fail to keep the feeders full with the same predictability the birds offer me. My husband and I have a standing joke about "the diner." We imagine a conversation between the birds something like this:

"I don't know, dear. Where do you want to eat?"

"Well, there's that little diner on Main Boulevard that's always nice."

"True, but half the time they're out of food. So unpredictable. Let's go down the street to Susie's instead."

I'm committed to renewed faithfulness this year in keeping the feeders full. It doesn't take much really, just a little bit of my time on a consistent basis.

Likewise, I've been reminded that God wants me ready with good things to offer the people I come in contact with on a daily basis. A positive word, a promise of prayer, a smile or word of encouragement; whether on this blog, in my home, at work or elsewhere - I want to have that "word fitly spoken" to share with those who cross my path. It doesn't take much, just a little bit of effort on my part to share freely as God has given to me.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What I'm Learning from Weightwatchers

1. I need a lot less to eat than I realized.
2. I forgot how much I like fruits and vegetables.
3. It's easier to fix healthy food than I imagined. I can fix a couple grilled chicken breasts or fish fillets, some steamed vegetables and a salad in about 15 minutes.
4. When I'm eating healthier, so is my husband.
5. Eating healthy is actually saving us money. A container of old-fashioned oatmeal has lasted us two weeks now; about $3.50 for that many breakfasts versus the usual 3 boxes of cereal per week at $3.00 a box.
6. The key is a little bit of planning and preparation. I am spending thirty to forty minutes one evening spent cutting up fresh vegetables that last me most of the week.
7. I'm amazed at the amount of salt and sugar in processed foods. My husband pointed this out to me when I was in a lazy habit of throwing a can of chunky soup in his cooler for lunch. Wow - most of them had upwards of 700 mg. sodium! No wonder the poor guy had high blood pressure!
8. Only buy enough fresh fruits and vegetables to last the week. Same goes for bread.
9. The worst thing I can do is reward myself with food. I still like the occasional treat but I don't view it as something I deserve anymore.
10. I feel much better when I'm drinking good amounts of water and cutting off the snacking after 8:00 p.m.
11. I'm enjoying my new wardrobe that I dug out of storage!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Dress Code Guidelines

Lots of talk about proper and modest dress comes on the heels of springtime, not without necessity. The big ruckus at work yesterday was the new summer dress guideliness, with special attention given to the length of women's pants and skirts! I found it kind of amusing. I'm not too concerned about my own wardrobe, as I've never been one to follow popular fashion. I'll continue to wear the same khakis that have stood me in good stead these last 10 years. (The style, I mean - not the same pair of pants!)

I know that, while clothes don't define me, nevertheless they do reflect what I'm about. But what I haven't been considering is my spiritual apparel. Last night I was reading Stormie Omartian's book, The Prayer that Changes Everything, about the importance of praising God. She mentioned a phrase from Isaiah, "the garment of praise" which is also the title of a song on a favorite worship CD by Robin Mark called Revival in Belfast. I looked up the verse this morning in Isaiah 61:3 ". . . to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that he may be glorified."

I realized God has his own standard of dress for me. He wants me dressed in his finest, and that includes exchanging a spirit of heaviness and negativity for a garment of praise. The wonderful thing is I don't need to go shopping for this heavenly apparel; neither will there be any need to return it for lack of proper fit. I won't grow out of it, nor will it wear out.

The choice is mine each new day. Will I don the ragged, worn out spirit of heaviness or will I cloth myself in the praise of my wonderful God?

Garments Of Praise

by Jamie Harvill
Put on the garments of praise
For the spirit of heaviness
Let the oil of gladness flow down
From Your throne

Put on the garments of praise
For the spirit of heaviness
Your joy is my strength alone
My strength alone

Make these broken weary bones
Rise to dance again
Wet this dry and thirsty land
With a river
Lord our eyes are fixed on You
We are waiting
For Your garland of grace
As we praise Your name

(Repeat chorus & verse)

Sing hallelujah
We give all honor and praise
To your name

Sing hallelujah
We trade our sorrows
For garments of praise