Sunday, December 4, 2011

New room at Artmil

It isn't finished but very usable now since we got it painted and added rugs and furnishings. The bottom photo of Dennis between two pop-ups for Blue Mountain Station was staged in the room before he traveled to Dayton to speak to the Chamber of Commerce there on November 4th. Since these photos were taken, we've butted the carpets together.

Blue grass jam

One of the regular jammers had a birthday so invited everyone to come to Round Table Pizza in Pasco to eat, talk and jam. Arthur is pictured with his play buddy, Robert, while the other photo captures most of the jammers there that evening a few weeks ago.

More quilts


Micah Miller received the top quilt pictured here from me when I sent the second one to his brand new sister, Makayla. Micah and Makayla are the children of my nephew Ryan Miller and his wife Ale, stationed in sunny Florida. The third quilt in this post I made for Chloe Deter, expected to be born in January to Sarah and Matt Deter here in the Tri-Cities.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Memory filled quilt

Almost two years ago, I started collecting strip scraps to make a Log Cabin quilt, thinking it would be a baby quilt when done. When I finished it this fall, I realized there are memories connected with so many of the fabrics, I think I'll hold on to it. Here are some of the uses the fabrics were first bought for: a pillow for my Dad depicting his Covered Step brand, two dresses for me after Arthur was born that Mimi helped me chose fabric for, 4th of July prints she bought and gave me at that time that I used for her Sara's baby boy, Hanna's bridal quilt that Ellie and I made, the first dress Annie made, my blue and yellow era, fabric Ellie left me when she died, Grace Chavala's baby quilt.

Shasta promptly adopted it to sleep on but the rest of us here may all make use of it this winter to keep toasty when the cold winds blow.

The quilt that didn't work

Not everything turns out like you want it to. I still can't quite figure out which fabric(s) put it over the top, but it does not work. I was going for bright, not garish!! I like the pattern, I like all the fabrics but it just did not work together. I really don't want to rip it apart but I cannot think of a single use for it!

Family Room Reclaimed

We've had our PA system in the family room for about three years. Since we have a large room available at Artmil that we've just made into an auditorium, it was time to take the PA over there. Also, Dennis stripped the white paint off the mantel this summer. And we decided it was time to get Dennis set up with his desk and computer and music stuff in the family room. He had been using the red desk in the guest room. The whole reorganization is drawing to a close so it was time to take photos before we decorate for the holiday.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Nanny Quilt

Annie is a nanny to three young children in Manhattan. She reads to them books like All of a Kind Family and Wind in the Willows. When this quilt came together this summer, it seemed too floral for a baby boy and too brown for a baby girl. So I asked Annie if she would like it for their reading times which they enjoyed together this summer out on Long Island in Quogue.

Greta's Quilt

Greta was born to Heather and her husband and three boys in Phoenix on September 28. Heather is sister to Bethany, who is wife to Keith and mother to my grandchildren Evangeline and Keith Zebedee. Evangeline's baby quilt, made nearly four years ago, has some of the same fabrics and pastel feel that Greta's quilt has, a cousin connection.

Isaac's Quilt

A long story goes with this that I will shorten. Months ago, I put the center together and really liked it. Zach's good friend, Drew, was expecting his first child and is in the Navy. The center 16 patch block has Navy sailors as well as several of the same fabrics that Zach's son, Zion, has in his quilt. So, seeing how this was put together with Isaac in mind, there was no abandoning it even though it took three tries to find the right fabric for the border! Then, when I finally had it complete and Isaac already two months old!, I mailed it to the wrong address!! Thankfully, Drew and Joanna were able to retrieve it from their old landlord and Isaac is actually using it now, six months after I started it!

Summer's last hurrah

I found these dahlias and asters at the Farmer's Market and couldn't resist buying them. The frosts are due any night now.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Old Fashioned Recycling: Cotton Rags

Nowadays, there are products to purchase for every every possibility, occupation and hobby that would make the need for humble rags obsolete. But I still prefer cotton rags for their feel and their cost. They are an old-fashioned method of recycling that makes a lot of sense to me.

The most absorbent rags are made from worn out or stained towels, worn out cotton athletic socks and worn out or stained cotton t-shirts. Other cotton clothes like worn out flannel pajamas work too. Worn out cotton sheets have other uses, like becoming drop cloths for painting, but don't make very good rags.

To make sock rags, cut or rip socks open on the bottom where they are most worn so the unworn top surface becomes most available to use. For t-shirts, cut off and discard the sleeves, neck, hem and seams, then cut or tear the body into the size rags you want, usually 4 to 6 pieces. Also, cut off any screen printing so all the surfaces are soft and absorbent. Towel rags are nice cut into approximately the size of hand towels.

Keep rags handy in the kitchen, bathroom and shop. Sock and towel rags are very useful for all kinds of cleaning jobs, for spills and messes, and for any job that may stain, like wiping up muddy footsteps or cleaning food off little children's hands and faces. T-shirt rags are nearly lint-free so work great for applying furniture polish, etc. We use t-shirt rags to dry our eyeglasses each morning and sock rags to wash our cars. In all these cases, the rags are rinsed and hung in the laundry room to dry after use, then washed and dried each week along with our bath towels.

Rags are also unmatched for any job like waxing your car, painting, furniture refinishing or working on greasy machines where you will need to throw them away afterword.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Baked Sliced Apples

This is easy & quick and tastes as good as apple pie without all the calories!

Preheat oven to 350.
Wash, core and slice 3 apples into oblong glass cake or pie pan. (I leave the peels on.)
Sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar mix. (My mixture includes stevia to reduce sugar.)
Dot with small pieces of butter, about a tablespoon total.
Cover pan with foil, bake one half hour. Enjoy by itself or with a little yoghurt.

We've been having this dish sometimes with our breakfast on these cool fall mornings!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Unbelievably Good!

Visiting Zach and Kaley this week rewarded me with this superb recipe. Can't say enough about the flavor and texture! Much prep but worth worth it all. Great for company.

Cool & Crunchy Chicken Tacos for 6

12 hard yellow corn taco shells
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
3 tblsp lime juice, divided (1-2 limes worth)
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 cup mayo
2 tsp ground cumin
3 cups diced, grilled chicken breasts (16-18 oz uncooked)
1/2 small jicama cut in 1/4" strips
1 small mango cut in 1/4" strips
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp salt
1 avocado, peeled and sliced (optional)

1. Make sauce in medium mixing bowl by stirring 1 tblsp lime juice, mayo, lime zest and cumin together. Spoon approx 1/3 cup into resealable plastic bag; set aside. Add grilled chicken pieces to remaining sauce; mix well.

2. Combine jicama, mango, cilantro, salt and remaining lime juice in a mixing bowl; mix well.

3. Place lettuce into taco shells. Top evenly with chicken mixture, jicama mixture and avocado, if desired. Trim corner of sauce-filled bag; drizzle over tacos.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Seeing the Beatitudes in new light

At first, the Beatitudes just seemed impossible! They were diametrically opposed to everything I had learned about how to be successful in this life, beautiful words that just did not compute. Then, after I learned that Christ within me by his Holy Spirit is my Life and Goodness, I trusted that he was the only one able to fulfill and personify those impossible-to-me attributes so I didn't give them much thought. However, lately I am seeing them in a new light.

Our beloved pastor-through-his-written-sermons, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, has taught me that the Beatitudes and the whole Sermon on the Mount describe those who have been born again into God's Kingdom. Our Lord Jesus is giving us a window into how he lives in God while on earth and how we can as well when we have been born again by his Spirit. As citizens of this whole new way of life, we no longer conform to the pattern of this world, since the world's pattern is corrupt, thoroughly infused with the deceitfulness of vain, darkened sin. We have been delivered into his Kingdom of Light which has a whole new mindset, currency, etc.

Now in all my study over the years of what it means to live in the identity of Christ, never have I seen the Beatitudes included. In those identity in Christ lists, we are seated with Christ in heavenly places and we are the righteousness of Christ in God but never we are poor in spirit, mourning, meek or hungering and thirsting after righteousness. No, we have been saved, made holy, delivered, made righteous, victorious, and filled with his riches in those lists.

Now I have embraced all the truth in those lists and have benefitted greatly from the peace and joy living in these truths has engendered. However, several of my troubling sinful habits were not dealt with. I still compared myself with others, talked about others, judged others, criticized others, fought with others, found fault with others, was wounded by others and sought vengeance, etc. The Lord brought me to face all this sin and I was undone. I was ever seeing the mote in others while the beam was in me!

Now I am seeing that being delivered from sin is both once and for all, and ongoing. To be poor in spirit means to begin to see the depth of my sin so that never for a moment could I think myself better than another. This is an ongoing, continual process. Mourning is learning to hate my sin so I won't go back and wallow in it. (What an astounding, sobering revelation it was to realize that part of the horribleness of sin is that I like to do it!!) Meekness is knowing so well the deceitful nature of my sinfulness that I could never see another and think myself superior to them. Only then could I trust all to God and no longer need to stand up for myself to get vengeance. Only then could I hunger and thirst for his righteousness, to be filled anew with his grace daily. And only then could I be truly merciful as Jesus is. All this leads me to the purity of heart that allows me to see God in the sweet fellowship Jesus's has opened for me. And so on. It is an entirely new way of living life that is both utterly foreign to and greatly hated in the world system. It is the power of God, the love of God shown forth in complete contrast to the world's way of struggling to get on top.

I've known for a long time that living in the Kingdom of God was utterly removed from and foreign to the way of the world system, but this whole crucial core of truth was nearly absent from my concept. It is very sobering and humbling to begin to walk in this light but also welcome and freeing. Through resisting these horrid, sinful habits, I am beginning to walk in the perfect liberty in Christ to truly love others as he loves me. The Beatitudes reveal his nature that he has made possible for me to possess. Thus I am blessed and thereby bless others as I walk in this "more whole" identity of Christ.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Independence and fun for Arthur at Sacajawea

This weekend marks the fourth time we've attended the BlueGrass Festival and Dutch Oven Rendezvous held at the confluence point on the Columbia River where Lewis and Clark camped with Sacajawea so many moons ago. One of the bands remarked last night, it is the most beautiful location they play in, and they've played all over the Northwest.

Arthur enjoys the beauty of the place, as well as listening to the toe-tapping music, eating the tasty vendor food offerings, and until this year, camping. First thing he did when we got out of the car was start to collect twigs and small branches for a campfire. He was disappointed when Mom and Dad told him we would camp another time this summer but not this weekend, they being too frazzled from the pace of life to get it together.

However, soon Dad and Mom were rejoicing to see how secure and confident Arthur is in this park we've come to each year. We had volunteered to watch one of the gates for arm bands, so we set our chairs way over to the side of the audience. Arthur took his and joined the main audience, waving at us frequently.

For supper, he chose to eat at one of the picnic tables the festival sets up near the food vendors, behind the audience, while we held down our gate job. Soon Robert, the eight year old grandson of frequent jammer, Dennis Irby, delighted Arthur with his presence. (Arthur and Robert have become buddies at the jams, playing with Arthur's markers, watching his shows together and other antics.) Soon they were playing hide and seek under the picnic tables, until Robert brought out a center-less Frisbee. They played for hours, stopping for tickle wrestling occasionally. Dad joined in for a while too.

So, to say Arthur had a good time at the festival this year would be an understatement. Mom and Dad enjoyed relaxing in the fine weather, chatting with friends, listening to much music in the lovely setting. But the top of their time was Arthur's good time!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Arthur's trampoline gets fixed

Several weeks ago, when mowing the lawn, Dennis moved the trampoline as he always does. But this time during the move, one of the legs swung around away from its home in the the enclosure pole above it and was left, unknown to us, under the mat. Arthur went out to jump as usual, with guardian angels watching over him. The pole jutted through the fabric and he got off, unharmed. When I asked him he didn't jump the next day, he said "Hole," and showed me the spot. My heart sunk.

Thankfully, he hadn't been hurt. But it came at a busy, stressful time so nothing was done for several weeks. Last week Dennis found a place locally that said they could repair it. We unlaced the enclosure netting that had been such a bear to lace on, and Dennis detached the 80 springs from the mat. Arthur and I dropped it off on Monday at Final Touch Upholstery.

They called on Wednesday to say it was done! A large patch sewn underneath and lots of stretchy thread stitched over the hole on top, less than $20. To get it back on the frame, we couldn't locate the tool that came with the trampoline so Dennis contrived a hooked awl. But after the first 15 or 20 springs, it was getting impossible to pull the mat to the springs! Then he figured out a way to pull the springs hooked onto the mat over to the frame with the awl and we got all 80 reattached as the sun was sinking. I imagined me trying to do that all by myself and knew it just wouldn't have happened! We are very thankful for Dad's strength and ingenuity!

Arthur got on the trampoline and leaped high and strong, like he'd never had the 4-6 week break. His continual working out at the gym has made him so much stronger! We noticed that fact a few days ago as well when we played tennis with him. He is stronger and much more coordinated on the tennis court now, going for the ball, even back handing it.

It is very nice to have the trampoline fixed. I can even face lacing the enclosure down again!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

George goes to the vet

Yes, our three year old long-haired cat, George, has lost yet another life. I don't know how many he has left, but he has apparently made it through this scrape.

We noticed a scratch above his eye Tuesday morning that over the next few days grew so swollen his eye could barely open, plus the area was looking yucky. Dennis held a moist hot compress over it on Thursday evening whilst George murmured.

Friday morning, Arthur and I put George in the cat carrier and checked him in at Banfield Pet Hospital about 9:30 am. A busy schedule of surgeries and other pets to see left George in his carrier until after 5:00 pm. He was not happy and let everyone know loudly, which is out of character for George. The vet gave him a $56 shot of antibiotic and Dennis brought him home.

That evening when we got home from shopping, George greeted Arthur and me with an insulted look like, "How could you have done this to me?" and he did look worse for the wear, with his fur looking greasy from all those hours in that plastic cage. But Saturday morning the swelling was decreasing and he looked very grateful. Evidently, the scratch had gone through his eyelid!

Today marks a week since his injury and his eye is nearly fully open again. He is full of vim and vigor, and hopefully, a little wiser now! We don't know what creature scratched him, but he does and maybe he'll try to avoid more confrontations.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gina's baby quilt

Chris Beck has worked for us for 8 years. His brother Andy married Gina a few years ago. Chris and Andy's mother, Marian, has also worked for us for several years. Gina and Andy live in San Diego and are expecting a baby girl April 1st. So even though Andy and Gina are far away, their expected new baby feels like part of our work "family". This quilt top will gain a back and batting pronto, and ties of white crochet thread, to be ready for Marian and Ed to travel down to see their first grandchild. Someday we'll know the baby's name!

This quilt was made with 1930's reproduction prints in pastels I love. I made another similar to it in peach and green repro prints for another baby in our work "family". They are my first venture in decades into triangles in quilt-making.

Elli's Quilt

Inspired by the Amish "Diamond in the Square" quilt design, this square cotton baby quilt was made for Elli Rae Stromstad, due to arrive in May to her parents Jen and Caleb Stromstad who are living in Olympia, Washington. Jen is one of the 18 Miller cousins/grandchildren of Floyd and Joan Miller. I was delighted that Jen and Caleb decorated Elli's nursery in pink and green, long my favorite color combo.

Arthur's Accomplishments

For several months now I've been wanting to write down what Arthur has been accomplishing of late, but today I am compelled to put it off no longer. Today, he took a shower all by himself! I didn't tell him to do it, nor did I run the water to the right temperature as I always have done. He came out, all dressed, with towel-dried wet hair and said, "Ta da!" His arms felt cool, as if the water hadn't been too warm, but he was pleased and I exulted with him.

He's growing so strong from working out at the gym three times a week. Dennis gives him pretty free rein in there and Arthur has recently decided to become more competitive with his Dad. He's upped the weights on the machines from his old, no-challenge 20 lbs now to 60 lbs. He was always a good jumper on the trampoline in the back yard but lately his jump height has increased, as well as his endurance and just all around solidness. He was in heaven at the gym last night, his Dad having found a jogging cassette/earphone set at a yard sale so Arthur could listen to an old Donut Man cassette while he exercised. Dennis has an armband receiver with earphones that picks up the Fox TV network at the gym that had been the envy of Arthur for weeks now!

I am so thankful he is able to be with us all the time. In the mornings he takes care of himself while I do what I need to get done. He gets dressed, cleans his room, hangs up his pj's, makes his bed, brushes his teeth and washes his glasses, sometimes all by himself, sometimes with my asking him to. Then we work together on making granola or folding laundry or yard work, etc., or shop together or play basketball or take a walk together or make lunch. When he does work beyond his regular chores he gets paid and saves his dollars for DVD's or other things he wants to buy.

He gladly goes to work with me, where we eat the lunch together that we've brought to Dad. Then he sits at his desk all afternoon, just like his Dad. Occasionally, there is collating work for him to do in another room at work, which he earns money for. We come home and get ready for the gym together. I drive over and back while Dennis practices his mandolin and Arthur plays his ukelele. Home for supper, he helps with the meals and dishes often with prompts, sometimes without. He can make all the meal/snack items he likes though he prefers to set everything out in hopes I'll do it! He can open cans, microwave his nachos, grate cheese, slice bananas, pour out salsa from a giant container, etc.

He goes with us to bluegrass jams and cheerfully watches DVD's with head phones on his Dad's laptop in the same room with us. Sometimes another boy comes and watches the shows with him and makes long snakes of his markers.

Arthur plays drums with us sometimes, and sings into his mike, when we practice our songs at home. He sings, plays his guitars and prays with all of us in church, then draws with his markers while his Dad preaches. If Dad watches football or basketball on TV, Arthur watches too, down on the floor, acting out the plays with his set of rags, cheering when good plays are made. At night, before or after the ritual pajama game with Dad, we sit on the couch and Dad reads out of the Good and Evil book, a pictorial Bible. Then I brush his teeth thoroughly before bed.

This past weekend, while I was gone attending a baby shower, Dad and Arthur dug out a place up on the ledge between the tree and the shed for a small sandbox. Arthur took off his shirt to cool all his muscles while hauling up buckets of sand to fill the round plastic liner. They topped it with our old red sledding saucer to keep the cats out. When they were done, Dennis started teaching Arthur the basketball game Around the World.

Arthur asks for a girl sometimes, and we pray for a girl for him to talk to and play with when he does. He often introduces himself to others as "Peter", perhaps because Peter has the girl Wendy in his life! His drawing are at least half words these days, and the theme of Arthur/girl is often repeated. But over all, he is very content with his life. When he feels good and energetic, as he did on Sunday, he is "full of it" and loves to mimic. His speech was much more understandable than usual and more prolific. He also energetically terrorized the cats for a while!

The other day he signed in at the gym as "Arthur Freed", a name he'd found in a program. I think Arthur Freed was a Hollywood director of old, not sure exactly. But Arthur signing his name that way brought a chuckle to me! We are blessed by him and he is blessed with us and we all rejoice in his accomplishments.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

VCU Wins Again!

Three hours after their last win, I am surprised there is not more on the web already about this amazing phenomenon called the Virginia Commonwealth University's Men's Basketball team, coached by Shaka Smart! I confess, I doubted they could beat Kansas, though I certainly wanted them to win. However, they not only beat Kansas, they did it by 10 points and are now in the Final Four!

I attended VCU 40 years ago for one year. It is a small school so I was surprised to hear they were in the NCAA tournament, then thrilled to watch them beat Florida State a few days ago. I'd never heard of Shaka Smart, but I was super impressed by how his team played. They worked so hard, continually, without let-up. I wondered how a coach could get that kind of heart effort out of his players. They were obviously well-conditioned to be able to keep up the punishing pace of that Florida State game. But that factor did not explain why they had the will and skill to win that they unwaveringly exhibited.

However, when VCU played Kansas today, I was even more amazed and impressed with the team Shaka Smart coaches so well. I observed that they worked three times as hard for every basket as Kansas. Even so, and in spite of the fact that VCU held the lead the whole game, the commentators just kept talking about how good the Kansas players were! It was only in the last minute of the game when it became inevitable that VCU was going to win that they grudgingly admitted that fact.

The picture I will always carry in my mind's eye is the VCU bench players linked arm in arm, smiling, poised ready to leap into the air during that last minute. Whatever did that Shaka Smart do to produce that amount of camaraderie among his team members? However did he motivate them to work that hard and smart, and care for one another that much? "It's amazing what a team can accomplish when nobody cares about who gets the credit," says Smart. "Our guys have played with that in mind these last couple weeks." Confident, relentless effort, selflessly assisting one another, constant attention to executing the game plan given them by their coach, and they are in the Final Four.

My words do not do their performance justice nor have I uncovered Shaka Smart's secrets. A small group of rather undistinguished athletes from a lack-luster school have accomplished an astounding feat under the tutelage of a young coach. I want to learn all the lessons I can here!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tiger Mother, Marshmallow Mama or ....

A recently published book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, has given me pause to reflect on parenting philosophy since I read the NYT review and the Time article about Amy Chua's book. Her slogan behind her 'tiger mother' methodology is: "Nothing is fun until you are good at it."

Her methods are extreme but I must admit I held many of her goals and attitudes when our children were younger. I wanted them to excel so badly since I felt that was vitally important to their futures, tried to give them every advantage that our modestly funded Christian home school could afford and used plenty of anger manipulation upon them toward accomplishing these goals. However, at least three factors intervened.

First, I realized anger manipulation has all sorts of bad side effects. Then, over many years, I came to know God in a way that made knowing him and becoming like him much more important than excelling in the world system. Along the way, I realized that I was living through my children, wanting them to do all the hard, big things I'd never had courage to do.

I phased into a 'no opinion' marshmallow mama of sorts. I never had been a totally thorough tiger mother, and so conversion to marshmallow mama wasn't utterly complete either. But I did became less angry, driven, demanding and critical, more accepting, smiling and kind. My husband and I began to embrace our motto hammered out through the trials of life: "Anything worth doing is worth doing imperfectly." That includes parenting. Such an attitude drives tiger mother types crazy, but it has brought sanity to our lives.

Now, four of our children are out of our nest. I am still learning how to be a mother with our fifth. I am taking baby steps in learning how to do hard things. What is my label these days? Under construction. I still agree with Amy Chua that nothing is fun until you are good at it. I am slowly getting better at mothering and all of life with God's help.

My husband pointed out something very true about the effects of tiger mothering. Children raised stoically to be able to do hard things do excel in the world system. But that combination of stoic and success often makes it harder for them to see their need of God, to see their sinful, naked state apart from him. So my "failure" as a tiger mother, in that light, is comforting. It is good for me now to be learning how to do hard things under the tutelage of the Lord. That kind of success does not lead to pride and sets a good example for my children. How patient and faithful is God!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Arthur turns 16!

Arthur had cousins Will, Grace and Claire and Aunt Jeanette over to help him celebrate turning 16 on March 1st. I couldn't figure out how to post the photos in the order they occurred, but a good time was had by all!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Warrior is a Child

The Warrior is a Child is the name of a song by Twila Paris. Those words are very true. As Christians living in a world of sin, we are warriors in the continual spiritual battle we face until our Lord Jesus Christ returns in his Day of the Lord to judge those not found in him and to make us his Bride. But, we are also children, his children, right here and now. Warrior children.

I am old enough to remember a time in the church when songs like "Farther Along", "Where Could I Go But to the Lord?","This World is Not My Home", "I've Got a Mansion Just Over the Hilltop" and "I'd Rather Have Jesus" were sung with conviction and the singers found comfort in the words of those songs. Then, simultaneously, the increasing prosperity of our nation combined with the decreasing belief in the supernatural world and all those songs became passe, even wrong. They were called, "pie in the sky by and by" because, the new way said, we could have it all right here and now! We could have peace and prosperity and health right here in this world, they said. You just have to think positive because the devil was defeated by Jesus on the Cross and the Lord wants you to prosper: such was the new way to think and live as a Christian. Heaven even started to look pretty boring.

I tried to live in that fantasy for many years, and you know what? It is exhausting! Any time anything went wrong or got hard or uncomfortable, I would think I had done something wrong. Everything became man-centered and God was somewhere on the periphery, maybe. Reality became something to avoid.

But the truth is, this world is not basically good. It is fallen and people living in it are sin-filled, controlled by the father of lies, Satan. I should not be amazed when things go wrong! It does not mean that Jesus did not defeat the devil on the cross or that God does not want me to prosper in the wealth I possess in Christ. But he says, "You will have trouble." He says, "If they hated me, they will hate you." The Apostle Paul's life was not a bed of comfort! It is hard to imagine anyone having a harder life, yet his faith in Christ is unsurpassed as far as I know. He says he knows how to be abased as well as how to abound. I've spent my life running from anything that resembled being abased! But no more.

These days I am happily singing those old songs, for they are true. The "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" and the "Man of Constant Sorrow" do have "a home in gloryland that outshines the sun" where there will be no more sadness or sorrow or sickness or sin. For now, the warrior is a child, singing as she goes!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Little Children

"Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever shall humble himself as a little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3

"Suffer the little children and forbid them not for such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." Mark 10:14,15

Our Lord is asking us to enter his kingdom as a little child, not as a mature adult. Mature adults know the ropes and can do lots of things well without thinking. A little child is filled with the wonder of discovery, attempting to imitate, without regards to perfection, what they see the big people around them doing. They make lots of mistakes and need much correction. In the same manner we come to know who God is and how he desires us to live in the new kingdom he has given us birth into. He knows we don't inherently know all of his ways well but he is delighted we chose to embrace his adoption into his family. He trains us very patiently, helping us at every step, sometimes allowing us to let us fall or fail. Our growth in faith in him is his goal. He is very interested in our becoming like him but he is not crushed or disappointed in us when we err for he knows we are clay.

"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby." 1 Peter 2:1 He gives us everything we need for life and godliness, including his word of Truth, which changes our old, deceived ways of thinking into his mind of Christ, full of Light, in a lifelong process called sanctification. If we start thinking we should be able to become like an adult, 'getting down' this being able to be like him, knowing the ropes and able to live holy without continual dependence upon him, then we haven't understood the nature of our new birth and have forgotten the depths of sinfulness from which we have been rescued. Continued humility as his child, content in his hands and in dwelt by his presence, begins from knowing the utter darkness of the vain life he rescued us from. He did not redeem us to live in the same manner as adults do in our fallen world.

The unspoken, ingrained motto of a little child is, "Anything worth doing is worth doing imperfectly." They want to find out about everything around them and care not at all about their skill level. When a child starts to value being right or looking all together more than exploring or experimenting in the world around them, their ability to learn begins to diminish. God never wants us to stop learning about the unsearchable riches he has bestowed on us in Christ! He is the one who changes us from the inside out. He is the one who makes us able to obey and learn his ways. He is the transformer.

God never desired that Adam and Eve would know the difference between good and evil. That is why he forbade them to eat of that tree. Little children do not trust in their ability to be good; they trust in their parents! Until a certain age, little ones are not aware they are their own separate person but rather see themselves as an extension of their mother. It is not that God doesn't want us to grow and mature in him and be a fruitful ambassador of his kingdom. Of course he desires that and makes it possible by his Spirit dwelling within us. However, he never wants us to trust anyone but him. He never wants us to trust in our own ability to be good, for apart from him, we have none. He is in us and we are in him and he is our Goodness.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Just now, Arthur and I went out for a few minutes of basketball. We haven't been able to do it much lately due to weather, but it is a cloudy 52 today. My first shot went in, nothing but net. Arthur and I ran down the drive dribbling and back a few times and kept shooting baskets. In the next few minutes, in between missed baskets and some off the back board or rim, I made five swishers!

Why is this so astounding? Because just a few months ago I could barely make a basket! My strength had diminished so much I couldn't correct my shot for it. I could still hit the backboard, but hardly ever make a shot. Swishers were fond memories from high school, when I could make them from half court.

So today I am very thankful to be getting strong enough to be able to put the ball where I aim it! Praise the Lord! Arthur has a more energetic playmate now, which makes him happy too.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Truth and Wisdom

Even though Jesus says he is the Way, the Truth and the Life, when I used to read that verse (John 14:6), I would automatically think it meant: Jesus shows me the Way, helps me understand principles of Truth and gives me eternal Life.

Then, around 10 years ago, Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God taught me that Truth is a Person, that Jesus himself is Truth. This started a revolution in my thinking. I went from trying to follow or imitate Jesus to embracing what he has done in me when he made me new. His very nature of Truth has been written into the DNA of the new creation he has made me. Formerly, as a fallen, sin-bound child of wrath I did not have truth written in my inward parts. I had, rather, the deception and deceit that is the nature of my former father, Satan. This sin nature of deceit is why I could always spot flaws in others but always excuse them in myself.

But now that I have his nature of Truth written upon my new heart, I am aware of both my inherent sinfulness and of his complete redemption of me from the power of sin. Even while I learn to walk in the power of his Spirit, bringing him glory by doing what he shows me to do by his power, I am increasingly aware of my natural, fleshly proclivity to deceit and sin. I have his power now to resist putting others down while excusing myself, but the temptation to do so will be with me until I receive a new, incorruptible body in Glory. So, the very Spirit of Truth that lives within me and makes me able to live in his supernatural power is also a mirror that reveals to me who I am apart from my Redeemer. This is very humbling. I am not even tempted to take any credit for anything good done through me, for all that is good is of him! When I choose sinful disobedience, I can sin really well, but that is certainly nothing to be proud of! I am so thankful that even when I temporarily revert to the old, familiar, deceitful ways, he patiently and kindly brings me back around to abiding in him, as a parent does their child. He is Truth, and He is mine and I am his.

He is so much more as well. I think of all his names given in his Word. He is my Way, my Life, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Righteousness, etc. in the same way he is my Truth. However, it took another Henry, Henry Morris, to help me realize that Christ himself resides in his Wisdom.

I ask God for wisdom all the time. Debi Pearl clued me in on this in her book, Created to Be His Help Meet. She taught me that if I want to be a help meet in God's image, I'll need constant infusions of his wisdom. He says I can pray for wisdom and he will give it liberally. (Note: apart from Christ, we are all very foolish. A fool thinks, in his deceived mind, that there is no God, that he can act apart from God to do what he thinks is right.) However, once again, I was praying for wisdom like I used to think of Truth, seeing it as principles. I was thinking, "He will show me what to do in this situation." While he always does show me what to wisely do in the same way he shows me what is true, I discovered there is so much more!

I was reading the first seven chapters of Proverbs, which is about seeking wisdom, in the Defender's Study Bible, with notes by Henry Morris. His note on Proverbs 3:19: 'The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.', reads: 'Since Christ was the one by whom God founded the earth (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16), this verse makes it clear that in Proverbs, "wisdom" is actually personified and identified with Christ.'

I realized that when I am praying for wisdom, I am asking for Wisdom, who is Jesus! He replaces my natural folly with himself, who is Wisdom, just as he replaces my natural deceit with himself, who is Truth. Talk about a personal relationship! I'm beginning to understand what Paul means when he says, "My life is hid in Christ."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dili Tuna Salad, a gourmet discovery!

So how can tuna salad be considered gourmet? Here is what I discovered today!

Growing up, I always liked tuna salad. We made it with tuna, sweet pickle relish and mayo. I still enjoy the convenience of canned tuna for a quick, protein-rich lunch, but the sweet pickle relishes are all laden with high fructose corn syrup these days and mayo doesn't have much at all to recommend it except nice creamy texture and great flavor.

So today, I opened some tuna and remembered what one daughter-in-law does to make it more palatable for her: she adds the freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon. Then I remembered that mayo is mostly oil and vinegar, and lemon juice is a great sub for vinegar! Which led me next to recall the bottle of gourmet olive oil my other daughter-in-law gave me when I realized could combine the lemon juice and olive oil for a healthy mayo sub! I had already been dealing with the sweet relish problem by mincing dill pickles from the health food store (made without nasty chemicals) and adding a packet of stevia.

So here is what I mixed up today and it was do-it-again-delicious! Serves 4-6

Dili (Daughter-in-laws-inspired) Tuna Salad

3 cans tuna, drained well, flaked into bowl
about 1/2 cup minced onion
about 1/2 cup minced dill pickles
1 packet stevia
juice of 1/2 lemon
scant 1/4 cup cold pressed extra virgin very fresh olive oil
2 tablespoons mayo (I will try it without any mayo next time!)
good dash each: salt, pepper, lemon pepper

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Belonging to His Name

"That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and you in him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 1:12

No one ever really belongs to their self. But before the light of truth dawned, before new birth into God's Kingdom, before I became God's child, I thought I was in control of myself-- I believed that lie. In truth, I was an utter slave of Satan, bound to do his will. In the spiritual realm, my name was Chris of Satan, or Chris d'Evil.

Now that I am born again, this time into the family of God, I am under God's authority. He has given me his Name. He has made me Chris of God, or Chris d'Christ. Because my flesh is not yet redeemed, I can still slip into believing that old lie that I am in control of myself. But the truth is my soul is bound forever to Him who both created and then redeemed me from my former cruel master. Christ's authority over me also gives me grace and power to do the works he ordained for me to do before I was ever born, my purpose. I am able to obey him and walk in these good works that bring him glory when I remember I don't belong to myself, but to him who gave me his Name!