If you have followed this blog for very long, you know that not only did I grow up on an old-fashioned farm with chickens, cows, horses, ducks, geese, pigs, dogs and numerous barn cats, I also have no regrets for being an old-fashioned farm girl.  I should be over 100 years old because I also attended school at a one-room schoolhouse with eight grades in the same room and one teacher.

In the school yard our playground equipment was two teeter totters, as we called them, two swings, a woodshed over which we played “Annie Annie Over” and behind the woodshed was a softball field.   Oh, and for descriptive purposes, in each corner of the yard stood an outhouse. We had a common water bucket and common water dipper from which we all drank.  That’s why we all had the chicken pox at the same time!

All of that aside, when our enrollment dwindled to 13 students, the county closed our school and I now had to get on a big yellow school bus and ride for about an hour through the countryside on our way to the large school in town.  That is where I first played tether ball. Although I have always been height challenged, for some reason, I was a fairly good player.  That ball could fly no further than the rope allowed it to fly.  When the rope was wrapped around the pole, the game was over, and we started all over again.

Oh, that our hearts, my heart, might be tethered closely to Jesus and His Word that we will never fly outside of his will.  We are always in His sight; it is we who tend to walk away from the court and play other games.  Let us ask Jesus to tether our hearts to His.

The Chicken Pox Panic (book review)

The Chicken Pox Panic by Beverly Lewis, Copyright 1993, and published by Bethany House Publishers in Minneapolis, MN has been around for a while.  I knew about the series because I worked in a Christian bookstore for a few years.  Most bookstores sell the book for the age level of 7-8 years old.

This is book two in a series of 22 books about the adventures of children who all live on the same cul de sac called Blossom Hill Lane.  In fact, the front of the book gives a map of the houses on the cul de sac.  The children all seem to be elementary age so they relate well to young readers.

The author deals with the issue of adoption in a very positive way in this book.  Divorce is an issue that Lewis also deals with in a sensitive way but does deal with the mixture of emotions that children face in a realistic way. There is no anger, but there is disappointment.

This is a chapter book with 11 chapters spread over 60 pages.  The font is a nice size for young readers and the pictures are black and white but few in number.  The plot is a birthday party that goes through the stumbles of setbacks due to chicken pox on Blossom Hill Lane.  The sub plot deals with the little girl who is worried about being adopted.

If you have a young reader in your home that is just now ready for a chapter book, this will be a good start.  It appeals to both boys and girls.  I recommend it for families who want to keep family values intact.

Why did I read it?  I took a test run before handing it off to my own granddaughter.  She loves to read and is wearing out her family with level two and level three books.  This will slow her down when the book is 60 pages—maybe.


Is There Not a Cause?

2004 is not all that long ago. I recall the manufactured “scandal” by Dan Rather and CBS over George W. Bush’s military records. That broke in September before his re-election to a second term. These major networks, for some reason are in the pockets of the Democrats. I suppose it is the work of Satan to strike down any good work that people can accomplish in America, don’t you think? That is why today I ask the same question that David asked in I Samuel 17:29.  The cause today is that same as it was then:  to prove that there is a God who who need the glory for victories. It is God’s name that needs to be upheld.

When Milton penned “Paradise Lost” he poetically but firmly relates the idea that Satan targets those whom God loves the most, His children and the holiness they can create by living righteously in the world. Put on your armor today because we are in spiritual warfare and you must never take it for granted that we have guaranteed freedoms outside of the Word of God. Yes, we have a Constitution for which we can battle and we should be battling for it. However, it is my strong opinion that as we battle for the Constitution outside of the parameters of desire to bring glory to God’s might, we are amiss.

When David stood before Goliath, it was not for David’s glory, it is was the Lord’s name to be magnified. In I Samuel 17:45-46 we find the recorded words of David to Goliath and he ends his statement with “that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” I challenge you to keep that in mind as you pray for America. Do we just want things better for ourselves, or do we want all the earth to know that God still reigns?



Chasing Away the Darkness

I have been slowly working my way through Philippians in a weekly Bible study group.  The more and longer I think about it, possibly the most significant portion in Philippians is chapter 2, verses 14-17. I am aware that most teachers would favor the earlier verses in the same chapter where we see the humility of Christ.  It is important to be sure, however, in light of our daily drudge through life on this planet, the tall command is verse 14.

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings.  I first noticed that murmuring is in the plural as well as disputing.  Multiple murmuring is getting to the dangerous mark.  Disputing indicates that the undertones of grumbling have now become vocal.  Also notice that it is not a command of choice.  That is, sometimes it is necessary and sometimes it is not necessary.  Whoa!  All and every has the same Greek word.  For emphasis, I’d say, “Do all or every task without murmurings (under your breath,) and disputings (vocal complaint)

The following verses explain the results of living above the reproach of complaint whether it be inward rebellion or outward explosion!  Paul exhorts Believers in Philippi to live harmless and without rebuke.  They can do this only if they live without murmurings and disputings.  When I painstakingly diagramed these verses, which are all one sentence, the words kept retuning to the initial independent thought:  no murmurings, no disputings.  The reason is that they live in a crooked and perverse world.  In that world of dark sin, Paul tells them that if they can live above wickedness, they will be as lights.  To quote him exactly, it is “. . .among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”

Lights.  Plural.  Individual lights can be multiplied.  To illustrate this I took a small flashlight to the study.  (Fire laws prohibit me from using a match which would have worked better.) I carry a small pen light in my car for emergency use.  It doesn’t shine far but it will light the immediate darkness.  It can find a keyhole.  Now vision this:  the battery is dead.  For lack of power, the light cannot shine.  For lack of a disciplined life, the light is rendered useless.

If we are going to shine, let’s stop the murmurings and disputings.  When we follow the associated commands of Romans 12 we will be enabled to shine right where we are in our home, in our neighborhood, in our church, in our community.

Shine fellow Believer.  Together our lights multiply and chase away the darkness of sin that seems so prevalent.  To shine, we must be empowered.  Check that battery!

The Prodigal Identity

What exactly is a prodigal?  Well, when one wants to know how to use a word, the first place we usually look is in the dictionary.  The Webster, 1913 edition, which I personally like, tells us that the definition is a person who is extravagant in a careless way. It goes on to describe the prodigal as a person who is wasteful and not frugal.  The prodigal spends on that which is not necessary.

I’ve been thinking about the term, prodigal child now for several days.  In Luke 15 there is a model of a prodigal son who demanded his inheritance before the death of his father, and then spent the money foolishly on careless living.  It is in this context that Believers tend to describe a person as being prodigal. A wayward child is often branded as a prodigal.

Books have been written on the subject and I suspect that Christian counseling centers deal with this issue more frequently than we suspect.  My question is this:  must a child leave home to become a prodigal?  Since the brand seems to indicate money and careless living, I would guess that the child does not need to leave home.  In fact, a prodigal does not need a fat bank account either.

Children who live carelessly in the home are on the way to becoming prodigal and yet exhibiting a nature that is fairly obedient.  Most of the time the child is consistent with family policy.  Inwardly, however, the child is in constant battle with submitting to authority.  Kindness does not prevail.  Sloth overtakes them when the alarm clock sounds in the morning. A clean room? Never.  These are just a few symptoms.

I know this.  I was one of them.  Selfishness and pride kept me from peace and contentment.  But, I never left home with outward bad feelings about my parents.  I did not spend money lavishly; in fact, I was frugal almost to a fault.  I never talked back or argued. If my parents saw this inner rebellion, they did not address it. I had a quiet spirit but it was sullen. Slowly God worked His loving kindness on me and oh so slowly one by one my fingers were pried off of myself to see the needs of others.  Philippians 1:21 played a part.  “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  Physical death has no fright for me but living apart from the power of the gospel is terrifying!

All I have to do to identify a prodigal is to look in the mirror.

Don’t let pride keep you from looking. Romans 12 will answer your introspection.

We Never Know

Recently I wrote on the numbering of our days.  Only God, our Father, knows when we will draw our last breath.  A wise former pastor of mine told us in youth group (yes, fifty years ago or more) that we should be ready to “pray, preach or die at a moment’s notice.”  It stuck with me and I suppose it always will.

So just a few moments ago I received a prayer request.  A friend told me that she witnessed a terrible accident at a gas station this afternoon.  A woman, whom my friend did not know, was just pumping gas, a routine task, when she was struck by a truck.  She was still alive when she was airlifted to a hospital, but just that suddenly, her life is hanging by a thread.  It horrified my friend. Of course it did.

Yesterday another sweet friend told me her mother-in-law was sitting on the couch, taking a snooze, and her heart simply quit beating.  Anyone in the house would have thought Grandma was catching a nap.  Gone.  In a moment.  Never to speak again or be spoken to.

Those are sobering events.  Of course we should plan for the future, but we need to live in the present.  Measure words and actions.  Those words and actions may leave a memory.  The last words my father spoke to me were, “You have been a good daughter.”  He dozed off in his hospital bed to never speak to me again.  My last words to my mother were, “I love you Mom.  Lord willing I’ll see you tomorrow.”  We never spoke again.  She lingered for three days in a state of lifelessness.  Her million-dollar smile was gone.

This is heavy, I know.  But it is also important.  I don’t want to be morbid but I do want to be realistic.  Romans 12 covers a large piece of ground in interpersonal relationships.  Give it a look, then embrace it for a while.

Most of all, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” Proverbs 29:1

Popcorn Dance

Microwave popcorn is super easy to store, make, and something I tend to take for granted. This afternoon, I saw a joyful little granddaughter just laughing and giggling as she stood in front of the microwave and watched a bag of microwave popcorn popping.  She was absolutely delighted so I stood behind her to see what was tickling her funny bone.

I buy the single serving size bags and it is plenty for me.  Have I ever taken the time to see what goes on in the microwave?  Of course not.  Well, the smaller size bag jumps around in the big microwave!  The popping kernels actually make the whole bag jump. Sometimes the whole bag lifts off the floor of the microwave.

Since I made a bag for Kamryn and a bag for myself, she actually had a double feature!  The second bag she took care of from start to finish so now she knows how to do it herself.  It is cheap entertainment too.

Since her laughter and joy was infectious, it lent me some joy along with her.  I’ve been thinking since observing that our Christian joy should be spread around like that. Allow the simple things of life to bring joy.  It didn’t cost anything.  Nehemiah told those who had struggled along with him to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem after sitting in rubble for seventy years, “Neither be ye sorry for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  (8:10)

Bubble over with laughter even if it is watching a bag of popcorn dance around inside the microwave.

Grilled Cheese

A grilled cheese sandwich sits before me. Have you ever noticed that one will find grilled cheese on the children’s menu.  What?  Adults like them too.  Last week I noticed on the Great Food Truck Race which currently airing on Foodnetwork has a food truck dedicated to all varieties of grilled cheese!  On the side of my sandwich sits a small bowl of canned peaches.   I also happen to like canned peaches better than fresh ones.  It could just be laziness.

My mother did not like my grilled cheese sandwiches.  She said they were too dry.  Once a week she made her own fat and salt laden version.  Once when we were visiting the doctor, he asked her a probing question in a very gentle way, “So, what have you been eating?”    She replied, very pointedly that she ate what I cooked for us except for one thing:  grilled cheese.  “Karyl, she said, makes terrible grilled cheese sandwiches.  I make my own.”

By now the doctor, a bit mischievous, launched into the conversation, looking at me out of the corner of his eye. His reply to her shocked me.  He approved!  He patted her hand and added, “Just hold that to one a week, okay?” Mom happily, almost jubilantly, made her own grilled cheese once a week.

It’s interesting how those memories come back at the most unexpected times. But then, I think about Mom so often, I’d guess it might be every day.

Our Heavenly Father sometimes indulges me.  It is then, when He gives me a want as well as my needs that I recall Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all the ages, world without end.  Amen.”

For Mom, that luxurious sandwich permission was “exceeding abundantly.”

Wild Violets

Today the fellows from the lawn care company that sprays my lawn arrived.  Once again, they applied fertilizer and weed control.  The note on my bill they left at the door included this hand-written statement:  “. . .you do have a lot of wild violets and it may take multiple applications to completely clean them out.”

I am finally rid of the most obnoxious weeds and my grass is thin now but slowly filling in under the application of fertilizer.  If it would not eradicate my flowers, I’d love to see my flower beds sprayed with the mighty potion they apply.

Those little wild violets—for some reason, I don’t mind.  Their little purple happy faces are a sign of spring.  Granted, they do take up room that should be given over to luxuriant grass, but I sort of like them.  Oh, but I see something here!  Those little happy blooms are so much like the pet sins we all adore.  You know them:  the small acts of selfishness and expenditures on cute shoes we will wear twice a year, the snappy remark that was really rather mean, weak reasons for not sharing Christ, and on and on.  You get the idea.

What does it hurt, we ask ourselves.  A little indulgence, here, a smatter of happiness there, and soon we can have too many pet sins enticing away the growth of what is really valuable to us.

So, let the wild violets gradually wither away and the grass grow.  Those pet sins are difficult to purge, but if I persistently pour some potent scripture on them, they will wither too.  “Flee youthful lusts” Paul warned Timothy in II Timothy 2:22 and James warned new Believers in the early church, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you,” in James 4:7.  God’s Word is like the 3-way weed control that is listed on today’s bill.  Those pretty little wild violets will eventually leave. The grass will survive and thrive.  I will thrive too.

Today, choose a wild violet of yours and tell it that the end is near.


Gate, Gates, and More Gates

When I moved to this house a few years ago, the yard had a gate.  It was an odd thing because only the back yard had a fence and that not on all sides.  That gate didn’t really close anything in or out. In a year or so, I thought it was a bother and had it taken out.  What good is a gate if it is only there for some sort of decoration?  It added maintenance to my already busy life.
The Bible uses the words gate, and its plural gates a total of 407 times according to the search I put to it this afternoon.  The use starts in Genesis 19:1 and last mention is Revelation 22:14. Most of the references are found in the book of Deuteronomy.  Many of the references regard gates to a city because most of the cities in ancient times used walls for protection.  It was also common for the leaders of a city to sit at the city gates to do business.    We now feel protected if we live in a gated community.  Even though air strikes are still possible, some compounds still find walls and gates a matter of security.

Since a gate of security is controlled by a guard, (my grandson at Pensacola Christian College sometimes works at the campus gate) this brought me to thinking about the security of the church.  The church, that called out body of believers whether a local assembly, or a more collective body of believers, has a security guard.  It is the Lord Himself.  Jesus made that clear in Matthew 16:18 when he declares to Peter that the testimony of Peter, that great confession of his faith, was like a rock.  It is solid.  Firm.  Unmovable.  Jesus said that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The antecedent for it is the church.

We live in shaky times. While Hell may open the gates to pour out cursing and damnation, God shuts the gates of the body of Christ into His secure hands.  Trust him; obey Him; honor His Word.  Don’t despair of the thunder sounding from Hell.  It cannot prevail.