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euniceMy latest read, provided to me for review, was Sophie Hudson’s Giddy Up, Eunice. I have to say up front I tend toward more serious books and I am easily distracted and put off by parenthetical comments. I want to get to the meat of the story and those things just get in the way. Parenthetical comments abound in this book!

That being said, I did enjoy the book and though there were lots of cutsey comments for me to weed through, there were some wonderful nuggets that made it worth it. The book truly captures the value of mentoring and the richness of cross-generational relationships.

Hudson uses three such relationships from the Bible – Elizabeth and Mary, Naomi and Ruth and Eunice and Lois. I thought her perspective on these relationships was fresh and insightful. Where do we go when we find ourselves in a troubling situation? We seek the one who has experienced something similar. Mary ran to her cousin Elizabeth because a surprise pregnancy was right up her alley. Ruth, a broken widow, aligned herself with an experienced woman in the same boat, her mother in law, Naomi. And the beautiful relationship between Lois and Eunice spilled out on Timothy, setting his life path.

There is much humor between the pages and Hudson’s personal stories give practical examples of how strong relationships deepen us, carry us and help us survive. This would be a great gift book for a sister, a mother, a grandmother or a friend. Anyone on the receiving end would be touched by the message in the book, and the message in the gift – that they are special and that the relationship between the giver and the recipient is precious.

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OGIO-motorcycle-rides[1]First motorcycle outing of the year on Saturday and it was glorious. We managed to sandwich the ride in between rainstorms. The sun was out in full force, warming the air to a brisk 50 degrees when we took off. Of course, I had my miracle jacket on high so I was toasty. Bald eagles, deer and mountain sheep were all out in force taking advantage of the weather just like us.

After the long winter break, I kind of have to get back in biker mode and it takes a while. Remembering all the parts and pieces of being comfortable – the silk scarf, the hair pulled back and secured so it doesn’t tangle in the wind, the right gloves for the cool weather, the leathers and of course, the connector cord for my heated jacket.

But the biggest “Oh yeah” for me is the sense of power that radiates from that huge hunk of chrome and metal. The bike roars to life and I find myself grabbing tightly to my guy, taking a big breath and anticipating the soaring sensation that will come as we hit the highway.

And then there’s that lung-filling fresh air after being huddled inside all winter. The great feel of sunshine on my cheeks. Sky so blue it hurts your eyes. And the hope and promise singing from the trees that are covered with spring buds ready to burst into leafy glory. The peach fuzz covering of green on the hills that have been soaking up the rain. The rush of the river pushing at its banks, swollen from the spring thaw.

And so precious, sipping coffee and eating fresh baked pastries with my husband at the old bakery that is a favorite stop of ours. It’s rare, this relaxing, quiet time together – actually having a real conversation, uninterrupted by phones, grandkids, jobs, errands, and the over-zealous dog.

Sometimes I chaff at having to devote every good-weather Saturday to time on the motorcycle. There are many other things I love to do and can only fit into a Saturday. But I have to admit that once we’re on the road, I forget to wish I was elsewhere because I’m so loving being where I am.

Isn’t that just the way in this crazy busy life of ours? Our list is long, our time short. We have to double and triple book to get it all in and half the time we are too exhausted to actually enjoy ourselves. We don’t prioritize according to what we need, we scramble our schedules because of what we want.

Much as I hate to admit it, I need those kicked back Saturdays on the back of the bike, breathing deep, taking in the sights, and being close to my life partner. It brings balance and sanity to my otherwise topsy turvy world.

Life balance is key if we are to negotiate the journey from birth to death with any kind of success and satisfaction. And balance is not what the enemy wants for us. He will always introduce too many choices to keep us from being focused. He will paint unrealistic pictures of the things we desire and then try to convince us we deserve them, we need them, and we should go for them to the detriment of more important, less glittering activities.

Just as that first few minutes on the bike remind me of the power and pure enjoyment I will soon experience, the first few minutes in God’s word reminds of the same thing. His word is rich, bursting with wise instruction, filled with peace and hope. It is solid and sure, and satisfying to my mind, my heart and my soul.

I need those times of breathing deep and drawing close to the One who gives me breath.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Or as the message translation puts it, “I have told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

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So – I have this dog.  And the first thing you need to know is I’m not really a dog person.   I’m not one of those people who treats their dog like a person, lets them lick your face or kisses them on the nose.  I’m the person who says, “Nice doggy”, gives them a little pat on the head and expects them to go lay down and be good.

th[8]Until we got this pup a year ago.  Our old dog had died and while I would have been content not to deal with dog hair and drool for a while, my husband really, really missed his dog. So, we got Chopper, a 6 week old Blue Heeler, freckle faced and fit-on-your-lap adorable.  For some reason my heart decided to bond.

He started out as a cute, energetic, curious little bundle of fur.  He’s a year and a half now and he has grown into a cute, energetic, curious big bundle of fur.  His body has matured, his character has not.  He still loves to race across the room and leap into your lap – even though he’s bigger than your lap. He still loves to shoot out the door the minute it’s opened. And he still doesn’t come back when you call him. He barks at anything that moves and being a working breed, will sneak up behind you if you aren’t paying attention and nip at your heels.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to teach him manners.  But it has become apparent that dog training is not my calling. He does respond to a short length of pool noodle bopping him on the noggin – but only if you happen to have it handy.

I have a dog toy that can be stuffed with peanut butter, designed to keep dogs entertained for hours.  It works – at least for a few minutes.  But then he wants more. And he just keeps asking and begging and pleading.

His worst habit is jumping on me when I come through the door.  I keep giving him the “down” command. And he responds – until the sound of my voice fades.

I try doggie discipline but he is so darn precious when he sinks down and looks at me with those big brown eyes. And then sneaks over and puts his head in my lap to eat up every bit of rubbing, petting and scratching I will dish out.

The real problem with this dog is me. He has a hold on my heart and no amount of disobedience on his part severs that tie. I’m always willing to forgive and expect that he will do better next time. I know that no matter how much peanut butter or dog treat I hand out, it will never be enough. I also know that he wants to do right, but he gets distracted and runs after every temptation, not weighing the consequences until it’s too late.

And I especially love the way he goes overboard welcoming me home when I’ve been away for a while. He knows I will most likely leave again but he still relishes every minute that I stay.

I was actually praying about it today – seeking some guidance on how I could master his disobedience and bring him into line, get him to stop running after every temptation and mind his master. But I was brought up short when I realized how much he and his master and my Master and I have in common.

How many times have I been the easily distracted little pup, running after things I shouldn’t and not listening to the voice that calls me back? And how many time have I been away and still found Him welcoming and excited when I return? When I’m close to His Word I bask in the affection that He pours out on me.  When I’m away from His Word I forget how wonderful it is until I find myself suffering the consequences and needing to slink my way back into the light of His love.

I think there is hope for my dog as long as I keep loving him and disciplining him when necessary. And I believe there is hope for me as long as my God keeps doing the same. And I know He will.

“…asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Col 1:10

 

 

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imagesCAYQ3DZ0Any idea how Black Friday got it’s name?  Actually, it was first called Black Friday in 1966 by police because of the chaos, traffic jams and acts of violence associated with the day. It has become a very profitable day for retailers and certainly, a profitable day for bargain shoppers if you are willing to get up early, stand in line, fight the crowds and push and shove your way to the best buys of the day.

Are you a Black Friday shopper?  Then I’d like to bring to your mind a little scripture in Mark’s gospel (8:36) that goes like this, “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”  The message Bible puts it this way, “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?”

In the me-version paraphrase, “Is that piece of electronic equipment or that great buy on name brand boots worth compromising your entire Christian list of principles?”

I heard on the news today that the Greater Sacramento Chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is set to unveil 55 billboards touting atheism this Christmas season.  Frightening!

But even more frightening, the billboard Christian shoppers will be displaying on Black Friday if we fall into the trap of losing who we really are to the lure of being first, gaining a material advantage over displaying Christ, and worst of all – setting a poor, long lasting example for our children, friends and whoever else might be observing our actions.

Here are my Black Friday tips to assure that your billboard flashes a message of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self control. (Gal 5:22-23)

  1. Don’t leave the house on Black Friday if you think you won’t be able to display the Christ you want others to see.
  2. If you do go, at some point in the day, let someone go ahead of you in line and wish them a Merry Christmas (not a Happy Holiday or Seasons Greetings). This will shock some, bless some and make you feel great.
  3. Smile at everyone.  Smile at the young mother with few funds and a deep desire to make her children’s Christmas special. Smile at the elderly gentleman who can’t move as fast as everyone else. Smile at the husband who doesn’t have a clue and is just going where his wife points. Smile especially at the retail clerk who has answered the same question sixteen thousand times without gritting his teeth. Yes, even smile at the cranky woman who wants to argue and complain to everyone around her.
  4. Hold a door, give up a parking place, pick up a dropped package, do something nice at least once every half hour to remind yourself who you are and what you are trying to convey.
  5. Hum along with the Christmas music blaring throughout the mall.  You will be surprised how it will lift your spirit and take your mind off the inconvenience of the crowds.
  6. Look like Jesus to the weary, hungry crowd. People aren’t always looking for bargains. They are all too often looking for kindness, compassion, gentleness and hope. God’s gift is that with his empowerment you can be all of those things even on Black Friday!
  7. Arm yourself with the full armor. You will need it on this day more than you’ve ever needed it before.  Remember them?  Truth (when the harried clerk gives too much change back),  righteousness (the first shall be last kind of mentality in the midst of the shoving), the Gospel of peace (when everything around you is chaos),  faith (that God has a better plan when you miss out on the big deal of the day that you got up early and stood in line for), salvation (nothing is worth losing your salvation over) and the sword of the Spirit (the one you wield when you’ve been stabbed in the back, stomped into a corner, shoved out of the way and shoutedat).

And when you get home, pour yourself a hot cup of tea or chocolate. Sit down by the fire. Close our eyes and thank God that with His hand in yours you navigated Black Friday in a manner He would be proud of.

God bless you all this Thanksgiving week!

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’  Matthew 25:21

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Holding Hands with Elderly PatientYou can’t turn around today and not hear talk about the Affordable Care Act.  You will hear it referred as the hope of nations all the way to the worst idea in history.  Heated arguments from both sides abound.

As a Human Resource Director I am especially buried in the struggle to understand the new law and how it will impact my company and my employees.

We all know the complications that have risen to the surface as the government tries to implement the ACA. It’s the typical “someone thought it was a great idea but then everyone stopped thinking.”  All we really know is it’s supposed to cure the ills of the healthcare system, it is going to cost a fortune, nobody has figured out for sure how to make it work and someone has to pay for it and that someone is us.

Oh yes, and one more thing we know – the promises made over the last few years regarding the ACA are being broken right and left.

If only we could wake up and recognize that affordable care isn’t an original idea at all.  It’s not new. It’s not a breakthrough plan that has to be implemented at a high cost and mountain of frustration.

God came up with the idea of affordable care long, long ago.  Matthew 25:40 outlines that plan.  “…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Galatians 5:22-23 gives us the tools to make it work.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

1 John 3:17-18 explains how to pay for it in a manner that won’t rob Peter to pay Paul. “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

And Galatians 6:9 tells us what to do when it looks like God’s Affordable Care Act isn’t working.  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Don’t get me wrong. I know there is a problem with out health care system.  I know some aren’t getting the care they need and others are squandering the care they get. I just don’t believe any system will work without the principles of Christian love and compassion as the foundation.

We can’t force people to care. We can’t tax people and hope that makes them compassionate. We can’t talk pretty promises and expect people to buy into them blindly.

The only way to fix something that is broken is to first apply the healing ointment of Christ’s love.

We don’t need Obamacare.  We need O-God-help-us-care!

 

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MP900444789[1]We aren’t used to rain around here, at least not this much rain. And, it being almost June in what many call the “Palm Springs of Washington”, we aren’t used to seeing the hills covered with snow again. We thought we put winter to bed. We relished a spring with several days of eighty degree weather and now we are on the cusp of summer even though it doesn’t seem like it.

The news this morning chronicled the work on flooded streets yesterday. A worker stated that our “8” and 10” drainage pipes just can’t handle this much water all at once.”

I can’t help but apply that description to my seeking heart.  I want so much of God but I’m afraid at times my pipes are too narrow to truly let Him in. Too many other things are running through those pipes and they inhibit the free flow of all God has for me.

In the book of Hosea we are told that we shouldn’t be surprised when the Lord comes to us.  Chapter 6 Verse 3 says Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth”

The Message Bible puts it this way:  We’re ready to study God, eager for God-knowledge.  As sure as dawn breaks, so sure is his daily arrival.  He comes as rain comes, as spring rain refreshing the ground.”

In Yakima, it’s not the first time we’ve had heavy rain and the pipes weren’t prepared to handle it. But when it does come, we see the same result – flooding around our feet. 

We are basically a desert climate and there are times when we crave rain to heal the parched ground. It doesn’t always come when we need it.

Not so with a parched heart that cries out to God. He always comes and He always comes in abundance. It’s just that we aren’t always ready.

We pray for a miracle, get it and then doubt whether it was really a miracle. We pray for an answer to our problem, get it and then decide it’s not the one we want. We seek direction and when it doesn’t coincide with the way we really want to go, we discard it.

Living Water pools at our feet because we have narrowed the channel into our heart and soul.

When we are thirsty an overflowing glass of water won’t help if we don’t drink it.

When we’re dry, all the moisture in the world won’t refresh us if we refuse to absorb it.

As surely as the sun rises, He will appear. Let’s open our eyes to see Him, open our ears to hear Him and open our hearts to receive Him.

Don’t be like the drain pipe that can’t handle an abundance of water. Instead, be prepared for the spring rain.

Job 37:6
He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’

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MP900390059[1]This past week I witnessed some beautiful examples of generosity and compassion, the kind that honestly bring tears to your eyes.

It started with my eight year old granddaughter who went to great lengths to surprise her mom with breakfast in bed, a first for my daughter. Brinkley’s teacher started it all with a list of seven suggestions for ways her class could honor their mothers. Brinkley chose the breakfast one and then plotted for several days to make it happen.  She shared her idea with me the day before and asked advice on what she should make. She questioned her mom the night before, prefacing her questions with “I really don’t know why I’m asking this but ….”  And then this precious little one who is a bear to get up in the morning set her alarm and jumped out of bed at 7:20, fixed peanut butter and jelly toast and juice and woke her mom with the surprise.

A generous act was exampled again by my sister who has taken to visiting an elderly woman in a nursing home – not a relative – and feeding her because she has gotten too shaky to feed herself.

It continued with my precious friend Bev who fights for the rights of her mother in law, who has dementia and can’t fight for herself. Bev visits often even though her mother in law usually doesn’t know her and the visit always leaves her sad and depressed. She works hard to encourage this woman’s sons to do the same. She makes sure her mother in law’s care is the best available and sorts through paperwork, deals with agencies and battles constantly taking care of every detail this kind of dedication requires.

And then I got a call from my daughter who took on two foster boys several years ago and has poured her heart and soul into providing an environment conducive to repairing the damage done to them in their early years. As in most foster situations, there is very little payback and not always much progress.  This past week she went through an especially difficult trial with the oldest boy – one that certainly would have justified a last straw reaction. Instead, my daughter’s compassion for this young man who has gone out of his way to make her life miserable broke my heart.

When I looked at the situation I saw an out of control teenager who has had every opportunity to turn his life around.

My daughter sees a broken child inside a teenage body, a child who is still redeemable, a child who makes really bad decisions and needs someone like my daughter and her husband to rescue him, guide him and keep pushing him in the right direction because he hasn’t figured out yet how to turn his life around. He can’t take advantage of the opportunities because the damage blinds him to them.

Today in my studies I came across this scripture in Revelation:   Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. (Rev 2:17)

I love that Jesus has a new name picked out for each one of us and that it is specific, descriptive and private – just between him and me. I’ve wondered what name that might be but I have a feeling it will be based on the characteristic in my life that was most Godly and touched the heart of Jesus.

For people like the ones in my story above, I suspect their clear stone will have a name like Generosityor Kindness,  Unselfish or Compassionate Caretaker. Maybe one will have the name Mother spelled a new way to apply to one who has opened her heart to a child not her own. One might have the name Daughter in a hue that says not by birth but by love. There might even be one that says Child with a little drawing of  peanut butter and jelly toast.

What will my name be? Or yours? I think it bears pondering. I think my life calls for some examining to see what stands out. Is it something I want carved on my clear stone for all eternity? If not, I had better start doing something about that right now. How about you?

Psalms 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

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