Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Accidental Win

Last night I was the accidental winner of a food competition!!! No, it wasn't one of those 'who can eat the most in the shortest amount of time' events. This was a cooking event! Are you as shocked as I am? I am a decent cook, but I've never even considered entering any type of competition involving culinary aptitude...thus the previously mentioned phrase accidental winner.

So I imagine that you are waiting with bated breath to hear how this accident actually occurred, (I, obviously, have a vivid imagination). I will keep you in suspense no longer...

My handsome hunk of a man is the director of the Men's Ministry at our home church. This summer our church is hosting several family nights. The Men's Ministry was in charge of last night's event. It was a Camping Expo complete with a BBQ and booths that educated the attendees on every thing from dutch oven cooking to bird watching. There were several competitions through out the evening; a Casting Competition (think fishing poles and hoola hoops), a Tent Stake Driving Race (big tent stakes, mini rubber mallets) and a Chili Cook off!!!

Up until noon yesterday, I had thought that my participation in the Camping Expo would be limited to supporting my husband, helping were needed and enjoying the fellowship with my church family. However, I did detect some concern in my husband when he happened to mention that he only had a couple of chili competitors pre-registered for the event. So, I decided somewhat hesitantly to cook up a pot just to provide the look of a fuller competition table.

Why my hesitation? Well, in 20 years of marriage my husband has cooked up more pots of chili that I have. It's his thing and he probably would have cooked one up to fill out the judges choices if he would have had time. Since he was coordinating the whole event I decided it was time for me to step into the help meet role and give it a shot.

I ran to the store for ingredients, whipped up a pot and had him taste a bite before he headed off to the church ahead of me. I didn't want to put anything on the table that might embarrass the family had the name of the cook leaked out. David assured me it was good...but that man has never complained about anything that I've cooked in the last 20 years - well, with the exception of a pot of sauerkraut during the 1st year, but that's a whole other story!

So imagine my surprise when I heard my name called as the 2nd place winner of the Chili Cook off! Just in case you are wondering, there were more that 2 entries (5 or 6), my husband wasn't the judge nor did he influence the panel, and it was a blind competition (the entries were identified by number and not the name of the cook)! =]

So my 2nd place ribbon is proudly displayed on my refrigerator! I am thrilled with the fact that my chili was 2nd only to a guy who is a professional chef and accident or not that I entered and won, I am going to thoroughly enjoy the honor!

I do have a problem though. My husband has requested this award winning chili recipe for dinner tonight...what exactly did I put in that pot...a little of this, a little of that...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

To Kiss or Not To Kiss???

It's summer and I am really enjoying having my two teen aged girls at home. We've done some cleaning and a whole lot of nothing, but it's been great.

Last night, the two of them came home from a youth Bible study/fellowship with this interesting quote from one of their friends...

A girl worth kissing is not easily kissed!
I love it...and they did too. This is another one that my cousin Amber may want to put on her baby daughter's wall.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Food for Thought

Today presents me with various family members in various stages of a stomach virus. So, no time for a Verse to Chew On or any deep thoughts of my own.

I did want to give you a little food for thought today in the form of two of my favorite quotes. I don't know who originally made these profound statements, and I know that I am not quoting them precisely, but I believe the truth of these sayings will still have great effect.

Victory does not come in me overcoming sin, the world or the devil. True lasting victory is only attained when Jesus overcomes me!

And for all you single sisters out there, and mothers of teen aged or young adult daughters...

A woman's heart should be so hidden in Jesus that a man will have to lose himself in Christ to find her.

Praying that we will all be overcome by and hidden in Jesus!

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Verse To Chew On - Ironing Out the Wrinkles

It's Monday, and those who know me know that today is all about Laundry. Some might think that this is a horrible way to begin one's week, but I disagree. In fact I love laundry day. Well, I don't actually love doing laundry, but frankly it's the one day a week that I have real sense of accomplishment! =]

As a stay-at-home-mom my laundry basket became the equivilent of what my 'in-basket' was when I worked. The only difference is that this new basket was never empty at the end of each day! Looking for tangible evidence of productivity in my new career choice, I chose to set aside one day a week to tackle this job. Living in a busy apartment complex at the time, Monday became my target day for this task as it was the day of lowest usage in the community laundry room, (it pays to do your research!). I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment that came with an empty laundry basket at the end of each Monday so much that this ritual is still in place 16 years later. Not only is the 'in-basket' empty, (at least until bedtime), but I don't have to think about this job again for another week!

As soon as my girls were old enough to learn their colors, they became my Administrative Assistants. They sort their laundry into appropriate piles, fold what needs folding and hang up what goes in their closets. But ironing, that's all mine!!! Yes, I iron...even jeans...and I do use spray starch when needed. Some may find this a behavior that they feel needs 'treatment', I on the other hand find this chore therapeutic. An ironed garment provides for me the same sense of satisfaction as the vacuum marks on a carpet or a fresh mowed lawn, (like I talked about last week). There is just something that feels so good about seeing those wrinkles magically disappear when the heat and steam of an iron are applied.

You may be wondering what in the world all this rambling about a domestic chore has to do with our weekly Verse To Chew On. I'm getting to that.

I don't know about you, Sister~Friend, but my life is wrinkly...sometimes more that others...and I wish for a good 'ironing out'. You know what I've found? -the Lord provides that very thing!

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

This verse is both scary and full of hope for me. The thought of having the Lord go to work on the wrinkles of my life may not be a pretty thing, but the thought of having things ironed out are worth it! Maybe I'm the only one...I kind of think not...that gets into a funky mood and can't figure out what the deal is. This isn't for a lack of trying, but with all the busyness and variables of life, I just can't get to the bottom of why I feel or react as I do at times. Day in and day out we go through the spin cycle of life and are tumbled through, often with the drying temp. set on 'high'. And you know what?...God doesn't make us permanent press!

When we make the above portion of scripture our prayer God can not only show us why the wrinkles are in our lives but in His love he can work on removing them. Sometimes God has shown me that my funky wrinkles are due to worry, other times sin and still other times the bothers of hormones. The Creator of the universe, who created each one of us individually, knows exactly what is wrong with us before we even invite Him to take a look. Inviting the Lord to examine us is like jumping up on the ironing board. When we become involved with Him in the process, not only do the wrinkles begin to disappear but we become more intimately acquainted with Him and experience His love in a new way.

Our wrinkles may not disappear as quickly as they do on my families clothing, but they will. As long as we stay positioned before the Lord, on the ironing board so to speak, He will continue continue to apply the warmth of His love, the steam that comes from the Living Water of His Son Jesus - the Word made flesh, and He will use the spray starch of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us. I do laundry from the time I get up Monday morning until around dinner time. God however, provides a 24/7 laundry service. Any time, day or night that we cry out to Him, He is ready and willing to iron out the wrinkles of our life. I may do laundry only once a week, but I need to place myself before the Divine Iron daily.

As you chew on our verse this week, ask yourself...

1) Am I consistently inviting the Lord to iron out the wrinkles in my life? (Going before Him in an attitude of prayer, listening for Him)

2) What current life wrinkle do I need God's love, His Word and Spirit to iron out for me?

Well, I have to scoot...I hear the dryer buzzing - both literally and figuratively! =]

Friday, June 5, 2009

Backyards, Birds and Blessings

Yesterday I spent 4 hours + in my backyard, (and front yard for that matter), mowing and weeding, watering and pruning - blah, blah, blah...

This morning I decided to have breakfast in my backyard! My husband was off to work and my two terrific teen aged daughters were still sleeping upstairs, (as well they should on this 2nd day of summer vacation), so I poured another cup of coffee, fixed a plate of eggs and toast and settled myself to enjoy the fruit of yesterday's labor.
It was so much fun...and refreshing. I sat there and appreciated how nicely the fresh mowed lawn looked, (I am the type that also appreciates the vacuum marks on the carpet - they just don't last as long =]!), marvelled at the abundant production of roses on my bushes, (I am a 'grace gardener' - any good that comes out of my feeble attempts are a grace gift from the Master Gardener), enjoyed the obtuse beauty of storm clouds moving through the valley, (and the cooler temperatures they provide), and connected with the words of the psalmist...

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

The beauty of this day, and His creation that surrounded me, was the catalyst that made this verse resonate within my soul. But you know what? As I sat there praising the Lord for who He is and what He has created, I realized that every day is one that He has made...even the days that are too hot or too cold to be able to sit on the back patio and enjoy, the way I was enjoying this morning.

David was the author of this particular psalm and according to the footnotes in my NIV Study Bible, he penned this verse after a deliverance from his enemies. After proclaiming this day as a work of the Creator's hand, David goes on to give us a command, of sorts. He says 'let us rejoice and be glad in it'. That implies that we have a choice as to whether or not we are going to enjoy each day that the Lord gives us. You might be thinking that this statement was easy enough for David to make, having recently experienced God's deliverance from his enemies, but what if you are right in the middle of something can we possibly rejoice and be glad in a day like that?

Good question! The notes in my Bible go on to say that this psalm was mostly likely sung by Jesus and His disciples at the conclusion of the Last Supper, (see Matthew 26:30). His disciples didn't know what the rest of that day held, and probably sang this song in the same manner that they had Passover after Passover. But Jesus knew exactly what that day would hold for Him. Not pleasant...more like extremely painful...but He still chose to rejoice and be glad in it. Why? - Because He knew that what He was about to go through was necessary and He was well aware of the good that would come out of it. (His suffering on the cross brought our salvation - if nothing else, this is something that we can find joy in, in even the stinkiest of days).

As I sat on my patio with our dog Charity at my feet, I heard the songs of the birds all around me. We have had many make our backyard their home. Robins regularly nest here and one summer a Mallard duck and his Mrs. moved in. As I listened to the various melodies another verse popped into my heart...
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. Psalm 81:10b
Just like the baby Robins open their beaks to be fed and filled by their parents, our Heavenly Father wants us to open up to His sustenance. Weather our day, metaphorically speaking, is as lovely as today or hot, dry and parched or stormy and dark, God is there. He will care for us just like I've seen the birds in my backyard care for their own. If we open the 'mouths' of our soul to Him, He will fill it with praise, any wisdom that we need, comfort and peace. The Bible is filled over and over again with God's promises to be with us, provide for us, comfort and guide us. Come what may the Lord will be forever that is something to rejoice and be glad in!