I Am Thankful

>> Saturday, July 30, 2011

For the wife who says, “It’s hot dogs tonight” because she is home with me and not out with someone else


For the husband who is on the sofa being a couch potato, because he is home with me and not out at the bars.

For the teenager who is complaining about doing dishes, because it means she is at home and not on the streets.


For the taxes I pay, because it means I am employed.

For the mess to clean after a party, because it means I have been surrounded by friends.

For the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means I have enough to eat.

For my shadow that watches me work, because it means I am out in the sunshine.

For a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing, because it means I have a home.

For all the complaining I hear about the government, because it means we have freedom of speech.

For the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means I am capable of walking and I have been blessed with transportation.

For my huge heating bill, because it means I am warm.

For the lady behind me in church who sings off key, because it means I can hear.

For the pile of laundry and ironing, because it means I have clothes to wear.

For weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day, because it means I have been capable of working hard.

For the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours, because it means I am alive.

For too many emails, because it means I have friends who are thinking of me.

(Author Unknown)


“In everything give thanks….” I Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)


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Why We Love Children

>> Friday, July 29, 2011

NUDITY
I was driving with my three young children one warm summer evening when a woman in the convertible ahead of us stood up and waved. She was stark naked. As I was reeling from the shock, I heard my five-year old shout from the back seat, “Mom, that lady isn’t wearing a seat belt.

OPINIONS
On the first day of school, a new student handed his teacher a note from his mother. The note read, “The opinions expressed by this child are not necessarily those of his parents.”

KETCHUP
A woman was trying hard to get the ketchup out of the jar. During her struggle the phone rang, so she asked her four-year old daughter to answer the phone. “Mommy can’t come to the phone to talk to you right now. She’s hitting the bottle.”

MORE NUDITY
A little boy got lost at the YMCA and found himself in the women’s locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover. The little boy watched in amazement and then asked, “What’s the matter with you? Haven’t you ever seen a little boy before?”

POLICE #1
While taking a routine vandalism report at a primary school, I was interrupted by a little girl about six years old. Looking up and down at my uniform, she asked, “Are you a cop?” “Yes,” I answered and continued writing the report. “My mother said if I ever needed help I should ask the police. Is that right?” “Yes, that’s right,” I told her. “Well then,” she said as she extended her foot toward me, “would you please tie my shoe?”

POLICE #2
It was the end of the day when I parked my police van in front of the station. As I gathered my equipment, my K-9 partner, Jake, was barking and I saw a little boy staring in at me. “Is that a dog you got back there?” he asked. “It sure is,” I replied. Puzzled, the boy looked at me and then towards the back of the van. Finally he asked, “What’d he do?”

ELDERLY
While working for an organization that delivers lunches to the elderly, I used to take my four-year old daughter on my afternoon rounds. She was unfailingly intrigued by the various appliances of old age, particularly the canes, walkers and wheelchairs. One day I found her staring at some false teeth soaking in a glass. As I braced myself for the inevitable barrage of questions, she merely turned and whispered, “The tooth fairy will never believe this.”

DRESS UP
A little girl was watching her parents dress for a party. When she saw her dad donning his tuxedo, she warned, “Daddy, you shouldn’t wear that suit.” “And why not, darling?” “You know that it always gives you a headache the next morning.”

DEATH
While walking along the pavement in front of his church, our minister heard the intoning of a prayer that nearly made his collar wilt. Apparently his five-year old son and his playmates had found a dead robin. Feeling that proper burial should be performed, they had secured a small box and cotton wadding, the dug a hole and made ready for the disposal of the deceased. The minister’s son was chosen to say the appropriate prayers and with sonorous dignity intoned his version of what he thought his father always said: “Glory be unto the Faaather, and unto the Sonnn, and into the hole he goooes.”

SCHOOL
A little girl had just finished her first week of school. “I’m just wasting my time,” she said to her mother. “I can’t read, I can’t write, and they won’t let me talk.”

BIBLE
A little boy opened the big family Bible. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out of the Bible. He picked up the object and looked at it. What he saw was an old leaf that had been pressed in between the pages. “Mama, look what I found,” the boy called out. “What have you got there, dear?” With astonishment in the young boy’s voice, he answered,” I think it’s Adams’s underwear.”

(Author Unknown)


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Famine in the Land

>> Thursday, July 28, 2011

The pictures brought a stab of pain to my heart. Little children … babies … starving to death in Somalia: mothers with the look of anguish on their faces. Some had been walking for a month trying to find help … and lost one child or more to death on the way.  

As the news continued, my thoughts were scattered. How awful. Those people live in the same world I do. Why them and not me? How do those mothers take it? What can I do?   

This morning, on the treadmill, I could not get those pictures out of my mind. I live such a blessed life. I’ve been hungry a few times in my life, but never starving … emaciated … lifeless.  

That’s when my mind turned to a different kind of famine. The starving people shown on the news last night are on the other side of the world. But we are experiencing a famine in our land … in our United States … that isn’t being talked about on the nightly news.  

Those starving people do not look emaciated. They are executives … or football and baseball players …movie stars … and the neighbor next door. Sometimes they commit suicide. Others … such as Amy Winehouse … die of drug and alcohol abuse. At the age of 27, she is dead … joining a list of other 27-year olds who starved to death.  

Just as you and I want to be loved and accepted, so did they. Sometimes they traveled a long way seeking assistance. But in the world they lived in, the right kind of help was not available.  

Once again I think how awful. Those people live in the same world I do. What can I do? And I am very aware that I come in contact with starving people every day … starving for love and acceptance.  

I would gladly share my food with the starving children in Somalia. But I need to be willing to give love and acceptance to the people in my world. … and help them discover hope by introducing them to the unfailing source … Jesus.


Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 (NLT)


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Reflections from the Seat of a Tractor

>> Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.

Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.

Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.

A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.

Words that soak into your ears are whispered ... not yelled.

Meanness don't just happen overnight.

Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.

Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.

It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.

You cannot unsay a cruel word.

Every path has a few puddles.

When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.

The best sermons are lived, not preached.

Most of the stuff people worry about, ain't never gonna happen anyway.

Don't judge folks by their relatives.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

Live a good and honorable life, then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time.

Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't bothering you none.

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.

Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.

The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin'.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.

If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.

Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to God.

“So now you can pick out what's true and fair, find all the good trails!Lady Wisdom will be your close friend, and Brother Knowledge your pleasant companion. good sense will scout ahead for danger, insight will keep an eye out for you. They'll keep you from making wrong turns, or following the bad directions of those who are lost themselves and can't tell a trail from a tumbleweed,” Proverbs 2:9-13 (MSG)



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A Matter of Trust

>> Tuesday, July 26, 2011

As I walked down the hallway of our home our dog, Charlie, bounded by my side. A newly recovered traumatized dog, he had definitely swung the other way. He played rough … nipping at first … and then biting. He had actually drawn blood on my husband John’s arm as they played ball one day. So we were working on quelling the over-exuberance.

 
Suddenly my hand was in a death grip with Charlie’s teeth pressing my flesh. As quickly as he bit, it was over … but for the first time I gave his nose a smack. This had to stop.


Yesterday, since he was being so good while John was out of town, I decided to give him a treat. When Charlie came to live with us, a friend had given us a box of doggie treats … biscuits. We didn’t overdo the treat thing, so the box was still half full … which indicated that he had eaten those treats before.

In the laundry room, I petted and praised and then gave him his treat. When I reached the kitchen, I turned to see why he was making such a funny sound. He was madly pawing at the sides of his mouth … finally lying on the floor and frantically pawing.

 He was in trouble.

John had been trying to get the ball out of his mouth to throw it again, when Charlie had bitten him. Expecting the same reaction from Charlie, I ran for the laundry room, reached for his mouth and pulled it open. He just laid there, which caused a quick reaction on my part. This is worse than I thought.

With me holding onto his jaws, Charlie moved to a sitting position. I could see down his throat. The dog biscuit was stuck crosswise in there. Knowing that his teeth could do severe damage if he closed his mouth, I reached for the back of his throat, hooked my finger around the biscuit and pulled. It was really stuck … and it took a quick jerk to dislodge it.

That whole time Charlie never made a sound or a move. He trusted me. So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about trust. It goes both ways. I had to trust that Charlie would not bite me … and he had to trust that I was helping him.

It’s the same with people. Are there some that you don’t trust? Can they trust you … with their feelings … their faults … their dreams?

Then there is God. For many years, I did not trust Him … and I certainly was not worthy of His trust. But now I have entrusted my life to Him. Just as I had to grab Charlie’s jaws, pry them open and reach down his throat … which I’m sure he didn’t like or enjoy … I have to trust God when I feel things aren’t going the way I would like.

It’s a matter of trust.


"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 (MSG)


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Daily Bank Account

>> Monday, July 25, 2011

A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably combed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready. As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.

“I love it,” he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

“Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait.”

 “That doesn't have anything to do with it,” he replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged ... it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.

Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away ... just for this time in my life. Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories! Thank you for your part in filling my Memory Bank. I am still depositing.”

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

Have a nice day, unless you already have other plans.

(Author Unknown)

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”
I Thess. 5:16-18 (MSG)


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Learning to Listen

>> Sunday, July 24, 2011

We all know what it's like to get that phone call in the middle of the night. This night was no different. Jerking up to the ringing summons, I focused on the red, illuminated numbers of my clock. Midnight. Panicky thoughts filled my sleep-dazed mind as I grabbed the receiver.

"Hello?" My heart pounded, I gripped the phone tighter and eyed my husband, who was now turning to face my side of the bed.

"Mama?" The voice answered. I could hardly hear the whisper over the static. But my thoughts immediately went to my daughter. When the desperate sound of a young crying voice became clear on the line, I grabbed for my husband and squeezed his wrist.

"Mama, I know it's late. But don't ... don't say anything until I finish. And before you ask, yes I've been drinking. I nearly ran off the road a few miles back and...”

I drew in a sharp, shallow breath, released my husband and pressed my hand against my forehead. Sleep still fogged my mind, and I attempted to fight back the panic. Something wasn't right.

"...And I got so scared. All I could think of was how hurt you would be if a policeman came to your door and said I'd been killed. I want ... to come home. I know running away was wrong. I know you've been worried sick. I should have called you days ago but I was afraid ... afraid ..."

Sobs of deep-felt emotion flowed from the receiver and poured into my heart. Immediately I pictured my daughter's face in my mind, and my fogged senses seemed to clear, "I think ---"

"No! Please let me finish! Please!" She pleaded, not so much in anger, but in desperation. I paused and tried to think what to say.  Before I could go on, she continued. "I'm pregnant, Mama. I know I shouldn't be drinking now ... especially now, but I'm scared, Mama. So scared!"

The voice broke again, and I bit into my lip, feeling my own eyes fill with moisture. I looked up at my husband, who sat silently mouthing, "Who is it?" I shook my head and when I didn't answer, he jumped up and left the room, returning seconds later with a portable phone held to his ear. She must have heard the click in the line because she asked, "Are you still there? Please don't hang up on me! I need you. I feel so alone."

I clutched the phone and stared at my husband, seeking guidance. "I'm here, I wouldn't hang up," I said.

"I should have told you, Mama. I know I should have told you. But, when we talk, you just keep telling me what I should do. You read all those pamphlets on how to talk about sex and all, but all you do is talk. You don't listen to me. You never let me tell you how I feel. It’s as if my feelings aren't important. Because you're my mother you think you have all the answers. But sometimes I don't need answers. I just want someone to listen."

I swallowed the lump in my throat and stared at the how-to-talk-to-your-kids pamphlets scattered on my nightstand. "I'm listening," I whispered.

"You know, back there on the road after I got the car under control, I started thinking about the baby and taking care of it. Then I saw this phone booth and it was as if I could hear you
preaching to me about how people shouldn't drink and drive. So I called a taxi. I want to come home."

"That's good honey," I said, relief filling my chest. My husband came closer, sat down beside me and laced his fingers through mine.

"But you know, I think I can drive now."

"No!" I snapped. My muscles stiffened and I tightened the clasp on my husband's hand. "Please, wait for the taxi. Don't hang up on me until the taxi gets there."

"I just want to come home, Mama."

"I know. But do this for your mama. Wait for the taxi, please."

I listened to the silence, fearing. When I didn't hear her answer, I bit into my lip and closed my eyes. Somehow I had to stop her from driving. "There's the taxi, now." Only when I heard someone in the background asking about a Yellow Cab did I feel my tension easing.

"I'm coming home, Mama." There was a click, and the phone went silent. Moving from the bed, tears forming in my eyes, I walked out into the hall and went to stand in my 16 year old daughter's room.  My husband came from behind, wrapped his arms around me and rested his chin on the top of my head.

I wiped the tears from my cheeks. "We have to learn to listen," I said to him. He studied me for a second, and then asked, "Do you think she'll ever know she dialed the wrong number?"

I looked at our sleeping daughter, then back at him. "Maybe it wasn't such a wrong number."

"Mom, Dad, what are you doing?" The muffled voice came from under the covers. I walked over to my daughter, who now sat up staring into the darkness. "We're practicing," I answered. "Practicing what?" she mumbled and lay back on the mattress, but her eyes already closed in slumber.

"Listening," I whispered and brushed a hand over her cheek.
 
 (Author Unknown)


“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” Proverbs 1:5 (NIV)


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Simple Fix

>> Saturday, July 23, 2011

Porokeratosis. Say what? That’s what my mind said when the Podiatrist gave me that diagnosis. “But it’s a simple fix. We just excise the plug and the pain will go away.” I didn’t know this man, but I trusted he knew what he was talking about.

I walk two miles every morning. The last few weeks the bottom of my foot had become more and more painful. With my fingers, I could feel the hard lump that caused my foot to feel like a piece of glass was poking me with each step. So I purchased some donut-hole pads from Dr. Scholl. But the pain had overridden the padding.

I decided to soak my foot and take care of that lump myself. Didn’t work.


That’s how I ended up walking into the doctor’s office at 3:15 p.m. on Monday. The doctor was correct. It was a simple fix. He picked up a surgical knife … scraped, poked and prodded on the bottom of my foot … and said, “There, the plug just popped right out.”

At 3:30 p.m. on Monday I walked out of the doctor’s office.

Simple fix.

As I walked … pain free … on the treadmill this morning, my thoughts turned to how simple it is to become a Christ-follower. Just as the doctor removed the painful plug on my foot, Christ removes the painful baggage we carry with us. But just as I tried other things first before I finally went to the doctor, we try to take care of our pain ourselves. Some of us eat … others drink or do drugs.

All we have to do is turn to him. He says, “It’s a simple fix. Just trust in Me. Give Me all your pain.” And He gently removes our plugs … whatever they may be. All He asks in return is that we live for Him … letting Him guide us through our life.

I may have to return to the Podiatrist in a year. He said, “Once they start coming, they tend to come back. They love you. You can just come see me every year or so and I’ll do this again.” That’s the physical realm.

But in the spiritual realm, one time is enough. My simple fix with Jesus has lasted over 40 years … and counting.


"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)


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