Monday, April 4, 2011

Little by Little

“Little by little, inch by inch.
By the yard it’s hard, by the inch – what a cinch.
Never stare up the stairs - just step up the steps.
Little by little, inch by inch.” Ron Hamilton

Discovering you’re pregnant! Proudly state your need of eating for two. Going ahead and eating for two. Packing on the pounds because of your previous decision. Baby arrives. Needing to lose the weight you so happily added to your physique in the first place. Exercising like a mad woman to fit into your normal clothes once again. Weight taking its time falling off. You sigh. Such. Hard. Work.

Expecting #4
Familiar with that scenario? Maybe stress from school/work/daily routine/crisis is making you cram into your mouth every mouth-watering carbohydrate in sight? It’s tough getting those extra pounds to leave. It takes more than just one day of just a few calories, eight glasses of water, and saying “no” to dessert to drop those pounds. Little by little – that’s how it’s done.
Learning to be like Jesus is much the same. Jesus didn’t come to Earth for a week and speed talk His way through the rules and teachings to His disciples. Those men were probably overwhelmed from the start, since they had left their livelihood and all they owned to follow Jesus. They really would have felt pressure if they had been allotted only one week to learn all about reaching the world.

No, no. Little by little. Jesus came and spent time with them by ministering to others -- leading by example. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me…unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Jesus answered questions and prepared them to be on their own. He also explained that when we failed to remember, He would gently remind us. “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” (John 14.26)

Camron Lucas
Listen to what Jesus said: “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now.” (John 16:12) Do you see what this verse is screaming at us? Little by little. Step by step. Moment by moment. Day by day.

Sometimes we feel as though everything should happen overnight – at least I do. I will lose “x” amount of extra weight by tomorrow. I will totally be over-wanting “me” time – all the time - by tomorrow. I will not get angry at my family at all tomorrow. I will pray 30 minutes tomorrow instead of my usual minutes sandwiched in between child care duties. I will not get frustrated when life interrupts my schedule. I will slow down and share a listening ear to one of God’s dear children (without looking at the clock). And on, and on. Remember: little by little.

Jesus doesn’t expect us to go from zero to 120 in a few seconds; imperfect to perfect. All He asks is that we follow Him wholly and strive every second to be like Him. Whew! Relief floods in. Deep breathing allows the oxygen to flow and clear our minds. How much better can we follow Jesus’ example than by being relaxed and joyful about our circumstances? Tough times come – and go. Little by little, we press on. Good times of growing in grace come, as well. Little by little, we press on.

I have made a little craft project for a friend. Found this idea online (somewhere) and thought I’d give it a whirl. If you happen to do this project, take time to reflect on what you need to accomplish for your life to be fully pleasing to Jesus. But remember, little by little. Just as a rose bush creates beauty by starting with only one rose and increasing by one bud at a time, so we strive to be like Jesus – one step at a time.

* * * * *

One Bloom at a Time

[½ price] flower and branch stem
Rocks, pebbles, clear gel or moss
Coordinating Ribbon
Glue gun

If your project is for a gift – here is an idea for your card: “Becoming a beautiful creation of God is a process…one bloom at a time. The more you follow God, the more you grow and blossom until you are an eye-catching display of God’s workmanship.

Thank you for showing God’s beauty 
to those around you!

Side note: I glued flowers onto both sides to make it look pretty either way my friend decided to turn it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Happy Ever After

God, the best maker of all marriages,
Combine your hearts into one. ~William Shakespeare

I was fifteen -- he was seventeen -- when I looked towards the piano during choir rehearsal and my eyes collided with his.  My heart pounded and I couldn't breathe -- what was up with that?  I still had two and a half years of high school left.  He was leaving for college in the fall. I couldn't date until I was sixteen and that was nine months away.  Wouldn't he get tired of this quiet introspective girl before then?

That was nearly thirty-eight years ago.  If he's tired of me, he's smart enough to keep it to himself. 

We were blessed with loving marital examples in our parents.  My daddy, the romantic, enjoyed spending his off-work hours with my mother.  RB's father, ever practical, made sure his wife was cared for, treating her with love and respect throughout their 60+ years of marriage.  Someone said, "The best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother."  I couldn't find the source, but whoever wrote this was a wise person. 

We used the traditional marriage vows in our wedding.  RB has lived the phrase, "in sickness and in health."  He  rejoices in the good days and cares for more than his part of the load in the bad.  I've been told that marriage only works if there's a 50/50 ratio -- each partner giving 50%.  I disagree.  Throughtout our marriage there have been times the best I could give is 30% and RB has given 70%.  Likewise in the seasons he only had 40% to give, I have been able to give 60%. 

For the first twenty-six years of our marriage we lived where we worked -- on the campus of a Bible College and the campus of church ministry. I had opportunities to see him numerous times throughout the day.  It was a big adjustment for me ten years ago when RB left at 7:00 in the morning and didn't return until 6:00 in the evening.  I'm thankful for computers.  We're able to connect via email throughout the day, even if it's a hurried, "Racing from meeting to meeting -- XO."  Cell phones are on my thankful list, too.  Grateful for free phone-to-phone minutes that allow taking advantage of commuting time to talk about our days. 

Start Strong and Finish Well
Although Emily will be living at home and traveling with RB to the university each day, we're entering another season of our life.  I'm thankful for the vibrancy of our relationship.  Thankful we enjoy each other, that our discussions went beyond home and parenting to the political, spiritual, and yes, even the craziness. 

In this autumn of our life we will keep our vows -- to have and to hold from this day forward -- happy ever after.

* * * * *

Wedding in a Box

My girls loved playing wedding.  Melanie and her friend, Maria, often dressed Emily up as a bride.  Emily would do anything they asked, even wearing the half slip veil they fashioned for her.   

Remembering that, I made Morgan a "Wedding in a Box."  Except for the box and tulle, I found all of my wedding items at the Dollar Store, bringing the total project to $12.00

What's in the box: 

Veil, made with tulle, a rose and wired hearts.
Lilly of the valley bouquet
Long white gloves
Silk petals for the "aisle."
Wedding bubbles
Wedding bells
Bride's garter

RB wrote, "Here comes the bride" around the side box and "Morgan" name on the lid.  I can't wait to "play bride" with Morgan.  I'll be sure to tell her that she wants to marry someone like her own daddy -- a gentle man, a strong man, a man of God.

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