Saturday, June 18, 2011

What Daddy Does Best

It is a wise father that knows his own child. ~William Shakespeare

Recently I heard a talk-show where callers were encouraged to phone in and explain instances of how they were like their father. I was shocked to hear some saying how they wished they were NOT like their father. Ouch!

For those who have never yet had the privilege of knowing my father, I will share some ways he, as a parent, has sheltered me.

I remember when we moved to a new city I just had to have some privacy so I could soak in the sun’s rays. Dad, being the ‘do for others whenever’ dad that I love, went to the store and bought one [big] section of privacy fence for his seventeen-year-old daughter. He fastened that thing right to the top of our silver Skylark Buick (in lieu of the pick-up truck he had always wanted!) to cart it home. Hilarious, when I think back.

I WANT to be self-sacrificial just like my dad

I AM just like dad - I have the nail cutting chore around here for our family. So, guess what I tell them? “Papaw used to cut my nails with his pocketknife scissors!” (Because it seems more challenging, harder and frankly, downright scarier using scissors, I opt for clippers – in my hands those are scary enough!)

I am reminded of my daddy when my daughter takes her shoe off, props her foot in my lap and demands, “Rub my foot!” Oops. This has come back to bite me…I am sure my daddy is chuckling, thinking, “Payback time!”

 I KNOW what love is because of my dad -- I am one who never had to wonder all the time if God would love me, comfort or take care of me. I had an earthly father that showed God’s love through his own life. I am sure when we become parents, we don’t stop to think how this will help build the character of our grandchildren by the way we live in front of our own children. Dad would stay up so late in the evening for his special alone time, relaxing in the old blue lazy boy and also kneeling there in prayer before heading to bed; after giving of himself to his family and work all day.  

I can count on one hand the times my father spoke angrily or spoke out in frustration to or about my mother. This teaching and guiding -- letting me help with chores (whether it took longer or looked worse after I had helped) has showed that he loved me by doing and finding things I would eventually come to enjoy and/or need to do later in life.

    “Lord, I pray I can use these examples
       as stepping stones in my own way
          as I am raising my children
to become good little missionaries for You.”

Dear Dad,
Thanks for sheltering me with your gentleness, compassion and self-sacrificial love. 

                                                                                                   Happy Father’s Day!
                                                                                                         Love, Molly
                                                                                        Aka Melanie Lynn (Kuhn) Clemens

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Personalized Cards: Free through Shutterfly

Ethan signing his name

Cards ready? Check!

Shutterfly Mug

Happy Father's Day!

Tableware packages for Father's Day
Tied with Love from It's Always a Party at the Parkers

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Shelter from the Flower Garden

However big or small your garden is, if you allow nature to touch your spirit, gardening will bring returns of peace, satisfaction, and well-being for as long as you continue to wander the garden path. ~Norman H. Hansen

Flower gardens.  Is there anything more relaxing than wandering through a garden?  When I am in my Aunt Jean's backyard it's easy to answer that question.  It's not just that the flowers are so beautiful -- although they are -- but each plant has its own special story.  One may be transplanted from her sister's garden, another from her aunt's.  A rose bush may be a gift from one of her children... and there's even a plant I gifted her.

In the garden of Aunt Jean's heart is another garden.  And in that garden plants of grace abound.  Aunt Jean wasn't a Christian when I was growing up.  Enter God's grace and I saw such blossomed beauty in this sweet lady.  Now when I attend the church I grew up in, I get to sit beside her and worship the God we both love.

Garden Moment Getaways
In Emilie Barnes' book, Garden Moment Getaways:A Welcome Refreshment for the Soul, one chapter is entitled, "Garden of Healing." Emilie included this quote by Cindy Crosby:  "My garden is my healing place, a hospital ward for nursing my wounded spirit."  Aunt Jean has walked a road none of us wish to travel -- she has buried two of her adult sons, Tom and Marvin.  Through the multiplied pain Aunt Jean has continued to tend to her garden -- and to her heart-garden -- removing any roots of bitterness Satan has tried to plant.

Paul in 2 Corinthians says, "He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully."  Aunt Jean is sowing bountifully -- not only in her physical garden, but also in the garden of God.  Tulips of love, jonquils of joy, lavender of love, peonies of peace, gladiolus' of giving, Fuji mums of faith and roses of redemption -- they all grow there, mixing a plethora of colors into a rainbow of  hope.  "Where flowers bloom so does hope" (Lady Bird Johnson). Samuel tells us, "(God) rekindles burned out lives with fresh hope, restoring dignity and respect in their lives -- a place in the sun" (1 Samuel 2:8).

You may never meet my dear aunt, but I hope you take time this week to tell your aunt how much she means to you.  My sweet niece, Pam, recently blessed me with her kind words -- my heart fills with joy when I think of them.

After I wander through Aunt Jean's garden, we sit in the kitchen and drink a cup of tea.  There's a Japanese Proverb that says, "If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty."  As I catch up on my cousins' lives and sip my tea, my heart overflows with thanksgiving -- not only for my Aunt Jean, but for the gentle wooing of the Holy Spirit who placed a yearning for God in her heart.  And I marvel at the beauty of her life.

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Idea-lifted Wreath

I totally idea-lifted this wreath from Cracker Barrel.  When I saw their garden hose wreath I loved it.  I needed a wreath for my back door but why buy one if you can make it for less.  As soon as I finished it I knew I needed to make one for my Aunt Jean.  And since I'm going to be in Pennsylvania soon, it was perfect timing.  

For once I was thankful for RB's tendency to keep things "no longer useful."  Bless his heart, he was kind enough not to say "aren't you glad I saved it" when he delivered the cut up hose to me.  I wrapped the hose around a couple times and wired it together.  Added some flowers and a bow and it was done.  

 I have maybe $7.00 in the wreath -- cheap enough to add a book.  I found Emilie Barnes' Garden Moment Getaways at Family Book Store.  It was on sale for 4.97 and with my 25% off coupon was able to get it for $3.75.  I'm not sure why I didn't buy the other three they had.  They'd be perfect paired with flower seeds or bulbs, a pair of garden gloves or a bouquet of flower from your garden.  I'd love to hear if you have other ideas -- I may just have to go back for the rest of the books!

This post is linked to 

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Gift of God's Word

Reading the Bible without meditating on it, is like trying to eat without swallowing. ~ Anonymous 

I believe a vibrant spiritual life must include the reading and meditating on the Word of God.  Can we really enjoy reading God's Word?  I never read a book twice. What's the use when you know the end of the story?  I do re-read nonfiction once in a while.  But I read the Bible over and over and over.  The crazy thing is how "new" it seems each time I read it. And yet, in the newness there is a familiarity that touches a place of home in my heart.

I bore easily.  I really hate to admit it.  If my daughters read this they will laugh because I never allowed them to say they were bored.  I always had a chore for them to do if they were bored.  How can you be bored when life has so much to offer -- a book to read, a hobby to enjoy, a story to write, a picture to draw, enough to never be bored?

The reason I say I bore easily is that I don't like to do anything more than once.  Not reading, not a craft project, not even cooking. So I try to keep my Bible reading creative and fresh.  

To keep the freshness, I:

1.  Read a different translation.  RB bought the Zondervan's Comparative Study Bible for me.  This features four translations across the double page spread.  I don't get as far each day by the time I read four translations, but I feel like I grasp the verses and come away with a clear idea of the chapters.

2.  Listen to the Bible on CD or MP3.  I purchased The Message on CD for Shawn last year for Christmas.  The neat thing about the Remix version is the wide variety of voices, including Steve Green, Stephen Curtis Chapman, and Rebecca St. James.

3.  Use a Chronological Bible instead of reading Genesis-Revelation.  This publication begins with God creating the world and continues in the order the events took place.  Emily recently requested one, so I picked up on the idea and bought one for her (We have always tried to purchase study Bibles for our girls to keep their reading fresh).

4.  Record thoughts in a notebook. I like to read with pen in hand. (If you like to mark in your Bible, this is the best highlighter I've found: Automatic Crayon Pencil: 8 colors.)  Choose a verse to copy, memorize and read, and record some commentary on the verse.  Carry your notebook with you and while waiting on appointments, work on memorizing, and be ready to write down a thought God brings to mind.  It keeps you meditating on the Word all day long. In Psalm 1 we read of the blessed man who "delights in the law of the Lord and in his law does he meditate day and night."

5. Use a Bible Study to help focus on a subject.  I like the Women of Faith series.  It provides variety and practicality, particularly relating to the 21st Century Christian woman.  Another one I like is New Hope Bible Studies for Women. Studying with a friend is often helpful, too.

Long ago I read that we should pray, "Open my eyes that I may find wonderful things in your law" (Psalm 119:18), before beginning our Scripture reading.  This helps corral my thoughts, and reminds me  the reason I am reading is to learn more about God and His plan in my life.  I need the enlightening of the Holy Spirit for the Word to become alive and remain active in my life.

Be an Ezra.  The Bible tells us that "he devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord" (Ezra 7:10).  Become passionate about the Book God gave to us. Read, study, meditate on it and practice it.  Let the Word saturate your heart and delight in it. "Can we really enjoy reading God's Word?" The answer is a resounding yes!