Thursday, July 28, 2011

Surprise Sheltering

The only thing that should surprise us is that there are still some things that can surprise us. 
~Francois de la Rochefoucauld

Do you like surprises?  I do.  Not the big surprises like,"{Doorbell} Surprise, I'm here to spend the weekend with you" but fun surprises like a card in the mail or a tiny gift that lets me know someone was listening.

The coordinator of curriculum in the School of Liberal Arts at the university had a baby last evening.  Stefanie and her husband have a son and chose to be surprised with the gender of their new child.  RB forwarded Stefanie's e-mail announcement this morning.  The subject said, "It's a..." and in the message, in large pink letters, was one word -- Girl!  What a fun surprise.

When I entered the kitchen this morning, RB, like every morning, had my iced tea ready for me.  Beside the goblet was a single red rose (freshly cut from one of our rose bushes) in a crystal vase.  I love surprises.

Sweet Camron

Melanie picked me up this afternoon for VBS.  She brought me a Snapple Diet Peach Tea -- my favorite treat -- and so enjoyed it in between feeding, cuddling and patting the babies.  Did I mention I love surprises?

Melanie put Camron on the nursery floor and he quickly spotted a toy he wanted.  I watched in amazement as my sweet 5-month-old grandbaby used his arms to scoot over to get it. I love those sweet baby surprises.

I don't think I deserved so many surprises in one day.  But I loved them!  Joy in the simple things of life.  Smile makers.

God loves to plan surprises, too.  Every day His hands are full of surprise gifts.  Some gifts are wrapped in nature; other gifts are wrapped in skin. He's given me surprises that are gift boxed in joy and others tied with a bow of peace.

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man. The {surprises} which God has prepared for those who love Him.  ~1 Corinthians 2:9

Did I mention that I love surprises?  I can't wait for my next surprise from God!

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Peanut Butter Surprise 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 375*  Combine flour, cocoa and soda.  Beat sugars, butter and peanut butter.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture and blend well.  Set aside.  Make filling by blending powdered sugar and peanut butter.
Roll the filling into 1" balls (about 30 balls).  Shape a tablespoon of balls around peanut butter ball.  Place onto ungreased cookie sheet 2" apart and flatten each one with a glass dipped in sugar  Bake for 7-9 minutes.  Cool.

I made these cookies for the two men who are driving our vans for VBS -- our Pastor and Jerry, an retired man who drives on Sundays, too.  (I didn't know who they were for when I started.)  I knew Melanie's family would love them (and yes, they got some) but God decided they didn't need the whole batch. Melanie pointed out the tag I had written for our pastor.  Instead of Pastor Clemens, I wrote the pastor's name where we worked for nineteen years -- Pastor Sankey.  If I know my pastor, it made him laugh -- like I'm sure Leonard Sankey will, too.  

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mind your Ps and Qs while Sheltering

You may pray for an hour and still not pray. You may meet God for a moment and then be in touch with Him all day. --Fredrik Wisloff

Has anyone ever told you to mind your Ps and Qs? I tried to find its origin but there are varied stories. One source claimed  the saying began at the print shop. Back in the early days of printing presses, each line of text had to be set up one letter at a time. Since the letters in the press were reversed (so they'd print forward), the set-up printer needed to be careful not to confuse one letter for the other.  So reminding someone to "watch his p's and q's" meant to pay attention to the details.

The meaning I've heard has been common in post-victorian Britain as an abbreviation of to mind your manners or, more specifically, to say both please (Ps) and thank you (thank-Q). The phrase watch your Ps and Qs has been in use to encourage people to speak politely, especially children, who remember such phrases better than just instructions.

Another story said the phrase originated in old England. The pubs served their beer and ale in pints and quarts. As there was no legal limit or anything like that, the men in the pubs often got rowdy, belligerent, or started fights. The bar tender would often have to shout over the chaos, "Mind your pints and quarts" meaning don't slosh them around and spill them. It was a reprimand for rowdy behavior: Mind your Ps and Qs.

Upon  discovering  such varying explanations for "minding your Ps and Qs," I wondered if it gave me permission to make up my own story.  I think mine would include Blood Mary and her hatred for Christians.  As a way to encourage each other to keep their faith, Christians would remind their friends to "mind their Ps and Qs" --  their prayers and quiet time.

While that wouldn't pass an historian's test, it's something we should adopt to remind ourselves and others of the importance of prayer.  Most of us have had trouble at some time or another maintaining a consistent prayer life.  If we could just catch a small glimpse of prayer -- the act of opening our life to Him. God desires a relationship with us -- a relationship that includes us talking to Him. F. B. Myers said "The great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer."

I do think our prayer life goes through varying stages. It's a learning process.  At times we will become distracted.  Some seasons are filled with young children and you will need to plan a specific plan for prayer.  The season of life I am in right now leaves me alone for hours each day.  I find myself praying all throughout the day.  A message pops up on my facebook and I can pray immediately.  When a prayer chain e-mail regarding a need in my church family shows up in my inbox -- not only can I pray immediately, I can stop and pray each time the need comes to mind.

The spiritual discipline of prayer is so much more than just bringing needs to God.  It's sharing and praising and feeling God's love envelop me.  As we pray we are moved deeper into the things of God.  It changes us.

One of the blessings of prayer for me is praise.  I love praising my Heavenly Father.  I can do this while reading praise Scriptures, acknowledging a blessing or choosing an attribute of God on which to focus my thankfulness.  The Psalmist told God, "Seven times a day do I praise you."  As I articulate praise I find more to praise God for.  It's never ending.

And then the privilege I have of sharing my needs, the cares of my friends and even my dreams, with the One who instructed me to cast all our cares on Him.  Why?  Because God cares for me!

I always think of Leonard Tincher as a reminder of a man of prayer.  His favorite verse was:

Let us therefore come boldly unto
the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

When he was having a knee replacement the doctors said Leonard Tincher's knees were calloused like camel's knees due to the amount of time he spent in prayer.  My knees might not have callouses but I hope my heart bears the marks of where I've bowed before the throne.

Develop a prayer life that fits into your current season.  Approach God boldly in the name of His Son, Jesus.  Praise Him for joy, His wisdom,  and grace.  Your sheltering will find new life as you mind your Ps and Qs.

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Bean Bag Fun

I love this book by Keith Baker. The peas are human like -- just a fun way to teach the alphabet or share some giggles.

I made bean bags with alphabet material.  Here are a few games to play with bean bags.  I copied them to cardstock and made a bookmark. Laminate it -- it will be more durable.

Throw a beanbag in the air, touch your toes turn, and catch it again.

Throw the beanbag in the air, clap your hands once, and catch it. Now try clapping your hands twice.  Can you clap three times, too?

Do the same sequence except jump instead of clap.  

Try catching the beanbag with the opposite hand than you are used to catching with.

Close your eyes and try to catch the beanbag.

Throw the beanbag to a friend and see how many times you can catch it before it drops.

See how far you can throw the beanbag.