Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Table's Stories

Last spring my older daughter and I were walking around an old village near where she lives in Germany. The amazing thing to me about the some of the buildings was their age--almost 1000 years old. I wished the walls could talk! I wonder what stories they would tell, what events they had witnessed, what changes had occurred during their time. Some of my ancestors came from Germany; I wondered if any had seen these same walls?

Last month my husband and I celebrated our anniversary in a tavern where some of George Washington's men stayed. What plans had been discussed? What fears did those men feel? What did those walls observe?


Last week my son and his wife were house hunting. A couple of the houses were a hundred years old. Who had built the house? What dreams did they have? Who had been born or died between those walls? What family events did those houses view?

Recently we completed ten years in our house. That's the second longest I've lived in one house. The table we gather around here is the one we've had for the longest time in our marriage. If our table could talk what would it tell you? It could talk about tense family discussions, arguments, and complaints, like any family. But it could also tell you about the time I started laughing so hard my oldest son asked, "Who are you and what did you do with my mother?"

It could tell the exciting Thanksgiving when we each wrote what we were thankful for on a paper feather to add to our paper turkey on the wall and our daughter-in-law's said, "My baby"--our first grandchild was on the way!

It could tell of four generations singing hymns after a meal with voices not meant for public, but hearts full of rejoicing.

It could tell of spilled milk, children crying, mother's having to eat cold food because of caring for babies, and broken glasses. It could show you scratches and nicks from carelessness and children enjoying using it as a drum.

It could tell of story devotions, video devotions, and fervent prayer times for those we are concerned about.

It could tell of being decorated for birthdays, baby showers, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and national holidays from many countries.

It could tell of the people from around the world who have sat there and the languages spoken there.

It could tell of meals that were a great success...and those that were total flops.

It could tell of discussions of cars, computers, cameras, houses, potty training, politics, faith, philosophy, and hopes and dreams.

Our table could tell the story of our family for the last ten years. 

In one sense our table is just pieces of wood nailed together, but for our family it is our gathering place, where we have gotten to know and love each other, we've learned, listened, fought, loved, complained, grown, laughed, cried, included others, and been family.



What stories would your table tell?




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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Caught in a Downpour

As I listened with half an ear to the park ranger at the Ben Franklin Court tell the story of that famous man, the rest of me was occupied with following my active two year old granddaughter on that hot and humid August day. (Active two year old is redundant, don't you think?) About half way through the very interesting lecture the skies opened and the rain poured down. We all ran for the printshop.


1982

A little later, in the courtyard in front of Betsy Ross' house, I asked my daughter what I looked like after being rained on. "Like you got caught in a downpour, Mom," she said with a smile. Then my husband leaned over and, with a kiss, said, "Even more beautiful than this day thirty-six years ago when I married you!" Yes, we were sweltering and soaking in Philadelphia with our daughter, German son-in-law, and granddaughter on our thirty-sixth anniversary. But family is part of the reason we got married, and definitely, the result of it!


But we did get a private, romantic celebration about one week later back in Pennsylvania after spending time in New Jersey and New York City and saying good bye to the family traveling back to Germany. By then we were headed home so we were in western Pennsylvania where we found a nice hotel and a tavern built in 1762 for a fun and delicious dinner.


We believe it is important to celebrate our marriage, not only on the anniversary, but all year long, because a marriage that works is a marvelous thing. And, by God's grace, ours works.


Here are some more reasons to celebrate your marriage:(Disclaimer: I don't know who most of these people who said these things are, so I don't know if I like their whole philosophy of life, but I like these quotes. Let me know which is your favorite!)



  • A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.   -- Paul Sweeney
  • A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. -- Mignon McLaughlin
  • Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.  -- Simone Signoret
  • A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.   -- Dave Meurer
  • There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage. -- Martin Luther
  • Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,...that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless....This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. -- the Apostle Paul.

As much as I promote family meals, I  believe it is important to make sure that husbands and wives spend time alone together on a regular basis--not just their anniversary--so they can have a good relationship beyond discussing the children. Husbands and wives need to be more than co-parents. 

My husband and I are partners, lovers, and as cliche as it sounds, best friends. When our children were small, our "date night" was collapsing in front of a recording of some 80s TV show with a delivered pizza on Sunday night after a full day of ministry and children. When they were all in school my husband's office was in our house so lunch was "our" time whether we ate out or in. After we moved back to the states ten years ago, with three teens in and out of the house, we got coffee at a bookstore/coffee shop on Tuesday nights. 


2018

And anniversaries weren't always dinner out or a night in a hotel. On our twelfth anniversary we had just bought our first house and had our fourth baby, so there was no money to go out to eat. We put the kids to bed and I made beef stroganoff. I dressed up and did my make-up and hair. My husband put on some soft music and we lit the candles. You know what, we can't remember what we have done on a lot of anniversaries, but we remember that one because we made it special.

Today, there is no one we would rather spend time with, talk to, or do things with as a result of making time for "us" for thirty-six years. 

As the Apostle Paul said, marriage is an illustration for the world to see of Christ's relationship to the church, an intimate relationship where the husband loves his wife in a sacrificial way and the wife respects her husband for who he is. And that illustration is a goal worth working towards, rain or shine.





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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Thousands and Thousands Served!

She reached out with short, chubby, two-year-old arms to her mother and me, her face lit up with a smile that sparkled from her eyes as she said, "Amen! Amen!" We were already well into our meal and had given thanks before we started, but she wanted us to pray again. My granddaughter wanting to pray thrills my heart more than I can describe, and so we prayed again.


This is what I have been doing during my long hiatus from this blog: family meals. We have the privilege of our four parents living in our city now, our two youngest (grown) children living in town, a four and a half week visit from our older daughter and her family this summer, and, as of this week, our oldest son, his wife, and four children have moved here. In fact, they are living in our house until they find the right home for them.

This mother and grandmother's heart is full!

How have we done our meals? Well...

  • around our table
  • on the patio
  • by the river
  • in a park
  • experiencing ethnic restaurants
  • at a wedding
  • at the roadside
  • in the Christian Missions in Many Lands mansion
  • at a corner hot dog stand in NYC

And the people?
  • with anywhere from one to four generations
  • with two to twenty-four people
  • celebrating a two year old's birthday
  • celebrating a ninetieth birthday and a ninety first and ninety second!
  • with as many as four booster seats and high chairs

When I wasn't planning, preparing, eating, or cleaning up meals, I was busy enjoying my family--an enjoyment made possible in part by the thousands of meals we have had together over the last thirty six years of marriage and thirty three years as parents.

Eating together isn't just what I write about, it's what we do. I hope you do, too, and I hope you had a wonderful summer making memories with your family around your table and in many other ways!




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Friday, July 6, 2018

Who Will Join the Fight?

"The big problem here is we don't have people who will do the ministry." We were riding in the car with Vladimir in his home country of Serbia on a trip to encourage people to study the Bible using the Emmaus International Bible Study Courses. We had crossed the Balkan mountains by bus from Albania through Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina to the northern plains of the former Yugoslavia. 

 But we could have been anywhere in the world. Everywhere we go we are told, "We. Need. Workers." Christians to take on ministries.



Vladimir told us that at one point his village of 6000 was 10% Christian. He was excited about that figure. And it was good, especially for a former communist country. But I thought about the 90% who are on their way to hell. Why can't we reach more?

Then this morning I read about David and Nabal. Granted, David wasn't exactly on a godly mission. But I was struck by how many went to the fight and how many "stayed by the baggage." Four hundred went out to defend their honor and only two hundred stayed behind. (1 Sam. 25:13) Later when David has to rescue the wives and children of his men from the Amalekites, the same ratio had to stay behind because they were exhausted, but the majority went to fight.


How many have joined the fight today? I know we can't all go to another country, but we can all work where we are in local ministries, with people we know, and in prayer. 

There are so many needy places in the world that we can be praying for. And look what God does in answer to our prayers! We as a people prayed for years for the gospel to be able to get into the communist countries freely and 29 years ago that became a reality. We pray for the people of North Korea and we can see things happening there! As we pray for God to open up the Muslim world and reach these people with the gospel, imagine what He can do!

There are places close to home as well, in our schools, offices, neighborhoods, and local churches. Ministries need people! We can be one. And we can pray for many. The Lord's prayer request is still relevant today.
The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His Harvest. Matthew 9:37-38 
The danger in praying that prayer is you might discover that you are the answer.




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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What do You Want Your Kids to Be Like?

From oldest to youngest our four children have almost nine years between them, so when they were at home we were always looking for creative ways to make the Bible come alive for them. We wanted our family devotions to be interesting to all of them. What a challenge!


As I was doing my own devotions the other day I thought of those memes that were making the rounds a few years ago about "Bob" who did whatever the person making the meme thought was good. I wrote one based on Joshua 1.

And I realized that this would be a great family activity that everyone could do to get an application. In fact it follows the basics of Bible study--observation, interpretation, application!

Observation: The who, what, where, and when. Joshua knows God is with him and he obeys God and fights against evil.
Interpretation: The how. Joshua is courageous because of what he knows.
Application: Be courageous like Joshua.

Another day I read Third John and learned about Gaius. And I drew my own picture to go along with it.

This is Gaius.

Gaius knows the truth.
Gaius uses the truth to guide how he lives.
Gaius meets new people and shows them love in his home because of the truth.
Be wise and generous like Gaius.

Whether you read from a children's Bible story book or you read a chapter of narrative from the Bible, you could all take a piece of paper and write something like during your family devotions. Not only will you have fun looking at each others "art" work (go ahead, laugh at mine, my feelings won't be hurt!), but you are actually teaching your children how to study the Bible!

Not all the people you meet in the pages of the Bible are ones you want to emulate. In Third John there is another person about whom John doesn't have nice things to say.




This is Diotrephes.
Diotrephes always wants to be 
the most important.
Diotrephes accuses everyone else
of bad things.
Diotrephes makes people who disagree with him go away.
Diotraphes is proud and bad.
Don't be like Diotraphes.



So whatever the people you read about are like, your kids can learn a lesson directly from them and begin to learn how to study the Bible on their own. Give it a try!



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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

What Are Your Food Choices in the Land of Plenty?

To whom much is given
much will be required.

I like to quote this verse about people who are bursting with energy, are multi-talented, and have wealth far above normal. But I was recently reminded of the "much" variety of food I can obtain, compared to so many people in the world, makes me responsible too. 
  • What would happen to the brain of a 2 year old in the Central African Republic, who goes to bed hungry every night, if I could give him a bowl of blueberries with yogurt each day?
  • How would a mother with dry breasts and a tiny infant in Haiti feel with four ounces of red meat laden with fat and four quarts of clean water to drink every day?
  • Where would the Yemeni 15 year old, pregnant with her second child, having dropped out of school at 10, married at 12, be if I could have given her a salad laden with a wide variety of vegetables and slathered with seasoned olive oil for her daily lunch when she was still in school?
  • What would the weary 45 year old man--emphasis on old--in the Chad be doing if, instead of eating ugali to feel full, he had the option of chicken, beef, or pork and vegetables, on a regular basis? 


I know that I can't do much to give these people the food they need to survive and thrive, but I realized that I do have much! I can have all of the foods I have mentioned above and more. I can buy them for myself, my family, and my guests without hardship to our lifestyle. And so, much is required of me, as a steward of what God had entrusted to me, to eat well and to eat right, to feed my family a healthy, well-balanced diet to give them the opportunity to do all they can and should do.

For me this has always meant lots of fruit and vegetables and cooking as low fat as possible. That doesn't mean we didn't eat pizza, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese from time to time. Carbs were a staple in our home because they were cost effective and everyone liked them. Sugared cereals were on our breakfast table and on Saturdays we had pancakes and sausage. And yes, I will admit that sugary powdered drink mixes kept my kids hydrated. But my overall plan was to help my family eat food that would keep them healthy, and teach them what was good for them on a regular basis. 

As adults now, we all have to work to keep our weight down (admittedly one of my objectives for myself with the way I cooked for my family). And that is part of the responsibility given to me by having many options for food. It gives us a greater motivation, but even if we weight were not an issue, we have responsibilities because we have so many choices about our diet in our land of plenty.


Much is required. 
What choices are you making for you family?



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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

What I'm Loving

I left to join my husband in the Middle East in the middle of April just after a late season snow storm and the day before another. The grass was brown, the trees were bare, and the temperatures were below chilly so one of the things I'm loving on our return is

The beauty of spring--The blooming trees are covered with pink and white blossoms, the grass is "spring green", and the leaves are bursting out. I've broken out my summer clothes and put away my heavy sweaters. I love every season, but right now, the variety of greens is amazing! It makes me wonder how anyone cannot believe in a Creator.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20

Hugs from my grandkids--As a card-carrying Grandma, I have to say that the seven littles who call me "Grandma" are just about the most adorable things on earth! There is nothing like having a two-year old squeal when they see you and run toward you, arms open wide, and then be enveloped in their joyful hug! That goes for seven year olds, five year olds, three year olds, and one year olds! We are looking forward to a weekend this summer when we will celebrate my father's 90th birthday and have all of them together at once!

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, Proverbs 17:6
    
Sheet pan meals--Like this one or this one oooo, or this one! What a great way to cook lots of delicious vegetables and only have one pan to clean up for your whole meal! Plus if you line the pan with parchment paper or foil, there's not even a lot of clean up!

Four generation meals--Most Sundays we are in town both sets of our parents, our two in-town kids, a daughter-in-law, and two of our granddaughters come for Sunday "dinner" right after church. I can't believe the blessing of all of us being in one town. I grew up always living at least a thousand miles from my grandparents and my children grew up on a different continent from theirs, so the Lord orchestrating that so many of us are together now is a privilege!
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. Exodus 20:12

Veggies--Several members of the family have started working on eating healthier and are (finally) appreciating the roasted and stir fried veggies I've been serving up for years. They really are good, and good for us!

A full guest room--We arrived home from our latest trip overseas and a couple of days later had five Indians (as in people from India) staying with us for a week, the family of students at Emmaus Bible College, here for their graduation. Some we can talk to and some have much less English, although more than we can speak of Malayalam! Next week we have some people from Scotland and France and the week after that New York and California! We sure learn a lot from visiting with these people and get a little taste of heaven.


Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2



Do you think any of these people are angels?

Scripture Typer--Last year I decided I needed to get back to memorizing scripture. I had heard about this app, so I looked it up and started using it. In the last year I've learned 75 verses! I love that it reminds me when to review verses based on how well I did the last time I reviewed and I review all the verses at least every three months. I also like the motivation of earning points and seeing how faithful I am to reviewing. (By the way, I get no compensation for this, I'm just telling you what I like.)


I have stored up Your Word in my heart
that I might not sin against You.
Psalm 119:11


What are you loving these days?


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