Friday, February 27, 2015

What I Learned in February

1.  I was amazed at how beautiful Bratz dolls could be with a simple change in "makeup."  They look like dolls should look.  Beautiful.
2.  I still remember a poem I wrote in fourth grade.  I got a C.

3.  My three favorite winter moisturizers are from Beautycounter.
4.  When walking in an attic it is very important to step on the joists and not on the sheetrock.  My daughter learned this very important fact the hard way.
5.  The last time Congress passed a law regulating cosmetics was in 1938.  We deserve better. The European Union has spent the past two decades banning or restricting more than 1,300 ingredients, the US has only banned 11 to date.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


     For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  ~Ephesians 2:10
    For we are God’s handiwork, His workmanship, and His masterpiece.  The original word is poiema; which means “made, crafted, or composed.
      Poiema is where our English word poem came from.  Poems are paintings with words using rhyme and rhythm.  The poet carefully chooses each word for it’s meaning and cadence to tell a story or convey an emotion.
    When I was in fourth grade our class was given the assignment to write an original rhyming poem about a state that we would like to visit.  I still remember the first stanza.
Florida is the land I’d like to see.
Where oranges grow upon a tree.
Where oceans make a lot of noise.
And little children play with toys.
That’s why,
Florida is the land I’d like to see.

     I was quite proud of it at the time.  My teacher was not so impressed.  She gave me a C.  Perhaps if she had known that it would have a public recitation almost 50 years later, I would have done better.
     God, unlike me, is a poet.  He is the Master Poet.  God, who paints the sunset and calls the stars by name, wants to compose a poem out of your life.  You are the subject of God’s poem.  His work of art.  His masterpiece.  It may be that our life is tattered with imperfections and confusion.  We may feel like an unfinished work.  Other’s may even believe that we rate a C.  But we are in the hands of the Master Poet.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  ~2 Corinthians 5:17.
     Jesus looks at you, and at me, and He doesn't see us just for what we are. He sees us for what we are in Him. We see a lump of clay; God sees a beautiful vessel. We see a blank canvas; God sees a finished painting. We see problems; God sees solutions. We see failures; God sees a finished work.  We see a Jacob; God sees an Israel.
But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;  ~Isaiah 43:1-3a
    God picks up the pieces of our lives to display His beauty and creativity.  We are His masterpiece.  We bear His signature.  We are His poeima.

Monday, February 16, 2015

How is God In Your Story?

     It's the children's eyes that grab me.  The eyes that make me catch my breath.  The eyes that have seen too much.  The eyes that have known hunger.   Some children gaze from their photo with a shy confidence, still others with a fragile hope.
     Compassion Bloggers are visiting the Dominican Republic this week.  Through their stories, Compassion hopes to sponsor 300 children.  Go here to see how many have been sponsored so far.
     Bonnie, who writes at Faith Barista, posted a short video of an interview she did with fifteen year old Francimar.  During her interview, Bonnie asked, "How is God in your story?'  Her question reached out and caught me.  How is God in my story?  How is He in yours?  Is there room in your story to sponsor a child through Compassion?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Talent for the Task

     The Good Morning Girls at Women Living Well are reading through the book of Exodus during the months of February and March.  I am joining them on this journey.
    You can read my other Exodus posts here:

     This weeks reading is all about the construction of the Tabernacle and the items that would go into it.  I was impressed with the level of detail that God provided in His instructions on building the Tabernacle.  God gave specific materials, lengths, and designs for each item that went into it.   The lampstands were to be made of gold and look like flowering branches.  The ten curtains were to be skillfully woven of fine linen in blue, purple, and scarlet bordered with cherubim.  The frame of the structure was to be made of acacia wood overlaid with gold.  Even the priests sacred clothing had about six different parts.  It all sounded extremely complicated.  I was rather glad that God didn’t ask me to build His tabernacle.  I just know it would be lopsided and unworthy of Him in every way.  But then I noticed, that God gave the ability and talent to the workers who were asked to complete the Tabernacle.
   Tell all the skilled workers to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest.  ~Exodus 28:3
     I peeked ahead to Exodus 31 where God tells Moses that He has chosen and given Bezalel the talent to do the work required.
   Then the Lord said to Moses,  “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,  and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—  to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze,  to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.  Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you:  ~Exodus 31:1-6
     When God had directed Moses from the burning bush to speak to Pharaoh,  Moses had hesitated and questioned whether he had the skills necessary.  He told God that he was "slow of speech."  So God supported Moses with Aaron.  In this instance, God reminds Moses that the talent has already been provided.
     While you and I see all of our many failures and lacks, God sees the potential that He has tucked inside.  He has graciously provided the skills to do the tasks He has set before us.  He will give us understanding, knowledge, and wisdom to do the work that He has assigned us.  He has filled us with His Holy Spirit.  This knowledge helps us to step out of our comfort zone and risk failure to try something new.  God gives ordinary people, extra-ordinary talents for His glory.
      What has God asked you to use your talent for?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My Three Favorite Winter Moisturizers.

     Bad news: Punxsutawney Phil just predicted six more weeks of winter. If you’re anything like me, that means six more weeks of slathering on moisturizer, lip balm and lotion while wishing for warmer days – and less dry skin!
    Moisturizers are one of the best ways to keep your skin healthy and hydrated. But like all personal care products, they sometimes contain ingredients that are potentially toxic.  The trouble is, chemicals with strong links to cancer and endocrine disruption – think parabens, phthalates and formaldehyde – are in many of the personal care products we use every day.  Which is why I use Beauty Counter for my family.
     Our favorite products are:

  1. Nourishing Cleansing Balm:  Nourishing Cleansing Balm melts into your skin, while removing makeup, and it moisturizes as it cleanses.  I use it as an overnight face masque for extra hydration.  Raspberry Seed Oil and Cranberry Seed Oil hydrate and revitalize the skin, while Vitamin C brightens skin tone.  This makes my skin look and feel amazing.    
  2. Lip Conditioner Peppermint Balm: This is my daughter, Patty's, favorite.  This balm is made with regenerative Avocado Oil, Shea Butter, Meadowfoam Seed Oil, and Jojoba Seed Oil.  Just apply when you are going out in the cold or anytime your lips feel dry or chapped.  I like to put it on before bed.   
  3. Glow Sugar Scrub:  Brown sugar buffs away dull skin cells while mineral-rich evening primrose, sweet almond, apricot kernel, and sunflower oils leave skin looking supple and smooth.   Glow Sugar Scrub smells delicious.  Use it in the shower and your skin will feel smooth, soft, and hydrated.

     Disclosure: As a cancer survivor, I know how important it is to choose safe products for my family and myself, which is why I became a Beauty Counter Consultant.   I will be paid should you make a purchase through my website, however, the opinions are my own and I would never recommend a product that I did not know and love.
     There is no better time to check out Beauty Counter.

Dancing on the Ceiling

     Pat and I have been completing all kinds of home projects.  And when I say we, I mean we.  Pat and I have put up crown molding, replaced windows, taken down decks and a pool, painted most of our rooms, taken down walls, replaced sheetrock,  ripped out a cast iron tub, and well a lot of things.  We have suffered smashed fingers and toes, splinters, paint in our hair, sore muscles, and frequent trips to Home Depot and Lowes.  Pat now has pain in his left shoulder and is having trouble lifting things.  The kids have been somewhat involved, but really most of the work is accomplished when they are at school or work.
     All of our work led to a mountain of debris. So Pat ordered a 24 foot dumpster.  This lovely ornament was parked in our driveway.  I’m sure that our neighbors were thrilled.  While the dumpster was gracing our yard we decided that we should take advantage of it to rid ourselves of things that we had stored in the attics and forgotten about.
     We have two attics.  One over the second floor of the house reachable with a ladder from the hallway and one over the garage.  The one over the garage is quite high.  The access panel is about 14 feet up from the concrete floor above a stair landing.  Both attics held boxes of books, games, old suitcases, and  random empty boxes for appliances that have long since broken and been discarded.  I think we found the box for the Tandy Computer we bought in 1985.
     We enlisted the help of the kids and Brian who was home visiting.  We were organized.  It was a beautiful thing.  We started in the house attic.  Pat went into the attic which has a plywood floor in the storage area. Pat handed boxes down to Patty who stood on the ladder.  Brian, Anthony, and I trudged up and down the stairs to the dumpster and back.  Connor served as doorman, in a vain attempt to keep some heat in the house.  The Middle School lesson plans I had so carefully stored for 17 years vanished into the depths of the dumpster.  I think that I heard angels singing.  But that is another story.  Ten minutes later that attic was empty, so we moved down to the garage.
     We lost the doorman and the 17 year old in the move.  Pat set the ladder on the stair landing and climbed back up into the attic.  This attic has a piece of plywood across a rafter.  Anyone going up there has to remember to step on the joists or risk falling through the ceiling.  Sheetrock is not meant to support any weight.  As an added hazard, because we had boxes of siding on the garage floor for another project, our large tools - including the tile saw, were placed pretty much under the part of the attic that we were emptying.  Fortunately, there were just a few boxes and some old games up there.  I yelled at my husband to be careful.  I didn’t yell because I was being bossy, I yelled because we also had an air compressor going because the laser machine in the garage was running a piece.  We were multi-tasking.
     Patty resumed her position at the base of the ladder and Brian and I took the junk out to the dumpster.  We were decluttering!  We were getting stuff done!  I was thrilled!
     When I noticed that Patty was also missing in action, I incorrectly assumed that she had followed her younger brothers into the house to get warm.  Patty was actually up in the attic.  I discovered this when I walked back into the garage and saw Patty dangling from the ceiling!
Here is where my daughter was hanging!
     There was my beloved daughter, dangling through a huge hole in the ceiling, over the tools and the saw.  Through the cloud of plaster dust, I could see one long leg, her bottom and the skin of her waist and back.  Her clothing looked like it had been ripped by a nail. Thankfully, there wasn’t any visible blood.
     Pat was on the ladder, head in the attic.  I screamed, not that anyone could hear with the compressor going, and rushed up the stairs and the ladder trying to get to Patty.  Pat blocked me.  He yelled at me over the noise of the compressor, telling me that she was fine. As you may have guessed I argued this point.  How could she possible be fine, she was hanging out of the ceiling!  Pat refused to let me up there correctly surmising that I would also fall through the ceiling.  But Pat wasn’t rushing up there either, remember he hurt his shoulder.  Instead, Pat calmly talked Patty, who had managed to straddle the joists, back onto the beams and out of the attic.  When she was safely back on the ground with no bones broken, the experience became a bit of an adventure to her.  As for me, I went outside, kicked the dumpster and said some very unkind things.  It was not my finest moment.
falling through ceiling
Home renovation is not for the faint of heart.
    Now I know what you are thinking.  What scripture matches this occasion?    
 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:  ~Is. 59:1
     Accidents happen shattering our sense of self control.  There are times when the floor shifts beneath us.  Our feet slip and we are left dangling, feeling unsupported. We feel alone, scared, devastated.  Sometimes we suffer watching a family member in a life threatening situation.
     But the truth is we are not alone.  God is in our midst.  We are precious to Him.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  ~Rom. 8:38,39
     Whatever you are facing today, remember God loves you.  He desires you.  He forgives you.  He died to bring you to Him.
There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides across the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.   ~Deuteronomy 33:26-27      

Saturday, February 7, 2015

When Oceans Rise

     Love the way this song ministers to my soul.  It can be purchased here (affiliate link).

Monday, February 2, 2015

Support on the Hill

     I have been reading the Book of Exodus with the Good Morning Girls. at Women Living Well.  My other Exodus posts may be found here.

     In Exodus 17: 8-16,  we read of a mighty battle.  While Joshua was in the valley fighting a battle, Moses, Aaron, and Hur were up on the hill providing support.  As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.  When Moses arms became too tired to hold up the staff, Aaron and Hur held up his arms for him.
     That passage is often used to show that we need to support our pastors and our leadership by shouldering some responsibility, lending a word of encouragement or in some way offering them refreshment.  I don't disagree with that.  However, I think it is can be more than that.  It also shows the support our leadership needs to have for the people below them. For example, pastors to congregation, parents to children, bosses to employees.  Moses was the leader of the Israelites.  He was supported by the second-in-command, Aaron and Hur.  Together, they supported the Israelites.  To do otherwise would have been to hurt themselves.  Our leaders need to be out on that hill, holding up their hands.  
     We first meet Joshua in this passage.  At the time of the battle against the Amalekites, Joshua was far below Moses in the hierarchy.  Joshua was on the ground, in the battle.  Joshua could have thought, "Look at those guys doing nothing on top of the hill, while I'm down here about to get killed.  Why do I have to do all of the work?"  But Joshua was obedient to Moses and faithful to God.  Joshua succeeded Moses as Israel's leader and became one of only two people who had left Egypt as an adult to actually enter the Promised Land.
     God was showing me a larger truth.  As Christians living in this world, we are in a battle.  Everyday we battle temptation, pressure, and the influences of this world that want us to rebel against God.  Our spouses need to know that we are in their corner.  Our children need to know it, too.  We all go through valleys in our lives and we need support and fellowship to get us through.
     Who are the people that you need to provide support to?   Think about the arenas in your life, home, church, school, work, or community.  Like Moses, we need to lift up holy hands to the throne of the Lord, because the battle is won because of the support on the hill, not necessarily because of the skill of the warriors in the valley.
     This is what the Lord says to you:  Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God's... The Lord will be with you.   ~2 Chronicles 20:15

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