Discovering you’re a Control Freak over Scalloped Potatoes

Confession time…again.

With all the noise in the country and the world, what do I decide to focus on? How onions are being sliced to put into a casserole of scalloped potatoes with ham.

I know each person on this planet has a tipping point. A point where frustration begins. A point where thoughts of graciousness and kindness start to drift out of the open window or door. Unfortunately, I held the door open and let my kindness and gratefulness blow out the door with a great gust.

In my mind I would have loved to have had a day with my girls like we shared many times when they were growing up. A day of fast food, popcorn and TCM movies. A day with Cary Grant and Fred Astaire. A day of mindless entertainment. It’s been well over a decade since I have had a day like that. Yet, that is where I went in my mind after discovering what a control freak I can be. Onion slices or onion pieces, it truly does not make a difference, does it? Still, somehow it hit me the wrong way.

I reminded myself of the children of Israel when they left Egypt. Exodus 16:3, “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” (NLT)

During those days I remembered with my girls I was longing for other things. Although I was having a time with my daughters, I know my full attention wasn’t in enjoying the moments with them. I was most likely preoccupied with other things. Today, while my husband graciously was making dinner for us, I was complaining about onions and the way he was making dinner.

How ludicrous is it when you allow yourself to be so short-sighted you miss the blessings in front of you. Forgive me Lord.

Recognition

 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

This morning as I walked and prayed I recognized that I had nothing standing out in my mind of what to write today. This is usually the time where I plan my day, plan my week of writing and get some exercise.

I love my walking time. Since I really had nothing in my thoughts, I enjoyed the walk. Since being in a sling, I have become cautious of my steps, watching the driveway for any dips or stones that may make me slide. I am even more cognizant of what I am doing.

The breeze in the trees picked up and the temperature dropped just a bit. It was refreshing. The sky was trying to make up it’s mind if it wanted to sunny or cloudy, the sun shining brightly and then disappearing behind clouds. It was a perfect day for a walk.

Sometimes, in the midst of schedules and planning, we are redirected. This was me today. Instead of planning words and phrases, I was filled with a peace and thankfulness.

This verse describes my day. I was rejoicing in the little things around me. The breeze, the trees, the sky. Far too often I do not stop and think of these things, let alone rejoice in them. Far too often I do not have the attitude of rejoicing.

I do try to pray without ceasing. It is a daily conversation with our Lord, but I find also that, although I am talking non-stop, I do not always wait to listen to what He has to say. A one sided conversation is not a conversation. Conversations involve two people.

I try to be thankful, but, that too is difficult to do each and every day.

The feeling I have had today is one of thankfulness. The little things have caught my eye today and have filled my heart with peace. It’s been a quiet and cloudy day today, but I have felt the presence of God surrounding me.

I struggled how to convey this day in words. Sometimes words are inadequate. If I could try to explain today, it was like a day in comfy pajamas, wrapped in a soft quilt and leaning on someone you love. Today I have been wrapped in the Lord and listening to His heart beat knowing all is well with me.

The Fig Tree

“But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, And no one shall make them afraid; For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.” Micah 4:4 (NKJV)

About three years ago Dale bought a fig tree. It was just a small branch, really, but he was excited to have it. He planted it in a planter and we set it on the outside deck. The next morning it was strewn all over the deck. A cat, or a raccoon, something got into it.

The fig tree was then moved onto our screen porch where it flourished. It grew so large that we had to prune it or prepare to cut a tree shaped hole in the roof of our screen porch.

The tree was babied for the next couple of years, covered to protect it in the cold months and watered in the warmer months. A raccoon broke into our screen porch this winter and once more the tree was dumped over. We discovered it on it’s side and most of the dirt spread across the porch.

This spring, the tree left the porch to it’s permanent home in the yard. Dale dug the hole, placed the tree lovingly in the ground and then he prayed for it to flourish. Yes, my husband is dear like that, loving anything God gives us to grow.

We have checked on the tree daily and have been thrilled to see little figs appearing on the tree. I have had dreams of making fig jam and fig bars.

Last week as I was walking, I checked our elderberry bushes, our grapevines, our blueberry bushes, the one or two berries were actually starting to turn blue. I then looked into the lower yard at the fig tree. Something was off. I walked in the yard to see half of the leaves gone. I looked on the ground to see if it was a bug or disease, but there were no leaf debris to see. I knew then, that it was our neighborhood herd of deer that had feasted on those precious leaves.

In a few minutes, Dale and I were outside providing a protection for the tree and a deterrent to the deer. Dale was grumbling at the deer, and I knew the feeling as our deer love our roses and I cannot keep them growing at all.

We also talked of how the deer probably enjoyed the tender leaves from the tree. We figured the leaves were a treat for them, but, looking into our woods we know they have plenty of other things to feed on.

Once more our little fig tree is safe and growing. Protected from hungry deer and able to continue it’s life in the ground.

Fig trees are mentioned often in the Bible. Jesus even cursed a fig tree when He was hungry and there were no figs on the tree He passed. Another parable talks about giving a fig tree an extra year to be cared for before cutting it down.

I see lessons in our fig tree. It has been nourished and loved. It has the encouragement to grow and produce fruit. It has been given a home where it’s roots will reach deep into the earth. This, too, is our lives. We have been planted, nourished and loved. Will we produce fruit or will we be given just one more year to see if there is a difference?

“For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.  Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” Hebrews 3:14-15 (NLT)

Let us stretch our roots deep into our Lord, allowing the softening of our hearts so that we can produce fruit, in season and out of season, for our Lord. For our God is our protection and covering as we grow.

Prayer for My Country

“God-devotion makes a country strong; God-avoidance leaves people weak.” Proverbs 14:34 (MSG)

Dear Father, You led people here to establish a country for themselves. It has been a country that has given a safe haven for many. People see in the foundations of my country a place to worship freely without fear or fear of harm. People see this place as a place of opportunity, to pursue their God-given rights.

Father, lead this country back to You. May we drop to our knees and beg forgiveness of what we have allowed our homes to become. Forgive us for taking for granted what You alone have provided here. Turn us back, and lead us.

As we approach our Independence Day celebrations, let us remember what this country was founded and built on. Let us recall how many put their lives on the line to provide us with safety and security and freedom.

Let us truly be free in You, let us turn to You and You alone. Restore this country and restore this people. Amen

Guarding Relationships

 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8 (NLT)

I had a conversation today that was long overdue. As we talked, this scripture came to mind.

Relationships have always been precious. Family, friends, acquaintances, church family, whoever is in your life and is a part of your life, these people are precious. They may be people who you talk with and share intimate details with, or they can be casual conversation type people, either make you who you are.

The enemy of our souls does roam around, looking to destroy and devour relationships. The love of family, the harmony of friendship, these things are in satan’s sight-line. If a family can be destroyed, he is at the ready.

I am not giving glory to him. He deserves no glory at all. But as homes are protected from wild animals, wild individuals, we need to protect and be aware of the damage that can be done in relationships. We must guard relationships.

This week I, once more, had to deal with someone from long ago. There were accusations made and things dredged up from thirty years ago. I allowed myself to become angry and let them know of my anger, but fortunately, I did not unleash my anger. I simply said, I am angry right now.

Everyone can get angry. It is what you do when you are angry that counts. Praise God, I was able to distance myself a bit. But, the the words I read and the accusations hurled in my direction affected me. I am better, but, confess there is still hurt about them. Questions have become my conversation with our Lord. Am I what I was accused of? Am I full of attitude? Am I completely wrong?

I have struggled with this old relationship for years. Every few years it resurrects and I hope that this time it will be different. So far, it is like an old 33 album with a scratch on it. It stops at a point and just repeats and repeats, not moving forward.

It is times like these that make me realize how precious our true relationships are, like the conversation I had today. The devil would like to divide, distance and destroy families and friends. We cannot allow that to happen. Relationships are a gift from God. The people He places in our lives are there to support and encourage us, not bring us down.

It is our blessed calling to love one another, just as Christ loves us. We are called to care for our family and friends. We are called to encourage and lift up our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

I am thankful for this past week, filled with a dichotomy. The remains of a one time friendship built on a weak foundation, and the true friendship, that has withstood the test of time. Guard those precious relationships in your life. We need one another for support, guidance and love.

“Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep rustlers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” John 10:6-10 (MSG)

Our First Home in Japan

“Then you will walk safely in your way, And your foot will not stumble.
 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.” Proverbs 3:23-24 (NKJV)

I like to refer to our time in Japan as our ‘college’ years. Years where we discovered who we were and what we wanted. Dale and I were just 21 when we went to Japan. Neither of us went to college, so when we moved overseas, it was our time of self-discovery that many have in their college years.

We spent the first two weeks of our tour there in the Navy Lodge. Today it would not rate even one star, but, that’s another story. When we arrived there was an agent from the housing office that took you to three places that would rent to American servicemen. The first house we walked in and Dale slammed his head on the doorway. I laughed, the agent laughed and the agent reminded us to duck when walking through the door. The second place Dale ducked, I smacked my head, Dale laughed, the agent laughed. I believe the third place is what we rented. It was close to the base and it felt like home, all three rooms of it. The kitchen had parquet flooring and the other rooms were tatami. The larger room was six tatami (meaning six tatami mats would fit in the floor) and the other room was four tatami. It was small and cozy. We had a toilet room and a room with a traditional Japanese bath. Just enough for the two of us.

We lived in the upstairs apartment. The home held four apartments. The steps were like a fire escape, steel and steep. An open sewage ditch surrounded the block, so when the wind was just right we made certain the windows were closed.

Next to the building was a playground.

I loved watching the kids play with their parents and with each other. Trucks would drive up daily blaring announcements of the wares they were selling. They would pull into the area beside our home and park while women would go to the truck to buy their wares for the day. I would go when the fruit and vegetable truck would come, I was not confident enough to get meat or other things from the trucks.

Down the block there was a person who would play a Japanese zither each night. The beautifully haunting music still echoes in my mind.

Our first home was a peaceful place. It was a place of safety and security. We felt at home there, even in a foreign place. It was the true beginning of our journey together. We would bump our heads often and freeze in the morning before starting our space heaters (there was no heat in the building), but it was our home. We had rice paper doors within the apartment and the tatami mats were comfortable to sleep on with our futon. It was there that our love of Japan blossomed, the food, the people, the beauty of the country.

Our Lord has made a beautiful world for us. I am so grateful I was able to be a part of Japan for that time.

In The Morning

This is one of my favorite views from our driveway. Each time I walk, I stop to look at our gazebo. It is sheltered by dogwoods, a beautiful spot to stop and take in the view of our home.

I can walk daily, view my home and the gifts I have in the property here, but without Jesus it means nothing.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36 (NKJV)

The home we live in is a gift for us. It is a blessing that we did not expect. But, if I only have my home and do not recognize the One who provided this place for us, what worth is it? What it all boils down to, in the end, is what this song says, ‘You can have all the world, but give me Jesus’

What difference is 40 years?

“Gray hair is a crown of glory;” Proverbs 16:31a (NLT)

In the spring of 1982, Dale took our oldest daughter fishing for the first time. We were all pretty excited about this trip. We woke up early, I got food together for them and off they went on their adventure.

Since I knew I had at least two hours to myself, I put on my ragged bell bottoms I wore for cleaning. I cleaned what needed to be done, and sat down at the kitchen table. Looking outside I remembered our neighbor (now our youngest daughter’s in-laws) were having a yard sale. I decided to visit with them and see how they were doing.

Leaving the house with my ragged jeans and bare feet, I started across the road. As I got to the edge of my yard, my big toe caught on a hole in the hem of my jeans and down I went, arms extended. I quickly looked around, hoping no on saw me. The neighbor’s son (now my son-in-law) came racing up the street on his purple bike with the banana seat and raised handlebars. He squealed to a stop beside me, “Geez, Cath, that looked like it hurt, are you okay?” So much for no one noticing.

The end result was my left elbow was broken. The eventual running commentary was that I could not walk and chew gum at the same time.

This event came up recently when I was bemoaning my current state. Forty years can erase a lot. I couldn’t remember the pain or discomfort, I only remembered healing quickly.

As I have mentioned before, Dale has reminded me of my age lately. I still feel like I am only in my early thirties. But, when he made me aware of forty years passing, the truth hit home. Bodies heal quicker at age 27 than they do at 67.

Age has always just been a number for me. I expect an occasional sore muscle or stiff finger. This, however, has been an outright smack to my senses. Since February of this year I have mentioned to several people that I am on the downhill side to 70, just thinking of numbers. In reality, my body with most of the original parts, is almost 70.

I do not feel old which is a good thing, I think. I wake each morning excited for a new day. I know the bulk of my life is behind me and honestly, I look forward to eternity with our Lord. What could be better?

Grey hair, which I have plenty of, is a crown of glory. Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” (NLT)

This time is proving to be a time of many reminders and lessons to me. Each and every time I have been injured, ill or depressed, my God had been and continues to be beside me. He is my healer, my encourager, the lifter of my head(and sometimes my body), He is right there, always ministering. I give Him the praise and glory due Him.

The difference in 40 years? Besides the aging bit, in the past forty years I have seen my family grow. I have seen my daughters become wives and mothers. I have had the blessing of having sons added to our lives. God has taught me, led me and given me the greatest blessings.

Time to Practice What I Preach

I heard this phrase while I was walking this morning. I grunted. I knew the Lord was tag-teaming with Dale on this phrase. Let me explain.

In many conversations with women over the years I have repeated myself often. What have I said? Here is a sampling of what I have said: Get some rest. Allow yourself time to heal, you have been through a lot (emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually). Your body is telling you to take time off, rest. Allow the Lord to renew you, comfort you, bring restoration. You get the idea. I only say things like this when I see a need. Women too often, push themselves to the point of total exhaustion and break down.

Dale and I have talked about rest a lot this past week. Like several times a day. According to Mirriam-Webster the definition of rest is: to cease from action or motion : refrain from labor or exertion; to be free from anxiety or disturbance. Cathi’s definition of rest (for herself) is, sit down, catch your breath for five minutes, six if you absolutely have to.

I like to be up and active. Since the doctor told me that only one bone was broken and I could move my right hand I have taken that as license to go back to normal. Thus, the many conversations about rest.

Rest is something that I know I need to have. Not just sleep, but restful times, still and relaxing. In July of 2015, I felt the need to do a study on rest for myself. I went to the Bible and started to look up each scripture on rest. I did this specifically to learn how to rest physically, emotionally and in the Lord. This detailed study of mine lasted until August of 2015 when I got busy and decided rest could wait.

So, here we are in June of 2022. I can’t do much and that four lettered word is haunting me. Rest. I know it’s important. Physical rest is vital for renewal and restoration of our bodies. Emotional rest is critical to be centered and calm. Spiritual rest allows us to draw closer to God, climbing up in His lap, hearing His heart beat and listening to His voice. I understand all of these types of rest. Physical rest is the one I avoid. It is hard for me to rest.

Because of this, when I am given an inch in recovery, I take that giant step. Today as I was arguing with the Lord it was like that childhood game. I tend to take the giant steps and not ask, ‘Mother may I?’

So, here is my confession to you all, written out in black and white. I am learning to rest, according to the Mirriam-Webster definition. Pray for Dale, as he is about to cover me in velcro and attach me to the couch so I will learn to stay put.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)

New Every Morning

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (RSV)

I am starting to walk again in the morning. With the sling still a part of my body, I am not walking as fast as I would like, but, I am trying to return to a normal routine.

This morning as I walked and prayed I asked the Lord if I had only had 90 days of fresh ideas for my blog. Yes, I was feeling in a bit of a slump. I was reminded that this blog is not me, this blog is what I am feeling to write from the Lord. I can’t explain it any other way. I often sit down having no idea what to write and then I am surprised at what happens. This is the Lord’s blog, and hopefully I will listen carefully and only write what He would like me to.

Anyhow, I stopped to look at the front yard. The sun was shining through the trees and I felt like the Lord reminded me that each day the sun shines a bit differently in my front yard. The above scripture came to mind. I remembered that God is the Creator.

Each day there are new things to behold. His creation grows and changes daily. His artistic pallete is varied and refined. Each sunset and sunrise reveal colors painted across the sky in diversity. Each day begins anew and ends afresh. No two days are the same.

I was reminded once more to pay attention to my surroundings. To look at my day, the people I should meet, to notice what is in front of me. Not to look for security reasons, (which is always good to do) but to look at the beauty and blessings my Creator has carefully placed in my life.