Monday, February 28, 2011

Starting the Week Off with the Things We Love

I've been in the cleaning up and cleaning out mood. I guess since spring has arrived early here so has the spring cleaning bug. I had just had a conversation with my mom about not buying another thing unless I absolutely loved it. I've always been really bad about settling. I'm ready to purge it all, strip it down, and have just the things I feel are beautiful and necessary.

Those are the ramblings in my head. So it made me laugh when I happened to spy this quote by Robert Louis Stevenson yesterday, "To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to keep your soul alive."

I like that a lot. It's more than spring cleaning. It's keeping my soul alive. It's finally being brave enough to admit that my preferences matter. I need to whitte things down to what is 'me'.

Okay, I'm hoppin' off my high horse. 'Me' still has to clean house and cook dinner. Here's the menus for this week.

Monday--Mini Meatloaves, Buttered Potatoes, Peas, Rolls
Tuesday--(by request from my birthday boy) Crab Legs, Rice Pilaf, Salad, Rolls
Wednesday--Grilled Chicken, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Applesauce, Green Beans
Thursday--Creamy Herb Pork Chops, Steamed Broccoli with Cheese Sauce, Bread Stuffing
Friday--Hamburgers, Fries, Caribbean Fruit Kabobs
Saturday--Homemade Pizza

So what about you, what are some things that you love?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Know, I Know...But At Least I Tried

Okay, I'll admit my attempt was feeble. But, it was an attempt. What drew me to participate in this blog party was that it would force my hand to try. This was my five minute "Oh my goodness, it's Sunday morning and I was supposed to have something ready" contribution to the block party at .

So I'm proud of it. It means I tried something. It means I didn't shrug it off and say I'd try again next week. It means I didn't once again skip doing at least some little creative thing in my day.

Although, I did love the pictures I did for my post yesterday. And they were a little more share worthy.

A girl's gotta start somewhere.

Hopefully next week I won't have been out of town and have to do something Sunday morning.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Peace Part IV and a Few Spring Pictures More

We're still working our way through our Friday studies on Peace. This week will be the end of Peace with God. Next week we hit the bumpy road to Peace with Others. Thank you for the sweet notes I've gotten on this study. You are all a real encouragement to me.

We keep our peace when we give away our anxiety. We attain the victory only through Him who is our peace. Ephesians 2:12-22 puts it beautifully.

"Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for though Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit."

There is a lot we can glean from these verses.

  • Without Christ we were separated from God. The only way to have peace with God is through the blood sacrifice of Christ. Did you see those phrases "having no hope" and "without God in this world"? Those are the things to be anxious about! But those are the characteristics of people before they come to Christ. They should not, cannot characterize a child of God. We have hope. We are never then alone in this world. People may fail us. Circumstances may threaten us. But we are never alone and never without hope. That is what gives us an unmistakable peace.

  • "He Himself is our peace." When we as Christians have peace, we are able to live in our circumstances and live out our calling because the ultimate peacemaker is at work within us. We read in verse 17 that He came and preached peace. Even though throngs pressed Him wherever He went looking for a quick fix and a miracle meal. Even though rulers sought to kill Him and quiet His message. Even though an enemy slept in His camp. Even though all hell warred against Him. Those are not peaceful circumstances. But still He preached peace. No matter how dire, our present situations cannot compare. He is your peace. So what are you preaching? What is your attitude preaching? What are your actions preaching? What are your words preaching? Are they preaching peace?

  • He also gives us peace through unity. Christ unites believers for a common purpose. What a comfort to know that no matter the place in the world or the difference in background, we have Christ as our common denominator and together we can work to make a difference for Him in the world.

Peace is possible. Peace is ours. But peace comes with a cost. It costs us our ability to control. We are required to turn over our anxieties to Him. It cost Him far more. That called for Christ's death. Such a high price, but freely given. You only have to take it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Honey, Darlin', Sweetie, Angel

My great-aunt Mary died this week. You would have all like her very much. Boisterous and bubbly, fiery and full of love at the same time. Always had a long story she wanted to share with you. Could be known to break into a song. Sure to require a hug or a kiss.

She always had a name to call us. I was never just Kelly. I was darlin' Kelly or 'our precious Kelly'. Even when she was mad at someone she'd say, "I'm just gonna have to keep on lovin' them in Jesus." That's probably how she felt the time she tried to give me voice lessons. She tried to have me sing "How Great Thou Art" in a soprano. I squawk out something that sounds a little closer to an alto. My musical training lasted one session.

She was the youngest of my grandmother's siblings. Tall (at least compared to me), commanding, with jet black hair. The last time I went to visit my aunt Mary, I hadn't seen her in a while. Walking into her house I was struck speechless. Her black hair was a lighter brown with specks of grey and she looked almost identical to my grandmother. It was like opening a door and seeing someone standing there talking to you that you thought you'd never see again. She liked that she looked more like her sister.

That visit was a special one for me. My mom and my two aunts had gone to visit and eat lunch with her and look at old family photos. My mom had a new wand scanner and she was going to help upload the old pictures. My aunt Mary had said she'd get her pictures out.

Y'all should have seen it. My aunt Mary has a big dining table and it was covered, stacked three high, with large, stuffed photo albums. Everyone was there. Every occasion. Every picture any of us had sent her.

We sat and looked together at those photos and reminisced about times gone by and people we'd known. With each one she'd say, "There's my little..."

"Isn't she/he precious?"

Whether she saw us every day or once in a lifetime.

We were hers.

And to her we were precious.

And she was precious to us.

We will see you--our honey, darlin', sweetie angel. Now you can love us all with Jesus.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Now I Just Need Some Flowers

I've got to be quick this morning, I'm running a little late getting ready. But I did want to stop in and share the picture of this beautiful enamel pitcher my Aunt Betty found me at a yard sale. It goes perfect with my hoosier. All I need now is to fill it with some Queen Anne's Lace. Wouldn't that be pretty?

Visit Rednesday over at to see other great stuff.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sharin' the Info, Sharin' the Love

Today it's not so much about what I'm doing as what everyone else is. Well maybe not everyone.

Although, just about everyone around here is reading Made to Crave. If you haven't, it's a great book on getting your mind and heart right about your struggle with food. And then doing something about it. Between the book, the way my mind was already turning, and some get real prayer, I'm doing things differently. It's not a diet. It's a change. A complete change in my heart regarding food. Still cook it. Still eat it. No longer obsess over it. No longer consumed by it. I've lost over five pounds so far. And a whole lot of mental baggage.

The author offers a webcast series on the book that I watched and enjoyed. She gives insights from the books, there are guest speakers and nutritional tips. They are being rebroadcasted begninning today and then the following Tuesdays. Don't miss your chance to see them. You can go to any time on Tuesday to watch.

My other info share today is from Amisha over at She's having a blog party on Sundays about getting creative. I'm going to put the button for it on my sidebar so you'll be able to link there on Sundays if you want, or add your own. I thought it sounded like fun.

Being Creative Blog Party

When I started blogging, two of the things I said I wanted to be were more creative and skinnier (aka healthier). These are some ways I'm finally getting around to working on those. Maybe you'll join me. Maybe you've got other stuff that needs working on.

I'm just tired of being a wannabe. It's time to be a gonna be.

What about you?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Makeover Monday and Good Stuff from the Mail

Hey there! for those of you who didn't sneak a peek at the blog this weekend, you'll see our usual Monday morning get together has a different look. The weather's getting warmer, the skies are looking bluer, a few flowers are beginning to blossom. It was time to celebrate.

It all got started when my dear friend Jen from over at made me a new header for spring. Bless her heart, she takes pity on inability to be tech savvy and helps me out. And I'm so glad she does! I've made her my official blog techno guru. She's whipping me in shape.

One evidence of that is...I've added pages. They're a work in progress. But, on the side you'll be able to click on the different pages and pull up the recipes by types. Like our own little cookbook. So far I just have January and February's recipes added and not the pictures. But I'll backtrack and get them all in there.

New header, recipe pages, and polka dots in my background. I'm a happy girl.

I'm also happy because of what I got in the mail this weekend. It was my package from Maryjane at Beehive Cottage. Here's the cute little journal I got from her. I'm going to fill it with my favorite recipes and give it to Meredith when she has a home of her own.

The cookie, the blue stove, the polka dots, the yellow kitchen...I knew it was mine.

Aren't these little tags that came with it just the cutest?
She has lots of other great things at her two Etsy shops. I got this one at her Sweet and Sassy Sadie Lee shop.
I guess a new cookbook journal and recipe pages on the blog mean it's time to get cooking. We need our menus for the week.
Monday--Mini Cheeseburgers, Homemade Onion Rings, Fruit Salad
Tuesday--Fried Chicken, New Potatoes & Green Beans, Creamed Corn, Rolls
Wednesday--Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread
Thursday--Breakfast for Supper, Buttermilk Pancakes, Bacon, Scrambled Eggs
Friday--Ham & Scalloped Potatoes, Peas, Biscuits
Saturday--Out to Eat
Have a great Monday!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The First Signs of Spring

I was so excited after going for a walk in my yard that I thought I'd share a few pictures with you. Spring is on its way. A few flowers are peaking out for a little time in the warm sun.

Here's some thrift. It was given to me by my friend Louise. She has acres trimmed in it. It's breathtaking. I'll have to go over and take some pictures when it's in full bloom for y'all to see.

The loripelum in the front have started blooming.

Front porch friend.

Even the weeds are looking rather attractive today.

Hope you enjoyed your little bit of spring. Be sure to visit all the other Pink Saturday participants at

Peace, Part III

We now return to our regularly scheduled program... Like an interrupted television broadcast, we were interrupted on our Friday series for a couple of weeks for our Valentine study. Well, I guess it was more of a love study. Now we're back at it.

Last time we were talking about the gift of Christ's peace and letting it have first place in our hearts. Letting it lead the way. Our spiritual GPS. For those just joining us, you can search at the bottom of the blog for Peace Series and it'll bring up the other two posts.

Now let's talk about why we need it.

We need all the peace available to us because we have some tough battles ahead. Psalm 34:14 tells us to "depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." Peace requires active involvement. Why?

Since the Garden of Eden we have been at odds with God. The flesh wants one thing, the Spirit wants another. Our first tendency is to self, is to run in the opposite direction from where God is heading. We're a lot like Eve. We take a bite of whatever fruit is in front of us. That's why the verse has to tell us to depart from evil--because that's where God usually finds us.

I'm not just talking about before we were Christians. We can see a thousand reasons right in front of us to be dissatisfied or afraid. There's always something going on that makes us antsy. There's always something on the horizon that would make us happier. Satan makes sure of that. We have to look for peace. We have to go after it. We have to wade through the mess of this world until we find it. Then we have to hold onto it with everything we've got.

We need to make sure we have a firm grasp on peace because we are going to need it. Take a look at Romans 16:20, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you." Did you get that? The God of peace will crush Satan. That doesn't sound very peaceable does it? But sometimes we need to confront with conflict to come to a peaceable end. The part about having the victory sounds great, but it also sounds like we're going to come into some pretty close contact if we're going to do some spiritual stomping.

Let's turn to I Peter 5, beginning at verse 6. "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world."

Did you notice the last part of Romans 16:20? It is only through His grace that we have the victory at all. On our own we have no power. On our own we "bite the apple" every time. That is why we fail when we try to take on things in our own strength. Only Christ is capable of overcoming. And He gives us victory only after we've humbled ourselves and given all our anxiety to Him.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sick Humor

In all my trips to doctors' offices lately, I made up a little joke. It helps keep me sane in the waiting room.

Q: What's the difference between a doctor's office waiting room and a squirrel's winter home?

A: Nothing. They're both cold, hard, and full of nuts!

Songs, comedy, what's next--a dance video? Never can tell about me. No, really you can. I was just teasing.

Have a happy Thursday.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Gift of a Good Day

I greatly appreciate the well wishes and prayers that have been sent our way. I can report that today is a good day. So far today, our house is fever free. It is, however, covered in glitter.

She was such a sweet girl for enduring all those tests on Monday and I promised her a reward for her acts of bravery. Her request? A Barbie that she'd seen at the store. Daddy left work early and brought it home. She has loved it. Combine a Barbie, stickers, and glitter and you've got a little girl's dream come true. And a momma's messy nightmare.

The glitter is extra fine and it lands, and stays, everywhere! It comes with a little vacuum pen but still it remains. Her older brother was at the table doing homework. When he picked up his white binder, it was covered in glitter. Needless to say, he wasn't happy. "I can't go to middle school with a glittery notebook!" Life's never dull around here. And so glad to see the beginnings of feeling good.

Now for good food. The picture I posted for today is of an old cookbook (thankfully available in an updated reprint). It's full of good, basic recipes. If you only can have one to start with, to learn with, this is it. It makes a great wedding shower present. Give the book, along with the page numbers of your favorite recipes, and some of the spices or utensils they'll need to complete them.

Tonight I'm making a chicken dish from this book. Creamed Chicken. We're having it along with some steamed broccoli, mac'n'cheese and oatmeal rolls. Here's the recipe. In the cookbook, you'll find many variations for using key recipes.

Creamed Chicken

6 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1 c. cream (I'm using half & half)
1 c. cut-up cooked chicken
2 Tbsp. sherry flavoring (I'm substituting 1 tsp. celery salt, 1 tsp. poultry seasoning)

Melt butter in a pan. Blend in flour, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until bubbling. Remove from heat and stir in broth and cream. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gently stir in chicken. Just before serving, add seasonings. Serve over pastry shells, biscuits, toast, noodles or rice. Serves 6.

Good news. With a little nerve and a lot of prayer, I finally submitted some writing for the world to see. It was accepted and you can see it at I'm really excited. I had sent it in a while back and figured they weren't interested or it wasn't good enough. So maybe this will be the beginning of something good. I hope you'll visit and check it out.

And finally a little good fun. I visited Maryjane at Beehive Cottage this morning (you can access her blog from the list on the right) and saw the cutest thing. She has two Etsy shops and is always making something I drool over. But I never order things for myself. This morning that vintage inspired recipe journal was too much to resist. What a fun way to use a gift card I'd been given, something I'd wanted but otherwise wouldn't have splurged on for myself!

That's it for me. We're still cooped up on "quarrentine", but being stuck inside today doesn't mean it can't be a good day.

Be sure to visit all the Rednesday participants to see what good things they're up to.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above..." James 1:17

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Winter Flu Blues

Someone asked me last week how, after almost two months of sickness in our houses, I was keeping sane and seeming to have a positive attitude about the whole thing. It hadn't really occured to me I had a choice in the matter. Do other moms throw fits or break down? I haven't really had time to contemplate my options, been too busy fighting fever, dispensing medicines, covering the chilled, and cleaning up the vomit. In times like these, there's only one thing to do.

We've gotta sing.

Where's a harmonica when you need one?

The Winter Flu Blues

This winter's been stinkin'. This winter's been mean.

This has been the worst year...for flu I've ever seen.

I've got the blues. I've got the winter flu blues.

The snifflin', sneezin', coughin', achin'

Throw up in the office waitin'

Rottin', snottin'

Winter flu blues

They've all had it, not once now, but twice

Now mercy, mercy me

The doctor's done told me my poor little baby's got

Round number three!

I've got the blues. I've got the win-in-ter blues.

The snifflin', sneezin', coughin', achin'

Don't know how much more I can be takin'

Rottin', snottin'

Winter flu blues

We buy tissues in bulk now

Gatorade and soup too

And I'd be so rich now

If I had stock in Tamiflu

I've got the blues. I've got the winter flu blues.

Said I've got the blues. The nasty winter flu blues.

Yes, yes I heard you.

I'll stay away from you.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love...Never Fails

I managed to mess up and, in the busy-ness of the this weekend, didn't get to post. I did have a wonderful time yesterday visiting with my family and getting some sweet baby sugar from the newest member of our clan, baby Jake. He is such a cutie, just like big brother Jordan. As usual, I forgot to take my camera.

You'll never believe what surprise awaited me last night. I was awakened in the night by yet another sick child. I'm seriously considering pulling them out of school, stopping all social activities and becoming hermits who live in a giant plastic bubble!

I took a new recipe to our dinner yesterday and everyone liked it. I promised to share it on the blog today. It's another recipe from that cookbook I picked up at that estate sale. Upside-Down German Chocolate Cake.

Upside-Down German Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 c. flaked coconut

1 1/2 c. chopped pecans

1 bx chocolate cake mix

8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. butter, melted

1 lb. (4 c.) confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 pan. Spread coconut evenly on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with pecans. Prepare cake mix according to directions on package. Pour over coconut. Combine cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Beat at low speed until creamy. Add sugar and beat until blended and smooth. Drop by spoonfulls evenly over cake batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Cool completely in pan. To serve, cut individual pieces; turn upside down onto plate. Yields 12-16 servings.

Now for the last of our study on love from I Corinthians 13. First, the two days I missed--the quick version.

Love always trusts (and it's trustworthy).

Love always hopes (looks for the best, looks forward to the future).

Love always perseveres (doesn't give up, understands it's hard work).

And never fails. It may not always be patient. It may not always remember to sprinkle its words with kindness. Catch it on a grumpy day and it'll probably be rude. It may not have a scrapbook, but it probably does have a sticky note of the things you've done wrong (at least the ones for today).

But it doesn't fail to try. And when it messes up, it wishes it hadn't. And it starts all over again trying to get it right.

People momentarily fail at love. But love doesn't fail people. Not even for a moment.

"In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling." Exodus 15:13

Now we're off to the doctor's office. Again.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Love...Always Protects

Before we start on our study, I just wanted to tell you what sweet thing my oldest said to me last night. The others had gone to bed and it was just the two of us sitting on the couch watching television for a minute. An ad came on that they were holding auditions for America's Next Top Model in a nearby city. He said (and I promise he wasn't laughing when he said it), "You should go try out."

"Buddy, I'm too short, too old and too chunky to be a model."

"Not to me."

How's that for a tweenager! Guess I got my Valentine's present a little early.

Love may not always encourage us to be on television or to be a model, but real love always protects. It protects the people it loves. This concept brings to mind familiar verses. "For God so loved the world...", He stepped in and protected us from the penalty of our own sin (John 3:16). "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

We take care of our own. That's why it's so shocking and angering when we hear of people who have put their families in harm's way or been the one who caused the pain or death of their loved ones. With real love we should be safest. Troubles, cares and even dangers may come. Love says, "get behind me" and faces it head on.

Love looks after the wellfare of those it cares for. One of the loudest ways my husband tells me he loves me is with the alarm clock. He gets up at 4:00 every morning and gets ready for work. Every day, without complaint. This isn't even the time he's required to go. He chooses to go early so that he can come home early and spend time with our family. That tells me he loves me, and our family, without him ever having to utter a word.

There's another side we don't often think about. Love always protects--itself. No, I'm not talking about the 'look out for #1' mentality, there's not much love in that. Love guards its heart against the onslaughts that rise up against it.

It reminds me of what someone once told me. His boss was an executive at a large company. He had a young and pretty assistant. The gorgeous young assistant, seeing opportunity for an older man with money, made advances. This has been the downfall of many. He looked this woman in the eye and told her that his wife was older, she did have wrinkles, she was a housewife, didn't even usually wear makeup. But that his wife, just as she was, would always be a thousand times more beautiful than she could ever hope to be.

That's love. That's a real man. He could have given in like many others have. He could have even brushed her off "politely". He made a better choice. He saw the situation for what it was and he confronted it head on. He put a guard around his heart. He stood firm for what he loved.

Love always protects.

P.S. Joey told me about a great site. They have good recipes and even craft ideas. They had made a really cute Valentine wreath out of felt roses. I had some felt and made a few while I sat down for a minute yesterday. I don't have enough for a wreath yet, but I'm on my way. Be sure to check them out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Love...Rejoices with the Truth

Yesterday we talked about how love doesn't delight in evil. Today let's talk about what it does like. I Corinthians 13:6 says, "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."

Truth. Not candy. Not flowers. Not jewelry. Not even a gift card to some store at the mall. Truth. You sure about that one? Thought so. He doesn't usually change His mind.

Why truth? Well if we stop to think about it, do we really want any of those things from a fella we know will lie to us or cheat on us the second we turn our backs? No, I guess not. Those fluffy tokens only mean something when they come from someone we love. Someone we can trust. Someone who is true.

Someone who is true speaks the truth. You can count on them to do what they say they'll do, be where they say they'll be. They take their marriage vows seriously. They take their faith seriously. That kind of love gives you confidence and stability. You may not even be aware of its impact, but if that's taken away your whole world is shaken.

I always find it interesting that Jesus began so many of the things He said with "I tell you the truth". In John 14:6 He tells us, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Love rejoices in the truth.

Someone who is true loves you truly. Infatuation sees you as perfection. New loves sees you only at your best. But true love, long lasting love, sees you when you are downright ugly--and doesn't run away screaming. Even if inside they really want to.

True love sees you when the makeup comes off and still thinks you're pretty. True love still finds you attractive after the pregnancies have added pounds and the years have added wrinkles. True loves stands by the bathroom when you've got the stomach virus to bring you a wet towel or drink of water. True love sees you at your worst and loves you more deeply for it.

Love rejoices in the truth.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Love Is...

It's Day 9 in our Love Is... series. Five to go. And today's definition from I Corinthians 13 is "love does not delight in evil."

There's an old song that says, 'We always hurt the ones we love, the ones we shouldn't hurt at all..." And there is some truth in that. We do it through carelessness and complacency.

Through carelessness by not running through our minds first what comes out of our mouths. (We'd change the world if we'd all do that one.) I'm tired and my words are a little snappier than I intended. But not in the good way. The comment that a dad makes trying to be funny that crushes a teenage girl's fragile sense of self. A mom on a cleaning spree that throws away what she thinks is a piece of scrap paper. Turns out it was a little person's masterpiece intended as a gift to said cleaner. (Can you sense my guilt on that one!?!) We get careless with our love when we're in a hurry or tired. Or both.

But complacency hurts when we become lazy. Being taken for granted, or being forgotten, can hurt as much or more than a stinging remark said in an argument or when someone's under great pressure. Why? One says, 'I slipped for a second when things were tough.' The other says, 'I simply don't care.' Being inconsequential to the ones you pour your souls into is a bitter sting. And it's one I think we've all been guilty of inflicting.

It's not that we don't love the person, whether it's spouse, child, parent or friend, we simply get bogged down in the mundane and forget to express what's in our hearts. Or forget to even check and see that we still have a heart. Not everyday is hearts, flowers, and gooshy love songs. But we do need to make a conscious effort to take our eyes off of our 'to do' lists and look around at those we love. And say we love them. And show we love them.

Both carelessness and complacency are hurtful. But in an unintentional way. They're still love, just love off-course. But love that "delights in doing evil", that's a different story. Someone who intentionally seeks to harm you, emotionally or physically, isn't loving you at all. No matter how many 'I love you' notes they write or times they say it. No matter what they buy you. No matter how they try to cover it up.

Real love doesn't look for ways to do you wrong. Or always hide things to make themselve look or feel better. What does it do instead?

I'll tell you tomorrow. And be sure to check out all the great Valentine ideas you'll find through Rednesday at

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Love...Keeps No Record of Wrongs

For those of you who might be getting tired of my "preachin'", hold on--we're over halfway done. In the immortal words of the ponytailed infomercial man, "You can do it!" And just for you, I'll add a recipe down at the bottom.

Love keeps no record of wrongs? Then what am I supposed to do with this book I made!?! I even made it look fancy with all that scrapbook stuff so it'd be more pleasant as I went back to check it out over...and over...and over...

No, I don't really have a book. But seriously, I bet there are people who would've done that if they just thought of it first.

It is in our nature to make a mental note of everything people do to offend us or hurt our feelings. That's why God had to make sure to tell us that love does the opposite.

I still remember something my nephew did one night. Josiah was in bed calling out that he had an ache. Deb asked, "Where do you hurt?" His answer--"My feelings."

That always makes me smile. 'Cause truth be told, we've all lain there with that ache.

And when we're lying there it's hard not to bring out the mental notebook and start writing down wrongs. So why shouldn't we?

Do we really want someone dragging out their laundry list against us? Didn't think so.

Let's look for just a minute at Psalm 130:3. "If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?" I don't want to make a list because I don't want to see that list.

I'm thankful for Job 14:15-16. "Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin."

God puts my offenses in a bag. That struck me as kind of funny. Although it might take a big bag. I mess up on a daily basis. Did I say daily? I meant hourly.

So let's try His way. Get yourself a Ziploc bag (remember it's got to be sealable). Label it 'Faults'. Next time your husband gets on your nerves or does something you don't like or forgets to compliment your hairdo, tell it in the bag. Close it up.

Guess what you end up with? Nothing but a lot of hot air. Hmmm...

Now for a recipe. Don't knock it 'til you try it. They were all scared to death last night when I served this. Turns out they liked it. My husband even asked for seconds. I love it. Spinach is my new thing. I can't seem to get enough.

Sauteed Spinach
You'll need a big pan. The raw spinach will fill it up. Don't worry though, it reduces down to a small amount.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 10 oz. bag spinach
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add spinach; cover and let cook 5 minutes. Stir in garlic salt, cook 5 minutes more. Sprinkle with cheese.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Love Is...Not Easily Angered

Angry people irk me. And they expose themselves for what they are. People who tend to 'blow up' over everything tend to do so at people they think they can control, not someone they think could match them in size or strength.

Even us. How often do we get frustrated with something going on in our lives and then turn around and yell at the kids for something little that they did. Something that on a good day would have been a minor inconvenience turns into an all-out confrontation.

Where's the love in that?

Angry people also resort to name calling and profanity. To me that always shows the weakness of their argument. If you can't make your case calmly and respectfully, your case can't stand on its own.

Don't get me wrong. There are moments when everyone gets angry. Even God gets angry. The Bible shows us many instances where the Lord's anger was kindled against people, sometimes those who wronged His people and sometimes His people when they were wrong. I'm sure He's had His share of times when He was mad a me. Thankfully the Bible also tells us that He is slow to anger (Numbers 14:18).

And we should be too.

When we're faced with situations that are difficult to handle, people who try us, we need to take a second and think. We need to handle with grace what needs to be dealt with. Even if it through prayer. Especially if it's through prayer. We don't need to hold our frustrations in and then take them out on those who deserve them least.

Besides, if we really understood God's take on those who are quick to get angry, we'd do it less often. Proverbs 29:11 tells us, "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." Over and over in Proverbs He calls the angry fools.

As the sayin' goes, 'mama didn't raise no fool.'

My world is still filled with fevers and coughs but one bit of fun did manage to slip in. Jon and Meredith did make it to the Father/Daughter dance that a local church sponsors each year. When they got home I asked her what they did. She said, "I didn't feel like dancing, but we sure did have fun with food!" When Meredith doesn't feel like dancing, you know she's been sick.

And don't forget about planning our menus.

Monday--baked chicken, sauteed spinach, rice consumme, rolls

Tuesday--potato soup, bacon sandwiches

Wednesday--ham, carrot casserole, field peas, cornbread

Thursday--hot dogs, mac & cheese, jello

Friday--meatloaf, stewed tomatoes & rice, rolls



Sunday, February 6, 2011

Love Is...Not Self-Seeking

This is a hard one for me. Do you have any idea how many times I say "I want" or "I don't wanna", even if it's just in my head?

Especially yesterday when I'd just taken the umpteenth person to the doctor with yet another round of flu and there was drink spilled all over the kitchen floor and I was holding the bucket while one of my boys was throwing up.

"I don't wanna do this anymore!" "I want to have a germ-free moment!" Those are the things I was thinking. Are those thoughts wrong? I don't think so. I hope not.

The difference comes when we turn our thoughts into actions. These people need me right now. Real love stays and holds the throw up bucket. Real love scrubs the kitchen floor.

Real love doesn't choose self.

Titus 2:11-13 "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." And for the end of flu season.

Here's another great Scripture. "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." (Romans 8:5-8) Those are some pretty good reasons for getting my 'want to control' under control.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Love Is...Not Rude

I'm running a little late on this one today. I had yet another one to take to the doctor with his second strain of flu. I'm customer of the month at the pharmacy. Does anyone know where I can get Tamiflu in bulk? Ever see one of those fumigation tents that they put over houses when they're infested with termites or fleas? I wonder if I could get my hands on one and spray in massive doses of Lysol. At this point, I'm getting desperate. Oh well. 'Tis the season.

Today's look at love from I Corinthians 13 is found in verse 5, "it is not rude". I think it's interested that this is the only place in the Bible where I could find this word. God was sure to tell us not to be rude to those we love. We'd better pay attention.

What does it mean to be rude? The dictionary defines it as (1)lacking courtesy; ill-mannered; (2)being in a rough or unfinished state; crude; (3)relatively undeveloped; primitive; (4)lacking education and refinement; (5)sudden and jarring.

Let's start from the bottom and work our way up on these definitions. Sudden and jarring is exactly the definition of love that Hollywood tries to sell you. The actors on the big screen are going about their everyday lives when, BAM, they meet and it's automatic, unending, earth-shattering love. Sorry to burst your Valentine bubble, that's not real. Yes, there can be instant, heart-in-your-throat attraction. But love, real and deep abiding love, that takes time. And work.

Lacking education and refinement. I live with three guys. I can promise you, they have some rather unrefined habits. They revel in bodily functions, they universally find the Three Stooges entertaining and enlightening, they consider hunting catalogs 'reading books'. The type of magazine might change, but this is a normal guy. But you let said guy find someone he really likes, or loves, and all the manners a mother never thought got through suddenly come pouring out of him. He'll open doors. He'll give compliments. He'll restrain from showing you how loud he can burp the alphabet. And that requires a lot of effort on their part. That's love.

Relatively underdeveloped; primitive. Real love doesn't stop with 'I love you' or even 'I do'. It works hard to continue to develop and grow. People can be married for fifty years and still learn new things about the people they love, new ways to help each other. Life changes. Love changes with it. It's immaturity that says, "You don't love me the way you did at first" and then walks away. The beginning stages of love are just that--the beginning. Long-lasting love, deep love, requires time. And work.

Being in a rough or unfinished state; crude. Go back a couple of paragraphs. If the guy isn't treating you any differently than one of his buddies, you need to take a hard look at the relationship. It doesn't matter how rough and hard he is outside of his relationship, with love it should be different. A kindness and gentleness that isn't present with 'the guys' is a mark that this is more than friendship.

Lacking courtesy; ill-mannered. Plain-spoken, love minds its manners. It pays attention and tries its best. It acts like it ought to. But how often do we save our best for company or those we encounter in the outside world and act like snarly dragons with those at home? Have you ever had a fit in the car, threatening life and limb, then rolled down the window and ordered your dinner at the drive-thru with a smile on your face and a thank you on your lips? Or yelled at someone in the house and turned around and talked sweetly to someone on the other end of the phone? Oh, guess that's just me.

Love is not rude. I can promise you. I went out with a perfect example. Chalk it up to adolescent stupidity, unyielding optimism or a bump on the head, I once went out with Mr. Wrong. Mr. Way Wrong. Mr. Rude. He had no manners whatsoever. He had an endless supply of bodily noises with which to serenade me. And lest you think I exaggerate, I will tell you about our dinner date. He took me to Taco Bell. While in line he told me he didn't have much money so I'd have to buy my own food. Then he proceeded to order about 12 tacos for himself. Then he took me over to some people's house, unannounced, where we ate our food. Awkward. Needless to say, he wasn't the guy for me. Thank you Lord.

Love is not rude.

It pays for your taco.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Love...Does Not Boast, It Is Not Proud

We're gonna have to take a little break on our Peace Series until we finish our 14 days of "Love Is...". So much to talk about we can't even fit it in! That sounds about normal for me.

Yesterday we talked about envy. That's being jealous of what someone else has. Today's subject is just about opposite. We're talking boasting and pride, the "I've got it and you don't so nanny nanny boo boo" syndrome. For those of you lacking higher vocabulary skills, nanny nanny boo boo is a technical term used to refer to great superiority and betterment. It is usually accompanied by the gestures of hands on the hips and the poking out of one's tongue. It is often seen on playgrounds, preschool classrooms and deep within our hearts.

Let's start with boasting. I'll tell you straight, in my best southernese. "It ain't purty. And it don't never work." Ever notice how people who brag and try to make themselves look big always ending up seeming small and shallow. Boasting always works counter to what the boaster is going for.

Truth is, I could say a lot of things about myself that sound pretty impressive. We all can. But a list of accomplishments or titles are empty without the character to back them up. The people who leave us saying "wow" are the ones who are commanding in their very presence, whose walk is evident without them saying a word to their own benefit.

We do have one license for boasting, unless we're boasting about what Christ has done for us. "Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of this world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'" I Corinthians 1:26-31.

Boasting exposes our insecurities, unless we're boasting about our security in Christ. It's only through Him that we actually have something worth bragging about, and that's righteousness, holiness and redemption. And how sweet to know that He takes those things we think of as our insecurities and uses them to leave the ones we're fearful f scratching their heads and wondering about how it is that Christ makes such a difference. That's what leads others to seek Christ. The ones who never would have thought they needed Him.

Pride is the backside of boasting. The big, ugly, cellulite-infested backside. It doesn't come from a place of insecurity attempting to build itself up to feel accepted. No, it comes from feeling a little too good about oneself, with a terrible bent for tearing down others. Pride shakes its jiggly self all over our world today.

When we turn our noses up at others, when we hear ourselves saying "I sure am glad I'm not like...", or "I wouldn't be seen...", we can be fairly certain we're doin' the jiggly pride dance. Now I thought I was good on this one (is that prideful to say?). One of the things that my Granny told me that seemed to stick in my head was, "There's no one in this world better than you. But you're also no better than anyone else." (Unfortunately, there's a lot of people who only got the first part of that message.)

I'm not someone who is "uppity" or who tries to put on airs. I am who I am. I try to live out my belief. I've still got plenty of issues, I just didn't think pride was one of them. But you let somebody not like my cookin', and it's a different story. Apparently my cooking make me jiggly in more way than one.

We're prideful when we think of ourselves in bigger terms than others. But you know what the proverb says, we're settin' ourselves up for a fall. When we feel ourselves start jigglin' it's time for a heart check.

Boasting and being prideful both focus on self. And it's awful hard to love someone else when we're consumed with loving the one in the mirror.

Nope, love doesn't boast and it isn't proud.

And it doesn't jiggle.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Love...Does Not Envy

See my picture today? As we talk about love this week, this is a sweet reminder to me of love. Not just because one's a heart and one is red. Not even because they're sparkly jewels (and I do like me some of those). Nope. But they do scream love to me. They sit on the little table beside my bed and tell me I am loved every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to bed. They are gifts from my boys.
Both of them had spent the night with my mom and then, thrill of a little kid's heart, she'd given them $5 each and taken them to the Dollar Tree. She let them go through the store and buy anything with their money they wanted. The Dollar Tree has lots of candy and toys, and they did buy those. But they spotted these and each bought one for their mama. That was a big sacrifice for a little boy. And became a precious treasure for me. I am loved more than toys or candy, trading cards or coloring books. And that's a lot of love.

Alright, we'd better get started on our study for today.

We're experts at finding fault with ourselves or our lives and seeing something we want in others. At least I am. How about you? Someone else always looks better, has her act together better, (of course) sings better. The list goes on. "I love her shoes." "I love your house." "I love the way they act towards each other."

That's not envy. Is it!?! Not necessarily. If you say it and mean it simply as a compliment then the answer is no. But if you say it and think inside how much better it would be if it was yours or how you don't understand why he/she/they always gets what's good and you don't, then the answer is yes. It's forgetting all of your blessings and coveting those of another. And there's nothing lovely about that.

Oh my sweet things, we've got to be extra careful on this one. Proverbs 14:30 tells us why. "A heart of peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." Wait a minute, I thought that was osteoporosis. Does that mean I can quit taking that calcium supplement? =p Probably not. But I do need to take an envy supplement. We find it in this same verse. What's the opposite of envy? Peace. Isn't that what we've been talking about for the last two Friday's?

How interesting to note that envy is opposite to peace. I'd never really thought about it before but it's true. When we're constantly looking at others, comparing ourselves to others, and wishing we were like others or had the things they have, it's because we have no peace with ourselves. And we're not allowing Christ's peace to fill us. "...If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such 'wisdom' does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." James 3:14-16.
That's some bad company to keep. Ones we have no business messing with. No, love does not envy. It stays far from it.
After all, it causes spiritual osteoporosis.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Love Is...Kind

The second word in our definition of love, found in I Corinthians 13, is kind. Love is kind. Yesterday we learned that love is patient. I don't know about you, but I find it kind of hard to be kind and impatient at the same time. Funny thing is, patient people are usually kind people. There must be something to this order of things. God never does make a mistake, even in the tiny details.

Some great verses for us to start off with are Colossians 3:12-14. "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive each whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

Kindness and patience are threads of love. They weave together, along with other virtues that we'll discuss later to create perfect unity. Want unity in your relationship? Make sure you don't have a snag or that you're a little thread bare. These verses give us a clearer understanding of how kindness works alongside patience and for the ways kindness is displayed.

Kindness is shown when we bear with each other (even when the other person's acting like a growly bear) and when we forgive each other. After all, we have been forgiven. "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus." That's found in Ephesians 2:6-7. Did you catch that..."the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us." This kindness equals a rich kind of love.

Let's also talk for a second about the why. Break down that word. Kind-ness. There was a song when I was a teenager, I think it was INXS--"You're One of My Kind." The way we live, the way we express love, shows what kind we are. Or what kind we aren't. I can display kindness because I'm the kind of girl who follows Christ. I make the choice to act in a manner characteristic of my "kind". My God is kind, my Savior is kind, I must also be kind.

Kindness or kind-ness, however you want to look at it, it's one of the most important ways we show love. Harsh words don't convey much love. Neither do harsh actions. Oh, but the gentlest squeeze of the hand conveys more love than a thousand platitudes ever could.

Love is kind.

And remember one more verse, "A kindhearted woman gains respect." (Proverbs 11:16)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Love Is...Patient

Today we'll start on a little Valentine's adventure to discover exactly how God defines love. And we've got 14 days to ponder how we're measuring up. Probably not as well as we'd like. It sure would be easier just to give a mushy card and box of chocolates. But that's not real love. Join me and let's find out what it is. Our text for the next two weeks can be found in I Corinthians 13:4-7.

Why is it that the first thing He starts off telling us is that love is patient? Why couldn't He have waited a little longer to get to that part? He could've started with something I'm a little better at. Patience is not my strong point. I'm not a "I want it and you better get it for me now!" kinda girl, I do wait. But (I'm ripping the Band Aid off my soul and showing you where it hurts) I do so kicking and screaming on the inside. Maybe that's why I'm always in situations where I have to wait. He's just gonna keep dunking me in that water until I come up as calm on the other side of the smile as I am on the outside.

Patience is not the first thing we think of when it comes to love. But God's right, of course, it probably should be. Think of the trouble, and probably divorces, that could be avoided in early marriages if people would simply be patient. Too often newlyweds want a perfect marriage (but that takes time getting to know each other better and weathering a few storms together) and the lifestyle they are used to (newsflash--your parents to years to get to the place they are now, you don't automatically deserve to start there, live within YOUR means, not your parents or your friends).

Patience is what we want for ourselves. We know what a mess we are. We know we're working on it. But do we want someone to come along and constantly point out our flaws? No, thank you. It doesn't matter how much you say 'I love you', if you're constantly finding fault or unsatisfied with the one you're saying it to, they're not hearing it (or feeling it) at all.

Patience is what we love to see. Think about it. When you see a mother sweetly talking with her child or a dad letting his son "help" with a task, your heart melts. It's love displayed for all to see. Or when you see an older couple, one tenderly helping the other, you sigh and know that's what you want. Love is patient. You recognize it when you see it in others, but it's so hard to do for ourselves. That brings us to the next point.

Patience is so hard to give. Why!?! Mostly because it's hard to see past ourselves. Past our tiredness, past our desires, past our deadlines. Patience says I love you enough to wait. Wait for you, wait with you, wait on you with a servant's heart. Even when it's costing me what I want. That is love. And when we get it right, people notice it. Rest assured, when we get it wrong people also notice it. The mother in doctor's office whose words are harsh, the teenager rolling his eyes and talking back when he's out with his grandmother--they set our teeth on edge and our blood to boiling. See how important it is, and how it's tied in with love?

Patience is the first thing people see. That's why it's the first definition of love. Let's seriously work on our patience as we seek to show love to those we care about and to the world around us.

Love is patient.

I didn't have a set of menus for you this week, things here are a little off with the second bout of flu. Apparently there are two strains and we get to try them both. I did have a recipe to share. It comes out of an old cookbook that my grandmother had. It's a tiny thing, looks homemade, but it's a good one. Like peeking over the shoulder of a by-gone country cook as she bustles about in her kitchen. A lot of the recipes are just paragraphs explaining how she does things. If you ever come upon this little book, it's a good one to have. True Southern cookin'.

Last night I was feeling the need for a little Southern comfort, a little love in a pot--chicken and rice. My mom makes chicken and rice. I'd never actually made it before. 'Aunt Nancy' has a recipe for it that I used to make it. Except she calls it Chicken Pilau, that's what they say down in Florida. Whatever you want to call it, it's good. My tinkerings are in parentheses.

Chicken & Rice (Chicken Pilau)

One 4 or 5 lb. stewing hen, cut up. (I just used boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Same taste, less fat and less mess.) Cover with water and boil until tender. Remove from broth and de-bone, shredding into bite-size pieces. If you do not have 6 cups of broth, add enough water to make 6 cups. Add salt and black pepper to taste. (I also add 1/4 c. butter and some onion powder.) Add 2 cups of rice to chicken and broth and cook until well done. (Will make a large pot, enough to feed 8-10.)