Monday, March 30, 2009

Just Beachy!!

Okay, I've put my sewing down so that I can play Show & Tell with all my beachy lessons.

Monday, Monday. We're on our way, with clear, sunny skies! Hopes are soaring for a vacation of full of fun!

The entire trip Mike was in meetings, from the wee hours of the morning to the late night hours. This left me alone with Jesus and my old journals... I had big plans to read through a whole stack of them. Little did I know that I would barely scale a few pages in only one! But God knew; and His plan was definitely different than my own!

Through those few pages the Lord revealed that deeeeeeep in my heart raged a blazing fury. Well, drats. I had poured cold water over it enough to keep it controlled, and I thought I was doing so good, but those journal pages were like a match being thrown on an overturned gasoline tanker - KABOOM! God cares about that deep-down stuff - AND HE WANTS IT UP AND OUT!

So, Wednesday evening I packed up me and my bad attitude and headed out to Morro Bay Beach. No cell phone. No friends. No computer. Just God's creation, me, and Jesus. Up and down that gorgeous trail of ocean I walked for hours; griping, venting, praising, praying, thanking, singing, sighing, reciting truth, taking pictures.
There comes a time when we have to meet our heart's wretchedness face-to-face. It's no easy aquaintance. In sunny times don't we like to think our faith will stand against life's dashing waves? And yet, when it's revealed to us that we are no stronger than a sandcastle built by the water's edge, well... it's discouraging. I imagine this is what Peter felt after hearing the distant rooster calling his bluff. Of course I confessed to the Lord this utter weakness of mine, this wanting to "fly away" as King David sighed, but guess what? It was no surprise to Him. To the One who sees every secret of the heart, He knew. It made me tear up when the Lord's response to my confession was a whispered "I love you." It was a shocker. And then, I had to laugh with joy, because "while I was yet a sinner, Jesus died for me." I really wasn't any worse that day on the beach then that day sitting in Calvary Chapel, Bakerfield, when I raised my hand during an altar call. It's so easy to let grace's wonders get sidetracked with worksy attitudes. Anyhoo, I had read that morning in Proverbs 24:10 that "If you faint in adversity, your strength is small." LOL - Yes! it is! But, Luke 22:32 says, "...but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail." Yay!

If you think that God is not real and paying attention with lots of loving thoughts, then let me show you some pictures. I snapped these photos without touching anything on the sand. I felt God was reminding me on my treks up and down that cold beach that He loved me...
This is a long blog, isn't it? There's just so much to tell!!! I'm beginning to understand what John meant when he said, "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written." I'm barely telling anything about my trip and lessons, and look... lo-oong!

Anyhoo, when I left that beach I had thought of Joseph's life. So much happened that was not in his boyhood dreams. Yet he trusted, and ended up saving a nation. Jesus trusted when He walked on earth, and ended up saving souls. About some of the things in my life that were not in my girlhood dreams, I wrote in my journal that night, "Lord, why is this best for me? Maybe, duh, it's not about me. All of Joseph's whole life was so that God could have HIS WAY and save His people." Maybe somwhere down the end of my life's road my experiences will also save someone from something. I thought of 2 Corinthians 4:12. "So death works in us, but life in you." Like sand crabs. There are tons of their lifeless white carcasses all over the beach. Why? Their deaths provide food for the birds. And I caught this happening in a photo (though it's hard to see it).
I remembered that many have gone before me in this life. We are not alone! And Jesus walks with us!
Elisabeth Elliot says, "In acceptance lies peace." Always, I viewed that with accepting my lot in life. But on the beach I thought of it as in accepting the truths of God. In acceptance that there will be trials and tribulations, that ours is a God who is near and not far off, that sometimes we have to wait, that He sends rain on the good and evil, that changes take time, that in all things God's will is that we give thanks...."Yield now and be at peace with Him; thereby good will come to you. Please receive instruction from His mouth, and establish His words in your heart" (Job 22:21-22). It always comes back to surrender and trust and obedience, doesn't it? Oh, and God's grace, and help, and strength, and love and mercy... :)

So, you think I should be finished yakking, and maybe I should be, but I'm not. Oh, no! "Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5). Oh, yeah, babay! After the day-long struggle on Wednesday, joy came and stayed! Thursday was our last day, and I had 12 whole hours left to celebrate at the beach...

I checked us out of the hotel and drove to sunny Avila Beach (did you notice that both beaches' weather matched my attitudes? Coincidence? lololol).
First thing I did was swing in the sunshine. I love to swing! Did you know that? Then, having a front row ocean view, I sat in my car and did hours of hand-stitching and journal reading.
This is me very content. The windows were down, allowing the warm whisp-of-a-breeze to blow through.... yum! (I took this pic of myself and forgot to smile, as I was concentrating on not dropping the camera.)
After this, I went to Avila's Red Barn for some fresh produce. I ended up buying jacks, too. Remember those???
This guy was in their petting zoo. While all other goats were busy about, he was content in the sunshine. Me, too!
All in all, the trip was fantastic. On Wednesday I had the chance to go to Disneyland with my sis' fam. They were taking five-year-old Brandon, whom I love, for the first time. Since he's my only 'grandson' they wanted me to be there. Disneyland is my fav place. I felt like the Lord wanted me to stay where He put me. He said to me, "There will be blessings if you stay." Now, keep in mind that WEDNESDAY was my bad attitude day full of lessons. I told the Lord, "I exchanged Disneyland for this???" However, like I said, He had a plan. The blessing was in revealing what was in my heart so that He could deliver me and set me free. Also, that I could have a fresh breath of His love in a personal way, despite all my failures. Oh, and just so much more. Sometimes blessings come in strange packaging....and sometimes we have to wait to see them. But they are all worth it! Being with Jesus is the happiest place on earth.
And then I picked up Mike and we sailed off into the sunset (Bakersfield). THE END!

Friday, March 27, 2009

SPRING - Inside Out!

Tomorrow I will tell you about my fantastic beach trip, including all the photos and lessons. But today, I want to just take a moment and relish springtime's invigorating ways!

So, this is springtime inside... camelias and lemon blossoms from my yard.
This is springtime, out... in part of my little, neglected side yard.
If you haven't done so yet, sloooooooow downnnnnnnnn... Stop. Close your eyes. Inhale deeply. Smell the blossoms? Listen. Hear the lawnmowers, the twitter of birds? Feel the breeze upon your face? Stand in the sunshine for just a minute and let it melt away the last of winter's chill. Perk up - like SPRING!

LeT aLL WhO hAVe BrEaTH prAise THE LorD!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy First Day of Spring!

The grass is green, the toes are pink, the flip-flops are click-clacking on my feet - it is SPRING!

Even without all the above, and despite that it could have been a dreary cloudy day, or even if the grass still hadn't shrugged off its winter's brown coat, my calendar says that today is the first day of Spring - and that makes it so!

This is why Christians can be "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10) - because despite how dreary things might look, or how pink toes get all chipped and ugly-looking, or how the grass looks greener on the other side, it changes not God's sure Word! The Most High is still on His throne, He still cares, His voice is still booming enough to cause a dear to give birth (oh, yeah, I said it... see Psalm 29:9), He rejoices over you with singing, and even when it seems like He has utterly deserted you, He is still near, never leaving you or forsaking you.

God said so in my Bible - and that makes it so!

So, everyday can be like spring in our hearts! God is ours and we are His and fa la la la laaaaaaa!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's Alive!!

Really, you should say the title of this entry - It's Alive!! - as Mel Brookes said it in the corny and great movie Frankenstein, when the monster came alive. It's not that I'm talking about monsters, but the very Word of God that is able to take our monstrous sins and failings and weaknesses and needs, and turn them into steps of hope, change, help, and visions of who our God is.

So, first things first - go get your favorite cuppa. At this moment, mine is this -----

One of my outta-town girlfriends sent this to me in the most dahlingest ever Valentine's package. Hearts and pink were everywhere - cuz, duh, love was being sent! Anyhoo, I had never heard of this herbal, caffeine free treat, but it is yum, and needs no sweetening up! Try it!

The reason I tell you to grab your hot beverage first (oh, don't argue; it can be a cold one, too) is because my BFF of almost 28 years taught me to have my quiet times with the Lord in her spacious living room, and we ALWAYS had our coffee!!! For me, having my cuppa with Jesus is like having sunscreen by the pool - a must!

Now, we all know that life is busy. Crazy. Frantic. Overwhelming. What are we to do when this happens? God's Word tells us (Ps. 61:2) that "when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I." So, to the Rock!!! (Of course, I say this, but yesterday, when I wanted to cry at being so unable to accomplish all the day's demands, I complained to a friend... who thankfully led me to the Rock! Yay! All is well with my soul....ahhh!)

But, really, all is not well with my soul. Nope. Because I am distracted easily, I often neglect sitting with the Lord. Gone are the days when I wake up, get my coffee, and crawl right back into my bed for hours (yep, I said 'hours') with the Lord.

How did this happen? Well, my to-do & want-to-do list grows like a mustard seed plant! I try to cease striving and be still, but it is almost impossible. Even my magazines are still sitting upright in my overflowing racks, waiting to be read. I can't sit still for them, either.

What is to be done? It's time to tell myself "NO!" Jesus told Martha MARTHA that the good part that Mary had chosen would not be taken away from her. Mary refused to get up and help Martha, longing to just sit with her Lord. No distraction was going to rob that yearning one of her heart's delight. It's time to say "NO!" to stuff and "YES!" to Jesus.

Back in the day when I was a Bible study leader and was able and desiring to sit still with God's Word for all those morning hours, I would tell the gals in my group (who were as I am now - wiggly in life), "Ask God to give you a love for His Word. He will!" I still believe it to be true! I think that up till today, my flesh was not willing to ask that because I wanted to do what I wanted to do -- sew, play, write, clean, etc. (And this is more public confession than I like to make before 11am!)

Anyhoo, one thing is needful - that we sit at His feet and pour out our love. And in return, we will be filled. Overflowing. Joyous. Happy. Hopeful. Strengthened. Revived! In love with Jesus!

People will see the new vibrant you and exclaim, "It's alive!!" (Meaning: you and God's Word which changed you!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

God's Mercy via a Frog!

Once upon a time, when I was the Queen Supreme of Nag-land, there lived with me a Frog. Warts covered his green, slimy body from head to webbed toe. He croak out his crummy words a whole lot, and Queeny did what she did best - nag the idiot (ok, that was very nice) Frog to quit croaking and start crooning (as in, say lots of really loving & adorable things to Queen Nag).

Well, this kept up for eons, centuries, years, days. One day, the King of kings announced to Queen Nag (QL - Queen Liz, from here on out) that He would be most pleased if she would cease that endless dripping (see Proverbs 27:15) and begin to see Frog as a prince that He loved.

What???? You love that uncrooning Frog?! Darn that! (Okay, and yay for that.)

Thus, QL dashed right out and bought a new charm for her charm bracelet. The picture is fuzzy, so I will tell you that it is a silver frog, sitting all smug with a crown on his head (I added the smug part; it could be that he is just HAPPY that God loves him!!!).

Anyhoo, I tell you all this to tell you the real purpose in this blog (oh, besides that we all should quit nagging and start bragging on our Frog Princes) - GOD'S MERCY ENDURES FOREVER! And that mercy involves another Frog.... this one....
Back in 2001 I had to have a complete, unwanted, cried-over, hysterectomy. Words cannot describe the turmoil within me of NOT WANTING THIS THING THAT WAS SOOOOO OUT OF MY CONTROL!

I prayed, begged, pleaded with God for mercy. I told Jesus, "I don't know nothing 'bout having no hysterectomy" (best said with Prissy's accent from Gone with the Wind), so, please, Jesus, hold my hand the whole time." These two things, amongst a myriad of other requests, were my main focus and plea.

Well, it ended up that while I was in surgery, Mike and my sister Karen were roaming the gift shop for a sorry-this-is-it-for-you gift. Mike, knowing I loved writing letters, was reaching for stationary. Karen said, "No, she needs something she can hold onto." She did not know about my prayer for Jesus to hold my hand. That's what makes this so neat!

Anyhoo, the above stuffed, green, cute frog-guy was my gift. When Mike gave it to me, I held on for dear life.

One of the nurses told me, "Liz (she didn't know me as QL), the strangest thing about that frog is that even in your sleep, that frog has never fallen out of your hand." Now... I was in the hospital for four nights!!!! God's mercy had Jesus holding my hand in a way that wouldn't freak everyone out! :) Isn't He good? And very real? Oh, and, oh, so, caring?!!!

That was just one of the many ways that God showed me (and now you) that His mercy endures forever! Amen & yahoo & yay & thank You, Lord!!!! xo

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hard or Soft Hearted?

Ok, here's how it went down. Already once today I blogged about making homemade liquid detergent (see below). It took me forever, since I am just beginning to learn how to do the text with pictures. I thought one blog per day was PLENTY. However, lessons must be taught and pictures must be appreciated - by you, my reader. So.....

While deciding what to fix for dinner tonight, I had a thought: Mike works so very, very hard, why don't I surprise him with his favorite potato salad? I thought it was such a grand idea-of-love that I went to the pantry, reached down and lugged up that 10-pound bag of taters, and got busy.

The peeled potatoes were all chopped to the perfect size for a fork-sized bite, and I was just carefully adding the eggs, when I began to wonder if I should blog about the lesson I once got on boiling potatoes and eggs. Hmmmm..... should I? shouldn't I? While I was contemplating, the phone's brrrriinnnnnnngggggg snatched me from my mini dilema.

It was my friend that I just love, Lish (don't worry, I love you, too!). When I told her what I was doing - placing the eggs in with the potatoes - she said, "Really? I've never heard of that."
See, in my deliberating, I had wondered if everyone knew about mating that couple in the pot, or not. That settled it - right then and there I knew there was a cooking trick & a neat lesson to be learned!

The trick is so simple it is a treat-of-a-time-saver! All you do it boil the potatoes and eggs together! Only one pot to clean, not two! Yay!!! (Hey, don't roll your eyes! It saves time!)

(I was so busy typing this blog that I forgot them and almost let them boil to a mush!!!! But, thankfully, they were rescued just in time. See all the lovely steam? They had a hot time in that pot!)

And now, the lesson.

What happens in that pot is very strange. The eggs harden; the potatoes soften. When you are in a hot, fiery trial, and your patience is in a rolling boil, does your heart become hardened or softened? We know that everything that comes into our life has first passed through the loving hands of God. If it's in our life, He has already nodded approval, for whatever reason. Job passed the test, Abraham passed the test, Jesus passed the test (think of the Garden of Gethsemane and sweating blood), and you will pass the test - if you let the hot-pots of trials soften your heart to the things of God. Some people harden themselves against God and His sure word when the heat of a trial lasts too long. They get all steamed up at God, and many walk away in rebellion, before He can ever produce a delish potato salad out of that boiling trauma.

So, the question is: In your current boiling circumstance, will you be an egg or a potato?

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Pete 5:10-11.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Love That Laundry Soap!!!

Have you ever heard of Ed Begley, Jr? He is a movie star gone green. And when I say green, I mean that He has a TV show called Living With Ed, that teaches all us un-greens how to live environmentally correct. His wife costars and they are quite a normal and funny couple, with some things that are really helpful. I'm thinking of sending them this blog!

Anyhoo, I found a recipe for homemade liquid laundry soap on a darling blog called Little Birdie Secrets, and knew I had to try it - and record it as I was doing so with my Christmas-present camera!

So, here we go! I condensed all the pictures and directions onto one cute page (right) for you guys, in case you wanted to copy and paste and print it up for easy use in your kitchen. For the longer and more fun version, keep reading!

First, three simple & inexpensive ingredients are needed; four, if you count plain ol' tap water. You can see them in the picture to your left. Don't confuse the washing soda for baking soda. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME, AND CANNOT BE EXCHANGED FOR ONE ANOTHER!

* 1/2 cup borax
* 1/2 cup washing soda
* 1/2 bar Fels-naptha soap (This soap has been around since 1893. That's a long time to prove your worth! It is a lovely, soft orange; it makes me happy. The texture reminds me of a crayon - dandelion.)

All three of these products were available & cheap at Winco. Von's only carried one of them, and it was $1.50 more. ( Sorry, Von's... lower your prices & stock your shelves!)

Oh, you also will need a large bucket & empty & clean containers. I used cola bottles, Mona-Vie bottles, Gatorade bottles, Clorox bottles, and my favorite glass one - an old Tequilla bottle.

(These are filled with the fruit of my detergent-making labor!)

What you do now is grate the half bar of soap into a big pot with 3 cups water. Heat until the soap is melted; it doesn't take long. (In fact, start-to-finish, this whole endeavor takes @ 30 min, and that includes clean up.) Now, add your measured Borax and Soda (no! not baking soda. lol). Ta-Da!!!

Pour 8 cups water into a large bucket or pot.( I used a rinsed-out 5-gallon bucket that our pool's chlorine tabs came in.) To this, add the liquid detergent. STIR like crazy. Pour in an additional 28 cups water. Stir. It's ready!

Now all you do it grab your funnel and pour this beautiful lemony-colored liquid into your containers. It does get foamy as you pour, so you might set aside some as you pour into others, and let that foam settle down a bit, then fill it full. Let this set for a day, to get thick. When ready to use, shake really well, and pour 1/2 cup into your regular-sized load.

This batch should make 2.5 gallons of liquid laundry detergent, which equals out to @16o loads of laundry! All that for the cost of about $2! Can't beat that!

Oh, and what great gifts this would make for brides...
...your kid's first apartment...
...a friend in need... HAVE FUN!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Economical Fun!

When times are tough, the tough get smarter!

One of our local Von's grocery stores was having a re-opening (I didn't even know they were closed!). So, my mailbox was flooded with coupons, ads, and a 10% off Von's card.

My BFF, Susan, and I armed ourselves with our lists, circled items from ads, and coupons aplenty. Oh, and, of course, our lattes!

In we marched, women on a mission to save, save, SAVE! And we did.

She saved $109 and I saved $68! Believe me, that was the best stimulus plan ever!!! We are going back this afternoon!

The top right picture displays the wonders of what $24 dollars got me. Yep, all that for only two tens,a few ones, and a little planning and coupon clipping. Hoooray!!! Obama should learn from us!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

That Was A Clothes Call!

These neat stacks of fluffy towels are special. It took me six whole days to make them such...

Would you like to know the secret to making your towels stand apart from the rest of the absorbent crowd that gets folded atop kitchen counters everywhere?

OK, come in close and be prepared to be shocked and amazed (literally) - This set of towels got washed six times in a row. Oh, what? That's not shocking enough? Well, don't you wanna know why they got washed that many times, hmmm?

The story began on Monday. Being the gung-ho little (fine! not so little) housewife, one of the first things I did was gather in my arms all towels scattered about the house. It was a smallish pile, so I tossed them in wash. Well, as it so happens, lots happened to distract me that day and I never returned to the freshly washed terry.

Tuesday: Realizing Monday's neglected towels needed today's attention, I gathered the array of soiled kitchen towels, added them to the wash, and let 'em go for another ride.

Wednesday: What again? Rats! Gathered previous day's hand towels, added them in, and figured third time would be a charm.

Thursday: Third time was not anymore charming than the first or second washes, so I knew, just knew!, that the fourth time would finally do the trick. I mean, how many distractions can there be??!

Friday: Thank God it's Friday! Bible study, long lunch with the girls, and no chores; yay, it's the weekend!

Saturday: Shoot! These towels stink! I better wash them!!! Once again, I collected all the kitchen and bathroom towels (oh, I guess they would be from those two rooms, wouldn't they? I never have heard of living room or bedroom towels. lol) and headed to the laundry room. I raised the lid of the washer, and when the soaked and stinkin' towels saw yet more buddies were gonna be shoved in there, they were none too happy. Quickly, I pushed them in and slammed the hood.

What you see on my kitchen counter are the cleanest towels in the whole, wide world! Isn't that special?

As you know, Mike rides his bike all week, and by Sunday those smelly jersies need a good, hot bath! So, that was a clothes call that I got that one load of towels done before then; he just wouldn't understand about distractions! :)

P.S. This was my record. I'm thinking about talking to Guiness about this; possibly there's some recognition in this for me!