December 29, 2008

A Sad Day

The Simple Woman's Day Book
FOR TODAY: Monday December 29, 2008
Outside My Window...it's too dark to see anything - it's 11:22 p.m. I'm looking out a different window now, anyway, since we moved my computer from the dining room to my new office in a bedroom.
I am thinking...that I saw the bad news coming. I couldn't connect the home network, though I'd worked on it all morning. I left the house to get my workout and couldn't easily shake the disappointment I felt in myself. Late this evening we got the email that told of one of our family's marriages being in trouble.
I am thankful for...the fact that no matter how dark times have gotten in my life, I've never totally "lost it". I know, I just know, that God's hand is with me. That place of stillness is unmatched, and His presence often more keenly felt in the dark, lonely places of the night. He doesn't often speak to me in English - it's an understanding of the heart. But that understanding often comes after I've read the Bible in the quiet (with no clock ticking).
From the kitchen...we are blessed with cupboards and refrigerators full of holiday food.
I am wearing...lighter-weight clothes since the freeze has passed.
I am creating...on purpose, a deeper hungering in my heart for closeness with God. Right now that means that I am limiting my eating.
I am going...to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico before spring springs!
I am reading...the January 2009 issue of Prevention magazine.
I am hoping...to find that song in my heart again.
I am hearing...(in my mind) the scripture I read last night from Proverbs (see below).
Around the house...a bit of disarray. We've made a fine mess of rearranging and discarding!
One of my favorite things...little stashes of chocolate around the house - the ones Jerry hasn't found yet!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: to continue this "limbo-land" of days between Christmas and New Year's Day getting little projects done around the house with my husband: Replacing our tub's faucet, loading up sacks to take to Goodwill (already took one trunk full!), building my chickens a couple of nest boxes, and hopefully getting a good start on Amy's comforter.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...My family in 1966.

My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:20-27 NIV

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December 10, 2008

FOR TODAY: December 10, 2008

Outside My Window...three little kitties are scrunched together by my door waiting for their breakfast, huge dewdrops are clinging to the wire fence, mister rooster is proclaiming his roosterliness, and the fog is gripping the fir trees as the sun attempts to drive it away.
I am thinking...I would like a new camera, but maybe words can paint better pictures.
I am thankful for...a warm house and a hot cup of tea.
From the kitchen...I hear a sigh and I know why. My kitchen activities have been seriously neglected since fall term started. That will change after my FINAL final tonight!
I am wearing...my jogging suit and birkenstock sandals. I'll fix my hair after my swim.
I am creating...a list of contacts to pursue for more transcription work.
I am going...to my parents' house to add our gifts to theirs for my son overseas. Thank you for serving, A.P.!
I am reading...my medical transcription textbook.
I am hoping...that my part in the Christmas celebration at church will help encourage, heal, and show others the Father's love for them. I am also hoping that the money we have saved for my husband's dentistry will be enough.
I am hearing...electrical things running in my otherwise silent house. Thank you, God, for electricity!
Around the house...Oh, rats. I have to confess there are 3 laundry baskets full of items for me to fold and put away - and they've been sitting there since yesterday.
One of my favorite things...the sparkles in my grandchildren's eyes!
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: 1. drag home a huge Christmas tree in my Toyota's trunk, 2. take my 2-year old grandson swimming, 3. threaten my hens that aren't laying (that works sometimes!)
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December 5, 2008

"Playing" Church at the Family Reunion

I'm seeing twenty-odd young cousins, ranging from toddlers to teens. A large, extended, musically-gifted preacher family all converging on Uncle Doyle and Aunt Helen's central home from Indiana, Texas, California, or wherever we'd scattered.

We're talking road trip here. Air conditioning was all the windows rolled down blowing hot air on your face till your eyes dried up, creating a permanent squint. That is, except for the window Mom needed rolled UP to hold the diaper over the glass to shade the cranky baby so she could sleep (on her lap - there were no car seats). From the Willamette Valley, we'd drive to Prineville to spend the night with Uncle Paul's family, then get up before the sun to head for Utah - in one day!

When we arrived, all we wanted to do was lay on the cool grass, and of course, eat, and eat, and eat, and play with our cousins.

Hot summers in Utah in a small house with few beds, small rooms, one kitchen, and ONE BATHROOM. The spill-over arrivals actually got to sleep in the church basement! Ah, the perks of being the preacher's kin! I was so thankful for that cool cement floor, and not because I appreciated a good nights' sleep. That just wasn't important at 7 years of age!

What can a group like this do to entertain themselves? We played church!

Grandma taught us a few songs, and cousin Steve (dared not call him Stevie again till after his twenties) was our preacher. He led us to Jesus again and again... He was genuinely good!

Grandma played the piano while we sang our "specials": Rocka my soul in the bosom of Abraham..., and It's me, it's me, Oh Lord, standin' in the need of prayer... I have to say these songs were not my father's favorites (still aren't), but they did a lot to unify a bunch of hot little children in August.

When we gathered together with the adults, it was for "visitin', meals, and singin'." Each family usually had something to perform for the group - the family song. It wasn't long and we'd be coaxing our uncles to perform their "Ha-Ha Song", and the "Grumbling Song". They were willing... and we would roll on the floor in laughter.

A few years ago, I coaxed them one last time. I flew with my daughter to the California desert to see all of Mom's siblings together for the last time that all five of them would be present, and though two of them could hardly do it, they tried to get those silly songs out - for me. I wanted to take a picture, but I didn't want to spoil the moment. My heart pounded as I realized the significance of this last song. Grandma had taught them to sing harmonies some 70 years earlier, and now I was privileged to hear their last earthly performance together.

There was no sweeter sound, but you know, our NEXT family reunion will be something else!
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November 22, 2008

Notes for today: Nov. 22, 2008

FOR TODAY November 22, 2008
Outside My Window... the sun just broke through the fog, the morning shadows are yawning and stretching across the dew-drenched pasture.
I am thinking... that I'm toeing the end of the diving board, getting ready to leap into my morning work.
I am thankful for... work I enjoy so much that I'll give it my full Saturday.
From the kitchen... plans are coming together for a pot of venison stew.
I am wearing... stretchy warm clothes.
I am creating... a cleaner house (Thanksgiving guests will fill it up next week).
I am going... to stay home alone today. My husband is out hunting--a beautiful morning to sit in a tree stand.
I am reading... A Small Book About God, by Roy Hicks, Jr.
I am hoping... more hens will lay.
I am hearing... the washing machine, the dryer, and a once-in-awhile snap from the woodstove.
Around the house... actually, things are kinda dirty. Fall term is just about over and I'll devote myself to law and order again.
One of my favorite things... anticipating the smell of pumpkin pie baking in my oven. Another thing I enjoy - trying to pronounce long medical terms and figuring out what they mean.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Plod away with my assignments and manuscript proofreading. My goal is to finish the bulk of the proofing today!
Here is a picture thought I am sharing... (see sidebar)
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November 21, 2008

My Real Dad

Ben says, "My Dad used to carry me on his shoulders. I knew he would catch me if I slipped off. He was so tall and strong!"

"When I was 4, my Dad went away. He's been gone so long I'm afraid he'll never come back. No one will tell me where he is! Sometimes I'm mad at him and scream into my pillow till I think I want to die."

"I just wish I knew what I did to make him leave. I want to grow up NOW, so I can find him and tell him I'm sorry..."

"But for now, I have a REAL Dad who holds me every night--even when I'm screaming. He talks to my heart and makes me feel okay. I feel like He's holding me high on His shoulders, so I can see far away--almost to heaven!"

"I love my real Dad!"

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November 20, 2008

Strut

The hen I valued the least is giving me the biggest, brownest eggs; and most often! I found her on Craigslist with her sister - two old biddies past their prime, but free for the taking.

It was late in August, and I was wanting a little flock before the weather turned. I signed up at BackyardChickens.com under the name of Spent-Hen. (Yea, there's a correlation there!) I hungrily searched for more chickens, found two more, sold two, found one, then bought five with my birthday money.

Chickens in my backyard are great stress-relief!

I enjoy watching mindless birds out my kitchen window. It's entertainment like no other! What's especially funny is that our three kittens would approach the rooster (who was prone to attack my leg and subsequently get kicked across the yard) like there was no threat to their safety. They've even spent the night locked up in the henhouse with the birds. That's weird.

Notice I referred to the rooster in the past tense?

Three days ago he disappeared - I think a hawk must have taken him. Right under the hyacinth bush, where they like to hang out, is a pile of black-tipped white feathers...all that's left of him. I had called him Strut, because he really was quite full of himself. He didn't care for me walking into the henhouse like I had no respect for his kingship. So, while I was filling feeders and talking quietly (and respectfully) to his hens, he'd threaten my leg with the poorest of manners!

Remembering how very tiny his brain was, I dealt with him with a large degree of tolerance. I decided that I might possibly accustom him to my handling by visiting the henhouse after hours (when they're most likely to be docile) starting the week I'm done with fall term. But now I won't have to worry about that. Now I won't have to tell my husband that I had been attacked by my chicken!

He wasn't all bad, because with that kind of attitude he really watched out for the hens well. He just didn't endear himself to me!

As for my old nameless hen, I think she must have decided to compete with the fancy non-layers - and show them her stuff! She's still young enough to produce! Maybe they'll take the hint....

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November 11, 2008

Come and See

I didn't blog last week. I was concerned with mid-term exams and late assignments, and the election. I want to say that the "let down" I felt the day after the election was the same feeling as the "day after Christmas" blues, but it wasn't. It was a bit more foreboding than that.

As I allowed my mind to explore the core of it all, two scriptures came to my mind. This was one of them:

Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked.

"Come and see," said Philip.
John 1:45-46 NIV


That's simply what I'm hearing in my spirit right now--a voice whispering in my heart beckoning me to "come and see". I like that invitation! No promises or revelations about Republicans and Democrats, or financial and international policies. Just come and see.

October 31, 2008

Friday Thoughts

FOR TODAY: October 31, 2008

Outside My Window... the rain is still not serious about Fall. The golden leaves are just waiting for a good storm to knock them off and send them on a wild ride!
I am thinking... it is good to love the Lord. I found it very irritating as a teen, when my Grandma Ina would ask me about some of my friends, "Does he love the Lord? In my religious and righteous self, I thought there were more important things to assess than just their love for God. (what about how well they perform?) But it's true. His heart wants our heart's love. "You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart..."
I am thankful for... oatmeal cookies with butterscotch chips.
From the kitchen... the dishwasher will get my time when I get back from class!
I am wearing... a warm cotton sweater and jeans, and more moisturizer on my skin than I would have imagined wanting just a few years ago. Yup, it's drying up after age 50!
I am creating... a new family-flock of chickens. I have acquired 5 Silver-Spangled Hamburg bantams. One of them is a young cockerel who is strutting his stuff in front of his captive hen audience. He'll have them all to himself for a week in the coop before I will let them out to free-range. He's more comical than any cartoon character on the planet!
I am going... to Dave Ramsey's Live Event tomorrow in Portland, OR. My husband and I are volunteers to help manage the tables.
I am reading... John Eldredge's book, Waking the Dead.
I am hoping... to get 4 more assignments done this afternoon.
I am hearing... big raindrops hitting my skylight.
Around the house... it's quiet and still, with the fire crackling randomly in the wood stove.
One of my favorite things... drool running out of my grandson's wide smile.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Here is picture thought I am sharing...I'm still enjoying my memories of Zambia.
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Would someone like to tell me how to make the image button perform its function, so I can upload a picture here - within this text area? Usually, when I select it, a dialog box just flickers and disappears. Thank you!

October 21, 2008

My Weakness... is enough

In my smallness, I will praise Him
In my weakness and my pain
I will praise Him

Whom have I in heaven, but You?
And ya know, beside You I desire nothing on earth.
My body and my resolve may fail,
but You are the strength of Kathy,
and all I want or need forever. (from Psalm 37)

I sat heavily into the worn, padded seat on the small bus heading into the saddest area of Ndola, Zambia. The before lively group of teenage Zambians grew increasingly quiet, as it seemed the weight of the world descended in their minds.

Those of us with whiter faces were taking it all in, but not really understanding. Brian noticed my cluelessness and explained, “This is one of our graveyards. It is full now, and more graveyards are being developed to bury all our dead.”

I’d never heard of a shortage of graveyards before. What was I doing there, anyway? What did I have to offer this hurting people? Just hours before we had worshipped with them, with their music, with their peers, learning their songs, trying to dance their dances, and now I sat and grieved with them.

It seemed the people on the dirt road felt the heaviness, too, as they plodded along in their Zambian walking rhythm. I must not have looked closely, because I don’t remember seeing graves, just a large plot of earth with no buildings. Maybe I was expecting bleached-white headstones in perfect rows, like I’d seen in military cemeteries.

I told Brian about my helpless feelings, and he reassured me. “It is enough to know that you are here with us. The people can tell that you care.”

With my eyes squinting out the window into the sun, I thought, “but that is just not good enough. I worked hard to get here, and at great expense. I don’t feel that I am contributing anything at all.”

But Brian had said, “it is enough”.

So, in my weakness, I imagined that I was holding up my empty hands to God. What else could I do, but praise Him?

He is God. He rules over all. He comforts the hurting. He heals the broken. He restores what was lost. He promises heaven to those who call out to Him. He works in His mysterious ways, because He is God. I have to trust Him. It is enough.

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October 17, 2008

Simply Busy Woman entry

FOR TODAY Friday, October 17
Outside My Window... daylight has arrived in soft, foggy grays.
I am thinking... I now have the busy, productive work and learning schedule I've been wanting for so long.
I am thankful for... my warm, quiet house.
From the kitchen... a bag of frozen crock-pot makin's is waiting in the sink. Chicken and dumplings for dinner tonight, yum!
I am wearing... my sweatshirt no longer - a hot flash just hit!
I am creating... a plan for juggling my homework, proofreading, and transcribing.
I am going... to school in 3 hours.
I am reading... "The Shack," by William P. Young. I highly, highly, highly recommend it.
I am hoping... to get a chicken cage built tomorrow. A small flock of Silver-Spangled Hamburg Bantams are likely showing up next week, THEN we can work on the coop!
I am hearing... a large truck coming up my road. It's not a garbage truck - it came yesterday. Must be some road work going on (we live on gravel), or logging, or farm-related.
Around the house... things are lookin' pretty good. A trunk- and backseat-full went to Goodwill yesterday.
One of my favorite things... believe it or not, the first thing that came to my mind is a toilet! Glad it's there when I need one!
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: my first transcribing job done by Saturday evening, homework caught up, proofing up to speed (196 pages to go!), and getting some firewood in.
Here is picture thought I am sharing... well, once again, the image button won't follow through for me.

October 7, 2008

Simple Woman - Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Outside My Window...the sun is warming the soaked ground and the kitties are looking for little bugs to pounce on.
I am thinking... too much about getting some chickens.
I am thankful for... my wonderful husband.
From the kitchen... the pork is thawing in the sink.
I am wearing... my hair pinned up at the sides.
I am creating... a new life-work by studying and exploring my options.
I am going... to take two packages to the post office.
I am reading... Thou Shall Prosper, by Rabbi Daniel Lapin
I am hoping... I get a good score on my anatomy and physiology exam!
I am hearing... silence, but for the hum of my computer's fan and the keys clicking.
Around the house... three empty bedrooms - my daughter is housesitting and everyone else has moved out.
One of my favorite things... a clean handkerchief.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: after my exam and swim, I plan to meet Bonnie tomorrow for some girl time.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...View of Colorado from my husband's hunting trip (whoops, the insert image button doesn't work again!)

September 30, 2008

A Grandma in Love

Last night we celebrated the departure of our niece, who will be gone for 10 months working at the Dream Center in Los Angeles. It's a broad-based down-to-earth street ministry that meets the needs of many different populations in a very needy area of LA. We're proud of her, worried about her, happy for her, and already missing her.

But guess who stole the show? My 2-year old grandson danced and ran and screeched in delight as he played with my son. Yes, it was a very family-friendly pizza parlour. Yes, it was probably disturbing to some. Yes, we should have quieted him sooner... but we were having so much fun!

Sure enough, my little grand-guy wore out and had to make the rounds to tell us all good-bye. When he got to a older grandma he didn't know, he stole her heart anyway. They exchanged a few words, then he planted one on her.

The sparkles in her eyes were almost blinding the rest of us, as she said, "He kissed me, right here!" She was definitely smitten!

September 26, 2008

Old Folks on Bikes

To celebrate my birthday this week (I'm over 50), I stayed with my parents for a couple of days (they're over 70). Husband was away on a long hunting trip, kids are grown and busy, grandkids napping, classes starting next week - so I enjoyed my freedom!

We haven't gotten old yet.

I can tell this is true, because we had one of those NEW moments. I went bike-riding with my Dad!

I'm sure I've followed him on a bike before. I recall we each had, including Mom, a bicycle leaning against the wall in the shed when we were children. We had to have used them, I just don't remember.

My folks live in a retirement neighborhood. (I'm almost old enough to have a place there right alongside them!) My father, always the gentleman, led me around the neighborhood at an easy pace. We talked little, teased some, greeted a few neighbors, and relished the quiet.

I have a camera in my mind, and I periodically capture moments that I don't want to ever forget. The image I see is my Dad speeding away on his bike after excusing himself - he needed to work up his heart rate, he said.

I see his thinning hair blowing in the wind, his nose wrinkled up in concentration, and his plaid shirt pasted against his chest.

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September 24, 2008

Wednesday, Not Monday Simple Woman...oops!

Leave it to me to break some rule!

Instead of updating my Simple Woman Monday snippets this Monday, I played. My birthday was this week, so I stayed at my parents' house for a few days. With daughter busy with nephews and preparations for Fall term, and hubby gone hunting, I played!

FOR TODAY September 24, 2008 (Not Monday)
Outside My Window... I have a feeling we just started our fall rains this afternoon. I can hear the trickles coursing through the downspout, and the formerly dry, crispy grass is looking like soggy cereal.
I am thinking... it's time to get ready for leading the Financial Peace class tonight.
I am thankful for... the opportunity for my husband to be with his buddies hunting in the mountains - and HOURS of extended solitude!
From the kitchen... I smell apples becoming apple butter in the crock pot.
I am wearing... my jogging suit again. Gotta get on my exercise bike.
I am creating... plans to build a chicken coop.
I am going... to call Jim to remind him to bring goodies.
I am reading... everything I can find about chicken breeds and coop plans.
I am hoping... I'm not getting distracted from my goals, and the guy selling the chickens calls soon.
I am hearing... Christian radio and getting tired of it (same station for 7 hours).
Around the house... are "little" things to do: One basket of laundry to put away, three glasses to put in the dishwasher, my grandson's bed on the floor to pick up, garbage to take out.
One of my favorite things... bouncing on my mini-tramp to the music. It's like dancing.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: organizing and cleaning before classes start next week, deciding on a main dish and salad to take to the potluck on Sunday.

Here is picture thought I am sharing: My Glamour Shot...

September 15, 2008

The Simple Woman 9-15-2008

FOR TODAY: September 15, 2008
Outside My Window: The sunlight is creeping through the dry, overgrown grasses in the pasture and reaching toward my weedy yard, where the young rooster is trying to crow like a grown-up.
I am thinking... it's going to be above 90 degrees today and I'd better close the windows!
I am thankful... for these quiet, relaxing days before I start my Fall Term. Also, I wrote in my journal last night how thankful I was for progesterone cream. To me it's essential for regulating the insomnia and depression that I've been dealing with in my menopausal state.
From the kitchen... I wonder why I just don't like cooking any more.
I am wearing... my jogging suit and fleece jacket, 'cause right now the house is COLD! - and I'm getting ready for my workout.
I am creating... a plan to get an apple pie in the oven this morning.
I am going... nowhere today.
I am reading... from the book of Ephesians in the Bible.
I am hoping... to find encouragement today after the sadness I felt last night. I'm anticipating my husband's upcoming hunting trip.
I am hearing... the fans blowing.
Around the house... I see the need to vacuum, straighten the kitchen, work on some paperwork, and do some mending for my husband.
One of my favorite things... is imagining the fulfilling, meaningful, productive and profitable work that I'll be doing. This transition between children and "the next thing" is hard because I imagine that a woman my age should know a whole lot more.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
1. Prepare for the Financial Peace University course that I'm coordinating on Wednesday night.
2. Polish my resume' and get it submitted.
3. Reassess the courses I've registered for - maybe change some of them.
4. Love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength.
5. Love my neighbor as myself.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing... (see sidebar...'cause my blog template won't let me put pictures here with my posts)

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I discovered this "The Simple Woman" idea last week. Check out the Web site if you're curious about how other women fill in the blanks on their Monday mornings. I will (try to) put the link in the sidebar, and in the title of this post.

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September 8, 2008

Registered

What am I getting myself into?

I just registered for my fall term. I've never taken a full load of college courses before. The issue is simple - that I already have full-time work running my household and nurturing my marriage. Though the children are grown I'll still be the domestic engineer here! Meal coordinator, materials purchaser, building maintenance overseer, financial manager, vehicle maintenance coordinator, events planner, research specialist...

Okay, the panic is over. This is actually going to be fun! I've gotta run with it - and not fear.

Somehow God has prepared me for this, and I'm not too old to learn...and all those other encouraging things I need to remember!

September 5, 2008

Free Food for the Frugal

I've been reading about Warren Buffet this month, and learning more about investing, risks, and taking calculated advantage of great opportunities...

Our property is located on an abandoned orchard, and there are a few apple trees remaining here and there. Only rarely do we see enough apples on a tree to get a pie out of it, though. We don't take care of them at all. One year I allowed my boys to use the walnut-sized fruit as ammunition in their war games! (I joined 'em!)

Okay, I'll get more honest. I started it!

A few seasons back I asked my Air Force son to prune one back for me. Basically, I'd hoped he'd butcher it well, so that it would remain in its boundaries for a long time.

This is a strange year!

That same tree has decided to grow so many apples that its overlong branches are bending like the McDonald's arches with the weight. Since I'm hanging out at home alone this month, waiting for my busy fall term of classes to start - I'm harvesting apples!

Applesauce, apple pie, frozen apple slices... This might keep me busy for a week!

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

September 4, 2008

Back into Chickens

Okay, this seems totally weird, but I've got chickens again!

I just couldn't help it.

I'm going to school full-time next term, and here I am diving in to chickens! What am I thinking? I'll tell you what... they are the project, the relief, the diversion that I need right now. Anyway, that sounds like a good excuse. I told my husband that "I'm a woman, and my children are gone, and I need something to nurture". That's a good excuse, too!

At any rate, here's my new word: frugalmaniac! I'm determined to NOT spend excessive amounts of cash on these birds.

Look at the picture (if I can post it correctly) - I'm using the plastic compost bin for their housing, letting them eat table scraps and bits of this and that all day, and confining them for their safety at night. The picture shows a ground-level holding pen for chicks. That window she's looking out of is where a drawer used to be: it's the piece that fit under my kids' bunk beds! The wire is a piece I pulled off of our former chicken pen. Oh, yeah, and I got the chickens free from postings on Craigslist!

It's not totally maniacal, just slightly.

Chickens are not the fluffy, furry, cuddly, affectionate pets I'd always adored as a child. Who do you know that dreamed of having a pet chicken one day?

Not I -- I wanted a puppy! But having dogs on this property is torture. They run and chase rabbits all over the hills, then come home to share the poison oak they've carefully rubbed themselves in - with me - and I'm VERY allergic! And the poor pooch doesn't know why I don't scratch his head. It's just not natural to deny him that. And it's not fair. So, we don't have a dog...

But chickens are very happy if you don't pet them, thank you very much!

And how many pets do you know that can provide you your breakfast - especially without dying for it?

Okay, that's enough reasons.

The bottom line is: they're just crazily entertaining.

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August 30, 2008

The Purpose of Eating

Because of the remarkable changes that I'll be seeing in my life in the next few months, I felt the time had come for me to fast. One thing I've learned is that it doesn't work for me to sign any kind of contract when I fast. I merely step into very shallow water, then discover as I make progress that I am able to, and want to go deeper. Then I wait till I feel the work is done, and I resume eating.

One thing that seemed right, as I prayed about it and read the Scriptures, was that I didn't want to take any kind of food at all, not even sugar in my tea. I drank lots of herb teas, but nothing caffeinated. And I had no clue how long it would last. I started just thinking that I would go meal by meal, and I felt the Lord enable me.

As a teenager I found the book, God's Chosen Fast, by Arthur Wallis. I refer to it when I'm fasting (which isn't very often), but it's wonderfully informative and simple. I would recommend it to anyone.

As I began eating again, I posted a note on my refrigerator. Since my appetite (and stomach capacity) had shrunk, I wanted to take advantage of that and eat less long-term. Here's how I encouraged myself:

KATHY
Eating: will not relieve pain
will not make you feel better
will not solve loneliness
will not give you purpose
will not give you long term pleasure
will not help you with your issues
is too often just a pacifier!
Feel a need?
get a warm drink
get a cold drink
take a walk
pray

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August 25, 2008

Living for Joy

"Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights."

Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV

______________

This may sound depressing, but let’s look a little deeper. This scripture “according to Kathy” would go like this:

"Though the list of things I need may be long,
very long, overwhelming and impossibly long;
yet I will rejoice in my Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

My strength and my joy comes from the Lord,
who is Sovereign;
He can give me strength no matter what I have
and He enables me to walk in the highest places!"

This week I am encouraged (and yes, joyful!) that God has heard my prayer concerning employment, and His blessing is coming soon. With some days of fasting and tuning my hearing, I believe, as I have asked, “a good job” is about to open up for me. I will walk on the heights! I’ll keep you posted…

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August 8, 2008

Green, yellow, red, brown, blue, purple

The August grass is crunchy beneath my sneakers, and every step stirs up a little "poof" of dust and attaches itself to the hem of my jeans. Trudging across the yard to the garbage cart through the sunshiny yellow dandelions whipping my ankles, I decide that the differences in the seasons is actually refreshing.

I am spoiled by the naturalness of the color GREEN in our part of Oregon. Green just happens.

I love seeing the weed flowers by the side of the road that I call "July Flowers". They seem to glow blue! And though I see patches of golden brown grass seed farms and blackberries starting to blush red and purple, green still rules! The hillsides are covered with deep green timber and Christmas trees.

I relished the smell of ripened grain baking in the sun as I drove home last night. Then the wind carried in the fragrance of fresh mint from the field.

If the seasons didn't bring changes, I might never notice some of these things. If there were only evergreen trees, I would never enjoy the fragrances from the fields and the wide spectrum of the colors of fruitfulness.

If everything were the same, how dull life would be!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

August 3, 2008

My Path Turned South

UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: I am studying Medical Transcription and Medical Terminology. My proofreading business is in hibernation for now.

You know, these twists and turns in my life aren't always fun. Tonight I am uneasy and confused about my future work. I retired from foster care a year and a half ago, and I'm still unsettled. Long ago I learned that when a man (husband, father) loses his job, he normally fights depression and questions his value as a provider. I had no idea I'd have similar struggles as an "empty nester". Wow. I thought I had this all figured out long ago; but no, now I'm back to "what is the meaning of my life?"

I spent so many years in the mother-of-young-ones profession, that I have to continually tell myself that I am talented, smart, equipped and skilled in other areas as well. That's the hard part - the self-talk. Not too many people will walk up to a floundering 52-year old student and tell her she's talented, smart, equipped and skilled. (yeh, I guess I'm begging for attention here, aren't I!)

I'm actually doing very well in my studies, but it seems like the life work I seek is far out there - even out of sight. Unreachable. Not gonna happen for me. But then, I'm just tired tonight.

It often looks very promising, and exciting as well. It's time to encourage myself...

Some day I will see how my pursuits have all made sense. In fact, they do now! The step from proofreading to medical terminology is understandable. I need to patiently work through my assignments and keep my eyes open for opportunities. Somehow my hands will find the work that I can do with all my might, as unto the Lord, as the scriptures say.

On my walk in the Christmas trees tonight, the thought occurred to me that my headstone should read: I TRUST GOD. I sure want that to be true!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

July 16, 2008

How Interesting...

...that my last post reflected my thoughts on death, and now, after a relative's memorial service this weekend I am starting to build relationships with cousins I haven't seen in 30 years!

Building on old contacts. It's just interesting.

In addition, this just happens to be the week that our former foster daughter, "K", is visiting. Two years ago we thought we were going to adopt her. It still feels like she's ours, but we share her with another foster family and her brothers. That's interesting, too!

Now she's back in her old bedroom where my grown son found her with tears in her eyes. This, after he dunked her in our horse tank and chased her around the backyard like a kid (he's almost 30).

She said she was sad because she wants to be with us. When she's with the other family, she wants to be with them. She misses both places. She wants to be an active part of our family and play with her so-called nieces and nephews as they grow up - like she did tonight.

Life is good in both places. Life is hard in both places.

It's just not easy being a kid, especially in foster care. But for her, she's got the best foster-life I've ever seen. She is loved by many families, and she has close-to-the-heart friends. She has contact with her birth family. She is learning that life isn't a fairy tale, but it can be so good! She is sweet-natured, and I know God is big enough to hold her and lead her through all of her life.

I will hold her in prayer as long as I have breath in my lungs - that way I can call her mine!

As for my newly found "old" cousins? We've got a lot of catching up to do. How interesting...

July 5, 2008

Death - A Gift From God

As I was folding the laundry yesterday I heard an odd sound from my knees. It was a slippery-squeaky sort of sound, like smooth plastic sliding over smooth plastic. I investigated further, and sure enough, as I shifted my weight even slightly I would hear it.

Have you seen the version of the Cinderella story where one of the stepsisters had a knee that creaks? The prince tried to get her to "creak" in time with the music they were dancing to. Last winter I went through therapy for my knees to strengthen the surrounding muscles. Now they're making squeaky music!

Once again I'm considering my own mortality. Why is that so difficult, anyway? Every human on this planet knows about death. Everyone dies. We all have hopes that our lives (and our knees) will get better and better as time passes, and yet we also know what's coming.

Why I think that death is a gift from God:

We're not what we want to be. We lost the original glory of life that God breathed into us when He made us. We sinned.

Think about it - if Adam and Eve had not been barred from the Garden, they would've eaten fruit that would have given them eternal life in the state they were in. Who would want that? Perpetual depression, pain, spiritual darkness, detachment, hunger, hopelessness, deterioration, sickness, grief...

I have comforted myself lately with the reminder that I was not created to die. That was not God's plan or His purpose. Because I believe this is true, contemplating the death of a friend or my own departure makes me uneasy. I can never get to that place where death is "just a natural part of life", because I don't believe it is.

I was made to live.

And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."

After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:22& 24 NIV

God's mercy provided the protection we needed to keep us from suffering for our sin forever. He allows death to act like pruning shears – to cut us off from that last bit of the curse that clings to us.

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22

Notice two words in the scripture, “in Christ”. God blocked the entrance to the Garden to protect us from literally dying forever, but He offers us His Son to bring us life. That’s where we get to make our choice – to live.

*************************

Simple prayer:

Thank you, God, for blocking my access to the fruit that would make me stay this way forever! Lord, I want to be “in Christ” and live with you forever. I put my life – and my death – in your hands. Thank you for your love for me that provides this wonderful plan! Amen.

*************************

This link is for Art Linkletter's recent interview with Pat Robertson on "How to Be a Sassy Senior" - or how to grow old. It is GREAT! He still cracks me up...
http://www.cbn.com/media/index.aspx?s=/vod/ArtLinkletter_101006&title=The%20700%20Club&prgm=700club#

July 3, 2008

Bowling Ball Head

He thought his head was too big? Where did he get that idea?

My second son confided in his wife – he had known since he was a small child that his head was too big and he had always been conscious of it.

Why did he think that? For a few minutes I was completely lost for an explanation. I wanted to be angry, or offended, or something! How could he think he was less than wonderful – after the way I’d raised him?

Then I knew.

His brother, my firstborn, resembles the part of the family with a narrower profile and longer-shaped faces. Being my first, his head squeezed more easily through the never-before stretched birth canal.

But my second son was a heftier build with a rounder face and head. One of our family stories is about how quickly his birthing progressed because of his weight (gravity, I guess) and his competition with his brother. The story goes, “he needed to get here to set his brother straight”. Labor was only 2 and ½ hours!

Of my four children, he resembled the other branch of the family most, and the birthing story contains a descriptive reference to his “bowling ball” head. He may have taken that information hard (being the compassionate son that he is) because I tore a little bit as his head emerged. Now, that wasn’t because of his head – it was because I was told to push when I wasn’t ready to, and forced his head through too forcefully.

He is my thoughtful one, and he never let on that this was a concern to him – never gave me any clues – until I heard it from his wife!

Is this a lesson about watching what we say in front of our children? I don’t think so; not in this case. My children are unusually secure in how God made them, and this light-hearted story was one of those expressions of our family joy.

Then is the lesson that we should expose things that bother us – and not carry them unnecessarily? Perhaps, but my son didn’t know that his head was actually normal-sized, so he didn’t know his thinking should be set straight.

So, I won’t try to make a lesson out of it. Instead, I’ll just tell you, son, that your Grandpa (the one you’re named after) actually DOES have a large head – at least at the circumference where his hat should sit. Do you remember ever seeing him wear a hat? Not likely.

He had a fishing hat once. It was neon orange with ear flaps – and it sat atop his head too high above his ears. He could pull it down snug enough so that the wind wouldn’t blow it off while he was fishing from the dam. I’d hug him with my skinny, 12-year-old arms and tell him that his head just proved he had a superior brain.

You take after him, son.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

June 30, 2008

Catching up...

I've been busy helping Carolyn get her blog up and running. She wants to write about Israel, where she lived for several years. Visit her at http://carolyn-consider.blogspot.com. Now isn't helping a friend a good excuse for neglecting my own blog?

In brutal honesty I must confess that the real reason I haven't kept up with my posts is that I've been swaying here and there in my vocational choices again. It's kinda embarrassing. It could even appear unprofessional, but that's the way it is. I hid out in the cave of indecision for awhile, but now I'm ready to step out in faith (again) and expose myself (again). It's not blind faith, for my Guide sees everything clearly!

My husband and I have decided that I should add Medical Transcription education to my summer schedule. I prayed and weighed the decision carefully, and this is where I've landed! After just one class meeting I realized that transcription is right up the same alley as proofreading for book publishers - just different! Both professions rely heavily on the careful handling of the written word. And both require accuracy and integrity. So, while I'm building my proofreading career, I'll be exercising my mind even further by studying medical jargon.

I told my daughter that I plan to take courses, or at least to keep learning, for the rest of my life!

June 20, 2008

Dragged Him Up the Hill, part 2

I yawned and stretched my one free arm up above my head.

I allowed myself the luxury, for these few moments, to study his face. Deciding that I didn’t want to have a care in the world just then, I forgot everything and just adored him lying limp across my lap. His precious face looked so much like his father that I felt like the young mother that I had been just 29 years ago! --and so much like his mother that I relived some of my memories of her antics as a child. But his parents don’t share any physical similarities between them. Wow.

Sometimes I looked back at the drivers speeding by. Other times I kept my head down. I wondered if they could see the grays in my hair, and if they thought he was nursing. Oh, well. Leave them guessing!

What does a 2 year-old dream about? This boy’s favorite food is pancakes. He likes super-heroes and strumming his little guitar. I couldn’t tell where his mind was, but he was enjoying it.

When it was time to get up, my legs almost wouldn’t lift us. My knees aren’t great any more, but I managed to sway my body a certain way that allowed me to rise and not wake him. By the time we got to the drainpipe along the way I shifted him up to ride on my back. I looked up the hill and realized that his cheek would be in direct sunlight for another 15 minutes, and I hoped he wouldn’t sunburn.

Just as my mind wandered back to the African grandmothers I had eaten beans and nshima with on our mission trip, my package started to stir. When he was newborn I had tried to carry him on my back, but almost strangled him in the Chitenge material I wrapped around us! He’ll just have to understand that I have more to learn about his African ancestry!

One of my comforting thoughts during our journey was that someday he might take care of his grandma – in return for his grandma taking care of him. Now, there’s another amazing thought!

By the time his parents arrived we had lots of stories to tell. Grass seeds that he’d stuck in his hair, the daisy he’d picked for mama, the toys he’d played with; and of course, how Grandma had dragged him up the long country road home.

I’ve got a few good miles left in me.

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June 13, 2008

Dragged Him Up the Hill, part 1

We got our shoes on and stepped outside into the sunshine. It’s slow going when you’re only 2 years old, but as we made our way hand-in-hand down the steps of our deck, I knew it was going to be a fine adventure.

Apparently my grandson hasn’t been outside much, at least not in a rural area. Our gravel road is almost a mile long, a fine road for long walks with trails into the Christmas tree farm on either side. He stuck close to me, unsure of himself.

My goal was to get to the mailbox, and perhaps meet his mama coming home. But it turned into more of a test of my physical stamina than I had planned on!

His little legs were dragging by the time we got to the bottom of the hill. I had packed him a few times, but this little guy is hefty! I diverted his attention from his tiredness by pointing out daisies, dead Christmas trees, and good places to throw rocks. And we talked about mama. And airplanes. And Spider-man.

We found our little patch of hard dirt shaded by a fir tree, and sat down with the mail. I was sure his mama was just minutes away – she was already a half hour later than I’d expected. We sat and watched the cars and trucks whiz by on the highway below. He snuggled in closely for safety and comfort, then I realized he was getting sleepy!

I had a hard choice to make. I could wake him and get him walking back up the road, or I could let him doze in my arms. There was nothing I could lay him down on, so I adjusted his position to wake him. I watched his eyes swim around and slowly close, and I fell in love.

“This might be the last time, after all,” I told myself. “I may never hold a child of mine to sleep again.” “It’s a beautiful day to quietly sit outside and watch him sleep.” “His mama will be here soon.” “We’re both hot and tired.”

to be continued…

June 9, 2008

Eustace the Dragon

If you have read the series "The Chronicles of Narnia", by C. S. Lewis, you might remember the boy Eustace who finds his troubles escalating due to a series of bad choices, bad attitudes, and difficult circumstances. In his misery he awakens to discover that he is wearing the skin of a dragon.

He rather enjoyed it at first – thinking of ways he could exert his new power to terrorize the ones whom he had perceived as his enemies. But then his appearance and dragon-appetites disgusted him, and he found himself trapped in the crusty skin of his reality.

My thought at this point in the story was, "A-ha, justice is served!" But one can't help sympathize with him eventually because of his remorse and hopelessness. His entire condition sickened him, and reduced him to depression, loneliness and tears.

Remember Aslan, the Lion?

In response to Eustace's plight, the mighty Lion comes to him and begins cutting away the dragon skin with his claws - something Eustace had tried to do himself, but couldn't succeed. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend!" Though causing intense pain... well, I've already told too much if you haven't read it yet.

I used the word metamorphosis to describe the "becoming" that I am going through right now (in a March ‘08 post). It displays a picture of a cocoon in my mind, with a butterfly inside, struggling to get free of it. The comfortable home has become a hardened, crusty cage. Things were good for so long, but now it's all useless (Eustace's nickname was "useless").

Do I need the wonderful Lion to come and scratch me out of my cage-coon? I don’t think that’s going to happen. I understand that in the case of a cocoon, the butterfly has to do it herself – or she’ll be handicapped all through life (if she survives).

Okay, Lord, I’ll keep cutting away at what is no longer necessary.

I don’t want to be useless.

=========================

June 2, 2008

My Life On the Edge

  1. My computer is 5 years old and it hums. Though I've been told it's a bad sign, I've backed up all my files and plan to use it till it dies.
  2. Our car is 11 years old and has 225k miles on it. It runs fine with no problems, except that the ignition sticks sometimes and the dome light doesn't work. It's been paid-for for years, so we basically have free transportation!
  3. My dishwasher screams, so I refrain from running it while my husband is home. The repair guy says that it may be particles that the chopper has chopped, and will eventually dissipate. Otherwise, we might need a new pump. It's a name brand, only 1 year old, so I'm holding out on the idea that it'll just get better on its own.
  4. We're still living on one income. I am a full-time homemaker, part-time student and working on a business start-up, and we're helping our daughter in college.
The amazing thing is that our savings account is VERY healthy. If we chose to, we could buy a new computer, or car, or dishwasher. But when we quiet our busy, worried minds, we come back to our commitment to keep growing our savings. It's just fun to have it there, and we believe God is blessing (and yes, multiplying) it!

Though we have difficult moments, all in all we are content. Why shouldn't we be, after all?

May 29, 2008

Top of the Tree

The spring chill crawled into our cozy home as we lounged on the couch tonight. I pulled a blanket up to my chin during a boring scene in the movie, and my husband's head dropped back as he felt his evening "doze" coming on. I wondered how many movie endings he had missed!

As I snuggled down I realized how good this life is.

A couch, a movie, a simple meal inside me. My daughter tapped her homework on the computer keys, or she would have been sitting beside us. More likely, she would have planted herself right in between us!

My husband agreed that a small fire would be good tonight, to warm the house just a bit. As I stepped outside for some wood, I looked up to the top of the nearest fir tree and said, "Thank you".

That's all. No eloquence there.

Well, maybe there is eloquence there! Thank you to a God I cannot see or explain. Thank you to the good, the comforting, the presence, the wellness. Thank you for the friendly smiles I saw today. Thank you for it all.

May 28, 2008

Now My Web Site is Down

Because I was unable to update my Web pages last week, I deleted my Web site to start over. I think the problem was that I moved the folders within My Documents, so my server couldn't find them. That's a good theory (I think), but I have had the hardest time getting it up and running again. I can't figure it out.

Moving folders around - I think the need to rearrange things runs in my family. My dad worked part-time for a moving company and was proud of his ability to load a truck so that everything fit perfectly. That worked well for him, but for me: the Web site folder needs to stay put! So I changed its name to: Closer Look Proofreading - do not move this folder!

Learning new things can be so hard, but I guess that's what makes it rewarding. That sounds right, but at this particular moment I don't like it. I feel stressed about it because I made some contacts at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference last week, and now they can't find my Web site. Rats!

Doesn't it say in the Bible somewhere that life is supposed to get easier as we get older? (Do we all presume it will?) I wish it did.

Tonight occurred to me that since I'm still a student I can access the IT lab for advice. Now, that's a good thing! I need to . . .
s t r e t c h
myself again, and keep growing.

Dear God, help me to stay on the path that You have laid out before me.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

May 21, 2008

My new Web site is up - thanks to frugaltude!

Today's E-mail to my contacts:
I am experiencing a burst of exuberant joy just now, and doing a little "happy dance" around the dining room! Amazingly, I was able to learn to build and publish my own Web site (with encouragement from some of my friends). This is a huge hurdle for me as I build my clientele, and I'm so glad it's out there!

Have a look and offer suggestions, if you wish. Thank you so much for your advice, prayers, and support. Blessings to you, -- Kathy Davis.

Web site: www.CloserLookProofreading.com--in writing, little things make a BIG difference!

(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((

Though it required many long hours of work, I am so pleased! Josh Asbury from www.Hinutech.com pointed me towards web hosting with Bravenet.com because he understood that I needed to start small. When I need more web-related services, I'll be back to talk more with him! He is geared up to help position my site on the Web so that I might attract more attention.

Here is what my frugaltude accomplished for me... Domain name, web hosting without advertising for 3 months' duration, Web site design, and publishing it to the Web - it all cost me less than $45!

One reason it was inexpensive is because I was given MS Office while taking courses at the community college last summer. That was one of those "top ten" gifts of the century for this girl!

Just two days ago I learned that this package included MS Publisher, which can be used to create web pages! Oh joy! The templates available at Bravenet were satisfactory, and I knew one day I would afford myself a nicer web design, but for this creative soul to have access to designing my own - big WOW!

In a previous post, I explained that frugaltude is my "attitude of frugal contentment".

I have a real "tude" about some things. For instance, when I see advertising that implies I have to buy something, my "tude" kicks in, and I defy it. Well, at least I strongly question it! I have dealt with my rebellious nature, and I have let it rule, when appropriate. What is fun about having this "tude" is that it has saved me gobs* of money! I estimate that my Web site could have cost me several hundred dollars if I hadn't done it myself.

*Is gobs a word? Yes! it's in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. (proofreader at work!)

May 15, 2008

Oregon Christian Writers Conference

In two more days I will attend my first writers conference! Gathering up my courage and absorbing the wisdom of others, I have begun to take the next "baby step" on my road to...

Where is it I am going? - a proofreader? Oh, yeah...

I get lost so easily.

My Lord calls me His sheep. He knows me very well. I trip along through the grass, munching and chasing; then something catches my eye. I look down at my feet and see that they are off the path!

Oh, no! How did that happen?

I am a sheep.

"Baaa!"

I expect I will be dramatically overwhelmed by teachers, authors, publishing staff, displays, choices, and speakers at the conference. At times I will be like a kid in a candy store, and other times I'll be . . . (lost!)

Will I be the only proofreader there? Will I be the only one who doesn't talk fast? Will I appear as close to clueless as I feel?

"Baaa!"

I'm so glad that God loves sheep!

--note of explanation: this post displays fragmented thoughts because I'm excited!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

May 12, 2008

Building my Web site

My Web site is under construction this week!

My goal is to have meat on its bare-bones existence before Saturday, May 17 - the date for the Oregon Writers Conference in Eugene.

What I am hoping to learn today is how to change the "letterhead" of the site, moving the title and tag line directly to the right of the picture. Currently, it is situated below the picture and leaves too much white space for my liking. Content is more important to me right now, though. One of my pages is entitled, What is a proofreader? and another is, Do I need a proofreader? Time to get busy and write! (This is "way" too fun!)

Learning to build a Web site has been fascinating for me. Over the years I have said that I enjoy "arranging things on paper". I studied calligraphy in my teens, and created several wedding invitations for my peers. It matters to me how things appear in print, both the images and the text. Maybe I'll take a class in Web design one day!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY: If we truly believe God is Creator, and that we are made in His image, then we must also believe that displaying our creativity shows God to the world.

May 6, 2008

I'm Too Old For This

At least, I want to think I am. I am too old to try to build my own Web site! Can you hear the rhythmic thumping of my head banging against my desk?

With encouragement from many I have embarked on this new adventure in learning. I have a domain name (http://www.CloserLookProofreading.com/), and I'm waiting to see something appear when I type* that into my Web browser to prove it! I decided last night, after four hours of working on domain searches and Web site-related tutorials, that when I read that "The webmaster has not yet uploaded any files to this site. Check back soon!" it's talking about ME! Kathy's the "Web master?" Oh, my!

One thing I have practiced this past year is to ask God to encourage me when I need it. I have been encouraged! Thank you, Josh Asbury of http://www.Hinutech.com/! Thanks also to Dan Miller and his book, 48 Days to the Work You Love! To my friends from The Christian PEN - Proofreaders and Editors Network who have only supported me and believed with me that I can make this work - this IS a viable business!

Thank you, Lord. I'm not really too old. Your kindness is amazing!

*FYI - for your information, times have changed and it's not typing any more; now it's "keying"!

April 26, 2008

Like No Other Son

“My A . . .” is what you called yourself as a baby. You’ve always known who you were. Big brother "J" would go left, you would go right. "J" would go right; you would go left, because you knew you were "A . . ."!

In the middle of adventures you were the shepherd-brother-hero. You kept an eye on little sister and held her when she cried, you showed little brother how to stick Lego’s together, and you gave "J" some great game ideas – all at the same time.

I’m fishing around in my head tonight to find words, and because I’ve been scrutinizing words most of the day – new ones aren’t coming to me easily. (I’m in the middle of a proofing project.)

What I would really like is to look into your eyes, again; and try to decide what color they are, again. I’d like to wrap my arm around your neck, and tell you “happy birthday”. I would love to watch you play with your son and adore your wife. Instead I am sitting here late at night trying to pull up some words.

When I get myself in a stew, or become anxious and confused about my life, I often hear God asking me, “What do you want?” Usually it’s when I’m swimming around in a meaningless prayer, but trying (again) to find the right words. When I decide to listen, I can hear Him: “Kathy, what do you want?”

A silent pause.

I’m thinking.

“Lord, I want you.” It just all boils down to “Lord, I want you.”

My list is long, otherwise. (It would be great to see your family, for one; and money in the bank would be nice.) There are a lot of “wants”, but this is the sum of them all. In Him there is perfect rest, and in “I want you” there is perfect worship!

I love you, my wonderful son. As long as I am able to speak, you’ll hear me say that. God didn’t make a man more outstanding than you. There’s no such thing! I keep trying to express it, but words are never really enough . . .

Have an awesome week celebrating the years that He has given you.
from Mom

April 20, 2008

I Am Allowed to Stare At Him

I am allowed to stare at him.
I am his mother.
I admire the man he is.
His was the soft little fuzzy head, my infant son,
that I cradled on my arm
and caressed with my hand.

He doesn’t know how my eyes
are adoring his profile,
following the line from the top of his forehead
to his chin - so familiar to me.

I watch him handle his instrument,
engrossed in his craft.
He is unaware
of the power of the love I have for him.

Because the emotion is screwing up my face,
I have to divert my eyes
and distract my thoughts.
If I look any longer, I’ll embarrass myself
in this public place;
but maybe that would be okay.

I turn my eyes to my child’s child,
dozing on his mother’s shoulder;
his fuzzy head hanging limp.
How beautiful the pride of motherhood looks on her
– who is carrying another child I cannot see.
Thank you, Lord, for joy in my motherhood!

+ + + + + + + + + + +
Perched in the choir near my husband and daughter, I could observe my son on his guitar. What a blessed woman I am, to stand and worship God in this place - with my family!

April 16, 2008

Nothing Like Being a Mom

Simply put, I was made to be a mom.

After I married my husband in 1978, I discovered that my history of job descriptions all added up. I was meant to be a mom. Following high school I worked as a dishwasher, child care provider, cook, teachers’ aide, sandwich maker, and building maintenance worker. My free time was spent in Bible study, singing and playing guitar, outdoor adventures and journaling.

My faith, which I also call my “self-talk”, said that if God created my body to bear and nurture children, then he must have intended me to be a Mom. Out of respect for his design, I must say that he did a complete work; therefore the next step in my reasoning faith was to say “I can do it, because he designed me to”. Because of his loving creative power, I would see tremendous success, enjoyment, and satisfaction in this. Besides these reasonings, my desire for motherhood was strong (second only to my desire for a godly marriage).

Sure enough, when my first child was born – I knew my calling. I was made to bear and raise and teach and lead my children! There was no doubt that this would require my almost continual presence in the home. Like Jesus, who lived with, walked with, slept near, shared meals with, and talked with his disciples on a daily basis, I committed myself to “being there”.

My faith also caused me to say “if I follow his design, he will make the way”. My personality strengths include creativity and independence. These gave me the power to stand out in a crowd, to be more than what was considered normal for my time. I stayed home.

I encouraged myself that as my children saw the real me – with all my own needs and shortcomings, they would realize how much I relied on God’s presence and strength every day. The disciples of Jesus saw him heal. They saw him weep. They saw him suffer abuse, and they saw his love endure all things. They worshipped with him. They heard his voice, and they learned of his correction and his anger. They saw miraculous provision. They came to know God.

As a mom I could express my creative nature and choose to drop my duties on a whim, in order to engage in all-out play. I could capture a teaching moment as it came by me, like Jesus did when he pointed out an unfruitful fig tree on the path and taught his disciples a life lesson. I had the power as a stay-home mom to reorganize my plans for the day when a child was sick. When one of the children started singing, we could all bust out in unplanned worship. How could a mom do these things if she weren't there?

The heartfelt hugs, the pockets full of bugs, the off-the-wall questions, throwing rocks in mud puddles, the giggles – even the whining, all had their place. The challenges of growing and learning . . . . There’s nothing like being a mom!

April 11, 2008

Arthroscopic Surgery Still HURTS!

He is sure that he was told he'd need his crutches only 2-3 days, then he'd be on his feet. Like he says, "that ain't happenin'!" My husband had knee surgery Tuesday, and today he's going a bit stir-crazy (Friday). Apart from the pain and stiffness, his backside is just tired of being sat on! His head is weary with watching videos.

Acquaintences who have had arthroscopic surgery have said that it's far easier to recover from, and less painful, than conventional surgeries. Perhaps the medical personnel were just giving him a rosy "best case scenario", so he wouldn't be fretful before the procedure. Maybe he just heard the information differently than I would have, had I been there. I dunno . . .

It's just not going the way he had expected.

April 9, 2008

Strengthen My Frugaltude

Frugaltude

It means an "attitude of frugality". A strong word, like the word "fortitude". I want to strengthen this quality, so here are my thoughts on it:

Being content with little, delaying satisfaction for greater pleasure at a later time.

Enjoying simple pleasures in life NOW. Anticipating simple pleasures growing in scope, duration, or value LATER.

Like fertile seeds that we've been given or have harvested ourselves; some we eat, some we share, and some we put in the ground to harvest later.

The picture I see in my mind is of a woman in Africa scooping up spilled rice in the dirt, to sift out later in the privacy of her home. She works quickly, fingering the individual grains of rice and putting them in her basket. She may be poor, or she may just have frugaltude! Perhaps she can offer some of her recovered rice to a missionary pastor, or invite a hungry friend to a meal to share the gospel with her . . .

One aspect of my frugaltude is to avoid going into any kind of debt at almost all costs! Debt robs me of my "tude" of contentment. I may be practicing frugality, but it's not fun if I have debt!

I have been contemplating this word for about a week now, and it makes sense to me. It's an attitude I've cultivated over my adult years; at times becoming an obsession, but usually balanced and enjoyable. I've never heard it before, but I think I'll use it now!

Strengthen your frugaltude, young lady!

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March 31, 2008

Spring Term

Today is the first day of spring term for my daughter and me. She's taking two classes at a local community college, determined to get through school without incurring debt. "You go, girl!"

I am taking a music class (voice) and a writing class. I am a background vocalist/worship leader, and I am a proofreader. I would love to excel in both things, but I don't know what my future is in either venue. Simply put, I will worship God and sing to Him, as the psalmist says, "as long as I have breath".

As for proofreading, I still entertain doubts as to how I will make it my business, therefore I am also taking a course from Kathy Ide, of The Christian PEN. It's title is, "Establishing Your Freelance Business". I know I need to pray and clarify my mission statement, so that I can stay on track, so I will get to that sometime in the next few days. (Probably not today, since I must play with my little grandson!)

I could start it like this: "The desire and drive of my life is to stay close to God. (insert scripture here) To help me do this I remind myself of His first commandment, which is to love Him! If I love Him, I will want to spend time with Him, to listen to Him, to obey Him, to walk with Him, to talk about Him. If I love Him, I will obey His second commandment, which is to love my neighbor as myself. (That means I must love myself!) If I love Him, I will love the people that He made, and doing that will show them His love for them. This will easily translate into the practical - starting with getting my husband's dinner tonight and praying for my children."

How's that for a start?

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March 26, 2008

Welcome Home, "K"!

It is so good to have you back home, "K"! You have always brought blessing and joy to us, and I knew this visit would be no different.

We adopted you in our hearts just weeks after you came to stay with us five years ago. Remember that I told you my goal was to have our home be "your last foster home"? I could tell that you had a deeper level of peace in your soul after that. We proved that we were committed to being your family, and that's what we became. Though you left us twice, we never saw you damaged by the disruptions. Wow.

We love you, "K".

It's funny how I am actually happy that we get to share you with your birth family AND your current foster family. It would have been unheard of to me just a few years ago! I was so sure that adoption was the best plan for you, for EVERY child, but God changed my heart. Wow, again.

Thanks for coming home again.

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March 18, 2008

Metamorphoses-from child, to adult, to what?

I'm sure I spelled that right: metamorphoses has to be the plural form of metamorphosis. A very dramatic change. Yup, that's what happened to me, again!

Anyway, my insight of the week is this, that my entire bodily chemistry changed me in many ways, if not in EVERY way, from a young girl into a grown woman. That was just a few years ago. Okay, it was actually about forty years ago! I'm at the tail-end of the Baby Boomer generation, but maybe none of the others would admit it...that this change is just as real!

Hit me across the head with a two-by-four! My goodness! OUCH! I am no longer a mother of young children, okay, I'll say it...."I'm no longer a young mother", period!

I'll even be more honest - "I'm no longer young". gulp!

I wanted to use all my years of experience, all the wisdom of my age, the strength of my conviction and my heart-felt love for these children. I didn't have what it took to mother them the way that they needed. I couldn't drum it up. I couldn't create it. My bucket was empty.

I had to admit that my "mother of young children" bucket was empty.

I had changed. It was real. It was physical, chemical, emotional, in every way REAL. It was just as real as when my bean-pole shape at puberty changed into a curvy shape (and all those other changes little girls just don't want to talk about).

When I was engaged to be married thirty-one years ago I wrote in my journal that I was about to become, as a married woman, a "whole new butterfly". Now that this metamorphosis has occurred, what am I?

I'm going to post a copy of a cartoon of a figure sitting in the doctor's office after an examination. The figure appears to be an attempted drawing of a twisted, erratic, screaming human. The doctor is studying his chart, and his remark is: "There's nothing wrong with you, you're a Picasso!" (picture removed from site)

It gives me great comfort to know that I'm not "wrong", I'm just different now. Thank you, Jesus!


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March 10, 2008

Why Our Foster Children Left After Three Days

The sweet little girl, "A", and her darling brother, "J", presented with far more difficulties than I could manage last week. It was humbling to me, as a professional MOTHER, to call for help after having them in my home just a few hours. Wow!

I anticipated that "J" was going to be a physical and mental challenge. I fell in love with the little guy, and thought I might be able to help him. The reason I had to throw in the towel was because I could find no way to keep him from being violent against his sister. Whether his autism is a correct diagnosis or not, he just didn't process information the way any of the children I've dealt with in the past have processed. Nothing I tried worked. Wow, again!

I decided I could tolerate the chairs being knocked over and legos everywhere, for now. I could duck the toys flying at my head, because his facial expression didn't show anger or hostility. Perhaps I could help him think of more acceptable games, eventually.

And we would have moments of peace when I was in the middle of the play, but it didn't last. Kicking, hitting, and throwing toys and other objects at her was practically incessant. By the end of the first day I decided he was a terrorist, literally. Sister spent much of her time in contact with my leg, screaming in terror, "he's going to throw that at me!"

It wasn't fair to her to be saddled with a parent who couldn't protect her. So, because of love, I let them go.

I can't say I failed them. I told many of my friends last week that I would endure anything for three days, then I would re-assess my committment. Three days is the amount of time Jesus spent in the tomb before He rose again. The world was totally lost without the Son of God. Three days later the LIGHT OF THE WORLD appeared again!

Anyway, I called the caseworkers the next day and asked them to relocate the children, and they were moved the third day. In answer to my prayers, I was told later that they had gone to an experienced family who had dealt with autism and difficult behaviors before. Thank you, God!

It took days for me to recover. My whole family was "frayed". We gave it all we had, and it didn't appear that we had helped them. Then I realized, as I worshipped in church Sunday morning, that these kids now had a serious "pray-er" on their side! I was so comforted by this thought that I named all my "babies" in prayer - all the children I had ever cared for. Incidently, when I got to the name of the oldest one, a teenager from a totally different race and culture than we are, I remembered that I had dreamt of him the night before. In my dream he was giving me a big, special "mom" hug. I sure needed that...

Thank You for Your comfort, Lord.

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March 5, 2008

The Children Left My Door on Wednesday

It was a rough three days, but I'll have to explain more later...


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February 27, 2008

We're On! - Foster Update

Two and one half weeks ago the children I've been praying for entered foster care for the second time in three months. We were called to become a placement for them, should they not be able to return to one of their parents.

In court today it was determined that neither parent was able to care for them at this time, so their children will be placed in our custody. We requested that their current foster placement keep them over the weekend, since we'd made arrangements to help my mother-in-law with her move to a new home. I was told that the children may need to move before the weekend. The case worker said initially that it should be a short-term placement, but, as my husband says, "it's not set in stone". They could be with us a very long time.

So, after wiping the sweat off of my head and neck (I've been riding my exercise bike!) I called our certifier to inform her of our need to expediate the process of recertification.

The little girl is 4, her brother is 3. We live with lots of space around us, and little brother loves being outside. Culture shock might hit his sister, though, when she realizes there is no TV to stare at! Looks like I'll be reading lots of stories and playing lots of games!

When I informed my husband of their status, I told him that I had only been imagining the "worst case scenario" with having them in my home - of our things being broken and disruptions and noise and all; until just now. Now my faith has to kick in, and I have to say that if my life has come to this day, then God has been preparing the way.

The strength, the wisdom, the insight will be there - "for such a time as this". I can't offer any excuses when I'm trusting God. I can't say that I'm too old for parenting, or too tired, or too busy, or even unwilling! If He is my resource, then I have everything I need.

That's all!

I have everything I need.

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February 20, 2008

Waiting, But Not Idle

My husband and I have decided that I should begin (once again) to actively pursue my career in proofreading with Christian publishers. It's not because a week has passed since I quit my jobs and I'm desperate, but because God hasn't led me away from going that direction!

I've been reading the book of Jeremiah this month. As I quieted myself one evening before reading, I began to ask God some questions about the future of the children I may be caring for. This is what I came to:

"This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: 'Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord. They will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with all their heart.'" Jeremiah 24:5-7

My entry in my journal: "I accept these words as being spoken to the house of (the children I'm praying for). Promises of coming back, of building up, of planting, of knowing God and being His - the end of captivity!"

To clarify my beliefs: The foster care system is not holding the children or their family in bondage. The bondage I believe God is talking about (to me) is the bondage to the lies that can't be overcome. Lies about who they really are, and who God is.

His promise: He will watch over them and bring them back to that safe and healthy place with Him where He will build them up, plant good stuff in them, and change their hearts so that they will know who He is - like they've never known before! Yes!

February 16, 2008

Still Waiting for the Children

On this beautifully sunny, quiet Saturday morning I'd like to update our foster care situation.

The case worker is doing an awesome job working on the children's case, to assess their needs and plans for them. I hear bits of news through the grapevine about her progress, and I am pleased at her thoroughness. Since the children are currently in a foster family that's willing to be flexible with their length of stay, there's really no reason to hurriedly pull them out and relocate them.

I have some anxiety about my own situation right now, too. I'm in a state of limbo, of insecurity, about my own future. The children may not be placed with us after all! Maybe only one of them will come.

I'm getting a lot of tasks done at home - organizing, planning, exercising. I'm actually working harder than I did when I was employed away from home!

I've made time to take long walks and talk to God during the day. I listen, and I ask Him for different things, but it all comes back to my deepest desire to just leave it all in His hands - and trust Him!

In my previous post I talked about taking a "leap" into this new life. I think about the children... Their's wasn't a willing "leap"! It was more like they were "launched" into the unknown. I can imagine their cries and their screams in the darkness.

Show me how to pray for the children, Father.

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February 14, 2008

The Leap

I took my daughter with me to the DHS office yesterday afternoon. I was expecting to bring the children (ages 3 and 4) home with me after a visit with their mother, but we didn’t. It turned out to be a “get re-acquainted time” with them, which was good. We got to observe and interact with them, and be supportive to a mother who has to see her children taken away to a stranger’s home.

THE MOTHER
Because of our relationship with her, I felt that I could come close and take her in my arms and just hold onto her. She pressed her face into my shoulder and wept for a few minutes. She has such a hard road ahead of her! I hoped she could grasp the words I offered, that God was big enough to take care of her children and she could trust Him. God will make the seeds (my efforts) grow and bear fruit.

I TOOK THE LEAP OF FAITH
Have you seen the illustration on the cover of John Eldredge’s book, Wild at Heart? It’s a silhouette of a man taking a leap off of one boulder to another. I feel that I am aloft like that; I gave notice at my two part-time jobs yesterday and left the path that I thought had already led me into my chosen career. Now because of souls in need, I’ve let it go. Like the illustration, my foot has left what was a solid rock, and I’m stretching myself through the air towards a new rock. I’ve been telling people, “We’ll see how I land!”

One year ago we retired from fostering. My husband's heart just wasn’t in it, and my own had changed. I know this literally doesn’t happen, but I felt that “the anointing had run out”. That season of my life was done. We didn’t have the strength required to continue parenting young needy children any longer. We were ready for change, for me to work and bring in income, and to be active grandparents.

Maybe that was just a year-long vacation (so to speak). I honestly don’t know.

THE PLAN
This morning we are in process for re-certification as foster parents. The children’s current foster placement is adequate for now. They're working on a another relative placement, and we’re the “back-up plan”. He doesn’t have an established relationship with the younger child, and doesn’t handle his special needs well, so we will likely be given custody of the boy this week. Even this plan is subject to change at any moment…

Instead of this time of my life being called “The Change”, it should be called “The Changes!”

MY MOST SERIOUS CONCERN
…is for support as a foster mom. Who will watch difficult children for me when I need some time away? It’s basically impossible for me to leave children I’m responsible for with the peace of mind that they are truly cherished and not a burden on their caregivers. This is where I need prayer. (Thank you!)

TODAY
There’s time to get more things ready here. Today I am unemployed. I need to plan how I’ll “child-proof” my home again, since they are going to be a handful at first. I have a proofreading job to work on. I will make an appointment for my husband to see the doctor, and make meal plans. (Who says I’m unemployed?) I need to locate a couple of beds, and arrange to get them set-up. Thankfully, there are quiet moments in my day to reflect and pray, till I get that phone call that sets a new world in motion for me!

Will my feet land solidly on that rock?


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February 12, 2008

We Got the Call...Again

This time it's two children who are known to us!

My last post was an announcement that I had started my desired career in Proofreading. One year ago this month my husband and I retired from foster parenting. We were sure we were done.

Yesterday we were called by acquaintances - with the request to rescue their children from a stranger's foster home and take them into ours. Wow!

If I am to become a foster mother again, then I must devote all my energy to it and give the children my best. That means putting the brakes on all the dreams I've dreamed and plans I've planned this whole year!

The only thing I can say is that this has to be one of those "adventures" of life. Wow!

I should be alarmed, I suppose; but the problem is - this may be God's design! It's possible that all we've been through as a family has had God's hand on it, to bring us to this day when we'd be available to care for these two precious children that He made! My husband and I have prayed that we might make a difference in their lives. Maybe this is the reason we became foster parents in the first place - just for these!

Lord, help!

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February 7, 2008

First Proofreading Job!

TODAY!
I started today!
I completed my first proofreading work for a website - AND received positive feedback for my efforts.

A satisfied customer!
Okay, she's my friend; but still, it's a gift from God and my proofreading career has begun! Today! YEA!

I told God, when I felt that tug on my heart to become a foster parent, that I would commit to one child, and if I was done after that I would be satisfied to just help the one. I challenged my husband to try just one. All I want is to not back off of something challenging because of my own fear. If it turns out to be sour, then I'll spit it out and try a different fruit!

I have done one proofreading job. He has answered my longing. Tomorrow is in His hands.

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January 30, 2008

New Winds Are Blowing

My dreams of becoming a proofreader by trade are materializing!

It's been about a month since I talked with anyone about proofreading work, so I contacted my mentor, Bethany, last week. I've only spoken with her once before, but she is so inviting and encouraging to me that I had to get back on track and figure out how to do the "next thing".

I upgraded my resume' and printed business cards. That was fun. Then I started searching with Google for Christian publishers.

I thought it would be much harder to get publishers to send me proofreading tests, but tonight I'm encouraged again! After sending contact emails to a couple of Christian publishers I found on the internet (I chose names I was familiar with), I received a response within days requesting my address so they could send me a test!

You've got to understand... (In my English I'm actually saying, "ya gotta understand!") This is incredibly FUN to me! In my mind, this is like tackling a crossword puzzle would be to some people. For my husband, it would be the equivalent of thinking through strategy in a card game. My Grandma Beneta would giggle that she was cooking up a "Triple Word Score" in the game of Scrabble. For my daughter, it would be like solving the crime in a mystery novel.

Proofreading comes naturally to me. I'm hungry to practice it and "solve" more sentence structure dilemmas, correct spelling and punctuation mishaps, catch formatting inconsistencies and GET BETTER AT IT! In fact, the managing editor of the first publisher to test me (last year) agreed to send me manuscripts to practice on, along with already proofed copies so I could see how my efforts stack up against others'.

I love this!

Meanwhile, I'm holding two part-time jobs and keeping my home and marriage healthy, staying close to Jesus, encouraging my offspring, helping lead worship at church, and trying to sell my Dad's metal detector! I'm a busy lady, but not too busy to keep plugging away at the work I long to do next - with patience and perseverance.

This new life is coming to be! The dream is to earn a healthy income, manage it well, and support mission work for the Lord. To bless and be blessed.

With God's help I will do this!

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January 8, 2008

Mommy Says, "Share"

Didn't we all hear from our mothers, teachers, aunts, whoever - that we should "share"?

Tonight I'm resting snugly in a warm home offered to us by some old friends. (Is it okay that I call you old, friends?) My husband and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary surrounded by beauty beyond compare and more than 2 feet of snow! They offered their vacation home to us just out of the blue... How refreshing it is to be cared for like this!

Who taught you to share? How did you learn to love? -and how do you express it?

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:8-11

I haven't told my friends this yet, but I've really struggled with sharing my home lately because I was sure I had so little to give. How many times have I seen someone not appreciate what I offered? How often have I stepped back from inviting someone over because I was embarrassed by the rust stains in the bathtub, or because I had convinced myself that my humble meal wouldn't appeal to them? The answer is: far too often!

This scripture says that I should use the gift I have received to serve others. That means I don't have to worry about what I don't have to give! What God has given me, that is what I am to use. And look closely - I'm even instructed to administer my serving in God's strength! I'm not supposed to "sweat it". I'm not sure I know how to do that, because I quickly become concerned about what the recipient is thinking.

The word "faithful" is in there too. In another scripture it says to "practice" hospitality. So, maybe I need to accept the idea that I need to be faithful to practice it, then it'll become more natural and more fun for me to SHARE!

I know that's true.

And once again, it all boils down to love.

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