Category Archives: At Home

Don’t Fight Naked

I have so many failings and flaws of character, I told myself one miserable morning recently. I haven’t changed, I never will change, I never can change. I should just give up and throw myself in the trash.

I felt powerless, defeated, and alone before I even got out of bed.Feb-Nov 2015 1803

Do you ever feel that way?

Still Small Voice: You’re not alone, you know? I’m always with you.

“I know You live in my heart,” I said.  “But I’m such a poor representative.”

Maybe you’re looking at the wrong person?

As I lay on my pillow, I remembered a sweet Texas drawl from many years ago—it was my friend’s mother as she said: “Well of course you’re having trouble, darlin’–you’re goin’ into battle nekked!”

I realized I was doing it again.

Instead of submitting my worries to God and waiting on Him for direction, I’d fretted in the night. I’d dashed from one website to another trying to solve my problems by myself.Nov. 2015 221

And I was getting throttled.

My Texan sister was referring to Ephesians 6 and the full armor of God. That morning it seemed overwhelming to walk through the passage step-by-step. But I had to do something.  I looked around for a quick spiritual sword to whack at the enemy and push him back.

The sword I swung is from Phil. 1:6, which says, “He who began a good work in you will complete it…” 

Suddenly I realized I could put on all my armor with this one verse–one word or phrase at a time.Feb-Nov 2015 1880

HE–God–Creator, Majesty, lover of my soul. I remembered how God once granted my childish prayer to prevent an undeserved spanking from hurting. He has answered all such childish prayers since.  “He will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6).

With this remembrance I put on my breastplate of His righteousness to protect my heart from Satan’s jabs.

WHO BEGAN–One day, this former runaway teen heard how Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins and adopt me into His family. From that moment on, I had a future. “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for Me?” (Jer. 32:27)Feb-Nov 2015 1700

With this remembrance I donned my helmet of salvation to protect my mind from Satan’s trickery. 

A GOOD WORKwhen I bring my broken pieces and failed intentions to God, He exchanges my ashes for beauty, my mourning for the oil of joy, and my depression for a garment of praise.  He exchanges withered sticks for “trees of righteousness, a planting for the Lord.” (Is. 61:3)

I gird my loins with the truth that God makes me beautiful and fruitful for Himself. I cover my nakedness so none other has mastery over me. I am His alone–His beautiful bride.

IN ME–He knows me: I love fields, red clay, baby feet, basil pesto. Loud noise and activities stress me. I want to be braver.  He works with it all. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)Feb-Nov 2015 1894

The utter joy of being completely known and yet loved leads me to polish my shoes and shod my feet with the gospel of peace so I can tell everyone about this God who loves us to and for Himself.

WILL COMPLETE IT–completion of God’s good work doesn’t depend on me but on the completed work of Christ and promises of God. “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire…” (Is. 55:11)

I lift my shield and take up my sword. I remember that Jesus changed everything–my passage through time as well as my eternal destiny. I strike down the lies that discourage and derail me. I’m rescued from the trash, never to return.April 2015 014

I still have many flaws and failings of character but I rise, fully armored, in this promise:

“…He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil.1:6)

When the Enemy of your soul picks a fight with you, friends, put on your best Texas drawl and don’t go into battle nekked.

 

 

 

We Need a Raising, Lord

With much love for L and S

Where are You,  O God? Where are You for our friends? I plant my elbows on the navy-checked tablecloth. I stare at the corncob salt-and-peppers from the thNov. 2015 248rift shop–mere specks of dust in the universe, but they usually make me smile. Not today. My heart is heavy.

Outside, brilliant oranges and yellows proclaim the time of rest for trees. Winter approaches—the first snows dust the tops of the nearby foothills. The once-dry creek roars again. My mind roars, too. But I want to hope.The evidence of You is all around.

Are You wrapped around our friends today? Are You their refuge and strength? Are You holding them up? August 2015 212

Why are these friends continuously pummeled by storms with little rest—cancer, deaths of loved ones, dementia in both fathers, and the latest blow–arrest of a son for whom they’ve prayed, sacrificed, counseled, and laid down their lives in every arena?

Satan pounds them without abatement. The “Adam” bombs of mortality threaten to blast them to dust and grind them to spit.

“In Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17) They’ve hidden their lives in You, Lord. Please hold them together.Nov. 2015 313

We’re not supposed to ask why. But Moses did. David did. May I ask for them, Lord? May I beg a respite for them from the storms? How much more? Will You hide them in the shelter of Your wings?

Can they find refuge in sleep? They bury their faces in wet pillows. A God who makes autumn and constellations and babies to grow inside us–the conclusion will be perfect, yes, but it looks a mess now. Where is the ray of hope?Nov. 2015 037

The sister of Lazarus said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21 NASB) Jesus asked Martha if she believed He could raise the dead. She did, she said, yes, certainly, sometime in the future.  But Jesus raised Lazarus that very day.

We need a raising, Lord.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)

Nov. 2015 018Open our eyes, Lord. “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jer. 32:27)

When Job lost his animals, servants, buildings, children, and health, he asked why. You answered him with Your beauty and majesty, Your authority over the store houses of snow and every created thing. Job fell on his face and retracted his questions as piffle.

We want to retract our questions but, right now, none of what’s happening feels like piffle.It feels like our hearts can’t continue beating against the flood–that they’re ripped out, strewn on the rocks, and bleeding underfoot.Nov. 2015 223

But Your heart is breaking too, isn’t it, Lord? When we weep and cry out to You, and rail against the evil in the world that devastates us and kills the ones we love, You know how we feel, don’t You? You know because You were here once.

After You listened to Martha and Mary, You stood outside Lazarus’ tomb and wept.

You wept.

That’s our ray ofNov. 2015 104 hope.

You wept over our reality. You accepted the whole pain of it on the Cross. You said to Your disciples–all the ones then and all the ones now–“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Help us take courage today, Lord. Help us remember You standing outside that tomb looking at the wages of sin and weeping for us. Give our friends the courage of hope in You and Your finished work. Give us faith in things not seen.

We are creatures of dust. You’ve put it in our hearts to love and sacrifice for other creatures of dust, to find pleasure and beauty even in inanimate things that will all pass awayNov. 2015 216. Therefore, hide us in the shelter of Your wings, that we would find hope in You, despite what we see.

Please, Lord–only You can give life.

 

 

The Grumble Box

When our children were in elementary school, they began to drag down to breakfast with sour faces, complained aOctober 2015 015t scrambled instead of fried eggs, and whined they didn’t get the biggest cookie in their lunches.

They wanted striped shirts, not plain ones, and plain socks, not striped ones. They didn’t want to take the dog outside (the one they’d begged for and promised to take care of), and the toys were much too big a mess to clean up.

I prayed about what to do.

When the rescued people of Israel complained in the desert about manna for breakfast, manna for lunch, and manna for dinner, God was angry and sent them poultry to eat–so much poultry it piled up and spoiled, causing people to sicken and die.

If God considered complaining so serious an offense, I neeAugust 2015 111ded to take notice and teach my kids to be thankful for what they had and to do their work without complaint.

Then I came across Psalm 142:1-2,  which says: “I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out before Him my complaint; before Him I tell my trouble.”

So then, there were at least two kinds of complaint to consider—the legitimate need to share feelings and the self-centered whine. I had been working hard on the first–practicing the art of looking in my childrens’ faces and really listening to them.

It was the second that concerned me. That’s when I instituted the Grumble Box. October 2015 014

A Grumble Box can be made from anything. It can be a cardboard box with a colorful design and a slot cut in the top, or a decorated spice can. I wrote a little ditty for ours and taped it to the top of the box. It read like this:

When gratitude doth tumble and resulteth in a grumble, please deposit thou a coin, thy mouth for to humble.

“What’s this?” the kids asked when they came in the kitchen.

“This is the Grumble Box,” I said. “We all need to be more thankful and complain less. WAugust 2015 008hen you whine about doing chores or taking care of the dog or whatever, you’ll have to put a coin in the box.”

“What kind of coin?”

“It might be a penny, a nickel, a dime, or a quarter depending on the whine.”

“What about you?”

This took me aback.  “Um,” I said, “yes, of course–me too. If I grumble I’ve got to pay.”

The kids were suddenly more interested. “What will you do with all that money, Mom?”August 2015 090

“We’ll give it to kids who need it. We’ll put it in the globe bank for Children of the Nations.”

Children of the Nations is a non-profit that provides food, homes, schools and medical care to children  whose lives have been ravaged by war, poverty, disease, and death in the Dominican Republic and several African countries. For more info see www.cotni.org

For a while, the Grumble Box filled up quickly. When the kids tumbled down to breakfast, I’d ask if they’d all made their beds.August 2015 100

“But Mom,” one argued, “we’re just going to sleep in them again tonight!”

“Oh dear,” I’d say. “Grab a penny for the Grumble Box.”

“What? ” they’d holler. “All I said was…”

“Oh my—I guess you’d better make it a nickel.”

“Mo-om!”

“You drive a hard bargain–how about a quarter?”

One time I informed the kids we’d be cleaning the garage on Saturday.  “Okay,” said one of the boys, shoulders slumped, “I guess you’d better give me my allowance in small change.”IMG_2367

The Grumble Box proved to be the reminder we all needed to complain less. It became a light-hearted way to remember to think before we spoke, retrain our mouths, and practice self-control.

We also learned to be more thankful for what we had.

Every time we emptied the box into the bank and took the bank to Children of the Nations, we looked outside ourselves to see some hungry child get a full belly, or go to school for the first time, or find a place to belong in one of the small family-style orphanages.

And that was the best lesson of all.

 

 

 

 

By His Grace, To Be His Lenses

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.  Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” Ps. 19:1, 2, 411087717_10153205131874214_4981049671247812487_o

I’m a Psalm 19 woman–one of those for whom God makes truth palpably clear, a doubting Thomasina who must press my fingers in His handprints to believe.

And His handprints are everywhere. I remember the first shock–the first obvious evidence of this great and awesome God we cannot imagine Who bends down to eyeless worms to give us glimpses of His beauty and majesty.

I was in high school Biology, a staunch and self-righteous Catholic, dropped off at Mass weekly by embattled parents who agreed that children should attend church, though they August 2015 038themselves came only during truces, when they played Chinese checkers by night.

I remember following them across the parking lot at those times, eyeing the hand-holding hopefully, wondering how long it would last. But it was never long.  I became religious, but I didn’t yet know the saving power of grace and forgiveness. I didn’t know Jesus.

In high school Biology, I bent over the eye of a microscope, fiddling the little mirror into place until it should reflect enough light to illuminate whatever mystery hid in the elodea leaf on the glass.

At last, angled light penetrated the leaf, the lens magnified the mystery to giant-sized, and I gasped at the glory of God evident in the tiny cells.Sept 2015 004

There I saw chloroplasts– glowing green factories that turn light energy into sugar to feed every part of plant and tree. They bustled about like stained-glass nannies in the cry ward.

I remember the vision yet, though I never saw it again. It hooked me on the reality, omnipotence, and incomprehensibility of God–in awe that He allowed me to glimpse such things about Him.

For why should He show me?August 2015 233 In those teen years, I drank, I swore, I feared my mother, and was ashamed of my father. I practiced the sacraments, but my heart boiled with evil, like one of the white-washed sepulchric Pharisees Jesus condemned to their faces.

But He had mercy on me and showed me not only chloroplasts but what they meant.

Later, I saw His handprints in the births of our four children, though I nearly died with the first. I slipped along towards Him and He sent me back, so I might see His handprints again through the lenses of children and parenting.

In them He revealed how His fatherhood of me could inform my ignorant parenting of themAugust 2015 195

and how depression, self-loathing, and paralyzing fear had no power against love, laughter, and the light in children’s eyes when they presented me with tender words I didn’t deserve, written in childish scrawls on handmade Mother’s Day cards.

Through the lens of His word I learned that time doesn’t heal all wounds save by the glare of Holy Spirit truth, the shedding of tears, the embrace of thanksgiving, the blood of forgiveness, the balm of kindness, the steel of humility, and the ferocity of abiding love.

I see His handprints through the lens of the Perseids meteor shower, when Big Bang rocks crash through the atmosphere–red, green, and blue–and my blink of tiny dust bows to Him in the vastness, beauty, and testimony of His creation.

I see Him through the lens of rest in SabbathOct 2015 004 sheep fields, the cares of the week floating away with the tumble of clouds and the quiet certainty that just as no one could mistake the artist in my pottery, so I cannot mistake my Creator in the gifts of peace and changing sky.

And I want to be a lens–that others might see Jesus, too.

Maybe you’re a Psalm 19 believer, too? Do you see His handprints through the lens of His creation? Do you want to be His lens to others?Sept 2015 055

Lord, thank You for this amazing creation that speaks of Your majesty. By Your grace, teach us how to be Your lenses that we might reflect, magnify, and illuminate the mystery of You to others.

No Limits

Recently I began cleaning out boxes of old photos, cards, and papers. There is such a painful sweetness about looking at little faces all grown up, the penciled “I luv u momy” scrawls and handmade birthday cards offering bike shows for a gift or “brekfast in bed.”Sept 2015 002

Moms are especially blessed in that our lives “pass before our eyes” every time we clean the house. The process sparks not only memories but evaluation–a chance to think, to confess, to address, to rejoice.

We sift through books, report cards, term papers, chore charts, prayer lists, and letters. We unfold a paper found on the floor and quietly tuck it into our son’s bookshelf when we see it’s a heartfelt letter to his girlfriend, not meant for our eyes.Sept 2015 118

We find beer bottles from an unauthorized party that occurred when we went on an anniversary trip and we discover how to pray more specifically for that child.

We sweep leaves off the trampoline after the Perseids meteor shower with our nature-minded son and order a new closet door after the skateboard went through it with our more impulsive son.

August 2015 115We file receipts from Easter shoes that prompted tears because they were black and shiny like our dog that died; and receipts from volleyball uniforms and slippery fabric for another daughter to wrestle on the sewing machine for her first boy-girl banquet.

The procession of mundane tasks in a mother’s life also fosters a closer look –who is this child? How is she made? What are his strengths? What is he afraid of? What are her weaknesses? How do we listen better to this one? How can we best pray for that one?August 2015 056

But this recent cleaning was different—a time travel back through decades—and I was privileged to find this poem written by one of our precious daughters many years ago as she stood at a crossroads wrestling with how much control to give God over her life.

It comes at a perfect time.

I like it because it’s honest and wise and cuts me to the quick. It highlights the stakes. It forces us ask ourselves how small a box we’re offering God in which to put our futures, when He has no such boundaries.

I can’t figure out how to format the poem properly but here it is, for the crossroads in all of our lives:14932_10151349341009214_1835112752_n

No Limits

I invited an artist to come to my house–“Paint me a picture,” I said. “Make it a field with flowers–Yellow, blue, and violet.” So he painted a field, just as I’d asked. And it was pretty.

I invited a chef to come to my house–“Cook me a dinner,” I said. “Make it a pasta with herbs–Parsley, basil, and thyme. So he cooked me a dinner, just as I’d asked. And it tasted good.

I invited God to come into my life–“Give me a future,” I said. “Make it a house with a family–husband, two kids, and a dog.” So he gave me a future, just as I’d asked. And it was nice.

My next-door-neighbor invited the artist to come to hiSept. 2015 076s house. “Paint me a picture,” he said. “Make it whatever you want–You are the master–I’ll just watch.”  So he painted a picture, as he saw fit. And it was breathtaking.

My next-door-neighbor invited the chef to come to his house. “Cook me a dinner,” he said. “Make it whatever you want–You are the master–I’ll just watch.” So he cooked a dinner, as he saw fit. And it was delicious.

My next-door-neighbor invited God to come into his life. “Give me a future,” he said. “Make it whatever you want–You are the master–I’ll just submit.” So he gave him a future, as He saw fit. And it was amazing.

OldCompBackup 038One day my neighbor invited me over for dinner. I looked at his painting. I ate his dinner. I evaluated his life. “I don’t get it,” I said. “I had the same artist, the same chef, the same God. Why is everything you have so much better?” 

And my neighbor just smiled and nodded his head. “The secret,” he said, “is no limits.”

 

And the Cattle on a Thousand Hills

What I know is I’m not good at waiting. What I know is when the cookies are baking, or the inning retires, or the little one sleeps, or the beans soak, I’m looking up houses online.

What I know is I’ve developed a sudden interest in geography—in streets I’ve never been down, in areas I pass when I drop off or pick up for school. And for each possibility I sit on the street or pull into the driveway if no one’s home and I say, Lord, is this the one?Aug 2015 EOS 027

Lord, is this the house that represents our fourth move in eight years, and do You think we can stay here longer this time?

In my mind I walk inside and say, Is this where we’ll sit on the couch during another Madeline movie and eat popcorn, or cuddle in the morning when the kids first wake up and don’t want to talk—just be wrapped in the sheep blanket with little woolies running over the brown hills?

I imagine which room might display the puppet jars, and paper shelves, anIMG_2195d the  Quartermaster’s Cabinet from WWI with all the drawers. Lord, is this where we’ll sit with the cousins, crayons, and cotton rag paper for a day of coloring and paint spills and fruit snacks?

Will we play on this lawn, Father God, and have squirt-gun fights, pick raspberries, and make ice-cream from heaven? Will we put chicken, onions, peaches, and beans in foil and throw it in the coals for a night of campfire stew?

Is this where Tim will make wine again, running up and down the basement stairs or into the garage with his little notebook to record specific gravity or add water to the mix?

IMG_2367Is this where we’ll drink wine, watch the sunset, open the blinds to the moonlight, and touch our bare feet together under the sheets?

Father God, I would love to have room for enough couches for Care Group to meet—the trill of guitar hymns sounding through the house and out the windows near the table or island or counter where the cookies, coffee, and tea are laid out.

Lord, do you think I could have chickens again?

And out of all the clamor and questions and changes of my mind, comes God’s still, small voice. It’s so gentle and patient, like a brush of His hand on my cheek, a lifting of my chin, a whisper to me to look in His eyes.IMG_2146

He reminds me that He is enough, that He knows all my needs and wants, that wherever He is, is home, whether or not it has couches, cupboards, raspberry bushes, or longevity, that He has far better gifts for me than I can imagine, that His grace is sufficient for me, even for waiting.

He reminds me that the foxes have holes but the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head, and He didn’t spend a moment worrying about where to cuddle a little one to watch Madeline.

He reminds me that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, as well as the moonlight and AuOldCompBackup 3015rora Borealis that shine on them. He reminds me He owns all whom I love, and that He is mine and I am His, forever and ever and always.

Then I remember all He has promised me is also His desire for refugees fleeing homelands today with nothing but the clothes on their backs, waiting for boats or trains that never come, getting turned away from port after port, and having their children wash up dead on the waves.

And maybe my eyes need to see and my heart needs to grow.

He reminds me He is the One who gives His children peace that passes understanding, sleep without fear, and a future that is guaranteed.Sept. 2015 003

All we need to do is REST IN HIM.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you shall find rest for your souls, for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28).

 

 

How to Make a Celebration Branch

Nehemiah had guts. As cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes during the Babylonian exile of the Jews, he was the king’s last defense between a poisoned drink and death. Every day Nehemiah’s life was at stake.August 2015 163 (2)

Every day required supernatural courage to perform his duties. And Nehemiah knew where to find it.

So when he went to Jerusalem and finished rebuilding the wall with the returned captives, he could hardly wait to share the book of the Law of Moses with the people. But when they heard it, they wept.

Nehemiah said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

It’s tempting to focus on weaknesses and dangers. But that’s like focusing the beam of a lighthouse so narrowly on the shoals, we can’t see the safe harbor just ahead.

Nehemiah reminds us to open our eyes to enjoy God, to share His gifts with others, and to rejoice because He has accomplished all His purposes. Our joy is in His sufficiency, and in that joy is our strength.April 2015 049

In keeping with Nehemiah’s instruction, here are info and directions for the Celebration Branch, as promised. The idea of a branch comes from Leviticus.

Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches, and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.” (Leviticus 23:,40)

The people of Israel gathered branches to make shelters for the Feast of Booths,   a week-long Thanksgiving celebration after the harvest.

Our Celebration Branch is a little different. We hang a branch above our kitchen table, and decorate it to reflect times of thanksgiving and joy in our family year-around.August 2015 399

Examples:

To celebrate the arrival of a newborn, foster, or adopted child, hang photos, shoes, rattles, toys, words of welcome, etc. For an exchange student,  add welcomes in English and their native language, and brochures about places to share.

In Autumn, use artificial leaves, pencils, crayons, grades and photos of each school child and phrases about their hopes and dreams for the year.

At Thanksgiving, hang photos, drawings, or lists of things you’re grateful for, along with hand print or pine cone turkeys, strings of candy corn, etc.

The Celebration Branch is a perfect place for Jesse Tree,  Advent, or other traditional Christmas ornaments including candy canes, stars, evergreen sprigs, snowflakes, Nativity figures, or gold ribbon.Nov-Dec 2014 023 (2)

Small cards with Easter promises can dangle amongst fresh or artificial flowers such as forsythia and lilies, along with other symbols of new life such as eggs and chicks.

Birthday or baptism celebrations might include the photo of a child, interests, strengths, testimony, favorite things,  and other clues of how God has made them, such as small toys and books.

For summer vacation with the cousins, we hung crayon resist watercolors of flowers, frogs, and butterflies (See my post, “How to Make a Luscious Crayon Resist).

As you can see, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Here’s how to make your Celebration Branch:

  1. Take a walk in the wSept 2015 026oods and look for an interesting branch with lots of smaller twigs. Mine is a fir branch about five feet long, but yours can be longer or shorter as you desire.
  2. Remove leaves or needles from the branch and trim the side twigs until your branch is a pleasing shape.
  3. Hang the branch from your ceiling with several large eye hooks and strong string, making certain you screw at least some of the hooks through drywall into wood at each end so the branch can’t fall and hurt someone.
  4. Jazz up your branch with ribbon, bias-cut fabric, vines, lights, or glitter glue before you decorate it.
  5. Poke tiny holes in your decorations and hang them from your branch with light string or thread.
  6. Finally, friends, when you look at the branch, remember to rejoice in the God who gives you courage for each day, as He gave Nehemiah.

“Rejoice in all you11147035_10153285429579214_4948497860104946008_nr doings in which the Lord Your God has blessed you.” (Deuteronomy 12:7, The Fifth Book of the Law of Moses)

Everyday French Toast Moments

Ever had a day when the hurt of the world feels so big it makes you wonder if your little life, your small everyday moments, really matter–when your to-do list feels like a cop-out and your heart screams at you to stand up and make a difference in some grand, visible way?August 2015 027

Intellectually, I know what God has called me to, but today it feels like piffle. At the same time I find myself staring at the vase of black-eyed Susans, dahlias and hydrangeas on the kitchen table because it’s the only tidy place in the whole room.

How can my chores compare to the battles of firefighters?

The moon rose red Saturday from all the smoke, rose above the firs over the coffee pavilion where we listenedAugust 2015 065 to Steve McDonald play Celtic music while forest fires burned out of control on both sides of the Cascade range.

Thirteen firefighters lost their lives so that other people’s families, homes, lands, and forest might survive and flourish. One man with decades of safe firefighting lost his firefighting son last week and wishes it was himself.

We haven’t seen the neighbors for weeks. Both are rangers and firefighters. Lord, have mercy on them. Please protect them. Please, send rain.

While our daughter, son-in-law, and four kids played in the sprinkler and pool with us, banged croquet balls across dry grass, or waded in theAugust 2015 094 low creek, other people buried their sons and daughters who died fighting fires.

I can’t get my heart around that pain. Lord, please comfort those families who have lost loved ones. I don’t want them to think we’re playing at our little mountain cabin heedless of their sacrifices.

I don’t want them to think we take our green-treed butte for granted. Every good thing is a gift every day. Even coughing from the ash reminds that clean air is precious and not guaranteed, that men and women fight to preserve it for us.

Our eldest granddaughter called me on the mountain to say she’d entered Chocolate-Chip Cookies in the County Fair. This meant, since she spends most days with me, I’d have two hours when I got home to bake an entry also, so I’d have a pass to take her to the Fair.

I whisked my Cinnamon-Raisin bars out of thAugust 2015 038e oven with 45 minutes to cool, frost, and deliver. I set up a complicated cooling arrangement in the car using frozen gel packs on a rack over the cookie bars in front of air conditioning vents turned on HIGH. I started the engine.

The cup of confectioner’s glaze dumped over in the car. I saved enough for four bars–the required entry. The hot bars collapsed into indistinct lumps when I cut them.

I know what bothered me. I didn’t merely want to enter. I wanted to WIN. All the way to the Fairgrounds I prayed–Please get me there on time. I thought about whether or not this was a worthy prayer. Was it for my glory or God’s?

August 2015 032Then I remembered all the love funneled into this moment. I remembered teaching my granddaughter how to crack eggs when she was ten months old, how she graduated to French toast and surprised us with breakfast one morning.

Love is what He’s about. Love is what matters. The firefighter who lost his son isn’t crying because his son can’t fight fires anymore, but because they will never again share the small, everyday French toast moments of love that make life worth getting up for.

They’ve sacrificed those for you and for me.

I hope my granddaughter wins a blue ribbon. As for me, by God’s grace, I entered the Fair with four minutes to spare. Then I went home, hosed confectioner’s glaze off the car rug, did the laundry, washed dishes, went grocery-shopping and made dinner–honorable work, holy ground–building blocks for tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I’ll take the girls to see farm animals, carnival rides, and Chocolate-Chip Cookie awards. Tomorrow, Lord willing, we’ll share countless, small, everyday moments purchaJan 2014-Aug 2015 173sed with sacrifices and love I can’t begin to fathom, both Divine and human.

Please pray for firefighters and the families of those
who are lost. Write a note of gratitude to a firefighter or policeman. Then give thanks for all those small moments of love that aren’t so small, after all—
the ones so valuable that, at this very moment, people who don’t know us believe they’re worth risking their lives and even dying for.

How to Make a Luscious Crayon Resist

“And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.” Deuteronomy 12:7

I’ve been a potter, fine artist, and crafter for many years, but no matter how many times I do crayon resist, color and light spring off the page in ways I don’t expect. Then I feel a little bit of the joy God must have felt when He spoke the world into being in all its parts.

And crayon resist certainly proved to be a hit for all the cousins when they visited. Not only do we have happy memories, but some beautiful artwork, as well.August 2015 327

This is an easy project that yields exciting results with the right materials. Whether you’re creating an illustration, objects for a mobile, or a drawing for the refrigerator, a crayon resist will delight and surprise.July 2015 001 (2)

The best part of this technique is the moment you paint over your drawing and see the crayon colors pop. White, as in the flower above, and very light colors, as in the frog, are especially effective, as is a balance of both rough crayon to resist the watercolor and bare smooth paper to absorb it.

How it works: Regular crayons have enough wax in them to make a water-proof tJuly 2015 009extured line to resist watercolor paint applied lightly and only once. (Repeated washing of crayon surfaces with a wet brush will lift the crayon and destroy its resist properties).

You may want to plan the balance of light and dark values in your composition, as well as positive and negative space, or you may just want to plunge in to scribbling and painting. Either way, this is an exciting technique to experiment with. But it has its limits.July-Aug 2015 014

The coarse nature of crayons does not lend itself to tiny details. Too many small shapes will get lost in a cacophony of lines. Too many colors lessen the impact.

For a mobile, make your designs very simple: flowers, frogs, leaves, butterflies, and the like. More complex illustrations, such as this one I did for a picture book, require careful planning and a light pencil sketch.August 2015 008 (3)

Supplies: Regular crayons (not washable), card stock, watercolor paper, or a copy paper with a high cotton rag content such as Wausau 100% cotton stationery (at Target and other stores), watercolor paint box, paper towel, water cup, and thick, soft brush.August 2015 007 (2)

  1. Draw and color a simplified design on your chosen paper. (Elements of a mobile require heavy card stock). Light crayon delivers extra zing when you add the watercolors. Color hard. Leave some paper blank to absorb the paint.
  2. Load a soft brush with water and watercolor of any dilution.  Experiment with both opaque and transparent color, bright colors, deep colors, and black. The important thing is to commit to whatever you choose, so you don’t scrub off the crayon by changing your mind too many times.July-Aug 2015 012
  3. If your resists are for a mobile, you’ll want to cut out your elements after they dry, flip them over, and repeat steps 1 and 2  on the other side.
  4. You may want to spray your finished crayon resists with a fixative from a craft store or heavy-hold hair spray from the dollar store.
  5. When your mobile elements are completely dry, punch a small hole in the top with a hole punch, ice pick, or thick needle and hang with thread or light string. Turn on a fan and watch your dazzling display dance.August 2015 399