Friday, October 2, 2015

Yellow Bowl Memories

My daughter, Lorri, wrote this blog.

Five years ago, I received a fifty-year old yellow mixing bowl for Christmas from my mom. Some people might think that this gift might be insignificant compared to other possibilities, but for me, it was special. Tears ran down my cheeks as I held it, immersed in a flood of memories.

The yellow bowl had been in my life for as long as I could remember. As a two-year old, I sat on the counter as my mom introduced me to cookie baking. Even though I made a mess, she allowed me to help her mix the ingredients in the yellow bowl, my small hands sticky with dough.

Even before I was old enough to attend school, mom had taught me a lot about making cookies as we spent time together in the kitchen. I loved using the rolling pin and cookie cutters to make hearts for Valentine’s Day, bunnies for Easter, and trees for Christmas. The counter was often covered with multi-colored sprinkles, chocolate chips, and flour as we created our baked masterpieces. Whenever the yellow bowl came out of the cupboard, I knew that mom and I were about to have a good time together.

Over the years, mom and I made many cookies, but even more important, we had opportunities to spend time together. As I grew up, we talked about life experiences, hopes, dreams, and broken hearts. With the yellow bowl between us, we laughed and cried as we measured ingredients, mixed dough, and waited for the baked cookies to cool. Although we moved several times during my childhood, I always knew that the yellow bowl would be a familiar sight in our house, regardless of the city or state where we lived.

Eventually, as life went on, it seemed like there was less time for us to bake cookies together. As I prepared to graduate and begin life on my own, I knew that I would miss those days with mom, baking cookies and talking about whatever was on our minds. The yellow bowl stayed on the shelf for long periods of time, as jobs, college classes, relationships and other obligations kept us from baking cookies together.

More than forty-seven years have gone by since my first cookie-baking session, and I still love it. Every time I bake cookies, or teach a child how to bake cookies, I am reminded of the special times mom and I had together as I grew up. Baking cookies has always been, and will always be, a significant part of my life. I am grateful for yellow bowl memories.

In this day and age when many families live with some type of electronic device in their hand, any activity becomes very significant in the nurturing process when positive verbal communication is being shared between adult and child. 

 “Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?” Psalm 127:3 (MSG)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Take Those Thoughts Captive!

He had a bad attitude when God told him to preach to the people of Ninevah. In fact, Jonah decided to run in the opposite direction. He boarded a ship and sailed as far away from Ninevah as he possibly could.

He hated the Assyrians. They were well-known for exploiting the helpless, being cruel in war, and participating in idolatry, prostitution, and witchcraft. No wonder Jonah despised these people.

A bigger purpose

But God wanted Jonah to change his negative thinking. He wanted Jonah to see the Ninevites from His perspective. Yes, they were wicked, but God wanted them to have the opportunity to repent. Hadn’t Jonah had the same opportunity in his life?

A violent storm on the sea, and an uncomfortable ride in the belly of a whale, convinced Jonah to obey God. He would go to Ninevah and deliver God’s message. But his thinking really hadn’t changed.

Being familiar with the Ninevites, Jonah was sure they would ignore his warning. But they didn’t. Instead, they did what he least expected: they repented. They put on sackcloth and fasted, and cried out to God for forgiveness.

And what did God do? He forgave them. Just like that.

Stinkin' thinkin'

Jonah was furious. The Ninevites deserved to be punished for their wickedness. Shouldn’t they have to suffer for all the awful things they had done to others? What was God thinking to let them off the hook so easily? Jonah’s thinking continued to spiral downward. Can you relate to Jonah’s thought pattern? I can.

Negative thinking causes us to doubt God and focus on ourselves (click to tweet). We can learn a lot from Jonah’s example.

How is your thinking? The apostle Paul reminds us that our battle is spiritual. Satan would like nothing more than to influence our minds with wrong thinking.

A proven strategy

God’s Word provides a proven strategy to keep our thinking on the right path (click to tweet). It is possible to examine our thoughts and bring them in line with God’s will: 

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

When we know the truth, we can identify the lies. One of Satan’s oldest tricks is getting us to question God. Remember Eve in the Garden of Eden?  The first thing out of the serpent’s mouth was, “Yea, hath God said…” The seed of doubt was planted.

Eve considered the serpent’s question. After she saw the beauty of the fruit, she decided God was withholding something from her. She took the fruit and ate it. She was deceived.

Identify the lies & replace them with Truth

But before we’re too rough on Eve, don’t we do the same thing? Something bad happens to us. Satan throws out a question, “Do you think God would let that happen to you if He really loved you?” Emotions take over and before long; we’re following the same train of thought as Eve. Maybe God really doesn’t care.

When we’re examining our thoughts and identifying the lies we’ve believed, it’s time to do something drastic. It’s time to replace the lies with truth. Philippians 4:8 gives us a list of things to fill our minds with; things that are: true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and worthy of praise.

Your mind is a battlefield. Satan wants you to stay addicted to negative thinking. It will take some hard work, but when you immerse yourself in God’s Word you can experience victory: “

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Your turn

Do you dwell on negative thoughts? Will you take your thoughts captive? What step will you take to renew your mind with the truth of God’s Word?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for reminding me that the battle begins in my mind. Help me examine my thoughts and replace lies I've believed with the truth of Your Word. Thank You that I can know the truth and it will make me free. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sitting Duck

Some days I feel like a duck, paddling furiously along on my little pond, at the mercy of every ill wind that decides to ruffle my feathers. I’m especially vulnerable to feeling like the whole world is sitting on my shoulders and time is flowing like quick silver through my fingers.  

More years ago than I care to name, there was a television game show called “Beat the Clock.” (You are an official Baby Boomer if you remember that one.)  The host would give a selected family a long list of actions they had to complete within a few minutes. Mom, Dad, and the kids had to co-operate and hustle to win. That’s how I feel some days, as if I’m playing Beat the Clock— and loosing big time. It makes me feel stressed, frustrated and plain irritable; definitely someone to avoid.



Then the saner Susan asks the time-stressed Susan, “Is someone coming to the house with a clipboard to tic off what you didn’t accomplish? Will they fine you if they find dust bunnies under the bed?  Where did this insane work ethic come from?

 Certainly not from my parents. One day my father asked Mom if she recalled the line in the Bible that said “Dust thou art and to dust thou shall return” When she said yes, he replied, “Well someone’s either coming or going under our bed.”

So what is the source of that time trap trigger that sets me off, and can so easily ruin my outlook? I could say, “the devil,” but that’s too simplistic. I think it is when I fail to get dressed in the morning with the “full armor of God;” when I don’t crawl into Scripture before I do anything else. I really need to center on Christ every morning, and ask his grace to help me view my world and all its tasks through his eyes, not mine. God’s Word is truly my protection from trying to become a neurotic over-achiever. When I live under his grace, things fall into place.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11 NKJV)

After reading what God has to say about life, I more easily see those few tasks that stand tall in the flow of his will, while everything else just nestles in the back seat of my self-created juggernaut.  Strangely enough, when it is no longer a list of my do-or-die-jobs, but God’s plans, I actually accomplish more with less stress.

“And he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2Corinthaians 12:9 NKJV)

And when my all important schedule lies shredded at the feet of the One who knows best what needs to be, let me say, "Your will. Always."



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Flying Debris

A few days ago, during an Indy Car race, a driver hit the wall. Debris from his wreck slammed into the head of another driver. At the age of 37, Justin Wilson lost his life due to someone else’s trouble.

It wasn’t even his crash, but he suffered for it.

My mind turned to other kinds of wrecks. My mother must have crashed early on in life. I didn’t witness the wreck, but I lived with the debris flying at me. At a young age, I learned to just stay off her track if possible. When I was required to be in her presence, I kept my head down. There were no helmets to protect me from her sharp tongue.

That scenario was equivalent to a wreck for me. As I grew older … married … had children … I flung debris everywhere. It wasn’t my children’s crash, but they suffered for it.

Life is sometimes like that. But it doesn’t have to be.

I stepped outside the routine of my life and took a look at the person I was. It was not a pretty sight. And so began my reprogramming. It didn’t happen overnight.  God was very patient with me. But I fling far less debris these days.

I know wives and mothers who have crashed and burned many times. The debris just keeps flying. Yet they continue to zoom on down the track, seemingly unaware of the disasters they are causing behind them.

It’s hard to watch.

“…..everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” Ephesians 4:22-24 (MSG)


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