Are you ready to rumble...

When all our kids were at home, Sunday morning was always a pleasant, calm morning filled with greeting of good morning. quoting of favorite Bible verses, offering 3 courses of breakfast, as we all headed to the car with murmurs of kind words and gentle spirits.

My children will often tell me when I relay a story or event from years back, that they don't quite remember the story the same way that I do.  Let me just say... I DO remember Sunday mornings, and NO... they were nothing like I described above.  I can say, IF I were able to create the picture I would have DESIRED Sunday morning to be, the above WOULD be the reality! :)  Can anyone relate?

It is funny now, truth be told. most often we were running out the door in a huff, bellowing reminders to "get your Bible, you'll need a sweater with that dress - no spaghetti straps showing - can somebody wipe the syrup off Clay's mouth - that skirt is definitely too short, go change - HURRY - we are late... again!:

Often we would get in the car and just so we didn't leave anyone at home (that's another story), we counted heads.  Routinely there was one daughter who shall remain nameless that would be missing.  Someone would be charged to run back in and tell her to come quickly!  When she arrived in the car and was questioned about her tardiness and what could she possibly be doing for so long, her response had become famously familiar... "Finishing touches, of course!"  I often pulled down my visor mirror mumbling something like, "I sure need a few finishing touches!"

How do I prepare for the day - Sunday or any other day of the week?  What do I really need in order to be ready to face the day.  I know you'll agree with me that none of us can predict what the day will bring - we often have our schedules mapped out, our ducks in a row, our calendars planned efficiently... well some of "us" have all that, and then one phone call, one email, one "accidental" meeting changes everything.  We are called into battle.  Are you ready??  Did you prepare?  Did you dress for the clash with the ensuing enemy? Your shoes may match your outfit, but that just may not be enough. Let's just admit it, some days the battle begins before we even finish drying our hair. 

Are you perplexed... what battle, you say?  Hmmm...  are you really good enough for God to completely love you?  Does your battle cry scream... I am just not committed enough... not strong enough... not spiritual enough.  Or maybe your battle is for someone else... have they taken a wrong turn... a turn that has led them down a path of destruction?  Do you wonder if coming back is even possible - too late?  Is it your fault?  Did you try hard enough to help - did you teach enough? 

Often we don't prepare for the battle, because we don't know when it will come, where it will come from, and what it will even be?  Oh my friends, we are assured, it will come.

Paul never minced words in all his letters to the churches, did he?  We can count on what he preached as preparation opportunities and as coming challenges.  As he finished his letter to the church at Ephesus, he was still likely in prison in Rome.  The entire letter is laced with encouragement and thankfulness for these friends to Paul.  He gives practical advice about marriage, about parenting, and about what it looks like to live a life for Christ.  And, as he closes, it seems to me he gives a charge, a strong warning... then details the plan... the battle is coming, friends!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His might power.  That power is available to you - The Message Bible says, God is strong, and He wants you strong...(Ephesians 6:10)  There is the charge - the battle cry! 

Then the warning, verse 11 - So that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  His "schemes" will likely not look the same in your life as they do in mine.  Remember he is (1 Peter 5:8) your enemy  - the devil who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Now the wardrobe...  When Clay was about 4, he loved Bibleman - do you remember him - He was Willie Ames (from Eight is Enough - I know many of you are too young to remember that show, too.), and he transformed just like a Super hero to become Bibleman.  He morphed into Bibleman by quoting this passage as each piece of his armor was added.  Clay had the entire costume and learned to recite each piece fluently.  I think I'll ask him when he gets home from school if he can remember... :)  I know there is a video somewhere.

So here are the accessories...
Belt... of truth
Breastplate... of righteousness
Shoes... of peace
Shield... of faith
Helmet...of salvation
Sword... of the Spirit (the word of God)

Now that, is a closet-full! My prayer for us today simply this...

Father, keep us aware of our needed preparation - each piece is necessary and comes directly from YOU.  Remind us of the joy and the strength and the finishing touches that we receive as we seek You with all our hearts!

Red or orange lipstick today.... hairspray or gel.... doesn't really matter; that helmet I'm choosing will likely leave me with a sure case of hat hair!  :)

Just HOW much salt goes in mashed potatoes??

Cooking Class with Kellie

I remember the day almost 30 years ago when I called my mom to ask about how to really make mashed potatoes... I had watched her peel the potatoes, cover them with water in the pan, allow them to boil, drain the water, add butter, add salt and pepper, add milk and mix... But just HOW much butter, HOW much salt, HOW much milk???

As a newlywed wife Kellie is working hard to learn to cook, so we have been having weekly cooking class.... at her house.  My goal is not to put it all together while she watches, rather I watch (and offer suggestions!) as she prepares the meal.  We have had such fun, mostly because I remember asking so many of the same questions to my mother and grandmother.  Often the answer I received was the same one I am giving now when the question is how much to put in... "just enough."  What is just enough??  Great question!
Just in the past 2 days I have a couple of interesting experiences with salt.  /

I was slicing a watermelon the other day and, yes, sliced right through my finger.  After a few hours, Frank suggested that I soak it in salt water.  I knew it would sting; his answer to my concern... "it will heal better and faster, is it worth a little sting?"
In our mashed potato cooking lesson, we tasted from the pot, and agreed... needs more salt, much to bland!

My Bible commentary charges that in Palestine, salt had 3 characteristic uses.
1. It was used as a preservative.   Lacking salt meat would putrefy, but with salt it was preserved.  As believers we have the ability, the responsibility to be the conscience of scripture in our world.  Do our words speak against wrongs and for rights n order to further God's kingdom?
2. Salt was used for flavoring.  Do our words, and even our presence in the lives of others, bring encouragement, bring hope, bring joy.  Does the "joy of our salvation" show, or is our light dim, covered, or even discouraging?
3.  Salt was used to grow good things.  Do we lift other up just by our presence?  Do we "carry with us a breath of Heaven" so that things/people flourish and are pointed to Christ?

Words can be our best friend and our worst enemy.  When spoken in love, with the right amount of salt, even challenging accountability can be met with grace and understanding.  Criticism in its negative, cutting form is nothing more than daggers being thrown to bring hurt and pain.  Our words should never be spoken to hurt, so are there moments that words should be halted.  Absolutely!  The Bible clearly states for us - they will know we are Christians by our love.

In Luke 14, Jesus spoke, "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out."

He meant business, didn't he?   Friends, we should make a difference in this world, in our homes, in the grocery store... not a fake, put on a happy face, difference.  Our conversations should sound different, our priorities should look different, our choices should be different.  Let's just lay it out here, we have the hope... the hope of Jesus Christ and an eternity of glory with our Heavenly Father.  Do people that see us throughout the day know???  Even more, do the people closest to us know??

Oh Heavenly Father, challenge our hearts to be different because we know you.  May our hearts be so filled to overflowing from our time spent with you that other see our light and taste our saltiness. Amen

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.  Colossians 4:6.

 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. 
 John 13:35