The View from the Porch Swing

Sit a spell, kick your shoes off...we'll chat about life and love and God and all the things that matter most.

Monday, May 31, 2004

A Nice Weekend

I hope you've had a good weekend. We have.

Saturday found Tim and Matt working at the mine up near Jennerstown again. They completed the original work last weekend. This was a new job. My friend, Helen, drove down from New Florence in the moring. She brought us a black kitten in exchange for a white one. While she was here we made the rounds of some garage sales, walked through the craft booths downtown at Latrobe's 150th birthday celebration and had lunch (the world's best pizza) at Joioi's. If you ever make it to Latrobe, I'll take you there. It's as much a part of the local culture as Rolling Rock beer, Arnold Palmer and golf, and St. Vincent College.

Sunday found us up and out the door early. We had an appointment to get the car inspected at 9:00.....plenty of time to get it done before church. Or so we thought. They found something in the wheels that had to be fixed for the car to pass. We couldn't put it off as the inspection expires today. They didn't get it done until noon. We missed church. I was really disappointed. We walked to a nearby restaurant for breakfast, then browsed through Barnes & Noble, where the kids each got a book and I found a bargain book about front porches! Matt went to a friend's for a while and then a sweet 16 party for his prom date. Megan went to a friend's for a while then they ended up here. Somewhere in the middle of all that, Tim and I went and bought a new liner and a set of steps for the pool. Now we have to hope the guy who installs the liner can get to us soon.

Today we are supposed to cook out with my mom and John (we haven't seen them since they got home from their vacation) but it is raining. The news says it will quit soon.

40 DAYS OF PURPOSE
Day 31: Understanding Your Shape

Applying Your Abilities:
~these are the talents you are born with
~they all come from God
~they all can be used for God's glory
~what you are able to do, God wants you to do

Using Your Personality:
~personality will affect how and where you use your gifts and abilities
~there is no right or wrong temperament for ministry. God made them all.

Employing Your Experiences:
~Six types of experiences....family, educational, vocational, spiritual, ministry and painful.
~the experiences you have resented or regretted the most are the ones God wants to use to help others. They are your ministry!

Question to Consider: What God-given ability or personal experience can I offer to my church?

I have to think about this one a little.


Day 30: Shaped for Serving God

What is your SHAPE?

Spiritual gifts
Heart
Abilities
Personality
Experience

Question to Consider: In what way can I see myself passionately serving others and loving it?

I love working with youth, organizing/planning events, working at events. I've been on a couple of mission trips and loved that and would like to do more. I think I would love helping "the least of these" no matter where it lands me.

Memorial Day

I remember. Thank you.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Purpose #4--You Were Shaped for Serving God

Day 29: Accepting Your Assignment
You were put on earth to make a contribution.

~You were created to serve God.
~You were saved to serve God.
~You are called to serve God.
~You are commanded to serve God.

What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of it. Not how long you lived, but how you lived.

Question to Consider: What is holding me back from God's call to serve him?

I was going to say nothing because I love to serve, but after thinking about it, that isn't quite true because I'm not doing a lot of serving right now. Why? Busy schedules.

PDL Tonight

Our PDL group meets tonight. Tim is going to miss it. He has to drive into Pittsburgh to meet my mom and John at the airport. They get home tonight from their 3-week vacation. They picked up an RV at the factory in Kansas City on May 8 and had 3 weeks to deliver it to the dealer in Alaska. It was a special offer because they had rented one in Alaska a few years ago. Anyway, after weeks in the Canadian West, they are coming home.

It's our turn to provide the "snack" for the group. That's in quotes because when Tim's sister and her husband kicked the thing off, they kind of set the standard by providing a light supper. Last week we had enchiladas and some other Mexican thing. That seemed to go over real well with everyone, including all the kids, so tonight I'm taking all the fixings to assemble your own fresh tacos. I'm also taking nachos and fizzy watermelon jello. I'm betting my kids will want to go for the food.

One of the kitties has gone to his new owner. The other two are driving me nuts. They are the sweetest things, always wanting attention, but that can cause some problems.... Every time we get in the car to leave they follow us and dash underneath, which means we have to coax them out and chase them away. They will follow anyone that comes near them. I'm afraid they will wander off and someone will keep them or they will get hurt. Last night while we were at Megan's soccer game they followed the neighbor's grandson around while he was cutting grass and then tried to swim in their in-ground pool. This morning I opened the door to let the dogs out and was startled by a hissing kitten hanging off the screen at face level! They prance around as if they owned the place and maybe they do. We are all catering to them and the poor dogs give them a wide berth.

The Journey Five

Rodney over at The Journey is providing a list of his own questions each week to take the place of the defunct Friday Five.

1. Did you have a favourite teddy bear and what was its name? Actually, I had a Raggedy Ann doll and her name was....Annie.

2. Who was your first 'best friend'? Denise. She lived across the street from us when we were both too little to cross the street by ourselves. We'd ride bikes, play dolls and dress-up and all the normal things little girls do, but she did it on the sidewalk on her side of the street and I did it on my side. About once a week our moms would get us together on the same side of the street.

3. What did you want to be when you grew up? Oh, gosh. I wanted to be an archeologist, a zoologist, an architect, a pilot, an on-air radio personality, a social worker, a writer, a photographer (think Ansel Adams, NOT the person taking baby pictures at Wal-Mart), an FBI agent, Evil Kenevil (spelling?), or an anthropologist.

4. What do you miss most about your childhood? The innocence. That ability to be free from worry and responsibility and just enjoy life.

5. Where did you live during most of your childhood? I spent all of my childhood in Pennsylvania, but in several different parts of it. My dad was in wildlife management so we moved around for that a lot. My two favorite places where a Pennsylvania Game Commission pheasant farm and a wildlife preserve owned by the Mellon family.



Thursday, May 27, 2004

A Couple More Days

Bob over at Mr. Standfast has some issues with and promised not to post on the PDL any more. Check it out and find out why...maybe even throw in your 2 cents.

Day 28: It Takes Time
There are no shortcuts to maturity.

Why does it take so long?
~We're slow learners.
~We have a lot to unlearn.
~We're afraid to humbly face the truth about ourselves.
~Growth is often painful and scary.
~Habits take time to develop.

Don't get in a hurry:
~Believe God is working in your life even if you can't feel it.
~Keep a journal of lessons learned.
~Be patient with God and with yourself.
~Don't get discouraged.

Question to Consider: In what area of my spiritual growth do I need to be more patient and persistent?

Relationships.


Day 27: Defeating Temptation
There is always a way out.

~Refocus your attention on something else.
~Reveal your struggle to a godly friend or support group.
~Resist the Devil.
~Realize your vulnerability.

Question to Consider: Who could I ask to be a spiritual partner to help me defeat a persistent temptation by praying for me?

I have someone.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

40 Days of Purpose

Day 26: Growing Through Temptation
Every temptation is an opportunity to do good.

Temptation is Satan's primary weapon to destroy you, but God uses it to develop you. Every time you choose to do good instead of sin, you are growing in the character of Christ.

Overcoming Temptation:
~Refuse to be intimidated
~Recognize your pattern of temptation and be prepared for it
~Request God's help

Question to Consider: What Christlike character quality can I develop by defeating the most common temptation I face?

If I can learn to resist the temptation to procrastinate, I'd have a lot less stress in my life which would give me a lot more peace and joy and in turn would most likely do a lot for my self-control, patience, kindness and gentleness.


Day 25: Transformed by Trouble
God has a purpose behind every trouble.

God does not cause our troubles, but he does allow them in order to build our character.

Responding like Jesus:
~Remember that God's plan is good
~Rejoice and give thanks
~Refuse to give up

Question to Consider: What problem in my life has caused the greatest growth in me?

When my dad's cancer came back the third (and final) time. It was an extremely difficult time for my family and it is when I turned to the church and accepted Jesus as my Savior. More recently I'd say it's been all that I've gone through at our old church. I'm not sure yet, what work God brought through that pain, but judging by how intense it was, I'm sure he was teaching me.


Day 24: Transformed by Truth
To become like Jesus, we must fill our lives with his Word.

Abiding in God's Word includes 3 things:
~Accepting the authority of the Bible
~Assimilating its truth
~Applying its principles

Question to Consider: What has God already told me in his Word that I haven't started doing yet?

I'm thinking that it's dying to self and making him the absolute Lord of my life. There are still a lot of things that I hang onto and don't want to give over to him.


The Kitties

The kitties have homes! One is staying here (yeah, I'm a big softie), one is going to a friend of mine, and one is already gone to a woman from work. Two days has made a big difference. They are no longer terrified of everything (just the dogs) and have shown themselves to be very affectionate and playful.

My God is Bigger than That

I stand corrected on having more free time this week. I'm filling in on a kindergarden route for a woman whose daughter is having a baby today! My evening was suddenly freed, though, so I am planning to catch up the 40 Days posts tonight.

In the meantime, here are the words to a song by an awesome Christian rock band I know...

Bigger Than That
by Jeff Keys of The Witness Protection Program


I have been a liar so long
it's hard to know the truth
I have been a foolish man
who's too untrue to you
I have been a sinner
and I've rarely been a saint
but I know that you still love me
and you'll wipe my sin away
that is why I have to say
I give my life to you this day and
my God is bigger than life to me
and yet, he'll meet you where you're at
he'll lead you personally
that is why my God is very big
I have been on fire for moments
and I go to sleep for days
I've been tempted by the darkness
lost searching for your ways
I have been a pauper
though my GIFT is very great
I have felt the touch of your love
and that's where I want to stay
I learn a little more each day
about the peace of life your way
and no power on earth is greater
than his love, it's enough
it's better than the temptor
could think of, could dream of
I look into the mirror
and I don't like what I see
I see a past still present
and it's lookin' back at me
I know my God is faithful
he'll supply my every need
if I reach up to my Father high
from down upon my knees
he'll give me strength to beat the sin
and my soul will be free in him
my God is bigger than that
he's bigger than life to me
and yet, he'll meet you where you're at
he'll lead you personally
that is why my God is very
that is why my God is very
that is why my God is very big

Monday, May 24, 2004

I could wring his neck!

This afternoon on my high school route, I rounded a bend on a very desolate stretch of road only to happen on a car weaving all over the road as the driver tossed something (actually more than one somethings) out the window. Imagine my horror, along with all the kids' on the bus, when I realized it was kittens!

The jerk took off quickly when he realized he'd been spotted. Too quickly for us to get his license number. I eased the bus up beside the kittens and three darling little white faces with bright blue eyes looked up at me. Oh, man. I'm not supposed to do it, but I let one of the girls get off long enough to sit the kittens back off the edge of the road. I kept thinking about them the rest of the afternoon and as soon as I parked the bus, I headed back to where we'd left them. Sure enough, they were right where they'd been put. They were shaking and snarling like crazy (but wouldn't you be if someone had thrown you out the window of a moving vehicle?). I managed to get them in my car and they are currently residing behind the flower pots on my deck. They do not like the dogs. They do not like us. They are in really bad moods. They are entitled to it. They've had a really bad day. I think we will keep one of them. Megan has already named it Blizzard. My friend is going to take one of the others. That leaves one.

Anybody want a pure white kitten with blue eyes?

Please Pray.

The pastor of the church we are attending called. He wants to meet with us in our home just to talk. I would like to do that. I don't know about Tim. I called him to let him know about the call and his response was "finally." He got kind of short when I said we have to talk about it and call the pastor back. I don't know if he will want to do it or not. Please pray for Tim, the pastor and the situation. I think it would be good for Tim to talk with him no matter what he decides about church.

Playing Catch Up..........Again

You drop out of sight for a few days and look what happens. I got my first mention over at Blogs4God! (I feel like I've finally arrived in the blogging world.)

To catch up.....

I did drive Matt's team to the volleyball playoff game. What an exciting match. With this being the coach's last year (after 31!!) the boys really wanted to give him the win (and the trip to the quarter finals) and they played their hearts out. In fact, they played the best they ever have. It just wasn't enough. They did win the first game so that was something and they sure made the other team sweat (they were the first place team going in and Derry was eighth). They lost each of the other three games by only 2 points.

Friday: I was back at work after only 3 hours of sleep. The trip into Pittsburgh was so hot and miserable and looooooonnnnnggggg. We ran into road construction and major traffic back-ups because of flooding and power outages caused by the morning's storms. And may I mention that during all of this I had a puker errupting like Mount Vesuvius in the back of the bus. Thankfully his mother was one of the chaperones and cleaned everything up. Still.....try being stuck in a hot bus with that for a couple of hours. We looked like a bus load of terrorists inching along because everyone, teachers included, had their shirts pulled up over their noses. Tim took me out for dinner and to Barnes & Noble since Megan was away overnight. That helped make up for it.

Saturday: Megan's soccer game was canceled and Matt was on a school trip to an amusement park. We ended up having lunch and then spent the afternoon shopping around for an electric scooter for Megan. They are all the rage around here. We finally decided on the brand we wanted (well, Tim did as this was his idea) and then let Megan choose the color/style she wanted. It's bright blue. She really loves it and you should see her cruising down the street! Our Purpose-Drven Life group met in the evening. We are all getting more comfortable and the talks are getting better, but Tim seems to be struggling again with anything church related. He went, but didn't really participate in the discussion.

Sunday: Tim and Matt missed church again. They needed to go back to finish the job at the mine they started last Sunday. I know Matt will go to church next week, but it's been about a month since Tim's been there. I hope he will come back. Anyway, I enjoyed church and met a couple of people who seem very nice. There was a ministry fair after the service so people could see what ministries the church has to participate in. I signed up to go to the informational meeting for a new First Place weight loss group in June, got invited to join the women's ministry group, found out Megan can join youth group now and in talking with the youth pastor, got the okay to start helping with youth any time I want except for teaching. Megan and I hung out at home all afternoon until the guys got home then I picked my grandmother up from the home and brought her here for dinner. We did steaks on the grill.

*I am still reading The Purpose-Driven Life. I am hoping to finally catch up on posting this week. I believe field trips are done.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Up in the Air

Not sure if I'm going to get the chance to post again until Saturday. I was offered the chance to drive the volleyball team to the next playoff game tomorrow night. How cool is that? I get to watch my kid play and get paid for it (and Megan can ride the bus). I will not get home until late....if I go. There's a chance I might not be able to. My boss thinks the bus is to pull out at 4:45pm. Matt said the coach told them all no later than 4:10. Then Friday I have an all day field trip between my morning and afternoon runs. I will be home Friday evening, but I'm betting I will be tired. So, here is one more installment of the 40 Days of Purpose study.

Day 23: How We Grow

Spiritual growth is not automatic. It takes an intentional commitment.

Your commitments can develop you or destroy you, but they will always define you.

God gives us a new life. It is up to us to develop it by changing the way we think.
~Willpower will produce short-term change but creates internal stress because we haven't dealt with the root cause.
~We must stop thinking immature thoughts that are self-centered and begin thinking mature thoughts that focus on others.

Christianity is not a religion or a philosophy, but a relationship and a lifestyle. The core of that lifestyle is thinking of others. This type of thinking is unnatural, counter-cultural, rare, and difficult. Fortunately, we have help...the Holy Spirit.

Question to Consider: What is one area where I need to stop thinking my way and start thinking God's way?

Gosh, take your pick, but I guess if I have to choose one problem area it would be my marriage. I tend to be impatient in it (selfish) and want to do things my way rather than turning it over to God and trusting him to work things out for the best.

40 Days of Purpose

Day 22: Created to Become Like Christ

God's ultimate goal for your life on earth is not comfort, but character development. He wants you to grow up spiritually and become like Christ.

God's Spirit Working in You
~It is the Holy Spirit's job to produce Christlike character in you.
~Christlikeness is not produced by imitation, but by inhabitation. We allow Christ to live through us.

How?

~By cooperating with the Holy Spirit's work (obedience). God waits for you to act first. Don't wait to feel powerful or confident. Move ahead in your weakness.
~By changing the way we think.
~By putting on the character of Christ by developing new, godly habits.

God Uses his Word, people and circumstances to mold us.
~His Word provides the truth we need to grow.
~His people provide the support we need to grow.
~Circumstances provide the environment we need to grow.

Question to Consider: In what area of my life do I need to ask for the Spirit's power to be like Christ today?

ALL of it.


Day 21: Protecting Your Church

Unity is the soul of fellowship.

How do we achieve unity in the church?

~By focusing on what we have in common, rather than our differences. Conflict is usually a sign that the focus has shifted to less important issues.
~By being realistic in our expectations. Other believers will disappoint you and let you down, but that's no excuse to stop fellowshiping with them.
~By choosing to encourage rather than criticize.
~By refusing to listen to gossip.
~By practicing God's method of conflict resolution. Talk to the person. If they don't listen, take one or two others with you and try again. If that fails, tell the church.
~By supporting your pastor and leaders. We protect the fellowship when we honor those who serve us by leading.

God blesses churches that are unified.

Question to Consider: What am I personally doing to protect unity in my church family right now?

I don't really have a church family at the moment, but because of what I have been through at my old church, I find that I am adhering much more closely to all of the guidelines listed above. I was thinking of it more as self-preservation, as in I have no desire to know any of the bad stuff about the present church because it will only cause me pain in the long run, but maybe I've learned a lesson or two along the way about how to act, too.

One part of this chapter that I struggled with was the stuff about honoring a church's leaders. We have to honor our leaders, but I do think there are times when a leader fails those in his charge. We can't possibly be expected to continue following them then, can we? They should be confronted according to the biblical outline, but if they are unwilling to work on restoration and are themselves damaging the church, then isn't it our responsibility to protect the church as a whole? I saw what blindly defending a misguided leader did to a church. That can't be what God intends.


Day 20: Restoring Broken Fellowship

Since Christ wants his family to be known for our love for each other, broken fellowship is a disgraceful testimony to unbelievers.

We must learn to be peacemakers.

A peacemaker does not avoid conflict, nor does he appease everyone.

Biblical Steps to Restoring Fellowship:

~Talk to God before talking to the person. If you pray about the conflict, you will often find God changes your heart or the other person.
~Always take the initiative. It doesn't matter if you are the offender or the offended. Take the first step and take it without delay.
~Sympathize with their feelings. Don't try to talk them out of their feelings at first. Just listen and let them unload. Listening says you value the person and that they matter to you.
~Confess your part of the conflict. When you humbly admit your own sin, it defuses the other person's anger.
~Attack the problem, not the person. You can't fix the problem if you are consumed with fixing the blame.
~Cooperate as much as possible. Peace has a price tag. It can cost our pride.
~Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution. We can reestablish a relationship even when we can't resolve our differences. That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep working toward a resolution, but with reconciliation you're working with a spirit of harmony.

Question to Consider: Who do I need to restore a broken relationship with today?

My relationship with my mom is probably the weakest one in my life, but on the whole I don't suffer from broken relationships. I get mad, but then I forgive just as quickly. I don't like conflict and try to keep it out of my life. I already practice most of the steps listed.

Wooo-hooo!

The boys volleyball team (Matt) won in the first round of WPIAL play-offs last night. Boys volleyball plays best 3 out of 5 games to determine the winner of a match. Derry won it in 3 straight. Great that they are advancing to the next round. Not so great that Thursday they play the one team they haven't been able to beat in the last three years. That team is coached by the Derry coach's youngest son....the one he takes losing to so badly. Anyway, here's hoping they can do it. They need a win. They have to finish in the top three to advance to the state championships. Whatever happens, Thursday's game will be a good one.

Monday, May 17, 2004

This week's church experience.

Megan and I went to church alone yesterday as Tim had a blasting job to do at a mine and took Matt with him. He had to work when the mine was closed, but I wish he could have gone to church. I had nice conversations with several people on my own and after church his sister made a point of introducing me to quite a few people (could it be that what Tim said sunk in a bit?). I made a point of filling out the attendance card they ask you to fill out every week and asking to talk with the pastor or an elder about our situation. I hope that finally gets us a contact. Anyway, next Sunday is the ministry fair where you can see all the ministries available in the church, ask questions and sign up....it's part of getting everyone fullfilling their God-given purpose. They passed out a partial list today and I saw a couple of things I want to know more about. Actually, we're kind of limited in ministry opportunities within the church until we're there 6 months or become members, but I did see a few things we can participate in. Mostly they just don't want you teaching or actively leading and the visitation thing is out. The new Sunday School quarter starts soon, too, and the new classes were introduced. The church actually has 4 adult classes each quarter and each quarter the classes are on new topics with new teachers. That really excites me. What a way to keep things fresh and interesting. I'm used to a system where once a class is formed it just keeps plodding on with the same teacher(s) and format until everyone in the class has grown old and died. Talk about boring. I'm also really excited that some of the classes are Bible studies and some teach practical applications. That's new for me, too. This is going to be fun.

Sweet!

The porch got a new swing last night and oh, how this one doth promote dilly-dallying. It is shaded by it's own canopy and wide enough to accomodate three for a chat or one for a nap. And as if that wasn't enough, the back reclines to provide a hammock of sorts the size of a double bed!

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Weekend Update

Well, we survived the prom. Yesterday was spent rushing around taking care of last minute details...haircut, flowers, etc. We had to be at Christy's house by 5:00 for pictures. Stop at my Aunt Peg's so she could see the kids. She cried. Off to the school by 6:00 for the Grand March at 7:00. Matt and Christy looked so nice. She is tall, slim and dark-haired. She chose a simple straight gown of palest pink with white flowers embroidered on it. Very elegant. Matt's tux was black with white vest and tie. Matt got Christy an all white arrangement with silver accents. This is when I wish I could hook my scanner up to this old computer and share the pictures.

I kept my promise and took Megan shopping for clothes today. It was only semi-painfull. She actually didn't give me too much grief over the clothes. Her biggest issue was over why she couldn't get spaghetti-strapped tank tops when there are only 13 days of school left (I made her get everything to meet the school dress code). Anyway, we compromised and she got "cool" clothes but they aren't too revealing. I didn't have to fight the battle of the "I Love Orlando" t-shirt. They didn't have her size. She settled for a collection of Legolas buttons she can pin on any outfit.

Our 40 Days of Purpose group met tonight. I thought it went pretty well and I felt like I was beginning to get to know the other couple (besides Tim's sister and her husband) and make a connection. Tim seemed to be doing pretty well, too. We shared a lot about the situation we are coming out of because this past week's chapters on fellowship really pointed out to us all that was missing in our old church. Then Tim went out on a limb and admitted he didn't really feel all that welcome at this church. Everyone else in the group immediately told him in one way or another that he needed to be the one to make the effort. He pretty much shut down at that point. I thought he was tired because he'd worked today, but he opened up a little on the way home. It really turned him off that everyone put the burden of having fellowship on him. It isn't that he doesn't think he should have to make any effort. He just feels very strongly (and always has) that it is the responsibility of a church's members to seek to welcome newcomers and make them comfortable, make them feel valued and appreciated. He admits that maybe he's extra sensative right now because of all we've been through, but he also admits he is struggling with the whole church thing a lot more than I thought he was.

News from the old church is not good. A friend that still attends called me this morning and we talked about how things are going. In spite of all we went through, I will always love that church and it's members. It wasn't always bad for us there. My happiest times and major landmark times all happened there. Tim and I were married there, I came to know Jesus there as did my kids, I learned about serving there, and Matt, Megan and I were all baptized there. Anyway, my friend shared that she and her husband are becoming very discouraged as is another couple in leadership that we were friends with. She seems to feel that all of them may be working up to leaving the church. It seems that all that happened was not enough of a wake-up call for people to change. The old leadership (some of whom just returned to the church) was recently voted onto the council again. My friend says the same old attitudes and sentiment of "it's-my-church-and-I've-been-here-longer-than-you-so-my-opinion-matters-more" are very evident. I think if these two couples leave it will not bode well for the future of the church. Right now they are the only visionaries there are.

Friday, May 14, 2004

A Mayberry Soul

Becky Freeman is one of my favorite Christian writers. Her light-hearted thoughts on serious matters so often reflect what's going on in my own head. Take for example her book, A View from the Porch Swing. I picked it up today, prompted by the recent changes in my blog, and started rereading it for the first time in several years. Opening those pages was like meeting up with a good friend I hadn't seen in a while and delighting in getting to know her again. It's too hot to visit on the porch this afternoon so ice-cold tea and the livingroom sofa had to do....

Becky: I was sharing with my mom the other day how I want to know how I can live out the rest of my days with a greater sense of laid-back joy.
Me: Holy cow! Stop the presses! That is exactly what I am looking for in my life. Did your mom offer any insight?
Becky: Well, she said she understood what I meant.
Me: Really?
Becky: Yeah. It surprised me, too. She said she was watching an old rerun of The Andy Griffith Show the other day and there was this scene where Barney and Andy were sitting on the front porch swing, chatting and chuckling and stopping here and there to sigh at the stars. She said something inside of her jumped and she thought, "We aren't doing enough sitting and swinging and shooting the breeze anymore."
Me: Wow. I understand that. It's peaceful. I want peace in my life. What do you want, Becky?
Becky: I want to swing on the porch, glide back and forth in an easy rapport with my husband and kids and friends. I want to prop one leg up, lie back, look at the stars - and shoot the breeze with the One who made them. I want to slow down, simplify - be at home in my own head. What I need is a Mayberry Soul!

A Mayberry Soul. I like that.

Are you tired? Worn out?...Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn how to live freely and lightly. (From Jesus' invitation, Matt. 11:29, The Message)

Day 17: A Place to Belong

Why you need a church family:

-It identifies you as a genuine believer.
-It moves you out of self-centered isolation.
-It helps you develop spiritual muscle.
-The body of Christ needs you.
-You will share in Christ's mission in the world.
-It will help keep you from backsliding.

Question to Consider: Does my level of involvement in my local church demonstrate that I love and am committed to God's family?

At this point in time? No. We left a church not so long ago and are looking for a new church home. Currently, we're attending a church because we were invited to join in a small group doing this study of The Purpose-Driven Life. We haven't gotten to know people yet. They don't seem particularly friendly or welcoming, but it's a big church. Maybe people just don't know who is new and who isn't? We can attend ministry events but they have a policy that prevents us from actually serving until we've been attending for 6 months or join the church. And admittedly, we're probably not doing a lot to reach out. We know in our heads that not everyone is like what we left behind, but it's tougher to convince a wounded heart to trust again. To put ourselves out there and take the chance of being hurt that bad....we're dragging our feet.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Fighting a Losing Battle

Matt needed to go to the mall last night and pick up his tux. As soon as we walked into the main corridor, we could see the line. The size of the store is maybe 20x20 with a changing room of about the same size. There are FOUR proms in the area tomorrow night and the store told all of the boys to come last night between 5:00 and 9:00 to try on their tuxes and take them home if there weren't any problems. It took three hours! Can you imagine how the boy who stood there through all of that felt when his tux wasn't there? I am afraid I might have blown a gasket had it been me.

La Looch and I took one look at that line and left Matt to handle it on his own. I knew she'd never handle it so took her for a snack at the food court and then trailed her through all her favorite stores. That was an eye-opening experience. I had to face that it appears I am loosing the battle (hopefully only temporarily until all those planted "seeds" blossom) with the values of the world. My beautiful daughter longs for short-shorts and even shorter skirts, tops that leave bellybuttons exposed and have built-in bras that squish everything together and upward (that fact that she does not yet have the required equipment is lost on her). She drooled over tiny string bikinis and shirts proclaiming the wearer to be Orlando's (Bloom, that is) girl or Ashton's girl. We had a discussion about how I draw the line at some things and do not want her wearing trashy or slutty things that call attention to parts of her that boys have no business thinking about or looking at. She didn't take it very well. She does not see the clothes as inappropriate. All she knows is that it is the way the most popular girls dress....and they are considered "good girls." I have been informed that she must have an absolutely cool and killer wardrobe for seventh grade. It is "essential" to having a good year.

I can't help but wonder if things would be different if families still gathered on the porch in the evenings? What would it be like if the majority of families knew where their kids were, values were clearly taught and parents were living examples of those values? What if we turned of the television, the videos and stayed home from the movies and reconnected enmass?

Day 16: What Matters Most

It is in loving that we are most like him.

-Life without love is worthless
-Love will last forever
-We will be evaluated on our love

When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you'll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. Attention says, "I value you enough to give you my most precious asset-my time."

Question to Consider: Honestly, are relationships my first priority? How can I ensure that they are?

No. I wish I could say yes, but the truth is, relationships are not my first priority. I am very guilty of being stingy with my time because of all the other demands on it. I know it's wrong and I didn't used to be like this. I'm not even sure when it happened. I think it's a trap I slid into slowly. Cutting back on some of the busyness so I don't feel so stressed would probably be the best first step for me to take. Also, I need to make up my mind that I am going to obey God. I want to please him above all else and having loving relationships does that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Day 15: Formed for God's Family

(Uh-oh, I'm getting caught up)

Because God is love, he treasures relationships. He wants a family, and he created me to be a part of it.

Benefits of being in God's family: A rich inheritance!
-I get to be with God forever
-I will be completely changed to be like Christ
-I will be freed from all pain, death and suffering
-I will be rewarded and reassigned a position of service
-I will share in Christ's glory

Question to Consider: How can I start treating other believers like members of my own family?

By thinking about them as much as I do my family, getting to know all I can about them, looking out for their best interests, caring for them, by sacrificing for them, by praying for them.

The blog formerly known as K.I.S.S.-Keep It Simple, Stupid

I think there is some confusion since K.I.S.S. is directing people directly to this site. So, I thought I'd better clear it up.

It's me, Stacy. My blog used to be K.I.S.S.-Keep It Simple, Stupid.

You are in the right place.

Hot child in the city......

Don't believe the weather pixie, who says it is a comfortable 75. She lies. The porch thermometer reads a sweltering 85 and everything is wilting in the face of the humidity. The dogs, Scooby and Abby, are stretched out flat, tongues lolling in the attempt to keep cool. I sprayed them (and the rabbits who get heat stroke easily) down with the hose, but it's only a temporary relief. I am wondering if I can get someone to hose me down? I am having to water the plants twice a day to keep them from curling up and dying. This has been our weather for several days now. We are long overdue for a thunder storm and I expect it will be quite severe when it finally does hit.

One thing I do have to continue from the old blog is this:

40 Days of Purpose

Day 14: When God Seems Distant

It's normal to have times during our friendship with God when we can't feel his presence. He sometimes withdraws from us to see how we handle it. It helps us grow.

How do we praise God when he is silent?
-by telling him exactly how we feel.
-by focusing on who he is (particularly his unchanging nature).
-by trusting him to keep his promises.
-by remembering what he's already done for us.

Question to Consider: How can I stay focused on God's presence, especially when he feels distant?

By doing the same things I would do with a friend or spouse who is distant.
-make a point of talking to him, telling him about everything (prayer)
-thinking about him, what I know about him, finding out more about him
-trusting him
-remember what he's done for me, his past behavior

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Why the porch swing?

From the time my memories begin they are woven through with porch swings. In nice weather my Nana began each day on her front porch swing, cup of tea in hand. I spent a lot of time at Nana's during my growing up years and I came to treasure those times when we'd sit in the early morning stillness watching the wetlands across the road come to life. Sometimes hummingbirds would come to the feeders on the porch. Once there was a bat sleeping in the rafters. Sometimes rain beat out a rhythm on the metal roof. Always there was gentle conversation through which Nana's love and wisdom flowed. Afternoons often found Nana on the wooden swing sheltered by the branches of a great tulip poplar in the backyard. Chairs were circled round and visitors entertained there in the cool shade. Many an hour was spent swinging and snapping beans or shelling peas. My parents never had a swing until I was a teenager, but it too became the gathering place for family and friends during nice weather. I guess the porch swing has come to represent what's missing in today's world. Families don't sit together in the evenings sipping iced tea and watching the little ones catch lightening bugs. Neighborhoods aren't extended families where everyone knows everyone and you'd better not do anything wrong because your mother will know about it before you get home. We're all far too busy to slow down and get to know each other and appreciate the small gifts in life. Everyone should have a front porch and a swing (or at least access to a swing) because a swing is hard to resist and there is just something about the rhythm that slows you down and lets you notice life, if only for a moment.

The Swing
-by Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh. I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the coutryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

Josh commented that this blog has a real "Mayberry feel" to it. Being the Mayberry devotee that he is, it doesn't surprise me that he picked up on where I'm hoping to head with this blog.....simple, hometown and friendly. I want it to be like a neighborly visit over the back fence or a hug from the older lady at church that's always glad to see you or a cold slice of watermelon on a summer day. Nothing exciting, just one of the things that makes life nice and puts a smile on your face.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Testing...

This is only a test. Had it been an actual post there would have been something interesting to read.