Resolve to be Thankful

Frontier women have always amazed me, making me feel guilty for my pampered lifestyle. While they toiled all day to care for their families, I often spend fewer than a couple of hours finishing my chores. 

This week, after steam-cleaning my kitchen floor, I grabbed my computer-generated shopping list and drove to the store four blocks away. When I returned an hour later, my dishwasher and washing machine had both finished their cycles, leaving me with a load of towels for the dryer and clean tableware. Dinner remained the one task required of me and it already bubbled in my crock-pot.

Compare that to the responsibilities I found in a book I’m reading called The Frontiersman’s Daughter by Laura Frantz. (Revell 2009) The story, set in Kentucke territory at the time of the French and Indian War (1754-1763), describes frontier life.

Rising at dawn the women stirred the embers of the previous day’s fire to make breakfast, which often consisted of mush. The spider, a cast iron frying pan which stood over the hearth, contained the day’s later meal, often a portion of beans and salt pork left to simmer. The floors were swept with a straw broom. With dishes washed, the dishwater was thrown on the garden. The women then harvested the vegetables, preparing them for winter use—stringing beans to dry, gathering nuts, or laying aside corn for animal feed. Evenings were spent sewing, repairing clothing, or making quilts to warm their families through winter. (A woman in her nineties hand-stitched the above pictured quilt, having learned the task at the early age of eight.)

While I consider a daily shower a necessity, those women waited for spring to bathe in the rivers. Without soap they used sand to cleanse their hair and wash their clothes. Supplies needed to restock their pantries filled a list they’d kept over winter, often sent with husbands when the men visited the fort to trade furs for provisions in the spring. I wonder if everything on the list made it home. Ladies—know what I’m saying?

 In I Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV) we are told, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Next time I’m tempted to complain about all I have to do, I’ll remember the women in this book and count my blessings. How about you?

 

Resolve to Shine

When handed a lemon, do you make lemonade?  Do you find sunshine when clouds threaten? This week I was reminded how important it is to find good in the midst of crisis when I attended our local symphony’s performance of Symphonic Dances, a compilation of songs from Leonard Bernstein’s musical score for West Side Story.

I have seen West Side Story twice—once thirty years ago performed by community theater and last year in a touring Broadway production. I don’t remember much about the earlier performance, but in last year’s rendition the producer focused on the gangs, the violence, and the depravity of the story’s environment. Hope was lost in the struggle. The beautiful music Bernstein composed was tacked on like emotional relief. The love story between Tony and Maria paled in light of the tragedy depicted on stage—life in the slums of New York. The entire performance disgusted me. I left feeling depressed rather than uplifted, sorry I wasted my money.

But this week’s symphony performance brought the music and the story to life with impassioned performances of key songs like “Somewhere” and “Maria.” I found myself singing along quietly, remembering the sweetness of this young couple’s devotion. They dreamed of a better life for themselves despite the squalor of the situation around them. Bernstein’s songs rang of hope, of advancement, of rising above the fray—not submitting to the savage horror of street life in the ghetto.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he encourages us to rejoice in the Lord and not be anxious over things beyond our control. Instead, cover everything with prayer and supplication, with thankfulness, letting our requests be known to God. God’s peace, which outshines all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. In Philippians 4:8 he says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

What a wonderful promise—we can bring everything to the throne of heaven and know we will be heard. In the midst of the darkness, we can shine. We can have hope. Like the song “Somewhere” reminded me, there is a place for us—in God’s scheme of things. Take his hand and he will lead you there.

Resolve to Read in 2015

I love to read.

If I’m doing research, I spend hours in front of the computer, digging up facts only a few years ago I would have had to find flipping through an encyclopedia.

If I’m in need of news I scan the newspaper.

If I want to be entertained, there’s nothing like the feel of a book full of unread pages to tempt me.

Reading enriches our lives in so many ways–, expanding our horizons, deepening our thinking, connecting us to people and cultures we may never physically experience. The new electronic devices make it easy to have a book or magazine at your fingertips wherever you are. You can download manuscripts and carry them with you. Waiting for a bus, sitting on a train, flying in an airplane–books can be there.

Resolve to read more in 2015. I highly recommend it.

About this week’s book pick:

Many who know Lauraine Snelling’s works are fond of her historical Red River of the North series which follows the trials and tribulations of the Bjorklund family as they leave Norway to settle in North Dakota.

But what those readers may not know is Snelling also writes contemporary fiction on timely subjects. In Heaven Sent Rain Dr. Dinah Taylor is a scientist and pharmaceutical CEO of a company which makes products to help people feel better. Her life is orderly and comfortable until one morning she buys breakfast for seven-year-old Jonah Morgan and his dog. Breakfasts with Jonah soon become routine and she finds herself more and more the source of the boy’s refuge. Neither of them know that soon Dinah will become Jonah’s guardian angel.

A late night call from Jonah sends Dinah rushing to find a veterinarian for the boy’s badly injured dog. At the clinic the pair meet Garrett Miller. Jonah likes Dr. Miller from the beginning, but Dinah’s reaction is a bit more frosty as the two don’t mesh on first encounter. As the dog’s injuries and the boy’s needs keep drawing the two together, the differences between Dinah and Garrett seem to widen, leaving what looks like an impossible divide between them. A compelling read, this novel is available from Faith Words Publishers, Amazon, and Christian Book Distributors (CBD).

Why  not stock your shelves? Here are books I’ve recommended in the past which you will enjoy. Plus I’ve added two new books which will release soon.

One is Beyond The Ashes Book #2 in the Golden Gate Chronicles by Karen Barnett, a romance set against the backdrop of San Francisco in ruins after the 1906 earthquake. Releases June 15, 2015.

The second is To Capture Her Heart Book #2 in the Southold Chronicles by Rebecca DeMarino. This is the continuing story of the Horton family as they left England for the Americas in the 1600’s. Releases July 7, 2015.

Be sure to explore the Books Tab above and click on Recommended Reading. There’s more books there. As one friend said, “so many books, so little time.”

 

 

Resolve to be Renewed

While fulfilling one of my new year’s resolutions to clean out all my cupboards, I came across a tray of silverware shoved to the back of an unhandy cupboard. Nestled among a few stale pretzels that escaped their bag was an assortment of silver-plated forks, spoons, and knives I’d long forgotten.

I recognized the pattern. The tableware came from my mother’s estate. Though I didn’t know how I’d come by them, their tarnished condition said they’d been neglected awhile. I wondered what I should do with the set. I didn’t want it. But in its present state, no one else would either.

I dug out my silver cleaner to see what polish might do. As black as these pieces were, I doubted I’d make a difference. I lavished the cleaner on a spoon and rubbed. To my surprise, a silver handle emerged from beneath the layer of grime. I worked for several minutes on the pattern, letting each little flower have a good dose of goop. Soon the pattern gleamed back at me. I polished a few pieces each day, allowing my fingers time to rest between rubbings. As the week progressed, the silver-plate shone, one piece at a time.

Venturing into that darkened cupboard, I thought of how God sent his son Jesus to a dying world corrupted by evil. He knew we each needed to have our layer of sin lifted from our blackened hearts. All of us, the scriptures teach, have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

Just like the silver cleaner, Jesus’s shed blood covered that sin, washing away the tarnish on our souls. The good news is we only have to believe and accept the gift of his sacrifice on our lives. Eternal life awaits us. Acts 16:31 says: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

This is a New Year. Like the spoon, our lives can shine for Him. Accept the gift Jesus offers you and let him polish you. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)

Think of the shine your heart will have when Jesus makes it new.

 

Life Events–Surprises Await

After thirty six years working for one employer, today my husband left his job behind. He and the management staff came to an agreement that he could try out retirement by going on sabbatical for ninety days.

With government funding dwindling, there wasn’t enough money to keep both he and his helper on staff. Since my husband has been toying with the idea of retirement for some time, this sounded like a workable solution. If being unemployed doesn’t suit him, he can return. Theoretically.

Neither of us know what to expect. After all, we’ve had our routines locked into place forever. We’re both surprised that we’ve arrived at this life event so soon, even though we’ve prepared for the change for awhile. Insurance is in place, savings are stashed, and the honey-do list is long enough to keep us from stumbling over each other anytime soon.  My husband will have more time, more variety, and, more wife. Not sure how I feel about that. Neither is he.

“To everything there is a season,” Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, “A time for everything under heaven.” We’re born, we die. We plant, and we take up what is planted. We weep and we laugh, we mourn and we rejoice with those who rejoice.

I’m excited about the possibilities. If we want to run to the coast in the middle of the week, we can. If we need to modify our rising and sleeping schedule, the flexibility to do so is ours.  Even though I know   adjusting to these changes probably won’t play out this way, I look at this new adventure as a never-ending vacation. My husband suggested  a different word here. I’ll let you guess what it is. If you know him, you’re laughing.

But for now, my husband has retired.