The Smell of Clean

When my husband walked in and said, “Mmm, it smells clean in here!” it made the hour or two I spent mopping all worthwhile. See, to him, Pine Sol smells clean, which means the house is clean, or at least cleaner then it was.

In our line of business, I've been in houses that have made my stomach revolt when the door opened and the stench rolled out to greet us. Our first priority was to get all the doors and windows open so the breeze could blow through, from there we hauled out all the garbage and tore out carpeting. Once all that was done, if the stench was still there, we knew we could bring in charcoal to absorb the smell. Those houses were hideous when we started them, but by the time we were done, they were new inside and they smelled new, too.

That's what God does in our lives. At times, He has to go in and gut our lives to get rid of the stench then build fresh and new. Other times, He gets out His broom and mop and uses a liberal shot of Pine Sol to fight the stains.

Just like cleaning our house involves work, so does cleaning our lives. We need to allow God the freedom to clean as He sees fit. He sees dirt and stains in our lives that we don't notice because, sometimes, the pattern of our life camouflages the dirt, the sin.

The fragrance of God's forgiveness is a clean smell that others recognize and are drawn to. Just like when my husband walked in and immediately smelled, enjoyed, and appreciated the scent of of our home.

The nice thing is that, when God does the cleaning, we don't have to wait until someone tells us it smells clean to make the process seem worthwhile, we can feel the clean and smell that fragrance of forgiveness ourselves. What a wonderful feeling! What a wonderful fragrance! The fragrance of God's forgiveness and grace in our lives.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;
~2 Corinthians 2:14-15

Fiction Friday: The Wages of Kindness

With his baby daughter, Rosie, sleeping in his arms, Micah watched as the big body was lowered into the shallow grave. Lord, is this the answer to my prayer? Big Jake hadn't been a good man. He was mean with his mouth and mean with his hands, and no one mourned his death. His children seemed uncertain, but his widow, Jessica, stood silently, holding them close. She was a woman with a strong spirit and a stronger faith.

Rosie stirred, her mouth puckering to cry. Micah gently bounced her, hoping she would hold out a little longer. When he looked up, Jessica was walking to her wagon. Micah followed her, watching as she reassured her children.

“Jess?” Micah called as he neared her fire.

With a smile she took the baby, “There's beans in the pot, if you'd like some, Micah.” She adjusted her light shawl, murmuring quietly to Rosie.

It's too soon to talk to her, Father.

Jessica held out a leather pouch to Micah. “This belongs to you.”

Micah eyed it, mentally weighing how much was there. “No, it's yours. Your wages for wet nursing Rosie these weeks.”

With a gentle toss, it landed beside him.

“I would never charge anyone to nurse their motherless baby.” Jessica caressed Rosie's head through the shawl. “This little one eased the pain of losing my own. She's brought comfort and joy to me. Jake had no business charging you. I know why the amount was so high, too.”

A steely glint entered Micah's eyes. He lowered his voice, so it wouldn't carry to the children playing nearby. “Did he tell you I was paying to ensure he didn't lift his hand against you or the children? Did he tell you that?”

Jessica's eyes searched his. “No,” she whispered. “He didn't tell me that.” She looked down at Rosie and gently stroked her cheek before looking back up. “Thank you. I wondered why he had stopped.”

“Did you love him?” Lord, I can't believe I asked her that! She just came from burying her husband.

Jessica looked into the dying fire. “No. I never did.”

“Why did you marry him?”

A shudder went through her. “Pa didn't believe that Jake had forced me so he made me marry him. Pa's heart gave out shortly after overhearing Jake brag about it to his friends.”

Micah's hands and jaw clenched convulsively.

Jessica turned to Micah and smiled. “It's been a long six years, but God kept us safe and got us through. I accepted Christ after a Christian lady nursed me when Jake was on a binge, so there has been some good come from it.”

Did any good come from my marriage, Lord?

“Did you love Rhonda?” Jessica asked.

“I loved who she pretended to be but she was spoiled and self-centered. I'd hoped having a baby would help her outgrow all that, but...”

“Don't blame yourself, Micah. You have Rosie, now.”

Good did come from those years; I have Rosie.

Jessica's children stopped playing and leaned against her, silently studying Micah. With a smile he reached into his vest pocket and withdrew candy he had brought for them. He offered it as he would to a skittish animal. With round eyes they looked to Jessica for permission. She nodded then watched as they plucked the candy from his hand and whispered their thanks.

Micah's heart ached. “You don't need to be afraid anymore.” Their shy smiles gave him hope. Lord, I want to take care of them, and Jessica.

A neighbor's voice carried from nearby. “I'm tellin' ya', Micah should jest marry Jess. They're a matched pair.” Harriet being shushed made Micah laugh and Jessica's face glow.

“She's right, you know,” Micah said.

Jessica's startled eyes flew to him.

“Do you think you could trust me not to hurt you or the children?”

“Oh, Micah, even that time you were furious with Rhonda you never raised your hand against her, and you're a kind man; I've seen that. I completely trust you.”

Micah smiled, his hope soaring. “And through all these weeks I've seen your unselfishness and love for others. Would you marry me? I know Jake just died, but...”

Harriet marched up, grinning. “Thet goat's been dead plenty long enough!”

From nearby someone called out, “Harriet, let the girl answer the question!” Micah laughed and looked at Jessica.

She smiled and nodded. “Yes, I'll marry you.”

Harriet let loose a whoop. “Call the preacher; she said yes!”

I love historical fiction and these characters gripped me. I don't know, maybe someday I'll ask them the rest of their story. This snippet was written for's Weekly Challenge for the topic of 'In every cloud there's a silver lining' --or however that line goes. Did you see the silver lining?

Thank you for joining us for Fiction Friday, whether you're posting fiction or reading--or both. If you're posting, put a link to us here at Patterings, and add your name and url address to the Mr. Liknky gadget. If you're reading, click on the names and it will take you to another story. Enjoy!

And don't forget to tell your friends! Anyone and everyone is welcome!
Now, who's volunteering to host next? (seriously! email me if you'd like to host Ficiton Friday!) Happy Friday, everyone!

Hurricane Season?

Have you ever tried to tame a hurricane? How about just talk into a hurricane? Does your voice carry very far? Last night was my turn to teach the kids at church. I love these kids greatly—each and every one of them. But last night was a test of my love. Their behavior was horrible. They wouldn't listen for more than five second intervals, and I don't know about you, but I have a hard time communicating in five second bleeps. By the time I left class, I was exhausted and emotionally drained.

I tried complaining to God about it, but He didn't seem too impressed. I reminded Him of how I had planned for the class, how I had put a lot of thought into the lesson. I was so excited about it because it was such a good lesson—a lesson that could really help them. But they were too busy whispering and talking and wiggling around. They were too busy trying to draw attention to themselves.

God's reply to me seemed to saying, 'Have you looked at yourself lately?'

What a sucker punch. I may be 30 years older than those kids, but my behavior is just like theirs. I'm too busy whispering and talking and running around to listen to God's voice. And when I look at what He did to prepare for me--His supreme sacrifice on the cross—I'm ashamed. Ashamed of how little I listen to Him. And yet He still loves me.

Sometimes God will use drastic measures to get my attention, like a teacher who suddenly slams a book on the desk to shock the students into silence. Sometimes God just stays silent and waits for me to realize He's no longer talking and to quiet down, giving Him a chance to speak. Sometimes He whispers, knowing that I'll draw closer to hear what He's saying. And sometimes He lifts His hands—His nail scarred hands—and says 'Peace. Be Still.'

But the LORD is in His holy temple.
Let all the earth be silent before Him.
~Habakkuk 2:20

Whatever hurricane I'm in today, I need to listen to His voice. I need to be still so I can hear Him and what He has to say to me. It's a choice I must make. A choice to be still.

Be still and know that I am God;
~Psalm 46:10

Heavenly Father, help to remember that the hands You raise to calm me and my storms are scarred by the nails that You allowed out of love for me. In the midst of my busyness, let me draw close to You so I can hear Your voice and learn what it is You've prepared for me. Thank You for Your love and patience with me. Thank You for Your living Word.

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
for my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stonghold;
I shall not be shaken.
~Psalm 62:5-6

Calling Kids (at heart)

Join me at Patterings for Kids for Lopsided War.
Sure, it's geared for kids, but aren't we all just kids at heart?

Patterings for Kids is a collection of lessons that stem from the Wednesday night children's ministry that I help teach. So many times I've left that class learning way more than I ever would have thought possible from listening to, or teaching, a 'childrens' Bible story. I'm so blessed to be included in that ministry!

In the Silent Moments

Years ago, when our kids were younger, yanno, preschoolers, people would laughingly ask what I did in my spare time. I knew exactly what they were talking about because spare time simply was not in my vocabulary. I'd laugh and tell them I folded laundry, and I could tell every woman who understood what I was talking about. (It was usually older couples that asked, and they were always very kind and enjoyed seeing our crew overflowing the shopping cart.) Even now that I've assigned the laundry detail to one of my daughters, I still enjoy the laundry. Why? Because I can often be quiet and even think while doing the laundry.

Now that my kids are older, one of the things I find myself doing is driving more. When you live 15 miles from town, you spend a lot of time behind the wheel, and I for one, love it. Why? Because I can often be quiet and enjoy the quietness. It's a momentary break in my daily life. Sometimes, as I drive, I'm able to do some good thinking. Sometimes, I'm praying. Sometimes, I'm crawling into God's throne room and merely leaning against His throne, much as a child does while listening to a story. As I lean there, I soak in the presence of God and let the praise seep into my weary soul and soothe me. During those times I'm not talking, I'm not praying, I'm just consciously being in God's presence.

Is there value in that? Yes. When I feel like I've been wrung dry, when I'm exhausted and my heart is too heavy to lift, I can lay there and let the praise swirl around me, lifting my heart for me.

There are times in our lives when it takes all we have to simply crawl into God's throne room, times when turning our face to the Sonshine requires all our concentration and efforts. God assures us that He will be there.

  • Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. ~James 4:8

  • But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
    ~Deuteronomy 4:29

  • Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. ~Matthew 7:7-8

Father, thank You for understanding that there are times when it's all I can do to crawl into Your presence, times when even turning my face to You takes all I have. Thank You understanding the mute sighing and groanings of my heart and for wrapping me in Your love, healing me as I lean against Your throne. My heart cries out with the angels, “Holy, Holy, Holy!”

Fiction Friday: Cooking Up Love

Welcome to Fiction Friday! This week Joanne is hosting at An Open Book--that's where you'll find Mr. Linky, so be sure to join us over at An Open Book! See ya there!

This is THE VERY FIRST story I wrote back when I picked my pen back up in Jan. 2007. When I entered it in the Weekly Writing Challenge I almost lost my lunch because I was so nervous. LoL. It was the queasy first step of an exciting journey for me.

“Mom!” I could tell by the tone of his voice what the question would be. He didn’t disappoint me. “What’s for supper, Mom? We’re starving!”

I didn’t even bother stifling my groan. I hate cooking and my family knew it well. Too bad you couldn’t live on baked goods alone! Being a cookie fanatic had taught me early on to enjoy baking. But cooking? Ugh. I could easily leave that to someone else. Too bad there was no one else willing to take it. In a house full of men, there was no competition in the kitchen, unless it was getting to the food first and getting the most.

A quick check at the time sent me to the fridge for the hamburger and onions. “Meatloaf, mashed taters, and broccoli.”

“Cheese sauce on the broccoli?” Andrew hedged.

“Any reason I should make a cheese sauce?” I’d planned on it, but they didn’t have to know that.

“I got an A on my Physical Science test,” he smugly informed me.

“I did, too!” Ron called out as he sauntered into the kitchen. Ron was a neighbor kid who spent as much time with us as he did at his own house. Both he and Andrew were 14 and I knew that Shane, my 13 year old, would be in next. As expected, he came in and made a bee-line for the cookie jar.

“Cheese sauce?” he mumbled as he popped a whole cookie in his mouth. “I got a 100% on that geography quiz. Why do we have to know all those capitals anyways?”

I exaggerated my sigh, “OK. I’ll make a cheese sauce. Just because you guys did good, not because I like to cook!” I felt I had to remind them in case they forgot.

“Yes!” They high fived all around, grabbed handfuls of cookies and flopped onto the couches in the living room.

“Man, you guys are so lucky!” I heard Ron say around a mouthful of cookie. “Not only does your mom cook for you, but she’s always got cookies or something for you to eat!” There was a slight pause as he swallowed, “She must love you an awful lot.” I could hear the wistfulness in his voice and my hands stilled, listening.

“There’s food at your house, too!” Shane replied.

“Your mom cooks!” Andrew mumbled around what must have been a whole cookie.

“That’s not cooking, and you know it!” Ron said. He must have finished his cookies since his mouth was empty. “She opens a box, turns on the oven, slides it in and presto. What she calls supper is served in 60 minutes.”

“It’s not that bad,” Andrew tried making him feel better.

“Not bad?” Ron groaned. “It’s not real food!” The couch groaned this time as he sprawled back and threw his leg over the arm. “Man, your mom really loves you and you can tell! Look at how much time she spends cooking for you! And she doesn’t even like to cook!”

I held my breath at that. He knew I loved my boys because I cooked for them? My heart squeezed. “And you complain about having to cook? If showing these boys you love them is as simple as cooking good meals and snacks for them it’s worth every minute of it!” Listening to the boys had reminded me why I cook day after day. I was cooking up a dose of love for my family.

“Mmm. You’re right, Ron.” Shane agreed with him.

“She wouldn’t spend so much time in the kitchen if she didn’t love us a whole lot.” Andrew added thoughtfully.

Wiping my hands I walked into the living room. “We’re having apple crisp for dessert, too, Ron,” I said as I leaned over the back of the couch to see this son of my heart.

“Yeah?” he asked with a goofy grin. “That’s my favorite!”

“Yeah.” I replied. “Because I love you, too. And because you helped me remember why it is that I cook day after day.” I dropped a kiss on his head, shared a smile with him, and went back to the kitchen, grateful for the chance to show my boys some more love.

“Forget about letting someone else do the cooking!” I thought as I chopped onions. “This blessing is mine. All mine. And I’m glad I don’t have to share it with anyone else!”


Be sure to join us over at An Open Book for links to more great fiction!

And thanks for hosting for us, JoDear!
Now, who's volunteering to host next? (seriously! email me if you'd like to host Ficiton Friday!) Happy Friday, everyone!

Post-it Note

PhotobucketTomorrow's Fiction Friday is being hosted by Joanne at An Open Book. Be Sher to join us there! *giggle*

PhotobucketNew interviews are posted at CWO blogger spotlight, and LauraLee's interview is there as well as mine. I was so excited to see us there, together. The button is to the right, at the very top. *wink*

PhotobucketLast month, oh I'm so embarrassed it's taken me so long, I received a second blog award. It's the Arte y Pico award and I'm so blessed to have received it. Thank you so much, my friends (yes, plural because I received it from Marie at Meek Musings and Joanne at An Open Book.) It's YOU, my friends, that make this so much fun for me to do and YOU who bless me over and over and over again. THANK YOU!!

ps--I have this horrible feeling I might have forgotten someone--if I did, please remind me so I can make amends and fix my blunder!

Kill the Swill

Sometimes my fridge is like a black hole—things go in, and seemingly never come out. But just like the truth always comes out, the bad stuff always gets cleaned out of the fridge--sooner or later. The day of cleaning could be be a science lesson on decomposition and mold growth, and it's never pretty. There have been times someone has haplessly opened a container, and before they could slap the lid closed, the smell had permeated the kitchen.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been around when someone popped open their mouth and, before you could turn away, has the stench enveloped you, making you wish for fresh air? (And I'm not talking about bad breath here! I'm talking about swill from their life or their attitude.) Have you ever done that yourself? Times when you've opened your lid and suddenly smelled a stench and before you could slam your lips closed, has the stench permeated the room? I've done that and it's horrible and embarrassing.

So, what can I do to prevent that from happening?

**Don't even put some of those things in the fridge! Toss them out.
“There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.”
~Proverbs 6:16-19

**Clean out the fridge more often so things don't spoil in there and get to stinking like that.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” ~Psalm 139:23-24

**Put good things in the fridge of your life.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8

**Make sure to put an open box of baking soda in your fridge to absorb the unwanted smells.
“Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.”
~Psalm 119:11
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” ~Philippians 2:3-4

Just like we don't want a fridge full of spoiled food, we don't want our lives to be full of rottenness. We need to clean out the swill and make room for the fresh produce God wants to put in our lives, produce that can feed and bless those around us.

So, what's in your fridge?

Shelf Life

Food has a shelf life, and some food has a very short shelf life and needs to be used in a timely manner or it goes bad. There have been times I've put a beautiful head of leaf lettuce in my fridge and when I finally got around to using it, it was no longer beautiful. The leaves had lost their crispness, had wilted and some had even turned black. Sounds appetizing doesn't it? Sure, sometimes I can salvage part of the head if I do it right when I pull it out of the bag and strip off the spoiled leaves and carefully wash the rest. There are even times when I completely miss it and the lettuce totally ruins—there's no salvaging to be done, it all goes into the compost.

God puts things in our lives to be used for His glory and some of those things have a shelf life. If we don't use them in a timely manner they 'go bad' and may no longer be available for our use. God may bring a person into our lives so we can be a witness to them, but if we delay, we may loose our window of opportunity. When that window closes, we miss out on the blessing we would receive from using that opportunity and others miss out because we didn't make something of the opportunity, the ingredient, God gave us.

I don't think there's many of us that like seeing food spoil in our fridge, but do we even stop and think about things in our lives that are going to waste? Gifts, and opportunities, and even responsibilities God has given to us to use, not waste—are we using those ingredients and making the most of them? Are we using them for God or just forgetting about them after we tuck them away in our lives?

Therefore be careful how you walk,
not as unwise men but as wise,
making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
So then do not be foolish,
but understand what the will of the Lord is.
~Ephesians 5:15-17

Fiction Friday: Lava Mama's Stomp Fest

Kelli gritted her teeth and started counting. She made it to six before she exploded. “You call this room clean? Only if you’re a pig, and even then, not in my house. Look at this! Dirty underwear stuffed in the corner, your dresser top is in desperate need of attention and this book shelf is a mess, not to mention your closet…Ooooo, that closet had better be taken care of or you won’t like how I take care of it! Get moving!” After a morning of refereeing kids and house cleaning she was on a short fuse.

“Oooh! I hate it!” Ryan stomped his foot as he spun away and threw a book onto his bed, but not before Kelli saw the attitude written there.

She didn’t even try counting, and her jaw still ached from clamping it so tightly just moments before, so she let it fly. “Buddy boy, you just blew it.” Kelli bent down, thrusting her face within inches of Ryan’s. She was sure her hair had turned to molten lava. Ryan’s eyes widened in surprise, but he quickly covered it with more bad attitude.

“Do it again!” Kelli demanded.

“Do what again?” Belligerence laced the question.

“Stomp your feet again, just like you did.” His face said he thought she’d really lost her marbles this time. “Do it!” Kelli’s voice rose in volume.

Ryan stomped his foot.

“Both feet,” she bellowed, not thinking, just following that mom instinct. Ryan jumped and slammed his feet his on the floor, howling his frustration and anger at his mother, but she didn’t let up.

By the fifth stomp Ryan was beginning to cringe when he landed on his sock feet and Kelli was thankful their floors were stout.

“Harder!” Still hollering she didn’t give him a moment’s rest.

He still howled in anger so she kept him stomping. Her throat stung from hollering above Ryan's noise, but she refused to give up before he did. She was at her wit’s end with this child. She’d tried everything she could think of and nothing had worked so far. In fact, he just kept getting worse. Something had to give, and it wasn’t going to be her.

Ryan jumped and once again slammed his feet down, this time crying out in pain.


“But, Mom…”

“Now! Stomp ‘em!” Ryan jumped and stomped them down again, wincing and crying, his bad attitude quickly fading. Two more stomps and Kelli could tell he’d given in.

“Get this room picked up—FAST.” Kelli quietly ordered, her own anger and frustration cooling.

She sighed in relief when Ryan gathered the dirty underwear from the corner and put them in the laundry basket. Only then did she dare a glance in the dresser mirror. She hid a smile beneath a glower and sailed out of the room. Her hair was no longer felt like molten lava so it was safe to venture into the living room where her other children scurried around doing their assigned chores.

That evening Kelli called from the kitchen, “Time to get that stuff picked up and put away.”

She moved so she'd be able to see their reaction and got there just in time to see Ryan wind up for his protest. She knew the exact moment when he saw her standing in the kitchen doorway, watching him. His foot was on the way down and there was no way he could stop it. When his foot touched down his eyes were round and his anger mysteriously gone.

Kelli shook her head and quietly said, “Stomp 'em.”

“Aww, Mom...” Ryan whined. Kelli merely raised an eyebrow and waited. Ryan jumped and stomped his feet down on the carpet, cringing, but without any anger or bad attitude. She was satisfied.

“Supper's ready. Get that mess picked up so we can eat.” Smiling, she returned to the kitchen and fluffed up her hair. She didn't like being a lava queen but she'd kept her head, reigned in her tongue and God had sent her a solution that was already reaping rewards.

This truly is fiction, although I have to admit to bits of truth that managed to sneak in. LoL--I'll let you wonder what's truth and what's fiction.

Thank you for joining us for Fiction Friday, whether you're posting fiction or reading--or both. If you're posting, put a link to us here at Patterings, and add your name and url address to the Mr. Liknky gadget. If you're reading, click on the names and it will take you to another story. Enjoy!

And don't forget to tell your friends! Anyone and everyone is welcome!

Of Hummers and Boas

From my computer chair I can see one of my hummingbird feeders. This year we have more hummers than we have in past years and it's been fun watching them zip around. They load light and come often. Their eating habits are completely different than a boa constrictor's. A boa will eat only sporadically, as needed, and their meal will be many times the size of a hummingbird's tiny sips.

Is either of them wrong in their eating habits? No, they are exactly as God made them. But yanno, if I had to choose between being a boa or a hummingbird, I'd choose to be a hummer every time.

Even in my spiritual life I'd rather be like a little hummer, stopping often throughout my days. Yes, we need 'heavy' spiritual meals—times of prolonged study, but we also need to make frequent stops to sip from God's refreshing feeders that are always full of nectar—His Word and prayer. A steady diet will sweeten our life.

Thy Face I Shall Seek

As I look back at my life, I see times when I've been completely floundering. I don't know which way to turn, or even where to look, and quite often the words of Psalm 27:8 rise like a beacon from the mist.
When Thou didst say, “Seek My face,”
my heart said to Thee, “Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek.”

In the midst of my confusion, hurt, loss or even while in the realm of overwhelmed, God draws me close through those words. As I deliberately turn my face toward Him, and look steadfastly at Him, He meets me where I'm at and He meets my needs. He is always faithful.

Between our two youngest sons, we lost two babies, and the second miscarriage rocked my world like only a few other things have in my life. My faith in God did not waver but my faith in myself was gone. I had four little children that needed me and crawling into a hole wasn't an option. During those hard days I remember making frequent trips to my room, and spending moments with my Bible. I let my fingers roam the pages, rediscovering gems I had found and underlined through the years and I asked God, begged God, to help me through the dark. The more I deliberately turned my face to Him the more peace and healing trickled into my life.

When decisions and changes are looming, I hear Him whisper those words to me and I'm so glad David responded as he did, guiding me to also seek the Lord's face. I've found that even when the wind is blowing and the storm is raging, or when the fog bank has settled around me, I can turn to Him and He will lead me in the path He has for me. As long as I seek His face.

Father, help me to always deliberately seek Your face. In the good times as well as the bad. Thank You for always being there—for being my Rock, my refuge and my fortress—My God, in whom I trust.

Lucy, I'm Home!

This has been a whirlwind week. A wonderful week! I was able to spend 4-5 day with my dear friends Laury and Dee. We were so busy I did good to post for Fiction Friday--thank you LauraLee for hosting for us!! Since a picture is worth a thousand words--or so they say--here's a few shots:
Laury--she has the prettiest blue eyes! They match that top she's wearing!!

Dee playing the piano and singing. What a blessing and treat that was!

Dee & me

Laury & Dee

Fiction Friday: Shopping For A Smile

Welcome to Fiction Friday! This week LauraLee is hosting--that's where you'll find Mr. Linky, so be sure to join us over at LauraLee's Lifesong! See ya there!

Shopping for a Smile

“Ok kids, remember what day it is and be good or it’s going to take us even longer here!”

We had just entered the store and I was really hoping to make a quick trip of it.
“Mom, do we have a lot to get today?” Jessica asked me.

“Yes, we do. Are you in a hurry?”

“Yeah. I wanna play outside!”

“Here, Bennie, you ride in the cart while Mandy pushes it. Michael, don’t touch things.” I led the way with my shopping list and hoped my heels would be safe from the cart.

Rounding the corner of the pharmacy I almost plowed into an elderly lady. I stopped fast, grabbed Michael and stifled a groan when my cart slammed into me.

The little lady turned to me and smiled. “Would you be a dear and get that arthritis cream down for me? It must be nice to be so tall. I’ve never been able to reach things, and for the life of me I don’t understand why they have to put arthritis cream up so high!” I reached up and retrieved the cream. “Ah, thank you. Are all these your children? My, but don’t they have lovely smiles! Smiles like that brighten up the gloomiest of days! You sure are blessed.” She took the cream, touched a gnarled knuckle to Bennie’s soft cheek and moved on.

Mandy smiled at me. “Sorry about running into you, Mom.”

“That’s ok, it wasn’t my heels.” I consulted my list, grabbed a bottle of vitamins and moved on. We made it two aisles before encountering two older couples blocking the aisle with their carts. They were happily chatting, so rather than interrupt them we circled around.

Back in the main aisle I tried to make up for lost time, and almost mowed down an older gentleman.

“Boy, Mom, the first of the month sure is busy!” Mandy smiled at the gentleman. When he saw it his scowl disappeared, his wrinkles rearranging themselves into a smile as he winked at her. Mandy giggled and waved as we hurried past.

Five more aisles and we caught up to another older man, this one leaning heavily on the cart as he shuffled along, his cane hung over the side, near at hand.

“We need to slow down or we’ll run someone over,” I told the kids as I adjusted my pace.

“But Mom, we won’t have time to play outside if we go this slow!” Jessica moaned.

“People are more important than playing, Jess. You know that. Just relax and smile. Didn’t you see that man light up when Mandy smiled at him? I think he might have been shopping for a smile and finally found one. That’s what your face did last week when we found those shoes you liked so much.” Jessica merely rolled her eyes at me.

Michael tugged on my arm. “Mom! There’s Mrs. Clopton from church!” He let go of me and scooted down the aisle to give her a hug. Jessica finally smiled, seeing one of her favorite church friends.

When I reached Mrs. Clopton she was beaming as she hugged the children. “It’s so good to see you! I think you children grew!”

“We’ve missed you at church!” Jessica said as she gave Mrs. Clopton a big hug.

“Oh, what a month we’ve had. Earl’s been down with back spasms and my knee’s been acting up again.” She hugged Bennie and reveled in the kiss he planted on her wrinkly cheek.

The man Mandy had waved to was coming down our aisle so we scooted to one side, making sure he could get by us. His face was lit with a smile and he winked at Mandy again.

Rather than pass us by he stopped. “You sure do have some fine children here—not hooligans like so many of ‘em ‘round here.” He reached out and ruffled Bennie’s hair. “Smiles on every one of them’s faces. Most kids nowadays don’t have time ta smile at an old man. They rush from here to there, grabbin’ what they want and givin’ no never mind to the people ‘round about them. Makes me sick seeing ‘em, but not this crew. No sirree! This is a good bunch.” Chuckling to himself he shuffled past us.

Mrs. Clopton smiled and squeezed Jessica again. “Isn’t it amazing how smiles and kindness have a way of multiplying and coming back to bless the giver?”

”There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more…The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NASB

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For the most part, I'm able to keep the homesickness at bay when I think about home...but this hasn't been one of those times. I'm homesick to the point of tears.

Jim got an email from our missionary friends in Quito--the ones we stayed with 13 years ago when we went down to help expand the church building that was built when my dad was pastoring there. The email said they're looking for 8 couples from 8 different churches to go down and help with a couples' retreat for 50 Ecuadorian couples. Lynford, the missionary there, is looking to involve 8 different US churches with this project, which I think is a phenomenal idea and that it will have a great impact on those 8 sending churches. Lynford and Sharon have a bunch of photos of their ministry on their website!

Although I completely agree with Jim that it will have more impact on our church if another couple goes, my heart is crying because I want to go. I want to go home. I want to see and talk to the people who's lives were touched by my parent's ministry and life there...Latin American people have such a special place in my heart. So, I thought I'd share some pictures I found of the mountains I think of when I hear or read Psalm 121.

To see these pictures and so many more go here. On the left is Cotopaxi, a perfectly shaped volcano that I saw on an almost daily basis when I lived in Quito, where I went to school. On the left is Pichincha, the mountain that Quito is nestled against. I've been on this trail--funny the things you remember so long after the fact. Hang gliders launch themselves off Pichincha and glide over the city--it's breath-taking to watch!

To see more pictures of the people of Ecuador (where these pictures came from) go to Dan Heller's site. His shots are wonderful. The woman on the right, an indian woman, is using a pila to do her laundry. Pilas are very common and I've often used them myself, but thankfully we had a wringer washer. Ladies, be thankful for your beautiful automatic washers! LoL Here's a shot of Sharon's Vacation Bible School:

Not all of us can leave our home countries and go into missions, but all, ALL of us need to be praying for those that do go. What missionaries need most is prayer. Prayer for the ministry and the people they are reaching out to and working with, but also prayer for the missionaries themselves. Like us, they're subject to being run-down and overwhelmed spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. Pray specifically for them, not just a 'bless all the missionaries' prayer. If you don't know any missionaries and want to pray for some specifically email me! I know plenty that would love to have you praying for them! (peej4me at gmail dot com)

The midwife who attended four of my children's births has been in China working for a few years (she's in her 60s!) and it was a dream come true for her. She sent this to me on a bookmark:
I said,
“Jesus, I can't go to lands across the seas.”
He answered quickly,
“Yes you can—by traveling on your knees.”
He said,
“You pray, I'll meet the need.
You call, and I will hear.
It's up to you to be concerned for lost souls far and near.”
And so I did;
I knelt in prayer,
gave up some hours of ease,
and with the Savior by by side,
I traveled on my knees.

Frequent Flyer Bonus

When I turned 30, my mother informed me it was time to grow up. I drew blood when I bit my tongue to keep from reminding her that I had four children of my own—but she was right. (Yes, Mom, you were right, but you forgot to tell me the rest of the message. Or were you saving that for my 40th birthday?)

There is NO cash back for using your Whining Card. No bonus points. No frequent flyer miles to be gained. No nothing. Not that I would've ever seen those rewards because I was too busy burying my head in the sand, and you just can't see much with your head in a hole. Trust me, I know this from personal experience.

The main thing that whining is NOT: Rejoicing.
You cannot be a rejoicing Christian if you're busy whining.

By the way: Rejoicing DOES come with a frequent flyer bonus! When you choose to rejoice, you are filled with joy and peace returns to you. God's peace. A peace that passes all understanding. It's when you quit whining that Christ shines through you to those around you, illuminating their darkness and helping them through their own tough times.

Shout for joy, O heavens!
And rejoice, O earth!
Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted His people,
And will have compassion on His afflicted.
Isaiah 49:13

This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
Psalm 46:1-5

I will rejoice and be glad in Thy lovingkindness,
because Thou hast seen my affliction;
Thou hast known the troubles of my soul,
and Thou hast not given me over into the hand of the enemy;
Thous hast set my feet in a large place.
Psalm 31:7-8

I don't know about you, but the bonuses of rejoicing far outweigh those of whining. Not only that, but I never want to hide my head in a hole when it comes to rejoicing. I want to grab onto it and go along for the joyous ride. So the next time I'm tempted to whine I'm going to remember Habakkuk's words:
Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk 3:18

author's note: This message is directed directly at myself. So if you've been whining: fear not. This came as a result of too much whining in my life. Now, I'm leaving that behind and pressing on--and if you hear me start to whine, send me straight to Habakkuk, no passing Go, no collecting $200.

Fiction Friday: Ginny G.

Ginny Giraffe awoke one morning to sweet singing in the branches above her. Standing very carefully and quietly, she peered through the leaves. She didn’t even need to stand on tiptoe to see Lark sitting in her nest as she sang.

“Good morning, Lark. Why are you singing?”

“Good morning, Ginny G. Why am I singing?” she chirped. “Well, I sing because I’m happy.”

Ginny G. slowly blinked her big brown eyes. “Why are you happy?”

“It’s a beautiful morning.” Lark happily trilled.

As Ginny G. nibbled her breakfast leaves Butterfly danced nearby. “Good morning, Ginny G.” she called out.

“Good morning, Butterfly.” Ginny G. responded politely. “What are you doing?”

“I’m dancing in the breeze,” Butterfly answered.

She lifted his nose into the breeze, smelling carefully. “Why?”

Butterfly did a double flip as she answered. “Because I’m happy, that’s why.”

Ginny G. slowly blinked her big brown eyes. “Why are you happy?”

Butterfly giggled as she swooped past Ginny’s nose. “Because I can fly!” Then she raced off to join her cousins playing tag.

Looking far across the grassland Ginny spotted her friend Gnu and decided to visit him. Stretching her long legs she ran swiftly, wishing she had wings. “Maybe I could be happy then,” she thought.

Gnu was playing when she arrived. He was having so much fun kicking up his heels that he didn’t notice Ginny right away.

“Oh, hi there, Ginny G. Whatcha’ doing?” Gnu asked when he finally stood still for a moment.

“I’m just watching you,” Ginny replied. “Why are you playing like that, Gnu?” she asked.

“Wahoo, because I’m happy!” Gnu hollered as he spun around again.

Ginny G. slowly blinked her big brown eyes. “Why are you happy?”

That made Gnu stop and stare at her. “Why am I happy?” he asked, surprised. “I don’t know, just because I am.” Gnu kicked up his heels and galloped a circle around her.

Ginny watched him a while longer then wandered over to Zebra who was grazing on the tough grass nearby.

“C'mon, Ginny G. let's race to the water hole,” Zebra said as soon as Ginny G. got close. Without another word Zebra ran a circle around her and took off. Ginny could hear him laughing as he galloped across the grassland so she ran along. With her long legs it didn't take long to catch up to him.

“Zebra, why are you laughing?” Ginny G. called out as they ran together.

“Because I love running, it makes me happy.” Zebra said as they neared the water hole. He circled around it and kept running but Ginny G. laid down in the tall grass under a tree and rested her head on a nearby branch, she didn’t want anyone to see her.

Soon Tortoise trundled along.

“Ginny G. why is your face so long and why aren’t you out playing with the other young grassland animals?” Tortoise asked kindly. He was a wise old tortoise who cared for his friends.

Ginny G. sadly sighed. “Everyone else has something to make them happy, but I don’t. I’ll never be happy.”

Tortoise chuckled. “Ginny G, you have many things to make you happy, you just need to open your eyes and see them.” Ginny G. slowly blinked her big brown eyes. “God didn't give you a voice to sing, or wings to fly, or even short legs like Gnu to spin and jump on. He gave you a long neck and long legs so you could see far into the distance with your beautiful, keen eyes.”

The corners of Ginny G's mouth lifted in a small smile. “I have beautiful eyes?” she asked.

“Ah, yes,” Tortoise replied. “Big beautiful eyes. But even more important than your eyes, Ginny G. is the fact that God loves you. You are so special to Him that He put you here in the perfect place. This is just the right place for a giraffe. And not only that, but He gave you your family and friends. He loves you an awful lot, Ginny G.”

Ginny G. slowly blinked her big brown eyes and smiled at Tortoise. “You're right, Tortoise. I can be happy because God loves me so much.”

Ginny stood up and looked around, seeing all the things God gave her because He loved her so much. She had so many reasons to be happy. Lowering her head down as close to the ground as she could she gave Tortoise a special smile.

“Thank you for being my friend, Tortoise. You are a wonderful gift from God.” She bent her knees and gave him a kiss on his tough, wrinkly cheek, then turned and sailed across the grassland to join her friends in a game of tag.

I love writing for children and I needed a happy story for this week, so I went straight for Ginny G. I hope she made you smile.

Thank you for joining us for Fiction Friday, whether you're posting fiction or reading--or both. If you're posting, put a link to us here at Patterings, and add your name and url address to the Mr. Liknky gadget. If you're reading, click on the names and it will take you to another story. Enjoy!

And don't forget to tell your friends! Anyone and everyone is welcome!

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