Live Like You Were Movin’

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As I write this, I have been an Austinite for precisely one week. Here’s what I’ve been learning:

  • It’s nearly all small stuff. The worldly goods we chose to shed in this process would fill a small bedroom wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling. Astonishing how little I miss any of it! Soon I won’t even be able to recall what I left behind. In the future, as I ask myself that inevitable “buy or don’t buy” question, I’ll also be asking myself, “What would make it onto a moving truck?”
  • People are important. No brainer? Yes, but I’m not sure I’ve always acted on that fact. As I hugged friends and neighbors goodbye, I wished I had found small, frequent means by which to show my appreciation throughout my tenure in Houston. Moving to Austin means I get to hit the “reset” button on hospitality, neighborliness, and even friendship. As I write this, I’m praying that I will slow down and make people a greater priority in demonstrable ways.
  • A little discipline goes a long way. During the “house showing” phase of this adventure, we upgraded our home to nearly picture perfect condition. We enjoyed the improvements, but getting things fixed up right before we left seemed a bit of a shame. Perhaps the same goes for our spiritual life. Shouldn’t we be staying in shape all the time, enjoying the peace and joy that good spiritual habits afford us? There’s no good reason to wait!
  • Sometimes, accepting help is more important than giving it. We were too slow to say “yes” when offered help with the monumental task of packing. When we finally did accept an offer, it was a great relief. More surprising, though, was what I heard as my friend wrapped and boxed, “Now I feel better about you helping me!” Ah, two-way roads are nearly always better.

This place is already beginning to feel like home, so many thanks to those of you who prayed for our transition. I’m off to unpack a bit more now, so “see” you next week!

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Bugs Bunny: A Two Part Tale

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Part One: If you were to survey the artwork in my home, two pieces would strike you right away. One is a giclee of Bugs Bunny playing the piano, a work by Chuck Jones appropriately entitled “Bugs at Piano.” It was a gift to us from Elizabeth when she graduated from college. The other is “Café Terrace at Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. (Of course, it’s just a copy, one we ordered on the internet.)

Part Two: My sister Rebekah was only 7 when I left for college. She lives in Burbank now, and I live in Houston. Despite the distance, we are still close. We had those few short years of living together, and now we keep in touch by phone and text. Earlier this summer, though, I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon at her house. I was surprised to discover that she has one very prominent piece of artwork displayed on her entryway wall—“Café Terrace at Night.”

Rebekah and I have never discussed art. We rarely see one another’s homes, yet of all the options in all the world, we chose the same painting for our walls. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I submit that we are simply of the same mind.

  • We’ve spent a great deal of time together.
  • We converse.
  • We keep each other in mind.

The second chapter of 1 Corinthians talks about having the mind of Christ. I want to be of the same mind as Christ, don’t you? I want to have his perspective, especially when things aren’t going the way I would choose. I want to emulate his love for others and be led by his wisdom. How do we get that?

  • We spend a great deal of time together—sometimes reading scripture, sometimes fellowshipping with other believers in his company, and sometimes just being still with him.
  • We converse—pouring out our hearts in prayer and praise and seeking to hear his still small voice.
  • We keep each other in mind. Well, I already know the Lord has me in mind all the time. Practicing his presence, keeping him first in my thoughts, is another thing altogether, but an important discipline to develop.

I don’t think these three habits should simply be another list of resolutions. Rather, they are items of prayer, choices we can only make and maintain by the power of the Holy Spirit. They will not always be easy, but imagine the joy and comfort that awaits those of us who truly begin to have the mind of Christ!

Gummy Vitamins

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I have very smart kids. Not long ago one of them convinced me to switch from my traditional slug-‘em-down-with-a-gulp-of-water vitamins to the chew-‘em-up-and-they-taste-like-candy variety. Guess what? I never forget to take my daily dose anymore. In fact, I have to resist the temptation to over consume.

August 31, 2015.  Ok, wait a minute. While the rest of the blog below is still valid, I just got back from the dentist. Two fillings done today. First in many, many years. Last month, when they found the cavities, the dentist commented on the fact that I haven’t had any cavities in years and don’t have any history of cavities between my molars. He considered it a mystery. I did too until I came home, popped my daily gummy vitamins, and realized I almost always chew them on the same side, right where those new cavities appeared. I’m not saying those delicious vitamins absolutely must have been the cause of my new cavities, but I’m suspicious enough that I pitched the bottle and bought the old, boring capsule type. Since I told you how great I thought gummy vitamins were, I thought you should know the other side of the coin.

I’ve written before about trying to make it easier to actually accomplish that which we intend to do. Today, though, my question is:

How do you make doing what you ought to do actually more fun?

  • I exercise to music or a movie. That helps.
  • I used to sing Bible verses to my toddlers. I think that helped as well.
  • I put a little parmesan cheese on plain veggies and sometimes squirt a little Reddi-wip on my fruit.
  • Prayer? I know there’s value in being on my knees, but sometimes I like to pray while taking a walk or snuggling with Steve.
  • Scripture memorization? This is still a tough one for me. I hope you will share your ideas here. I love having the word of God hidden in my heart, but I find that I’m forever putting off the actual process of hiding it there.
  • Maintaining an attitude of gratitude and praise? Pandora worship stations are my friend!
  • Becoming a listening ear to those who need it? When my listening is combined with a long walk (or a savored cup of good tea with milk), I enjoy both more.

Body, mind and spirit. They all belong to our Lord, who entrusts their care to us. Let me know your tips for being a good steward of those gifts. And, as further encouragement to make health a habit, please consider reading this article by Janet Kobobel Grant. I think it will surprise you, challenge you and help you take even better care of yourself. http://www.booksandsuch.com/?s=smoking

Salted Cheesecake

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Let me tell you a funny story about my daughter. (Sorry, Elizabeth. This one is just too good to keep to myself.) Elizabeth, like her mother before her, has a sweet tooth. However, she also has great self-control. Furthermore, to bolster that self-control, she has developed certain habits that help her stick to her plans. For example, she chews gum when she is baking. ‘Makes it easier to stay away from all the crispy bits and broken pieces that seem to scream, “Go ahead. Make your day. Why would you let me go to waste?” But here is my favorite habit: She salts her dessert.

One night years ago, Steve and Elizabeth went on their annual holiday season father-daughter date. This time they went to a dinner theater where a multi-course meal was served between the acts of a musical revue. When it came time for dessert, Steve ordered chocolate cake, and Elizabeth chose cheesecake. As the next act started, they began to enjoy their treats. When Elizabeth felt she had had enough, she doused the remains in table salt, knowing that would end any temptation to keep on nibbling.

You can probably guess what happened next. Steve, who had been watching the entertainers the entire time, saw that his daughter was no longer eating her delectable dessert and reached for a forkful. It was already in his mouth before she could say, “No, Dad, wait, I…” That was the last time Steve ever reached for anything on Elizabeth’s plate without asking first.

Sometimes now I salt my dessert. It’s a quirky habit, but it helps me follow through on my own conviction to moderate my consumption of rich goodies. I also waited long past the rest of the world to get a microwave, because there was a time when I knew it would just make junky micro-treats too accessible to me. And we don’t have cable because I’d spend too much time on mind-numbing videos. (I have a strong inner couch potato.) A daily newspaper would hook me into far too many fear-inducing dramas, which could play out in my imagination all day long.

Those are my “salts.” Yours may be quite different. But all of us are called to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” us (Hebrews 12:1a). If you have found creative ways to make obedient living easier, won’t you share them in the comments section?

Have a great week!

 

             

 

Wheat, Meat and Sweet

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Drink coffee. Don’t drink coffee. Eat chocolate. Don’t eat chocolate. Or meat. Or bread. Or… What’s a body to do? It’s January again, the month of resolutions, many of them regarding what we put into our mouths. The information out there regarding healthy eating is a bit contradictory, but here are a few facts that seem pretty reliable to me:

  • We have a responsibility to take care of the bodies God has given us.
  • Most of us need to eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Surprisingly, plants have plenty of protein, calorie for calorie, (not ounce for ounce) when compared to meat. We don’t really need to have chicken on that Caesar salad every time, as long it’s a big enough salad.

And so, my husband and I have embarked on yet another journey toward healthier eating. We’ve moved closer than ever to what’s often touted as the “Daniel Diet.” That means we:

  • Go light on wheat, limiting our carb-heavy foods to a couple of daily helpings of whole grains (think brown rice, oatmeal or whole grain bread) or sweet potatoes.
  • Go light on meat. It’s still on the menu for us, but in smaller quantities and not every day.
  • Go light on sweet. I keep “goodies” out of the house most of the time. Still, tonight we are going out on the town, and I plan to eat dessert. (Well, half a dessert. Steve and I will share.)
  • Go heavy on fruits and veggies. Once you cut back on the three items mentioned above, this becomes a natural habit. We eat lots of soups, salads, and roasted vegetables (with garlic and rosemary!).
  • Eat a small handful of nuts most days.
  • Eat about a cup of beans (often in soup or salad) most days.

Surprisingly, our meals are more interesting and more satisfying than they were this time last year. And we’re feeling great. So, if you’re looking for a simple way to upgrade your eating habits, just remember to lighten up on “wheat, meat and sweet.” If in doubt, consider giving this plan a try for a month. And if you want a few of my recipes, all you have to do is ask.

May God be glorified in all that we do, even in our eating and drinking! Next week, back to the usual sort of essay, entitled “A Shot in the Arm.” Thanks for reading. I welcome your comments.