One More Thing

Following up on yesterday’s post with today’s discovery:

Psalm 71:14 says,

“As for me, I will always have hope;  I will praise you more and more.”

Worship defeats worry once again!

 

A Can of Tomatoes (Written in April)

Yesterday, I discovered a can of diced tomatoes in the back of my pantry. That treasure meant I wouldn’t have to skimp on the dish I was making.

A couple of days ago, I noticed for the first time a sprinkling of freckles across Kate’s cheeks. (We are helping with childcare, so we still have contact with our grandchildren.)

Last week, Tony brought me a box of produce that included bananas. Daily smoothies back on the menu!

A few months ago, I had all the bananas and tomatoes I wanted—a hearty stash at home and plenty waiting to be picked up at my local HEB. And I never gave them a thought.

I’ve always known that many in the world face hunger and hardship beyond what has ever touched me. I’ve prayed. I’ve sent donations. I’ve even counted my blessings. But, here’s what’s been missing:

I’ve never truly treasured the “small things” enough—eggs, paper goods, Facetime, my granddaughter’s freckles seen up close…and even a can of tomatoes.

Lord willing, we will go back to the days when bananas and canned goods are easily obtained, when hugs and birthday parties and worship services are no longer a thing of the past. But my soul has been pricked, and I hope it stays that way. We who see God’s hand of provision have been handed magnifying glasses. In the face of hardship, his gifts are illuminated in new and different ways.

No, actually, that isn’t true. The light to see those gifts has always been there, but we have been distracted by the glitz and glitter elsewhere. May we never be distracted again!

I hope that, from now on, anytime I open a can, hug a loved one, or simply spend a day in good health, I’ll remember to send high praises to the One who provides such extravagant blessings. Join me, won’t you, in magnifying your blessings today, and every day from here forward.

And in case you are curious about how I used that can of tomatoes:

White Beans Savory

  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped. (I used ½ cup frozen chopped onion.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, or garlic powder, or garlic paste from a tube.
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  •  2-3 cups of kale or fresh spinach
  • 1 15 ounce can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Parmesan to taste

Sauté onion and garlic in oil until tender.

Stir in spinach and cook until wilted.

Add beans, tomatoes and pepper.

Sprinkle with cheese.

Heat until liquid is slightly reduced.

Delicious hot or cold.

 

photo credit: @claybanks via Unsplash.com

Whatcha Got? (By Beth Smith)

fish GLady pixabay

Here’s a story from the book of Mark, with a bit of my own perspective sprinkled in.

Jesus sent his disciples on a road trip with instructions to take a walking staff and nothing else—no money, no food, no back-up supplies. They headed out to preach the gospel, drive out demons, and pray for the sick. Having seen God work, I imagine they came home happy, but tired. Then they heard about the beheading of John the Baptist. I imagine they were tired, shocked, and sad. The crowds kept coming and pressing in to see Jesus. The disciples were so busy they didn’t even have time to eat. Now they were probably tired, sad, and hungry.

Jesus told the disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). Climbing into a boat headed for a time of solitude, I imagine they were feeling relieved. But the crowds figured out where they were going and arrived in time to greet the boat.

Jesus “had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34). The disciples, who weren’t going to have a rest after all, may have become tired, sad, hungry, disappointed, and even put out with Jesus for placing the needs of all these other people ahead of theirs.

Suppertime came. The exhausted disciples, surrounded by people in need, said, “Lord, it’s late. These people are hungry. Send them off into the villages to buy their dinner.”

His answer? “You give them something to eat.”

What? Now exhausted, sad, hungry, disappointed, peeved, and maybe even angry, I bet those men thought, “After everything else, does Jesus want us to walk all the way to the villages to get food? We don’t even have any money.” They knew Jesus could do miracles, but they forgot. (Isn’t that true of us at times?) They answered, “Lord, we have nothing to give. It would cost a small fortune to feed all these people.”

Then Jesus asked an important question, followed by a command: “What do you have? Go and see.” He asks us the same question, and gives us the same instructions.

The disciples brought five loaves and two fish to Jesus, who multiplied them and fed all the people. We need to bring what we have to Jesus, too, especially when we’re tired, sad, hungry, disappointed, angry, financially strapped, or full of doubts.

This is a time for us to remember that God can multiply our little loaves and fish—our love, talents, money and time—when we put them in his hands. Jesus asks each of us, “What do you have? Go and see.”

Write It Down

I love the old song, “Count Your Blessings. It’s so important to remember our blessings and to be quick to thank God for them. When I absolutely must remember something, I write it down. Perhaps it’s time to start writing down our blessings as well, a list of things God has done for us.

Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV) says, “Do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Do not forget! If we write down our blessings, we’re more likely to remember them. We need to remember God, who he is and what he’s done for us.

In Psalm 77, David was so troubled he couldn’t sleep. He asked such questions as:

  • Has the Lord rejected me forever?
  • Will he never show me favor?
  • Is his unfailing love gone forever?
  • Have his promises failed?
  • Has God forgotten to be kind?
  • Has he slammed the door on compassion?

I’ve had moments when I felt that way. After those questions, though, comes the word “Selah,” which means pause. Then David says: “I will recall all you have done, O Lord. I remember your deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. O God, your ways are holy. Is there any God as mighty as you? You are the God of miracles and wonders. You demonstrate your power among the nations. You have redeemed your people by your strength” (Psalm 77: 11-15 NLT).

What a change in David’s outlook! We need our own Selah—a pause to stop and consider who God is and what he’s done for us. Writing it down insures that we won’t forget, or so that, when we do forget, we can look at the list and remember once again.

Even when we do forget about God and his blessings, he doesn’t forget about us. The second half of Hebrews 13:5 from the Amplified Bible says, “He (God) himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down or relax My hold on you. Assuredly not!” That great scripture is worth reading several times this week.

And here’s another helpful hint. Read Psalm 103, which begins, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His Holy Name. Bless the Lord, O, my soul, and forget not all His benefits (or all the good things he has done for us)” (Psalm 103:1-2 MEV). See how many good things David lists in the Psalm. Since God never changes, those same good things, those benefits, are not just for David, they’re for us too.

These are troubled times, but go ahead. Make a list of God’s benefits. You’ll be glad you did. And please consider sharing: what’s at the top of that list today?

House Rules Revisited

Last February, a local MOPS group asked me to talk about the house rules Steve put into place when our children were small. I’ve written about those rules in previous blogs, but thought this might be a good time for a review. Before you take a look, and hopefully click on a few of the links to past blogs, let me reiterate the most important part of what I told those young moms:

These rules, sometimes with a tiny bit of tweaking, apply to us as adults every bit as much as they apply to the children in our lives. So, if you have no kids, have no fear, this blog is still for you! And as we all spend more time at home with our families, perhaps this will serve as a helpful review.

Don’t argue when it doesn’t matter: https://smoothersailing.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/400/

Be happy for what you have, and if you fuss, you lose: https://smoothersailing.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/bhfwyh/

 Obey the first time, and be kind: https://smoothersailing.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/halfway-there/

Pray for someone every day: https://smoothersailing.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/pray-for-someone-every-day/

 Don’t hit, and be respectful (of others, of our Lord, and of your own body.) https://smoothersailing.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/the-final-three/

Got a favorite? A rule you’d like to add? Please take the time to comment.

Words for the Worried

Funny, the things that stick in my head…(Quotes in italics below, my take in parentheses)

  • A line from “Imagination Movers,” the latest Nick and Kate video fad: “We had a problem, but we figured it out!” (Isn’t that, by God’s grace, true of most of our problems? How quickly we forget the last solution when the next problem arises!)
  • An editor’s comment over dinner at a writers’ conference: “My mom worries all the time, so I told her, ‘Mom, worry does not burn calories!’” (This makes a good point. Worry never does any sort of good.)
  • A line from my pastor’s Ky’s recent sermon: “We are here to serve, not to solve…We can’t be God in another person’s life.” (How often do we get all wrapped up in worry about how someone else’s life is turning out, and about how we can fix it?)
  • From Pastor Matt: “Anxiety is an enemy of intimacy with the Lord.” (Now that’s convicting!)
  • Paul to Timothy: “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear.” (Typical Paul. Blunt. True.)
  • David Jeremiah (paraphrased): “What we’re really saying is our version of, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, and I’m going to fail this test.’” (What’s your version of Psalm 23?)
  • Uncredited, but probably my lifegroup leader: “What you worry about most is what you trust God with least.” (Ouch.)

So what are we to do?

  • Father Tim in a Mitford book: “‘Don’t worry about it.’ That sounds trite, but it’s what Jesus said!” (It does sound simple, doesn’t it? I suppose all obedience sounds simple, even though it isn’t always easy. But, Jesus did indeed say those words, and he always equips us to follow him.)
  • Joseph Prince (in “The Real Story” via YouTube): “Look around, you’ll be distressed. Look within, you’ll be depressed. Look at Jesus, you’ll be at rest.” (That old hymn, “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” speaks volumes in the title alone!)
  • Paul Washer: “Preach the scriptures to your heart.” (Now that’s some serious worry-busting advice!)
  • Oswald Chambers: “Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him. Then think how unnecessary and disrespectful worry is!” (Enough said!)