Friday, April 30, 2010

Show and Tell Friday - Charlie

My daughter bought a dog last week. After years of saying no, I finally said yes. Her name is Charlie. She's black and brown and fuzzy all over. I may just fall in love.

First Day Home

First Front Yard Romp

Her Favorite Napping Spot

First Walk

Playing at my Feet

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. ~Ben Williams

I'm linking to Cindy's Show and Tell Friday. Come join the fun!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Foodie Friday - Praline-Apple Bread

I'm joining the party at Foodie Friday, where deliciousness always awaits.

This delectable bread goes great with coffee or milk in the mornings, but could also be served as dessert.

Praline-Apple Bread

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, divided
1 (8-oz) container sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups finely chopped, peeled Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350. Bake 1/2 cup pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 6-8 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring after 4 minutes.

2. Beat sour cream and next 3 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until blended.

3. Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to sour cream mixture, beating just until blended. Stir in apples and 1/2 cup toasted pecans. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9x5 inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup chopped pecans; lightly press pecans into batter.

4. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, shielding with aluminum foil after 50 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack.

5. Bring butter and brown sugar to a boil in a 1-qt. heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, and spoon over top of bread; let cool completely (about 1 hour).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Required Things

I must have been temporarily insane the day I strolled into Wal-Mart and bought an aquarium. The two-gallon tank on display was so pretty, so soothing and so CLEAN! Before I knew it, I had a tank, two goldfish, blue gravel and a lovely plant. I could hardly wait to set it up.

For a while, the little aquarium was all I had envisioned. The fish swam beautifully, the bubbles bubbled soothingly and the water was clearer than clear.

But alas, one morning, my lovely aquarium seemed a bit drab. The gravel was dull, the water looked murky and the once soothing bubbles sputtered and splashed. However, I had more exciting things to do than clean an aquarium; it would have to wait.

And so it was.

Within days, green slime appeared. The odor was rank and the goldfish could barely be seen. Clearly, negligence had taken its toll.

Webster’s defines negligence as: “The habitual failure to do the ‘required’ thing.” I knew what was required to keep my aquarium clean, I just didn’t want to do it.

Without question, life is full of "required” things. Dirty clothes require washing. Dirty floors require vacuuming. Children require discipline, and good marriages require work.

The same is true spiritually. In order for us to obtain eternal life, certain things are required of us: receiving the Spirit of Christ, dying to our flesh; reading the Wordloving our neighbors as ourselves. Oh, our carnal man isn't excited about doing those things. But, if we want a happy ending when this life is done, doing them isn't an option. ♦

“For unto whom much is given, much shall be required.” Luke 12:48

holy experience

Rambling About Much of Nothing

Another goregous day in the neighborhood. Not too hot. Not too cold. As Goldilocks would say: Just right.

I was awakened at dawn by my daughter's new puppy. It was the briefest of whines, but once you have "mother ears," you never lose them. Seems a bird with a loud (and weird) call had scared her. He scares me, too, on occasion. Not sure how God chose bird calls, but some around my house are totally spooky.

Made another trip to the arboretum yesterday. My twin and I didn't take it all in on Monday, so we returned for another look. Everywhere my eyes fell, I saw evidence of God. Breathtaking beauty...and some of it for such brief seasons. Oh, how he loves you and me.

Next month, I will have been unemployed for one year. What a journey it's been, and continues to be. I've applied for well over 100 jobs. Never have I been in such a stagnant hiring enviroment. I have exceptional skills, but that doesn't seem to matter anymore.

Nevertheless, my faith, family and friends have been pillars of strength. God is still good, still faithful and still all I need.

I think a nice stroll might be in order. Til we meet again, fellow bloggers, toodle-loo. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Splendor At My Front Door

My twin and I took in the arboretum yesterday. It overflows with small things to celebrate. Wow! I could've napped on the little bench all day long. Who knew such splendor was so close to my front door?

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Prayer Changes Things

Several years ago, a musical group I directed was scheduled to sing at a minister’s conference in a neighboring city. The church van was leaving at 4:30 sharp.

On my way to the church, I swung into Taco Bell’s drive-thru line to grab (what I thought would be) a quick bite to eat. Fifteen minutes later, I was still in line.

Finally, my turn came to order, and as I pulled away from the menu board, my car (which had been ailing for a week or so) sputtered and died.

After numerous attempts to start it, the highly-agitated guy behind me—who had been honking his horn incessantly—bounded from his vehicle and pushed me out of the way and into a parking spot.

Feeling like a reject of society, I tried starting the car again. Nothing.

By now, time was a factor, and to complicate matters further, I hadn't let anybody know that I would be riding the van with the group. Thus, they had no reason to wait for me. Clearly, I needed to get going…soon!

Feeling a little frantic, I exited the vehicle, went inside Taco Bell and phoned the church. Maybe someone would answer and come to my resuce. No such luck.

Well, maybe somebody at Taco Bell dreamed of spending their Friday evening, helping a bewildered-looking woman with a dead Taurus. No such luck.

Clearly, there was only one thing left to do: Pray.

Climbing behind the wheel, I bowed my head and humbly—but urgently—prayed this prayer:

“Dear God, nobody here is interested in anything but tacos. It’s just you and me, God. If I’ve ever needed you, I need you now. I have to be at the church in less than five minutes or I'm going to get left. Please let this car start. In Jesus’ name.”

With faith abounding in my heart, I turned the ignition.

Immediately, the car sprang to life. Boom! Just like that. No begging. No pleading. No bargaining. Just a simple prayer of faith, and I was on my way.

Ah, yes. Prayer really can change things, you know. The only catch is: You have to pray. ♦

Dear Lord, even when I'm late in praying, thank you for answering on time.

I'm linking to Spiritual Sundays, a great place to find inspiration and encouragement. If you need a lift, click on the link and be blessed.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Galveston, Oh, Galveston

Made an impromptu drive to Galveston Island yesterday with my wombmate. The water was bluer than I've ever seen. A little sun. A lot of laughs. In no time at all, life's dilemmas were gone with the wind.

Ahhh. Just what I needed.

Thank you, Father, for your endless gifts of splendor.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesdays Unwrapped

Occasionally, I wonder if my life has had eternal value to anyone. I've been lots of places and done lots of things. I've been honored to meet and minister to thousands along the King's Highway. But have I really made a difference? Have I?

And then, out of the blue, I'll get a message on Facebook from somebody like Judy—whom I don't even know. Judy tells me that she has listened to and been blessed by my music through the years. She asks if any of my albums were made into CDs.

No, I tell her, they weren't.

What about cassettes?

Cassettes, I can do...if I have any, of course. (That was 100 years ago, after all.)

After a bit of stuff shuffling, I find a few extra cassettes, tucked away in a keepsake box in a dresser drawer. I'll be mailing them to Judy this week. Judy is proof, yet again, that nothing done in His name is ever wasted. That seeds planted on good soil can't be contained.

Thank you, Judy. My heart is full. ♦

"Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days," Ecclesiastes 11:1.

I'm celebrating the "small" things at Emily's blog for Tuesdays Unwrapped.
tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Old Habits Die Hard

Several years ago, during a sobering church service, I was disturbed that my mind kept wandering. While some around me wept, moved by the preached Word of God, I struggled with my wayward thoughts.

Standing there, needing a jolt from above, the Lord spoke Galatians 6:7 to my mind: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Although I generally applied this scripture to those living sinful, riotous lives, I began searching for its relevance in my own.

Having been raised in a pastor’s home, going to church was a big part of my life. Unless deathly ill, hospitalized, or lying in the morgue at room temperature, I dared not miss. In my young mind, this unfailing practice equaled salvation. If I was faithful to church, I reasoned, I would be saved.

However, standing at the pew that night, my error became evident: I had become a “hearer only,” deceiving myself. It was time for a soul-searching mission.

With Galatians 6:7 still ringing in my ears, important questions demanded answers. What kind of seeds was I sowing?

Did I attend church in hopes of being saved, yet spend my time away from church selfishly? Was I living for this life only? Were my thoughts often centered around this present world—its political, financial and moral woes? Did I often seek self-gratification with material things, sowing seeds to my flesh?

The answers weren’t good. Promising to change my ways, I soon discovered that old habits are hard to break.

With a little extra money in my pocketbook, I couldn’t resist a good sale at Marshall’s. Browsing through the endless racks of clothing, I spotted a lovely jumper, ideal for hiding a few extra pounds. Delighted with my find, I hurried to the dressing room and slipped it on. I wasn’t disappointed; it was perfect. I almost looked skinny!

As I carried my beloved bargain to the car, something very strange happened: Conviction hit me like a ton of bricks.

Standing in the parking lot, the Lord reminded me of my promise to change my selfish ways. He instructed me that the money I just spent, could have helped a needy family buy food to eat. I knew such families existed within my own congregation.

Immediately, I asked God to forgive me, and once again, resolved to change my selfish behavior.

Over the next few days, I looked for ways to sacrifice my time, sowing good seeds, doing the work of Christ. I mailed thinking-of-you cards, miss-you cards and appreciation notes until every stamp was gone.

I telephoned a friend, encouraging her to put God back in her life. I gave money to a homeless man beside the road. I helped a friend coping with unemployment.

I purchased cases of food from Sam’s Club for the care closet at church. The more I did, the better I felt. Church attendance became a welcomed time of refreshing. A place of instruction and nourishment for my soul. My mission of giving was producing much needed change in my life.

James 1:22 reads: “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” Clearly, hearing the Word of God isn’t enough. Attending church isn’t enough.

The Bible says that faith without works is dead, being alone. There must be a balance of hearing and doing. After all, it is the kind of seeds we sow outside the sanctuary walls that will decide the harvest we ultimately reap.

Yesterday found me clumsily pushing a large box—filled with enough clothes to make a fortune at a garage sale—down the hall and out the front door. A charity organization would pick it up later that day. I smiled. Although old habits are hard to break, my metamorphosis was, indeed, underway. ♦

I'm reposting Wednesday's blog and linking to Spiritual Sundays.
Wednesday's blog linked to Ann's Walk With Him Wednesday.
Theme: Cultivating the Life God Desires.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesdays Unwrapped--Sweet Memories

A few weeks ago, while packing for her first business trip (thanks to a nice promotion), my one and only child remarked that being an adult still catches her off guard occasionally. Her being an adult catches me off guard occasionally, too.

Some days, I'd like to turn back the hands of time and relive those fleeting days of childhood when she pretended to be a mother of her own. Other days, I marvel at what a wise and wonderful woman she's growing up to be.

Today, I'm unwrapping the sweet memories of yesterday. They have surely shaped the woman of today.♦

For more unwrappings, visit chatting at the sky.

 tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mother's Indelible Marks

Sunday is Mother's birthday. She is the wisest woman I know, and my respect and love for her is immense. The following article appeared in The Dallas Morning News on March 28, 1999, as Women's History Month came to an end.

Eleven years later, Mother continues making her mark on those around her. She's a steadfast source of strength in my life, and I'm proud to be her daughter.

Happy birthday, dear mother of mine. I love you more than life. ♦

I'm linking to Spiritual Sundays, where inspiration blooms.

~ For optimal reading, click on the article twice. ~