Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Let Us Give Thanks for Hodge Podge

Welcome to this pre-Thanksgiving Holiday Hodgepodge! If you've answered the questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post and then go say hi to the blogger who linked before you.

Thank you for joining the party here every Wednesday. It's a day brightener for sure, and always fun to see all the many directions people run with their answers. Please don't miss next week's HP, because Joyce has a special little giveaway planned in honor of our 200th Wednesday Hodgepodge.  

Feeling especially grateful today for the way words connect people. Happy Thanksgiving!

1. Besides U.S. Thanksgiving, it's also National Game and Puzzle Week...what game have you played most recently, and who were you with? Have you worked a puzzle of any kind in the past week?  I do jigsaw puzzles every day on my IPad and love it.  Frank and I compete for time completed.  I usually win.  We play Mexican Train dominoes often with friends.  We are all highly competitive so it makes for an exciting evening. 
2. What is one place you were thankful for this year?  I was thankful for the beach this year.  There was something very relaxing about hearing the waves roll in and being with good friends.
3. Take a nap, watch football, go for an after dinner walk, or hit the stores...which ONE is on your must-do list for Thanksgiving day? For those of you playing along who aren't in the US, answer as it relates to any big holiday meal. We will be sharing a meal with about 50 family members and then traveling to Knoxville to spend time with two of my oldest and dearest friends.  I do NOT shop on Thanksgiving and wish stores would not open until midnight like it used to be.  I believe salespeople should be allowed to stay home and enjoy their families.  The Auburn vs Alabama game will be the highlight of Saturday and the Macy's Parade will be on too.
4. Besides Thanksgiving, what's your favorite home cooked meal?  Beef Stew, soups, mac and cheese. Not together.  I love the comfort provided by these three things....if you add bread pudding with praline sauce I am in heaven.
5. What product from an infomercial would you most like to own?  The green frying pan but you can get it from an As Seen on TV store....or Walmart if you are lucky.
6. Christmas shopping? Have you begun? Finished? Will you shop on Black Friday? How do you feel about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day? What percentage of your Christmas shopping is done online?  I am finished....Frank still has some initials to make for me to give as gifts.  I will not shop on Black Friday and I hate the fact that stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day.  This year I did a good bit...50% of my shopping on line.
7. What are you most grateful for that adds beauty to your everyday life?  The ride I have down Co. Rd 15 from RCHS to Wadley High.  There are several old churches, beautiful trees, some old barns, an abundance of wild life.  I have seen several hawks, a fox, and a fawn.  I also love crossing the Tallapoosa River.  There are turtles that sit on logs and it is just gorgeous.
8. Insert your own random thought here. Just a thought....Everything happens for a reason.  So often we wonder about the "whys" in life....."Why did this happen?" "Why me?"  "Why now?" But there is a secret that wise men know...Bumps in the road are an inevitable part of life that soften us, make us grow, and bestow upon us the virtue of compassion.  Often it is only with the passing of time that it becomes clear that the could really did have a silver lining, and now we have wisdom, strength, and hope to share.  And at last we understand the true meaning of the phrase "Everything happens for a reason." 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Live Each Day With Gratitude

In preparation for Thursday I began thinking of things I am grateful for.  I found a little ditty on a calendar I bought for myself about gratitude and thought I would share it with you all today.

Gratitude is one of life's greatest gifts, and it is free for the choosing.  When we make this choice, we are demonstrating an understanding of our free will.

Gratitude is a exercise in which we train our minds to look at the good things before us each day, no matter what is happening in our lives.

Gratitude is a state of mind we cultivate in ourselves that enables us to understand that often it is our greatest challenges and losses that bring us our greatest lessons in life.

Gratitude is the place from which we recognize life's compensations that are always before us, so we can enjoy each day with thanksgiving.

So on Thursday when you gather at your Thanksgiving tables with family and friends remember all the things you are grateful you have in your life.  Don't be like this:  "Black Friday is a day when people trample each other for a "deal" just hours after being thankful for what they already have."  Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Road of Life Has Many Turns

If someone had told me when I was 30 that when I was 60 I was going to be a pastor of a church I would have laughed in their face.  If someone had told me at 18 that I would be a high school teacher I would have denied it til I was blue in the face.  If someone would have told me at 21 that my parents would be living with me in my 50's I would have said, "No way!"...but I have discovered many things in my life and one of those is that sometimes the road of life takes us to a place we had planned.  (I love it when a plan comes together.)  Sometimes it shows us a surprise around the bend we could never have anticipated.  We make decisions based on the information we have...We accept the ups and downs as they come...We live "one day at a time."  But often we find it is only when we look back that we can see that what we had thought was a "wrong turn" has brought us to exactly the right place and every step was a right one after all!  My mom and I did not always have the idyllic relationship.  I loved her.  I respected her.  I just did not always understand her.  My mom had a type A personality....and I didn't.  She was not always healthy for my self-esteem....what little I had.  The last five years of my mom and dad's lives they lived with us.  It was only supposed to be for six weeks when they moved it....but things just went wrong from the get-go.  Now at 60, with both of them gone, I am glad this road went the way it went.  I had five years to understand....and fall in love with my mother....and the other woman she became (she had Alzheimer's).  I would take nothing for the time I got to share with them....and here at Thanksgiving it is something I am very thankful for. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Five Kernels of Corn and All I Am Thankful For

Our scripture today is from Ps 103:1-13

The Pilgrim fathers who landed at Plymouth Rock over 300 years ago knew nothing of the affluent times which you and I enjoy today in this great country of ours.  The next time you and I are tempted to complain about inflation and the state of our economy, we need to remember the following:  During that first long winter at Plymouth Colony, seven times as many graves were made for the dead as homes for the living.  The ship which was to bring food and relief brought 35 more mouths to feed, but not an ounce of provisions.  Touching indeed is the picture of William Brewster, rising from a scanty Plymouth dinner, consisting of a plate of clams and a glass of cold water, to thank God “for the abundance of the sea and the treasures hid in the sand.”  The Pilgrims didn’t have much, but they possessed a great gratitude and it was upon this very thing that America was built. These stalwart people, strong, devout and sincere were the timbers upon which our nation was founded.  They had a custom of putting 5 kernels of corn upon each empty plate before a dinner of “thanksgiving” was served. Each member of the family would pick up a kernel and tell what they were thankful for. It was to remind them that the first Pilgrims were in such dire straits that their allowance was only 5 kernels of corn per person each day.

Let me tell you…we have many reasons to be thankful. Let’s take 5 grains of corn, and using Psalm 103:1-5 as a basis, think of 5 things to praise God for.  In this Psalm David calls upon his body, mind, soul, and spirit to join in one grand symphony of praise for the benefits God has so graciously bestowed upon him. Can you see the 5?  The first is the  Kernel of Forgiveness

Verse 3a tells us: “…who forgives all your sins…”

One day a fellow was visiting with his pastor in the parsonage. He picked up a book that was on a stand and began to read. Suddenly he shouted, “Glory! Praise the name of the Lord!” The pastor asked, “What’s the matter with you?” The visitor replied, “This book says that in certain places the sea is 5 miles deep!” “Yes, that’s right,” said the pastor. “What of it?” The visitor answered, “Why the Bible says that my sins have been cast into the depth of the sea, and if it’s that deep, I’m not afraid of their coming up again. The pressure of the water is so great there that if the largest battleship could be sunk to that depth, it would be crushed like an egg shell.”  There’s no mistaking it—God offers forgiveness. All any person must do is repent and forsake his sin, and God will forgive him and revoke the penalty of sin.

This forgiveness is a…

 Promise of the Father

 Provision of the Son

 Proclamation in the Bible

 Required practice in the church

From the depths of our hearts, a sense of gratitude should well up. Gratitude should ascend like incense to the throne of God.

The second kernel is the Kernel of Redemption.  Verse 4a: “…who redeems your live from the pit…”  The London Times publishes the prices paid for art objects in all of the salesrooms of the world. If a painting is sold in New York or Paris or Rome or London, The Times gives the full details of the sale. You can judge the value of the painting by the price paid for it. And we can judge our value by the price Jesus paid for us—the depths into which He had to reach in order to redeem us.  The Governor of Texas, spoke to the assembled convicts of penitentiaries of that state. He finished by saying that he would remain to listen if any man wanted to speak with him. When the meeting was over, a large group of men remained, many of them lifers. One by one they each told the governor that he was there through a frame-up, and injustice, or a judicial blunder. Each asked to be freed.   Finally, one man came up and said, “Governor, I just want to say that I’m guilty. I did what they sent me here for, but I believe I’ve paid for it. If I were freed, I would do everything I could to be a good citizen and prove myself worthy of your mercy.” The governor pardoned this man. Why? Because he admitted his guilt. So it is with us if we are to be redeemed from the awful sentence we’re under. But there is a difference. We can’t say that we’ve paid for any of it because as the old hymn says, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe; sin has left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."” If we will plead His blood, God will redeem us.  The Lord not only saved our souls from hell, but He also redeems our lives from the clutches of the devil. Satan is bent on destroying our lives. But thanks be to God who redeems our lives from his power. All one has to do is take a look at our penitentiaries, sanitariums, hospitals, and half-way houses. They are filled with people whose lives are being destroyed by our enemy. Jesus said in Matthew 7:13, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many are on that road.”

But we praise God today with the Psalmist who said, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:2,3).

The third Kernel is The Kernel of Healing.  Verse 3b: “…who heals all your diseases…”  When first considering this passage of scripture, I was reluctant to use it because I couldn’t reconcile it with the fact that God doesn’t heal everyone who has an “incurable” disease. But I believe the Holy Spirit can help us to see three important truths contained in this verse.

The first is that all healing is divine healing and all recovery from sickness, injury and surgery is the result of the healing properties that God has built into our bodies. Medicine, surgery and therapy are merely extensions of God’s healing ministry.

The second… This verse doesn’t say that God heals everyone’s diseases, but that He heals all diseases. There is no disease or sickness that lies beyond Hid healing power—not even what we call “incurable.” He is the Great Physician.

The third…. The main truth I learned is that the Psalmist is speaking to his soul. “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” he said, “who heals all your diseases.”

The diseases of the soul emanate from the virus of sin. Jesus identified this virus and its symptoms and disorders in.  Matt 15:19-20: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ’unclean.’”

Just as surely as some disorders of the body can be cured by medicines and surgery, so the soul of man can be cleansed, purged and purified—and made whole when God the Holy Spirit is allowed to possess us completely.

The fourth kernel is The Kernel of Love and Compassion

Verse 4a: “…crowns you with love and compassion…”  In one of Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman’s meetings, a man rose to give the following remarkable testimony: “I got off at the Pennsylvania depot one day as a tramp. For a year I begged on the streets for a living. One day I touched a man on the shoulder and said, “Mister, please give me some money so I can have something to eat.” As soon as I saw his face, I recognized him as my father. ‘Father, don’t you know me?’ I asked. Throwing his arms around me, he cried, ‘I’ve found you! I’ve found you! All I have is yours!’ Think of it! That I a tramp, stood begging my father for a few cents, when for 18 years he had been looking for me to give me all he was worth.”  How similar this is to the loving kindness and tender mercies of the Lord which accompany our lives every day.

The fifth kernel is The Kernel of Satisfaction and Renewal

Verse 5: “…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  This reminds me of the words of Jesus, given in the sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt.5:6).
There’s a great paradox here. We’re satisfied but never satisfied. My wife makes the best apple pie in the world. I’m always satisfied when I eat some, but I always want more because what I’ve experienced makes me want to taste it again and again. So it is with righteousness. We’re filled and the filling is so sweet and so rich and full that we want more.  When we seek God’s righteousness, He grants it. Psalm 107:9 says, “He has satisfied the thirsty soul and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.”  A famous surgeon was seldom seen on the streets without a beautiful, fresh rose in his lapel. His friends wondered why these buds stayed fresh for so long a time. When they asked him his secret, he turned back the flap of his coat and revealed a little bottle of water into which the stem of the flower had been inserted. So it is with believers. If our lives draw from the great resources of the Lord Jesus, who is in us the Water of Life, we will grow more fragrant and beautiful as the days and years go by.  But that’s not the end. Verse 5 also says that God will renew my youth like the eagle’s. The eagle is known for three things: size, strength, and longevity. It’s also known for its annual molting.  This is the result of living a fulfilled, satisfied, spiritual life. I am constantly being renewed, refreshed, and revived in my soul and God is doing it all!  No wonder then that the Psalmist said, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”  So, let me ask you….when you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, take time to thank God for these blessings—and remember these five kernels.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cranberry Fall

I pretty much love all things cranberry.  So imagine my delight when I found some new things to do with cranberry and they are out of this world.  The first is a cranberry/blueberry wine sauce. 
What to Use: 
one 8-ounce bag fresh cranberries
6-ounces frozen blueberries (about 1 1/2 cups), unthawed
1 cup cabernet sauvignon (or shiraz, merlot, or a favorite red wine)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cloves, or to taste

What To Do:
1.  Put everything in a medium to large saucepan, and bring it to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Make sure your saucepan has room for the sauce to at least triple in volume. The juices from the berries release and as the mixture boils rapidly, it will foam and a too-small pan will easily overflow. (I can say this from experience....too big is better than too small)
2.  Reduce heat to low and allow sauce to simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until reduced and thickened slightly, and most of the cranberries have burst. Sauce will thicken more as it cools.
3.  Transfer to heat-safe jars or containers with lids. I used Ball jars and made cute little toppers for them.  Allow your sauce to cool at room temperature before refrigerating. Sauce will keep airtight in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.
I used to be part of a Ladies Guild that made and sold Cheese Balls each year as a fund raiser.  We made a great profit doing this.  We had six different ones and we would get together several times and make and freeze cheese balls to get ready for pick up day.  The cheese balls we made were awesome.  So I decided to make Recipe two a killer Cranberry Cheese Ball.  This would be great for that preThanksgiving meal sampling or just to have around in case someone drops in.  Make sure you have plenty of crackers on hand.
What to Use:
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
8 ounces good quality sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
What To Do:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the pecans in an even layer. Bake for about 5 minutes and then remove from the oven.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and the cheddar cheese. Add in the pecans, salt, and the Worcestershire sauce. Continue mixing for another minute or two until everything is well-combined. Remove the mixture from the bowl and form into a ball with your hands. Wrap the formed ball in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
3.  Remove the chilled cheese ball. Using small handfuls at a time, place dried cranberries all over the cheese ball, pushing in lightly to secure them into place. Try to cover as much of the cheese ball as possible (except the bottom). Serve or cover and place back into the fridge until serving. Serve with crackers.
My third recipe is for Cranberry Fluff.  This stuff is heavenly.
What to Use:
1 14-ounce can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed (see note below for alternative)
3 cups of mini marshmallows.

What to Do:
In a large bowl I, stir together cranberry sauce and crushed pineapple. Fold in whipped topping until thoroughly combined. Stir in Mini Campfire® Marshmallows. Cover and chill for at least two hours before serving.  This keeps for 3 days in the fridge
I hope you enjoy trying them.  Happy Holiday Eating!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Faulty vs Seniors....or Winners and Losers Round 2

Yesterday I did a post on Winners and Losers.  Today I attended one of the most entertaining events I have been to in quite a while.  The Faculty at Wadley High School took on the Seniors(and I am not talking senior citizens) in Volleyball.   Most of the faculty that played were in their 30's to 50's.  I chose to just observe and watch kids because I am too old to hit the gym floor. The first game started with the Seniors serving.  I watched as they moved the ball back and forth from one side to the other and was very impressed.  Some of the seniors had never played volleyball before.  The ball actually was returned four times before it fell with a thud between two players on the faculty side as they stood and looked at it.  Once the score was to their liking I really believe the seniors began to take it easy on their older counterparts.  The seniors won the first round......the faculty rallied and won the second round(with the aid of some of the school's volleyball team) so we had a 2 to 2 match.  The seniors won the tie breaker and showed no mercy.  I really had a great time watching this exchange of power.  This volleyball game is an example of what I love about a small rural school.  The school used this as a fund raiser.  We have 400+ students at Wadley and we are  a campus that is K-12.  If all 400+ students had bought a ticket for 3.00....we would have made a tidy profit.   Concessions were sold during the game.  I was amazed at the amount of money some of these elementary aged children had on them.  I left school yesterday with a smile on.  What a great way to end the day and the week.  I love living rural!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Winners and Losers

I love to read Psalms.  This week I read Psalms 139:1-24 and found a wonderful devotion online to go with it that I just had to share.
I have to be honest and say that I love the season of fall....but with it comes least favorite time of the year….football season.  It is a time when families are divided by loyalties to a special team of choice and hateful things are said.  I live in Alabama and from the first game of the year until the National Champion is decided all you hear is Auburn this or Alabama that.  Now I am serving a church where I have a Florida die hard and my husband Frank is an FSU die hard.  Sometimes it is enough to make me want to stick my head in a hole and wait until it is all over but the crying.  One of my dearest friends becomes an incredible snotty person from September until the season ends.  My theory of the game is that on any given day….any given team can win….or lose.  The whole concept is….is that it is a game.  Which brings me to my story for today….In the opening game of the 2001 football season, a mistake by the University of Colorado cost the team a chance to play for the national championship. When coach Gary Barnett was asked about it, he said, “We don’t think about it. I learned a long time ago: Don’t trip on something behind you.” Barnett was busy recruiting new players and preparing for a holiday bowl game and had no time to dwell on the past.

What a great concept.  We all do need to live in the present. But what about the mistakes we deeply regret? How can we deal with past sins and failures that still weigh us down? Oswald Chambers, speaking of the sadness of what might have been, said: “Never be afraid when God brings back the past. Let memory have its way. It is a minister of God with its rebuke and chastisement and sorrow. God will turn the ‘might have been’ into a wonderful culture [source of nourishment and growth] for the future.”  The psalmist asked God to search his heart and see if there was any wicked way in him, so that he might confess it and be forgiven. Then he added, “Lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).  I have made many mistakes in my life....and will probably continue to make them.  The cool thing is that God does not want us to be imprisoned by yesterday, but to be free for today and tomorrow.  Why?  Because Calvary covered it all,  my past with its sin and stain; my guilt and despair Jesus took on Him there,  And Calvary covers it all. —Taylor  I have found through my life experiences that brooding over the past paralyzes the present and bankrupts the future.  I don't know about you....but I think I would rather stop that cycle and enjoy life to it's fullest. I want to be a winner....not a loser.