Divinely Designed: Sooty to Smashing

Some would say the beautiful ceiling
of the Sistine Chapel is
divinely designed.

The frescos painted by Michelangelo tell the sweeping story of Bible,
from God’s creation to Christ’s ascension.

(A fresco is a painting done rapidly in watercolor on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling,
so that the colors penetrate the plaster and become fixed as it dries.) 

Moms, before there were permanent magic markers
to “beautify” your walls,
there were frescos.

In the centuries since its completion in 1512,
the magnificent images in the poorly lit chapel were illuminated by millions of candles
which eventually layered the ceiling with soot and smoke
until the frescos were a shadow of their original splendor.

A 14 year restoration process began in 1980.

Standing on scaffolding nine stories above the floor,  
experts painstakingly restored
 the 6,135-square-foot ceiling of frescos
to its original glory.

Look at the difference!

(before)

(after)
(Wikipedia photographs)

God created me to be a reflection of who he is,
but years of worshiping false gods, even being my own god,
layered soot and sin on me so thick my original design was unrecognizable. 

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Waiting Together, Hope and Healing for Families of Prisoners

It’s Independence Day weekend,
when we celebrate the freedom we enjoy every day.

Most of us will spend time with family or friends –
on the boat, on the deck, at the parade …
at least that’s my plan.

It’s the freedom I have that makes me want to
share a great book with you this week!

My friend, Carol Kent
has just released a new devotional for families of prisoners.

If you don’t know Carol’s story about her son Jason’s incarceration,
check it out here.

This collection of 90 devotionals is called
Waiting Together, Hope and Healing for Families of Prisoners.

Each devotional starts with an inspirational quote you can hang onto,
followed by a personal story that addresses the
challenges families face when someone they love is incarcerated.
The devotionals conclude with words of wisdom and/or encouragement and
wrap everything up with a summary of selected scriptures that
anyone can understand.

The stories are heartfelt and heart-breaking.
I have to believe this book will be a comfort and encouragement
if you have a family member in prison.

Even though my story does not include a family member in prison,
I found
Waiting Together, Hope and Healing for Families of Prisoners
to be compassionate and honest.
There’s a part of me that is so thankful this isn’t my story, but
after reading
Waiting Together, Hope and Healing for Families of Prisoners,
I’m better equipped to minister to and support these hurting families.

I admire Carol for her willingness to continue to carry on the conversation
about her family’s ongoing trial for the benefit of others with
fewer resources and little support.

Maybe you don’t have a family member in prison,
but maybe you know someone who does.

Share
Waiting Together, Hope and Healing for Families of Prisoners
with them.

Turning Tomorrow into Today

Tomorrow.
What a lovely word.
Full of promise and opportunity.

I live in an old farm house with closets the size of your refrigerator.
Consequently, I only have room for in-season clothes.
Off-season clothing hibernates in the basement. 
Last weekend, I switched out the winter layers for summer outfits. 

And I discovered a problem!

My capris and skirts and shorts were TIGHT!

The obvious solution is to shed a few pounds so that
my summer clothes will fit comfortably again.

How hard can it be? 

Then I remember we have company coming for dinner and
it would be rude to serve them rabbit food and no dessert.

I’ll start my weight modification plan … tomorrow.

The next day I remember I’m invited to an Open House
and there will all kinds of delicacies I’ll want to sample in large quantities.

I’ll start my weight modification plan … tomorrow.

The same thing happens with 
my book writing and 
my house cleaning and
my thank you notes and
my reading list and
my Bible study and 
my … 
Well, you get the idea.

Maybe you do the same thing.

Tomorrow …
I’ll start my diet.

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God’s Surprising Solutions to Prayer

From my home office, I could hear the racket.

Loud, clunking arrhythmic noises were coming from something big and mechanical.
At first, I thought the washing machine was out of balance
and trying to walk out of the basement again.
I quickly discovered the central air conditioning unit was the source of the noise.

Oh no!

It was 90 degrees outside and summer was just getting started.
I shut it off and called the repair man to look at it.
 

His assessment?

“Call a salesman. You need a new unit,” he told me.
“There’s no way to fix this one?” I ask hopefully.
“This unit is 20 years old. It’s served you well. Let it die in peace.”
“I see. Well, can you estimate what it would cost to replace?”
Without a moment of hesitation, he said, 
“I’d guess close to $3000.00.”

I nearly fainted and not from the heat!

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Small Beginnings Lead to Big Victories!

 

Yesterday, the bathrooms had to be scrubbed.
Tomorrow is laundry day so tomorrow night is dedicated to ironing.
Mr. 4-Ever wants to eat again today,
which means grocery shopping and more cooking.

Just to be clear,
this is not how I prefer to spend my days.

I want to pray, study, and worship God.
I want to teach Bible study to women who love and/or need Jesus.
I want to write great talks to deliver to women desperate for Good News.
I want to create captivating books for women to read
so they can be inspired and energized and reengage with God.

But here I am …
cooking, cleaning, and ironing.

Doing the ordinary stuff.
Doing the boring stuff.
Doing the familiar stuff.

There’s a little verse in Zechariah 4:10 that says,
“Do not despise these small beginnings,
for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin,
to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

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You Are What You Choose

I don’t know about you, but often,
when I return home from a
retreat, vacation or work related trip, 

my house looks as if the maid was on vacation –

because she was!  

Dishes in the sink, pizza boxes piled on the counter, 
trash overflowing, and stuff everywhere.
And the children?  
Don’t even ask!

Reentry can be tough.

When I go away for a time of refreshment specifically to hear from God, 
I am often convicted inspired to change everything that is wrong with me.

Do you do that?

I crazily believe it’s possible to have a daily hour-long quiet time
in my (as yet to be built) private prayer closet.

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My Hubby’s Response Stopped Me In My Tracks

 

As usual, I was in a rush. 

I seem to have 2 speeds: asleep and hurry.

I was late getting home, and
in my flurry to get into the house to start dinner,
I shoved open my car door with too much enthusiasm.
It clunked into the lawn mower handle.

Thud.

A long, angry, black mark scarred the car door.

CRUD!
How was I going to explain this to Mr. 4-Ever?  

I had already wrecked the car twice since we’d been married. 
Now every time I say, “Honey, I need to talk to you,”
he jokingly responds,
“Robyn, did you wreck the car again?”

 There was no getting around it,
I’d just have to fess up.
 

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Skipping Mother’s Day

I miss my mom even though
it’s been nearly two decades since she died.

Time has mitigated the intense pain of the loss
but Mother’s Day is a sharp reminder of her earthly departure.

I miss her touch, her laugh, the smell of her perfume and
the way her hands enhanced every conversation. 

She never cooked or gardened or scrap-booked,
 but she taught me how to solve problems,
contend for big dreams, and
be kind to others.

She was my lifeline when I was discouraged and
my anchor when I was successful. 

She held me close when I was small and
she let me go when I was grown.

Now that she is gone, the very presence of her absence
is a constant reminder of how much I miss my mom.

Mother’s Day is right around the corner.
Everywhere you turn, there are reminders of it.
It’s a $20 billion holiday!

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Say Yes to Less!

You ever eat at one of those swanky fondue restaurants?

Mr. 4-Ever and I got to try one recently.
What a treat!

The hostess led us through a labyrinth of cubbies and cozy booths to our own intimate table.

First, a bowl of melted cheese was placed on the hot plate in the center of our table.
A tray with a variety of bread cubes and small pieces of fruit was delivered
along with those long pronged forks.

Yum.

A salad bursting with flavor appeared next.
You have to eat the greens to offset the barrel of cheese you just ate, right?

Next a pot of hot seasoned oil replaced the empty bowl of melted cheese and
a tray of raw meat and seafood was placed on the table.

One tiny bit at a time, we got full, but we didn’t stop
because the bites were so small, 

we could easily fit one more tidbit in.
And it was all SO GOOD!

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Letting Go Of Perfection … Again

Blog perfectionism

There is something about holidays that brings out my crazy.

Our church has a gathering after the Easter services to greet guests and visit with other members.  We all bring a plate or two of hors d’oeuvres to share and I always bring my
(practically famous in my small church)
deviled eggs. 

However, as fate would have it, my boiled eggs did not want cooperate with me.  The shells stuck to the egg white like they’d been super-glued. Big hunks of egg came off with the shells leaving me with the ugliest looking things I’d seen since I tried to cut my own hair.

I looked at those pitiful eggs and had a decision to make.
Take ugly eggs to church or take nothing.

The voice in my head chided
You can’t take those!
They look awful!
No one will eat them.
They aren’t worth taking.
Maybe you should stay home if that’s the best you can do.

I have learned to recognize the
lies my enemy uses to try to defeat me.

I put on the armor of God because

This. Is. War. 

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