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Dressed all fancy and standing tall among her peers, the white lace seemed a little much for one of such questionable background. Apparently someone thought highly of her and gave her a rather royal name. It changed the way she thought of herself and others.  There was a time when shame was her clothing, uncertainty her mindset.

But no more.

Now she thrives in the lowliest places, especially amongst the common. Living just to brighten the world around her, she asks for nothing in return. Lifting her face toward heaven she stands confident that the One Who made her would also provide.

And He does.

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“So don’t worry about these things saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously and He will give you everything you need.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Queen Ann’s Lace: What a commoner!

Yet there she stands like royalty, beautifully dressed by her Creator. She wisely whispers to all who will hear.

“If God so sweetly cares for me, won’t He surely take care of you who are made in His image?”

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Some guys we love are planting a church, so we asked what we could pray about.

“Wisdom!” was the collective reply.

So many decisions, changes, and responsibilities.

Sometimes life is downright exciting slash terrifying. As we were raising our children my go-to prayer became the one in Colossians 1:9-11.

Wow. What a prayer!

In one fell swoop it covers all things needed. Endurance and patience are tossed in for good measure. Sounds like a good request whether raising children, planting a church, sending kids to college, or just living a life that honors the Lord.

Currently I find myself in a season of not knowing what to pray. Many things in my life feel “undone.” Have you ever been there?

Maybe that’s why the Lord reminded me again of my go-to prayer.

In light of that, here’s a picture of one of our finer moments. We are totally rockin’ the big hair and mega-stache. David kept that no-nonsense look in his eyes for all the guys coming around our house.

The Christmas tree behind us was tied to the stair railing because it kept falling over. That’s a little disconcerting in the middle of the night.fam 90s

Thankfully the God Who answered my prayers way back when we were so stylish is still faithful.

So if you’re wondering what to pray today, here’s a great “go-to” prayer:

“We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.

AMEN!

A Perfect Gift

She had a little sparkle about her. As I searched the consignment shop for something with the name of the town on it, we ended up in the same corner. The old general store where I used to go as a kid for homemade doughnuts is situated at a NC crossroad near Lake Norman. It also used to carry mugs and cookbooks with the town name.

But not anymore.

It’s been turned into one of those places filled with antiques and artsy stuff. But oh how I long for the doughnuts! Some lady of yesteryear used to fry those things up hot and fresh and deliver them on Saturdays for anyone blessed enough to get there before they were gone. All yeasty with just a hint of cinnamon and a light sugary glaze, it is with great reverence that I admit loving them better than Krispy Kreme.

I know.

Borderline blasphemy.

I asked the guy running the store if he had any idea where to get the doughnuts of yesteryear.

“People come in here all the time wanting them, sometimes driving for miles. I always hate to tell folks I don’t have any idea who the lady was or if she’s even still alive, much less making doughnuts.”

Sadly I made my way to the far corner looking for a gift. I spotted a box of notecards. Because I tend to think everyone wants to know the details of my very exciting life, I shared with the lady there my joy in finding the cards.artist2

“They’re perfect! There’s a painting of this same general store, just the way it looked back in the day, with Terrell’s Country Store right across the front! You see, my friends’ last name is Terrell and it’s their anniversary. I was beginning to think I wasn’t going to find anything.” I rambled on with the patient lady. When I finally came up for air, she said softly, “I’m glad you like them. I did that painting. I added the sign to point to all the towns nearby. I thought it would be a nice touch.”

“You painted this? Wow! I love it!” I felt humbled to be in the presence of the actual artist. She seemed a little embarrassed when I asked for her autograph. As I looked around her booth at her beautiful work, she and her husband were warm and friendly. She mentioned in passing that she is a five time cancer survivor and still paints.

Five times. I cannot begin to comprehend all that entailed.

Without knowing it she really encouraged me. I guess everyone questions at times, if they’re making any difference at all. Next time that enters my thinking, I plan to remember the lady with the sparkle who didn’t give up. Someone needs what we have to offer. Even if it seems insignificant to us, to them it might be the perfect gift.

And man!  Even though I never met or had a chance to thank the doughnut lady, I sure do miss her!artist

Atlantic Beach Pie

My friend Ann and I make fun of another mutual friend who will take a recipe and substitute so many things in place of the original that it becomes an entirely new dish. The friend who shall remain nameless lest I get myself in a jam cooks like this:

“I didn’t have cream cheese so I used cheddar. I replaced the bread crumbs with crackers. I don’t care for beef so I substituted chicken. I was out of potatoes so I just threw in some carrots. It called for a round casserole dish but I used a brownie pan. My oven wasn’t working so I cooked it in the microwave. Oh dear! I have no idea why it didn’t turn out like yours!”

Chef Bill Smith shared this recipe for Atlantic Beach Pie in the May 2014 issue of Our State magazine. It is truly wonderful. According to Bill, it was considered absolute truth in the 50’s that if you consumed dessert after a meal of seafood, you would surely keel over. One exception: Lemon pie. So after some research including a church cookbook, memory, and a few phone calls, the result is his wonderful Atlantic Beach Pie.

Oh. My. Goodness!

The crust made of salty crackers makes the difference. However, when I started typing the recipe to share with you, I realized I have become the person I described above. So listed first is how a professional does things. Or click here for the original article.  In the parentheses is what I did. Either way, you are going to love this pie!

Crust:

  • 1 ½ sleeves of saltine crackers [I use Townhouse because I’m a delicate flower and cannot have cottonseed oil]
  • 1/3 to ½ c. softened unsalted butter [I use ½ c. which is one stick & I don’t care that it’s salted]
  • 3 Tablespoons of sugar [I don’t add this because I keep forgetting]

Filling:

  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk [like Eagle Brand but I use Aldi brand]
  • 4 egg yolks [save the whites for tomorrow’s omelet; set them on top of your egg carton in the fridge so you don’t forget you have them]
  • ½ c. lemon or lime juice or a mix of the two [So far I’ve only used lemon because I had no limes]

Topping:

  • Fresh whipped cream [Yes! Like in the carton and whip it yourself. Do not insult this pie with Cool Whip]
  • Coarse sea salt [I used coarse kosher salt because that’s what I had]

 

Preheat oven to 350. Crush the crackers into small coarse crumbs by hand in a large freezer bag. Add sugar if you remember it. Thrice I have forgotten it with no adverse consequences. Add softened butter to bag of crumbs and toss together. Just be sure your butter isn’t hot. Pour into a deep pie pan. Press to make the crust. Don’t worry if it’s a little loose. It will firm up enough when you bake it. Chef Bill says to chill crust for 15 minutes but I forgot that too. Obviously I cannot be trusted.

 

Bake for 18 minutes or until the crust is a little toasty. When you remove the pie crust from the oven, place on a rack or an inverted muffin pan so that it starts to cool.

 

In the meantime, beat the egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk together. Add lemon juice and beat. Be sure these three ingredients are well combined. Pour into the shell and bake for 16 minutes until set. Chill until cold or it won’t slice well. Top with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of salt. Thanks Chef Bill and please forgive my tinkering. It was necessary because I cannot leave well enough alone.

 

PS:

Readers please also forgive my double standard as you will notice that I deemed it acceptable to change Chef Bill’s recipe even though I advised others not to insult the pie by exchanging real whipping cream with Cool Whip.

 

It’s true.

 

I am a hypocrite.

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The cream is important because, like love, it covers a multitude of  imperfections. Sorry there’s no picture of the completed pie with cream.

I forgot that too.

Perhaps I should quit making fun of people.

 

Wonders

His eyes were wide with wonder as he held the treasure. Placing it to his ear as he was told, his big blue eyes got even bigger.

“It’s the ocean! I can totally hear it!” his little face seemed to say.

He turned the large shell over and looked for an on/off button. Shaking it a little as if looking for the battery pack, he held it to his ear again and smiled.shell

Robert Louis Stevenson said, “The world is so full of a number of things. I’m sure we should all be happy as kings!”

At the risk of sounding like a Geico commercial, did you know that kangaroos and emus each have a difficult time moving backward? That is why they both appear on Australia’s coat of arms symbolizing forward movement and progress.*

We find the same wisdom expressed in Philippians 3:13: “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those which are ahead.”

Yep. The world and the Word contain wonderful treasures yet to be discovered. So let’s look with wonder, and listen with joy. We never know when the ocean will roar, an emu will come running by or God will speak in a still small voice. There’s so much left to be learned and enjoyed.

“O Lord my God, You have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.” –Psalm 40:5

 

 

 

*[Thanks Bill Crowder for the Emu info, June 1, 2014, Our Daily Bread; Who knew?!]

What It Was

Their costumes were colorful, unlike anything I’d ever seen. Some wore cheerful wigs which resembled blue cotton candy. There was catchy music and more than once a certain Samba replayed in my head. Superman and Wonder Woman sat together apparently off duty at the moment, rejoicing like mere humans. Faces of ordinary folks were painted and flags were draped over shoulders to express one’s loyalty. The air was electric with joyful anticipation. Just attending the event invoked singing and dancing and bonding with strangers.soccer 2

Commentators used phrases like “lovely pass” to commend an action and “chums” to designate team mates. Cards in bright colors were handed out for naughtiness. There was kissing and hugging and rolling in the grass. However this behavior was neither naughty nor frowned upon but perfectly acceptable and even expected.

As the contest continued arms dangled heavily as though devoid of use, unless of course one was attired in a blouse of contrasting color to one’s chums. In that case, the excessive use of arms and hands was joyfully celebrated.  Loud whistles from opposing spectators indicated displeasure.soccer-fifa-world-cup-2014

Occasionally random contestants would hurl themselves to the ground for no apparent reason and writhe in seemingly horrible pain. Once they were down for a sufficient amount of time, up they would pop with no ill effect. Occasionally a gang of stout fellows would run to the aid of the afflicted, placing them in large orange containers. It seems this mode of transportation was reserved for the actual wounded as opposed to the pretend wounded. With apparent omniscience, they could clearly tell the difference.gurney2

A timer displayed minutes but it was irrelevant. Rather than counting down to the minutes left in the contest, the incorrect clock counted upwards to a particular time known only to those familiar with the festivity. Members continued on, though time ticked upward and past the pre-ordained end. Apparently a mystery clock reigned elsewhere. Someone with true understanding of wasted minutes, probably of noble birth, exercised power and wisdom as he called for stoppage of the festivities once the proper time had lapsed. At the end of the event grown men peeled sweat soaked shirts from their bodies and presented them to one another as gifts to commemorate the special occasion.

In the immortal words of North Carolina’s favorite son, Andy Griffith, “What it was, was football!”

Make that fútbol!

One diligent fan commented, “Some people say soccer’s a matter of life or death, but it isn’t. It’s much more important than that.”

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As a fan of American football, I am counting down the days to pre-season [which by the way begins with the Hall of Fame game on August 3.]

But I have to say… this whole soccer thing might just catch on.

Olé Olé Olé Olé!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had just started visiting a new church when our landlord informed us that he sold our little house. I’d actually been praying for the sale because I was kinda losing my mind with the marketing process. You can imagine how it is to have folks walk through, checking out the kitchen, peering in the closets and such. With a two year old and a new baby I could hardly stay on top of things.

Major. Understatement.

So David got brave and asked for prayer during a Wednesday night meeting. I cringed inside wondering what the nice people would think of us irresponsible kids with two kids of our own and nowhere to live in approximately one week.

After church a lady approached asking if we’d be interested in a house near her. She would get in touch with the owner to see if he had rented it yet. A short while later she was scrubbing my new bathroom with the fervor of a woman possessed. When the pink tile sparkled to her liking she joined me in the kitchen. We quickly bonded as we scraped the motorcycle grease left by the former tenant from the green linoleum floors. Seems he thought the best place to repair his ride was inside the house. Later that week her husband grilled steaks for us to celebrate the Fourth of July. Suddenly our little displaced family was home.

Though she was just a few years ahead of me in age, she was light years beyond me in wisdom. Gently she guided and cared for us for the next five years until we bought our first house and moved across town. Four more houses and twenty-nine years later we received an invitation to her and Richard’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. The hostess invited anyone there to take the mic and share something about the happy couple.

No. Way.

But how could I not?

Well I didn’t… simply because the sweetness of our friendship would’ve leaked from my eye sockets. Nobody wants to see all that. But if I had spoken, this is what I hope would’ve come out.

To my knowledge my husband has only had a pet name for one woman besides me. He calls her “JT.” I do not even mind because it is her.  What a mentor she was to me as a young mother. I think she probably saved my sanity and perhaps the life of a child or two, especially when daughter number three came along.JT

Very few people understand the art of mentoring without preaching. Oh the things I learned by watching her everyday life. Beside her phone was posted a notecard with the verse, “Set a watch over my mouth O Lord, and keep the door of my lips.”

Dear Lord! How many times we saw Your love and care through this kind neighbor. Strengthen us too as we reach out to those around us. May our Godly example instruct better than any words… like my beautiful friend JT.

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