A cup of green tea and my Bible accompany me to the swing on my screened-in porch. The humid July day requires the ceiling fans to be pushing the small amount of cool air available for a few hours. The furnishings remind me of people in our past who have blessed our lives and to pray for them.
The black wrought iron table and chairs were on my in-law’s porch the 11 years they lived near us – just off Shekinah Lane. The overflow of relatives sat at this table for many family gatherings. So this set reminds me to pray for family. Also, on the table is a twig man made by talented neighbor – bless her Lord.
The “Do not Pee from the Porch” sign brings a chuckle of a Sunday School class Christmas party. The sign was transferred around through a White Elephant game. We won it. Dear friends sharing the celebration of Christmas with fun times. Bless them Lord. Also, my grandson who the sign applied to when he was younger.
A wood plant stand was made by a boy at Teen Ranch in Michigan causing memories of our “boys” who are now men – praying the short time they lived at the ranch they were exposed to the Gospel in flesh patterned by staff who loved them in the Lord.
A plaque from my daughter-in-law encourages “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” She is going through a time of physical pain and can use this thought and my prayers.
Plants thriving in the heat of summer – one from former co-worker, another a gift from a neighbor when my husband had surgery. These plants have grown, been divided and are flourishing. May my prayers increase the blessings for my friends.
Tall table for a view
A tall table and three chairs make our mountain view easier to see – a gift from neighbors who are struggling now with major surgery. Please heal and restore Lord.
Wicker chairs from a new friend look so elegant on our porch. Bless my friend as she helps me finish my book, Shekinah Lane, to be printed soon.
Can’t help but think of my economical husband who did not want me to purchase furniture for the porch. Did he know, or did God know that I needed these gifts to help me appreciate family and friends, and pray for them in my quiet time on the porch?
Zephaniah 3:17 New King James Version (NKJV)
17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
During a recent bout with laryngitis I was reminded of the number of words a woman uses daily versus the number a man uses. Louann Brizendine who wrote The Female Brain concluded that women use 20,000 words per day while men use 7,000. More recent studies do not agree with his findings. But in my house, it is so true.
Only able to whisper for four days was frustrating enough but when your husband is hard of hearing and especially cannot hear a whisper, it was double exasperation. I wrote him notes to communicate. At one point even resorted to charades to get him to “listen” to me.
When John returned from an appointment I was waiting for him to tell me what the doctor said. He conveniently handed me a hand written note from the doctor (she is female) telling me how she changed his medications. Since I usually accompany him to visits she knew I would be interested in new information.
At lunch in a restaurant, I tried to get John to talk to me by motion with my fingers. He said, “I don’t have anything to talk about.” Do you see why I agree about the number of words a man speaks in a day? I could have talked all during lunch.
Thankfully during this quiet time, I was reminded of my recent commitment to “be positive in my attitude and speech toward my husband and family.” Since I had to either whisper, write a note or act out my desired communication, it gave me time to think instead of just react. Many times I just say what comes to my mind instead of filtering it through a desire to be positive and concerned how it will be accepted by the recipient.
Possibly my heavenly Father was helping me keep my commitment. Ok, Lord, help me think before I speak and please help me be able to converse above a whisper soon.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Culinary masterpieces flashed on the TV screen in the foyer of the church of cakes from last year’s dessert auction to benefit our church camp for children, Canal Lake Bible Camp. Just before Sunday School, our resident baker, Rodney, showed me a picture on his phone of his wife’s lemon cake made for the auction for this year. It was drop dead gorgeous.
He described the icing and the filling between each layer.
He also proclaimed there was already a bid of $250 for Glenda’s cake.
Rodney also shared a picture of his cake made for the event which was equally stunning.
Why did I agree to make a dessert? I don’t bake beautiful cakes. Sure they taste good and my family thinks I make the best carrot cake ever but they did not need another carrot cake for the auction so I agreed to make a cheese cake.
Returning home after church, I opened the frig to check on my blueberry topping for the cheesecake I prepared for the auction. Cooked the night before, it was not very firm but tasted so good and would surely get thicker when cooled and would hopefully make my cheesecake at least look edible.
The blueberry topping had not thickened.
After lunch, my husband noticed that I seemed a little down. I told him, “I just don’t feel good enough. I missed a few words in choir today, I’m overweight and what did they talk about in Sunday School but fasting!”
He just sat there and did not say a word.
“Well, tell me what to do. Why do I feel so insecure and inadequate? And, oh yeah my blueberry topping is not thick. What will I do? There is only a little time before the auction tonight. Oh, well my lasagna will be good for the potluck.”
You know the feeling or the disease we women have– the compare and compete syndrome. We just don’t every seem to measure up to her or in this matter him………………..whatever!
Thankfully there were more blueberries in the freezer to repair my syrup. Nicely thickened the blueberry topping was placed on my cheesecake and we headed out for the potluck dinner at church with dessert auction to follow.
Our learner’s permit grandson, Cameron, drove to church with his Papaw John sitting beside him. I sat in the back holding my dessert hoping it would make the trip. Cameron’s friend Bryan helped me when we went around some curves and I had to balance the plate.
When we arrived John and Cameron took the lasagna dish to the pot luck table. Bryan went with me to the church kitchen to help me remove the spring form ring from the pan.
The glass serving dish was prepared with white valentine shaped hearts and I proceeded to transfer the cheese cake.
“Oh, no, how do I remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake?” I asked as Bryan looked puzzled.
It had to be done, I lifted the cheesecake and Bryan pulled the parchment paper out and just as the transfer was almost complete the cake split in half in my hands. I pushed it onto the plate and pressed it together. “Oh well, it will taste good even if it doesn’t look that great.”
Walking into the gathering with the good side of the cheesecake showing, I placed it on the nearest table among the works of art wishing no one would know it was mine. Then don’t you know someone placed a little card on it with my name!
The pot luck was delicious as usual. Pastor Jeff and his wife Sarah shared some highlights of camp last year and how many children were impacted with the Gospel.
Our congregation enjoys participating in the auction. Several people pool their funds and bid on their favorite dessert. The first few bids were for “pick your own cake.” The bids soared to $850.
Our table chose the next “pick your own cake” and won the bid. We selected the delectable lemon cake made by Rodney’s wife. It tasted as good as it looked.
Then the moment of truth – as I sliced the lemon cake our table purchased for $500 – I heard, “This classic cheesecake made by Pat Strickland – who will give $50?”
My husband looked at me and saw my desperation, “please bid on my cheesecake.”
He bid $50 and amazingly the bids proceeded and it was sold for $250. Yes, I was not a complete failure.
And don’t you know my thought was, “Someone heard me complaining that my cheesecake split in half when I placed it on the serving plate. They felt sorry for me and purchased it.”
We just can’t quit can we! Praise the Lord my feeble efforts to prepare a dessert presentable enough to earn money for the camp succeeded in raising a good donation.
The total raised that night was over $12,000. Thanks to the generosity of our congregation and the fundraising of youth our church camp is offered to children free of charge.
Lord, please help me to be thankful for the success of the event and not compare my efforts to that of others.
2 Corinthians 8:12New International Version (NIV)
12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has,not according to what one does not have.
2 Corinthians 10:12New International Version (NIV)
12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
Thirteen hungry boys (if you count my husband as a boy) sat around the dark eight foot table in anticipation of dinner.
My husband and I were serving as house parents at Teen Ranch in Marlette, Michigan.
Ten ranch boys, our two sons and my husband John savored the aroma of fresh crust, oregano, tomato sauce, garlic, ground beef and pepperoni as they ate their salads.
It was my first attempt at making homemade pizza. Sure I had used packaged mixes to make crust. But this was really from scratch – yeast and all. The dough rose and even smelled good at that stage. Preparing enough pizzas for fourteen people was a challenge. I doubled the recipe to make enough pizzas.
The recipe was obtained from a seasoned ranch cook. Cindy Smith was so good to share her pizza recipe with me. I scribbled the recipe down on a piece of paper and placed in my purse. A few weeks later I tried to decipher the recipe that was crumpled up but survived that much time. By the appearance and smell of the dough baking, it must be a success.
Two large pizzas were placed on the four foot lazy susan of the eight foot dark table and the guys began to move the turn table slowly (this was the rule) so that each boy would have his turn in sliding a piece of the delectable pie on his plate.
Jim was the first to dig in. He took a large bite and said, “Yuk!”
I was shocked and said, “What’s wrong?”
He said, “It is sweet!”
Several more boys agreed with Jim’s verdict. But they were so hungry, they ate their fill.
Sure enough the dough was sweet. I checked my recipe again and found that I had used two tablespoons of sugar instead of two teaspoons of sugar. Never made that mistake again.
Over the years, whole wheat flour was added to my pizza recipe to give it a different texture and also to be a little healthier. Wish I had known that at the ranch – you just can’t eat as much of the whole wheat pizza – it is more filling.
While I learned to make pizza, bread and pies large enough for fourteen, the ranch boys learned to drink sweet tea, and eat southern – like pinto beans and cornbread.
This is one of the many memories that will be shared in our book Shekinah Lane to be published next year. Our ten years at Teen Ranch were some of the most memorable and rewarding times of our lives.
Here’s the recipe for six pizzas (I doubled for the ranch, now half for us):
Dissolve: 4 pkg. yeast in 1 c. warm water and 1 tsp. sugar
Mix together – 8 c. flour (I use plain flour and about 2-3 c. whole wheat flour), 2 c. water, 1 c. oil, and 2 tsp. salt
Add yeast mixture, knead (I knead in my Kitchen Aid Mixer), shape on pans or let rise:
The dough will be soft. It is best to grease your hands with shortening and spread out to thickness you desire on cookie sheets, or pizza pans. I also use Pampered Chef stones which makes a crisp crust.
You can use marinara sauce – I make my own with tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and other Italian spices. Place sauce on pies, then mozzarella cheese, your choice of toppings and bake in very hot oven 450 – 500.
She reached up, grabbed him and dug her long fingernails into his arm until blood squirted out. He responded by hitting her in the jaw, knocking her out. John had taken out his seventh grade teacher at Park Street Elementary, Ms. Chapman, but she wasn’t the true target.
During recess, John’s team won at softball. As the whistle blew to return to school, he was walking back with Ms. Chapman close by. The captain of the other team pushed John: “Get out of my way you ____ (and expressed an expletive that insulted John’s mom).” Fireball John didn’t think twice about retaliating by punching the boy and Ms. Chapman unfortunately intervened at her own peril.
John observed his teacher for a few minutes to make sure she was okay. Upon awakening, she pointed to the principal’s office in exasperation. “Go.”
The principal’s office was not unfamiliar territory for John. Ms. Principal said, “What happened now John?” He told her, “I hit Ms. Chapman.” Then he told her why.
She said, “Go home you are expelled.” She noticed the blood on his arm but said it had stopped bleeding and he was ok.
When John sauntered home. His dad was there and wiped his arm off. After hearing John’s story he said, “Get in the car, we are going back to school.” John never saw his dad so angry.
Dad marched into the principal’s office with John close behind him. He told the principal “This kid has been a lot of trouble but he told me what happened and he is not a liar and I believe him. Regardless of what happened the teacher had no right to grab him and draw blood and you are not going to kick him out for the rest of the year.”
She thought for it a little bit and said “Ok, we will give him in-school suspension.” Dad agreed.
The outer office is where John stayed the rest of the school year.
That is where he developed a love of reading because that is the only thing he could do to make the time pass faster.
As a result, John failed seventh grade. He only spent seventeen days in the classroom.
Only God knew how the angry and impulsive boy would become a sensitive, compassionate man who would counsel and minister to many. John has served as a youth minister, minister and counselor and therapist on a boy’s ranch.
This incident in my husband’s life is the introduction to his life story as found in our book “Shekinah Dwellers” (coming soon). John likes to quote the scripture below to demonstrate the power of God in changing a person.
1 Corinthians 1:25-27 New International Version (NIV)
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
Classmates at John’s high school reunions were shocked to find out that John became a minister.
Many also confirm the stories he has shared about how he never started a fight but never failed to protect the underdog and finish many altercations.
If you have a scrapper in your family or if you have an anger problem yourself, don’t give up. God can change a heart and mold it to confirm to his image. God is in the business of changing foolish scrappers to wise servants.
COMPELtip#vibrant verbs invigorate your writing, graphics add interest, first sentence should spark interest
“I love my phone.” “I hate my phone.” How can one be so fickle? When you upgrade to a new cell phone it is easy!
After using an android smart phone for several years, I upgraded to a newer version. At the same time my husband changed from a flip phone with no data plan to an android. I convinced him it was time to join the “smart phone” generation.
My son and his family were at our house for Sunday dinner and we were all trying to help Papaw with his phone. His new phone has a speaking capability and you must use the words exactly to activate the service. He needs to say, “OK Google now,” wait for the beep and then give a command. He was frustrated trying to remember the exact words and shouted, “Go Google.” We all exploded with laughter.
Today we went to the store and the lovely, patient sales lady gave him more lessons in using his new phone. He is making progress – he has fourteen days to make a decision about joining the “smart phone” generation.
It is amazing how the cell phone can pull up contacts and make a call or access your calendar or information on the internet with just saying, “Go Google Now” and then making your request. It even tells you who is calling and asks if you want to talk or send back a text message. Amazing stuff.
Aren’t you glad we don’t need a smart phone or APP to contact God. He is always available even without Wi-Fi. Not necessary to remember a password or pay for a data plan. We don’t need to pay for an upgrade because he is constantly transforming us.
Jesus answered, “Iamtheway and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
The data plan is unlimited
11 In him we were also chosen,[e]having been predestinedaccording to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purposeof his will,12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.13 And you also were included in Christwhen you heard the message of truth,the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal,the promised Holy Spirit,14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritanceuntil the redemptionof those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
and the upgrade is Glory.
2 Corinthians 3:18(NIV)
18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.