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Special occasions call for special attention.

Way back in the 1960’s grocery stores commonly had promotions to get you to buy your groceries at their establishment.  They gave away “Green Stamps” for each dollar you spent and these were usually pasted into stamp books which after saving up enough could be redeemed at designated stores that had catalogs from which you could choose whatever merchandise you wanted.  This was a great way to get the kids to help.  Give them a sponge to wet the stamps and press into the books and let the fun begin.

Grocery stores also gave away or sold at a small cost, cookware or dish sets with a certain dollar amount of purchased groceries.   This was how my mother obtained her set of china.  I don’t remember how long it took but with each weekly purchase she would bring home a piece of china to add to her set.  The pattern was “Blue Garland” by Haviland and it had dainty blue flowers with silver trim.

Mom collected her china until she had eight full place settings which included dinner plates, salad plates, soup bowls, cups and saucers, serving pieces, and a coffee pot with sugar and creamer.  I don’t know if she quit collecting them because she had all she wanted or if they finally stopped offering them and moved on to some other promotion, but she had her set and carefully packed them away for safe keeping.

Mind you, we were not fancy people.  We lived in a trailer on my grandparent’s farm and family dinners were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  We used paper plates and cups because the crowd was so big and who wants to spend the afternoon doing all those dishes? Those holiday dinners were filled with laughter and fun and delicious food that would have tasted good served on anything! I miss those large family dinners with the paper plates and TV trays.

Over the years, the china was loaned out to friends for their own special occasions but I don’t ever remember it being used by our family, and after a while I forgot about it until years later when my parents downsized and the set was offered to me. I was happy to receive it.  It was very special but not so special I wasn’t ever going to put it to use!  I enjoy using the dishes at least once a year and not only does it remind me of Mom, but it reminds me that it’s nice to bring out the best for the best!

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This kind of special treatment doesn’t signify love as much as it shows honor.  The kind of honor that says “I love you and I want you to know I want the best for you. Thank you!” Isn’t that how it is in our relationship with God?  We trust Him and thank Him, and want to give Him the best and do our best in honor and love.  Sometimes we make sacrifices for those we love, not like burnt offerings, but the kind that of sacrifice that involves a giving of ourselves and our time.  Like lovingly washing and drying those special china pieces by hand, and storing them away for the next opportunity of honor.

Love each other.  Honor each other.

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We enjoy a lot of freedom in this world.

 

It is our choices... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. - J. K. Rowling

 

We can choose how we live by making choices that set the ball rolling to achieve our goals…or not.  That “or not” is also a choice.

We can choose our emotions and how we will react to the things that happen in life; the words said that sting and hurt, the seeming unfairness of the way life has a habit of going its own way…God’s way instead of our way, the actions of others who will not acquiesce to our plans, and the injustice of those who get away with far more than they should without consequence.

We can choose our mate and when to let them into our heart forever.

We can choose our words, or whether to say anything in any given situation.

We can choose how we treat people. We can treat them with respect, forgiveness, compassion and decency, like Jesus, or we can treat them with disdain, distrust, abuse and hatred, like the world would have us.  God gives us the choice.

 

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When we first believe, God changes us from the inside out but if we do not make the choice to act upon those changes, we will stagnate right where we are and wonder why nothing is happening.  We pray for years for God to change our hearts so we can see people as He does and love them as He does, not realizing that He already has, but we haven’t made the choice to put that change into action!

Making a choice is as simple as a prayer seeking God’s will and the willingness to put ourselves out there to be His hands, feet, and heart in service to our fellow man with a reverence for God that honors His Will over our rights.  Even then, it takes time.

I’m so thankful for God’s patience.

 

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 And He said to him, “‘You shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  Matthew 22:37-39

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Lately I’ve been having trouble sleeping.

For the last two weeks I’ve been waking up around 3:30 AM and having to get out of bed to go to the restroom.  I try not to because I know I’ll not go back to sleep, especially since the alarm is set for 4:05 anyway.  So I’d lie in bed stewing.

Every day I complained about having to get up a half hour before an already outrageously early wake up call.  I don’t have to be at work until 6:00 but I don’t like rushing around in the morning, and I like spending time with the Lord and doing devotional time in the morning because after work I’m too tired to focus properly, and it is a much needed down time. Sometimes I fall asleep.

But lately for various reasons, it seems like I can’t get enough done in the time before work to feel like I’ve properly honored God; the dog is having stomach issues and needs a longer walk, I need to finish something I started the previous evening, I need to prepare something for work, take out something to thaw, or I’m searching for something I need to take with me.  It’s been a mad dash to get out on time.

A few days ago as I was lying in bed waiting for the alarm to buzz and feeling aggravated once again at the inhumanity of it all, the Holy Spirit pressed a thought upon my mind.

“Why don’t you use this extra time to pray?”

Wow.

I can pray before my feet even hit the floor! It was a simple but sweet message from the Lord.

And so it goes.

 

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Stewardship:  the job of supervising or taking care of something, such as an organization or property.

I looked this word up because I want to be a good steward of the resources and gifts that God entrusts and blesses to me.  The more He gives, the more responsibility we have to use and take care for His good intentions.  What an honor!

In 1999, we inherited my Mother-In-Law’s 1992 Toyota Corolla.  I drove that car around town for another 15 years and it had about 120,000 miles on it when we finally sold it and bought a two year old Kia Soul.  I took care of the Toyota with regular maintenance and it probably will last for thousands more miles for its new owner even though it was twenty-two years old!

So why did I want a new car?  Simply, I was tired of driving around an old car. I was ready for something a little more up to date and hopefully, just as dependable.  Vanity!

I baby my Soul.  I keep her clean and tidy.  She gets regular maintenance and has upgraded tires to prevent flats.  I hand wax her once a year and I paint any little scratches and dings with paint made especially for that purpose.  For Christmas, I asked for fleece seat covers that only cover the bottom of the seat since that is the area that shows the most wear and dirt.  And I indulgently spent a little extra to get personalized license plates.  My car wasn’t new but she was new to me and I wanted her to look nice as long as possible.  She’s almost seven years old now and only has 39,000 miles.  Needless to say, the dealership would love to have her back to sell a third time!

The point is when we take care of the things and people God gives to us, we often get immeasurable benefits and blessings as a result of our effort.   Misuse or abuse often brings heartache and confusion.  I’ve been there.  In those times when I was so eager to please and make what I thought would be an impression on God, I misused his gifts, my  earnings, to try and bless someone else when that money should have gone to provide for the needs of my own family. It didn’t dawn on me until much later that only when I started taking care of my own family would my territory increase to bless others.  There is no honor in going into great debt just to look good.  That is how pride works and it’s sinful.

I’m a firm believer in good stewardship of all God gives us, and that includes people, money, things, animals, and the good old earth on which we live.  May I live responsibly.

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I love keeping track of the ways God takes care of me.  It’s a joy to know He hears my pleas and then seeing how He creatively answers.

Today was one of those days.

I’m a kitchen manager in an elementary school. Our walk-in freezer has a ceiling light that the ballast needed to be replaced.  The work order had been put in several weeks prior but we were waiting for a part.  Anyway, it was pretty dark in there with just one bulb on the door end of the freezer.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Today was pizza day and it was discovered that apparently I mislabeled a case of cheese pizza as pepperoni during a delivery so on a subsequent order I under-ordered pepperoni thinking I already had a case, when in actuality, it was cheese.   It was too late to try to find the pizza at another school. I actually prayed that God would intervene and make the kids hungry for cheese pizza instead of pepperoni.

Halfway through serving, with two grades left to go, one of the gals in the kitchen accidentally dropped a precious pepperoni pizza on the floor!  Oh my goodness! It was getting very worrisome but all we could do was laugh at the circumstances and keep on going.

Indeed, we didn’t have to worry as God was in control.  At the end of serving, we had nine pieces of cheese pizza left and zero pepperoni BUT not one child that wanted pepperoni pizza was denied.  We had the exact amount that we needed even after dropping a whole pizza.  It truly was amazing. GOD IS SO GOOD!

 

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Micah 7:7

 

UPDATE 9/27/18–We have light in the freezer!

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My husband is an avid biker.  He has all the gear, a nice bike, and can ride for tens of miles at a time…fast. For years he has tried to get me to ride a bike but I did not want to do it out in public!
I am a couch potato.
“What if I fall? Right in the middle of an intersection surrounded by traffic”? Last time I rode a bike, I keeled over in the grassy area by the sidewalk while going up a long hill as traffic passed by.  I’m sure glad I wasn’t in dire need of assistance because no one was stopping!
“If I break a bone I will be out of a job for several weeks”.
“My bike is too clunky and heavy”.
“You go too fast and I will never keep up so what is the point?” were my responses too many times.
The real excuse was I just don’t like to exercise and I don’t like the feeling of my heart pounding out of my chest, face, and fingers when I exert myself.
The real reason was fear.
I wasn’t actually looking, I mean, that definitely wasn’t a priority, but this summer I happened upon a bike for sale on the local Facebook marketplace.  I knew enough about bikes to know it was a good brand and a little research online found the exact same bike for $350, new. It was selling for $25.  Too good to be true?  I went to look at it and although it had obviously been in an accident as it had numerous scratches, the tires were almost new.  It also had some rust on the handlebars.  I took pictures and sent them to my husband to look over and he thought it looked like it needed very little work to get it in good shape so I bought it. I couldn’t believe that I was excited!
I found a neat little trick to get rid of the rust using vinegar and aluminum foil.
https://www.wikihow.com/Remove-Rust-from-Chrome
The vinegar prepares the rust for easy removal and the wet aluminum foil is balled up and used to rub the rust off with very little effort.  It took about 10 minutes and looked great afterward.  I finished the job with a little bit of car wax for protection.
Marty had to replace a brake cable and do a tune up, and after I bought a good helmet and a pair of cargo shorts to hold my phone so I could use an app to map and track my miles, I was ready to go.

 

It’s funny how motivated and prepared you are when the time is right and you actually want to do something.  Sometimes everything just seems to fall together to make the wheels turn.

 

Bible Verses About God's Timing

 

I’ve been riding two or three times a week now, by myself, for two months and can honestly say I enjoy it. Not only do I get some good cardio but it is easy to see my progress, not like walking or running on the treadmill where I never go anywhere.
When you ride a bike you notice things you might not when you are in a car or walking because any little thing on the road or around you can potentially become a hazard; sticks, rocks, cut grass, leaves, animals, holes in the road, cracks in the pavement, and distracted drivers all could cause an accident if I am not paying attention to my surroundings, and because of this hyper-vigilance, I get to see the world from a different perspective.
Flowers, trees, other riders and walkers, fresh air, smoky air, children playing, homeless on the street corner, dogs  running and barking, Prairie Dogs along the trail, snakes on the sidewalk, neighborhoods I’ve never been in before, birds singing, and sunshine on my shoulders.  And the wind.  Sometimes it’s for me and sometimes it’s working against me, but it’s all good for a better workout and an enjoyable experience that takes my mind off my fear of getting hurt because I’m proactively preventing it.
There’s something cathartic about a physical purge through strenuous activity.  It cleanses the mind and body and even the spirit when I use that time to commune with the Lord while I’m riding.  I listen to Christian music from my phone and can praise God the whole time.  I pray.  I love it.
Recently I read that exercise can help to prevent Azheimers which my Mother suffered and died from last November.  God certainly does work in mysterious ways.  I love Him.
May I always listen.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3;11

After decades of being told children need to be kept busy to keep them out of trouble and enable them to live a happy, healthy life, it seems as if we now have generations of people who have never learned to relish the quiet stillness that God requires for relationship with Him. Turn off the radio, television, and computer, set your phone aside, find a comfy chair, pray, and listen. Your life will take a much more meaningful turn for the better despite what is going on in it and the world. If only I had learned this earlier and taught my children the same. No regrets, only lessons learned.

Proverbs 16:7
“When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Isaiah 26:3
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

John 16:33
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Philippians 4:6-7
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

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I know this doesn’t look good but it is delicious. It’s a super healthy bean and grain blend spiced with Curry and Garam Masala which I made into a soup. Overnight it has turned into this thick concoction. I plan to use these leftovers in pita bread for a vegan type meal.
Some of the best things in life start out in a different form from how they end up. We roll with the punches and use our God given creativity and resources to make good use of them in a way that will glorify Him. That’s good stewardship of whatever God gifts to us. It’s actually kind of fun sometimes to see what we can do with the challenges in life with God as our guide. Don’t let it take a lifetime to figure that out.

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” – Job 23:10

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I remember when I was young and living out on the farm, going into the field and laying down in the tall weeds, just gazing at the clouds in the sky.  I don’t remember what I thought about but I do remember how pleasant and peaceful it was.  The world seemed right, out there in my little patch of serenity listening to the cicadas, birds, crickets, the occasional lowing of a cow , and the rhythmic sound of the water pump down at the pond.  I remember Great Grandma Burley telling me when the breeze blew through the trees causing their branches to gently sway, that right there was God speaking to me and if I was very quiet, I could hear Him. Trees became fascinating to me.

My affinity for the comfort of trees extended to a weeping willow on the school playground; while underneath, the teacher would find me and tell me to come out and play with the other kids. I really didn’t want to.  When I was about 8 years old and exploring the yard on the farm, I stopped in front of a tree which I think was an apricot tree, and just stood there gazing at it for the longest time as the breeze blew through the leaves. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that moments like this in nature can’t bring you to God because it was at that moment I became fully aware of the Holy Spirit, my soul, and my mortality.  While I was aware of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, I really didn’t know what to do with them! Mom had provided me with a very basic Christian instruction through books and Sunday school but as time passed, our church attendance was sporadic and finally there came a time when I refused to go and she let me.  I loved Mom but I sure wish she had made me continue going to church when I was a kid.  I’ve had to learn to discern the voice of God when all around me is noise, and the stillness I crave is taken in bits and pieces through discipline. I took the long, hard way to this point.

Spring forward to August, 2018. I’ve just taken a two week break from Living Stone Christian Fellowship,  my Christian ministry page I’ve had for several years on Facebook. While I did take a six month sabbatical in 2015, for the most part I’ve been consistent in posting and ministering in prayer requests.  LSCF has been my main ministry for the last three years. At times I’ve wondered if this was a productive or even real ministry or if I was just spinning my wheels for myself.  I will admit, many of the posts have affected my personal understanding of the Christian walk and that is why I wanted to share them with others.  So many of our ministries are born from our own adversities and experiences; is that not how we turn lemons into lemonade, so to speak?  We help because we have been helped, we love because we have been loved, and we share the hope of Jesus Christ because we know what is to be hopeless. This is what real ministry is all about.  It’s not about knowledge, numbers, and participation because sometimes we just don’t know how or who we have ministered to just by being there; consistently and faithfully plugging away with what God has called us to do on His behalf for His people.  My understanding of the need to acknowledge this deficit of feedback and reward is my lesson in humility and dependence on God and His will for my life.  He is everything.  He is the reason.  He is the way.  He is good.  He is never wrong. He never fails.

I will be continuing on with the Living Stone Fellowship page in a slightly different format, not because I think it will appeal to more people but because I’m letting God take the lead and I won’t be offering an explanation when a change of format occurs. And if I am the only one who gains from this page?  To quote an oft used and worn out phrase….”If it helps even one person, it will be worth it”.

So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. 17 Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp. 18 At the command of the Lord the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped. 19 Even when the cloud lingered over the tabernacle for many days,the sons of Israel would keep the Lord’s charge and not set out. 20 If sometimes the cloud remained a few days over the tabernacle, according to the command of the Lord they remained camped. Then according to the command of the Lord they set out. 21 If sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning, when the cloud was lifted in the morning, they would move out; or if it remained in the daytime and at night, whenever the cloud was lifted, they would set out. 22 Whether it was two days or a month or a year that the cloud lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the sons of Israel remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they did set out. 23 At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out; they kept the Lord’s charge, according to the command of the Lord through Moses.  Numbers 9:16-23

Staying faithful and diligent…

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Names are important.

Some are cute.  Some are regal.  Some are inherited, and some are just made up but a name can define a person for a lifetime and parents should carefully consider the names they choose for their child.

I’ve been interested in the meaning of names so I looked mine up.

My first name I already knew is a Hebrew name. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Tamra is palm tree. Biblical Tamara was daughter of King David and sister to Absalom. The palm tree is a symbol of victory.

My middle name, Elin, I just found out is a Welsh name. In Welsh the meaning of the name Elin is: light or most beautiful woman.

My maiden name Van Fosson I was told by a Dutch doctor here in town means “from the fountain”.

My married surname Witt is North German: a nickname for someone with white hair or a remarkably pale complexion, from a Middle Low German Witte ‘white’ or South German: from a short form of the old German personal name Wittigo.

What a shot of encouragement and beautiful meaning I have found in my name, that in those times when I am feeling less than or discouraged, I can remember the meaning and be blessed with the knowledge that God made me just as I am:

Victorious in Him.

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. And the victory that has overcome the world is this—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world, if not the one who believes that Yeshua is Ben-Elohim? 1 John 5:4-6

Light with the Holy Spirit.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what is the richness of His glorious inheritance in the kedoshim, 19 and what is His exceedingly great power toward us who keep trusting Him—in keeping with the working of His mighty strength.  Ephesians 1:18-19

Beautiful in grace and redemption.

In Him we have redemption through His blood—the removal of trespasses—in keeping with the richness of His grace that He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight, He made known to us the mystery of His will, in keeping with His good pleasure that He planned in Messiah.  Ephesians 1:7-9

Reborn from the fountain of Life,

The fear of Adonai is a fountain of life,
turning one from the snares of death.  Proverbs 14:27

and wearing a Crown of Glory as I am!

Gray hair is a crown of glory,
found on the path of righteousness.  Proverbs 16:31

What wonderful blessings I have in these scriptural reminders.  I am grateful!

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