Category Archives: Inspiration

Mud Pi

img-resize3.asp

Thrill my eyes with mud fresh path,
tree fallen,
daffodil known to slug banana
and branch light golden.

Spear my ears with surf pound, new
creek gargle and cormorant squawk.

Let my feet find mint folds
and flat beach when the rocks spill.

Lungs suck spray gulls play shadow wheels
between fish gulps.

My desk abandoned,
phone face dark,
nearer my God to Thee
not more possible

but still,
the effort to love,
easier, with breeze.

Boy Scout

Photo courtesy of Pixaby.com

Impatient for vistas and blooms,
we direct ant prayers
to a trail of crumbs, and miss
the peace of cake walking.

‘Lean not’ is hiking code for
stand under the water
fall and cast your fate, upstream, to the winding
Source.

Rock sure; thrall the cliff,
and with a rose between your teeth,
dive,
for pearls.

There is no rush to God’s hand,
angel feathers gathered,
more or less together,

for the plunge.

Family By Choice

Family smiles

Smiles belied our family life

My birth family wasn’t happy. Far from it. We lived in “the projects” until Mom stopped having babies and my oldest siblings moved out. Then, we were evicted. Evicted. From the projects. Because we didn’t have enough kids to meet their criteria.

Dad was unhappy with the way his life turned out and decided to spread his anger over our hides and cheeks. He was careful to only inflict injuries where they’d be covered by clothes. And he made us plaster on smiles for the rest of the world.

To my childish mind, a family was a group of people who had to live together but just tolerated each other and were downright nasty at times. Not a lot of love and very little growing up. Oh, we got taller and grew physically, but most of my family continued to act like children.

Read more

I am the resurrection

Jesus carrying cross Lost Seed. dot com

Jesus told her, I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.
John 11:25 NLT

Easter Sundays can be filled with pressure and anxiety.Photo courtesy of arrowpedigree @morguefile.com

My family and I were pastoring a church in Illinois, but we left to celebrate Easter alone. The morning began with an early service followed by a mid-morning service. People filtered in, dressed in their Easter best. Sounds of conversation filled the church, and, later, excitement twinkled in the people’s eyes as they rushed to get their Easter lunches.

My family and I gathered our belongings from the sanctuary as the excitement began to lose its momentum. My wife used this quiet moment to whisper her pride in my performance. Her encouragement was a great end to the service.

Loneliness caused me to question the move to a church so far from family and friends. We entered into our house, which was filled with silence, as others were still consumed by the conversation of the day. We had previously celebrated Easter with family and friends as they were.

As I began to unwind, my mind contemplated my sacrifice for this day. My whole life was based on this day. If Jesus never rose from the grave, my life and sacrifices were empty expressions.

Easter is a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. We enter into the Lord’s house to join others in this celebration. Jesus was declaring that He would not only have a resurrection but that He was the Resurrection. The Father in heaven had already embedded in Him the power to overcome.12523199_10153860876414771_8742797827042069907_n

We have the same power in our lives to overcome—the ability to rise above the problems of our lives and find His strength. Christ died for our sins and rose from death for our empowerment.

As my family celebrated our first Easter alone, I was encouraged when I realized the strength to leave family and friends to teach this gospel was already embedded in my soul. I was walking in God’s power and had conquered my fears.

The same power that raised Jesus from the grave is in you today. Find His strength because He is calling you to do something great!

 

 



Why Families Are Like Fudge… and My Grandmother’s Fudge Recipe

OLD FASHIONED FUDGE

Familyby Cathy Baker @cathysbaker

Families are like fudge… mostly sweet with a few nuts. Author Unknown

I LOVE my family.

No naming names here Uncle Jim, but I find this quote to be quite true, at least in my family—and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

My dad’s mom (Ma-Ma) was a master-maker of the butter-like (with a hint of sugar crunch) chocolate concoction, better known as fudge. I remember Ma-Ma’s arthritic fingers carefully stirring chocolate chips, vanilla, marshmallows, and pecans in her white Pyrex bowl.

When I came across the above quote, I was reminded how Ma-Ma’s fudge-making process was truly similar to families. Just as each fudge recipe is a tad different, so are families. There was a time in my life when I wondered why I landed in my particular family. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very thankful for my family, but when I was younger, smack dab in the middle of difficult situations, I couldn’t help but wonder why. But now, looking back, I’m reminded that much like Ma-Ma’s fudge, God handcrafted families with much care, blending unique personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. Hey, even the ‘nuts’ in the bunch help mold us into the men and women God intended.

Growing up, I usually found my way into the den to talk to my grandfather when the dreaded part of the fudge-making process⎯the constant stirring of sugar and milk until it came to a rolling boil⎯was over. If it wasn’t carefully monitored, the liquids quickly scorched, leaving behind wasted ingredients, which is probably why Ma-Ma didn’t mind my absence, knowing I’d soon return for the bowl-licking session. 

Photo courtesy of Remnant Resources

Photo courtesy of Remnant Resources

After pouring the warm sugar mixture over the dry ingredients, the fudge is blended, poured into a prepared pan, and baked. This final step reminds me of a different kind of family. God’s family. We don’t need a village, we need a kingdom where Truth is poured out, even if it means getting messy. And regardless of our denomination, or whether we worship the same way, if our desire is to come together as One family and put our heavenly Father on display, I think we’ll find that we blend beautifully.

 

Ma-Ma’s Fudge Recipe

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cups evaporated milk (Ma-Ma used Carnation)
  • 12 large marshmallows (Ma-Ma used Kraft)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup Nestle semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Mix sugar, evaporated milk, marshmallows, butter, and salt in a saucepan. Cook stirring over medium heat until it comes to a rolling boil. Stir constantly and boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate morsels until melted. Add nuts and vanilla. Pour into buttered pan or Pyrex dish. Cool and cut into squares.

 

Egg Hunt

MSClipartImage

Awake,
a grave refuses
permanence.

Wide eyed lily
witness,
scent
to a blind world.

Now the Blood spilled
is the Blood welling up
in forgiveness.

Spared despair, we crack eggs
in a bowl and wait,
as our not-a-ghost Guest takes
another minute
to wash the family’s feet.

The Nesting Grandma

MyDadLovesMe

 

 

I knew this season of life would come. I have looked forward to it with great anticipation. Now it is here (or almost here), and I am amazed at the impact it has on my life.

 

 

 

I am going to be a first-time grandma any day now.

As we wait for that very special phone call, I find myself nesting.

I never knew that grandmothers nest.

As I pray for the young life that is soon to join our family, I find myself planning and prepping our home. Where will the baby sleep when he or she comes to visit? What chair will be the rocking chair? Where will we cuddle as we explore books together?

“This is something a grandmother can do.”

I remember her words well. I was visiting a college friend’s family. His mom was sitting with her ten-year-old granddaughter, teaching her the basics of a needlework project. When I later commented on the sweet connection that it obviously established between the two, she explained further. She talked about how her daughter was busy raising three children, but a grandmother could do some things that a busy mom might not have time for, like needlework.

So, as I join my family in preparation, with every move of the furniture, sorting of children’s books, and above all – prayerful quiet time with God, I think this –

“This is something a grandmother can do.”

Give Yourself — It Costs So Little

gifts, gifts, and more gifts

gifts, gifts, and more gifts

Halloween – we give candy.

Thanksgiving – we give thanks.

Christmas – we give gifts.

New Year’s – we give toasts.

Valentine’s Day – we give flowers.

So what do we give in March?

We could limit ourselves to Irish blessings for Saint Patrick’s Day. With Easter in March this year, we could hand out candy, baskets, or hardboiled eggs.

But what would happen if we gave ourselves?

Some folks say they live paycheck-to-paycheck, so they don’t have anything to give. That’s not what I’m talking about. We can give “stuff” anytime. I’m thinking of downsizing, so I have tons of “stuff” to pass on to unsuspecting friends and family. (That’s your only warning!)

Try sharing something besides “things.”

Giving yourself costs very little. Just think of someone else instead of Number One. And that person may live in the same house as you.

Who do you know that needs a friendly face, a hug, a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on? Lots of my friends are losing elderly parents, so they’re looking for someone to let them talk. All that it would cost me (or you) is time – on the phone, over the kitchen table, and maybe a little gas to meet them somewhere.

A card can brighten someone's day.

A card can brighten someone’s day.

My friend Patty has what she calls her “Card Ministry.” She sends a card to anyone who needs encouragement or thanks. And she writes a personal message, so it’s not just a pre-printed poem. It may not seem like much, but for people who receive those words of cheer, it can brighten an otherwise gray day. I know. I’ve received several.

Let’s go a step farther and give them something tangible: take supper to their house or treat them to lunch. Invite them to join you and other friends for an outing. Sit with them at church. Again, it doesn’t need to cost a lot. Simply take the time to find out what they need and provide it.

Having been through a divorce, several moves, an incarcerated child and a prodigal son, and loss of a husband, I’ve needed a lot of support. And every time, loved ones helped.

Sometimes, a friend lets everyone know that they need something. They might post on social media about an illness or injury. When you read it, contact them personally and offer help.

Other folks aren’t so public. They may need meals, a house vacuumed, or someone to drive them to the doctor, but they don’t know who or how to ask. That’s when you can reach out with a phone call. Or, as one friend puts it, “swoop in and save the day.”

When my husband was dying of cancer, friends would say, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.” One time – only one time– I actually answered. “Well, I need someone to mow my lawn.” Unfortunately, that friend said he couldn’t do it, but if there was anything else, he’d be glad to help. I didn’t ask again.

Another friend called and said, “I’m making stew and peanut butter cookies on Tuesday. Could my husband and I bring them over and have supper with you that night?” That elicited an easy “Yes!” from me. And we appreciated the time together more than the food.

So what can you give? And to whom? Look at those closest to you and see where you can fill in some gaps for them.

Offer yourself.

Offer yourself

I spent a weekend helping a friend work on a fundraiser. She slaved away from morning to night, leaving her husband alone. I noticed that he was becoming irritable so I mentioned that he missed his wife. She looked at him amazed, and he just shrugged his shoulders. My gift to them? I went to bed early so they could watch a movie together and fall asleep on the couch. They both thanked me.

Simple as that.

Give of yourself. Your friends will love you even more.

 

 

Images courtesy of digitalart, FrameAngel, and Hin 255 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When Generosity Is Served in a Casserole Dish

blogcasserole
inspireflower

Flowers from my friend, Sandra.

You are loved.

It’s this whisper that arose from the generous meals, texts, flowers, and calls I received after a recent surgery.

The meal ministry, in particular, revealed preconceived notions buried deep beneath my own insecurities. When Carolyn, a longtime friend and former life group leader, asked if I needed meals after surgery I gave my standard answer, “That’s so sweet, but I think we’ll be fine.” When she came back with, “Someone in the group really wants to bring you a meal,” it felt strange to decline — almost as if I would be cheating someone else out of a blessing. The next thing I knew, Carolyn emailed our entire former life group in a stealth-like manner and surprised me with a week’s worth of unbelievable meals.
After several days of being a blessed recipient of this ministry, certain truths became clear:

1. You don’t have to be a chef to provide a meal. (Preconceived notion #1) Some brought home cooked meals, others brought part home cooked and part purchased meals, and others brought an entire purchased meal. Every meal was a gift! You are loved.

2. The meal is a blessing, but seeing the friend who brings it is the bonus. I looked forward to seeing them as much as the meal, and that’s saying something! You are loved.

3. The act of providing a meal is so much more than food. As we scooped chicken and other delights onto our plates it was hard to deny the time, money, and energy spent for our enjoyment. You are loved.

4. I need to learn how to embrace the receiving end of giving as much as the doing. Perhaps the reason I felt I might be cheating someone out of a blessing if I declined is because that’s exactly what would’ve happened. Every person who brought a meal made us feel like it was their pleasure. You are loved.

Sometimes love comes in expected ways {wedding bands, hugs when seeing loved ones, a kiss as as your spouse heads out the door, etc.}

But when love comes in unexpected ways? The whisper You are loved delves deep, plunging below all preconceived notions, releasing dormant joy to bubble upwards.

True ministry, generosity shown purely out of love for one another, is life changing.

How about you? When is the last time someone’s generosity touched your life? 

 

{One of the recipes we enjoyed!}

Chicken Tamale Casserole by Laa Loosh

Chicken Tamale Casserole by Laa Loosh

Thumbs Up

Truck line Inspire A Fire Sept 2015

Angels hitchhike
on the truck side of lonely.
Lovely weeds bend in the flying dust
of wheels stopping to start again.

The driver might chatter football,
the radio Gospel, or tripe.
This part of the Damascus road
is between homes, jobs, baths.

The Son of Man
has no where the lay His head.
Transients, the easy victims
of innocence and dumpster diseases.

The next Samaritan binds
the next wounds.
Our daily bread buttered,
one side at a time.

« Older Entries