Days Gone By

My mother was forty-two when I was born. She told me many stories of a time and a place that no longer existed. I loved hearing about horse-drawn wagon rides into town, nickel ice cream cones, and box supper auctions.

pic 2 days gone byMother lived through the Great Depression. Those who lived in rural areas at that time learned a “particular set of skills;” how to make a meal out of milk, eggs and a little bit of flour, how to stretch a dime (that’s right, a dime; dollars were scarce, and so were dimes, for that matter), and how to reuse everything!

pic3 days gone byPeople examined every item, that would normally have been thrown away, to evaluate a new purpose for it. Feed sacks made fashionable dresses, any type of paper could be used again for wrapping gifts, and if they weren’t sure what to use an item for, they placed it in a box or drawer. Then, when a purpose presented itself, they would have it.

pic 4 days gonMany household staples had to be rationed, like sugar and coffee. Farmers woke up before dawn, milked, plowed, planted, harvested, canned, and shared; working until the end of the day before resting weary bodies on straw mattresses or pallets made on floors. People strained every bit of time out of the day in order to provide sustenance and were true survivors!

lowerPicsDaysGoneByIf you’ve read my first book, Pathways of the Heart, then you’ve had a glimpse into the life of one such family, mine; that is, my mother, Clella, and her first six children before I was born. Through the years, one thing remains true–walking down the aisle and saying “I do” is the easy part. Then, life happens and things become harder.

5Not only did Clella struggle for survival, but she dealt with the same things people have dealt with since the Biblical age – a husband who drank, gambled, and was unfaithful. As hard as she tried, like many marriages today, hers found itself shipwrecked on the rock of neglect. The storm’s waves swept her up and into the arms of another.

6Some would consider her times “old fashioned.” If “old fashioned” means innovative, caring, hard-working, God-fearing, and patriotic—then yes, that period was “old fashioned.” But, with time, even definitions evolve.

Whenever I talk to my grandchildren today, I realize that I have many stories to tell of a time and a place that no longer exists. It’s different from Mother’s, but gone never-the-less. Only a vapor remains of the Santa Fe, Burlington Northern, and Union Pacific railroads, that clickety-clack of steel wheels on rails, a mode of transportation I enjoyed frequently. Even the days of sleek ’57 Chevy’s, Elvis’s Teddy Bear, the Beatles, and Motown aren’t appreciated by today’s youth. From Saddle Oxford’s and poodle skirts to go-go boots and the flower child, my era has faded even out of the background.

7It’s important for us to share these, for only we can make our history come to life. I challenge you to record your tales, for our pasts should not go away quietly into the night. In Pathways of the Heart, I told Mother’s stories so they wouldn’t be lost, to preserve a life whose example can inspire and teach us to rise above our trials and choices.

In All That Matters, not only my mother’s story comes to life, but mine as well, and depicts how a loving God protected and guided us through some of our most difficult trials. From the simpler days of one room schoolhouses to beyond the fretful days of Y2K, both books provide a looking-glass back into the twentieth century and reveal, when all is said and done, the only thing that matters is eternity.

8“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:17-18 NIV

Living is to Die for

Living is to Die For Pic

If I really like something, I’ve been known to say it’s “to die for.” My favorite restaurant is Abigail’s in Rocheport, Missouri. It’s a quaint bistro in a small tourist town and has only a few tables. The menu is constantly changing and offers gourmet entrees that are “to die for.” That’s cliché, of course, but it got me thinking about my life and the choices I’ve made, and how one choice in particular gave me a life that is truly “to die for.”

What are you living for? Do you set goals? How about priorities? If you answered “no”, I would like to suggest that we all set goals and priorities, even if we don’t know it. To make my point, let me ask you:  Is there some expectation that you have for your future like good grades, a degree, a promotion at work, a bigger house, having a family, finding love? (The list goes on and on) In fact, the world is filled with these things that can easily become distractions. That’s right—distractions. These things are important, but are they all-important? Are they “to die for?”

What is it we are supposed to be living for? Jesus said, “He who would save his life will lose it, but he who loses his life shall gain it.” How exactly do we lose our life and yet gain it? “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his soul?” Mark 8:36 KJV

Society would have us believe that we are a success if we have a good career, a nice home, drive a nice car, send our kids to college, and save enough money to retire. I’ll admit—that’s an attractive scenario, but the truth is—from the moment we were born, we were destined to die. Our life is like a vapor as explained in the book of James. “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’” James 4:14-15. Within that verse is the key to losing our life but gaining it. We should constantly seek God’s will and direction in our plans, our goals, and our priorities. This life is not about us. It’s about God and His kingdom. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33 KJV

I have always been a work-oriented person. Whatever I was working at, I always wanted to do my very best. That sounds admirable, right? IT’S NOT. My heart was in the wrong place. I performed for myself, the goals I had set for me, the priorities I thought were important.  All for the glory of me! But, when I in all my ways acknowledge God, he directs my path.  (taken from Proverbs 3:6) And His path for me is always better, happier, and full of peace and power. It is not always the easy path, but the hope I have in Him is greater than anything this world has to offer.

Now, I have written this for those of us who have acknowledged Jesus as our savior, asked for forgiveness for our sins, and made a decision to follow Him. Perhaps you don’t fit in that category. If you’ve read this far, I’m afraid you’ve come to a fork in the road and must choose the way you will go. If you decide to accept Jesus, he’s only a prayer away. Call upon Him today and be saved. We are all sinners, but we must call upon Jesus to become a sinner saved by Grace. My prayer for all of us is that we’d fully know the Savior and understand that a life lived for Him is truly a life “to die for.”

God Bless You All.

God & Betty Crocker

 

bettcrocker

When I got married, my mother bought me a Betty Crocker Cookbook so that I could learn to cook! I still have, use, and cherish it today. Thank you, Mom and Betty Crocker!

I tell my Sunday school children that the Bible is the “cookbook” God gave us for life. Just as we need a recipe to bake a cake or cook a meal, we need God’s word to “make a life.” Without a recipe, our cake may not turn out as intended. Well, in the absence of God’s word and its application, our lives will not turn out right.

I have made many mistakes. Haven’t we all? They could have been avoided, just by knowing God’s word and heeding it. “Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:18

When Rick and I purchase an item requiring assembly, he has a tendency to assemble first and look at the directions later. This is not always a good thing! In that same attitude, we tend to live our lives according to our will, before actually consulting God’s instructions. After all, He is the manufacturer and we are simply the product. How we stand up under repeated use and pressure depends upon adherence to the specifications.

The big difference between baking a cake without following the recipe and living a life apart from God’s direction is that a cake CAN’T rise once fallen, whereas a life CAN be changed [immediately] by consulting the “Manufacturer” and His instructions. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

What rewards we stand to reap, when we spend a little time listening to Our Creator! A fellow writer recently confessed she didn’t read much. She further clarified she mostly reads the Bible. I thank God for that. If we read at all, it should begin with God’s word. ”Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105 KJV and “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11

Now, let me say, I don’t believe the meaning of “hid in my heart” is memorization only. If you can’t memorize easily, you shouldn’t disregard this verse as “it’s too hard for me” or “I can’t do it” and therefore, never try. Many scriptures surface in my mind that I have not memorized. Sometimes it’s from listening to others, like a Sunday school teacher or minister. But more frequently, it’s because I, myself, have simply read God’s word.

So, just as Betty Crocker taught me how to cook, God teaches me how to have life more abundantly, when I consult his Book.

God bless you all. Have a fun and fruitful summer. Suggested Bible reading 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Psalm 119.