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10 Minutes Peace

    by Susan McGrath

July 15, 2006

Professional decorators teach "layering" a room to get a warm and finished look. I know because I am addicted to home decorating shows and now have all the knowledge and ideas required to make over my own home. I'm just waiting for the money!

But when I do get going I will begin with paint color and move through the layers up to greenery, lighting and accent pieces. Many people stop before these final layers either because they are unsure of their ability or, like me, don't quite have the budget to get the look they dream of.

Adding fresh paint and new furniture to…  ( Click for more )

The other day my six-year-old came to me wanting a snack. I was in the middle of something and wanted to finish, so I said, "Could you wait a minute?'

With a very serious expression he said, "Yes. I'll count!" And off he went. I opened my mouth to reply and then decided not to. I laughed instead.

After thinking about it for a minute I wondered if I ever do the same thing to God. "Lord, could you please fix this and bless that. Amen." Do I then start the time clock for God to answer my prayers as soon as I open my eyes?

Although I try to be patient, especially…  ( Click for more )

July 1, 2006

The church across the street from my congregation recently had this bit of wisdom on their sign out front: "The most important vitamin for a Christian is B1".

If we are to "be one", a Christian, that is, don't we need to be giving others a boost with an encouraging word via our favorite medium (A note sent through the postal service is fine for those who are technologically challenged, or whose mothers raised them to write letter like proper ladies). I can think of several times when I have felt really low and overwhelmed by all my obligations and projects, and a note of encouragement…  ( Click for more )

June 24, 2006

Some of you may be checking baggage this summer as you vacation with your family or travel for business.

Checking baggage can be a pain at times: long lines, weight limits, and all the other potential red tape. But what a relief to turn it over to someone else after carrying that heavy load through the maze of checkpoints and scurrying travelers.

We all have lots of emotional and spiritual baggage in our lives as well. When we have kids, just as the actual number of bags we have to carry on a trip multiplies ("Mom, will you hold this for me?"), so does our emotional and…  ( Click for more )

June 17, 2006

I don't know how it sounds in your town, but the ice cream truck in our town in extremely loud and, I have to say, annoying.

First comes the music, childhood ditties you could sing in your sleep, which are somehow hard to identify when played through a fake calliope and mixed with horns, bells and recorded voices saying "Hello".

At every house with a bicycle he slows down, I suppose in hopes that sweet-starved children clutching dollars will run out to greet him. I usually turn up the T.V. or start speaking loudly and hope my kids don't hear him wherever they…  ( Click for more )

June 10, 2006

You may have already watched the tassels move, taken the pictures for the scrapbook and had a melancholy moment. Whether you have children graduating from preschool, high school or college, or just shopped for cards or gifts for friends and family, you know the transition associated with walking down the aisle in cap and gown.

It's a milestone, a step toward the future, and a reason to pack the extra tissue for mom. This year my youngest son is graduating from preschool. (But he will attend another preschool next year, so not so many tears.)

However, there are ten…  ( Click for more )

May 27, 2006

I met Jesus in the grocery store the other day.

He was wearing a leather jacket and khaki pants. My four-year-old son was begging for candy, as he does every time we go. I had gone in to buy one thing for my older son’s lunch and only had enough cash for that.

I told him I wasn’t going to write a check for a dollar and that he didn’t need it. To his credit, he didn’t have a screaming, whining fit. But he worked it. He pointed to one kind of candy, then another and said, "Pleeeeease?!"

Standing in front of me in line, listening, was a man probably…  ( Click for more )

May 20, 2006

My son loves balloons. Every time we go through Wal-Mart or visit a carnival or or special event where balloons are sold, my son begs for one.

Why do kids love balloons? Is is because balloons are free-spirited and unpredictable? Because they are higher than we are (and kids always want to be up higher)? Perhaps it's their resilience. Balloons can be batted around and knocked down and still remain buoyant. I guess kids see balloons as good playmates because they share many of the same qualities.

As a child, one of my favorite movies was The Red Balloon. We used to…  ( Click for more )

May 13, 2006

If we own some form of elctronic organizer, a low-tech day planner or a no-tech pocket calendar, we may be held hostage to a whirlwind schedule of meetings, ballgames, church activities, work projects, and anything else that can be squeezed into the alloted space and twenty-four hours of time.

We schedule time for all of it: jobs, kids, shopping, exercise, organizations to help the community, clubs to expand our own knowledge, playtime for our kids, bible study groups and church activities - all find their way on to our monthly logue.

We believe that quality time with…  ( Click for more )

May 6, 2006

You've had them - those lightning bolt moments when something just becomes clear to you and you think, "Okay God, I get what you've been trying to tell me!"

I've had those moments while driving, showering, hearing a testimonial or a message from the Word, and even woken up from a sound sleep with a clear idea of something I needed to do.

Or it might come when, out of the blue, your child comes up and hugs you and says "I love you." (Of course this will rarely happen once they pass kindergarten.)

Sometimes these moments occur in the midst of a crowd…  ( Click for more )

April 29, 2006

In our morning message in kindergarten class we often write "Today is" . . . and fill in the day of the week. Recently in trying to spell Wednesday, the kids were reminded that it doesn't look the way it sounds.

This initiated a discussion between teachers on where the days of the week get their names. So I decided to do some research. What I found was both expected and surprising.

For instance, I knew the days were named for ancient gods. I thought most of them were Roman in origin. Wrong. Most are from Norse legends and beliefs.

Monday is named from the goddess…  ( Click for more )

April 22, 2006

I recently heard a well-known talk radio personality ask a journalism student who called in to the show, "Why do you want to become a journalist?"

I had the answer on my lips before the kid could word his noble reply. (Having been that student, I won't say how many years ago, I remember the itching feeling of wanting to make a difference.)

His reply: "To let people know the truth." I shook my head as I heard it and the host simultaneously said, "Wrong answer. The correct answer (yes, I can say it with you) is to change the world."

He went on to explain to this…  ( Click for more )

April 15, 2006

I'm a big tea drinker. My favorite is iced tea - and I mean iced.

I don't just want it cold, I require numerous cubes clinking together. I was recently introduced to mate' tea, which is supposed to have numerous health benefits, but keeps me entertained because it comes in so many delicious flavors.

Most recently I've been on a kick with the spearmint, passion berry and ginger peach. Although I brew it in the coffee maker, I usually chill and drink it with ice.

I can drink hot tea as well, but only while it's steaming. I simply cannot abide…  ( Click for more )

April 8, 2006

As I lay in bed the other night, before turning out the light, I noticed a cob web clinging to the corner. I don't want to think about what's lurking in the corners I can't see.

Cleaning is not my favorite way to spend time. It's not even on my list! But it has to be done sooner or later, and waiting 'til later only means the dust will be deeper and the task longer.

My kids apparently share my dislike of cleaning, as evidenced by the knee-deep toys in the playroom, but they also procrastinate until it becomes a daunting task.

Sometimes the…  ( Click for more )

March 25, 2006

Have you ever done something stupid and just wished you could turn around and erase it from the day?

This is a daily occurrence for me, and I'm sure I'm not alone!

Guess what? That's exactly what God allows us to do. We can talk to him about it and he wipes it out of existence.

I recently attended a worship with the youth from my church and it was "computer-led". There was no song leader, only a band behind a curtain. No speaker, only words on a screen. Pictures, instructions, questions to make us think.

We were led through some questions and…  ( Click for more )

March 18, 2006

In kindergarten, we teach the kids to sneeze and cough into their elbows so they won't spray the entire class with the germ of the day. It also keeps those touchy little hands a bit cleaner.

As of this writing, some have not mastered the technique. (My proof is the box of tissues and a half bottle of cold medicine I have used up this week!)

Strategically placed around the classroom, the teachers also keep several little containers of anti-bacterial hand gel or lotion to kill the rogue germs that do escape the elbow. But some still manage to get through.

No matter…  ( Click for more )

March 11, 2006

Newton's Third Law of Motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

This can be observed in the playroom at my house when one of my sons hits or pushes the other, he gets hit or pushed back. Then Mom's Law kicks in and there is more powerful action.

Remember the Newton's cradle? That metal frame with the balls suspended from nylon string. You pull out a ball at one end, let it swing into the others, and a ball on the opposite end is bumped out into the air. Then the process reverses itself over and over until all the energy…  ( Click for more )

March 4, 2006

Watching the closing ceremony for the Winter Olympics I have to admit I felt like I was missing the party.

There was music and dancing, fireworks and friendship extended. It looked like a place I wanted to be!

As some of the athletes from the United States were interviewed, they remarked how awesome it was to hang out and exchange team paraphernalia with athletes from countries like China and Turkey - countries whose governments don't necessarily have the same views as ours.

Yet here were these athletes, brought together in an ancient ritual of peace, making…  ( Click for more )

February 25, 2006

Every decade has its stop-and-smell-the-roses anthem. (I'm only listing the ones I can remember!)

In the seventies Kansas blew in with "Dust in the Wind", telling us "I close my eyes, only for a moment and the moment's gone."

In the eighties John Cougar (sometimes Mellencamp) introduced us to "Jack and Diane" and admonished us to "hold on to sixteen as long as you can, changes come around real soon make us women and men."

In the nineties Green Day wished us "Good Riddance" or the "Time of Your Life" and reminded us to take the photographs and still frames…  ( Click for more )

February 11, 2006

A spreading of fiery orange, tinged with pink through the deep indigo; sometimes bursts of fuchsia with violet streaks; when the air is right, a warm glow like a child's cheeks rouged by the winter breeze.

This is the glimpse out of my bathroom window as I meet the day. I must admit that I only get this incredible view during the winter months when the sun sleeps later than I, but what a show!

Last summer while vacationing in Colorado I got up around four in the morning to take a twisting drive up into the mountains with my die-hard, hiker-boy brothers and watched…  ( Click for more )

February 4, 2006

How often have I rushed off from a committee meeting, curtailed shopping with a friend or stopped short playing with my kids to keep an appointment with the Lord for study or prayer time?

Sure, maybe I've rushed off to a church activity or fed my kids chips for supper to get to the mid-week family program on time, but what about my personal time with my Lord?

Perhaps if I think in different terms, I will realize the importance of this meeting.

If I allow it, the Lord wants to be my best friend. He will not be a fair weather friend. He will be there no matter…  ( Click for more )

January 28, 2006

There was a family in my small Illinois town a few years ago whose members gradually all relocated to California - to more illustrious careers and warmer weather.

When the ties to our former life - due to careers, the death of elderly relatives, kids graduating from school - are no longer binding, perhaps it is easy to heed the call from loved ones of "Come on over. It's great out here!"

As Christians, we need to ask ourselves if we are doing the same bidding for those who need to "come on over" to Christ. Does our daily living and attitude say, "It's great…  ( Click for more )

January 21, 2006

The only thing my nine-year-old really wanted for Christmas was a remote control transforming (ugly) toy that can go through water and mud. The first words out of my mouth were "It's not coming back into my house after it goes mudding!"

Only one local store carried it and they only had two. The price was exorbitant for a toy, so I went back and put it on lay away. I knew nothing ever comes with batteries, so I purchased some of every size and shape for the myriad of toys we would be opening Christmas morning.

I vaguely remember reading something on the "super toy"…  ( Click for more )

January 14, 2006

With the new year, many people begin running or working out in some way to facilitate that dream of losing weight and getting in shape. Some even set the goal of running an endurance race when spring arrives.

My bible study group recently pondered Hebrews 12:1-3: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured…  ( Click for more )

January 7, 2006

Though I don't remember calling them that as a kid, that's what they were - do-overs. When we played a game and didn't like the outcome, cries of "that's not fair" and "that doesn't count" would be followed by a free chance at another try. A do-over.

I can think of many times in recent years I would have liked a do-over, but in the real world they're hard to come by. As grown-ups we just have to live with the result the first time around. Otherwise we'd be re-doing business deals and fender-benders and, yes, even ballgames. But the good news…  ( Click for more )

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