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10 Minutes Peace

    by Susan McGrath

November 27, 2004

I can remember being asked the question in several different classes in high school and college: If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?

My answer was usually Abraham Lincoln or perhaps your average knight-in-shining-armor, but there were always several people who wanted to meet Jesus.

I guess I never thought about actually meeting Jesus Christ in the flesh. It always seemed to me that I was in a better place to know him than even most of those who followed him during his time on earth.

They were trying to understand what His kingdom was all about and…  ( Click for more )

November 20, 2004

I know I don't thank people nearly enough. I'm not timely with thank-you notes the way my mother taught me. In fact, if the phrase "thanks a lot" comes out of my mouth, it is likely to be sarcastic.

The thankful season is upon us. (Should it ever be out of season?) To be immediately followed by the "season of giving" which usually resembles more the "season of greed". We are encouraged to pause and thank God and others for the blessings in our lives.

Despite my sarcasm and tendency to see the negative side of things, I am thankful and express that to God daily. But living…  ( Click for more )

November 13, 2004

I love to read -- almost anything. Especially books and articles which will help me improve.

When I was pregnant with my oldest son and going on and on about what I had read and how careful I was supposed to be, not eating this or doing that, and how complicated breastfeeding sounded, my mother told me to stop reading so much!

Recently, in reading some magazine articles on how to understand why children lie, and what toys are the most likely to stimulate their impressionable little brains, etc., I realized I have become a more discerning reader.

I no longer believe…  ( Click for more )

November 6, 2004

I love poetry and "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, which I first read in junior high English, is still a favorite. It touts the merits of walking the straight and narrow and at the end says "I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference".

Sometimes it does make all the difference, and the difference seems to be less money or a less glamorous job or even a relationship ended with regret. When choosing between two paths, it's hard not to play the "what if" game.

I applied to two colleges. The one I attended was farther from home, but I gained great…  ( Click for more )

October 30, 2004

I haven't been to a circus in a long time, but the ones I did attend as a child never seemed quite as glamorous or daring as the stereotypical three-ring circus on TV or in stories.

Most days I feel like my life is a three-ring circus. I'm the Ringmaster who must keep it all going, announcing the death-defying leap of a two-year old from one piece of furniture to the next, while keeping the eight-year-old focused on the homework tightrope and watching unreturned phone calls, piles of laundry and soccer schedules run around in my head like trick dogs.

At my kitchen table…  ( Click for more )

October 23, 2004

(Due to birthday parties, Scouts and life in its usual general chaos, this week has been hectic and this week's column is a rerun of one of my favorites. Hope you enjoy it whether it's old or new to you!)

As you may already know from previous writings, I am a fan of home makeover shows. My favorite is "Clean Sweep". The main reason I like this show is because they go into homes that are more piled and cluttered than mine has ever been and it makes me feel like the "Queen of all Organizers". (I used to be before I had kids, but that's another column.)

Anyway, the formula…  ( Click for more )

October 16, 2004

You don't have to go to a foreign country or even a big city to find unusual names. Everyone wants to be unique! Some change their names from the mundane one they were given at birth to the fabulous one they always wanted. Others live with the conservative name they were given and saddle their kids with outrageous names.

One of the hardest things to figure out is the spellings. In the small grade school my son attends there are at least five different spellings of the names Cheyenne and Brittany. (Apparently the parents like the popular name, but still want their child to be…  ( Click for more )

October 9, 2004

As I worked on the computer one evening my two-year-old was busy creating a work of his own.

I didn't hear a sound (which should have tipped me off right away), but when I came through the kitchen to search for him -- there he was in front of an open cabinet putting the crowning touch on a tower of food to rival any toddler-engineered project in history!

The foundation consisted of cans of green beans and tomatoes, upper stories featured a jar of peanut butter and containers of lemonade. Precariously perched on top was a gleaming glass bottle of taco sauce.

A horrible…  ( Click for more )

October 2, 2004

I became distracted last Sunday during church. While trying to listen to the sermon I was captivated by the beautiful dark-haired, dark-eyed baby two rows in front of me.

She had her chin resting on her dad's shoulder and was searching my face, wide-eyed and curious. I smiled at her, but she didn't change her expression and never made a sound.

As her father gently rocked her, she turned her head to the side, snuggled into his shoulder and closed her eyes. She drifted into a comfortable sleep almost instantly.

That's when I realized I had been the distraction. As soon…  ( Click for more )

September 25, 2004

Each Thursday morning a large, loud vehicle lumbers down our street and everyone under the age of six gets excited and stares in fascination out the front window as the air brakes bring it to a squeaking-whooshing halt and a guy in a fluorescent T-shirt jumps out and attaches a large trash receptacle to the back. The kids point and squeal as it gets dumped into the truck. Then it's time for a mad dash to the side window to watch the scene repeated at the neighbor's house. (This is often a good time to sneak off for some quiet time. They won't miss you 'til it turns the corner at the…  ( Click for more )

September 18, 2004

It was a sad week at our house. Our eight-year-old dog, a faithful family pet for over five years, had to be put to sleep.

I have to admit I'm not a dog person, but I shed a few tears. The worst part, though, was seeing my husband in tears as he put the dog in the truck for the last time. (He pretends to be a big "tough guy", so he doesn't display his emotion often.)

This isn't the first time I've lost a pet, but it is the first time I've had to explain it to my children. Our oldest son, at nearly eight, has attended funerals and has some concept of what it means to die.…  ( Click for more )

September 11, 2004

The other day I found myself in another conversation about childbirth. As moms we love to compare and scare with our horror stories of labor and delivery. (And ours is always the most horrible!) Don't we love to ask that first-time mom, "How long was your labor?", knowing that no matter what her answer is, we have a story to top it?

The truth is that for most moms the labor is 18 years and counting! We never stop worrying, encouraging, feeling guilty, and loving. And stay-at-home moms can honestly tell people they have the best job in the world.

Having been on both sides of…  ( Click for more )

September 4, 2004

I love a good read!

News articles, magazine features, romance or historical novels, biographies, self-improvement, humor, history -- I will read almost anything if it is well crafted and holds my interest.

I read many different genres, viewpoints and styles. When I love something, I want to read it again, although not without some time to savor the delicious taste it left me with. When it's well written and has drawn me into the story, I never want it to end. I also love to recommend it to my friends.

But I'm sure you've read books that made you wish the author had…  ( Click for more )

August 28, 2004

Sometimes it's easy to forget that what our kids learn at home gets taken to school with them. We are with them many hours, days, even years before the school system has a chance to mold them.

So why do we worry so much about how school will affect the?. Perhaps because we doubt our ability as parents to make a strong impression of right and wrong. Sure, maybe we're confident that they will chew with their mouths closed and say "Please" and "Thank you", but will they make the right decisions when someone bullies them on the playground or offers them drugs in the locker room? …  ( Click for more )

August 21, 2004

Depending on the ages and temperaments of your children, the tears you cry when that school bell rings again may be from joy or sadness. Or they may just be a nostalgic mixture of memories, hopes and prayers.

Technology, politics and violence have transformed the school experience even since I was in school. Chalk has been replaced by more allergy-friendly dry erase markers. Computers may read more books to a child than the teacher.Complex security measures can make entering a grade school feel like trying to get through an international airport.

These things are not bad,…  ( Click for more )

August 14, 2004

We have dubbed our two-year-old the "mountain goat", among other names. He thinks he can and should climb everything -- and he does! No matter the obstacle, he finds a way to scale it.

Mostly the climbing is the result of wanting to be independent. Unfortunately, this sometimes has a bad outcome.

He hoists himself up on the bathroom counter to reach his toothbrush in the cabinet, usually bumping his head on the door. He scales the piano top (no pun intended) to put loose change in the bank, but steps on the keys in the process. He has even learned to climb over the gate…  ( Click for more )

I am not a morning person. In fact, rather than greet someone with the phrase "Good morning", I will say "hello", "how are you?" or any other inane greeting that comes to mind. This doesn't mean I don't think it's a good morning for someone, I just haven't reconciled myself to that fact yet.

A friend of mine will often open an event with a prayer of "Good morning, Lord", which is not just a greeting but a praise, a verbal high-five if you will. We are congratulating and thanking God for creating a beautiful day and including us in it.

Upon hearing this, I can't help but agree…  ( Click for more )

July 31, 2004

There was a commercial a few months ago featuring an attorney reading a will to three thirty-something siblings. One is bequeathed a mansion, one a large amount of money and the third, several acres of swamp land.

Instead of jumping up an yelling in outrage, he jumps up and whoops for joy. It's an ad for a four-wheel drive vehicle and he visualizes himself mudding through the swamp and can apparently think of nothing more enjoyable.

I can't remember many times I've been able to look at a gift with such creativity, or even a bleak situation and find great joy hiding inside.

In…  ( Click for more )

July 24, 2004

The camel-back trunk stood in my great-aunt's basement for decades, dull brown and musty, and for the most part, forgotten.

Visiting as a child I was too busy gathering fish food to take to the pond or searching out my favorite candy to notice it. Years later, after I had grown to appreciate such things, I was blessed to become its caretaker.

When I opened it for the first time I was pleasantly surprised to see the original paper lining, portraying a young woman from some time past playing an instrument. Though some of it was cracked and peeling, fragile to the touch, it was…  ( Click for more )

July 17, 2004

(This column is a bit different, but it's a subject I'm passionate about. I wrote it many months ago and it has been sitting and aging. I decided it was time to share it with someone and I hope it will touch you and make you think about true worship.)

Music is a way to reach youth - they listen to it more hours than we realize and its influence is intense enough it may even help determine whether they choose sin or salvation.

In a Billy Graham speaking tour held a few years ago the musical guests included Michael W. Smith and Third Day. Graham's ministry recognized the need…  ( Click for more )

July 10, 2004

The other day my twenty-month-old son climbed on the couch and began running back and forth, a stunt he often tries to get away with. I told him, "No. Get down before you fall." But he grinned and kept running, and before I was able to remove him from the situation, he bounced off and fell to the floor. His ego was much more bruised than he was, and as I said, this was not his first experience with bouncing off furniture.

I picked him up and tried to explain again in toddler terms that jumping on the couch is not a smart thing to do. Before I was finished talking he was trying…  ( Click for more )

July 3, 2004

Flags are flying, firecrackers popping, ice cream melting, swimmer splashing-- it's that red, white and blue time of year.

Independence Day (or the Fourth of July as we commonly call it -- I wonder why?) has until the last few years been as full of tradition as most holidays in my family. But as we have all grown up and added in-laws and children it's hard to get together and keep up the familiar.

When I was younger we almost always went to my grandparents home, a farm, where we would gorge on watermelon (My grandpa always said the watermelons weren't really ready until July…  ( Click for more )

June 26, 2004
The other day I found myself in another conversation about childbirth. As moms we love to compare and scare with our horror stories of labor and delivery. (And ours is always the most horrible!) Don't we love to ask that first-time mom, "How long was your labor?", knowing that no matter what her answer is, we have a story to top it?

The truth is that for most moms the labor is 18 years and counting! We never stop worrying, encouraging, feeling guilty, and loving. And stay-at-home moms can honestly tell people they have the best job in the world.

Having been on both sides of…  ( Click for more )

June 19, 2004

All of us at one time or another have been in a traffic jam, whether rush hour on the freeway or fighting our way out of a parking garage after watching our favorite team win.

Traffic jams are usually to be found in a metro area or, in the case of my small town, after a sports or school event. There are times after ballgames in our little hamlet when a police officer has had to direct traffic from the school, and it still takes twenty minutes to thin out the cars.

In the last couple of years two new church buildings have been built across the street from my home church. Both…  ( Click for more )

June 12, 2004

Two houses away from us live two little girls who are close in age to my two boys. They all enjoy playing together outside and riding their menagerie of toys up and down the sidewalk. But their favorite thing is to ride in large circles around a large driveway.

The problem: we both have gravel drives -- not conducive to smooth rides on bikes, not to mention tricycles and wheeled horses. The solution: in the house between us lives a wonderful couple who have a wonderful paved drive and have welcomed the kids into it anytime. They have grandchildren who visit and use it as well.

What…  ( Click for more )

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