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10 Minutes Peace

    by Susan McGrath

June 5, 2004

In Exodus 36 the Israelites bring offerings to build the tabernacle and continue to bring freewill offerings until there are more materials than are needed for the construction. Moses gives the order that no one is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary. And the people were restrained from bringing more because there was enough to do all the work.

What would happen if we were to be so excited about the Lord, so full of love for Him and His work that we gave until there was no more need?

Surrounded by building projects and getting daily requests from mission…  ( Click for more )

May 29, 2004

It's here!

Popsicles sticking. Swimsuits dripping. Skin burning. Mosquitoes biting. Kids whining: "I'm bored." "It's too hot." "It's raining! What can I do now?"

Lawn mowing. Picture taking. Book reading. Late sleeping. Flower growing. Watermelon eating. Lightning bug catching.

The mess. The itching. The tedium. The delights.

Why such a mixture of dread and high expectations for summer? We've grown up knowing through songs, poems and the advertising industry that it is to be a restful, even "lazy", time. With no school and little work we can sit back and sip lemonade,…  ( Click for more )

May 22, 2004

The house where I lived as a child was built in 1921 and owned and occupied by only one family before my parents bought it in the early 1970's. Many remnants of their lives remained tucked in corners and cabinets. One of my favorites as a child was a large floor radio from the 1930's.

It stood in the upstairs hallway and many times when my mother was ensconced in her sewing corner, or on a rainy afternoon, my brother and I would visit distant places via this mysterious, tube-filled antique cabinet.

The reason it was so fascinating was not that it contained pre-set buttons for…  ( Click for more )

May 15, 2004

Perhaps you've never heard the term before. Or maybe you're one of those cutting edge people who update their vocabulary weekly with faddish phrases. In either case I want you to latch on to this term.

I first heard the term "re-purpose" on one of my beloved home renovation shows. One designer uses it frequently when she takes an existing piece from the home they are working on and turns it from a plain shelf into a magnificent showpiece, or space waster into practical storage.

I have seen them re-purpose a bookshelf into a shoe cubby, PVC pipe into shelving, baseball bats…  ( Click for more )

May 8, 2004

I am a mother. (Period.) No justification. No add-ons so I don't seem to be an uninteresting underachiever. No excuses for why I have a family and want to take care of them. Just "I am a mother."

I have participated in God's miracle of birth. I have been given the honor of acting as caregiver and protector of a helpless, innocent child.

I have been kissed by long lashes and sticky lips. I have played hide and seek, Hi-ho Cherry-O and Candyland more times than I can count. Uno has now been added to the list.

I have watched Barney videos until I sing the songs in my sleep.…  ( Click for more )

May 1, 2004

In the last scene of the movie "Titanic", the main character, Rose, a survivor of the Titanic, has died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 102. She "awakens" as a teenager back on the Titanic. Those who perished stand and applaud her as she finally joins them and proceeds to the grand staircase to be reunited with the love of her life.

It's a very poignant scene, though many would argue it won't be like that when we die. Maybe it will -- sort of. A recent sermon I heard brought this scene to mind and made me think about how I stand up for my Jesus in daily situations.

In…  ( Click for more )

April 24, 2004

My two-year-old has discovered money. He likes to get change from his grandpas and carry it around the house. When he brings his offering to Sunday school, they have a bank shaped like a church building where they put their money. Sometimes he likes to remove the "roof" and take the money back out, not because he has changed his mind, but because he enjoys putting it back in.

For him and for others in his class, giving their money to Jesus is fun!

The phrase, "laughing all the way to the bank" is probably familiar to most of us, but do we have the same attitude when we bank…  ( Click for more )

April 17, 2004

My kids have accumulated a lot of sidewalk chalk. The most recent came in their Easter baskets -- mini buckets with 30 colors! Sometimes it ends up on the front walk (since we don't have a back one), but many times my seven-year-old, especially when it's cold and he's bored, will beg to use it in the basement.

Our basement is far from "finished", with old brick walls and a concrete floor. Best of all, when we get a good steady rain the water trickles in and washes off the floor so he can start fresh again.

I was thrilled with the idea of him covering the basement floor in pastels.…  ( Click for more )

April 10, 2004

In the kindergarten class where I work, the kids are sometimes asked to draw a picture in their journals and then use their "kindergarten spelling" to write about it.

They recently had an assignment to draw what they liked about spring. One boy drew a beautiful picture of a sunny day and wrote, "I like the Son."

As I had him read it to me before putting it back on the shelf, I though, "I like the Son too!", and I thanked God for reminding me in a small way where my focus should be throughout the day.

In our ladies bible study a few years ago we had a lesson on creation…  ( Click for more )

April 3, 2004

The scent of fallen leaves in autumn, freshly bathed babies, funnel cakes at the fair, old houses in the spring, a real Christmas tree, pot roast as you walk in the door on Sunday after a long sermon, new cars, leather, new cars with leather interiors, lemons, Play-Doh, raindrops on roses (and whiskers on kittens -- sorry, I got carried away!) -- most of us would agree these are lovely aromas.

I know smells or aromas can be more nostalgic for me than almost any sight or sound. I've read that women are very sensitive to aromas and link them closely with memories. It's true for me!

I…  ( Click for more )

March 27, 2004

This time of year in Central Illinois it's hard to get dressed in the morning. When you go out the door it may be 28 degrees, but by afternoon it can warm up to the high 40s. Sweater? Jacket? Hat? Layers? Open-toed shoes? These are the dilemmas. As we say here, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute!"

It's especially tough for me, as my husband claims, I have a comfort zone of two degrees. Above 72 -- I'm sweating, below 70 -- I'm chilled. (I'm not quite that bad, but I do like cooler weather.) The point is I like to dress within my comfort zone.

How often, though,…  ( Click for more )

March 20, 2004

Some things I will never understand. (Algebra has eluded me for over twenty years!) But I don't have to comprehend complex equations to get through life. Then there are the things I don't get but want to understand -- like who really killed JFK and how does one sock in a pair escape the dryer before I open the door?

Many things in the bible are also confusing, but some I want to decipher even though they many not be essential to my relationship with or understanding of the Lord. I want to know what the earth was like before the flood. Where did the dinosaurs go? I want to know…  ( Click for more )

March 13, 2004

As I watch kindergartners say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag each morning, I notice that some are quite intent -- eyes fixed firmly on the flag, voices strong, hands placed carefully over their hearts. Others fidget, mumble or look around, their hands on everything but their hearts. Sometimes one will slip by the pledge leader and the teachers and not even stand up!

What can I learn from watching this display (or non-display) of patriotism? Consistently the kids who are saying the pledge and standing up tall with their hands and eyes in the proper places are the ones who…  ( Click for more )

February 28, 2004

I am a preservationist at heart. I cry at the thought of a historic structure being torn down. I cringe to see old photographs for sale at an antique store or auction. (Who could throw out a seventy-year-old picture of Aunt Mildred, even if they never met her?)

My home is an odd collection of old family photographs, family heirlooms and what I like to think of as antique furniture, but some dealers might call firewood. I also want to know my family's history and traditions and record it for my children.

I love the way my grandmother told about her two younger brothers and…  ( Click for more )

February 21, 2004

One of my favorite songs to teach the kids at church is "Shut De Do." Or translated to twenty-first century English, "Shut the Door". The chorus says "Shut de do, keep out de devil. Shut de do, keep de devil in da night. Shut de do, keep out de devil. Light de candle everything's all right."

The verses go on to talk about how evil Satan is and how he tries through our lifetime to tempt us. I hope you can follow my train of thought as I explain what brought me to this column.

On days when my husband and I both work, I drop off my two-year old at my parents' house. My father…  ( Click for more )

February 14, 2004

I love winter and snow. I've been joking with my husband recently about moving from Illinois to a place with more seasons -- like northern Minnesota! Many people hate the cold, the mess, the inconvenience of winter weather, but I have always seen it as beautiful and refreshing.

About three years ago we had a few inches of snow topped by some freezing rain. Though it made the driving a bit dangerous, as I got up that morning I noticed how beautiful the pine trees in the neighbor's yard looked as the sun shone on the ice. It was a magical winter wonderland.

But about two hours…  ( Click for more )

January 31, 2004

Recently a Toys 'R' Us store near us closed and within weeks the building was occupied with a Harley dealership. I joked to my husband that they had just traded kid's toys for "big boy" toys.

You've probably seen the T-shirt that says, "He who dies with the most toys wins". And perhaps the Christian T-shirt response, "He who dies with the most toys still dies."

Our tastes mature as we grow, but for some the child-like desire remains. We've all heard the line about "boys and their toys" (I think it can apply to "girls" too). But what happens when our walk with Christ, even our…  ( Click for more )

January 24, 2004

Many of you are too young to remember the fast food commercial with the old ladies who come in to order burgers and find that the meat is a microscopic dot on the bun. One woman gets in the server's face and says, "Where's the beef?" It became a kind of catch phrase for many years.

It's a question my husband will ask if he can't identify a portion of meat with each meal. (Although he'll settle for pork or chicken.) There are others, like my husband, who think a Caesar salad is a snack and wouldn't recognize tofu if it was wrapped around the TV remote. We call them "meat and potato"…  ( Click for more )

January 17, 2004

Watching a televised funeral a few months ago for a U.S. Senator who spent almost 50 years in office, through the terms of ten different presidents, and watching one recently for a well-known senator from my own state, I thought about how many important people they knew in their lifetimes.

There were probably many "ordinary" people who wanted to meet or get to know these men only for that reason -- they had connections, influence, power, wealth to some extent. All this could put someone on the path to a great career or successful business.

Who wouldn't want the opportunity…  ( Click for more )

January 10, 2004

My son has a book that I love reading to him called Mine! It's about a little girl who never wants to share her toys.

A friend comes over to play, and with each toy her friend picks up she yells, "Mine!" and takes it away. Mom intervenes and suggests they play with her new tricycle. They take it to the park and the little girl rides for awhile. But when her friend wants a turn she yanks it away and yells, "Mine!" The tricycle flies out of her hand and rolls down a hill, bouncing and banging along the way, losing parts left and right.

When they all reach what's left of the…  ( Click for more )

January 3, 2004

Remember the story of that little engine that could? A train carrying toys and food to the boys and girls over the mountain has broken down and all the other engines are too self-absorbed to stop and help, but not the Little Blue Engine. (The PTO/little league team needs a fund raising chair or VBS needs a director and all the other moms have jobs or new babies or aerobics classes or scrapbooking workshops, but you, with every square on your calendar already written on, will somehow find a way to fit it in.)

The Little Blue Engine has never done a job like this before and doesn't…  ( Click for more )

December 27, 2003

As you may already know from previous writings, I am a fan of home makeover shows. My new 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 for the show requires that they go into a home, clear out everything completely in the rooms they are making over, and carry them onto the lawn where they are sorted into piles of "Keep", "Sell" and "Toss".

The…  ( Click for more )

December 20, 2003

In preschool my son made a magnetic clothespin with an apple attached to the front. It was meant to display his work on the refrigerator. On the front of it was printed, "Lincoln's work is good enough to eat!"

One day my college-age brother came over and happened to notice it hanging there. He said, I want one of these that says "John's work is good enough!" (Quite the comedian.)

Wouldn't we all like to be told at the end of the day that our work is "good enough". Very few people, if any, would feel that way about themselves every day. Some of us could name people we think…  ( Click for more )

December 13, 2003

When I was in high school I worked at a fast food restaurant where we were programmed to end each transaction with "Have a nice day!" One Christmas Eve an older couple came in and ordered coffee. It was obvious the woman had been crying.

As she went to sit down, her husband explained, "We just got a call that our son-in-law was killed in an accident." I'm sure I mumbled something about how sorry I was, but as I served the coffee and handed him the change, that reflex kicked in and out of my mouth came THOSE WORDS, "Have a nice evening." (Yeah, right.)

Before I finished speaking…  ( Click for more )

December 6, 2003

(Last week I touched on being at peace during a stressful season. This is a bit of a continuation -- stress relief you can use during the holidays, or anytime.)

*With a cup of herbal tea (and even a friend) -- Read Psalms 37

*While listening to Christmas Cd's (Point of Grace is awesome, as is any Celtic instrumental) -- Read 24 (or any chapter in Isaiah)

*While eating something decadent and chocolate -- Read Proverbs 12

*Soaking in a tub of hot water and sweet-smelling bubbles (with the bathroom door locked) -- Read Psalms 62

*Driving to a holiday celebration…  ( Click for more )

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