Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love Never Fails . . . to Amaze

 Whose idea was it to put chocolate candy in a huge heart shaped box?  And why exactly does that say I Love You?  The sweet treats inside are the focus of the gift, right? Women are known for melting in the arms of any man who brings them chocolate, so why the fancy packaging? Maybe the point really is the totally un-necessary extravagance of the whole thing. You certainly can’t reuse the box for anything. There is no nutritional value. It’s always a challenge to figure out which of the candies contains the dreaded coconut, or is dominated by a big nut. Maybe the reason we like this showy, sugary gift is that we know the giver would have much rather spent his money on something else. The fact that he picked out a great big red box with sinfully sweet candy in it just for us really means a lot. It’s motivated by pure love. Yes, that must be it.
 Valentine customs have absolutely no logic to them. When we were kids, we used to save empty cardboard oatmeal canisters, cover them with red construction paper and cut a slot in the top. Then, we took them to school, put our name on them, and waited for our classmates to drop in little cards. The messages on the cards were as corny as they were cute. A picture of a pencil and a paper that said “I dot my eyes on you.” A cowboy who exclaimed “You’re the greatest, Podner!” A hive of buzzing insects spelling “Bee Mine.” Sometimes, there were attempts at humor. “Roses are red, violets are purple. Sugar is sweet and so’s maple surple.”
 The fun in those little cards, though was in the giving. At least for the females in the classroom. We spread out all of the cards and found the one that looked the most special. The one that really “meant” something. Then, we agonized over which boy in the class would get that most special message. Would he understand that he was seriously our pick for favorite valentine? I have a feeling that the boys probably gave the box of cards and the list of names to their moms and walked away.
 As we got older, we didn’t buy cards for every kid in our class. We longed for special attention from one person in particular. If that person had no clue we were waiting, we were disappointed. So, instead, we planned dances, and got on the decorating committee. Then, on the big night, we dressed up and arrived to watch the couples dancing. It was all fun and games until the couples left and the decorating committee had to double as the clean-up crew. Oh well.
It has always amazed me that the male of our species never understands how easy it would be to make his favorite female happy on Valentine’s Day. They quite often err on the side of “getting it wrong.” All it really takes is remembering. A cheesy card, a box with a big red bow, a flower or two. It’s really not that hard. Whatever comes from the heart is sure to please.
 After our life partners are established, the customs become even stranger. We now feel that only the most special date night will fill the bill. So, everyone tries to make reservations at the most memorable spot. One that means something to our relationship. The site of the first date, the spot where he popped the question. Trouble is, so many folks share that same special place. So, the lines are long, and the baby-sitter’s tab is huge.
Hubby and I created a practical solution that involves the magical way to your partner’s heart- through the stomach. Several years ago, we decided to start cooking a gourmet meal at home on Valentine’s Day. No waiting at a restaurant, no big heart-shaped boxes of confectionary mystery. Instead, we scour the internet for a recipe, shop a couple of days ahead for the perfect ingredients, and slave away for an hour after arriving home from work. (The years that Valentine’s day falls on a Saturday are really the best.) At the proper time, we light a candle and settle in for the adventure of the year. If everything didn’t turn out as we planned, it is all okay. After all, the effort involved is the real gift. Oh, but one important step in this tradition must be observed. A picture is posted on Facebook. Why? To avoid a future argument. “It’s your turn to cook this year. I did it last year.” Thank goodness for that timeline feature.

Share your heart with someone this year. If nothing else, it makes for a great story!


Friday, January 12, 2018

A Vessel for Honor - 2 Timothy 2:20-21

The word vessel conjures up a couple of different images in my mind. The first is of a vehicle, a mode of transportation, usually on the water. This is the what the song made popular by Garth Brooks refers to. "I will sail my vessel 'til the river runs dry."

When my husband and I went on our first cruise, I learned that the level of safety I felt depended on the vessel I was in. The massive cruise ship was like a floating hotel. From the inside, if the seas were not choppy, it was easy to forget I was on a boat. Because of skillful designers, craftsmen and engineers, it not only stayed afloat, but provided a very happy place for a vacation. Another smaller boat took us to an island retreat. We were closer to the water, feeling the effects of the waves, but because the men piloting the boat knew their vessel, I was still confident. I trusted their knowledge and experience.

Because the size of a vessel is limited, care must be taken to only bring along what is most important. In the case of the cruise ship, regular "tenders" keep the right amount of supplies aboard to serve the needs of the passengers. As we see in Matthew 14: 47 and 48, when God casts a net,  He "gathers the good into vessels, but casts the bad away".

We understand the concept of traveling in a vessel. But what if we begin to see ourselves as a vessel, to be used for God's purpose? It's a humbling thought.

We are all different. God made us that way. And he had different purposes in mind for each of us. Second Timothy 2:20 says "But in a great house there are no only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour."  The original purpose and use for each of those vessels may change. Even the gold and silver ones can be neglected, go un-polished,  become buried in rubble. The simpler ones, made to hold firewood, water, or even trash, can be cleaned up and used for another purpose. There is beauty in their simplicity. Continuing in verse 21, "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto houour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work."

We can't change the way God made us. Romans 10:21-23 "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had prepared unto glory."

The plans and dreams I have had since I was a child are just that, MY plans and dreams. This year, recognizing that God made me for His purpose, I am dedicated to purging everything that gets in the way of His plan for me, and preparing myself to be used the way He intended. Slowly, carefully, watching what I eat, participating in healthy activities.

This will also apply to my writing. I will read the things that will benefit His plan, use social media in a way that glorifies Him, attend conferences and associate with people who can assist me along His way.

Listening for his leading, I intend to be the vessel He envisioned when He created me.

All scripture references are from the King James Version