Monday, September 30, 2013

1/31 Days Outside the Kitchen and On the Move!

I'm trying my best to get back in the blogging routine and jumping in with the 31 series for October. Already I know I won't have internet for the first 10 days (not in the home at least... First thing we turned off when we knew we were moving!), and my life is torn between AR and KY.

So my "do what you can plan" (as friend Holley Gerth would say) is to post a photo a day. There may (or may not) be a scripture, or even a comment! You (and I!) can be pleasantly surprised each day! I'll be surprised if I can get a post up from my phone without major errors in it! :)

So... Happy October!! And welcome to my version of 31 Days of Blogging!!


This is a fig tree in the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks. I haven't seen one in years, but remember the one we had growing in our backyard in Torrance, CA. My grandma loved eating them, and I just remember them being seedy...any Fig Newton would tell you that. I just think its a beautiful tree! The shiny leaves are thick and leathery, the fruit stands out in shape, texture and color. God the Artist did His best in composition on the lowly fig tree! Celebrate with me! Pass the Fig Newtons please!

Out of the Kitchen; A Beautiful Day

I apologize... I don't have internet where I'm staying right now, and am attempting to do this post from my phone.

It placed my pictures and won't let me scroll to the end to delete the duplicate text...sorry.

It was a lovely day today, and fall was in the air! I decided to stay out a little longer than I'd anticipated and head over to the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks, since this may be one of the last weeks I'm actually an Arkansas resident, and it was on my photography bucket list. I was not disappointed, and stayed nearly 3 hours strolling the gardens, enjoying the flora and fauna, and the beauty of the day!

I hope you'll enjoy this sampling of photos I took today...
















was in the air! I decided to stay out a little longer than I'd anticipated and head over to the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks, since this may be one of the last weeks I'm actually an Arkansas resident, and it was on my photography bucket list. I was not disappointed, and stayed nearly 3 hours strolling the gardens, enjoying the flora and fauna, and the beauty of the day!

I hope you'll enjoy this sampling of photos I took today...


Friday, September 13, 2013

From the Marina's Kitchen Table Archives - Post #11 - Communication 101


Thanks for coming back and visiting again! I'm still in the midst of trying to move (more on that later in the weekend) - but for now here's another "classic" post, from my old Yahoo Group days! I pray you're blessed by this post on Communication! 

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"May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer." Psalm 19:14 (NLT)

"If you keep your mouth shut, you will stay out of trouble." Proverbs 21:23 (NLT)

Words are so important that there are over 500 references to the word "words" in the Bible. Granted, some of these are referring to God's words, which should not be ignored. But several of these are written to us, about what WE say.

It's interesting to read what Solomon gave us as his bit of wisdom (above). How I wish I memorized this scripture early on in my Christian life!! I do not know ANYONE who does not regret saying SOMETHING at some time in his or her life. It seems that we have all offended someone (knowingly or not) or have been misinterpreted. I can think of several times in the last year that I would like to go back and change my words! Even with this lesson it is hard for me to keep my mouth shut!

In both the Old and New Testament we are instructed on what we should say (or NOT say!) and how our words should be spoken. I love how we are taught in Luke6:45, "A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil deeds from an evil heart. Whatever is in your heart determines what you say." This is not only a lesson for us to monitor OUR words, but helps us to discern the source of the words we hear. It makes me think, "consider the source" when I have heard hurtful things, whether it is against me personally or the Christian body as a whole. It is also a good reminder that what WE say gives others a magnifying glass to our own heart. Not only the words we speak at church, but in line in the grocery store (in front of strangers), in the break room at work (around our co-workers), or in our homes (in front of our children). So not only are our actions being watched (the expressions on our faces, the way we treat others, etc) but also our words, showing what we are made up of.

The other part of communicating is listening. How can we know what we are talking about if we are not listening to what is going on?

While attending college in Southern California in the late 70's, I heard a saying in both my Speech and Management classes. Now remember, this was a secular, State run learning institution, and I didn't know ANY Christians (or so I thought). The quote that appeared often was this, "God gave us two ears and only one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak." The message was very clear… LISTEN! I have learned that this is true whether it is listening to our pastor, our family members, or God Himself. We have to listen twice as much as we talk, or pray. Allow time to "hear" God through His word, the Bible, or to just "listen" to Him speak to your heart in prayer. Encourage your family to listen during church and set an example by taking notes and listening intently. Just as important, listen to what is said in your home. If you are hearing words that are offending you (or God) consider the source of contamination. Is it the TV, friends, music, or books? Is it exposing a heart that has drifted from God? Then spend some time with God and LISTEN to how He directs you to change them. He will give you the tools and courage to make those changes whether they need to be made in yourself, or in your home.


Blessings, Marina

Thursday, September 12, 2013

From The Archives: Post #10 - On Retreating

Still in the midst of a move, and after a 10 hour drive day (which was much longer, as it was sprinkled with GREAT times of fellowship and good-bye's, which of course, meant EMOTIONS too...) I'm pulling another post from the Archives. I pray that it ministers to your heart today, where YOU are! I know I was blessed, as I'd just completed listening to the cd's of the 2013 Global Leadership Summit on the drive! I hope that you take time to refresh and renew your skills, be encouraged, and grow in God as a leader. 

WHAT? You say you don't think you're a leader? EVERY ONE of us is leading someone, something... even if (at the least) we are pointing others to Christ... 

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"Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My load is light."

re-treat n 1 : an act or process of withdrawing esp. from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable 2 : a place of privacy or safety, refuge 3 : a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study and instruction

This past weekend, I was able to accompany 3 high school girls on a retreat for Youth Leaders. It was something planned a few months ago, before I had any idea that I would be having surgery. It still surprises me (and it shouldn't) to see how God plans our lives before we have any clue that a plan is in place.

Although the retreat was focused for students that are "leaders" in their schools or youth groups, there was so much there for me! It was then that I was reminded of the act of retreating, and that again, God's perfect timing was at work in my life. I got to see old friends, and mentors of my own walk with Jesus. It was held at Ozark Christian College, a place that feels like a second home to me (even though I have never attended classes there - yet!) and it provided a focus on spiritual renewal for me as I prepare to enter a difficult time in my life (healing from surgery).

I think that whenever "spiritual retreats" began, they must have seen the benefit of "military retreating" and felt that it would work in other applications. How often we have watched old war movies, to see the troops go back to the home camp to beef up on supplies and rest a little before making a final (victorious) attack. I think that this is the reason that we have spiritual retreats! We get battle weary, often thinking that we are alone in the battle. By retreating back to our home camp (putting God back into main focus) we see that we are not alone, and we receive the necessary stocking of supplies (spiritual) to be prepared to face the enemy, to attack with full force!

Although I love to get together with other Christians, there ARE times that we need to be alone with God. Even Jesus prayed alone in the garden (remember, the disciples all fell asleep while they were supposed to be on guard!) There is a time and a place for both. Even getting together for a day retreat with a few prayer partners is great, and may provide a more intimate time for renewal.

I'm hoping that God will provide a time for spiritual renewal for each of you. More than a devotional, or a daily prayer time, but something special that inspires, motivates and really refreshes you to a point of being aware of all that God wants to do in your life.

If your church doesn't offer one, check at a local Christian College (they are usually offering a Women's Clinic or Retreat in the spring) or serve at a church youth camp over the summer. One of the greatest ways to be blessed is through serving, and there are always jobs to do at a church camp! I know that you will be renewed spiritually, even if you are physically exhausted!

If nothing else is available, then organize one for yourself and a few friends. Plan a time to laugh, to relax, to pray, to dig deeper into God's Word, and to worship. If you don't feel capable of leading a Bible Study, then get a few teaching tapes from another retreat, or a favorite female teacher (Chondra Pierce is GREAT for the laughing part!) Larger churches usually have lending libraries (that helps keep the cost down.) I think that you will be renewed and refreshed and you will each be blessed by it!

Blessings!
Marina
PS- A special "Thank You" to those of you who have written words of
encouragement to me. God is using you daily to encourage me during
this trial! You are blessings in my life!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Hitting the Secret Archives! Marina's Kitchen Table Post #9 - Facing Surgery (and Vanity)

From April 19... somewhere in the mid 90's... sad that I didn't date my writing back then. I totally depended on my computer to save my dates...live and learn... 

Please read the epilogue at the end... from today (September 7,2013)
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Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Just hearing the words "Proverbs 31" can make me shudder! I can't believe how short I fall in comparison to the triumphs of the woman that this was written of. 


But lately, it is this single verse that has brought me comfort.

I have faced the fact that I am going to have surgery (4/24) and that in itself is a relief. At one time, my biggest concern was "Is this cancer?", but I caught myself in a quandry over the weekend. I was not so concerned WHAT they would find, but HOW they would find it!

Now, I am not a great beauty. I don't wear a lot of makeup (usually not any!) and I don't have a youthful and svelt figure. What I lack in "skinny" I make up for in saggy skin! 


I have not ever thought of myself as a "vain" person, but I found myself more concerned with the
hassles of post op and the possibility of scarring rather than what the prognosis would be! Talk about having my priorities all messed up!


I was disappointed in my own reaction (which gave me the right to throw a pity party) and then I faced the reality of it all; what will my battle wounds reveal of my heart?

I know people. A lot of people. I knew a woman who died at the age of 97, after burying 6 of her own children. She was not bitter, and never expressed disappointment or anger at God for what He had brought her through. How could she? She had been given a long, full life, in which she had been able to encourage many and share God's grace with all.

I know another woman, who is married to a wonderful man. Yet what flows from her is the bitterness of a thwarted romance some 40 years earlier. It has affected her health, her looks (sorrowful scorn), her attitude and her witness. It is sad.

I can let these scars, no matter how noticeable from the outside, either give me character or decay my heart. I only pray that I am worthy to carry these scars, and that I will consider it a privilege to be used by God in such an unusual way!

Oh, I expect that there will be days of pain, being inconvenienced and down right frightened. I need to focus on the end result. Healing. If not divinely, through a touch of God, then through the
gift of medical technology. Someday it will be ULTIMATELY, to be restored unto God, in heaven. Until then, I will go to battle, gladly bearing the scars of whatever trial He brings me through. Willing to go again, wherever He may call me. Learning the lessons again, and again, and again...until He returns.


Epilogue:

The surgery was a "partial parotidectomy" to remove a lymph node in the parotid gland that was in my right cheek, near my jaw line. They had to make a "Y" shaped cut around my ear to get to it, and I still have a scar from in front of my ear, in back of my ear, and down my neck. It was the most painful thing I ever went through post op. It all started with an episode of toxoplasmosis - from cats. Always wear rubber/latex gloves under your garden gloves (and a mask if it's dusty, since you can inhale the bugs that cause it!).

Now, people say they don't see the scar - but I know one of my earlobes is different than the other, and know that the scar is there. I can trace it down my neck. 

Why are we like that? When others don't even know we've been scarred, we are quick to point it out! I want to get over that. I mean, I realize that a lot of it is my HIS-story - ways He has healed me and I need to tell that, but not always the hurts, the things that would have, should have killed me that didn't - but left a scar still... those need to be let go of, right?  Do you have scriptures or words of encouragement to assist me? 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Revisiting the Marina's Kitchen Table Archives - #8

I recently found the hard drive of all my first posts, writing in a Yahoo Group called Marina's Kitchen Table. It was the same thing as here, but perhaps a little more devotional in writing, as I leaned hard on God during a really difficult season in life. 

I'm sharing those first writings again, as we make another move, and I anticipate my time at the computer to be more focused on getting the work done on that handbook on Missionary Care. 

I hope that you enjoy these entries as much as I do. I have NO idea where this journey will go, as I was as irregular a writer then as I am now! :)  Some things never change! 

Be blessed!
Marina
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When I moved from Southern CA to Georgia, not only did I leave all of my family, but a lifetime of friendships too. To top it off I knew not one person in Georgia, with the exception of the realtor that showed us houses, and the man my husband would share an office with. 

My children were young (1 and 2 1/2) and I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. Mark was traveling on the road, and was determined to get established in his new position before this child was born, so he could take the time off to help me following the c-section we knew I needed to have. I even changed OB's, to deliver with an almost stranger in (of all places) Snellville. The adventure was wonderful. The turmoil was not. More than anything I wanted the security and comfort of the friendships that I had known in California. When I petitioned God about this, He had a pleasant surprise in store!

Since we moved to an outside area of a growing city, there were several churches for us to try. Unfortunately, they were MUCH more formal than the churches we had known "back home", where you could get away with wearing shorts and a t-shirt on any Sun. AM. Mark frequently stated that he couldn't go to a church where the 3 year olds were dressed in more expensive suits than what he owned! It didn't fit us right. We decided to "bite the bullet" and travel the 30 miles to attend a "non-denominational" church that was a part of the same church family we had attended in CA. Although there wasn't a familiar face in the small crowd, it was like coming home. What a blessing.

Although we determined that to be our "home church", the biggest blessing was the way that they accepted us as a part of their family.
My sister was able to come from CA to help me with my kids (while Mark shuffled from home to hospital) and a group of women scheduled meals for us upon my return home. Shortly after Jason was born they threw a shower for us, and we were barely acquainted  Now please remember that this was not my neighborhood group, but they had to travel the 30 miles (sometimes more!) to get to my house. Not once did anyone grumble, and it made it so much more pleasurable for us when we were at church, as folks often invited us to stay on Sunday's between services, so we wouldn't have to make the drive back and
forth. It was our initiation into a society of "southern hospitality", even though some of our new friends hadn't been in GA much longer than we! God had given them a mindset of friendship, and they obeyed the call to "show hospitality to strangers", something I will always remember.

The 2 other moves we made were not as wonderful. Moving to SW Missouri has been the hardest, and I still say that after living here for 9 1/2 years! I am grateful for every friend that God has given me, here and abroad. I have learned some wonderful things in the process.

1. Friendship can be a season. Just like there is a season for "everything under the sun", our friendships can run in seasons too. I have one friend that I see all spring, but rarely any other time. Oh, we call eachother occasionally, but our friendship blooms while our sons play baseball together. I would not rather cheer next to anyone, and we relate to the joys (and frustrations) of our team, whether we are sitting in the bleachers during the games, or walking the trails in the park during the practices. Yet if there is an emergency, she is there for me, no matter what the season.

2. Friendship does not apply to the "bigger is better" rule. Most of the scriptures that I find friendship in, popularity is not recommended. God advocates small groups, and often it is one or two friends that makes the impact. Notice what He says in Eccl.4:9-12. He
relates our labor, our recovery from trials, the provision of warmth, and the safety of two. Not a group of 20, just 2. How amazing that just 2 of us can make such a big difference in the world! Even I can handle that!

3. Friends are just people, who sometimes make mistakes and let us down, just like everyone else. This was an important one to learn in my marriage, as well as my other friendships. It is an important fact that we emphasize in our pre-marital counseling. I can not meet my husbands needs. It's not in me. Mark can not meet my needs either. BUT God can equip Mark to meet my needs, and He can equip me to meet Mark's needs, IF both of us keep coming back to the Father to get what we need to give each other. (got it?) It's the same thing in our other friendships. Our major relationship is our friendship with God, His Son Jesus, and "the Great Comforter" the Holy Spirit. If we can enrich our relationship with our Creator, then all of our other earthly relationships will fall into place. Accepting them where they are to be may take prayer and obedience, but if we are relying on God, we will find contentment. It may not be the crowd I've always imagined that I would "run" with, but if God equips us to minister to each other, and meet each other's needs, that's where I want to hang out!

4. There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (or sister?). I love my family, but they are not always the one's that God allows to minister to me (and we don't often receive our sibling's advice well, do we?) Who was it that said, "We can choose our friends, but we can't choose our family?" My best friends (mentors) will always tell me what God wants me to hear, not what I want to hear. Sometimes our families love us too much to be honest with us. That's why God gave us friendship.

I pray that your friendships may be refreshed with the season of spring. I look forward to the surprises that God gives me through friendship, and the blessings that will bloom. Know that even when we feel like we don't have a friend in the world, we do. Jesus longs to be with us through everything we experience. There have been so many times that I have prayed "God, I'm lonely. Please bring me a friend!" He has never let me down! That prayer has been answered by the gift of Theresa (found on a basketball bleacher between games), by Christine (given to me as a response to an ad for babysitting), by Mary Beth (given to me in the school secretary's office), by Charlotte (who was actually an answer to prayer for a "mom" type person for my life, and sat behind me in church for a year before we got to be "family") and through Denise (who was actually a blessing waiting for the right time to bloom!) Are these my only friends? NO WAY! But they are wonderful examples that blessings come when we least expect them, and are usually not in the places that we expect to find them.


Remember the old saying, "It takes a friend to be a friend!" It's true. So be a friend to a stranger today!

Monday, September 2, 2013

My Weekend in Photos


Normally on Monday's I'm tied to the computer for DaySpring, checking in on posts and following up with correspondence. But today - TODAY - my email was off line, so I couldn't see but a handful of posts made to Facebook and waiting to be posted on Meet Me In The Meadow. I took advantage of it and went on a butterfly hunt for one of the posts later this week that needed a photo of a butterfly!

The storms that blew through Sunday afternoon, left it a bit cooler today... in the 80's instead of near 100. 

It was a little cooler out, but I knew I'd have to find a place with flowers blooming and water for it to be a successful hunt.

I went to Audubon State Park first. I saw several birds there, but no butterflies, and their flowers were really sad... even their manicured garden was only displaying ornamental flowers. :(  Disappointing.


One of the few flowers at Audubon State Park...








A lovely hibiscus in a pot at the Audubon Museum Gardens. 


Then I headed over to some gardens that I remembered going to with a friend a few years ago. I thought I remembered them being just off The Lloyd (the main highway through Evansville), but I wasn't exactly sure where. I tried to get Siri to help on my phone, but alas, she didn't know what I was talking about. I winged it and drove along, and ran into them on my own (well, with God's help!).


Bees and Butterflies were all over the gardens! Hope there are local bee keepers taking care of all the honey! 

The gardens are there on behalf of the Master Gardeners of SW Indiana! YAY!! Although I haven't completed my Master Gardener volunteer hours, I did manage to get the classes done last winter in Fayetteville. Sadly, this isn't the group I would get to join (it goes by county, and they aren't even in the same STATE as me!). Oh well. I'll check out Kentucky Master Gardener offerings another time.




Enjoy the photos, and I hope you had a great weekend!


Smelled so sweet! 

Lovely color!

Nom...nom..nom...

Taking flight!


Zinnias...

...zinnias...

...and more zinnias!

Color contrast was lovely!

My favorite butterfly that was hanging around today.

Lovely roses...several varieties there...some more fragrant than others...

Love the color and texture contrast!



Revisiting the Marina's Kitchen Table Archives - #7

I recently found the hard drive of all my first posts, writing in a Yahoo Group called Marina's Kitchen Table. It was the same thing as here, but perhaps a little more devotional in writing, as I leaned hard on God during a really difficult season in life. 

I'm sharing those first writings again, as we make another move, and I anticipate my time at the computer to be more focused on getting the work done on that handbook on Missionary Care. 

I hope that you enjoy these entries as much as I do. I have NO idea where this journey will go, as I was as irregular a writer then as I am now! :)  Some things never change! 

Be blessed!
Marina
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There is a new song by Fernando Ortega that is getting a lot of air play on our local Christian radio station (90.7 KOBC). I can't sing the verses, but there is a line in the chorus that says "This good day, It is a gift from You". The theme is basically, no matter what this day holds, it is still a gift from God, and that alone is enough to make it a good day.

Today I needed to know that. I have been dealing with an ongoing nuisance health problem. I use that term because it is not something that everyone can see, and it doesn't APPEAR to be life threatening, and my personal physician thinks it's just the effects of a previous
problem that has already been solved, like scar tissue. In my heart of hearts, I have felt (since last May) that there is something more going on. It's not ugly. It's not incredibly painful, just
uncomfortable. It just bugs me.

Today was THE DAY. I saw a new Dr., a SPECIALIST, and he confirmed that this probably had nothing to do with the other problem (that has since been resolved). Although he isn't sure WHAT it is, he knows what steps to take to identify the problem, and will have options to
correct it/deal with it. With his words, I cried. Not sad tears, but tears of relief! Confirmation!

Now, nothing horrible happened today. I had some blood work done in preparation for a CAT scan (Fri) and I will not know those results until next week. Even that will be a "painless procedure" and I have nothing to fear. Yet there is this level of suspense that looms in my
heart. Not quite fear, maybe anticipation. Like preparing for a journey, and not knowing what to expect on the trip.

In my "mind's eye" I have a vision. I am standing behind a HUGE shield. I can see that God is holding it in front of me, and I feel the warmth of His presence behind me. Not pushing me, but walking with me. Yet I am completely surrounded by Him. If I grow weary, I can fall back on Him. If I enter a dangerous situation, He will protect me. I can not see around the shield, it is so big. I feel incredibly safe here. I know that I need to take steps, I can't stand still, and yet I can't see where to place my feet.

Is it blind faith?

I know the source of my strength, my protection. I trust Him completely with all of my steps, all of my life. I know that danger will be out there, but I KNOW that I am safe. There is a peace in this shelter. He is the shelter, I am His created. He is the giver of every day, no matter what it holds. As long as I remain "in Him" I will be safe.

That takes action on MY part. So here I stay. In the "walls of His fortress," in the "shadow of His wings."

I will spend today reading the Psalms, and of the times that others saw God as a "rock and fortress in whom I can trust".

Blessings to each of you, as you celebrate "this good day"!