Cherish your possessions – Diligence, Part 1



“ … the diligent man prizes his possessions.” Proverbs 12:27  (New International Version, 1973)

Benefits of cherishing your possessions. When my daughter was little and we struggled with single-parent poverty, I learned that taking good care of everything we had—“prizing” or cherishing my possessions—helped us both enjoy them more. When I read the Bible verse above for the first time so long ago, I worked four patient weeks to clear out the clutter, clean, polish, and then invest in a few inexpensive furnishings. A gingham tablecloth on our card table-dining table, matching place mats and artificial flowers turned our dining corner of the kitchen into an island of beauty for Sharon’s ten-year-old eyes and my grateful ones.

“Fighting clutter is like fighting weeds” (anonymous). A few weeks ago I looked around my tiny apartment and realized I had failed to “prize my possessions” for far too long.  I had excused my laziness by thinking, “No matter what I do it still looks like a storage unit because boxes have to be stacked along nearly every wall.”  It stung when I remembered the first part of the Bible verse quoted above “The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions.”

Ouch! Since then, I’ve been working to tidy things up and clear out accumulated clutter. It will take a while to finish but already I’m feeling less stressed. Read the article from Psychology Today at the link below to see why.

Amazing, isn’t it? I’m so grateful my loving heavenly Father gently, but firmly, reminded me of one no-cost way I can make my life more peaceful.  And who can put a price on peace?

Forest dawn

My hard-working, thrifty father

My father, my hero. Each evening about seven in my tiny apartment, the grand sonority of French horns rings out, echoing the rhythmic undulation of gentle valleys and hills. Sprightly flutes and tinkling triangles punctuate the majestic melody as it rises and falls, building tension and then, all at once, releasing it.  Mmm, a deep sigh. This television theme song, like ones in childhood memory, speaks of courage, fortitude, and persistence. Each evening, I sit in my old rocker, eating supper and watching an old television series or movie. Each evening, a comforting kinship with my father envelops me.

Back in the sixties, Westerns dominated weeknight TV. Two or three nights a week after supper, we three kids sprawled close to Daddy in his recliner, watching “Laredo” or “Maverick” while Mom had a few minutes to herself.

The music of hope. The theme music of those westerns we watched fit the grand scale of the mountains and plains of the southwest where they were filmed. The camera closed in on our cowboy heroes then panned back over broad vistas of lonely mesas and buttes. The good guys won, but always after a gutty scrap with the bad guys.

Daddy’s days in the rock mine began before sunup and ended after sundown. Looking back, I know the gallant music, the resplendent terrain, and the clarity of the story in those westerns galvanized his resolve to get up tomorrow, yet again, to provide for his family. His quietly heroic heart knew a comforting kinship on those evenings.

Hard-working and frugal. Now, each evening as I eat supper, the sympathetic melody reminds me how blessed we were. Our two hard-working, thrifty parents instilled into their children the same values, gifts more precious than diamonds. Each evening I thank God for my parents, for their gift of an unjealous heart, and for the magic of music that grips and fuels the soul.

Grace upon grace. . . we have all we need.

ceredigion wave

 “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16, English Standard Version)

Blessed in hard times. I heard “Grace Upon Grace” when I was a new Christ follower. The reassuring lyrics and gentle melody have echoed in my spirit for more than 30 years as God has provided time after time, year after year. Truly, His grace is like the waves on the shore.

  • Once, when my ten-year-old daughter needed shoes, we found a twenty dollar bill tucked under some sweaters for a “rainy day.”
  • Someone in church paid her tuition at a Christian school – for seven years.
  • More times than I recall we found ridiculous savings on groceries.
  • The owner of a car repair shop who attended our church fixed our tired little car – for nearly nothing.
  • When my daughter outgrew clothes, family or friends showed up and took us shopping.
  • Best of all, God gave me a grateful heart and taught me to trust in Him, not myself.

Trusting God. And what was I doing all those years? Well, I prayed – a lot! I obeyed everything I knew about God, always studying to learn more. I tithed, even though another well-meaning believer said “God will understand if you don’t tithe right now”.  I served in my local church, witnessed as the Lord led, and kept seeking to draw closer to God.

I was and will always be far from perfect, but I know enough to obey and trust God. He has shown Himself  my perfect Provider, Father, Best Friend, Counselor, Healer, Comforter, and so much more! 

Today, I am still what most would call poor. Yet, I am rich – I am seeing my grandsons grow, and I have the privilege of writing during my retirement years.  Best of all, year by year, love for God and His Word, for nature,  music, and friends  deepens year by year.  And His grace continues to pour, as faithful as the waves on the shore, “always enough, always more … “

Trust brings encouragement. Whatever your need, wherever you are, God’s grace is pouring out on you whether you recognize it or not.  By His grace, every living thing has His breath of life. He longs for you to have His peace and to live a full, joy-filled life, regardless of outer circumstances.

As the Message translation of the Bible says in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.”

Cast your worries on Him as you listen to “Grace Upon Grace” at the link below. Ponder how faithful He is. Ask Him to open your eyes to the grace He is pouring out on you this very moment.

“Like the ocean in waves, ever sweeping the shore,

to His children comes the grace of the Lord

And like the mighty sea, so deep and so wide

His grace to us saints — an endless supply.

Grace upon grace, like the waves on the shore!

Always enough, always more!

Grace upon grace, like the waves on the shore,

all that we need is ours from the Lord.

Daylight or midnight, the waves touch the shore,

One on another, they faithfully pour!

Summer or winter, they never subside,

and so our gracious Father provides …

Grace upon grace, like the waves on the shore!

Always enough, always more!

Grace upon grace, like the waves on the shore

all that we need is ours from the Lord … all that we need is ours from the Lord.

From the 1984 CD “Fighting the Fight” – by Gordon Jensen

Running at Sunset

Finding Blessing in Sickness – Part 1 of ?

For the last three months, I have been busy. As I said in the last post in March, I did indeed reconsider where this and my other blog are going.  However, I also have been busy adjusting to a health scare.

Because having the same post on two different blogs can cause problems, you will find the story of these last three months on my other blog –

I look forward to sharing with you this ongoing story of God’s goodness and faithfulness. In all ways, and for always, God is good and He has good plans for us!

May God richly  bless you and yours,




A Pause to Reconnoiter

The word ” reconnoiter” means to examine or survey an area.  That is what I have been doing recently regarding blogging and writing.    Blogging and building an author’s “platform” (that is, a large group of loyal readers) takes so much time and effort that it leaves little time (and energy!) to actually write.   I must find the right balance between these two efforts.

This blog and my other one are NOT going away!

I am just  taking a pause to set aside time with God, to stop and reflect and hear from Him what He wants for this work.  After all, this writing is for Him and for you, not me. So please pray for me as I seek His will to find the best way this writing will help you.

I pray that you will have daily joy on your individual journey.  Though neither of us knows exactly where the path of our life will lead, we know our dear Father in heaven has good plans for us.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

sketch winding road


Ch 8, Post 3 A New Way of Talking with My Teen

Relaxing Parental Control

The next Friday, when Sharon asked to stay out late after the basketball game, instead of immediately saying “No”, I said, “Well, let’s talk about that.” We did talk, and we reached a compromise. That Saturday morning, she was tired from staying out with her friends and I was tired from sitting up writing until she got home. We were equally irritable.

“I told you I don’t want anything but juice and toast for breakfast!”

“Well, excuse me!  I guess I got your order mixed up with someone else’s!”

“And why do we have to have such a small, wobbly table to eat on?”

Suddenly, I remembered the little speech I’d prepared for the next time we both got snippy.

“Sharon, we’re both a little tired right now, so let’s just be quiet, including me, until we feel better. Remember our problem is the problem, not each other. And our problem right now is this little kitchen and little, wobbly table.”

Our tiny table was a problem (picture from Dreamstime)
Our tiny table was a problem (picture from Dreamstime)

This little speech I repeated countless times in the ensuing teen years, sometimes out loud, many times silently, with one or the other of our problems plugged as the subject:  the lack of money, the lack of a car for Sharon, or the lack of privacy and space in the apartment.

Investing in My Daughter When She Needed It Most

Besides investing my emotional energy in maintaining our relationship, I determined to invest monetarily as well. I made it an irregularly regular habit to surprise her with a pizza date or a trip to the mall for the stone-washed jeans, hemp sandals, or silver anklet I knew her friends had but that she hadn’t even mentioned.

She would be a teenager only once, and she had already spent so much of that tumultuous time of her life working too hard and doing without too much.  I knew she cherished each little unexpected pleasure as much as she had those two unexpected mechanical pencils the Christmas she was ten.

She still appreciated the little things
She still appreciated the little things

Ch 8, Post 2 My Parenting Style Had to Change – Radically

The Old Way of Parenting No Longer Worked

The next day after work, I went to the library and then a book store.  At home, I hid the stack of books about teenagers as carefully as I hid her Christmas presents.  Over the next few days after she was in bed or otherwise absent from the house, I pulled them out and studied them as if I had an eighth grade final in algebra.


Skimming two or three of them helped me see that adolescence had simply snuck up on us.  It made me feel better to know that what we had been experiencing was at least normal, even if a little frightening.  It was hard to believe my little girl, my precious little baby, was a full-blown teenager but the descriptions in those books were as clear as the advice they gave.

I had to give her more freedom, in all areas of her life in general, in line with her maturity level. I had to radically change how I was communicating with her with respect to what I said, how I said it, and why I said it.  [ “How to Talk So Your Teenager Will Listen”by Paul Swets saved our relationship.  Here is a link to that precious, precious book.

I frowned so hard it hurt when I read the list of communication errors parents of teens typically make. I saw myself in every item.

“And I was so proud of having a close relationship with her, of being sure I knew what was going on, daily, in her little world and her little heart!”

 I Wanted My Little Girl To Stay Little

It hurt to accept that my little girl was growing up
It hurt to accept that my little girl was growing up

There it was again. I had to stop thinking of her as a little child, as my child. I had to start thinking of her as a soon-to-be adult. If I didn’t, it would show in my words, my tone of voice, and my face. Over and over again I read the lists of right attitudes and comments expressing those attitudes. I made a cheat sheet and tucked it inside a kitchen cabinet out of sight.

And, of course, I prayed, long and earnestly, for self-control and wisdom, especially wisdom, about the job issue and how to help her cope with our finances.  My efforts paid off, almost immediately.




Ch 8, Post 1 My New Frontier: Parenting an Adolescent

Chapter Eight-  Torment

            Anger is like . . .  Well, how can you really describe anger?  It comes in so many forms, from mild irritation to agitated frustration to towering, all-consuming rage. Each person experiences, and expresses, each of those forms in a manner consistent with personality, role in the situation, and, in the case of a teenage girl and her mother, state of hormone imbalance and reserve of parental patience respectively.

Irrespective of how it’s defined or individually experienced, anger involves change, change that has happened, soon will happen, or that needs to happen.        there is 32 shut door free cliparts all used for free

One night early that winter, what had become a typical shouting match between teen and parent ended, just as typically, with a slammed bedroom door and Sharon’s angst-soothing loud music. I stood in our little front room, the air still bristling with tension, and thought, with no small amount of irritation, at the natural order of things, the way growing up had to be, how adolescence had changed Sharon, and, of course, changed our relationship.

The physical changes, of course, were coming one after another, as were the mental and emotional changes, exactly as they were supposed to.

However, my cherished little girl was also becoming sensitive to the pressure to conform, to dress, talk, look, and act like her peers and to do and have the same things.  That’s where the friction was.

That summer, she’d starting working in a bookstore, 20 hours a week.  She had completed all the work my boss had for her to do on Saturdays about that time. And she wanted more money.

Fortunately, her new job had increased her weekly earnings at the same time her new adolescent status had increased her desire for what those earnings could buy. Of course, she wanted things like mascara and eye shadow, magazines to read, movies to see, and pizza to eat with friends, all of which I could not buy for her.

Things Single Parents Cannot Provide

When school started, though, her paychecks had taken a nosedive.  Now she wanted to work three afternoons a week as well as Saturdays in a fast food franchise.  We’d had several quite warm discussions, but none so intense or loud as tonight. Our positions were entrenched.  It was all-out war.

money_3 clipart - money_3 clip art

“I am old enough to have a regular job now!  I can still get my homework done and get enough sleep.  IF I don’t start working now, I”ll never be able to save for a car. You can’t buy me one.  What else am I supposed to do?”

“I don’t know,” I’d replied, my voice thick with threatening tears.  “But you are not old enough to work like an adult, and you’re not going to!”

How could I have gotten so angry and yelled so loudly when I loved her so much?  I slumped on the sagging blue plaid love seat, elbows on my knees, head in my hands, and closed my eyes.  I prayed and cried at the same time, quietly so she would not hear

CH 7, Post 8 A Birthday Too Sweet For Words, Part 2 of 2

Overwhelmed Beyond Words by Love

By the time I finished unwrapping, I was losing the battle to hold back tears. Sharon had bought so many presents for my birthday.  I was overwhelmed beyond words

The blue teakettle, to replace the one that had long ago lost its whistle and had long ago acquired its own distinct pattern of mineral deposits, had cost at least 10 dollars.  The dish drainer, its predecessor equally as old but showing its age even more than the teakettle, had cost about the same and so had the ten packs of notebook paper I used for my writing.

The tea kettle was perfect and such a thoughtful gift
The tea kettle was perfect and such a thoughtful gift

It was not only the cost, that had come from three long Saturdays of toil in my boss’ garage and yard, that made the presents unbearably special.  Sharon had lugged everything home on foot.  From our apartment, it was well over a mile to the department store.

“I had to make two trips, because the paper was heavy, but I didn’t mind, and the lady in the store was real nice.  She kept the drainer and teakettle under her counter until I got back, and now you have paper for a whole year.”

I bit my lip so hard it hurt as I smiled through wet eyes.

“Now, Mommy. Come sit at the table.  e have to have cake and ice-cream, you know.”

“The individual Sara Lee cheesecakes and the gourmet vanilla ice-cream cost her another Saturday,” I thought as I leaned over and patted her hand, no longer the dimpled hand of my little girl and not all that much smaller than mine.

“Thank you again, baby, so so much.  You made this day very, very special.   I appreciate all your hard work and how much you must have thought about everything.  It’s all just totally, absolutely perfect!”

She didn’t blush, but she lowered her head, pressed her lips together tightly, and turned her head to one side.

Nothing ever tasted sweeter, or was harder to swallow, than that strawberry cheesecake and vanilla ice-cream.  I struggled to get it past the lump in my throat and smile at the same time.  I just wanted to hug her forever.  How could she be so loving?  And so generous?  She was so very very young still.

Like “The Gift of the Magi”

Sharon’s generosity reminded me of the timeless tale “The Gift of the Magi”, written by O. Henry (a pen name for William Sydney Porter).   In this classic tender portrayal of a young couple in love, they each sell their most treasured possessions in order to buy the Christmas gift the other is longing for but has not mentioned.  (Here is a link to a delightful black and white video set in the time the story was written.)

Jim, the husband, sells his beloved watch to buy combs for Della’s beautiful hair.  Della cuts her hair so she can buy her husband Jim a watch chain.  Here is a link for the full text of the story.

Loving, totally selfless sacrifice, given from a heart bursting with love – that was my Sharon.  I was so proud of the beauty of her heart!

When I told a friend at work about it, she smiled her grandmotherly smile.

“It’s going to be hard, for both of you, when she gets to be a teenager,” Betty had said. “The two of you are unusually close.”

I’d politely thanked Betty for her concern and promptly disregarded her warning.  She had never been a single mom and she had raised three boys.  What could she possibly know about Sharon and me?

Ch 7, Post 7 A Birthday Too Sweet For Words, Part 1 of 2

More Good Qualities Were Blooming

Another interest Sharon pursued on her own without any urging or subsequent help from me due to my own lack of skill, was cross-stitching.  A school friend, whose mother had taught her, helped her get started with counted cross-stitch and she was soon better at it, and more persistent, than her friend.

She did it all by herself! I marveled at her initiative.
She did it all by herself! I marveled at her initiative.

She completed a large canvas of trees in browns, golds, and yellows and took it to the craft store down the street from the apartment three different times, for the owner to show her how to knit tabs to attach the completed canvas to a dowel rod.  It graced the wall over the television for all the years we lived in that little apartment.  I was more than proud!

A Kind and Generous Heart

Besides her independence, acceptance of responsibility and development of individual interests, what would eventually be her adult personality and habits of heart were budding as well.  How I cherished those signs of sensitivity and depth of feeling and capacity to love!  She had a truly kind, gentle, and generous heart, which she demonstrated on my birthday in late August that year.

She was waiting for me in the recliner when I came home from work and was on her feet before I’d completely opened the door.

“Here, Mommy” she said, taking my purse, my lunch bag, and my tote.

“Come sit here in the recliner.  I’ve got something for you.”

She stepped into the bedroom and came back, holding a big, irregularly-shaped present and singing, “Happy Birthday to you!”   Her eyes danced more than they did when she was the recipient of gifts.

Too many presents!
Too many presents!

“Thank you, baby.  What a big present and what lovely singing!”

“Oh, don’t open it yet, Mommy.  There’s more.”

She returned with a box wrapped in blue paper and a bag.  The bag was obviously heavy. Its two ends were taped-together and topped with a big blue bow, the kind that cost $1.99 each and that hang by a hook, individually, above matching packages of wrapping paper, enclosed in cellophane.

“What a beautiful present!  But you shouldn’t have spent your money. ..”  She had spent long hours working with Major Boon. Every dime had cost her hard work and precious Saturday free time.