Faith, Family, Uncategorized

Wisdom from Grandma

25BDFA72-9AF6-4DE3-B463-9AC5AF5555A1

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

1 Timothy 6:7

 

Grandma kept everything. I found these in her kitchen cabinet when we packed up her house in California. At the time I thought they were neat because of the old advertising. Over the years I’ve realized something a little deeper, more significant about these old containers. It’s a lesson I learned from Grandma. She didn’t know she was teaching me, but she did. Elva was her name and she’s my husband’s sweet grandma from Arkansas.

Elva lived in the rural south during the Depression. Nothing was wasted or taken for granted. She used to tell us that as a little girl if it snowed in Arkansas they would make ice cream from the snow. My husband and I would laugh. It sounded silly to us. But now I get it. When you have very little, you use what you’ve got. Today if I bought some ice cream I didn’t like I would throw it out. That would have never happened during those Depression years. It would have been eaten up with joy.

I have had those spices in a large jar on my kitchen counter for years. I was cleaning it out the other day after an ant problem. Grandma came to my mind once again. She wouldn’t throw away something as precious as cooking spices. It got me thinking about contentment. Am I content with my stuff? Do I want more, and more? Do I need more?

This is the era of disposable electronics, and disposable everything. Get the newest phone, we need it. Get the newest car, we need it. Consume it, get bored with it, and get the latest version of said item. Buy, buy, buy, and buy some more stuff. The lines have been blurred of needs and wants. What does the Bible say about contentment?

“But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Timothy 6:8, NIV)

Paul wrote these words that God gave him. Is food, shelter, and clothing enough for contentment? I think yes. At least I want to think yes. I wrestle with this concept. Is stuff bad? Well, no. We need to eat, and clothing for our bodies, and a roof over our heads. Beyond that, what do we really need? Not much. But what we want, that’s a whole different story. Wants aren’t bad. Stuff isn’t bad. Where does contentment lie in all that for the Christ Follower?

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:9-10, NIV)

The verses about contentment and not holding on to our worldly possessions lead to a warning about loving money. We are given a very real warning about the desire to get rich. Some wandered from the faith, pursuing money instead of Christ. This is still happening today. More money, more stuff. Less contentment. The stuff becomes the pursuit. Jesus is taken out of the picture entirely. That’s a big problem for many reasons. One being, all that money and stuff doesn’t go to eternity with us. Eternity. Forever. Not a single thing we have here on earth leaves with us. (1 Timothy 6:7)

Wait a minute. Then why are we so caught up in buying the latest fill in the blank? We don’t take it with us. We use our stuff for the brief time we are here on this side of eternity. Should we be accumulating as much stuff as possible? The whole “you only live once” and “Hey, I’m not taking it with me anyway. I’m going to buy as much as I want, when I want, and enjoy it all now.” Buy the latest and greatest? No. That’s a dangerous path. We already have the warning about that.

What if we were content right now, today, with what we’ve got? Some of us have lots of nice, shiny, new things. Some of us have old, worn out things. We’ve got things we need and things we want. Many of us pray about these decisions. We can thank God for all He has given us and entrusted us with. We can also ask Him to meet our needs.

My pastor used to say, “There are two things we take to heaven. Our character and our relationships.” Words to live by.

We are not to live miserly and hoard our stuff. We are to be generous.

11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11, NIV)

16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16, NIV)

17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (1 John 3:17, NIV)

What did I learn from Grandma? Be content with what you’ve got. It’s just stuff. We came into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. Be generous. Be grateful. Don’t pursue money and wealth. Pursue Jesus. Only He brings true contentment.

Love you all,

Meghan

Faith, Family, Jesus, Uncategorized

NOT Perfect!

FE186EB1-15EB-435D-8E31-DE4B49AC82C8I live in a house full of men. I love these dudes with every ounce of me. I love how they view life, and love, and problems, and people, and God. I learn so much from them. My husband and sons give me fresh perspective on situations. I am so grateful for these wonderful men in my life. But, there are days when I ask myself, “Is this a frat house?”

Several weeks ago I was making dinner. I opened the oven and was about to put our dinner inside. To my shock there was old, burned up pizza waiting for me. I couldn’t help but laugh. Frat house living at times. OK, it’s not quite that bad. It did make me think of how perfect this burned pizza was not. Perfect. It doesn’t exist on this side of eternity.

We strive for perfection don’t we? We pursue something that we can’t even attain. Our social media pictures are perfect, or as close as we can achieve. Those selfies. We take about 100 to get the right ‘spontaneous’ one. We want to give a good impression. No one wants to see my messy house, or bad hair day with no make-up, or my burnt pizza. I’m right there with you trying to take the pretty picture.

There’s some danger in that perfect pic though. It’s not possible. We were made by a perfect God and He put imperfections in us. We all have issues and brokenness. The world is broken because of sin. We are holding so tightly to this world, but it’s passing away. Heaven is awaiting for those who have accepted the free gift of Jesus’ salvation. Heaven is perfect. Jesus is perfect, holy, blameless.

Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. (Hebrews 7:26, NIV)

I really want to hold loosely what I’ve got in this world. My husband, my children, money, house, car, and pretty much everything in between. They aren’t mine anyway and I’m leaving this temporary place. God blessed me, but I need to daily give my people and stuff back to the Lord. “They are yours Father. Help me to take excellent care of my family, and use the stuff you’ve given me to glorify you. I give it all back to you. Please forgive me when I hold on too tight and I don’t trust you.”

Jesus is perfect and we are not. So today I give Him my mess, and burnt pizza, and my frat house, and all my broken pieces. He opens His hand and says to me and you, “Give it all to me. I’ll make it beautiful.”

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3, NIV)

It is incredible what God can do with all our imperfections. He will make beauty from our ashes. We just need to let go of them, and give them to Him. Give it all to Him.

My son, give me your heart
    and let your eyes delight in my ways, (Proverbs 23:26, NIV)

As we post our perfect pictures let us remember our perfect savior. He became sin on the cross for us. He was without sin. Perfect. Let us cling to a perfect, beautiful savior. Jesus. And the really good news is Jesus does not require perfection from us. He just wants us. Our hearts surrendered to Him. Imperfections, issues, and all. He’ll take care of fixing what is broken.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galations 2:20, NIV)

 

Love you all,

Meghan

Faith, Family, Food, Uncategorized

It’s Only a Pound

FullSizeRender

I am very happy to share with you my latest article on Mustard Seed Sentinel. I love to bake, and this pound cake is easy and delicious. I came across this fantastic recipe several years ago in Southern LivingInstead of a bundt pan, I prefer loaf pans. I use three regular size pans, and freeze at least two of them. They thaw quickly, and it’s nice to have a dessert on hand.

This new column has been so much fun for me. Baking and cooking are a passion of mine. Pound cake came to mind right away for June. It made me think of summer when topped with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream. Give this simple, yummy dessert a try. You’ll get a lot of smiles from this one. Make your life sweeter with some cake now and then.

Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your support.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

 

https://www.mustardseedsentinel.com/post/meghan-s-corner-it-s-only-a-pound

 

Family, Food, Uncategorized

Check Out My Brand New Column

IMG_E8553

I am so excited to share my brand new monthly column “Meghan’s Corner“, featured in Mustard Seed Sentinel. I love writing about my faith on here, but this new column will have a variety of topics, with my faith woven through. This first article is about my love of cooking. It’s something I am passionate about. Cooking is a fun, creative outlet for me, when I’ve got the time. I’ve included two very easy recipes. I was inspired by spring, and the fresh ingredients available. I used the cilantro from my garden for the pico de gallo.

It’s a blessing for me to have an opportunity like this. I am truly grateful to Joanne, the publisher of Mustard Seed Sentinel. Thanks for dropping in, and sharing in my good news. I hope you enjoy my article and recipes. Your support means so much to me.

https://www.mustardseedsentinel.com/single-post/2019/05/22/Meghan%E2%80%99s-Corner-For-the-Love-of-Cooking

 

Love you all,

Meghan

 

Bible, Faith, Family, Uncategorized

For My Mom

03F15215-4934-4445-B343-B46685769044

“I begin to love this little creature, and to anticipate his birth as a fresh twist to a knot, which I do not wish to untie.”

Mary Wollstonecraft  

(1759-1797) English Writer

 

A mother’s love is unending. It begins in the womb, with the anticipation of a new life growing inside. Excitement, and fear at times too, as a baby develops in a mother’s body. Mother’s feel the great responsibility to care for the fragile little life on board. Taking vitamins, going to the doctor for checkups, and dealing with morning sickness, stretch marks, weight gain, swelling ankles, and countless trips to the restroom are just a few of the sacrifices mother’s make for our precious babies. “It’s worth it” we are told. Our hearts grow as the baby grows. It’s all part of God’s plan. Mother’s already love our babies before we see them.

I know a very special mother that I call “Mom”. My mom is the best mother. There I said it. I feel better now. Sorry to all the other mom’s out there. The best mom role is taken. Let me tell you a little about this very special woman. Dorothea Louise Tanyer was born in Jeanette, Pennsylvania a few years back. OK, more than a few, but that’s beside the point. She grew up with both of her parents working. It was uncommon to have a mother work outside of the home back in the day, and my mom was left on her own a lot. Little Dorothea had to get herself ready for school and pack her own lunch at six years old. This would set her up to be strong, and face adversity with courage.

Her family called her “Peaches” because of her beautiful skin, which she still has. Seriously, the woman has the most gorgeous skin. No wrinkles! Pretty incredible for a woman in her seventies. Oops! I gave away her age. My mom always looks beautiful and put together. Even when we were little, and she would wear curlers out in public (the horror!), she looked great. Oh, and she loves hats. She wore many a hat on Easter, or Mother’s Day, or Saturday. And she looks great in them. I would look like a fool in a hat. She has the class to wear them.

Mom always made dinner every night for all seven of us. We sat down together as a family with Mom’s great home cooked meals. Many times she was working a full-time job as well. I have no idea how she accomplished this every day. God gave Dot (that’s what most people call her) an extra dose of energy. He knew she would need it to handle five children and a demanding husband. (You can read about my dad here I love you Dad! )  Mom is very organized. I remember coming home from elementary school, and in the kitchen there were little bags with our names on them containing after school snacks. That is some serious planning right there.

When we had horses and farm animals Mom would give them their shots. She would have made a great veterinarian. If we found stray dogs and cats, Mom took them in. Sometimes people we knew needed help, Mom helped them too. Her heart is as big as her non-stop energy. Like a lot of mother’s, Mom wore a lot of hats. Taxi driver, chef, counselor, cheerleader, doctor, nurse, horse trainer, vet, maid, disciplinarian. I can see the wooden spoon now. I don’t recall getting spanked, but I’m pretty sure one of my brothers felt the end of that spoon a few times.

Dancing is something she has loved since her childhood. Mom tap danced in her 30’s and 40’s with a few other ladies her age. They would perform around Riverside County in Southern California. I watched many of my mom’s performances as a little girl, always impressed with the colorful costumes. Not long before her tap dance years, she was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease. Most of her lungs are covered in this awful disease which makes it hard to breathe. This never stopped my mom. She danced, took care of five rambunctious children, and my alcoholic father, and took care of horses, and all our many animals, and worked, and helped a whole lot of people along the way.

Mom loves singing and has been part of several church choirs over the years. She loves playing games, especially card games. She is a talented artist who can draw and paint very well. Mom loves to decorate. Many times we would come home from school and the living room would be completely rearranged, or painted, or wallpapered, depending on her mood. There are so many things to tell you about my mom, but there’s not enough time to cover it all. She’s kind of a go-getter, jack of all trades type of lady.

I came to Christ because my mom did first. Actually, my whole family came to know Jesus as savior because Mom led the way. I shared this story in my post My Bible. I can vividly see my mom diligently reading her Bible. She was part of an evangelism team at our church where they would go door to door sharing the Good News. I would get so embarrassed when her gospel music was blaring in the car if she was picking up me and my friends. I was an immature junior higher. Now I get it. Mom was excited about Jesus, and she still is.

Mom lost two babies before I was born. One was a miscarriage, and the other a stillborn. Her baby boy was named Patrick. Mom will meet both babies in heaven. I share this not to make anyone sad; Just to show some of the difficulties my mom has faced with dignity. Mom’s a fighter. She’s had to be her whole life. Right now, she is fighting lung cancer. Her attitude is positive. Mom has a strong faith, and trusts God. She is resilient. Mom has faced many, many difficulties in her life, yet she gets up. She keeps going. She looks to Jesus. I admire her strength and her fight. I hope I’ve inherited some of that.

A mother’s love never ends. It’s part of the deal. That’s just how God made us. We fight for our children, always. Mother’s never give up. I know that I am loved by my mother, and that she loves all five of her children. I am grateful for my mom.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed,” (Proverbs 31:28, ESV).

 

Happy Mother’s Day to the best mom in the whole wide world!

I love you Mom.

Meghan

 

Please say a prayer for my mom as she battles cancer. Thank you!

 

Photo credit: Pixaby

‘The Child’s Caress’, oil on canvas c. 1890, Mary Cassatt

 

Bible, Faith, Family, God, Jesus, Uncategorized

I love you Dad!

F15AF6DD-C1AF-427E-91E5-8117BE4D8054

When I was a little girl, the thought never crossed my mind that my parents were ever once children themselves, let alone babies. In my child mind, parents are just grown ups, and they had never been anything else. This sweet picture is proof that parents were once babies. That’s my dad as a baby. I have no idea how old he was. Leo John Whitney was born on May 29, 1943 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest of three boys; a surprise baby for my middle aged grandparents. They already had sons who were 17 and 13 by the time my father arrived in the Whitney household. Lee was the precious youngest. My uncle Mack, the middle son, would tell me stories of “the prince”, my dad.

Lee grew up in Braddock, Pennsylvania. A borough in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. His father, Michael, sold Chesterfield cigarettes and Ann, his mother, took care of the home and children. My dad was doted on and dearly loved. Some, my uncles, may even say he was spoiled. I would have to agree with that argument. My dad was raised Catholic, and went to parochial school all the way through high school. While in college he met my mom, and they married in 1963. He graduated from Penn State in 1965. Shortly afterwards, my parents decided to move out west to California. They got jobs and began to get settled in the Golden State. The Vietnam War was in full swing. My dad received his draft card and decided to join the Marines. Oorah!

Dad was a proud Marine. I know this because I heard, “From the halls of Montazuma, To the shores of Tripoli,” every time he drank too much; which was often. As a little girl I loved my dad. I would ask for sips of his beer. I had no clue he was an alcoholic. He would tell me I can be anything I want to be. These “speeches” were done while he was drunk. Again, I didn’t know what “drunk” was, or alcoholism. In my mind, Dad was strong. I would put my arms around his neck and he would dive into the pool. We’d go under the water, and I’d hold on tight. He’d flex his biceps and my sister and I would grab on and he’d lift us up. He was the strongest man I knew.

He loved when we had horses and got us all cowboy hats and boots. Dad rode Tasha, our part Arabian horse. I think he liked playing “cowboy”. I saw him try to get on the horse a few times and fall off. Drunk again. I still had no idea what that was. I watched my dad fall in the pool when he was cleaning it. Drunk.

Dad accepted Jesus Christ as his savior August 1982. I remember watching him get baptized. We got involved in our church. Dad was an usher but still struggled with his demons. We’d stop at the liquor store on the way home from church. Dad was saved, but not set free. He finally went cold turkey in the late ’80’s which was great. The down side was him trying so hard to stay sober on his own; he’d fall off the wagon at times. I never saw him drunk again like when I was growing up. So, praise God for that.

My memories from when I was a little girl are good ones. But, all addictions get worse, and his alcoholism did. By the time I was in  high school his drinking was out of control. I knew what alcoholism was now, but never told a friend. I didn’t know what to do with it. Anger built inside of me. The dad I loved, I now despised. I hated him. I hated alcohol. I hated what it did to our family. It tore us up.

The summer after I graduated high school I heard a sermon at church on forgiveness. I had probably heard many teachings on forgiveness up to that point. That day was different. The words cut to my heart. I knew I needed to forgive my dad. I was 17 and I forgave Dad for all the years of drinking and the pain it caused. I never came up to my dad and said, “I forgive you”. It was done in my heart and Jesus set me free of that burden. I began to see my dad differently. As a person with a past, and problems. Just like me. I loved my dad again, like when I was a little girl. God is so good.

Dad loved the Lord. He was not a perfect man. I am not perfect either. I tell this from my view. My four siblings have their perspectives, and memories. My mom has her memories too. This is my way to honor my dad. My story is one of forgiveness, and the redemptive work Jesus did on the cross and in my dad’s life.

Dad passed away exactly twenty one years ago today, March 30, 1998. After his grim cancer diagnosis, he lived the best life he could. He loved running the Gresham Bike Store, that my parents had bought a couple years prior. He hugged us every time we saw him. He was hugging everyone, my husband,  the mailman, and probably the dry cleaner. Time was short, and Dad knew it.

My dad loved me. At the very end of his life, when he was in the hospital at only 54 years old, I had a sweet moment with him. I came by the hospital to visit him and my cousin Tommy was in the room. I told my dad that I would come back later. He said “No. Stay”. He took my hand and said these words, “This one. She’s special”. There were other words said but I don’t remember them. That was the last coherent conversation we had, before the morphine took over. It was like I got this final blessing from him.

I look forward to seeing my dad again in heaven. I will end with his favorite verse. I Love you Dad!!!

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
 Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

(NASB)