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Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Jul
20

I Was Just Thinking

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stinking thinkingThinking is not my strong suit by any stretch of the imagination. Every time I start thinking, I either get a headache or get into trouble. I’m not sure which is worse, the headache or the trouble.

In my normal pursuit of life, thinking sits in the backseat. If there is an emergency, thinking may come forward and help out. However, in the meantime, thinking is not something I like to do on a regular basis.

That is my side. On the other side, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is always thinking. Most of the time, she is thinking about jobs I should be doing. I don’t know how she does it, but she can come up with a list of “honey-do’s” that will occupy all my time. Of course, I must confess, while I am doing these “honey-do’s” I am thinking, but not thoughts I would like to come out into the public arena.

I do not really have to think that much because my wife thinks for me. How she does it is beyond me, but she knows what I am thinking three days before that thought enters my head. At least, that’s what she tells me and she would not lie to me.

I have learned through the years that there are several questions that I should never ask my wife. One is, “Honey, what are you doing?”

You would think after decades of interaction with her I would know what to say and what not to say. Because I don’t give much to thinking, I usually speak without thinking, which always gets me into trouble. If I could think through something, I just might escape the trouble that I get into.

Just the other day I came home from working at the office and my wife was sitting in the chair and I asked “the” question. “Honey, what are you doing?”

My wife knows how to ask questions and is very skillful at asking the right question. The other side is that she knows how to answer questions to such a degree that gets me into difficulty. How she manages this is beyond my wildest imagination. Of course, if I would think about it, maybe I could come up with an answer, but who has time to think these days?

Without any delay, she responded to my inquiry by saying, “I was just thinking…”

As soon as she said that, I knew I was in trouble. Why don’t I keep my questions to myself? Why must I always fall into that trap she lays for me?

“I was just thinking,” she said without giving me any opportunity to respond, “that we ought to go to the mall this afternoon and do a little bit of shopping.” Read More→

question manThere are all kinds of questions in this world of ours. Most are rather annoying. It would not surprise me in the least if there were a gang of hooligans somewhere hired to make up silly questions. If I could find this gang, I would disperse them immediately, without a question.

Of course, there is the fact that the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is in cahoots with these question-maker-uppers. Every once in a while she comes up with questions for Yours Truly.

It is not the questions I object to but rather the answers I am supposed to give in connection to the questions. My wife has a silly notion that the answers I give should be in direct correlation to the questions she asked. Who made up this rule? Oops, that was a question. Sorry about that.

It is my opinion, and mine alone, especially in my home, that if I am asked a question I should have the option to give the answer I want to give whether it relates to the question or not. My wife insists my answer should be a response to her question.

More times than I care to admit, when my wife is asking her second question, I am still thinking about her first question. By the time she had gotten to her sixth question, I have formed an answer for that first question. And when she asks her tenth question, I am answering her first question.

It is all very confusing to me because she always says, ”That was not what I asked you?” It was but she was so far ahead of me that it is virtually impossible for me to catch up. So, if I cannot catch up, I catch flak.

Last week, for example, she put to me a very penetrating question. ”What is that awful smell?”

I would not have taken offense to the question so much, but she was looking straight at me when she posed it. What I took from the question was that I, for some reason unbeknownst to me, smelled pretty bad. Even though it was not Saturday night, I took the hint and marched my raunchy body to the bathroom for a bath.

Read More→

Jul
06

Can Two Walk Together, Except They Be Going to the Same Store?

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After about a million days of toil, sweat and aggravation, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I decided to take a few days off and relax.

I am not a real expert when it comes to relaxing. I have not pursued a PhD in relaxing and therefore it is a foreign theme to me.

Of course, I have advised many people to chill out, relax a little bit and not get so excited about things. What doctor do you know who takes his own medicine? Or, what pastor do you know that listens to his own sermon?

I could preach a sermon to beat all sermons on relaxing and not getting so uptight about things. You would think after listening to some of these sermons that I was an expert in this area. My expertise is only in telling other people what they should be doing. I do not have time to listen to my own sermons.

My wife and I realized a month or so ago that we have not taken a day off in over six months. Actually, we were trying to figure out the last time we did take a day off.

“I think,” my wife said most reflectively, “that we should take a day off and relax.”

It has been my policy throughout my marital life to not disagree with my wife. This was one of those times when I was in full agreement with her statement. It doesn’t happen often, when it does, it is time to celebrate.

For us, a couple days off takes a couple months of planning and when I say planning, I mean planning.

We had to coordinate the date with the rest of our family, and with the church schedule.

I fully understand that the church will run quite well without me, but I have conned myself into believing that it can’t. That means, I have to make special plans for when I take a day off.

It did not take me long to rearrange my schedule, but it was a different story with my wife.

She had to coordinate her schedule for a couple days off with both of the daughter’s schedule because she watched the grandchildren while the parents were working. It took several months for her to coordinate all of the schedules and finally, voilà, we arranged a time that we could “leave Dodge,” and head to St. Augustine for a couple days off.

We left after the Sunday evening service and our plan was to return Wednesday before the Wednesday night service. If you plan something right, it all comes together.

We left that Sunday night and headed for our motel to settle down for several days of rest and frivolity. I do admit that I have a PhD in frivolity and so I was ready to for frivole. (Pardon my French).

When we woke up Monday morning, I began to realize that my definition of rest was not exactly the definition my wife embraced. Read More→

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Jun
29

Two In A Row Okay, But Three Is Suspicious

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So applethat you know, I am not suspicious (knock on wood). I take a rather practical approach to life and try my best not to get bent out of shape. At my age, it’s rather difficult to keep my shape. I try to keep my guard up, but no matter what I do, I drop it.

Tuesday I was engaged in a “project,” when the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage came and brought me an apple fritter. “I thought,” she said rather cheerfully, “that you could use an apple fritter.”

I was most gracious for this apple fritter. Nothing raises your spirits and encourages you to do your best like an apple fritter. I know my wife and I disagree as to the nature of these apple fritters so it surprised me that she brought one to me.

My insistence is that an apple fritter is an apple and an apple is an apple. She, on the other side of the breakfast table, insists that it is a doughnut. We have never resolved this difference in our relationship. When she brought me an apple fritter I was a little bit surprised, but was thinking deep in my heart it may be I have convinced her that an apple fritter in deed is a fruit.

I smiled most graciously, thanked her and enjoyed the apple fritter like I enjoy every apple fritter I eat. It was the highlight of my afternoon, I can tell you that.

Nothing more was said about it because I do not like to spoil a good thing. I just enjoyed it and went on thinking that perhaps we have come to a conclusion about this contradiction.

Then Wednesday came around and in the middle of a project in the afternoon, my wife came in and said, “Here, I thought you might enjoy an apple fritter for today.”

Without thinking, I took it, smiled and thanked her most graciously for this afternoon treat. Nothing bolsters my day more than a warm apple fritter. Nothing goes better with a cup of coffee than an apple fritter. I am quite convinced that in heaven we will enjoy apple fritters.

With me whenever I have an apple fritter in the afternoon the day goes by so smoothly. I enjoyed that apple fritter to the nth degree, whatever that may mean.

I did not think much of it, because you should just enjoy your day and whatever blessings come, like an apple fritter, just enjoy it to the best of your ability.

Let me repeat that I am not a very superstitious person (knock on wood), but I do like to take precautions. Once it is over, I like to move on.

Then on Thursday, the inconceivable happened.

“Here,” my wife said most cheerfully, “I thought you would enjoy an apple fritter for the afternoon.”

I did not know what to do or say. I put on a greasy smile, accepted the apple fritter, nodded my head and said, “Thank you.”

For her to bring me one apple fritter was a wonderful thing, and I deeply appreciate it and did not give it too much thought.

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Jun
15

And The Award Goes To…

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Rare is the time when I actually am all caught up with my schedule. Whenever I think I am caught up, something happens that takes that and throws it out the window.

Such was the case this past week. I was very much happy with the fact that I was on schedule and I had everything in hand. Nothing makes me feel better.

Of course, this is mostly delusional, at least for me. If there ever was an award for being delusional, I am quite certain I would be at the top of the list. The amazing thing about being delusional is that you never think you are.

As I was wallowing in my delusion and enjoying every moment of it, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage came and said rather sharply, “Are you ready to go?”

At the moment, I had no idea what she was talking about. And so I responded, “Huh?”

I’m not sure if that is really a word or not, but it accurately described my delusional moment at that time. I had no idea what she was talking about.

“You haven’t,” she said, “forgotten what day it is, have you?”

I was tempted to say, “Of course not. It’s Tuesday.” Fortunately, I did not yield to that temptation and just responded with another, “Huh?”

With a disdaining look she said, “You would forget your head if it wasn’t attached.”

I wouldn’t tell her, but I probably would not miss my head if I would forget it. After all, I don’t wear a hat.

“Today,” she said in a very serene voice, “the two grandchildren are getting awards at school.”

I’m not quite sure if I forgot or if I was not listening when the instructions came my way. At this point, I was not going to let anybody know, particularly my wife.

“Oh, yes,” I said getting up from my chair, “I’m all ready to go. Let’s go.”

She gave me one of her classic sarcastic grins and we headed for the door.

Our one granddaughter was graduating from the third grade and the other from the fifth grade. Unfortunately, one was at 8:30 in the morning and the other was it 1 o’clock in the afternoon. It would make sense to have them all at once, but what has sense to do in our world today?

I did not want to complain, after all, it is our grandchildren, but I think the planning could have been just a little bit better than that. After all, sitting in the school cafeteria listening to the award ceremony is about as exciting as it can get.

The chairs that we had to sit on were uncomfortable, which was very fortunate for me because I was not tempted to fall asleep during the ceremony. I believe that was done on purpose.

Imagine getting an award for completing the third grade!

I cannot remember any such thing when I was going to grade school. Our great award was leaving school and going home in the afternoon. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

We live in a different world today where everybody gets an award for something or sometimes for nothing.

Then I remembered my cell phone in my shirt pocket. It is times like this that God had in mind when he invented this cell phone technology. I pulled out my cell phone and started checking my email.

Then I felt a sharp pain in my right ribs (thanks Eve) and I heard a voice saying, “Put that away and pay attention.”

Slowly and reluctantly, I returned my cell phone to my shirt pocket and tried to pay attention but I didn’t have enough quarters. Paying attention can be very expensive when you’re in situations like this. Read More→

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Jun
07

Where Do You Look When She’s Lost Her Voice?

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megaphoneIt has been a quiet week at the parsonage. Far quieter than usual. I cannot remember a time when it was quieter. If silence is golden, the week glowed with a yellow brilliance.

Have you ever noticed when you lose something, it is always in the last place you look? I could save a lot of time, not to mention energy, if I would look for that lost item in the last place first.

Back to the sounds of silence in the parsonage.

When the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage awoke from her beauty sleep on Monday morning, she discovered sometime during the night she lost her voice. It was a strange sensation that bears repeating – often.

At first, I thought I lost my hearing. I am not accustomed to starting the day with such silence. I could see my Beloved’s lips moving, but nothing reached my ears.

I must confess that there have been times when I feigned not hearing her, but this time I really could not hear a word she said. Immediately I plunged a finger in each ear to check for any foreign correspondent.

My fingers reported nothing. I must admit that clean ears are a novelty for me. God gave me such large ears attracting all sorts of stuff.

My ears produce enough wax each week to take care of 17 Rolls Royces. The strange thing was, I had just waxed my car the Saturday before.

With nothing in my ears – or between them, for that matter – I could not explain this sudden silence of my Little Lamb.

I am the kind of person who tries to find good in everything. Some circumstances severely try my efforts in this endeavor, but, believe it or not, I was able to find some good about this little incident in our parsonage.

The good news was my wife had lost her voice; the bad news, however, she insisted that I look for it.

Have you ever tried looking for something you hoped you would not find?

Through the years, I have engaged in many things my heart was not totally in full sympathy with.

Such things as Christmas shopping with my wife at the mall; going to a wedding reception for some family member; attending the Christmas play by first graders at the elementary school.

All these activities are good in and of themselves; if only they would merely keep themselves to themselves, it would not irate myself so much. As a dutiful husband and father, I bolster up both chins and go forward.

Being the considerate soul that I am, I submissively went through the motions of looking for the lost voice. (I did have my fingers crossed.)

My problem was: where do you begin looking for a lost voice? In my lifetime, I have looked for many lost items. My car keys, my wallet (especially when the check at the restaurant is due), and my mind, which I have yet to find.

However, where does a voice go when it turns up missing?

I began my search under the sofa and found a set of car keys I lost seven months ago and my checkbook that I looked everywhere for and finally had to close the account and start over again, but no voice.

I spent a few moments meditating in the garage, but did not find or hear the voice of my Beloved.

I looked in the refrigerator – pausing for a small snack without fear of remonstration from you know who. Of course, I may have been remonstrated, but I did not hear a thing. Read More→

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May
25

My Advice: Twice Is Just As Nice

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NWhat is your marriage modelingothing is more important to a blissful marriage than finding a point of agreement. Every veteran husband knows if he wants to change his wife’s mind about anything, just agree with her. It is amazing how this works. The technical name for this is “re-wife psychology.”

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I have been married since 1971 and have not had a serious argument or disagreement. (She does not allow me to talk back.) We have had rough times, but not with each other.

We have survived nine congregations, 19 homes, three children with nine grandchildren and all without compromising our relationship. My sanity is another issue.

Throughout our marriage, we have always held to the advice not to go to bed angry. Of course, there have been a few sleepless nights. I have a simple rule: do not close your eyes if there is an angry woman in the vicinity.

I honestly can say our marital relationship through the years has been most amicable. Since our marriage, my wife and I spend a lot of time working together and we never seem to get bored with one another.

We are a great team. She puts up with me and I let her. It works wonderfully and we have been able to accomplish a good deal together.

Only one area where we disagree and there may not be much of a remedy for this departure in company.

Never fear. Our marital dissolution is not near.

We have just learned to live with this dissent and, I might add, have survived quite happily.

I suppose no relationship is absolutely perfect this side of the Pearly Gates. Not to boast, but I have my wife beat in this one area. I do not often get the upper hand with her; in fact, I cannot remember any other occasion where this has occurred.

Nevertheless, we have come to a meeting of the minds on this subject. Really, if you don’t mind, the meeting doesn’t matter. Read More→

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May
18

You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

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Ishopping cart was waiting in line at the grocery store minding my own business, which is a full-time job these days. I have worked hard over the years to master this “minding my own business.” I have not been all that successful, but I still try.

As I was standing in line I heard the woman behind me say, “Johnny, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

I did not know the background story because I did not hear the whole conversation. When I heard that my mind took me back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when my parents, both of them addicted to this phrase, said to me, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

I cannot remember the reasons that this phrase kept popping up in my parents’ conversation. But I never could figure out what in the world they were talking about.

Through the years, I have noticed people say things they have no idea what they are saying or what it even means. Sometimes people will say some odd phrase or a quote in order to bring the conversation to a standstill.

My parents were not interested, particularly when we were out in public, for me to carry the conversation. Many times, they would shut me down so that I would not embarrass them.

Also, I never could figure out why somebody on the stage would be encouraged to “break their leg.” It is not a rather mean thing to say to someone who is about to go out on stage and do some kind of performance? What mean person would hope that someone would break their leg in front of an audience?

Someone said to me recently, “May the force be with you.” I knew the movie he was quoting from but I had no idea what he meant for me. What is the force he wanted to be with me? Moreover, what if I didn’t want that force to be with me?

We often say things we do not understand or mean and I am as guilty as anybody else.

When something tragic happens some religious minded person will say, particularly someone on television, “My thoughts and prayers are with you.”

What in the world does that mean? What thoughts do they have, what prayers do they have, and how in the world can they transfer it to me? Usually the person saying this is someone who is not very religious.

I do not know what came over me, but once somebody, I forget the situation, said, “My thoughts and prayers are with you.” For the life of me, I do not know what I was thinking about, but all of a sudden, I heard myself saying to that person, “Thanks but I don’t need your prayers.” Read More→

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May
11

Mother Said There’d Be Days Like This

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mom and daughterMothers are the greatest dispensers of advice since God said, “Let there be light.” Some, not me, refer to it as maternal instinct.

My own mother gave me some splendid advice when I was growing up. Unfortunately, much of Mom’s advice shed light on nothing. Absolutely nothing at all.

Let me outline some advice my mother gave me that, to this day, I have no idea what she was talking about.

I distinctly remember my mother standing before me, with hands on her hips, scolding me for something and then saying, “Who do you think you are?”

This always disturbed me and caused me to wonder about my nativity. As a young person, I often pondered this question myself.

As with most teens, I had long moments of identity crisis. (When you are young most of your energy goes into producing hormones, and so the brain functions on low voltage.) It greatly confused me that the person who should know who I was, asked me the question I had been asking myself. If she does not know who I am, what hope do I have?

Then there was the time I asked my mother for money. She whirled around and replied, “Do you think money grows on trees?”

Up to that point, I have never given the matter much thought. I simply assumed money came from my father going to work and being paid. However, here was something new to ponder. Where does money come from, really? What added to my confusion was the name of our bank ‑ The Elm Tree Branch of First National Bank of Harrisburg. Now I was totally confused.

When I was quite young, I remember asking my mother for something in the store. I think it was some small toy that I took a fancy to and asked my mother to buy it for me. She flatly refused. I complained and demanded to know why. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Because I am the mother, that’s why.”

To this day, I still do not know what in the world that statement meant. What did her being a mother have to do with buying me that toy?

When she saw my confusion, she told me, “When you have children of your own, you will understand.” I have children of my own as well as grandchildren, and I still do not know what she meant. It must be a mother thing, which is all I know.

Then there was the time I wanted to do something with some friends and my mother would not let me. “But everyone else is going,” I protested in vain. That’s when my mother gave me her spin on the situation at hand.

“What if EVERYONE jumped off a cliff? Would you do it, too?”

The thing that confused me was, nobody was going to jump off any cliff. In fact, nobody in his or her right mind would ever think of such a stupid thing. Nobody, that is, but my mother. I figured she must have gotten her sadistic side from her mother. It must be something mothers pass on to their daughters, because as a man, I don’t get it.

Most memorable of her nuggets of wisdom to me is that piece of advice I still abide by. Before I would leave the house, my mother would say, “Make sure you have clean underwear on in case you get in a car accident and have to go to the hospital.”

I have never figured out what clean underwear has to do with going to the hospital, but that piece of advice made for the worst day of my high school years. Just as I drove into the school parking lot one day it dawned on me that I had forgotten to put on clean underwear. Panic raced through my teenage heart like never before. I was certain some disaster awaited me around the next corridor. Read More→

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May
04

Black Eye Causes Quandary of the First Order

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bedroomQuandaries come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. As someone who is somewhat of a connoisseur in this area, I can readily attest to this. However, many do not realize quandaries come in two categories.

First are those quandaries that come about through no fault of the person in said quandary. For all practical purposes (and those in a quandary are usually not practical), it is impossible to adequately prepare for such an event in life.

Second are self-imposed quandaries. This, unfortunately, is the area where I flounder the most. To be perfectly honest, and I’m not suggesting that I’m perfect; I have created most of the havoc in my life.

Believe me, I would like to put the blame on someone other than myself in many of these situations but, alas, I am to blame. What I am about to relate belongs to the first category.

I found myself in a quandary recently through no fault of mine. And yet, I’m not able to prove it. This is the most discouraging thing. I know it was not my fault, but nobody will believe me.

Through the years, I have adopted a certain nocturnal procedure. When I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom I keep my eyes closed. There are two very simple reasons for this:

One, I know exactly where I am going, so I don’t need to open my eyes.

Two, I do not want my body to know that I’m awake. I want to fool my body into believing I’m asleep. Read More→

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