Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thanksgiving, the 50s and Grandma


November, then and now, signals just one thing to me, Thanksgiving at Grandma’s.  Thanksgiving at her house was paradise!  The atmosphere of food, laughter and love was wonderful and unforgettable. 
 
Thanksgiving morning at our house was busy.  Mom would prepare a salad or pie; we kids would dress up in our good clothes and then go outside to play. We had to be careful not to get dirty.  Good clothes in our family didn’t come easy.  We weren’t poor but we were very frugal with money and food.  Meanwhile, Dad stayed busy in the garage checking out the old Chevy.  He’d check the oil, water and the battery and then give the tires a kick, for readiness. 

Often, I would go into the garage from time to time to see how he was doing.  Often, he found things for me to do-such as checking the oil and water and inspecting the car battery to see if was clean and water filled to the proper level. I always felt important helping Dad, especially on holidays, when there was much to do. 

Later, around 12 we all piled into the Chevy, eager for Thanksgiving dinner. We would arrive at Grandma’s, all dressed up, gifts in hand, with offerings of a waldorf salad and pie. As we walked through her door the aroma of turkey and onions would fill our senses with the joy of delicious food to come.  That first whiff of turkey and steamed vegetables was delicious!  We walked through the house into her kitchen and put our donations of food and small gifts, (often a bottle of Rum) onto the kitchen table, kiss Grandma and then go into the living room where we would sit and talk.  Later, Mom and I would return to the kitchen and help Grandma with the meal. 

It was my job to help Grandma prepare the dressing, with ingredients of butter, celery, bread, milk, and onion, then help with the progress of the turkey.  Mom would put her donations of food into the already crammed refrigerator and then prepare green beans or another salad for dinner. Inside the oven the turkey was roasting, and occasionally Grandma would let me use her large ladling spoon to baste the turkey.    Later, Grandma and I would finish preparing a pie—often apple or cherry.  I would round out the crust while she prepared the filling.  After that was done, we’d check on the vegetables and then I would set the table.   

I loved that job because she had beautiful crystal and China, with delicate pink and blue patterns on the dishes and matching pink crystal for glasses. She also had beautiful silverware that was kept in a special drawer in the living room.  I would carefully remove the dinnerware from the old ornate cabinet in the dining room and tenderly place each piece in the proper setting.  I loved how it all sparkled on the table.

The meal of Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes; real green beans, cranberries and pie filled us up till we could eat no more.  We would all sit at the large table, enjoy her traditional Thanksgiving meal and talk about the latest “Uncle Millie” or “Jackie Gleason” shows.  We all loved those shows and each of us tried to “out do” each other, with our imitations of “Uncle Miltie” or “Jackie Gleason.” The adults would later have wine or brandy and we kids would go out and play in the small backyard.  Sometimes I would deliver food Grandma prepared for an old lady across the street.  The old lady lived alone and was often too ill to prepare food for herself.  I loved doing this for Grandma, and the old lady was always happy to receive it. I took pride running this errand because I helped Grandma prepare much of the meal.

Today, I continue Grandma’s Thanksgiving meal.  I prepare many of the same kind of foods she prepared ---homemade turkey dressing, several salads and pie.  Many in my family can’t attend because they live too far away.  But, those who can attend a meal with me and my husband, Roy,  enjoy a Thanksgiving meal of the 50’s.  You see, Grandma’s gone, but her traditions live on in a woman from the 50’s.
Copyright Toni Star 2014

 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

God works for the Good of Those who Love Him


In all things God works for the good of those who love Him. Romans 8:28
 
Sometimes we may think and feel that God is absent from our lives; especially when trouble comes our way in the form of sickness, stress or problems with others. When things are going smoothly, we say we are happy with God and all is well in our world. But, let adversity come and often we say, "Why me?"
 
I know because this happens to me and I'm sure it happens to you, too. In fact, trouble came my way today in the form of disappointment and lies. Disappointment and lies happens to everyone; be they Christian or non-Christian. But, just because disappointment and lies knock on the doors of our hearts and minds, doesn't mean that God has forsaken us. Actually, it is just the opposite. Looking back on the day's events when I thought everything was just awful, I now, at the end of the day, can see that it wasn't so bad and that God was with me and my husband; even though at the time we felt abandoned.
 
It seems that there often is a reason for when bad or negative things happen. I'm learning to see God as a God who sometimes says, "No. It's not the right time. Or, no this would not be good for you." In this case, if my husband and I would have pursued this venture, we would have been out of a lot of money and would have received a product that would have been dangerous or disastrous. So, sometimes it's good to get a "red" light.
 
God is a Heavenly Father who wants the best for us and like a good father, there is often discipline that He doles out but it is discipline that comes with love; a love that goes beyond our understanding and comprehension. So, indeed, God works for the good of those who love Him and I am grateful for His discipline and love!
 
At the end of the day, it is God's goodness that keeps us safe and protected. Thank you and praise you God for your discipline, love and goodness!
 
May God's goodness, discipline and love be yours, each and every day.
 
Copyright Toni Star 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hope Continues on..

Christians live by faith and they also live by hope. When you think about it; what would life be like without hope? Don't we need hope when we or someone in our lives is not well? And, don't we need hope when we lose our job or lose a friend who has moved away?

I don't know about you, but I don't think I could live another day if I didn't have hope that things would turn out alright; that that what caused this day to turn sour, would be sweeter in the morning. Let's face it, with the way the world is going now, with so much turmoil going on in our country and around the world; wouldn't it be awful if we sensed that there would be no hope for improvement?

I just finished reading an article in the publication "Daily Bread" called, "Hope to Continue on." It is a wonderful piece that filled me with hope and joy. But, the best line came from the Bible; one I'm going to hold on to for a long time. It comes from Lamentations 3 "This I recall to my mind; therefore I have hope. Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning." (vv. 21-23)

Think about that! The Lord's mercies are new every morning! Don't those words fill you with hope and peace? They do for me! Just focus on this for a minute. Every morning, the Lord's mercies are new!

Those worries I sometime have, those events that sometimes give me pause, that doctor I dread to see; all those concerns need not be because the Lord's compassions will not fail!

God Bless everyone!

Copyright Toni Star 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What I Learned from Joyce Meyer's "Battlefield of the Mind"

I've been reading Joyce Meyer's "Battlefield of the Mind" and was surprised and happy with what I found. I have often watched her on TV and have read some of her articles that have appeared in her magazine. Frankly, I was surprised with how good this book is; not that I didn't anticipate it to be good, but that her words--words that come from the Bible-- have touched my heart and my life in ways I didn't think possible.

Like many, my main reference to God and Jesus is the Bible; for it has wisdom and help that is timeless. I especially love reading the Psalms and the book of John. In the Bible, especially in these sections are words that can transform your life and lead you closer to Christ, God and the Christian way of living.

To get back to the "Battlefield of the Mind," words that have helped me so much and words that will probably help you come from the Bible and are paraphrased like this: Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money (including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions) and be satisfied with your present {circumstances and with what you have}; for He (God) Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. {I will} not, {I will not} in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake not let (you) down (relax My hold on you)! (Assuredly not!)" Hebrews 13:5

These are wonderful words that can encourage you when you are wondering if God will come through and provide for your needs.

Throughout her book, she constantly tells of instances when she was so lonely and hurting and how God helped her. Most importantly, she tells how the "evil" one attacks our minds and by attacking our minds he influences us to act in negative and harmful ways. That is why, according to Joyce Meyer and more importantly the Bible and God, we know that by giving our thoughts under the control and dominance of God, we can obtain peace, happiness and joy in our lives.

To conclude, to be close to God and keep our mind under the control and obedience of God and Jesus, pray without ceasing, love the Lord your God with all of your heart and trust in Him and only Him!

Amen

Copyright Toni Star 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Take on C.S. Lewis and "The Screwtape Letters"


 

 



If the great author C.S. Lewis were alive today, I wonder what he might add to his famous “The Screwtape Letters?”  As an avid fan of his work I would like to make a feeble attempt on what he might write about the fictional “Wormwood” and “Uncle Screwtape.”  Their dialogues in “Screwtape” were fascinating and entertaining.   I would like to present the following examples of a fictional 21st dialogue between the evil pair that might appear in an epilogue for The Screwtape Letters.  It might go something like this…

“My dear Wormwood, I want to congratulate you on keeping the family unit divided, disorganized and poor.  Good job on holding the family down in such abject poverty!  Without money, the squalid families will have no desire in life except to “survive” and then waste what little money they have left on fast food, cigarettes, lottery tickets etc.  They will have no time for education and dreams.”

“Congratulations on bringing the morals of the country and family down.  The low moral climate, aided by the media and key educational systems--have helped to keep everyone indifferent to the degradation and increasing immorality of their cities and nation.  Because many are indifferent to the morals of their leaders—state, local and federal-- they care little about their families or themselves. I’ve noticed that the lowly human is increasingly feeling superior to those who are in charge--especially when the elite—government officials, movie stars and such—are succumbing to lawsuits and other juicy sidelines of life. Why look at the politicians! It seems that most of them will do anything—promise anything—to keep their political lives alive and working!  They care nothing about their fellow man or woman! But that is good news!  Much good can come from their indifference and greed!

I want to commend you also, Wormwood, on keeping the lowly human in a busy state of  activity.  By keeping him or her busy in various activities, they have little time to think; and therefore will neglect family and friends.  By the time he or she reaches the end of their life, it will be too late to do the really good and decent things. And, that’s exactly what makes our line of work, wonderful and so fulfilling!

Wormwood, my dearest nephew, even though you’ve done splendid work in so many areas, you must do more about “rudeness.”  Yes, I know that rudeness has reached an all time high but your efforts are not consistent or persistent, enough.  The rudeness must be of a quality where it brings despair and a touch of anarchy for it to be effective and pleasing.  Rudeness must be more “personal” in nature.  Bring back the “glare” in a person’s eyes when he or she feels offended.  Let the rudeness come from someone they know and love, preferably a family member. Oh, that is so delightful when that happens!

Mediocrity, my dear Wormwood is doing much for our side but it must be in all areas of life not just the “customer service” areas.  Mediocrity must be especially prevalent among family and friends.  Let the lowly human only do what is necessary to sustain a friendship or family situation.  Indifference, that wonderful companion of ours, has helped exceedingly in destroying the family and friendship!  Keep it going, good buddy.

I also want to commend you, my dear nephew, on the wonderful job you are doing with our best ally.  I’m speaking of course about selfishness!  Here is where we shine, my lowly Wormwood!  Selfishness is at an all-time high, especially with the young and the very old.  The young and the old are thinking of only themselves these days and is helping to discourage and alienate families and friends. Keep this going by telling the lowly human that it’s only right and fair that they focus on themselves first—and everyone else—last. After all, these days it’s survival of the fittest and the little human does want to survive at all costs, doesn’t he? Yes, selfishness, my lowly fiend, must stay high on our list of obstructions!

Now, to a different but more disturbing topic….What has happened my dear Wormwood with the “return of front porches?”  You know that this will only help the other side!  Porches are bringing back the neighborhood and neighbors are sharing and caring again. We cannot have this!  However, we can use the porches by whispering into the lowly human’s ear that it would be fun and not harmful to once in awhile—on their own porch—poke fun at their neighbors.  This will cause separation and hostility, “cousins” toward those wonderful feelings of loneliness and separation.  Keep your eyes on this potential “fireworks” situation…Could prove very beneficial and I might add, extremely entertaining!

Wormwood, again I must commend you on the affluence you are having with TV Sitcoms.  Most of them make adults, children and the elderly look totally moronic, stupid and selfish.  The old saying “monkey see, monkey do” is causing great harm, division and such a plus factor for our side!  Keep it up but be careful; some of the sitcoms are actually becoming “decent” and “interesting.”  We must not allow this!  I’ll be monitoring you on this, rest assured!
(More on Screwtape, next month)
Copyright Toni Star 2014

 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

What I Learned Today...

Today, May the 25th, I have learned several things that I should have learned years ago but I'm glad these incidents happened today.

Early in  the morning, after church, my husband met with a lady in our complex. She has had some serious health concerns and may continue to have more concerns, but she is feeling better. Most of us, when we feel bad, go on a bit too long or maybe worry more than we should but this lady, even though she has been quite ill, said little about her illness but a great deal of how good God has been good to her and her family.

This lady is always trying to do good things for others and often has positive and Christian sayings that she likes to share with those who are interested. What I learned today was, no matter what you're facing, how bad the outcome looks or how disinterested others may act toward you; you are never alone and you are precious and loved by God and Jesus. How do I know this? I know this from my own life, my husband's life and how God and His Son has brought us through difficult, negative and destructive times. And, now this morning, talking with this lady who has been through so much; I have been reinforced that none of us who believe in Gold and Jesus,
have anything to fear. And even if you and I end up alone, we will not feel alone; as in this picture. Jesus will be with us, always.

Sure, there will be times when all looks bleak; when everyone we thought cared about us, will turn away from us. But, we needed worry or feel that no one cares. God cares and so does His Son, Jesus.

So, as the song from the musical Carousel said, "Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain. Though your dreams be tossed and blown. Walk on, walk on...with hope in your heart and you'll never walk alone....You'll never walk alone!"

Copyright Toni Star 2014

Monday, April 28, 2014

Online Witnessing: Writing and Spreading the Gospel


Online Witnessing: Writing and Spreading the Gospel

 
I am convinced that if Christ were physically walking on earth in this the 21st century, he would be using the Internet in wondrous and creative ways to help others in need, witness and save souls! Just as evil is being used every day in insidious and dark ways on the Internet to influence and harm the young and all ages,  forces that work for good such as online Christian witnessing and evangelizing on various Christian sites, can and are, being used to bring souls to Christ.

Some might ask, what is online witnessing and how can it be of real help? A good definition can be found from www.allaboutGod.com , in an article titled, “Christian Witnessing: Matter of the Heart,” retrieved April 10, 2008: “Christian witnessing is merely sharing our heartfelt faith in Christ—what He’s personally done to change our individual lives!” The article goes on to state three important elements about witnessing and they are written in bold letters:

“Christian Witnessing—It’s Not About Intellect Or Debate Skills, Christian  Witnessing----Share Simply As A Child And Christian Witnessing----The Power Of Our Story Rests In Jesus Alone.”

What powerful words! I might also add that the best way to witness as a Christian is the way you live your everyday life. Everything you say, do, write and even body language, reflect whether you are ‘for’ or ‘against’ Christ.

We’ve all met people who have witnessed to us and found it to be either effective and comforting, or pompous and self-serving. It seems that those who witness the best reflect some of these qualities-- open, caring, good listening skills and are kind and helpful.

Perhaps the online site, www.whitestonejournal.com offers some good insights for effective on or offline witnessing. Here are just a few of the twelve ways offered: Do your job well, Be loving, Know the gospel and practice it, Be joyful and happy and Avoid all illusion and pretense. In my opinion, the last one is the best because when we acknowledge our failures and doubts and join that with a genuine attempt to seek and serve Christ and His Father, God, we present a powerful witness!

Many Christians know about the power and effectiveness of using blogs and websites but perhaps there are those who are unaware of the many Christian websites that are available, that offer great Christian/Bible online sources of information.

There are many great Bible sites where one can read the Bible daily, weekly or monthly. Just check out these Bible sites. I use several of these often when writing Christian articles and stories or just when I want to read them online. Bible.com and BibleGateway.com are two of the best online sites when seeking Christian help. With Bible.com you have the following: Bible Resources, a Daily Devotional, a Christian Community link, a Prayer Room, Bible.com Ministries, Bible.com Inc. and e-Newsletters.

With BibleGateway.com you have some of following website resources: The Quick Search Tool—where one can find Bible passages or certain words one is looking for, Verse of the Day, Recent BibleGateway.com news, and an online tool where you can “listen” to the Bible.

Online websites such as Christianwriters.com and The Lookout are two additional Christian sites that offer contests, free writing helps, wonderful Christian and other articles that stimulate the mind, are interesting and very helpful. Many Christian sites also offer groups that one can join, where sharing of one’s faith and helpful tidbits can be given. Christianwriters.com have many interesting and helpful forums and is a great way to share one’s faith and beliefs. There is so much that can be done on these Christian sites that are free and that offer a way to connect with other Christians.

Having a Christian blog, I can tell you that I have received many kind responses from readers, thanking me for the Christian articles I’ve written; some writing that I’ve helped them get closer to Christ and others writing such words as: “I didn’t know that was in the Bible” or “Is it really that way when one is a Christian?” If you are interested in beginning a blog—Christian or otherwise—go to www.blogger.com.

Keep in mind that most blogs are free, easy to start up and you can write and share your Christian point of view. Of course, common sense and presenting one’s work clearly and truthfully will help bring others to your site. And always, check out the “rules of engagement before posting and publishing anything!

A note of caution needs to be made about blogs or websites. Online writing can be addictive and one may think that whatever one writes—be it Christian or otherwise—is alright. But, it is best to be judicious about the words one writes. And, always keep your reader in mind. What you find offensive concerning religious topics, others might also. Even with non-Christian writing, the writer needs to be cautious and disciplined in what one writes.

I can’t emphasize enough the power of online Christian witnessing. As a Christian, I have learned so much from such sites as Sprit Led, The Lookout, and several of the online TV evangelistic sites. These sites often have archives of sermons and articles that are inspiring and helpful, that add to one’s Christian faith. Devotionals, spiritual testimony, links to other Christian websites, etc help to make online witnessing and searching for the truth—fast, easy, interesting and extremely helpful.

With so many of us living hurried and busy lives, blogs and websites can be helpful and a life saver; connecting us to online Christian sites where we can witness or be witnessed to, the Gospel and more of Christ’s life.

Jesus was and still is the Word and because His life story is never-ending, finding online Christian witnessing helps, can inspire and help those who want to expand their witnessing tools and knowledge. Keying in such words to the “Search Engine” as –online witnessing, Jesus Christ, Bible knowledge and Christian help, can bring a “world” of information to you at the “click of a finger.”
 
In addition to checking out online witnessing and Christian websites, one can also become a part of online church groups and if interested, write a Christian testimony or perhaps an article. However, with online church groups be sure to check out the site thoroughly before you commit yourself.

Always keep in mind the power of the written Word! Be a part of spreading His Word by checking out the power and effectiveness of online witnessing and online writing…Remember, “your” words may be the very ones that someone is seeking and could transform their lives, forever!

And, as all Christians know, when you accept Christ into your life, He lives within you and when you witness, be it on or offline, you are working and representing, Him. Therefore there should be no need to fear; for He will give you the words to write and from those words, the “power” that will transform and brings others to Him..

 

References:
 
www.blogger.com Creation of Blogs

www.scambusters.org  Internet Scams: How to Protect Yourself. (2008) Retrieved April 15, 2008.