6 Spiritual Drippings from an Ice Cream Cone

Who knew I’d grow deeper with God through ice cream?

Wanting to make sure my words are helpful and true, I’ve felt the need to do plenty of “research” over the past few months.  So, a couple of times a week I have forced myself to dig deeper into these thoughts through first-hand (to mouth) experience at my favorite ice cream joint—Bedford Farms.

The conclusion?

Six ways to grow deeper with God learned through ice cream:

  1. Any time is right for ice cream. There is no “right time” to get ice cream.  It enriches any time of day, in my opinion. Yes, I’m a firm believer in eating healthy, but life needs ice-cream.  I’ve had it for dessert and I’ll confess—also for dinner.  Either way, any time… it’s good. 0925101606b- lexi and ice cream

Often we are tempted to designate certain appropriate times as the times to grow with God.  While these times do need to be set aside (such as devoted times of prayer, time to meet with the church), we can continue to grow with God any time throughout the day and night.  Do you desire to pray, to meditate and learn, to read/remember and reflect on God’s word throughout the day in “undesignated” times such as a work break, driving in the car, in a line (queue), or even occasionally instead of dinner?

  1. Choose what is best. Bedford Farms offers many choices.  Most of them are good options. However, I’ve settled on the one I believe is best and it makes life easier.  My decision has been made before I get to the window.  (“I’ll have a kid’s cone of coffee heath bar yogurt, please”)There are few occasions I will vary from my first choice, and they are carefully considered and weighed beforehand.

Life is full of choices.  Indecision can cause great angst.  At times we can become paralyzed from the choices around us. Other times we tend to follow the “shiny, luring, pleasing to the senses” choices which may be distracting to our relationship with God at best—and sinful at worst.  Take time to consider and weigh your decisions based on how they will affect you and others spiritually? What would Jesus do here?  What will help me and my family grow? What will be most helpful to show Jesus in me to others? When you use these types of factors in your decision making—once you get to the place where it’s “time to order” you will know what to choose.

  1. Forego the “jimmies”. Don’t get me wrong.  Occasional “jimmies” are good.  (For those who may be reading this outside of the boundaries of New England, “jimmies” are those little brown chocolate sprinkles that are used to coat ice cream.  However, “jimmies”, in my opinion, only distract from the integrity of the taste of my ice cream.

Ahhh…where do I begin with the subject of distractions? My point is simple.  We can have so many “accessories”  to our lives that we never actually get around to consistently opening the Bible and letting God speak to us, and then pouring out our hearts to him.  We (and by “we” I mean “I”) can even become so distracted with tasks as we spend time with other Christians, that we fail to connect and truly know each other in a deep and honest way. Do you have several people in your life who know the real you, and together you help each other grow closer to God?  Does your life reflect Jesus to others, or does it merely reflect activity? 20150728_130252

  1. Find an appropriate setting. I don’t want to eat my cone in a rush—or while distracted with a phone conversation or any conversational topic other than how good the ice cream tastes.  I want to be able to focus on the “task at/in hand”. Otherwise, my ice cream is suddenly gone and I’ve missed the joy of it all.

Finding as undistracted a time and setting as possible with which to spend some special time with God makes a difference.  Do you miss the joy and pleasure of being in the presence of God because distractions are all around? Try spending time without electronics in the background, outside, early in the morning or late at night…or if you wake up in the middle of the night.  Settle your heart with song or meditation as you spend some undistracted, special time with God.

  1. The “Stillness of the Lick” is sort of sacred. Call me crazy, but there is something soothing and relaxing about licking an ice cream cone. That’s why I will never order a cup—only a cone will do.  There seems almost an artistic and poetic plot to the process of licking an ice cream (or frozen yogurt) cone—catching the drips and making sure the licks on one side don’t mismatch with the other side, all the while twirling and twisting the cone with the appropriate rhythm. The combination of taste, touch, sight and sound adds to the entire “sacred” experience and relationship to my cone.  Ok, I’m feeling vulnerable.  Am I the only one who feels this way?

I’ve had to learn and grow in my walk with God to truly understand that spending special time with him is not only a time I need, but one we both desire.  That is crazy amazing, that God wants to spend time with me!  Without this understanding, time with him can simply be a “good task that needs to be done”—sort of like the difference between having dinner with a trusted, deeply loving and loved friend (who also happens to be the creator of the universe)  and in exercising and getting homework done.  While at times for times with God I need the same kind of self-discipline needed  to exercise consistently— it’s when I am truly aware of my connection with my Father who loves me that I feel full of peace and joy.

  1. The paper will meet the cone. This is the moment where I see that there is no longer a mound of ice cream to lick and the remainder is hidden in the cone.  At this point, with the cones I use, I must peel back the paper that lines the cone. When it’s time to peel paper, I know that this wonderful experience will be “gone too soon” and I begin to feel a little sad.   However, the serendipity is that this is the point where all flavors and textures combine. It’s the best part of all. 20150518_191210

I am reminded that if I don’t live each stage of life to the fullest—with gratitude for what it brings, I will think too much about what has been or when it will all be over. Neither of these viewpoints are productive, but they do keep me coming back for more.  The ice cream cone ends at some point (pun intended), yet  I’m so very grateful that God’s love is new every morning, and the best is yet to come.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.   (Lamentations 3:21-26)


Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

5 Dangers of Social Media Quicksand

You’ve heard of quicksand, right? It looks the same as other sand, but once you step on it you are drawn into the earth…sucked down toward the core. The more you wiggle, the deeper you sink–as it takes you down with its miry grasp.

Yes, this can also happen with social media. It can capture you quicker than you might think. Personally, I enjoy social media and I like to think I use it well. That is, when I’m not stuck in the quicksand. And to be honest, I’ve been there too many times.

So, how do we know when we’re sinking? What types of quicksand can trap us?


1. Compassion Quicksand:

Let’s face it. We are human and can only hold a certain number of troubling situations in our hearts before we overload. When I overload I can experience “prayer freeze”. The needs seem so overwhelming at times I don’t know where to begin.

I have too often been overly burdened by following heart wrenching stories on social media about people I don’t know. When my emotions become so involved with those outside of my sphere of influence–I can think I’m exercising compassion, but if I end up without the time and emotional bandwidth to attend to and focus on the actual needs of those right around me—those  I can touch with words of encouragement, visits, prayers, meals, etc.–then I’ve let social media sadness become a hindrance to true compassion.

It’s easy to step into this quicksand with the best of intentions, but before you get emotionally involved, think it through. Pray and give it to God or contribute and give it to God…or both—but don’t carry it to the point you use up your emotional energy on those you can’t touch more personally. Thankfully God is big enough to hear it all, and loving enough to care deeply.

2. “Always Available” Quicksand:

There is something “addictive” about social media.  I’ve had to deliberately decide to avoid the cyber-world until after I spend time with my God in the spiritual world. Only then can I choose the most needed priorities for my day and avoid getting dragged into social media’s never-ending chase for chatter.  Loud chatter—the little “ding” when a message comes, or when a status updates, or a new photo is posted. The ding screams for me to check my phone or computer right now.  After all, what if it’s a message from a loved one who is stuck on a desert road without water? Or in a stand-off with aliens? They’ll need me! NOW.

When I’m always available for social media it seeks to own me and continually screams for my attention. In fact, it’s screaming now. (I will not look, I will not look.)

As I write this sentence I’m distracted by a stack of receipts on the desk to  my left. They need to be scanned and recorded in a spreadsheet made for business expenses. Oh, the details of life. Unfortunately, this stack has been there for several days (ahem…weeks), for I chose instead to see what was happening “out there”…the cute pictures, the latest on Deflategate, what a friend in another country had for dinner, and other ‘vital’ issues. (OK, I just did it…spreadsheet done!)

Social media is happy take over and to be any “excuse” for keeping us from tasks at hand. It’s hard to set boundaries…but beware if you don’t. The quicksand will take you down faster than you can blink and keep you there longer than you can stay awake.

3. Guilt Quicksand:

I may be a little crazy, but I can often feel guilty for failing to send a birthday or anniversary wish to someone in my friends or contacts–seems it’s become a sort of moral obligation to me. Birthday greetings are quite nice, and one of the super encouraging “treats” on social media. And, I appreciate the reminders to wish someone a happy day. Really I do.Yet, if I don’t check in for a few days and find I have missed numerous birthdays I feel badly, like I did something wrong.

It’s nice to remember, but honestly at times I just need to get over myself. While the wishes are encouraging and a good thing, my greeting won’t make or break someone’s day. And for family and close friends, a call or card is even nicer.  A remembrance is a nice gesture, but I step in quicksand when I feel badly when I don’t send 15 greetings a day. Anyone else relate?

4. Approval Quicksand:

When we start feeling like our value is measured by “likes” or what others think of whatever we might be doing or saying we’re going down in the muck faster than we can shinny down a greased flagpole. It’s nice to know that someone likes what we’re doing, or writing. I’m not going to lie. It’s encouraging. However, it can matter too much. Do we check for what others think and like more than we read, think, and pray about what God thinks and likes? Just sayin’. It’s good to step back every so often and check our shoes. Perhaps they have a bit to much quicksand covering them, and we fail to realize we are already there…slowly sinking..

5. Motion Picture Director Quicksand.

Certainly, it’s wonderful to capture memorable moments and share them with friends and loved ones. That’s the biggest reason I use and enjoy social media, so please don’t stop. However… We can have such an intense focus on memories as “seen from behind the lens” that we miss out on genuine interactions, laughs, tears, surprises, hugs, etc. We are too busy “directing” for our posts. While you can’t share memories in quite the same way without pictures, it’s also quite nice, at times, to simply hold those precious moments in your heart. We can then have real face to face conversations that paint pictures of what we experienced and how we felt as we experienced it. Often, those deep conversations can be even more exhilarating and meaningful than a photo. So, keep those pictures coming–but take a break from the camera often enough to feel and think and remember and share (verbally). Otherwise, your camera may get ruined because you are sinking in the motion picture director quicksand.

If you find you’re stuck in any quicksand…slowly and deliberately you can get out. And we may need to grab each other’s hands.

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.

Psalm 119:10-16; 27-32 

The Little Fox and the Little Cockerpoo

There are big things in life that give us pause—and tempt us with worry. Things like illness, job struggles, and conflicts.  They call us to a deeper and higher faith.

Then there are other things that are small, and stupid, and annoying, and seemingly insignificant in the face of life and love. Often, it’s those things that try to steal my joy and pulverize my peace. A verse in Song of Songs 2:15 describes this type of annoyance:  Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.

And, if these foxes aren’t caught they can put a choke-hold on our spiritual growth.

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.  Luke 8:14

For me, this fox recently took the form of an eighteen pound ball of fluff—my thirteen-year-old cockerpoo.20150417_013724

Until recently I had a love-hate relationship with him. You see—about a year ago, after his dog cousin came for a visit, he felt obligated to claim every space where his dog cousin had ever set his paw. Yes, this became a terrible daily ritual. It began in the yard…where every blade of grass and rock or pebble seemingly called out to him for ownership. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.

I would hold my breath each time I walked through my front door, wondering what claimed treasures awaited me.  I would then cautiously peer at all of the usual suspects—the front left wooden leg of my new chair and the right wooden leg of the same chair.  (He was at least symmetrical in his claims.)  I’d then venture over to the plastic bin containing our golden retriever’s food—to find it had also been claimed. The trashcan, the vacuum cleaner…yes, they all had his initials written on them—PP.

If ever a new object entered the room, he was determined to “own it”.  I gasped whenever a guest placed their purse or briefcase down on our floor, knowing it was a race against time as to who could reach it first…him or me.  I would hastily grab said object as if I were sliding into base—placing said object somewhere above the four-inch- high margin required to be safe from “claimage territory.” Every day, twice a day, I folded about six paper towels and placed them under the left wooden leg of my chair and the right wooden leg of the same chair. A paper towel palette was also carefully placed under the dog food bin. This way, I could “catch” the claimage and throw it away. My house began to look like a sea of Bounty.

I explained to my little dog that really…he could have it all—everything in the house I’d give him—No need to claim it again and again.

He didn’t care.

My husband, sensing my angst, offered various solutions—all of which didn’t end very well for the dog. My dog’s disturbing antics began to haunt me, appearing in my dreams and consuming too many of my thoughts.  Really, how stupid…in the big scheme of things… that my dog’s marking could take so much attention from much more important things.

So, I made an appointment for my dog to see the vet.  I reasoned that there must certainly be a medical reason for such horrible behavior. An infection? A tick eating away his brain?

Alas…He was healthy. The vet, noting we had never had him “fixed”—(duh, he was obviously broken)—suggested we try neutering him. If this didn’t work (which was possible due to his age) then he would be given behavior meds.  If those didn’t work, perhaps I could take them.

My husband was not keen on the idea of spending several hundred dollars for a “possible” solution, suggesting he had much less expensive solutions (of course he meant petting him more often and giving more treats 🙂 ) My veterinarian told me about a shelter an hour away that offered inexpensive neutering.

So, early one snowy morning I drove over an hour to “the place.”  After I dropped him off for the day I went to pray—praying that if this little deed being done would not stop the madness—that he would go quietly and peacefully to doggie heaven (I hoped) while under anesthesia.  Later in the day, when I picked him up he was as frisky as a young pup.  It was obviously not yet his time.  Later that evening…day of surgery…we had a birthday celebration at our house that included all of our family and all family dogs. 16 humans, 5 dogs.  Not a smart move.  My 13-year-old newly-neutered-canine felt the commotion and in his anxiety… peed. Fail.

However, the story didn’t end there. I am thrilled to tell you that this was nearly three months ago…and he has been perfect since that day! No marking…just calm and obedient. (This was perhaps the best $100 I ever spent.)  Fixed and fixed. I now smile when I walk in the front door, as there is nothing to find.  I sent my veterinarian flowers (not really, but did send her a thank you) and no longer fold the paper towels and place them around the house.

The fox has been captured and the dog has been saved. I’m once again sane and can more peacefully focus on matters of greater significance.  That is, until the next fox comes and tries to steal my peace.  Prayerfully I’ll be ready for him.



When the Chicken Hits the Fan

So, lately I’ve written about an electric fan, and various birds.  That combination reminded me of a conversation that leads to today’s post.

There is an odd commercial I have noted of late.  It is an advertisement for directTV, and follows an unlikely and absurd domino of events in a person’s life that could have been “avoided” if they had only purchased directTV.  The commercial reminds me of a conversation I had with someone several years ago.

I noticed this “someone” (I’ll refer to as “person”) had a black eye.  I inquired as to the cause of this malady.  The conversation that ensued went something like this:

Me:  How did you get the black eye?

Person:  Because of the chicken

Me: Because of the chicken?

Person: Yes, I had a friend over and they brought their pet chicken.

Me:  A pet chicken?  So what does that have to do with your black eye?

Person:  I didn’t appreciate him bringing a chicken into my apartment so I asked him to leave and he didn’t.

Me:  And?

Person: So I took the chicken and threw it in the air…but it hit the fan.

Me:  What??!!  Was it ok?

Person:  Lost some feathers, but it was ok…but the guy was mad that his chicken hit the fan.

Me:  And so he punched you?

Person:  Yes, he punched me.  He’s not coming back.

So, I would have never guessed the progression of such a seemingly illogical chain of events.

But, I’m on a bird theme of late…so could not resist sharing this remembrance.

However, while I laugh at this chain of events, I can sometimes be just as disjointed in my chain of thoughts and prayers.

I understand why the scriptures depict prayer as hard work.  Often, I have to wrestle in prayer to keep my concentration.

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.  Col. 4:12

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.  1 Peter 4:7

I know Satan does not want me to pray as these scriptures teach, as prayer unleashes the power of God.

Sometimes I can begin to pray as I praise and thank God and pray for many situations and people…and then the “chicken hits the fan” so to speak.  I begin with full concentration and then as I pray for my friends and the woman I met at the grocery store who wants to study the Bible….I remember what I need to purchase at the grocery store, which reminds me of the meal I need to schedule next week.  Then I pull it back in focus and pray for people and places in mission work, which reminds me that I need to book our flights for our trip next month, and I hope they have the wandering seat problem fixed by then, and oh yeah, I need to make sure the dogs are taken care of …..

Am I alone in attention deficit prayer temptations and challenges?  I doubt it, otherwise we wouldn’t have the need for the scriptures above and below.

Col. 4:2

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Prayer is not easy, but oh so necessary.  It is also an incredible privilege.  Given my propensity to do several things at once (to help concentration, really) I like to walk and pray… or to pray out loud and with someone. I know that prayer truly makes a difference.  I desperately need to speak with my Father and amazingly, he wants to hear from me.

Getting Past the ABC’s – Annoyance, Bedlam and Chaos

I’ve renamed the dogs.  Let me introduce them.  Annoyance is on the left.   Bedlam is front and center and Chaos is on the right.   They had tested me throughout the day yesterday, and it culminated this morning – about 4am.  The older dog (Blackie, aka “Jackie”) usually sleeps on the floor at the foot of our bed.  I suppose he wasn’t feeling well, since I was awakened to the sounds of him throwing up on my pillow – right next to my head.  That was quite disgusting.  It was annoying enough to be awakened – not to mention the need that followed to get out of bed to change the pillowcase.  Thus his new nickname, Annoyance

We also have our puppy, Denver, who is …well – a puppy.  I named him Bedlam. Then there is Brady.  This week we are dog-sitting Brady, our son’s dog, while our son and his family are out of town.  He is a loveable dog, who has high energy and also really loves the water.  Yesterday I had decided to let the dogs out before I needed to leave for an appointment.  That’s when Bedlam and Chaos took over.  Brady (Chaos) headed to the creek beside our house to take a little dip, and Denver (Bedlam) went the other direction toward a swamp.  Denver thought it would be fun, instead of coming to my call, to grab hold of a large stick and run the other way toward the field where some gentlemen were playing Ultimate Frisbee during their lunch hour.  Finally, both dogs returned – covered in dark mud.  I was not amused.  Thirty minutes later, after giving the puppy a bath and watching my husband hose down Brady,  I rushed with breakneck speed and high anxiety to get to my appointment.

Annoyance, bedlam and chaos are not planned.  They just happen, usually at the most inopportune times.  They may be, as mine were, covered with fur.  Or, they may come in the form of a flat tire, a flooded basement,  a baby’s poopy diaper, a child’s tantrum, a lost shoe,  a snowstorm, or even just a “bad hair day”.  But come they will.  Bedlam breaks loose, chaos erupts and annoyances happen in what seems the mere blink of an eye.  They distract us from our purpose and plans, and tempt us with frustration, anger and anxiety.

I’ve learned that I can’t change them, or in most cases avoid them – so I must decide how to respond to them.  I’m constantly amazed and inspired by how Jesus dealt with annoyances, bedlam and chaos.  He remained calm and purposeful, even amidst it all. Look at one day in the life of Jesus.  Mark 1:21-38

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. [22] The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. [23] Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, [24] “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”

[25] “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” [26] The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

[27] The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching–and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” [28] News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

[29] As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. [30] Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. [31] So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

[32] That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. [33] The whole town gathered at the door, [34] and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

[35] Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. [36] Simon and his companions went to look for him, [37] and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

[38] Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

In this one day in the life of Jesus his sermon was interrupted by a crazy man, his friend’s mother in law (who was the hostess of the house where he was visiting) was very ill (so he healed her); and many sick and demon possessed clamored to him to be healed. He was offered no privacy.  I stand amazed and inspired.

Several things stand out to me as Jesus met with bedlam, chaos and annoyances.   He got away to pray; he was always filled with compassion amidst the chaos, bedlam and annoyances;  his heart was always to give;  and he did not let himself get distracted from his purpose of telling people how to have a relationship with God.  Because of his compassion and focus, I now have the hope of heaven.

May I today, get past the ABC’s of annoyance, bedlam and chaos by learning from Jesus – and take time to pray; view others through eyes of compassion;  decide to be a giver, and show people Jesus – enabling them to have a relationship with God and one day be in heaven.