8/26/16

Watermeloncholy No More

Summer. Who’s holding on for dear life like I am?? I do this every year, actually. I anticipate and dream of the crisp fall nights, but I also can’t let go of the hot sun, my rare poolside sitting and… watermelon.
Watermelon. Candy fruit. That’s what it really is. Mark Twain was quoted, “To taste a watermelon is to know what the angels eat.” I wholeheartedly agree.
Now, conversely, to eat a bad watermelon, is to know what the devil eats. Seriously, I’ve been known to spit out a mutilated slice of hopeful delicious delight, if my mouth is offended in any way. I gag and heave, making weird sounds. There’s nothing worse than a bad watermelon. And you can’t always tell, just by the visual. Some of the most red-acious ones may not always be the sweetest. That’s the irony.
There’s a thousands-year-old breeding history of how we’ve arrived to this red-on-the-inside-green-on-the-outside delectable delight. There’s also completely boring rhetoric that I won’t waste your time reading, but it took many years for the watermelon to take on its familiar red hue. That’s because the gene for the color red is paired with the gene that determines the sugar content. As watermelons were bred to become even sweeter (because that’s what we really want), their interior gradually changed color…and taste. Red = Sweet. Hmmm.
Finally, a fruit fit for the angels! It took several thousand years to get to this specifically glorious hybrid. Today, 100 million tons of watermelon are grown annually worldwide. All shapes, sizes, colors and, uh, tastes. 
I am a watermelon snob. Like I said, I won’t waste my time or my taste buds on a bad one. But if I find one that is perfect, I’ve been known to eat the whole melon in one sitting! (Although now, I prefer the pre-packaged kind that’s already been sliced and diced into handy little finger-food containers.) Yes, I’ve even become that lazy….”Please, someone - please cut it for me!”
I also hear the proclamation of scripture here from Psalm 119:103, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Our words are known to be both sweet and sour at times. That’s just the reality. But the red hue of my Savior’s blood is useful for the repentance of sin and degrading speech. “His blood will make our consciences pure from useless acts so we may serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14 NCV)
Nor more useless acts. No more wasting time ruminating over the ‘bad watermelon’ of life. Move on. Serve the Living God who delights in us, by giving us His son Jesus as a sacrifice. Because the blood of Christ has redeemed us, we are now new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and by His blood we are freed from sin to serve the living God, to glorify Him, and to enjoy His sweet presence forever.
How sweet is that? And maybe to adjust Mark Twain a little bit here, I think it’s best said, “To know Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross is to know what the angels know.” And that’s pretty sweet. Red = Sweet. Amen.
SaveSave

3/19/16

A Daughter-Land Awaits Her King



I’ve always loved being called a daughter. And even though my parents are gone, I still am known to refer to myself as Al and Naomi Beatty’s daughter. It’s a statement of honor, remembrance, and high esteem. In while I love of being called wife, mother, sister, friend (and sometimes goofball!), I’m overwhelmingly fond of the royal name-call of daughter. In the Gospel of Matthew, the King coming on the foal of a donkey was an exact fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” A daughter-land awaiting her King. Despite the constant rebellion of the daughter of Zion (Israel) against her Father, He promises to restore her and present her with a Deliverer-King in the form of Jesus. “Daughter” implies that God is a loving father. He loves His people, even when they reject Him. By using the metaphor “daughter of Zion,” God shows how He felt for the rebellious Israelites: frustrated, angry, but always with a hopeful eye to the future when the relationship would be restored. He could once again return to them and welcome them into His arms (Zechariah 2:10). On this Palm Sunday of my sixtieth year, this daughter, too, awaits her King. And even when she has gravely disappointed Him, hurt Him or hurt others with a spiritual veneer of positioning or prideful justification, He returns to her again and again. I welcome you, Jesus. This daughter jumps for joy with grateful anticipation of your arrival. “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord – the King of Israel!”

12/31/15

A Green Miracle

     On Christmas Eve, Annie and I spent a few hours in the kitchen baking Mom Mom Duffield’s candy cane cookies. It wasn’t as easy as the recipe suggested, but we tackled it and made a huge amount of red and white batter. We forgot to add the granular sugar in one batch, but then couldn't remember if we added it along with the powdered sugar in the second batch. It didn’t matter. The batter tasted great anyway. And the secret was that crazy almond extract. And even better, we once again possessed that Betty Crocker “Cooky Book”, thanks to Amazon and Annie’s search.

     Before Thanksgiving this year, I lost one of my pretty green peridot and diamond earrings somewhere in or outside this house. Before Mom Mom passed away in 2003, she gave me those earrings and I was particularly irritated at myself for losing one now, after all these years. I wrapped the lone earring in a tissue and carefully stored it in my jewelry box. So, getting ready that Christmas Eve morning, I glanced at the rolled tissue in my jewelry box. I said out loud, “God - this would surely be a great day to find that earring, considering Annie and I are gonna bake “her” cookies from the Cooky Book tonight.” 

     We laughed as we tried to roll out the dough, the white and red, twisting and pinching the strands. Our candy cane shapes weren’t too pretty; more like a fat flat Peter Max creation, but they sure did smell and taste good. I decided to make the leftover batch green and turn them into wreaths. Much easier to roll out and bend in a circle. We laughed and thought, “Mom Mom, no wonder you were in the kitchen for days making these things!” My wreaths baked up to look more like monster truck tires. 

      This was the first year too for me to put lights on my outdoor shrubs around our porch here in Tennessee. And it’s also the first Christmas without our Pop Geo and brother Wayne. Lots and lots of thoughts and emotions for sure. I took a break from the hot kitchen to catch a glimpse of that awesome full moon. Outside on the front yard while I walked across the grass, I saw something shining and reflecting from the lights. It was flickering as if it was on fire. I bent down to see what it was, and behold - there was my earring! My green birthstone diamond peridot earring that Mom Mom and Pop Geo gave me. I ran into the house and shouted, “I can’t believe this! I found my earring!” 

      The likelihood that I’d drape Christmas lights on my shrubs this year? Rare. The chances that I’d go outside to see the full moon that night? It’s possible. And the change of the cookie dough to green? Crazy. And the reflection of a flickering green twinkle light revealing my treasured green peridot earring in a sea of green grass? A miracle. A surreal green miracle. Thank you, Mom Mom, for smiling upon us and thank you, God, for showing me how to pay attention, again.

 

12/2/15

Jesus TOOK the Wheel

 


Trying to drive in the glaring westerly sun on the annoying construction-coned southbound lanes of the North East Extension's Pennsylvania Turnpike, is just about as irritating as reading this l-o-n-g drag-on opening sentence. But I did it on Sunday, and I feel very accomplished. Each time my eyes would start to drift into the shaded eyelid half moon stare, my body would jolt with a surge of adrenaline. "Time to stop...", I said out loud, to no one, but me. "If I can just find a safe place to stop, I'll put my head back for a few minutes and I'll be fine."

And that's what I did. At the rest area. For about two hours.

This type of exhaustion follows every time there's an out-pouring of God moments at a thirty-six hour marathon called a women's retreat. And this time was no exception. About one hundred and eighty women gathered at the beautiful Tuscarora Inn near the Delaware River in Mt. Bethel, PA to experience a hopeful encounter with Jesus and their girlfriends. Some came as far as Maine, Connecticut, Ohio and mostly from Jersey, NYC and Pennsylvania. I came from a history of speaking for over two hundred retreats in about a decade. But this one was particularly special on many fronts.

Women weren't expecting to laugh so much. That seemed to be the eternal conversation starter. Women didn't expect that laughter would do its healing as much as it did. This was talked about over and over. Women enjoyed the fact that their fallible and imperfect speaker was relevant and real, and not so super-sized spiritually, but walking this same journey as they. I heard this over and over. Women, who at first fought as to whether to even attend, thanked me because they just weren't expecting this kind of thing.

What "IS" this kind of thing? The Church of the Lutheran Brethren Women's Retreat covered a vast array of denominations. I mean, it wasn't just CLB women who attended. Like a smorgasbord of culture and beliefs, there were some that came just to have fun. Perfect. They're exactly who I prayed would come. And this "kind of thing" was setting the atmosphere so the Holy Spirit would show up.

The topic and message of the weekend, as invasive as it can get, was called "Serving from the Second Chair". It was my fourth time presenting this message. But again, I felt the inward pangs of conviction and scrutiny, "How can I lead from the second chair, when it seems all I do is war against being first or wanting to be first in everything?"

One young woman named Rebecca reminded me. "Sue, I didn't want to come. I struggled to make it to the first session. But I stayed. I made myself stay. And now I realize that God had something miraculous for me to experience."

So, we wipe away tears and we store up the laughter, and praise God for an encounter that will probably go down as an all-time fave. Many women found Jesus as their Savior. Young women poured their hearts out to God. And the seasoned saints were reminded that our God is real. We laughed, we had spontaneous dance (like a Go-Go girl!) and we begged our heavenly Father to hold us accountable to Him and to each other. One woman expressed, "I really liked the weekend. It definitely wasn't what I was expecting. I'm still learning about this God stuff."

I don't know how everyone drove home that afternoon without passing out! But thankfully, it looks like we all made it home safely. As I awoke from the power nap off of 476, I laughed to myself as I saw signs of bone-tired effects. My hands were still on the steering wheel! I popped them off with a firecracker release and raised them to the air and said out loud, "Dear...God! I even try to drive in my sleep!"

Thank you, Darci. You blessed me.
Bless you, Rebecca. Go with God!
Also posted over at SUEbiquitous!

 

11/11/15

Jesus TOOK the Wheel!




Trying to drive in the glaring westerly sun on the annoying construction-coned southbound lanes of the North East Extension's Pennsylvania Turnpike, is just about as irritating as reading this l-o-n-g drag-on opening sentence. But I did it on Sunday, and I feel very accomplished. Each time my eyes would start to drift into the shaded eyelid half moon stare, my body would jolt with a surge of adrenaline. "Time to stop...", I said out loud, to no one, but me. "If I can just find a safe place to stop, I'll put my head back for a few minutes and I'll be fine."

And that's what I did. At the rest area. For about two hours.

This type of exhaustion follows every time there's an out-pouring of God moments at a thirty-six hour marathon called a women's retreat. And this time was no exception. About one hundred and eighty women gathered at the beautiful Tuscarora Inn near the Delaware River in Mt. Bethel, PA to experience a hopeful encounter with Jesus and their girlfriends. Some came as far as Maine, Connecticut, Ohio and mostly from Jersey, NYC and Pennsylvania. I came from a history of speaking for over two hundred retreats in about a decade. But this one was particularly special on many fronts.

Women weren't expecting to laugh so much. That seemed to be the eternal conversation starter. Women didn't expect that laughter would do its healing as much as it did. This was talked about over and over. Women enjoyed the fact that their fallible and imperfect speaker was relevant and real, and not so super-sized spiritually, but walking this same journey as they. I heard this over and over. Women, who at first fought as to whether to even attend, thanked me because they just weren't expecting this kind of thing.

What "IS" this kind of thing? The Church of the Lutheran Brethren Women's Retreat covered a vast array of denominations. I mean, it wasn't just CLB women who attended. Like a smorgasbord of culture and beliefs, there were some that came just to have fun. Perfect. They're exactly who I prayed would come. And this "kind of thing" was setting the atmosphere so the Holy Spirit would show up.

The topic and message of the weekend, as invasive as it can get, was called "Serving from the Second Chair". It was my fourth time presenting this message. But again, I felt the inward pangs of conviction and scrutiny, "How can I lead from the second chair, when it seems all I do is war against being first or wanting to be first in everything?"

One young woman named Rebecca reminded me. "Sue, I didn't want to come. I struggled to make it to the first session. But I stayed. I made myself stay. And now I realize that God had something miraculous for me to experience."

So, we wipe away tears and we store up the laughter, and praise God for an encounter that will probably go down as an all-time fave. Many women found Jesus as their Savior. Young women poured their hearts out to God. And the seasoned saints were reminded that our God is real. We laughed, we had spontaneous dance (like a Go-Go girl!) and we begged our heavenly Father to hold us accountable to Him and to each other. One woman expressed, "I really liked the weekend. It definitely wasn't what I was expecting. I'm still learning about this God stuff."

I don't know how everyone drove home that afternoon without passing out! But thankfully, it looks like we all made it home safely. As I awoke from the power nap off of 476, I laughed to myself as I saw signs of bone-tired effects. My hands were still on the steering wheel! I popped them off with a firecracker release and raised them to the air and said out loud, "Dear...God! I even try to drive in my sleep!"

Thank you, Darci. You blessed me.



8/19/15

Doggy Golf



As I walk the park this morning, I see a young couple trying to play disc golf. Their terrier thinks he is part of the game too. I laugh as I watch. Every time "dad" or "mom" try to throw the disc towards the goal, the dog catapults into a rocket run and retrieves the disc back to their starting position. They keep yelling, "No, Butch! NO! Put it down! Butch! Sit down!"

Now, I'm no dog obedience trainer and I'm especially not an expert on training dogs for sport, but I had to chuckle at this escapade. What did they expect, when their little furry child isn't on a leash? And for goodness sake, this is like heaven for a dog. Of course he thinks he's part of the game!

I'm assuming they think it's unfair to put Butch on a leash. So they let him run around. But the constant yelling throughout the park today, sets another thought in motion for me: "You take your dog to the park, you throw little round discs all around and you expect your dog to not be engaged?" Weird.

Butch saw me as I made the final lap and made a dash for me. Of course, mom and dad are yelling, "Butch - get over here! Butch - NO!" But me being the dog lover, I just bend down and put my hand out as if to say, "It's OK, Butch, I understand you." He sits in front of me and I pet him for a minute. I talk to him, "I'm sorry Butch. I get you. Mom and Dad take you to this awesome park and you're not aloud to be a dog. Just take it in stride, Butch. They'll come around some day."

Parenting is a tough thing. And we all make mistakes and do dumb stuff. But a favorite memory of mine happened when I insisted that my kids NOT play in the mud and the rain, even after letting them play outside. I remember yelling, "Get out of that mud puddle! Don't you dare get dirty!" Yet, I still let them play outside after the storm. Finally, my friend said (since we were at her house), "Oh, just let them get dirty. Who cares. They're having fun. And they'll never forget the day their mother said they could frolic in the filth."

She was right. My kids never forgot that.
Let a kid be a kid. And for sure - let a dog be a dog!

Maybe I'll go back to the park and rescue Butch from his conflicting mixed-messaged parents. I have plenty of new mulch in my backyard he can roll around in. :)

7/28/15

Extended Warranty





I don’t think much about warranties on things. I usually turn down extended warranties just because they are so over priced and not necessary. I did succumb to Apple Care for my iPhone and computer, but that’s only because I’m such a klutz. My technology gear goes with me everywhere I go. So if I fall down steps with my iPad flying or drop a few iPhones in toilets, I’m covered.

But the logic of today hits me like a ton of bricks. I’m debating whether to invest in a really good smoothie-maker machine. You know the one. The one that costs like 3 billion dollars (well, not really), but its claims are stellar. This particular model has a built in blade guarantee for seven years. Seven years. Yes, sev-en.

Forty years ago as a newlywed and homemaker, a seven year warranty claim and bragging rights of being the best of the best smoothie maker (or blender, as they once were called) wouldn’t impress. I mean, really? Who cares about that long of a warranty? Just buy another one or a cheap one when it breaks. I also wouldn’t care, to tell you the truth. But this shift known as “my sixtieth year” (shocking as it is), makes me think, “Wow. If I buy this, I’ll be sixty-seven by the time the warranty runs out!” Ouch.

It’s both sobering and encouraging at the same time. I even find myself thinking, like after buying our new Ford Flex back in May, “Maybe this will be the last new car I’ll need for the road . Great extended warranty and mileage coverage.” Never thought this way before..

These are all new feelings, new territory and a new queasiness, actually. The day you start thinking ahead and predicting where you’ll be in the equation to “how much time do I have left?”, or “what kinds of funds will I have later on?” puts me in a more strategic way of thinking.

Webster’s definition of “guarantee” is: A formal promise or assurance (typically in writing) that certain conditions will be fulfilled. I love that. And here it is in writing, according to Ephesians 1:14 (The Message)

“It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.”

Talk about a perfect warranty! I didn’t have to pay for this extended guarantee either. It was already purchased for me, a gift. All I have to do is receive it in faith through Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. And the best part of this warranty is: It never runs out. It never expires. I am completely covered. And you can be too. The upgrade is simply amazing!

Summer Sarcasm


"There's always time to write your thoughts
Or "right" your thoughts", she said
For even in the worst of times
And can't get out of bed
It's great to know the sun still shines
And rain will always fall
For all we need is memes & quotes
To remind us of it all
Coma talk, and blah blah blah
Quotes we cannot live without
I guess to some will change the world
But that I highly doubt.


 It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words..
Matthew 12:36 





7/20/15

Doin' it kicking' & screamin'

I've done this before. Many times, in fact. But I always know, that if you monitor or document what you eat every day, you'll see the real truth. And here's the truth: I'm not dying of hunger. I'm not "dieting"... I'm literally eating good food, healing foods, that (coupled with cardio and workouts) I'm slowily seeing the bathroom scale as a good friend. But better than the scale, it's the overall feeling of wellness. An old guy named Draper, lapped me at the walking park today (he's 75; I'm 60), but I told him it won't be long before he'll have competition!
All I can say is this: Do this. This is the day to start. Even if you've had trouble meeting your health goals before, take the time to (like the Old Testament book Habakkuk 2:2 says), "Write it down." And in our case here, post it every day on MyFitnessPal.
I have 42 pounds to go to my goal. So far, it appears that I'm losing about 8 pounds per month. And that's right on schedule. Thanks My Fitness Pal app - check my blog post there!

6/5/15

Duffields perform for Michigan District AG Family Camp 2015!


Senior Days at the Michigan District AOG Family Camps gets #HYMNPHONIC this year! June 30th at Lost Valley Bible Camp,...



5/13/15

HYMNPHONIC!


A sneak preview of "HYMNPHONIC", the new album by Jeff & Sue Duffield! 





To order, CLICK HERE!

5/6/15

I Changed How I Pray

Ephesians 6:18
"And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying FOR ALL THE SAINTS.”
     I studied this verse for years, not knowing really why Paul, even in his hardship and imprisonment, would say such a thing. For surely, wasn’t Paul a “saint”? And wasn’t Paul in the toughest place in his life when he said this? Of course he was. But rather than asking for believers to pray for his release or for comfort from God to detox the stress in his life, he instead instructed others to “..pray in the spirit on all occasions….and be alert….and keep on praying for all the saints.
     This one verse has revolutionized how I approach my prayer life. For years, I would (of course) pray for my needs, my kids, my husband, my ministry, my my my…..everything. And for years, I saw the hand of God be slow to answering many of those prayers. Some of our prayers are not prayers at all. They are need lists, rant lists and “to do” lists, as if God is some kind of cosmic bellboy.
     Lee Brace of the Navigators says, “Prayers in the Bible are primarily for praying and interceding for the believers. When Christ is lifted up through believers, He draws people to Himself.”
     I thought about this for quite some time. Except for Jesus teaching us “how” to pray the Lord’s Prayer, there are few scriptures that tell us how we should pray. So, for a few months I did just what Paul said to do - Pray FOR ALL THE SAINTS, that they would be equipped for duty for the cause of Christ, to fight and resist the devil and his tactics, and that by this, those around them would be drawn to Him.. I prayed and listed missionaries, pastors and ministry leaders right and left. I prayed and singled out specific Christians around the world who are on the front lines; those who literally have to choose between life and death everyday.
     Can I honestly tell you? Some of the very prayers that I had prayed for years have now been answered. That’s right. I’m telling you the truth. It’s as if God heard me, because I was interceding for His children; the ones who are spreading truth around the world. I quit praying for my needs, and made it about the needs of others. And all the while I had my focus on scripturally-sound prayers and petition, God has been answering my first prayers.
     Here’s an example: Instead of praying for my son, his new job and his relationship with Christ, I’ve been praying, (1) “Lord, thank you for the co-workers and bosses that surround my son everyday. Bless you, God, for raising up the strong Christians at his work, to be an influence on my son.” (2) “I praise you Father for my daughter. I ask in Jesus’ Name, for a strong, Christ-like man to come into her life; the one you have prepared her heart for. May you strengthen him right now, whoever and wherever he is.”
     Both prayers mention my kids, but both prayers do more than just ask God for personal reasons. I’m asking God to “equip” the saints around them, to be a hedge of protection, to bring living breathing life to the Christians that my children come in contact with every day, as a guide and spiritual influence. I never prayed like this before. And I also have to say, I’ve never seen such miraculous moves of God in my adult kids’ lives - either, ever.
 
     On this National Day of Prayer, be mindful of “how” you pray. Write it down. Ask God to “equip the saints”, to do the work of the Lord. Be ready FOR CHANGE when you change how you pray.


Special thanks to author/speaker, Cynthia Heald, who changed my life with her teachings and Bible studies.
Also on SueDuffield.com