Living Large in Small Space!

by on June 7, 2012
in Uncategorized

What happens when a grown, single (no children at home) husband and wife move into a small space about half the size of my classroom?
Having only lived in our camper for two weeks, we are not aware of all the changes we are going to make; however, we have learned several lessons already.
One: Gary’s questions before purchasing any item used to be, “Do you need it? Can you afford it? Do you have a place for it?”
Now we completely understand the wisdom of those simple questions in a deeper, more fundamental way.
Yes, I like shoes! I have shoes for special occasions, walking, working outside, shopping, riding horses, walking in mud, going out, teaching, going to church, and on and on. I have flip flops, heels, and flats.
But there is room for about five or six pair of shoes. Which do I choose?
Yes, I like variety! I have t-shirts I love to wear to work when it’s melting hot outside, blouses that go with dressy slacks, school teaching shirts, going to visit kids tops, old shirts to paint in, and on and on. I have short sleeve, long sleeve, and sleeveless.
I have jeans for working in the yard, dressy jeans, school slacks, dressy slacks, and Capri pants.
But there is only a limited space for hangers in the small closet—which do I need the most?
Yes, I love to read and books have been my friends all my life! I love mysteries, historical fiction (not romance, though), nonfiction, science, science fiction, poetry, short stories, plays, murder mysteries, scary stories, and on and on. I have Southern literature, current literature, and light reading.
But there is only a limited amount of cabinet space to hold books and magazines. Which do I really need to use as reference, or how-to, or comfort?
Two: Clutter will kill you! Gary and I have found over the years in our married life, while we can function in comfortable “lived in,” we cannot function in cluttered chaos!
When you live in a very small place we have learned that your eyes, and brain, and ears get overloaded very quickly. There has to be “blank” space where you can rest your gaze. There has to be a place of peace. There has to be a place of silence.
With stuff cluttering and reminding us it needs to be put up, put on, or put out to the trash can— we can’t rest. Plus the small floor space means every inch counts and is important for navigation!
So everything in the little space needs its own place. We both need to be able to find whatever we are looking for. When we use something, we need to put it right back in its place. Don’t leave it on the table, the counter, or the bed. Soon, like a magnet, all sorts of loose objects will be attracted to that site.
When finished with the glass, wash it, and put it away. After a meal is over, clean up quickly so the chore will be done, empty the dish drainer, and reorganize the kitchen. When you finish using the hair dryer, put it back in the closet, not hanging on the edge of the counter. Don’t procrastinate. Common sense; what our mama’s said over and over.
Three: Multipurposing ! I used to think I had to have all the right size, right kind, and right color dishes for serving meals in. I used to think I needed all those different kinds of baking dishes, frying pans, and utensils. I really had to have all those various sizes and styles of pots and pans, electric skillets, food processors, and mixers! To have the best result, to be the best mom, to be the best wife, to turn out the best product—a multitude of kitchen utensils, stirrers, beaters, dishes, and cookers were needed.
But there is only one small shelf under the sink for pots and pans and cooking things and a little storage over the refrigerator for storing choppers and cookers.
I can use my basic utensils, pots, pans, and skillets and get the job done; then I don’t have a storage problem. All those cute, clever, fancy, cooking-chic extras aren’t necessary and don’t make the food taste any better!
We have lived in large and small places, but this is the smallest by far. Minimal, I suppose. But we have all we need.
Cleaning is a breeze! I can vacuum, mop, dust, clean glass, and put things away in a very short time! We can easily heat or cool the small living area, kitchen, bath, and bedroom.
Losing my first husband in a car wreck, selling the first real home Gary and I had purchased thinking we would live there forever and raise our children, going through a flood, and facing Mama’s memory loss — all have made me know that God is all there is that lasts, God is the only one who will always faithfully be there, and God is the only one who can fulfill my heart’s desires.
Physical and material blessings are great, but temporary. Spiritual life is eternal.
Don’t you love the way Paul could express the deep truths of the Christian life? In Philippians 4:12 Paul says: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
I would never compare anything I have gone through to Paul’s, but I am learning his secret.
Have you?

Anyone for some Pufferfish? or Fugu?

by on April 20, 2012
in Uncategorized

We had heard about it, but never thought we would eat it!
While working in Japan as a Missionary Journeyman for the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board teaching English in a Japanese Girl’s school, my co-missionary, Charlene, and I had many dining adventures!
We found out that refusing what is served at a dinner or snack is terribly rude. Of course, it is rude in America, too, to refuse a dish that has been lovingly prepared or expensively provided. But not to the extent that it is in Japan where the intricate rules of etiquette are interwoven into the culture, the food, the language, and really, everything.
The last thing we wanted to do was insult our friends or co-workers.
So when our school went on vacation (yes, all the faculty went on a vacation trip together on a bus to a lovely hotel in a seaside village) Charlene and I bravely faced the whole fish, eyes, fins, and all, served on a platter decorated with vegetables and flowers for our communal dinner.
I almost felt I had been there too long when I found myself looking forward to my hot rice, raw egg (which was broken over the steaming rice, stirred into the aromatic rice which kind of cooked it, and eaten after dashing in a little soy sauce for flavor), yellow radish pickles, and small blackened dried fish.
Anyway, some of friends decided to treat us to a marvelous, expensive, traditional, famous, and dangerous meal! We were invited to eat fugu sashimi (very fresh, raw fish sliced extremely thin and served with sauces for dipping it into).
We had become accustomed to maki sushi (rolled sushi) and other forms of raw fish (served on a small length of rice with wasabi, a hot green condiment). But we knew a little of the reputation of fugu, or blowfish.
The skin, liver, and ovaries of the fugu fish contain a poison, tetrodotoxin, which paralyzes the muscles. First the lips and tongue tingle and grow numb. Then the person dies from full body weakness, seizures, a coma and respiratory arrest. A thousand times more potent than cyanide, the poison in this fish is nothing to fool around with! Of course, I didn’t know all these facts then.
The Japanese government has set up strict rules for the training of chefs who prepare fugu. First there is a two or three year apprenticeship; then a licensing exam which includes a written test, a fish-identification test, a practical test, and fugu preparation and serving. Only about thirty five percent of the people taking the test pass. So, our friends considered the risk minimal when they asked us to eat with them at a well-known, licensed restaurant to try fugu. Being invited to this expensive meal was considered a great honor.
We sat around on the tatami floor around the low dining table. A lovely lady dressed in a formal kimono brought in our hot tea, rice, and a large platter with the thin, delicate fish slices arranged on it. The platter was white with an intricate blue design which we could see through the fresh fish.
Our friends were chatting and began taking small pieces of the fish in their chop sticks and choosing sauces for dipping and eating the fish. Then they turned to us. Charlene and I looked at each other. So far so good. No one was falling over! And then we ate fugu safely with dear friends and lived to tell about it!
No one was insulted. No one died.
However later we heard about a famous actor who had died from eating fugu! It seemed that because he was so influential he had been able to have a tiny bit of the poison served with his fish. We learned that some diners liked the danger of the slight tingle they got from a touch of the poison while eating fugu. However, he was a bit greedy—and ate a friend’s portion of the very expensive fish. He didn’t know that his friend liked a bit of the poison, too. He died from an overdose since he had his amount plus his friend’s amount of tingly in his serving.
Have you thought about the warning that Jesus gave that could be compared to ingesting poisonous fugu? Jesus and his disciples went across the lake and the disciples had forgotten to bring bread. The Pharisees and Sadducees had just asked Jesus for a “sign” that He was who He was—the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus told the disciples to: “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6)
The disciples were confused and thought what Jesus said was because they had forgotten bread—but Jesus reminded them he had fed the multitudes.
“You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Yeast starts out tiny and spreads throughout the dough to make the entire mixture change dramatically—just as the poison in the fugu can be a tiny amount, but spreads throughout the body to kill it.
Refusing to believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the only Son of God, who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross taking the punishment for our sins, rose again to life, and is alive today as our Savior is spiritual poison more potent than any poison on earth.
“After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.” (John 2:22) They had a happy ending in eternity.
Beware. Be careful. Know what you believe about Jesus.
Don’t be fooled by Satan’s lies no matter who tells them.
(more at www.conniebunch.com)

You Can Be My Daughter

by on April 3, 2012
in Uncategorized

Bless your Heart
Connie Ellard Bunch

We play, we talk, and we spend time doing what she wants to do since I am not with her very much or very often.
My granddaughter, Aeralyn Grace, who will be four in July, soaks up information like a pretty little sponge! When I am able to go see her, my son Daniel, and my daughter in law Jayme, I try to visit with everyone as much as I can.
Since her mama and daddy spend lots of time with her, they are happy for me to take over for them a little bit and play with Gracie.
Gary and I used wood from building the porch to make her some blocks with words printed on the sides. I drew pictures to illustrate the words—words she uses like “Mac and Cheese,” “Grandma Garnette” (Jayme’s mom), and “cat,” “puppy,” “flower,” “bike,” and “Unca Drew’s Motorcycle.”
She and Gary play blocks, and I play blocks with them, and we build houses, and castles, and farms, and walls, and, well, almost anything we can think of. The blocks transform as they are used to be whatever we, the builders, want them to be.
Gracie also loves animals, and at Christmastime I found a set of little dogs, cats, turtles, and more little creatures that went with a pink and white pretend veterinary clinic. The clinic even had little x-ray pictures and a picture eye chart to check the animal patients!
Combining her other toy people and animals, her trucks, and her train, we built a fine imaginary place for the veterinary clinic to be located. Between her doll house and the place she called “cation” which was vacation “at the beach” the clinic waited for its first patients.
“Let’s play creatures,” Gracie says.
“Alright,” I agree, and we start to set out all our stuff.
As we played, Gracie let me know which animal was the doctor and which one was the nurse. She explained how the animal patient had gotten sick, or hurt, and we continued building our imaginary world. There were mama animals, daddy animals, and friends in this play world.
Thinking about relationships, I asked Gracie if she remembered all her granmas. “I have Granma (Garnette, Jayme’s mama), and Granma Jeanette (Gary’s mother), and Granma Susie (my mother),” she said listing them as she continued to play.
“What about me?” I asked?
“You are my nonnie,” she said looking up at me surprised.
“Well, who am I then?” I continued.
This time she stopped playing, looked me in the eye, frowned a little in concentration, and replied, “You can be my daughter.”
I was surprised at her reply. It would be impossible for me to be my granddaughters’ daughter. But have you thought about how impossible it is to be a “child of God?”
Without the miracle of God’s grace, love, sacrifice, and eternal life; our becoming God’s child would be impossible. God even gives us faith and the Holy Spirit to understand and reach out to Him.
Galatians 4:4-7 tells us: “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”
Amazing! Impossible!
Yet with the death of Christ on the cross and His resurrection—nothing is impossible with God!

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