Monday, December 17, 2012

Sweet Baby Jesus

Babies are precious. 

Women who have carried and given birth to a child—as well as men and children who witness this process—are amazed at this miracle of life. Christ is peacefully resting in my illustration below. He is the same as any other human baby in some ways, yet He is entirely different.
  • He is the Son of God who came miraculously through a virgin birth!
  • He is both God and man
  • He is the reason we celebrate Christmas
  • He is one part of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)
  • He performed miracles 
  • He loves us even though we are sinners
  • He lived a sinless life and gave it up for us, paying the penalty for our sins
  • By His suffering, death and resurrection, He blots out sins of repentant people
  • He “totally gets” the things in our lives
  • He understands our
    • pain
    • fears
    • grief
    • sorrow
    • difficulties 
    • broken hearts
    • misery
    • hopes
    • joys
    • celebrations
God the Holy Spirit comes to us when we absorb the water of baptism and the Word of God—we are given the free gift of faith. We mature and grow a deeper faith when we regularly hear the Word in church and study it at home. As people of faith, through what we learn in the Bible, we see:
  • our sin
  • our guilt
  • our mortality
  • our need for a Savior
  • our need to tell others, “I’m sorry.”
  • our need to repent sins to God
  • the fresh comfort we receive through forgiveness
  • the peace we receive by forgiving others
  • our need and desire to improve
  • our need to keep hearing and studying the Word to help us trust Him completely
  • the reason to pray, praise and give thanks
  • the love of Christ (unselfishness) 
  • the hope, forgiveness, comfort and strength He offers 
  • the only way to heaven 
Someday our life as we know it in this world will be over. What we truly want is a Savior, and while we wait for Him, we fill ourselves with His Word. We look forward to joining with Him and all believers in eternity, a place with no pain and no sorrow—heaven—where we will see Jesus face to face.

Thankful for the gift of faith, grace and life eternal, Christians want to share the Good News with others and encourage them.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
Christmas Inspirations Postcard Number One ©Elizabeth B. Knaus
The Savior Has Come
Read more about these postcards for sale at the Christian Postcard Section in my Etsy Shop.
 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Broken promises and promises to trust

Nobody’s perfect.

People break promises. This fact is recorded in the Bible:
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23
It is extremely frustrating and heartbreaking when promises are broken and lies unfold. Yet, we can process these emotions with the comforting words of hope, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.  2 Corinthians 12:9;  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV

With this promise of God, we are assured that what we learn in the Bible comes from Him! Blessings are ours when we trust Him. Jesus is perfect; God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

10 Promises from God

  1. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
  2. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV
  3. Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29 NIV1984
  4. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 ESV
  5. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 ESV
  6. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 ESV
  7. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 ESV
  8. But whoever listens to Me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster. Proverbs 1:33 ESV
  9. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 ESV
  10. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV

The ultimate Christmas gift!

Immanuel means “God with us”. The virgin birth of Jesus is one of God’s greatest miracles and gifts to humanity. Christ is patient and calls those who doubt to repent. No one knows when, but He will appear again to separate those who reject Him and to dwell with those He has chosen (Matt. 24:36, 25:31–46). For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8
• Grant us a faith that perseveres until the end, O Lord. Move us by Your Spirit, that our good works continually glorify You and benefit our neighbors. Amen.
The Lutheran Study Bible, Concordia Publishing House, Saint Louis

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel. —Isaiah 7:14 KJV
Christmas Inspirations Postcard Number Two ©Elizabeth B. Knaus
The Savior Was Promised
Read more about these postcards for sale at the Christian Postcard Section in my Etsy Shop.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How to be humble. 33 thoughts on the virtue of humility.

Humility means not being proud or arrogant, but being modest and courteously respectful. How attractive is an attitude of meekness and gentleness!

  1. Listen more than talk. Follow the words of the other, without being overly concerned about sharing your ideas.
  2. Ask people for their opinion.
  3. Be ready to give credit for another person’s idea, even if you are the one to carry it out.
  4. Count to five before adding to a conversation. Be sure that the other person has finished his thought, and reflect on what he said.
  5. Provide positive feedback.
  6. Say, “I’d be honored” when asked to help.
  7. Say, “It’s my pleasure” when thanked.
  8. Admit when you don’t understand or know something.
  9. When you screw up, say, “I was wrong.”
  10. Teach someone what you know.
  11. Cautiously use criticism, constructively and sparingly.
  12. Give God the glory for skills, talents, blessings and successes.
  13. Understand that timing is important.
  14. Prioritize your time.
  15. Think less about money for self, more about money for charity or for the building up of important things.
  16. Think of others first, before yourself.
  17. Pass on thanks to those who help you achieve something for which you were thanked.
  18. Be quiet about your goals.
  19. Be quiet about your achievements.
  20. Look for potential in others.
  21. Help others with their goals.
  22. Value other people’s time.
  23. Remember you have faults and are a sinner—you are no better than anyone else.
  24. Give others the benefit of the doubt.
  25. Pray for humility.
  26. Seek wisdom by choosing wise friends.
  27. Be willing to learn in all areas of education, especially about moral issues. Spiritual knowledge is found in church, Bible study and personal devotions.
  28. Keep calm and carry on.
  29. Be willing to accept new ideas and change.
  30. Graciously accept praise with a sincere and simple, “thank you” without expounding upon it.
  31. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  32. Stick with your convictions. Recognize differences in others, but don’t conform if it doesn’t respect your values.
  33. Forgive others who’ve wronged you without responding in revenge. Then move on.

These ideas are easier said than done, however, God is pleased when we try. The pleasure the Lord takes is not because of what we do, but because of the perfect life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to earn our redemption. Teach us, oh Lord, to have a humble spirit.

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; He adorns the humble with salvation.—Psalm 149:4 ESV
Teach us oh Lord. 
Christmas Inspirations Postcard Number Four ©Elizabeth B. Knaus








The Savior Redeems


Read more about these postcards for sale at the Christian Postcard Section in my Etsy Shop

Monday, November 26, 2012

How to love

Agape is the Greek word to describe God’s love.

C. S. Lewis, in his book The Four Loves, used agape to describe what he believed was the highest level of love known to humanity—a selfless love, a love that was passionately committed to the well-being of the other. Before our wedding, our pastor required that my husband and I attend premarital counseling. In one of our meetings, he explained this meaning of agape love to us—such valuable knowledge for the strengthening of marriage! Unconditional love promotes loyalty and dedication to each other, even as the imperfect humans we are. Because of human nature, temptation to give up will creep in—and when it does, it is essential to grasp tightly to this type of love in order to uphold the marriage commitment and help each other. Trust grows from trials patiently endured. The reward is great.

When asked what was the great commandment, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
God gives His only Son as a sacrificial gift to deliver the world from condemnation and to give eternal life to those who believe in Him. When we continue in an immoral lifestyle, we naturally resist divine disclosure of our sin and thus our need for a Savior. Do not flee the light, but repent. God has revealed His strong love in His Son, Jesus Christ, to forgive your sins and give you life. • O heavenly Father grant that my life may be a vivid testimony to Your sacrificial and faithful love in Christ. Amen.
The Lutheran Study Bible
, Concordia Publishing House, Saint Louis

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. —John 3:16 KJV
Christmas Inspirations Postcard Number Three ©Elizabeth B. Knaus
The Savior was Given
Read more about these postcards for sale at the Christian Postcard Section in my Etsy Shop.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Forgiveness and peace

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. —C.S. Lewis


God’s good-will to men is proven in sending Jesus for the redemption of the world. God’s kindness and love designed this free gift (we don’t deserve it). He introduced peace in this world—extinguished the separation that sin had raised between God and man and established a peaceful connection. If God be at peace with us, all peace results from it: peace of conscience and peace with other people. Peace is all that is good which flows to us from Christ. All the good we have, or hope, is owing to God’s good-will; and, if we have the comfort of it, He must have the glory of it.

Take the benefit of peace though vessels of His mercy! Worship, praise Him, listen to His Word and receive His gifts of forgiveness. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” To help you grow in faith, my hope is that you will visit my church or find a similar church in your area.


“Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2:14 ESV
Christmas Inspirations Postcard Number Five ©Elizabeth B. Knaus

The Savior Brings Peace
Read more about these postcards for sale at the Christian Postcard Section in my Etsy Shop.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Are you open-minded?


Think about what is written on your heart.

  1. Who was Adolf Hitler?
  2. What do you do when you come to a green light?
  3. When has watching a movie made you think twice?
  4. How are you influenced to make intuitive decisions?
  5. Do you trust your instincts?
  6. Do you weigh pros and cons and use imagination to envisage living with your decision?
  7. Why form opinions on political issues?
  8. Do you like thought provoking questions?
  9. Why are you receptive to new and different ideas or the opinions of others?
  10. What do new ideas, arguments, etc. mean to you?
  11. Is it important to share your perspective?
  12. How can you help others think with an open mind?
Remember, some decisions we make won’t make sense to other people. Intuitive decision-making works best when greed is separated from discernment. An open-minded person is willing to consider that he’s made a ‘wrong’ decision, turn from it and strive for what is right. We are all human and can learn from mistakes.

What does it mean to be open-minded?
  • unprejudiced
  • liberal
  • free
  • balanced
  • catholic
  • broad
  • objective
  • reasonable
  • enlightened
  • tolerant
  • impartial
  • receptive
  • unbiased
  • even-handed
  • dispassionate
  • fair-minded
  • broad-minded
Satisfy your curiosity. If you’re open-minded, watch “180” NOW!

 

More info on the movie at heartchanger.com
More info on life issues, abortion and adoption at lutheransforlife.org

Please Tweet #180movie, Share, Google+

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How to comment on my blog and see blogger comments


Five reasons to comment on blog posts

  1. Train your brain to join in conversations and think of something interesting to comment on. 
  2. Enjoyable way to socialize, share and practice skills of encouragement. 
  3. Might be beneficial for anyone, worldwide, who may read your comments. 
  4. You may be inspired by reading others comments. 
  5. It’s great for us bloggers to know we are connecting with you. I appreciate it. 
Have you had trouble commenting on blogger sites? Perhaps the following tips will help. 

There is a link that says No comments or, for example, 2 comments at the bottom of each post near the social network sharing icons. Click the link to expand a form where you can comment or see other comments.

In the comment as menu: 
  • You don’t need to have any of the specific profiles listed, but if you do and are logged in, blogger will sign your comment with that information unless you choose one of the next two options. 
  • The Name/URL option will allow you to enter your nickname, first name or full name. If you don’t have a website you can leave the URL space blank.
  • You can also post anonymously. This is my least favorite, because I like to connect a name with a comment.
The word verification code will ask you to prove youre not a robot! Type the numbers and letters you see in the two images. Sometimes it is hard to see what they are. Click the circular arrow icon if you would like to see a different set of pictures to type in. This technical process called CAPTCA is used to minimize automated posting to blogs, forums and wikis, whether as a result of commercial promotion, or harassment and vandalism.

You have the option to preview before publishing. 

Then hit publish. Your comment won’t show up on the site immediately, but it will be visible after approval.

If you wish to contact me privately, visit my shop site FreshRetroGallery and click the Contact button midway down the left column.

Thank you for visiting! Feel free to try commenting here or on any of the posts listed in the upper right-hand column of this site in my Blog Archive.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Living proof I “chose life” and thank my grandma and mother for doing so.

My children Laura and Nathan having tire swing and sandbox fun.

Staying healthy with sweet corn and amoxicillin for dinner.

When I grow up, I could be an engineer or a pastor or an artist or a good friend…

Four-generation span shown in this photo. Great Grandma chose life for Mom who chose life for me and I chose life for Laura.

Life is reason to celebrate every moment. The only way to offer an unborn baby a Happy New Year is by choosing life.


I Googled “charity” and came up with 368,000,000 matches. It is amazing how much information is at my fingertips. When I Google “human life” there were 24,000,000 results. Topping the list is an organization dedicated to protecting life from fertilization to natural death.

Why do organizations need to promote life? The answer is because of sin. God gave us The Ten Commandments to help us recognize sin in our lives. Sin takes a gift God has given and uses it in a way God does not want it used. Each commandment also teaches us how God’s gifts are used to His honor and glory.

The Bible’s fifth commandment is You shall not murder. The Lutheran (LCMS) explanation interprets it along with the verses listed below: 
Curb anger, do not harm or kill, hate not, repay not ill with ill. Be patient and of gentle mind, convince your foe that you are kind. Have mercy, Lord!*
Human life is the crowning gift of God’s creation. We are not to end human life through murder, abortion, euthanasia or suicide. Prejudice, bigotry and abuse of those less fortunate are forbidden. We recognize that we can “murder” a person with our thoughts, certainly with our words, and then most dramatically with our actions. As God’s representative, the government has the authority to execute criminals and to wage just wars in order to punish evildoers, protect us, and maintain order. As we continue to receive mercy and kindness in Christ, so we support our neighbors when they need help. (Gen.9:6; Matt. 26:52; Jer. 1:5; Prov. 31:8; Matt. 5:22; 1 John 3:15; Eph. 4:26; Rom.13:4).

We cannot keep the commandments because of sin. Good news is that Jesus Christ sacrificed his perfect life for our sake and rose again on the third day so we may have eternal life.

I was recently invited to participate in an event called “Walk for Life”. It is a great reason to get some exercise and vitamin D (if the sun is shining) along with others who care about life. Every dollar raised will go to support the ever-expanding work of the Pregnancy Service Center. This organization is dedicated to helping meet the needs of those facing an unplanned pregnancy. You can easily donate to help! To learn more about how this organization is sharing the mercy and kindness in Christ by offering education and support to women, visit my page where you can GIVE. You will be happy you did!

*From Martin Luther’s hymn on the Ten Commandments, Here Is the Tenfold Sure Command, Hymn in Lutheran Worship (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1982).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Losing parents at a young age. Growth through adversity. The big picture of life.

At the gas pump today a friendly stranger struck up a conversation. This person was waiting for me to finish washing my windows so he could use the squeegee sponge thingamajig next. He said, “nice car” to which I thanked him and told him I’d bought it from my mom when she became ill and was no longer able to drive. He said it might be good for 300,000 miles if I took good care of it. I said, “I hope so!” Then he asked if she was still living. I told him no, she passed away a little over a year ago. He told me his mom died when he was only 21 and that it had made a big impact on his life. It was time to move on, so I didn’t find out what he meant by that. I left with thoughts about how each of us never knows when we will lose someone we love. Catastrophes such as the violent tragedy in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater, the events of 9/11, war, car accidents; natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes; unexpected illnesses of children, young and elderly; and the inevitable death by old-age cause heart-breaking losses.

I began to consider my parents lives. When she was still a part of my life, my mom helped me record our genealogy information on a family tree chart I designed. Both of my grandmothers lived long lives, but I cannot say the same for my grandfathers. My mother’s father died from illness when she was only 17. My father was only 15 when he lost his father—a farmer struck by lightening while working in the field with two sons and his horses. My father’s and his brother’s lives were spared. I don’t like to imagine how hard it was to lose their pa that way and for their younger brother, sister and ma who were just a short distance away in their home. When anyone says the chances of being struck by lightening are slim to none, I differ, based on my own family history.

Not everyone will die of old age. It’s important to consider this as we live our lives. Life is precious. The family and friends we have are blessings. I can clearly see the peace, love and comfort of God shine through the lives of so many faithful people as they’ve touched my life when I’ve shared a trouble or sadness with them. Both of my grandmothers and their children (my parents, aunts and uncles) surely received loving kindness, sympathy, comfort and encouragement from their Christian friends and relatives when they suffered the loss of their husbands/fathers. I am learning that tragedies of all types—whether it be the loss of life or any kind of failure and suffering—has a higher purpose: to bring us closer to God and share His love as we serve Him by bearing each other’s burdens.

I wonder, since both of my parents each lost their father at a young age, was this common experience something that may have drawn them to each other? It certainly seems like more than a simple coincidence. The compassion they had learned from all of the people who surrounded them during their losses was now a part of their own character. This was something that they truly understood about each other. This love of God is what they built their marriage upon for 58 years until death parted them. How thankful I am that this love and eternal peace is what they shared with me. Now, through the gift of faith—by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—they are united with God and all who share that faith—their loved ones who went before them and eventually with all who will meet them some day in eternity where there is no more pain and sorrow.

The fact that both of my grandma’s were named Ida just might be a coincidence, however, what comes next—following their losses—was different for each. My fraternal grandma never remarried. She was 47 when her husband died from a natural disaster and she remained a widow for the the next 42 years of her life. My maternal grandma remarried twice. She lost her husband when she was 42; lost her second husband when she was 54; and lost her third husband (the “grandpa” I knew) when she was 74. Our lives certainly are impacted by every event and person that shapes the path we follow. My grandmothers were truly blessings to me and each person within their circles.

In the big picture of life, I am amazed at how intricately woven together I am with other people—like mesh. Beginning from conception, we were physically and emotionally connected to our mothers. When we were born our uniqueness is tied to each person in our immediate family and circle of relatives and friends. As we grow up, our circle expands. With technology, social media or by chance, we have knowledge about lives of people we don’t know personally and are reconnected to those from our past. The size of our circle no longer has bounds. I will never know the story the gentleman at the gas station might have shared, but what he said made me think. We learn from others and are inspired by them. We empathize with them and help when we can. We pray.
For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb. —Psalm 139: 13

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Blessings of a Family Vacation in Gresham, Oregon and Surrounding Areas

Stanley, Nathan, Elizabeth and Laura on a bike ride in Gresham, Oregon.
Blessings of a family vacation go much deeper than the list I am about to write. The excitement of visiting my son began in March when I booked the flights to travel with my daughter and husband. Out of curiosity, I rechecked Frontier a week before the trip and found that the prices had tripled! As I write, I enjoy a cup of coffee from a mug which, many years ago, had been a gift from my mom and dad. It features a chalkboard illustration of the ark and a rainbow along with the message: PLAN AHEAD—it wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark! How refreshing to plan and live out a Mothers Day celebration trip to Gresham, Oregon where my son, during his third year through Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne serves as vicar at Redeemer Lutheran Church and Good Samaritan Society—Fairlawn Village. It had been 9 months since I’d seen Nathan. Although the blessings of phones and email allow frequent communication, there is nothing like a tight hug and the ability to warmly look into each other’s eyes. Traveling with Laura and Stan offered bonding through shared experiences. I thank the LORD for keeping us safe and blessing us in so many ways.
  1. car
  2. gas
  3. restaurants
  4. hotel
  5. swimming pool
  6. shuttle service
  7. airplanes
  8. pilots and all people who’s vocations are to serve travelers
  9. a relaxing destination with soft spots to sleep
  10. good walking/hiking shoes 
  11. house boats on the Columbia River
  12. a walk to get ice cream with new friends
  13. a sweet dog named Orbit
  14. Gresham Farmer’s Market
  15. meeting friendly and interesting people:
  16. —farmers
  17. —gardeners
  18. —artists
  19. —craftsmen
  20. —creative designers 
  21. —bakers
  22. —other tourists and shoppers
  23. handmade breads and bagels
  24. fresh sugar snap peas
  25. roasted cashews
  26. fresh asparagus
  27. fresh water cultured pearls (coin and potato), Chinese pearls and fire polished crystals
  28. elephant ears
  29. blueberry sorbet
  30. scents
  31. live band music
  32. fresh pesto
  33. pruning pine trees, house plants
  34. afternoon visit with new friends before their grandson’s baseball game
  35. Mount Hood National Forest
  36. majestic Cascade Mountain Range
  37. wildlife
  38. lush rhododendrons and abundant floral color of many varieties in beautifully designed and manicured landscapes
  39. winding, thrilling road trips through secluded wilderness in the mountains
  40. Astoria-Megler Bridge
  41. Sandy River salmon dinner (expertly grilled in a variety of flavors) at the home of new friends
  42. fun and interesting stories
  43. hiking trails
  44. bon fire (or “bond” fire as Stan calls them) with new friends
  45. meeting an expert snow skier and watching amazing videos
  46. staff and residents of Fairlawn Village
  47. staff and members of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
  48. seeing the work of the Holy Spirit in action through so many people
  49. friendships, encouragement, support and genuine Christian love
  50. learning from other Christians
  51. Mothers Day dinner of Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine at Nicolas Restaurant
  52. attending 2 Sunday School classes with Vicar Nathan teaching
  53. listing to my son’s sermons 2 Sundays in a row at church
  54. seeing the faces, smiles and hearing the words of so many people who love and respect Vicar Nathan (my prayers have surely been answered by our loving and gracious God)
  55. getting a re-run sermon as Vicar Nathan shared the gospel of our Saviour at a Lutheran retirement community worship service
  56. my son participated as a guest reader at an Ascension Day service at Ascension Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon
  57. singing hymns among many beautiful voices
  58. awesome organ music
  59. prayers with congregations
  60. family devotions and prayers
  61. numerous waterfalls including Multnomah Falls and the perfect picnic spot at Horsetail Falls
  62. Bonneville Dam
  63. Columbia River Gorge
  64. mini-van rental
  65. beautiful drive and overnight stay in La Pine (Deschutes National Forest) and back through Sisters to spend cherished time with my aunt, uncle, cousin and his wife
  66. GPS devices like TomTom and Garmin
  67. antique store
  68. Columbia River Maritime Museum
  69. Astoria Column
  70. Goonies house 
  71. Pacific Ocean at Cannon Beach
  72. exploring, relaxing, grilling and dining on the beach
  73. wind, waves, birds at the beach
  74. above average temperatures and sunny skies (except the day we left when it rained)
  75. gifts of cookies from new friends
  76. gift of lemon cake with lemon frosting sprinkled with coconut from new friend
  77. new friend’s gift of handmade lace art tatted earrings
  78. new friend (ebay seller) gift of cookies for the trip home
  79. meeting a new friend who is a professional fashion designer
  80. home cooked dinner of fried wild caught cod from Fred Meyer coated in seasoned flour from Western Star Flour Mill (Salina, KS), sugar snap peas from the Gresham Farmer’s Market and boiled potatoes with butter 
  81. Clif Bars—delicious satisfying snacks
  82. Oregon wine
  83. gifts of salad, peach and blueberry cobbler leftovers from Redeemer Lutheran youth trip fundraiser Mothers Day dinner
  84. men’s prayer breakfast attended by my husband and son together
  85. getting lost in Powell’s City of Books, Portland—swallowing my pride to ask the info guy to page Stan, Nathan and Laura—and a happy reunion
  86. Amtrak Portland Union Station PDX
  87. TriMet Portland public transportation
  88. Voodoo Doughnuts
  89. art museum
  90. history museum
  91. Chinatown
  92. walking around downtown Portland, seeing ALL sorts of people working, shopping, texting, playing, riding, driving, walking, sleeping, living
  93. sculptures
  94. signage
  95. window displays
  96. complex highway system
  97. Portland State Chamber Choir’s A Drop in the ocean concert at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church
  98. Wall Street Pizza with a group of new friends, very special note and gift of beautiful sand dollars and shells
  99. bike ride sampling on paved, scenic 40-mile loop trail in Gresham
  100. time to sketch in my sketch book… and hundreds of digital photo and video files for long-lasting memories… here are just a few:
    We took a steep hike with 11 switchbacks at Multnomah Falls

Quenching thirst, downtown Portland

Happy Mothers Day to me—Elizabeth with children Vicar Nathan and Laura Knaus at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Gresham, Oregon

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach with Nathan, Orbit, Stan and Laura

Nathan, Stan, Liz, Laura and Orbit at Cannon Beach

We followed this logging truck for several miles after taking this photo and saying hello to the driver

Vicar Nathan Knaus teaching an adult Sunday School class with portrait of Martin Luther (painted by a member of the church) behind projector screen at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Gresham, Oregon

Downtown Portland

Stan and seagulls at Cannon Beach, Oregon

Wayside rest in Oregon with family

Friday, March 23, 2012

How to prune pampas grass the easy way, without the mess!

Spring is a wonderful time of the year. We rejoice with flowering fruit/ornamental trees and smile to see daffodils and hyacinths blooming. Our neighbors have their gardens tilled and ready to plant. Everyone who owns property has some type of yard work that needs to be tended to. Life is fresh and new again.

Our son Nathan with our neighbor’s pampas grass in background. We transplanted some of this pampas grass into our backyard a few years ago.

Cotaderia selloana, commonly known as pampas grass, is a tall grass native to South America and was introduced to North America, Europe and Australia as an ornamental grass. Pampas grass grows in dense tussocks that can reach a height of 9.8 feet. Each plant is able to produce over one million seeds during its lifetime! The long slender leaves are green most of the year, but they go dormant during the winter. We leave our pampas grass alone in it’s dormant state because it is lovely all year. In the spring we cut it down so that it can start all over. Isn’t that what spring is all about?

Anyone who cares for pampas grass understands that it does require pruning each year. This year my husband Stanley came up with a brilliant idea to make the job a bit easier and more tidy.

For this tidy, easy method of pruning pampas grass and removal, the tools needed are:

  1. Strapping tape
  2. Chain saw
  3. Pickup
  4. Rake

Use strapping tape to wind around individual tussocks of pampas grass.
Use a chain saw to cut pampas grass off near the ground. Use the reverse side (or the top side) of the chain saw to prevent it from plugging up.
Because the tussocks were bundled with strapping tape, the pampas grass doesn’t fall all over the place while you are cutting it. 
A pile of strapping taped bundles of pampas grass.
Pampas grass loaded in an antique pickup truck.
My husband Stanley (left) took charge of the pampas grass job, pictured with my neighbor Duane (right) who mows our lawn—it got it’s first cut today!
Actually, the easiest part of the project is if your only role is photographer, ha!

Happy spring! As you prune out what is dead, may this be a season you recognize God’s many blessings in your life and keep Him first in your future. I pray you enjoy His creation and share your faith this spring by planting seeds to nourish and bless those in your life.

Need inspiration? Read John 15.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Remembering Mom is a Blessing. She gave me life, love and shaped my soul.

This year I have a better understanding of sorrow. For one thing, it has been a year since I lost my mother. Losing someone you love is difficult, whether it be to death or any other way people lose each other. But Christian believers know that death is not a final loss. This faith takes away the sting—even though I am sad in the present—I have peace in the promise of eternity together. The gift of faith I received in baptism and through hearing the Word of God allows me to trust that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is pure grace which redeems me. It helps me understand sacrificial love.

Curious people love to learn. This is why the adult Bible class I go to after church on Sundays is well attended. I don’t do well at studying on my own, so it really helps to participate in class as a listener. Not that I retain all the knowledge that is available to absorb on my own, but I know the Spirit uses this method to get things into my thick noggin and amazingly allows me to retrieve it when I need it most.

One of the great things about this class is that it offers opportunity for questions about the sermon, is open to and often is side-tracked into discussion about various topics that are current in everyday life. This way I am able to learn about a perspective often not available through the popular news media. For example, I would not have known about the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) response—the video was informative and interesting. President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison testified on Capitol Hill before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, representing my position. I object to the use of drugs such as “the morning after pill” and procedures that are used to take the lives of unborn children, who are persons in the sight of God from the time of conception.

Now, our Bible class is into the third of the past three topics listed below:

  1. Isaiah—Book of the Bible (740–861 BC)
  2. Witness • Mercy • Life Together Bible Study, Albert Collver (2011)
  3. What Happens When I Die?, Stephen Hower (2011)

Ruth Margaret (Olson) Busse


Remembering Mom is a Blessing 
I see her in the mirror
Hear her in a sister
Feel her in the sky
Imagine her in my car
Find her in a photo
I remember her smile,
her discernment,
her grace,
her hug,
her voice,
her wisdom.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Resolutions Worth Keeping (Goals to Strive Toward)

Formality on making a New Year’s resolution hasn’t been a tradition for me. I take promises very seriously, so I’m extremely cautious about making them. At the beginning of this year, I’m striving toward numerous things that make life meaningful and are worthy of achieving. Many baby steps (in no particular order) go a long way.
  1. Get enough sleep.
  2. Approach conflict discussion with gentleness.
  3. Don’t pick unnecessary battles.
  4. Clear clutter regularly, not letting it build up.
  5. Simplify.
  6. Read the Bible, spend time with devotions and attend studies with wise people.
  7. Pray—invite, listen and allow the Holy Spirit to stir and comfort me.
  8. Savor each bite of food I take and each drink I swallow.
  9. Inquire about and carefully consider opinions of people I respect.
  10. Ask for help when I can’t figure it out myself.
  11. Teach and share knowledge and skill.
  12. Understand there are often numerous ways to accomplish the same end result; what works best for one, may not be what works best for another.
  13. Dream.
  14. Plan.
  15. Read.
  16. Learn something new.
  17. Weigh and balance priorities.
  18. Say yes.
  19. Say no.
  20. Stand up for someone.
  21. Take a stand.
  22. Lovingly rebuke.
  23. Exercise.
  24. Have confidence.
  25. Take chances.
  26. Dismiss situations beyond my control. Keep calm and carry on.
  27. Be thankful to people who are kind and to God for all blessings.
  28. Be generous.
  29. Splurge a little.
  30. Save.
  31. Conserve.
  32. Create.
  33. Walk away from a TV show I don’t enjoy and find a better way to spend time.
  34. Participate in conversation by putting a greater emphasis on listening than speaking.
  35. Celebrate victories.
  36. Enjoy live performances of music and theatre. Visit art galleries.
  37. Take a vacation.
  38. Laugh.
  39. Fight procrastination.
  40. Keep a reasonable, comfortable level of contact with special friends and relatives.
  41. Take interest in meeting new people.
  42. Eat fish frequently, veggies, beef for dinner, enjoy fruit, chocolate and coffee often.
  43. Pay attention to nature’s colors, textures, shapes—rejoice in the beauty of creation.
  44. Focus.
  45. Relax.
  46. Let people know I care about them.
  47. Smile more.
  48. Upcycle and repurpose rather than waste.
  49. Confess sins (including the failure to meet each of these goals). Seek to improve, hope for the best.
  50. Trust in the Lord.