Which way?

flu-1679104_1920Week #2 of what has turned into a nasty sinus infection.  The cough is so persistent that REM is a luxury, and of course, lack of sleep sets me up for another migraine, which greeted me this morning when I woke up after a few hours of rest.  Bob was about to drag me to the doctor (nurses are such good patients, you know) but I betook myself yesterday and was first in line. 

The doctor (one of my former students, BTW) basically said I was already doing all the right things, and then added an antibiotic and high-powered cough syrup into the mix. 

As I write this, I’m sitting on the patio.  The birds are singing, a distant rooster is trying to wake up the town, and Bob—bless his heart—is sound asleep in our bedroom which I vacated in the middle of the night so at least one of us could get some Z’s.

And I realize I am at a juncture.  I can follow my symptoms down that road of negativity, or…

I could rewind what I just wrote: I am sitting (not lying in a sickbed) outside (the weather is beautiful, sunshine dappling through the trees in the cool morning air) listening to birds.  I’m drinking my pot of Yorkshire tea.  I have a healthy husband who loves me and our family.  Most of my plants are actually thriving in the garden.  (Okay, people, that’s a big one, just saying.)

The list goes on from there.  And I’m reminded of someone in worse straits than I:

“A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.  Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.”

Severely beaten and thrown in a dungeon, not a pretty site.  There was no denying their pain or predicament, but they were also at a juncture.  Gripe and complain, or focus on and use the resources they had (each other, love of God, voices to worship).

Admittedly, God doesn’t always send His breakthrough in the form of an earthquake.  But almost always there are others watching and listening to how we respond prior to the breakthrough. 

The highest miracle, and the bottom line of all life’s situations, is the spiritual breakthrough of those influenced by Paul and Silas’s reaction to their circumstances.  Hmmmm…

My tea is now gone, and thankfully, so is the migraine.  Time for a little gardening.  (Shhhh…don’t tell Bob.)

Acts 16:22-25 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Stone, wraps, and other impediments.

I wonder if Martha gets a bit of bum rap.  She’s the calculating one, knows what needs to be done and does it herself if necessary.  The list-maker, the bean counter.  Martha was the chief cook and bottle washer when Jesus came to visit her and her siblings.  She alone was the one who received a gentle rebuke from the Lord when she demanded that her sister, Mary, come and help her in the kitchen instead of sitting with the Master, listening and absorbing.

I bet Martha as the older one, the one who helped her little sister growing up to put on her clothes and lace up her sandals.  You know how older sibs are called upon in a family.  Insert all of that on Martha’s shoulders.

Now Mary, it’s possible that Mary is same woman mentioned in another of the Gospels as the “unclean” prostitute who broke the jar and anointed Jesus in an act of repentance for her now-former lifestyle. The jury is out on that one, but for argument’s sake…

In this context, I can perceive Martha’s frustration, helping to sacrificially raise her younger sister only to have her go off and ruin the family name.  Perhaps this is why no spouse is mentioned for Martha— in that culture once the family is disgraced, who wanted to marry into that?  If this is case, like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal, I get it.

Then their beloved brother dies. 

Interestingly, when Jesus finally decides to make an entrance, Mary is the one who stays behind, but it’s good ole’ practical Martha who goes out to faithfully meet the Master.  Of course, the first words out of her mouth are, guess what, cause and effect:

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

Problem defined, problem solved.  That’s Martha.  If Plan A didn’t transpire, she always had a Plan B.  It wasn’t, however, quite what she expected:

 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.

But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

How often do I ask God for a miracle, only with the proviso that He does it my way.  Good grief, don’t open the tomb!  Don’t expose the decay and don’t make the smell of death public.  No, I like to keep things private.

I forget there was nothing private about Jesus dying on a cross—for me.

There is something about the things we keep hidden which allows them to fester and multiply.  I’ll try to deal with it on my own. If my first plan is tanked, then I’ll think of the next step, but by all means, let’s keep stench under control.

window-806899_1920Except life doesn’t actually work that way.  The only way Lazarus was going to walk out of that tomb was to roll away the stone and let him breathe God’s fresh air.

How’s your air quality today?

John 11:21,21,39 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Built to serve

car-3189771_1920Car commercials crack me up. 

There are the luxury cars that try to evoke images of ecstasy by a voluptuous female draped over the hood or a tuxedo’d movie star falling backwards (slo-mo) into a swimming pool.  You want to be cool?  Drive this car.

Then there are the manly truck commercials with the deep, disembodied voice talking about ratios and torque (whatever those are). You want to be studly?  Drive this truck.

The ones that appeal to family make much more sense to me.  The safety factor of “your-child-is-more-likely-to-survive-a-crash-in-this-car” is a brilliant advertising strategy in my book.  You want to be safe?  Pick this one.

I’m more of an SUV gal myself.  Being 5-foot-12 makes a sport car a bit challenging, and I like the thought of having more steel around me anyway.  All-wheel drive, stowing capacity and towing strength, it’s all on my check list. Continue reading “Built to serve”

Are you listening?

Proverbial Thought (& More)

headphones-152341_1280I am at a venerable point in life when my adult children, (all in their 30’s at this writing), have been saying thing like,

“Mom, I heard you coming out of my mouth!”, or…

“Is that how Dad would treat Mom?”, or…

“I’m ‘channeling’ you, Mom”, and one of my personal favorites after the birth of a granddaughter,

“Mom, I’m sorry for all the #*@!! I put you through.”

It’s a time when you realize that something, by God’s grace, got through, is still getting through.  Sometimes it sure seems like our kids just aren’t paying attention.

But they are.  In more ways than one.

I love the New Living Translation header for Proverbs chapter 7:

“Another Warning about Immoral Women”

Emphasis on “another”.  Just in case you missed the first one or two. 

Can’t you just see the kid rolling his eyes?  That whole oh-mom-do-we-have-to-talk-about-this-again attitude. 

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A louse, by any other name…

nurse-37322_1280I feel pretty lousy.  With no intended defamation of that ubiquitous parasite, the louse, I think I must have picked up a bug (of another kind) from one of my sweet cherubs at school.  First came the deep cough, just allergies thought I.  Yesterday the sore throat hit, and the chills, followed by the sweating break of the fever—a nice parting shot now that I can count down my days to retirement on both hands. 

I say fever, but I didn’t bother to take it.  I still have the old glass thermometer you’d probably be hard pressed to find anywhere these days, except a museum.  Bob thought I still felt warm this morning, so I found it, but no, thankfully the mercury didn’t climb too high.  It’s just that aching aftermath, no energy and less motivation. Continue reading “A louse, by any other name…”

Let’s have a fight!

argument-3312463_1280Like many people, I’m not intrinsically adept at confrontation.  That’s a nice way of saying that I tend to avoid it like the Black Plague, whereas my dear husband of 30-plus years (emphasis on the “plus”) has no problem with it.  I have always struggled being overly concerned with what people think of me.  Bob…well, let’s just say, not so much.  So, one can easily imagine how, once the honeymoon period wears off (five days???) and real life kicks in, communication patterns with regard to expectations can be…challenging. 

During one of our relatively few “disagreements”, I was doing my typical backing down routine, when my counterpart surprisingly said, “Now wait a minute!  Don’t you give up so easily!  Just because I’m louder doesn’t mean I’m right.”

He’s so good for me.

Learning to argue is a definite skill set for any relationship.  Setting boundaries, no name-calling, dealing with my own ego and emo, learning healthy compromise, being motivated by love rather than the innate desire to “be right”…the human psyche isn’t born with these things; they have to be intentional in any relationship.

Except one. Continue reading “Let’s have a fight!”

Just Like You Said

Proverbial Thought (& More)

girl-563719_1280Children have an innate ability to (at least believe they) remember something you SAID. 

Y’know, like, six months ago. 

“But YOU PRO-O-O-M-I-S-E-D!!”

Busted!

Personally, I think it’s pretty humorous.  Kids will keep you, if not broke, then at least honest, when the money goes for braces instead of a new(er) car, or into the college fund rather than a retirement fund.  Disney over Cancun, that sort of thing.

Best not to tell a kid something unless you mean it.  To them, our words are powerful, like a contract signed in blood, and once they know you’re sincere, they’ll be back for more.  More encouragement, more love…more money.  (Always more money.)

Interestingly, it can be similar to the spiritual realm—Heaven is listening to what we say.  Unfortunately, Hell is also tuned in.  Now, I have heard my husband say that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman; He doesn’t force Himself on…

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A Good Question…

Oh yeah. Thanks Dan!!

Learning To Be Full Of Grace And Truth.

…Do I leave people better than when I found them? I know my parents taught me to leave a place I use better than when I found it, but this takes that to the next level doesn’t it! Now, I am certainly aware that we will not always be able to answer this question clearly for ourselves, that is simply not how life and relationships work. But I have been learning that keeping this question near the front of our minds when we are with anyone helps to keep us focused on loving others as ourselves instead of loving others for ourselves.

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Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these…

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Timeless, (but not exactly)

retro-1139373_1920Guess what I received in the mail!  Nope, not the Publishers’ Clearinghouse check for a gazillion dollars.  Evidently, I’m now part of the Nielsen Ratings for TV watching.  (I can just sense a collective fearful shuttering coming from Hollywood…right.)

One of the questions on the form was about the number of TV’s in my home.  Only one, but it’s actually a bit on an outdated enquiry since you can pull up just about anything on any computer or mobile device.

And I’ve now the next form regarding which television shows I actually watch.  One (of the few that I bother with) is called Timeless.  I enjoy history, and this is a show about time travel back into particular events, sometimes obvious, sometimes not so obvious, that manifestly molded our current society.

The running theme is about two groups of people, each with a time machine, traipsing through our past like bulls in the china shop.  One team is trying to re-form history into their own likeness while the other is trying to stop them and fix what has been changed. 

Makes me consider two very special trees that God put in the Garden, (no, neither team has tried to travel back quite that far yet…)

 “…In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

I can picture our unfortunate fore-mother, Eve, meeting the serpent coiled around a branch in the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  That’s the fruit she tasted and shared with her husband, Adam, “and their eyes were opened”, but not in the way for which they (and we) were created.  Now the burden of figuring out this life was no longer on God, but on themselves. 

And we’ve been mucking about in this confused and deluded state ever since.  Just turn on the news.  (Not one of the shows I usually watch, considering the Neilson Ratings I mean.)

There are those who posit our expulsion from the Garden at this point in history was an act of mercy, and I agree.  Some say if we been left there to eat of the Tree of Life, we would have been left in our sinful state for eternity, or something like that. 

I’m no theologian, but even just watching a show like Timeless gives a glimpse of how much more of a mess we could have made if eating from the Tree of Life had included things like power over time (which it very well may have.)  Any science fiction geek can tell you what a fascination the human psyche has for time travel; how many of us would travel back to change certain things if we could?  Gag!  Can you imagine?!?

Which is what Timeless does, and gives a pretty good description, perhaps without meaning to, of what a mess it would make not only of history, but of the human heart.

More importantly, this restriction gives me another clue to the grace and sovereignty of God, to His creative purpose, in that I have only a limited power over time, and it’s just in a forward sense.

“I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

watch-1694751_1920And I don’t need a time machine for that.

Genesis 2:8; Philippians 3:13,14  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.