God’s wide-angle lens

wood 2I don’t mean to sound like an old time horse trader, but I have been summarily blessed with good teeth.  If you are not one of those in my camp, then you know that’s not something to be taken for granted, period.  In fact, one dentist once told me that the thickness on the enamel of my choppers is only about one in 100,000.  Translated, that means I have really no viable excuse of any cavities.  But I have a few, cavities that is.

Which means I’ve taken my teeth for granted….

Until now.  This year I had to get my first (hopefully only) “crown” for a fractured tooth.  OUCH to both the process and the bank account!

I’m thinking of an older friend from church many years ago who had saved a sum of money for some dental work, when she unmistakably heard her Lord tell her to give it to someone.  All of it. 

WHAT?!?  But, Lord?!!  (We’re all really good at “but, Lords”.)  She did, however, obey, and of course, the money returned back to her very quickly, from an unexpected source, and if I Continue reading “God’s wide-angle lens”

Still Water Reflections

quillA great idea (in the form a beautiful poem) from Enthusiastically, Dawn, (yes!  another Dawn to BLESS the blogosphere, just sayin’!!)  If you haven’t seen her site, definitely stroll over (her Instagram is fun also).  Here’s a thinker for us all today:

Still Water Reflections by Dawn Paoletta

I have an idea…

for you

to keep you from judging your peers,

to help you not criticize your neighbor –

the one who brings out your fears…

that person you just don’t get

yet.

Am I judging my peers,  criticizing my neighbor?

Do I? Am I?

I have an idea, for you-

to keep you from logs in your eyes,

to keep you from tripping over them

to guard against compromise,

to help you listen, really listen to another

not just think your thoughts

while they talk

and you supposedly listen,

waiting to interject- and inject your

poison.

Do I listen, really listen?

Does my compassion and empathy rise

or do I just wait to stop pretending

I’m listening?

Do I listen? Do I lie?

I have an idea for you,

to keep you from corrupt

communication

to help you not discuss with others,

what was never meant for discussion.

To keep you from speaking lies, disguised

as truth,  masquerading as prayer

but lacking the one thing that matters

before words are ever spoken about another :

love.

Is grace my motive to speak?

Do I love that which I speak of?

Am I guilty of slander or gossip?

Do I hate?

Do I? Am I?

I have an idea, for you-

one to keep you shining like gold,

one to help you reign in your tongue

whether you’re young or old:

Do you grumble under your breath,

murder others with your speech,

excusing your comments and conversation

before you begin to preach?

The words that flow from your mouth,

may seem wise in light of today,

but if you don’t stop the flow,

how can you ever pray?

NOT for the birds, definitely not.

IWAA7I’m in the second year of my small berry crop.  Here’s what I was anticipating by springtime:

raspberries

Makes your mouth water, don’t it?

Especially for me, the non-gardener.  I’m pretty proud of this little piece of earth, and all the sore muscles along the way.  Bob has been very patient with the big Sutherlands Home and Garden truck pulling up unexpectedly (for him, that is), or the time(s) I have inadvertently left the hose on after watering, (okay, so I get distracted.)

His tastes buds do reap the benefits, however, except for that year I had an over-abundance of cucumbers—he still requests no cukes in the smoothies… Currently, our favorite taste treat is the fresh raspberries and blackberries coming in from the second-year plants. YESssss!!

Unfortunately, this year the birds have likewise found them.  Especially the blackberries.  I wondered why I wasn’t seeing the ripened fruit day after day, and here’s evidence (it’s not for the faint of heart)—

ARRUGHH@#!!*@#!!!! (delete-delete-delete)

Now, I love birds.  They serenade me in the morning.  But that doesn’t mean they get paid by my hard worked-for berries.  So off to Sutherlands I go (didn’t need their truck for this one) to get some equipment, and concocted this:

Not only was it not pretty, it was also not entirely functional.  It didn’t fit, which meant there were gaps in the netting, and my attempts to cut and paste (well, zip-tie) left much to be desired.  Birds aren’t quite as dumb as I gave them credit, at least not when they’re hungry.  They know a good berry crop when they see it!

Learn from my mistakes, call my Dad for a little review in mathematic calculations, and a little ingenuity from Pinterest, and here is my current barricade:

netting3

Already I have seen a feathered kamikaze bounce off in bewilderment!

Inspecting my handiwork that next morning, I notice a few gaps, but also some nicely ripening blackberries.  I easily reposition and secure the netting, and let the fruit do its thing, unmolested and secure.

“Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.”

I like that “guard AND keep”.  It’s one thing to set up a protective fence but it’s another to make sure it’s still effectively working.  And when it comes to protection, one size definitely does not fit all.

My precious berries were already protected from the ground forces of bunnies by the wire fencing—I learned that one the hard way a long time ago.  But just having put in the berries last year, I hadn’t counted on the air strikes (although, I confess, I had heard of them from the past…oh, if only I had paid attention to experienced gardeners!!)

After losing some of the crop, I went into action—better late than never.  But unfortunately, I “reacted” rather than “researched” properly, which left gaps and wasted time and money.

Finally, sacrificing some time (allocating that precious resource to a perceived priority—my berries!!) and relying on the experience of others, I have a tailor-made plan to “guard and keep” for a fruitful harvest.

When it comes to relationships, whether it’s in the family, or even in the Body of Christ:

  • Protection must be intentional. (And it’s rewarding to see Satan just bounce off, not that he won’t try again.)
  • We are given a template, but each “fence” will be unique; to force one on another will cause gaps and allow the enemy in to eat the “fruit”. (Ask me how I know…)
  • Research is better than reacting. Humbly asking for help if more effective than wasting time and emotion on crisis management.
  • Protection is ongoing: frequent inspections and adjustments must be anticipated. It’s called communication and resilience.  Forgiveness and grace. 

ripeberryFruit takes time (and effort) to produce.  But its reward is sooooOOO000ooo sweet.

Ephesians 4:3 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Just one. Pleeeeeeeeze?

IMG_20150103_172451138There are times when it seems like just a couple of well-placed lightning bolts would solve quite a few of the world’s problems.  Or at least a few of mine.  Of course, that’s just another one of a gazillion reasons why I’m not God, and a good thing, too.  Irritating, frustrating, and irrational people are, you know ,…irritating and frustrating, and can make one question one’s own rationality.

I should know, having been one of “those people” myself, more times than I probably care to admit.

Many years ago, author Joyce Landorf coined the phrase “irregular people” in her book by the same name.   We all have them, as described above, and also as stated, we have all been one at some point, or will be.  It goes along with that truism:

road-231915_1920

Usually, a few bug guts on my windshield aren’t terribly inconvenient; although they’re ugly, I can still see to drive my car.  That is, until the sun hits them just the right way, then …pow

…and suddenly, driving becomes a hazardous enterprise!  Really, the responsible thing to do is to pull over and clean off the windshield.  Otherwise, I’m not only endangering myself, but those in the car with me and other drivers sharing the road.

Irregular people do that.  They can muss up my vision–my perspective, intentions, goals. And if I allow it, even my physical health, and more importantly, my heart.  

That’s one of (the many) reasons why this was written into eternity for us:

“Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.”

Naturally, bug guts come in all varieties and colors: offense and unforgiveness, unmet expectations, unfair or harsh criticism, and worse things I care not to put in print.  Then there are the times (oh, this is hard one!) when I realize that it’s my emotional guts on someone else’s windshield.  It’s one thing to forgive someone else–how mature and altruistic of me.  It’s quite a different challenge to ask someone else’s forgiveness.  Saying “I’m sorry” may be a bit of a lost art.  I’ll admit I’ve gotten quite good at it through the years, and I’m still learning.  It sure can go a L-O-N-G way in helping clean up the other party’s visual field, though.

It’s fairly easy to put off the cleaning process, especially when we’re in the fast lane of life, until by God’s grace His light hits our lives and we’re stunned by how much we really can’t see.  Best to pull over, STOP, get out of traffic,–whatever that looks like for us individually–thus protecting all involved.  

Guaranteed, the ride will be much more enjoyable when the view is unobscured.

Proverbs 4:23  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.

Name that tune

clef-1414105_1920I’m not a true musician, but I dabble around in a few things.  I sort of remember a some notes and symbols from the treble cleft, thanks to my parents’ marvelous attempts to musically educate their young daughter.  So when it came time for our oldest child to enter 5th grade, I informed her that it wasn’t a matter of whether or not she would be in the band, but simply which instrument would she like to play.

In other words, at least some exposure to Continue reading “Name that tune”

God doesn’t say oops.

IMG_20150103_172451138I love that old movie, Frequency, with Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out.  I won’t give away particulars, but the gist is that, due to a strange aurora borealis, John (Caviezel) is using an old Ham radio set and finds that he is able to contact his father (Quaid) some thirty years in the past, PRIOR to John’s father perishing in his job as a firefighter.  Because of this, John warns his father, his dad survives, and the plot thickens from there.  Great flick, on several levels.

Can you only imagine what it would be like if we could be warned in advance of particular events that were going to happen?  And do you wonder if we really could change them, or not? 

So reading this account of Jesus talking to Peter is a bit intriguing.  I do just love Continue reading “God doesn’t say oops.”

Little Girls, Little Churls, I mean Curls

IMG_20150103_172451138When the kids were younger, I enjoyed having Christmas caroling parties for them.  We’d make tree ornaments, strung popcorn, went out caroling in the neighborhood, and generally made a fun mess in preparation for the holiday.  (Sometimes, the mess persisted well beyond the holiday, you know, kind of like the pine needles…)

One such party left an ache in this mom’s heart.  Our youngest had become the brunt of “girl drama” and had for some reason been “shunned” by the friends she had invited, save one (bless her awesome heart).  You may imagine my Continue reading “Little Girls, Little Churls, I mean Curls”

Dog’s best friend…a kitten??

I made three mistakes this morning.  Well, probably more than that, but three that I will relate in print.  A stray neighborhood kitten boldly waltzed up to me as I came out to my patio.  I couldn’t help but pick him up (aw, so cute, etc…).  Holding him in my lap, I gently introduced him to my big black 60-pound dog, Buckley (also a rescue, I might add) and then supervised closely as they actually got to know each other, timidly but definitely.  As they picked around each other, I decided to name him Viking (Vik for short) in honor of our new grandchild in Norway. 

Then I fed him. 

Okay, so that’s probably more than three mistakes.

Obviously, it took a little mediation to launch this canine/feline relationship.  Buckley has a tender heart, but is blustery and weighs about 58 pounds more than Vik.  Vik, even as a kitten, has retractable claws.  And honestly, though I was out here this early Sunday morning to pray for the church, I’m thinking instead that perhaps God wanted to do the talking…about His family.  Specifically:

  1. Some of us are big and blustery, some of us are quiet and timid. When we come in contact with each other, there are times we could benefit from some mediation.  

“Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News.”

  1. Relationships can get inconvenient, especially when boundaries are still being defined. There seemed to be a few times that Vik needed a time-out from my bluster-Buck. He spent a few minutes under a rake, up on the patio wall, and of course, on me. 

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

  1. Diversity was God’s idea to begin with. Please forgive the mixed metaphor, but not all the plants in my garden are self-pollenating; they need a little help to produce fruit.  In similar fashion, Vik can go places and do things that Buck cannot, and vice versa.  In short, we need each other to accomplish God’s plan. 

“But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.  How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.  The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.’”

Buck has already been looking for his new friend the few times he’s been out as the day progressed.  The little bowl sits ready for some fresh milk if Vik shows up tomorrow. 

(Kinda hope he does.  We have plenty of mice in the area.) 

 

Philippians 4:2,3; Ephesians 4:32; 1 Corinthians 12:18-21  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.

Please and thank you…or not

IMG_20150103_172451138

“And I didn’t even get a thank you note!”

‘Fess up.  How many times have you thought that, or some version of it?  You let someone cut in line in a traffic jam, and instead of them giving you a polite wave, the guy behind you gives you a not-so-polite one finger salute.  That’s what I’m talking about.  Just a little appreciation for the sacrifice, if you don’t mind.  At least, that’s what mom taught me back in the day.

Here’s another good one—you choose to start this tithing thing to your church, and end up getting a rejection notice from your insurance company about those impacted wisdom teeth you just had removed.  Now who you gonna aim your frustration at, hmmm??

And yet, for some wisdom beyond Continue reading “Please and thank you…or not”

In other words…

horses-792833_1920

He has removed our sins as far from us
    as the east is from the west.

Thanks for Dan Ledwith for this terrific quote!!
New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.