Heart to heart

Bob
And he STILL takes me on dates: roses and camo. What more could a girl want??

Have you ever gotten a gift you didn’t need, or better yet, didn’t really want?  You smile nicely, (‘cuz that’s what your mom taught you to do), and find something, anything, nice to say about it, (“oh, my, these earrings will match perfectly with the stain I can’t get out of my favorite shirt when my granddaughter…”). 

I admit, I have a stash—a small one, so be kind to me—of items to use as “re-gifts”, you know, as things to give away at a party or what not.  ‘Fess up, ladies, you have it too.  At least, if you’re on a limited budget and/or are a frugal recycler who has cast off the collar and leash of guilt a long time ago when it comes to gifts, (“but that was from dear Aunt Betsy!”)  Well, dear Aunt Betsy may have a larger piece of property to hoard such things.  Me?  I’m still storing stuff for my 30-somethings who are now strewn around the globe.   

As wonderful as it is when people give of themselves sacrificially to another, what really makes it meaningful is when they take to time to find out what the person on the receiving end really wants or needs.  That’s when the giving actually becomes about the one who is on the receiving end, not about the one who is doing the giving. Continue reading “Heart to heart”

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Ripe pickins

garden lastOops, I picked this melon before its time:

melon (1)

In my defense, I didn’t know what it was when it was growing, since I didn’t actually “plant” it.  Then when it starting sprouting, I uprooted it to give it a better chance in the garden, and as it grew, thought maybe it was some sort of squash or something.  Lo and behold, as it began to mature, it’s a cantaloupe! Continue reading “Ripe pickins”

Teach your (siblings’) children well

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280If you really want to get back at your older siblings for all those mean things they did to you as kids growing up, what one thing should you teach their own pre-school children?  No, it’s not where daddy keeps his favorite fishing tackle, or how pretty mommy’s new lipstick looks on the freshly painted patio deck, or even how to safely use a blow torch, as fun as all that would be.  The grueling, tortuous payback is much easier than that…

Simply teach their little cherubs the word “Why?”

And then encourage them to use it, frequently.  Which is not so far-fetched when you consider that we humans are a naturally inquisitive lot to begin with anyway.  Why, what for, how come, and the other various derivatives are simply part of our internal vernacular, both positively, from our curiosity, (giving us, for example, “E=mc2”) and negatively, from our wounded sense of inconvenience, (“how come I have to study this stoopid stupid geometry?!”)

Either way, we keep asking. 

In this instance, God anticipated our “why”.  (He did, after all, make us this way.)  The Hebrew people all but have their toes on the boarder of the Promised Land as God is using Moses for a few preliminary instructions:

 “In the future your children will ask you, ‘What is the meaning of these laws, decrees, and regulations that the LORD our God has commanded us to obey?’”

Not that the Creator needs to explain to the created, so the fact that He anticipates their inquiry shows gracious condescension.  He reminds them that they were brought out of their brutal slavery in Egypt so that God could bless them with an abundant goodness (which was already prepared for them, BTW).  Then we read this, which is in the same paragraph, as in almost the same breath—

“For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the LORD our God has given us.’”

Am I hearing this right?  God’s saying, “I pulled you out of a very bad place and I’m putting you in a very good place.  Here’s the stuff you need to do to maintain that, and thus I will consider you as in right standing with Me.”

In other words, being counted as righteous is NOT the same as intrinsic righteousness.  Nope, that issue was decided a L-O-N-G time ago.  I find it interesting, then, when our culture tries to damn the very God Who attempted every which way to communicate and connect with the people who rejected Him to begin with; as if we expect Him to change Himself to fit our image instead of the other way around.

Oh wait…He did that too, only not in the way we expected.  (He does that a lot.)

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.”

Of course, that was the plan all along, which makes that plan even more beautiful.  And so now instead of being counted as righteous because of the things I do (which never worked anyway—the first half of the Book bears testament to that arrangement, again, no surprise to the Author), I am counted as righteous because of what Jesus has done for me. 

If you’ve never seen it, great, here it is.  If you haven’t seen it recently, let’s marvel in a super review:

“But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.  We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”

Back to the original question, why?  Only one answer suffices:

Deuteronomy 6: 20, 25; John 1:14; Romans 3: 21-26  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.

M.O.N. (Mean Old Nurse)

IMG_20150103_172451138Working as a middle school nurse for many (many) years, I’ve come to expect that quite a few—or maybe even more than a few—of the young visitors who come to my office don’t actually want the services I have to offer.  Based on my assessment, they can finish their school day with a cough drop, or a Tylenol.  And, yes, I make loads of phone calls to parents just to inform them that I’ve seen their child and they might want to recheck their child’s temp that evening as, of course, things do progress.  But, for now, I send the student “BTC” (back to class). 

It does not make me popular….

…because it was not the “help” they were hoping for or expecting.  Ah, growing up is hard to do, as I check the child’s throat while fighting back my own migraine, or offering the good old staple of Saltine crackers while hiding my own stash at my desk after taking a couple of Tums that morning myself.  Life is not always as we would want it, kid; let me “help” you start figuring that out now.

Again, not exactly the help they Continue reading “M.O.N. (Mean Old Nurse)”

Pass the DNA, I mean pancakes.

garden lastCulinary art is not my forte.  Before we were married, I made it clear to Bob that I didn’t know how to cook, to which he replied, “you have to be better than me!”  Clearly, at least one of us had to make some effort if we were to survive on our (very) limited budget.

Guess who stepped up to that plate.

To this day, if I slyly ask him what he wants to make for supper, he simply asks me what kind of cold cereal I would like…?  (And since I buy only one kind at the grocery store, that would limit my options…)

Through the 30+ years of matrimony, I have had my fair share of gastronomic lapses, to put it kindly, but considering his Continue reading “Pass the DNA, I mean pancakes.”

Leavin’ on a jet plane

IMG_20150314_102847650_HDR
A reasonable facsimile of the driver, only through a thick thunderstorm. Gotta love ‘im!

At this writing (just after Memorial Day), Bob has braved getting up at 4AM, driving me through an impressive Midwest lightening storm and torrential downpour two hours north to the Kansas City International Airport, dropping me off so I could catch a flight to see my dear parents a few states away.  I informed him that I’m a big girl and would be perfectly fine doing this on my own.  But no, chivalry is not dead in my household, and I’m not nearly “progressive” enough to rock that boat.  Add to that the fact that my husband is nocturnal by nature, and getting up at 4AM is generally only a few hours after when he might be coming to bed anyway.

Yeah, I pick a good one.

But he is a cautious animal at that, which means here I sit with a couple hours to spare. Even the airport isn’t quite fully awake, which is honestly one of the things I like about the Midwest.  

 

I’m not really much of a people-watcher, but it’s kinda hard not to do it in an airport.  We’re all just squished together in one mass of humanity, hoping that no bombs get though on anyone’s shoes or hairspray bottles, hoping that the toddler sitting behind us sleeps the whole time, wondering if “they” will be there to meet us at the other end. 

Or if the peanuts will be too salty this time.  Whatever.

As I sip my tea and read my Bible, and look out on, oh, so many people, I connect with these words of Jesus:

airport 3a

At first, these words may seem intimidating.  Actually, as a disciple of Jesus, they are meant to be comforting.  Bob said, just this morning on the way to the airport in fact, that I was probably quite introspective as a child.  The challenge was, as my father told me back then, philosophically “you’re trying to do calculus before you understand algebra!”  (You can see where I get my penchant for analogous reasoning….)

Because I have a deep seated need to understand, that is, to understand myself.  Similarly, there are secret places—some treasures, some not so much—buried in each of us, all of which need to be exposed—some to be utilized, some to be healed.  However, and this is important, none of this can be accomplished without the proper exposure first.

Which comes to the next part of Jesus’ comment: 

airport3b

I find this intriguing.  He’s not so interested in how we are informed; no, that comes in all sorts of ways, many of them unpleasant, (can I get a witness?)  It’s not the the mode of information that’s critical, it’s how I process it, how I “hear” it:

Okay, my dad is a retired Purdue mechanical engineer, and my brother is a chip off the old block. Jim has spent many years specializing in industrial containment, and could talk ad infinitum about filtering and micro-particles, et. al.  Not my area, but suffice it to say that how you filter something is critical to the purity and usefulness of the final product. 

Easy segway: only through the infinite love of our Creator Father can we proper “hear” the secrets of our hearts—the good and bad—so that we can process and produce all that we have been created to be.  Not only for ourselves, but for others.  Not only for now, but for eternity.

Okay.  Time to go catch my flight and see my folks!  (How much you wanna bet Bob takes a nap today?)

Luke 8:16-18  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.

In other words…

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“We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments.”

[This puts a different spin on loving the church: I love God’s people by obeying Him, which brings up the idea that the BEST thing I can do to love others is to draw closer to the Lord myself.  So, what does that say about my love for the church when I neglect my time with God and His Word?]

1 John 5:2 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.

Not the life of the party

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Jeremiah was probably not invited to many parties, but his demeanor had more to do with reality than a serotonin imbalance…much more.  God’s people had been repeatedly warned about their idolatrous and otherwise unfaithful choices.  Even as segments of their society were intermittently carried off—warning shots across the bow, if you will—they still hardened their hearts to stubbornly go against what God wanted them to do, and this after God had so Continue reading “Not the life of the party”

Frail, but Strong

quill

For this week’s installment of Not My Poetry, here’s a beautiful one from Peaceful Journey, a thought well worth contemplating at this time in our history.  Thank you, Yvonne, for the encouragement!

Frail, but Strong

Frailmother

She stood frail while others listened attentively.

Her wisdom was beyond her physical weakness.

Many sought her to understand the world’s mysteries.

Many sought her to tap into the cistern of her spirituality.

Her frailty was only a noticeably weakness to herself.

It was certainly not an outward sign of weakness in her moral character.

She lived a life dedicated to those impoverished.

She knew the secret,

love for all mankind make you rich.

Yes, she was frail, but strong

mother-teresa-quotes-111

alove1`Yvonne L

Forever? Really?

IMG_20150103_172451138Were you even one of those fortunate few who had to suffer through the school-age disciplinary action—because that sounds better than the word “punishment”—of writing “I will listen to the teacher” one hundred times?  (I never had that one, but I did have after school detention one time in high school for being late to class three times.  Thanks, mom, for not even wondering why I had to stay after school—bless your heart!)

I suppose the impact of such a literary consequence has something to do with the monotony of the assignment, which to me would be punishment enough, (low boredom threshold, this one), but we’re told there is also something interestingly significant about the neural connection between the hand and the head.  Evidently, when we write something, it tends to stick in our grey matter more efficiently, and can cause behavioral changes accordingly, (or perhaps in my case, to avoid the tedium of a repeat assignment…)

Monotony notwithstanding, I’m intrigued by the writer of this particular psalm.  Going through a history lesson of God working for Israel, twenty-six times he drives home this point:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

It reminds me of a story about a minister who preached the same sermon three or four times in a row.  After about the third time, his parishioners began asking him when he was going to change his sermon and move on, to which the response was, “When the congregation starts doing what I said.”

Brilliant.

So I’m thinking God Almighty was more concerned about getting this particular message across than He was about creative style, in that surely, confidently, and without fail in all circumstances,

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

In the midst of my confusion and my disappointment and my pain:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

When the loved one turns away:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

When the company closes it doors, and the retirement check stops coming:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

When the uniformed army officer arrives unexpectedly at your front door:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

When the lab results are not good:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

I’m sure we could all come up with our own list of twenty-six, but what is more important is going back through our own history with God, like this psalmist did, and recount when we actually experienced His faithfulness.  I know I benefit from those “oh yeah!” moments that I tend to relegate to the cranial archives.

scribbling-152216_1280Maybe I should start writing them out again, one at a time, each followed by, you guessed it:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

Psalm 136  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.