Time-Out For You, Jonah!

Tags

, , , , ,

This post is longer than usual, but like you, my thoughts are boiling over lately. Plus, I have had more time to write, which is how I process things. As we look at our present dilemma intertwined with Jonah’s may you be encouraged  to remember “we are all in this together”.

Even before “time-out” was a thing for preschoolers, I venture to say we all had our version of it. I counted to three, slowly, so my young’uns had a three-second time of reckoning  to decide if their chosen activity was worth it. Some used the “go to your room” or “sit in the corner”. Whatever the details, good parents gave their children time to reflect and reform. The first thing occurring to me at the onset of social distancing, was ‘did we need a time-out this badly’?

As the news fills another day with Covid-19 reports, my heart stings with sympathy for the cities harboring large numbers of cases, even deaths, from this unruly virus. Our minds as well, are consumed with the growing numbers, questions, and the temptation to pull into ourselves or worse, ignore caution. Though I try to avoid seeing the news first thing each day,  I am glad to get daily updates from our Governor Beshear (4 PM daily, Kentuckians!) and his reminder that we will all get through this together.  Still, when I hear of the rapid invasion into our health and economy, my heart gets a squeeze of fear; a fear that our part of the country will, as the New York City mayor predicts, be hit just as they are. For a moment, I too, need a time-out.

As I read encouraging posts and check on others, I am able to refocus and realign the outlook of doom.  I see well people staying well and spreading wellness from home, and it reminds me, God said, “Be ye kind, one to another”.  I fear for former co-workers, still on the frontlines caring for patients, and  I remember the Holy scripture, Philippians 4:6-7, so I pray for them with gratitude for everything they are doing.  I wonder how long we can hold out from hugs and handshakes, public assemblies and schools for our children.  And I remember we are just a speck in the timeline of history and this too shall pass. I am almost afraid to let others know that I wonder if God is allowing this time of uncertainty, and yes, fear too, so we will reflect on responsibilities and reform our priorities. It wouldn’t be the first time He used a bad situation for good. Nor would it be the first time people needed a time-out.

Then I remember Jonah.Jonah_thrown_overboard_1130-673

Jonah was told to go preach a message to another city; one that was doomed for destruction. That city was called Ninevah, but it could just as well be called Louisville, New York, Seattle, or Podunk. Jonah was not fond of the request. In fact, he flatly refused. Hiding out on a ship that went in the opposite direction from his calling, he brought his fear along with him in the form of a storm for the ship’s crew. That could just as well be our storm of fear, of hungry children, lonely elderly or a depressed brother or sister about to go down with the ship as we hunker down and hide; amid a sea of challenges that we could throw ourselves into to calm the storm.

Before long the ship’s crew realized they had a cast away, and reluctantly threw Jonah overboard to save themselves. Jonah’s honesty in the midst of the storm allowed the mariners a good look at the true God, with the result of their seeking Him and sacrificing to Him in gratitude for salvation. Ironically, their salvation from the storm was due to obedience in fear of the God Who brought the storm to Jonah. Maybe a little fear goes a long way. It is a natural reaction that causes us to seek safety.

Now, we know God is always a step ahead, and He knew then too, that Jonah was about to perish before he could carry out God’s orders. God prepared a great fish to be a sort of holding place, saving Jonah from drowning and giving him a time-out. Where is my time-out? Anytime my usual activities come to a halt; anytime circumstances incite me to look inward and upward. Am I listening to the Spirit when I read the Word, hearing what my Creator is telling me to do; or am I just reading words, checking a to-do list and hiding from the things I do not want to do?  I’m so happy to not be on a ship of irate mariners, for I too, am guilty. I hide for many reasons from the command to “go”.

gray whale

Photo by Andre Estevez on Pexels.com

Am I in the belly of my fish,  with time to meditate on God’s commands? It most likely is not to go preach, in my case. But I bet it is something like “feed my sheep” with food for the hungry, education for former children of war in Uganda and Congo (check out Exile International); or it could be with a phone call to a lonely shut-in. Kim Holder, an executive assistant, is the best at sending cards, her mission to carry out encouragement and send hope. Kathy Hargrove, retired teacher, is conducting school at home for grandchildren, babysitting as well, and praying big. My former co-workers are providing nursing care when they no doubt would rather be bunkered in at home. Ministers are seeking ways to spread good messages and serve the needs of people with errands, food and supplies. In recent years, Bethany and Matthew Williams have led a life-giving mission to the people of Africa. Last week, Judith Darnell, a retired hair stylist with her own health issues,  made a quilt for a friend facing an uncertain diagnosis. Cindy Lassiter, retired teacher, gives many hours every week to bring happiness to residents of a nursing home. Diana Darnell, hair stylist,  began sewing masks at home in effort to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. These are only a tiny sample of all the efforts that make me swell with pride in people; yet feel so small, showing me up on the days I feel like being selfish and hiding down in the ship. Thank you people for inspiring others and fueling hope.

Jonah’s story did not end in the belly of the great fish.  In time-out, his heart was changed, and God told the host to evict Jonah onto the shore. You might think Jonah hopped up and cheerfully ran to Ninevah to proclaim his story. He did go, but only said what God gave him to say, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” The people believed God (Jonah 3:4-5 NKJV). God saw their repentance and turned his wrath away, saving the whole city of 120,000 people. It’s an interesting story, how even with a bad start in life, even if with a bad attitude, we can carry the message effectively if we tell it like it is – according to God’s word.

The book of Jonah ends in uncertainty as far as Jonah is concerned, sitting in the heat with a dead gourd, grumbling about the unworthiness of others. But the message he was given to deliver was about God, His wrath; repentance and forgiveness; not about Jonah. We each will decide how to use this time-out, courtesy of Covid-19.  The difference is that God sent that storm to let Jonah know you can’t hide from God.  But God doesn’t send storms directly on us in this dispensation, or time of history. He already did all that to prove His power and spread His word all over the world. Then He sent His only begotten Son to seal His promise of saving us from our sins if we will believe and obey.

I can be grouchy and moody, sitting with my dead gourd, wondering why the things I think important aren’t everybody’s priority. God says there is a whole world of people, all important to Him; including me. I have to say, although I am so sorry for the illness and the overtaxed health care system,  I am thankful for a time-out to enjoy a slower pace; more time to reconsider priorities;  daily chats with family; and getting in touch with important biblical messages instead of unimportant chores. Funny how some things just aren’t that big a deal anymore. Oh yes, I am still standing on my head in the flower beds, but that’s a stress reliever and a hobby, not simply a chore.

I remember the promise that my earthly existence will be like the blink of an eye, the life of a flower, and then an eternal life. Whatever the world throws at me, it is nothing in comparison to eternity and spending it in praise, in the presence of the Creator of life! My prayer is “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

Stay home; when you do leave by necessity, remember 6 ft distance, wash hands at least 20 sec, and leave some toilet tissue for the rest of us. ♥

Social Distancing 101: On the Lighter Side

Tags

, , ,

The basic rule of social distancing is stay home; next step,

measurement-millimeter-centimeter-meter-162500.jpeg

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

stay at least six feet away from people; thirdly, wash wash wash your hands.

person washing hands

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

This would be the plan with the goal of blocking transmission when sneaky aggressive invaders lurk about, too small to be seen. It can be an aggravation, but it can be a life saver. Also, social distancing can become depressing after a while.

Almost sliding into a funk, I found my partner in crime pulling me back before I reached the edge. Today was about to become the second day with no shower, and no to-do list in action. Still in my oldest unmatched pj’s, I was contemplating a third cup of coffee and a nap at nearly eleven o’clock, because, hey, it’s also the second day without making my bed. He had been talking to someone by phone about a tractor an hour and a half away. Would I go with him to look at it? Well, that would mean actually getting out of my chair and doing something besides Facebook and texting.  Add Messenger into the mix and there seemed plenty to do. This is not like me at all. What was happening to me?

For over a week now, I have been cooking and sharing food, running window-drop off-errands for us and my dad, conducting the business of appointment cancellations and rescheduling by phone, sanitizing and keeping the house neat, and repeating it all over again. Basically, avoiding as much human contact as possible. Suddenly I saw the cloud of monotony trying to shadow the shine of productivity. I was in a funk. Shaking the cobwebs from my head I realized I have been willing to do whatever I could for anyone else, but I couldn’t even get dressed, look human and take a ride with my husband? So thoughtful of me.  I took my rugrat self to him and said, fine, I’ll go.

Showered, trimmed and coifed, I was feeling much better. Jeans and a boyfriend shirt finished the job. Whew! That was close. As we headed out the door, I grabbed crossword puzzles, laptop and my Yorkie. Water for all and a small snack assured we wouldn’t have to break our social distancing by stopping at a country store or truck stop along the way. Road trips always make me hungry.

About 120 miles later, we arrived our destination and as he left the car to look at the tractor, I leaned out the door calling, “remember social distancing” adding a smile so the Tennessean wouldn’t think my husband had a lunatic passenger. I finished off the 2nd crossword, put the dog down for a nap and looked through a new Better Homes and Gardens. All was well until we started home. “I need a hand wipe” my dearest said. Okay…I hesitated to ask, but the look on his face made me. “You didn’t get close did you?” Just cleaning his hands from the tractor, I hoped. The answer he gave was, “Well, he stepped up to the door of the cab while I was in it. What was I gonna do?” This man is in solitary confinement. I mean it. I warned him.

Well, we are going to hope the tractor guy has been the hermit type long enough that we are safe, but really, now we see the wisdom of staying home, even in a funk. I will be following him around with the disinfectant spray. I will be getting back into my dorm pants and old T-shirts, and for a while now I will extend myself the grace of some down time without the guilt. After all, he will be waiting on himself for the next 14 days.  Home really is sweet.  

It’s Gone Viral!

Tags

, , , ,

Someone said, “Well we were praying for our nation’s leaders to stop arguing and do something useful” and “we wanted world powers to work together in peace”.  A thought many have expressed is, perhaps God is answering those very prayers by working good out of bad. We are finding time to spend with immediate family that we all too often put off doing. I dare say more have been turning to God lately in prayer than ever. I was sent a virtual hug in Messenger this morning just after I was telling my children that a hug is the first thing I want when all this is over. Those are just a few little ripples from the “This” that’s is so world wide, so fluid in today’s lingo, that I am sure I don’t even have to explain. Covid-19 is famous; a virus gone viral. (Groan) That is, no doubt, a pun that has been grossly overused the past few weeks.

In our home, we’ve adjusted by use of a home haircut; cooking new things and some old favorites to keep it interesting; daily phone calls to Dad and our adult children just to sure they’re OK. We’ve wiped down, locked up and pondered over. We have prayed more, loved much and started our own tomato and cabbage seed pods. We have reassured ourselves in God’s Word that this too shall pass; and if it doesn’t, God is still Lord of our lives.

We’ve sure seen some unexpected ‘firsts’ for our 21st century, like empty grocery shelves with no impending storms; medical appointments being rescheduled for their patients’ safety; NCAA tournament cancelled (way worse than empty store shelves to my kids and me!) Also there have been alterations in how we do what we can still do, such as exchanging boxed meals for empty tables at Soup For The Soul, where people once met for sit-down meals; no indoor dining in restaurants, with take-out or delivery only; elbow bumping instead of hand shakes, and now keeping six feet apart instead of the elbow bumping. Distancing from others and hoarding necessities sound like subjects for a sermon on selfishness instead of survival. But the one change that has me distressed is the absence of public worship. For the first time in my life, and even most likely in my parents’ lives, there was no public assembly to attend today. I have so many thoughts on that, that I cannot even put them all into one post; plus I would lose you dear reader in the dust of a lengthy one-gal-opinion thesis.  With a former career in nursing, I certainly understand the wisdom in blocking transmission; but it makes me sad. I cannot help wondering what God thinks of it. Hang with me now – I make no judgements either way; I am just processing thoughts.  The scriptures on assembling and fear, such as Hebrews 10:24-25, Psalm 27:1 and Matthew 10:28 come to mind as clearly as the verses on grace, mercy and Matthew 12:3-8. I especially needed to be reminded of the last one. God is looking for the heart, not the house; fulfilling needs, not a law. It has been good for me to meditate on these things, realizing how much I depend on organized religion to do my part in my own Christian responsibility.

Thank you elders, for providing the means to see and hear lessons from God’s Word from home. Thank you preachers for the diligence in study and presenting those lessons. Thank you to my brother-in-law for remembering the Lord’s Supper components for communion at home.  But I already miss my church family. I miss the organized song and prayer service. I miss the freshness of children’s faces and the preacher’s bow tie. I miss passing gum to the pew behind me. I miss the satisfaction after worship time that I see on my husbands’s face; a peace that he never got to have as a youngster. Thank you Father God for the opportunities all my life for worshipping freely and abundantly; and for this opportunity to see what it might be like if that were taken from me.

After fighting a virus, the body can become stronger, gaining more resistance to infection and earning itself new immunities. I pray that God will guide us safely through to shut this virus down, and find a cure or immunization against Covid-19. May we use this time to “go viral” with similar qualities at heart – strength, resilience and the capacity to find new blessings every day. Wash your hands!

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV)

Speaking Of Jesus…

Tags

, , , , ,

Another cold Kentucky rain; more rain then we can welcome over the past few weeks; months actually. But the land isn’t barren, nor parched. There are blessings in showers. And our house is dry, warm and comfortable. I thank God.

I didn’t want to start another day hearing more news of COVID-19, nor of storms gathering; nor of nations deceiving one another. I just wanted to cook breakfast with a peaceful joy. In all the sorrows and fears among the people today, you may feel as helpless as I in changing any of the chaos. Though my devotion time would come after breakfast, I felt an uneasiness, kind of like a shadow over me that I needed to shake. I think it is knowing our weekly bible study as a group, to do our part in trying to shut down transmission of the disease, will not be meeting. There is also the ‘dis-ease’ of having our schedules interrupted, and feeling the uncertainties of living with a new enemy in our country. There is the ‘dis-ease’ of knowing there will be repercussions in the economy we have not experienced before. It is scary. It is worrisome. Needing a light to draw me out of the growing darkness until I could open God’s lamp of the Word, I asked our kitchen resident, Hey Google, to play some praise music.

God cared for my distress in a beautiful way. The first song of praise Google played for me this morning is called I Speak Jesus by Here Be Lions. I had never heard of the artist nor the song. But I am so thankful for this wonderful moment of praise as I cooked our breakfast. I later looked up the lyrics on my laptop and played the song over two more times, sang along and was reminded of the power over chaos, that lives in Jesus. And I thanked God; for music, for praise and for hope.

Yes, there is an all-knowing Power over fear; an ever-present healing over illness; an ever-loving Life over this lowly life. His name is Jesus. “Your name is Power, your name is healing, your name is life…break every stronghold, shine through the shadows, burn like a fire” (chorus of the song).

I urge you to Google, or You-tube, or find in whatever manner suits you, the song “I Speak Jesus”. It is amazing!!

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NKJV)

A Cup O’ Grace

Tags

, ,

…not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God…

It is hard to find the beginning in a story of grace because one good thing done was preceded by another and another before it, and so on. Today I had opportunity to extend a cup of grace, though a very small one. Lest you think I am about to boast in myself, I’ll assure you I am not. It seems that for every time I remember to be gracious, there are several other hands of grace from whom I’ve been fed.

My husband stays away from coffee like it was leprosy and has for about forty years since he got so sick over a thermos of it. Fatigue, too much coffee and the smells inside the plant got to him and you do not want to hear the rest of that story. He was working a night shift in addition to his farming in order for me to be a stay-at-home momma. I guess that’s the beginning of this chain of grace. Fast forward to present day, he makes sure I get a loaded coffee card each Christmas, to drink all the coffee I want in spite of his hatred for the stuff; grace cup number two. Today I visited a local coffee shop to redeem my free cup-of-your-choice reward. A medium hot macchiato with unsweet vanilla please. “I’ll have that right out for you,” the employee said.  A couple of pretty young girls were waited on after my order was taken; two or three cars were served through the to-go window; still no macchiato. My husband saw how busy they were and commented that they don’t get paid enough, and went to wait for me in the car. Another customer was served, still none for me. I sat with my eyes closed for a bit and let the sun wash over me for calm (cup of grace number three). Finally I just asked, “Have you made that macchiato yet?” Shock, dismay and remorse washed over the poor guy’s face. He apologized humbly and began filling the order. Another barista asked if he could refund my money to which I said, “No, that’s ok, it was free anyway”. He then offered to put another free coffee on my account. For a moment I almost said yes, but then I remembered: many are the times I have been graciously excused and forgiven for some oversight, forgotten obligation, or even an intentional wrong done. I smiled and said, “No, thank you, it’s all right.” I left with a delicious hot beverage and a lift in my step because he had not made excuses, and expressed in his own way that I was valued as a customer, as a person, in a world of excuses and blame games. 

Just yesterday on the other hand, yours truly was served with grace, as I was handing a bitter cup to a phone agent while I simultaneously hammered out an e-mail to their live chat agent. The online floral delivery to an out of town office did not get there by noon after I had paid the extra five bucks for designated delivery time.  I was not ugly, but I stated in an irritated voice, that I was not happy, and the whole purpose of getting the flowers there by, yadda yadda, yadda…you get the idea. Right? After a lengthy wait, (during which time I was mentally formulating a customer satisfaction survey reply, should there be one) the very kind phone agent had arranged to have my extra five dollars refunded, and asked if I wanted to have the flowers delivered to a residence instead, or cancel altogether, or leave any instructions at all for the mistake to be corrected. I changed my mind twice with him, let the live chat agent off the hook, and communicated by text with the intended recipient, all at the same time. Turns out the flowers were delivered, but someone forgot to enter that in the tracking  thing-a-mabob. My daughter had been notified by an efficient receptionist that she had a delivery, but since it missed her, they would be redelivering in two days when she is there. I didn’t even know they could do that! 

Results? God was gracious in answering my prayer for my daughter’s successful conference presentation, with or without flowers. The customer service agent never even sounded slightly ruffled with me. The live chat ended with an apology for my inconvenience. I am five dollars better off. My daughter was just as grateful as if she had received the flowers beforehand – it was the thought that counted. I was lavishly graced.  

As I enjoyed my coffee, I was comparing my minor inconveniences with the countless atrocities God covers  with grace if we will just say, “I am sorry. I have no excuse. I want to make it right.” His grace flows in the blood of Jesus Christ to right our wrongs, cleanse our stains and redirect our wayward steps. There is nothing I can offer God, like a free coffee, to make up for my mistakes; it is He instead, Who keeps offering me redemption. I want to be like Him.

2 Corinthians 1:12 (MSG) Now that the worst is over, we’re pleased we can report that we’ve come out of this with conscience and faith intact, and can face the world – and even more importantly, face you with our heads held high. But it wasn’t by any fancy footwork on our part. It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised. (The Message Bible)

2 Corinthians 1:12 (NKJV) For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. (NKJV)

Roses Are Red, Pansies Are Yellow; I Get to Do Life With a Mighty Fine Fellow.

Tags

, ,

Valentine’s Day at 46 years of marriage looks a great deal different from those first few years and before. Today went like this, at 8 AM:

  • G: “Aww, you got me again!”
  • Me: “Well it’s just a card, and you asked me so many times what I wanted, how could I forget?”
  • G: “Well you said ‘I don’t want anything’ “.
  • Me: “I said I didn’t want you spending on stuff I can’t keep and if you brought candy, I’d crown you with it!”
  • G: “I’m sorry.”
  • Me: “You have nothing to be sorry about; you always go overboard on Christmas and gave me my valentine, birthday, Christmas and Mother’s Day gifts at one time. So hush.”

Out for breakfast, back home, took my doggie out and back in to find hubby, feet up in his recliner. I thought, no way can I listen to another episode of Gunsmoke! So, off to a nap. I have the luxury of that today, which is better than a whole truckload of gifts. Fast forward, post-nap, house is empty, sun is shining, I’m feeling pretty good, planning a little supper hubby will like – by the way, where is he?

Three PM, door bell rings. There stands G., holding a single red rose in a lovely vase of greenery, and said “delivery for my girlfriend.”  Zing! Boom!

You just can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Suddenly I remembered that I had started a blog post a few years back, Old Roses and Whine; I don’t think I ever finished it. In it I mention that I have a jar full of old rose petals from occasions I have forgotten. The point being that it is the intent of the heart that matters when it comes to men; not the timing, nor the gift; the heart.

Forty years ago I’d have thought the setting of the sun depended on my getting a valentine or not. It did not; and I did not. Watching all those sun ups and sun downs for forty plus years was the real gift! Those years taught me that the heart expecting something is nowhere near as happy as the heart that does not expect, but is grateful for what already is.

When the center of your heart belongs to God, and you already have Him, the rest is just fluff. Really nice fluff, for sure, but still just fluff.

 

 

That Old Cat

Tags

, , , ,

20190422_161716

 

With all the illness and losses that plagued our friends and family through the past summer and fall, it didn’t seem appropriate that I lament publicly about an old cat wearing out. Now, winter is hard on everybody at some level, and having to bury anyone, even a pet, in the cold is just terribly unpleasant, not even counting the sorrow of loss. Since summer, the year has been hard on the pet population in our family. Our son, our daughter, a niece and we ourselves have each lost a pet. So, indulge me please as I talk about that old cat. One gray evening I drove into our driveway with this in my vision. My husband, who would certainly not want to be labeled ‘soft’ was on his backhoe across the road, digging a little grave because he knew I was on my way home from the veterinarian’s office with my old gray cat who’d taken his last trip home. We laid him wrapped in his soft camo blanket under an oak tree where he had played and hunted many a day. I wrote most of the following on that evening.

December 2019:  In the red glow of a winter sunset, I say goodbye to my friend of ten and a half years. Mr. Gray Kitty was the world’s best mouser and mole catcher ever. He appeared on my front porch the week of my mother’s funeral with one eye open and the other still closed. Now, how a new kitten could have found our five-block high porch from who knows where, is anybody’s guess. I gave up asking who placed him there, as everyone seemed as stumped as I. His first look at me sent him diving off the end of the porch into the shrubs, only to scale the wall a few hours later and then repeat the routine three or four more times. By the third day of placing a small dish of cat food under the shrubs, it became clear that he preferred diving and hiding over human contact. The second time my husband (yeh the tough guy) heard a meow followed by my denial of any cat ownership, he said, “OK, if you’re gonna keep it, get it fixed and get it’s shots.” And so Mr Gray became a member of our family. Funny how these four legged creatures never have to say a word; they just move in.

Mr. Gray kept me occupied that summer with orienting him to our house… or perhaps he oriented me to the world of cat lovers, and bossed his way into my heart. Cantankerous and funny, he came within an inch of his furry life more than once by killing my birds, but as they say, he WAS a cat. I finally attached two bells to his collar to give the birds a heads up that they were being stalked. Calling him in for the night was easier too, as I could hear the jungle jingle while he trotted in from the field to sleep in the garage, usually on top of my car, mountain lion style. I still smile at the memory of his mad dash out when the doors were opened in the morning, after which he would pause, look around as if embarrassed to say, “well, I don’t know what the rush is, nothing has changed”. As a hunter, he was amazing. Our garage was his trophy case. No sooner did we remove one headless prey, than he would deposit another. Mice, moles, rats, snakes, frogs, baby rabbits (I know, sad) and unfortunately birds, were all too slow for that old cat. Too quick for us as well, one minute he was rubbing our legs, purring for petting, and the next he was leaving scars on our arms. As the senior pet, he was much too cool to welcome the puppy. Eventually he was following, from a cool distance of course, when we took our afternoon walks. He had to admit hide and seek was fine as long a he could hide and pounce.

 

Finally, too old and sick to go on living, his hunts are over. I now bury him at the time of day he would be coming in to tell us he is still king hunter, and looking for his Temptations treats. I will miss his little freckled nose.

If there’s a moral to this, and I’m not sure there is (I just wanted to tell you about that old cat) then the moral might be this. Animals do not come in touting all their accomplishments nor proclaiming their worth. Whatever it is they are supposed to do, they just move in and do it; guarding, hunting, cuddling, whatever they find to do, they do it with all their hearts. Not a word of our language, yet they show great loyalty and return our care with love unlimited.

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-34) NKJV

Listen To The Music

Tags

One hour and 15 minutes remain of 2019. Gary has turned the Dish to Country Gold music and I am hearing music from too long ago to say.  I’m sure when we were listening to this music as new music, we thought the years would be pretty much one the same as another, lazily rolling by, time to do so many things and time to leave much undone as well. To my surprise, terror and delight, those years rushed like rapids over the falls and have held anything but mundane. Every corner we’ve turned caught us off guard with accomplishments as well as disappointments. I think they call it life. The music as well has changed with time; it’s been years since I enjoyed country music. Tonight I am being reminded how I used to like it. Dan Seals’  Baby’s still Got Good Timing, and Patsy Cline’s still Crazy, but I feel like my time has crazy vanished. John Conlee sings it doesn’t matter “As Long As I’m Rockin’ With You” and that really is I think the crux of world problems; and that’s that people used to matter more than stuff. If the Louisiana Woman and Mississippi Man could get along, have hearts big enough to span gaps, why can’t we in this madly convenient world manage to get along?

I’ve left the Christmas tree lights on for tonight, maybe just trying to stretch another year out a little bit longer. I feel like I need more time to do the things I meant to do, say the things I wanted to say,  help more folks do life a bit easier, listen a great deal more to the words of God – really listen with my heart as my eyes read it. I’ve wasted my share of time; I plan to fix that if I ever find the receipt to buy it back.  In the meantime, it would be best to cherish every day and make it matter to someone; just a day at a time, a hand held, a dollar given, a shoulder lent or an ear bent. Mostly I want to become a better listener. I’ve wanted to be an encourager for a long time, even named my FB page after Barnabas the encourager, but I can do a better job of that if I learn to listen first. Yes. That’s my effort toward a new year of this vanishing gold called ‘time’.

Listening to music from the past, I find I want to hear the people of my past who are no longer here. I want to hear an echo of whatever good intentions I must have had even though they didn’t pan out. I want to hear what history would warn us to watch for to save our country. I want to hear God’s direction loud and clear. And I want to hear YOU, you – are more important than stuff.

Tonight I’ll close my eyes and pray my gratitude for God’s unspeakable riches and mercy. He listens. He teaches. He forgives. In a way, He gives refunds daily, no receipt necessary. In fact, He loves it when we bring back the empty months to exchange for a brand new start. I absolutely love Him!

Happy New Year in ten minutes friends, family, world. This is Where The Cowboy Rides Away, right George?

December 27, 2019 THE AFTERGLOW

Tags

, , ,

christmas-eve-2019-1

Morning sun has turned to overcast skies. The dishwasher consumes the remains of another meal made from our Christmas Day dinner. I sit down with my forgotten friend to type out my thoughts which come and go as quickly as the holiday activities. I have a mug of warmed wassail with a serving of cream cheese and habanero pepper jelly on Nut-thins. The pepper jelly was one of many gifts brought in this week by loved ones, and reminds me that though they have gone on their ways, their sweet presence and memories stayed on to warm me through my winter days.

As if six nights and days were not a more than generous sharing of her time, I may have tried to guilt our daughter into staying just one more night…to do one more day of leisure, or shop, or nothing…just to revel in the blessing of family. Though our son had just driven out to help us delete some of the many leftovers, visited and saw his sister off, I still tried bribing him to come back out and spend Friday evening with games and appetizers…oh the tactics of a mother about to be left in the wake of a blessed and busy Christmas week!

The house is quiet, Auggie wants a nap, husband is back to routine business, and the forgotten Christmas pickle hangs on a new limb of the tree. 20191227_093757
An over-looked trash bag stuffed with torn wrapping paper hangs from the back of a rocking chair, and the refrigerator bulges yet with left-overs! I have a closet full of gifts to sort and put away for husband and me; granddog hair to vacuum and bedding to change. There is a lonely glow of the tree lights reflected on the floor now uncovered and bare where there were piled gifts of love and generosity from and to our family and friends. A similar glow is in my heart reflecting the precious smiles of great-nieces and nephews, img_0444

the shrieks of laughter as we played Santa Auction among the adults and the contented sighs after the meal; a meal that followed my brother-in-law’s prayer of gratitude for bountiful blessings and family time, and mostly for the Christ child whom we try to honor as we give, and serve, and love, and pray and encourage one another.

Before I know it, the ground will be warming and planting season will be here from which I will hope to reap fresh produce and see productive crops for our farmers. Likewise, may the good deeds done and the love given this season, reap much happiness and closer ties that last the whole year through.

Come to think of it, Auggie has the right idea – it is about time for a nap! Until next Christmas season, I ask Father God to bless our home, community and country with the peace that I feel down deep in my soul at this time. I will be praying especially for those who did not have all their family with them, and for those who, sadly, feel far from prayer.  Bless the name of God, the giver of all perfect gifts, the Father of Light as we rest in Him to bear our disappointments and pain; knowing that His balm and peace are eternal, and perfect.

Have a truly happy, healthy and peaceful new year!

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  James 1:17

Holding Onto Life

Tags

, , , ,

Attending the funeral of a young(ish) woman today, I was stricken with two things. One, I seem to be attending a lot of funerals lately, so that’s where my writing engine often is fueled.  The second is this. In thinking about how suddenly her sweet life was ended here, and as the preacher said, it is coming to us all whether sudden or not, I thought, wow, the effort most of us put into living is quite backwards. At least, for me it is. The child of God has His promise (He cannot lie and is the author of our salvation) that life after earthly life is perfect if we accept His way – that is, eternal life extended through His Son, Jesus Christ. On the other hand, this earthly existence we call ‘life’ is full of uncertainty day and night; heartache, disappointments, and pain are not really that uncommon, right? Does anyone know for sure what tomorrow will hold? With all the joyful blessings we have here in this life, none of it is guaranteed to be here another day. And yet, we hold onto this life with Everything. We. Have.

I’m not saying this life is unimportant. On the contrary, anything from God is significant and to be cherished. What I am saying is, do I hold so tightly to the uncertain, that I miss the certain? Yes, sadly I do. Spending? Just look at my stuff. Time? Compared to appointments, reading, house work, blah blah blah, time spent with God is terribly little. Prayer? Oh my, how much more I ask for in blessings to my people,  compared to praising Him for my people and everything else He has done already! I’m just trying to put some things into perspective…you can apply it to your own lives however it fits.

The beautiful eternal life of living in the presence of my heavenly Father, my savior Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit, with no, natta, ziltch uncertainties; in perfect peace, forever praises – that is what we push away as hard as we can. What? Yes, we clutch the mortal life with all its difficulties as if that were the only life we have. Trust Him, friend, this life “ain’t all she wrote”! As suggested today, read the writings of John in holy scripture (John, I, II, and III John and Revelation) for a description of the love of God and the forever life He put in our hands.  He knew the devil would make this life as difficult as he could, and He prepared a place where the child of God will escape the uncertainties of this world and live, really LIVE, forever in His grace.

I believe Reta is there in that perfect peace, resting. Hope to see ya there Reta!