This is just a blog about my thoughts, my family, my everyday life. Because I am a Christian and have ups and downs like everyone else, I hope it will encourage others to either turn to Christ for the first time, or lean on Him when times are rough. Often life is just random and funny. I started this blog after many years of writing to my church about our vacations. They began to encourage me to blog and finally I am. Thanks for reading.

"Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace!" Nahum 1:15

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. John Piper

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What's In Your Garbage?

I'm not even sure at this point what I will title this post.  It is post Thanksgiving and I know I was present for the whole day, but still feel I missed it. Has that every happened to you? We create these scenarios of warm moments and meaningful connections and the day goes by uneventful and you are left worn out and longing for your bed. Plans were made.  Recipes gathered. Groceries bought. Verbal invites given. Still, my plan never stopped being planned. Do you ever miss the present? I do. I can get so caught up in a plan that carrying it out becomes more important than anything else...even people. After all, I did invite them. How was my focus so lost? It did not happen overnight, but over weeks of change in our house.
Somehow I lost October and November.  I see them on the calendar with a few scrawled words indicating appointments and birthdays, but days do pass into weeks and now I find myself on the doorstep of December. Time was eaten up with hospitals and doctors, phone calls and waiting rooms.  It really was and all the energy that was mine to spend as I wished was expelled on behalf of another. Nursing has never been my forte, but love makes the task much easier...that and the Lord reminding me of all the times he has cared so selflessly for me.
Tomorrow is trash day and as of late I am the bearer of all things heavy as Tommy recuperates from major surgery.  Such will my lot be until mid January. No complaints.  Just fact. Tonight as I hauled ten trash bags (yes, ten) to the curb, I could not help but notice my neighbors' trashes. One had one bag, the other two, and another with none at all.  How can these things be? (Suddenly I am reminded of Nicodemus in John 3 where he asks Jesus how can a person be born again.)
John 3:7-9  Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" 
Anyway, we are two people who hosted a mere seven others for Thanksgiving. Surely nine people can't generate ten bags of trash.  You would have thought I handed out the bags and said, "Fill 'em up!" We have always said we are the trashiest house on the block.
As I walked away from the bags, my thoughts slowly grazed over their contents. Lives are often revealed by the garbage they emit. There was love in those leftovers indicating we ate well and scraps from art projects created by my grandchildren. We made paper chains from old Christmas cards and my son painted his daughters' fingernails. We celebrated Bella's eighth birthday and she helped me make Chex Mix. The clock ticks whether or not we are mindful of it. What happened since we last looked at it? Life. It can't always be planned, much as we would like it to be so. Sometimes it just leads the way and we have no choice but to follow.

It consists of highs and lows, sorrows and laughter, productivity and wastelands.
Feet hurt, backs ache, eyelids beg for sleep that does not always come, yet it is all part of living and we are to take the pain that comes with the good.  We do not always get to choose our paths and how smooth they are nor do we decide every direction to take.  Still, it is what we do down the paths we did not choose that matters we acted and reacted to the events around us.
This opportunity to carry my husband's loads only serves to remind me of how much he does for me all the time without complaint or grimace.  I can love him through this.  These bags are loaded with love for my husband, my children, grandchildren and our moms. We were blessed this Thanksgiving just by being together and we accumulated a bit of garbage just to prove it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

An Act of Rebellion That Changed the World

"At last meditating day and night, by the mercy of God, I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith. Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open."  Martin Luther

People cling tightly to what they believe and it is lived out in how they behave, what their habits are and who they follow. It has been said that sometimes a little rebellion is good.

The following written in green is taken from the site "Christian History."

During his early years, whenever Martin Luther read what would become the famous "Reformation text"—Romans 1:17—his eyes were drawn not to the word faith, but to the word righteous. Who, after all, could "live by faith" but those who were already righteous? The text was clear on the matter: "the righteous shall live by faith." Luther remarked, "I hated that word, 'the righteousness of God,' by which I had been taught according to the custom and use of all teachers ... [that] God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner." The young Luther could not live by faith because he was not righteous—and he knew it.
"At last meditating day and night, by the mercy of God, I ... began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith… Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open."
On the heels of this new understanding came others. To Luther the church was no longer the institution defined by apostolic succession; instead it was the community of those who had been given faith. Salvation came not by the sacraments as such but by faith. The idea that human beings had a spark of goodness (enough to seek out God) was not a foundation of theology but was taught only by "fools." Humility was no longer a virtue that earned grace but a necessary response to the gift of grace. Faith no longer consisted of assenting to the church's teachings but of trusting the promises of God and the merits of Christ.
It wasn't long before the revolution in Luther's heart and mind played itself out in all of Europe. 
It started on All Saints' Eve, 1517, when Luther publicly objected to the way preacher Johann Tetzel was selling indulgences. These were documents prepared by the church and bought by individuals either for themselves or on behalf of the dead that would release them from punishment due to their sins. As Tetzel preached, "Once the coin into the coffer clings, a soul from purgatory heavenward springs!"
Luther questioned the church's trafficking in indulgences and called for a public debate of 95 theses he had written. Instead, his 95 theses spread across Germany as a call to reform, and the issue quickly became not indulgences but the authority of the church: Did the pope have the right to issue indulgences?
Events quickly accelerated. At a public debate in Leipzig in 1519, when Luther declared that "a simple layman armed with the Scriptures" was superior to both pope and councils without them, he was threatened with excommunication.
Luther replied to the threat with his three most important treatises: The Address to the Christian Nobility,The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, and On the Freedom of a Christian. In the first, he argued that all Christians were priests, and he urged rulers to take up the cause of church reform. In the second, he reduced the seven sacraments to two (baptism and the Lord's Supper). In the third, he told Christians they were free from the law (especially church laws) but bound in love to their neighbors.
In 1521 he was called to an assembly at Worms, Germany, to appear before Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. Luther arrived prepared for another debate; he quickly discovered it was a trial at which he was asked to recant his views.
Luther replied, "Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear, and distinct grounds of reasoning ... then I cannot and will not recant, because it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience." Then he added, "Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me! Amen."
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Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, thus changing/making history for the church.  What he did only conveyed what Scripture had already dictated.  The just shall live by faith.
I had missed two Sundays as I took care of Tommy who was recuperating from surgery. October 31 passed without this demonstration of rebellion for truth. So we 'nailed' our 95 theses to a door this past Sunday and thanked God for men who stand for truth.  That is all Martin Luther did.  He stood on God's truth and his convictions and thank God he did.

My class of first and second rebellion.

Addicus, a former student often comes by to relieve me of any unwanted snacks I might have left over.  He worked hard to help me finish nailing the papers.  And then I gave him Fun Dip!

Love this one.

Friday, November 11, 2016

As The Spider Spun Her Web...

As I opened my window shade, the sunlight and dew made this web glisten and I could not help but snap some pictures. 
Our country elected a new leader as this spider spun her web in the secluded corner of my backyard. No angry shouts of political rhetoric fell on her ears. (Do spiders have ears?) She missed it all, and yet it happened. The world changed, just as it does every single day.  No two days are alike, just as no two people are alike.  Our world is not at peace right now, but was it EVER? And the spider spun her web.
Proverbs 30:24-28  Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer; the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank; the lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings' palaces. 
The spider is not mentioned in these verses, but you get the point.  There are lessons to be learned by the behavior of simple creatures in nature.  They continue to do what they must do, regardless of the unpredictable actions and repercussions of the human race.
I will purpose to do each day all that God puts in front of me with joy and gladness and a right attitude (which sometimes needs work).  If I ever lose sight of the specifics of His call, then I must remember the verses that clearly define my roll in bringing Him glory.
James 1:27 - 2:1   Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.  
Hebrews 13:2-3   Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 
The spider's web that begs to be knocked down remains as is...for now. It is a reminder to me to stay on task and do the next thing and be productive in a world gone mad.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

When Real Life Intervenes...

I almost want to say 'we interrupt these political proceedings with every day, life changing events.' Politics rule the airwaves at present, daily growing in intensity.  One can only tolerate so much.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch - my husband went into day surgery for a simple hernia repair and two days later was re-admitted with paralyzed bowels, facing another surgery. Thankfully, the doctor waiting to operate chose to look further and after four days of tubes, IVs, drains, and many prayers, we were able to come home.  God is good.
I learned a lot during our stay and I want to share with you my observations and discoveries so then you can see and know all that I know....which actually isn't all that much as you will find out.

1. Did you know that hospitals use code words for emergencies that might be occurring as you walk through the halls minding your own business?  We were told this by an orderly as he pushed Tommy's bed into surgery on Monday. Over the speaker system we could hear a page for a certain doctor to go to a certain area and the call for him was relentless and urgent.  I commented on the incessant plea and he very calmly said, "Oh, that's not a real doctor.  That is code to let us know that there is something wrong in the building."
Me: "What?"
Him: "If we said there was something wrong with the building, you would panic."
Me: " a fire?"
Him: "Well, our popcorn machine sets off the fire alarm all the time."
Me: "So I should not panic unless you panic?"
Him: "We don't panic...not allowed to."
Me: "So what if there is a real emergency?"
Him: "All codes have the word 'doctor' in them.  They all mean different things."
(All I am saying is don't believe what you hear over the speaker because you never know.)
2. Did you know that the ladies in the gift shop are working hard to solve the world's problems?  I must say I found myself in there on several occasions and they were always discussing the issues of the day. Who needs politicians?  I listened as they talked about AIDS, education, and what they were having for lunch. I smiled and told them to keep up the good work as I walked away with my purchases.
3. Did you know that hospitals use computers to talk to deaf people if an interpreter is not present?  As Tommy waited for surgery in what I would call a long line of unsuspecting and sedated victims, a girl came in who had been in an accident.  She was deaf. They had no way to talk to her so they wheeled in a computer with an advocate on the screen. The doctor would tell the advocate what to ask the patient using sign language and when the patient would sign back, the advocate would tell the doctor what she said.  It was very interesting. All the nurses crowded around to watch.
4. Did you know that three times a  a year England flies over two American football teams to play in their soccer stadium that seats about 90,000 people (way more than ours will seat) and it is packed to max with screaming British fans who love American football?  They pay a high price per ticket just to watch us play. Isn't that crazy?  We watched the game from Tommy's hospital room.  (It's not like I could overrule a wounded man in his time of need for entertainment, right? Besides, this was amazing to me. England going berserk over American football. Who knew?)
5. Did you know we had a nurse from Kenya?  Of course you didn't. How could you possibly know that?  But she and Tommy had something in common.  He had been to Kenya two years ago and she knew the village where he had visited. Her husband is a believer and they belong to a church here and the pastor of that church along with her husband went to one of the pastors' luncheons Tommy started a few years ago. Tommy had met her husband!
But that isn't the end of my story, nor is it the most important thing I want to share with you.
She told us that Americans are so unselfish. We both said, "What? Americans? Did we hear you right?"
She said, "Yes."
I said, "But we are so spoiled."
She said, "You will sell your houses, your belongings, everything - to go and minister to the people in Africa. You give from what you have so that others might gain.  Where I come from, the people have nothing and what they do have, they cling to out of fear that it might be taken from them. When Americans are lacking in something, they figure out a way to fix it, they look elsewhere for an answer.  At home, the people just sit and wait.  There are no other resources for them and they will not share or help another person because they are afraid they will lose what they do have. 
When I go home, I tell them to think about how they can solve their own problems by working together and coming up with an answer."
She had kind things to say about our country. She said that everyone there thinks that money falls into Americans' hands. It doesn't - but it can be worked for. There is no encouragement to work for anything where she came from.
When she left the room, I said to Tommy, "It is hope. We have it. They do not."
We do.  I thought about it for awhile and she is right.  If something breaks, we figure out a way to fix it until it breaks again.  We make do whenever we can.
The world is in a mess.  Political agendas can help to make changes, but the real changes can happen without them.  It is an issue of the heart and mind.
Let's continue to 'figure it out'.  Let's not seek things for ourselves, but for others in need.  Let's 'sell all we have' and offer hope to the world. They are waiting.

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