Saturday Soliloquy: My Newsfeed

Good grief. I’ve just spent an entire hour or more catching up with all my notifications on FB, and browsing my newsfeed.

Big Brother is Watching You!

That’s ridiculous. A waste of time which I’ve just promised the Lord I won’t repeat. There are very few posts there that required my time and attention. From now on, I’m stopping only on the posts from my friends; or things of a political nature that I truly need in order to stay informed; or posts of a spiritual nature; or posts just for fun. . . . . .wait a minute. I’m going to need a better system, that’s plain to see.

How did we spend our time before the internet?

It’s pretty clear to me that I’m going to need to clean up all the stuff I get without having asked for it. For instance, I really like to crochet. I joined ONE group. Just one. And now I’m getting tons of posts from many other crochet groups. Need to clean that up.

It seems that if you respond to just one, you are targeting yourself for dozens of others.

The thing is, I have a wide variety of interests. Since I started taking piano lessons, and joined the group through which I met my teacher, I’m getting all sorts of solicitations from other online piano groups, music sites, videos, etc. Those are hard for me to resist.

I read a lot. Since my back has begun to crumble, there is less I’m able to do that involves physical movement. I have a Kindle, and I get all sorts of fishing expeditions related to it. Those are going to get the axe.

I write this Bible study blog, therefore I get a lot of “suggested sites you may like” related to the Bible. It’s both good and not so good that there are literally hundreds of other Bible-oriented sites out there, but I just don’t have that kind of time.

I’m a history nut. I love knitting. I like recipes. And health-related information, and. . . . . well, it’s an endless list.
Do you have an Alexa? Did you know she’s a lot like Santa Claus? She knows when you’ve been sleeping and she knows when you’re awake! I’ve learned to turn her off anytime a discussion takes place that is going to trigger her to make music or book recommendations. I really like her for a lot things, but she shouldn’t be a part of EVERY SINGLE conversation that takes place in my living room!

Do you remember the children’s Sunday school song “O be careful little eyes what you see?” I thought about that a lot when I was growing up. God sees. He knows. He knows what’s in our hearts and minds as well as what is obvious to anyone else. Understanding that was enough to keep me on the straight and narrow! He also sees what we do digitally. We may not be doing anything immoral or sinful, but we can waste a great deal of time on the internet.

Be careful.

Saturday Soliloquy: The Greatest Generation

Time Flies! And the longer one lives, the faster time goes–at least I find it to be so.

It seems impossible that a whole week has gone by since I did my last Saturday Soliloquy. Usually, I have an idea in the back of my mind all week, but not this time. I don’t want to talk about weather (not too bad today!). Don’t want to talk about politics– very little positive to say about that. Don’t want to talk about the economy, Covid, or the Monkey Pox. Too depressing.

So maybe I’ll just go back to a conversation I was having with Mike. We were talking about my dad. He was a great storyteller, and I loved it when he talked about his growing up in the Arizona Strip, as it was called back then. Also, I loved his stories about Colorado, and life during the Depression.

I didn’t mind his telling these stories over and over again. I could picture what he described, clear as a bell.

Dad always wanted to write down his stories. He finally did, in his 60s, but nothing was ever published. I think that was a discouragement to him, and kept him from continuing to write. He told his stories so well, verbally, but somehow, when he tried to write them, he became stiff and reserved. I’ve wondered about that. And in my conversation with Mike, I think we may have come upon a possible answer.

My dad found expressing softer, more tender emotions to be very difficult. I think this is true about many men of his era. Life was hard, work was hard. The Depression , then WWII; his generation really did have to man up to the reality of hunger, loss, and a horrendous war. Having to do so made them The Greatest Generation, but it also made them The Quiet Generation. WWII vets came home from war, and got to work. They didn’t talk much about their war experiences, but those experiences affected their lives for a very long time. Keeping fear, anger and hatred tamped down inside was the only way they knew to deal with what they had seen and done.

So many iconic photos from that time period!

How did all that affect Dad’s efforts as a writer? I believe all that emotion was overwhelming to him, and he didn’t feel comfortable letting any of it out where others could see it. So his writing became somewhat sterile, dry, and more like a news report than a true life adventure.

Dad was only 70 when he died. If he were still alive, he would be 99. He was part of history, with lots of stories to tell.

Saturday Soliloquy: Retirement

I didn’t think I’d like being retired. I was concerned that I’d be bored, not having any particular thing to do without a job to go to.

Then my achey back kicked in, and I’m very thankful not to have to go to work and sit all day in an uncomfortable chair that offers no lumbar support.

I’m certainly not bored! I’m still teaching in our homeschool co-op during the school year. Writing this blog is a daily exercise that stretches my brain and enriches my knowledge of the Bible. I can read as much as I want to. I have never before had so much time and such a quiet atmosphere in which to be able to lose myself in a good book.

I’m taking piano lessons, something I’ve always wanted to be able to do. I practice for at least an hour every day, or as long as my back can endure. I’m learning things I never knew about in regard to technique, how to practice, attaining efficiency and accuracy. I started teaching myself, with the aid of a couple of beginner piano books, when I was 10. I’ve played for church for many years, and I’ve always been thankful to be able to do that. But I’m expanding beyond those rather limited capabilities now, and loving every minute of it. The program I’m using is online, Piano by Pictures Academy, under the direction of Ryan Kelly. I have an online teacher every week who has worked with me patiently while I unravel old, incorrect habits and learn better new ones. I love it. Right now I’m polishing up Chopin’s Nocturne Opus 9, #2, which is beloved and familiar to anyone who enjoys classical music. It is a delight to me to actually be able to play this piece, and to play it correctly. I even enjoy playing scales!

There are other things I have the time for now that I didn’t have the time for when I was working. All things considered, in spite of some physical debility, retirement has just been a doorway into a new and extremely satisfying way of life.

I’m never bored!

Saturday Soliloquy: My Aging Brain

So far, I wouldn’t leave my house with that much “Me” showing, but one never knows.

The other day I made a list, stuck it in my purse, and headed off to the grocery store. Of course, as you’ve already guessed, I could not find my list once I was inside the store. Could. Not. Find. It.

I riffled through every single pocket of my purse. By the way, don’t EVER buy a purse with multiple “organizer” pockets. Waste of time. I unzipped, searched, and zipped FIVE pockets to find my list. By the time I finished, I was ready to dump my purse into the recycle bin they keep near the doors.

By the way, store employees have told me that most of the plastic that gets dropped into said bin ends up in the same dumpster as everything else. . . .

Where was I? Oh. Right. Grocery list. What was I saying. . . . yeah, I never did find it. . . .

Until a week or so later. I keep a small tablet in one of my organizer pockets. I was cleaning out the purse, pulled out that tablet, and my “lost” list dropped out from between the pages.

I had it all the time.

Well, I did manage to remember most of what was on the list. But–you know what happens when you have to wander down every aisle trying to remember what was on your list. Yeah. The cart filled up pretty quickly.

What’s even worse, though, is that I use a cane quite often these days. I try to always put it in the same place in every room so I can be sure to find it when I leave that room. Guess how well that works.

In the bathroom, I hook it over the doorknob. Usually, that strategy is successful as long as I remember to close the door BEFORE I hang my cane on the knob. Think about it for a minute. You’ll get it.

My bedroom has a doorknob, and usually it works just fine to hang my cane there. Unless, of course, nature calls at 3 a.m. and I’m not exactly at the peak of my cognitive powers.

The rest of the house? It’s a crap shoot. My son and daughter-in-law who are staying with us right now have become accustomed to seeing me wander from room to room, leaning against walls, looking for my poor lost cane. Mike notices details, so he usually can remember where I left it. He thinks it’s funny.

His day is coming.

If I’m working on something, like this blog post, and someone interrupts me? PHHSssst! Gone. Whatever I was going to write has seeped out of my brain into the stratosphere. I do have a remedy for that, though. Any time they see me wearing my headphones, they know that disturbing me can result in hot flames of wrath consuming them on the spot. They’re terrified by me. Sort of.

It really is helpful to have a sense of humor.

I have a couple of flowers sitting in vases here in my living room. They’re droopy now, and have done their time. But I feel sorry for them. I identify with them. They were vibrant, aromatic, a delight to the eye. Now, they’re just sad. They have nothing more to contribute and, in fact, they’re taking up space for no good reason.

No, I’m not saying I’ve reached that stage quite yet. That would be depressing and unrealistic. No one is going to toss me out into the trash.

I do, however, feel a sense of companionship with my tired, faded flowers. I will give them a respectful burial later today.

Saturday Soliloquy: A Chair!

I have a new chair!

It’s a Pride VivaLift Recliner. It is sized to fit shorties like me all the way up to 6′-plus. It has infinite setting capability, using a control, so I can put the lumbar support exactly where I need it. It is equipped with a lift motor. I don’t expect to use that a lot right now, but the day is coming when I know I’m going to need it.

I can actually touch the floor with my feet from a fully-seated position! If you’re short like me, you know how exciting that is! Most recliners leave me with my feet dangling six inches or more above the floor, feeling like a little girl sitting in Daddy’s chair 🙂

I could go on and on about how comfortable I am in my new chair. Terry has spent hours online making sure he found exactly what I needed. He takes such good care of me! He and son Mike got it assembled in short order, and I’m absolutely loving the comfort and convenience. It can flatten out completely if I want to sleep in it, but I already have my adjustable mattress, so I’m not seeing using the chair as a bed just yet. I did take a short nap yesterday. The headrest adjusts, too, which is a real plus. Most recliners’ headrests tend to push my head forward. Not comfortable at all.

AND: It is considered a class II medical device, so our insurance will pay for the motor lift components.

As always, there’s a song in my head when I think about the comfort of this chair. Here it is:

Saturday Soliloquy: Changeable

This is an in-between season here in southeastern PA. In one week’s time, we can go from night temps in the low 30s to daytime temps in the high 70s, often accompanied by high humidity and thunderstorms. One never knows what a day will hold. The daily weather reports aren’t as reliable as we might wish they were.

Do I need to layer my clothing? Will I need my umbrella? Short or long, jacket or no jacket? I guess you have to just be prepared either way. Right now, it’s 66 degrees, with high humidity and a dense fog warning. That warning should lift quickly, though, because the skies have cleared completely for the time being, and the sun is burning off the fog. (The temperature has risen three degrees since I finished typing this post!)

My azaleas are in full bloom. I have peonies and iris in the back yard, preparing to display their beauty before the next storm comes along and shreds them–especially the peonies. They don’t stand up to a heavy rain very well.

I don’t stand up to the humidity very well. I woke up very early this morning with stiff, aching hands and fingers. In fact, just about everything that CAN ache IS aching 🙂 The temperature doesn’t seem to affect me nearly as strongly as the humidity. I’ll be letting Terry know, today, that it’s time to turn on the air conditioning. To which request he will go look at the temperature inside the house and inform me that it’s not quite hot enough. To which I will respond, as I have done for lo, these many long years, that it’s not the heat! It’s the humidity!

And he will agree to turn on the AC.

Did you ever wish, when you’re stuck in one of these endless-loop conversations, that you had a little recorder on which you could simply push a button under the number of whatever conversation you’re having?

I wonder if God ever feels that way with us. He has given us all we need in His Word, the Bible. When there is a lack of communication, it’s not God Who has failed to tell us what we need. WE have failed to hear, understand, and remember.

Many times, in my years as a therapist, parents would come in to complain, “My kids don’t LISTEN to me!” I would usually say, “It’s not failure to listen. It’s a failure to obey. We teach people how to treat us. It would seem that you have taught your kids that they don’t have to worry about obeying until you yell, and usually that won’t work either. They don’t fear the consequences of disobedience because you threaten, but you don’t follow through. They know it. So they look and act as if they didn’t hear you. It is deliberate disobedience, not a failure of their ability to listen.” I would then proceed to offer them some counsel on how to speak–and act quickly–to retrain their children to obey them immediately. Sometimes they did what I suggested, sometimes not. The ones who did not? They just couldn’t accept that their kids were deliberately disobedient. It must be something else.

God is patient with us, but His Spirit will not always strive with us (Gen. 6:3). At some point, when we choose to disobey His Word, He will act decisively, as He said He would, to discipline our disobedience. Our reaction to His Word will determine His blessing or His chastisement.

HE is not the One Who is changeable. WE are the inconsistent factor in this equation. Just like spring weather, we can’t seem to make up our minds to be reliable. We are driven with the wind, tossed about like a ship without a rudder (James 1:6). We are fickle, open to every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14).

The only way for us to avoid the inconsistency of disobedience is to determine to obey. Period.

There is a song I remember singing as a child. It included the words, “If we listen and obey, we’ll be happy every day!” It’s a two-part action: We listen, then we obey. When we ignore God’s promptings, we will suffer consequences.

Saturday Soliloquy: Comings and Goings

Two of our grandchildren came about two weeks ago to see their parents who are staying with us; also, to help their great-grandmother celebrate her 97th birthday. Our little house has been quite busy!

It has been wonderful to see them. It’s been about three years, since we all met in England to celebrate our 50th anniversary. One lives in New Zealand, where she attended university. The other has recently located to Montana, where he’ll start college in the fall. They’re just getting started on their adult journeys. It’s wonderful to watch them as they make decisions about both their immediate and far future.

In the meantime, Terry and I are looking forward with anticipation to our immediate and perhaps not-so-far-off futures in heaven. There is nothing morbid about that anticipation. It just becomes more of a reality with each passing day. More of a joy.

I do remember being their age. I was very excited about getting on with life after high school. Never could I have anticipated all the twists and turns life would take. It has certainly been an adventure.

Part of that adventure took us far away from both Terry’s parents and mine. Visits were anticipated, and the “hello” was always joyful. The “goodbye,” not so much. Knowing it could always be the last time we would see them made it hard to pack the kids into the car and head back home.

Now, Terry and I are on the other side of those comings and goings. Our traveling days are pretty much behind us, and we are content to be at home.

What is truly amazing to me, in retrospect, is how fast those intervening years flew by. Moves, jobs, four children, busybusybusy!

James 4:14 says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” We can make plans, but we do not always know exactly what will happen on the next day. Life is like a mist or a fog that vanishes with a breeze. We are, as the old gospel song says, “just a-passin’ through.” Our time here on earth can be filled with both joy and sorrow, tragedy and pleasure.

It is our task to live for Him in this life. It should be our joy to do so. The pleasures that await us in heaven are unceasing, untainted with sin, loss, and tragedy. I want to go there.

Saturday Soliloquy: It’s BACK!

Yup. My back is back. I hope it’s just a little bump in the road, but it’s been bothering me off and on. I can usually settle it down with a little TLC, but this session is going to take a little more time, I think.

Have you ever prayed about something, asking God to–well, just fix it, please? Take it away? At least relieve the pain? And He says NOTHING in response? Did you ever wonder if He even heard you?

If you are His child, He hears you. What we have to understand about God is that we can’t put any requirements on Him. That’s beyond our human ability. One of the hardest things I’m still learning to do is to let God be God, and trust Him for the outcome. He is not required to concede to our demands.

But doesn’t the Bible say that He delights in giving us good and perfect gifts (James 1:17)? Yes. BUT! He is not only the giver of gifts. He is also the One Who knows when the gifts are good and perfect, and we cannot define that and dictate to Him what He needs to give us.

So I can only conclude that I need to continue to let Him be God in my life, and to accept what He allows. I can be thankful that this pain started in my late 60’s, and not my early 20’s. I can be thankful that there are pain remedies that were not available when my mom went through this same pain. I can learn to not focus on the pain, except to treat it as much as humanly possible. I have excellent medical care from compassionate people who don’t tell me it’s all in my head. The injections I get now and then really do help a great deal, although they are not a permanent remedy.

I can be patient, because I know that when He takes me home, I’ll have a new body, pain free and perfect.

Saturday Soliloquy: Narnia

We just finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in my homeschool co-op class. It was both fun and interesting to teach, and I was impressed with the insights of my teenaged students.

The topic arose of whether or not Lewis intended this story to be an allegory, so I did some research. The simple answer is NO, he did not intend it when he began writing. What Lewis has said is that the story just wrote itself, and that he became aware of the comparisons to the biblical story of salvation as he wrote. He was happy to point out those allegorical elements, but declared that it was not his original intent when he started writing it.

I asked my students what characters or events were their favorites. The answers ranged from the colorful imagination of the writer (C.S. Lewis) to characters such as Aslan, the rescuer of Narnia. One young man liked the character of Edmund because he developed throughout the story from a selfish, angry brat to a noble, self-sacrificing boy.

My personal favorites were the beavers. Full of ingenuity and heart, these magical animals saved the day for Peter, Lucy, and Susan. I also enjoyed the Professor, to whose estate the children had been sent for the duration of WWII. He appeared to be an irascible old grouch, and his housekeeper aided and abetted that appearance. He wasn’t, though. He actually enjoyed the children, and gave them some very wise advice in their adventures.

It was a delight for me to listen to my students engaging in conversation over the characters, the plot lines, and especially over comparisons in the story to biblical events. For example, the Stone Table upon which Aslan was willingly sacrificed in Edmund’s place was split in two, right down the middle, after Aslan’s disappearance following his death. The comparison to the rending of the veil in the temple in Jerusalem was obvious. When Jesus died, He fulfilled the Law. The veil had separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple, and only the High Priest could enter at the appropriate time each year. The rending of the veil was symbolic of our new access directly into the presence of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The breaking of the Stone Table is symbolic of the rending of the veil.

It was a good semester. I love to teach, and feel privileged to do so with a group of kids who love to learn.

Saturday Soliloquy: A Rumination

A ruminant is an animal that chews its cud, swallows, brings it back up to chew again.

For humans, it’s a thinking habit. To ruminate is to consider, think about, and possibly obsess over a certain thing. It’s not a good habit. People who ruminate tend to over-think things, becoming fixed on a thought or idea until it consumes way too much of their time.

Today, I’m going to indulge in a little rumination.

Saturday. The day after Jesus’ death, if He indeed died on Friday. For me, it doesn’t compute because Friday afternoon to Sunday morning is not three days. However, that is not my point of rumination this morning. Too much time and energy has been put into “proving” on which day He died.

The fact is that He did, indeed, give up His life in our behalf. He was entombed on the same day. What I’m thinking about right now is this: What kind of condition were His followers in during the intervening period between His death and His resurrection? What did they do? How could they keep on? Had anyone remembered that Jesus had declared that after three days He would rise again (Mark 9:31; Matthew 27:63)?

I suspect that at least two primary reactions were shared among them all: Shock, and despair.

They were shocked because they, too, had seen Him as the Messiah who would free them from Roman rule. They had seen His miracles, heard Him preach, and come to know Him on a very personal level. Think of it: They walked with the Son of God, ate with Him, shared sleeping quarters–even on the bare ground–with Him, prayed with Him. They loved Him, and He loved them. And they had just placed his tortured, tormented body in a tomb!

Despair? Of course, because all their hopes were dashed to pieces. They believed the Roman hammer could fall on them at any moment, and they hid together in an upper room, behind barred doors, while they prayed for some kind of direction from God.

The women who had followed Him tended to do what women do. They planned to take care of His body as best they could. At least they had some sense of purpose in the midst of this great, cataclysmic loss. I’m sure it was the women who took care of the details of living during this time. They prepared food, tended to housekeeping, perhaps cared for children and other family members as they bore their grief and wept while they worked.

No one had heard the classic sermon, Sunday’s Coming! If they had, perhaps they would have faced these days with a sense of excitement and anticipation rather than one of fear and dread.