Sunday Morning Coffee: Proverbs 17:1

For more years than I want to count, I have been reading the chapter of Proverbs that is the date of the month, so that I’m reading through Proverbs twelve times each year. As often as I’ve been through the book, it is still fresh, still new, still challenging.  One month a particular verse will stand out in the chapter, and a different on the next month. Today, it was the first verse of chapter 17:

Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.”

Image result for Proverbs 17:1

Did you know that wealth does not immediately bring peace and harmony in the home?  Not all people who live in luxury are happy people.  There is just as much arguing, anger, and bitterness that can exist in luxury as can exist in poverty.

We were not wealthy when I was growing up.  We weren’t homeless or starving, either, because my mom could make a penny cry 🙂  She and dad grew up during the Depression, and they were poor. They’ve told stories about what it was like. For my mom, luxury was having a glass of cold milk.

And of course there can be strife in poorer households, too.  I’m not saying that if you’re poor, you’re happy.  That would be just as foolish as to say that if you’re wealthy, you’re miserable.

The point here, or at least one of them, is that contentment is a choice we make regardless of our financial circumstances. One can be content with a dry piece of bread if there is a prevailing attitude of peace in the home.

We need to learn to have thankful hearts, no matter what our financial circumstances. Time spent wishing we had more, complaining about what we don’t have, is time wasted.

Kindness in the home makes that dry crust of bread a lot more enjoyable.

Proverbs is so practical.  I’m  really glad it’s in God’s Word!

 

Advertisements

Sunday Morning Coffee: Busy Weekend

I sure did hit the road running this week!  I went back to work on Tuesday, exactly two weeks since my surgery.  Long, long day.  However, at least one session was a wonderful victory and a great blessing.  God showed up, no doubt about it.  So that set me up for  a good day, and a good week, at work.  I actually felt better on Thursday evening than I thought I would, although I have to admit I was glad to close down the work week!

On Friday morning, I finally got the staples out of my incision. (This is not a picture of me, just a good picture of what a stapled incision looks like.)

 

There were 15 staples–the nurse counted as she removed them 🙂  No pain involved in this procedure, and I was glad to say goodbye to the last of them.

From there, we grabbed a quick lunch and then went down to my church, where I was looking forward to the first session of teaching The Merchant of Venice to a class of high school students  at our homeschool co-op.  What a great bunch of kids!  Not all of them are thrilled to be studying Shakespeare, but they’re philosophical about it.  I hope, by the time we’re finished, that they’ll have a little more optimistic attitude about The Bard. Some of them, to my delight, are quite excited about this unit.

By the time we got home, I’ll have to admit that I was weary.  It’s only 2 1/2 weeks from surgery, and I do need to be careful.  It just feels so good to NOT have any pain that I tend to do more than I should.

Today, Saturday, I got a haircut and ran a couple of errands, came home and baked a blueberry pound cake for a gathering this evening.  What a great time we had. This is a group of senior adults from our church, and they are delightful.  None of them are “old.” We laugh, we enjoy each other’s company. The party is hosted every year by a couple who have a lovely back yard, and who do a lot of work to get things ready for the influx of guests.  It was cool this evening, and I was glad for the afghan I had decided to take at the last minute. By the time we got home, I was more than ready for bed.

I had one more thing to do, though, and this is it.  I started writing these Sunday posts on Saturday evening some time ago, so that I’m not so rushed on Sunday morning.  It’s a bit of a ramble this week, with no particular aim.  Life is good, with its ups and downs.  There are highs and lows. There is pain and relief from pain.  There is joy, there is sorrow; there is fear and doubt, but there is also great peace and confidence in knowing that God has it all in His hand.

With every day that passes—and I have far fewer days left to live than I have already lived—-I am thankful for the presence of God in my life; for His promises, His love, His patience, and His strength.  It is true that “I can do all things through Christ, Who strengtheneth me”  (Phil. 4:13).

Good and Pleasant

Psalm 133

133 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;

As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

943ab9b7f7e2f4aa083fe88cefb8d401-psalm-psalms

I had the pleasure today (Saturday) of spending a little over four hours with two “kids”  I’ve known since they were in high school. He is now a pastor; she is a member of his church and has a tremendous heart to help women who have experienced similar trials to those she has lived through and come to the other side with grace and victory.

Our discussion was heavy at times,  centering on some issues we are working on together.  But in spite of the serious nature of our conversation, there was an underlying sense, for me, of complete delight to see how these two have matured into godly, dedicated adults that I remember as kids. To see how they’ve grown, how they’ve matured spiritually, and that they both have given their hearts to God’s work, was an incredible blessing.

After we had covered the serious stuff, we naturally fell  to  remembering “the good old days.”   We laughed, and sometimes maybe just a couple of tears showed up.  We share some very wonderful memories, some funny ones, some sad ones.  We’ve gone in different directions in our lives. I see her every now and then, but it has been close to 20 years since I was able to visit with him. It was wonderful, and warm, and just refreshing.

The one thing that we share in common  is a love for our God, and for His Word.  We don’t agree on every single thing.  It doesn’t matter.  We have learned that you don’t have to agree with a person about everything in order to love that person, and our experience this morning was truly full of the Lord’s presence.  I loved it. I can’t wait to do it again.

_________________________________________

Just a quick update on my health.  I am recovering very well from the surgery I had nearly two weeks ago.  In the last couple of days I have put away my walker, and my cane is taking a little break.  I’ll probably use it tomorrow, which will be my first excursion out of the house and to church. But I am delighted that the grinding, chronic pain is gone. It is such a relief!  The only twinge I have now and then comes from the incision and the staples that haven’t been removed yet. What a blessing, and how thankful I am for this relatively new surgical procedure that has given me such relief.

May you all have a blessed time tomorrow as you attend your churches and fellowship together. It’s happening all across this country, and God willing that will not stop any time soon.

Sunday Morning Coffee: I am Thankful

It’s a little later than  usual for writing my Sunday post. The reason:   I’m not quite ready for the ride to church, for sitting through two services, and the long ride home.  Too much sitting for the time being.

38ab143d26ceb67681cc0c38648b35db

If you’ve been following my Bible study blog, you know I have a back that is slowly but surely disintegrating.  I now have both my sacroiliac joints fused. The one on the right side is the one that’s keeping me grounded for a few more days.  Surgery was a week ago Tuesday.

I’m doing well, really.  It’s an amazingly helpful procedure. My surgeon is one of the doctors who created and refined the surgery, which of course increases my confidence in him.

So today, I want to share with you some things for which I am thankful, things that have a direct bearing on my recent surgery and back issues. They won’t be in any particular order of importance, except for the first two.

First:  Knowing Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.  That knowledge  has given me great peace and confidence over the past couple of pain-filled years. There will be more pain. It’s a degenerative condition that isn’t planning to go away any time soon. But I should be good for a while now, and I’m thankful.

Second:  Terry, my husband, who is a thoughtful and faithful caregiver. He has taken over all “my” chores for several months now. I literally have nothing to do at home except relax and allow him to take care of me.  Not being of a dependent nature, it has been a difficult lesson for me to sit down, shut up, and let him do his thing.

Other things for which I am thankful:  My church family and my pastor. They have faithfully prayed and expressed concern for me, sending  lots of cards and notes to encourage me.

I’m thankful for a comfortable bed, and for my new My Pillows, which have definitely lived up to the advertisements.

I’m thankful for my chiropractor, who has taken care of me for nearly 23 years. I’m pretty sure my condition would have been a lot worse a lot sooner without his expertise.

I’m thankful for my primary care doctor, who is patient with my efforts to keep my A1C at a healthy level.

I’m thankful for the three of my grandchildren who live only 30 minutes away–and their parents, of course 🙂  Last night they came up, brought supper, and two of our closest friends came to share it all with us.

I’m thankful for all the new friends I’ve made in cyberspace.  That’s a surprise I wasn’t expecting when I launched this, my first blog. It’s an added benefit that continues to surprise me.

I’m thankful for all that I’ve learned as I’ve blogged through several books of the Bible. When you study in order to write/teach, I’m convinced you learn a LOT more than your readers do!

I’m thankful for the homeschool co-op our church hosts. We start the fall semester on Sept. 8, and I’ll be teaching  Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.  I’ve certainly had plenty of time to study!

I’m just thankful this morning. God is good.  All the time.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Heartache

(1)   When your heart is aching, turn to Jesus,
He’s the dearest Friend that you can know;
You will find Him standing close beside you,
Waiting peace and comfort to bestow.
Chorus
Heartaches, take them all to Jesus,
Go to Him today,
Do it now without delay.
Heartaches, take them all to Jesus,
He will take your heartaches all away.
(2)   There is joy for every troubled sorrow,
Sweet relief for every bitter pain,
Jesus Christ is still the great Physician,
No one ever sought His help in vain.
(3)   Jesus understands, whate’er the trouble,
And He waits to heal your wounded soul.
Will you trust His love so strong and tender?
He alone can make your spirit whole.
**********************
I hear a lot of heartache in my counseling office. I hear stories about men who have no intention of marrying, yet they expect all the benefits of being married. I hear about women who are completely self-centered, having no time or interest in supporting husband or child. I hear of children who are angry and hurtful to parents and grandparents, turning away from those who have loved them as soon as they can afford to find a dump of a place to live in–anywhere is better than the house they grew up in. I hear about parents who have been incredibly abusive to their children, but somehow get away with it; at the same time, a good father is accused by a bitter mother-in-law of sexually molesting his daughters, and it takes over a year to clear his name.
The world is full of injustice.  Satan is ramping up the heat as he sees his end coming nearer. People have listened to lies about God, about faith, about Christianity. They have decided that “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” is good advice.
I heard about a new “game” today, something called Blue Whale, in which the administrator challenges participants to commit deeds to show their courage. The last thing they are challenged to do is to take their own lives.
We have lost all sense of the value of human life, created by God in His own image. We are driven with every wind of doctrine, tossed back and forth like a tiny boat on a raging ocean.
I was talking with a dear friend today who has gone through her own valley of the shadow of death and come through it triumphant, but there were many pitfalls along the way.  As we reminisced, I thought about what  a really wonderful life I’ve had.  Growing up in a lower middle class neighborhood where there wasn’t much wealth, but instead a wealth of love, was a great experience. I married a godly man who has stood by me for 48 years.  I have four children who have all married well, and who are all serving the Lord in their local churches.
I’ve been privileged to be a stay-at-home mom, a high school teacher, and now a counselor in a Christian counseling practice.  A charmed life, compared to what many others have had to deal with.
I have some physical issues, but we all do.  We’ve never been wealthy, but we’ve never been destitute.  God has provided for us through His people, and through our own ability and determination to work hard–something else we’ve taught our children to do.
I have so much that I’m thankful for.  I need to be more thankful than I am.
As you go to your various churches this morning, meditate on that for which you are thankful. Put the details in their proper place and focus on what you are about to do; the people you will minister to; and the God Who has all of it in His hand.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Rambles

I’ve been thinking all week about what my topic for this post would be.  I haven’t come up with anything yet.  Several scriptures have come to mind, but I’ve already written about most of them either on this blog or on my writing blog.  Nothing has taken hold in my thinking. So I’m just going to let my fingers do my thinking, and we’ll see what happens.

I went to the Walmart today to pick up a prescription. The store was packed full.  People are doing back-to-school shopping, I guess.  That’s not a part of my life any more, and I can’t say that I miss it. As I rolled along in one of those little electric carts the store provides, I had to approach each intersection with caution.  People tend not to watch for  scooters in the aisles.  You really don’t think about them much until you need one. Gives you a whole new perspective.

A pretty little girl walked along beside me for a couple of minutes.  She smiled and said, “Hi!”  I said “Hi” back, and that was the end of our moment of meeting. But I watched her as she continued to follow her mom, and she greeted everyone she saw.  She didn’t seem to expect much in return. She just enjoyed the people.  And every single person she met and greeted walked away smiling.

Of course that little scenario started me thinking about how easy it was for a little girl with a genuine smile to make new friends. She was asking nothing in return.

And then I thought about a conversation I had recently with a client who grew up in New York City, where you made every effort NOT to make eye contact with people you didn’t know. Smiling and greeting strangers is just not safe, so she told me.

I don’t live in NYC.  I don’t I’d be in danger of a mugging if I just tried to smile at people when I roll past them.  So I decided to try it.

Just a smile, not even speaking. It was amazing to watch the reaction. Every single person smiled back. Some said hello, others said “How are you?”  No one was angry.  Some were startled, some were surprised, but they all made eye contact and responded positively.

I’m going to keep doing that.  It was fun, and I left the store feeling pretty good.  Just as I was parking my cart, that same little girl walked by. She hesitated, smiled, and said, “Do you have a sore foot?”

“No,” I responded.  “I have a sore back.”

“Oh.  Well, I hope it gets better. ‘Bye.”  And she skipped off to catch up with her mom.

Proverbs 25:11. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

logofitlyspoken

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Mercy

In September, I’ll be teaching a class of homeschoolers one of my favorite things–Shakespeare!  Now, that may not ring your bell, and I understand that.  I’m going to do my best, however, to bring it alive to my students–perhaps to open a whole new world of literature for them.

We’ll be studying The Merchant of Venice,  one of my favorites. There are several themes in the play. They include racism,  money-lending, friendship and loyalty, marriage, justice, and mercy.

One of the most-loved speeches of Shakespeare’s is in this play. It is spoken by the lovely Portia, who is appealing to Shylock, the money lender, to  release Bassanio, who loves Portia, from the dreadful sentence of  losing a pound of flesh for his failure to repay a debt.  And Shylock, full of hatred against all who have persecuted him for being a Jew, gets to choose where that pound of flesh will be taken.

Here is her eloquent plea:

 

   The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth like the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.

This is a speech that is full of a knowledge of scripture. It refers to mercy as being an attribute of God, and points out that none of us would willingly demand justice from God, but that we would instead pray for mercy.

In Micah 6:8, we read: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

First, I want to point out that  God requires us not to do justice, but to behave justly; that is, in a fair and honest manner.

And then, we are to love mercy.  After all, where would any of us be without the mercy of God? If His justice were not tempered by His love and mercy, we would all face a dismal eternity.

Finally, we are to walk humbly with God. We ought not to walk in pride, holding ourselves up as the model for others. We are to understand that “There is none righteous; no, not one” (Romans 3:10).

Here’s a favorite hymn of mine: