Sunday Morning Coffee: The Dogwoods

If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know that spring holds a great deal of joy for me. Starting with the crocus and the forsythia, there is always something new blooming. We attend church a little west and south from where we live, and they are one to two weeks ahead of our neighborhood. We already enjoying the tulips, many flowering trees, and the lush green grass that comes from snow in the winter.

I’ve decided to take a daily picture of the pink dogwood in front of the house this year. I want to be able to see the difference as the tight brown buds begin to open up and show just a hint of color. Here are the first two pictures, today and yesterday:

April 17, 2021

The wind picked up just a bit as I shot that one yesterday, so it blurred a little, but you can already see that the buds are spreading from Friday’s picture:

April 16, 2021

I have to get better at getting my thumb out of the way!

I’m so thankful for the house God had set aside for us 27 years ago. That’s a story I should tell another time. It’s a pretty neighborhood, not brand new. Our house is one of the older ones, about 70 years, I think. Most of the yards are full of color all through the spring and summer, and of course into the fall.

Our daughter gave her dad two dogwood trees ten or eleven years ago, one being just a year or so younger than the other. One is pink, the other white. The older, the pink one, gets its blossoms first.

We have a north-facing front yard, so the things we plant don’t get as much sun as the back yard, and that may be part of the reason our dogwoods tend to be a little behind some others. I really don’t know much about such things. I just enjoy them.

I’ve looked forward to spring, with it’s life and light, after this so-called “long, dark winter.” Seems to me most winters are long and dark 🙂 It’s still a little cooler here than usual at this point in April, but I know I’ll be looking forward to having it cool down again in the fall. I don’t enjoy the high temps along with the humidity than hit us in August.

I do, however, enjoy the changes of the seasons, watching the earth respond to being exposed to longer hours of sunshine. I enjoy watching the fields green up, the trees on our route to church putting out leaves, and all the wonderful gardeners around here planting color for the rest of us to enjoy.

And I love fresh asparagus! It’s a sure sign of spring when the farmer’s markets start offering asparagus!

Well. I guess this has turned into a sort of “count your blessings” post, and that’s okay with me. I often don’t know for sure what I’m going to write when I start my Sunday Morning Coffee posts.

I hope you’ll enjoy the next few weeks of warmer weather, longer days, and lots of colorful flowers bursting into full glory.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Spring

I think it’s really here. It’s been peeking around the corner, withdrawing, peeking again. But now the flowering trees are doing their thing, lifting bouquets of glorious beauty up to the Creator. Daffodils are loaning us their delightful, happy yellow.

And soon, there will be tulips. I love tulips. The colors are so vibrant. They just make me smile.

Isn’t that just gorgeous! How I would love to be there during blooming season in Holland.

I really don’t have much else to say this morning. Sometimes the heart is just too full for words. But never for music!

Sunday Morning Coffee: A Movie

So I’m watching a Hallmark movie–not embarrassed to admit it–on Saturday evening. It’s about an Amish girl who is struggling with the restrictions of her life, not sure she wants to stay in it. She knows that if she chooses to go to the “Englishers,” it will be a blow to her family and her community. She hasn’t joined the church yet, so she would not be put under the Meidung, in which she would be shunned by even her closest family members.

When we first moved to Pennsylvania in 1974, I was intrigued with the whole Amish culture. We didn’t have a computer back then, didn’t even know for sure what they were. So I used the library, looked at various magazines, did a lot of reading and even got an Amish cookbook that I still use quite often.

They don’t want to have their pictures taken. They even make dolls with no faces for their little girls. Too much like making a graven image.

Cloth Amish Doll

Some communities are much more strict. Others have loosened the reins just a bit, hoping to keep their young people in the church. I’m not writing tonight to comment or express any opinions about any of this. I have, however, been reflecting on my own upbringing.

I was the kid who wasn’t allowed to learn to dance in gym class. I didn’t attend movies; didn’t ever, not even once, try smoking or drinking. There were other things, but they didn’t bother me a whole lot. Life was good. I had friends, was involved in lots of extra-curriculars at school, was busy at church, and spent a lot of time trying to learn to play the piano for church. I even had a boyfriend or two 🙂

So why the rules? Well, let’s back up a bit.

My parents were born in the 1920’s, grew up in the Depression, got through WWII. Dad trusted the Lord as his Savior when he was 14, but no one really discipled him. He joined the Navy at 19, after he and Mom were married. She was 16. Things were different then, huh?

While Dad was away, my Mom got saved. Dad was learning to drink and carouse and he was not impressed when Mom wrote to tell him. They had some rough years once he came home, until he finally surrendered to God’s call on his life to be a preacher.

They both grew up in what we knew as “worldly” activities, things that, looking back, they felt did not bring honor to God. They chose to rear us differently, avoiding worldly activities and thereby the temptations that could destroy our lives.

Did I agree with everything? No. But I loved and respected them, and as I said, life was really pretty good. I never felt deprived, really, although I think I would have loved to learn to dance 🙂

Didn’t I ever have a rebellious thought or desire? Well, sure. I’m very, very human.

I’ll tell you one thing for sure, though. I’m not sorry at all that I have nothing to regret in abiding by my parent’s rules. I was saved when I was only five, but I understood that I was a sinner. Lying is sin. Temper is sin. Cheating. Jealousy. Gossip. All just a sinful as the list of Baptist no-no’s that I grew up with. I’m not sorry I’ve never been addicted to alcohol or drugs. Never had to fight the terrible battle of giving up nicotine. There have been plenty of other battles that are just between me and God, and I’m so thankful that He knows all about me and loves me anyway.

I’m also thankful that I understood that I could never be good enough in my own strength to be allowed into heaven. That it was “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us (Titus 3:5-7). It is not belonging to any particular church, or denomination, or creed, or community that paves my way to heaven. It is the precious blood of Jesus, shed in my behalf, that cleanses me from sin and gains me entrance to heaven.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Friends

I have a friend who is just a little older than I am. Her daughter is just a little younger than mine. Several years ago, we got together for a game night. We’ve done that a few times over the years, and today we spent the afternoon together. Good food, good conversation, lots of laughter and even some tears. We’ve shared some common experiences over the years. I treasure these friends, and I’m so thankful we can meet now and then just for relaxation.

If you have old friends, treasure them It’s been harder to keep in touch this past year, but it’s worth the effort. I have a lunch date with a newer friend on Tuesday. And I need to pick up the phone to arrange something with a couple of other old friends. There is an old saying: Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver, the other is gold.”

God has given us the gift of friendship. The best friend of all is Jesus. Here’s another song I love:

If you have an old friend you haven’t talked with in a while, pick up your phone. You’ll be glad you did.

Sunday Morning Coffee: No Goal!

The wisdom is that one should always have an end in mind before one starts to write. Well, sometimes I do. But not now.

My head is full of a jumble of things, some of which I will not mention because they are political. I don’t have the energy or the time to go there. Just this: Pray for our nation.

Some of my thoughts are centered on my Bible study posts this week, having to do with the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. It’s impossible to think about it, research it, write about it, without having a strong emotional response.

I had a bad cold last week, first cold I’ve had in a long time. Felt miserable, but I’m thankful it was just a cold. One of the consequences of feeling so bad was a huge lack of energy. I had an appointment on Friday, so decided to make a quick grocery stop on my way home. Wrong choice. I’m not sick any more, but my old creaky body just wasn’t ready to face the elements or the numbers of people in the store. When I got home, I crashed. I was very thankful to have some yummy leftovers available for supper 🙂

And speaking of elements, ours are softening here in our corner of PA. Softer air. Warmer temps–it got all the way up to 50 yesterday! Forecast for next week is very temperate. Someone told me they saw crocuses peaking through the melting snow. Ah, spring! Two more weeks before it’s official, and we could still get snow–but it will melt quickly, and spring will push winter out of the way.

I have a sister who lives in Phoenix. She loves her 360 days per year of blue skies, sunshine, and heat.

Not me. I love seasons. I love vivid changes. I enjoy storms. Yes, I know they can be dangerous, but there’s something about wind and thunder, snow, rain, and lightning that are thrilling to me. I’ve watched tornadoes play bouncy from the thunderheads high above, and found it exciting as much as frightening. I’m glad God gave us weather, and that in America we can go find the climate that suits us best. Florida holds very little attraction for me. I enjoyed visiting the Southwest and was awed by the size, the extent, and the unique beauty of mountains and deserts. But I love green grass, big trees, rolling hills and farmland. We have all that and more very nearby, and even my Yooper husband is content to be where we are. That’s a big deal, because when we met he was a recent transplant to the Twin Cities of Minnesota, and he wasn’t impressed at all.

I’ve been thinking about contentment. Godliness with contentment, the Bible tells us, is of great gain (I Tim. 6:6). It is so easy to be discontent. Most of the time, I don’t dwell on my physical aches and pains. They’re with me and I deal with them the best I can. Every now and then, though, Satan creeps up on me and pushes me to a darker place where I focus on everything that hurts, everything that no longer works as well as it used to.

That, my friends, is stinkin’ thinkin’ and it needs to be thrown out the second-story window. Pronto!

Do you struggle with dark thoughts? Perhaps some unkind thing you said or did years ago; perhaps a hidden sin that you just can’t seem to kick to the curb? We all have those times. It is what we think about that controls our words, emotions, and actions. When Satan manages to poke his scabby finger into your mind, grab Galatians 5:1. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free; and be not again entangled with the yoke of bondage.”

May your Sunday be blessed. May you be refreshed in the Word and the fellowship, music, and prayer of your church family.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Last Day of February!

February is on its last legs. Twenty-four hours or less, depending upon when you read this, and it will be March.

I won’t be sad to wave goodbye to February. Lots of snow, and it’s possible we’ll have more in March. These two months tend to be the snow months here. I’m hoping March will come in like a lamb and go out like a lamb. Easter is early this year, April 4, and I just don’t like it if it’s cold and snowy on Easter Sunday! Well, my wanting balmy weather isn’t going to bring it :).

I teach a history class for a homeschool co-op that our church sponsors. Sometimes it’s an English class. I have the freedom to go wherever I’d like :). Right now, we’re talking about the Puritans and their Great Migration during the first half of the 17th century. Their goal was to establish a “city set on a hill”. that would be a refuge for believers who were being persecuted in England and other parts of Europe.

Matthew 5:14 quotes Jesus telling the people that a city set on a hill cannot be hidden. The Puritans truly yearned to establish that God-ruled colony in the New World that would shine the light of the gospel for all to see. Their hearts and hopes were high, and it did indeed seem as if they were doing what God had ordained.

It started well. Sadly, several factors influenced a gradual falling away from the hope of the gospel and turned the people’s interest to more earthly pursuits. It’s a sad story, but not a new one. When we forsake the first zeal, the first joy, the first fire of gratitude at God’s great gift of salvation, we tend to turn to other efforts, such as making a lot of rules for everyone else to follow. And later in their effort for the church to maintain political and civil control over the Massachusetts Bay Colony, they made a compromise that actually weakened the church. It’s called the Halfway Covenant. If you’re interested, you can find it easily online.

Of course, as one who loves our country and the history of it, I can’t help but make comparisons to America then (and it wasn’t America yet!) and America now, and the turning away we are seeing from the truth of the gospel; from the holiness of God, to the secular humanistic belief that man can transcend himself and actual become godlike. This philosophy deifies man and humanizes God.

This philosophy is taking us nowhere good. What America needs, and what we all need to pray for, is a Holy Spirit revival to sweep our land and clear away the cobwebs that have destroyed our understanding of the holiness of God. We need to beg Him to cleanse us and make us whiter than snow.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Vision

I was all set to crawl into bed (I usually write these posts on Saturday night) when I remembered I hadn’t written my SMC post for tomorrow. Sigh. The less I have to do on Sunday morning, the happier my world is, and all the people in it.

Anyway, here I am. I want to tell you about an event (that’s what my doctor called it) that took place in my left eye, without my knowledge. It is not related to my cataract surgeries in any way, and I was blithely enjoying my wonderful new vision, when one day I realized something was wrong. Closed my left eye–right eye is great. Closed my right eye–left eye is not so great.
After many tests and scans, the specialist my ophthalmalogist sent me to gave me a careful exam except for the exceedingly bright light he put RIGHT up to my eye–decided that I’d had what he called a tiny little mini-stroke in my eye that resulted in an occlusion (blockage) of the optic nerve. He could see right where the blockage had been.

The blockage is gone, with no discernible residue. That’s good. But in the tiny amount of time it was there, it blocked blood flow in my eye in the lower left quadrant up almost to the center. That’s not good. That vision is very likely not going to repair itself, and the doctors haven’t figured out any way to fix it. He said there are ongoing studies, but nothing definitive has appeared yet.

So when I close my right eye and focus on something, it blurs or disappears. My peripheral vision is great. And that’s good. The doc said sometimes it does repair itself, but by three months or so it probably won’t get any better. That gives me about six weeks before the three-month deadline. And no glasses will really help much, either.

I’d had long enough, waiting for this appointment, to accept the fact that I was probably losing some of my vision in that eye. It could have been a whole lot worse. And my right eye is perfect, so I’ll be fine.

After he was finished explaining all this to me, the doctor looked at me very kindly and asked if I was all right.
“Yes, I’m fine, thank you.”

“Most people get a little upset, you know, and keep asking me if it was their fault, isn’t there anything at all. . . .”

“Well, there is a little sadness. It was so great to have nearly perfect vision. But God knew all about it long ago, and He has it all planned out. I’ll be fine.”

“I wish I had that kind of belief–faith—“

“You can. Read the book of John, in the New Testament. Read it over and over. Pray and ask God to help you understand.”

So I got to share Jesus with him, and that’s VERY good.

See, there’s always a rainbow. Always a silver lining. Always a positive to offset the negative. Sometimes we can’t see it through the clouds, or tears, or darkness, but it’s there because God has said He would never leave us or forsake us.

He’s there, and He has me in the palm of His hand. Always.

And He is always good.

Sunday Morning Coffee: An Anniversary

I got a message from Word Press today congratulating me on using their platform for nine years now. They say I registered with WP in February of 2012. I don’t remember. My archives on this blog start with April of 2012, so it must have just taken me some time to figure everything out.

To me and Word Press!

Nine years of almost daily writing, lots of studying, lots of praying. Lots of blessings.

I’ve made some wonderful, interesting friends on Word Press, other bloggers with whom I share interests. I have another blog that is not as serious as this one: I don’t write as often over there, usually just once a week, although it used to be more often. You can find my responses to a weekly photo prompt, sometimes involving two little space aliens I’ve named Zing and Zang. Lots of fun.

Here’s one of those short stories:

The Fountain



“Earth people are so strange!” commented Zing. He and Zang were perched on the bench, watching the water fall from the spigots on all four sides of the pillar with the knob on top.

“I know,” replied Zang. “They put pipes underground from the river to this place, cover it all up with cement, and build an engine to push the water out the spouts. Why don’t they just enjoy the river?”

“Beats me! Hey, did you hear that? I just used a sling expression!”

“Sling? You mean “slang.”

“Right. Slang. Earth people have strange words, too”

Image result for cute aliens

On this blog, I’ve done lots of different things. My main emphasis is always the Bible study, but when I first started I did lots of posts that I called “Friday Counseling Issues.” Good response on those, and you can find them easily under Categories on the right side of the page.

I’m thankful that God nudged me to do this. It was an answer to prayer, giving me a platform for teaching the Bible after losing another teaching position. God always shows you another way, a better alternative.

I had to be patient. This isn’t a study that immediately draws thousands of viewers, and I’m not famous, so I didn’t have an audience waiting. It started slowly, with maybe 10 or so readers on an average day. Nine years later, I’m always over 150 per day, and often over 250. That’s a wonderful reward, and I’m so thankful for every single reader.

I’m especially thankful for two other things. One is for those who take a few minutes to leave a response. That is SO encouraging!

The other is that I can see in my statistics that there are people literally all over the world who see this blog. Some of them have written to me, and follow me daily. It’s utterly amazing!

I’m thankful that organizations like Word Press exist. It was a great help to a newbie like me, when I didn’t know how to publicize my blogs on Facebook, for instance, along with a host of other technical stuff.

So thanks, Word Press; thanks to all those who read, and especially who comment; and thanks to the Lord Who led me this way and has given me a ministry that I can do even when my rickety old body can’t do much else 🙂