Sunday Morning Coffee: Resurrection Sunday

You should know I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon. WordPress has a neat little option to schedule when you want a post published, and I use it when I know time will be short in the morning.

I love Easter. The weather has the definite feel of spring. Flowering trees are doing their thing. Several people in the neighborhood are mowing their grass right now.  Birds are thrilled.  You can tell by the trill 🙂  Our raspberry canes are greening, and the air is soft.  It could stay this way all year, except I would miss the fall. Could we just do spring and autumn, please?

Well, anyway.  There is no better season in which to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Without the resurrection, the crucifixion would  be meaningless.  Just another dead Jewish man killed by the Romans.  But Jesus wasn’t just another man. He made life meaningful, made eternal life possible, gave everlasting life to  those who could not provide it for themselves.

Last year, we planned to have Easter dinner here. My wacky back had another idea, though, and my daughter–an exceptional cook–made dinner at her house and brought it over here. This year, I’m going to be able to do it.  The house is clean.  Floors swept and mopped, bathrooms cleaned, furniture dust-free.  After supper tonight I’ll peel the potatoes for tomorrow and put them in cold water in the fridge. The ham will go in the oven before we leave for church in the morning.   Others are bringing dessert and veggies. Some old friends will join us, and it will be a good day. The weather is going to be perfect.

We will relax, probably play a game or two, eat and visit.  The kids will doubtless spend some time outdoors, and Andy the puppy, who is now a year old, will be all over the place.  He loves people, loves to be petted and played with and sometimes just held. I’m sure he will be very interested in any tidbits that may (accidentally) fall to the floor.

Aren’t we a blessed people?  Please take some time tomorrow to just be thankful.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Normality

We enjoyed having our grands over for the day yesterday.  The main event  was a trip to see an old friend who has a horse.  He also has a buggy, which he let each one drive. This was a very big deal. There were some other projects that got some attention, and it was a good day.  When their parents came and took them home, the house seemed  terribly quiet.  It wasn’t long, though, before I  was very comfortable to the return of normality.  We’ve become much quieter in our old age unless Terry is running some kind of electric tool or pounding away at some task.

Sometimes, especially when we’re young, we long for excitement and adventure.  Nothing wrong with that. Those are high points in our memories that we like to reflect over as our lives march on. Some people never lose that thirst for adventure.  More power to them.  That’s their normal.

My normal is the calm, the peace, the security of my very good marriage, my unpretentious home,  my books, my friends, my church.  All of these things are dependable, When things get stirred up a bit, that’s a good thing too. I just don’t want to be stirred up all day every day.

I remember a message I heard years ago at a women’s conference.  The speaker was someone with whom I felt a great kinship.  She was practical, funny, straightforward. Sometimes she was loud.  Always, she was biblically-centered. Here is what she said that has stayed with me:

“It is a great thing to have mountaintop experiences, in both our day-to-day and our spiritual lives.  For some of you, this conference is a mountaintop experience. Perhaps you’ve learned something new, or you have a renewed love for God. That’s great! Enjoy! But remember, you can’t live on the top of a high mountain.  Above the tree line, there’s not enough food, water, or oxygen to sustain life.  Jesus went to the mountain top to rest and be alone, but then He came back down to feed the people. That’s what we need to do. Get refreshed, get renewed, but then go back home and share it with the people in your life.” (Marlene Evans)

This is not a direct quote, but it’s pretty close.  It was a long time ago.

What I want to emphasize here is that normality is a good thing.  The highs are good, too, but we don’t live our lives on a constant high.

Praise God for you mountaintops, but also remember to be thankful for the normal in your life.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Recovery

For the last five months or so, I’ve been  pretty useless.  Terry’s had to take over the housekeeping while I sat or lay in bed, nursing my aching back.  I’m definitely better now, with one little setback three weeks ago, and this last few days I’ve resumed some chores as my strength and energy permit.

Do you know what happens to your muscles when you do nothing?  It isn’t pretty. They get flabby, and you don’t have a lot of get-up-and-go. If your lifestyle doesn’t include some purposeful physical activity,  your muscles are going to turn to mush.

It’s not pretty.

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We have a multi-purpose cable  gym downstairs, so I’ve put myself back on the track of better muscles, more strength, more energy.

Friday I did some leg lifts. Thought I was going to die.  But I did them again yesterday, and it was a little better. This is just for starters.  I need to work my arms, shoulders, my core–everything.  And I have to do it carefully so as not to wake the sleeping monster in my lower back.

Thinking about all that, I thought about how quickly we can become spiritually flabby. Skip your Bible reading and Bible study for a week, put aside prayer, miss church?  It’s going to be very easy for Satan to pay you a little visit and direct your thinking to an unhealthy place.  I hate missing church.  I’ve missed more church in the last five months than in my entire life up to now. Breaking that pattern of church attendance can cause a spiritual ennui that drives you right down into depression.

Combine all that spiritual neglect with chronic pain, poor sleep, lack of fellowship with other believers, and you have a recipe for disaster.  It’s time to put yourself back on a spiritual exercise regimen, because you can’t fight Satan if your spiritual armor is missing.

Am I saying this has happened to me?  Yes, absolutely, to a degree. Anyone who thinks that being physically inactive sounds like a wonderful vacation?  Has never been forced into physical inactivity.  Partly because of the work I do with people who are suffering depression, I’ve been aware of my own tendency in that direction.  I’ve been purposeful about keeping up with my Bible study blog because it helps me stay in the Word. I chose to spend more time in prayer, because–not much else to do, right?  Use the time wisely.

Some days it’s been a battle, and some days I’ve just given up and wallowed in the muck, Not often, though.  I don’t like muck.

I am keenly aware that it could–and probably will–happen again. The conditions in my lower back aren’t things that can be cured.  I don’t look forward to the next event, but I’ve learned a little bit about how to deal with it.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: I Love to Teach

My church hosts a homeschool co-op every other Friday during the school year.  They draw on church members or parents of students who may not attend our church to teach whatever is their expertise. Lots of the students are from other like-minded churches in the area.  This semester, the students are getting science, Spanish, art, gym, and literature.

This is my second year of participating.  Last year, I taught about a dozen high school students how to write a research paper.

This year, we’re doing something a little outside the box, and it’s turning out to be a lot of fun. We’re learning about nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and how they relate to the history and/or politics of their origins.  Of course, many can’t be specifically nailed down, but we’ve had a lot of fun looking things up. The students have done some outstanding writing.

The best thing about this group is that they are all willing and enthusiastic participants. There is absolutely no negative attitude or disrespect. My hat is off to the parents mostly the moms, who have homeschooled these kids and have done an outstanding job of it. Even when we have to spend some time in the dreaded grammatical  corrections that appear in their papers, they are attentive and teachable.

All of this makes my job enjoyable, satisfying, and fulfilling. Any teacher who cares about teaching knows the pleasure of that “AHA!” moment when a student “gets it” after a struggle to do so. 69ee5e2d3c99a4b1f99f0827cfde4f38

The assignment to be turned in two weeks from now involves the parables in the New Testament gospels–the stories Jesus told to help His disciples understood Who He was and what He had come to do. The Master Teacher,  Jesus used stories  that His audience understood, and with which they could identify.

I’m looking forward to what the class has to offer me on this one.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Home Again

Way too many Sunday mornings at home this past few months.  I knew there would be another flare-up in my lower back; I just didn’t think it would come this soon. So here I am, taking pain meds again and waiting for my next steroid injection this coming Thursday. The doctor thinks it’s the sacroiliac joint on my right side.  At some point I’ll have a matched set of incisions.

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So.  I’ve been thinking about this passage:

James 1:2-4

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Here it is in my own words:  “Be  joyful when different trials come.  Know that testing helps you develop patience, and  that patience, when it is mature,  will help you to become mature and complete in your faith,  and content  in what you have. ”

Let me emphasize again that this is only  my own interpretation of the verses. You may disagree with the way I paraphrased it, and that’s okay.  I’m only sharing my own ideas on the passage.

I remember, when I was very young, thinking that when I was a grown-up, I would have all the answers to life’s problems and dilemmas.  Now that I’m all grown up, going to be 70 in July, I am very much aware that  I certainly don’t know all the answers. I will not know all the answers until I go to heaven, and I suspect that once I get there I won’t be terribly concerned with things I thought were so important here on earth.

I find these verses quite comforting. They remind me that God never, ever promised us that believers would have problem-free lives. He did promise that He will walk through the valley of the shadow of death with us; that He will never leave us or forsake us (Psalm 23:4; Hebrews 13:5).

The God Who created my back is still in control. He will give me the grace to endure, and to endure with joy instead of the “poor me” attitude I’ve been dealing with this week.  It is so much easier to descend into whining and complaining than it is to be joyful in spite of circumstances.

It is in reacting with joy, however, that we can mature in our faith.

 

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: The Nosebleed Section

So I had a nosebleed on Saturday morning.  It’s been years, and it took me by surprise.  It was a doozie, and reminded me of the ones I used to have when i was a kid, and even  into my college years.

I was a waitress in the campus dining hall for a while.  One night, I grabbed a bowl of vegetables that had been sitting on the warming shelf, and it was red HOT!  It burned my fingers pretty badly, partly because I took the time to set the bowl down instead of just dropping it.  One of the kitchen guys grabbed me and stuck my hand into some ice water, holding it there long after I wanted to take it out.  Smartest thing he could have done.

I went to the school nurse, who bandaged me up and gave me something a little stronger than aspirin.  I went back to my dorm room and flopped on my bed.  I fell asleep pretty quickly, and woke up when my roommates came in around 9:30. I went down the hall to the communal bathroom, fitted out with a long row of sinks. I turned on the cold water, using my good hand, and splashed my face.  My nose immediately gushed like Old Faithful, making an awful mess down the front of my robe and in the sink. Some of the other girls  turned a lovely shade of green, but one of them  tried to come to my aid.  I assured her it was just a nosebleed, and I knew what to do.  The thing  that was so upsetting to the others seemed to be my bandaged hand, which the nurse had urged me to wear in a sling to keep me from bumping it. They  thought I’d been in an accident or something.

Well, I guess I had.  It was one of the more memorable nosebleeds I’d ever had, for sure.

So why am I telling you all this?

It’s funny how normal events can turn one’s mind to spiritual things.

As I applied pressure to my nose and waited for the bleeding to stop, I thought about the life-giving  blood that we all depend upon, yet some of us get  a bit queasy when we see it  coming from someone else. I thought about all we’ve learned about blood, and all that we still don’t know.

And of course I thought about the blood of Jesus, shed so horribly and yet so lovingly in our behalf. The cleansing, eternal-life-giving blood that  paid the penalty for the sin of all mankind. The importance of His blood to our faith, because if He had not been able to die, to shed His blood, we could not be saved. If He had not come to earth as God in the flesh, He could not have died. The importance of His God/man status  cannot be overstressed, and the importance of His blood sacrifice  is equally vital.

We used to sing hymns about the blood of Jesus a lot more often than we do now.  Here’s one I learned as a child, still just as meaningful now as it was then:

Sunday Morning Coffee: After the Storm

We had a doozie of a storm yesterday, toward evening.It came on fast, wore itself out fast. We’ve had unusually warm temps for this time of year, but it’s back down to a more normal 33 degrees at this moment. Any tulips that were thinking of pushing through the soil have most likely pulled the covers back up and are catching a few more ZZZZZ’s.

As it raged and blew and dumped torrents of water yesterday, I was reminded of Hurricane Sandy that came through 4 1/2 years ago.  We just caught the tail end of that one, and still it uprooted huge trees and did a lot of other damage. We really have no control at all over the weather.

I love storms, always have. There’s just something about the unleashed power of wind, thunder, lightning, rain, or snow that makes me keenly aware of the mighty God Who governs it all, and reminds us every now and then that we are pretty puny.

And of course, as I always do during a storm, I thought of this great old gospel song: