Sunday Morning Coffee: God’s Brain

I saw a picture yesterday that just left me amazed. It was a photo of a human cell under the highest magnification possible.

Isn’t that something? The caption under the picture says that is the most detailed model of a human cell to date, obtained using x-rays, nuclear magnetic resonance, and cryoelectron microscopy data sets.

Is it amazing that scientist has developed the ability to see this incredible picture? Sure it is! Our brains are wondrous and endlessly fascinating.

And yet—I’m pretty sure that, as detailed as this is, there is even more to be seen in each tiny detail than we can imagine. After all, I remember being taught in either physics or chemistry–maybe both–that the molecule was the smallest particle ever until we discovered protons and neutrons and all sorts of other things in that tiny molecule.

Take it to the other extreme. We are developing telescopes than can see almost “to infinity and beyond.” Whole galaxies that shouldn’t even exist if the Big Bang Theory is correct (it isn’t). Distances our minds cannot understand compel us to keep going in our need to figure out the amazing creation of which we are nothing but a tiny speck.

All of this has led me to thinking about the mind of God. Does He have a brain, like we do? The Bible says He is a spirit (John 4:24). Philippians 2:5 says we are to let the mind of Christ dwell in us. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells that His thoughts are higher than our thought. It is clear that God thinks; that He plans; that He knows so far beyond our knowing that we can’t even begin to fathom His mind.

God engineered our brains. The human brain is magnificent! But in comparison to God’s mind, His brain, if you will, we are insignificant. His creativity is infinite. He simply spoke, and the heavens and the earth came into being. The only part of creation that involved His hands was the forming first of Adam, and then Eve. Everything else, He simply spoke into being. Amazing. God said, and it became!

I don’t know if God has a literal brain. What I do know is that throughout all of eternity, to which there is no end, we will have the privilege of His infinite knowledge, creativity, and love. Our brains are limited. His is not. In heaven, we will be as He is. Infinite learning, infinite joy, infinite grace.

Here’s a very old song that’s been playing in my head as I write. It’s a little different than what I usually post. The songwriter is Stuart Hamblen:


Sunday Morning Coffee: Signs of the Times

Don’t worry. This is not a political post, nor is it about anything controversial.

I’m simply enjoying the little signs that SPRING is on its way!

There are cute little sparrows swirling around in my back yard. One of them landed on the windowsill of my bathroom and stayed to stare at me for a few seconds. It’s little head was all ruffled from the rain, Made me smile to see it shake and fluff its feathers.

People are posting pics of their first flowers. We don’t have any here yet. Our house is north-facing, so our first flowers will be a patch of early narcissus on the west side of our front yard.

Did you ever wonder about the names of things? Like, for instance, daffodil. I was curious, so I looked it up.

Origin

mid 16th century: from late Middle English affodill, from medieval Latin affodilus, variant of Latin asphodilus (see asphodel). The initial d- is unexplained.

The name daffodil isΒ an alteration of the name for another striking flower, the asphodel.Β 

So, of course, I had to look up asphodel, and I learned that it is in the order of asparagales, which we recognize as asparagus.


I love learning little bits of trivia like this. Daffodils and asparagus are related!

Of course, asparagus is another delightful sign of spring. It grows wild sometimes, or is cultivated in the gardens of people who love its flavor.

In my searching, I found a link to 13,370 photos of early signs of spring! Here’s the link, in case you’d like to take a look: https://www.shutterstock.com/search/first-signs-of-spring

February has been mild here in my corner of Pennsylvania. We could still get some winter weather, but it won’t last long. Snow is good for the soil, so it would be a good thing if we got some. But spring is on the way!

Sunday Morning Coffee: Old Friends

Last night we spend a few hours with a group of long-time friends, going back over 40 years. It was so good to see them, sharing memories as well as catching up in the here-and-now. There were some people there that we didn’t know, but we do now. New friends. You know the old saying: “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver, the other is gold.”

I’m thinking of two songs this morning:

Sunday Morning Coffee: Banana Bread

Do you ever stop to just think about and enjoy the simple pleasures in life?

Sometimes I buy bananas with the intention of letting them get over-ripe. One of my favorite simple pleasures is fresh banana bread, which I’m enjoying with my coffee this morning. Simple to make. Aromatic as it bakes. Satisfying and delicious.

Beside the banana bread on my plate, there are several big, fat, juicy green grapes. Simple, healthy, tasty globes of sweetness–another simple pleasure.

Of course, there’s my coffee. I grind and roast my own beans. I buy them green online. I love the aroma as they roast, and the flavor is a whole different thing from the instant coffee I used to make before my son-in-law introduced me to the real thing :). I like a medium-dark roast, and I use a French press for the brewing. It’s a great way to start the day.

It’s quite interesting to read how coffee hit the European market when trading ships started bringing it from the newly-discovered worlds of South and Central America. A whole industry grew around these magical beans, in the same way as both tea and chocolate did in their day. Those industries still thrive around the world today, and I am thankful for all three. We may consider them simple pleasures today, but the cultivating of all three goes way beyond “simple.” I’m afraid, too, that all three may become harder to come by as the world’s economy continues to decline. It may be that at some point only the rich and powerful will have access to any of those commodities.

After all, I remember when 50 cents would buy a whole carton of eggs, not just one egg! Back in the good old days, a couple of years ago, before all these mysterious chicken farm fires started, eggs were the least expensive source of protein available. A simple pleasure that is becoming more expensive all the time.

Another not-so-simple pleasure that I’ve enjoyed since I started learning to read is my Bible. I’m convinced that it was of major importance in my learning process. Coping with all those multi-syllable names was, in itself, a learning process! Those early years were also the best years for memorizing Bible verses, passages, and sometimes whole chapters. Those early days of memorizing God’s Word seemed simple to me at the time, and I valued that memorization years later in my counseling office as I offered simple scriptures to people who were overwhelmed by complex problems.

Perhaps the simplest of all pleasures include music and prayer. Often, in my mind, the two come together. Prayer and song are natural companions. Someday I want to hear David sing his psalms of prayer and praise.

In the meantime, this simple little song has been in my mind lately:

Sunday Morning Coffee: Sigh!

Well, I’m not as “over it” as I thought I was. Cold symptoms are gone, but this lingering fatigue is driving me nuts. And I don’t want to focus on that, so I decided to switch my perspective. It is often helpful to focus on the positive πŸ™‚

I have the freedom to rest and sleep when I’m sick. No children to care for. No job demanding my presence. A comfortable house and well-stocked freezer and pantry. A husband who is willing to step in when I just don’t want to cook. Family and friends who check in on me and pray for me.

I have my laptop, my Bible, and handwork to occupy my time–between catnaps. Along with a stack of other reading I need to do. Of course, reading tends to make me sleepy πŸ™‚

I also have good medical care, with good insurance, if the need arises.

So I can handle being extra tired, for however long it takes. My Father knows all about it!

12:09 p.m: PS:

A friend of mine has a granddaughter who is in the hospital for a bad case of mono. The penny dropped when I read that. I’ve had mono before, and that’s what this feels like. Not bad enough to see a doctor, so it’s not a definite diagnosis, but it makes me feel better just to think I have an answer πŸ™‚

Sunday Morning Coffee: My Newsfeed

I did a quick scan of my newsfeed. I don’t spend a whole lot of time there on Sunday morning. It’s like a sponge that absorbs time!

I came across two memes to which I responded. One asked how much I received as an allowance when I was a teenager. Simple answer: If I wanted money, I could babysit for a family in the church. Everything else was supplied by my parents. Expanding on that answer, there are pros and cons about giving a child an allowance. I don’t think my parents were against it, really. There just wasn’t extra money anywhere. What we were given was, in my opinion, more valuable than being handed money every week.

We learned that everyone was to contribute to the family. Cleaning, cooking, doing the dishes, ironing our own clothes, helping in the garden, keeping our room orderly, helping out with my baby brother–all this taught us the value of each member contributing to keep the family running smoothly. Over the long term, I was totally prepared to run my own household when the time came. I even knew how to take care of a baby. And none of those chores were done with an eye to getting money. It was just the natural contribution to living in the household. One thing that is important is that all these things took place before the era of having to haul one’s children around to all their various activities after school. We went HOME after school! Those were my good old days πŸ™‚

The second meme centered on an “anti-bucket list,” What is something you will never do again?

The first thing that popped into my head? I’ll never, ever eat eggplant again! Nasty stuff that shouldn’t even count as a food. Blech. Nor will I ever eat scrapple again. I don’t care if Great-Great Aunt Matilda was famous for her secret recipe. I’ve tried. I don’t like it. Tastes like liver, which is the third food on my anti-bucket list.

Isn’t there anything besides food that I will never, ever do again? Sure, but they’re things I don’t run into at all these days. I don’t get around much any more :). I will probably never ski again. I absolutely will never, ever go into a snake/reptile section of any zoo or animal shelter. It’s not likely that I will ever see the Grand Canyon from a helicopter again, although I would take that opportunity in a New York minute! That was an indescribable experience, right near the top of my favorite things to do.

I won’t garden any more. Can’t get down on my knees, can’t bend over. You’d be surprised how those two things affect your “to do” list.

Well, anyway. I really had no idea what I was going to write about this morning, so I’m glad I saw those two memes. Got me to thinking about what’s really important, and especially about the importance of teaching our children how to live their lives as responsible adults.

God instituted the family. He knew we would need structure in our lives. A life lived without structure is a live lived without purpose, without forethought, without planning. It’s fun to follow one’s impulse on occasion, but always flying without a purpose and a plan leads to a lot of dysfunction.


Sunday Morning Coffee: New Year IN!

If the weather is a harbinger of the New Year, it’s going to be wonderful! Here in my corner of PA, we have heartbreak-blue skies, and a mild temp of 44, rising to 53 for today’s high. For January, that’s more than okay πŸ™‚

Some of my friends are wishing for this:

There was a time I would have wanted lots of snow, but not so much nowadays. I’m happy with clear roads, no icy places. The snow and ice will come soon enough.

I think Sunday is a great day to have New Year’s Day! A perfect day for new beginnings, or old beginnings dusted off and reconfirmed.

Please, Lord, may the churches be full this morning. May Your grace pour down upon us today and every day of the coming year!

Sunday Morning Coffee: Dreamless Sleep

I had NO sleep last night, until, at 5 a.m., I took a pain pill and an anti-anxiety pill. Back in bed, it took me maybe 15 minutes to fall asleep, and it was dreamless. Woke up around 8 a.m. just to check the time, and went back to sleep. Got another hour, but not dreamless, Restless, not restful. Gave up. Time for coffee.

Just a word on the meds. I can take up to two of those pain pills per day, as needed. I rarely use them. And the anti-anxiety was more to settle my restless leg rather to calm anxiety. I’m not an anxious person πŸ™‚ . Again, I rarely use them. Pills are nice to have when you’re desperate, but not for normal every-day things.

Why do I have these sleepless nights every now and then? Don’t know. Wish I did. They’re not predictable. I felt fine when I crawled under the covers last night, and slept until midnight. And that was only 1.5 hours, not enough for this old lady to navigate through the next day.

Anyway, I got to thinking about that phrase dreamless sleep. It is so very familiar to me, but I couldn’t quite place it. Finally, my tired old brain said, “Hey! You’ve been singing those words every year since you were old enough to sing! Think Christmas carol!” It wasn’t hard, then, to pull it out of one of the crannies in my brain, and here it is, courtesy of Nat King Cole:

So there’s your song for today πŸ™‚

Now for a little sleep science. What exactly, is dreamless sleep? Here’s what one website has to say, in part:

In the paper, the researchers propose that there are three categories of dreamless sleep that people experience: One state involves “sleep thinking” and experiencing imagery, but not feeling immersed in that imagery as we do during dreams. The second state involves having some perceptions and bodily sensations, including sensations from the outside environment, such as the sound of an alarm.

The third category is a “selfless” state of sleep. The researchers said that this state not only involves dreamless sleep, but also a certain amount of conscious awareness on the part of the person that he or she is sleeping. This state may be similar to the experiences of Indian and Tibetan meditators, the researchers said. They suggested that people who are skilled at meditation are more likely to experience this third state, but more research is needed before scientists can tell whether or not this is true.

https://www.livescience.com/56788-dreamless-sleep-consciousness-states.html

I have a smart watch that helps me keep track of steps, calories, and even my sleep quality. It’s showing me that I had only 11 minutes of REM sleep last night. REM is rapid eye movement, that wonderful sleep that you don’t even remember. We need more than 11 minutes per night to feel truly rested. Apparently, my brain was on overdrive most of the night.

God has gifted us with sleep, and most of us need between 7-9 hours per night for optimal health and performance. Some feel great on less sleep, but not me. I need my sleep, and not just 3-4 hours. I’m so thankful for good sleep most of the time. I have a wonderful bed that pampers my wonky back, and I usually sleep very well. So a night like last night helps me remember to be thankful that it happens only now and then.

Always look for that for which to be thankful. I’m pretty sure I’ll sleep well tonight.

Sunday Afternoon Coffee: Blessings

Today was our annual “Sacrificial Sunday” at our church. What that means is that a goal is set, and this year there are four ministries to which we contribute the proceeds of our offering today. The recipients change from year to year.

We set the goal for $20,000. The Sunday morning offering today was $28,000! It’s not a large congregation, and many people are retirement age, so we were delighted to get such a good offering. God has blessed our church over and over again, and I believe part of the reason for that is our willingness to support other ministries, both local and around the world. So that was a blessing this morning.

There are some outstanding teens, young adults, and little kids. at our church. This morning as I entered the women’s restroom, I saw one of my little friends and had a big hug with her when she suddenly quoted a verse. I wish I could remember which verse, because it was so funny. It was along the lines of “Be sure your sin will find you out.” We all got a good laugh over it, and my little friend didn’t seem a bit embarrassed. I always enjoys connecting with the teens and college-age kids. I love their energy, and they’re all very open and willing to chat with an old granny πŸ™‚

This morning we started singing Christmas songs. I always love hearing and singing these wonderful, scripture-filled songs of the season.

Pastor Farr started a series appropriate to the season. Today he talked about Mary, the mother of Jesus. He had a lot of good things to say. The one that has lodged in my mind and heart is the grace that Mary received from God, and how she needed that grace as He came closer to Calvary. Pastor Farr said, “We need to be willing to open our hearts to the grace we may need in the future.” That process may be painful, but, as a favorite song of mine says, “He giveth more grace when the burden grows greater.”

I’ve posted this song before, but I’m posting here again. Please take the time to listen to the story behind the song. You will be blessed!


Sunday Morning Coffee: Happenings

It’s shaping up to be a (normal) busy December. Mike and Janan will have closing on their new house, delivery of their shipping container from the warehouse in New Jersey, and settling back in to their own routine in their own place.

In recent years, I’ve not done well at all with the Christmas card routine. I’m going to try to do better this year, starting tomorrow. I remember how my mother-in-law sat down with her list and her new cards every year on the day after Thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure her cards were the first ones all her acquaintances received!

My Christmas shopping is under way. It’s not nearly as big a job as it used to be. I don’t decorate as much as I used to, either. With all the kids and (most of the) grandkids grown up and on their own, our house is pretty quiet. And that’s fine with me. The rickety old back doesn’t tolerate all that busy-ness very well nowadays.

I do love Christmas music, and have already started to enjoy it. I’m looking forward to a book of arrangements from The Piano Guys that should be coming soon. I’m continuing to enjoy my piano lessons, working on music I never would have tried without having an excellent teacher. Taking lessons and being a part of the Piano by Pictures Academy has rekindled my love of music and broadened my repertoire. Last night, I was playing through my favorite Chopin nocturne, and Terry commented on how much better it is now than when I first started working on it. Warms my heart πŸ™‚ I love this melody. The video, obviously, is NOT me πŸ™‚

All this to-do makes for a wonderful time of year with all the tradition and beauty and amazing food. I love it, but in a whole different way at this point in my life. I tend to value the quietness of the season these days more than I do all the hustle and bustle.

Seasons change. Life changes. Perspectives change. It’s all good.

May you all enjoy this last Sunday in November.