Sunday Morning Coffee: Signs of Fall

I know it’s been fall for several weeks now, but really, here in my corner of PA, fall doesn’t set in really hard  until right about now.

So how do I know it’s really fall?

Daylight Time change.

More leaves on the ground than on the trees.

I need a jacket.

TERRY needs a jacket.

The raspberry garden is done. We ate the last ones two days ago.

Terry lit the oil stove that heats our living room and most of the rest of the house.

We keep our bedroom doors closed during the day. Don’t need them heated.

I’m now using my puffy bedspread and a heavy afghan. You’ll know it’s winter when I tell you I’ve put on my heated mattress pad and brought my down comforter up from basement storage.  Two comforters?  Well, sure!  Why not?  I’ll be twice as comforted 🙂

Frost on the punkins–and the cars.

 

Dozens of flocks of geese and other birds arrowing south.

Winter squash is abundant. There’s a produce stand near us that has Hubbard squash. It’s tempting–best squash there is–but they’re much too big for just the two of us.

I’ve just about finished switching out my closet from short sleeves to long, light fabrics to heavier, dresser drawers from short-sleeve tees to long sleeves, and the sweaters are coming out.

I’m thinking about my Thanksgiving menu.  I’m well enough, strong enough, to do it here this year, I think. We’ll find out.

I am thankful that, for the first time in 2 1/2 years, I am relatively pain free. I can do most of the housework, the laundry, and the cooking again.  Terry still cooks on Wednesday and Thursday, because I work until 5 those days and he’s happy to have supper ready when I get home.

You know, even as I write, I realize how thankful I am. Just thankful in general.  We are blessed in so many ways.

Happy Sunday to all of you.  I hope you’ll be in church somewhere today, a church where God’s Word is central.

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Sunday Morning Coffee: Depression

It is of particular concern to me when I meet a teen boy or girl who is struggling with depression.  It just makes me so sad to know the battle that is being waged, and how unexpected it is for a lot of kids and their families.

Because I work in a Christian counseling office,  I usually ask  sometime early in our work together about my clients’ spiritual relationship with God. One of the things that confuses them is that they have often been taught that a good Christian doesn’t experience depression. Feelings of strong guilt grow along with the depression, and it’s one of the first things we need to discuss.

It is so damaging, no matter a person’s age, to be told that he just needs to get right with God, just needs to trust the promises of God. The implication, then, is that he is NOT right with God, that he has NOT been trusting God. The feelings of despair will continue to grow if this negative pattern of thinking is not confronted with the truth of God’s Word.

 

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It is true that there is always a spiritual piece in depression. David, whose Psalms often reflect the struggle he had with depression, made it clear that he knew when he had sinned against God, and he wept and repented, and sought for restoration.  I am not overlooking the possibility of sin lurking in a person’s heart, but I also know, from walking with my own husband through a terrible depression,  that he did search his heart, begging God to show him if there was some hidden sin.

The truth for a lot of people who experience depression is that they are worn out, body and soul. Exhausted.  Often, their personality type is that of the melancholy, who is an analytical, detail-oriented perfectionist who easily falls into feeling of guilt and even shame when things don’t go perfectly. These thoughts and emotions can lead to insomnia, or to a need to sleep ALL the time.   Slowly, the person’s supply of the “feel-good chemicals” created in the brain and the gut become depleted, and a serious depression follows.

Treatment, to be the most effective, needs to address body, soul, and spirit.  Proper diet, hygiene, exercise, maybe medication, and good talk therapy to help replace the negative thinking patters with  positive, biblically-based thinking all work together to bring the person back to normal.  Done well, therapy gives him tools to recognize  negativity and take steps to turn it around.

It is so important to encourage, not to scold. To focus on positives, not to preach. To use prayer as a positive force, not an opportunity to lecture.

Starting with my husband’s experience, and all during the 17 years since I started working in this field, I’ve seen dozens and dozens of depressed believers who feel they’re the most sinful people on earth. I’m so thankful to have a different understanding of the whole subject now, and to be able to offer help and hope.

I love my job.

 

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: November

Well, we’re in the final week of October, and it’s sad to say goodbye.  I’ve always loved October here in my corner of PA. We’ve had a mix this month–dreary, drippy days, heavy rain, and then the miracle of  the bluest blue, with bright sunshine that just fills you up.  I love it all.  I love it when the nights make me want my puffy comforter.  I sleep better when I can pile on the blankets.

What a wonderful world God has given us!  There’s something for everyone, really. Some like it hot. My sister lives in Phoenix, and loves having 360 days each year of clear sky and bright sun. I wouldn’t like that. I like weather, variety, clouds, winds, storms.

There are mountains for those who crave them, deserts for others, and lush green valleys for people like me. All of the gorgeous sights around this globe could keep a person traveling for a lifetime, and still never see them all.

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If the earth is so gorgeous, then just think:  How beautiful heaven must be!  Sometimes I just can’t wait, even knowing that, at my age,  it’s probably no more than 15 or 20 years away. Don’t misunderstand.  I’m not looking forward to be finished here except that I’ll be starting up there!  I want to see my grandkids finish growing up, and maybe even present us with a great-grandchild or two. I want to be a good steward of the time I have left.

But I do look forward to heaven.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Time

Tempus fugit, so they say.  And now, it seems,  they were right all along. I just didn’t know it until about ten or more years ago.

I find that I’m thinking more about the fact that, at 70, I’ve lived a lot longer than I still have left to live  I’m not being morbid. I don’t look forward to death, because I really like my life 🙂  Even though I know the Lord, know that heaven is my final home, I’m really not in a rush to get there. At least, not right now.  Not just yet. I still need to finish my book!  Yes, it’s actually under way, but it’s slow going. So many other things need my time and attention, which is good because it’s  a sign that I’m still living an active and, I hope, a productive life.

Every now and then, I’m brought up short by the reality that my dad died when he was 70. My age.  It’s true that I’m in much better health than he was at this age, but it’s also true that time is taking its toll on my body. Creak, squeak, groan.                       . 270f0f5b41cfad3fe8211294ff286fd8-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-chronic-illness Well, it’s not really that bad ALL the time, but there are days. . . .

But this post isn’t about the state of my old bones.  It’s about  realizing, maybe a  little too late, how valuable every single minute is.  God has them measured.  He knows exactly how many I have left.  He knows how I’ve used the ones already gone. He knows about minutes wasted, minutes used well,  minutes that didn’t bring honor to Him, minutes that did.

Mind you, there is nothing wrong with rest and relaxation. There were years of my life, back when I was teaching school and still had my own four kids at home, that I didn’t get nearly enough rest. Pushed all day every day, accepted way more responsibilities than I should have. I was one of those people who felt guilty about saying NO when I needed to. Not any more.  Being overly busy can also be a waste of time.  When you’re doing too much,  you can’t do all of it well.

God is not bound by time as we are.  He doesn’t wear a watch, or carry a smart phone. He is from eternity past, eternity present, eternity future. That’s a concept quite a bit beyond my understanding.  We are so time-oriented that it’s hard to consider a place where there is no time at all.

We need to sleep a certain number of hours. We need to eat at regular intervals. We need to be at work, be at a doctor appointment, be on time for lunch with a friend.  We need to pay bills on time, take care of our taxes on time, be to church on time,  set a timer on the roast so it will be ready to eat when we get home.

Time matters so much here that it is impossible for us to understand a place where time doesn’t matter.

All that being said, I guess I do have to acknowledge that time and its swift passing really are important to me.  And heaven becomes more real as the days tick by at the speed of light. I admit it–sometimes I grow homesick for heaven.

This has been a ramble.  I hope you don’t mind. Sometimes I like to just let the words come as they may.

 

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Glory!

I woke up this morning with this old hymn playing on the radio in my head:

 

 

I wondered about the story behind the song, so I found a wonderful little book that my mom gave me when I was somewhere between twelve and fifteen years old.  I wrote my name, address, and phone number in the book.  The address is one of two places we lived. The phone number comes from the “olden days.”  It starts with letters, not numbers 🙂

Anyway, the book is a collection of 40 stories behind 40 hymns.  It was published first in 1943, and is probably out of print by now.

So here’s the story:

It was said of Ed Card, the superintendent of the Sunshine Rescue Mission in St. Louis, Missouri,  that  he was “heaven aflame in the face of a man.”  His love of God, and his love for his work, was often expressed in the one word he used over and over: Glory!

No one laughed at him, as I fear might happen today. That, or people would be mildly uncomfortable with such a hearty expression of the joy of the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of people who had thought there was nowhere for them to turn.

It is said that when Ed Carder prayed, he drew men nearer to the God he served. And always, his prayer ended with, “And that will be glory for me!”

The prolific songwriter, Charles H. Gabriel, “The Prince of Gospel Song Writers,” was inspired to take that sentence and build a song around it.  Mr. Carder, often called “Old Glory Face,” lived long enough to sing that song over and over, with great enthusiasm.

I grew up enjoying this song, singing it and later playing the piano for the church service.  It’s a fun hymn to play.  It lends itself naturally to improvisation, and it has such joy contained in the words and music that, although I don’t hear it much these days, I can still sing all three verses from memory.

I hope you’ll enjoy renewing your memory of this song, or perhaps hearing it for the first time.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Footprints

As I work at picking up the housekeeping responsibilities that were mine before my back got so bad, I’m  slowly feeling a return of strength and energy.  Today (Saturday) I did a couple of loads of laundry, changed the bed linens,  did some deep cleaning in the bedroom. Lots more to do there, but I knew I needed to stop.

Before I sat down for a while, though,  I decided  to do some cleaning in the bathroom. The mirror is large, and I use a squeegie.  It’s not  a big job.  Then I swept the floor and got my Swiffer out to mop. It’s not a huge room, and  the job was done quickly.

A couple of hours later, I went back into the bathroom to put some linens away and noticed  black footprints all over my clean floor!   There’d been no one in the house today  except Terry and me, and I hadn’t been outdoors.  Seemed to me the culprit was pretty obvious.

 

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For some reason, though, I decided to clean up the dirt before admonishing my husband to please let the floor dry before he went in there with his dirty boots on. I got out a bottle of spray cleaner and some paper towels, spraying and wiping, backing up as I worked toward the door.  It was when I looked behind me to make sure where I was that I saw the exact same footprints right behind me.There was no denying that they were my own.

I couldn’t figure it out, though.  How did my house slippers get all muddy and dirty?  The floor hadn’t been wet–it was my slippers that were wet.  And that, my friends, remains a mystery.   I was glad that I at least saved myself the embarrassment of accusing Terry, who was completely innocent. This time.

As I puzzled over how my slippers got wet and left such an awful mess on my clean floor,   I thought about how often we think we are leaving no trace, no tracks,  when we sin against God.  Whether it is a secret sin that exists only in the mind and heart,  or it is something   harder to hide,  we somehow feel that no one knows, and that we won’t be discovered.

However, we always leave some trace of our nefarious activities, and the eyes of God are in every place. He knows our minds and hearts. He knows what we read, what we watch,  where we go online. There is nothing we can hide from Him.

Proverbs 15:3. “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”