Sunday Morning Coffee: The People in our Lives

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the people who have affected my life over my 74 years.

My parents, of course, were primary. But they’re both in heaven now. And they moved away from where we lived way back in 1970, I believe it was, so contact with them was intermittent for the rest of their lives. Still, so much of the foundation of my life, my beliefs, attitudes and opinions were formed by their own. Mostly, that was a very good thing.

There was a family that took us into their own family circle. I thought they really were my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins. I was SO unhappy when I figured out that they weren’t, but it certainly didn’t change the joy of spending time with them, of being loved and loving them in return. One of the “aunts,” Lois Sanders, led me to Jesus in her Sunday School class when I was only five. I’d say that’s an eternal influence.

Sibling, of course. I was the younger of two for a long time, but when I was 14 my parents announced that there would be a baby in September! Sadly, he died when he was only 49. He was only six when Mom and Dad moved away, so there was always a lot of distance between us. Still, he has his place in my heart.

We moved a lot when I was growing up, so lasting childhood friendships were rare. Terry and I married in 1969, and along the way we have found wonderful, lifelong friendships with people who are more like family than just friends. Some of them were here last night to celebrate a family birthday. Lots of fun, and very precious memories.

Our children, of course, are daily visitors to my mind. They are scattered. Three sons live from South Dakota to England to Germany. Our daughter and family are the only blood relations nearby, about 30-40 minutes away. Their spouses, their children, are all in my heart. We love them all dearly. I think having adult children is a reward!

I never lived close to either set of grandparents, something I have often regretted. On my dad’s side, I have cousins who did grow up near out mutual grandparents, and knew them well. We don’t see much of each other, but there is a bond that makes it easy to be with them on the rare occasions when we meet.

It’s been six or seven years ago, I think, since my youngest uncle and his wife were driving through our area. We met them at a restaurant and enjoyed several hours reconnecting with them. My uncle is my dad’s youngest brother, born when Dad was all grown up. There is certainly a resemblance, and I probably made him uncomfortable because I had a hard time not to stare at his familiar face :).

There have been outstanding pastors in my life. There have been memorable teachers who encouraged me to expand my abilities in areas that are still important to me today.

There are friends of 50+ years’ standing, and newer friends in the church we now attend who have blessed us with their openness and concern when I’m dealing with my back issues–which are under control for the time being :).

People need other people. God Himself created us for His own pleasure. Friends and family enrich us, help us grow, keep us accountable, surprise us and sometimes irritate us to no end, but we wouldn’t trade any of them.

The friends who are the most important are the ones who love the Lord, and who share that love freely. They encourage me to do the same, by their example.

The ones we share life experiences with, that we can laugh or cry with, that we have been with through their own dark time–they are rare and precious jewels. We are blessed in our family and friends.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Progress!

My back is good.

I’m making progress with my hurting foot, which is feeling better by far than it did a week ago. Still sore, but bearable.

So it looks like church is on the schedule today, for the first time in more weeks than I can remember. Yesterday, when Terry asked me about it, I said. “Yes! I think I can actually do it!”

The hard part was rolling out of bed at 6 a.m. I’m not used to that any more. Lazy as a slug.
So, you may ask, what have I learned during all these weeks of practically no mobility?

Well, I’ve learned once again to be thankful for a husband who is willing to step in when I can’t take care of housework, shopping, cooking, laundry. And it’s a big deal, because he has his own pain to deal with.

I’ve learned that no one is indispensable. Not even me. Most of us know we’ll die eventually, but I don’t know if it’s truly a reality. Not that I’m dying, at least not as far as I know ๐Ÿ™‚ But the truth is, life goes on all around us, without us, in spite of our invaluable contributions to everyone else’s happiness and well-being. Seriously, life is just a vapor, gone in a moment of God’s economy. It’s a much bigger deal to us than it is to anyone else, really, how long we stay around. The point is to make sure that while we’re here we’re doing what He has given us, enabled us, to do. To touch someone else’s heart and life.

For me, that has been what I can do with my hands because my back and my feet didn’t work very well. So I work with my hands, making mats and hats for the homeless. I work with my brain and my hands, doing my Bible study blog and learning something new every day. I’m reading things I’d been hoping to finish “someday.” I’m even cleaning up and organizing my bookshelves, doing away with some books I’ve had for years and not managed to crack the covers. Some are leftovers from my schooling, and from counseling seminars. I will not read those books now. I didn’t read them back then. I shouldn’t have purchased them, but I thought I would read them. Well, I for sure won’t read them now ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve cleaned out drawers, something I can do sitting down. I’ve gone through all sorts of stuff that I just didn’t have the time to deal with. It’s surprising, really, what you can find to do when you can’t do it with you feet or your back.

I’ve prayed more. I keep a list, because my memory is short and the list keeps growing. Sometimes I will say to someone, “Yes, I will pray for you.” But if I don’t write it down, I will forget. I don’t want to forget, so the list grows.

I’ve enjoyed studying things about the Bible that I’d always wondered about, but never taken the time to research. Right now, I’m doing the book of Hosea. I’m learning all sorts of things about the history, the idolatry, the Assyrians and other nations. A lot of it doesn’t make the blog post, but that’s okay. I’ve always loved learning stuff I didn’t know. Not about math, or chemistry. But most other stuff ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, I guess I’m done for now. I’m looking forward to church, to seeing folks who have prayed for me, sent me notes and cards. Looking forward to the music and the preaching. I love church.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Not Yet

Terry asked me if I were going to church today. I’d been thinking about it, and I WANT to go. But the pain is still intense, I really can’t be on my foot more than a few minutes. and I just don’t think I’m up to it yet. Maybe in a week, when I’ve done the stretching exercises more, and have increased the reps. We’ll see.

But I have much for which to be thankful, and that’s where I want to focus .
I saw the foot/ankle specialist. After looking at my xrays, listening to me carefully, he said, “Plantar fasciitis.” I was surprised, because I’ve had that before, years ago, and the pain is different this time. But as I listened to him, I was satisfied. He doesn’t want to give me any pills :). He doesn’t want to go in and whack off the heel spurs, because he says they’re not in the right place for where the pain is. Instead, he said to treat it like an injury–stay off my foot as much as possible. Do stretches (my feet are SORE from those!). And he gave me a gel heel cup that really does make a difference. We discussed shoes, too. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that surgery is off the table. I was really dreading that possibility.

If you’ve ever had it, this will be familiar to you:

Plantar Fasciitis Review - Sports Medicine Review

I’m thankful for good, practical medical advice. Thankful we have good insurance that allows me to leave the office without leaving a large part of our bank account at the same time. Thankful for a patient and supportive husband, and for so many friends who have prayed for me and still are praying. Thankful that, although the pain is debilitating, it’s nothing worse, and should clear up in 6-9 months, getting better all the while.

I’m thankful that it’s October. I love this month, favorite month of fall. Color. No humidity, no mosquitos. Crystal clear skies, huge billowy white clouds. Fall flowers are brilliant. Cool night, comfortable days. Thank You, Lord, for October.

I’m thankful for some of the small jobs I’ve been able to work on these past weeks and months. Things I can do sitting down, and they’re not really noticeable to anyone else but me. Drawers organized and STUFF thrown out. Bookshelves cleared of things I hadn’t had time to read. All kinds of time to read now. More to be done there, but at least it’s a start. I’ve been using up some of my yarn stash, making winter hats for the homeless along with the sleeping mats I make from plastic bags. These are all things I can do sitting down.

I’m thankful for emails and messenger that help me keep in touch with my kids/grandkids who live in Europe. For some, we communicate almost daily. Couldn’t do that without wifi, phones, computers. I hate typing on my phone, so for me it’s my laptop. I watch others who are so fast just with their thumbs, and it makes MY thumbs hurt just to watch them. Takes me forever to text on my phone.

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I’m SOOOoooo thankful for my adjustable bed! My back is doing pretty well through all the mess with my foot pain. If they both came together at the same time? The statement, “Just shoot me!” comes to mind. Not seriously, but sort of ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, that’s it for now. Have a blessed Sunday, my friends. Go to church. Fellowship with other believers. Enjoy the music and the teaching/preaching. You’ll be glad you did.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Follow the Pattern

I’m learning a crochet stitch that is new to me, after 64 years of crocheting all sorts of things. It’s called c2c, or “corner to corner.” Here’s what it looks like after four rows:

3 row corner to corner crochet stitch

You just keep adding those little units until you have the piece as wide as you want it, and then you begin to decrease to make the final corner, if you’re making something square. You can use this to make all sorts of things. Right now, I’m working on a baby blanket:

No photo description available.
It’s very easy, once you learn it. I, however, had a few interruptions and kept having to go back, rip out, and do it again until I understood it. Once I got it, this little corner worked up quickly.

And of course, as I was working, my mind was building an object lesson. It’s what you do when you’re a teacher. My friend Karyl Entner is a wizard when it comes to object lessons ๐Ÿ™‚

If we want our lives to come together in a beautiful pattern, we have to learn to follow the directions. This piece that I’m working on is going to be all one color, but for most of us our lives will be a combination of many different colors, and perhaps textures as well, sort of like a crazy quilt. The trick is to put all the pieces together in a way in which they all fit naturally. When I finish this, I’ll use the same yarn to create a lacy border.

So, what are the directions we need to follow? Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14 says,

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

ย For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

God is the source of direction for our lives. His Word is the treasury of wisdom that we can never exhaust, no matter how old we grow or how many times we read it from cover to cover.

Micah 6:8 says, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth theย Lordย require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Notice that the word is justly, an adverb, meaning in a fair way and a righteous way. Some translations have used the word justice, which is a noun, and refers to something else entirely. We are to behave justly; we are, at the same time, to love mercy; and we are to walk humbly with God.

There’s a lot more, especially in books like Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians, and Proverbs. We are given principles on which to form our lives. The Bible won’t give you a specific answer for every single decision or action you are choosing. It does, however, outline learning to walk with God in a way that helps us approach each decision with His plan in mind.

One of my grandmothers was a young wife and mother when my grandfather moved her and two of their children out to a dugout in the Utah desert. There are some wonderful stories my dad used to tell from those years. Grandma didn’t have much to read, but she did have a family Bible. She read it until she understood that she needed to confess her sin to the Lord, seek His forgiveness, and accept Him as her Lord and Savior. She went on to have six children, one of whom she lost to appendicitis because they were so far away from any help. She was quite an amazing woman. She lived her life as much according to the Pattern Book as she could, and her testimony was what eventually led my dad to become a preacher. Because of her, my dad’s siblings all came to the Lord; all my dad’s children are believers; and all my grandchildren, as well. Five generations of believers !I don’t have any great-grands yet, but I pray that the trend continues!

It’s important to learn the pattern; to follow the directions, and to persevere until the piece is finished. If I never add another row to my work, it will be useless.

I don’t want my life to be useless. I want to finish well, complete the pattern, and go to meet Jesus to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Sunday Morning Coffee: Changes

I love fall. Love it! Mosquitos go away; humidity goes away; oppressive heat goes away. Air conditioning is turned off. Doors and windows are open. How delicious all that is after the hot, hot HOT summer months have finally bowed themselves off the stage of life and gone back where they belong. Make way for fall! Relax, store up the warmth for the cold months that set in after Christmas, and enjoy this reprieve.

I can’t walk yet. My foot still hurts, and I suppose I’m going to have to get it looked at. But I can enjoy my own yard, and I can enjoy the fresh air inside and out.

My back pain is GONE!! That’s a wonderful change that I’ve enjoyed this week. No pain. None. The injections have done their job, and I am thankful. Any of you who live with pain will understand how amazing it is to have relief, even thought you know it is temporary.

This coming Friday, I’ll be starting my Women’s Bible study in Hosea; and I’ll be teaching high schoolers the fine art of the research paper. I’m looking forward to being able to be back in the classroom.

The one thing that never changes is Jesus Christ in my life. His Word remains true, no matter what is going on in the world. With all the things that have been considered unacceptable for so long now being held as good, and resistance to that change as bad, I know that my Redeemer lives (Job 19:25 ) just as Job, in spite of his trials, knew it. That knowledge keeps me asleep at night, when I could lie awake worrying about everything that could go SO wrong in the immediate future.

Remember the old chorus “Why Worry When You can Pray?” We need more of that.

Late Sunday Morning Coffee: Introspection

This is the fifth–and, I hope, the last– Sunday of my missing church. I have an appointment Thursday to get a steroid spinal injection that should ease, if not eliminate, the pain that has plagued me for over a month now. I’m tired. Really tired. Recovery from this one is going to take a while, I think.

BUT! I’ve been thinking all morning about how much I have for which to be thankful even during this past six to eight weeks of pain.

I am beyond thankful for Terry. No one could ask for a better caregiver. There’s nothing he won’t do for me. In spite of his own pain, he carries my work along with his own. He’s a godly man who spends hours, sometimes, reading his Bible. This is, I think, making up for the years of his life when he didn’t have much time to spend in daily Bible reading. Retirement does have some rewards.

I’m thankful for a church family and friends who have expressed their concern in prayer, cards, calls, meals, and just stopping by for a visit. I’m not someone who needs to have people around me ALL the time. I can be alone and be content. But knowing that people I’ve never even met are praying for me is just kind of–overwhelming, really. A Facebook friend in Ireland; many friends from a website I enjoy but may never meet in this life; these are gifts to me from God. I am thankful.

Even the doctors who take care of me have become friends, and that is truly something for which I am thankful. They listen to me. They hear me, take the time to understand, and never dismiss what I am saying. I know that I am just one of many in a very long line of people with back problems, but they always make me feel as if I’m the only one. Without them, I’m pretty sure I’d be immobile by now, living out my life in a wheel chair. I know that’s coming, sooner or later, but putting it off as long as possible is a goal. Keeping my pain level under a five on the pain scale is a goal.

I am thankful that, at least to my knowledge, none of the people who know me are dismissive of my pain. It’s one of those conditions in which you can’t see what I don’t choose to show you. You can see the limp, and you can see my lack of energy when it’s really bad. But there are no other outward signs, and for some people, that means there’s nothing really wrong. “Oh, right, a bad back. I bet that gets her out of a lot of things she doesn’t want to do.” For anyone who feels that way, I wish you could live with my back for just an hour. It would cure you of your cynicism.

I’m so very thankful for my adjustable bed. Along with my meds, it gives me hours of good sleep. I don’t wake up hurting, and that in itself is a gift. I’m thankful for the meds, especially the one I take before bedtime. It’s an extended release med, and helps give me the relaxing sleep I need.

I’m thankful for music, and books, and even a few channels on TV that I can trust for good, clean programs and movies. Lots of people make fun of Hallmark movies, and I understand that. However, in spite of the fact that they are formula stories, they provide a get-away for me that so far has never jarred me with cursing, or bedroom scenes, or horror. And they always end happily ever after, never giving me nightmares ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m thankful for the time to do prep work on the women’s Bible study I teach in the fall and winter. Also, I’m doing prep for the homeschool class I’ll be teaching on doing a research paper. Time is one thing I have right now, and I am trying to make the best of it.

There is more, and God knows my heart. I admit that I’ll be thankful when this period of pain is in my past, but I also know there will be more in my future. Not worrying about that, just trying to enjoy the pain-free periods that come between the painful ones.

Mostly, my own prayers include asking the Lord to help me be thankful ALL the time; to make a deliberate choice to find that for which I can be thankful.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Leave it There

I freely admit to a good -sized helping of discouragement this morning.

Last Sunday, I was pretty sure I’d be able to go to church today, but it didn’t work out that way. My back is better–not pain-free, but better. However, I’ve developed an acute and ever-present pain in my left foot. No clue, except that it’s the same side of my body as my back pain, and I suppose there could be a connection there. The whole foot hurts. A lot. I can barely walk, with the aid of my walker, and by sliding my foot instead of picking it up and putting it back down.

So I’m fighting the devil today. I’m tired, angry, frustrated. I’m trying to put into practice all the things I’ve ever said to clients about dealing with chronic pain. It’s hard.

So. I’m going to leave you with three things: A cartoon, a request for ongoing prayer, and, of course, a song.

It’s okay to shed a tear or two while you listen to the second verse. I did.

Sunday Morning Coffee: What a Week

If you’ve ever had to use Prednisone, you could write this post yourself. You have my total sympathy.

If you’ve never had to take it, count your blessings. It is used as an anti-inflammatory, among other things, and does its job well in that regard. But the side effects? Oy.

This has been me for the last 4-5 nights. Last night I slept for three hours, and I’ve been awake since 2 a.m. Had a melt-down this morning just from lack of sleep. I’m not given to melt-downs. They’re no fun, and they don’t help. One. More. Day.

So why take the stuff? Because it DOES help swelling and inflammation that make it difficult to treat certain conditions. Next week, we’ll make a decision about another spinal steroid shot, which really couldn’t be made without a good visual, i.e. xray or MRI. Inflammation had to be reduced first. And the pain IS better.

There are many other side effects of Prednisone, which a good doctor always points out before prescribing the stuff. Some people can’t stop eating, and gain a lot of weight. Others get headaches. It’s a long list. For me, the wired-up feeling, shaky hands, emotions out of whack, and sleeplessness are the worst. I’ll have some of the same reactions from the steroid injection, but they will pass quickly. And the extended pain relief is worth it.

I like to think of Prednisone as the medical counterpart to good Bible preaching that gets under our guard and convicts us of sin. It’s uncomfortable. We don’t enjoy it. We want it to go away so our comfort zone isn’t invaded and we don’t have to DO anything to regain our spiritual composure.

Without it, though, it’s often hard for us to see the cause of our sin because of the swelling of pride and SELF that obfuscates the real problem–pride, anger, worldly lust–that’s a very long list, too. It’s only when we swallow the medicine and allow it to do its work in our hearts that we can see clearly and deal with our sin through confession and repentance.

This hasn’t been a fun week, but there have been some bright spots in the form of caring friends who have stopped in, called, messaged on Facebook, and so on.

And of course, there’s music.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Sneak Attack

I’m home this morning. Didn’t want to be, or expect to be. Got up from my chair last night to toddle off to bed, and found that I could just barely toddle. Couldn’t stand upright. The pain was surprising, unexpected, sharp and persistent. Terry had to help me get into bed. My wonderful, magical adjustable bed that allowed me a fairly comfortable night’s sleep. But I’ve been up for a bit, and I already know that going back to bed is my best option.

I looked for an image of a sneak attack, and this is the only one I found that isn’t just completely weird. I’m far removed from the kinds of comics and video games out there for kids these days, and they are certainly not the cute, innocent, fun cartoons of my childhood. Apparently “Sneak Attack” is a very popular comic or game or book–something. The illustrations are weird. I didn’t take the time to look closely, because it wasn’t at all what I was looking for. I just wanted a funny guy in a black mask tip-toeing up behind his unsuspecting victim, like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, I found the two guys above, and that says what I wanted it to. Complete surprise attack.

Okay, Linda, so how are you going to make a spiritual application today?

I have to admit, I’ve had to struggle withe the WHY ME, WHY NOW. The answers are not easy to accept. What I really want is for the pain to just go away and not come back. That’s not likely to happen in this life, unless someone comes up with some amazing new surgical procedure that replaces my crumbly bones and fixes my osteoporosis and degenerative bone disease/stenosis. It’s a nasty little cocktail of pain, and I’d much rather not have it.

But God. But God is one of my favorite phrases in the Bible. It shows up quite often. Usually when the situation is dire, and there’s nothing else to do but turn to Him. It is the moment in which we acknowledge our own inability and humbly ask Him to intervene. Sometimes it’s just “Help, Lord!” And sometimes, His answer is as clear as, “Be still. You know what to do. Go take your pain medication, your muscle relaxer, and your anti-inflammatory. Rub in some of that topical pain relief you use, and go to bed. Allow yourself to relax. Use the vibration feature on your mattress. Terry will help you. Claim all the verses you’ve memorized about fear, trust, and how to think biblically. Then allow the music in your head to relax you so you can sleep. We’ve been through this before. You know what to do!”

As I listened to that still, small voice and my spirit calmed, I did grab my go-to verses, like Psalm 119:165. There are many more. If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know that there’s always music in my head appropriate for the situation.

The first song that came to mind last night was one I hadn’t though of in many, many years. It is a song my mother loved:

Sunday Morning Coffee: Fear

This old world has often been shaken by fear. Maybe not every country, nation, culture all at one time, but there have been times when fear was pandemic. We’re in one of those time right now. We’re afraid of Covid. We’re afraid of the shot. We’re afraid of government intrusion. We’re afraid of lawlessness. We’re afraid of people like George Soros, who has been kicked out of his home country because of his nefarious activities, but who now is a naturalized American citizen. We’re afraid of having too little money. We’re afraid of people who have what we consider too much money. I could go on for a long time here, but you get the picture, right?

The thing we ought to fear is the absence of God. He has become obsolete, you see, and His Word teaches things that go against the vision of a peaceful one-world government, so He is being legislated out of existence, persecuted out of existence, and taught out of existence in our institutions of higher learning. All, of course, is ridiculous nonsense, because He is God, and He cannot be made to disappear because of what we, His creation, think we want.

What I want to tell you this morning is that God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (II Tim. 1:7). I want you to know that there are 365 instances in His Word in which we are told fear not, don’t be afraid. One for every day of the year. Do a word study. Ask Google to give you a list of Bible verses about fear, just to get you started.

Above all, trust God. This world is in for some very terrible things after He removes every single one who is a believer, and the Holy Spirit no longer is in the world. But if you know Him, don’t be afraid.

And here’s a song I’ve grown to love that says the very same thing: Don’t Be Afraid,

The pianist, Roger Bennet, wrote that song. He was waging a battle with Hodgkin’s Disease, and seemed to have won the first round. He actually did win the final round, because the Lord took him home to heaven. What some of us may consider a tragedy, Roger considered a victory.

Don’t be afraid.