Sunday Morning Coffee: Wondering

I know we’re nearly three weeks into January now, so this “wonder” is a bit late. I’ve just been wondering why so many of us seem to think that with the coming of the new year, everything is going to be better than it was on the 31st of December.

Maybe it’s because so many truly horrible things have happened in the last 8-10 months that we hoped, somehow, 2021 would herald a change. People would be honest. Government would concede that it is not responsible to monitor our daily lives. Politicians would hush. All the NON-peaceful riots of the summer and fall would go away, and those responsible for all the destruction would volunteer to help restore our cities. Crime and poverty would go away. People would stop throwing the F-bomb all over the place. World peace would descend like a soft blanket of warmth and comfort.

I hope you’re not surprised.

There is a law of physics that says that once something is in motion, it tends to stay in motion; and once something is NOT in motion, it tends to remain unmoving. It takes some kind of external force to change either status.

So what outside force could possibly stop the rush to chaos to which people around the world seem to be heading? I can think of only one thing:

Well, two things:

God’s Word and fervent prayer.

Matthew 18:20. “For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.”

No rhetoric, accusation, anger, or self-righteous bloviation can bring peace to this tired old world. God can.

What the world needs now is Holy Spirit revival.

Sunday Morning Coffee: It’s Back!

What’s back? Well, we got a little more snow, but it’s not a big deal. Kind of pretty, really, watching the big fat flakes lazing their way to the ground, the trees, and the rooftops. Our church canceled Sunday school to get time to clear the parking lot and sidewalks, but they’re planning to go ahead with the morning preaching service.

So what else is back? My back is back. Ugh.

I’ve had a nice long run of relative freedom from pain. It’s been over 1 1/2 years since I needed a steroid shot. But in the past couple of weeks, It’s become more insistent and persistent, nagging at me to pay attention. It’s hard to ignore when it wants my attention.

I think I sat too long in a hard chair yesterday, playing games with family and friends. Fun, but when I stood up I knew I was in trouble. By the time we got home, it was an effort to stand up straight.

Man, I hate this. Haven’t had this pain for over 18 months, and I REALLY don’t want it!

So. I have a 25 mg Tramadol that I can take as needed. I took one at 7 p.m. Took my 50 mg extended release when I went to bed at nine. Another smaller pill around 4 a.m. It’s better this morning, but I knew going to church was not an option. I’m being extremely careful with how I move, using my cane again, watching how I sit. Even a small thing like crossing my legs at the ankle can trigger frissons of unhappiness up my leg to my lower right side.

Bah. Humbug.

All right. Enough complaining. It doesn’t help. Well, it kind of does, right? Misery loves company, and all those other cliches. But really, focusing on the pain is not going to make it go away. Making sure I don’t carelessly aggravate the pain is much more to the point, so I think I’ll go back to bed when I’m finished here. My wonderful adjustable bed that eases stress on my lower back and even gives me a nice 20-minute massage to help me relax. See? There’s always something for which to be thankful!

Sunday Morning Coffee: Oil in my Lamp

The first day of winter was Dec. 21.

Growing up most of my early years in Minnesota, I always wondered about that. Winter often started in early November, and at least by Thanksgiving. You didn’t run outside for very long without coat, hat, scarf, mittens, and two pairs of jeans–and boots. Back in the day, they were rubber boots you wore over your shoes, with “fur” trim around the top, and they zipped up the front.

Anyway, Christmas day here started quite warm, a little damp, and a bit windy. By the time we were ready to drive home, the temperature had plummeted about 30 degrees, it was VERY windy, and we had some of the stinging tiny little snow granules that never stick, but they tell you more is coming!

We’ve had mild winters for the last 3-4 years, with very little snow. Some people say that means we’re in for a lot more this year. We’ll see.

Terry keeps a very close eye on our oil-burning stove that sits in front of the fireplace in our living room, but he’s been involved with some other projects that distracted him. We ran out of oil yesterday, and the house was cold! Now, I like sleeping in a cold room, with my weighted blanket and a comforter piled on top of me. But I don’t enjoy being in a cold house, all for the want of some oil.

I couldn’t help wondering what it’s going to be like if Mr. Biden keeps his promise to shut down the fossil fuel industry in America. What will we have to pay to keep our houses warm? Ours is just a small house, really, and we usually keep the doors to the bedrooms closed during the cold weather. In any event, I’m wondering if I’m going to be wearing multiple layers of clothing inside the house this winter, and I really feel for those who live in houses that are not well-insulated or have high ceilings and older windows. We’re all going to be wearing sweaters and sweatshirts and quilted flannel!

Oil has always been an important commodity. From earliest times, it has been used for light and cooking. Scented oils have had a very high value and were available only to the wealthy.

Matthew 25 tells us the story of the ten young women who were waiting for a wedding to commence. They carried lamps that were filled with oil, probably olive oil. There were wicks in the lamps, and the oil was consumed as the wicks were burned. Those who had not thought to bring extra oil were considered foolish. But those who had a vessel filled with extra oil were wise, and were allowed in to attend the wedding.

The picture is simple: We are the lamps, useless until we are filled with oil. The Holy Spirit is the oil, which gives off a pleasant odor. The Holy Spirit in us helps shed the light of salvation and God’s love to those around us. The light comes from the oil-soaked wick, which is our testimony, through the Holy Spirit, to those around us. In order for our lamps to continue to burn, we need to have access to the Holy Spirit; that access is gained through obedience to the Father, expressed so clearly by Jesus. Being filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit is not automatic at salvation. Our obedience determines how full our lamps are, and how brightly they will burn.

Do you remember singing “Give Me Oil in My Lamp, Keep me Burning”? I do, but I never understood what it really meant. There is an important lesson for kids, and for everyone, really, if the meaning is taught clearly along with the song. If we want to burn brightly for the Lord, we need to be obedient to His Word. Being obedient will keep the oil of the Holy Spirit refreshed in our lamps, and our lights will burn clearly.

Sunday Morning Coffee: A Few Things

It’s been quite a week. Not stressful at all, just full, and extremely rewarding.

I now have extremely good vision in both eyes. Instead of one far-sighted and one near-sighted, they are now almost exactly the same, and the healing in my left eye isn’t quite complete yet. It’s so amazing not to have to put my glasses on! After over 52 years, they became a part of my daily routine that I still have the urge to do. No more foggy glasses, no more dirty ones, no more smeary lenses constantly needing to be cleaned and then the constant pushing back up my nose.

Terry insisted I get the most effective (read pricey) replacement lenses. They address my visual acuity, my astigmatism, and my trifocal needs–which I refer to as “over-forty-opia.” It’s all gone. It is truly a modern medical miracle, and I’m so thankful for all of it.

There are a couple of nifty new additions to our household, whicb I won’t detail here. Terry has spent a lot of time on the internet searching, and finally had success. Big win πŸ™‚

So we (Terry and I ) got to talking about Hanukkah, and I know the basics but couldn’t answer a couple of his questions. I know that the menorah represents the miracle of the oil, one day’s worth lasting eight days. The menorah has nine candles; the ninth is used for lighting the others. And the whole thing is about the Seleucid Empire trying to take over most of Asia and western Europe, including Israel. The revolt against the Seleucids was led by the Maccabees, a priestly and apparently warrior-like family. It’s a really good story, and you can find it easily online. Maybe it would be an interesting thing for you to learn about since Hanakkuh falls in December, sometimes including our Christmas day. And yes, I know the date of Dec. 25 is probably NOT when Christ was born.

I love learning stuff. When I was in third and fourth grades, we lived in a Jewish neighborhood and attended a public school that was probably 80% Jewish, if not more. So I learned things there that I’ve always remembered. The Jewish kids were just as interested in Christmas as we were in Hanukkah, and no one ever got offended by discussing it. If anything, we figured the Jewish kids had the advantage because they got presents all eight days of Hanukkah πŸ™‚

Okay, that’s enough for now.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Knitting

Several months ago, I started working on a beautiful afghan. The pattern has lots of cables and twists, and I think it will be quite beautiful.

But I got stuck. And frustrated. I set it aside and pretended it wasn’t there.

For some unknown reason, I picked it up again yesterday. Took all the stitches out, started over. Grrrrrrr. Stuck in the same spot. Studied the directions. Ripped it out. Started over.

Image may contain: indoor

Third time’s the charm. By George, I think I’ve got it! I really do enjoy knitting, contrary to what this sketch would lead you to think πŸ™‚

Knitting is usually relaxing for me. I enjoy the feel of the yarn, the texture and warmth. It’s a pleasure to see a piece begin to develop its pattern, although what I’m working on now doesn’t really give you much to go on πŸ™‚ But in order for it to turn out well, I have to understand and follow the directions. Some knitters can just make it up as they go. I wish I were that gifted. I have to be able to picture it in my mind, understand the development of the pattern one row at a time. And read directions carefully, count carefully when establishing the pattern. An entire piece can be ruined by being just one or two stitches off count.

I got to thinking about how all this applies to life. When I knit, I usually have a picture of the completed project. Life isn’t like that. We don’t know how it’s going to turn out. We don’t know what surprises will throw our projected pattern off course, and we don’t always know how to fix it when it goes wrong.

You can just rip out a piece of knitting and start over. You can’t do that with life. There aren’t any do-overs.

What are the directions for life, then, that will keep us on track?

The simple answer: Micah 6:8. “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Do justly–behave in a fair and balanced manner; do the right thing.

Love mercy—choose mercy over revenge, jealousy, anger, spite.

Walk humbly with thy God—It is only because of His daily grace and mercy that we live through one day and wake up to live another. Be humble. He is God.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Little Kids

I’ve taken a big step back to the beginning of my start as a teacher. In our church, we have children’s church for 3 to 6-year olds during the preaching service on Sunday morning. It’s been a VERY long time since I worked with kids that young. But there was a need, just once a month, and I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to step up.

Today we’ll be talking about the Tower of Babel. The trick with kids this age is to make a complicated story simple. Actually, I think that’s a good idea for any age group πŸ™‚

So one of the things I’ll be doing is to use a few sentences from. Spanish, German, and French to illustrate to the kids how God confounded the language of the people so they couldn’t understand each other.

He had told them to spread out and populate the earth. But they had a better idea! They would all stay together and build a tower to heaven, and be as great as God!

Silly people! No one will ever be greater than God. And to show them how silly they were, they all started speaking in languages that very few others understood. As a result, they began to gather in groups that DID understand each other, and they wandered away from the Plain of Shinar where they had started to build their tower. In fact, they did what God had wanted them to do. They went all over the known world, and populated it, just like He said.

This is going to be a fun story to teach, I think. There are blocks we can use to build a tower, and these kids are full of energy. It should be an interesting half hour πŸ™‚

Teaching these little ones is going to stretch me. I was just a kid myself when I first taught two-year-olds. I was 12 when my dad volunteered me to teach that Sunday school class. Over 60 years ago.

My word.

Sunday Morning Coffee: A Different Kind of Week

Putting all the election stuff aside, this has been a very different week for our little household. On Wednesday, I had cataract removal surgery for my right eye.

This picture shows you a normal eye and an eye with a cataract:

You can see how the cataract distorts one’s vision, and creates “halos” around lights, as well as what resemble fireworks. I found that peripheral vision was also affected.

After the surgery, your vision remains blurry for a while. I’ve read that it can take up to two weeks to normalize.

The exciting thing is that the clouded natural lens comes off with the cataract, and a manufactured one with incredible optics replaces it. Once my left eye is done, in December, and I’m all healed up, I shouldn’t need glasses any more except for a pair of readers. We’ll see.

They don’t put you to sleep for the procedure. You’re very relaxed, and there’s no pain, but you hear the doctor and nurse talking, and you see weird stuff. I told the doctor it was kind of like watching a child’s kaleidoscope–all different patterns.

I can’t explain why I’m so impressed with this procedure. It just seems like magic to me!

And I’m even more impressed with what I’ve learned, and refreshed what I already knew, about the human eye. It is indeed a marvelous creation of God! It is NOT the result of millions of years of evolution. It is obviously designed by an omniscient Creator, and it is a wonderful gift to mankind that we have such amazing vision.

I spent more time waiting to be rolled into the OR than I did having the actual procedure, and I thought it would be a good idea to pray. I prayed that God would help me be calm, relaxed, and cooperative. And that I wouldn’t feel a sudden urge to use the bathroom! I prayed for the surgeon, and for everyone else who would be involved. I prayed that there would be no unexpected difficulties. I prayed for Terry, who was waiting out in the lobby during all this.

All my prayers were answered, and we left the hospital about half an hour after I was taken back to my little curtained-off room. We stopped at the Franconia Cafe for breakfast, where Terry was treated to a free meal because he’s a veteran. That was a nice surprise.

So far, all is well. I’m seeing much more clearly today, and maybe I’ll be able to read big signs/letters tomorrow.

It’s an amazing thing, and I am thankful.

It seems that most of the people I know have already experienced this procedure, or will be very soon. I hope they all appreciate it as much as I do!

Sunday Morning Coffee: Horses

What a beautiful day it was yesterday! Warm, sunny, still some color left on a lot of trees.

We were at a birthday party in the afternoon, and one of the things we did was go watch a couple of horses being boarded on the property. I’ve always enjoyed watching horses run, move, or just stand still and look beautiful.

I especially enjoy looking at and watching Friesians. They are so beautiful, and I’m pretty sure they know it πŸ™‚

Horse Metal Print featuring the photograph Friesian or Frisian horse, stallion on a meadow, --pesade-- dressage position, airs above the ground by Carina Maiwald

I’ve always thought that God must have taken special pleasure in creating all sorts of animals, all so different. Some are gorgeous. Some are hysterically funny. Some are loving pets, some are things you want to avoid. So much variety. But to me, horses are the most beautiful of all animals. The strength of those legs, their glossy coats (when they’re well cared-for) and the sheer joy they seem to take in running, whether they are wild or saddled.

I’ve never ridden horses much, just admired them. I think most girls go through a horse phase at some point, and for a while I daydreamed about having a horse of my own. It didn’t last long because I knew it just wasn’t possible. But it’s a good thing to have dreams πŸ™‚

The God that created horses also created me, the people I love, some people I don’t love. Each one is a marvelous miracle of His incredibly creative mind. I’m thankful for His creation, even when I sometimes complain about humidity, flies, mosquitos, rain—and i never EVER want to come close to a rattlesnake. I know they must have a purpose, but I can’t imagine something less scary couldn’t have fulfilled that purpose.

Anyway. Enjoying watching the horses today got me thinking about the wonderful things God gave us to enjoy richly, to use wisely, to care for as good stewards.

God is good in so many ways. I am thankful.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Time

It flies, doesn’t it? Tonight we’ll set our clocks back, so we’ll supposedly get an extra hour of sleep. Never seems to work that way for me. It takes my body a good week to reset itself. I wish we could do what some other states do and just not bother with DST. I’ll bet the birds don’t pay any attention it it πŸ™‚

The other thing that I can hardly get my head around is that tomorrow is November! We’ll vote for a President in three days, but only God knows when the final results will be in and accounted for. I’m uneasy about the outcome, however it goes, because of all the anger and violence we’ve endured all summer and fall. It’s heartbreaking to me to see this in my country. Elections used to be civil, even if your candidate lost. I miss those days.

And of course, the Black Friday sales are already being pushed. I suspect there will be a lot more cyber shopping than usual, since we’re so afraid of Covid.

I’m having cataract surgery, right eye on Nov. 11 and left eye on Dec. 9. I’m praying that things won’t slam shut before we get this accomplished. I’m tired of looking through a mist, always thinking I need to wipe something off my eye. And I’m very thankful for modern technology that makes what used to be a dreadful procedure into a simple outpatient procedure that doesn’t take much time at all.

Do you ever think about what it will be like in heaven, when there will be no more time? No night. No calendars. No deadlines. We’re so governed by our clocks, phones, appointments, etc. that I think it’s going to be a complete shock when someone asks someone else, “Hey, do you know what time it is?” and the answer will be, “What’s time?”

The more time I spend here on earth, the more I look forward to heaven. No elections up there. God is the eternal ruler, and no one will talk about term limits! No arthritis. No spinal stenosis, osteoporosis, degenerative joint disease, cataracts, hurting shoulders. No cancer, no Alzheimer’s, no surgical prodecures necessary. All the things that consume us here will be forgotten there! Quadriplegics will run and jump for joy. The deaf will hear perfectly; the blind will see perfectly; the creaky old voices of older women will be beautiful once again!

Sometimes I just really can’t wait!

None of that means I won’t value and enjoy whatever time God allows me to have here. I have a pretty wonderful life. But it’s going to be beyond wonderful there.

The only thing I just can’t imagine is not being married to Terry. It’s been over 51 years now. I can’t imagine how we won’t be a part of each other up there, and maybe there will still be a fellowship, and special connection. I hope so.

Well, I think I’m finished. Didn’t really have a particular goal in mind for this post. It’s one of those where I just started typing, and now I’ll go back and see if what came out of my fingers makes any sense πŸ™‚

Sunday Morning Coffee: Politics

No, I’m not going to write about the upcoming election, or either candidate; not about the looming scandals and the lying, trickery, threats, etc. Sick of it all.

I just got to thinking about the word politics, and decided to give myself a refresher course on the true meaning.

Too often, we have moved so far from the origin of words that they change their meaning across time and misuse.

The root word is from the Greek: polis, or, in English, city. It could also refer to a fort, a citadel, the state, community and finally citizens.

Politikos, also Greek, refers to the citizens; pertaining to the state and its administration; pertaining to public life.

The Agora of Athens

Citizens would often meet in the agora, an open marketplace where goods were bought and sold and matters of the city were discussed. Agora, by the way is the root word for agoraphobia, or “fear of the market place.” People who have an acute dread of leaving the safety of their homes are often diagnosed with agoraphobia. And if you didn’t already know that, you’re quite welcome πŸ™‚

Okay, so we see now that originally there was nothing secret or subversive about politics. It was simply having to do with the affairs of the city, which in early Greece, where they liked the idea of pure democracy, were settled by the votes of the individual citizens.

History tells us that it didn’t last long, because pure democracy devolves rather quickly into total anarchy, which is what we want to avoid. Instead, America is a republic, in which matters are decided by representatives chosen by the people.

Things get sticky at this point. Human nature being what it is, people in modern politics are subject to all sorts of influences that often have very little to do with the desires of the people they were chosen to represent. Special interest groups, outright bribes, secret dealings with organized crime and even with other countries can go on for some time before such things are discovered. And often, even after they are discovered, they are often overlooked, depending on the power and influence of the perpetrators.

You understand, of course, that I’ve condensed history almost unforgivably in order to keep this short enough to hold your interest. My point? Politics hasn’t always been a dirty business in America. In the beginning, the elected representatives and senators met for a short time each year and then returned to their farms and businesses, because they didn’t make enough money in Washington to consider it their only full-time job.

Those were the good old days. That was before government started to grow into a many-tentacled monster that now wants to control what we think, what we are allowed to read, who we are allowed to listen to. All, of course, for our own good. Which government knows better than we do.

So, in the women’s Bible study I lead, we’re in the book of Hebrews. This week we talked about the only sure anchor we have. Hebrews 6:19. “WhichΒ hopeΒ we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast.”

Jesus is our Anchor. He is sure and stedfast. He does not change at anyone’s whim, bribe, or threat. He is always the same. And of course, all of us who were there know this song, and sang it together: