Saturday, September 14, 2019

Productivity versus Serenity

Mom was a busy-body, never able to sit long, until in her 80's. When she visited us when the children were little, she would shadow me from room to room, filling me in on the latest news while helping me fold clothes, serve up a meal, etc. Although I appreciated her much-needed help, it was exhausting--the conversations mixed in with the work load. Dad was busy in a different way. He saw a job that needed to be done and started--didn't need to be with anyone else, but if someone was watching (like a grandchild), he'd pull them in and give them a task. Soon, they'd be working as a team.

They were both purposeful. Mom's having the appearance of busy productivity; Dad have the feeling of a more serene type of purposefulness. Like most of us, I took after both of my parents.

During those years of raising children, working, and keeping a household intact (whatever that meant during that particular period of time), I yearned for serenity. It seemed that if I could just have time to gather it, life could be more tranquil. I would be more at peace, settled. While I may have given the outward appearance of serenity, pandemonium sometimes reigned--my insides in turmoil. I wondered how some others could be laid-back, self-assured, or even unconcerned about things that mattered. However, I understood that my state of mind would take its toll.

I have always tried to find time to spend in God's Word.
It was never-wasted time but often it was rushed time.
Now, that I have a little more time on my hands, I don't have to have Bible study and devotions just in the morning after my breakfast. I can do it in the afternoon; I can open up the Good Book in the evening.




Time spent with Jesus is never purposeless.
It is always productive.
It's the best kind of team-work imaginable.
It will provide a serenity that is out-of-this-world.

Amen.





Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Cup of Coffee

I left the house with a slice of apple pie on a paper plate and took the twenty steps or so to my neighbor's garage door. An August day, my armpits prickled from the heat, and the grass underfoot crackled and scratched my bare feet.

The garage was empty. He had sold his Pontiac after losing his license and shared that it was the worst thing that had happened to him after his wife died. Unable to get groceries on his own, unable to get to doctor's appointments independently, he often felt isolated and alone. I noted the few belongings left on dusty, warped shelves: partially filled paint cans, an oilcan, a clutter of tools, and a few rags. A 1975 faded calendar hung crookedly from a nail, stuck on March, the month and year his wife passed.

I knocked on the screen door. The "Price is Right" blared from the living room. I yelled out his name, "Lloyd, it's Kathy; I have apple pie for you."

The television chatter stopped; I heard a groan as he pulled himself out of his recliner. With a cane at his side, he hobbled up to me to take a closer look--his eyes clouded by cataracts.

"It's me, Kathy," I stated loudly, pushed my face towards his, and wondered when he had last taken a shower.

"Oh, yeah, please sit down." He motioned to a kitchen chair. "Have coffee with me."

I looked around. The kitchen counter was greasy, the floor needed sweeping. A cold tin pot stood on the stove top.

"Hmm, I really should get back home," I murmured.

"Have a chair," he insisted. "Won't take long." I placed the pie on the counter top and pulled out a vinyl-covered chair with wheels attached as he poured two cups of coffee. Seeing he needed help, I carried the cups back to the sticky table.

"The weather. What's it doin' outside?" he asked.

"Hot," I replied. "It's August you know, gotta expect it."

"Suppose so," he answered and took a sip.

"Need milk or sugar?" he asked.

"No. No thank you," I answered and thought about what I needed to fix for lunch at home. Starting to take a drink, I noticed white flakes floating in my cup. Realizing it was only lime chips, it still churned my stomach. I wasn't a coffee snob, but I couldn't drink this.

I pretended to sip as he rambled about missing his wife, the lack of visitors, and having no transportation.

Morning devotions had reminded me that, "We're at our best when we encourage others with our words, with our actions, with our presence." My intentions had been good. I thought the pie would do it. Lloyd had barely noted the pie; he wanted my attention.

I considered the people Jesus hung out with as I sat with my elderly neighbor. They were not the cleanest, most healthy, most with-it individuals. They were human beings, created in His image; however, each (as we are) with imperfections.

I relaxed, sat back on the squeaky vinyl chair, and looked out his kitchen window to the place his own eyes seem to take him. The leaves moved lazily on the trees--tired of summer--just like me.

"What do you see?" I asked.

"Change," he murmured . "Everything changes. Nothing stays the same...."

We sat for a while, sipping our coffee. Some times, words aren't needed.


Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
          Romans 15:2

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

An Impact Lasting An Eternity

And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Those of us who believe in the power of prayer and others who find themselves on their knees because desperation of some kind has crept inside, ask or plead for a variety of things.

I'm sick; make me better; the sooner the better.
My child has crammed all night for this test; he needs an A, or at least a B.
The car is broken down, again....
Grandma's heart is failing her; we don't know how to pray.
I've been trying to lose weight for years and doing all the right things. What's wrong with me?
I thought this marriage would work, but I can't really do it any more....

WHAT IF, after giving our Creator/Redeemer King the glory, after confessing our own sins, after giving thanks for his on-going grace and unconditional love for us... that then we express our needs?


And, WHAT IF, when doing this,
 we pray that however he chooses to answer our supplications, 
we ask that it impacts eternity....
Sound too big?
Sound too much to ask for?

Ecclesiastes 3:11 reads  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one an fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 

With an eternal perspective, we can view life quite differently.
Immediate gratification is out the window...
It's seeing beyond what is right in front of us.

Art Katz writes, We may"believe" in eternity, but to what extent have we actually agreed with the world that eternity is not relevant until after this life? Eternity is not merely a time frame that is endless; it is profoundly and foremost a qualitative thing that is available now. When we begin to see all our moments set in the context of eternity, we will bring to those moments a seriousness [perspective] that we would not otherwise have had. 


 It's quite possible that we can bring a little bit of heaven down to earth by living in the joy of being the hands and feet of Jesus, now, right here where we are. 
Just think: You may be impacting eternity! 





Saturday, July 27, 2019

Mystery of the Tissues

There were tissues all over the place. Every coat Mom owned had numerous Kleenexes stuffed in each coat pocket. They came out of the dryer in particles having been tumbled about with her clothing. When cleaning her bedroom, I checked under the bed and counted over two dozen of them--some used, some partially used, some in waiting.


Why all the tissues? I wondered.

Mom died about ten years ago, and over my own passing years, I've solved the mystery.

Eureka!

THE RUNNY NOSE





Sounds disgusting, I know. I'm not sure if this is genetic or just something aging people put up with. When I googled the reasons for chronic runny nose, I learned that it can be caused by anything that irritates our nasal tissues. The common cold, allergies, and the bottom line is that some of us have a drippy nose for no apparent reason.

There are no tissues underneath my side of the bed; however, they can be found up my sleeve (okay, both sleeves), in my waistband, and in a pocket or two. Yes, they are in both coat pockets of any outerwear I pull out of the closet. There's a Kleenex box in most rooms and in our car.

Where am I going with this?
Give me time....

Okay, just got it. (It's amazing what the mind does when the fingers are flying across the keyboard.)
With time, we figure a lot of things out.
There are things that are not that difficult or impossible to understand, one just has to "be there" to get it. More often than not, this takes time.

Elizabeth Bowen wrote, No object is mysterious. The mystery is your eye.
In this instance, the mystery is your nose.
More on that at another time.

Psalm 139:14...I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Steadfastness

Words like creme-rinse, smorgasbord, and thong are words from my growing-up years that are no longer used in the same way. Thongs used to be flip-flops. If I use it now, my children say Mom in a weird way. In school, we took Typing I and then Typing II. Now, it's Keyboarding and it is taught in elementary school. Hey, even "floppy disk" is out.

House dress, overshoes, and overalls were common words in our family household. Supper was the last meal of the day. We wore "chore clothes" after school and "church clothes" on Sunday.

Some words become obsolete and others stick.

One of the words from the Bible that I appreciate is steadfastness. We don't hear it much. Merriam-Webster defines it as faithful, loyal, constant, resolute to whatever one owes allegiance. 

A person can be steadfast in a belief, an effort, a plan or even a refusal--sometimes under dire circumstances.







And sometimes, steadfastness comes across as drudgery. Biblical examples of steadfastness include:


Moses' extreme patience with the Israelites
Daniel's courage in the lion's den
David's consistent dependence on God for guidance
Job's perseverance under the most dreadful circumstances
Paul, who my dad referred to as "the Moses of the New Testament"
And, of course, Jesus, our Sacrificial Lamb

Perhaps you want to think of a loving, positive way to apply the word "steadfast" to your day.
*Your family's schedule that prevents a time of peace
*The co-worker who tests your patience
*An illness that worries your body and soul

Second Thessalonians 3: reads May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

No matter what your care, what a comfort to know that our hearts are directed to the love of God and Christ's steadfastness on our behalf.




Sunday, July 7, 2019

Coincidences and Janet


Janet has been gone for six months.
I think of her often, especially when we go to Rochester for appointments.
This is where she lived; this is where she worked; this is where she died.
She was my friend since before our children arrived....when we were both young, naive, newly married, newly everything....

I hadn't heard from her for weeks which was not uncommon. We connected with each other by phone or texting every couple of months so not hearing from her didn't send up any red flags.

However, six months ago, when in Rochester for appointments and eating in the Mayo cafeteria, Janet arrives spontaneously at our table in her wheelchair, oxygen tank attached. What a surprise. The "how have you beens" were exchanged, but her answers were careful. We wished each other the best and were off to our individual appointments.

Two hours later, as my husband is waiting in the pulmonary unit, Gonda Building, floor 18, for his appointment, Janet is leaving from hers--same building, same floor. (If you're familiar with Rochester's medical facilities, you understand the hugeness of this.)

We both express surprise. Again, we meet!
However, she has tears. The news she received was not good.
Her doctors suggested she not go home; they suggested she go immediately to the hospital for care.
Janet went home.
She ended up in the hospital a few days later and never left.
We texted and face-timed almost daily during her time with Hospice care.
I met her loving sister; became re-connected to her beautiful daughter.
Coincidental timing in all this?
I think not.

Bernard D. Beitman, M.D. defines coincidences as "a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection." And further states, "Biblical coincidences can confirm belief in a personal God."

There are numerous "coincidences" in the Bible:
Joseph, Jonah, Moses, Ruth, Isaac finding a wife, Jesus being born in Bethlehem...

What appears as a random chance is in fact overseen by a sovereign God who knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7)

Humans explain that which is unexpected as "coincidental."
The closer you get to God, you'll understand that there are no coincidences.
As, "All things work together for the good who love God and are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Not some things, all things.
Guess who is in charge?
Should be a comfort to know that we are not.
Miss you, Janet.
And, I thank God that we had these last moments together.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Walking On Eggshells

The phrases skating on thin ice and walking on broken glass or walking on eggshells are “be-careful” expressions that indicate caution, vigilance, discretion needed. We know that eggshells are easily broken as is thin ice and that walking on broken glass gives thoughts of injuries we don’t want to imagine. The adjectives messy, freezing cold, and bloody, respectively, come to mind.

Such a person who walks or skates in this manner may be a risk-taker. [Beware.]

Or a girl could be walking or skating in such a manner because of the fear of breaking something (a heart, a relationship, work security) or ruining everything she thought or wanted-to-be true in her crazy journey she called her life. Again, note the adjectives...

Symptoms:
One is extra careful when speaking to someone in order not to make them angry…
One has to always cover all the bases, be overly cautious, always play it safe, consider everything she does or says before she does it, use kid gloves-- all while feeling like she’s on a tightrope…
She wishes she could feel free-er…

Got any of the above symptoms? 
You got eggshells underfoot, girl, or thin ice, or worse yet, broken glass.

I know that as a Christian and lover of God, My Savior, there is no fear in love. The above symptoms spell fear for me. How to get over this tiptoeing around? You may be saying: I can’t help it. It is the way it is; my heart won’t let me love as I should, live as I should.

1 John tells us that perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 3:20 reminds us that God is greater than our hearts. Yes, GOD IS GREATER THAN OUR HEARTS, FEELINGS, AND ALL THAT STUFF THAT GOT YOU TO WALKING ON EGGSHELLS IN THE BEGINNING.
Time to let it go.

Ram Dass, an inspiration writer, with intentions of delivering us back into our souls, wrote, “We’re all just walking each other home.”  It's going to be a more peaceful, joyful, loving walk without eggshells, thin ice, or broken glass underfoot.

Hallelujah. 
Take a hold of someone’s hand and enjoy the journey.