“Like a weaned child…”

Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord–now and always. Psalm 131

This is my Psalm for when I become agitated about anything–especially politics or worry about loved ones. I picture myself on Abba’s lap, still nickering a little from crying. He’s big enough to hold me, loves me enough to comfort me. I lean my head against His chest and hear His heartbeat.

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WORTHLESS THINGS

In my prayer time, I pray for my country and the leaders, as the Scriptures instruct me to do.  Lately my prayers go like this:  “God, please bless President Trump and his family.  Protect them and keep them safe.” And because I am so sick of all the hate-Trump rhetoric, I pray, “And please, shut the yapping mouths.” I’m thinking I’m on solid ground there from Psalm 27:5.

In my heart I believe He told me, “that’s up to you—you don’t have to listen or read those things.”  I immediately think of Psalm101:3 as I’ve always read it – “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes.”

Well, that is certainly revolutionizing my Facebook-lurking, television-watching and newspaper-reading.

First of all, I am “hiding” Facebook posts that try to guilt me into re-posting.  “If you love Jesus…”  Well, I do love Jesus, but I think my time would be better served by writing an encouraging note to my cousin’s widower.  Not that I do it, you understand, but it would be better.

Then, political. I get my dander up, and for what?  I can’t change a blooming thing.  I stay informed and I vote, but beyond that…

Now, others may not agree with me, but I love the pictures of puppies and kittens and videos about their antics.

Back to blocking or hiding.  Anything Hollywood.  These people are paid obscene amounts of money for acting, which is pretending to be something they aren’t.  And I should care what they think?

Shall I get off Facebook all together?  No.  Because of Facebook I am still in touch with my many cousins and with friends from every season of my life. For that I am thankful.

So here I sit at my computer, next to an east-facing window where I can see the sun come up day after day, reminding me of God’s faithfulness.  Hear me singing?  “From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, the Lord’s name is to be praised.” I think that’s from a Psalm somewhere.

HE HOLDS ME TOGETHER

What’s on my mind, you ask. Well, this morning when I went to prayer, my first words to Him were, “Thank you. You hold me together.”

I’m a mess without Jesus.

Times with family and friends warm my heart and energize me.

When I’m reading the Bible I read something so wonderful I want to stand on a chair and shout.

Other times depression knocks at my door and I invite it to come in and sit a spell.

I look to the future, and I’m tempted to fear, but then He reminds me of how faithfully and graciously He has led us so far.

Looking for a Psalm or specific verse to explain what I’m feeling, and I can’t narrow it down. There are so many. For this morning I’ll settle on this verse that speaks to me strongly:

“Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.” (Hebrews 6:11)

There He reminds me to keep on keeping on, and He’ll be with me all the way. That holds me together.

CHILI AND FRIENDSHIPS

I was making chili the other night and besides being grateful that no native Texan would be eating my Northern-based chili, I thought about music.  I kept tasting the mix and as I did, I caught the different tones, notes if you will.

There was plenty of soprano—piquancy—because of all the tomatoes.  (Texas chili shuns tomatoes)  Alto range was covered by the molasses and the cumin.  Alto seems to me round and warm, sweet but not too sweet.  Tenor, the heat—chilies, jalapeno…somehow tenor snaps the eyes open and makes one pay attention.

What my chili lacked, I decided, was bass, darkness…base!  It needed something.  There was enough meat, but I think I didn’t brown it hard, dark enough.

I added some soy sauce, but that made it too salty.  Worcestershire sauce which helped some but I never got it quite right.

Chili, like watermelons and sermons get judged at our house:  Was it good?  Great?  So-so? The best one this year? This chili was barely ho hum.

Memorable chili, like everything else, needs to be perfectly balanced.

Friendships are like that.  In our careless use of the term friend, we say we have many, but great friendships come along only once or twice in a lifetime.

While the relationship will not be free of tension—indeed if it were it would not be perfectly balanced, it will have a solid bass.  At least one aspect of the friendship will be rock-solid, stable. And from that place, or note, the other components will bring themselves into relative pitch.

Friendship components which I believe need to be nearly equal for a pleasing harmony include intellectual, spiritual, and philosophical, in terms of passion and rationally developed positions.

Friends may disagree—be poles apart—if they can respect the perceptions of the other.

This is from a journal entry from November 12, 1993

MOURNING IS COMPLICATED

mourningThe thing about morning chores—bed-making, kitchen cleaning, mundane matters for sure—is that my mind is left free to roam over the rolling pastures of long-ago memories, people I’ve known, questions I have and random intentions.  If I were a better Christian I would use that time to pray for people and to simply praise God for all the goodness He’s shown me over the years.  Sometimes I do that, but this morning was one of those other times, and my thoughts turned to mourning.

One constant truth in life is change. And so this morning, five days after my birthday, I realize I’m mourning even though no one in my immediate family has died.  Believe me, I’m overwhelmingly grateful. I know I have been blessed beyond measure to still have my husband and all my children are alive.  But no, our son-in-law died, and we still grieve losing him.

Still there have been other losses–profound losses, and some losses you never get over. I’m 77 years old, and I still miss my mother. I think of Mom at some point of every day.  I just wrote a short story about a mother who sang hymns as she worked around the house.  It was based on Mom.  I know the words to old hymns because I heard them from Mom.

Not all losses are people. My health comes to mind. I remember when I took great pride in being able to tear through a volume of work that would have taken someone else a whole day.  I know my health problems are my own fault, but that doesn’t help.  In fact, that’s another thing I grieve—I used to be able to recover quickly. Yes, when I was younger–let’s face it, I miss my youth.  Those days when the kids were young…I remember lots of laughter then.

As I think of friends who have recently said final goodbyes to their husbands, I recognize, however much I sympathize with them, I don’t understand, not really.  And here’s my conclusion:  Mourning is solitary. Nobody else can do it for you.

Jesus walked that lonesome valley

He had to walk it by himself.

Oh, nobody else could walk it for him

He had to walk it by himself.

I pray I will remember that little chorus, and comfort myself.  However lonely I feel, while it is true nobody else can walk my valley for me, still, Jesus is cheering me on and will embrace me at the end, saying “Well done!” I know, with Jesus we are never alone, but I stand by my statement: Mourning is solitary.

HAAALP! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!

In silly, juvenile moments, when some thrilling little disaster seems imminent, like tipping over the highest peak of a roller coaster, we scream with glee, “Haaalp, we’re all gonna die.”  Of course it’s a stupid thing to say, but during such events, we’re not looking for well-reasoned responses.

The truth?  We are all going to die.

LIFE, God-breathed life is a divine mystery. It can be miserable, nearly intolerable, with no observable value, and yet we cling to it with all our diminishing might.

LIFE, God-infused life can be glorious, a wonder of Son-washed glory, and yet we take it for granted, fully expecting it to go on indefinitely. We waste precious hours doing no one any good.

One phrase in our wedding song was something to the effect that at the end of our lives we would go together still.  I love that idea and for years I prayed my husband and I would go to Heaven at the same time.

We were in the ER at Memorial Hospital in Savannah, Georgia.  Himself was having an emergency angiogram and I was waiting in the room designated for just that—waiting. I’d been told the process would take a half hour or forty-five minutes. I waited.

On the other side of the small room a woman about my age engaged me in conversation. She was quite familiar with angiograms and heart-related issues.  We agreed open-heart surgery was a wonderful, life-saving procedure, but men often exhibit changes in personality afterward. I asked her how her husband was doing now, and she cheered me up with the flat statement, “He died.”

Forty-five minutes went by, then an hour.  I reminded the Lord I had asked for us to go to Heaven at the same time.  Immediately I sensed His rebuke. Psalm 31:15 popped up in my mind.  “My times are in your hands.” I felt as though He was saying, “The length of your days is MY business. You don’t get a vote.”

Another half-hour passed during which I contemplated what I would do if Himself died during the angiogram.  I could not imagine driving the 1300 miles home with his body in the car, having to cross state lines and all.  Our intention is for us to be cremated, so I would arrange for that in Savannah. Or is there a law about having cremains in your car?

I would just have to call our son to fly out and drive our car back.

Just then a solemn-looking fellow in a suit, surely a Chaplain, came down the hall.  Here we go, I thought.

He went on by without glancing in my direction.

That which I greatly feared did not come upon me.  Himself was fine and life went on, but I have a new understanding about my final days.  It’s HIS business and He has done well by me for a lot of years. Psalm 31 again.  I will trust in you, Lord.

It’s too late for either of us to die young or tragically. Naturally I would prefer to shuffle off this mortal coil with a certain amount of grace and dignity, but I can’t depend on it.  Mostly I’d like to go before it’s a relief to anyone, but I don’t have a choice there, either.

I do know where I’m going, and I know who will lead me there.  “All the way my Savior leads me; what have I to ask beside?”

FLIP THE SCRIPT – First edition

 

morning prayerWindows in my study face east.  Perfect for morning devotions. Even very early, light from the street filters through Venetian blinds. Squinting my eyes, I can imagine the window frames form a cross.  An interesting focal point even though I know the Cross of consequence stood on a knoll in Israel, not in a quiet, air-conditioned, newly dusted house in Temple, Texas.

 

Growing up as the daughter of Christ-following parents and learning my Catechism in a church with solid Biblical foundations, the necessity for daily devotions is practically part of my DNA.

 

I don’t wish to imply great piety on my part—my motivation to excel in Catechism classes was my determination to do better than my best friend, Mary, whose Dad was the pastor.

 

Still, tightly woven into my brain waves is the conviction I should have daily devotions.

 

Should.  There’s that word again.

 

Lately a phrase runs through my mind:  “Flip the script.” Especially as concerns “should.”

 

This season of life affords me the freedom to take as much “quiet time” as I want.  As I flip the script, I move from getting the obligation of devotions over with so I can go on to whatever else it is I want to do, to settling in my plumb-wore-out easy chair, contemplating what the Cross has done for me.

 

For me!  The Creator of the Universe, the One who bared his holy arm and called into being the earth, the skies, the seas and all that in them dwell, Almighty God is making Himself known to me!  I almost can’t stand it.

 

As I sit there, His love, His fathomless billows of love wash over me, swamp me, and in my Spirit, I sense His chuckle. I know, it seems impossible, but I believe it amuses Him to sweep me off my feet, to remind me of how His ways, His “shoulds” are all for my good.

 

Here’s the bonus:  When I do take time for morning devotions, when I do what I should, my whole day goes better.  Seriously, everything in my day goes better.  Isn’t that interesting?

 

 

 

SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER

 

“Sweet hour of prayer…that calls me from a world of care…” so goes the old hymn running through my old head this morning.

 

The reason I say “old head” is because I’ve been at this a long time.  I never did not know Jesus is real, and I have always known my day goes better when I begin with prayer.  Yet prayer is more than running down my litany of wants and needs. I am more aware every day that prayer is a conversation with Earthmaker who is daily making Himself known to me.

This morning my cranial computer is spinning with so many disparate thoughts:

Is the restaurant I suggested for meeting with out-of-town friends the best choice?  I love the food, but the place is not set up for leisurely conversation.

And they are coming to our home later—I need to spruce up the place.

As I look forward to their visit, I think of questions I want to ask.

They were in church with us last night.

Oh, the teaching was wonderful and I need time to process it.

What a blessing to have their friendship which brings to mind all the love we received from the men and women at church…

 

You see, Father?  I need you for so many reasons.  Help me remember what I need to remember. Thank you for forgiveness, thank you for…I need you, oh, I need you…another hymn clicks in. Here in your presence, Lord, I am undone…there’s music on my inner CD.

 

Flip the script.  What do you want from me, today?

 

I think I hear Him say, be aware.

 

Last night the message was BE READY.  I believe I do live in readiness, and I want to please the Lord in my everyday life.  And so He says, be aware.

 

Noises in the kitchen make me aware my day is beginning.  It’s time to set about today’s duties, to do the mundane tasks of running a home—dusting, sweeping…and in everything give thanks for this is the will of God concerning me. In everything give thanks, being aware He is with me, leading, guiding, protecting, and giving wisdom and insight.

 

Return to thy rest, o my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”  (Psalm 116:7)  Or to put it another way, God is so good!  (Another chorus there)

 

 

 

 

 

THINK ABOUT THE LORD

 

Bits and pieces of an old chorus—I remember part of the melody—let’s see:  “Think about the Lord.  Think about His goodness.  Think about the…la, la, la…He’s brought you through.  For as high as the heavens above, so great is the Savior’s love to us…”

 

Anyway, as I was praying this Good Friday morning, I said to the Lord, “One of the many things I love about you is your consistency.  You are always good.  You are always faithful.  You are always loving and forgiving, merciful, gracious, and most of all, you are always there. Or should I say, you are always here.

 

Another chorus, from a Psalm “He’s my rock, He’s my fortress, in Him will I trust.”

 

On the other hand, think about people, even those you love.

Sister A. is so much fun—when she’s not whiny.  Brother B. is an interesting person, but he tends to be a little bit, shall we say, disingenuous in his business dealings. Brother C. is charming in his own way but his sense of humor tends toward the risqué.  We love Sister D. but her enjoyment of poor health and the detailing of it is a bit wearing sometimes. Brother E. is a wonderful Christian, but has hygiene issues. We love how Sister F. finds our conversation fascinating but then we discover her true gift is in the area of eliciting personal information and disseminating it.  Only to her most trusted confidants, you understand.

 

It is how it is with us of Adam’s race.  Someone else writing this could reveal how my good qualities attract, yet there are these annoying, and yes, inconsistent attributes.

 

Only God is always good, faithful, kind, gracious, merciful, forgiving and blessedly present.

 

In His plan, by rubbing shoulders with brother and sisters A through Z, we become more like Him.  We need each other.  Like a great big puzzle, we fit together and comprise the whole CHURCH.

 

It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming!  See you in church.

A Single Word

Most of the time I am really quite holy

and wholly committed to live in Christ.

Then there are days when a stray word,

like a spark hitting dry prairie

starts a fire of introspection

and wishing maybe some of the reward

wouldn’t have to wait.

So I gave myself a pity party.

No one else attended.