New Year – Prayer

Hello,

Today’s New Year’s topic is prayer.  Once again I’m terribly shortcoming in this area of my life.  In my younger adult years, I really struggled accepting that I needed to pray.  I figured that God knew everything that I ever would think about praying for way before I ever even knew about it myself.  On top of that, I had the attitude that God’s will would win out no matter if I prayed for it to happen or not.  So what’s the use of putting in the time to pray if it really had no purpose?  Oh and here’s the kicker, I actually became convinced that God was doing the opposite of what I prayed for.  People would ask me to pray for them.  Of course, I would tell them that I would pray and I even made sure I did (at least once), but in my head I would think, ‘You don’t know what you’re asking.’  Do you remember the Old Testament story in Numbers 22-24 about how Balak, the Moabite King, hired Balaam to curse the Israelite people?  Every time he attempted to curse them, he ended up blessing them instead.  Well, I felt like my prayer life was similar, only in reverse.  When I cried out for God’s blessings on someone, something bad would happen.  I was not the one you’d want on your church’s prayer team!

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Even in my rebellion, there would be times I would feel guilty for largely abandoning prayer.  I knew that Christians were supposed to pray.  You can’t read the Bible and escape reading about people who prayed – David, Daniel, Paul, and even Jonah (who was a prime example of a rebel) prayed.  Then, of course, there is the Lord’s Prayer.  If God acted completely without regard to prayer, why would Jesus give His disciples (and us) an example of how to pray?  I finally came to the conclusion that, even if the idea of why people should pray is beyond my comprehension, God wants us to pray and I needed to obey Him in this area.

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New Year – Bible Reading




Hello and happy new year!

I’ve had a struggle in deciding what to write about for today’s blog post.  I had decided awhile back to write each week of January about a specific desirable trait that may motivate us all toward being better in some way.  Then I thought that instead of my writings centering around us, I should take on an attribute of God to write about during each of the five weeks.  I also liked the idea of these God reflections being a separate mini course that you would have the choice of joining or not.  However, setting up the separate course would require some extra legwork on my part to get the technology straight.  Because I’ve been a little pinched for time lately and I’d really like this course to be well thought out, I’ve decided to stick with my original idea for now (and be like every other blogger around), but reserve the mini course for another time when it can have my undivided attention.  But for now, I’ll dive into the first resolution of mine. Continue reading

Setting Priorities for the New Year

 

What is your favorite holiday?  My guess is that most people living in a “Christian society” around the world would say that Christmas is their favorite holiday.  Although I can understand the reasons for selecting this day as your number one, I have to admit that my favorite is New Year’s Day.  Part of the reason behind me selecting this day is because it is one of the rare celebratory days that is largely untouched by commercialism (unless you count football commercials).  The bigger reason likely has to do with my personality.  I am an optimist and I love the theory, however faulty it may be, that I can become a better person.

From my earliest memories, I have made New Year’s Resolutions.  I have vowed to be better at reading my Bible and have read the first few chapters of Genesis countless times, but the first few pages of Numbers are much whiter.  I have joined the crowd and pledged to lose weight through a variety of ways.  In an attempt to conquer the mountain of magazines that threatens to start an avalanche any day, I’ve resolved to read one of the issues each week.  Multiple years have found me promising (and re-promising) to organize my family pictures.  I’ve tried setting up rigorous exercise routines.  You name it, if it is a weakness of mine (and I have a plethora to pick from), I’ve tried to make a change for the better at some point in my life.   Continue reading

Traveling through the Desert




My son and I have been reading through the book of Joshua together.  This book of the Bible begins is a very captivating way.  The first chapters contain espionage, the miraculous dividing of the Jordan River so that the Israelites could walk through on dry ground, and the conquest of the formidable city of Jericho that began with a march and a shout.  There is even an unexpected heroine – a woman who was formerly a harlot and who later became a pivotal person in the lineage of Jesus.  I love these stories and believe every single word is true, no matter how improbable they sound to the modern reader, because they are taken from the Word of God.

If you’ve never read the book of Joshua, or even if you have, I would encourage you to read it.  I think you will find it riveting…that is, until you reach chapter twelve.  This is where the tone shifts and most of the remainder of the book gets a bit dull.  There are seemingly endless lists of names – names of former kings who ruled over the land of Canaan, names of regions and cities, and names of the tribes of Israel who inherited land there.  At least in the first two categories, I find the names largely unpronounceable.  I muster through them as best I can and suspect I mispronounce them differently each time they are repeated.  And that’s when the thought emerges: these lists are boring, they have nothing to do with me, and I think I will close down the remaining Dry, parched desert groundchapters of this book and start reading somewhere else – anywhere else.  Surely God can’t expect me to get anything out of reading this stuff.

 

However, I do believe that God is not a God of fluff.  You can’t always trust human writers.  Maybe a publisher has told a prospective author that their book cannot be published unless it has so many pages or chapters.  So they throw in extraneous detail.  It would be easy to think that God is doing that in the latter chapters of Joshua or maybe to think that the information was only relevant to another people or another time.  On the contrary, I believe God has given us the whole Bible and expects that we read the whole Bible.  Once I gave a Bible as a gift.  Expecting that it might get tossed aside, I inserted bills of varied amounts within its pages.  I hoped that if it was read, the diligent reader would find the hidden treasure. Continue reading

The Lost Art of Letter Writing




I have a question for you: when was the last time you wrote a letter?  To clarify, signing your name to birthday or Christmas cards doesn’t count as “writing a letter”.  If you are like most of us, your pen has been replaced by a keyboard and you wouldn’t have a clue as to what a first class stamp costs these days.  You can send a series of texts blindfolded and if you are feeling particularly long-winded, you take a deep breath and pound out an email to communicate.

lake house mailboxSo, what’s the big deal?  Why even bother looking for some stationary, an envelope, a pen, and a stamp, when you can just pull your phone out of your pocket and send a tweet?

Here are just a few advantages of writing an old-fashioned letter:

  • It is more personal.  Not only are the words yours, but the style of writing and the form of the individual letters are unique to you.  I love looking at the variety of penmanship on the envelopes that come through my box.  Many times you can guess the age of the writer, just by looking at the way they write each letter.  Older adults are more likely to use cursive than younger people.  In fact, my son can barely read script because it is rarely used among his peers.  I, however, grew up in a time when proper handwriting was taught.  So, others who fall in my age group tend to have a similar form with slight variations learned when we were no longer under the threat of a ruler.
  • Not only is the handwriting more variable, but the card itself allows you to express your style.  I fondly recall people from whom I received frequent letters when I was a child and I can still bring up memories of the kind of paper they usually used.  I had a friend who easily wrote volumes – and she had tiny print!  Being economical, she started writing on onion skin paper.  This paper was durable, but very thin, allowing the writer to send more pages at the same postage rate.  My grandmother would often make her own cards.  She’d cut out pictures or press flowers to use as decorations.  Both the messages she expressed and the time she spent personalizing them made her letters very special to me.
  • Speaking of nostalgia, it is easier to save handwritten communiques.  Think of all the love letters from years past that are in trunks and attics with ribbons tied around them.  I do have special emails that I’ve saved in a folder on my phone, but I know they could be easily wiped out accidentally.
  • Not all communications are positive.  Who hasn’t written something in anger only to regret it later when they have time to cool off?  Both traditional and digital letters can get to a point of no return, but it more likely to happen when you can transmit a text or email in seconds.  A written letter usually has time to retrieve it before the mail carrier comes.stone mailbox
  • Stamps – I dare you to try to find a young child these days that has a stamp collection.  Do you remember writing a secret phrase that was hidden under the stamp on the card you sent to someone special?  Does it really mean you love your electric company if you accidentally place your stamp upside down (or that you’ve just misplaced your reading glasses)?
  • There’s something about opening your mailbox and finding a letter that you can hold in your hands.  I guess it’s like the difference between a book that has pages to turn and the new variety that has pages that need to be swiped.mail truck mailbox

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Decorating with JOY

Decorating with Joy ornament


Want to see what I’ve been up to?  I’ve been making deco mesh garlands to hang on our front porch.  You see, last year was the final straw for the pre-lit garlands we’d put out for years.  Every year it was the same hassle, most of it brought on by my less than logical mind.  I’d hang six garlands along our railing.  My obsessiveness would take over as to whether they each had the same amount of swag and if the lights were pointing in ways that could be seen from the street.  I’d adjust here and there and finally, not because they were perfect, but because my fingers were freezing, I’d decide enough was enough and it was time to plug them in.  That’s when I’d discover that I’d hung them all in the wrong direction and the plug prong was at the opposite end from the plug.  So, I’d have to take them all down and hang them up again in the opposite direction, my frozen brain caring a little less about how good they looked, as long as they lit.  Of course, there always were one or two that wouldn’t light up unless they were in a specific spot (still don’t understand the reasoning there).  So, at the end of last season, I chucked them!

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I am now going to say something that may shock some of you – I HATE decorating!  Despite the capital letters, I whispered that statement.  It seems almost “unChristian” to dislike decorating for Christmas.  From what I can tell by listening to others, there aren’t many who sympathize with my anti-decorating mindset.  I talked to a patient last year who confessed to having three Christmas trees.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I don’t even have a single one. Continue reading

The Love of a Neighbor





Juicy red tomato

Have you ever had a day that was so hectic that you were running around like a chicken with your head cut off?  Sometimes, when all the dust clears, you find that in the chaos you fulfilled that picture by doing something mindless.  I have found some things in pretty odd places because I absentmindedly put down what I was holding in a crazy place.  I know when I was younger I accidentally put ice cream in the refrigerator and when I later saw the pools of melted gummy ingredients, I didn’t think I could ever eat ice cream again.  Wish I could say that resolve lasted.

Anyway, a few months ago I was having one of those mornings of insanity.  I was leading a staff meeting that day which was likely to be taken as confrontational.  I decided that a home cooked luncheon might “tame the savage beast”.  As part of a meal, I threw together a simple lettuce and tomato salad.  Food in hand, I rushed off to work. Continue reading

Cleaning Helps my Family AND my Neighbors




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Hello friends and co-cleaners,

Our cleaning challenge is officially over (Woo-Hoo!) and I think we should each give ourselves a pat on the back.  I admit that I don’t like to clean any more than the average person does.  Believe me, leaving the traditional work force hasn’t caused me to become so bored that I look forward to socializing with my duster and iron.  Send for the men in the white coats when that starts to happen because it’s a pretty good sign that I’ve gone right over the edge!  However, I am so proud of myself (and you too!) for tackling this big task and not just laying down until the motivation passes.  As a reminder as to why it was good that we generated some elbow grease, here were some benefits that I saw as I went along these last 5 weeks:

  • My allergies have less to sneeze about
  • I have found things that I thought I lost for good
  • My appliances are in better working order and are safer now
  • I don’t have to run and hide when someone rings the doorbell
  • I have discovered many things that may help others

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Are you having an identity crisis too?




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Do you remember the struggles of your teen years?  I do.  Leaving the carefree times of childhood and advancing toward adult life left me in this in-between state of uncertainty.  Probably one of the most dreaded questions I could be asked was “What are you going to do when you grow up?”  My answer changed by the day, sometimes by the hour.  The truth is that I didn’t have the foggiest idea and that was scary!

The good news is that I ended up in an occupation I love.  How?  I can only say that it must have been whispered into my subconscious by God because I certainly wasn’t heading toward the dental field – even when I walked onto campus my first year of college.  However, once I started down this path, I never looked back.  More often than not, when talking to people about what they do, I think to myself, ‘Wow, I’m sure glad I’m doing what I’m doing!’  There is a serenity about knowing you are in the right place at the right time.  All is well in the world. Continue reading

A View from Above




As you may recall, last week we were continuing our Fall Cleaning Challenge by deep cleaning our living room (or maybe you picked your family room or media room).  It wasn’t an easy task for me, but I found that it was important to do.  There was the uck! moment of the wrapped, gray package of Smarties that had found a hiding place I didn’t know existed under our couch cushions.  On the other hand, I was excited to find a pair of reading glasses that had also slipped into an unknown area.  Believe me, reading glasses are more valuable than finding coins these days!  Continue reading