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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

THINGS DON'T MATTER--PEOPLE DO

When you ask me the question, "What brand is that?" or "Who is the manufacturer?" or "Where did you purchase that?".  Most of the time, I do not have a clue.  I rarely have a swoosh, a horse, a name, or an emblem on me.  I am not a shopper, do not keep up with trends, and my fashion sense is stuck in the comfort mode.  Quite frankly, I personally do not think it matters a bit.  


What I am curious about is how these trends of what is cool begin.  Who decides we all must wear North Face, even if we never step a foot on a trail, camp in the wild, or for that matter even watch a documentary on the great outdoors?  And then there are the athletic brands, most of us only dream of being true athletes (some I know have a great disdain for anything involving sweat), BUT have a closet full of swooshes, cats, and all the other emblems seen above.  Could I tell you I have worn the same brand of shoes for almost 30 years.  Who cares what the latest hot brand is if these shoes work, I am not changing.  I have a friend who told me she no longer wears her tried and true brand because she didn't like the colors they now come in.  They could be butt ugly puce, I do not care as long as they treat my feet kindly.


Our society seems to put a huge value on brands, names, and emblems.  We are quick to point out our watch is a Rolex, our car is a BMW, and out clothing all created by some fashion guru who will smirk at this season's designs next season.  We are deeply entrenched in a consumer driven, status seeking, quest to be among those in the know and on the go.  The local thrift store is filled with yesterday's best which flew out the door when tomorrow's newest status symbol hit the shelves of the stores.  


Contrast that to my closet and drawers which have the tried and true clothing, I love to wear.  I LOVE my flannel shirts, worn softened jeans, exercise clothing I have worn for more than 20 years (it's just getting broken in), and that one good black dress which has now been a part of my wardrobe for more than 10 years.  The occasional new number invariably gets pushed to the back and the old favorites are worn over and over.  What I have on is just not that important to me as long as I am decent and above all comfortable.


NOW, if you ask me important questions such as such as what am I reading, great theological mysteries, is the climate changing, what do you think about the state of our country, or anything that is deeper than the latest fashion trend, I am all in for a good conversation.  Frankly I am more interested in what you think than what you have on, drive, or where you live.  People are more important, relationships need to be deepened, and I had rather sit and listen to your story any day of the week.  I do not notice what you have on, but I do notice your expressions and will know what you told me.  I am interested in all of you and would like nothing better than having a deep conversation.  Things don't matter--people do.  

SO--the next time you see me, call me, text me, or email me, heaven only knows what I will have on, BUT want to talk---I'M YOUR GIRL!!  Can't ever get enough!

Everything that belongs to the world~what the sinful self desires,
what people see and want,
and everything in this world that people are so proud of~
none of this comes from the Father,
it all comes from the world.
The world and everything in it that people desire is passing away,
but those who do the will of God live for ever.
I John 2:16-17


Monday, November 4, 2019

TWO SHORT QUESTIONS

I re-watched an old favorite movie recently. In case you have forgotten, let me once again remind you there are God lessons all around us---even in a secular movie.


NO--I am not going to delve into the subject of "Bucket Lists".  I will save that for another day.  The great thing about re-watching or re-reading is that the second time through, I many times find something profound that I missed the first time.  Once again this proved to be the case.

In one of the scenes Freeman says “You know, the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls got to the entrance to heaven, the guards asked two questions.  Their answers determined whether they were able to enter or not.  ‘Have you found joy in your life?’  ‘Has your life brought joy to others?’”   WHAM, it got me right between the eyes!


Most of us have experienced joy in our lives.  While life is not endlessly joyful, there are certainly wonderful moments of joy along the path.  The birth of a child or grandchild come to mind immediately when considering my moments of joy.  The glimpse of breath-taking and soul filling sights has filled me to the brim with joy.  Deep conversation and the company of good friends create a joyful heart in me.  The first glimpse of spring blooms, the change of colors in the fall leaves, and the shear beauty of a carpet of snow have all filled me with joy.  Those special moments of worship when the presence of God was palatable that have left me so joyful I was moved to tears.  Suffice it to say, my life has been filled with joy.

The deep and thought provoking question is "Has your life brought joy to others?"  Joy is defined as a feeling of great happiness and pleasure in the secular world.  The question therefore becomes have you brought pleasure and happiness to others?  Some of us have certainly brought happiness and pleasure to our children and grandchildren.   Unfortunately, the happiness and pleasure can often be short lived.  The question then becomes, "What have you done for me today?"  Doesn't the simple act of loving another bring happiness and pleasure?   We all want to be loved and for others to treat us with love brings us joy.  BUT--this is all fleeting, temporary because it is of this world.

It would seem the answer to both of these questions might be summarized by the temporary state of joy found in most earthly pleasures.  Here today, but gone tomorrow, we are then on a quest to find the next glimpse of joy.  Is there any eternal infinite joy?

Yes, joy is eternal and infinite to the Believer.  Joy is an essential part of the Believer's life.  We are told Believers are "commanded to rejoice and characterized by rejoicing." (Desiring God)  When we experience suffering and loss, our deep reservoir of joy is often that which sustains us.  Though we sometimes feel desolate and drained, completely devoid of joy, we can rest assured that God is committed to our joy in Him.  We will have moments of joy on this terrestrial ball, but our complete and eternal joy is only found in Jesus.  
"It is good news that joy is not optional in the Christian life, because the final weight falls not on our weak backs, but on the almighty shoulders of God himself."  Yes--we know joy--and because of this joy---we share the reason for our joy with others.  We have known joy and we have shared this joy with others, because it is too good to not share with those whom we love.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you,
 and that your joy may be full.
John 15:11

Sunday, October 27, 2019

THERE WAS JESUS


IN THE WAITING, IN THE SEARCHING

EVERY MINUTE, EVERY MOMENT,

EVEN WHEN I COULDN'T SEE IT





BLESSED SABBATH,

DEAR FRIENDS

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

ALL ALONE

A short story some will identify with.  Be aware of the stranger in your midst~

I didn't really want to go, but I knew I should.  Even knowing I should make the effort, I immediately began to make excuses.  I did not have the right thing to wear--my closet-though stuffed-was filled with all the wrong things.  Of course, it would also require effort on getting ready to make an appearance.  I could not go without adequate preparation.  A little make up and some effort to make my hair half way decent were a must.  I kept thinking, this is so much trouble--it would be easier to stay at home--all alone.

Slowly I began to half way get it together, all the time knowing I would not look right, would stick out like a sore thumb, and others would stare.  It is always mortifying to walk into a strange place where you know no one and have the entire room turn and look.  Surely they all know I don't belong there, I am a stranger in their midst.  Surely they know my past, and my present--all disqualifies me from entering the room.  This is so hard---why am I doing this?  It would be easier to be all alone.

I finally manage to get myself in my car for the short trip.  The next obstacle will be parking and getting in the door.  Where is the right place to park, will I be the only person walking in alone?  Finally I make the trip, park the car (hopefully not in some one's permanent parking place,) and slowly walk toward the door.  There are people holding the door open and they greet me as I enter in the midst of a crowd.  Now to figure out which way to go.  Following the crowd usually works well, but what if the crowd is going to a different event?  What if I get lost?   It really is easier to be all alone.

Finally I enter the room where I am supposed to be.  It has dim lights and people scattered throughout the room.  What if I sit in the wrong spot?  What if I get some one's seat?  What was I thinking coming here?  I take a chance and plop down in a seat toward the back of the room.  Hoping to be inconspicuous, but longing for a kind word.  I sit on a row of seats, with only a few joining me.  Slowly the room fills, and the chatter starts.  The row I have chosen slowly fills and groups of friends and families are chattering away among themselves.  I sit and observe feeling absolutely all alone.

The lights dim and the music starts, perhaps when we are now focused toward the front, I will not feel so out of place.  Surely if all eyes are forward I am not sticking out all alone in my spot.  The introductions are brief and then we are told to greet one another.  BUT I KNOW NO ONE!  There is the polite "Good Morning" from those right by my side, but they quickly turn to those they are familiar with, so now everyone realizes I am all alone.

Finally we get back to the point of the meeting, and everyone is gazing toward the front.  This is the most comfortable I have been since I walked through the door.  Finally it is over, and I follow the crowds as they head for the exit.  Plans are being made all around for being together, as I try my best to just get out the door.  Bolting for my car, I slowly edge my way out of the parking lot and back to my home and the comfort within those walls.  I did the right thing, I went to be with those who are like me, but do not see me.  Often I suspect this is the loneliest time of the week for many--being surrounded by the good people with a common cause.  A sad reminder of being alone while in a crowd was all around as I headed for home.  Why make the effort, why try, when it really is easier and less painful to just be all alone.


16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
Psalms 25:16

Monday, October 21, 2019

IT'S EPIDEMIC

This past week I had lunch with an old friend I had not seen for some time.  I came away reminded of a wide spread epidemic in today's world~Loneliness.  We have evolved into a technologically driven world with every modern convenience at our fingertips~and perhaps we are more alone than ever. 


Loneliness has no boundaries--it afflicts both sexes, all economic classes, all ages,  all education levels, every nationality~in fact every social group you can come up with.  We have slowly evolved into an isolated society with phones in our hands, eyes cast down, continually scanning our screens for what we might need to know while the world moves around us.  We seem to have lost the ability to interact face to face except in brief forced spurts where we grasp for something to talk about.  Often we end up talking about what we have seen on social media in those desperate grasps for conversation.   A deep fog of isolation and the quiet stillness of separation fill our days and nights.


My friend spoke of the good advice to keep busy from well meaning friends.  Unfortunately busyness can be achieved in the midst of being alone.  There is only one cure for loneliness and it always involves others.  Somehow-someway we have to break through our shells, step away from our media devices, and seek the companionship of our fellow man.  



The blame certainly does not fall completely on those who are lonely.  Loneliness drives us to seek companionship and when all else fails we take any measures necessary to end our isolation-even staring at our devices.  The road which leads to companionship is a two way street.  We must seek others and be open to the approach of those who seek us out.

Well, My Friends, it is one thing to write about this and another to step up to the plate and do something about the lonely ones placed in our paths.  What do I intend to do?  What do you intend to do?  It's time to work to end this epidemic and live as God created us--in communion with one another.





Sunday, October 20, 2019

I WILL WAIT FOR YOU

ONE OF THE

HYMNS WE WERE

BLESSED TO SING

WITH THE GETTY'S




BLESSED SABBATH,

DEAR FRIENDS