IMPORTANT NOTICE

The only reliable way to see the blog post daily is to sign up to receive the link by email. On the right side of the page there is a link "Follow By Email". You only have to put your email there to receive it as it is posted. You email address does not show anywhere on the blog and is completely private.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

LET'S MAKE A DEAL

I get a certain amount of thrill from car shopping.  This past week I once again struck a deal for a set of wheels.  Because I am on the road alone a great deal, I try to get a new car every 5-6 years.  Making the deal is the best part of the entire transaction.  My last vehicle I bought in Fort Worth and made the entire deal on line.  I know you know you can purchase automobiles without having a salesman chase you around the lot. Why I see on television they even have car vending machines now.  How long must it take to put those quarters in that machine to buy that vehicle?? Back to Fort Worth, when I went to pick the car up, the F & I guy gave me the strong arm for two hours over extended warranty, etc.  I was NOT happy!  I finally explained to him, I was leaving without the car he wanted to sell me if he spent another five minutes explaining the error of my thinking.


This time around, I first went to a trusted life long friend.  NOW, I trust him, but I also had done my research before going to see him.  He tried to sell me extended warranty-he is a big believer in warranties.  I asked could I buy it anytime within the warranty period and he assured me I could.  I assured him if I was still alive at the close of the warranty, I would consider purchasing an extended warranty.  We came to terms and a few days later, I am picking up the vehicle.  After I signed my name for about a dozen times, it came time to write the check.  A cramp seized me hand the minute I began to fill that check out.  He laughed and told me it wouldn't hurt long.  Kind of like the promise you get when they pull that syringe out for the vaccine.

The fun part of buying a vehicle is chasing the best deal.  It helps that I have done the accounting for automobile dealerships in the past and know the ins and outs.  The little secrets they don't necessarily advertise--the incentives the companies give them.  

We all like to think we have made a good deal.  Women are the worst at telling you immediately after you compliment their clothing what a good deal they got.  All those years I traveled with my hiking group, we loved telling others how we did it all on a shoestring budget.  The thrill of thinking you have made a good deal---got the upper hand is irresistible. 

BUT-have you ever suffered from buyers remorse?  Have you ever walked away from the deal and KNOWN you had been had?  A valuable and sometimes expensive lesson in deal making can come at the end of the day.

Today (Wednesday) is known as SPY WEDNESDAY in Christianity.  The day Judas struck the deal to rat out Jesus.  Talking about remorse--his was so profound it led to his death.  30 pieces of silver for the life of The Messiah.  Oh, you can throw the money away, but that does not take away the guilt of betrayal.  Judas's bad deal equals the original bad deal struck in the Garden of Eden.  The huge difference between those two deals though is one led to the fall of mankind and the other led to the redemption of mankind.  Let that sink in---as we pause and remember mid-week of Holy Week.  Praying we can all stay away from bad deals with eternal consequences and instead strike a deal with a promise you cannot afford to walk away from-Eternal Life.

  • "Then one of the twelve, the one called Judas Iscariot-
  • went to the chief priests, and asked,
  • 'What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him over to you?
  • So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver.
  • From then on, Judas watched for an opportunity to hand Him over.
  • Matthew 26:14-16

.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

TERMINAL DIAGNOSIS

If you have not had the scare of a potential terminal diagnosis yet, it probably is coming.  I have had a few, which thankfully have all resolved with either time or a scalpel.  It has always led to a rehearsal of "Getting My Stuff Together" before the final curtain.  Always I once again review my will, my end of life directives, and most importantly, cleaned out my drawers, closets, and cabinets.  EVERY Southern woman lives in dread of sudden death and all of her friends finding out she was a closet slob all her life.  We all want everyone to think we are neat and tidy--have our act together.  What a joke!




I have entered the season of life when friends are now living with terminal diagnoses.  Our bodies are not meant to live forever and they begin to wear out.  Heart problems, kidney failures, poorly functioning lungs, and of course, cancer loom large in the lives of many of my peers.  The question becomes not if we will die, but the length of term remaining in the terminal.  It can be an ominous presence in our lives.  It can also give us time to prepare for what is coming.  It is coming for all of us.  I love the expression, "We don't get out of this alive."   "It is appointed unto men once to die." Hebrews 9:27  Some are given a last call--warning buzzer if you might, to prepare and get our ducks in a row.


We are given the gift of saying our final good byes with dignity and grace.  As COVID has made us keenly aware, not everyone gets that opportunity to say good bye--stand by their loved one in those final moments.  In my professional career, I have encountered more times than I care to remember things being left in a mess when someone passes.  It is NOT a favor to anyone you love to not prepare for the inevitable.

What must Jesus have thought as He rode into Jerusalem that final time with the crowds going wild?  He knew---He knew before He ever slipped into this world where it would end and how.  He was born with a terminal diagnosis of becoming the Sacrificial Lamb.  He knew from the very beginning He would stand between life and death for all those Who call Him Savior.  The final days stretched out before Jesus.  Did He know He had taken care His business of this Earth?  His final days drew Him to the long ago prophesied conclusion.  He knew how He would die and the pain He would suffer--and yet He stayed the course and fulfilled all that had been foretold.  He finished well--Will We?

"No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.

My body rests in safety.

For you will not leave my soul among the dead 

or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.  

You will show me the way of life,

granting me the joy of Your presence 

and the pleasures of living with you forever."

Psalm 16:9-11 


Monday, March 29, 2021

YOU HAVE TO LOVE A PARADE

We ALL love a parade---or do we?  Personally I love a parade--from a distance.  My late father in law often reminded us "I have the best seat in the house while watching football."  That seat was his recliner, where he might nod off for a short nap if the game was not exciting, and all the comforts of home were at his hand. I might be guilty of enjoying parades, like Pappaw, from a distance.


 We all enjoy the holiday parades; unless you are in the kitchen preparing the feast.

Personally, I am not a fan of large crowds and have a slight case of claustrophobia when in a crush of hordes of people.  


WHO in their right mind would want to be in this parade?  Look at bull #2 who is bearing down on the fellow on the ground.  I do not get it!  





Most parades are celebrations of some sort.  We have the annual Peach Festival parade here in my home town.  I believe we are celebrating the Peach crop--or some years--the lack thereof.  Then there are homecoming parades, Veterans Day parades, and this famous parade celebrating the end of World War II among many others.



The body of the parade may be filled with bands, floats, open air cars carrying dignitaries or beauties, marching soldiers, clowns and their cars, giant balloons,  motorcycles, the horses at the end and on and on.  One thing which every parade shares in common is the crowd.  There are always those who are standing on the edge of the roadway--the parade route- to watch the parade go by-the spectators.  They are participating in the celebration of the occasion by being parade watchers

This week is our annual reminder of the last triumphant parade the Earthly Jesus participated in.  As it turns out, He was the Grand Marshall, the Celebrated, the One they were all pushing to see.  As He draws near, the crowds part and palm branches and the clothing of the people are placed in His path, as the lowly donkey brings the promised Messiah triumphantly into town.  The parade leading to His final days.  He knew--He knew where all this was headed, but He still proceeded down the parade route--He marched forward to His date upon The Cross.  

We all get to view this scene through the lens of history.  What would your response have been in person?  Would you have stayed home on your couch to avoid the crowds which made you uncomfortable?  Would you have gone out of idle curiosity?  Would you have been there to celebrate the arrival of the Man of Miracles?  

Holy Week began yesterday.  Are you going to casually watch from the safety of your couch, or are you going to participate in the remembrance of what this week brought?  It is always good to pause, reflect, and remember exactly what this week means to us.  What was accomplished, once and for all, at the end of this week.  I am praying we can all be participants--not merely by-standers but active participants as we pause and remember.

"Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of Him,

and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields.

Jesus was in the center of the procession,

and the people all around Him were shouting,

'Praise God!' "

Friday, March 26, 2021

BAD NEWS JUNKIES

 If you are on ANY social media, you will understand what I am referring to when I say "Click and Bait".


Something catches your eye while you are scrolling through your social media site and the next thing you know you have crawled into the black hole of the WWW.  IF they EVER get your contact information, you are suckered.  They will not leave you alone, and the unsubscribe button is hidden in the extra small print deep in some unlikely spot.  We have been drawn in by cute stories, promises of riches, assurance of good heath--or any of a long list of what we desire.  We know better, but just cannot seem to keep ourselves from clicking on the promise to make it all better.

Believe it or not, I read a story in the "New York Times" this week which intrigued me.  (NOW in my defense, I read and listen to a wide variety of sources knowing somewhere in the middle is the truth)  This article was titled "Bad News Bias".  It seems a group of social scientist have conducted a research project (They get BIG federal grants to do this sort of thing) concerning the lean toward negative and bad news in the media.  NEWS FLASH--most news is now bad news.  WHY?

Bottom line---it's all about money and drama and bad news sells.  We have all become Bad News Junkies.  Since reading this article I have paid particular attention to what I am hearing and seeing, and the vast majority is bad news.  Oh, they might spend the last minute or two of televised news or bury a story in the middle of the paper about some really great news, but for the most part we are being bombarded with bad news.  My friend calls these news sources, National News Tabloids.  Not a bad description.

WHY are we addicted to bad news?  Why are we not demanding to hear a "fair and balanced" report of the daily news?  Why are the headlines not about good deeds, serving our fellow man, important scientific discoveries ...?  What is it about us that keeps tuning in and turning the page on today's litany of bad news?

My super smart friend bounced an interesting theory off me while we were discussing the article---

SO GLAD I AM BETTER THAN ________

We are trying to appease our disappointment or perhaps down right guilt over who we are by comparing ourselves to the worst news of the day.  NOW this My Friends, is a sad commentary.

This leads me to a personal observation.  Am I more prone to spread the bad news or report the good when speaking with others?  This past few months I have made a conscious effort to not repeat stories that are not mine to tell-especially bad news-sad news-disappointing news.  One piece of really good advice my mother gave me a LONG TIME AGO, "If you don't have something nice to say, say nothing at all."  I am really working on trying to hold to this line.  I am trying to only report the good news and allow those who are affected to tell the other when they are ready.  A good friend celebrates our victories and stands with us in our suffering.  Praying I can stand with those who ask me to pull along side them and turn off or at least minimize the daily report of the bad news.

"Honor everyone. 

Love the Brotherhood."

I Peter 2:7 

 


Thursday, March 25, 2021

DANGER

My startle reflex is very high.  DO NOT sneak up behind me to give me a little scare!  It will not end well---for either of us.  My response will range from a little squeal to a big jump with arms flying around like blades on a windmill.


OF COURSE, I have analyzed why my reaction can be so severe.  It goes back to my childhood--most things do--just ask a therapist.  My brother and cousins delighted in scaring me half out of my wits.  The scare techniques grew and keeping my wits about me became a huge struggle.  If you EVER showed one glimmer of fear, they were on your trail.

This week we saw yet another--as of yet-unexplained, mass shooting.  What must it have felt like to have been in that store.  One minute you are perusing the cookie selection and the next you are running for your life.  I think we all can agree it is human nature, at a minimum, to turn away from danger.  I cannot count the times, I have turned and begun to high tail it (you do know where that saying comes from?) without even thinking.  Your mind alarm starts blaring-

DANGER     DANGER     DANGER    DANGER

and your body goes into action without hesitation.  It is a basic instinct to flee from danger.

Then there is the policeman, who not only does not flee, but runs toward the danger.  Shots are fired-you know the damage a gunshot can cause--and you still run toward the sound---NOT AWAY.  I have also read reports this week of Kroger, who owns this grocery chain, praising their employees who helped customers flee the danger through hidden back exits.  They did not just turn and run--they first helped those around them to flee the danger.

Stories of heroism always give us renewed faith in humanity.  At times, we are bombarded by the selfish dog eat dog world we live in.  The sense of fair play seems to have been thrown out the door as some scratch their way to the top of the heap.  If you doubt what I say, think about the last time you were on the highway and for miles you were warned of a closed lane ahead.  Still, there are always those who refuse to get in line and instead barrel their way forward to bully their way into the front of the line.  I hate to tell you, I do not respond well to this bullying tactic.  If you try to cut in front of me, you are in for a rude awakening from the seemingly little old lady.  (I'M OFF TRACK-sorry)

What would cause someone to risk their own life, to help a total stranger?  It is one thing to protect our loved ones, but the person you have never seen, don't know from Joe Blow down the street, why would you risk your own life to help them?  I always think of 9-11 and the scores who stepped forward to help others as those buildings imploded; Dunkirk where civilian boats risked being blown to pieces to save those soldiers trapped on the beach; and countless other examples of mankind stepping forward to save a life knowing it would place them in danger.

Personally I believe, God has placed that love and concern for our fellow man in our hearts.  Even those who do not know and acknowledge God, understand the blessing of life.  There is a kinship among mankind.  We may be very different, but we still have certain basic qualities which are common to all man.  It is not unlike family--we don't always "like" our family members, but we love them because of our connections.  We are all connected--in more ways than we could imagine.  We may not all be brave enough to run toward danger to save another, but we are all brave enough to take the hand of the person next to us and lead them away from the danger.  Let that statement sink in---and think about the danger others might be in.  I am so thankful for those who serve to protect us, but I also am thankful for my brothers and sisters who take my hand and lead me from danger.  

"Let each of us look not only to his own interests,

but also to the interest of others."

Philippians 2:4

 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

OVER ACHIEVERS

 I love my neighbors and the Hood.  I lived in Fort Worth for four years and only managed to get to know a handful of neighbors.  The beauty of a small town and living in a small neighborhood is building community and relationships with those you call neighbor.  We often meet in the street as I walk the wonder dog, or they stop as they pass me in their cars to ask who is walking who (Hero often stops and refuses to budge and I have to carry him-that's another post).  We live close together, so perhaps we might be guilty of watching our neighbors by peering out the window to see what is happening.  Trust me--it's harmless curiosity.  This is a great neighborhood filled with wonderful people.  I am thankful my neighbors keep an eye on what is going on over here.



I have a few neighbors--one right next door---who are classic over achievers. (It doesn't take much to outdo me.)  EVERY time I go by their yard, I have an inferiority complex.  They are gardeners extraordinaire and I am a gardening wannabe. I see what they have done and guilt takes up home in my cranium until I do whatever needs doing.  There is always something and weeds seem to be my best crop.


                              This nutsedge is particularly annoying!

We all know over achievers in some field or another.  They read the most books, cook the best meals, paint the most beautiful pictures, run the most miles, take the most trips----on and on.  The source of the problem is NOT what they are doing or not doing.  The source of the problem is me.  To begin with why would I compare myself to anyone else?  OH--that is a quagmire if there ever was one.  There is ALWAYS someone out there who can out do us.  When we begin the slide down the comparison slope, we are in for a bumpy-miserable ride.  

Why can't I just look at my neighbor's yards and be happy for the beauty they are sharing with us all?   Instead of comparing-why can't I remember to be happy for how blessed I am?  What is it that causes us to even begin to compare?  It is like comparing apples and oranges, roses and daisies, fudge and peanut brittle, and on and on.  We are all uniquely and beautifully made.  We all have different talents, traits, and personalities.  We are selling ourselves short when we start comparing ourselves.  There is no joy and certainly no peace in comparison.  Living the abundant life requires for us to be satisfied and content with whom we are---created in the very image of God.

SO---I am happy for you over achievers out there.  GO GET IT!  As for me, I may pull a weed or two, but I also am going to take the time to smell the roses, read a good book, and have a good conversation with those God has placed in my path.  Hopefully the only thing I will be comparing myself to is me-in hope of being a better version of who I was yesterday and the day before and the day before ...

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?

Or am I trying to please man?

If I were still trying to please man,

I would not be a servant of Christ."

Galatians 1:10

Monday, March 22, 2021

NEVER TOO LATE

 The final big winter storm brought record breaking cold to our part of Louisiana.     What began as a short sleet storm slowly turned into a beautiful snowfall.  The beauty and the quiet as those flakes softly floated toward the ground lured me into a trance of sensory overload.  The magic of winter had cast its spell of delight upon me.


The next day brought a beautiful walk around the neighborhood.  The mounds of snow were dry and soft.  This type of snow is not for building snowmen or throwing snowballs, but instead a feast for the eyes.

The temperatures kept falling and the bitter cold began to creep in. Promises were made for a week of below freezing weather.  The first morning after the bitter freeze began, the top layer of the beautiful snow had become covered with a layer of ice.  It was still beautiful---and the walks were still a delight, but there was a hint of danger to come in the air.  Each morning for the remainder of the week, the ice grew thicker and the walks more treacherous.  My walks turned into baby steps of caution around the block for fear of falling. Cars remained parked in garages as streets became ice rinks.  We became quarantined for a different reason; it was too dangerous to drive. The beautiful white which carpeted the ground was filled with the threat of danger if we dared to step outside.

Slowly the ice melted and the world returned to normal.  The worst part of the entire week was yet to be revealed.  As the ice began to melt, it became evident the damage that had been done to all of the trees and plants.  The trees had already formed new buds which now began to wilt and fall away.  Plants which were well established with buds set for the new year were turning brown.  All of the gardeners began to hold their collective breaths in dread of what might be lost.

Examining the plants in my yard, I began to notice something rather remarkable.  The leaves were brown and beginning to fall off, the trees lost all their leaf buds, and the hope of Spring seemed lost with the death left by the beautiful winter storm.  As I looked closely though, I noticed the plants were still alive; their limbs were still green.  With the warmth of the sun, the trees began to bud again, and miracle of all miracles, the azalea buds survived and bloomed.  What appeared to be dead and lost was brought back to life by the warmth of the sun.

There is a lesson in here for us.  The world can be deceptively beautiful and draw us unaware into the path of that which may lead to death.  But as long as we have breath in our bodies, it is never too late to be reborn---brought back from the brink of death to the beauty of the full and abundant life.  All it takes is the Son.

The thief comes only to  steal, kill and destroy.

I come that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 10:10

Thursday, March 18, 2021

ROLES

 Somewhere along the road, I got the idea there were perfect families.  When my children were growing up, you might have looked from a distance and thought our family was Ozzie and Harriet or Ward and June.  Let me assure you that was FAR from the truth.  Most days I was swimming as hard as I could to keep my head above water.  My children were not perfect and their parents were so far removed from Ozzie and Harriet and Ward and June that we could not even catch a glimpse of their profiles.  



I certainly do not blame my children.  They learn from the Alpha's how family life should appear.  It is the job of the parents to teach the children how to be family members and someday have families of their own. 

As the years of our lives (is that a soap opera title?) lengthen, we see a slow (sometimes abrupt) changing of roles.  The children begin to take on the role of caregivers- decision makers.  Some of us in my generation accept this reversal of roles with grace, others dig in their heels and fight it tooth and nail.  I am asking God to give me the wisdom to know how to gracefully age.  How to accept help and direction when it is called for and the wisdom to gracefully accept it. None of us want to cause more problems for our children as they seek to help us when the time comes.

NOT where I was going with this post---HOW DO I GET OFF ON THESE PIG TRAILS??



We all have roles we play in our families and these roles will change with the passage of time.  I have been thinking about the story of Naomi and Ruth the past few days.  "Your people are my people," was a sweet declaration of allowing Naomi to lead Ruth through her widowhood.  NOW, obviously Naomi was no longer able to physically do what she once must have.  She could not go to the fields and reap the harvest.  Instead she relied upon Ruth to perform this duty.  Naomi gave Ruth wise counsel and the kinsman came to their rescue.  Ruth accepted Naomi's instructions as the matriarchal head of the family and learned from her teaching.

Fast forward--this is not to be found in The Word--but based upon the past, my educated guess is Ruth always took care of Naomi.  A day would come when Ruth would accept the mantle of matriarch-decision maker--caretaker. Naomi would take on the role of honored grandmother, and Ruth would make the day to day decisions of running the family.  Ruth learned from Naomi's example and one day assumed the role of being responsible for Naomi.

I am mulling over the ladies at The Well.  For two years we have provided support for the ladies and we slowly have morphed into family.  Soon, we will be asking these ladies, who have been with us for this time, to assume a role of leadership in the family.  It is not unlike how we slowly give responsibility to our growing children.  We teach them, we supervise them, and then we begin the process of allowing them to assume the responsibility of helping with the work of keeping the family going.  We do not throw them in the deep end from the very beginning, but we do expect them to contribute to the family as they mature.  It will be a learning process, but until we allow them to accept these roles, they will not know how to someday perform them independently.

All Believers belong to the Family of God.  It is not unlike our earthly families, we slowly have matured and grown since being adopted into the family.  Ideally we should go from milk drinkers to eating from the family table to helping provide the nourishment for the family.  If we honestly looked at ourselves, what would our place in the family be?  Are we still expecting to be fed and taken care of, or are we participating in providing the family's needs?  I hope you stop and think this over---I certainly am examining my role as a family member.  Where do you stand in the Family of God?  Are you using the talents He has blessed you with for His good purpose or are you stagnant and stuck in the role of being taken care of?  OH, MY--convicting!

"So then, as we have opportunity,

let us do good to everyone,

and especially to those who are of the household of faith."

Galatians 6:10


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

HEART BREAK

 Everyone hold your hand up who has experienced a broken heart.


Would it be rash to think we all have experienced a broken heart at some point in our life?  Perhaps your heart was never broken by a sweetheart, but surely there has been some loss, some painful experience, something you have witnessed that has broken your heart?  

Would it be harsh to say you would have to be hard hearted to never have felt the pain of heart break?  Heart break can lead us to placing barriers around our hearts to protect our fragile heart from further pain.  I really believe God did not intend for us to place barriers, but instead to trust Him to protect us.  We should trust Him to allow only the heart break which will further sanctify us and draw us nearer to His throne.

Heart break has inspired countless songs over the decades.  "I Will Always Love You", "You've lost that loving feeling", "I'm so lonesome I could cry", "Someone like you", and on and on.  Every generation has a playlist of heartbreak songs.  The subjects we speak of, sing about, put in the written word are important to us.  The volumes spent speaking of heartbreak speaks loudly about the impact it has on us.

A dear friend sent me this song today, a different song about heartbreak.  A song filled with truth.



GO TO YOU TUBE
SEARCH FOR HEART BREAK
ANDY GULLAHORN
(Sorry I could not get it to embed)
 

Oh, yes, a broken heart is better than one that does not feel.  Opening my heart up to listen to the story of others is not easy.  It is painful to hear the stories of those who have suffered and take a share of their pain as they grieve their broken heart.  But then, I remember, Jesus could have taken the easy road, but instead He allowed His heart to be broken so that I might live the abundant life.  Praying God will continue to soften my heart, give me the courage to love others, and accept the pain that comes with love as a blessing.  Show me Your will, Lord and help me to be obedient to love those You place in my path.

61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61:1-3

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

MARGINS

 Typing 101 teaches the fundamental need for margins in the written word.  Without these margins, we would have a page filled with run on words which would become difficult to not only read but understand.  No delineation causes us to loose the flow and tone of the written word.   Margins and paragraphs are a necessary tool in understanding the written word.  Look at this story below as if it is on one page and the first letter on the left is at the edge of the paper and the last letter on the right is at the other edge.  The story takes on a flat monotone.


There is an interesting concept in the financial world of Margin Trading.  Investors are allowed to buy stocks based upon a percentage of the assets they currently hold.  Investors are borrowing the funds to buy a stock based upon the assets the brokerage firm holds for them.  They are borrowing the funds from the brokerage house and will pay interest on the investment.  


These are only two examples of margins in the world we live in.  There are margins in the art world, margins in sewing, margins in the gambling world, margins in polling--on and on.  There is a required margin in my neighbor of green space between houses.  Probability is filled with margin of error.  Margins are an important concept in the world.


Yesterday I heard an excellent teaching from The Word with reference to the gleaming in the margins required in the scriptures.  This is referred to in more than one book of The Bible.  God requires us to leave the "edge" of the field for the foreigners, widows and orphans to gleam.  Without this provision of the owner, some might starve.  It is a sharing of the blessing of the harvest with the least of these.  NOW remember, those who are allowed to pick behind the harvesters are required to do the work of picking even though they bear no cost of the produce.  Remember Ruth who picked from the field of her mother in law, Naomi's kinsman?

Our pastor reminded us our treasures, talents, and time are the fields we are blessed with that we should be allowing margins in.  A margin of our time, talents, and treasures should be set aside for the foreigner, child, and widow--the least of these in our midst.  This is not a suggestion, this is a requirement to live the full and abundant life God intends for us.  I am taking inventory and considering what margins I am leaving for others with what I have been blessed with.  What are my margins along this trek through this world?

When you harvest your fields,
do not cut the corn at the edges of the fields,
and do not go back to cut the ears of corn that were left.
Do not go back through your vineyard to gather the grapes
that were missed or to pick up the grapes that have fallen:
leave them for poor people and foreigners.
I am the Lord your God.
Leviticus 19:9-10



Tuesday, March 9, 2021

SHAKY PEDESTALS


 

I purchased this book some time ago.  I started it and put it down after a few chapters.  Recently I ran out of reading material and picked it up again.  This time around, I finished it.  Like many times in life, I should have persevered--the meat of the story is in the last one third of the book.

Harper Lee wrote the acclaimed To Kill A Mockingbird.  If you live in the South, for certain, this was on a school reading list somewhere along the way.  This book was a part of Ms Lee's estate and had never been published.  It's publishing was not met with favorable review by the critics.  Perhaps this is affirmation of there is one "GOOD" book in us.

There were two obvious themes to me.  I have since discussed the book with a couple of friends and discovered their take away was somewhat different than mine.  Further proof of looking through a different set of eyes, produces differing opinions.

What struck me as very poignant was the danger of placing anyone on a pedestal.  The reader is reminded, when we place someone on a pedestal, we begin to believe their philosophies--without question.  We strive to be "like" that person.  We admire them to a point of revere.  Somewhere along the line, we are in danger of accepting all they say and do as truth.  A dangerous assumption which will lead us down the path of disappointment.



The news is filled everyday with reminders of all those around us who have fallen from their pedestals.  It is not isolated to those of "The World".  Sadly it is also viral in the Christian community as well.

We ALL have feet of clay.  All of the great icons of man have done things which would disappoint us.  When we stop thinking for ourselves, when we stop questioning what we hear, when we stop using our own brains---we are on the path to becoming part of the mass instead of an individual.

Pedestals are always shaky at best.  We are always better off with two feet on the ground.    SO--be careful who you place on a pedestal---it is shaky ground at best and at great risk for an eventual fall.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

II Timothy 3:1-9

Friday, March 5, 2021

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

 Would you give me an, "AMEN", if I asked the question--

ARE YOU GETTING A LITTLE STIR CRAZY?

I drove straight through from San Antonio last March 13 on the return journey from Big Bend with this sweet grand. Stopped at his front door in Fort Worth and let him off and headed home.  COVID had made its entrance into the Deep South.  Except for trips to help my sweet children, I have stuck close to the Hood ever since.


A week away from being a year since I have "Hit the Road Jack" to see what I have not seen.  OH, YES, I spent from Labor Day until New Years in TX, but I went from my four walls, to another set of four walls.  It was CERTAINLY wonderful to have loved ones to see and talk to everyday, but my need to wander has gone unsatisfied.  When you begin to chat up the grocery pick up people and all the drive through staff, you know you are hungry for conversation.



SO, I have been looking at potential places to visit.  Places I have not seen but desire to visit in our beautiful country.  I have "Had my shots" and I am itching to go.  The question becomes--is it safe, what is the best way to travel and should I head rural or urban? 




I have watched photos coming across the WWW of friends who are traveling with their travel trailers.  This seems like a great answer to the safety question.  You would certainly have more of the "Pod" feel while avoiding hotels, large cities, and the option to dine in.  I do not have a travel trailer nor the vehicle to pull it with-so that is out of the question.  It seems I need to be satisfied with seeing their pictures and living vicariously through their travels.



There is another part of me---who knows how blessed I am to have good health, a roof over my head and food on the table.  So many would love to have no worries beyond when can I travel?  It seems rather selfish to even be thinking about my wish to be on the road again.  There was a time I would have called this a "First World" problem, but no more.  Since there are tens of thousands in our midst with food insecurity, possibility of lost shelter, and a constant question of how to pay their expenses, it seems I am standing too close to the mirror to see what is surrounding me.  On second thought, perhaps I should be more concerned with those who are struggling than where I might go next.  Nothing like a snapshot of the real world to put things back into perspective. 

"Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."

Proverbs 14:31


Thursday, March 4, 2021

STAND BY ME

 I have had enough lectures to last me a lifetime.  Anytime I feel as if I am being lectured--even as an adult-I shut down and turn off my hearing.  



Momma could lecture with the best of them.  I distinctly remember the year before I left for college--(A LONG TIME AGO), receiving one of Momma's lectures.  I interrupted her mid-stream and told her to, "Just BEAT ME!"  BIG MISTAKE---I prolonged the agony as she was then on a roll!

What is is about "lectures" that causes me to shut down?  I've been thinking about that -SHOCK!.  It really wasn't the correction--I fully realize I probably needed correction.  It was the spirit of the lecture and the tone it was given in.  If you think getting a lecture as a teen is a tough one (more than 50 years later I remember-not what the lecture was about but the tone it was given in), try it out as an adult.  I strongly avoid those who tend to launch into lectures about any subject.  You know- that what can I hide behind feeling when you spot a lecturer headed your way.


Our voices are powerful weapons.  Look at the picture above---the big finger is talking down to the small finger AND pointing at it.  When we begin to talk down to someone, we are putting them in a position of inferiority.  I am unceasingly loyal--I will crawl through dung for those I love and call friends.  The only thing I ask--no expect--is to be treated with respect.  NO LECTURES!  I am much more likely to listen to you if you speak to inform rather than speak to convey you know what you are talking about and I must not have a clue.  Your tone will cause the automatic shut off of my hearing aids when it becomes harsh and demeaning.

Conversely, when you speak in a everyday conversational tone, and communicate with a kind tone, I am all ears.


When I am convinced you want to inform me, and treat me with respect, I am listening.  The tone and spirit in which you speak are really more important than what you are saying.  Say it in the right way and I am all ears.  When you stand by me and not stand over me, you might even convince me you are correct.

"1 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, 

but exhort him as if he were your father.

 Treat younger men as brothers, 

2 older women as mothers,

 and younger women as sisters,

 with absolute purity."

I Timothy 5:1-2 


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES

 Once a week, I go to the local Men's Shed for She Shed Day.  We talked about Sheryl's She Shed yesterday- and the Men's shed is a local organization primarily to promote community with a side of wood working.  After reading yesterday's post, a dear friend and local insurance agent texted me with this comment~

"Had many claims on She Sheds!  Now no company will write coverage on them!"

A very small attempt at humor at the expense of us girls!  LOL!



In fairness, I will confess this true story that happened just this Monday.  We girls are making bird feeders at the She Shed.




NOW, this was done by one of the more experienced members.  I have not finished my feeder, but pretty certain it will not look this good.  To begin with, when I cut out the two sides of the bird with the saw, mine were FAR from symmetrical.  It took a LOT of sanding to get them even close.  And then, somehow I didn't cut the hole in the middle until AFTER I had glued the two parts together.   BIG MISTAKE!   That is a REALLY thick board to bore a hole into.

SO, my faithful teacher and sidekick helped me with trying to get that hole bored.  You use one of these--I call it a "Hole Machine", but it has a technical name too.



The bit I used was the size of the hole--that is a wide hole!  As we began to cut the hole, saw dust and wood shaving were being thrown to the side.  The problem began when the hole became so deep, the shaving were accumulating in the hole. The first hint of a problem was the smoke coming for the hole.  Wood shavings, metal bit, heat---think making your own fire out in the wild.  YES, I was on my way to a full fledge fire.  I could just see this building filled with equipment going up in flames.  Thankfully in my old age, I still sense danger and react quickly.  We pulled the bit out of the hole and averted Code Red.  The amazing thing---I got the hole cut, there was no fire, I still have all my fingers, and someday I will have a feeder.  If you put it far enough away, it will look great!

My question today is do you still sense when you are treading into dangerous territory?  Is your alarm system still working when you need to back away to prevent being burned?  Think analogy--not literal.  Are you sensitive to the warning signs when smoke begins to get in your eyes?  (ANOTHER song title)

16 The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence. 

Proverbs 14:16

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

ONLY THE LONELY

 For those of you who are keeping up---this is two days in a row I have used a song title as my blog title.  Am I on a roll of song titles?  Probably not--merely a coincidence.  "Only the lonely"--Roy Orbison's big hit from 1960 climbed all the way to No. 2 on the Billboard charts.  Those of my generation are  quick to turn our noses up at today's music and declare it has no meaning.  Obviously there was some hidden meaning in the "Dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo wah; Ooh-yay-yay-yay-yeah; oh-oh-oh-oh-wah" repeated every verse in this big hit. I will say I still know the lyrics all these years later (not real complicated).  Perhaps the message of the song was entirely in the "Only the lonely; only the lonely".


  Loneliness ---sadness because one has no friends or company; the quality of being unfrequented and remote, isolation. (Webster) I have spent a great deal of time discussing loneliness with quite a few individuals.  Here is my take away--everyone experiences it at some point.  I cannot tell you how many have told me they have felt lonely with another human in the same room.  This leads me to believe it is the inability to communicate as the root of loneliness.  

I spend a great deal of time alone--well except for the Wonder Dog.


 

I find him rather short on conversation.  Occasionally I find myself lonely---there is a big difference in being alone and being lonely.  I stay busy and have projects going and take walks---I am engaged in living.  The times I find myself lonely is usually in the quiet of the evening---especially on a weekend.  The day is pretty much done, the projects are put away for the evening, the kitchen is clean and there is nothing on television worth viewing nor a good book to read.  Those days, I go to bed early--knowing things will look better in the light of day--BRIGHT AND EARLY the next morning because I went to bed FAR TOO EARLY.

There are groups out there to help combat the loneliness which is rampant in our society.  The ladies I meet with at The Well---they were lonely.  I have watched them form community--care for each other--become friends. Oh we walk together, we have art classes, we have Bible Study and we play Bingo--but the key is--we are together.  It has been all joy watching them knit together a community.  They sometimes disagree, as we all do when we are together a lot, but at the end of the day--they love each other.



I also have become part of "The Men's Shed" here in Ruston.  This group was originally formed to bring men together under a shared roof to work on wood projects together.  They decided to let us women join and we have one morning a week when we have "She Shed" (surely you have seen the commercials for Sheryl's She Shed)


I will tell you another day what these talented ladies have taught me about wood work.  YES, I still have all my fingers!  The point behind the Men's Shed is building community-first and foremost--with a little wood work on the side.

We seem to have become isolated in our busy and fast paced world where the WWW has taken over communication.  No longer do we sit on the front porch at the end of the day with friends and family to share the news of the day.  Instead we are staring at some screen--alone.  Much of our loneliness is self created.  Some of our loneliness is due to a shrinking world which comes from either aging or busy lives while building careers and growing families.  Why even today's church struggles to help us build community.  Gone are the family night dinners ladies Missionary Society meetings, Men's breakfasts in most cases.  Today's small groups struggle to help us build connections. We are all just too busy. It takes time---LOTS of time to build community.  Somehow in our fast paced world of careers, organized children's sports, community committees, and even civic club lunch meetings, we have replaced those front porch evenings with the organized isolation of the board and committee tables.  We have forgotten or maybe never knew the importance of community.  We have become lonely--isolated--and remote--stranded on a deserted island of loneliness without a life boat in sight. Until we purposefully make a change--only the lonely will know the way we feel tonight.  We cannot sit around and wait for someone to rescue us from our lonely world.  We have to take a chance, dive in, and take the plunge.  Community is waiting to be formed--but you have to take the first step.


O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. 

Psalm 38:9


Monday, March 1, 2021

ALL ALONE AM I

Have you ever been in a room full of people--say some social event -with no one to talk to?  You look around a sea of people and finally find a familiar face and walk over to speak to them.  As you engage in conversation, you notice their eyes darting around the room.  You get the distinct impression they are looking for anyone else but you to speak with.  You begin to question, what is wrong with me.  Are they searching for someone more socially prominent?  Is your conversation that incredibly dull?  

There was a recent occasion, in a room filled with people, some I knew and many I did not when something similar happened.  I walked up to a group of people I knew and began to talk with them.  As I stood there someone walked up, and stood in front of me to join the group.  It was as if I was invisible.   

We are all searching for a place to fit in and I would dare say the person who walked in front of me was doing the same.  They were just trying to find a place with familiar faces to relieve the awkwardness of standing alone.

Some days, I felt like this in church.  It is not easy to walk into a room by yourself and sit alone.  I called myself the "Invisible Woman" while living in Fort Worth.  At least there it was understandable, cities are not easy for even life long city dwellers.  Walking in a room and finding someone you know is the exception many times in a large city.  In a town where you have lived over 50 years, it is rare to go anywhere and not see someone you know.  I still struggle with feeling invisible at times.  As if others are looking straight through me.

This post is not about -POOR ME.  I have learned tricks to deal with feeling invisible.  There usually is someone else in the crowd standing alone to introduce yourself to.  AND people watching is my favorite sport!

I spent some time talking this over with a friend recently.  They reminded me--if I feel invisible--think about entire segments of the population who feel like we are staring right through them.  They become invisible to us--we don't see them nor realize their struggles.  It is easier to find a familiar face than to listen to a story that is difficult to hear.  We walk around them, walk right by them. and more than likely, will not remember we even saw them.  We are playing a part in the Samaritan's story.  We go out of our way to avoid them, ignore their pain, and walk on by.  We become Believers who stroll on by ignoring the plight of the fallen.  We leave the wounded behind and walk on by.

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:30-37