Friday, June 5, 2020

Grace and Truth, John 8:12-58

This is a long passage of Jesus confronting the Jews at the temple. I don’t understand everything here, but the first verse catches my attention and gives me hope.

Verse 12: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

What a promise! If I will stay close to Jesus, he will shine light on my questions and fears and uncertainties.

Jesus was bold in stating his status and the consequences for not believing in him.

Verse 24: “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

Another promise.

Verse 31-32: To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

He explains what we will be freed from.

Verse 34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

I am so grateful Jesus has given me this freedom.

Jesus confronted the devil and those who listened to him.

Verse 44: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

And although Jesus knew they would condemn him, he claimed for himself the name which had always only been used for God.

Verse 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

Lord, thank you for the promises you gave us, and for the truth you did not hesitate to speak.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Weep with Those Who Weep

A day or so ago I was talking with my daughter Sarah about all the scariness going on, riots and violence.

I mentioned how a lot lately, I’ve noticed more verses in the bible about how God cares, and wants us to care, about the poor, widows, orphaned, the outsider. This morning our pastor Matt used the word marginalized.

James 5:4: Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

Isaiah 1: 17: Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

God hears their cries.

Matt gave an excellent example of this. As a parent, if one of my children was stung by a bee and cried out, I would hear and run to help him. Does that mean I don’t love my other children? Of course not.

But this hurt child cries out, and I hear and run to hold them. This is what God asks us to do as well.

Who are the hurt who are crying out right now in our world? African Americans, sick, unemployed, poor, immigrants, disabled? Yes, and more.

Read the gospels and take notice of the people Jesus stopped to talk with.

And as those who long to be more like Jesus, let’s weep with those who weep and speak for them and search for how we can help.

Romans 12:15: Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Age By Living Each Day

Something sad happened last week. A dear lady died, and I want to honor her.

As a volunteer for a local agency, I call to check on elderly people who mostly live alone. I’d only talked with this lady twice, but I looked forward to speaking with her.

The last time I talked with her, two or three days before she died at age 87, she was making homemade yeast bread.

I also love to make bread, so I asked her about it. She told me that she liked to use oatmeal for almost half the amount of flour recommended, to help get more fiber. She sometimes added onion powder for a different flavor.

My family has a history of living into their 80s, so I’ve warned my kids to be ready to put up with me that long, or longer.

My dad lived to be 80. He was born on February 29, so throughout his life he was teased about his age. Finally he was old enough to get his driver’s license on his sixteenth birthday, age 64. On his eighteenth birthday, he could at last vote, age 72.

He was in a nursing home on his 20th birthday, and he joked to the staff there that he was younger than they were.

My mother is 83, and she still lives alone on the farm where I grew up. Two of my brothers live nearby and help her with many things. But until Covid-19 shutdowns, she loved to shop on the Seniors’ bus, go to church, and join her quilting group each week. She hopes to do most or all of that again.

One Sunday morning, our pastor read about a lady who lived to be 85 or 86. At the end of her life, she was still writing out goals for the next ten years.

All of these are my role models. I hope I am baking homemade bread in my last week of life.

Psalm 118: 24: This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Thoughts on Housekeeping

I get an email five days a week from Good, Clean Funnies: - The Good, Clean Funnies List

This one came yesterday, May 21, and I wanted to share. This is some of the most insightful information I’ve read in a long, long time

Thoughts on Housekeeping

Vacuuming too often weakens the carpet fibers. Say this with a serious face, and shudder delicately whenever anyone mentions Carpet Fresh.

Dust bunnies can evolve into dust rhinos when disturbed. Rename the area under the couch "The Galapagos Islands" and claim an ecological exemption.

Layers of dirty film on windows and screens provide a helpful filter against harmful and aging rays from the sun. Call it an SPF factor of 5 and leave it alone.

Cobwebs artfully draped over lampshades reduces the glare from the bulb, thereby creating a romantic atmosphere. If your spouse points out that the light fixtures need dusting, simply look affronted and exclaim, "What? And spoil the mood?"

In a pinch, you can always claim that the haphazard tower of unread magazines and newspapers next to your chair provides the valuable Feng Shui aspect of a tiger, thereby reducing your vulnerability. Roll your eyes when you say this.

Explain the mound of pet hair brushed up against the doorways by claiming you are collecting it there to use for stuffing hand-sewn play animals for underprivileged children.

If unexpected company is coming, pile everything unsightly into one room and close the door. As you show your guests through your tidy home, rattle the door knob vigorously, fake a growl and say, "I'd love you to see our Den, but Fluffy hates to be disturbed and the shots are SO expensive."

Don't bother repainting. Simply scribble lightly over a dirty wall with an assortment of crayons, and try to muster a glint of tears as you say, "Junior did this the week before that unspeakable accident...I haven't had the heart to clean it..."

Mix one-quarter cup pine-scented household cleaner with four cups of water in a spray bottle. Mist the air lightly. Leave dampened rags in conspicuous locations. Develop an exhausted look, throw yourself onto the couch, and sigh, "I clean and I clean and I still don't get anywhere..."

A cheerful heart is good medicine... (Prov 17:22a)

PS: Did anybody besides me wonder what feng shui was? Here’s what I discovered:

feng shui, NOUN, (in Chinese thought) a system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy (qi), and whose favorable or unfavorable effects are taken into account when siting and designing buildings.

Friday, May 15, 2020

One Spring Trip

Murray, Ping-Hwei and I went to visit Sarah in Wisconsin the second weekend of March. Talk of the corona virus was just warming up, and we’d planned another trip two weeks later, to visit Rebecca in Iowa and my mother in Missouri. That second trip didn’t happen.

We had a couple funnies on our drive to Wisconsin.

In a gas station, the guy at the counter sold us two sodas for the price of one. He said, “A discount, just because of the times we’re going through.”

At another gas station, I couldn’t find my way out of the bathroom. I kept walking and searching for the door. Finally, Murray, outside, heard my cane banging around, and he opened the door and called, “Kathy?”

At some points in my life, I would have been really mad about all that. Either mad at myself, because I couldn’t do something so simple as get myself out of a bathroom. Or I would have tried like crazy to come up with a way to blame someone else for it.

This time it just made me laugh.

Sarah and Murray went to Alde shopping at 9:00 on Saturday morning, and they said about 40 people were lined up waiting. When the lady opened the door to let them in, she said, “We’re all out of everything.”

I wondered if that might have been a dangerous thing for her to say, but Sarah said people laughed, and it wasn’t crazy in the store.

This was right before shut downs, stay-at-home, early hour shopping for seniors, one-way aisles. Shortages on some supplies had already begun, however.

Sarah finished graduate school this May, so Ping-Hwei took her an early graduation present, a huge stuffed dog with long ears. Murray and I wanted to provide her with a special gift for her accomplishment, too, so we brought her two 12-packs of toilet paper. We are so proud of her.

I realized this would be the last time I’d see Sarah’s apartment, which made me a little sad.

It’s probably for the best. For at least the second time, I spilled coffee on Sarah’s carpet, and she and Murray worked hard to clean up the stain. I’ll probably owe for damages to her place when they inspect it when she leaves this summer.

We’ve stayed at the same hotel several times, and Murray chats a lot with the people at the front desk. When we came in Saturday evening, Murray turned to them and said, “We’re really exhausted. In about twenty minutes, could you send someone up to tuck us in?” they laughed and said sure.

We like to visit the church Sarah attends when we’re in Wisconsin, but by Sunday, most churches had switched to online services.

Caleb called to ask what we were doing Sunday morning, and I said we were listening to our Lakewood, Ohio church in Wisconsin. He said he was planning to listen to his online too.

Ping-Hwei likes to laugh and say Sarah kicks us out so she can do her homework. This weekend, she had a really hard project to work on, so she said, “I’m going to need to kick you out before dinner tonight, so I can focus.” Ping-Hwei was delighted.

One of the things we liked best about the hotel we stayed in there was free breakfast. They usually have a nice, small buffet. By the day we left, they were no longer serving the buffet. They offered to fix us a box breakfast of whatever we wanted and bring it out to us from the kitchen. We’ll miss that hotel.

It was kind of a strange trip, but I’m glad we were able to go before things shut down.

Friday, May 8, 2020

When God Whispers Your Name

When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado

Max Lucado, an author, minister and speaker, is someone who has given me much peace and encouragement over the years. I’ll share a few gems I found in this book.

John 2:1-2: On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.

 Jesus was invited to the party. Why? Because he was known as someone fun. Someone they wanted there. He wasn’t famous yet. The miracle of changing water into wine wasn’t known by anyone there except the men who drew the water and Jesus’ mother.

The bible doesn’t say he preached a sermon at the wedding. He was someone who enjoyed parties, who liked to have fun. Who said Christians shouldn’t have fun?

Heroes can doubt.

John the Baptist is definitely a hero in the history of Christianity, sent to introduce Jesus’ ministry. Yet toward the end of his life, from prison, he wondered if Jesus was who he’d thought.

Jesus did not rebuke him for these doubts, but sent him words of encouragement. Matthew 11:1-15.

IN Acts 8, Philip was involved in sending Christianity to Africa, because he listened to what the Holy Spirit told him to do.

People who worship Jesus as God and hold that the Bible is the inspired word of God, sometimes have different understandings of what some of those words from God mean. If God accepts someone as his child, shouldn’t I call them my brother, my sister?

Because of Calvary, I have choices. I can choose the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5, including peace. I can live forgiven. And forgiving.

Mr. Lucado reminded me of one of my favorite passages, Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus asks me to leave my burdens, my sack of rocks, my regrets, with him.

One day God will whisper our name, a new name he has made just for us. He must have quite a future planned for us, since he thinks we need a new name for it.

Revelation 2: 17: Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

And all the wonder we can imagine of Heaven won’t come close to the truth.

1 Corinthians 2: 9: However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him—

Friday, May 1, 2020

Kathy's Kitchen, Laughs and Bread Pudding

I love making homemade bread. Kneading, feeling the dough come to the right consistency, is fun for me. And when the bread turns out good—what a shot of hopefully not too much pride in myself.

But this year, for whatever reason, it hasn’t risen the last several times I’ve made it. Bummer.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to use a loaf of unrisen bread to make the bread pudding my Mom used to make.

I remembered most of the ingredients, guessed how much of each. I didn’t feel I needed to call my mom to ask her.

I crumbled up the bread, added cinnamon and vanilla, threw in some butter. I didn’t have any raisins. Finally I gave in and called Mom about the amounts of eggs and milk.

It was all mixed up; I asked Murray to pour it in the baking dish for me and smooth it out. All ready. Oven was heated. I took hold of the pan and prepared to put it in.

Whoops, I forgot sugar.

“I don’t have to put it back in the bowl, do I?”


We did. I started dumping in sugar, but Murray thought it would be a good idea to call Mom again and ask her how much. On the phone with Mom he said, “Stop, that’s enough,” as I started to add more.

It turned out great, despite everything. I’ll definitely do it again, but I hope I don’t have to use a loaf of unrisen homemade bread.

Bread pudding from Kathy’s Mom

Crumble up about a loaf worth of dried or stale bread. Add two eggs, two cups milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup sugar, a large spoonful of butter, raisins if desired.

Mix all ingredients and press into a greased baking dish. I used a casserole dish. You could use a square baking pan, 9 inches, or even a 9 by 13 if you've got enough bread. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.

PS: I shared this recipe with a friend, but it took me two emails to get it to her. Because the first time, I forgot to include the sugar in the recipe.

We never stop laughing in Kathy’s kitchen.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Messages of Hope

I have started a list for verses of hope, a place to turn to in times of need.

This is surely a time when we need hope. I want to share some of my favorites with you.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

Psalm 116:1-2
I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

Joshua 1:9
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Isaiah 41:13
 “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Hebrews 4: 16
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Psalm 103: 13 
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

Our challenge as Christians is to take our fears and troubles to God, let his promises seep into us, then share our hope with those around us.

Proverbs 17:22
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

Proverbs 12:25
Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

Hebrews 10:35-36
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

Jeremiah 33:3
 “Call on me, and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

Psalms 68:19
Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms.

Father, help me grasp the hope you offer, and help me make it believable to others.

Psalm 119:49 
Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Sweet Memories, Something to Make Us Smile

April 12, 1997: Last night Sarah told Kathy, "I love you with all my heart .... Do I have a heart?" Kathy assured her that she did. Sarah said, "But I'm pretty little. Is it a tiny heart?"

April 13, 1997: At lunch, Murray was talking about hassling someone. Caleb said, "Who can I hassle? Can I hassle a sailboat?"

April 16, 1997: Last night Ping-Hwei asked why Rhoda had four feet. I said that's just what cats have, and he said, "I want four."

April 17, 1997: At the grocery store, Murray sat Sarah up on the end of the cart to tie her shoe. She said, "I'm scared up here. It's not polite to put your daughter up like this."

April 18, 1997: At lunch Sarah asked if we could sing "Billy Boy", all we want to in Heaven. Then a little later, she said, "Is it okay for us to tickle anybody?" I said it was okay to tickle family, unless they said to stop. She asked, "Is it okay for us to tickle Jesus?" She added that she thought it would be okay with Him.

We were driving on the curvy roads to the Brinkmanns’ (Kathy’s parents) farm. The kids were enjoying the ride, and Rebecca said, "They made the roads like this so children could have fun."

April 21, 1997: This morning Sarah asked me, "Does Daddy ever be bad?" I said that everybody is bad sometimes, even Christians. She asked, sounding surprised, "even preachers?"

Driving in the car, Murray opened a soda for lunch. Sarah asked for a drink, and Murray, handing the soda behind him to her, said, "Only one drink." As Sarah took the soda from him, she said, "I'm going to drink it all."

April 25, 1997: This morning Caleb asked, "What if this house wasn't tight on the ground?"

April 27, 1997: There was a singing group at church this morning, and they were sort of dancing as they sang. Rebecca told Murray, "They're doing fun things with their feet."

Yesterday Rebecca was using the rhyme, "One two, skip a few, ninety-nine a hundred" and saying she could say it as, "One two, skip a few, ninety-nine, a thousand." Caleb said, "No, skip a lot."

Tonight I said something about a typewriter, and Rebecca asked, "What's a typewriter?"

May 3, 1997: Today Rebecca said, "I'd like to see Jesus working in a circus." "Why?" "I'd like to see Him jump high over an elephant."

P.S.: My book, ALL MY TEARS, is on sale as an EBook for $2.99 until April 30.

Friday, April 10, 2020

A Different Kind of King

Last Sunday we talked about Palm Sunday, the day Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

John 12:12-16:
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written: “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
    see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him.

The people welcomed Jesus as their king. But both pastors I listened to online pointed out how Jesus didn’t meet their expectations.

They wanted a king who would overthrow their ruling enemy and set up a glorious earthly kingdom for Israel, but Jesus had something else in mind.

Our pastor Matt said that Jesus came as a king who offered peace, riding on a donkey, not a war horse. The people who joyfully met him that day did not realize this. Even his disciples didn’t understand the truth until later.

Just a few days after this triumphant entry, the crowds would turn against Jesus. But he was victorious, in a way no one expected.

Mark 16:5-7:
As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Jesus had a completely different kingdom in mind. And he has given us the privilege of being part of it.

2 Corinthians 5: 18-20:
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

2 Peter 3:9:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Lord Jesus, we praise you for your victory on Easter Sunday, and we thank you for the hope your victory has brought to us.

John 11:25-26:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Friday, April 3, 2020

Psalm 91, Shelter of God

Last week in a bible study, we studied Psalm 91. The leader pointed out that Psalm 91:1 is like the original 9-1-1:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

The place where we can run to for help and comfort in times of trouble, the shelter of God.

Verses 2-4: I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Being sheltered under God’s wings is such a picture of comfort to me.

Verses 5-7: 
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.

We discussed in our group that some of these specific promises may not be for all Christians. We all know that many tragedies do fall on believers.

But I wonder if, in a way, maybe we can claim these promises. Even if we are among those who fall, through whatever problem, if we have chosen to find our shelter with God, he is there in the midst of the trouble with us, holding us in his arms, covering us with his wings. Any of us can claim that promise.

Verses 14-15:
 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Sweet Scent of Forgiveness, Delia Latham

I’ve found a new (to me,) fun author to share with you.

Delia and her husband Johnny live in East Texas, where their pampered Pomeranian, Kona, kindly allows them to share her home. The author enjoys multiple life roles as wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but above all, she loves being a princess daughter to the King of kings. She admits to a lifelong, mostly unbattled Dr. Pepper addiction, and loves hearing from her readers.

Sweet Scent of Forgiveness (The Potter's House Books Two) by [Latham, Delia

$0.99 to buy
A life-changing message lies within the petals of a rose...

Norah Bradley has a delightful seven-year-old son, owns a thriving nursery business in the Sierra Blanca Mountains of New Mexico, and adores both. She’s past the horrors of earlier years and life is good.

Then Marcus Corman walks into her nursery looking for a couple of special rose bushes. Norah is surprised by her immediate attraction to the handsome customer. She hasn’t experienced this kind of magnetism since the day she met her late husband over eight years ago. Now she has neither time nor inclination for romantic nonsense.

Marcus isn’t looking for love either. His ex-wife abandoned him and their infant daughter years ago. Why bring another possible source of pain into little Juliet’s life?

Despite their reservations, Norah and Marcus find themselves thrust together when their children meet and become fast friends. But as their attraction becomes undeniable, a dark shadow from Norah's past finds her and her son. Will Marcus turn away as all is revealed?

Within the petals of a rose lies a profound message. Will they find it in time to save Norah's life and open the door to love?

Speakeasy: Collection 1 Kindle Edition
by Delia Latham(Author), Jean Pamplin(Author), Janet Ellington(Translator)

$0.99 to buy

Come on in...the atmosphere is cozy and the coffee’s a delight at the Speakeasy Coffeehouse in Quitman, Texas. The authors of this collection love the Speakeasy, and were inspired to write stories based around our favorite coffee venue. The building is old. Sometimes you just gotta wonder...if walls could talk, what fascinating tales might they tell? While we cannot discern the secrets forever sealed within the coffee shop walls, we hope you enjoy our contemporary fictional stories in which the Speakeasy is its own vivid character. Grab your favorite coffee and dive right in!


The Speakeasy Coffeehouse’s brick walls seep history and the Royal typewriter fits right into the time period. The trouble is, it brings some guests with it.


A brief encounter with ‘Mr. Right’—that is, Nelson Wright, a retired international photographer—turns BrookLynn Laird’s heart upside down in the small town of Quitman, Texas. Two years a widow, she backs off, convinced she’s betraying her deceased husband. Will these two hearts, hesitant and haunted, ever find the courage to join as one?


Business brings Mary Manners to Quitman, Texas. Soon after, in the Speakeasy Coffeehouse, she meets a mysterious new friend with a gentle, calming spirit, and a handsome minister whose kindness and sense of humor steal her heart in a flash. But along with those new relationships come unexpected changes of heart and startling peeks into her family’s history.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Psalm 119:113-120, Samekh

ס Samekh
I hate double-minded people,
    but I love your law.
You are my refuge and my shield;
    I have put my hope in your word.
Away from me, you evildoers,
    that I may keep the commands of my God!
Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live;
    do not let my hopes be dashed.
Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
    I will always have regard for your decrees.
You reject all who stray from your decrees,
    for their delusions come to nothing.
All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross;
    therefore I love your statutes.
My flesh trembles in fear of you;
    I stand in awe of your laws.

Father God, your word is clear about your love and grace, your patience and forgiveness and mercy. I believe this.

But your word is also definite about your hate for evil and unfair treatment of people.

Let me hate the evil and unfairness you hate, and teach me to offer your mercy and grace to those around me.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Flash's Story

My husband Murray and I are now teaching a braille transcribing class at a women’s correction facility.

This is not for people who are visually impaired, but to train students to produce braille books and other documents for those who do need to read braille.

Braille transcribing is much harder to learn than braille reading. I found this out when I took the transcribing class, after I’d been a braille reader for nearly forty years.

Transcribing has many rules about how to use and not use the different braille symbols, formatting the documents, much more. It is a tough course, and Murray and I appreciate how hard the women in our class are working to accomplish this difficult skill.

Part of what I do is come up with lessons to practice transcribing skills, as well as actual braille documents for the students to read, in order to practice proofreading.

Brailling out these reading practices is a challenge for me. The braille writer I use is similar to a manual typewriter. If I make a mistake toward the end of the page, I have to do the whole page over. I am so tempted to scratch out the mistake and explain it to them, but I want to encourage them to make their documents as perfect as possible.

So, yes, I have started many pages over. I also have to make sure not to use symbols which they haven’t learned yet. All this helps me appreciate the effort the women are putting into their work.

This week my reading practice lesson ended up being a story about my Mom’s dog, Flash. Next time I see Flash, I need to thank him for giving me material for a lesson.

Flash is the name of my mother’s dog.

His favorite day is Sunday because my brother Rodney brings treats.

When Mom leaves the house she says, “Flash, stay here; you’re in charge.”

The cats know now that Flash is old, he won’t eat their food.

When he was younger, he used to jump on everyone who came near.

Sometimes he ran so fast to jump on Mom, she feared he might knock her down.

He still takes his work seriously and barks every time we drive up.

My brother Jim gave Flash to my father as a puppy, and he brought Daddy joy for many days.

Those are some sweet memories I have, thinking of Daddy with his dog.

Mom never has been a real pet lover. “Dogs and cats need to stay out of the house,” she said. But I know she likes going out on the front porch to talk to old Flash.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Grace and Truth: John 8:1-11

The gospel of John is my favorite book of the bible, and here in chapter 8 is one of my favorite passages.

The Jewish leaders brought a woman caught in adultery to where Jesus was in the temple and asked if he thought they should stone her, as Moses said.

They didn’t care about the woman breaking the law. What they wanted was to trap Jesus, so they would have a reason to accuse him.

He was not threatened.

He said whoever had never sinned could throw the first stone, then he quietly went back to what he was doing.

They didn’t like Jesus, but his words convicted them. Every one of them left.

Jesus was left alone with the woman, the only one who rightfully could have stoned her.

But he said, “Then neither do I condemn you.”

Jesus was so calm during this interaction. The men must have been shouting; the woman was probably crying.

But Jesus, steady and unruffled, offered her hope for a new life. Uncondemned. And with confidence, he told her she could lead a life without sin.

She had probably given up on herself and her ability to lead a clean life.

And it wouldn’t be easy. Jesus knew that. He knows that for us too. But he is confident we can do it with his help.

Verses 9-11: At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Friday, February 28, 2020

A Few Good Authors

Over the last year, I’ve written down names for some authors which have been new to me. I recommend these for an enjoyable time of reading. Faith, humor, suspense, mystery, romance—a great mixture.

Cathy Gohlke, Saving Amelie; Until we find home;
Stories of history, suspense and romance in World War II Europe.

Virginia Smith, Dr. Horatio vs. the Six-Toed Cat;
One of a series of family and community stories in Goose Creek Kentucky.

Jen Turano, After a Fashion;
1880s New York City. A story which takes you from rat-infested slums to a high society ball. The journey is fast and hysterical.

Dani Pettrey, Blind Spot;
Fast-paced romantic suspense.

Brandilyn Collins, Brink of Death;
Mystery and suspense.

Lisa Hauser and Dale Smith, Father-daughter writing team, Turn Back Time; Sunshine and shadow;
Story of a coal mining community in Kentucky during the Depression. Mystery, crises in the mines, family and community struggles and joys.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Sweet Memories: They still give me Butterflies in My Stomach

March 17, 1994: Yesterday, Caleb told us that when he grew up, he wanted to buy a ship. "I will tell the sailors to take it out into the deep ocean where there are sharks, so the people can see the sharks and tell me what they look like."

Right after midnight this morning, Rebecca knocked on our door. "Mommy, Sarah wants you to come in and lay down with her." Murray, figuring that Rebecca wanted something also, asked, "And what do you want?" "I want her to stop crying so I can go back to sleep," Rebecca replied.

Some friends were playing over today, and the little boy was playing with the girls' jewelry. Sarah didn't want him to, so his mother told him, "That's their private business." Sarah said assuredly, "No it isn't, it's just jewelry.”

Tonight, Rebecca and Ping-Hwei were playing Scrabble. Rebecca said, "I'll go first." Ping-Hwei said, "No, me." Rebecca answered him, "No, Ping-Hwei, I'm the little one."

March 25, 1997: The other day Sarah was asking me questions about Jerusalem, and then she said, "Is that where our God died?"

March 25, 1997: Tonight Rebecca and Caleb sat with Murray during a church service. The lesson was on forgiveness and the preacher, making the point that we all have difficulties in our pasts, asked the rhetorical question, "Who has perfect parents?" Rebecca and Caleb raised their hands.

March 26, 1997: Before the church service tonight, Murray wandered away to talk to someone. When he came back to the kids, Sarah was sitting on the lap of our friend Brenda, who had her hands around Sarah's waist. Brenda said, "She climbed up here by herself. Then she took my hands, put them around her, and said, 'My mommy puts her hands like this.' "Brenda, who doesn't have little girls anymore, looked pretty pleased.

March 28, 1997: Rebecca looked at the shopping list tonight, and said, "You put an 'e' on the end of tomato, and that's not good, so I'm circling it."

March 30, 1997: Sarah wanted to sit on Kathy's lap the other evening because, she said, "My forehead hurts." "I'm sorry," Kathy responded, "when did your forehead start hurting?" Sarah answered, "A few days ago."

April 6, 1997: On the way to church this morning, the kids were discussing heaven. "You can eat all you want there, and it won't give you a stomach ache," said Caleb. Rebecca responded, "Yes, you do get stomach aches, but you laugh at them."

We had dinner tonight at a restaurant with many people from our church. Murray wanted Sarah to come 3 or 4 seats over to sit next to him and told her, "Sarah, there's a chair right next to me." She said, "Well, I'm already in a chair."

Caleb told Kathy today, "When I shake my hands (and arms), I can hear something shaking in there."

Tonight, Ping-Hwei looked at the return address portion of a letter Murray wrote (Murray just uses street address and zip code), and said with concern, "No Murray McKinsey."

April 9, 1997: Yesterday Sarah was playing with the Mr. Potato Head game, and she got out the sheet of paper from the game which shows which accessories to put into which heads. She told me that when she was making the potato heads, "I obeyed the recipe."

Caleb had a program at school last night, and they were supposed to dress nicely. He told me, talking about a girl in his class, "Mercedes said she was going to go home and change herself into a dress."

April 11, 1997: Last night Sarah told Murray, "You can't take your seat belt off till the car stops rumbling."

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Love Holiday

Father God, thank you for the words of love you’ve given me to remember this Valentine’s Day.

Psalm 86:5
O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.

Psalm 116:1-2
I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

1 Peter 4:8
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

Amos 5:14-15
Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live!
Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed.
Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice.
Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people.

Psalm 103: 8 and 13:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

John 3:16-17: 
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

1 John 4: 10-11: This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Father God, you show us such love to forgive us. You become our tender Father. You teach us to love each other and to love what is good.

1 Corinthians 13: 8A: Love never fails.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Grace and Truth, John 7:25-53

There was much division among the people about Jesus, with the common Jews, and even among the leaders.

Some in the crowds were confused, knowing Jesus was the one the leaders wanted to kill. Others believed in him because of his miracles. Jesus bravely declared He’d been sent by God.

Verses 28-29: Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”

The Pharisees sent to have Jesus arrested, but he boldly promised that the Holy Spirit would be given to anyone who chose to follow him.

Verses 37-39: On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

The people continued to be confused, and though some wanted to arrest him, because of his power, they were not able to at this time. Jesus was able to choose that time.

The leaders were only brave enough to scoff at Jesus and his believers among themselves, but Nicodemus, one of them, was willing to stand up and defend the truth.

Verses 50-51: Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”

In John chapter 3, Nicodemus was not so brave. But with Jesus’ grace, he grew to have that courage.

Lord, help me to be brave for you, like Nicodemus.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Psalm 119:105-12 Nun

נ Nun
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.
I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
    that I will follow your righteous laws.
I have suffered much;
    preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.
Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
    and teach me your laws.
Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
    I will not forget your law.
The wicked have set a snare for me,
    but I have not strayed from your precepts.
Your statutes are my heritage forever;
    they are the joy of my heart.
My heart is set on keeping your decrees
    to the very end.

Father God, my enemy the devil is always trying to trap me. Thank you for the comfort and daily help I find in your word. Thank you for the joy it brings me. Help me to hold it tight, even when I’m struggling.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Sweet Memories, What A Gift

February 6, 1997:  We were at the bank the other day, and they gave the kids stickers that smell when you scratch them.  They were fascinated, sitting on the floor while we did our stuff, scratching and sniffing each other's stickers.  Suddenly Caleb said, "Oooohhhhh, this one smells like dead flowers!"

Ping-Hwei went across the street to Yvette's house the other day when he got home, because we were at the doctor.  She has a little baby.  We asked him that night if he'd had fun at Yvette's house, and he said yes.  We asked, what does she have? And he said, "TV!"  We started laughing at him, and quickly he corrected himself, "Baby!"

The other day Sarah asked if we'd known before she was born that we would have her someday.  We said no, but we'd hoped God would give us a little girl as sweet as her.  She said, "God was pleased with you, so He gave me to you."

February 13, 1997:  When the kids ask how I know something or other, I say it's because I'm a mommy, and Mommy's know things.  Tonight Caleb was saying something goofy, and I said that he was teasing me.  He said, "I was tricking you, because you're a mommy, and mommies need to be tricked."

February 21, 1997:  When the light in the play room suddenly turned off, Rebecca said, "Mommy, the light burned on." As Kathy replaced the bulb, Caleb asked, "Mommy, how did you learn to do that?  Did God show you?"

February 25, 1997:  Sarah removed cups and silverware from the table after supper, and said, "I'm being a helper, I'm unsetting the table.”

February 26, 1997:  Sarah was listening to a tape of "Dueling Banjos" today, not knowing the name of the selection, and she said to me, "It sounds like the instruments are fighting."

Rebecca was looking at my braille Bibles this morning, --they say Holy Bible on them -- and she said, "The Bible is so Holy."  I said yes, it was the Holy Bible.  She said, "It should be the Holy Holy Holy Holy Holy Bible."

The other day, Kathy and Murray were discussing ways of saving money, including whether they needed all of the parents' or kids' life insurance policies.  Kathy said, "Well, we could get rid of some of the kids'," and Sarah yelled out indignantly, "No you can't!"

March 10, 1997:  Yesterday, Murray was cleaning up the dishes, including some throwaway leftover food.  Rebecca said, "Put it in the mar geeneman stool, or whatever you call it." (garbage disposal)

March 13, 1997:  Sarah was talking about the girls' dollhouses this morning. She said Rebecca's has some dishes and napkins and things for dolls to pretend they're eating.  She said about her own house, "I just have a little table and two cups for water.  Too bad; the dolls will die."

Friday, January 17, 2020

A Gentleman in Moscow

When we visit our daughter Rebecca, she and I go shopping to look for special day gifts for my husband Murray.

Murray loves to read, so we always check out books.

During one visit, Rebecca picked up A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles and said, “I’ve heard a lot about this book.”

I respect Rebecca’s opinion, so I got it and gave it to Murray for Father’s Day.

Soon after he started it, Murray said, “I think this is the best book I’ve ever read.”

I don’t read only Christian books. But I have so many good ones that are specifically Christian waiting for me, I hesitate to use time reading something else. But the more Murray talked about this book, the more I considered it. In the end, I finished it before he did.

What an excellent story, and story-teller.

This is a fictional story, laid over the history of Russia from 1922 to 1954.

A Russian Count is exiled for life by making him stay always inside the hotel where he lives. He must move from his luxury suite to a small attic room, and live there the rest of his life. He can move around the hotel, but he will die if he ever leaves it.

So well written, such excellent writing craft.

A beautiful story. Of sorrow and hope and terror, of loneliness and friendship. Of new ways to be found useful and needed. Of unexpected relationships.

Excellent descriptions, of Russia, of this fine hotel, of a wide variety of characters. Delicate and amusing twists and surprises. Joy, sorrow, delight. Tragedy, miracles. I laughed and I cried.

And although this is not a specifically Christian book, there were potent whispers about Jesus.

And what an ending!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Psalm 38, David, a Man After God's Heart

Acts 13: 22: “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’”

What a wonderful testimony for David from God, “a man after my own heart.” And what a lovely picture of grace.

Because, of course, David didn’t always do what God wanted him to do. Yet, that is the memory of David that God leaves us with in the bible.

In Psalm 38, I believe we have another look at how David drew himself close to God’s heart.

Verses 1-4: “Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your wrath.
Your arrows have pierced me,
    and your hand has come down on me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
    there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me
    like a burden too heavy to bear.”

David spoke with honesty and bravery to his god. He cried out in pain, accusing God? Showing anger to God?

He admitted his sin, but begged for mercy.

Verses 5-6,18: “My wounds fester and are loathsome
    because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
    all day long I go about mourning.
I confess my iniquity;
    I am troubled by my sin.”

Verse 9: “All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
    my sighing is not hidden from you.”

While confessing his sin, David still knew it was all right to put his requests to God.

Verse 15,19: “Lord, I wait for you;
    you will answer, Lord my God.
Many have become my enemies without cause;
    those who hate me without reason are numerous.”

David had true earthly enemies. I don’t, but the devil is an enemy who seeks to harm me every day. I, too, need to depend on God’s help with this battle.

Verses 21-22: “Lord, do not forsake me;
    do not be far from me, my God.
Come quickly to help me,
    my Lord and my Savior.”

David knew God’s heart. At the same time he groaned because of his pain, accused God of piercing him, he begged for forgiveness and help, and he trusted God would come to him.

Lord, teach me to reach for this closeness to you.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Sarah and "Little Women"

I didn’t grow up having a sister. For years now I’ve said, “But I have two daughters. That’s even better.”

One thing I love to do with my daughters is watch movies.

With Rebecca, we watch videos at her place, and she patiently turns the movie off again and again to explain what’s happening or to tell me what someone said that I missed.

Sarah and I do that, too, but we’ve also seen several shows in the theater. For that, she usually gives me a brief summary of the story first, so I’ll be able to tell what’s happening when it’s hard to hear in the theater.

This Christmas break, we decided to go see “Little Women.”

This time, I could hear most of what went on, but I was still glad Sarah had told me the story first.

She told me that there had been at least three movies made from the book, in 1933, one in 1994 and the most recent, before the one we saw in the theater, in 2017.

We went home from the theater and watch the 1994 version. Next day, the one from 2017. And the next day, from 1933.

Sarah asked if I minded watching them over and over with her. If she could only know how honored I was for her to ask me.

And, even on the last, we still stopped the video frequently to discuss who and what and where, as I grew to know the details better.

Four different interpretations of a beautiful story, four sisters, living during and after the Civil War.

As children, playing and laughing and fighting.

As young women, talking of marriage, helping each other get dressed and fix their hair, sharing their dreams and gripes and thoughts.

As women, moving apart, moving together again, dealing with sorrows and joys and learning to love life.

What a fun time to spend with Sarah.

Also, talking with Ping-Hwei and Murray as they moved around us, begging them to get us snacks and drinks, playing with our cat. I thought, “Look at all the fun I missed, not watching TV with the family as the kids grew up.”

Nah. Why regret what I didn’t do. Instead, I’ll thank God for the lovely gifts He’s giving me now.

We plan to visit Rebecca the end of March. I think I’ll ask her to start looking for a movie or two for us to watch together while I’m there.