Thursday, March 29, 2018

Isaiah 53

This is one of Murray’s and my favorite passages in the Bible.

Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

Lord God, thank you for what Jesus was willing to go through for us, and praise you for the hope of Resurrection Sunday.

Friday, March 23, 2018

A Lesson From Another Writer

I just read a book which held me in a fast grip. The skill, the craftsmanship, the delicate techniques—I have great respect for the author.

I was so caught up in the story, at times I was unkind and impatient with the people close to me. I don’t blame that writer for this. I am responsible for my own actions. But I was gripped.

I’m not going to tell you the name of the author, or the name of the book.

Because, it was disturbing. It wasn’t fun.

I want my reading and my writing to be fun. And even though I believe there can be benefit in a book being disturbing, I believe it should be balanced with hope.

The ending of the book held some satisfaction, I suppose. But not the kind of hope that could have been left with the reader if it was written from a Godly perspective.

There is much horror and dread and evil and ugliness in the world. That’s true, and as a Christian, I don’t think that should be ignored.

But, with the grace and tender mercy that God can bring into our lives, through the life of his son Jesus, I believe none of us needs to stay in the dirt and pain the world can give us.

I believe we can rise from those ugly places. Still scarred, yes, but with the love and healing from a Father that will help us stand. And with the ability to move on to real hope, with the chance to find joy and beauty in our future.

That’s how I want to leave my readers.

Another reason I’m not telling the name of the author or the book I read is that I don’t want to bad-mouth him personally. He has amazing talent.

So the lesson I want to learn from this other author is to sharpen my skill as a writer. I want to learn how to describe the deep insides of people. I want to hone every technique, and dig deep for just the right words to grip readers, yes, but to plant in them God’s hope.

Friday, March 16, 2018

I Was Sick This Week

I must have caught one of the weird strains of flu that’s going around this year.

From after lunch on Sunday to lunch time Thursday, I planted myself, days and nights, in my son Ping-Hwei’s recliner, wrapped in afghans. I chose this position, because when I’m sick like this, lying down tends to send me into fits of coughing that are just embarrassing.

I won’t describe any more symptoms, because most of you know what they’re like already, and for anyone who doesn’t—who wants to read about that anyway?

I listened to hours of audio books, but other than that, for the first couple of days, I had a sense of being shut down.

I got almost no work done on the computer. I even missed at least one meal, which believe me, is big for me.

My family was good to me. Sarah brought me a smoothie, to encourage my intake of fluids. Murray, Ping-Hwei, and Caleb brought me Eli, the cat, many times, and I trapped him with me for longer times than I usually force on him, just for company.

I didn’t realize how low my energy dropped until the third day or so, when I finally had enough to start complaining. Today, Friday, my legs don’t feel so spongy anymore. I’m still cold, but I’m blaming that more now on Ohio temperatures than fever. I think I’m climbing back.

What a week. I’m looking forward to how much different the world seems with each new day.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Sweet Memories, Too Much Fun

August 15, 1995: Caleb has been saying the last couple days that he would like to touch a cloud, so he could see what one feels like. I said I didn't think he could, but Rebecca said maybe he could if hewas in a parachute. Today we were talking about flying to Heaven, and Caleb said, "Maybe when I'm flying in the sky I can touch acloud. Will Jesus help me?"

August 17, 1995: Last night Rebecca was telling me about helping a neighbor give her baby a bath, and Rebecca was very excited. I said,"I used to give two little babies a bath." She said, "What were their names?" I said, "Rebecca and Sarah." She said, "Oh. But you were aMommy, and I'm a little girl, so I had more fun."

August 26, 1995: Tonight when Sarah was getting ready for bed, sheasked, "When I'm four, will I be Rebecca, or Sarah still?"

August 29, 1995: Rebecca has been wondering about angels lately. We were talking about what color they might be, maybe the same colors as people. Someone suggested they might be green, andRebecca said no. "Just listen," she said. Then she sang Jesus loves the little children. After she sang the "red, brown, yellow, black,and white" part, she pointed out that it didn't mention green.

September 2, 1995: Sarah started preschool this week, and I was telling her that she needed to be good and do what her teacher said. She hadalready gone a few days. She said, "I was sad, so I was sweet."

When we were praying before bed, Rebecca asked, "Is Jesus amissionary?" I thought a second, and said yes. She said happily,"I'm a missionary like Jesus."

September 4, 1995: The other day Rebecca asked, "If we don't gonight-night, does it still get to be tomorrow?"

At lunch today, Sarah was looking around at who had drinks. Finally she said, "Daddy just has tuna and a book for lunch."

The other day when Rebecca's stomach hurt, she ate some grapes, and said that helped. Today at lunch I told her my tummy hurt. Very seriously and thoughtfully she asked if we had any raisins. She said we could put them out in the sun to make them grapes, and then Icould eat them to help my stomach.

September 13, 1995: Today I talked with Ted Skiles about starting proceedings for adopting Ping-Hwei. I told Rebecca and Sarah about that, and Sarah asked if they would let Ping-Hwei come live with us forever. I said I hoped so, and I said we should pray about it. Sarah said, "Dear Lord, help Ping-Hwei come live with us forever,please help him know about You."

Tonight at supper, Rebecca asked, "Mommy, is there a mail box inHeaven?" I said I didn't know, and asked if she liked mail. Shesaid, "Um hum, bright shiny mail."

September 28, 1995: Sarah was praying before she went to school, and she said, "Dear Lord, help me not to be sad, and to be happy, andjust to be your little girl."

Yesterday when I gave her a bath, I asked Sarah why Jesus gave me such a wonderful girl. She said, "Because He wants to, becauseHe's just a good God."

Rebecca likes to push Memory button (on our phone) to get the time and temperature recording. Last night she asked Murray if she could do that. He had just tried to call his Mom, but her line was busy. He told Rebecca to push the redial button instead of Memory. She did, then hung up. He asked why, and she said, "A real person answered." He said to go ahead and dial it again. She said, "Butwill I get in trouble?"

October 5, 1995: Last night we had tacos for supper, and Sarah didn't like them. She said, "Give me another plate with things thatI like."

The other day I kept stepping on Rhoda's tail. Rebecca asked, "Mom, do you know what God should make?" I asked what. She said, "He should make you not blind so you don't step on Rhoda."

This morning Rebecca was playing like we were having kids' class at church, and she was saying that I wanted to go to the kids' class, and to make me be quiet in class she said, "Mommy, do you want to go to your big people's class, and not have fun, and just sitthere and listen to people talk?"

October 14, 1995: One night the kids were saying they were thirsty for a drink before bedtime, and were talking about whether they were thirsty for water or milk. Sarah said, "I'm thirsty for sody; red sody; yum yum."

Friday, March 2, 2018

Psalm 119:17-24, Gimel

The third stanza of this very honest poem.

Be good to your servant while I live,
    that I may obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see
    wonderful things in your law.
I am a stranger on earth;
    do not hide your commands from me.
My soul is consumed with longing
    for your laws at all times.
You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed,
    those who stray from your commands.
Remove from me their scorn and contempt,
    for I keep your statutes.
Though rulers sit together and slander me,
    your servant will meditate on your decrees.
Your statutes are my delight;
    they are my counselors.

The writer of this Psalm was honest with God about his needs and his complaints. He told God of his harsh feelings for those who mistreated him, and he asked for God’s help.

Lord, teach me to be honest with you and to delight in your word.