Friday, October 25, 2019

Road Trips!

Yes, road trips. We made two in September and October, and Murray and Ping-Hwei and I are so easily entertained, we came away with many fun memories.

In September we took our trip west, first to Iowa to visit Rebecca, then to visit my mom and brothers in Missouri.

I enjoy Rebecca so much. I told Murray I wish I could see her more than two days twice a year, and then I realized that’s how often my mom gets to see me too.

Visiting the animal shelter where Rebecca volunteers is always a highlight. When we come in, we’re greeted with a cacophony of dogs barking and cats meowing at us. Rebecca brought me two dogs, one fluffy and bouncy and happy.

The other she said was a long dog. And truly he was, but even better than that--his ears were eight inches long and opened up like an umbrella.

I played with cats in cages who loved to lick and bite. They licked a lot. First I thought they could still taste the orange I’d had for breakfast, but after I washed my hands, they still continued to lick, so I figured they just thought they were dogs.

Rebecca and Steve took us to see their garden, lots of hot peppers and tomatoes, a really tall sunflower, green onions, herbs, a watermelon the size of a basketball.

We brought home some of their homemade salsa, some made with tomatoes and peppers, others made with watermelon or pineapple. Pretty good stuff really, although most of the time I needed lots of water while I ate them.

In Missouri, even in the middle of September, we had weather in the 90s. We had such a short summer in Ohio, I actually loved standing outside in the hot weather. For short periods of time.

We went to Mom’s quilting group, mostly retired women. But one lady comes with her five year old daughter, who is a delight. One of the ladies told me, “She’s put some life into this old place. Never boring around here now.”

Murray told people at quilting that he found out there’s a knitting-quilting group at our library, and he told someone there that he quilted. They asked how much, and he said, “Oh, about twice a year.”

My brother Jim had newborn twin calves right at the time we visited. That’s rare; Mom said she thinks they’d only had twins once in all the years she and Dad raised cows. So that was fun, getting to hear about Jim bottle feeding them until the mama and calves all got used to each other.

We visited Sarah in Wisconsin this past weekend.

It’s almost embarrassing the things that can please us as we drive along. When Murray refused to take the exact directions of his phone’s GPS, it would beep and say, “Make a U-turn; make a U-turn!” Almost frantic. Ping-Hwei and I always laugh at this; Murray is not so amused.

When the GPS mentioned how heavy the traffic was and that there was roadwork up ahead, I started considering other things they should be able to do. “If they can do that, they should be able to say when to stop and go at traffic lights. That would be so helpful for blind drivers.”

Passing by one of the lakes in Madison, Murray told Ping-Hwei, “Look at that big lake.” I said it wasn’t as big as our lake. Murray said no, it wasn’t a Great Lake. I said no, but it was an Okay Lake. Murray said it was a perfectly Decent Lake.

Another time as we drove through Madison, Murray, Ping-Hwei, and Sarah noticed people fishing in a boat on the lake. Ping-Hwei said he’d like to go fishing and wondered about cooking the fish. Sarah said no, you’d release them again after you caught them.

I talked about when I was a kid, and Daddy and my brothers went fishing, and brought the fish home to clean and eat. I remembered how Daddy would give me the lungs of the fish to play with. “They were slimy, but they were like little bubbles I could pop.” Sarah was disgusted. “Oh, Mom, did you wash your hands?” “Never since then,” I replied.

Sarah had a lot of school work to do while we were there, so boring people that we are, we were perfectly happy to just sit around her apartment, on our computers or kindles, chatting on and off. She said she liked having us around to chat at. For the first day anyway.

We went to lunch at a Mexican restaurant. When the host asked how many were in our party, we spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to figure out if there were four or five of us. With that, plus our normal loudness, Sarah will probably never go to that restaurant again.

So many smiles I brought home from these trips.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Remind Me of What I Need to Know

Proverbs 4:20-22:
“Pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them and health to one's whole body.”

When I was in college, more than 35 years ago, I was part of a campus ministry, Christian Campus House, on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus, with church services, bible studies, ministries, and fun!

I thank God for the friends I made there, and all I learned about his word.

One habit I learned was memorizing Scripture.

So many good reasons. It puts things into our minds to think about that are good. It helps us bring up the verses we need about a certain subject, to talk about, to write about, when our daily troubles need certain comfort.

I did memorization for years. At one time I memorized the book of James.

Then I used the excuse of raising a family and working to keep me from memorizing.

After my accident seven years ago, when I no longer worked outside the home, and my children were grown and didn’t need my moment to moment care, so that I had plenty of time, I used another bad excuse. I was brain injured. I wouldn’t be able to memorize the bible anymore.

A couple years ago, God was generous enough to teach me otherwise. I went to a women’s retreat where memorization was again recommended. I thought, “Well, I guess I could try.”

What a glorious couple of years it has been.

I’ve remembered verses that I had memorized before, and, surely more slowly, I’m learning new ones. And the truth still remains. It helps me as I go through the day, God bringing to my memory reminders of how I can obey him in this situation, comforts for my problems and other people’s as well, answers to questions about faith.

I’ve started working on memorizing James again.

Some other gems I’m feeding myself:

John 3:30:
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Psalm 139: 23-24: 
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

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.

Philippians 2:3-5:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

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.”

Friday, October 11, 2019

Lamentations, A Beautiful Kernel of Hope

The older I get, the more the Old Testament of the Bible is opening up to me.

I’ve just finished reading the book of Lamentations. Such a writing of sorrow.

It’s a short book, just five chapters written mostly in poetic verse.

I’ve always been glad to find Psalms with David’s cries of pain and anger. It reminds me that I can take anything I’m feeling to god.

But when I started reading Lamentations last week, I was so brought down. So much pain and horror. Because of their sin, Israel had been crushed by their enemies. They’d been crushed by God.

Lamentations 1: 4-5: 
The roads to Zion mourn,
    for no one comes to her appointed festivals.
All her gateways are desolate,
    her priests groan,
her young women grieve,
    and she is in bitter anguish.
Her foes have become her masters;
    her enemies are at ease.
The Lord has brought her grief
    because of her many sins.
Her children have gone into exile,
    captive before the foe.

Lamentations 4:13:
But it happened because of the sins of her prophets
    and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed within her
    the blood of the righteous.

Yet, in the middle of this writing of desolation, are some of my favorite verses of hope.

Lamentations 3:21-23:
But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

As I understand better God’s hatred for sin, I am filled with more wonder at his amazing love.

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.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Forever and Ever Amen by Randy Travis

Forever and Ever Amen, a beautiful memoir by Randy Travis, published 2019.

I’ve been a fan of Randy Travis for many years. The winter after Murray and I got married in 1987, Randy was in concert in Columbia, Missouri. Murray’s brother Morgan was visiting us right then and went to the concert with us.

I remember that Randy was somewhat hoarse during the show that night, but I still loved it. It’s not unusual even now to hear me singing his songs around the house from time to time.

In this book, Randy talks frankly about his life from childhood. You get to meet a good number of country music stars you’ll recognize. Randy talks about his road to success, and also honestly tells of things he did that he is sorry about.

He discusses his Christian faith, how he’s walked away, how he’s come back to God, about the forgiveness he’s received.

He also discusses the stroke he had—I believe and 2013—and all the struggling he’s gone through since then. He tells of how his wife Mary has stayed by him and loved him through his recovery and rehabilitation.

And he told of the successes he’s made during his recovery. I felt like my own story was similar to his, with my recovery from brain injury, and my walking away from and back to God’s forgiveness.

My mother also likes Randy Travis and has told me about times she’s seen him on TV since his stroke. Fortunately, I was able to give her a copy of the book before she bought one for herself.

If you’re a country music fan, I am sure you will love this book. Even if you’re not, it is a beautiful story of struggles and growth and joy from the grace of God.