Friday, July 31, 2020

Sweet Memories and Giggles

                                                            June 15, 1997: Sarah, our picky eater, was unsure about her vegetable soup, a new experience for her. "What is this?" "A green bean." "Take it out ... take this out, too ... take everything out!"


We went to Shoney's this morning and, as we were paying the bill, Sarah tried to get a balloon that was tied in a group of four to a rail. She untied them, and they all went to the ceiling. We laughed, and she said, "I don't like people laughing at me. I especially don't like my family laughing at me!"


June 18, 1997: Kathy was busy this morning when the phone rang, so she asked Caleb to answer it. He picked up the phone and said cheerfully, "Who are you?"


June 19, 1997: We were picking up a new kitten today at some friends', to go with our older two cats. The man said that the older two wouldn't like the kitty at first. Rebecca said, "No, Deborah (our 1-year old cat) will like her. She's always wanted a kitty."


June 27, 1997: Sarah was trying to tell me something this morning, but Benjamin was crying loudly. Frustrated, Sarah shouted, "How can we quiet him down?"


June 29, 1997: Rebecca just saw a spider, and asked Murray to get rid of it. Caleb said, "Get a bug spanker." (Flyswatter?)


Murray and the kids were looking at a cartoon in the paper with a grandfather looking down from Heaven. Sarah was wanting to look at the picture, and know all about it, and Murray said it was supposed to be the grandfather in Heaven, pointing out the heavenly clouds and the gates and the angels. Sarah looked and, getting to the thrust of the issue, asked, "Where's Jesus?"


June 29, 1997: Rebecca asked what a "step-sister" is, and Murray tried to explain. "Suppose I died and went to heaven. That would leave mommy with you kids. Then, suppose Mrs. X died. That would leave Mr. X with all those kids. Then, if mommy married Mr. X, all you kids and all those kids would be step-sisters and step-brothers." Caleb, voicing his true concern, asked, "Who would drive us to the wedding?"


July 3, 1997: This morning Caleb made an airplane out of Legos. He was telling me about it, and he said, "The pilot, SHE" did something, very naturally calling the pilot a "she.”


July 10, 1997: Benjamin was having a loud crying spell yesterday, and Sarah said in frustration, "I didn't know babies cried so much!" I said I didn't know it either, and she said, "Yes, you did, because I did. Did I?"


July 13, 1997: When Kathy said that we might take a trip sometime to the place in Kansas where Laura Engels Wilder lived, Sarah said, "My heart is full of joy, because every day I'm learning new surprises."


We were at Olan Mills, waiting to get our pictures taken today, when the three middle kids were playing in a play area. Rebecca, being Miss 911, said, with a chuckle, "Well, no, I don't take care of fires. I guess you can talk to my friend here," and Sarah spoke with that caller. Sarah got another call in a few minutes: "No, I don't take care of old people, I take care of fires. You can talk to the lady who does that. Here's my friend."


July 20, 1997: Tonight at supper, Rebecca asked Murray and me, "Why don't you both have the same color hair, since you're both from Missouri?"


Last night we had pizza and salad for supper, and Rebecca pointed out that Sarah got some "crew-cuts" from the salad bar -- you know those small, square, hard cracker-like things.


Ping-Hwei told me yesterday that when he was forty-five, he wanted to get married. He said he wanted to find a wife who loved Jesus, and he said, "Babba help me." Murray assured him he would.


We've read all the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and talked about how she really lived, and a few weeks ago, we went to visit her home and museum in Mansfield, Missouri. Sarah said yesterday, "You know how I know Laura was real? Because she had houses. And mostly because I saw the chair and desk where she wrote."

Friday, July 24, 2020

Authors I've Discovered

Most of these authors are new to me; all of them write with faith.

Irene Hannon writes about Missouri, where I grew up, so that is a delight to me. Her stories include mystery and suspense.

Tessa Afshar writes Biblical fiction, including stories about Priscilla and Aquila, Paul, and Rahab.

Books I’ve read from Karen Barnett take place in National Parks in the 1920s and 30s.

So far I’ve only read one book by Rachel Hauck, The Fifth Avenue Story Society. This is a literary book of modern-day New York City with a variety of people. They are strangers who are mysteriously brought together and become important in each other’s lives.

Terry Blackstock, not a new author to me, excellent suspense.

Lauraine Snelling shares stories of immigrants from Norway who settle in Minnesota in the early 1900s, looking for hope and a new home. Beautiful stories of lives of settlers.

I have added all of these authors to my to-be-read-again list.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Hope in These Times

I’ve been thinking I should write about our time during the corona virus.

But what should I write about? Things aren’t that much different in our lives.

We did have to stop our braille teaching at the correctional center, and my husband only worked from home for a while. Both our sons who live with us are unemployed during this time. We are having virtual church, and I didn’t leave the house for more than three months.

Other than that, my life is much the same. I already did work from home. Our finances have been fine. My husband and sons take safety measures seriously when they leave home.

I live with three men, so I’m not at all lonely. Truthfully, we’ve all gotten along pretty well being shut up at home together most of the time.

So what to write about?

I finally decided I should talk about the concerns of my heart during this overwhelming, frightening time in our nation, in the world.

Listening to the news makes my heart heavy—about the virus, about the horrid racial problems, about the economy, about so much division in our country.

What are the long-range consequences we face? How are our futures, mine and my children’s, going to change?

When will our sons be able to go back to work? Our daughter just finished graduate school. Will she be able to find a job?

When can we travel in the community again without fear of illness? When will schools be able to operate safely?

When will we stop hearing of so many people getting sick and dying from the corona virus? When will all of us in our nation have more peace among us?

When will I have a true moment of joy without feeling a prick of guilt?

I’ve heard many opinions, read many devotions and articles about these times. I want to share some of the hope and encouragement I’ve received from others.

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

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.’”

Romans 8:35,37:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

What I’ve heard repeated most: None of this was a surprise to God. He knew it was going to happen, and he knew where each of us would be.

Psalm 139:16: 
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

In Genesis chapter 16, Hagar calls God the God who saw her.

Verse 13: She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

God sees us. He is always with us. He helps us. And he has work for us to do.

God wants me to focus on being part of the solution, not the problem. This gives me such hope.

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.”

Ephesians 2:10:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Father, thank you for this hope, for this reminder. Help me to see those near me who need help, and give me the strength and courage to do what I can.

Friday, July 10, 2020

God Sees Me Through Jesus

Jeremiah 17:9-10:
 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”

Does this verse scare you?

It does me.

How about this one?

Romans 8:1: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Is the bible contradicting itself? No. The scriptures are clear that God hates sin, and that our sin separates us from him.

The bible is also clear that God loves us and has provided a way to rescue us.

Let’s look at a few bridges which bring the above two verses together.

Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Isaiah 53: 5: 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.

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.

Hebrews 7:25: Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

John 5:24: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

Father God, thank you. Because of your love for me, you look at me and see Jesus.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Soul Survivor by Philip Yancey

Soul Survivor: how thirteen unlikely mentors helped my faith survive the church

I have read several books by journalist/author Philip Yancey, including Soul Survivor. Not long ago, I signed up to receive his blog posts, and due to recent racist concerns, this book was mentioned. So I picked it up again.

Yancey grew up in the violent and “blatantly racist” Deep South in the 50s and 60s. He talks of beliefs and feelings against blacks which were natural in his church and school, in himself.

Yancey struggled to keep his faith as he grew more aware of racism and other problems with his church. He talks of thirteen people who helped him find his way back to a faith in God.

Martin Luther King Jr. used the Sermon on the Mount to back his movement. He called for non-violent protest, to bring to light the horror shown to blacks, to bring this to the notice of white Americans who would object. He said he had to love everyone because God loved everyone.

Yancey said one thing that helped him was reading in the Old Testament prophets and the teachings of Jesus that God had always been on the side of the oppressed and called for justice. I, too, have found these in the scriptures more and more the older I get.

Luke 4:16-19: He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

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.

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.

Though I’ve always known racism is still around, I believed that it had much improved since the 60s. Now, I’m fearing that’s not true.

Yancey said he pulled away from the church because of self-righteousness, hypocrisy, legalism and racism. G. K. Chesterson, when asked what is wrong with the world, answered, “I am.” This helped Yancey understand his own sin as he judged the church.

Dr. Paul Brand taught him about humility and trust.

A Japanese writer taught him that Jesus welcomes doubters, that he died for traitors. Jesus identified with rejects and outcasts.

Henri Nouwen from the Netherlands, priest, professor, missionary, writer. Yancey says Nouwen taught him it was okay to take risks with his writing, to admit his weakness. Nouwen said, “The only true healer is a wounded healer.”

Mahatma Gandhi. Although Gandhi never became a Christian, he studied the Bible and tried to follow Jesus’ teachings. Yancey said Gandhi made him realize that Jesus had caused a new way of thinking for the world, even if people did not accept him as God.

Other mentors included authors, doctors, a psychiatrist, writers, poets, professors, preachers, missionaries.

Yancey says that these mentors, who struggled with their own sin, showed him that Jesus loves them like a mother, who loves her children in spite of their wrongs.

Much about God is hard to understand, but we see the face of God in Jesus on earth, how he showed compassion to the hurting. And, Yancey said, if we can’t trust God, what can we trust?

Yancey said these mentors taught him about humility, and to realize that he had given into the temptation of self-righteousness, looking down on the people from his church upbringing without remembering the good he’d seen there. He said, “I needed to rediscover the leveling truth of Jesus’ gospel…I needed a change in heart as much as a change in thought.” He said he needed to forgive the people in the churches of his childhood.

This is not an easy book. Yancey discussed the struggles and failures of his mentors, himself, and of me. But he doesn’t leave us hopeless. He found that the way to survive was to go back for the mercy and grace of Jesus.