Friday, May 26, 2023

Psalm 15, Create This Person in Me

A psalm of David.

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?

    Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,

    who does what is righteous,

    who speaks the truth from their heart;

whose tongue utters no slander,

    who does no wrong to a neighbor,

    and casts no slur on others;

who despises a vile person

    but honors those who fear the Lord;

who keeps an oath even when it hurts,

    and does not change their mind;

who lends money to the poor without interest;

    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things

    will never be shaken.


In other Psalms, David freely admitted that he was not this person on his own. Neither am I. Yet this is what is expected of the person who will live with God in heaven.


Thank you, Lord, that through the blood of Jesus and the help of the Holy Spirit, you forgive who I was and you are making me into your kind of person. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

Lunch in Canada

Murray married me before he realized I wasn’t his type.


Murray loves spontaneity, surprises. My picture is next to homebody in the dictionary. I like routines, the comfort of home. Surprises can irritate me.


In 2019, we got the driver’s license size passports, just so we could visit Canada sometime. The only time I’d ever been out of the country was in 2000, when we lived in far northern New York, in a town where you could drive across the bridge to Canada. We were moving soon, so we went to Canada for lunch. At that time, we didn’t need a passport.


So, we got the cards in 2019, and then Covid came. And we didn’t go much of anywhere for the next few years.


Last week, Murray said, “Let’s go to lunch in Windsor. Let’s just do it.”


I said, “We’ll see.”


“Yeah. We’ll se.” He sounded disappointed.


But Murray wasn’t scheduled to work that Friday. The next day after he asked me, I showed why maybe it was okay he married me after all. Even though I’m not his type. I said, “Hey, why don’t we go to Canada for lunch this Friday?”


So, Ping-Hwei took Friday off from work, and we were ready.


On Thursday night we got out our passports. We found Murray’s and Ping-Hwei’s. Not mine.


I thought, well, Murray and Ping-Hwei could still go, and that would be okay. But I was a little sad.


Then we found mine.


We were going to leave at eight Friday morning. It was only a little after eight-thirty, and we were off.


Twice as we drove along the road I said, “I smell pigs.”


Murray said, “Well, that’s all you.” He grew up in St. Louis. But he said, “Ninety percent of Ohio is farmland after all.”


Instead of listening to a book, we listened to a movie, “A Man Called Otto,” an Americanized version of “A Man Called Ove.” The movie had audio description, and Murray didn’t look at the screen of his phone while driving.


The movie was a delight, and when once I asked Murray what was happening, he said, “I don’t know. I experienced it just like you.”


Usually when we cross state lines, Murray honks. He did when we drove into Michigan. When we approached the tunnel between Detroit and Windsor, Ping-Hwei asked if we were in Canada. Murray said he’d honk when we got there, but then we both said, maybe he shouldn’t. We didn’t want to upset the border guards.


Murray has kind of a troubling memory of dealing with the border guards from 24 years ago, when he was in Maine for a job interview and went into Canada for the day. The guard last Friday was, as Murray said, “intense and stern,” but we made it through.


Murray looked for a sign saying we were in Canada, but didn’t see one. When he saw both the Canadian and the United States flags painted on the wall of the tunnel, he decided we were in Canada.


I wanted Canada jokes, and I was afraid Murray wouldn’t make any, so I started making them myself.


“Ping-Hwei, a Canadian car just honked at us.”


“Hear those Canadian birds tweeting at us? I wonder if they’re tweeting in both English and French.”


I couldn’t seem to stop.


“Honey, you better slow down, are you might get stopped by a Canadian policeman.”


Ping-Hwei and Murray were nice to me. Neither told me to shut up.


When we decided to have lunch in Canada, Murray looked up restaurants in Windsor, and the first one that popped up was The Back Road CafĂ©. They had an all-day breakfast menu, which is what I’d been hungry for for a long time. The restaurant was crowded—the hostess said she had just one more table for us—but it was delicious.


Sarah said, “You guys are lame.” We could have gotten a restaurant breakfast any time we wanted here, but she said we should have tried a specialty dish from another country while we were there.


The border guard on the way back into the US said, “You drove five hours just to have lunch in Canada? You’re killing me.”


What did we learn about Canada?


The drinking straw at breakfast was made of paper, not plastic. Very ecological. When we paid for our meal, Murray asked the lady for change for a five-dollar bill. We wanted to send Canadian dollar bills to people as gifts.


She told us they didn’t have dollar bills any more, or two-dollar bills, or even pennies. She said, “I’ll give you five loonies.”


We met a nice lady in a souvenir shop who talked to us about Canada and her trips to the United States. She showed us a picture of the bird with the nickname her shop was named after, “Whiskey Jack Boutique.” People were hoping to make it the Canadian national bird.


Murray said that now we know our passports worked, we can go to Toronto for a weekend.


We’ll see.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Grace and Truth, John 16:16-33, Through Jesus We Can Overcome the World

Verses 19-28 and 31-33: Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.

“Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”


Jesus, you told us we would have trouble in the world, just like you did. But you overcame the world, and we can, too, because you promised God loves us and will hear our prayers. You promised you will give us your joy. Thank you, Lord. 

Friday, May 5, 2023

Trip Highlights for Our First Wedding

We left last Thursday about 4:00 a.m., and saw two deer in the middle of the city as we were leaving, a not uncommon thing in our city because of the metro park nearby. There were five of us, plus Hammy, Caleb’s guide dog, in the van.


We seemed packed more than full, and I wondered how we used to do it with seven people in the van plus everything we had to take for a trip. But we made it okay, even over a thirteen-and-a-half-hour drive, and I thought how it might be the last time so many of us traveled together, as the kids get older and move farther into their own lives.


The wedding was Saturday. Sarah was one of the attendants and needed to be at the site early in the morning. Rebecca and Steve each had seven attendants, and she’d arranged for all the ladies to get together and have help with hair and make-up. I came a couple hours later to sit in while Rebecca was getting ready.


It was fun, sitting in the room filled with happy music and ladies talking and laughing. Rebecca gave me a gift bag with gifts for the mother of the bride. Smart she is. I think the gifts for the attendants may have included some cosmetics and jewelry, but mine had candy and snacks. She knows me well.


It took around an hour to do Rebecca’s hair and make-up, with ladies surrounding her. I thought about my friend Janet W. Ferguson’s most recent book about a lady who was a wedding planner. She said her goal was to help a woman feel like a princess for a day, and I felt like that was what was happening for Rebecca. Then she plopped down on the floor in front of me and asked if I wanted to check out her hair.


All week we’d kept checking the weather forecast. For a day at the end of April, we hoped for a nice spring day for an outside wedding. The forecast was for rain Friday, and temperatures in the 50s for Saturday but windy. Rebecca said she didn’t mind clouds, as long as it didn’t rain.


Murray said early in the afternoon it rained, but the sun had come out some after that, and it looked like it was going to be okay for four-thirty, the time of the wedding.


Our family sat down first, and we kept waiting for more people to sit down behind us. Finally, Murray went back into the building where the dinner was going to be, to see what was happening.


It was windy and chilly, and most of the guests had gone inside. Murray said he heard Audrey, Rebecca’s matron of honor call out boldly, “Okay, everyone who is not part of the wedding party, go on out and find your seats.” Sarah said later that she was so glad Audrey was there to help with all the arrangements.


Things never go perfectly for a wedding, no matter how hard you work. Rebecca told me they had coolers set up with signs made up for the different drinks. For kids they had a cooler with a sign that said “Milk and Juice,” but when they went shopping Friday for last minute things, they couldn’t find any small bottles of milk. Then, on Saturday morning, at her hotel breakfast, Audrey snagged several cartons of milk, so the sign was not inaccurate.


After guests were seated behind us, a few members of the wedding party started to move out to proceed up the aisle. Then it started to rain, and then Murray laughed and said, “It’s hailing.” Someone behind us called, “This is good luck folks.” Mom told me later that she’d always heard if it rains on your wedding day, you’ll have a happy marriage.


Rebecca and Steve had written vows to each other, and Sarah told me later that she thought they both sniffled a little. I said I certainly sniffled. When they were done, Murray told me, “Rebecca looked pretty happy.”


After dinner, Rebecca and Steve had the first dance, and Murray said it looked amazingly choreographed, starting slow and easy, then quickly moving to more fast and intricate. Ping-Hwei found an old digital camera in his room last week, and caught their dance on video. After the dance, Rebecca asked everyone else to join them on the floor, and I heard Caleb ask Sarah to dance with him.


A fun surprise at the wedding. We met the granddaughter of the couple who ran the home in Taiwan where we found Ping-Hwei, Caleb and Benjamin. She introduced herself to us as the wife of Steve’s best man.


On Sunday, Murray, Ping-Hwei and I went on to Missouri to visit my mother where she lives in a senior living facility. On Sunday, we played scrabble with her, which is a fun memory I have with Mom when I was a kid.


On Monday, we sat with Mom through her activities in the morning and afternoon, which happened to be bingo both times. I told her we were good luck for her, because with us there, she won four games.


My brother Rodney came about mid-day. He has a garden, and I’m constantly telling him he should mail me some of his fresh radishes with dry ice. When he walked into Mom’s room, he handed me a small sack full of radishes and said, “I pulled these, cut the stems and cleaned them just this morning.”


After we left there, we drove by to visit Murray’s brother Myles, his wife Heather and their daughter Melissa. They had happy little one-year-old dogs, who gifted me by again and again jumping up and putting their paws on my lap and kissing me.


With the closeness of our journey, the traveling, time in the hotel, the wedding, and our visit to Mom and the chance to be with family, not everything went smoothly, as it never does. But I thought these verses, one from Rebecca and Steve’s wedding, spoke well. Colossians 3:12-14: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.