Thursday, February 20, 2014

One Day... and Another

The frosty air and fluffy snow made for great skiing on Monday.
85 degrees and sunshine made for great swimming on Tuesday.
Honestly, it's like we're on another planet.
And oh, by the way, it's strawberry season here.
We came to Florida to have strawberry shortcake with our Brown Hill neighbors!
Of course we're here do a few things for Dad and to keep him company, but we're out and about having fun too. We couldn't talk him into the long drive with us to go have a strawberry shortcake at Parkdale Farms. He knew his favorite daughter would bring strawberries back and make him a home made shortcake.  (There's more than one way to find out if your sisters read your blog!)  
The shortcake is on the list for tomorrow, along with more swimming for me, golfing for Tom, and believe it or not we'll find time for a few chores to earn our keep. How we can improve upon what he's got going is hard to fathom, but I suppose it's the little things that make it as pristine and beautiful as it is.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday, Sunday...Love That Day!

Tom is always up first. No matter the day, he's the early riser. That means when I come downstairs, provided I'm early enough, a radio program called With Heart and Voice will greet me. Well orchestrated old hymns. Quite beautiful. Lovely way to start the day.

Sunday School, church service, out to lunch with friends, quiet afternoons that lead to delightful Sunday naps, and then whatever we want. Today I'm ruminating.

I had an epiphany in Sunday School this morning. A woman spoke of her years attending the church from whence we happened to come. We were speaking of our (now) Lutheran service that begins every single week with confession and forgiveness. She said that was one thing she missed during her stint at the less liturgical church. But then she equated the frequent altar calls at that church and others like it with our confession. Interesting correlation I thought. And yes, perhaps that would be the best use of a regular altar call -- a weekly coming clean.

At St. Paul's ELCA we do it this way: Most merciful God, we confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.

Should I be ashamed to admit that every week I need to pray this all over again? Yes, maybe. But I'm in good company. No one makes it through the week, all week long blameless. And, if I say I have no sin, I'm only deceiving myself.

Another "aha" moment came during the children's sermon. Pastor Brian asked the kiddos what they thought our "passing of the peace" is all about... Every week, mid service we greet one another, shaking hands and saying something like "the peace of Christ be with you". It's often shortened to "peace" or "peace of Christ" or, if I catch someone's eye from across several pews and an aisle, I've been known to point and flash the peace sign, two fingers up making a 'V' -- '70's style peace.

Anyway, that's what we do, and Pastor explained to the kids that this is our way of practicing peacemaking. When we leave church, peace is something we can take with us into all the world: school, work, sports, neighborhoods. Regardless how big or small our world is -- take peace, make peace, give peace away.

And now in my head I'm singing Give Peace a Chance. Isn't that just what Jesus would have us do? Give peace a chance, starting with me and you...take it, make it, share it.

So before we even got to the message for big people I was encouraged, spurred on to love and good works (like peacemaking). I guess that's why I try not to neglect meeting together, that's why I love going to church, that's why I love Sundays!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Small Things Great Love

There are a hundred things I'd like to post for Valentine's Day. I probably should have started sooner. I could post the best known love passage in the Bible 1st Corinthians, chapter 13.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
 and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship
 that I may boast, but do not have love,
I gain nothing. 
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease;
where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child. When I became a man,
I put the ways of childhood behind me.
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;
 then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully,
even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
And then there are all the wonderful love commandments, especially the Greatest Commandment to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, strength and soul, and the second which is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. I absolutely love that verse. It makes the gospel so clear and easy -- really, just love, that's what it's all about.
And there are love songs. Bazillions of them. I like this children's song, "Love, love, love makes people happy. Love, love, love makes people kind. Love makes people do the things they know they ought to do. Love is...I don't remember the rest. But it's something sweet and lovable.

 But I think for now, I'll settle for this:

"Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love." Mother Teresa

This seems appropriate for Valentines Day.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Take Up Your Cause and Try to Be Nice

I learn by doing. I do what I enjoy. This time of year I'm learning a lot about skiing, reading, and writing. Housework -- not so much. I tend to housekeeping chores out of necessity, which involves lots of doing that doesn't fall into the enjoyable category. If I must clean, and I must, I try to re-organize so the next frantic run through will be quicker. Frantic because -- I clean when company is coming. Man, I'm good under pressure.

As you may know from a previous post, we're under construction here. When everything is in a state of disarray I have a hard time getting at the things I enjoy. I consider all the things I should do and all the things I want to do, both vying for my attention. It's paralyzing. And as the minutes and hours tick by I get a panicked feeling that I'm wasting my life.

It's the same with social issues and causes. I don't want my life to be a waste, but I get paralyzed by all that is sad, hurtful, wrong in the world. As a Christian, I want to take up my cross to follow Jesus. But there's a fine line between taking up my cross and taking up my cause. Either way, I want to do it in a godly fashion.

A friend of mine posted a quote from Billy Graham. Apparently he was asked, "If Christianity is valid, why is there so much evil in the world?" Graham replied something like...with so much soap in the world, why are there still dirty people? And he made that relative by adding that in each case they must be personally applied to do any good.

Yeah, okay, although that sounds judgmental, I get it. But I get it more for the soap than the religion. I think it's not a very good answer in that it's a terribly flippant answer to a very serious and valid question. It's distressing to me that the premise of Christ's way, God's law, the basic tenet of the religion called Christianity is love and grace -- and yet there is little peace among believers let alone in the world.

If you hadn't heard there was a debate this week. Ken Ham the creationist guy and Bill Nye the science guy debated the foundations of the earth. They were fairly respectful of one another, all things considered. I have to admit, I love Bill Nye: the way he dresses, talks and thinks. I believe God loves him too, though for whatever reason he hasn't yet gifted him with faith. (He's probably letting Bill come to faith through science. That's an epiphany I look forward to hearing about on one side or the other of eternity.)

And Ken Ham? Well I love him as a brother in Christ, but (and anything you say after the "but" discounts what came before) the very first time I heard him speak he was disrespectful of other famous Christian authorities who disagreed with his opinion on the age of the earth. He called them out by name and said if you don't agree with me and the Bible, you're doomed. Yep, that's how he spoke about his brothers in Christ. I don't believe he mentioned any women, which is another topic altogether -- an extremely relevant topic. Sorry, Ken, but I still love you. (Whatever comes after the "but" discounts what came before.  I guess I'm not all that sorry, Ken. I repent.)

There was one question put to Ken Ham that caused me to stop listening. He was asked if anything could change his mind about his stance on the age of the earth. He didn't answer the question. It has a very simple answer, but no, he went on and on "proving" his stance and didn't answer the question.

The answer is -- only God could change his mind. That, I would have respected. It would have presented a modicum of humility and submission to his higher authority.

As Christians we've got this personal relationship with a God who loves us so much he gives us a long leash, but he doesn't let us go. He lets us have our way and our opinions, ever reminding us to be humble and come to him, which we don't always do even though we  know he is the final authority and he knows everything. So the correct answer to the question about what could change our minds about anything and everything is GOD. But he won't if we don't want him to. He rarely interferes while we're still on our high horse using and misusing his Word to prove a point to which we we've married ourselves, forgetting completely that His ways are higher than our own.

Ps. 51:17 A humble and contrite heart God does not despise.
1 Peter 5:6   Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God
And this is what the Lord requires of us:
Micah 6:8b That we act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.

And with that, I must get off my high horse. A friend of mine posted a blog this morning which calmed my anxious spirit. She spoke of seeking common ground, and not missing opportunities to make the world a better place. I'm going to go read Yvonne's Midpoint Musings again. Then I'm going take my anxious thoughts to God in prayer knowing that the peace of God transcends understanding -- yours, mine and ours -- His peace transcends our understanding.

And look! Once again he's sprinkled my yard with diamonds. I'm off now to do the next enjoyable thing on my docket. And before I go, I want to remind myself, there is a lot right with the world: Good things and good people, happy times and loving people. The chief end of humankind is to glorify, and enjoy God. I'm on it!

Can you see the sparkle?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Snow Rollers

What an interesting phenomenon! There must be 4 weather conditions happening simultaneously for snow rollers to occur: just right temps and wind, a crust of icy snow beneath fresh fallen fluffy snow. (This is my interpretation -- word of mouth, to my ear, through the filter of not the greatest memory -- straight to you. So if you really want to know about snow rollers, look it up!) People in our neck of the woods weren't familiar with them prior to last week. It's no wonder. I have it from a reliable source that conditions around here haven't been just right for 60 years or something like that.

Here's a close up of a snow roller -- courtesy of our friend Steve Ferguson. I believe this one was in his own yard.

More snow rollers from our back yard/ fields.

Oh the wonders of nature...God's handiwork!