Saturday, August 23, 2014

Party on the Island 2014

5 years ago, my friends on Winona Lake gathered at our cottage. We celebrated my husband's birthday.

Earlier in the year, doctors had offered us no hope that Mike would still be around at the end of summer. But God showed up with His miracle moves and we had that party. It was glorious but tinged with a bittersweet scent. We certainly believed that this would be Mike's last party.

But no. 2010 and 2011: each lake season ended with a birthday celebration. And then, in 2012, Mike's long time buddy and his ever-energetic wife offered to move the party outside and open it to any and all who showed up.

So, in 2012, we roasted a hog and invited the town. People just kept coming, everybody pitching in some goodies, and the party grew.

Last year, the 2nd Annual Island Party was even bigger and much more fun, even as Mike did not get to attend. We DID send some Sky Lanterns into the darkening sky, in case he was checking in.

Out my window, right now, there's a big barrel in which some pork is roasting. Soon, a team of ladies will gather around my dining room table and begin to pull the pork and place it in trays. There will be a kettle of sauce simmering on the stove.

The band will set up by 6 and the party will commence. I get to spend one more night with my special friends here at the lake.

Tomorrow I head out for a 2 day drive to my next adventure. But for tonight, the party is ON!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The FIVE --- not the TV Show



My home church began a project at the start of this year. B  L  E  S  S, each letter a prompt for some intentional living. I was in the service but I was not paying enough attention. I drifted after B which is  BEGIN THE DAY WITH PRAYER. No matter what else we should do, that’s got to be a great way to start the day. 

So I purposed to do just that, each and every day. And because I need a little structure (note: not ‘little structure’), I chose to make a mental list of 5 things I would mention to the Creator of the Universe. I also decided that, this time, I would present my list without my suggestions as to how He could meet those needs and requests.

Among the life lessons I’ve been filing: God has a much bigger imagination than I have. I think I know how things are going and how things should go and how things will go, as what makes sense to me. And time after time, He blows me away with something completely different. And so much better.  In fact, pretty close to perfect.  Yeah...well...perfect.

So my daily discipline is to roll over, one stretch, and then my  BEGIN. First and foremost, it connects me with my Father. We know that He delights in our prayers so I’m all about delighting Him. And from my church background, I know I can be as casual and conversational as I choose. “Hi, God. Good morning and here’s what I want to bring before you….”

For all of you who are champions of faith, for all of you who have already discovered this, please enjoy and be refreshed that God’s lessons can be learned at a later date, far down the road of life.
I’ve seen answers. I’ve seen miracles. I’ve had my metaphoric socks blown off my metaphorically sock-clad tootsies. A recap:

Three of God’s children who were looking for a job:  JOBS

Two of God’s children who needed a house and who had hit the wall multiple times with offers lost:  HOUSES

Several of God’s children who were stressing over a test in a difficult course: tests NAILED! (When they asked for prayer, understanding that I’m a teacher and all, they promised that they were doing their part)

Several of God’s children, facing hard life choices, sought clarity.  God supplied.

Several of God’s children, walking the path to the cemetery, asked for comfort. I don’t even need a report on this one: God supplies.

Plus, there are some long-term requests that He's taking His time to address. In His time.

I can testify: this is a great way to build up your faith and to remind you that God IS the one who sees the big picture.

No coincidence: God led me to Psalm 37 yesterday. As Mike was winding down, the one thing he really wanted was to finish his semester at IVY Tech. He lived to meet that goal.

PSALM 37: 3-5



3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:

Thank you, Father for this. And for all answers to prayer.  Including those whose answer is WAIT or  NO, TRUST ME.  

I've grown a little protective of my FIVE. It seems that each time one request gets scratched off the list, another surfaces. If not, I can always insert my own needs but I prefer praying for others.

BTW:  somebody got a job....there's a vacancy on The FIVE.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

King David and the Tomato

This morning’s sermon took 2 Samuel 12 as its text. Here is reported the climactic scene in the story of David and Bathsheba. King David had taken another man’s wife into his bed. This man was the King’s champion, serving on the battlefield. Bathsheba became pregnant, the king tried to cover, the plan failed. So, David sent a note to the front, carried by his champion, that this soldier should be placed in the thick of the battle, assuming he would be killed. Assumption correct. David married the widow and the baby was born.

And David went on kinging and all. Yeah, he was God’s man and yeah, this was messy, even sinful, but now it was over and on we go. Except that’s not the way God works and so the prophet Nathan was tasked with the job of calling out the King. That had to be an interesting exchange between the Almighty and His human voice. You want me to do WHAT??? The prophet had to know that with one flick of his wrist, David could call for his death.

Nathan showed up and told David about a guy in the kingdom who had killed his neighbor’s pet ewe for a party dinner instead of taking one of his own...and he had a bunch. David seethed, but not for long. He proclaimed that this sheep killer should die. And then Nathan made the metaphoric leap:  You are that man.

BAM! David heard the word and felt the judgment. David sought forgiveness and Nathan kept his head. However, and this was the point, David’s sin, though forgiven, still carried penalties. In this case, Nathan told him that the child would die; and there were a few more consequences that, if you believe in biblical history, affected the nation of Israel to the present day.

And then after church, several congregants gathered around a kitchen table and held discussions about guilt and forgiveness in today’s world. One erudite observer opined that it seems that the uttering of “I’m sorry” is seen as a wipe-the-slate kind of thing. Like there should be no consequences. If parental/school/employment punishment is advanced, the rule breaker will whine “But I SAID I was sorry.” Like that should erase any consequences for bad actions. We discussed how things were when “we” were little and how nobody worried about our self-esteem when we screwed up. We also, all of us, have vivid memories of choosing badly, experiencing the consequences and then never repeating the wrong. Folks used to call that good learning.

So, feeling a bit smug…those Things Were Different/Better discussions will do that…I place my hand around a perfect, round tomato on the table. 

Big Eyes: WHERE did you GET that???

Well, as I was strolling through the neighbor’s garden, I spied this beauty, deep, deep, deep inside the tomato plants. Plural as in dozens. You almost couldn’t see it as it was hidden by the lush greenery. But I spied it, slid my hand into the bush and plucked it. It took no effort. It was ready to fall. And this is a friend’s garden. I just figured No Big Deal.
However, apparently at least one at our confab had suffered some distress when she plucked a similar fruit. She had been told she was NOT to do that. “But, it’s ok that you did. In fact, it’s a relief,” she said.

Ok. I don’t know what all that drama was about but I guess it’s purloined spoils but  it’s not like you can put it back.  I also knew that 1) there are so many, so so many tomatoes ready and more coming and 2) it’s not like I was stealing: I’ve been given carte blanche in the same garden for raspberries and blackberries. Although another sermon note is that when we sin or screw up (whatever term you choose), we look for ways to justify what we have done so this is my illustration of that very good point. 

I guess I could apologize but, honestly, it would be insincere.
All of this gave me pause until I walked home, sliced up that beauty and lay it across green beans from some else’s garden. I had a very good lunch. And then, I remembered a poem, which embraces in the taking of fruit, and fake regret.

mmmmmmmm
This Is Just to Say
by William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold 


Hmmmm. Time to ponder.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vacation Bible School

When I was a kiddie, summer meant  VBS at my home church. It was a 2-week affair, daily from 9 until noon. Mom would load up the station wagon with her own plus a few neighborhood kids and we would drive to First Baptist Church in Lincoln Park. Mom drifted off to help while the kids found their places in their various classes.

It was carefully planned and I can still recall the schedule: 9:00 Opening. All the kids and teachers met in the sanctuary. Then at 9:15, we would dismiss to our various age-appropriate classes. Once there, we'd get a story plus a memory verse; we were encouraged to memorize for the next day for a prize. We'd practice that verse until about 9:45 when we moved to crafts.

Over the years, I discovered all sorts of things you can make with Popsicle sticks, string, and clay. The craft projects would spread over the entire 2 weeks, being ready to take home on the second Thursday.

There was game time outside; there was a real missionary who told his/her story throughout the week. We took a daily offering for this missionary.

And, of course, there was snack time. My church was big on some sort of red fruit juice (Hawaiian Punch?) Whatever it was, we never got it at home so that made Bible School even more special. Plus there were real, made-by-a-mom oatmeal cookies.

By 11:30, the entire group moved back into the sanctuary to decompress and recall what we had learned, and once again, we recited the memory verse and the Bible School song, and then we were sent on our way until the next morning. Second Thursday night was the program for the parents. And we repeated it on Sunday for the home folks.

Mom continued the schedule: we would load up the car and drive home. Then, it was tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Bible School filled the first two weeks of summer vacation. Every year. Did I memorize some scripture? Sure. For a bright, shining moment, I could recite and win the prize. Was I able to recite those verses in the months that followed? Well, no, not so much.

So had I 'hidden the word' in my heart? I guess that could be up for discussion. What I DO know is that any such training...any effort to learn the promises of God...is not wasted. Somehow, somewhere in those brain ganglia, the Spirit planted seeds. And when the need came, those seeds had sprouted and taken root.

That's the way it goes when it comes to teaching children the truths of scripture and the promises of God.

This week, it was my privilege to serve at a local VBS. I asked to be a helper, to be used wherever they could use me: it landed me in the 6 - 8 year-old class with a gifted teacher and another helper. This VBS was for one week, from 6 until 8:30.

From the director to her teachers and helpers, you could see their sense of purpose. They knew that they were doing God's work with these little ones. I was also reminded that where many an adult finds it tough to memorize scripture, brains young and agile can soak like a sponge. How great is it that this little group soaked up such truths as  "God will supply all my needs."

The memory verses were set to music and fleshed out with videos. The kiddos smiled as they sang and worked the motions. And they learned.

The church's pastor was 1/3 of the skit team, playing an important role in teaching about character. What I did not know, until today, is that the pastor had to summon a lot of strength for the week. Monday night, after he had locked up the church, he took a different route home only to be stopped by some sort of traffic blockage. It took little time for him to see that there had been an accident up ahead. He told us that he donned his CHAPLAIN vest, left his car and walked up the road. He came upon a tragic scene.

A 10-year-old boy, riding his bike, had be struck by a car and lay in the road. The boy had been near his home: his mother had heard the crunch and had run to the a scene. She was kneeling by her son who was drifting in and out. She was telling him to stay with her. She was praying. He closed his eyes and left her and us.

And God had purposed that our pastor be on the scene to be large for these people.

A tale told over and over: no alcohol, no rain, no reason: a young life ended right there by the side of the road. The boy was a believer. His family is active in a local church, as is the driver. And we're all left with why oh why oh why?

It's probably impossible to find a reason. As one friend said, "It's hard to realize that this was God's plan for this boy. That he was not going to graduate from high school. That he was not going to go to church this morning." And we are left wounded, bruised and aching.

I'll leave it for the nonbeliever to find his answer. For those of us to whom God is real, it's times like this that we much cling to the truths of scripture, to those things that we know are true. God is good. God loves us (him). God has a plan and it is perfect.

That doesn't erase the pain. Or the very human longing for a different plan. It WILL bring peace eventually as we await reunion.  Our God will supply all our needs.  Phillippians 4:19.

Please pray for the family of Kurt Allen Engler.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Other Big C

 One of God’s champions was on deck at the home church and sent out a request for people to prayer for him as he prepared his message. I signed up. Frankly, this is an easy one, both for me and for God: the guy is gifted when it comes to presenting God’s word. I knew he’d be great and God would be pleased.

Then, smarty-pants here sent him a text:  showing up Sunday to see how God has answered my prayers.  It’s a drive that takes about 90 minutes; I miss my church family and long to worship with them in that warm, familiar place so I took my seat…next to his wife…and was led to God’s dais through great music and worship. Then, my friend took his place and brought the message.

Of course it was great. Well-organized, skillfully delivered. And, BOOM. A kernel just for me. That’s the OTHER Big C:  Conviction. For those of you who walk with God, it does not surprise that He tugs, nudges, smacks or flattens His children to get their attention. These days, with fewer distractions, I get the nudges most often.

Morgan’s text was I Cor. 5. Flipping through that mental file, I remembed that the Corinthian church had some major problems and Paul wrote this letter to address those problems. There’s a lot about how the church should handle members who practice various sins. The book is a 1st century National Enquirer except it was not widely published. It was in-house. And that’s where the nudge came

Morgan directed us to I Cor. 5:10  in the context of dealing with practicing sin within the fellowship….10 “But I wasn’t talking about the immoral people in the outside world by any means – or the greedy, or the swindlers, or people who worship false gods – otherwise, you would have to leave the world entirely.”

And then, he reminded us that there’s a lot of acrimony these days for Christians in the wider culture and suggested that we dial it back with the judgment statements outside of the club.

So that brought me some clarity about a situation I had found myself in a few weeks ago:
I got in a tussle with some folks on Facebook that left me sad and unsettled; I needed to find a way to avoid another incident.

Ok: Facebook….it means different things to different people. In my case, I’m able to connect with folks of so many backgrounds. There are my retired-teacher friends who are scattering farther away; there are former students from several key graduating classes…late 70’s,  mid-80’s, late ‘80’s and then recent graduates who invite me into their families and lives. Then there are my DMZ pals and others who found me through this blog or through Mike’s illness.

Some wax political. Some want me to follow some links to other’s positions. Some just want to enjoy life. And, like many, I bet, I got into the habit of ‘liking’ and posting, without too much thought.

I’m guessing some PhD candidate will study social media and its effect on discourse: what I know for sure is that a long lament of mine….that schools were moving away from literature study to embrace math and science…has implications here. We don’t take time to mull the metaphor…to stop, think, consider a word or phrase. And in social media-ville, many just put it out there without stepping back for a few thoughtful moments.

In the years before I retired, we had several incidents of kids getting off the school bus in the morning, ready to fight because of something someone had posted. I noticed that some posters complain about how mean their chosen ‘friends’ are on line. I see that quite a few of my younger friends are closing down their Facebook page. For me, mostly, it’s a place to stay connected and it’s harmless.

However, a few weeks ago, a friend posted something about ‘free will’ and ‘Christianity’ and that we are free to live as we choose.  Oh. I should have let it go but I did not. I thought I was gentle and I thought I sent a private message. Neither, it seems, was true. What followed was the slings and arrows that come to those who disagree. I should have just stopped reading but it was a little like a traffic accident…..and when someone took a direct shot at me (Obviously, Lynne has not read the book of Mark), I just HAD to defend myself.

I stepped away, beaten and sad that there are some young people out there who have been wounded by judgmental believers.

The Big C for me: step back from such forums and just become a positive poster. A little candle of God’s love without the doctrine.  So, from now on, as Morgan suggested, I will tell stories about what God has done for me and for friends. God is alive, we know. We all have stories about how He demonstrates His love and care. In my case, that’s what I’m supposed to write about.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Morsels

The Kokomo house is now on the market. I spent about nine months sorting and choosing, saving and tossing an accumulation of stuff from 40 years in that city.

At the lake, I'm almost finished finding walls and shelves for my lovelies; I've identified cubbies for storage of important papers and collectibles.

I was never much of a  saver; I found that paper could pile up to unmanageable heights so I got skilled in dealing with paper when it appears and then dealing or discarding.

However, I have saved a few special things that have meaning mostly to me. Whenever is was away overnight, I knew I would find something in my suitcase. A note from the hub. These were usually scrawled in long hand, on any scrap of paper he could find.

Here's one.  I have a few.
Lucky lady, me.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Gift from a Friend

 This past year has been filled with adventure, purposeful work and much joy. Plus, every so often, here comes an unexpected gift from a friend.

**Mike's and my friend Linda asked me, almost a year ago, if she could make me a quilt. Why sure.

But wait. Did I have some piece of clothing of Mike's that she could incorporate? Actually, I did. Anybody who saw Mike professionally probably saw, if they were undistracted, his familiar blue and white striped shirt. It was his favorite part of his lawyer costume and he had several so the laundress could keep his closet stocked without missing any sleep.

At the time that Linda asked, I was in the middle of the initial purge from the homestead. Most of the casual summer wear had found its way to various donation locations as, well, it was summer and why not get the T-shirts to those who could enjoy them?

In the main closet, I found one of these dress shirts so I handed it to the quilter.

Over the past months, I've received quilt updates, some with technical quilter language that, frankly, I didn't understand but I DID know that much work and care was happening across town and then to a quilter buddy's house where some much more technical equipment resides.

Anyway, then Linda and I tried to coordinate the hand off....she's been traveling and, well, I've been flitting about a lot but we found that we were both in the state for the 4th of July.

Linda drove up to the lake and brought me the quilt. What can I say? It's lovely. It's warm...so good that it's practical; it's washable...again, so good that my friends understand me; ...and even I can tell that it took a lot of time, labor and love. The segments of shirt are incorporated in a subtle manner and perhaps you'd have to know what you were looking at.

I know. Thank you, my friend.









** OK, all you grammarians/punctuation experts. I THINK is this correct.  If not, I'm confident that I will hear from you shortly so I can correct and NOT be responsible for further destruction of the language.     lbol6666@aol.com   Thanks

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/marks.htm