Sunday, February 7, 2016

Getting Ready for Lent

Matthew Chapter 5, beginning at verse 1

 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them.

He said:

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
 Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

(Matthew 5:1-12, New International Version)

Lent starts this Wednesday, six weeks of preparation for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. For many, it is a time for repentance, self-examination and reflection. Many will also choose to give up something (chocolate!) or to volunteer and give of themselves for others. Last year, an acquaintance of mine sent a card each day (40 in total) to someone who they admired or felt was living out their Christian faith or just made a difference. There are probably lots of other ways you can observe Lent and grow in your faith. Hopefully, anyone who observes Lent in any of these ways is doing so to focus their heart and mind on Jesus, and not to satisfy some manmade requirements. Whatever you do, do it for the right reasons.

That being said, I once again wanted to write my Sunday blogs during Lent around a central theme. I was thinking about sharing one of Jesus’ parables each week, but when I started looking at them in my Bible, the Beatitudes jumped out at me. Aren’t these beautiful verses? They are also the first verses of the Sermon on the Mount, which you just might get to read more of over the next six weeks.

In the meantime,


Lord, God Heavenly Father, open our hearts and minds to Your word, not only between now and Easter but every day of the year. Amen. 
One of my flower pots buried under snow. In six weeks will it have emerged?

Friday, February 5, 2016

What was amazing for you this week?

Besides writing something for the Dino Chronicles three times a week, I write twice a week on another blog, writing what i can when i can. This second blog was inspired by the Round of Words in 80 Days, which is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Basically, you get to pick your goals for the 80 days of the Round and then post about them twice a week. Of course, you then turn around and see how your fellow bloggers are doing and cheer them on by posting comments on their blogs and it’s like a big happy family after while.

The first and foremost goal of one of these bloggers is to find something amazing that happened each week, a tiny seemingly insignificant moment which seems like a gift from God. Every time I read her blog and what inspired her that week, I think to myself, “I need to do that.”

And then I forget to even look for those things.

A week ago, I found such a thing. Or, as always, it found me.

I had been out of town for the day to a friend’s house. As I drove through the nearest town and past the local high school, I passed a car accident - someone had been rear-ended. A teen-age girl was sitting on the side of the road, sobbing, while a teen-age boy tried comforting her as he talked on his cell phone. There didn’t appear to be any physical injuries, and there was already another stopped car, so I kept driving, sending up prayers for the girl and the others involved.

At the next town, I stopped for gas. I pulled back on the highway and as I got to the end of the block, someone in a mini-van pulled out in front of me. I stepped on the brakes, knowing better than to slam on them because my car has the habit of not even slowing down when I do that (which I blame on those anti-lock brakes, even though our mechanic has told me the last two times he rotated my tires that I need new brakes).

My car stopped about a foot from the mini-van, a minor miracle considering those bad brakes of mine. The woman driving the van threw her hand over her mouth, knowing that she had nearly caused the accident. I waved her on, what else could I do. It had been close but everything worked out.


I sent up a prayer of thanks and another prayer for the girl in the accident that had occurred. It could so easily have been me that day. 
The accident two years ago that I couldn't avoid, but even that turned out okay.  

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

things that pop up

I wasn’t going to write about this – I don’t like sharing my personal life that is about people in my life unless they live or have lived under my roof – but then something popped up on Facebook tonight. 

An article that Pete Seeger, age 94, had passed away. In truth, he passed away two years ago on January 27. But if you are on Facebook much, you may have noticed that things pop up from who knows where or when. This particular snippet, however, was sent directly to me for this express purpose of this blog.

Pete Seeger, for you younger folks, was a folksinger in the 1940s and 1950s, writing songs such as “If I Had a Hammer” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”.  His song “Turn, Turn, Turn”, based on the book of Ecclesiastes, helped to inspire my memoir, “A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven”. But he was also a rebel for his time, protesting war and admitting to being a communist. We think sometimes we live now in times of protest and rebellion, but it has been going on for years, and people like Pete Seeger led the way.

But that’s not who I’m writing about. Thinking about Mr. Seeger, naturally reminded me of Woody Guthrie. Which of course won’t mean much to many of you. Woody Guthrie, born in Oklahoma in 1912, was the original American folksinger and a friend of Seeger's. He would travel throughout the country during the 1930s, writing countless ballads about life in the Dust Bowl. His most famous song, “This Land is Your Land”, was sung in lots of elementary schools during my childhood, I don’t know if it still is.

If anyone reading this, remembers Woody Guthrie, you may or may not know what claimed his life at the young age of 55. Huntington’s Disease. I won’t copy and paste, so you can read about it here.

The personal part is that my Uncle Bob died from it in 1978 and my cousin Phil in 2000. And yesterday, Phil’s beautiful 30 year old daughter, sweet Erin went to be with them.

Sometimes, Lord, things just don’t make sense.     
Uncle Bob and Aunt Helen's wedding in 1942
Philip and Erlene's wedding in 1979
Erin at her sister Sara's wedding in 2015


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Building

1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves.
3 Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.
(Psalm 127 New International Version)


Though last Sunday I wrote about Psalm 22, it’s been a while since I shared a Psalm without adding my arbitrary thoughts or odd-ball interpretation. So I thought I would randomly pick a Psalm which I haven’t shared before, and this is what bounced up. Nope, can’t think of a thing I need to add. Except, of course, a picture.
Clark Tower in Winterset, Iowa, built in 1926 and visited by me and the hubby in 2001

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Happy Belated Birthday to My Son

Oh, Nicholas, don't be crabby. I am sorry that I didn't wish you a happy birthday last week here on my blog. But better late than never. Hard to believe this baby boy is 30 years old!

Here are just some of my favorite pictures of you. 





Have a great week, Kiddo. And hope to see you soon. Love, Mom

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Vote for Your Favorite Photo

Tonight I was working on a powerpoint presentation and ended up looking up some old pictures from Kenya. I found a few of my favorites from when my daughter Val was there for six months back in 2010. Looking at them, I realize that the three times I have been to Africa, for two weeks each time - well, that is not enough. Man, how I wish I could stay there for a couple months at a time.
 "Two Friends out for a Walk"
I don't even know where Val took this picture at, but it just cracks me up, two animals who were told they couldn't be friends, yet here they are out for a walk. 
 "I am Spiderman"
Most of the kids clothes are donated, but who donates a spiderman costume to a needy child? 
 "Sunset"
Sunset at Saikeri, no words needed.
 "Beach Scene"
This is at Diani Beach, off the coast of the Indian Ocean. 
"Momma's Pick" 
Momma loves the bird, the dog, my baby-girl full of hope and expectation. I love it. 

There is still time to donate towards our next trip, taking place the first two weeks in April. Go to our GoFundMe link here, or our website tumainivolunteers.org  . 
Or mail your check to PO Box 726, Wausau, WI  54402

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Suffering

 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest. Psalm 22:1-2 (NIV)

Several of my extended-family members are suffering from debilitating diseases. I don’t feel it is my place to share any details, but these ailments are causing great physical distress. Not only that, but the emotional and mental anguish on both the patient and their immediate families are taking a toll. These people are all believers and have all been praying to God for relief – any kind of relief – but they are nearing the point of questioning their faith.

They ask each other, “Why doesn’t God answer our prayers?” No one ever wants to hear the answer, “God always answers our prayers, but the answer isn’t always the one we want.” So if that’s the case, why pray at all? And if we ask that question, the next one would be, why then do we believe in God at all?

That’s a slippery slope. We believe because we do. We just do. And sometimes it doesn’t make sense and we just don’t get it. We crumble to the ground, crying in grief, falling into despair. Then we realize – hopefully, prayerfully – that there is no place else to turn. We pray to God for help, for relief, for peace. For peace. Because there is nothing else to do when life has pulled us so far down.

It reminds me of the story of the man looking back over his life and there were two sets of footprints in the sand when life was good. And God told the man, that’s when I was walking by your side. But when life was not good, there was only one set of footprints. And God said, that was when I carried you. I recently read an addendum to that. There was also a place in the sand that was all messed up, with no footprints. And God said, that’s when I dragged you, coz you were fighting against me, but I wouldn’t let you go.

For He has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
He has not hidden His face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help. Psalm 22:24 (NIV)