You Can’t See Me!

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Peek-a-boo! It’s the first game that makes most babies smile. And, once they catch on, be prepared to play along. A lot!

Next comes Hide and Seek. I love to watch toddlers think they are hidden if they can’t see the seeker. I mean, no, of course I cannot find you when I see that little foot sticking out from behind the chair. Their childish naïveté is charming.

We played Hide and Seek with our children even into their teen years. The bigger they got, the smarter they got about hiding, but the fewer spots they found which could completely conceal them. Eventually, our little girl couldn’t hide behind the drapes anymore without her toes sticking out. (I did actually find one hiding place that was never discovered, though. I considered making it my nap spot! 😊)

As I walked around my car to go to work last week, I spied two little leaves. They reminded me of those earliest bygone days when my babies’ sweet giggles gave away their hiding places. We’d had a light snow the night before which left most surfaces covered in white. I knew buried under the snowy blanket were scads of leaves and twigs. But an area just outside the garage had escaped the flurries.

All except for two leaves. They lay in the bare spot, each covered singularly by the frozen precipitation. In my bizarre imagination, I believe they thought they were as hidden as those beneath the yard covering. But even a casual observer could tell without a doubt: those were leaves.

I began thinking about how I attempt to hide from an all-knowing God. Oh, I know, He sees me at all times, and I can never escape His loving gaze. I realize He knows every one of my thoughts. But, in my naïveté, I still try to hide. I do so most often in my prayers.

For example, if I am having a difficult time getting along with someone, I tend to frame my plea for patience in the nicest terms possible, as if He cannot see the ugly anger in my heart.

When I am starting to feel bitter about a trial I am experiencing, I often approach the Lord by first assuring Him I understand “all things work together for good to them that love God,”and He “knows the plan He has for my life.”  I try to hide the fact I currently hate my life, I’m feeling cheated, that “Life” is not fair, and I vehemently despise what I’m having to endure.

In reality, sugar-coated prayers hide nothing. He sees deep, deep, deep into my heart. Using “spiritually-acceptable” words to keep from sounding too wretched before Him is absolutely pointless.

I have long admired the psalmist David. His prayers did not tippy-toe around his true feelings. Often his psalms began with raw admissions of bitterness, jealousy, impatience, and anger.

Consider these prayers of his:

”I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalm 73:3) I’ve been there. I try to live right and work hard, yet I still seem to get nowhere. Then I look around and see the wicked getting all the “good” breaks. It doesn’t seem fair.

“Arise, O Lord, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked.” (Psalm 17:13 ) I feel with David here, too. At times, I honestly would not mind seeing my enemy fall flat on his face.  Isn’t that horrid? But I feel uncomfortable expressing my feelings to Him in those terms. Well, guess what? I’m not fooling Him. Why not spill my heart before Him, ask forgiveness, and beg for grace to deal with difficult people?

”Oh that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away, and be at rest.” (Psalm 55:6) David was ready to leave it all behind. Could this be a suicidal thought? Perhaps. No one is immune from such thoughts. God isn’t surprised by any need I express to Him. He already knows it. He only desires for me to admit the desire to “escape” to a deserted island.

Trying to hide exhausts me, but being transparent brings relief. In none of these psalms does David remain unchanged. Once he pours out his heart, he finds his consolation in the Lord. His focus changes from the disappointments of life to the joy of the Lord. My focus can change, too!

I’m going to try to put away my hiding games and get real with God. It’s the only way to really win!

 

“Thou understandest my thought afar off.”

Psalm 139:2

 

 

 

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MODERN DILEMNAS

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We noticed the hot electrical smell before we noticed smoke trailing from underneath.  No doubt about it: our microwave was dead.

Although I cannot recall when we purchased it, that handy appliance served us well for many years. I never doubted when I pushed those digital buttons that my chicken would soon be thawed or my veggies would be hot when I opened that little door.

Until now.

I remember life before the microwave. We warmed leftovers on the stovetop or in the oven. My mom used a nifty pan divided into three sections to reheat her little “dabbies” of this and that so it was all ready at the same time. She ruled as the Queen of Leftovers! This kitchen routine worked fine, especially since no other alternative existed.

Then came a new-fangled marvel. The microwave oven. Our family, however, would “never own one.” It was a dangerous, brain cell-destroying, disease-causing, blinding-if-you-looked-in-it-while-it-was-on, surely soon-to-be-taken-off-the-market phenomenon.  Not us! Too risky.

Many years have passed, and now we have a problem. We cannot live without a microwave. Our diets have been mechanically restricted. (How do I make popcorn?) I’ve considered suggesting we eat out until we get a new one, but the cost of that would most likely exceed the purchase of a new appliance. I believe that’s also known as being spoiled!

Let me also mention that our current clothes dryer randomly leaves black marks on our shirts and pillowcases, and our dishwasher is on strike, refusing to dry the dishes. Our appliances seem to be wearing out all at the same time. Man, life sure is difficult.

No. Life is not difficult. I’ve just gotten lazy. I’ve basically handicapped myself in my dependence upon machines. I’ve grown up accustomed to time and effort-saving appliances to the point I almost feel like a pioneer woman without electricity.

We hope to be moved into our new home within the next two or three weeks. It comes equipped with a functioning microwave, clothes dryer, and dishwasher. It would be rather ridiculous for us to spend money buying new appliances now. So I guess we will continue in survival mode. We can make it, I guess. Barely!

Now, not to sound overly pessimistic, but I understand the appliances in our new house will eventually spring leaks and wear out bearings and motors, too. Everything in this life has a lifespan. It’s merely a fact of life.

But, here’s the good news. I have a home being prepared for me in which nothing will ever break down or even need a tune-up (including this getting-older body)! It’s in my Father’s house, and He paid my mortgage over two thousand years ago on the cross of Calvary. It’s not just a dream home. It’s my someday home!

What did I do to deserve such treatment? Nothing. I DON’T deserve it. I could never do anything to merit such reward. It comes as a gift of God’s love. God became my Heavenly Father when I accepted Him many years ago as my personal Savior from the penalty of my sin. Oh, how I long to see His face to thank Him for such grace.

Some day I will. And I will live with Him.

Meanwhile, as I fumble through these days of broken down possessions, I eagerly await the day He calls me Home. Until then, I seek to do everything I can as His child to make Him pleased. And, I want to tell everyone I know that He desires to provide a place for them, too.

This broken-down world is not my real home. I’m just traveling through, trying to lay treasures up where thieves and rust do not corrupt. And I keep looking forward to my Forever Home!

With God.

 

Out of Her Way!

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LEGO pieces, specks of lint, tiny toes, coins, marbles, toys, socks, Candyland game pieces — what do these all have in common? They’ve all found their way into the mouth of a baby.

We have a granddaughter who fits that description. She’ll be one next week. But Dora the Explorer has nothing on her! Our little explorer loves testing her new teeth on everything, as if the world were, truly, her smorgasbord. And between crawling, walking, climbing, and slithering, she can reach it all. (Well, enough of it to keep me racing, at least!)

I don’t mind her curiosity.  It’s a big world! I love watching her experience new textures, tastes, sounds, and activities. She learns a little more with each one. I’m grateful she’s healthy enough to get into her baby-sized mischief.

These days prove particularly challenging with packing boxes throughout the house. Everything is out of place. Seating space has disappeared. Bits and pieces of this and that liter the floor. And our girl appears to have accepted the challenge to get into all of it.

Before she arrives, I try to get as much out of her way as possible. Glass items get moved higher. Spillables get pushed out of reach (although a couple days ago I found she’d grown taller than I realized when she pulled her brother’s bowl of Spaghettios off the table. Yeah –  Spaghettio clean-up duty AGAIN!  🙄)  Delicate trinkets get hidden behind larger pieces. I remove laptops and charging cords from her reach. The floor gets vacuumed. I also try to keep bits of leaves and grass the dogs traipse into the house picked up throughout the day.

Some day, our little darling will know how to enjoy and care for these items. But, for now, I’ll keep shoving things out of her way and telling her “No-no!”

Why do I take such care? You already know the answer, don’t you? It’s because I love my granddaughter. I do the same thing for my other four grandchildren, as well, because I love them ALL.

A few weeks ago, our three year old grandson woke from his nap and walked out with the top of my Kalanchoe in his mouth! (He loves his vegetables, and I guess it looked like salad?) Although I never really thought he’d be tempted to eat it, that houseplant would never have been in that room if it had any toxicity. Because you just never know. I want Papa and Mimi’s house to be a safe place for these precious, pint-sized family members.

Isn’t that what God does at times? He places some trinkets of life out of reach. Pushed back. Seemingly hidden. Sometimes, He’s taken an opportunity right out of my fingers. At times, I must admit to feeling not merely disappointed, but downright gypped at what has been kept from me. I don’t  understand. I have no idea why He would remove such joy and possibility from my embrace. I am tempted to throw an adult fit. (Is there such a thing?)

That’s when I must remember why He does these things.  I’m His child. He loves me. He’s protecting me. He knows what’s best for me.

Remember the Mr. Yuk stickers which were placed on poisonous materials? Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with such warning labels. I’m often tempted to get into danger with no knowledge of the consequences. When I ask for His guidance, He lifts inferior opportunities out of reach. He closes doors. He removes toxic influences and people from my life. He’s doing it all for my good.

Faith helps me realize He would never withhold good from me. He cares too much to do so. Someday it will make sense.

And some day Mimi’s sweet grands will understand why she says no.

“No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.”

 Psalm 84:11

NOT Ironing Anything!

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I’m not Ironing the Preacher’s Shirts today. I probably won’t tomorrow either. I‘m not on strike. I’m not upset. My over-loaded ironing basket beckons. My iron works just fine, and I even have a brand new ironing board I’m eager to try out. But I can’t.

I broke my right index finger two days ago. I did a royal job of it, too. Bone chip and all. It started with an entire bowl of spaghettios upside down and spread wide across the great room carpeting. When babysitting grandchildren, those things are expected. What I didn’t expect was for my husband to call right then to see how my day was going. That made me laugh.

However, I didn’t realize how much I’d need that chuckle until about two minutes into our conversation. There I knelt, picking up the tomatoey mess, consoling a distraught toddler, scrubbing the carpet, and talking with my husband — all at once! I guess I was putting fervent effort into that scrubbing, because, all of a sudden, I heard a snap as the tip of my finger turned flat and backwards under my hand. My next words were directed to my husband: “Please tell me I didn’t just break my finger.” Like he’d know over the phone?

(I feel compelled to describe the entire scenario because I feel ridiculous simply telling you I broke my finger cleaning up spilled spaghettios! 😆)

I’ve been waiting two days to see a surgeon. Meanwhile, it hurts. Don’t worry. This is not a plea for sympathy. As a matter of fact, I’d rather fade into the woodwork with my track record of injuries. But I’ve learned a lesson through this latest dilemma, and I’d like to share it with you.

It’s simple. When you break a finger, the pain doesn’t stay in the finger. It travels.

When I arrived at the doctors’s office – about seven hours after the injury – I was aching clear up to my elbow, and at times, up to my shoulder. Strange reaction, it seemed to me. But the truth is this: other parts of my body suffered when I hurt my finger.

My finger swelled and throbbed, a couple other fingers swelled, my wrist hurt, the muscles above and below my elbow became miserably achy. Later, my other hand cramped from doing jobs usually performed by my right hand.

Oh, what a clear example this became to me of the Church, the Body of Christ. When one member hurts, others hurt alongside him. We feel for him. The hurt, the agony, the sting. And we come to his aid in any way we can.

Some can sympathize; others, who’ve endured similar trials, can empathize. Regardless, it is the responsibility of the Church to notice the hurts of its members and respond appropriately. Kind words, spoken or written; encouraging verses of Scripture; prayer; physical or, if possible, financial assistance; help with mundane routines or other responsibilities;  warm meals provided; quiet abiding with a hurting friend – all are ways of sharing the burdens of others.

For many years, I’ve loved the truth of Hebrews 13:3. “Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them; and them which  suffer adversity as being yourselves in the body.”

In other words, I am to feel my brother or sister’s burden. I am to “weep with them that weep.” It encourages me to remember the trials I experience prepare me to more fully understand others’ feelings when they suffer.

I admit finding it too easy to glibly list the needs of others when I pray. But the Bible way of praying for my friends and family goes much deeper. I’m to pray as if their pain were my own. Like my dad had the cancer. Like my husband lost his job. As if my child were seriously ill. Like my daughter were lost. Or my checkbook couldn’t provide groceries for my family. Or my heart had just been broken.

That’s when the true work of prayer is done. That’s how my Lord prays for me. He is “touched with the feeling of my infirmities.” Hebrews 4:15  He understands, and He cares.

Today, my finger hurts.

But I hope it will affect my knees as they bend to pray tonight.

“The effectual fervent prayer

of a righteous man availeth much.”  James 5:16

 

 

GOING BANANAS!

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I’ve never met a more tenacious piece of fruit! Allow me to tell you the tale.  I think you’ll agree it deserves a reward of some kind.

We had enjoyed a lovely vacation and were headed home. The last leg of our trip to Indianapolis started in Tennessee. We ate our complimentary breakfast, loaded the car, grabbed a few munchies to minimize our stops, and headed north.

Not only did we travel over the mountains and through the woods, but also through rain.  Lots of it!

We made it to Ohio before needing to stop. On the way back to the car, with beverages in hand, we made an astonishing discovery.

We had left a banana on the roof of our vehicle. That persistent fellow had clocked every mile and battled every storm with us, but without shelter. And he’d hung in there the whole way!

I’ll be honest. The appeal of the banana had diminished as I looked at its battered skin, but, much to my husband’s dismay,  I didn’t have the heart to throw it away. I kept thinking of the hundreds of miles that fruit had endured. So I put it in the car, and we continued our journey. A day or so later, I added it to my stash of bruised bananas in the freezer, and eventually it became banana bread.

We still laugh when we talk about that trip experience. That inanimate piece of fruit seemed to develop a personality when we found him lying there on the car roof. He became a sort of challenge, a symbol to us to hang in there, even through adverse conditions.

Recently, life has become much more hectic than usual. Besides my husband’s two jobs, my part time teaching career, babysitting grandchildren, diminished writing hours, our church ministry, and  family, we are moving. We’ve looked for a home closer to our church for over four years, and nothing has worked out. Now we know why.

We have an amazing opportunity, one many others do not have. My husband’s dad, my dad, and my mom will be moving in with us. The type of home we’d been looking for would never have made this possible. We believe we have now found one that, with some renovation, will work quite well for all of us.

However, as much as I look forward to spending time with all of them, I am first facing a daunting task. Those of you who have moved understand the effort and emotion the transition requires. This move, however, presents some unique challenges.

We are combining three complete households into one. That’s a lot of sofas, chairs, tables, china, flatware, closets, drawers, and books to sift through! (Gotta take the books!) We had more than enough before we decided to combine it all! Overwhelming says it mildly.

I think that’s why I’ve been thinking about that determined banana so much these days. I know the little yellow fellow made no cognitive choice. But I must. And I have.

Today, as I hugged my crying granddaughter, turned off the bath water with my foot (‘cuz that’s not going to happen any time soon!), and sat down among the toys and packing boxes, I determined to forge through the task to its completion.  I will not allow discouragement to deter me. I won’t give up. I will not quit.

After all, I have the promises of Scripture to carry me toward my goal. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)  “Faithful is He that calleth you, Who also will do it.” (I Thessalonians 5:24)

It must be done soon, but not all today. Little by little, it will happen.

Meanwhile, I’m determined to “hang on for the ride”!

“Let us run with patience

the race that is set before us.”  Hebrews 12:1

 

 

Twisted Thinking?

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Noses don’t fold. I told him so several times, but he was not convinced. He seemed particularly determined to fold it in half to the right. Oh, my!

The human anatomy can endure only a limited amount of abuse. Especially the nose. I giggled right along with my three-year-old grandson for as long as I could. Eventually, though, my only resort was to distract him because he wasn’t going to give up.

He didn’t actually hurt me, but my nose felt, well . . . kinda funny for quite a while afterwards. Just long enough for me to consider the irony.

We’d enjoyed a silly, childish activity as he sat on my lap. However, I admit, I would not have tolerated similar treatment with such amusement from anyone but a grandchild. Nose-twisting diminishes in cuteness as the perpetrator matures.

There’s the rub.

I’m guilty of nose-folding. Adult style. Something I should have stopped doing many years ago.  Allow me to regretfully give some personal examples.

I’ve attempted to twist myself into places I don’t belong when I’ve wished myself  in other people’s circumstances. It’s often referred to as envy. I first discovered my jealous bent when I realized how much more energy other people seemed to have. I was convinced I could accomplish much more, especially in the ministry, if I were brimming with the rigorous vigor they displayed. I felt gypped. I wanted to be something I wasn’t meant to be: superwoman.

I’ve also wrongly tried to cram other people into awkward positions. My husband, for instance. I did it subtly. So subtly I didn’t even recognize the bind I put him in when I began all of my suggestions with the following: “You know what you should do?” It was easily corrected when I learned to offer an idea of what he could do instead. This tiny change gave him the opportunity to line up all the choices and make up his own mind. I stopped intimating my opinions were always superior, thus thrusting him into a tight spot. I stopped suggesting that any other choice made him something he was not: wrong.

When I’ve arranged conditions for my own convenience without regarding the convenience or needs of others, I am guilty of selfish manipulation. This often happens with no ill intent. It results when I merely fail to consider others when i make my plans. I must guard against thinking only of my own comfort lest I turn my friends, co-workers, or family members into an unwarranted position: my slave.

I must also guard against expecting God to bend His will to my desires. This obvious flaw appears when my prayers become a “to do” list for the Lord to check off. I forget He might want to do “exceeding abundantly beyond” anything I could even dream. If I fail to ask for His will to be done, I can actually limit His answers to my petitions. When this happens, I become something God never desires me to be: a loser.

How can I avoid these errors in thought and action?  A different type of bending and folding would be a good first step. Bending my knees and folding my hands to request help from the Lord would certainly help to mature my thinking.

Sometimes a good twist is all that is necessary to get my attention. It’s at least a good reality check. Perhaps “getting ones’s nose out of joint” is the answer rather than the problem. It certainly straightened me out!

“Keep thy ❤️ with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”                   Proverbs 4:23

A Remote Lesson

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Are you tired of reading about my losing things? I hope not, because here comes another one! It’s short, but it was a mighty big lesson.

As the sun came up this morning, I was already dealing with some stressful issues. I’m not usually home on Saturday mornings, but once every two months, I sleep in because I’m not invited to the men’s fellowship breakfast. Today was that day. But the “sleep in” part eluded me.

I had been continuously emailing, texting, and calling various family members for several hours. I needed a break and figured a good Christmas movie would be the perfect way to unwind.

Still in my pajamas, I padded out to the great room and plopped onto the sofa. I reached for the remotes. One was missing. The one I had to have.

A few toys and blankets cluttered the area from “grandma-ing” the day before. I figured I’d find the gizmo if I did some straightening. So I straightened. I folded blankets. I reassembled the pile of newspapers and mail.  No remote.

I reached deep into the recesses of the couch. No remote.

I lay flat on the floor with a flashlight panning under the couch. (I’ve never met a sofa with a more voracious appetite for anything small enough to slide between the cushions.) It was a last resort. No remote.

Then I remembered. I ought to ask the Lord to help me find it. So I stopped and asked for help.

And then . . .

A verse flew through my mind. Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Here I was asking God to help me find something, and it was the first He’d heard from me all day!

In the midst of my crazy morning, I had forgotten to read my Bible or pray. I came to the horrid realization I’d turned to the television for comfort rather than the Lord!

I turned off the flashlight and sat down. I picked up my Bible.

The remote!

I had brought my Bible from the bedroom with good intentions and set it on the footrest of the seat. I had laid it on top of the remote!

Do you think perhaps the Lord was trying to teach me a lesson? Pretty sure He was!

He knew I’d lost something. It wasn’t the television remote.

It was proper priorities.

Again.

Think I’ll ever learn? I’ll keep trying  He’s still working on me!

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:6