The Next Generation

My grandchildren and I watched Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” one recent morning while their mother caught up on some neglected sleep.

Image from http://movies.disney.com/snow-white-and-the-seven-dwarfs

It took a while to get my computer working. So, here I am, able to blog, finally!

On Good Friday, I offered to do a service at the Nursing Home like it was no big deal. I do the worship without too much trepidation, but when I needed to speak before twelve people stretched out in a line in their seats or wheel chairs, with a worker present, my heart beat sped up and I wondered what was I thinking to volunteer. With the busyness of the holidays and with company from Thursday to Monday, I wrote a blog on Saturday ready to post it and never got it typed, let alone sent out.

So, this is a modified version of that blog.

There’s nothing like sitting with little ones and entering into their world for a little while. Sometimes they want to watch too many shows or play electronic games, so their mom limits the time allowed so they interact with people.

We settled into comfy chairs to watch old fashioned scrolls with introductory words describing the setting and some of the plot as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” began. I read the first page a bit after it appeared to the children. I finished the words as the second page showed up. My older grandson’s eyes widened. “How did you remember the words from the first page and then read the second page like that?”

I know he was giving me a compliment but he’s at the age where it can go either way.  Sometimes I’ll tell him something and he’ll tell me I’m wrong. Then, after he finds out I wasn’t wrong he’s not sure how to act. I’ll say, “I did go to school, you know.”

Then he ponders it all. He’s a deep thinker. His mom tells me he may come back 24 hours later with a new angle and then be ready to argue again at 48 hours.

During the movie we talked about such a variety of topics: skulls, death, Black Magic, Christianity, meanness, kindness, jealousy, love, and imagination making things worse.

It’s amazing how watching a program with young people and being open to their thoughts and questions can get a conversation going. Sometimes I’d ask him what he thought of certain situations.

When the queen, who was sometimes called a witch, used magic to change her appearance so she could poison her step-daughter, I told the children afterwards that evil often backfires and hits the person set on hurting another. It makes the case for that logic in Proverbs and in the Psalms, but I didn’t quote them book and verse.

Today, I spent a good portion of the day setting the house in order. I love my family very much. So, it’s worth it to cook and do dishes and move the toys into the living room so we can gather together. They helped pick up before they left, but by the time the cars left, we’d eaten another meal and they needed to get on their way. I decided to do some extra cleaning beyond the ordinary after the company went home. I guess it felt good to get at things. I’m still organizing.

I finished the kitchen and now I’m on to the next room. It took me longer than I anticipated because of the curtains, which I had to point out to my oldest daughter. It’s funny the things that stand out to me and others don’t even notice.

May God bless you!

Dining with Friends

Once a month my husband and I dine with friends and catch up on what’s been happening in their lives and sometimes in the political arena. So we did that tonight. I brought the main meal this month. We switch off. I told them I’d bring the devotional in February. I don’t do that very often. It’s nice to talk to Christians from all different churches and some varying kind of worship services. We differ, yet we’re in solid agreement on the basics of belief. One is a retired pharmacist married to a retired nurse, another couple is a retired art teacher married to a retired nurse, and my husband and I are not retired. We have fun together and sing to guitar music and then delve into the Word of God.

Yesterday after our morning service, a lady from church and I decorated the Christmas tree after some others helped by setting it up and a young couple got the supplies up and down a bunch of stairs. Her grandson held the string of lights for me as I placed them around the tree and her son-in-law’s parents gave us the tree from their tree farm, freshly cut that morning.

Afterwards, we were tired and hungry, and she offered to treat me. We chose an out of the way seat by the restaurant’s brightly decorated artificial tree and got to know each other better. I’ve always thought she might make a good friend. We chose that seat because that’s where she sits when she comes in alone to eat. She said it was nice to have someone to eat with for a change.

I live in my own world, as we all do. She’s got a large loving family; she works a few different jobs. She has grown children living with her and other family members living nearby. I had never thought about her eating in a restaurant alone as a widow.

I think because our good friend died this week and I’m very aware that his wife, my friend is now a widow, it has opened my eyes to the world of a widow more lately.

I take dining with my children or my husband for granted. Very rarely do I eat by myself in a restaurant. It says in James_1:27, (KJV): “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, ‘To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.’ ”

I’m asking God to help me to be a better friend to the widows God places in my path.

May God bless you this week.

Writing and Life

This morning I picked up a book from a shelf in the living room that I dedicate to writing books. A year ago or so I went into an area at the library where they sell used books as a fund raiser. I bought The Writing Life by Annie Dillard, published by Harper & Row, Publishers; New York, NY. Annie Dillard copyrighted it in 1989. I bought it because it looked interesting. Later, it was listed in another writing book as a book writers should read.  So, I was glad I bought it. It’s a fun, serious book. Her wordplay delights the wordsmith in me. 🙂

The Writing Life

Inside the front book cover on the leaf it starts out, “In a surprising narrative, Annie Dillard describes the working life of a writer. These are vivid and ironic encounters at a desk.”

Those sentences made me want to look inside. The day before Thanksgiving, I had pies to bake and beds to make. My husband sat in his recliner chair eating brunch and watching a comedy sitcom. So, I joined him in the living room, eating my brunch, reading this book and watching television. I felt so relieved when he turned it off. I told him it was sucking me in and I had stuff I needed to get to.

My pie crusts are like puzzle pieces straining to connect. My youngest daughter said, “Mom, they always look like that. The insides taste great though, and that’s what counts.”

I smiled and then as my husband turned to YouTube for yet another kitchen appliance tip, I got reminded by him that if I wanted to improve my pie crusts, I could always find a demonstration on YouTube. His turkey is prepped for the morning, with all the fresh spices and a lemon and onions in the interior. Butter everywhere. We’ll see if we like it.

I listened to the Bible while preparing the pies since I didn’t get an early start to my day, as I mentioned above. 1 Thessalonians is where I started, and I might have finished at Hebrews. I listened to Paul admonishing believers to work or they shouldn’t eat. He made mention of refraining from arguments. Then he talked about being hospitable. A lot of points got mentioned, but I thought the few that got highlighted to me really hit home on the eve of a holiday. My daughter invited a single mom and her two young boys to our full house tomorrow. Then she said something about inviting another single mom and her little toddler boy.

She said, “It’s funny, when I lived here, I didn’t feel so free to have people over. Now, I just tell them that we’re eating at mom and dad’s, come on over.”

When we talked about the difference, part of it is because God has changed me, I told her. If things weren’t completely tidy, I was embarrassed. One afternoon listening to Dr. James Dobson on Focus on the Family some years back, he said the reason people don’t open their homes to their neighbors and friends is because of pride. That resonated with me. Pride is a downfall. I’m not perfect by any means, but when she told me she’d already invited the families, I checked with my husband, and he was okay with it, and then I gave my okay. Avoiding having people over because my furniture is getting old or I have some clutter on the kitchen table made for some lonely days in my younger years.

If you’re alone for the holidays, maybe you can bless someone else who is alone or participate at a food center. One year in the city, our young family helped the church we attended provide Thanksgiving meals for hundreds of people. My kids said that was the best Thanksgiving they’d ever had. Our church does a Christmas meal for anyone who wants to show up. If the attendees can bring a side dish, that’s great. If not, come along anyway.

May God bless you this November day.

Imposter

I started reading the book, Imposter today, written by Davis Bunn; published by WestBow Press; Nashville, TN and copyrighted in 2006. The title grabbed me. Then I read the fly leaf summary and felt compelled to read it.

128245

I like reading suspense novels that deal with politics and people’s motives. It’s a fast moving story with lots of interesting twists.

My husband got invited to a men’s retreat this weekend with our youngest son, and I invited myself to visit my daughter and her family for the weekend. Other times I’ve stayed at home. I felt a need to see my loved ones and to take a break and rejuvenate for a bit. I brought the book with me and am actually taking time to read it. Often times, I’ll bring a book and some writing and not touch them once. I get involved with the kids and the rest of the family and it feels as if immediately the time is gone.

Ephesians 5:15-17, (ASV) says “Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

I’ve written these verses before, but I don’t apologize for it because I feel as if in the background, I have a clock ticking, almost like the crocodile with the clock in his belly in “Peter Pan.” My clock is not so loud or insistent, but on occasion I wake up to it and realize it’s still there. Reminding me that time is not standing still.

We have a full weekend planned and I arrived here early, so it occurs to me that I ought to take advantage of the quiet and go to bed. The children arise with the sun and then everyone else is awake whether they are ready or not. 🙂

God bless!

Talk Already

This week I read Sarah Dessen’s book, Saint Anything, copyrighted in 2015 and published by Viking, The Penguin Group; New York, NY.

23009402

The main characters show up on the first few pages right in the middle of a life changing event.

As the family and friendship dynamics play out, occasionally I want to take hold of these fictional characters and say, “talk already!”

In real life, people don’t always talk things out. I’ve definitely waited for the right time to approach my husband with a question or bad news when I saw he was completely worn out. Proverbs_25:11, (KJV) says: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

Anyway, reading Sarah Dessens’ books points out a fatal flaw in my fiction writing.

In the past, I’ve told what was going on and didn’t leave enough mystery. With no intrigue, the reader is not going to want to bother reading on.

Additionally, writing instructors often say, “Show more than tell,” so I’ve worked on that.

A tell is: “the boy likes the girl so he shows off for her.”

The show is: Sonya ran outside to get the mail and then she noticed Peter’s slow grin widen and his eyes light up as he jumped off his bicycle by her mailbox. “Hey, Sonya I want to show you something.”

She looked up at the sky almost as if she was checking the sun’s position to estimate the time of day. “I’ve been practicing stunts on my bike.”

“My mom told me not to dawdle.”

He leaped back on the bike. “I’ll just show you one, okay, or two at the most.”

She smiled and he yelled out, “just watch this” and he sped down the incline and took one hand off the handle. Faster now on the bumpy street with occasional rocks from the Ottinger boys appearing like shapes in the fog – suddenly.

Now two hands off the handle bar. As he turned his head to see if she was watching, Sonya ran down the hill with her hands clenched and with sweat forming at the back of her neck. “Peter, hey Peter, wow! Why don’t you come back before…”

Cars started honking, a man hollered. “Are you out of your mind?”

A lady screamed.

 

Well, you get the idea.

I got to go to Letchworth Park once again with my husband and friends today. I took pictures of flowers and gourds placed in interesting arrangements. I planned on downloading them to my computer tonight and then blogging about our time there. Hopefully I’ll do that on Monday, since I forgot tonight. We got home and put things away and then my daughter and her husband stopped in for a quick visit.

I hope this finds you well. May God bless you.

We Need Each Other

 

Hebrews 11:1-3, (NKJV) says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”

My husband preached a little from Hebrews 10 on Sunday with a selection from Genesis 2 where God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone so He made woman from Adam’s rib, a helpmeet for him.

By faith, Christian and Jewish believers accept Genesis’ account of God creating the world by speaking it into being. “…things which are seen were not made of things which are visible,” as referenced above in Hebrews 11:3 and here in Genesis 1: 1-3, (ESV): Gen 1:1  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Gen 1:2  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Gen 1:3  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

God continued to speak the Creation into being in the beginning of the book of Genesis.

I wrote a letter to a man undergoing cancer treatments in Buffalo. In the letter I told him that some decades ago our newborn son contracted a virus that ate 90% of his liver. The head doctor of the infectious diseases department warned us that it could move to his heart or other major organs. When we listened to her we didn’t react much. “Don’t you hear what I’m saying?”

“We hear you, but we are praying,” we responded.

I think she wondered if we’d lost our senses.

I wrote this man with cancer about our experience with sickness to encourage him to hold onto God’s word even in the midst of a bad report.

Now, I’ve never been able to manufacture faith. It is a gift of God’s Spirit as listed in 1 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV), “to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit.”

I think as people exercise their gift of faith and see God’s faithfulness, it helps faith grow. But when our son battled for his life for thirty days, my husband and I believed together some of the time and many times when my faith floundered he felt confident that God would heal our son and when he struggled to believe, my faith in God buoyed him up.

As it turned out, God heard our prayers and those of family and friends. A week before he came home from the pediatric Intensive Care Unit, my husband felt sure God was directing him to tell our church to stop praying for healing, but to thank God for the healing before we saw it happen. Someone else told him they had the same impression from God, which he received as confirmation, before he spoke to the congregation.

God answered all those prayers and chose to restore our son’s liver and destroy the virus’ power.

In Hebrews 10, this Sunday my husband reminded us that we need each other. Here is part of the Scripture in Hebrews that he preached about: Heb 10:21, (ESV), and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

Heb 10:22  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Heb 10:23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Heb 10:24  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

Heb 10:25  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Believers in Christ are to “meet together” not only for worship and the reading of the Word of God, but also in casual gatherings so they can get to know one another. They need to learn to get along together and to speak the truth in love to one another if someone needs correction. They need each other if some should suffer lack. Then the other believers can learn of their predicament and share from their plenty. There are lots of reasons for believers to assemble. Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs to preach the gospel, to deliver people from demonic influence, to lay hands on the sick so they would recover.

Well, anyway, we need each other, if it’s to keep from being discouraged, or to keep from being lonely, God made mankind to rely on one another, as risky as that may seem if you’ve been hurt. In addition, we need God to direct our paths and to trust Him to take care of us as we develop friendships and relationships.

May God bless you and protect you and lead you in paths of righteousness.

Revenge or Forgiveness?

 

Phil. 2:1-4 (NKJV), says, “Therefore, if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

My husband and I went to see “Ben-Hur,” the new movie produced by spouses Ramona Downey and Mark Burnett, made by Metro Goldwyn Mayer and Paramount Pictures.Ben-Hur

The movie was written by Keith Clarke and John Ridley, based on the book written by Lew Wallace in his 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, now in Public Domain.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben-Hur_%282016_film%29

It stars Jack Huston as Judah Ben-Hur, Toby Kebbell as his adopted brother, Messala; Morgan Freeman as a sheik/horse trainer who owns chariots for racing and winning bets; Nazinin Boniadi as Ben-Hur’s love interest; Rodrigo Santoro as Jesus Christ; Ayelet Zurer as his mother, Naomi; Sophia Black D’Elia as his sister, Tirzah; and Pilou Asbaek as Pontius Pilate. Timur Bekmambetov directed the epic film.

The movie spoke about family love and loyalty and lots more. An action film filled with conflict and violence and poignant tenderness. Jesus Christ is a minor character in the movie and for once He’s not portrayed as a “pretty” man, weak. In the movie He never speaks of hell, which was a term Jesus didn’t shy away from, and repentance as well. I found the movie stirred my heart. I would have preferred less violence, but I always feel that way when I view action movies.

I expected to write this blog last night, but my computer kept saying there was a problem with the internet. My husband checked our connection on his computer, and it worked perfectly. Sometimes I feel God allows me to face interruptions because the timing isn’t right, or because I’ve made a grammatical error in a query letter, for instance. A no-no for a writer! 🙂 So I gave up and figured I’d type another day.

May God bless you.

Knowing

 

At the end of a vacation to see my son and his family this summer, he said, “We’ll see you again at Thanksgiving.”

Everyone smiled and I tried to, but deep down inside I knew it wouldn’t happen. Last week or so ago, his wife needed to take a day off for a medical reason in the family. She lost a day at work, so now she can’t make the trip in November.

“Go without me,” she said.

“No, I’m not doing that,” he told her.

Good guy.

Have you ever known something was going to happen? When we were young and poor, having moved to Texas years ago to take advantage of a healthy job market, a local radio station offered a cash prize for the twelfth caller, or fifteenth caller. I don’t remember. What I do remember is waiting a moment or two with a solid certainty that I’d be the winner, and I was!

The only furniture we owned was a used inexpensive kitchen set and a baby crib. My husband and I had purchased a foam mattress from a store that sold foam and we slept on that on the floor. My sister-in-law’s family felt bad for us, so they’d provided us with the radio.

I was a Christian at the time, but I had put God aside for the most part. Yet He still blessed us. My husband worked hard and eventually we did get a couch and chair.

One of the gifts of the Spirit is the word of knowledge.

This was mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8 (KJV): “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;”

Now I’m not saying I had a word of wisdom or a word of knowledge, but I had a knowing, an unshakable knowing.

I spoke to someone about this and they said everyone experiences this occasionally whether they believe in God or not.

That may be true. I enjoyed reading 1 Cor. 12 and seeing the list of gifts from God’s Spirit that He gives to believers as He wishes to do.

May God bless you!

Parenting by Choice

I’ve been spending time with family more than usual lately. I asked my husband what the date was today and realized the end of the month is closing in. I still haven’t sent out the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” stories which are due by June 30. So, I’m going to look at them one more time and then send them out.

 

I also realized I’d slipped up on my commitment to blog daily except for Sundays lately. So, even though I’m a bit weary, I revved up the computer and here goes.

 

My son and his wife paid for his children and his sister’s children to go to an indoor jumping, climbing, etc. type of facility. What an excellent opportunity for family fun and exercise and it’s a way to avoid inclement weather. We weren’t sure if it might rain. So, we went with them and it didn’t hurt to have two more sets of hands and eyes on the active youngsters.

 

I love having grandchildren. We laughed with them and later, I got ice for one of the boys when he hurt his knee. He seems fine tonight.

 

Psa_127:3,(KJV) Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

 

When I was a young lady, I wondered if I should have children or not. The culture seemed to be preaching against having children. It would be bad for the overextended planet. It’s hard to bring children into a messed up world, etc., etc. What about the mother and her right to work or play unrestricted?

 

I remember speaking to my older brother about it. He leaned more towards having children. They’ve added so much to my life and provision always came along. I’m so glad I ignored societies’ subtle and not so subtle injunction to severely limit child bearing. My life would be much different without offspring.

 

God bless!

 

Praying for One Another

 

New York State is experiencing a warm spell. Yesterday it hit 80 degrees Fahrenheit which is more like summer temperatures.

 

A common cliché over the years in New York: “If you don’t like the weather, stick around, it’ll change.”

 

A relative stopped by the house after disembarking from a motorcycle. After the visit, it began to rain softly. So, off they took, saying their home town had a forecast for cloudy skies, that’s it. They were better off out of here.

 

Due to a change in my life, I’ve had more rest and fewer responsibilities to fulfill lately. People that I care about with ordinary pressures seem to be in a rain storm with gusting winds. Some fear harsher gales ahead.

 

That’s why we’re admonished to pray in James 5:13-18, (ESV):  Jas 5:13  Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.

Jas 5:14  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Jas 5:15  And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Jas 5:16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Jas 5:17  Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.

Jas 5:18  Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

 

Jesus spoke about prayer in Matthew 6:6-18,(ESV):

Mat 6:6  But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Mat 6:7  “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

Mat 6:8  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Mat 6:9  Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Mat 6:10  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Mat 6:11  Give us this day our daily bread,

Mat 6:12  and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Mat 6:13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Mat 6:14  For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,

Mat 6:15  but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Mat 6:16  “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

Mat 6:17  But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,

Mat 6:18  that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

 

How Great is our God!

 

God bless.