Christmas Play

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As I stacked dishes to wash, I listened to a recording of lines I need to memorize for our annual Christmas play.

I don’t think I’ve ever memorized lines for a play and I’ve only been in three, maybe.

We have two more practices and then the play! I hope the kids will be ready. It’s amazing how fast time goes before a main event.

There’s a tree, candy canes, Christmas songs and lines declaring Jesus’ love. I’m praying God will bless our efforts.

Are you doing anything fun before December the 25th?

May God bless you!

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What About Prejudice?

(photo from https://www.amazon.co.uk/Smoky-Night-Eve-Bunting/dp/0152018840)

When my husband preached on Matthew 15: 21-28 from the New Testament of the Bible this last Sunday morning on the desperate Canaanite mother with her demonized daughter, he made a comment that grabbed my attention.

“Prejudices are inherent, we all have them. We need to recognize them and fight them until they are gone.”

I like to read children’s easy reader books by Eve Bunting. One of her tomes placed a Hispanic boy in a big city with his mom. A local grocery store owner from an Asian country had a fat growly cat. The lady yelled at the children in the neighborhood, the cat hissed at them.

When their tall building caught on fire it changed all of their lives.

Such a great story: Smoky Night by Eve Bunting and illustrated by David Diaz, portrays people in a powerful way without preaching about their attitudes or circumstances.

This award-winning book was published by Voyager Books, San Diego; New York, NY; and London, and copyrighted in 1994.

I hope you are well. May God bless you.

Does God Want Me Writing?

A couple of blogs ago I wrote of people I’ve met at Writers’ Conferences and of authors whose books I’ve read.

 

This book is one I felt led to possibly by God at a mall about 12 years ago when I visited a bookstore whiling away the time. I purchased: The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Freelance Writer in Six Months or Less by Peter Bowerman, copyright 2000.

 

He dedicates the book: “To Bob Bly, who gave me the idea in the first place. You’re my hero.”

 

Some people think God wants Christians to prosper so we’ll be a good witness to others of God’s blessings. My husband once told me, “What about all the Christians in the world who are just making it day by day, or they’re being beaten and held in prison? Does God love them less than the rich and comfortable ones?”

 

I said, “No, He doesn’t love those in scarcity less than those prospering.”

 

Some of the books I’ll be recommending tell of how to make a generous living from writing. In the Bible, some of the major people whom Jesus quoted from the Old Testament were rich. Yet, Jesus also used Moses as an example and he fell from favor with Pharaoh and ran away, which removed him from being a part of the royal family. Moses became poor in living quarters, yet rich in provision and relationship with God.

 

In Matthew 25: 34-40, it tells us that God loves those who help the poor, He calls them righteous. As we do to others, it’s as if we’re helping Jesus. This is describing the judgment seat, before these verses and beyond.

 

To return to writing sources, on Peter Bowerman’s book cover, it tells us that Bob Bly was the author of 50+ titles. I believe I’ve read Bob Bly’s Guide to Freelance Writing Success: How to Make $100,000.00 a Year as a Freelance Writer and Have the Time of Your Life Doing It, published in 2006 by Filbert Publishing; Kandiyohi, MN.

 

Writers I recommend are Jeff Gerke, Penelope Stokes, Charlie Shedd, Randy Ingermanson, Donald Maas, Cec Murphey, Gilbert Morris, Walter Dean Myers, Francis Flaherty, and Sage Cohen as well.

 

There are many good teachers available for specific kinds of writing. Do you have any favorites I haven’t mentioned?

 

I heard a while ago that Dean Koontz is thinking of writing a revised book on the craft of wordsmithing. I tried to get an older version on fiction from inter library loan, but the head librarian read me an article saying Dean Koontz wanted to upgrade his popular tome. She wouldn’t order it for me, and to buy one costs hundreds of dollars online. That’s how it goes sometimes.

 

May God bless you.

Marriage Can Be Fun

My husband and I celebrated more than 40 years of marriage this month. The actual day, we usually try to go out to eat and maybe take in a movie. It’s not as easy to choose a flick nowadays because the options are not as wholesome as they were in our growing up years.

That day fell flat because we had obligations we couldn’t overlook. So, we decided to put off our date until later in the week. My husband was not feeling well, and that inhibited his enthusiasm. I offered to wait even longer, but our schedule is really full sometimes. We found a restaurant we both like in a little out-of-the-way town. Since we only stop every nine months or so, we’re always delighted with the physical changes the owners make.

My husband worked in the food industry for many years, so he especially notices when they re-pave the parking lot, put in new landscaping, add new décor, update the restrooms, etc.
Unfortunately, they must have hired a new cook, because our entrees lacked seasoning. If we stop again, maybe we’ll take the opportunity to ask if they still have the same cook and suggest a change in recipes. It’s a little awkward. We added condiments to help improve the flavor.

So, rushing to an appointment took some of the romance out of our date. We also got the chance to talk about our relationship a bit. You can bet he didn’t bring that subject up. 😊

I brought up the five love languages mentioned in the book by Gary Chapman:

found at: https://www.christianbook.com/languages-secret-that-lasts-new-edition/gary-chapman/9780802412706/pd/412706?event=CBCER1.

Our love languages are not the same, so I should remember what his choices are so that his “emotional bank account will be filled up,” when I meet that need, according to Mr. Chapman.
A few days after our anniversary, we opened our home to family for at least seven days. You might think that would interfere with our relationship, but since we enjoy our children and grandchildren so much, it actually drew us closer with the laughter and the challenges.
The youngest ones went home and now our son is staying for a few days. So, last night we drove to a bigger area to get my car looked at and watched a movie after our meal.

On the way to the car I began to hunt for my keys. They were somewhere in the mall. I thought of three places they could be, so the guys went back to our theater seats and I stopped at the concession stand. She called her boss whom alerted the cleaning crew and within moments the head cleaner removed the key chain from his apron.
It’s been a stressful week for me and for some of my friends. My mind was not in full gear. My husband said, “Well, you’ve never done that before,” after all was well. I tried to smile and then I almost cried and he shook his head gently in an it’s okay kind of motion.
It’s those kind of kindnesses that make me glad I married him.

Today, when under a time pressure and because of being tired and because sometimes I just feel ornery, I interrupted him to demand he listen to me. He waited while I got my point across and then started at the beginning of what he’d been trying to tell me. After I heard him, I realized he just answered my question and so I started on my last-minute project.
Moments later I replayed our conversation in my mind and by then he was in a meeting, so I texted him instead of giving him a call and apologized for being curt with him. Later, we talked and he said, “I don’t hold on to those things.”
He’s not perfect, I’m not perfect and I guess we try to accent the positive and downplay the negative. I don’t take advantage of his good nature, or at least I try not to take his attitude for granted. He speaks up if he feels the need to, which I appreciate.
A few years back, I helped an eighty-something year-old woman with her memoirs. She said, “I believe in laying your cards on the table. People need to talk honestly with each other,” when I asked her what helped her marriage last all those years.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a widow who didn’t wish she’d done more to show her love for her husband. One lady said, “He always wanted to open an Italian restaurant with recipes that came from Italy. You never saw that kind of food in our day. I held him back. I was afraid to take the risk. He was a great cook. I could’ve helped him with the books. I would have been better off today, too.”
She sounded like she was a great wife when she shared stories of their life together. One day, I told her my husband liked steak but it was so expensive. She was 79 and I was in my 40’s. She looked at me, “Buy your husband a steak.”
So, I did and he smiled when I pulled it out of the bag.
A 90-year-old grandmother at church lost her husband of 70 years in 2016. She credits a previous pastor’s wife for advice that improved her marriage. She was told to be a “helpmeet” to her husband, to do her best to meet his needs and show him respect. She said it revolutionized their relationship. Then she tells us, “We married for better and for worse. There was a lot of better and a lot more worse, but we stayed together and it was worth it.”
She’s quiet about her grief, but occasionally it overwhelms her and then she’ll tell us she can’t wish him back. He’s with Jesus and one of their sons that passed on ahead of them, and now he’s healthy and strong in heaven.
I can’t imagine being married for 70 years, but at the age of 20, being married 40-some years felt like a long time.
I hope you are doing well. If you love Jesus, keep looking up. Take advantage of praying for others, many people need it even if they don’t ask for intercession. One nice thing about being a Christian-Jesus said He’s up there talking to God the Father on our behalf.
May God bless you and protect you from the spiritual enemy of mankind.

The Serenity Prayer

My mom loved the Serenity Prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr, but she only knew the first four lines.

 

In the Celebrate Recovery Participants Guide published by Zondervan and copyrighted by John Baker in 1998, 2012 it is written in full.

 

Prayer for Serenity

 

God, grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

 

Living one day at a time,

enjoying one moment at a time;

accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;

taking as Jesus did,

this sinful world as it is,

not as I would have it;

trusting that You will make all things right

if I surrender to Your will;

so that I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

 

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote this prayer in its earliest form in 1937 according to Wikipedia.

Listening Skills, II

Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

Have you ever noticed that before you say something if you start meditating on God and His ways, you may change your mind and your words? I asked my husband to go to a store 50 minutes away from home because he was going to be nearby.

He agreed but didn’t want to because I needed one and a half yards of 45 inch wide fabric to make a curtain for a door. I wrote out the size needed, cut off a swatch of the remnant and told him he could ask the saleslady. Usually he calls me, but my note told him to ask for advice. My mistake was forgetting she was a SALESlady. They didn’t have 45 inch wide fabric – it was 44 inch wide fabric. I would have said, “Fine.”

She said, “Let’s go to 92 inch wide fabric or somewhere near that width. As she measured for the yard and a half, they came to the end of the bolt. “Would you like the extra yard at the end for half price?”

“Okay,” he said.

When he got home with a large plastic bag with lots of folded fabric inside, my eyebrows lifted. “Here’s your fabric. I don’t like shopping in a store mostly for women.”

“Why didn’t you call me?” I asked after he explained his purchase. He might have said, “Be glad I got it for you.”

I don’t remember.

I told my daughter. From my peripheral vision I saw him standing there, listening. I snuck into another room and called my other daughter. Now I’m telling her that I’ll certainly have enough fabric and there he was to get something and he’s listening.

So, I prayed about it and thought about it. Just because I’m trying to eliminate clutter, it’s not that big of a deal. I did thank him for going out of his way a bit and taking the time on a busy day.

The next day I’m telling a friend at church but now I’m saying, “Maybe there’s a reason for the extra material,” and he comes into the room and this time he joins the conversation and we’re laughing.

I did buy fabric for curtains for another room and I told the young girl I needed more than the bolt held. She assured me that there was plenty. I bought it at a store an hour from home and sure enough, the length was off. I called some fabric stores and got online to find there wasn’t any available. This extra material may allow me to add some length.

The thing I realized is how often my husband listens to me when I’m unaware.

Occasionally I’ve started to relay something and he’ll say, “I know, I heard you on the phone.”

This got me thinking of verses Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in Matthew 12:34, (ESV): “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Mat 12:35  The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.

Mat 12:36  I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

Mat 12:37  for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Being an extrovert, words come easily to me at times, and one day I got worried. My spouse said if I spoke in a way that offended God, repented and asked forgiveness, I wouldn’t need to be concerned on judgment day. Big sigh of relief!

Not only have I found out that my husband listens to me when I’m not sure he is, but I realized that he’s good at reading non-verbal communication. If I’m mad about something but I’m not sure if it’s a good time to bring it up, he’ll see me avoiding eye contact, biting my lower lip and being extraordinarily quiet, possibly tapping my foot or doing other restless gestures. Then he’ll ask, “What’s the matter?”

I got online today to see what Focus on the Family’s website had to say about communicating. I read two articles out of many, and here’s the link to one of them: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/communication-and-conflict/effectively-communicating-with-your-husband

I enjoyed what I read, but it just helped me to springboard to this idea for this blog. Although I couldn’t find the reference, one comment about communicating being hard work struck a chord with me. When I’m tired, I have to force myself to pay attention to the other person and to try and decipher what they mean.

Hope you’re communicating effectively. May God bless you!

Roses and Prayer

My husband and I took a two mile walk tonight. When we pass one house on a corner lot, I always pull a rose forward and inhale deeply. They’re some kind of antique rose with a delicious scent.

We have climbing light red roses that may be fifty years old or more. They smell really nice, too. New York is having a dry summer so far. I keep praying for rain. There are lots of lakes in New York, so I think we’re okay, but I figure it never hurts to pray.

I’ve had many answers to prayer over my life – more than I can remember – although I have lots of journals from over the years.

Then there are prayers where God said, “No.”

Sometimes I could see why He said, “No,” months or years later. I thanked Him, actually.

Other times I accepted the fact that it wasn’t going to go my way, and I didn’t know why.

When I’ve prayed about people’s messes and things got messier, I figured their free will might have hindered the answer.

Sometimes I wondered if I gave up too soon. After all, Jesus is quoted in Luke 11:5-13, (ESV) this way: Luk 11:5  And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves,

Luk 11:6  for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’;

Luk 11:7  and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’?

Luk 11:8  I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

Luk 11:9  And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Luk 11:10  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Luk 11:11  What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent;

Luk 11:12  or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

Luk 11:13  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Only God knows.

May God bless you!

Geometry the Basics of All Design?

“The Story of Maths” came on Netflix as a choice and since my husband really likes math, we started watching it. So we’ve seen Egyptian mathematics, Babylonian math, and then Greek. The show displays the cultures of the mathematicians in our time. The next show headed east and we’ve seen China and now India.

It’s amazing how smart people are all over the world. I told my husband that some of this subject is over my head. He said he wasn’t getting all of it either.

When I spoke to him about different religions being represented in the various countries, he said, “And God loves every person.”

We serve such a big God! How can you love someone unless you know them. He knows every person on this planet and knows their thoughts. The more I get to know God through His word, the more amazed I stand at Him.

One of the Greek mathematicians, I believe, thought the whole universe is made up of geometrical properties. I thought of Mark thirteen that I mentioned this week. Jesus spoke about God being the Creator.

Now,” The Story of Maths” is describing pi. This is fascinating as he uses visuals to portray finding the values found in math.

He can’t help but speak of religions when cultural differences arise. He rebukes the West for not appreciating the countries that became colonized by the westerners.

From his accent, he may be English. I love seeing how people are the same and yet may do things in a different manner than others.

 

Time is Precious

Time is precious. I decided to spend time at home cleaning today, but I needed to deliver a package to a lady who underwent a lumpectomy yesterday. Our ladies Bible study put books and cookies and candy and magnetized tablets with a pen in one, a card, and some other goodies to bless our friend with a basket, gathered it in clear plastic and put a white bow over the twist tie. It was right after I went with a gal to a nursing home Bible study. Then, I dropped off a pretty scarf another friend lent me for my daughter’s wedding.

When I stopped at the church to get the gift basket, I found one of our ladies had left her purse. She was helping one of the women up the stairs and out into the cold and the purse took second place in her mind. I called her and left a message. I got home around one p.m. and made a quick veggie sandwich, mmm good.

I did some laundry and did about an hours worth of cleaning when my husband called to see if I really did want to go to a movie and have dinner. Despite the cold, I drove forty-five minutes to meet him at one of the malls around here, and we enjoyed our meal.

I wish I could say I enjoyed the movie that we waited another forty-five minutes for it to start. The two people behind us left, saying what a dumb movie. Craig fell asleep, as did one of the people behind us. When she woke up, that’s when they left.

Some viewers at the front of the theater laughed and laughed. The rest of the crowd left the place quietly. I wished I could get our money back, but after sitting through the whole thing it doesn’t work that way.

I asked my husband if he thinks the world is getting darker. We met at Barnes and Nobles Bookstore. They have a nice selection of Christian books. I didn’t see a Christian Teen Book section, I think they had one some years back. The regular teen fiction books had so many with vampires and the topic of death, one glamorizing suicide. God made this earth to be a paradise. He never intended for people to die. He wants us to live life abundantly, joyfully, purposefully. He never wants His children to suffer from depression and illness and strife and hatred.

The devil hates mankind because we are made in the image and likeness of God. God made Lucifer one of the most beautiful angels and gave him the gift of music. In his pride he decided all the beings in heaven should worship him and not God. So all-powerful God cast him out of heaven with the angels that followed him. The rest stayed with God.

John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came to give us life abundantly, the devil came to steal, kill and destroy.

Isaiah 14:12, (KJV) says: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

The apostle Paul warns the early church to beware of pretenders that infiltrate the church. In 2Cor 11:13, he writes, ” For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.
2Cor 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

Rev 12:7 tells us: Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back,
Rev 12:8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”

Unlike Star Wars and one episode of Star Trek that I remember, there is no equal battle of evil and good. In the Bible, good conquers evil. It’s not even close. God is all-powerful. Satan has some power, but it’s limited, especially when there are many Christians living for God and praying for His help. When people reject God and His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that gives the devil room to expand his power, but always with God over all.

So, I came home and put some belongings away and half listened to a television program with people battling each other within their own groups and against other groups and that’s when I asked my husband if the world seemed darker to him and closer to the return of Jesus Christ. I saw a t-shirt in FYE at the mall, an entertainment store. They had a picture of a man resembling the actors that portray Jesus in a pair of dark sunglasses saying, “I’m coming back.”

The world jokes about Jesus, just as the nations joked about Noah and his ark. Yet every people group throughout the world has a verbal story handed down throughout the generations of a worldwide flood. The topography of our world is evidence of ravishing waters having prevailed and geologists have found that oil deposits were made from pressurized deposits of ruined vegetation and animal carcasses in massive quantities.

So I feel as if my time is flying away and the world’s time is moving rapidly toward the fulfillment of biblical end time prophesies. “Keep me mindful of You, Lord I pray.”

Satan loves to distract us with the cares of this life and this life is short. I hope you are treasuring your time and seeking answers to the important questions of life. I’m trying to. God help us all.

That’s Gross!

I remember after moving from a city to a suburb meeting a popular girl who recently began attending public school. Since I was newer than her, she befriended me.

We also attended Catholic school from our earliest years until eighth grade. Over the summer after ninth grade we lost touch, but once back in school we ended up in the same home room and got re-acquainted.

She had changed though. She started talking to me about God. She would tell me something every morning and I would answer her and then I’d ponder it during the  day and sometimes in the evening.

One day she told me that she thought I’d really like it if I could pray with my older sister like she did with hers. I told her that my sister and I would never pray together, she didn’t even like me that much.

She assured me it was an awesome thing, so I agreed that it might be. When she told me I was a sinner in need of a savior, I got really mad at her.

Every Catholic knows they are a sinner, we learned about confession as a young child. I thought, Who does she think she is telling me I’m a sinner?

One day she told me I didn’t need to go to the priest to confess my sins, I could talk directly to God. Another time, Jesus had brothers and sisters. Back in the day the Catholic church made it clear that Mary was a perpetual virgin and never had children other than Jesus. The Scriptures tell of Jesus’ mother and siblings waiting to talk to Him in Matthew 12:46. That’s the kind of stuff that rattled me.

Eventually she gave me a tract that showed a picture of a heart with a crown of thorns around it. The tract told about Jesus wanting to be in my heart, to be my Lord and Savior. Something about the tract and all the thinking clicked for me and I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior that day.

Then she told me to read the Gospel of John. Well, I reasoned, why not start at the beginning. So I ignored her advice and started reading the book of Genesis. All was well and good until Lot left Sodom and Gomorrah with his two daughters, his wife having been turned into a pillar of salt because she disobeyed the command to not turn around and look at the destruction of the two cities.

Image result for "Lot's wife"(photo from pillarofsalt.com)

 

Lot ends up getting drunk and his two daughters take advantage of his drunken state and he’s practically passed out, if I understand it correctly, but his body is functioning well enough to get both of them pregnant. I thought, Gross!

I put the Bible down and the next time I saw her I told her that I wasn’t going to read a disgusting book like that ever again. The girl had persuasive skills. She said, “I told you to start at John. Don’t give up, please! Etc., etc.”

So I acquiesced. I have learned over the years that the Bible tells things as they are. There is another story in there that is my all time hated story, which I won’t go into here. Whenever I choose to read through the Bible from cover to cover, I don’t ignore it, but I read quickly and once again I say Gross!

That’s another reason I believe the Bible is written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If men wrote the book, they may not want to make people and God ever look bad or confusing. God is good but He may appear bad to us when He wants people destroyed. I figure He knows way more than I do.

God tells the truth and then says, “Choose this day whom you will serve….” in Joshua 24:15.

Did you ever think about accepting Jesus as your Master, Savior, Lord and King? What did you choose to do?