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Dear Diary . . .

14 Feb

Dear Diary . . .

My perfect Valentine’s Day has downsized over the years. It had to do that, because I have been married to a frugal guy for almost 25 years and . . . when we marry someone, we inevitably change each other. That seems to be one of the reasons God instituted marriage in the first place–to smooth off the rough edges.

I started my Valentine’s Day at 2:45 AM. I had intentionally set my alarm, going to bed at 10 PM so that I could get up and watch “Woman of the Year” with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy on Turner Classic Movies.

They did not disappoint me! I love that pair. Sad that their relationship never was based on the sound marriages they portrayed in their films, but their onscreen pairing certainly made a strong case for enduring marriage (and for forgiveness within marriage).

In “Woman of the Year,” Ms. Hepburn is portrayed as more the selfish, unreasonable partner who needs to change.

In “Adam’s Rib,” which I saw again earlier this week, Mr. Tracy is more the selfish partner who changes by the end of the film.

So they balance!

As do Noel and I. Two imperfect people, bonded by Christ’s love as well as romantic love.

After the movie was over, I crept back up to bed, only to find my husband already awake. He had fallen asleep in his recliner early last night while I was at Bible Study. He was slowly waking up for the day.

We lay there, talking for almost an hour before I drowsed back off to sleep and he got up.

What a precious time. I always think of the early morning quiet and darkness as velvety and intimate, not frightening like darkness can be at midnight when you are rushing a child to the emergency room or when you are lost on the road somewhere.

Such a good time to share your hearts in ways that belong just to the two of you, never to be shared on a blog.

This morning, when I finally got up, I scrambled us egg whites and served them with leftover blueberry scones I made for our meal at Bible study last night. It was a good enough treat. We don’t need heartshaped donuts!

Tomorrow night we will attend a Valentine’s party at the home of friends.

And, with that, I am content, having found a place to belong in a world that sometimes seems frighteningly random.

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Virginia!

14 Feb

Happy Valentine's Day, Virginia!

So much has changed since yesterday in the state of Virginia, but yet so much remains the same.

The gospel of Jesus Christ still remains the antidote for the sin problem of the entire human race. Our problem with anger, our problem with selfishness, our problem with sexual sin, our problem with wanting to make a name for ourselves independent of God, and independent of the design and plan He built into the human race.

When Jesus came, during the Roman Empire, He defined marriage as between one man and one woman for life. So many of us nowadays fall woefully short of His definition.

Jesus then went on to concentrate on bringing the gospel, His good news, to broken, sinful people.

He did not rage against the machine.

He didn’t preach against the polygamy that was occurring in every part of the Roman Empire except Israel at that time.

He didn’t preach against the marriages that were marriages in name only, to produce heirs, while the men involved in them carried on with dozens of other women, or men, or young children.

Jesus addressed sin as sin; He addressed sinners as sinners. Yet He did more. He loved sinners. Often they received His love. They were then loved back into wholeness by the very Son of God!

Jesus is still doing that only . . . He is using the hands and feet and hearts of people who are alive in Him on earth right now. His Holy Spirit empowers us to love sinners and to lead them to Christ, that the Holy Spirit may dwell in them, too, breaking the hold of sin over their lives, as He has broken the hold of sin over our lives.

John, the Apostle of love, writes often of how Jesus said that that would be the only way the world around us would know that God is real and that He is love–when they see our love for each other and for lost people around us.

That is God’s plan for redeeming a lost world. Us. So we had better take it seriously.

Remember, the only time anyone ever threw a sexual sinner on the floor in front of our Saviour, He told her He did not condemn her.

And to go and sin no more!

That is our message for a broken world, and our message for Virginia today.

Imago Dei

21 Jan

“Oh, yes. We take shortcuts in getting to know others and sum them up in ten words or less. And we do that to people made in God’s image. What smugness we exhibit.”

The above was an update I posted on Facebook several days ago.  I truly believe that.  Almost all of us have to work hard to realize that other humans are just as complex as we are.  

I see dismissive Facebook posts all of the time.  Posts that sum up an entire viewpoint in one dismissive sound byte.  

Even posts that sum up an entire group of people (all teenagers, dieters, drinkers, non-drinkers, etc.) in one dismissive sound byte.

Thing is, we all have a story.  And, most importantly of all, we are all God’s image bearers.  

Our church has often taught that principle.  No matter how fallen, each person bears somewhere in his soul the mark of his Creator.  Even the alcoholic, on his deathbed, lying with a swollen, distended abdomen amidst his own waste in his apartment (that image is courtesy of a friend who once watched her sister die that way) is an image-bearer of God’s holy image somewhere in his being.  

I know some churches teach that, since the Fall, we are created in the image of Adam, not in the image of God.  I don’t see that in Scripture anywhere and no one has been able to point me to anything confirming that view.

I think that view makes it easier for people to be dismissive of their fellow humans.  Like Pharisees, they can just cross the road when they see an alcoholic dying, saying, in exactly five words, “He brought it on himself,” then forgetting about this person who needs Jesus.

I pray in this New Year we may realize that others have stories and dreams and souls and that we may reach out to them.  I pray we may care that they might perish without our Saviour.  

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2013 List of Countries Where Christians are Most Persecuted

16 Jan

2013 List of Countries Where Christians are Most Persecuted

This is the real McCoy, folks. Places where you can be beat up or killed for being a Christian. Not the faux persecution we speak about in the States when we actually mean that Phil Robertson makes a little less money due to his faith (or not, maybe he is making more money now–who knows?).

If we know this list, we can pray for our Christian brothers and sisters, worldwide, with wisdom.

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Gotta Start the New Year With a Satire Post!

4 Jan

Gotta Start the New Year With a Satire Post!

Love this! Satirical interpretation of what J.D. Greear would do/say in various situations. He is the hipster author of “Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart,” a book that reminds us that getting saved does not involve pleading with God thousands of times to save us via the sinner’s prayer. Getting saved is a reality for God’s children because Christ has secured our salvation on the cross. Our salvation is solid and unshakable due to Him, not due to us!!!

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Our Noisy Planet!

31 Dec

Our Noisy Planet!

There are over six billion of us on planet Earth right now and we are speeding toward seven billion. Two countries have more than a billion people, China and India. One of those two is growing faster than the other. Due to the forced birth control policies in China for the past generation, their population rate is growing more slowly than India’s.

That said, the planet has gotten noticeably more noisy in my lifetime. I have to be careful to not refer to some ideal Victorian past that never actually existed (at least outside of a handful of very rich families in Britain and the U.S.), but I think I can accurately say that, in my childhood, a neighborhood of houses like ours ($300,000 homes of around 2700 square feet) would not have dealt with noise complaints very often. Now our community newsletter is constantly reminding us to remember that we are not out on a farm somewhere out of everyone else’s notice . . .

Some of us have more sensitive constitutions by nature and can be easily derailed by someone else’s noise level. That doesn’t make that other person a villain, but it does make life interesting for us . . .

For example, I have long noted that I cannot handle the staccato barking of dogs in my neighborhood. And, thankfully, there have only been four times that that was an issue since we moved here 23 years ago. Three of them were at the same corner home, which probably has a built in dog house to attract dog owners as buyers!!!

There is currently a dog there that mostly howls, rather than barks, when sirens start or when he gets cold in the night (he is seemingly left outside 24/7, even in the coldest weather, and since I did ask our animal control people to investigate that and nothing changed over there, I have to assume that no animal cruelty laws are being broken). Thankfully, the howling doesn’t get under my skin the way the occasional barking does!!!

Some things about noises and noise levels are cultural.

Some are individual.

For example, I have long heard that the gentle rhythms of Baroque music are the rhythms that most mimic the human constitution. Since I love Baroque music, I am onboard with believing that. However, I realize that that is also an example of Western European thinking that may not be shared universally by all of the earth’s inhabitants.

The above musical selection is a folk rendition of a standard old hymn with words by John Bunyan.

What I like about it is the way it starts with the tradition of earlier music (including the music written during the Baroque era) and riffs a bit onward with it. The unexpected syncopation, especially that provided by the ancient instrument playing an alternate tune in the background, delights my senses. The drumline is just regular enough to not be frightening–walking along the ledge without falling over the edge. There are several times the drums thunder an alternate five or six beat rhythm, but they always resolve to the time signature of the piece, with a bit of syncopation thrown in for excitement.

To me, that is brilliant music–knowing the rules of good music composition and mostly honoring them. Breaking them here and there, but only temporarily. Keeping everyone, literally, on the same sheet of music, even as riffs occur on one instrument or another.

My taste in music may seem tame to some and wild to others, but that is where I am right now, as the unique individual God created me to be.

How does this relate to noise levels around us?

Well, for me, I can hear music composition rules in our movements, too. I never studied dance, but I am willing to believe that ballet dancers probably hear music composition rules and rhythms in almost everything.

In our home, for instance, my husband moves slowly in 4/4 time. I have been told that I used to do the same until I lost weight. Now I often don’t make noise at all as I move around. I sometimes even startle people that way.

Our son, on the other hand, is typical of many boys, especially special needs boys. He moves in 3/4 time, but with an erratic third beat. It never falls exactly where I expect to hear it. And it is often accompanied by a crash as he closes a door harder than I expected, or drops something, or opens a door too hard and hits the wall with it. We have built many doorstops into our life since he joined us in 1992, but have not been able to keep up with putting them everywhere they are needed.

And, see, that is something in which awareness goes a long way toward contentment. If I didn’t realize he moves differently because he is made differently, I would be constantly trying to change him into 4/4 time, which I expect would be impossible.

Instead, I have learned to enjoy the knowledge that he is here with us, crashes and all. If all else fails, I clip on the headset and turn on music like the video above!!!

In a world of so many people and so many noises, there is certainly a time that someone’s noise must be altered. There are noise ordinances for a reason, after all. There is a time to say something, to tell someone they must alter their noise level or face consequences.

May we be wise in discerning when those times occur and when other situations dictate that we should remain silent and try to accommodate others, even when their noise makes those of us with sensitive constitutions feel restless and nervous.

Written for a friend of mine, facing loud, constant, erratic bangs in Papua Indonesia on New Year’s Eve!

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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues . . .

26 Dec

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues . . .

I reread my post from Christmas Eve today, with the intent not to delete it, but to seriously edit it.

I left it as it was.

It was a slice of family life, of exhausted family life on Christmas Eve. It presented us, warts and all.

In the midst of talking about an attitude of gratitude, I was griping about families taking us for granted by not exhibiting an attitude of gratitude.

See what I did there? Reciprocated the feeling. If they take me for granted, I get to complain about them . . .

And, in human nature, that happens. But it is also important to remember that, in Christ, we have overcome many things. Human nature can be one of them.

By His power, His resurrection power. Not by our own puny efforts.

So . . . while we all gripe sometimes, we also are in that “already, not yet” tension that is life in Christ on a fallen planet.

We have to self-talk and remind ourselves that everything that touches us comes through the hands of a loving God. Even feeling taken for granted by our families.

That doesn’t excuse lack of action on our part. If we don’t tell them that we feel taken for granted, they will never figure it out by themselves.

But it does mean we rejoice as we realize that we are in Christ and, in Him, we have all things.

I will leave my post up, as it is. It will encourage someone else who is struggling.

And, in the end, I got where I needed to get. Back to the feet of Christ our Lord!

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