Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Coloring The World Of Hodge Podge

Here we go...Wednesday Hodge Podge this week. Hop over to Joyce's blog to get the questions then read my responses.  If you want to participate then on your own blog answer the questions and link up with Joyce.  Be sure to send some bloggy love to the others. 

1. It's National Waffle Day (August 24th)...what decision are you currently 'waffling over'? (or share one you've recently 'waffled over')  To retire.....or not to retire....that is my question. 

2. It's the middle of August, but I'm already seeing lots of autumn-related posts. Do you think we rush the seasons? If so, does that bother you? I saw (here) an end of summer bucket list that included-
make s'mores, read a new (or favorite) book in the park, eat something delicious and bad for you at a state fair, be a tourist for the day, have a pot luck picnic, book a last minute summer getaway, relax by or in the pool, take a hike to watch the sunset, have a day on the lake, try a new summer recipe
Which activities on the list might you squeeze in before summer officially comes to a close?  Frank and I will be going on another little daycation or two.

3. Your favorite summertime 'art' found in nature?  Sand castles at the beach......and the flowers that are blooming.
4. Stephen R. Covey is quoted as saying 'We judge ourselves by our intentions, and others by their actions.' Agree or no? Do you define yourself based on your intentions, your actions, or something else?  I am not a huge Covey fan (long story)....but I do agree with him on this one.  I define myself by my intentions and actions.   I wish my answer was always my actions....but sometimes I have to deal with the fact that I intended to do something....but didn't and it then becomes a growth experience.....and hopefully I won't do it again.

5. Are you useful in a crisis? Elaborate.  It depends on the crisis.....and who is involved  If it is one of my children....not so much. 

6. What's been your go-to dish this summer? Is it something you'll continue making as the seasons change?  I wish I had one.  Frank does all the cooking.  We have had a good many low country boils but that won't move into the next season.  The next season will bring stews, soups, casseroles....more hearty meals.

7. Adult coloring books are a thing now. Have you jumped on the bandwagon? If not is this something you think you might enjoy?  I have several and Frank and I actually sit down at night and color.  I love it and it is a great stress buster.
8.  Are you counting down the days for college football?  Are you a football fan and if so....who do you root for?  Have an awesome day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Things We Knew


About The Book:  A tragedy from the past resurfaces in this tale of family secrets and reignited love.  After her mother's death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother's death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can't remember a bit of it.  But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. Once her brother's best friend and Lynette's first crush, Nick seems to hiding things from her. Lynette wonders what he knows about the day her mother died and hopes he might help her remember the things she can't.  But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn't want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.  As their father's failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface---secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question all they ever believed in.  Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/29vkFGh
About The Author:  Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she's not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border collie for long walks on the beach or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children.
My Thoughts On This Book:   I have never read anything by Catherine West, but I can promise you I will be on the lookout for her next book.  This book was amazing.  Having lived with a mother who had Alzheimer's Disease this book really touched home.  I thought this would be an awesome summer read and it was.  I took it to the beach and could not put it down.  The characters were true to life and the dysfunctionality of the family made it that much more believable.  Great plot, full of twists and turns, lots of mystery.  This book is a must read.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion, as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Service Tails: More Stories of Man's Best Hero


About The Book:  Heart-tugging true stories of the courage, faith, and loyalty of remarkable service dogs.  Not all heroic dogs wildly toss themselves into lifesaving situations. Some save lives simply by their incredible commitment to duty and service. Some lead the way to independence for people whose disabilities were supposed to limit their lives.  In Service Tails: More Stories of Man's Best Hero, prolific author Ace Collins introduces us to leaders whose entire lives are wrapped in the banner of service. Their stories are remarkable snapshots of the value of vision and teamwork, as well as devotion to duty and unconditional love and acceptance---stretching the way we see both canine and human potential. Their training was intense, their loyalty unquestioned and each step of the way they constantly adapt to better serve those they lead. These unforgettable dogs are more than heroes; they are models from which we can learn how to love and serve unconditionally.  Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2bb7SeE
About The Author:  Ace Collins defines himself as a storyteller. He has authored more than sixty books that have sold more than 2.5 million copies. His catalog includes novels, biographies, children's works as well as books on history, culture and faith. He has also been the featured speaker at the National Archives Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted a network television special and does college basketball play-by-play. Ace lives in Arkansas.
My Thoughts On The Book:  One of my former students got a service dog this summer.  She is a brittle type 1 diabetic and this dog was obtained to give her the freedom to go to college.  Emma (the dog) senses when my students blood sugar spikes either way.  It has been amazing to watch what this awesome dog can do.  That is why I asked to review this book.  It touched home.  The beginning of the book tells the history of the service dog and that was very interesting. The book itself gives you a dozen stories that are heart wrenching and uplifting at the same time as you read about some amazing animals whose whole
purpose is service. If you are a dog lover this book is a must read.  If you are not a dog person this book is still something you will want to sit down with.  I promise you that you will get a better understanding of service dogs. I loved this book.  It is definitely a keeper.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Abingdon Press and the Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

It's Me Again, God


My scripture today comes from Luke:  13 : 10-17
One Sunday morning a stranger entered a small country church in the middle of the sermon. The man was unkempt and dirty, and clearly smelled of alcohol. The usher attempted to seat him in a far off corner but instead he walked to the very first pew and sat directly in front of the preacher. Then to the congregations horror the man began to make loud comments to their pastor’s sermon. “Amen. That’s right! Preach it brother.” The minister gave the man a nasty look, but it was to no avail. The stranger just continued, “Praise Jesus, Hallelujah!” Finally the usher approached the man and whispered in his ear, “Sir, we don’t act like this in church.” “But I’ve just got religion,” said the stranger. “Yes sir,” said the usher, “but you didn’t get it from here.” When you walked into church today what were you expecting?  Hymns, a sermon, a time for fellowship. We all come to church on Sunday morning with expectations, anticipations, of what we will encounter once we get here. As a minister I periodically run into people who are out church shopping. Individuals and couples who are going from Church to Church shopping for a congregation that possesses everything that they are looking for in a church. Expectations, we all have them. But in the midst of all our looking for what we expect, what we anticipate, what we want, how many of us have ever taken the time to ask what does God expect from Sunday morning worship? What is God looking for in a church? After all, we should ask ourselves, is what we expect from church and what God expects from church necessarily the same thing? I’m sure you know the answer to that! Not hardly. When our purposes and God’s purposes, our desires and God’s desires, our expectations and God’s expectations, find themselves at cross purposes, and I tell you there will be times when they are. At those times we need to ask ourselves why are we here, after all and who really is supposed to be calling the shots around here?

One day while Jesus is teaching in one of the many synagogues he beholds a woman who for eighteen years had been bent over and could not straighten up. Having compassion on her infirmity Jesus lays his hands upon her and immediately she stands up straight and is healed. As a result of her healing the women begins to praise God. Not bad, wouldn’t you say. But not everyone is happy with the results. The ruler of the synagogue becomes indignant righteously angry at what has just happen in his congregation. But unwilling to chastise Jesus in front of the people gathered the ruler instead chastises the woman and those who had gathered for the services. “There are six days on which work ought to be done,” the rabbi cries, “come on those days and be healed, but not on the Sabbath day.” What’s bugging this guy? Oh he’s just getting a little historical. You see, centuries ago the Jewish people didn’t listen to God very well. They turned away from following His will. So God sent the nation of Israel into captivity in Babylon for 75 years. When they finally returned to Israel those who were religious wanted to make sure that this never happened again. Out of fear of future failure and judgment the Pharisees were created. Religious lawyers whose purpose was to interpret God’s law and make sure that this time God’s people obeyed. So to the Pharisees God had commanded to keep the Sabbath holy and holy they would keep it. Since God had rested on the Sabbath man must also rest from all work. That included even the work of healing. There are six days on which work is to be done. Healing was OK, if you were healed on one of those days but not the Sabbath that is a day of rest. His goal is to honor the Sabbath, isn’t he? He’s just trying to be obedient to the will of God, right? But Jesus won’t buy it. He will not accept this religious expectation. He hits them between the eyes. “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or ass from the manger, and lead it away to water it? And ought not his woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” The Pharisees had every intentions to honor God, to do the will of God so what was it they missed that deserved such harsh judgment from the Son of God? What is it that Jesus understood that made this man’s expectations for the Sabbath so reprehensible to Christ? The Pharisee’s intended to “love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.” Even to the extreme. Wouldn’t Jesus find that acceptable.  Apparently not.

So what was Jesus’s expectation? Obviously Jesus wants us to love God, he wants us to know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But he did not think this was the result of our labors, to keep the Sabbath or any other law. No. Knowing God, being a child of God’s kingdom is not our accomplishment, it is God’s blessing. A gift, undeserved and unachievable, but ours never the less. By the grace and love and mercy of God. The Pharisee’s believed ‘if we do it right, the kingdom of God will come.’ But Jesus grasped the truth that the kingdom of God is among us, here and now. He healed a crippled woman on the Sabbath because it was an assertion of the kingdom, on the Sabbath. It wasn’t work, it was joy. Joy in the Lord, in his presence and goodness. The Pharisee’s were so focused on fulfilling the dot and title of the law of God’s they were unable to live in the kingdom and they even failed to recognize the presence of the Lord, in that most holy day. Emmanuel, God with us in the here and now. Not wanting to disobey the God of judgment they missed an encounter with the God of all mercy. The woman received what the Pharisee could not grace, poured out, overflowing, unending grace from the hand of God Himself. They were more than hypocrites, they were fools. To look into the face of your creator, to receive from God forgiveness and healing, steadfast love and mercy, now that is Sunday morning worship. That Midway, is the purpose of God’s church.
 A minister passing through his church in the middle of the day,

 Decided to pause by the altar and see who had come to pray.
Just then the back door opened, a man came down the aisle,
The minister frowned as he saw the man he hadn’t shaved in a

while. His shirt was kind of shabby and his coat was worn and
frayed,the man knelt, he bowed his head,then rose and walked

away. In the days that followed,each noon time came this chap,
each time he knelt just for a moment,a lunch pail in his lap.

Well, the minister’s suspicions grew,with robbery a main fear,
He decided to stop the man and ask him,“What are you doing

here?" The old man said, he worked down the road. Lunch was
only half an hour.Lunch time was his prayer time,for finding

strength and power. I stay only moments, see, because the factory
is so far away; as I kneel here talking to the Lord, this is kind of

what I say:

 "I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU, LORD, HOW HAPPY I HAVE BEEN,SINCE WE FOUND EACH OTHER’S  FRIENDSHIP AND YOU TOOK AWAY MY SIN.  DON’T KNOW MUCH OF HOW TO PRAY, BUT I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERY DAY. SO, JESUS, THIS IS JIM, CHECKING IN TODAY."

The minister feeling foolish, told Jim, that it was fine. He told the man he was welcome to come and pray just anytime.Time to go, Jim smiled, said "Thanks." as he hurried to the door.The minister knelt at the altar, he’d never done that before. His cold heart melted, warmed with love, and met with Jesus there. As the tears flowed, in his heart, he repeated old Jim’s prayer:

"I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU, LORD, HOW HAPPY I’VE BEEN, SINCE WE FOUND EACH OTHER’S FRIENDSHIP AND YOU TOOK AWAY MY SIN.  I DON’T KNOW MUCH OF HOW TO PRAY, BUT I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERY DAY. SO, JESUS, THIS IS ME CHECKING IN TODAY."

 Past noon one day, the minister noticed that old Jim hadn’t come. As more days passed without Jim, he began to worry some. At the factory, he asked about him, learning that he was ill. The hospital staff was worried, but he’d given them a thrill. The week that Jim was with them, brought changes in the ward.His smiles, a joy contagious.  Changed people, were his reward. The head nurse couldn’t understand why Jim was so glad,when no flowers, calls or cards came, not a visitor once he had.  The minister stayed by his bed, he voiced the nurse’s concern:  No friends came to show they cared. He had nowhere to turn.  Looking surprised, old Jim spoke up and with a winsome smile:  "The nurse is wrong, she couldn’t know, that in here all the while, every day at noon He’s here,a dear friend of mine, you see, He sits right down, takes my hand, leans over and says to me:

"I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU, JIM, HOW HAPPY I HAVE BEEN, SINCE WE FOUND THIS FRIENDSHIP, AND I TOOK AWAY YOUR SIN. ALWAYS LOVE TO HEAR YOU PRAY, I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERY DAY,AND SO JIM, THIS IS JESUS=CHECKING IN TODAY."
Real worship, is not singing hymns, although they are lovely, it is not in praying prayers or hearing a sermon, The Sabbath God wants is to meet you here, meet you in your home and on the streets with joy in the friendship we share. And then to share that blessing with all the world. Now that is a great expectation.

 

 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

It's The Rule


I read the neatest story this week by Lois Parker Edstrom called Finding  and just had to share it with my children today.  Did you know??????
"You know we all live by rules. There are family rules: brush your teeth before you go to bed, don’t play with matches, put  your toys away when you are done playing with them. Can you think of others?

Your school has rules: be quiet when others are working or the teacher is speaking, don’t go out to play until it is time for recess, do your homework. What other rules do you follow at school?
Our government has rules: cross the street in the crosswalk, stop for a red light, follow the speed limit when driving.

And….There are also holy rules. These rules are the Ten Commandments and the commandment to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
In the worship service today we are going to hear a story in which a religious leader criticized Jesus for breaking a holy rule. Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath when he saw a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years. She was so crippled that she was unable to stand up straight. Jesus healed her and she immediately was able to stand straight. She began praising God. The religious leader became upset because Jesus had healed the woman on the Sabbath. He said, “there are six days in which men ought to work. Therefore come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day!” (13:14).  Jesus’ answer indicates that, while we need to pay attention to the rules, we also need to be compassionate. Compassion means that we care deeply and want to help someone who is having difficulty.

An example is that of emergency workers who help persons who have serious health problems or have been in an accident. We have speed limits, but there are times when emergency drivers need to go faster than the speed limit allows. Emergency drivers are aware of the rules of the road, are cautious in the way they drive, but they also must transport the injured person to the hospital as quickly as possible. It is the compassionate thing to do.
Rules are necessary to keep us safe, help us make good choices, make the things we do more efficient, and fair. There is no doubt that rules are important. It is also important to be compassionate. Compassion is holy. Jesus cared about people in need, and we should care too."

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Racing Time Hodge Podge

Here we are doing another Hodge Podge.  You know the routine.  You read, you answer, you post on Joyce's blog by clicking here.  Then....you hop over and visit a few and give them some bloggy loving.   

1. I read here four creative activities to try this month. They were-calligraphy, make your own cookbook, dance or learn a new type of dance, and letter writing. Which activity on the list appeals to you most? Will you add it to your August?  I like the make your own cookbook and the letter writing.  I think I will add letter writing to my August and I better hurry because August is half over.  I used to love writing letters to people....I wonder what happened?  Oh yeah....email.

2. Bertrand Russell is quoted as saying, 'To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.' Agree or disagree? Explain. Agree.  If we had everything we wanted, we would not be happy.  Most people who get all they want are miserable.
3. August 17th is National Thriftshop Day...are you a 'thrifter'? If so, tell us about one of your best or favorite finds.  I love it!  My best finds were a first edition John Grisham book and  a rare edition Shakespeare book.  I know you are all going....what????  I was teaching English at the time and this book was a big help.  I truly believe that one man's trash is another man's treasure.

4.  On a scale of 1-10 (with 1= almost none and 10=loads) how would you rate your sense of wanderlust? What kicks your wanderlust into high gear?  Mine is a 10+.  Any vacation from school from one day to a month...I love to pack a bag and hit the road.

5. Has life felt more like a marathon or sprint so far this month? How so?  Marathon.....Somethings just seems to go on and on........but...there are a few sprints thrown in there to keep life interesting.
6. What do you need to get a jump on before fall officially arrives?  I need to get ;my fall decorations spruced up and make a few more.

7. What's the last thing you did with friends or family where you lost track of time? Traveled to Michigan.

8. Second week of school is half over.  Is it just me or does time seem to be moving faster? 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Beggar In LA


My scripture references today are from Hebrews 11:29-12:2 and Luke 12: 49-56
Will you join me in prayer…..Loving and Wonderful God, you have called us to be your family. We stand in a moment in time, upheld by the great cloud of witnesses. O God, open our eyes. Open our ears. Open our whole selves to the movement of your spirit through these words and our meditations. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Many things happened when I went to California. I attended an NEA conference as a State Delegate, spent some good times with my teacher buddies, interviewed for a job, and got to see an old high school friend that I had not seen in over 30 years.  I love California….to visit.  I have cruised through San Francisco, driven North to the dry pines, clear lakes, and beautiful mountains of Mount Shasta, and driven the entire PCH.   There are so many stories to tell of great museums, an invasion of sea lions, a mystical appearance of a deer. I want to share them with you all until you are bored to tears. But, I want to share one impression that left an impact in my heart.
A teacher friend and I were in the Mayor’s restaurant in LA. I had just jumped into an Internet CafĂ© to check my email.  This restaurant is in an upscale area of downtown LA.  There were lots of fancy shops, movie theatres, museums. To say the least it was a pretty fancy place. A fun place too. To be lost in the bustle and grind of a big city.  I felt so alive.  There was so much to see and only a week to see it in.

When I travel, I love to see the new places through my eyes. But when I see a new place, somehow I always come away taking a closer look at myself. While I was in Los Angeles; I examined myself.
My friend and I sat at the window of the restaurant. Directly across the busy street from us was a young woman. She wore a greasy T-shirt. Her skin was pale, gray. She sat next to the garbage can. She seemed to blend into the concrete, part of the gray buildings, gray sky. Her greasy hair covered her face. You could not see her eyes. The busy folks of a big city were just hurrying by her. They did not even know that she existed.

It was no accident that she was in front of Starbuck’s - the icon of a new materialism and overpriced coffee. In front of her rumpled rags, she had a cardboard sign in front of her and a small paper cup. Her cardboard sign said, “Please help me. Every day is a struggle.”  “Please help me. Every day is a struggle.” She was asking people for money. But her sign was a prayer. “Please help me. Every day is a struggle.” Her sign was a prayer. The money we placed in her cup was not enough to answer her prayer, but it would help carry her through. As I was preparing for my sermon….. I remembered her when I read the scripture for today:
“(Very important giants of the faith) . . .through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, ministered justice. . . .shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of war, put foreign armies to flight. (But there were other people who did not have good things happen to them) . . . . Others were tortured. . . .suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword . . . .destitute, persecuted, tormented.”

          “Please help me. Every day is a struggle.”

          “Please help me. Every day is a struggle.”
Her prayer is our prayer. Her day is our day. Her struggle is our struggle. Because she is in the dirt, we have work to do. “Please help me. Every day is a struggle.”

Her body was gray and ragged. My soul has been known to get gray and ragged. Maybe your soul too, your heart, your emotions have gone gray. Maybe you are able to get to your job, get along with your life, but maybe you feel thrown out next to the garbage can, where that woman was sitting.
So how do we explain the Christian faith to the now….when they had a hard time explaining it then…... The Jews knew all about the 10 commandments, who Moses was, what the laws were, what the Sabbath was. They knew all about being Jewish. What they did not know was much about this new bunch of people called Christians. They did not know who Jesus was.

They did not know why these people, who believed that Jesus was the Messiah, would endure so much, and yet still be happy. These new Christians were getting beaten and tortured and disgraced. Yet they were joyful. Their faith grew stronger. The more they were persecuted, the more their numbers increased. That was not supposed to happen.
The crux of it all comes next, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely , and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Here is shame… Dying a disgraced criminal in front of your family. A total failure. Denied by your friends. Rejected by your people. Everything you preached about came up a big fat zero. That is shame. That is grief.
“Please help me, O God. Take this bitter cup from me. Every day is a struggle.”
The prayer of that poor woman was the prayer of Jesus Christ.

There is a key difference between our suffering and Jesus’s suffering. When I suffer, I suffer for myself. My own heart hurts for me. When you suffer, it’s your back pain, your family, your job, your relationship. The suffering - most of the time - has something to do with us.
Jesus’s suffering was very, very different. Jesus suffered for us. He did not need to suffer and die the way he did. He could have been a quiet carpenter in Nazareth. He got down in the gutter, in the gray concrete, to suffer, and to cry out his prayer, he did that so that the poor woman down in the gutter with him, would one day sit next to Jesus on the right hand of the glory of God.

When Jesus gave his very inflammatory sermon about how everything would be divided in Luke 12:49-56, “Son against father, daughter against mother, and on and on,” he said that because Jesus was going to turn the whole world in its side.
“Please help me, O God. Take this bitter cup from me. Every day is a struggle.”
The answer to that is, “Look to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, and disregarded its shame. Jesus has taken the his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Jesus-in-the-gutter is now and forever Jesus-in-the-throne.

“Please help me. Every day is a struggle.”
Jesus’s prayer was answered.

Take that prayer and make it your own. Take the prayer of that beggar woman and make it your own.  I promise you that God will hear you.  I am also assured that God will answer your prayer.
There is a cloud of witnesses who have gone before us, witnessed to this great and mighty and powerful truth. “Look to Jesus who had made our faith perfect, who is on the right hand of the throne of God.”

This, ladies and gentleman…. is the good news.