How Good Is Your Memory?

Every time I re-read portions of the Old Testament, I’m astounded by the way the Israelites got caught in this loop:

  1. Cry out for help. (For example, “Let us out of Egypt!)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like parted seas.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re thirsty!”)

REPEAT:

  1. Cry out for help. (“Give us food!”)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like manna from heaven.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re so sick of eating the same old thing!”)

REPEAT…REPEAT…REPEAT…

But I have grumpy days, don’t you? I feel sorry for myself or evaluate my lot in life and decide it doesn’t measure up to someone else’s. I long for something I don’t have and forget for a while all God has done and all I’ve been given. I’ve seen miraculous provision in my own life, so how am I any different from those Israelites? I am ashamed to admit that I can get tired of manna too.

I was knocked upside the head by this quote not long ago: “If God never did one more thing for you, you ought to be the happiest person in the world.” (I heard it in a TV sermon, but don’t remember who was preaching.) Oh my, yes! When I step back from my doldrums and recount the miracles in my own life and in those of my loved ones, I realize any one of those gifts from God should be enough to keep me rejoicing until eternity. How quickly I can forget!

So, today, I want to leave you with this verse, Psalm 42:6, from The Message.

“When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you.”

Has God ever done anything for you? Then, next time you find yourself grumpy or dissatisfied, refresh your memory! I plan to do the same.

Photo: Nam Anh on Unsplash.com because “an elephant never forgets,” or so they say.

Those Who Mourn

July 7, 2022

Here’s something weird that happened to me today. I have a sweet 90-year-old neighbor who wants to have her windows cleaned. She gave me a flier a few weeks ago for someone she was hoping would do the job. I made a call and what I thought was an appointment. Nobody showed up. I called the number on the flier again today. Short version: the guy who answered told me he was busy, that I should wash the windows for her myself, and then hung up on me. So, yes, weird. And, for a few too many moments, insulting and upsetting. Fortunately, I remembered that people sometimes have bad days, and I let it go.

A few hours later, I got a text that a dear friend had that very morning passed away too young and too fast. Now I’m the one having a rough day. But I don’t look any different. If I stub my toe, I’m probably going to break out in sobs. If I have to wait in a long line, I will probably look impatient. And if someone wants to have a deep conversation with me, there’s a good chance they’ll wonder why my face shows such obvious distraction. They won’t know unless I tell them.

  • If you’re having a rough day, please be willing to tell those who love you or who need to know so that they’ll understand what’s going on inside your head.
  • If someone treats you roughly, please be willing to make allowances, since you don’t know what may be going on inside that person’s head.

My grandchildren have been learning to list the fruit of the spirit, creating a perfect opportunity for me to review and remember that list as well:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control

If you’d asked me to name them a month ago, I would have gotten about seven out of nine. The two I think I would have missed were goodness and gentleness. Those are the subtle ones, ones that are all about how we treat others, and the ones I urge you to consider today. Please, go about your day today with goodness and gentleness, letting the rough edges of those around you become beacons of need. We have the Holy Spirit within us, equipping us to make allowances, even when they seem undeserved. We may never know the full story…

Photo credit: Fa Barboza via Unsplash.com

Surprising, Simple, and a Little Bit Silly

My left ear was killing me. Convinced that I had a whopping ear infection, Steve urged me to skip the primary care visit and go straight to the ENT. It was my second infection in six months. I was expecting a short visit, a new prescription, and a quick recovery. What I got instead was a lesson in body mechanics. My ear wasn’t infected at all. In fact, it was just fine. The problem was with my TMJ, or Temporomandibular joint. (And, yes, I had to look that up.)

Surprising: My brain was (incorrectly) blaming my ear for the ache, a common misunderstanding. The doctor called it referred pain. I had a hard time believing my ear wasn’t the problem. I was just so sure.

Simple: I needed to change a bad habit: resting my chin on my left hand as I work at my desk. It took weeks of Steve or me catching me in the act for the habit to change. And, truth be told, I just did it again, so that fight’s not over.

Silly: I need to do 40 repetitions of a really goofy looking exercise every morning and evening, keeping the tip of my tongue on the roof of my mouth while I slowly open and close my mouth. (I’m careful never to do it in public.)

Here are the life lessons I’m taking away from my TMJ problem:

Surprising: How often do we misplace blame? We can be so sure something is the fault of another person or a particular set of circumstances when, actually, we are just plain wrong. We may need for a wiser friend (or Friend) to help us see the truth.

Simple: How many stupid little habits are making less of our lives? I’ll bet if we all took stock today, we’d each find at least one. Find it. Stop it. Ask someone else to help you catch it. And don’t give up the fight.

Silly: That tongue exercise makes absolutely no sense to me. But the doctor told me to do it, and it matters. I’m better. How often do you wonder why we need to fast, or take communion, or get up early on a busy day in order to have a quiet time, or…? It isn’t silly at all. It doesn’t matter if we don’t understand. Our Lord told us to do those things, and they matter, so keep it up!

CDC image

Leaving Space for the Unexpected

I learned a long time ago that I have to leave white space on my calendar. No, this time I’m not going to write about all the reasons you need to take occasional time away from the daily grind for yourself. This time, I want to encourage you to be ready to spring into action.

Now and then, I look at my calendar and discover a day with (gasp!) nothing on it. Most of the time that turns out to mean I have a very busy day ahead. I just don’t know it yet. ‘Could be there’s a household repair or an unplanned errand calling my name. I might be needed by

            A sick child.

            A friend who is mourning.

            A new neighbor waiting to be welcomed.

            A lonely loved one, or one who is simply overwhelmed.

            Fill in the blank with the sort of calls you get…

In many cases, the unexpected that fills the “white space” in my life involves someone who needs me. That’s one of the reasons I need to remain vigilant about keeping my lifestyle and my calendar flexible and well-pruned. For me that means, when possible, staying prayed up and rested up. It means fighting the urge to procrastinate, so that there are seldom any “absolutely has to be done right now” items on my daily list. And it means, of course, intentionally leaving some unplanned time on my schedule.

I’m learning to expect the unexpected, because the unexpected is actually pretty common. You will almost certainly be needed in an unexpected way sometime soon. You may be summoned by a phone call, or an email, or maybe by that still small voice pointing you to a need you hadn’t noticed before. Today, I’m asking you to get ready to meet the need, to be prepared to answer with a cheerful, “Yes!”

The unexpected is coming, so leave a little space!

Photo by Eric Rothermel via Unsplash.com

Pink Fungus

I planted four tomato plants this year. In no time at all they grew thick and tall. Before long, the vines reached the top of their five foot cages. Tiny green spheres began to appear, although they were a little hard to see among the leaves. Then, sadly, the leaves began to sport pink spots, spots of a shade I would have considered quite lovely if they didn’t signal pending tomato plant doom.

A little research proved helpful—it’s most likely a fungus that thrives when there’s not enough light and air reaching the plant. (Read that as “too thick, too tall, and too many leaves.”) The solution? Start ripping off all the spotted leaves. Then take out any healthy leaves that make the plant look crowded. (Two weeks ago, I would have used the word “lush.”)

So, with some hesitation, I followed the rules. Now, while my plants have a better chance of survival and are actually bearing more red little tomatoes, they just aren’t a lot to look at. And next week I will probably have to take out more leaves. The pruning process is a bit painful, and the result, for the time being, is a bit ugly.

Light and air. We need that too. How’s your schedule looking these days, my friends? We need actual sunlight and fresh air. If you’re like me, you are tempted to look at time basking in the sun as an indulgence, one you are loathe to allow yourself if there’s work to be done. Wrong perspective! You need the vitamin D and all the other benefits the sun and a bit of a break provide. And you need to remember that taking care of yourself is part of your responsibility as a child of God.

We also need to be humble enough to prune. It’s so easy to be proud of all we fit into our days, all that we accomplish, the number of calls and emails we put out, the number of people we influence … But pride can go before a fall into exhaustion! (I’m warning myself even as I warn you.) Please, please, make sure you have the humility to prune, to take away some of those lush, beautiful things in your life that, despite your love for them, may lead to a lesser life both for you and for those you love. (More on that next week.)

Today, I hope you’ll get outside a bit, and that you’ll take a set aside some time to rid your schedule of any “pink fungus.” My love to you all, Brenda

Photo by Marcus Spiske via Unsplash.com

Resetting My Ring

Beware, oh you younger women who’ve only been married a mere decade or two!

Each year, say, on your anniversary, make it a habit to give your engagement ring a good looking over. I know of at least one woman whose diamond escaped its setting. Not long ago, I discovered a broken prong. In fact, I’ve had to add a bit of metal to my ring twice.

Once, I had gold added to strengthen a worn and thinning band. Another time I had to replace the weak setting that threatened to release its precious rock.

Each time, as an added bonus, my ring has been thoroughly polished and returned to me with new luster, as the light showed through with unimpeded brilliance.

And, each time, as I slipped that ring back on my finger, I recalled the joy of the first time I regarded it on my left hand.

What about your faith? Has it lost some of its luster? Has anything gone weak, or chipped, or broken? Sometimes our faith needs a good looking over. Perhaps it’s time to:

Add to our faith, strengthening it through worship, devotion, more time in the Bible, and more fellowship with those who love the Lord and are willing to share what God has done in their lives.  

Polish up our spiritual habits. What has slowly accumulated to dull your walk or cloud your joy? Are there places you might need to clean up your act, to make your faith clearer and more effective? Anything need to be given up?

Remember Jesus. Take time to recollect the gifts and blessings of your past and present life with God. Enjoy his presence!

In all these things, the first step is to go to the Lord in prayer and ask for his help.

I took time to make sure my ring was holding strong and shining its brightest. How very much more important is my faith, and yours!

I hope you will assess your walk this week and LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!

Photo credit: _drz_ via Unsplash.com