Do Your Dare? A Scary Political Challenge

This is going to be difficult for me but I think I’m up to the challenge. Understand, I am a wise woman of strong opinions. :-) After all, when I’m right, I’m right, right? ;-) So many people seem to be in a quandary as to voting this year.  Personally, I’ve just about tuned out the entire horse race.  Yet within me is the conviction that vote I must. My forefathers, brave men like John Hancock and George Washington and James Madison risked swinging from a gallows so that I might have the privilege.

What to do? America’s political lines seem drawn and imbedded in steel.  Hate and disgust oozes from both sides of the spectrum. At this point, will anyone be shaken from their granite beliefs?  Surely not me!  Not when I am so right! :-)

I read Proverbs 3: 5-7 for my worship this morning and my heart was heavy. I already pray for ‘my candidate’ every day like I would for my favorite baseball team to win. (Go Yankees!)  But that’s not what the verse says.  Read it for yourself: Vs. 5–Trust in the Lord with all your heart. (I can do that–I think.) Vs. 6–In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. (OK, I think I trust Him enough to direct my path, but my vote too?)  7–Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and shun evil.

So here’s the challenge: 1. Go to the Source of Wisdom. 2. Ask God to remove your prejudices, your anger, your frustrations from your heart.  3. With prayer and thanksgiving trust that the Holy Spirit will guide you just as He promises to do, to reveal to you the way you should vote in November.  (Whenever you hear evil about either candidate, give thanks to God for them–be specific.  You deserve the peace that coms from living in a bubble of gratitude.)

And then, my brother, my sister, sit back, relax, and trust that He will keep His Word.   It’s scary, isn’t it?  So who will take my challenge?  Do you dare? I will, if you will.

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Don’t Worry; Be Happy -2

The presidential elections.  I hear a lot of fussing, fuming and fretting, regardless of one’s political persuasions.  Horrors!  What if Donald Trump wins the election?  What if Hillary Clinton wins?  Or how about Bernie Sanders? Is the world going to rack and ruin? What can I do about it, beyond voting, of course?  Will my worrying change history?  Will my fretting reduce my resulting taxes or foil one enemy Isis plot?  Probably not.  But there is something I can change–me!

Whenever the troubles in my life, and those in my imagination, threaten to turn my brain waves into erratic static, I read Habakkuk 3:17. “Though the fig tree does not bud…” ( I live in California’s Central Valley where over the last few years of drought, wells have dried up and water use has been rationed.)  It isn’t the crises listed in this verse that apply to every frantic child of God but the solution to those problems.  Instead of praying Habakkuk’s prayer I make it my own by paraphrasing it.  “Though the number on my bathroom scale stays stubbornly the same or worse yet, inches higher, and I can’t fit into my favorite jeans; though my debts never diminish but grow every month;  though…”  You have the idea.  Try it. List your own personal Habakkuk 3:17 problems. Recite them aloud.  Then add Habakkuk 3:18.  “YET I WILL REJOICE IN GOD MY SAVIOR…There’s the key to the promise.  I must make my choice to rejoice.  I must choose to claim the joy of the Lord–mine for the taking–“Don’t Worry; Be Happy!    Yeah!

Recently an anonymous writer posted this on face book, “When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what is happening.  That is where your power lies.”

The results from my choice to rejoice instead of lament?  “He makes my feet like the feet of the deer.  He enables me to go on to heights!”  Wow! That takes me way beyond my wildest imaginings to experiences only my wise and all-knowing Father can see. Talk about exciting!  And it’s my choice…mine!  Yours too.

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Don’t Worry; Be Happy! -1

“Yeah right!  Easy for you to say.  You don’t know the troubles I’m going through–my grief; my loneliness; my sciatica!”  Do you remember the old ditty,  “Don’t Worry; Be Happy?” Did you know the ditty was written by a devout Christian (and an accomplished classical musician) who found the answer to life’s problems in God’s Word?

“Don’t worry; be happy!” Sounds almost moronic to be happy when your life has turned sour.Worry seems embedded in our genes. Fretting over one’s aging automobile or over the growing stack of bills on your dining room table or over your rebellious teenager is normal, isn’t it? That’s life, right?  It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.

When I was a pre-schooler my dad scrambled to start his own business.  Tough times for the entire family.  Many evenings we dined on white bread and milk.  When I think of this meal today I have fond memories. Personally, a pair of socks without holes in the toes or heels was a luxury for me.  No one knew a safety pin often held up my worn out underwear.

Having seen a TV show called, “The Millionaire,” where an agent of a wealthy man handed out checks for a million dollars to people each week, I prayed the dapper-looking agent would come to my door and hand me a check for a million dollars.  And all of my daddy’s problems would be solved.  Never happened.  Some may say my prayer went unanswered. Not true.  As I grew older I realized God supplied my true need, not through a $1,000,000 check, but He corrected my cause for worry. My father’s business grew thus dissolving my reason for fretting.

“Ask and it shall be given you…”  Whenever I pray, God has a 1000 ways to answer my prayers while my feeble imagination can only come up with one.  There are 365 verses in the Bible which say, “Be not afraid.”–a promise a day. Sounds like God has me covered.  How about you?  Habakkuk 3:17 is a great place to practice the adage, “Don’t worry, be happy.”  Good old Habby goes through a list of troubles and then in verse 18 writes, “yet I will rejoice in God my Savior.”  He chooses to rejoice in the Lord.

Each day I can choose to rejoice or choose to fret.  I can choose to give thanks or I can lament my lot in life.  I can choose to allow the Holy Spirit to fill me with JOY straight from the throne of our living God or I can wallow in self-pity.  Why would I want to do that? It’s in God’s joy that my strength lies.  Without that joy I am weak. (Nehemiah 8:0) It’s all in my choice.

 

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A Tale of Two Singers

Prince Rogers Nelson, age 57, and George Beverly Shea, age 104, passed on to their rewards during the same week.  Whether or not you believe these two men went straight to heaven or are sleeping ’till Jesus comes is between you, the Holy Spirit and the Word.  Though born five decades apart, they have much in common.  Both were raised in Christian homes to Christian parents.  Travel back with me to a Sunday morning, when five-year-old George would dress in his best church clothes and make his way to the local Baptist Sunday School while rive decades later on a Saturday morning the diminutive Prince would tie his freshly polished shoes to attend Sabbath School at the neighborhood Seventh-day Adventist church.  Both boys would have raised their voices in the old familiar children’s favorite, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Their Bible teachers never could have imagined how both would grow up to write music and would leave an immeasurable legacy that would affect millions of people for generations to come.

Prince’s music influenced at least 3 decades of fans.  It’s reported he had a cache of numbers in his basement as yet unrecorded and released.  Due to his untimely death his signature song,”Purple Rain” has already sky-rocketed to the top of the music charts once again.  Friends who knew him well say he was a very spiritual man. He was reported to have said, “Too be successful you need to love God first and yourself second.”  While I know very little about the artist beyond TV newscasters’ reports, he definitely impacted his generation of fans.

As I was a young child I remember George Beverly Shea’s rich baritone voice filling auditoriums, stadiums and my living room via TV alike with the majestic lyrics of “How Great Thou Art.” Only God can count the number of lives he touched as he sang the familiar altar call, “Just as I Am.”  Did he affect as  many as Prince?  I don’t know. However I do know Mr. Shea fed the hearts and lives of hungry individuals for more than 8 decades. As for me, the words to the hymn, “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” changed my life forever.  Everything I do, every choice I make runs through the song’s filter  of the desire for silver, gold or fame.  Becoming a Christian teacher and later a Christian writer are decisions determined by that song.  Thus today I  celebrate Mr. Shea’s long and brilliant career.

This blog isn’t to compare the value or Mr. Shea’s legacy against Prince’s.  Both men impacted their world in different ways and should be remembered by those who loved them  Philippians 1:6 KJV promises that “He who began a good work in (the young George or boy Prince) will perform it until the day of Christ Jesus.”   For these two musical icons, that day has come and the results must be entrusted in God’s hands.  Any opinion you or I might have about the two men means nothing when staring at eternity.

For decades, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, John Lennon, Whitney Huston, Michael Jackson and the list goes on, fans have mourned the loss of their music heroes. For me, few songs and even fewer musicians have given me answers on how to better live my life.  Psalm 49:4 MSG says, “I solve life’s riddle with the help fo the harp.” George Beverly Shea’s signature song was my harp, my guiding force.  How about you?

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Addicted!

I am addicted to “The Amazing Race.”  As a kid my dreams took me to “Far Away Places with Strange Sounding Names–”  India, Madagascar, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, and California–you name it and I dreamed of going there.  My motto is “Send ticket; will travel”.  And many folk have done just that over the years.  When I’m not traveling, I travel vicariously via TV cable shows like Anthony’s Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, House Hunters International and The Amazing Race.

A few weeks back the contestants on Amazing Race flew to Armenia. One of their challenges had them making tapestries.  As one who’s embroidery projects looked lovely on the outside and like a kitten raided my yarn box on the other I found the project fascinating as the contestants painstakingly wove one string of colorful  yarn after another into the the loom and then snipped it off to the proper length, forming a snippet of color in the over all pattern.  (By the time they finished their task their fingers were hurt and bleeding.)

I’ve been thinking about that project and about a text in Colossians 2 in the Message para.  “I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything  thee is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery.”  Woven into a tapestry of love, I can’t think of any better addiction than to eagerly allow God to weave my life’s one little snippet of colorful yarn into His glorious tapestry of love.

OK, so I’ve never visited Brazil, Madagascar or India.  But my addiction to jet to worlds unknown and His Eternal Kingdom is satiated, knowing if I allow my Heavenly Father to use me in the simplest way–like a snippet of colorful yarn in His tapestry of love–I can enjoy my addiction and never experience jet lag or have the need to wear Spanx! I hate Spanx!  :-)

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Best Fish Fry Ever

Growing up in Troy, New York had many perks: ice skating on Knickerbocker Junior High’s flooded soccer field; playing hide and seek in the street after dark while our parents sat on their front stoops waiting for the day’s temperatures to drop so we could go inside and attempt to sleep; attending Patty, my BFF’s  church on Palm Sunday (Our parents had an exchange agreement on visiting one another’s churches.)  and returning home with a palm branch which I would place above my bedroom mirror until it crumbled into ashes;  stomping out ‘houses’ in the tall grassy field behind our home to name a few.  But one all-time favorite memory happened every Friday evening when my dad would bring home a special supper–haddock fish fries for the family.  I’m not a fish affection-ado under most circumstances, but what I’d give for one of those fish fries today.  Perhaps time and distance has enhanced the flavor.

Did Peter languishing in that Roman prison or John isolated on the Isle of Patmos recall the crispy taste of fresh caught fish cooked over an open fire along the shore of Galilee?  Could these two men smell the tantalizing camp fire aromas wafting toward them as they climbed out of their boat early one morning and hauled in their miracle catch?

To think the risen Lord left His heavenly coronation celebration to fix breakfast for His eleven BFF’s fills me with awe. As He glanced about the circle of ravenous disciples chowing down on the morning catch, did a tear slip down His cheek for the missing disciple–Judas?   Did He sigh as He gazed into the future of each of His laughing celebrating guests?

The story is told of a woman who complained to her pastor that someone had brought tuna salad to the church potluck.  The pastor answered as gently as possible.  “Remember sister, Jesus ate fish even after His resurrection.”  The woman stiffened her spine and sniffed, “He was only living up to the light He knew!”

Jesus the Light of the World?  The Source of all wisdom and knowledge, the Creator of the Universe had limited “light”?   Perhaps the fish on the morning’s menu wasn’t the issue and love was.  Perhaps His diet of love is the same issue today.

Whether I regularly eat fish or not; whether I call myself a vegan, a vegetarian, a carnivore, a non-gluten-eater or a lover of raw foods, I know I would have savored the flavor of the King’s speciality–fried fish and a chunk of bread.  In John 21:12 MSG, a loving Jesus called His friends to eat. “Breakfast is ready.”  He still calls you and me to dine at His table of love.

 

 

 

 

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Reservoir of Tears

On Sabbath afternoon my husband puts on a Pandora stream of piano hymns to which we either read, go on face book, or take a nap.  Today the strangest thing happened.  I was lying on the sofa hoping to catch a few z’s when an old hymn came on–“Day by Day.” The lyrics rolled through my mind, “ere to take as from a father’s hand–” a hymn I always associate with my daddy. I began to spontaneously weep, not cry or wail, just weep.   It’s been 44 years since Jesus freed my father of this world’s troubles.  44years!  For a few moments the hurt I felt in my heart spilled over onto my sofa pillow.   I miss him so much.

In the  44 years that have followed, I’ve shed tears for lost babies, both parents, many family members and friends.  It never gets any easier.  And I know I will shed many more before my God fulfills the following promise for me.   “And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes…” Revelation 21:4.

I am so thankful for the hope the text in Revelation gives me.  However, just to let you know, dear Heavenly Father, I have a reservoir of tears, stored and waiting to be shed when I see my loved ones once again.  And I plan to save a bucket or two for when I see my Jesus for the first time.

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Forget Your Password?

Forget your password?  What do you think?  Of course I forgot a list of letters and numbers that make no sense whatsoever to me.  I hate passwords.  I hate being locked out from a place I wish to go. I know they are necessary in this world of crooks, hackers and such, but I don’t like them!  Computer experts warn not to use your date of birth, or your parents’ names, or your dogs, cats, or birthplace, etc. as a password.  “Iforgot” might be clever but not fool proof. Some use 1234567 or abcdefg.  My hubby has intricate ways of choosing passwords–none of which stick in my tech-less brain.

I have an ‘aura” when it comes to computers.  The machine senses trouble whenever I enter the room.  And passwords just intensify that electrical energy between us.  To clog up my life, my computer plays dirty tricks on me.  The machine’s favorite is asking me for my password.  Which password? Because I won’t remember, the machines gets a reprieve until my hubby takes over the keys and the world of computerdom is righted again.

I’ve always said I long for the day when locked doors, keys and passwords will not be needed to open the Pearly Gates of Heaven.  So imagine my surprise when I discovered God has a password too.  Psalm 100:4 Message paraphrase.  ” Enter with the password thank you.”  Make yourself at home, talking praise.”  Yes, even Heaven requires  the use of a password–“Thank you.” This is one password I can never forget if I practice it daily.

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Life Changing Events

Fifty-five years ago today my world changed forever.  On that day, Sputnik was launched; Alaska became the 49th. state; Seamstress Rosa Parks stayed seated on a bus; Legos were patented; a photographer filmed the first 2-kilaton bomb explode over the Nevada desert; Elvis first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show; Humans viewed the back side of the moon for the first time; Elizabeth Eckford crossed the line to enter the Little Rock Central High School; the Tappen Zee bridge opened; Paul McCartney and John Lennon met for the first time.  But the biggest event for me–Richard Rizzo asked Kay Hancock to attend a lyceum at AUC.  And the rest is history so they say.  1 Corinthians 13:12 Message “And now (50 years latter) these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”

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A Five Dollar Scam

It amounted to a little more than five dollars, the scam he ran on Richard and me.  The cabbie sized up the 70-ish couple from California’s Central Valley as easy marks–country bumpkins touring the big city of San Francisco and he acted accordingly.  Our map of the area indicated that we would need to walk four blocks down and one block over  to reach our chosen restaurant for our 8:30 reservations.  The thought of walking that distance in the dark unnerved me. (One fall and the resulting pain has set a new level of caution in my heart.)  The estimated fare of $5.00 was worth it.

We climbed into the cab and were off toward our destination with one very chatty driver entertaining us as we rode the prescribed route.  I quickly spotted the sign for our restaurant on the left hand side of the road and pointed it out to the driver who accelerated instead of stopping.  With a condescending voice, as if speaking to an ignorant female, he said,”Oh, no!  Your restaurant is closer to Fisherman’s Wharf.”

“But I saw…”  Three more blocks south he admitted he must have missed it and headed back up the hill away from the wharf.  I watched the cab’s meter climb with every inch we traveled.  “Sir, I know I saw the restaurant’s sign beside the roadway.”

“Are you sure you know where you’re going?”  Richard added.

Sensing the irritation in my husband’s voice, the cabbie replied, “Definitely!  I just missed my turn.”  (How do you miss a ‘turn’ on a straight street?)

Five dollars later on the meter, he pulled into the parking area of the desired destination and announced, “That will be $10.00 please.”  Sensing my hubby’s next action,. I hopped out of the cab and hurried toward the restaurant entrance.  (I hate conflict of any kind.)   For you see, I knew what the driver didn’t know.  My husband was born and raised in NYC and had no trouble calling out a shady cabbie.  I knew you can take the boy out of the city, but never the city out of the boy.  Richard not only refused to pay the excess fare, but he diminished his tip to a pittance and reported him to his cab company, all delivered in a quiet reasonable voice.  Worse yet, the time it took to clear up the problem with Richard must have cut into the driver’s profit for the night.  I hope he learned something out of it, like, maybe those ‘old folks’ from the valley weren’t quite as gullible as he’d imagined. To say the cabbie left in haste would be mild.

I almost felt sorry for the guy–almost.  It reminded me of a verse in Proverbs,  “Good understanding wins favor but the way of the unfaithful is hard.” Proverbs 13:15 NIV

 

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