Monday, February 29, 2016

..."losers, weepers!"

This weekend John discovered that I seem to have lost an important serial number. It was for the new duplex scanner he got me for Christmas. He needed it to access some important software for a special bonus feature to complete an important project with the scanner. The number was printed on the flimsy paper sleeve that the scanner cd came in. I vaguely remember throwing something like that out recently in an organizing attempt.

We had a tense evening after that. After fruitlessly searching for what seemed like hours--me for the cd sleeve, and him for the serial number on their web-site, he finally emailed customer service and resigned himself to waiting until today when he hoped they would get back to him.

I was very relieved when I learned that they did get back to him this morning and gave him helpful advice--wow! customer service that really serves the customer!

This has high-lighted, yet again, how incompatible our personal filing methods are.

John's 'system' is sort of the "Frozen" (Disney movie) method -- "let it go, let it go." Combined with a natural mulch approach-- Papers drop off of him like leaves off a tree. They start to form layers and I suspect would eventually biodegrade like so much mulch, if I let them.

After 20 years of marriage I have given up on trying to keep him perfectly tidy and organized. I file things I notice that I know are important. But, I confess, I turn a blind eye to a lot of it. You have to pick your battles, right? Eventually though I reach my maximum mess tolerance limits. Then I tend to go on a ruthless organizing rampage. Sometimes this is good and I get us organized, at least for a few days. Other times, like this one, I let zeal overcome wisdom and I throw away something important.

Maybe a better system would be: once a week I could gather up all the vagrant papers from around the house. I could take care of ones that I know what to do with. The rest would go into a box. Then once a month, or once a fortnight, I could try to cajole John into helping me deal with the ones still in the box. It's worth a try.

Anyway, I'm thankful:
1. John forgave me for losing the serial number
2. the customer service people were helpful
3. we finally decided to "just do it" and sign up for the trip to Israel (see the last post)
4. I finished filling in my sample ballot. So I am ready, for better or worse, to vote tomorrow.
5. I didn't fall flat on my face when I stumbled on the stairs at the play Saturday.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rejoicing in Suffering

Battling frustration since last night.
     Don't know who to vote for in the Republican primary election next Tuesday. The election is becoming a nightmare! Praying a couple of the candidates will drop out before next Tuesday to narrow the choices down a bit. Of course the one I really wish would drop out won't because he is doing too well! (I'll let you figure it out.) Several other races here in Texas also need deciding on and I have even less information to go on about those candidates.
     Then my doctor has ordered a slew of blood tests--modern doctors don't need leaches, they just order blood work. I don't want to lose more blood, energy and time! I'm just getting my energy back (from reducing the potassium last week, maybe?) Have a lot I want and need to get done. Got on a roll yesterday with updating finances in preparation for tax time. Still lots more to do.
     Also need to get busy on our applications for the Israel trip, if we're going, that is. Reading the travel advisory on the U.S. State Dept website last night made me just want to stay home! At least they didn't mention any problems in Israel to be concerned about. But the info seems to be several months out of date. Not a real confidence booster!
     Isn't this is a modern, first-world problem, though?
     "Where, of all the wonderful places in the world, should we jet off to to celebrate our anniversary?"
     "Gotta check off our "bucket list," and see the world before we're too old!"
     A couple of hundred years ago people stayed put didn't they? Well, except for all those plucky pilgrims and pioneers who came and founded this country, that is. They risked their lives to start this "new world." I've been wondering lately, "what would they think if they could see us now?" Would they wish they had just stayed put in the old one?

Devotions this morning took me to Romans 5-- "And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God..." Ah, isn't that nice?...
I kept reading, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings..."  Wait a minute--what was that? We, "rejoice in our sufferings!"
Oh. Sigh.
How? why? "Because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope."

This reminds me of how my Dad used to say, "It's good for you! It builds character!" when I complained. I didn't appreciate it much. Now that I have a few more years experience, I can see the wisdom in it. But then, he also joked that burnt toast was good for me. He said, "it'll put hair on your chest!" I'm glad he was wrong about that!

Anyway, as I thought about my litany of complaints this morning. I noticed there are things in there I could be thankful for. At least I can try:

I'm thankful:
1. That I have a lot more energy this week!
2. That I made good progress on finances yesterday.
3. That John was willing to take the time (and is well enough) to help with some of the financial tasks I needed his help on last night.
4. That we still do have a free country where we can vote as our conscience leads.
5. That we got a special financial gift recently so that we can take special trips "before we are too old to do it" (I sometimes wonder if it's already, "too late") But I am thankful for the gift and the thought behind it!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

"Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee"-- I love this hymn* featured in my devotional reading today.

He is the "God of glory, Lord of love!"

Like the hymn writer, I too want my heart to open to the sun/Son above. He is the "Giver of immortal gladness." Only he can "melt the clouds of sin and sadness" and "drive the dark of doubt away."

During breakfast I noticed the birds outside sounded so cheerful that I opened the window to enjoy them better. I guess they are enjoying the warmer weather and the welcome rain we had last night. It seemed fitting when I came to this line in verse two:
"...chanting bird and flowing fountain, call us to rejoice in thee."**
I don't have a fountain, but the birds seemed to be outdoing themselves in calling me to rejoice with them.

I'm thankful:
1. For the cheerful birds
2. that i'm regaining energy since i stopped taking extra potassium supplements. (I thought I needed extra, but I think I over-did it.)
3. that John was well enough to go back to work this morning
4. for the rain last night
5. For God's forgiveness! Like the song says He is "giving and forgiving."

Here is a particularly good rendition on Youtube with on-screen lyrics:

*written by Henry van Dyke, music by Ludwig van Beethoven from Ninth Symphony
**sometimes "singing bird"

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Trying to feel better

Devotional today says, "Our beings are so constructed that we begin to feel like what we affirm."*

I definitely want to feel different at the moment. Thankfulness has not come easy lately. Too sick. Worrying symptoms. And now, when I am about to go to the doctor, some of them have subsided. I hope that means I don't have anything very badly wrong! It's confusing. Hope the doctor doesn't think I'm imagining it.

So how do I want to feel? Healthy of course! Happy naturally! I sort of want to feel thankful. But mainly because it might help me feel happy. Not sure that is a very good reason. Also because I want to write something here. Seems suspect too. How about, because God tells us to be thankful in everything. That should be a good enough reason. He can sort out which of my other motives are off.

I'm thankful:
1. I am feeling somewhat better.
2. That R read my blog and liked it!
3. That I have warm clothes to "rug up" in on a cold day.
4. For the nice things that R & J said about my writing this morning
5. That Mommie seemed to like the daffodils from our garden that we took her Sunday. Not really traditional Valentines Day flowers, I know, but they were so pretty I wanted to share them! And I felt too unwell to bother with doing anything else.

*White, Anne S., "Healing Devotions," page 36

Friday, February 12, 2016

God is our reward

Looking for things to be thankful for. This classic hymn I played on my flute this morning seemed a good place to start: "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." (by Martin Luther)

the notes at the bottom of the page say it was based on Psalm 46. So I looked at that.

Psalm 46:1-7
"God is our refuge and strength,
an ever present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah"
I'm thankful:
1. That God is my refuge and fortress
2. He is my strength
3. He is with me in trouble

verse 8 is a little surprising:
"Come and see the works of the Lord,
the desolation he has brought on the earth."

We don't like to think of God bringing desolation or trouble of any kind. It's an especially mind bending thought given the desolation that is happening in the world right now due to ISIS and similar groups in the Middle East and Africa. We pray it will end and especially that it will stay far away from us. The cause, to our materialistic Western thinking, is primarily flawed foreign policy decisions. Our answer, especially during an election year, is to, "vote the bums out." But, could this desolation that we abhor so much actually be brought about by God himself? This passage seems to say so. Why?

verse 9
"He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.

That's better! We want wars to cease!

verse 10
"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

Maybe this is the point of verses 8 and 9. He is God. We are not.

We like to say "God is in control." But we mainly think that means that he will fix whatever problem is troubling us. Does it?

Author, Larry Crabb doesn't think so. In his book "The Pressure's Off" he writes that he believes it means,
"nothing thwarts His plan for His people. What is the plan? To give us a Better Life now, as we define it? No. It's to reveal Himself as the greatest treasure the human heart could ever imagine." 
"The plain fact that we moderns have trouble grasping is that God is not cooperating with our agenda to make this world a safe and wonderful place to live." 
 God is moving, even through trials and tragedies, to reach His agenda: to "have a people who think He is the greatest, who value knowing Him and worshiping Him and serving Him above all other blessings." 
Sometimes it seems, for me anyway, that I need to go through trials before I really see that knowing and loving God is really the most important thing. Like God said to Abraham in Genesis 15, God himself is our "very great reward." Abraham had suffered losses and reversals (read chapters 12-14). He also had not yet seen the fulfillment of God's promises to him. But God's word to him was, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." He did eventually give Abraham more blessings and the answer to his prayers for a son, but what God seemed to really want was for Abraham to value knowing God above every other blessing. I believe that is what God wants for us too.

...I am thankful...
4. That we can know God.
How about you? Leave comments here or on facebook to help fill in #5. :-)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Kitchen organizing

I'm thankful,

1. John installed the new magnetic strip and hooks inside the cupboard door last evening.
2. The cutlery organizer arrived yesterday.
3. Muscle spasms and twitches on my left side are less today.
4. i finally scheduled an appointment with the rheumatologist
5. for the beautiful warm clear day today--i even have the door open and can hear occasional bird song.
6. that i got some old photos scanned this morning

 We also "downsized" our knife collection-- that is we stashed the rarely used ones in a back bedroom along with the old knife block. I expect we'll get rid of them if we don't miss them after a while.

I may replace these measuring cups with plastic ones. They sound like crashing cymbals whenever I open the cupboard.
 The new cutlery organizer. It has brackets that hold the the spoons, forks and knives in stacks so they take up less space.
My newly de-cluttered kitchen counter.
Now I need to work on the counter on other side of the stove!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Short prayers and crepe myrtles

I'm thankful:

1. We cleared out a lot of space in a cupboard last night. I had a collection of empty jars of various sizes. It was definitely getting out of hand-- two shelves full and I didn't use very many of them. 
          How did we wind up accumulating so much stuff? Even after getting rid of large piles, bags and boxes, we still seem to have clutter every where I look. But, I know, this is not supposed to be a gripe session! :-)

2. for the sermon on prayer yesterday. It was timely and helpful. I've been trying to pray more consistently for John and a few other people. I am keeping the list very short so I can keep it up. but even with a short list I was getting discouraged. My brain seems to freeze every time i start. I just could not think of much to pray most of the time.  Pastor said that most of the prayers in the Bible are short. We looked at several and it was true they were short. Some were also quite simple. He compared it to children in a family. The older children might say, "Mom, please pass the bread." The little ones might just say, "bread" while reaching for it. And the baby would just cry. But all would have their needs met. Though I'm not a little child, I sometimes feel like one. Besides Jesus said we are to come to Him like little children.

3. I ordered a nifty looking organizer for the cutlery drawer. I'll try to remember to post more about it when it comes (with photos).

4. i discovered today that there was a comment waiting to be moderated! The first time I looked i did not see it. Then i looked a few seconds later and there it was.

5. We got our crepe myrtle "trees" pruned this weekend. No we did not commit "crepe murder." At least we tried not to. We're trying to encourage them to grow out fuller like a tree. I say them because there are two. One on either side of the fence. For years we never trimmed them at all. They just grew straight up. They don't get much light there, so they looked like sparse very tall paint brushes. We trimmed them for the first time last year, but I thought they needed more off this year.  Next year I think they will just need a little clean up at the bottom and the insides. Here's a photo.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Clearing clutter addictive!

"supposed" to be working on homework for small group, but want to list a few thank yous instead (I guess you could say I'm procrastinating on the homework because it was making me think too hard!)

I'm thankful:
     1. that my sudden fever and unwell feeling last night passed and I feel better this morning. So I was not getting the full-on flu after all! (was afraid I was as I had the stomach flu last Sunday.)
     2. that we were not able to reach S in time last night to tell her not to come over for dinner and meeting. She came and helped with dinner and I felt better after a little rest in my recliner. So we had a nice time at dinner and the meeting went well.
     3. since I don't seem to be getting the flu, I can stop worrying that I infected Mommie when I went to see her yesterday.
     4. that Mommie got a good chuckle (not quite a full laugh but close!) yesterday when I told her about something funny that happened a few days ago
     5. That I made more progress with clearing clutter off the kitchen counter yesterday. This time it was a couple of plants that John hated. I used to like them. But I got over it. I seem to be craving the uncluttered look. It's addictive. I cleared one area and I like it so well now I want to do more and more! Dinner prep is easier and it's easier on the eye not to see clutter everywhere I look.
     6. I also got a load of stuff ready to donate and John helped put it in the car so I can get rid of it this morning when I go out for small group.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

God is good and His love lasts forever

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Cry out, 'Save us, O God our Savior,'"
1 Chronicles 16:34-35
It struck me this morning when I read this passage that even though the people of God were facing trials and needed God to save them, they were still commanded to give thanks--even before he saved them! God is good even when we face trials. His love is still real and will never diminish no matter what.

Something to think about.

God help me to keep hanging on to that, and really believe it. Sometimes life seems too dreary to find anything to be thankful for. But even if circumstances seem impossible, we can still be thankful that God is good and his love endures forever.

I'm thankful:
1. That I am nearly recovered from the stomach flu--I even made the bed and had a shower this afternoon.
2. That I found a possibly useful article about how to manage my auto-immune atrophic gastritis--take HCL/Pepsin supplements, among other things.
3. That I did not die from taking the high potency one of those last night even tho it seemed like I was starting to have a reaction to it. I think I'll try the lower dose one instead. Maybe "Digestaway" (sp?) would help too.
4. That my Mom's doctor's office finally found and posted the payment I made in November!
5. And that John figured out the problem with our fax machine!
6. That God is good and His love endures forever! :-)

Monday, February 1, 2016

"This is My Father's World"

This morning after breakfast I saw a red-bellied woodpecker on our "fruitless peach" just outside our kitchen window. I've never seen one before. It was so eye catching with it's red cap and black and white wings. I ran to my bedroom to get the camera. When I got back with the camera it was on the opposite side of the trunk where I could not see it. Then it flew to our big tree at the back of the yard so I raced back to my bedroom to see from that window. But the bird was too high up and again on the wrong side. Then it flew away. I keep hoping it will come back so I can get a photo. It's so exciting. I love seeing new birds. I usually drop whatever I'm doing to get the bird book and the camera. It reminds me of an essay E. B. White wrote called "Songbirds." He wrote that "Spring is a rush season on any farm. On this farm of ours spring becomes an almost impossible season because of the songbirds, which arrive just as everything else is getting under way and which have to be identified. They couldn't pick a more inconvenient time."* I don't have a farm, but I can relate to the feeling that any new bird has to be identified! (I found this photo on-line. )

It seemed like a fitting start to the day--seeing the bird. The delight of God's world was already on my mind when I got up. Last night, or early this morning, I dreamed I heard a choir singing "This is My Father's World." It was so clear. Really beautiful. When the song ended I just basked in the beauty of the words, trying to soak up every syllable and remember it for later.  

Later I looked it up on-line. The words of verse three seem especially appropriate given world and national events, "O let me ne’er forget, that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet." Verse four was a funny coincidence. The author wrote of seeing God's face in a dream. I did not see God in my dream. I just heard this song. But with the author, by faith, I too can say “The Lord is in this place!”

The words below are from (they and Wikipedia tell more about the song and author too.) When sung the song is usually condensed to three to six verses (wikipedia)

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

To hear the hymn go to: 
The author, Malt­bie Davenport Bab­cock, was a pastor in Lockport, NY.  Babcock. He liked to hike in an ar­ea called “the es­carp­ment,” near Lock­port. Before going out he often told his wife that he was, "going out to see the Father's world."  ( (wikipedia)

*(White, E. B., "Songbirds." in One Man's Meat, ed. E. B. White, pg. 227, Tilbury House, Publishers, Gardiner, Maine)