Enjoy these thoughts, memories and reflections.
Quiet my soul
The words in Isaiah 30:15 caught my attention a few days ago. It says, "in quietness and confidence is your strength." I don't know about you, but I feel very weak at times, especially when I'm busy. Maybe that's the price I pay for being an introvert. I've been praying for different situations in the world, and I quickly become overwhelmed. These words challenged me, and maybe the poem that came to me will help you if you feel similarly challenged.
My world is in chaos and noise
with sounds of war, cries of anguish,
hungry children, grieving widows,
broken men and women.
Quiet my soul, O God.
Rose Glen Literary Festival
Do you like to read? Have you ever wanted to meet the authors of the books you love? Do you want to discover more books of the type you most enjoy? Well, your opportunity is coming up next Saturday, February 24 at the Rose Glen Literary Festival in Sevierville, TN. You can enjoy
50+ BOOK VENDORS & REGIONAL AUTHORS
FEATURED AUTHOR PRESENTATIONS
Lent begins next Wednesday
February 14 is Valentine's Day. It seems strange that the season of Lent should start on the same day, but that's how it works this year. In case you didn't know, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for 40 days or six weeks. Sundays don't count as part of the Lenten season because Sunday celebrates the Resurrection! Traditionally, Christians fast from something during this time. I first fasted from chocolate. That was difficult, but it kept me focused on the season I was in. One year, God seemed to want me to play once a week. I failed miserably at that. A few years ago, I wrote a prayer of confession based on Scripture each day. Those prayers can be found in Prayers of Confession for Lent. Each Sunday has a prayer of praise or thanksgiving.
Here's looking at you
Yesterday, I had cataract surgery. Of course, I don't do anything the easy way. In 1995, I had RK done. That's where the doctor literally uses a very small knife to correct one's vision by cutting the outside of your eyeball. It didn't hurt, and I could instantly see. I've been contact-lense free ever since and never had another dream about running in a thick fog. Nowadays, the procedure is done with lasers and doesn't seem to cause the same problems. My doctor warned me there could be complications, but that if they arose, he would deal with it. When I went in for my checkup today, all I could see with my left eye was the big E. That was not the result the doctor had hoped for.
Computer got you down?
I've been using some sort of computer since the 1990s. I started with a Sharp that had a 48k bubble for memory. No one would ever need more than that, right? I actually produced my PhD dissertation on that, using back slash commands. Oh yes, and it had an 8 line screen! Thankfully, I've moved up as the opportunities present themselves and am now working with a Macbook Air. I love it. What I'm not loving today is the Internet.
A young man spent some time in Khartoum in the late 1990s, and he tried to explain the Internet and how sites worked. He might as well have been speaking Chinese. It makes great sense now, but not back then. He asked me, "What question do you want to ask on the Internet?" I couldn't think of a thing. Now, I can't do without it. But today, it has been trying my patience.
What do you know about Epiphany?
Today, I had lunch with some friends, and we stumbled onto the topic of Epiphany. Epiphany starts on January 6 as Three Kings day. However, the season of Epiphany in the church calendar goes from January 6 until Ash Wednesday, which in 2024 will be on February 14.
So what is the point of Epiphany? It fits in between Christmas and Lent, and is the time to focus on what made Jesus so special. The visit of the wise men, his baptism by John the Baptizer, changing the water into wine at Cana. Throughout this season, we study those times that bring light about why Jesus is the Son of God.
Why worry about bridges you may never cross?
January 2, I saw my eye doctor and complained that I couldn't see well. My cataracts were interfering. As an author, I look at a computer screen a lot, but when the words I've just written look more like Chinese characters than English words, there is a problem! He didn't think they were much worse than they have been for the last two years, but I told him that from behind the eyes, there was definitely a difference! It seems he has a lull in his schedule, and so can fit me in on January 17.
What's to come in 2024?
It has been wonderful spending time with my family over the Christmas holidays. Ben came in from New York and helped me change the batteries in the smoke detectors and the air filter. I had a list of jobs for him. Ben is my "adapted" son from Kenya. He came to stay with me at age 16, and is now 23. It's nice to have a tall person around to reach all those things that I no longer can.
In a few days, we start a new year, 2024. Sometimes I get very depressed thinking of what the future could hold. At other times, I'm excited by the prospects of what can be done. Maybe it is best if we don't know what's coming ahead of time.
The Shilluk King
I'm writing the second book in the Not How I Planned It series. This book is currently titled: Life in a Tumble Dryer. Here is part of a story about meeting the Shilluk (Cøllø) king.
We learned that the king never looks behind. So, it was with great interest that we watched how he would sit down. He backed up until he was standing on the leopard skin rug in front of his chair. Then someone made sure to position the chair where the king was about to sit. I don’t think the person placing the chair would have had his job for long if he had miscalculated the location of the chair and allowed the king to crash to the ground.
I must be listening to the wrong radio stations as I have yet to hear a Christmas carol or Christmas song! Christian radio stations seem to carry on with the same 10 songs they play all year. I've heard one repeated 3 times in the same day. Secular stations don't seem to have much imagination either and forget talk radio. So, on Tuesday at a women's meeting, I was delighted to be introduced to Howard Thurman's poem, The Work of Christmas begins, set to music. Here is the link on YouTube.
Reflection on Hebrews 4:12-16
Naked and Exposed
We are naked and exposed
Before a holy God
Who knows our inner thoughts, desires;
Nothing hidden, all things bare.
He will hold us to account.
How can we endure
Such a probing accuracy?
We have hidden, secreted, justified,
Pretended now to no avail. We’re undone –
Guilty on all counts.
Fixing the Toilet
A group of ladies met at my house, and as time went on, a few needed to use the powder room. One reported to me that the toilet wouldn’t flush. I went to look, and it was filling extremely slowly. If I’d used a teaspoon, I could have filled it faster. The last person to use it managed to flush it.
I hate working on plumbing of any sort, but especially toilets. I put it off for 10 days, but then realized another friend was coming to stay and would need it to function correctly. I went to Lowe’s and found the needed replacement part. There were numerous choices, but I finally just picked one.
In writing my memoir, I find my life has been full of good things. There have been a lot of hard things, like working in 100+°F in a house with all the coolers running. But the work itself brought satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy. I was giving people something they really wanted -- to read and write their own language and thus preserve their unique language and culture. Their enthusiasm and commitment humbles me.
Now, as I've retired from that work, I get to write. I love to write, to find just the right way to bring my thoughts to life, to paint a picture for my readers.
I've lost three friends since August and another close friend is battling Stage 4 cancer. As I grieve these losses, these words came to me.
When God says your work is done,
then it is time for Him to call you home.
We may not think it's time to come,
But when God says your work is done, it's done.
How we probably live Psalm 23
What we say and what we do often are not the same. The words of Psalm 23 bless many: The LORD is my shepherd. I have everything that I need. But as I've looked at my life and the lives of those around me, it looks very different. In reality, it probably goes more like this: The LORD is my backup plan in case I have an emergency. What are we cheating ourselves out of? God wants to be our Shepherd, our Coach! But we leave him on the sidelines until we've messed up so badly, we have to call God to help us out.
Sometimes I’m here,
But also trying to be there.
Therefore, I am nowhere.
To be here in this moment,
I must be fully present –
Taking in the sights and sounds
Listening with ears and heart and mind.
If I’m also trying to be there,
I miss the value and joy of here
And feel frustrated and anxious about there.
Don’t let me miss my best life
By trying to be both
Here and there.
Help me be in the present with all my being –
Enjoying the moment to the full
Before moving to the next.
Then I shall know I have truly lived.
When the blinds fall down
I moved into my house 13 years ago, and my first purchase was the window blinds required by the Homeowners Association. They have been fine for these many years, until one morning a month or so ago. As I opened the horizontal Venetian blinds, one side dropped down, then the center dropped. I knew the other remaining side wouldn't stay up for long. Out came the ladder, and I carefully figured out how to take the whole blind down from the window to have a look. As I did that, pieces of plastic fell on the floor. There was nothing large enough to identify what it had been. I collected these in a plastic bag and headed to Lowe's where I had purchased them.
Finding what to say
For those who know me, Finding what to say may sound like a strange title. I almost always have something to say. But faced with what to say on a podcast or radio show left me speechless. What do I have to share that is unique? I know there must be something after all these years, but what is it? Also, the content needs to be evergreen (appropriate at any time). I attended a Podcast webinar on Thursday, and one of the speakers, Juliet Hahn, said something profound, at least for me. She said, meditate about your life. Go for a walk, take a shower, do whatever inspires you. Think what message I have that is unique and worth talking about.
Appreciate someone now
I have a close friend who has stage 4 cancer. There is a slim possibility that chemotherapy will extend her life for a year or two. But she isn't yet up to having chemotherapy. She needs to build up her strength and eat! So, we wait to see what the outcome will be. My friend has had a huge influence on my life for 40 years! I am the person I am today because of her. So, what can I do today to encourage her? She has many friends and colleagues, and one of them suggested we all remind her of how she made a difference in our lives. So, we are sending messages to her while she can read them and remember. Why wait until someone has died before we say all those nice things? They can't hear them then. Our words don't encourage them at that point. So, if you care about someone, tell them today. Don't wait. We never know when our time on earth will come to an end.
When does passion become obsession?
I recently read Learning Love by Mark Hicks. His fifth component of Love is Passion. He has some wise words like "Passion is not the icing on the cake. It is fuel in the car." (p144) or in other words, "Passion is the energy that propels love." (151) When we have the opportunity to work in an area about which we are passionate, work is not drudgery, it's a blessing. Sometimes I think, I would do this even if I didn't get paid!
For those with a calling to accomplish something, passion is necessary to keep going in the face of challenges and setbacks. But there is a danger lurking here when "passion" becomes an "obsession".