Scrabble and Sparrows

I don’t need to post about the Coronavirus. I have no information for you that you don’t already have. Interestingly, on the same day that it was revealed that Tom Hanks had the virus, WHO also declared it a pandemic. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t think that Tom Hanks is amazing, so that brings us together against a common viral enemy.

But what’s really been on my mind is the sparrows. As you know by now, I am a bird enthusiast. I have my favorites like I do actors. Tom Hanks would be a favorite actor. He’s like a mocking bird – he stars in lots of movies and I love watching him act. You’ll never hear me say, “Oh, that’s just another Tom Hanks movie. There are dozens of them. Isn’t there anybody special out there? Someone rare who I can watch?”

But I do find myself talking about certain birds like they are nothing. When I think I’ve spotted something unusual and then discover that I have not, I may say something like, “Oh, that’s just a sparrow.”

Just a sparrow! No, no, no.

If I want to think biblically, then I need to remember how God thinks about sparrows. They may blend in and look pretty plain, but they have amazing voices and are so cute. There are more types of sparrows than I can name. It’s kind of like trying to name all the Tom Hanks movies.

Hear the words of Jesus from Matthew 10:29-31:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

With regard to being afraid during the COVID-19 pandemic, I must admit to being tempted. Part of it is because it’s the topic of the day – 24 hours a day. It’s too much so I need to practice social media distancing.

I have prepared my household. I have all the necessities (and more, if I’m being completely honest). I can be at peace. There is only so much a person can do, so why fret over what I cannot control.

You and I are worth more than sparrows. God singles out the common sparrow to make his point. You may have difficulty finding the sparrow in this picture, but God knows if he falls to the ground. Amazing.

And also, I’m thankful for a sense of humor. If we don’t smile about how the lowly roll of toilet paper has become the most valuable commodity on the market, then we’re doomed.

Another example of how everything seems to point to the Coronavirus is a recent game of Scrabble that I played with my mom.

Doomed, toxic, legit, soap, warned.

To sum things up, do the following:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Do your best to have toilet paper for your household.
  3. Stay home if you’re not feeling well.
  4. Watch a Tom Hanks movie.
  5. Enjoy nature, especially sparrows.
  6. Take care of your sense of humor.
  7. Practice social distancing – both person-to-person and social media as needed.
  8. Remember that God loves you. You are worth far more than a sparrow.

 

 

 

Holy Zamboni!

I’m not a hockey fan, but after the unusual game played last week when the Carolina Hurricanes visited the Toronto Maple Leafs, well, I’m still not a hockey fan.

But I love a good story.

Thanks to my husband who keeps me apprised of all-things sports, knowing that there will be a small portion of those things that I am interested in hearing. He didn’t let me down with this story.

First of all, he had me at Zamboni, which is a fun word to say. I actually knew what a Zamboni is, because they use it in the Olympics to resurface the ice for the skaters. I guess it makes sense that they would use it to prepare for a hockey game as well. I hear hockey has a big following.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Evidently, every hockey team has two goalies. I’ve seen a little bit of hockey, so I was surprised that they only keep two, but seriously, what do I know? (Rhetorical question, but in case you’re wondering – not much.)

There is a provision in place in the event that both goaltenders become injured. It’s a weird one. The guy who drives the Zamboni becomes the goaltender. It doesn’t matter that he may be playing for the visiting team. That’s his job. (He also practices with his home team, which makes it a little less like they picked him up off the street.)

It reminds me of being back in school and learning to debate the other side of an opinion, only there is a chance you could lose teeth in the process. You have to give it your all and try to win the debate. That’s tough – hockey tough.

Well, the stars aligned and 42-year-old Dave Ayres became the emergency backup goalie for the visiting Hurricanes. He was met with great encouragement and admiration from both sides. Amazing. Carolina was leading 3-1 when Ayres entered the game. He ended up stopping 8 out of 10 shots, and Carolina won 6-3. He was the hero of the game for both sides.

Talk about stepping up to help in time of need! That’s what he did and now as a result of his 15 minutes of fame, he’s being featured in my blog! He also received $500 for his work and was allowed to keep his jersey. Pretty cool. He has an interesting story and you can read about it and more about the game here.

It all made me think about how we don’t really know what our day ahead is going to look like. Maybe we’ll have to step in for someone else doing something we’d never dreamed of doing. I’m fresh off of a conference at our church about the Holy Spirit. One of the sessions talked about such things – adventures with God. So I’m going to keep my eyes and ears open and drive my Zamboni (or Ford Escape) until called upon to step in. It almost happened as I left Costco today.

The lady two cars up pulled out of the parking lot, and her wallet went flying off of the roof of her car. Horns sounded loudly to alert the driver, but it was to no avail. The woman in front of me quickly emerged from her car, snatched up the wallet, and tore down the road to make the goal. I hope she wins. She’s a winner in my eyes.

Onward and Outward

We may not all be in the same place. We may not all believe the same thing. But every now and then we all need to be reminded to look up.

This was demonstrated to me as I watched the Super Bowl last Sunday. As the cameras panned the audience, some people were on their phones. I wonder if I would have been numbered among those folks if I had shelled out a few grand to see the game live. Watching at home we have the ability to rewind to what we miss, but in real time, we need to stay focused or we’ll miss a lot.

How has living in a rewindable world changed the way we live? (more…)

Growing Old Gracefully

When the class with the above title was announced at our church and the teacher is everybody’s favorite older woman, Shirley, I signed up. I’ve never been a particularly graceful person, so I thought, hey, maybe I can do this aging thing gracefully. You know, finish well, not trip over the finish line, stick the landing.

My youngest grandson after achieving new heights. Looks like he stuck the landing.

Not that I feel old, I typically don’t. That is probably aided by the fact that my mom, who is 91, lives with us, so I am the youngest person in the house. She has demonstrated aging gracefully and has also let me in on some of the challenges of aging. This class combined with my mom’s fine example would be beneficial.

Last Wednesday, for the first of the three sessions, Shirley covered, or I should say taught us about, our aging bodies. (The next two sessions will cover spirit and soul, as we are made up of three parts.) I am a woman in her sixties, so I am painfully (no pun intended, I just can’t help myself) aware that there is something of a decaying nature going on. That is verified in 2 Corinthians 4:16 – “though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”

Eyesight starts going south around age 40. Some of my joints let me know when the weather is changing. And worst of all Alexa (our Echo) has begun to get confused by my commands to her. I have wondered if I’m slurring my words, but I’m also working on the theory that our Alexa is getting old, too. Perhaps Amazon wants me to upgrade her and they built that into her system. But I digress. People were designed to age, but we are also charged with stewarding the body that God has given us. In other words, we aren’t supposed to aid the deterioration that’s going on in our bodies, we are supposed to care for and strengthen them.

I don’t know about you, but I need reminders to do the things which I am supposed to do. The Bible does repeat itself a lot. I think that is because we tend to forget or become distracted. God knows that’s how we operate, so I’m thankful for the repetition.

Three days before that first class, I started feeling a twinge of pain on the lower lid of my left eye. The twinge became a pang. The pang became a pain. By the Wednesday meeting I had a sty the size of Rhode Island. And it was an angry sty – the kind that could scare small children, but I went to the meeting anyway. There would be no small children to frighten at that meeting.

By Thursday I had officially named the sty Rhode Eyeland. I figured if my entire body represented the 48 contiguous states, then my left eye was probably that size. When I saw the ophthalmologist on Friday, he said it was the largest he had seen in quite some time and added that it was “a dandy.” I told him I figured I’d go big or go home. Of course, when you have a sty the size of Rhode Island, you tend to want to stay home.

Dena (my daughter) and I caught up with each other on the phone on Friday afternoon. I had already sent her a picture of my eye when it was at its worst because she’s into gross things like that. In case you know Dena, you will understand why I made her give me her most excellent promise not to share that picture with anyone. To the best of my knowledge, she’s been true to her word.

She is also an encourager. She told me she was proud of me for going to, what she calls, the aging class.

Two things come to mind here:

  1. It’s kind of weird but okay I guess that she tells me she’s proud of me. I thought that was my job to be proud of her and her brothers, and I am, but whatever…
  2. I didn’t really care for the name Aging Class, but again, whatever…

I told her that one of the great things about being older is that you can go out looking like I did and it’s okay (except for frightening small children). Also, if I were to go anywhere with Rhode Eyeland, the aging class was the place to go. We don’t tend to major on that kind of thing. We have much bigger fish to fry than an eye with a sty.

Image result for free picture of a pig sty

I had to include a picture of a sty for you. This one’s not nearly as messy as the one on my eye, which is doing much better with drops from the doctor. Photo Credit: freepik.com

Easter Weekend – Resurrection Day

Luke 24:1-3 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 24: 5-6a In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!”

 

Photo Credit: crosswalk.com

He is risen indeed! Happy Resurrection Day!

 

This is Post #21 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Easter Weekend – Saturday

Matthew 27:62-64 – The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

Waiting for Sunday.

 

This is Post #20 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Easter Weekend – Good Friday

Easter Weekend begins with the most somber of days, Good Friday. This is the day that Jesus gave his life for us on a cruel cross.

Luke 23:44-46 – It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica

But this was just Friday. Sunday was coming.

 

This is Post #19 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

The Perfect Ten

My daughter, her four kids, and their dog arrived late last night. I didn’t expect to get any blog ideas from them this soon, but that was silly of me.

I have become accustomed to a rather quiet start to my day, but I happily throw that out the window when grandchildren are around. Ten-year-old Jett was the earliest riser and we enjoyed a chat before I had even downed my first cup of coffee. Of course, I’m not sure how coherent I was, but Jett picked up the slack and kept the conversation moving.

We discussed everything from villains and heroes to the states of matter. Jett likes science and excels at math. Personally, I think he will become an engineer. I recognize that gifting and love to see his creative mind in action, but we’ll see. He likes to write, too, so the world is his oyster.

Soon the rest of the family gathered. One of his sisters said, “Oh, my gosh,” in response to something. The end of the statement kind of dropped off, so her mom (Dena) reminded her how much that sounds like, “Oh, my God.”

“You don’t want to take the name of the Lord in vain,” Dena said.

 

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…” – Exodus 20:7

 

The breakfast conversation turned to the Ten Commandments – not the movie, the actual Ten from Exodus.

Image result for free pictures of the ten commandments

We talked about what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain. It means say it in jest or take his name lightly. It was a great conversation.

And then Dena broke out in song. She and her brother sang The Perfect Ten as part of a program that our church children’s choir performed quite a few years ago. She breezed through nine out of ten commandments before she got stumped. We had to look up #10 and remind ourselves not to covet.

Here’s the video of the song for your enjoyment. It’s still as helpful as ever.

 

By the end of the conversation, I think Jett was catching on. He doesn’t want to take God’s name in vain or use it lightly. “Well,” he said, “I guess from now on, I’ll just say – Oh my Gollum.”

There you have it. You never really know if you’re getting through to kids, but it sure is interesting trying.

 

 

This is Post #17 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Brings You to your Knees?

There are moments when there’s nothing to do but be silent, watch, and pray. As Notre Dame was burning and firefighters were valiantly fighting the flames, the world watched in sadness.

 

Prayers and tears from Parisians and visitors alike from the banks of the Seine as flames pour from Notre Dame (Photo Credit: Yoan Valat/EPA)

 

I visited Paris in 2013 and we toured Notre Dame. She was more magnificent than I could have imagined. Yes, she – Notre Dame is referred to as Our Lady of Paris. She reminded me of an anchor for the city. She sat in silent beauty beckoning us to come. Her outer beauty was astonishing – her inner beauty even more so. The history of the church was everywhere inside of her. She begged us to worship God.

I’ve been in cathedrals all over Europe. Some felt more like a museum. Some felt empty. Some brought me to my knees.

During this Holy Week, I will be reflecting on what brings me to my knees. On what makes me stop and worship God or stop to pray. On what makes me thankful for all He has done. On the church and how it is not simply a building. And I’ll remember the people in Paris who call Notre Dame their church. I’ll remember that to them she is more than an amazing cathedral – she is their home church.

The word today is that Notre Dame will be rebuilt. Many artifacts and relics have been saved. Nobody was hurt. There is much to be thankful for. Jesus has been in the process of building his church since he went to the cross. I’ll reflect on that, too. Won’t you join me?

 

Notre Dame – photo taken in 2013

 

This is Post #16 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Words

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, it’s time to pack up.”

I was preparing to put away my many Christmas decorations, when I made the above statement out loud. It made me stop in my tracks. I wasn’t swearing, I was talking to my manger scene. I’d never talk inappropriately in front of Baby Jesus. I wasn’t thinking of the beauty of Christmas and the blessings of the season. I was missing Christmases gone by and looking at the work involved with packing it all up until next Christmas. I was contemplating which grandchild might want which thing when they start their own households and wondering when I would start to streamline my decorating. That’s the context from which I uttered that weird, easily misunderstood sentence.

It served to snap me out of it as I laughed out loud at myself and wondered if Bob or my mom had heard me. I’m guessing they did not because nobody came in to see if I was drinking heavily while dismantling Christmas decorations. (I wasn’t.)

The letdown after the holidays is real. We go from shiny and bright accompanied by cookies, candy, and company to ordinary life without the twinkling lights. Returning to the normal of pre-Thanksgiving is lackluster. Plus, it gets dark so early – even in Florida! But I was ready to get my house back to normal. I was even ready to vacuum all the mess from taking the tree down. I just wasn’t ready to be productive. I wasn’t ready for those January fresh starts.

That’s why I don’t do them. For me, every year is 13 months. It starts January 1 and ends January 31 of the following year. That allows me to be fairly guilt-free in January. I use January to put away Christmas, organize, vacuum, and nap. I also use it to think and pray about projects, especially writing projects, all this while consuming the leftover Christmas sweets. It’s very effective.

I should say mostly effective. The downside of eating the leftovers, is multifaceted. The thing I notice first is that I am down – my outlook, not my weight. I know the sugar has negative effects, and it pushes me lower. (Not to worry, though, it’s almost all gone.)

So, until I can once again think with a non-sugar-coated mind, how do I snap out of being so melancholy?

I do what I always told my kids and grandkids to do. I use my words. I talk to God. I talk to Bob. I talk to friends.

My big thing this year was that I felt like I had used up all my encouragement and every word swimming around my head about myself sounded like condemnation. I was tearing myself down. I asked God for encouragement to get me moving. I didn’t want to stay in that negative, self-absorbed place listening to lies of the enemy. I was tired, too, so that made it worse. But God is always faithful.

The next day I spent part of my morning quiet time with God just being thankful – specifically for the way that people in my life have encouraged me in the past. I named names (for instance, Vanessa). I remembered. Gratefulness is powerful. The fog started lifting, but I kept my fog lights on. I know how this works. Sometimes you drive in and out of fog before it’s really gone. But there was a breakthrough, which brought more thankfulness.

Letter of EncouragementIn the afternoon mail a letter came for my mom. She read it and gave it to me saying it really was more for me than for her. It was from a woman whom my mom had met through my dad. Dad was in WWII. He was a gunner in the Pacific theater. The men he flew with became his wartime family.

Years after the war, Dad started contacting all the men from his crew. He found out about their current lives and made a newsletter featuring each man and his family. He’d mail it out to the crew and keep their friendship alive. It was not unusual for me to find pictures of children and grandchildren from this group sitting on Dad’s desk. He and mom visited many of them throughout the country after retirement. To say this was special would be an understatement.

You may remember that my dad died in 2017. He was the last of his B-29 crew. I always thought it was fitting that he was last. God used him to keep them in touch with each other.

The letter was from a woman named Mabel. I remembered her husband’s name from Dad’s stories. Mabel was writing to tell my mom that she was reading my book, Always Look for the Magic, and couldn’t put it down. She said she could picture my dad as she read it and she was enjoying laughing along with his antics. She wanted to thank me for writing it. She requested that I send her a card with my autograph on it for her to paste inside the book so she could keep it. She also said she hoped I would write more books.

Well, I was flabbergasted. This sweet woman, who is probably around 90 years old, took the time to write such a beautiful encouragement as part of her correspondence to my mom. She certainly inspired me, not only to write but to take more time encouraging others.

Encouragement is food for the soul. When was the last time you received encouragement out of the blue? How about the last time you gave it? Writing it down and sending it to someone gives them something that lasts. I’m hoping that comes back in style. I think we should fill our January with uplifting words to people. Don’t you?

By the way, if you haven’t ordered my book yet and would like to, click on the picture of it on the right. Thanks!