If It Be Your Will

>> Saturday, December 31, 2011

Many years ago, a group of people from the church I had recently begun attending gathered around a hospital bed … one of their own was very ill. They had asked me to come join them in prayer. Fervent petitions for healing ascended.  

Then I opened my mouth. It was my turn. I thought I knew how to pray. But as I finished with my words, there was dead silence. Immediately everyone filed out of the room. When we were out of earshot of the sick one, they let me have it.  

What kind of Christian are you? Where is your faith? You just undid all of our prayers in there. Why would you say “If it be Your will?” You know it is His will. Now she won’t be healed.  

I didn’t attend that church very long.  

I know what it is like to be desperate for an answer to prayer … to want to tell God exactly how He should respond. And I do believe He can heal. I’ve seen it happen in my own family. But the way I see it, it takes a lot more faith to say, “If it be Your will.”  

Now we are facing a new year. I would like for all of my days to be filled with sunshine, calm, have excellent health, all the bills paid, lots to eat, and everyone like me. Yet I know that is not realistic. Some days are cloudy and rainy … both outside and in my life. For someone my age, I’m in fairly good health … but I have some issues. Right now my bills are paid … but life holds no guarantees. And I already know some people don’t like me … they told me so.  

As I look at 2012, the longing of my heart is that each day I will be able to say, “If it be Your will.”  

And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, "Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we're off to such and such a city for the year. We're going to start a business and make a lot of money." You don't know the first thing about tomorrow. You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, "If the Master wills it and we're still alive, we'll do this or that." James 4:13-15 (MSG)


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Medical Problem ... and Others

>> Friday, December 30, 2011

An old woman came into her doctor's office and confessed to an embarrassing problem. "I do that all the time, Doctor Johnson, but they're soundless, and they have no odor. In fact, since I've been here, I did it no less than twenty times. What can I do?"  

"Here's a prescription, Mrs. Harris. Take these pills three times a day for seven days and come back and see me in a week."  

Next week an upset Mrs. Harris marched into Dr. Johnson's office. "Doctor, I don't know what was in those pills, but the problem is worse! I'm doing it just as much, but now it smells terrible! What do you have to say for yourself?"  

"Calm down, Mrs. Harris," said the doctor soothingly. "Now that we've fixed your sinuses, we'll work on your hearing!!!"  


Emptying the Doctor's Waiting Room 

A patient goes to the doctor's office where, much to his surprise the doctor asks him, "Would you please help me with a problem I'm having?"  

“Sure, doctor, what can I do for you?” asks the patient.  

"Would you scream in the most earsplitting, piercing screams you can manage? Try to make it sound as if you're in terrible pain”, the doctor says.  

"But why, doctor. You've always been gentle with me and your treatments have never caused me any pain?"  

"Yes," Says the doctor in a matter-of-fact tone, "but I have a 4 o'clock tee time at the golf course I don't want to miss, and my waiting room is still full of patients."  


Run 

I was teaching a very basic class in BASIC programming to a group of adults. Adults who have never been around computers before are very nervous and much harder to teach than children. But I am a patient person, so I enjoy their successes.  

However, I must share the following:  

After putting a short program on the board, I told the students to type "R," "U," "N" and press return to see the program execute. A hand went up in the back of the room, waving to get my attention, and the person attached to the hand said, "I did what you said and it didn't work."  

Knowing full-well that all of us make mistakes when typing at the computer, I suggested she retype "R," "U," "N" and press return. A few seconds later, the lady's hand goes up again. "It still doesn't work," she said.  

So... I went back to see what the problem was ... only to find that instead of typing RUN, she had typed in the following: ARE YOU IN !  

(Authors Unknown)


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Here I Am ... Again

>> Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I am an over-eater. Weight has always been an issue for me. In the 1970’s I lost almost 100 pounds. But if you made a graph of my weight loss … and weight gain … it would look like a road map of hills.  

And here I am … again.  

I’ve made it through the holidays (so far) with a loss of five pounds. But before I pat myself on the back, I’ve been at this weight before … many times. Even if I lose ten more pounds, that’s still just one of those valleys I’ve gone through before the chart goes up again.  

And so … one more time … I determine to get to a deeper valley … one I haven’t been to since the 1990’s.  

Sometimes living a Christian life is just like that.  

A few weeks ago, Chuck Swindoll asked, “Are you spending more time reading the newspaper than you are reading the Bible?” I had to say “yes.” I really enjoy reading the USA Today, so I subscribed … and it came in the mail. Convicted by my “yes” answer, I canceled my subscription.  

I’ve purchased a CD study series on Proverbs from Insight for Living. Proverbs is full of wisdom and practicality. But it will be up to me to make the time in my schedule to sit down and actually listen and study.  

I’ve been here before.  

It seems so simple to just eat less. And some of you reading these words loudly agree. You’ve never struggled with your weight. But I know there are some of you who understand exactly what I’m saying. It’s so much more than just opening your mouth and putting food in.  

It’s the same with growing as a Christian. It isn’t a complicated plan to make time in your day for time in the Bible. But when it comes right down to it, it’s such a struggle to find that quiet time … that place alone … where you can focus and listen and learn.  

I can’t say I hunger (physically) for food. But I do hunger for the Word. I want to ingest it and have it become a part of me. I desire to reach a deeper valley with God. Just as eating requires an opening of my mouth … reading the Word and understanding it requires an opening of my heart and mind.  

And here I am … again.  

“Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever.” John 6:35 (MSG)


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The Cold Within

>> Monday, December 26, 2011

Six humans trapped in happenstance
In dark and bitter cold,
Each one possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story’s told.  

Their dying fire in need of logs
The first woman held hers back,
For of the faces around the fire,
She noticed one was black.  


The next man looking across the way
Saw not one of his church,
And couldn’t bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.  

The third one sat in tattered clothes
He gave his coat a hitch,
Why should his log be put to use,
To warm the idle rich? 

The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned,
From the lazy, shiftless poor.  


The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.  

The last man of this forlorn group
Did naught except for gain,
Giving only to those who gave,
Was how he played the game.  

The logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin,
They didn’t die from the cold without,
They died from the cold within.  

Dear Abby – TCH – 12-18-11


"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.” Matthew 7:1-2 (MSG)

  

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I Have Jesus

>> Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas … when we celebrate the birth of that little Baby. But sometimes the true meaning of Christmas gets lost in the shuffle of shopping, decorating, parties and family gatherings.  

A few years ago something happened in my life that made the birth of that Baby take on a whole new meaning.  

We had a small group of people who met in our home every week. Loren, Linda and their teenage daughter, Danielle, were a part of our little church family.  

Linda and Danielle were murdered in their home. Our small group took charge of feeding the family that gathered. Each day, My husband, John, and I delivered their evening meal.  

The tragedy occurred on a Monday. On Thursday, we sat with Loren on a back deck of the house where he was staying. As we shared and listened, he began to talk of peace … his peace. And then he said the words that so impacted my life.  

“I have Jesus.”  

That says it all. That’s why that little Baby was born.  

May you be able to say, “I have Jesus” and feel His peace this Christmas.


“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 (NIV)





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Christmas at Rock Away Rest

>> Friday, December 23, 2011

Twas the night before Christmas at Rock Away Rest,

And all of us seniors were looking our best.
Our glasses, how sparkly, our wrinkles, how merry,
Our punch bowl held prune juice plus three drops of sherry.  

A bed sock was taped to each walker, in hope
That Santa would bring us soft candy and soap.
We surely were lucky to be there with friends,
Secure in this residence and in our Depends.  

Our grandkids had sent us some Christmasy crafts,
Like angels in snowsui8ts and penguins on rafts.
The dental assistant had borrowed our teeth,
And from them she’d crafted a holiday wreath.  

The bed pans, so shiny, all stood in a row,
Reflecting our candle’s magnificent glow.
Our supper so festive – the joy wouldn’t stop –
Was creamy warm oatmeal with sprinkles on top.  

Our salad was Jell-O, so jiggly and great,
Then puree of fruitcake was spooned on each plate.
The social director then had us play games,
Lie “Where Are You Living?” and “What Are Your Names?” 

Old Grandfather Looper was feeling his oats,
Proclaiming that reindeer were nothing but goats.
Our resident wand’rer was tied to her chair,
In hopes that at bedtime she still would be there.  

Security lights on the fallen snow,
Made outdoors seem noon to the old folks below.
Then out on the porch there arose quite a clatter,
(But we are so deaf that it just didn’t matter.) 

A strange little fellow flew in through the door,
Then tripped on the sill and fell flat on the floor.
Twas just our director, all togged out in red.
He jiggled and chuckled and patted each head.  

We knew from the way that he strutted and jived,
Our social security checks had finally arrived.
We sang – how we sang – in our monotone croak,
Till the clock tinkled out its soft eight p.m. stroke. 

And soon we were snuggling deep in our beds,
While nurses distributed nocturnal meds.
And so ends our Christmas at Rock Away Rest.
Before long you’ll be with us … We wish you the best!  

(Author Unknown)

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That's the Way He Works

>> Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The words to the song we were singing made me think of all my blessings. The list played in my head as the congregation moved to another song. That’s when I thought of it … the $100 bill tucked in my purse … my Christmas bonus. My needs were abundantly taken care of and I had money to spend.  

Memories moved through my mind … of the years when my needs weren’t met … when I didn’t have enough food. There may be someone here today whose life is like that. We began singing a Christmas song, but I replayed that last thought. What could I do for someone here today?  

“There is that $100 bill tucked away in your purse.”  

That’s when my conversation with God began. Yes, there may be someone here who needs help financially. But there are hundreds of people here. How could I possibly find the one who needs it?  

I glanced at the single lady I knew struggled with finances. But I also knew she had people helping her. I wondered if there was a young couple who wanted to have a few things for their children for Christmas.  

If there is someone here who needs my $100, then you are going to have to show me.  

The sermon was wonderful, with many thought-proving illustrations and scriptures. Yet my mind kept returning to my $100 bill. At the end of the service, the elders and their spouses go to the front of the sanctuary to be available if anyone needs prayer. My husband took my hand and we walked forward.  

I saw two women inching their way through the people on their row. They headed toward the front … started to walk past us … and then turned and moved to stand in front of us. The older lady said, “She doesn’t speak English so I’m here to tell you what she needs prayer for.” (Pause … I have a problem with people who live in our country and don’t learn our language. It irritates me. Nice, huh?) “She is trying to get to Oregon to her children for Christmas.”  

I looked at the younger lady. Such sad eyes. My heart did a little lurch.  

So we placed our hands on their shoulders and my husband prayed that God would help her find a way to get to her children. (Another pause … I knew the older lady lived at the Mission. If I gave my $100 bill to them, it could get stolen and never used for what I intended. That’s just me being nice again.)  

Church was over and suddenly there was a friend asking me for someone’s address.  

As I reached for my purse I explained, “I’m on a mission. Can you wait a minute?”  

I walked across the aisle … took the younger lady’s hand … placed my $100 bill there and curled her fingers around it. She nodded her head. Did she even understand what I had given her? Getting the attention of the older lady, I explained to her what I had done. Her exuberant reaction nearly knocked me off my feet.  

As I returned to where my husband and friend stood waiting … tears in my eyes … my mind was still wondering about my $100 bill. Would it help her get home to her children?  

“It’s not your $100 bill. It was always Mine. You’ve done your part. Leave the rest to Me.”  

So I picture the lady … sitting on a bus … headed to Oregon. I envision hugs and laughter when she gets to her destination. Her eyes are no longer sad.  

That’s the way He works.  


"I'm in charge of mercy. I'm in charge of compassion. Compassion doesn't originate in our bleeding hearts or moral sweat, but in God's mercy.

God has the first word, initiating the action in which we play our part for good or ill.” Romans 9:15, 18 (MSG)


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Just Stay

>> Monday, December 19, 2011

A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside.  

“Your son is here,” she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened.  

Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.  

The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile.  

He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital … the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.  

Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night. Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.  

Finally she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her.  

“Who was that man?” he asked.  

The nurse was startled. “He was your father,” she answered.  

“No, he wasn’t,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”  

“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”  

“I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son and his son just wasn’t here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed. I came here tonight to find a Mr. William Grey. His son was killed in Iraq today and I was sent to inform him. What was this gentleman’s name?”  

The nurse, with tears in her eyes, answered, “Mr. William Grey.”  

(Author Unknown)

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Operating Exactly as He Said

>> Saturday, December 17, 2011

I sat in my room writing … fingers flying over the keys. But gradually they moved slower and slower … because they were getting cold. We had just moved into our cold weather season and the heat had only been on a few days. Maybe there’s something wrong with the furnace. But there sure shouldn’t be. We’ve only lived here 18 months. It should last longer than that before breaking. My thoughts continued as the words flowed to the screen.


Later … when my brain was empty and fingers felt frozen … I checked the programmable thermostat. Even though it was in the 30’s outside, the furnace was set for only 55. What’s up with that? Then I remembered that at the end of the cold season last year, when the temperature was no longer as cold … and because our house is so very insulated … I had lowered the temperature setting.

The furnace was operating exactly as I had told it to.

Sometimes life is like that. We are so busy … flying around town running errands … going to work … homework with the kids … even church business … that we don’t realize we are getting cold in our spirit. Gradually we begin to notice our responses to others … responses that seem short and not so sweet.

Life continues, but there is something missing … something that used to feel warm and loving. That’s when we need to check our connection with God. There is one thing for sure. He will always operate exactly as He says He will. If we have lost our warmth, it will never be His fault.

What is your God connection thermostat set for? Sometimes? Maybe tomorrow? After the holidays? Or today … and every day?

Check it out.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)


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Life Thoughts by Ducky

>> Friday, December 16, 2011

I saw a woman wearing a sweatshirt with “Guess” on it. So I said, “Implants?” She hit me.  

Now that food has replaced sex in my life, I can’t even get into my pants.  

When I was young, we used to go “skinny dipping.” Now I just “chunky dunk.”  

Wouldn’t it be nice if whenever we messed up our life we could simply press “Ctrl Alt Delete” and start all over?  

Wouldn’t you know it … brain cells come and brain cells go … but FAT cells live forever.  

Marriage changes passion. Suddenly you’re in bed with a relative.  

How come we choose from just two people to run for president and over fifty for Miss America?  

I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose fitting clothes. If I HAD any loose fitting clothes, I wouldn’t have signed up in the first place!  

Don’t argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.  

Why is it that our children can’t read a Bible in school, but they can in prison?  

Bumper sticker of the year: “If you can read this, thank a teacher – and since it’s in English, thank a soldier.”  

Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.  

(Author Unknown)


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Going Against the Flow

>> Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I’ve read that during the holidays, people gain at least six pounds. I’ve proven that true year after year. Yep, this year during Thanksgiving time … I gained. Then my birthday rolled around … and I ate cookies. Lots of them. I like cookies. Next on the agenda was a party at our house … with an abundance of food.  

I made a decision. I would not eat at the party. I didn’t quite make it. I ate three bites of bread with spinach and artichoke dip. Three days later was the potluck at my work … with lots of good stuff. I remembered my decision … and ate sparingly.  

I’m down three pounds.  

I know that doesn’t sound like much. But to me it is huge. It is extremely difficult to go against the flow. Peer pressure … cravings … wanting to join in.  

And I like to eat … especially all the wonderful desserts.  

Being a Christ-follower is like that. It requires a decision. It is much easier to just go with the flow. The peer pressure … cravings … and the need to join in all lead to a life of following the crowd. And just because we have decided to be different, that doesn’t make it easy. I still ate, even though I had told myself I wouldn’t. As Christ-followers, we still slip and fall.  

But it feels good to know that I’ve stuck to my decisions … both in my eating and in following Christ.  

“Nobody robs a bank with everyone watching,
Yet that's what these people are doing—
they're doing themselves in.
When you grab all you can get, that's what happens:
the more you get, the less you are.”
Proverbs 1:18-19 (MSG)



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God Lives Under the Bed

>> Monday, December 12, 2011

I envy Kevin. My brother, Kevin, thinks God lives under his bed. At least that’s what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom and I stopped to listen.  

“Are you there, God? Where are you? Oh, I see. You’re under the bed….”  

I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin’s unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.  

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he’s 6’ 2”); there are few ways in which he is an adult. He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a seven-year old … and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.  

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? He is up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni and cheese for dinner, and then to bed. The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.  

He does not seem dissatisfied.  

He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work. He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner. He stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day’s laundry chores. And Saturdays – oh, the bliss of Saturdays. That’s the day my dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside.  

“That one’s goin’ to Chi-car-go,” Kevin shouts as he claps his hands.  

His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights. And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips. He doesn’t know what it means to be discontent.  

His life is simple.  

He will never know the entanglements of wealth or power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met and he never worries that one day they may not be. His hands are diligent. Kevin is never as happy as when he is working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it. He does not leave a job until it is finished.  

When his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax. He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure. He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent and sincere.  

He trusts God. Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God – to really be friends with Him – in a way that is difficult for an “educated” person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.  

In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.  

God seems like his closest companion.

It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap. I am. My obligations, fear, pride and circumstances – they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God’s care.  

Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence – soaking up the goodness and love of God. And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts – I’ll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed God lived under his bed.  

Kevin won’t be surprised at all.  

(Author Unknown)  

“Don't dare talk pretentiously— not a word of boasting, ever! For God knows what's going on. He takes the measure of everything that happens. The weapons of the strong are smashed to pieces, while the weak are infused with fresh strength. The well-fed are out begging in the streets for crusts, while the hungry are getting second helpings. The barren woman has a houseful of children, while the mother of many is bereft.” 1st Samuel 2:2-5 (MSG) 

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