The Cycle of Life

>> Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Early yesterday morning I received a text … accompanied by a picture. Thirty minutes earlier our close friends had welcomed their first grandchild into the world. A smile came easily to my lips. So I put that picture as wallpaper on my iPhone. All day, each time I used my phone, there was the picture of that precious baby.

So I smiled.

I needed to smile. As a bookkeeper, I’m in the process of gathering all the information needed to take to the accountant for tax purposes. So my workday was full … and I was tired when I got home.

As I relaxed on the couch, my iPhone rang. Another picture appeared on the screen … of my brother … the younger of two brothers. We weren’t very far into the conversation when I realized the reason for the call. He just wanted me to be aware of our older brother’s condition … declining … and rapidly.
 
Ending the phone call, I sat on the couch. No more smile. Tears flowed. My older brother married and moved away when I was four, so I’ve not been really close to him. I have a few memories of visits with him through the years. But one memory is clearly etched in my mind and stands out boldly.

That brother drove from Colorado to Nebraska one Saturday to sit on my front porch and teach me how to think for myself. Having been raised under religious oppression, I had been taught what to think. I lived in a cage of fear. That day, for four hours, he snipped away at those bars until he finally broke through the barrier. He drove back to Colorado and I chose a different life path leading to the fulfilling life I have today.

And so I grieve.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;…” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2, 4 (ASV)

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Are You Listening to the Real Song

>> Friday, January 25, 2013


The strains of the song “Autumn Leaves” filled the air.  I reached for my iPhone, wondering what alarm was going off. You see, on iPhones, you can use songs for the alarm. I stared at the screen of the phone.

No alarms were sounding. 

My iPad was playing music from my iTunes selection. The song next in the shuffle was the real “Autumn Leaves.”

I had confused the two.

Don’t we do that in life? I think of the brochure I received in the mail this week, advertising a local church. As I read the words, it sounded like a real church. But I’ve talked with people who believed the advertising and attended. They didn’t go back when it was made clear you didn’t have to believe in Jesus to be a Christian.

It wasn’t a real church.

It is confusing when the words sound so great. We have churches that actually fall under the category of cults. I grew up in one. It takes so much more than a building and a pastor to be real.

Are you listening to the real song?



 “Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 (MSG)



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Priming the Pump

>> Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I’ve never actually primed a pump. In books and magazines, I’ve seen their rustic beauty against the backdrop of windswept fields. To operate one, the handle needed to be pumped up and down to draw water up from underground. Some took only a few pumps … others wore you out before the water finally spilled forth from the depths.

A few days ago I ran out of my Aveeno lotion … a plastic bottle with a pump on top. As I primed the pump to draw lotion from the new container, my thoughts turned to human beings.

Many times we have to prime the pump to ascertain who they really are. Sometimes the information flows quickly and freely. For others, they may not even be aware of what drives them. Therefore, it takes a lot of priming to get to the real stuff.

As a parent, I learned one way to prime the pump was to get the child in the car and take a drive. Something about not having to look in my face gave them freedom to share … dreams, fears, and wrongdoings … as we drove the streets.
 
There is so much value inside a human being we have to be willing to put forth the effort needed … sometimes taking years … to get in touch with the real person.

To prime the pump effectively requires a lot of time and listening.


 Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.” James 1:19 (MSG) 


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Eating Oatmeal Always Makes Me Thirsty

>> Thursday, January 17, 2013


Last night I enjoyed a bowl of oatmeal for dinner. Since I try to limit my intake of liquid in the evening … to insure a good night’s sleep without having to get up … eating oatmeal in the evening was not a good plan.

Eating oatmeal always makes me thirsty. And so I drank … and drank.

A few weeks ago I met a friend for lunch at a Mexican restaurant. She recently acquired braces … and had been instructed to drink no carbonated liquids. She used to have a Pepsi a day, so she is suffering from withdrawal. As we visited before the waitress came to take our order, she related her struggle to me.

Eating Mexican food always makes me want a Pepsi. But I did not indulge.

Yesterday a close friend … who is trying to lose weight … shared with me about going to a birthday dinner at a Chinese restaurant. When the meal was over and the fortune cookies were given out, she reached for one and broke it in two, ready to pop half in her mouth. That’s when she remembered she had sworn off sweets … and so placed the cookie on her plate. Her comment was, “It’s amazing how much we eat by rote.”

Eating Chinese food is always accompanied with a fortune cookie. Now she just reads the fortune.
 
How many other areas of our lives are made to conform to cravings or habit? As I’ve pondered that question through this day, I’m very aware of many of mine.

What are you doing by rote?

“So please don’t, out of old habit, slip back into being or doing what everyone else tells you.” 1 Corinthians 7:24 (MSG)


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