Monthly Archives: October 2013

Of Faith and Old Wives’ Tales

There is a big potted plant in our house, a gift from our church family for Pastor Appreciation Month in October. Thankfully, they got us a plant that is hard to kill. I don’t have a great track record with indoor plants (or outdoor for that matter).

Karl was asking the kids why it was important to talk to the plant. They knew the answer – we give off carbon dioxide and the plant uses that for its vital processes. In return, it gives off oxygen, which we then use for our vital processes. It is all scientific. But there was a time when it wasn’t all about science.

There used to be an old wives’ tale that if you talked to your plants, they would be healthier plants. A lot of people laughed, but those who talked to their plants knew it was true. They didn’t know why, but they saw the results and kept up the good work. It wasn’t until many years later that scientists broke down into vital processes and symbiotic relationships what many people had before received – simply on faith.

It’s kind of like Thomas – often referred to as doubting Thomas. He wasn’t there when Jesus appeared in resurrected form to many of the disciples. So when they began to tell him all the news, Thomas doubted. He wanted proof. He wanted a scientist to say that this is why plants are healthier when you talk to them. It’s not the talking, it’s the exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen. He wanted it presented in a way that would remove all doubt.

Jesus came and showed Thomas the scars in His hands. Here was the proof. Thomas claimed Jesus as his Lord and his God. Then Jesus says something really interesting in the gospel of John 20:29.

Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

So I’ve learned from my beautiful new plant that I hope lasts a very long time, that faith is sometimes not knowing how something works, but seeing that it does work; and choosing to believe that it is the right thing to do, even if you can’t say why it works. Faith is like talking to a plant, before science showed us how it worked.

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Moving the Jar

A friend of mine cleans houses as a way to make a living. She has some interesting stories about some of the situations she has encountered as well as many great cleaning tips! Recently she was cleaning the home of a new client. Busily at work in the kitchen, she was surprised when all three of the owner’s dogs raced into the kitchen and stood at attention near her. What could this mean?

My friend soon realized what had taken place. In her efforts to clean the kitchen counter and wipe under various appliances, jars and canisters – she had moved the treat jar. Merely moving the jar that holds their precious treats, even just for cleaning, sent those dogs into action. Their ears so honed to the sound of that jar being touched or moved in any way meant something good was coming.

Today, I want God to have a treat jar on His counter. I want to learn by heart the sounds that are made when God gets ready to move His jar. I want to be ready when God is giving out treats of grace, patience, unexpected blessings, friendships, beauties of nature, a child’s smile, a family hug and so many more of the special treats that come from being His child.

Sometimes it seems the jar hasn’t moved in a while. Maybe the kitchen counter is cluttered and you need to let someone come in and clean it off and move the jar. Listen for it. That means something good is coming!

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What Could I Say After That?

Our assignment was to find another person and have prayer with each other. The setting was an outdoor church service on a brisk fall morning at a private summer camp facility. Everything was serene, perfect, peaceful and relaxed. No suits and ties. Worship in the green cathedral of God’s natural world.

Trying to make sure the children realized they were just as important as anyone else, I approached a preschool girl and asked if we could have prayer together. She agreed. I asked her who should go first and she said she would. She was so adorable in her prayer, forgetting my name for just a moment and having to put the prayer on pause to get it from me. Then she nailed me!

Dear God, please help Miss Sharon to hear the birds singing in the trees. Amen.

What do you say after that? I was all choked up and her pure sweetness brought tears to my eyes. She however, had no clue what she had done and after I didn’t respond right away, she reminded me, your turn. I barely managed to get out an “okay” so she would know I was still alive and functioning and I tried to get myself together and just thank God for this little girl and outdoor church.

We can get so caught up in all the things we have to do, especially as a pastor’s wife at an outdoor church service. But this little girl reminded me that more than anything else, I just needed to hear the birds singing in the trees that day. Funny, they sounded like a little preschool girl.

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My Best Set of Towels

My father was very logical and therefore practical. This combination didn’t preclude him from appreciating quality however. Logically, after all, if you bought a higher quality item at the outset and didn’t have to replace it several times over with cheaper imitation items, you were better off. He was usually right. The $60 dress he bought for me when I was a mere girl of 16 still hangs in my closet, because it was of high quality.

But when dad made up his mind to do something, practical and logical trumped any preconceived ideas. He displayed this many times, including the time he used my best set of towels. Mom and Dad were visiting us at our home in New Mexico. Dad determined that before they began their trip home to Oklahoma, he needed to wash the car. The next thing I knew, my father was using wash cloths from my best set of towels to wash the car.

When I expressed my disappointment over the matter, dad looked confused. He simply said something like he didn’t think it was my best set of towels. Dad was right. I was wrong. I wish he were still alive today so I could explain my silliness and thank him for delivering me from a life of constriction inside a self made box.

You see, I only had a few real “sets” of towels. Most of our towels in our early poor stages of marriage were old ones gathered from “the barn.” This was a family kept repository of things grandmothers had at one time owned. These rounded out my linen cabinets, but this one set, it was actually a real set, not hand me down old things. The problem was, that this set of towels had seen quite an amount of use and were looking older than many of the hand me down towels. Of course dad was right, it didn’t look like my best set of towels, because it wasn’t.

Don’t worry, we eventually got new towels and there are no longer any vestiges of the relics from the barn. But there are two hand towels from my best set of towels, that have now been set at a position of elevated rags. They remind me of how I got caught up on “a perfect set” of something and failed to realize it was worn and good for nothing more than washing a car. It was certainly not worth any damage I might have done to my relationship with my father.

Hopefully I’ve been freed from seeing “perfect sets” all the time and can be honest with myself and with others when something is old, worn and needs to be replaced. Hopefully I’ve learned to always see people as more important than things. Hopefully I’ve gotten at least a little bit of my father’s logical and practical wisdom. I’d take even the smallest amount and be grateful.

 

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Easy to Forget

I’ve written before about how grateful I am for finding someone or a group of someones who can understand what you are going through – community. It hasn’t changed. Recently I put a question to the ADEM group on “Ben’s Friends,” a website dedicated to connecting people with rare diseases, including ADEM, about helping friends understand.

The response from a man in his 50’s was just what I needed to hear. He’s been through what my little Greta is going through, but as an adult, he can express his needs a little more reasonably and in the typical “adult” manner than Greta can right now. His advice helped me a lot. His kind words to Greta were that she had nothing to be embarrassed about. All she had to do was ask people to slow down a little or go over something again, it’s not a crime to ask.

I thanked him and told him that even Karl and I can forget at times that Greta needs a little extra help here and there, because everything looks so normal on the outside. He wrote back that his wife has the same ordeal. She’s so grateful to have her husband back after he had been through and had to relearn to do that sometimes it’s easy to forget that he still struggles sometimes.

When everything looks “normal” on the outside. It’s easy to forget. It’s easy to forget that there are still things on the inside that trouble us and make us need to ask for a little bit of extra help. The problem is, we get tunnel vision. We see “normal” so much that we aren’t always prepared for the after effects of ADEM to rear their ugly head and we have to slow the train down and adjust. It catches us off guard. Because we are human and it is easy to forget.

Praying that when I’m jarred back to the reality of ADEM and the fact that life will never be “normal” again; that it doesn’t take me quite so long to adjust each time. Perhaps there are others in my community, my circle of friends that also need me to pay attention to when they need a little extra help. There are many out there that need us to be prepared for anything – not easy to forget.

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Always Running for Re-election

I’m not sure who the fools are that keep doing it, but out there somewhere are folks that keep on re-electing a terrible lawmaker. First of all, it is amazing that the guy even gets elected to congress in the first place. After what he does, they just keep re-electing him. What gives? And we haven’t even gotten to the worst part yet.

Have you seen his laws? Who do you know that hasn’t been impacted by his laws? How does he get these past the Presidential Veto? No one seems to be able to stop him, yet his laws make life so difficult.

My fellow citizens, I urge you to take this matter seriously. I urge you to speak of this lawmaker’s evils against humanity and convince your family, friends, neighbors and community to stop him from causing more problems. If we can get grass roots groups going all over this country, we can stop the madness!

We must put an end to Murphy’s Laws!

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Three Widows

I was in the kitchen at church, helping out where I could, but I felt out of place. The other three ladies in there were all widows. There was something they could share between them that no one else would understand. They could encourage and sympathize with each other better than anyone else ever could.

My heart ached for these women, yet I couldn’t deny the beauty of their shared grief turned to shared comfort and encouragement with one another. One woman had been a widow for more than a decade, the youngest of the ladies. The oldest had just become a widow and the woman in the middle had lost her husband a couple of years ago, but just recently lost her oldest child. So different, yet they found ways to strengthen and encourage each other.

The Bible has a lot to say about social justice – mostly about caring for the orphan and the widow. If you have widows and widowers in your church, your neighborhood or your community – reach out to them. Don’t forget about them. Especially reach out to younger widows. They have a heavy burden to bear. Their married friends begin to fear that this grieving widow will try to steal their husbands. She slowly gets left out of things she had once always been included in.

Seeing three widows minister to each other and encourage each other was a moment of reverence, but I was grateful that none of these women had been rejected and forgotten by her church family. May we never forget.

 

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