Observing Hank Hamster


Hank has now been replaced by Honey Hamster, but he is certainly not forgotten. Because I have been thinking about the many life-lessons he taught me, I am repeating my first weblog about him today. There are about eight blogs about his short life. If you like this one, just type in “Hank” on the search bar and find more. He gave me so much joy!

Originally posted on The Shepherd's Presence:

After hamster sitting Jack Hamster for my grandson, I decided to get one of my own.  Meet Hank!

I suppose this will be the first of many posts about Hank. He is just a baby and he has absolutely no compunction about letting me know that I am not his mommy.  It will take me at least two weeks to convince him that I mean him no harm.  Catching him to clean his habitat without throwing him back into fear may be a challenge.

I did not want him to sleep in his exercise wheel, as Jack is determined to do, so I bought him a cute little hamster house made of vines of some sort.  At first he would have nothing to do with it.  Gently I directed him to this little haven of safety and now, he thinks it is a wonderful hiding place to doze away the…

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Others May, You Cannot

Others May, You Cannot

If God has called you to be really like Jesus He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility and put upon you such demands of obedience that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other people do things which He will not let you do.

Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful, may push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans but you cannot do it; and if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke, from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others may boast of themselves, of their work, or their success, of their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence on Him, that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs, day by day out of an unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity, because He wants you to produce some fragrant choice fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him, and get the credit of it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious, He will let others get credit for the work which you have done, and thus make your reward ten times greater when Jesus comes.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over. So make up your mind that God is an infinite, sovereign, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own. He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in His dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be His love slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love and bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those who are in the inner circle.

Settle it forever, then, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that He does not seem to use with others. Now when you are so possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of Heaven.
G. D. Watson, first published this in Living Words and later published as a tract by Good News Publishers. The tract is now out of print but I found information at this site: http://articles.ochristian.com/preacher168-1.shtml
and also stumbled on an audio rendering on You Tube. Just type in “Others May, You Cannot” on the search bar.

Watching out for Others

Saturday a crew of family members descended on my yard with rakes and leaf blowers to take care of leaves and gutters. My work ethic told me I just had to get out there and help, and I had already accomplished more than half of my front yard by myself. While I am able, I am also slow and take breaks. These young grandboys seem to have so much stamina!

While the boys manned rakes and a leaf blower, their dad climbed on top of my roof to clean out the gutters. He left the 4-year old with us on the ground. She flitted about the yard “helping” and stopping to play in leaf piles. For being so young, she can keep on task and carried her share of tub loads of leaves to the curb. (On Monday, the city leaf vacuum will come and pick them up.)

I worked with the boys. All of a sudden I heard a booming voice from on top of the roof. “Kholton! your sister is too close to the street!” Well, there was a large row of leaves between her and the street, but her dad was being watchful even from afar. After that, I kept a closer eye on her myself.

In the scheme of life, there are times when God assigns us that task of watching out for someone else. We need to be sensitive to those assignments. It could be to take a meal to a neighbor who is a new mother. Could it be washing a car for someone? The assignment may include watching out for the spiritual welfare of someone in your community group? Is there someone at church who seems to look a bit discouraged?

Don’t get so wrapped up in yourself, your job, that you neglect the watchfulness for the behalf of others. Another blogger reminded me recently of the verse in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 which in part says: “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. . .”

Of course, I know that the Lord is watching us; sometimes, however, God wants us to watch with Him, and be his “boots on the ground.”

Granny, Afghans, and the Gift of Giving

Here’s just a personal glimpse of memories of my mother. It isn’t necessarily inspirational as my aim. It is just sharing a piece of my mom and me. I am putting together some family treasures into the hope chest that once was hers and now is mine. I couldn’t resist writing a little slip of memory to include within the folds of the afghan that has a very special memory to me. Mom’s loving and willing gift of giving is a lingering gift to me.

My mother loved to crochet. She learned to crochet early, in the third grade she once told me. She had a lingering illness that kept her in bed one winter and it was her grandmother, Grandmother Shatzka, that kept her busy by teaching her how to crochet.

I watched her as a child crochet baby sweaters and bonnets and caps for the neighbor’s new babies and for family babies. She also did other practical things like pot holders by using odds and ends of crochet thread. The pot holder was no beauty, but it sure was practical.

For many years, she crocheted a lacy border for our family pillowcases. She crocheted edgings on dresser scarves that she had already embroidered. It wasn’t until I was in college that I remember coming home and she was crocheting an afghan. At first she made an afghan for daddy, then one for herself, and then me. Eventually, the prized afghans became family gifts for children, and as my children grew and married, they received an afghan as a wedding present. Perhaps every great grandchild received a baby afghan from my mother’s now crippling hands that were struck with arthritis.

This afghan she kept for herself and it is lovely. Well, it was lovely until the nursing home laundry lady got hold of it. It is now smaller than the original and several of the centers of the flowers are missing. I just can’t part with it, however and here it is in the “treasure chest.”

One winter mom took on a big project: she was hired to make a crotched table cloth. Daddy said of it that the project kept her alive. She had been sick most of that winter, but she had a job to do! I never got to see the finished project as she sold it. After that, she crocheted doilies for people for pay and gave them to all of us “girls” for Christmas as well. I treasure those handmade works of love and I hope that you will too. I know we can go into specialty shops and find machine crocheted doilies, even curtain toppers, but none will ever match the beauty of the ones my mom made with hands of love.

I will never forget the day that Alzheimer’s snatched that part of Mom’s memory. She had something started, it was lying on the couch, and she asked me, “What’s this?” When I told her, she picked it up, examined it, and said, “I didn’t do this, I don’t even know what it is.” I didn’t want her to see me cry. I changed the subject. Tears fill my eyes even just writing this. Every Christmas when I put up my tree, under it lies the simple but beautiful tree skirt she made for me. I will never exchange it for anything else.

Wonderland Creek (a book review)

Wonderland Creek is written by Lynn Austin and copyrighted in 2011. It is published in both paper and ink, and electronic readers by Bethany House Publishers. It is 358 pages long.

Austin writes historical fiction very capably. I am no stranger to her books. This book has a setting in Kentucky in 1936 and wonderfully covers the period of time when former President F.D. Roosevelt was doing whatever could be done to recover from the Great Depression. One of the job creations made in the government programs was hiring people to deliver books to the backwoods people in the mountains. The people were very poor because the closing of factories also closed the coal mines. The “librarians” used pack horses and mules to load up books and take them to families. Where no one could read well, the person delivering the books would stay and read to them. Before reading this book, I had no idea such a program ever existed.

Austin fashions a plot around two feuding families and a Negro woman who claims to be 100 years old. Add to that a city girl from outside Chicago who delivers boxes of discarded books to the library at Alcorn, Kentucky. The librarian, whom she expected to be female, turns out to be male. Then add to the story a bit of mystery and what you get is an outstanding work of fiction based on a real place in 1936.

My only complaint in the book is that is starts painstakingly slow. Yet, at the slow pace, I did see why Austin took so much time to build the main character. While there is a main plot, it is so interwoven with the subplots that the book moves deftly along to the conclusion which has a surprise element.

Do I recommend this book? Indeed I do. Young adults and old can find enjoyable companionship with this young lady who tells the story in first person.

Slide, Christian, Slide!

Baseball has an overlooked play if the spectator is one who merely accompanies a friend to the local park softball game. The slide. When my son was in high school he decided to try his skills at baseball. I remember the alarm bells sounding in my head the day he came home and said, “Coach taught us how to slide today.” Well, there is a right way, a wrong way, and all slides look dangerous to me. They are dangerous. Due to many injuries at homeplate, the professional rules changed this year. The catcher now must position himself in front of the plate. Catchers are prime positions for runners doing their best to beat the ball in order to score.

Some slides are head first, some feet first, and others on sides; they all involve risk. Then, there are the fielders who slide. They dive, roll, and even do sitting slides in order to capture a fly ball. They leave the spectators bug-eyed when the glove comes up with the ball snuggly held. Were the windows open, the neighbors might wonder if I have an attacker! Well, I never can watch a game quietly.

Risk. It is more than a board game. It is more than the thrill of watching a practiced, expert in a baseball game. What will I risk for the cause of Christ? It costs—saying something or being silent in conversation when it turns to the Bible. Speaking up in a cubeville office may risk a reprimand from the boss. Some students have been suspended from school because they dared to silently bow the head in a prayer of thanks before eating in the cafeteria. We risk ridicule for standing on a corner with a political sign supporting the candidate of our choice particularly if the candidate is a bold pro-life, freedom of speech, freedom of religion believer.

Without hesitation the player my decide: slide, or not, and be pronounced out, or let the ball safely drop and let the runner take a double? The professional players do what it takes, or be sent to the showers, or home. The Believing Christian should do no less than to speak for the name of Christ.

“Thou therefore, endure hardness as a good soldier. . .” II Timothy 2:3 expresses the attitude held by those who are willing to take the risk of carrying the gospel to a workplace, school, recreation center, and neighborhood. Slide, Christian, Slide!

Riding in the Van with Moses

The visits I make approximately every eight weeks, to the retina specialist are most interesting. I could drive myself to the doctor, but I could not drive myself home. For the first two hours or more I identify only shapes in the distance. I remedy this problem by making use of the local senior services van. In my many trips in the van service, I have never yet had the same driver, nor have I ridden with the same passengers. It must be God’s way of broadening my horizons and giving me opportunities to speak of the love of my life, Jesus.

The trip this week allowed me to ride with a fellow passenger who had long white hair that blended with a long white beard. He wore a skull cap to cover his balding head. Your immediate response might be Santa Claus. Well, he was not rotund enough for Santa. The cincher was that he walked with the aid of a walking stick. Now, this was not an ordinary walking stick that one might buy. It was not a short cane. It was a long, sturdy straight branch from which the bark had been peeled. It was a stick that I envision an Old Testament person might carry on the terrains of the Middle East. Moses might carry such a walking stick. The Bible describes it as a rod.

In my bemused mind, I called him “Moses” although he introduced himself as John. Well, maybe John the Baptist, my mind said. Because I am a civil person, I said, “Good morning John” but my mind said Moses.

I did not have the pleasure of his company on the trip home. Someone else had that pleasure. I did have the same driver, however, so I asked about John, er. . . Moses. My driver said that John looks more like Grizzly Adams to him. It’s all a matter of what we tend to think about throughout the day, isn’t it? Since I spend a portion of my day everyday with Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, Paul, John, and other numerous Bible characters, my mind leaped to Moses. Proverbs 13:20 says in part: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise. . .” and although I have no quibble with Grizzly Adams, I prefer Moses.

Yep, I rode in the van with Moses!

James 4:3 and Me (and maybe you)

The Bible, of course, is full range on how we relate to God and His ways. For some reason, the book called James tends to be my “go to” place for personal revival. Of the Twelve disciples, I see an inner circle of those closest to Jesus: Peter, James, and John. James is so practical; the text niggles into the needy heart.

After the topic of unsurprising trials and temptations, the view of faith and works, the danger of the mighty tongue, James approaches peaceful living and prayer. Selfishness plays a large part in that section of our daily living. If I likened these five divisions within the book to an orchestra, this section would be the section that causes the most discord. Take no offense brass section, but if you are off tune just an itty bit, it throws everyone off.

Wow, you say, prayer can be discordant? It can. Imagine that your Bible has no verse divisions. In that case, prayer is tucked right into strife. So many times the little phrase, “. . . ye have not because you ask not . . .” is lifted out of context. It is followed by an explanation. “Ye ask and receive not because you ask amiss; that ye might consume it upon your lusts.” Wrong reason to pray.

Years ago I managed to offend someone who came to me seeking an answer to her plea that God save her husband. She went on and on about how much better the family would be if only her husband would yield to Christ and become a Christian. I took her to this verse. “Are you asking,” I spoke, “because you are concerned about his soul, or because you want a more peaceful life?” She left me with a huff. Some months later he did come to Christ for salvation. Her praying may have changed. I just decided not to stir up a potential hornet’s nest by asking.

Yesterday on my way to the doctor’s office I was riding in a van and looking over the vast population of the city we were approaching. I wondered about the souls represented there. Lost souls, souls searching, souls in discord, souls in rebellion all floated into my heart. I wondered, are American Believers praying for revival because we just want things to be more comfortable? Do our hearts break for the souls that will perish into everlasting separation from God and the splendor of Heaven? I heard in my heart the compassionate, compelling words of Jesus: “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem. . .” and echoed in my heart the name of my city. Of course, I want things better, but more than that, I don’t want to see folks facing eternal punishment because I did not at least pray for them.

We must not ask amiss.

Meet Coralynn

Two healthcare facilities welcome my visits each week. They are bright spots in my week. In each of those facilities residents receive 24/7 care. Although some of them go out regularly to shop at local stores, attend movies, and visit families, a majority of them do not have someone to take them to church. I take the Bible to them.

Among those residents are people who bring the Bible to me!

They are walking witness to the faithfulness of God. Just as we all hold different temperaments and personalities, they are the same. Some bring Christ to the study group in song; some in quiet affirmation, some with burdens, some in afflictions. They all have needs.

Enter now: Coralynn. She walks with the assistance of a walker that has a built in shelf on which she carries a Bible. A smile graces her countenance. Her hands have a healing, comforting touch as she pats shoulders along the way to finding herself a seat. Once seated, she looks at the handout sheet I have prepared for them and opens her Bible to the assigned passage. Out of a group of twelve on an average visit, only Coralynn and Gladys always remember to bring a Bible. Of them I can say, along with the support of Romans 8:16 that “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”

A week ago Coralynn pulled me aside and told me that she prays for me every day. No one can give me a greater gift. I know that since the loss of her last child, Thelma, told me that Coralynn comes to her room everyday and reads some verses to her and prays for her.

When I am in my 80’s and perhaps confined to 24/7 care, I want to be like Coralynn. Don’t you?

Hit By a Pitch

Regretfully, sometimes a wild pitch is intentional!

When a batter is hit by a pitch the batter gets to advance to first base automatically. Never mind the nasty bruise the batter will sport for several days. Last year, an Atlanta Braves player was on the disabled list with a broken jaw by a pitch that went astray. We may assume that the pitch just did go astray and of course is flying with tremendous speed. However, I heard John Smoltz, once an ace Atlanta Braves pitcher and now announcer, admit that there were a few times when the stray pitch was intentional. Ouch!

Our words can be like those pitches. Most of the time, they are thoughtless but hurtful words. There are times when hurtful words are also insidious. In fact, there are times when words fly with barbs that are masked in joking. Words of truth filtered through joking can also bring serious and long lasting injury. The Apostle Paul admonished the believers in Colosse to “let your speech be with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

Salt seasons to something tasteful. Just this week I mentioned to my grandson that he should always taste something before adding salt. That way he would not over salt it and make it difficult to swallow. Maybe we should do the same. Try the words silently on the tongue before we fling them out to others. As I read on a poster once, “Engage brain before loosing tongue.”

Please never be guilty of hitting the batter. You may well become the loser for doing so. That free base may become a run scored to your account. Words spoken thoughtlessly are impossible to retrieve.


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