Mistaken Identity

Recently I decided to design a new birthday card for my family.  It is just one of those things I do now since I took an art class at my local “senior center,” which is officially called, Active Adult Center. I really don’t draw very well, but it gives me purpose to design my own cards.  No, I don’t have one of those fancy Cricut machines to do the work for me.  Strictly “old school.”

See the source imageI wanted to draw an ice cream cone.  Sounded easy enough to my brain.  Rather than use imagination, I need a picture to  look at.   The internet is a good place to find that.  THAT is NOT old school is it?  But that is another topic for another day.Once I found the picture that looked easy enough to draw, I set to work.  I drew the cone first, but that didn’t really work.  So, I drew the top first, and found I could balance the cone much easier. 
Then I saw the proportions I wanted and drew in harder lines until I had what I thought looked okay, and finally used a fine line felt tip to put in the permanent lines.  At that point the artist, me, can erase the pencil sketch lines.  If I find that the sharpie is a little off in a spot here and there, I just use a dab of correction fluid.

Without looking very carefully, I reached for the bottle and unscrewed the cap. Hm, something is wrong here.  Oh, dear, the cap and the stick have separated. At that point I hold the bottle up to the light to see how much product I am going to have to toss out. Laughing at my mistake, I looked down to see the bottle was not correction fluid,  it was artificial tears!  Both bottles are white, and about the same size, and the caps are both white. And they were sitting next to each other. 

Is it possible that Christians can be a case of mistaken identity?  The Apostle Paul told the Believers in Corinth to “come out, and be separate.”  It is possible in today’s culture that Believers are blending in too much with people who are not born-again believers. True Believers should have a different appearance.  In the hot summer months do I wear  enough clothes to set me apart? Is my speech clean and clear or is it sprinkled with words that could be exchanged for cuss words?  Or worse, even sprinkled with occasional cuss words?  Is the music coming out of my car music that will lead to thought of Jesus? I could go on with this list, but you can finish it yourself.

Well, I did get my sketch done.  Now I’ll get out my colored pencils and choose a flavor to color and hand write a greeting.  My hokey little greeting cards march on for another season.

II Corinthians 6:11-18

I Corinthians 6:19-20

Romans 12:2

I John 2:15-17

Sniff, Sniff–Goodby May

May is my favorite month of the year.  The weather is usually not to hot and not too cold in May.  It is a “free” month when it comes to heating and cooling. That isn’t the only thing about May I like, however.  My yard has something blooming the entire month of May.  Although the blooming things trigger allergies, I still enjoy the beauty of the blooms and they stay outside. Walking becomes a pleasure rather than a chore. Yard work sets in, but along with it the satisfaction of results. And, my birthday falls during May. 

This past month I added a great-granddaughter to my ever-growing family.  She arrived on May 19 and weighed in at nine pounds.  Her name is Willow Rae.  I love her already and haven’t even seen her except in pictures.  She adds to a list of birthdays in this already busy month. Add graduations to the month and it becomes busy. Add piano recitals and it is even busier.  During my teaching years, May also meant the end of a school year along with all the duties of closing out a school year classroom and saying farewells to graduating seniors with the deep hope in my heart that I had prepared them for the future in the use of grammar and composition.
Then came Memorial Day.  Not a single Memorial Day passes without hearing in my head, “I think we should take the boat out today.”  It seems always too cold to do that, but we all went anyway.  We packed a picnic lunch and off we went.  I learned after the first outing to ALWAYS take a jacket!  Whether is was a good or not so good outing, I have to admit, it sure has created a lasting memory.
I have several military members in my mother’s side of the family. Fortunately, none of them gave their lives in the ultimate sacrifice, yet I am happy to know they served our country well. My dad was a dairy farmer and was exempt from draft, so they said.  The army needed farmers to feed the soldiers.
As you leave the month of May to enter into June and the summer months, I’d love to know what your plans are. What books are you planning to read, which vegetables are your favorites from the garden, do you plan trips to the farmer’s market if you don’t garden, and many more questions linger  in my mind. Follow Jesus, day by day, hour by hour through these days of turmoil in our nation and make every day count.  See you in June!

Two Capsules, Confusion, and a Ring

Capsules, Confusion, and a Ring

The title is the short side of this story.  Here goes!
Every day I take two capsules that help my vision at least stay where it is, although it is getting dimmer, it is still clear most days.  It set the two capsules out on my desk in a green lid I saved from some bottle or another.  (I color code almost everything and always have.) That’s the capsule background.  This morning I not only read, but prayed through Psalm 71.  Beside the Psalm heading, I have written in my notes in pink ink, “A Psalm for the Aged.”  So as I was praying though the Psalm I prayed that the Lord would keep me and my aging friends from confusion.  It is bad enough that we sometimes have long pauses in our sentences while we struggle to find the exact word we want. Don’t add confusion to it!  I felt good about praying that for my friends. truthfully, I felt blest that God brought it to my attention. 
I have, and really do like, a mother’s ring.  It has three stones, one for each of my children. It is simple, in fact, so simple, I find it lovely.  I wear it most of the time.  However, if I am using water and cleaning products, I take it off.  The other times I take it off is if I am typing and since it is getting loose on my finger since I lost a bit of weight, it bothers my typing.  Well, I must have taken it off, and put in in the green lid.   It lay in the lid, forgotten. Here is what I think may have happened:  I put out my usual two capsules but didn’t notice the ring. I neglected to take the capsules and for whatever reason, decided to dump them back into the bottle. Yes, in went the ring too.  But, I  didn’t notice the ring or miss it right away.
This morning I decided to count the capsules in the bottle thinking I should order some more. I dumped them all out to count them, and out came the ring with them.  How quickly God answered my prayer!  I NEVER would have  looked  in the VisiClear bottle for the  ring!  The Lord graciously saved me consternation when searching for where in the world I put that ring. I would have been so disappointed to think I had lost it. But, see, the Lord, in His mercy spared me the confusion it would have caused. 

I wonder how many times God has spared me from little frustrating things in the very same way and I never even noticed. So, that is why I wanted to publicly share this little story. Bless the Lord, O my soul!

An April Doodle

April is a favorite months for me.  Spring is my favorite season, and baseball is my favorite sport.  It is a wonderful mix! It seems that I have acquired a well-rounded enjoyment of music, but nothing quite matches the crack of bat and the roar of a baseball stadium. When the pandemic was at its height and the stadiums were empty except for piped in crowd noise, it fell so flat.  I am happy to have baseball back in full force.  Everything from little league games on a local level up at the park close to me, to the professional MLB ball at Truist Park is music to my ears.

Tulips are in their prime at my house currently. Their God-given wardrobes of red, lavender, yellows and oranges are gracing my backyard.  Each year that they bloom I recall the joyous day that my grandchildren helped me plant them.  Once the littlest one, a girl, spotted an earthworm she was through!  Explaining the virtues of earthworms was absolutely lost on her.  No  gloves would protect her!  I laugh to myself as I think of the memory that chilly fall day.  She did seem to agree that the following spring, the blooms were quite fantastic.

My mother’s birthday is the sixteenth. She was born the year that women were granted the right to vote and lived 90 years.  Those last three years were a challenge to both mee and her, but I still have no regrets that I took care of her from age 83. She and my dad both gave me my love for baseball.  Mom would turn 103 this month were she still living. Her work ethic was passed on to me and she was a good match for a farmer’s wife.  While she lived a moral life, she came to faith in Christ alone for salvation two months before her death. The only time it is too late to take Christ as personal Savior is that final breath and heartbeat.
Ah, April.  You are a good time of the year.

At Calvary

A song for the day, today, Good Friday. Do you recall, as I do, that time was when schools and businesses closed at noon on Good Friday. Everything seemed to stop to remember that day when Jesus went to the cross, willingly, to pay the penalty in our place for our sin. Read the words, don’t sing them. Let the words sink in. And then read the simple way that the song was composed.
That closing of school for Friday afternoon to commemorate the love that flowed down At Calvary was the inkling I had as a child of what Easter was all about. I spent sixteen and a half years before I came by faith to trust Christ as the payment for my personal sins. It wasn’t “years” but certainly long enough to have had to stand at the White Throne judgment and be eternally condemned for refusing the gift so lovingly given to me. How about you.
Here’s the link to these wonderful words, beautifully presented, https://www.cobblestoneroadministry.org/2006/HymnStory_AtCalvary.html

A March Memories Doodle

As a child, I can’t say that I much cared for the month of March. Central Wisconsin saw ice begin to break up on the lakes and fishermen who had ice   fishing shanties had deadlines to get them off the lakes.  We had sandy soil on our farm place and thus, not much mud.  My dad started moving the barnyard build up to the fields.  I hve to sort of chuckle at the news reporters worring about the lack of fertilizer Americans import from Russia.  We just moved our manure into the fields.  As far as I know, it provided the right stuff for corn, oats, rye, our field garden, and large potato patch.  We had a good blend of chicken, cow, pig, and horse droppings.  I say one more time:  “I never regret growing up on an old-fashioned self-sustaining farm.
March brings on spring. I do not recall that we ever had daffodils, but I did anticipate a few wild flowers that trimmed the cow path through the windbreak.  They sprang up wherever they  wanted to and I sometimes picked a few on my trip to get the cows home for milking.  Dad first let them out in mid-March to graze or mostly for fresh air.  We had a lead cow with a bell, but if she were enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, she wouldn’t head home unless I went out to get her going. I helped feed them from our dwindling hay supply once they were back home. I usually scooped grain in the mangers before I went to get them.  It gave them an incentive. So, if you can envision a girl of about nine or ten, and a dog trotting beside her through a small grove of trees to the pasture  on a sunny March day, that would be me.


Best of all, March led to April and warmer days yet.  The older I get, the more these childhood memories become, like momentary movies from the past to bring on a spell of nostalgia.  Someone once wisely expressed that memories are like roses in December.  I am so grateful for my parents. I grew up in a stable home. We were not rich in worldly treasure, but we sure were never hungry. We worked hard, and slept soundly.  Paul advised Timothy “. . .with food and raiment be therewith content.”  We were. 

The Jerusalem Assassin (book revieew)

The Jerusalem Assassin by Joel C. Rosenberg is the best book yet by the now well-acclaimed author of political thrillers.  It is published by Tyndale Publishing, copyright 2020.  It is 441 pages of non-stop action with a setting that is a hot spot. It is another “Marcus Ryker” series,
but can be read as a stand alone book.

As the title suggests, the setting for the book is Jerusalem, but since Ryker is working for the CIA, he moves many places worldwide.  He has a new partner in this book, but still no romantic inclinations. A newly formed terrorist group must be located and put out of business.  Of course, that’s what Ryker does, right? The time frame of the book starts in the fall, and ends shortly after Christmas.  Although the time sequence is timed, there are 121 chapters.

Each character is well developed with personalities that remain consistent through the story. A geo-political element is the center of the plot.  I don’t want to spoil the story so will stop there.  This is a book that will capture your thinking even when the book is lying idle on the nightstand. I happened to get it free on one of those times when Tyndale offered it free for only about three days.  When I last looked on Amazon, it was free again.  You might want to check on its status again.
I did find instances, only two, of slight inconsistencies, which is rare in Rosenberg books and for that reason, I can’t give it a full five stars, but at least a four and three-quarters!  Don’t miss this one.

A Shout

A shout. That’s it. A shout. And the walls of Jericho flattened. No battering rams, no tanks, no missals, no. Just a shout. When Gideon had a reduced military force of 300, God defeated the opponents with a SHOUT. I add, also a reputation of a nighty God. That happened at Jericho too. There was the reputation of what the God of the Hebrews could or might do–the unexpected. The much later, in 2 Chronicles 13 we again see that God wins with a shout. King Abijah, whose army is of 400,000 is up against an army of 800,000, secures a win. Abijah had a reputation of walking in the ways of King David, and all God needed from them was a shout.

Above all else, the evident faith and allegiance to God must be present.

Is that the reason America seems to be losing? Other nations do not see the evident righteousness of a nationo that follows God?

I wonder. Introspection is necessary.

Just sharing what is stirring my heart and mind today. I profited from my Bible reading today, richly inspired and challenged.

A February Doodle

Blink once, it is Ground Hog’s Day, blink twice, it is February 28.  It occurred to me today that perhaps Ground Hog’s Day was dreamed up by some weather purveyor because typically, February is usually a cloudy month.  In hopes that the groundhog would come out, yawn and stretch a bit before venturing back for a bit more hibernation, spring would come a couple of weeks early. 

While the groundhog is a celebrity early in the month, we also have Lincoln’s birthday on the twelfth, and Washington’s birthday on the twenty-second. The two are combined into what my dad called, a “government holiday.”  The only businesses that close are government related.  Some companies give their employees anoption of the day off with pay, some will double pay if you choose to work on President’s Day.  Since many stores have President’s Day sales, those stores are open and employees working the same as any other day.


Then there is the day of love also known as Valentine’s Day.  Greeting card sales sky-rocket, florists do a booming business, and candy sales show a generous increase.  If a husband neglects Valentine’s Day, he may spend the night on the couch.
February is also National Heart-health Month.  The American Heart Association brings awareness to the percentage of deaths due to heart attacks and blood pressure checks are highly recommended. Cholesterol facts give us pause.  It is a good cause.
I have three family birthdays in February. A granddaughter born on Valentine’s Day and a grandson born on Washington’s birthday.  Both turned 16 this year.  Just the time I was thinking I had no little hand to hold anymore, I realized—not so!  I have a little great-grandson who is walking now and needs a hand to hold when venturing into dangerous places.  He has a little sister on her way in May. Proverbs 4:23 gives us an instruction, and a science fact. “Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life.”  First, when the heart stops beating, our life is done. Second, the heart is typically the seat of the emotions, so it needs to be guarded, hedged in, with Truth.  Guard your heart by what you eat, whether physical food, or spiritual.

I’ve been reading. . .

Reading with eyes and ears, that is. I am thankful that the Library of Congress provided books for the blind and hard-of-seeing folks like me. I let my books pile up that I have read and if I don’t consolidate them  into mini reviews, you won’t get them at all.  So here we go.

ONE:   A Proper Pursuit   by Lynn  Austin.  This is published in Kindle by Amazon and I happened to get it free on one of those sites that review the good buys and review them for you.   Austin is one of my favorite historical fiction writers.   She has a polished writing style and is  always well researched.  This one takes place in Chicago during the “Columbian  Exhibition” in which the world’s first Ferris Wheel  appeared—the late 1800’s.   A young woman grew up in a small Illinois town, was deceived by her family about her mother for many years, then goes to Chicago to spend part of a summer with her grandmother and two elderly aunts.   It is serious, but has comic relief. The protagonist is Violet Rose and is wonderfully developed. The book is a study in interpersonal relationships  as Violet has three  men pursuing her for marriage, plus her two very different aunts. It is a very entertaining read that includes American history of the World’s Fair and the early jobs of Pinkerton Investigator facts vividly described.

TWO:  Burden of Proof  by Davis Bunn. I happened upon this book on one of only a few days it was free.  A friend had recommended thee author so here was my chance  to try of his books.  It  did not disappoint.  I will read more.  Bunn’s writing style is extremely polished. The book is published by Revell  so I was not sure where the language or plot would  go except by the good advice of my friend.  I read one or two at most, murder mysteries a year.  This book has a mixture of science fiction mixed in so if your mind cannot bounce  from sci-fi to present and back, don’t even try it.  To add to this, the protagonist is his own antagonist.  Between the protagonist and his brother, a lawyer, the crime is solved.  The book has a plethora of surfing terms,  legalese, and that little dip into sci-fi but it is all   so wonderfully blended, you won’t even notice!  Give it a try!

THREE:  That Healing Touch by Kit Morgan is a tale of the Oregon Trail.   I expected  i to be another western brides sort of a book.  While it had sweet romance in it, the book surprised me.   The main character is traveling with an herbal kit and provides help for the others  on the wagon train.  For a novella, it had a lot packed into it.   Kit Morgan usually does not   disappoint me, but I put her books in the “fluff” reading category. So, if you are looking for fluff and a short read, there you go.

FOUR: The Battle for the Big Top: P.T. Barnum, James Bailey, John Ringling and the Death-Defying Saga of the American Circus by Les Standiford, 2021. This book I checked out of the Talking Books library.  It is fairl new, just released last June.  It may or may not have been inspired by the movie, “The Greatest Showman.”  I do know that is what prompted me to look for a biography of P.T. Barnum.  While the book is packed with history, it is not dull.  The writer made the book interesting and it is well-written.  It is written in three sections,  one on each circus  owner, and a  conclusion that  ties  it all together.  Included in the text is also the story of circus elephants. I had to brush back tears  when Jumbo met his heroic death. There is no lovey dovey stuff which was nice. And very few offensive words, if any. (I walk away now and then and miss spots so I can’t guarantee that.) If you like to learn, here’s a book that will help you becomes a well-rounded conversationalist. Print length according to Amazon is 272 pages so it is not burdensome.


PREVIEW:  Currently, I am reading the Jerusalem Assassin   by Joel  Rosenberg. Like Bunn’s book, it is a “page  turner” but  since I am

reading the Kindle version, my eyes  get   tired  and I   have to quit. Political thrillers usually make me worry a bit, but so far, so good.   Marcus Ryker gets battered and bloody, but he gets his man! More biographies will  follow as  I have a   book at Talkilng Books that is in process  on the Vanderbuilts.  A conversation at church this morning inspired me to find a book on a basketball player that has made a  difference. I need to broaden my sports world. I am open to suggestions in the    comments.

A Milk Review

Well, let me stand corrected.  Early this week, with a brewing winter storm coming at us, like most of other Franklin residents, I decided I needed milk to get me through. The shelves were empty except for chocolate and“designer” milks.  I mistakenly called almond milk “fake milk” and picked up a half gallon.     I had about a quart in my fridge at home of the cow milk to which I am accustomed.

Although I h ad the quart on hand, of course, curiosity got the better of me and I opened the almond milk. It tastes like whole milk but doesn’t have fat.  Well, that’s a winner!  No cholesterol but tastes even a smidgen better than whole cow milk.  So to all almond growers who contribute to almond milk, I apologize.
My friend, Margaret, who is now enjoying Heaven, did not like milk. She said cow’s milk was meant for calves, not humans.  Since I grew up  on a small dairy farm, I was always just a little miffed, but had to agree, cow’s milk was intended for calves. I wonder how long it took for Adam, or whoever, to discover that human consumption of cow’s milk was a tasty addition to a meal.   For that matter, who decided to try eating an egg?  Eve did not have Martha Stewart to show her how to prepare broccoli. I have always felt a certain compassion for Eve.  She didn’t have a mother, a sister, o ra seasoned neighborhood woman to help her.  Just put that in your imagination and let it simmer for a while. What Eve did have was a husband who adored her so much that when it came to eternal destination, he supported her and fell into the sin trap with her.  Adam was one devoted husband.   She had that. 
So my almond milk purchase was a good thing. Thank you, Johnson County residents for hording cow’s milk. I learned something new. The silky taste of almond milk will continue to delight me.  Eve came to mind, and the blessings of God’s provision for our food intake. Of course, God also had the remedy for the sin Adam and Eve brought into the world by the deep love  gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus

Fish

This past week I listened to “Conference Pulpit” on the Bible Broadcasting Network radio  station.  It comes on at nine each evening weekdays.  One of the messages was the kind that sticks in your head and heart for a few days at least.  This one might be embedded a good bit  longer.  The  entire message was from Matthew 17:24-27.  

While I’ve heard and read this passage myself, even taught it,  it seemed to be an entirely new approach to me.  It didn’t involve whether or  not we should pay taxes as many take the passage to be. No.  It was about God’s marvelous provision.    The preachers asks questions  I had never thought about.  He also was a wonderful storyteller.  It seemed as if he used a filet knife to open the imagination.

How did the coin get in the  fish’s mouth?    How did the fish hold the coin, and  bite the hook and not drop the coin?  Peter usually fished with a net, not a hook from the shore but he did that day. The preacher posed the probability that the coin could have been dropped on the seashore, in this case, the Sea of Galilee, by a child. It could have been dropped by a fisherman from a boat. Jesus could have put it there for the  fish.  I like the boy dropping it best. It could have dropped several hours, days, weeks  before Jesus needed it.  Does it make a difference? The fact of the matter is, the  fish found it.  It is my understanding that there is a fish that lives in the Sea of Galilee that is known to be a bottom feeder  that will  find things and sometimes hold them in its mouth for a long time. 

Finally, was the miracle of the coin for Peter? Certainly so, but it is still for us.  Peter, in his epistles, writes so much from incidents he experienced while traveling with Jesus. In his first epistle, chapter 5m verse 7 Peter relates:   “Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.”   Yes indeed.   Peter would recall the time a fish with a coin in its mouth provided tribute for himself and Jesus.
It just makes me smile.

A January Doodle

We have a new year.  I like simple, yet, I like new too.    Fresh starts are always to be looked upon as mercy drops.

I like to start a new calendar and mark it up with birthdays and note what day my birthday will fall on in the coming year and note holidays and how they will fall. I look at the pictures for each month.  Sometimes I still store away calendar pictures, well, just because. After all, Norman Rockwell made a lot of money painting calendar pictures!

With the new year come resolves.  Some of the past accomplishments have started   with a New Year’s Resolution. One year I decided to make one new recipe each week.   Some of them were awful, but some of them I have continued to make and enjoy.  One year I determined to  keep my sour dough going for the entire year. I gave away a lot of coffeecake that year and further developed some of my sour dough recipes. Truthfully, by the end of the year, I was glad to put it away for awhile and start a new batch when I had the yearning.  Another year I decided to read more biographies and non fiction books than fiction. Thaat is a habit I have  continued  now for several years.  This year I bought myself a pedometer and set a goal  for what I would be walking by the end of the year. I am on my way!

Christmas is a lmost put away.   I’ll ask some sturdy teenager I know to help me get the boxes back in place in my storage barn, or maybe I’ll walk the boxes and plastic tubs out one at a time ib one of the first nice days we have.   All those steps add to my total  count at day’s end. My son recently visited and took all my outdoor lights down and put them carefully away.

Age Related Macular Degeneration continues to nibble   away my vision, but it is what it is.  My specialist is also a research doctor and he said that he is not far away from  a medical solution for part of my problem. How wonderful that would be. I am willing, more than willing, to volunteer in any program he has in research that will make things better  for people coming behind me.  I think it would be exciting to be part of a medical breakthrough. In the meantime, I lean more and more heavily on memory  and audio.  Edison did a most remarkable thing when he developed all those communication devices.  He is most remembered for the lightbulb but he did so much more!  I read his biography as one of my starters the year I made the decision to read more biographies than fiction.

 
And all doodles must come to an end.   Perhaps this is the year that we will start our journey to the New Jerusalem. If you are not sure you are Heavenbound, please contact me!  Let’s start this year off right!

“Those Brown Gloves”

I have had this story in my file since 2004 and usedd it again today at the Active Adult Center as part of my devotional. Enjoy, and feel free to copy it and use as your own. I find that people of all ages enjoy listening to an animated storyteller. Unknown author. If you know of the author, please let me know, I’ll be glad to give credit where credit is due.

I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town square. The food and the company were both especially good that day.

As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street.

            There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying, a well-worn sign that read, “I will work for food.” My heart sank. I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around

us had stopped eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief.

            We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished

our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car. Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: “Don’t go back to the office until you’ve at least driven once more around the square.” Then with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square’s third corner. I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the storefront church going through his sack.

            I stopped and looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town’s newest visitor.

            “Looking for the pastor?” I asked.

            “Not really,” he replied, “just resting.”

            “Have you eaten today?”

            “Oh, I ate something early this morning.”

            “Would you like to have lunch with me?”

            “Do you have some work I could do for you?”

            “No work,” I replied. “I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to take you to lunch.”

            “Sure,” he replied with a smile.

            As he began to gather his things, I asked some surface questions.

            “Where you headed?”

            “St. Louis.”

            “Where you from?”

            “Oh, all over; mostly Florida.”

            “How long you been walking?”

            “Fourteen years,” came the reply.

            I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same

restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red tee-shirt that said, “Jesus is The Never Ending Story.”

            Then Daniel’s story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life. He’d made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought. He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God. “Nothing’s been the same since,” he said, ” I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now.”

            “Ever think of stopping?” I asked.

            “Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me. But God has given

me this calling. I give out Bibles. That’s what’s in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads.”

            I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. H e was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked:

            “What’s it like?”

            “What?”

            “To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your sign?”

            “Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once

someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn’t make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God >was using me to touch lives and change people’s concepts of other folks like me.”

            My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused. He turned to me and said, “Come Ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I’ve prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in.”

            I felt as if we were on holy ground. “Could you use another Bible?” I asked.

            He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite. “I’ve read through it 14 times,” he said.

            “I’m not sure we’ve got one of those, but let’s stop by our church and see.”

            I was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very grateful.

            “Where are you headed from here?”

            “Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon.”

            “Are you hoping to hire on there for awhile?”

            “No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that’s where I’m going next.”

            He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove him back to the town-square where we’d met two hours earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things.

            “Would you sign my autograph book?” he asked. “I like to keep messages from

folks I meet.”

            I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for you, “declared the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a Future and a hope.”

            “Thanks, man,” he said. “I know we just met and we’re really just strangers, but I love you.”

            “I know,” I said, “I love you, too.”

            “The Lord is good!”

            “Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?” I asked.

            “A long time,” he replied. And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed. He put his things

on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, “See you in the New Jerusalem.”

            “I’ll be there!” was my reply.

            He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling from his

bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, “When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?”

            “You bet,” I shouted back, “God bless.”

            “God bless.” And that was the last I saw of him.

            Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them–a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them. Then I remembered his words:

            “If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?”

            Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office. They help me to see the world

and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry.

            “See you in the New Jerusalem,” he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will.



“Don’t Fence Me In,” says the Crawdad!

Just a week ago, my son came to Indiana to get me to take me back to Tennessee to spend the week with his family. I particularly wanted to see my granddaughter play soccer but also just wanted to visit rather than be entertained. Along our route going through beautiful Kentucky, we saw an accident that could have been much worse had it not been for a sturdy guardrail. Wow, that car was really mashed in on both sides. I mentioned to Dave how I’d been thinking about writing a post about boundaries, and there it was, my illustrations. I tucked the sight away for future use.
The scene was still on my mind a week later as we traveled back to Indiana. By then I h ad added another boundary line to my storage bank. Soccer isn’t soccer without boundary lines. I watched the strategy of deliberately kicking the ball out of bounds, especially to gain a corner kick. Dave patiently explained it to me when I asked him about it.
Now, after I retuned, a friend from church posted a story that she presented orally about their wandering crawdad. It seems that like mice and lizards, crawdads can slip through very small openings. The crawdad, “Shelley,” escaped the aquarium and was wandering about the house during the night. Shelly was clearly out of bounds.
Kelly, the courageous mama in the story, found the crawdad in the kitchen during the week hours of the morning, caught it with a pair of kitchen tongs, and carefully dumped it back into the aquarium. Whew. Needless to say, it was not a restful night.
Boundaries are for our protection. The guard rail kept the car from going into a deep ravine. The soccer field boundary helps the players make wise choices when retuning the ball into play, and   the tank walls were for Shelly’s well-being giving it safe dwelling grounds, a source of food, and safety. When Shelly was returned to the natural habitat of a nearby creek, it is reported to have shouted, “I know the layout of the house now!” Shelly will now have to fend for itself from predators, human and otherwise.
God gave Job the protection of a “hedge” and Job complained. I say, “Hush, Job, you are safe in that hedge.”  Be careful to live within the boundaries provide for you in the pages of God’s Word. I am paraphrasing the greatest commandment as Jesus gave it:  Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and the second commandment—love your neighbor as you love yourself. That is a steadfast, sure, secure boundary.

Rumi

Jalalud-din Rumi, an Islamic poet, was born in 1248 in what is now modern-day Afghanistan.  Had I paid better attention in World   Literature, I would know more of him, but that is about all I know, other than that most writers in Western civilization simply call him Rumi when they credit any of his lines that survive still today.

I ran across his name in the preface of a book that I purchased for my Kindle recently.  The book, “Mr. B.—Living with a 98-year old Rocket Scientist” captured my interest on the book recommendations I follow.  Faithful Reads usually doesn’t steer me wrong.  I am eager to start this book, but am holding back until I am at my son’s for a visit.  The family will be gone during the day so I am taking a project along, as well as interesting reading material.
I did read the preface, however, and the journalist writing the memoir of this remarkable man, quotes Rumi at the conclusion of the preface:

“Sorrow   prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter.” While it is an interesting concept, is that true?

As I sat contemplating the statement, I thought of how sorrow never really grips the hearts of Believers.  We sorrow not as others who have nope.   Faith and hope walk hand-in-hand. The shield of faith is what the Christian holds  up to ward off the fire-tipped darts  of the Devil.  
Rumi may have written in flowery language his philosophy, but God’s Word is powerful!  Psalm 30:5 encourages me with these words: “. . .weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”  Faith brings buoyant hope.

   
P.S. A book review of  this interesting man, Byk, will eventually appear  here on this  site in a book review. 😊

Surround Sounds

The street that I live on runs the entire length of our city.  Because it is so long, there are many streets that connect to it and it tends to   be busy.  My house sits on a corner lot with a four-way stop sign.  On working days, it is busy but I seldom
“hear” the traffic. Well, to be correct, I seldom listen to the traffic.    There is a difference.  I just ignore it. When the street next to mine was under reconstruction and all of that traffic joined my street, I did notice every fire truck and ambulance that went by.  Sirens are unmistakable.
Back when my son was still at home and his job was to cut the lawn, portable headset had become popular.  Oh, how he wanted to use a headset for his music while he cut grass.  His dad said, “No.”  The “No” was so stern, Dave hardly knew what to say, but he approached the “Why” question anyhow.  There was a good reason.  “Everyone needs quiet to think, to be alone. If you always have something going into your ears, you rob yourself of good thinking time.
Once the traffic is not as busy on my street; it seems to also be popular for walkers.  My attention is often drawn to talking.  As I glance out to see who is talking, I see one person walking along, and talking—on a phone.  If they initiated the call, they are also robbing themselves of thinking time.
Night before last we had a thunderstorm.  My window was open, a breeze was blowing the curtains out and a good soaking rain was falling. It was dark, in fact, nearly midnight.  I heard that sound.  Thunder was rumbling steadily and lightening flashing all around.  I didn’t have any other sounds in the house.  It was like a symphony of sound coming right from nature.  
The quiet falling of a steady rain was soothing to my soul.  We need the quiet. We need to think.

Psalm 1:1-2” Blessed is the man. . .whose delight it in the law of the Lord and in His law doth he meditate day and night.”

Between Lines

After an extended lapse and two computers, it is time to resume The Shepherd’s Presence.  Fortunately, when my computer of ten years of faithful service went down, I was happy to have put most of my files in the cloud storage provided by Microsoft.  It has been a long road to getting back and on a new improved highway to writing.   Never stop learning, someone advised me a few years back. 
I could function on my tablet but clumsily.  I have taken to writing a piece with no regularity, on Facebook that I call, “My Two-Cents Worth” and it is fairly well received.  I’ll be transferring some of them to The Shepherd’s Presence from time to time.   Most of those pieces spring from just daily life.  Seems I find life is just one object lesson after another.  Here’s a sample:

Wash your Hands!

At our local senior center we do more than sit around drinking coffee, playing cards and playing bingo. Some sort of exercise meets each  day of the week. I had not stopped to visit at length with a friend and took the opportunity to extend our conversation this morning.  In our chat, we discussed how to stay away from seasonal flu as well as the dreded associated flu virus.  Most of us are vaccinated so we are not required to use face masks. Some wear them voluntarily. 

One of the first ingrained habits my mother formed in me was hand washing.  The habit was fortified in school where our one-room school teacher provided aa wash basin  and a bar  of soap for us to wash our hands before eating lunch and sometimes after recess. (Our only source of water was an outdoor hand pump.) It makes sense.

The classic biblical value of hand washing comes when Pilate called for a basin of water and symbolically washed his hands of ordering the death of Jesus.  It was also customary to provide a basin of water for guests to refresh themselves by washing their feet after a long walking trip.   Socks had not yet been invented.

There are several rules of hygiene listed in Leviticus.  God intended for us to follow common sense rules to keep ourselves healthy in both hygiene and dietary laws.  

One of the first things to do upon arriving home after a shopping trip is to wash your hands!  Yet, already, I see people being careless in stores with shopping carts.    When an alcohol wipe is available to wipe down the cart, use it! I carry my own just in case the store is out or  does not provide them. Stay safe during the coming seasonal  flu season.


And that’s my Two-Cents Worth for today.

A Dream Doodle

Dreams come in an assortment of views. Funny, peculiar, frightening, puzzling, entertaining, and you can probably add to the list.  Some people seldom dream while other people dream nightly. Some people seem to be able to interpret their own dreams while others, like me, can seldom make any sense of dreams.   Some of my dreams reoccur.  They are like old TV show reruns! When I video Chatted with my granddaughter today, she pulled out an “American Girl” book that had some meanings of dreams!  There was no answer for a room full of cats all purring so loudly it shook the room. Sigh.

Last night I had a nightmare.  Sleep experts properly call them “night terrors” but I really did have horses in my dream last night, so it does qualify as a “nightmare.”  I have these kinds of dreams about every five or six months.  They apparently are typical of me because I have had them since childhood.

Cartoonists display dreams as a conversation bubble that is connected by smaller bubbles over the head of a sleeping character. Charles Schultz depicted Snoopy dreaming while he lay sleeping on top of his doghouse. Our family dog occasionally barked in her sleep, and we wondered what she was dreaming.

One dream in the Bible is particularly challenging.   It is found in Daniel chapter two.  Nebuchadnezzar had a strange dream and when he called his wise men and magicians to interpret it for him, he refused to tell them the dream. He tried their authenticity by making them tell him the dream and then interpret it for him. They protested so King Nebuchadnezzars pushed them by adding a death sentence to them if they could not produce both the dream and the interpretation. He was serious.
When the situation and penalty reached the ears of Daniel, he went to work to spare a whole lot of lives. In all seriousness, Daniel approached God for an answer. God delivered. When Nebuchadnezzar asked Daniel how he figured it out, Daniel replied with six profound words:  THERE IS A GOD IN HEAVEN.

Yes, Daniel, there is. I’ll not try to figure out last night’s nightmare, but I do know that in my perfect body in Heaven where there is no night, I won’t fuss about my weird dreams any longer.

Getting back to where you were. . .

A program on my computer just about wiped everything I am familiar with off of my computer.  Or maybe is scrambled it at the very least.  It is a bit frustrating.  To make matters worse, what I expected to find on my WordPress site is not the same.  It may be partly my fault for not reading the informative blog WP issues almost every Monday without fail.

Am I the only one who gets stuck in a rut?  Truth is, I feel comfortable in my rut.  In all my life, I have not liked surprises that tend to “broadside” me.  Good friend usually give me a gentle warning when a change is in the works.  It takes a bit of time, sometimes short, and sometimes lengthy, to mentally meet the challenge of change.  Once I get used to a new method, guess what, I just make a new rut!

Expectations, in my opinion, need to be realistic.  I am not an optimist, nor a pessimist.  Somewhere in between lies realism.  Most people who face life realistically also can roll with the punches, so to speak. We quietly adjust while we inwardly cope with a surprise.  So, I may have found my way back on WP, maybe.  I’ll see when it goes into the “publish” stage.  I do not fault WP at all.  It was the click of the mouse, and an over-easy egg turned into a scrambled one.  Perhaps I needed the challenge today. And I am reminded that the Bible warns me, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow, because you don’t know what the day will bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1)

Well, here goes. . .