Monthly Archives: March 2020

Enforced Hermit-hood Makes Me Feel Rebellious ~ Sort of

Standard

As much as I like being alone, I’ve found that it’s a different feeling when you choose to be alone, as opposed to when you’re forced to be alone because of a government-enforced quarantine.

Hermit-hood is a lot harder to maintain when someone else is forcing you to do it. It doesn’t make me want to run out and stage a wild party or anything like that, but I’m finding myself entertaining some unfamiliar feelings. Things like, I don’t WANNA stay inside! Or, WHY do I have to stay inside?! I wanna go out and PLAY!!

Then I did my daily Bible reading from Philippians 3 and 4,

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through [Christ] who gives me strength. ~ Philippians 4:10-13, NIV.

I’ve read this passage of Scripture many times, but this time God helped me to put a different slant on it simply by reading verse 13 in context with the rest of the passage. I don’t think I’d ever done that before ~ and what a difference it made! Philippians 4:13 says,

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13, NKJV.

I say this verse to myself all the time, for instance, when I’m climbing the stairs from my garage to my apartment with a load of groceries. As I’m huffing and puffing up the stairs, trying not to drop the bags of food, I mutter under my breath,

I can do all things through Christ who is my strength (Philippians 4:13, my paraphrase), huff, next step, shift the bags from hand to hand…

I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10, my paraphrase), puff, next step, shift the bags again…

God is my strength and power, and He makes my way perfect (2 Samuel 22:33), huff, next step, again, shift the bags from hand to hand…

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13, NLT.), puff, shift the bags yet again…

Repeat until I’ve made it all the way up the stairs and reached my front door, thank God!

If all that sounds a bit arduous, that’s because it is. I usually have four or five bags of groceries, but I hate, and I do mean HATE, making more than one trip getting them up to my apartment. It just feels wasteful, and ridiculous as it sounds, I feel lazy doing it that way. So regardless of what I have to do, I manage to haul ALL my bags up at the same time. It may take longer because I have to do it one step at a time, but I get it done, Scripture verses and all.

My point in relating that long tale is that I meditate on Philippians 4:13 all the time without really being aware of it, as I’m sure many Christians do, at least partly because I talk to myself (the only time it’s bad if you talk to yourself is if you have to ask yourself what you just said ~ hehehe!). But how many of us have ever looked at that verse in context with the rest of the passage? In context puts a completely different slant on it. It doesn’t change the meaning of it at all, but it takes on a whole new and deeper significance when you look at it in context.

Let me explain.

Taken alone, it’s true that we can depend on Christ to strengthen us so we can accomplish whatever tasks we need to get done. He is completely trustworthy and will always keep His promise to fulfill His Word,

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with My word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, NLT.

And,

God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? ~ Numbers 23:19, NLT.

So Philippians 4:13 could be taken as a standalone verse.

But you can’t ever take any one verse by itself without considering that verse in context with the verses around it (which I suppose I just did with the verse above. Hmm…). So regardless of the circumstances I’ve learned to be content ~ whether I’m hungry or well fed, in need or well supplied. And I’ve learned the art of contentment because I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

God is amazing!

How cool is that!!

Joyful Celebration and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Standard

Today, March 20, is my birthday. I turn 67 years old today. I’m not one of those people who is afraid of getting old. I’m proud of my age because it’s proof of God’s work in my life. God has gotten me this far, and I give Him all the glory.

Today I’m going to start working on a counted cross stitch project that I purchased for my birthday. It’s a beautiful sampler from a company called Long Dog Samplers. Long Dog Samplers is based in Great Britain, and is owned by a woman named Julia Line. She’s the one who designs all the samplers, and every one of them is truly a work of art.

I actually bought three samplers from Long Dog Samplers. Originally I was going to buy five or six, but that would have been too expensive, so I whittled it down to three. The one I’m going to make first is called Plight of Fancy, and it looks like this:

Plight-of-Fancy

I was drawn to this sampler because of the vivid colors, plus samplers are my favorite kind of cross stitch. Julia (her friends call her Jools) got her inspiration for this sampler from 17th century European band samplers. I think it’s beautiful, don’t you?

I’m also going to do some reading, and I’m going to see if I can get some ice cream, which, given the current quarantine situation, should be an interesting endeavor. I’m going to see if I can order some Ben & Jerry’s pints. I have two favorite flavors: Boom Chocolatta Cookie Core, and Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core.

Here’s a little update: there’s this company called Instacart where you can order and pay for your groceries online. Then one of their shoppers will go to one of the local markets, purchase your order for you, and deliver it to your home. So that’s what I did, and my order just arrived!

Way cool! Now I can celebrate my birthday with Ben & Jerry’s!

I think I’ll be using Instacart again. It’s so much easier than leaving and going to the store myself, especially now when everyone has to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus.

I want to end by listing what I’m grateful for. I have SOOO MUCH for which to be thankful!! First and foremost is the cross and Christ’s sacrifice for my sins. If it weren’t for Jesus dying on the cross for me, I would be dead, because one of my suicide attempts would have succeeded. I thank God that none of them did. I’m so glad to be alive that I can’t express it in words.

I’m also grateful for God’s Word. I love the Bible, and I fall more in love with it everytime I read it, because each time God shows me some new aspect of His character, or some fresh tidbit about the way different parts of it are connected to each other. He also shows me in many different ways how deeply He loves me, which is always healing to know.

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. ~ Psalm 19:7-11, NIV.

So on this anniversary of my birth I have much to be thankful for. I used to think my birthday was cursed because it’s usually on the first day of Spring. In the cult the first day of Spring is a fertility rite, and is celebrated as such. So I used to think that the cult planned my birthday to be on March 20th so I could be used for sexual purposes in the cult, and as a consequence I hated my birthday.

But in recent years God has shown me that He wanted me to be born on March 20th, because it is the first day of Spring, and it’s symbolic of the new birth in Christ. When I understood that I felt much better about it, and now I like the fact that my birthday is on the first day of Spring most years.

God is SOOO GOOD to me!!

God is good ALL the time!!

Feeling the Divide

Standard

Earlier today I discovered that someone had used my debit card to steal $139 from my checking account using a website in Toronto, which meant that there was also a $1.11 credit card issuer cross-border fee, because the charge was made in a foreign country. The website was one I had used before, but the last time was over a year ago, so I knew this $140.11 wasn’t mine. So I immediately called my bank and disputed it, which meant I had to cancel the debit card and get a new one.

The lady on the phone told me it would take about ten days for the new card to arrive, as well as ten days for the $140.11 to be restored to my checking account, at which point I told her that I needed the card today, because I had to buy new batteries for my TV remote. The last batteries I bought only lasted one month.

Harrumph!! Lousy batteries!! And I can’t take them back to the store where I purchased them because I don’t have the receipt.

Arrgh!! Rats!!

I have a feeling I indirectly brought this on myself. I’m having a very difficult time making it to church on Sundays. I think I’ve mentioned before that I would make an excellent hermit (I Would Make a Great Hermit), and my hermiting desires are making it extremely difficult for me to do what I know is God’s will and get myself to church every Sunday,

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another ~ and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV.

I’ve become aware that I’m not requiring enough of myself ~ especially in the area of church attendance. It was kind of like a revelation, and once I understood the problem, I could no longer ignore it. I could no longer skip church on Sundays just because I didn’t feel like going, even if they did live-stream the services ~ which they’d been doing for the last couple of months. I’d been using the fact that they were live-streaming the services as my excuse for not going. As long as I could watch the live-streamed service it was okay if I didn’t attend the service in person. I knew in my heart that I was lying to myself with that excuse, but at least I was hearing the Word being preached.

And then God showed me that I wasn’t requiring enough of myself, and that I had to start going to church again. It was no longer enough to watch the live-streamed service on my computer.

Rats!!

like staying home! I don’t want to leave my apartment!!

I made it to church for one Sunday after that revelation, but no more after that. After that first Sunday I knew I should continue going, but I just didn’t want to. I could feel myself making a conscious decision to not go ~ to disobey God and His Word,

To go against what you are told is like the sin of witchcraft. Not to obey is like the sin of worshiping false gods. You have turned away from the Word of the Lord. So He has turned away from you being king. ~ 1 Samuel 15:23, NLV (New Life Version).

I knew I was being disobedient, but I couldn’t stomach the idea of leaving my apartment to go to church, so I stayed home, and asked God to forgive me for not going. Basically I used His grace as a convenient crutch, or should I say I abused His grace, something I’m not proud of.

And then the money was stolen from my checking account.

That sequence of events made an immediate connection in my mind. I don’t think God was punishing me for my disobedience, but I think it’s possible that my rebellion might have opened the door for the devil to gain a foothold. So I picked myself up and repented, truly this time.

And no matter how much I don’t want to go, I’ll make myself go to church!

As this whole thing evolved this afternoon and evening, I’ve felt extremely disappointed in myself, and I’ve had a hard time believing that God will protect me from the consequences of my behavior. I know He’s forgiven me, because His Word says He has, but actions have consequences, and I deserve to bear the brunt of those actions. I deserve the consequences. I don’t want them, but I deserve them, and that’s what I’m struggling with now. That and feeling like God is disappointed in me. That right there is very hard for me to deal with. I hate thinking that God could be disappointed in me!

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? ~ Romans 7:24, NKJV.

I Think It’s Called Writer’s Block…

Standard

…and I think I have it. As a consequence this may be a very SHORT post, because I can’t think of ANYTHING to say ~ which isn’t at all helpful for someone whose job is writing. Maybe I’ll include one of my poems. If nothing else it will increase the word count.

Words

So many words in this wide world of mine ~

 There must be a billion, three-million and nine,

Or maybe a trillion ~ I know not of more,

  But even a million’s enough for a door.

 

    Words full of laughter, of light, and of hope,

     Words that paint pictures for those who must grope

     Through darkness and longing ’til dreams become real

    And light in their tunnel means safety to feel.

 

    Scrivening onward, word pictures I’ll paint

     So others when thirsty won’t give up and faint.

    Words will build true homes from castles on air

     Where laughter and rainbows take place of despair.

                                          S.A. Kuriakos & Wordsworth, ©September 28, 1991

I wish there was less space between the lines, but I’ve yet to figure out how to fix it. I’ve wanted to include poetry in my posts for quite awhile, but the spacing between the lines has always bothered me, so I haven’t done it until now, and the only reason I’m doing it now is because I’m desperate for content.

So this is my very short writer’s block post. I certainly hope I can figure out what’s causing it so I can deal with it and get back to writing freely and easily!

My heart is stirred by a beautiful song. I say, “I have composed this special song for the king; my tongue is as skilled as the stylus of an experienced scribe.” ~ Psalm 45: 1, NET.

 

When Faith Becomes Sight

Standard

I crave beauty in all its various forms. I can’t live without beauty in my life. As a consequence, I’ve spent a lot of money on paintings, art glass, and other kinds of art so that I’m surrounded by beauty at all times, no matter where I go.

That said, God is the author and creator of all beauty. Not only did He give human beings the ability to make beautiful things because He created us in His image (see Genesis 1:26-27), but the plants and animals He created were (and are) all unique and beautiful as well. All you have to do is look at a bird or a flower to see that a Being of supreme intelligence created it. Here are some examples:

In the top row, from left to right, we have a Gouldian Finch, which is native to Australia, and a Fiery-throated Hummingbird. In the bottom row, from left to right, you see a Passion Flower, and a Habenaria Radiata, aka a Dove Orchid.

And just to show you that God uses beauty to display His sense of humor, as well as make us laugh, check this out:

Hooker's Lips (Psychotria Elata)

Hooker’s Lips Flower.

I look at these examples of God’s creative power and artistry, and I’m in awe. And sometimes I imagine God as He’s creating the birds and the flowers, and in my mind’s eye He looks like He’s having a lot of fun as He’s doing it.

God having fun? Yes, but not in a carefree or slapdash way as a child might do. I think God was, and is, very deliberate as He creates. I think He has the exact design for what He’s going to make already conceived in His mind, and the fun is in the exuberant colors and shapes He chooses for the creatures He’s making. For example, look at the peacock:

Indian-Male-Peacock-ImageKandarps A

Talk about vivid, exuberant colors!

And then there’s this:

Tiny Peacock Spider

This is a male Peacock Spider, Maratus caeruleus. Peacock Spiders are a genus of jumping spiders, and they’re tiny, about 4-5 mm in length. There are some 79 different known species of these spiders, and each one is different, with a different pattern of colors and shapes on the vertical display. They’re found almost exclusively in Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. The colorful display shown above is found only in the males, and only during courtship rituals, along with their raised, fringed third legs. And the cool thing is, the rich, luminous, almost flamboyant colors with which God made this wee spider are also iridescent.

My point in showing you this last creature is that even in the tiniest of God’s designs, He expresses Himself in the most elaborate, even ostentatious ways ~ and I haven’t shown you any of the amazing microscopic examples. I could write a whole post about nothing but microscopic beauty, but that’s for another time.

These birds, flowers, and as much as I dislike them, even this spider, are, to me, extravagant design at its best. God really outdid Himself here, as He always does.

In reality, however, as beautiful and elaborate as these examples are, they’re only a wisp of a shadow of the beauty to be found in Heaven. And I believe the beauty in Heaven is the benchmark for everything else called beautiful, and it’s far beyond anything we could conceive in our wildest imaginings,

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”(Isaiah 64:4, NKJV); 1 Corinthians 2:7-9, NKJV.

God doesn’t think as we do. His ideas are higher than ours could possibly be,

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT. 

So when God thinks about beauty, He thinks in completely different realms than we do,

And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. ~ Revelation 21:21, RSV.

That wonderful verse is talking about Heaven. There are twelve entrances to Heaven, barred by twelve gates, and as the verse above says, each gate is made of one, single pearl. Think about that. That has to be one huge, enormous, gigantic, HUMUNGOUS GEM!! And unless God created it supernaturally, which He’s certainly capable of doing…

That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. ~ Romans 4:17, NLT.

…then the oyster that made each pearl had to have been just as massive as the pearl it produced.

And then there are the heavenly streets, which the above-quoted verse says are paved with pure gold. The purest gold here on earth is 24 karat gold, and, as anyone will tell you, it isn’t transparent, or even translucent. In other words, it’s completely opaque, allowing no light to pass through. But Revelation 21:21 says that the gold in Heaven is so pure that it’s as clear as glass, which says to me that, as pure as we think 24 karat gold is, it actually isn’t very pure at all.

My point in talking about gold is that human beings seem to attach a peculiarly high value to gold and jewelry made of gold. Anything made with gold is considered to be especially beautiful by human standards, and yet in Heaven gold is vastly more pure ~ so much more so that it’s transparent ~ but it’s used to pave the streets. That says to me that God doesn’t place the same value on it that we do. He uses it the same way we do asphalt.

In Heaven, gold is equivalent to asphalt! What’s up with that!!

Once again, God’s ideas and values are very different from ours. So much so that we can’t comprehend it! And by the same token, God’s ideas of beauty are vastly different from ours as well,

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by [Eliab’s] appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7, NLT.

To God gold isn’t nearly as valuable as living things, and especially the human heart, because Christ died for human beings. So it seems to me that God thinks human beings, and most of all the human heart, are the most beautiful thing of all.