Getting My Full Attention

After one year of marriage and living in California we moved back to the Cincinnati area. Bob had decided not to pursue Medical School, but to go for a degree in Medical Technology. At that time you needed 4 years of college, 1 year of training and then licensing before you could do in-house hospital work. The University of Cincinnati took all of their Med Tech students from their college enrollment. He searched further afield and found a Med Tech school in Lexington Kentucky.

When we were wed Bob made me promise we would not have kids until we were married 5 years. I reluctantly agreed. I have always loved babies. For the first 5 years it seemed that all I saw were pregnant ladies and newborn babies. Finally in Lexington we ‘got pregnant.’

On my due date my mother insisted on visiting us in Lexington. I told her the obstetrician was certain nothing would happen on that date, but she was determined. She came with a Styrofoam cooler of food. She wanted to go shopping. I could barely fit my belly behind her steering wheel to drive.

That night she died in her sleep. (Cerebral hemorrhage ran in her family.) Sadly, I found her the next morning. Bob checked for a pulse and we knew she was gone. It was quite shocking.

Shortly after Bob determined that indeed Mom was dead, I heard her voice repeating, “God works in mysterious ways.” She often said this. I believe she took the saying from a hymn by William Cowper written about 1774 and carried in most Protestant hymnals.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Within an hour of finding my mother dead I told Bob that in some ways it was such a relief. She had been determined to buy a playpen. She said when we came to visit in Cincinnati she would keep the baby and we could go out. I knew I could never let that happen and was going to find a way to tell her so that very weekend. My mother had some sort of personality disorder thing. It was not just the alcoholism. She would be fine, go in the bathroom and when she emerged have this distinct other personality. She was not in the bathroom long enough to get drunk. I would never have felt safe leaving my infant with her.

So, I never had to tell her something that I feared might kill her. I did have to raise my children without their Grandmother around.

The Lord has indeed led and guide me through my years. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Here is a contemporary version of the hymn with a few added lines.

No Photos

The Amish prefer not to be photographed so we never take a photo face-on. One of our best images, not recorded because it occurred too fast, is as follows.

We came over a rise and there were on the side of the road were 5 or 6 little Amish boys in black pants, a few with hats, bowl-cut hair and shirts. They were carrying lunch pails and obviously had just left school. They were fooling around just like all boys seem to do. Laughing and poking one another.

It would have made a WONDERFUL photo. Hopefully some artist some place can drawn or paint it.

Found a photo on line. Our boys were having more fun! I did not notice if they all had their shoes on!

I think we are fascinated by these folks who choose to love God and live a ‘simple’ life. Our modern conveniences often seem more simple than their lifestyle. I am likely wrong though.

I recently read a series of fiction books by Terri Blackstock called the Restoration or Light Series: Last Light, Night Light, Dawn’s Light and True Light. In the story mankind worldwide is stripped of electricity and all the things that implies; no running water, computer, cellphones, TV, video games, landlines etc.. She explores the darkness and kindness of the human heart during the struggles to survive. Finally people did things like dig a well, plow up their sod and landscaping to grow gardens, reach out to help those in the inner city. Actually, it sounded kind of Amish to me. Yes, the people in the story lost weight and worked hard. Perhaps we might be healthier too if we did more of that sort of work?

So the next time a First World problem bothers me like the washer not working right, I intend to remember that washing the clothes by hand and hanging them on a line is hard work. First though, I have to get the HOA to let me!

God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam

and the mountains quake with their surging.

Psalm 46:1-3 NIV

 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

I Was That Girl

Never really fit in with the “In Crowd.” Frankly, I never really cared to try that hard. When my Dad died (just ten days after I turned eleven), I went on a quest to replace him. Nothing and no one came close. Gradually I turned to the Lord and He has filled my every need. While others were scrambling to fulfill the ways of the world, I was usually in my room reading Scripture.

When I was 17 my family of origin blew up. My stepfather was by then entrenched in our lives. My mother was a full-blown alcoholic. My sister was pregnant. Having spent hours on my own studying the Word I was familiar with Psalm 27:10. This verse helped save my sanity and grounded me in His care.

If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.”

Psalm 27:10 RSV

I was ready to attend the University of Cincinnati, the age when most kids have some sort of family departure launch. Instead I was launched into being a Ward of the State until I turned 18. I left the organized church, not being able to reconcile what was happening in my life with the seemingly hunky-dory family lives at my church. I left church and I took Jesus with me.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me,
    uttering slanders against me,
my adversaries and foes,
    they shall stumble and fall.

3 Though a host encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
    yet I will be confident.

4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life
,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
    and to inquire in his temple.
Psalm 27:1-4 RSV

What is this ‘house of the Lord?” We are told by Paul that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

As a child I was dropped off at the Presbyterian church. Loved the choir director, the church school lessons, not so much the services. They would read from the Scriptures “Bow down before the Lord,” yet no one did.

Come, let us bow down in worship,

    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker

Psalm 95:6

By the age of 14 I had never been baptized or confirmed. My mother refused to let me go to the Catholic church with my best friend. I had been introduced to the Episcopal Church. I liked the bowing down and prayer book and though the worship music was not the best, it would do. I made arrangements for my own confirmation classes. I was too old for the children’s group and too young for the adult’s group. I met with the the Pastor privately. I was delighted the day I was confirmed. Just delighted.

I will try to unfold my life with Jesus in the coming weeks. Hoping not to bore you. It is the story I can tell best because I lived it!

My Utmost

Shut out every other consideration and keep yourself before God for this one thing only—My Utmost for His Highest. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and for Him alone.”

OSWALD CHAMBERS

Why is this important? I want my everything to be for God. I want to yield to His will and His Word.

I found a quote in my notes. At the time I did not write down the notation of where it was from. Eventually I found it was by Oswald Chambers in the devotional My Utmost for His Highest, June 11.

He wrote regarding “And I will give you rest,” i.e., ‘I will stay you. Not – I will put you to bed and hold your hand and sing you to sleep; but – I will get you out of bed, out of languor and exhaustion, out of the state of being half dead wile you are awake; I will imbue you with the spirit of life, and you will be stayed by the perfection of vital activity.”

That is the sort of motivation I need. I need it regularly. I need a call to constant infilling with the spirit of life.

You can go to https://utmost.org/ to read the Utmost devotion for each day or sign up for it to be sent to your mailbox. If you want to read the full text the quote above is lifted from go to https://utmost.org/getting-there-1/

Jesus, Grandma Snapp, GBS, Mrs. Cowman, Oswald Chambers, Molly Lin Dutina. The Lord is powerful in His weaving and creating. I praise You, Lord! How majestic are His ways over all generations! How majestic is Your Name!

LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?  
You have made them a little lower than the angels  
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalm 8 NIV

Garage Door

The garage door has been making a clunking sound. It is a loud clunk as it rumbles up the tracks to the ceiling. We called the warranty people.

A young man come out to adjust and inspect it. The spring was too loose. The spring was too tight. (Oh my goodness that sounds like me!) He drilled, he adjusted, he finally was working to a point where Bob thought perhaps he had gotten in over his own head? The door was down and Bob needed it up to have enough light to work on his project.

Yes, way beyond me! A few days after he left Bob noticed there is a gap on the bottom of the door on one side only. Guess we need to call the company and have them out again? We do give thanks for repairmen who come to adjust things in the house, tweak this, seal that, etc.

It does not clunk anymore and that is a relief! Bob has worked without stopping the last nine weeks. We are very, very close to getting both cars in the garage! His workbench is filled. He hung the extra lighting over it, a nifty little LED unit that has a motion detector on it. When we walk into the garage it turns on! Our last door lift did that but our new one does not. Compared to the last house it will be tight with both cars in the garage since we have so much more in the garage sans basement! First world problem. We will make it work or get rid of more stuff.

Come winter we will be delighted to have the cars out of the weather!

Watch and Pray

 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:34-36 NIV

You do not have to be carousing or participating in drunkenness for your heart to be weighed down. The anxieties of life will do that. Man, don’t I know it’s so!?

Gratefulness does not come easy to us. “First world problems” can invade and weigh us down without our even being aware of it. Suddenly there is no joy, no lightness to life. Everything seems to be going wrong. Nothing is positive. Why do we let this happen to ourselves repeatedly? This was a battle I had to fight as we relocated. Then one day I realized that we were going to “Platform,” ‘our forever home.’ We talk about adopted dogs being given their forever home. Bob and I decided this house will be our forever home unless, God forbid, one of us has to go to a nursing home.

This Platform is where I hope to encounter the Lord in my final years on earth. This Platform is where I hope to graduate to be with Him forever. I am told to “Watch and Pray…” will I be faithful to do that little bit?

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all exhort us to watch and pray. In Colossians, Paul tells us to devote ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Sadly we are like the dog character from the movie “Up” who flips his brain and attention every time he senses a “Squirrel.”

There is more at stake here than pleasing an old man who is his master. This discipline will help us to escape all that is about to happen. When Peter lost his focus upon Jesus he began to sink in the stormy water. If we want to ‘be able to stand before the Son of Man” at the end of our earthly life, we must take this discipline seriously. I am not preaching at you. I am reminding myself, too. Nothing good comes from negative, ungrateful thinking; only trouble and the possibility of going under when we should be walking on the heights.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6:10-13

Verse 18b reads “With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying …..” Will you take your stand today, keeping on watch and praying? We can choose to let prayer occupy our minds. I have one friend in her 80’s who prays the instant you tell her about something that has you ill at ease. Instead of commenting “Oh dear me” she just out loud goes to the Lord right then in prayer. Sometimes I get annoyed by her behavior, but gradually I am learning that she is exhibiting what I am called to. My annoyance is driven by my failure to do the same. Oops.

Lord, help us to take Your Word seriously. Open our hands to lay down the petty first world problems that want to take over our minds. We need Your help in order to devote ourselves to You. Be the first order of business in every hour of our lives. Help us to honor You, our Risen Lord, with our lips and with our lives. Amen.

True Freedom

There is a saying that we owe our liberty to Jesus and the soldier. The fourth of July celebrates our liberty from England. I want to celebrate my liberty as a servant of Christ.

Reading the notes in my Harper’s Study Bible I came across this comment upon Galatians 5:1. “…Liberty brings believers by voluntary choice into total submission to Jesus Christ and His will for us. The grand paradox of Scripture is that those who are slaves of Jesus Christ have the greatest freedom.” Yeah and amen!!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1 NIV

Andrew Murray wrote Absolute Surrender. It is what I desire with God. Here is one excerpt from Murray.

“Oh, I want to encourage you, and I want you to cast away every fear. Come with that feeble desire; and if there is the fear which says: “Oh, my desire is not strong enough, I am not willing for everything that may come, I do not feel bold enough to say I can conquer everything”—I pray you, learn to know and trust your God now. Say: “My God, I am willing that Thou should make me willing.” If there is anything holding you back, or any sacrifice you are afraid of making, come to God now, and prove how gracious your God is, and be not afraid that He will command from you what He will not bestow.

Murray, A. (1897). Absolute Surrender (p. 9). New York; Chicago; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company.

It has been proven by the experience of Christians over centuries that those who are slaves to Christ are free from the oppressive power of men. Try as they might, the German soldiers under Hitler could not break the spirit of Corrie ten Boom. Those who trust in God as their Master are not broken by men.

Viktor Frankl wrote about that, too, in Man’s Search for Meaning “Everything can be taken from a man but one last thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Molly, for one, has chosen to live by the ways of Christ. Isa 55: 8-9 says,

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher that Your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Yes, we are different than our God, but we are to seek for Him. He promises in Jeremiah –

You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

My attempt at Absolute Surrender is made possible by the efforts of God. He puts His desire in my heart. He supplies me with strength and determination to pursue His will. He helps me to choose my attitude from His word and His will for me. I pray, Lord, help me to pursue You and grant me liberty in any place, any time, any circumstance. Amen.

Won’t you pursue this Absolute Surrender as the way to eternal liberty with me?

And Now for Our Next Trick!

So the inertia is gone (as too our energy) and our belongings are all set in a new house in different room layout and wow! The tablecloth was jerked away but only one or two things that we wrapped poorly were broken.

Here we are at 27 Platform. The sun just broke over the neighbor’s house. In a few minutes it will be caught in the living room window prism. An entire rainbow of opportunities lies before us.

The black bags are full of straw and scattered where ever the construction is going on to stop run off. The entrance has a lot still being built upon!

So far

We were grieving having to leave our woods on the back hill. In this, too, the Lord took care of us! The neighbor (Angela) has a lovely yard. Turns out she was in grief when they built our subdivision and removed the trees that used to stand on the edge of her property before the farmland began. Told me she came home from work one day and was in shock that the woods were just gone. I shared with her that we are grateful for her large trees and the wildlife that likes her yard.

Now I am rejoicing in her giant maple trees. There is marshy ground that runs between our property lines. She said it got much worse when they took all the trees down. Have no idea how we can garden there? Maybe a weeping willow and some pussy willow shrubs? I think day lilies like wet ground, too. Time will tell.

View from our dining room table.

I know that is not a good photo because of the screen, but we were delighted to see a Doe and Fawn in Angela’s yard one day. The rabbits abound out there. I now understand better the saying about breeding like bunnies!

We have seen rabbits, several hawks, song birds, squirrels, four spot pennant dragonfly and many damselflies.

Cautious Doe watching out for her Fawn. The stake is the corner of our lot.

We already had gutter guards put on due to the abundance of maple seeds clogging the gutters. In southwest Ohio when you do not have a yard yet and it rains really hard, this is what you get!

The landscape company came today, but they had the wrong plants for us. Shucks!! We are hoping to get plants and sod soon.

Lord of rain and sky and Ohio clay, we thank You for this home and the challenges of moving and meeting new neighbors.

Moving In

Here are a few photos from our moving in experience. The piggy my mother used as a cookie jar made it in tact. Ellie and I had packed it and hoped it would be fine.

Thank goodness for bubble wrap and tape! Lizzie helped unpack and Lucky loved that!

Jeff had uprooted plants for us and planted them in buckets that he drilled holes in. I was uncertain if my 20+ year old rose would transplant again?

She made it!
This is where walkway meets the driveway. Lucky thinks this water tastes best!

So yes, there is more photo material to share with you. I usually have a start and stop reentry. Hope to be more consistent soon! We are so grateful for our new home!