Saturday, August 23, 2014

Party on the Island 2014

5 years ago, my friends on Winona Lake gathered at our cottage. We celebrated my husband's birthday.

Earlier in the year, doctors had offered us no hope that Mike would still be around at the end of summer. But God showed up with His miracle moves and we had that party. It was glorious but tinged with a bittersweet scent. We certainly believed that this would be Mike's last party.

But no. 2010 and 2011: each lake season ended with a birthday celebration. And then, in 2012, Mike's long time buddy and his ever-energetic wife offered to move the party outside and open it to any and all who showed up.

So, in 2012, we roasted a hog and invited the town. People just kept coming, everybody pitching in some goodies, and the party grew.

Last year, the 2nd Annual Island Party was even bigger and much more fun, even as Mike did not get to attend. We DID send some Sky Lanterns into the darkening sky, in case he was checking in.

Out my window, right now, there's a big barrel in which some pork is roasting. Soon, a team of ladies will gather around my dining room table and begin to pull the pork and place it in trays. There will be a kettle of sauce simmering on the stove.

The band will set up by 6 and the party will commence. I get to spend one more night with my special friends here at the lake.

Tomorrow I head out for a 2 day drive to my next adventure. But for tonight, the party is ON!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The FIVE --- not the TV Show

My home church began a project at the start of this year. B  L  E  S  S, each letter a prompt for some intentional living. I was in the service but I was not paying enough attention. I drifted after B which is  BEGIN THE DAY WITH PRAYER. No matter what else we should do, that’s got to be a great way to start the day. 

So I purposed to do just that, each and every day. And because I need a little structure (note: not ‘little structure’), I chose to make a mental list of 5 things I would mention to the Creator of the Universe. I also decided that, this time, I would present my list without my suggestions as to how He could meet those needs and requests.

Among the life lessons I’ve been filing: God has a much bigger imagination than I have. I think I know how things are going and how things should go and how things will go, as what makes sense to me. And time after time, He blows me away with something completely different. And so much better.  In fact, pretty close to perfect.  Yeah...well...perfect.

So my daily discipline is to roll over, one stretch, and then my  BEGIN. First and foremost, it connects me with my Father. We know that He delights in our prayers so I’m all about delighting Him. And from my church background, I know I can be as casual and conversational as I choose. “Hi, God. Good morning and here’s what I want to bring before you….”

For all of you who are champions of faith, for all of you who have already discovered this, please enjoy and be refreshed that God’s lessons can be learned at a later date, far down the road of life.
I’ve seen answers. I’ve seen miracles. I’ve had my metaphoric socks blown off my metaphorically sock-clad tootsies. A recap:

Three of God’s children who were looking for a job:  JOBS

Two of God’s children who needed a house and who had hit the wall multiple times with offers lost:  HOUSES

Several of God’s children who were stressing over a test in a difficult course: tests NAILED! (When they asked for prayer, understanding that I’m a teacher and all, they promised that they were doing their part)

Several of God’s children, facing hard life choices, sought clarity.  God supplied.

Several of God’s children, walking the path to the cemetery, asked for comfort. I don’t even need a report on this one: God supplies.

Plus, there are some long-term requests that He's taking His time to address. In His time.

I can testify: this is a great way to build up your faith and to remind you that God IS the one who sees the big picture.

No coincidence: God led me to Psalm 37 yesterday. As Mike was winding down, the one thing he really wanted was to finish his semester at IVY Tech. He lived to meet that goal.

PSALM 37: 3-5

3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:

Thank you, Father for this. And for all answers to prayer.  Including those whose answer is WAIT or  NO, TRUST ME.  

I've grown a little protective of my FIVE. It seems that each time one request gets scratched off the list, another surfaces. If not, I can always insert my own needs but I prefer praying for others.

BTW:  somebody got a job....there's a vacancy on The FIVE.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

King David and the Tomato

This morning’s sermon took 2 Samuel 12 as its text. Here is reported the climactic scene in the story of David and Bathsheba. King David had taken another man’s wife into his bed. This man was the King’s champion, serving on the battlefield. Bathsheba became pregnant, the king tried to cover, the plan failed. So, David sent a note to the front, carried by his champion, that this soldier should be placed in the thick of the battle, assuming he would be killed. Assumption correct. David married the widow and the baby was born.

And David went on kinging and all. Yeah, he was God’s man and yeah, this was messy, even sinful, but now it was over and on we go. Except that’s not the way God works and so the prophet Nathan was tasked with the job of calling out the King. That had to be an interesting exchange between the Almighty and His human voice. You want me to do WHAT??? The prophet had to know that with one flick of his wrist, David could call for his death.

Nathan showed up and told David about a guy in the kingdom who had killed his neighbor’s pet ewe for a party dinner instead of taking one of his own...and he had a bunch. David seethed, but not for long. He proclaimed that this sheep killer should die. And then Nathan made the metaphoric leap:  You are that man.

BAM! David heard the word and felt the judgment. David sought forgiveness and Nathan kept his head. However, and this was the point, David’s sin, though forgiven, still carried penalties. In this case, Nathan told him that the child would die; and there were a few more consequences that, if you believe in biblical history, affected the nation of Israel to the present day.

And then after church, several congregants gathered around a kitchen table and held discussions about guilt and forgiveness in today’s world. One erudite observer opined that it seems that the uttering of “I’m sorry” is seen as a wipe-the-slate kind of thing. Like there should be no consequences. If parental/school/employment punishment is advanced, the rule breaker will whine “But I SAID I was sorry.” Like that should erase any consequences for bad actions. We discussed how things were when “we” were little and how nobody worried about our self-esteem when we screwed up. We also, all of us, have vivid memories of choosing badly, experiencing the consequences and then never repeating the wrong. Folks used to call that good learning.

So, feeling a bit smug…those Things Were Different/Better discussions will do that…I place my hand around a perfect, round tomato on the table. 

Big Eyes: WHERE did you GET that???

Well, as I was strolling through the neighbor’s garden, I spied this beauty, deep, deep, deep inside the tomato plants. Plural as in dozens. You almost couldn’t see it as it was hidden by the lush greenery. But I spied it, slid my hand into the bush and plucked it. It took no effort. It was ready to fall. And this is a friend’s garden. I just figured No Big Deal.
However, apparently at least one at our confab had suffered some distress when she plucked a similar fruit. She had been told she was NOT to do that. “But, it’s ok that you did. In fact, it’s a relief,” she said.

Ok. I don’t know what all that drama was about but I guess it’s purloined spoils but  it’s not like you can put it back.  I also knew that 1) there are so many, so so many tomatoes ready and more coming and 2) it’s not like I was stealing: I’ve been given carte blanche in the same garden for raspberries and blackberries. Although another sermon note is that when we sin or screw up (whatever term you choose), we look for ways to justify what we have done so this is my illustration of that very good point. 

I guess I could apologize but, honestly, it would be insincere.
All of this gave me pause until I walked home, sliced up that beauty and lay it across green beans from some else’s garden. I had a very good lunch. And then, I remembered a poem, which embraces in the taking of fruit, and fake regret.

This Is Just to Say
by William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold 

Hmmmm. Time to ponder.