My Everyday Ordinary Life – #1

I’ve started doing timed writings. Just type for 10-20 minutes no editing, no backspacing (I just messed that up), nothing . . . just keep typing, force myself to write.

I do better writing by hand. The typing causes me to go back and edit. But I’m going to leave this. So, if you’re here and find a lto of mistakes, forgive me. In fact, you might want to pass up reading this article if mistakes bother you too much. I will correct some . . . i can’t help myself, but I’m going to try to leave them.

A big problem with this timed writing is deciding what to write about. I’d really like to start sharing some of my childhood, but it seems so boring. It was wonderful, don’t get me wrong. But without conflict, a story is dull . . . yep, that’s my life.

I guess boring is really a blessing. If I had something worth writing about it would mean I had trauma in my life.

Part of the problem is that the trauma I did have just seemed a part of life. No one made a big deal about it It happens . . . we just dealt with it.

Kind of like the day my dad carried me down to the pen next to the barn. He showed me a brand new calf. This tiny red heifer was born a couple of months early, but that meant it was near my birthday. So Daddy allowed me to name it and made me think it was mine. I called it Brownie.

Here’s the part that city folks think is strange. I knew Brownie would only get to live a few years, and I was OK with that, even as a very young child. Killing livestock for food was part of life. we didn’t think a thing about it.

I told my story to a bunch of teens one day. One of them in particular was really freaked out. She didn’t understand how we could possibly name an animal and then eat it a few years later. Even an old dog dying was traumatic to her. But on a farm death is as much a part of life as birth. We don’t stress about it, and don’t think about it being traumatic. There isn’t excitement in it. It’s not really worth writing about.

Unless perhaps you’re a city person. If you’re anti-hunting and against eating meat, I can see how that could be an exciting, over-the-top story for you. But for me, it’s just the story of an other day of my life.

The stories of my grandparents on my mother’s side are much the same. Both were very ill most of my life. Each went to live with Jesus before they were sixty. But I never thought it was strange to see my grandfather’s toes all black with cotton between them. At seven, I assumed everyone visited their grandparents in the hospital and got birthday gifts that had been purchased in the hospital gift shops. I was devestated when they died. They practically lived iwth us most of the time. However, I think I always knew they’d be gone early. They were always so sick. So what may seem traumatic to some, seemed like normal life to me. It wasn’t pleasant, but no one ever promised me a perfect and pleasant life.

So, i’m oing to try to find somethings to write about in these timed messages . . . Maybe if you’re reading this, you could make a suggestion below. I’m writing something everyday, either here or in my journal. I’ll probably end up sharing some of my relatively boring life . . . but for some maybe it won’t be so boring.

I Confess . . . Sometimes I Judge

I don’t mean to.

Really, I don’t . . . but I know I do.

Twice in the last few days I felt the disgust that comes with judgement rise up in my soul. It was because of posts on Facebook. Sometimes I wonder if I should delete my account, but then I read a post from a cousin who lives far away, or see pictures of a nephew who I just don’t have time to connect with often and remember the good outweighs the bad.

But back to the judging. I’m just going to put it out here. Because while I need to have a different attitude within my spirit toward the individuals involved, the issues I’m having with their actions are not wrong.

The Bible tells me I can’t judge even the actions of those outside the church. And, you know what? I’m actually pretty good at that! I don’t have much problem with someone who doesn’t claim to be following Christ doing things that don’t honor Christ. Sinners will sin . . . it’s what we do!

But the Bible also tells me if a brother or sister is caught in sin, I should gently reprove them. THIS is what I have problems with. There’s not much love in my heart when I see those hypocritical posts on Facebook. When I hear someone preaching about what the Bible says and they are blatantly living a lifestyle outside of scripture, my judgmental spirit kicks in.

I’m not talking about a sin here or there. What bothers me is the sinful lifestyle. We’re all going to do things that aren’t Christ honoring from time to time. We’re human, it’s going to happen. But people who put themselves in a lifestyle that is anything but Christian, and then start preaching . . . well that makes my blood boil.

I’m specifically talking about adultery.

Twice in the last couple of weeks, men whom I don’t know well, not well enough to rebuke, got up on their soapbox to share their scriptural opinion. Now, you might wonder how I know about their lifestyle if I don’t know them well. I know their significant others very well.

Both of these men started dating someone I know well while they were still married. One of them was married himself, the other calls himself a pastor. They both moved in with their sweethearts while the girls were still married. And both women were excited to have found a nice Christian man. Do you see my problem?

So now when I see their posts defending their political view with the Bible, giving scriptural advice and comfort to my real friends, I get angry.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I could feel some compassion toward them, if I wanted to help them see the truth. But all I feel is angry. I want to send them private messages explaining their folly. But until I feel less judgmental, I just can’t . . . no matter how “right” my observation is.

So, I’ll be working on the judgement . . . trying to love more . . . trying to be more like Christ. In the meantime, if you’re reading this and it hits home, do me a favor and talk to Jesus, be honest with yourself and Him, and do things the right way. It will really save me some frustration!

What to do with the Pain

Polymyalgia Rheumatica . . . As of today I hit the one year mark. Not that I knew what it was a year ago, but that’s when the pain started.

During January, I thought I had it managed. I even imagined perhaps it had gone into a sort of remission (PMR does that!). But after the last three days, I’m pretty sure it’s still hanging on.

But, in case you’re wondering, let me tell you what I think helped the pain.

I accidentally stumbled on to this solution of sorts. Right around the first of December I got till I couldn’t sleep. And it just kept getting worse. I’m up till 3 AM every day and then I only sleep about 4 or 5 restless hours. I thought perhaps the prednisone was finally catching up with me. They’ve asked since I started taking it if it was causing sleep problems.

So, I decided to cut out the caffeine. I never drink caffeine at home anyway, but I needed something to drink when I’m out. I’m not really a water drinker.

Several years ago I’d discovered this Ayurvedic tea while watching Hallmark Home and Family (something like that). It was supposed to be good for migraines with a side effect of weight loss. Well, I’d love to see the weight loss, so I started drinking it. I didn’t drop a pound, but the tea wasn’t bad . . . it reminds me of a chicken broth . . . and it did seem to clear my brain fog.

I drank it everyday for a good while, but then tapered off when Summer came round. So, when I was looking for a substitute for the caffeinated drinks, I decided to start drinking it again.

A side effect I didn’t expect was the way it helped with the pain. After a week of drinking it I was practically pain free. I’m guessing the effect it has on migraines is to decrease inflammation, and since this disease is primarily inflamed blood vessels, it helps!

But, now . . . are you wondering why I’ve been in pain these past three days. . .

If you have PMR and you take Vitamin C, I recommend making sure the Vitamin C isn’t fighting against the Prednisone. They told me it wouldn’t, but every time I increase my Vitamin C to 2000 MG per day instead of 1000 MG per day, I have pain, and it’s not just mild . . . it hurts!

I first noticed it in October because every year in the fall I up my Vitamin C to boost my immune system in the colder weather. That’s when I asked the pharmacist who told me he’d never heard of Vitamin C having any affect on Prednisone. He did tell me to back off and see if I noticed a difference.

I did . . . and I did. So I told my doc, who also told me it shouldn’t matter how much I take, but everyone is different. I tried upping the Vitamin C again to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, and again I had pain.

My rheumatologist had the same advice. But every time my throat starts to burn, I up the Vitamin C a bit to try to keep it from becoming laryngitis, and then I have to decide which is worse, the pain in my legs, arms, neck and head or the pain in my throat, ears, nose and sinus cavities.

I assume the problem lies in the fact that Vitamin C is an immune booster and Prednisone is an immune suppressor. Although all the medical studies say they shouldn’t fight one another, they do in my body. So, if you struggle with PMR, it’s probably something you might want to be aware of.

OH . . . the tea . . .
1/2 t. cumin seeds
1/2 t. coriander seeds
1/2 t. fennel seeds

Boil in about 20-24 oz. of water for a few minutes.
Sip warm tea all day

I keep mine in a nice Contigo mug with the tea ball in it.

Book Review – The Alamo Bride

Kathleen Y’Barbo has done it again! This is the seventh book in this series (not all of them by Miss Y’Barbo), and they just keep getting better. I really don’t enjoy romances, but these historical fiction reads with just a splattering of romance keep my attention from beginning to end. From character development to putting the reader right in the middle of the scene this book does it all. Yet, the descriptions are not so wordy I want to skim through them. There’s just enough history to keep those of us who don’t enjoy romances coming back, but the historical nature isn’t overwhelming. The history is the backdrop, nicely woven into the plot. If you’d never heard of General Houston or the Alamo, you might imagine the author created these characters and places. I truly enjoyed “The Alamo Bride” and highly recommend it!

Life . . . It’s What Happens

I’m not sure why we expect our day to day to be perfect. Why do we get disappointed, surprised and even angry when life happens? I’ve not found any promises for a perfect and/or easy life. Here’s what I have found:

I’ve found that Adam and Eve couldn’t follow directions so God promised pain and toil as long as we walk on this earth.

I’ve found that humans have suffered persecution and disease ever since the fall

I’ve found that
Noah was probably persecuted for his faith, and that year on the boat had to feel like it would never end. I’m guessing he even lost some family and friends in that flood. He was responsible for feeding and cleaning up after 100’s of animals. Think about how hard that year was physically, mentally and emotionally.

Job . . . there isn’t room here to talk about Job.

Abraham was afraid.

Lot was afraid.

Isaac couldn’t see and could hardly hear when he got old

Jacob lied. He lived away from his family for 20 years or more. His own father-in-law cheated him many times.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. Every time he thought he was going to get a break someone let him down. He was in prison for a long time.

Moses couldn’t talk right. He killed someone. He never did admit to his faults. He missed going into the promised land.

David was afraid for his life. First his best friend’s dad wanted him dead and later his own son. And that doesn’t begin to touch all the battles he fought. He lived with shame.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are more stories in the Bible and even more from outside scripture that describe heartache, destruction, pain and all sorts of evil falling upon humans.

The holocaust.
The hunger in third world countries.
Human Trafficking

That’s life.

So why do we expect better?

First of all, I think that in developed countries we have it too easy. We’re used to instant gratification and an easy life. So, the minute life gets hard, we get angry or depressed. Some of the things that happen to us, if we’d put it in perspective, would look a little less horrific. I don’t want to minimize anyone’s pain. And I know it’s all relative, one person’s trial is another person’s growth moment. But seriously, if you put your bad day on a scale and weighed it next to a day as a prisoner in Auschwitz, would it look a bit different?

Second, I believe that within each of us is the memory of the Garden of Eden. Somewhere deep inside we know heaven exists. Otherwise, reflecting back on history why wouldn’t we just look at hardship and tragedy as “part of life” and move on. What is there that keeps us hoping for a better day, a more positive outcome, a cushy life? The only thing I can find that would give us any indication that we are destined for something good is the fact we are created in the image of God. We have the knowledge deep inside of us that we were made for something more.

You see we were created for the Garden. We were designed for heavenly perfection. It’s what humans were meant to have, to know. And deep inside our intricate DNA that knowledge remains. It’s passed from generation to generation and it continually strives for a truth we know to be true, but one that cannot be grasped on this side of eternity.

We have the power to make this life better. When we make Christ our Savior and allow the Holy Spirit to work inside of us we have the capability to make it more bearable for those around us. But even in the midst of a hundred folks all striving to be more like Christ, there will still be disease and the effects of persecution from those outside the circle. That’s life.

Even so, when we truly trust in Jesus Christ we can have peace in this life. It may not come in the way we want it to. A perfect life doesn’t always bring peace, but the Spirit of Christ does. When we trust in Him and believe in the promises of God, we can be like David. Even when his enemies were coming against him and he faced betrayal and abandonment, he said with confidence, “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27)

Why Bible Study and Sunday School?

About 1/2 the folks in our church come to Sunday School and/or Bible Study. I get it that mid-week is difficult for working moms and folks who work way more overtime than they’d like. But I’m not sure why everyone doesn’t come an hour early on Sunday Morning. I’ve heard “It’s my only morning to sleep in”, but really . . . you can’t get up by 9 AM to be at Sunday School by 10 AM? I like to sleep in . . . but seriously?!?!

Today, as I prepared for Wednesday evening’s discussion, I wondered how many folks don’t realize what they’re missing by only coming out on Sundays for the sermon. So here’s a little bit of explanation and a little info about how your “reasons” for not coming are really just lame excuses:

REASON 1 – I Don’t Know Enough To Come to Sunday School
Truthfully, this is the lamest of all excuses.
Would you let your 7th grader skip school because he didn’t know enough math to go to math class? There will always be people who know a bit more than you do (if not how would we learn), but there will also always be people who can learn from you. And in Bible classes that can sometimes be the person who you thought knew more than you. It’s amazing the things God has taught me from people who didn’t know much at all about the Bible. Sometimes it’s even the question they ask. Sometimes they ask something I’d never even thought to wonder about before, and it causes me to dig and pray. So, dump this excuse and join a small group somewhere.

REASON 2 – Everything I need to Know I’ve Heard in a Sermon at Somepoint
Maybe this is true . . . but I doubt it.
When I was preparing today, I realized why this excuse is invalid. I just printed out a copy of four parallel passages of scripture. We’re going to look at how the story is the same and different in each gospel and why all four gospel authors thought it was important. PLUS, someone will have a question that I didn’t even think to ask, I’m certain of it. Your pastor can not possibly cover everything in the scripture on Sunday mornings. Plus, he or she can only go so deep because there are hopefully always newbies in your midst. Bible Study and Sunday small groups offer an opportunity to look a little deeper, hear other’s opinions and questions and ask questions yourself. Look around, it’s the folks in these small groups who are growing in the faith the fastest.

Book Review – Shelter of the Most High

When I got this book to review, I discovered it was book #2 in the series. So I immediately got Book #1 from the library. After reading it, I was even more excited to read and review “Shelter of the Most High.” And I wasn’t disappointed. As with book one, the author gets your attention on page one, the storyline forcing you to keep reading to find out what happens next. And because it’s book 2, “Shelter of the Most High” causes one to read until you can figure out how it’s going to tie in with book one!
I enjoyed these two books so much I’ve already put a library hold on the books from the “Out from Egypt” series. I highly recommend!

Book Review – The Liberty Bride

# 6 in the Mayflower Brides series –

I received this as a free download at #NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
I truly enjoyed this book. I enjoyed the history of the War of 1812. I’m probably less familiar with this period of history than any other. And Tyndall’s fictional characters and adventure made the history even more exciting. Emiline Baratt is a believable heroine. She’s strong and independent. Her story kept me captivated. I’d highly recommend this hard to put down story.

My Church

Is that a phrase you use? 
“My Church”

If it is, I have to wonder, what do you do to demonstrate ownership of said church? Don’t get me wrong, if you use that phrase, I praise God you are in a church, and hope it’s one where you’re developing a real relationship with your Savior.

But I think more Christians need to really take ownership of their church or use the phrase, “The Church I attend.” Because if you have been a pew warmer for more than a year or two after you’ve made Jesus your Savior, then it’s not really “Your Church.” 

Now, if you’re reading this and have never accepted what Jesus did for you on the cross, this doesn’t really apply to you. And if you’d like to know more about that, get in touch with me or go talk to your pastor (and if he can’t help you out with that question, then find a different church to call “My Church.”) But if you’ve been born again (check out John 3), if you’ve tasted the heavenly gift, as Paul says in Hebrews, then that Sunday morning worship center should be more than just a building you visit once a week.

What are you doing for the body of Christ? What can you do to benefit the congregation . . . something that’s of no benefit to you?

You see, once you’ve made Christ your Savior, you are now part of the body. And just like a hand that does nothing would be unacceptable and even devastating, so is a part of Christ’s body that just takes up space. 

What should you do? 

I can’t really answer that for you. I have no idea what your gifts are, but you can do something. Christians were not created to be Spiritual consumers. (Again, if you’ve never made Jesus your Savior, then you are still a consumer) Christ told us to make disciples, to do works in keeping with our salvation (not to bring us salvation . . . it doesn’t work that way). 

I can tell you there are all kinds of little things that need done in every body of Christ and you should be doing something. Look around. Are the weeds building up outside the building? Go pull them. Does something need paint? Ask if you can paint it. Do you give a full tithe (10% of the gross of your income), then up it. If you can’t give 10% this week, then give one percent more than you are now, and up it once a month until you’re at 10%. 

Every person who attends a church and calls themselves a Christian has a vital role in the life of that congregation. 

Perhaps you think you can’t do anything because you’re old. Does your congregation have a prayer team or chain? Are you on it? Have you ever asked your pastor for a list of every person who attends so you can pray for the body every day?  What if you sent notes to ever person in your congregation once or twice a year? What impact would that have on the body? Do not let age or disability stop you from taking ownership of your church.

Maybe you work seventy hours a week and there’s just no way you have time for anything but Sunday Mornings. Could you arrive early to turn on the heat or put on a pot of coffee? Do you actively participate in a Sunday Morning Bible Class (not just a spectator, but that person who asks questions and answers them to keep the discussion going)? If you work all those hours, do you have extra funds so you could give over your tithe to help with the work that needs done? Perhaps you could pay a less fortunate congregant to take care of those weeds. Don’t let the “I just don’t have time” keep you from taking ownership of your church.

Are you inviting people to come with you on Sundays?

I have no idea what you could do to help the body of Christ. But I know for a fact you can do something. And if you don’t, it’s not really “your church.” If you neglect being a help to the congregation then you are a consumer; it’s the church you attend. 

Take ownership of your church. Surprise your pastor today and tell him or her what you’re going to do so that the church you attend is thriving, so the church you attend is “your church.” 

Stoic or Christian

Did you know there’s a difference?

I recently read a book by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye about the Doctor and Historian Luke. It was a work of fiction and assumed that Luke was a Stoic before Christ found him. 

Most people don’t even know what a Stoic is; however, after getting to know Stoicism a bit better, I’ve come to the conclusion many people who call themselves Christian are truly Stoic.

Wikipedia says Stocism is “predominantly a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to happiness for humans is found in accepting this moment as it presents itself, by not allowing ourselves to be controlled by our desire for pleasure or our fear of pain, by using our minds to understand the world around us and to do our part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.” 

Stoicism is being accepting of everyone just they way they are (a very Christian principle). Stoics respect creation and want to be fair and just. If you looked at a stoic’s life, you might assume they were Christian. The values and lifestyle seem very similar.

But it’s the heart of the two that separate them. 

You see, at the heart of Stoicism is self. A Stoic works hard to make himself a better person. His lifestyle is all about self-denial and self-control. While noble and commendable, it’s nearly impossible. One of the greatest problems in the whole lifestyle is the lack of joy. The process of becoming “good” doesn’t bring happiness. In fact it’s more likely to create inner turmoil because as hard as we try to live this lofty life, we’re likely to have thoughts that don’t line up with our Stoic views. For a true Stoic the selfish thoughts cause him to question himself. There is no peace, just hard work to be a great person. Oh, there will be some who will succeed because their personality just lends itself to Stoicism, but those who are more realistic than altruistic will fail almost every time. 

On the other hand at the heart of Christianity is Christ. True Christianity is based on the Holy Spirit doing all the work, cleaning, changing, transforming. The person doesn’t have to do the work, just be willing to allow the Spirit to do the work. Most things that don’t change in the Christian are because she didn’t really want to change that aspect, or she was trying to do it on her own. When we allow Christ’s Spirit to do the work, there is peace and freedom. No rules. A life for Christ does the right thing out of love for a Savior, not out of regulations or self-discipline. 

The Christian bases his goodness on the righteousness of Christ and allows the Spirit to do the work, there is no self involved. The Stoic strives her whole life to be good on her own, an impossible task.

I hope this short article will encourage you to look at your life and decide if you’re truly a Christian or really a Stoic. While Stoic’s are tremendously good people, they’re missing out on the best part of Christianity. And at the end of this life, they’ll live eternally in Hell. I don’t want that for you. 

As a Christian I have admitted I am not good enough for heaven. It just can’t happen. I have accepted that Jesus Christ made the sacrifice to make me good enough and taken His righteousness as my own. And finally, I have invited the Holy Spirit to change me. It’s a slow process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but I am free from guilt and shame, and I have peace while the change is happening. I delight in Christ and am blessed because my Father in Heaven Loves ME!