Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Indulgent? Who, me?

Indulgence.  What comes to mind with that word?  To me, it means all things chocolate as well as an afternoon of old movie viewing; or just doing whatever seems right at the moment.  You know ... all the little indulgences that make for life's spice. 

Not such bad things, eh? 

Not bad, that is, unless & until one pays a visit to Merriam who doesn't speak kindly of such things:  excessive or unrestrained gratification of one's own appetites, desires, or whims

May I just tell you right here, right now that there are waaaayyyyy too many whims in my life that go unchecked.  Since this isn't a confessional in the truest sense, I'll spare you the details (they'd be boring anyway, trust me).  Just know that I view far too much T.V., engage in far too much social media, and treat myself to far too many goodies.  The braking system in several areas of my life needs re-lining.

I'm about to step into the role of facilitator at a Women's mentoring group through our church.  The subject I've selected:  obedience.  Well, I should have known a life lesson for ME was coming way ahead of what the Lord has in store for the women.  What is it we've heard? God will do a work IN you before He does a work THROUGH you.

Like it or not, I'm learning again how to round up my mind's escapees, making note of the fact that the sweet smelling aroma God delights in (2 Corinthians 2:14) is, quickly likely, NOT chocolate chip cookies.

For though we live in the world,
we do not wage war as the world does.  
The weapons we fight with are
not the weapons of the world.
On the contrary, they have divine power
to demolish strongholds.
We demolish arguments and every pretension
that sets itself up against the
knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:2-5

Better that, than this ... 

Don’t have anything to do with foolish
and stupid arguments, because you know
they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant
must not be quarrelsome but
 must be kind to everyone,
able to teach, not resentful.
Opponents must be gently instructed,
in the hope that God will grant them repentance
leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
and that they will come to their senses and
escape from the trap of the devil,
who has taken them captive to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:22-26 

Starting today, it is my intention to take a 40 day break from many of the routines of my life - some good, some not-so-good, and some I'm just not sure about in either sense.   See you on the other side.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Forever a Boomer

1948 - the year that ...
  • Ted Mack's Original Amatuer Hour began
  • Mahatma Ghanda was assassinated 
  • President Henry Truman promoted civil rights
  • NASCAR was incorporated
  • The 20th Academy Awards ceremony took place
  • New York subway fares spiked from 5 cents to 10
  • Israel defended itself throughout the year & defeated a lethal cadre of enemies to become an independant nation for the first time since 70 A.D.
  • Babe Ruth bid farewell to Yankee Stadium; then passed away a few, short months later
  • Queen Wilhelmina abdicated the Dutch throne
  • Ireland voted for independance from the U.K.
  • The game of Scrabble made its debute
  • Hoppalong Cassidy premiered on television
  • Popular songs were:  Buttons & Bows/Dinah Shore, Now is the Hour/Bing Crosby, Because/Perry Como, Lavendar Blue/Sammy Kaye
... And I was born

A postwar baby, I would forever join the ranks of the Boomers -- a select group born between 1946 & 1964.  We Boomers are now among the leading edge of retirees, advancing headlong into our senior years.  We are not going quietly.

There is much about my generation that I take issue with, but this I know:  We are a contingent that does not take quickly or kindly to inaction.  We are among the first to embrace intentionality & personal accountability.  We follow on the heels of the Greatest Generation, which is to say we know what it means to honor God with one's whole life, to cherish family and to do without.  Though a somewhat rebellious lot, we eventually learned to cherish & fiercely guard the freedoms this country & our God-fearing parents espouse. 

It is a good day to be 64.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Note to Self: Rejoice!

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise Him,
my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:5

Several times within the past 72 hours I have sat across from, or among people whose joy had been obscured by some difficult & exceedingly painful situation.  How tempting & easy it would be to rush in, a fool like Job's friends, and smatter platitudes like fairy dust.  They're equal in value. 

Last night, while attending our weekly Home Fellowship, the subject of joy surfaced again ... this time in the context of sharing the Good News, the Gospel.  Apart from obedience, it's the motivation for so doing.  I've been musing since, for it is exceedingly clear to me that joy is an engine that hauls a great deal.  For the believer, it is the source of our strength - - the headwaters of hope & courage, and of resolve.

It's not optional, this joy thing.   It comes among the various & lavish gifts woven into our spirits by God's own Spirit.  And no matter where we turn among the jots & tittles there is a summons, a reminder, a command to grip it firmly.  Unlike fairy dust, it has great value.

Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:12).

“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20).

“Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” (John 4:36).

“Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy(John 16:20).

“Therefore you too now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you” (John 16:22).

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).

And again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people” (Romans 15:10).

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it (1 Corinthians 12:26).

... does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6).

Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11).

For it is written, “Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; for more are the children of the desolate than of the one who has a husband” (Galatians 4:27).

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice (Philippians 1:18).

But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.  And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me (Philippians 2:17-18).

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you (Philippians 3:1).

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philip. 4:4).

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. (Col. 1:24).

For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account (1 Thessalonians 3:9).

Rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials (1 Peter 1:6).

... and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8).

... but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation (1 Peter 4:13).

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).

Much has been written on the subject of joy, and from every angle possible.  It's a condition easily confused with happiness, which then gets all muddied up with one's faith or faithfulness (or lack thereof), or even doubts about one's salvation.  Job's friends can tell us all about THAT, but it is comforting to know it is anything BUT. 

Long ago I made my peace with this business of trouble (aka suffering).  I don't much like it, nor do I seek it out.  But it's a servant if I'll but employ it when it shows up on my doorstep.  As such, it has no authority to borrow, manipulate or steal my gift of joy (no matter how dusty it might appear at any given moment). 

It's true:  trouble seems heaviest & darkest at night ... how well I know.  But with dawn's early light,  joy does arrive ... of which I know even better! (Psalm 30:5)

Simply put, only the joy of the Lord
supplies us with true strength.
We can talk all we want to about our
ten- or twenty-year walk with Christ.
We can show off our robe of righteousness.
But if we're not allowing the Holy Spirit
to maintain the joy of the Lord
in our hearts - if we aren't continually
hungering for his word -
then we're losing our fire.
And we won't be ready for what
comes upon the world in these last days. 

Oh, blessed day, when every man
shall say, "I want to know wherein
I am wrong; I desire to know what
I am to do; I am anxious to follow
the Lord fully."
Well, then, if your joy in God
leads you to practical obedience,
you may rest assured it has made
you strong in the very best manner. 

"We do not always feel joyful, but we are to count it all joy. The word "reckon" is one of the key words of Scripture. It is the same word used about our death to self (Romans 6: 11). We do not feel dead. We are painfully conscious of something that would gladly return to life. But we are to treat ourselves as dead and neither fear nor obey the old nature.

So we are to reckon the thing that comes as a blessing. We are determined to rejoice, to say, my heart is fixed, 0 God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise (Psalm 57:7). This rejoicing by faith will soon become a habit and will bring continually the spirit of gladness and the spontaneous overflow of praise."

Then, although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:17). 
A.B. Simpson

Pulpit Series, Maintaining the Joy of the Lord
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, The Joy of the Lord, the Strength of His People

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Art of Listening

Anyone who's navigated the scriptures for any length of time knows there's a grand design to it - - far grander than any mere prologue or epilogue can convey.  Nothing is wasted; nothing that can be ignored.  The things that don't make sense today make sense tomorrow.  The things that made sense ten years ago now mean something even more poignant. 

Regardless of which book, or which passage of scripture I select, there are recurring themes that often follow me around for days on end.  In recent weeks I have been accompanied by the subject of listening

Years ago my mother was often given to chuckling (or annoyance) about how readily I ran to the kitchen when I heard the crumple of a candy wrapper, but how feigned my response - "I didn't hear you" - when called to dry dishes.  Seems we are all capable of hearing what we want to hear & tuning out the rest. 

No one did this better than God's wayward people.  It was the root cause of their trouble, for certainly not listening meant not hearing, and not hearing meant not obeying, and not obeying meant a trip to the woodshed. 

In the Book of Jeremiah alone we find the term listen used over 57 times in direct corrolation to God's people being told to listen, and then being told why their not listening was an unwise maneuver.  For example:

But they did not listen or
pay attention;
instead, they followed the stubborn
inclinations  of their evil hearts.
They went backward and
not forward. 
Jeremiah 7:24

I warned you when you felt secure, 
but you said, 'I will not listen!’
This has been your way from
your youth; you have not obeyed me. 
Jeremiah 22:21

Ugh!  There it is:  the tether between listening & obeying.  Hard to ignore. 

I don't know about you, but I'm still capable of hearing what I want to hear & tuning out the rest.  God's crumpling of a candy wrapper (the parts of scripture I like best) still gets my attention, but a call to do something I'm not too kean about (the parts that cost me more than I'm willing to pay or surrender) ... not so much.

Maybe there's something to be said about developing better listening skills ... 

Maintain eye contact with the instructor. Of course you will need to look at your notebook to write your notes, but eye contact keeps you focused on the job at hand and keeps you involved in the lecture. 

Focus on content, not delivery. Have you ever counted the number of times a teacher clears his/her throat in a fifteen minute period? If so, you weren't focusing on content.

Avoid emotional involvement. When you are too emotionally involved in listening, you tend to hear what you want to hear--not what is actually being said. Try to remain objective and open-minded.

Avoid distractions. Don't let your mind wander or be distracted by the person shuffling papers near you. If the classroom is too hot or too cold try to remedy that situation if you can. The solution may require that you dress more appropriately to the room temperature.

Treat listening as a challenging mental task. Listening to an academic lecture is not a passive act--at least it shouldn't be. You need to concentrate on what is said so that you can process the information into your notes.

Stay active by asking mental questions. Active listening keeps you on your toes. Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you listen. What key point is the professor making? How does this fit with what I know from previous lectures? How is this lecture organized?

Use the gap between the rate of speech and your rate of thought. You can think faster than the lecturer can talk. That's one reason your mind may tend to wander.

All the above suggestions will help you keep your mind occupied and focused on what being said. You can actually begin to anticipate what the professor is going to say as a way to keep your mind from straying. Your mind does have the capacity to listen, think, write and ponder at the same time, but it does take practice. 

Wish I'd said all that.  Then again, I can listen and hear, then choose to obey.

Listening Skills, Taken from the Student Handbook/University of Minnesota

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Granny in the Sass OR the Sass in the Granny?

This one's for Rebecca, who suggested one remedy for the Blogger Blahs might be an explanation about how I came by my "sassy" handle. 

"Don't you sass me, young lady."  Words spoken by my mother with a clipped annoyance whenever I felt the need to express myself in a dynamic manner.  It was rare, since I wasn't a particular petulant or demanding child.  The fact is, I was quite good natured & compliant, rarely raising her ire.  These exchanges between she & I were uncommon.  Come to think of it, they weren't exchanges at all, but a one-sided application of humility.  She to me.

Sassy.  Merriam tells me that it means:  impudent; vigorous & lively; distinctively smart & stylish.  I raised two sons & one daughter.  My boys were sassy in the vigorous context; my daughter the impudent one.  In both case they were just darn smart, often exercising their particular brand of sassiness to outsmart me.  It rarely worked, just as mine didn't with my own mother. 

In truth, when I claimed my pen name of Sassy Granny, it was with Savvy Granny in mind.  There's a huge gap in meaning between the two, savvy meaning practical know-how.  Try as I might, savvy was all used up in the various iterations I coveted: Savvy Granny, Savvy Sister, Savvy Sayings, Savvy Scenes, etc.?  My heart was set.  But alas, it was not meant to be.

Like so many sites will do, alternatives were offered:  Savvy Granny1234, or Saving Scenes, for instance.  I gagged.  Yet one had possibilities:  sassy.  I plugged my nose and quickly grabbed it.  Besides, there's something about being a granny with sass that is somewhat appealing (think Maxine). 

In hindsight, sassy suits me better anyway.  While I'm typically quite practical, I am far more often impudent.  Sometimes I just HAVE to make my point with a stylish twist.  It's in that context that mother's glare made itself known.  And it's in that context that I'm still digesting doses of humble pie today. 

So sassy it is; and, depending on the subject matter (as I'm sure you've noticed here over the past 4 years), you can be sure it'll be either impudent or distinctive, or sometimes even savvy.  

A Sassy Granny in training.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Who's in Charge Here, Anyway?

"Those people who will not be governed

by God will be ruled by tyrants.

~ William Penn

"...blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8 

It strikes me odd that a good many political leaders, much of media, most entertainers, a few neighbors, and occupiers of one sort or another find it necessary to disparage faith & religious conviction.  Theirs is the certainty that no ultimate authority exists, or is even necessary.

I don't know WHY I find that odd, for surely this has been the case from the dawn of time.  Men do not take kindly to the accountability we have before a righteous, holy & sovereign God.  Better to make it (whatever "it" is) up as we go.

Slip that shoe on the other foot, and everyone shows up for a blessing.  Who doesn't want peace & prosperity?  Who thinks a dictatorship is the way to rule?  Who won't fight for freedom?   Who doesn't sit just a wee bit longer to bask beneath the beauty & bounty of a sunlit sky?

Some appear to think the stuff of blessings grows because of, and by happenstance, all on it's own - - a propitious wild seed that requires little more nurture than sustained jaw-flapping rhetoric in the direction of a threat; or to silence those that dare to ascribe them - blessings - to God.   Better to boast of the Big Bang Blessing Theory.

If men would do no more than consider what the Preamble to their own state's constitution has to say, it might engender more of it (blessing).  Good heavens, they might even find a reservoir of gratitude they had not heretofore known.

A preamble is an introductory and
expressionary statement in a document
that explains the document's purpose and underlying philosophy.

My own - Washington State, dated 1889 - reads: 

We the People of the State of Washington,
grateful to the Supreme Ruler
of the Universe for our liberties,
do ordain this Constitution.

“There are those who rebel against the light,
who do not know its ways
or stay in its paths.

For all of them, midnight is their morning;
they make friends with the terrors of darkness.

Yet they are foam on the surface of the water;
their portion of the land is cursed,
so that no one goes to the vineyards."
Job 24:14, 17-18

Why do the nations conspire
   and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the LORD and
against his anointed, saying, 
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
Psalm 2:1-4 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Scaling Molehills

"He puts on his walking shoes and
climbs over molehills as if
each one was a mountain."

Excerpt: God's Best for My Life Devotional

I've worn those shoes - the sort kept strictly for scaling molehills in a single bound. I keep them at the ready, along with the ropes, caribiners, crampons, & harnesses needed to the venture forth on the tricky slopes of a good fret.

Is that an oxymoron? Is there such a thing as a good fret?

Surely there is? I mean, who's gonna lay awake at night stewing about the upcoming elections if not a veteran fretter?

And who can resist the urge to wring their hands - just a little - over real or perceived slights? Afterall, a sustained resentment annoyance deserves as much, doesn't it?

What would a strong difference of opinion be with a wee bit of huffing & puffing?

Then there's the economy ... that ought to be good for some pacing, if not a few rants in the direction of the television set, shouldn't it?

What about that thing that keeps me from doing/purchasing that thing I had planned to do/have? Detours & roadblocks are deserving of a few tears or snarls, aren't they?

Oh dear (= exclamation that always precedes a good fret), I've asked wayyyyyyyyyy too many questions, haven't I?

"Fretting is the misuse of the gift of imagination
to picture the worst that can happen."
~ John Lloyd Ogilvie

Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10

"Peace I leave with you;my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your hearts be troubled,
neither let them be afraid."
John 14:27