Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New and Improved -- Really?

Quick! What’s a 10 letter word for headache? My immediate response would be technology. Specifically, new technology. I can’t keep up with it. By the time you have acquired the new model, figured out all its amazing capabilities, and become comfortable using it, the new, improved version has been released. The commercial showing the dismay of the guy accepting delivery of his new TV, as he watches a truck go by advertising a newer model, says it all.

I like the simple life. In fact, years ago, I used to think that I would be better suited for life in the 19th century. Once I really gave it some thought, though, I changed my mind. Would I really choose filling a bucket at the pump 50 feet away, over having running water in my house? Not Likely. Would I even be capable of hand-sewing all the clothes for my family? No, suits and winter coats would be much more serviceable if put together on a sewing machine. Scrubbing laundry on a washboard is hard work, and leaves your hands raw. Who wouldn’t prefer to use a washing machine? So many new household products have been introduced over the years, modern day housekeeping is nothing like it was 150 years ago.

Reality made me realize that “New and Improved” has always been around. Aside from the accelerated rate of obsolescence, the difference might be that until recently, household products were “hands on”. You could pretty much figure out how to use something by giving it a close look. If it needed to be repaired, there would be some mechanically inclined person nearby who could fix it for you. The electronic technology of today is different. If your computer keeps crashing or your cell phone won’t turn on, there’s nothing in the toolbox that’s going to be of any help. More often than not, it’s obsolete anyway, so you’re better off replacing it.

My childhood memories include telephones that were connected to the wall. Away from the house, a phone could be found easily enough. Phone booths were located prominently on every other street corner. Television had three broadcast networks-ABC, CBS, and NBC. Music came from a stereo radio or records, and the TV and stereo were both large wooden pieces of furniture that you arranged your room around. One of my most cherished possessions was a brand new set of World Book Encyclopedias. I have a feeling many kids today have never heard the word encyclopedia.

So many things from my childhood are now considered relics from the past. I wonder what essential article will be the next thing to be put up on the shelf for good. If that shelf happens to be a bookshelf, it will most likely be an empty one. E-books and E-readers are taking over the field of publishing. Bookstores are already closing and books could very well become hard to obtain. Who would ever have thought that would be a sign of progress?

My three sons find my reluctance to embrace all things new to be amusing, and they have pushed me into the age of technology. I own a digital camera, and truly appreciate the convenience. My cell phone goes with me everywhere, even to the mailbox. I’m on Facebook. I know how to Google, and I’ve recently become a blogger. Who would have guessed?

My most daring step toward going with the flow took place about three years ago. After lengthy consideration, I confidently entered one of the reigning electronics stores, and boldly purchased a DVD player. My son was stunned, but he was happy to come over and hook it up for me. My delight was dampened some when he left. With cable TV, a VCR, and now a DVD player all hooked up to one television set, I needed a handful of remote controls to work any of them. The next day I had Ben come back and write down step-by step directions for me, designating when to use which remote. I was able to use everything, though, and was pretty pleased with myself. That didn’t last too long. Currently, videotapes are old school, and DVD’s are being pushed to the sidelines in favor of ON-Demand movies.

Though my efforts might seem pathetic, I am trying to stay in touch with the pulse of current society. Still, I’m holding on tight. I have learned there is one thing that will never change. Progress is relentless and unavoidable.


Friday, April 22, 2011

A Day To Hope

Circumstances have a way about them. When times are good, we don’t dwell on circumstances too much. We show some gratitude, we share our joy, but beyond that, we just assume this is how life was meant to be.

Then things start becoming difficult, and what do we do? We feel sorry for ourselves and we complain. We get depressed. We get angry. Emotions take over.

Circumstance delight in playing havoc with emotions. Failure, isolation, misunderstandings and disappointments, compiled continuously, sap drive and desire. Though aware of and grateful for blessings and for those who care, appropriate participation in life is not possible. Even a heart steeped in joy because of the one who never leaves nor forsakes, doesn’t equip a person to conform to the mold that life demands.

Those who find themselves in this condition need hope. Condemnation, ultimatums, and confrontations don’t help. Hope helps. Good Friday gives hope to the world. Clothed in the mask of defeat, there is nothing attractive about it, but without the cross, Easter couldn’t come. The empty tomb revealed on Easter morning is the victory.

Jesus promised He would rise in 3 days, and He did. God’s words are true. His promises can be trusted. No matter what you are going through, cling to these truths. This is your hope and your strength. Circumstances change, Emotions do, too. Just keep holding on tight, and He will make a way where there is no way.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Pickles and Centipedes Won't Mean a Thing

I took this picture a couple of years ago, and have always loved it. I realize you may not even be able to tell what it is, and that is the reason I haven’t shown it off to everyone. I like it anyways. If you were to ask me why, I probably couldn’t explain it. I just like it.

Not too long ago, I was horrified to discover that people willingly eat something called fried pickles. The thought alone makes me want to gag, but apparently others consider them to be a treat. I think I’ll choose the chips.

Yesterday, one friend was teasing another about eating a delicacy called…are you ready for this? Dried centipedes! In some cultures, they might be dainty morsels, but just the thought of eating one is enough to start a revolt in my stomach. Call me a picky eater, but I’m certain I’ll never be ordering that for an appetizer.

As the old saying goes, there’s no accounting for tastes. We’re all different. We like different things. Our life experiences and our temperaments combine to shape us into individuals. The same event might produce opposite responses in different people. We’re like snowflakes. Even in the heaviest blizzard, no two snowflakes are alike. No matter how many people are born, no two will be exactly alike, not even twins. No two will like everything the same, nor will two ever make all the same choices.

Most of the time, this makes no difference to anyone. There will come a day, though, when personal preferences for or against weird photos, pickles, or dried centipedes won’t mean a thing, but there is one choice that will make an eternal difference. Throughout history, one by one, every human has had to decide, “What will you do with this Jesus?”

Easter week is a fitting time to consider this. The response to this question is the only factor that will determine the destiny of any individual. To accept Jesus means that your place in heaven is secure. To reject Him assures your place apart from God, in a place of torment. Personal preference won’t matter then. Your family background won’t mean a thing. Nor will your temperament, your works, or anything else.

This may be the only choice that makes any real difference, and yet, many choose to ignore it. That won’t change the impact it will have. To ignore it is to reject Him. Don’t let that happen. Choose Jesus today.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Opportunity Is Knocking

I wonder how many people can remember what they were doing on February 2. Yes, I realize that was Ground Hog Day, but I’m talking about the evening, after all the festivities were over.

I know where I was, along with about 60 other people. Twelve weeks before the holiday, we all had Easter on the mind. That night was the first practice for the Easter concert my church will present next weekend.

Since then, the choir’s been working hard. We had to not only learn 12 songs, but memorize them, too. Most of the choir members manage this well, but the limited abilities of my feeble brain makes this a major challenge. The twice weekly practice gets me started, but I need more than that. Listening to the practice CD repeatedly helps quite a bit, but even that is not enough, in spite of the fact that I wake up with Easter music going through my head. I have found that the most effective way for me to memorize the songs is to write the words out. If I do that once or twice, then write out just the first letter of each word, I can successfully memorize my lyrics… mostly. I haven’t yet figured out a method to help me memorize the music. It’s always full of key changes and incredibly long phrases, and …well, you get the picture. Though I listen to the CD an average of twice a day, and pick out my part on the keyboard over and over, I’m usually still cramming when the lights go down. Still, it always seems to work out, and I’ve always been glad I chose to participate.

By the time the concert opens, I will have attended 20 practices, gotten writer’s cramp more than once, and listened to my CD at least 160 times. What a big commitment of time and energy. If you consider that dozens of others are doing the same things, it becomes huge. However, a choir alone does not a concert make. There’s also the directors, and the accompanists, and the actors, and the orchestra, and the lighting crew, the technical crew, the stage crew, the costumers… and on it goes. Why would so many adults spend their time in such an endeavor?

Some people just don’t understand why Christians do any of the things they do. There are people who disapprove of Christians who make their faith public in any way. In fact, I recently read a comment complaining about Christian devotional blogs. Maybe you’ve had some of these same thoughts. Well, now is the perfect opportunity to find out what’s behind all this “Christianity stuff”. Over the next two weekends, churches all over the country will be presenting concerts celebrating this holy day. I’m sure there’ll be one near you. Go to one, and get some of those questions answered. In fact, if you’re anywhere near the DC area, you might want to come to mine. It’s at Grace Baptist Church of Bowie, MD, 7 PM, April 22 and 23.

We’ll save you a seat.


Monday, April 11, 2011

That's Life!

It can’t possibly be even a quarter of an inch long. How in the world can it hurt so much?

It’s a little cut, right at the tip of my thumb, where the skin is extra thick. I got it while building an exercise tower for the cats. Buck and Jeeves aren’t kittens any longer, so aren’t all that active. Still, I got it in my head that they needed something to stimulate their curiosity a bit. I spent the better part of a week working with heavy duty cardboard, glue, industrial-strength tape, and a serrated knife. I doubt there are many who would put so much time and energy into such a project, but it’s just what I do.

The blister at the base of my thumb resulted from a more mundane task-yardwork. Spring clean-up on property with dozens of mature trees is no light chore. It was the raking that did it. I felt the soreness developing with every pull on the rake, but being caught up in the work, chose to ignore the minor annoyance. By the time I quit, the blister had broken open, and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

My son invited me to join him and his family on a daytrip to Washington DC. By the end of the day, we had walked at least a bajillion miles. Why would I, with my bad feet, subject myself to such an excursion?

Because that’s life! What else would I do? It was a foregone conclusion that after a day of relentless walking, my feet would not recover for a week, but the joy of spending time with my family made the price insignificant. I knew when I picked up that rake that I would have battle scars before I was done, and I have never completed any of my cardboard design projects without a nick here or there. I do such things because they are worth it. Anything worthwhile in life comes with a price.

The Bible teaches us to count the cost before we start. If it’s important to us, we should be prepared to pay the price. If the price is higher than we want to pay, then we have to decide--how important, how valuable is this to me?

Jesus Christ faced that question. He could have turned His back on our need. He had every opportunity to avoid the agony of the cross, He knew what the price would be, and yet He left heaven. He knew, and yet He came. He counted the cost, and then He died for us because we were that important and valuable to Him. He proved it by paying the price that we couldn’t pay. He paid the ultimate price.

The pain of blisters, cuts or sore feet is laughable in light of the price paid on the cross, but because of His sacrifice, we have the promise of eternity with Him in Heaven. Now, that’s real life!


Monday, April 4, 2011

Purple Pansy In the Park

The bright sunshine and warm temperatures looked mighty appealing today and I’m pretty sure I heard them calling my name on the voice of the breeze. What else could I do but grab my camera and head over to the park? Ninety-seven shots later, I returned home. My point and shoot occasionally gives me pretty good pictures, and I did get a few today. Here’s one I hope you’ll enjoy.

Friday, April 1, 2011

What's Good About the "B"?

Tucked away in a rarely used file is a little stack of mementos from my childhood. Mom saved them for me, and I wouldn’t think of getting rid of them. You may have the same thing bundled up somewhere, but how long has it been since you actually looked at your old report cards? At the end of second grade my report card was quite impressive, especially compared to my older brother’s. I still remember spreading it out and counting all my A’s. They were sprinkled over both pages, like brightly sparkling diamonds in a jeweler’s showcase. I was so proud. If you had 41 A’s on your report card, wouldn’t you be proud? There were some B’s, but I tried to ignore them. What’s good about a B, anyways? Well, it didn’t take me long to learn about humility, as my report card never sparkled so brightly again. Still, through the years, I have had mixed emotions about that letter B. My maiden name started with a B, but I never cared for it. It was an unusual name which lent itself too easily to taunts from other children, and who wants to go through that? On the other hand, if your last name starts with a B, that puts you at the upper part of most lists, often making your wait-time shorter. And then there is my first name. Deborah is supposed to mean a “bee.” I’ve never really known what to make of that bit of information. That leaves me at one positive, one negative, and one ambiguous B fact. Always hoping for a positive perspective, my mind takes off, looking for a more uplifting frame of reference for the B. Once I got beyond my prejudice, some things were quite easy to identify. • “Bravery” is something I have great admiration for, because it is no respecter of persons. Heroes demonstrate bravery in extraordinary events, and are most worthy of praise. However, most of us have occasions in our own lives to act courageously. Facing challenging circumstances head-on, and coming through successfully, is positive and inspiring. • The “Bible” is precious to any Christian. God’s inspired Word, in my hands—such compassion from the Creator of all, demonstrated to me, unworthy as I am. • “Blessings” are like bonuses from God that sustain me as I schlep through a troubled life. Nowhere is it written that God owes me anything, but He continually gives me good things. Sometimes I even recognize and acknowledge them. • “Beatitudes”, affectionately known as the “Be” attitudes. Matthew, chapter 5 gives a concise guide to understanding how to live life, from the very lips of Christ. Do I want mercy shown to me? Then I must be merciful. Do I want to see God? Then I need to be pure in heart. Do I mourn? I can take heart, because I will be comforted. That’s a pretty good start for my list. My search has come to a happy conclusion: There are plenty of very good things about the B. Photobucket