So Teach Us to Number Our Days

Number our days

My big news this week is that I applied for social security. I am officially old now.

We have a family site on the Internet, in which we share news and pictures of what’s up in our lives. I posted a picture of my new form and let everyone know that I had taken the plunge.

But what grabbed my attention, and what this blog is about, was the response my younger brother posted:

“wow….. I thought it would take longer for this much time to pass”

I’m going to have to ponder that one for a while. My brother gets pretty deep sometimes.

Psalm 90.12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

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3 2 1 Quote Forgiveness

forgiveness pic

Stuart, thank you for giving me this opportunity, for nominating me. Also, thank you for the flexibility, because I broke the rules. I created a series of quotes, as a conversation. I sat and typed as the words fell out. I did use your topic, though: forgiveness.

Go ahead and grab your coffee; this is longer than usual.

*****

So, you still have told me nothing about ‘the incident,’ as you put it.

You pretty much know what happened.

Well, that’s only what I’ve heard from other people. It’s not the same as your perspective, and I think it would help our relationship if we could talk about it.

I don’t talk about it.

Can we talk about it without discussing what actually happened?

Sure, we can skirt around it all you want. But I will say one thing up front. Being a guy, you’re never going to understand the perspective of a victim like I do.

You’re right. One, I have never been a victim like you have. And, mine is the perspective of the male, the one who is usually the authority, the stronger, the dominant one. I think you know me well enough by now that you know I view my gender as a gift from God, to handle wisely and lovingly; that He created us both, male and female, as different but equal.

Yeah, I get that. And you must know that I trust you, given that we’re even having this conversation.

Thank you for that. Please know I will never knowingly break that trust. If I come close, you will let me know?

Yep, and ditto for me?

Yes.

~silence~

From our previous discussions, I know that you’re struggling with your relationship with God because of the incident. You’re upset that He would as willingly forgive those men who hurt you as He forgives you.

He doesn’t seem like a fair God.

Do you have difficulty seeing Him as a God Who loves you?

I get that He loves the world, you know, the whole, “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”

Do you think He loves you, personally?

I’ve seen His grace in my life a lot. I mean, like a lot. I credit Him with my rescue in the first place. That could never have happened if God hadn’t intervened. And I do thank Him for that, I really do. I think that shows His love for me. And other things. Yes, I think God loves me.

So, God loves you, but you’re mad that He loves those guys as much as He loves you?

No, He can love them as much as He wants. But, for what they did, they should never be forgiven. They should never get to spend eternity with Him because they should go to hell. That’s justice and righteous. God is a God of justice and righteousness, too.

I agree that those men deserve hell for what they did…. Do you think you deserve hell for your sins?

You do NOT get to put me in the same category with them! I would never do to anyone what they did, over and over and OVER!

I’m sorry that happened.

Listen, I have to get going. I think we’re finished talking for today.

I get that. Before we part, I’ll leave you with these verses: James 2.10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Also Jeremiah 17.9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” And you know Romans 6.23 tells us that the wages of sin is death.

That’s the part I’m so mad about. Goodbye.

~~~~~~

It’s been a while. Have you been able to process?

Yeah, I admit I sin. Everybody does, I know I’m not a saint or even close to it.

But?

But I’m NOT like them. I could never be like them. They do NOT deserve forgiveness.

Do you deserve forgiveness?

Of course not. No one does. But God gives grace, and He gave me grace.

But you’re mad that He could pour out His grace on those men.

You would be, too! You have never been in my shoes, but I’m pretty sure you would feel the same way if you were.

I’ll never know, Lord willing.

No. So don’t speak to me like you ever will.

I can’t. All I can do is give you what God says.

I KNOW what He says! And that’s what makes me mad at Him!

So you think there should be a rule, some sort of plumb line that, if a person crosses it, then they are automatically scratched from the Heaven list.

Absolutely!

Well, there is such a plumb line. Any sin keeps us from Heaven. But you think that some sins can be forgiven and be on the Heaven side, and some sins can’t be forgiven, and be on the hell side.

Something like that.

So you think your rules are better than God’s?

I think it’s only right.

And that God’s wrong?

Listen, I know that God’s never wrong. I know what the Bible says, and He’s perfect and all that. I just don’t agree that He should ever forgive people like that.

Maybe He didn’t.

That’s not the point. The point is that He could. God can forgive anyone, and He does! He just chooses, and He grabs them, and He changes their hearts and then they get to go to Heaven.

And that’s not okay?

Not after what they’ve done.

And you can’t forgive them?

NO..

So, again, I ask: Do you think your rules are better than God’s?

I’ll leave it at this: I know God’s right. He gets to make the rules. I just don’t like all of them, and I don’t agree with Him. He’s a big God. I think He can take a little disagreement. … … I have to go now.

Then today I leave you with these: 1Samuel 15.23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” And Matthew 6.15 “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

~~~~~

I agreed to meet with you today. Don’t you think I’m doing really well?

Yes, I do. Why do you think you want to meet with me?

~sigh~ Because, against my better judgement, I like you very much, and I respect what you have to say.

If your judgement votes against me, who or what is the driving force behind you being here?

Oh brother. Okay, it’s God.

I’m going to agree with you on that one. I’m grateful He’s working in you. I’ll tell you, He’s been working in me, too. I’m struggling with this; not like you, but I’m ‘way not enough to cover this. I’ve had some pretty deep times with God. I know you pay attention to Him. Have you had good conversation with Him lately?

I did a study on the verses you left with me. Number one, I looked up idolatry. Basically I came to the conclusion that you’re hinting, ever so subtly, that I’m being stubborn in not agreeing with God, so I’m committing iniquity, or in iniquity, or however you put it. And that, because I think I’m right and He’s wrong, that I’m setting myself up as my idol, putting myself on the throne and deciding that I know best. That about cover it?

Did you hear my voice telling you that, or God’s?

Same thing, isn’t it?

Really no. Really really no.

Umph. Fine. That’s what God was telling me while I was reading His Word and studying it.

You didn’t like it, I take it?

Duh.

I never do, either. Hebrews 12.11 “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” That means all of us are grieved when God chastens us. But, He gives us the peaceable fruit of righteousness if we learn from it.

So I have to learn from it in order to get the peace fruit.

Matthew 7.16 “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Do you want peace?

You know I do.

You already have the Holy Spirit within you, and He empowers you with the Fruit of the Spirit. Part of that is peace. Learn from Him. What about the second verse?

The forgiveness part?

Matthew 6.15 “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

I’m hitting a brick wall there, one that I prefer to walk away from.

I know you already know this, but I’m throwing it out anyway. Forgiveness isn’t for letting anyone off the hook. It’s for the forgiver. It’s one of God’s gifts for blessing you.

So I’ve heard.

My dear, you don’t have to generate forgiveness. It’s not in you. I see that, and I think you do, too. It’s not in anybody to forgive such a thing.

So, just let God do it in me or though me or whatever?

Pray about it. Just a tip: when I’m really struggling with something, wrestling with God, so to speak, it helps me to physically put myself in a position of obedience and worship.

What do you do? Kneel?

Well, actually, I … prostrate myself.

Like, on your belly?

Full out, face down, nose rubbing on whatever is under me. I humble myself and pour myself out to God, begging for His mercy on me.

~gulp~ Umm

Here’s a tissue.

I can’t even think about that without crying. I really don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know that I even want to. What about 1 John 1.9? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” Can I confess my sin of unforgiveness and be forgiven?

I think God will handle that. Just give it to Him.

*****

This quote challenge was generated by the person behind https://aguycalledbloke.blog/

You choose 3 bloggers to write 2 quotes, each, on 1 word given to them by you. If you want a better example of how it’s supposed to be done, click over to Stuart’s post: https://stubaby777.wordpress.com/2018/07/26/3-2-1-quote-me-love

My nominations are:

Amy https://anewlife256599767.wordpress.com/

William https://walkwithgod.blog/

Vickie https://vicklea.com/

These are completely optional, no obligation. I just love reading your stuff. 😊

The word for the quote is: Peace

Eternity

Eternity Hubble pic

Photo taken from http://hubblesite.org/image/4160/gallery

Every once in a while I contemplate eternity. By God’s grace, my Eternity starts with a capital E.

When I was a child, one of my first introductions to the thought of heaven was from a movie, “The Littlest Angel,” the one with Johnny Whitaker. In the movie, poor little Michael was pretty bored up there in the clouds.

After God grabbed me, the thought of being with Him forever brought joy to my soul: I didn’t care what Heaven really meant, as long as it’s with Him.

As the years go by, it’s only natural to wonder, once in a while, what eternity is going to be like, what’s going on, what we’ll see/hear/say/think/feel, etc.

At a Bible study one time, the woman who was leading touched on the subject, saying, “God has so many facets, it’s impossible to grasp all of them. I think that’s why we need eternity with Him – we’ll forever be learning from Him and discovering new facets of His character!” That kind of blew me away: An eternal God needs eternity for us to discover Him. No boredom there!

Oftentimes, as I watch news or TV shows, I imagine what a particular place might have looked like before Man entered in; how beautiful it must have been the way God originally created it. I imagine, in the afterlife, we won’t need to breathe air, we will have no threat or bother from anything (bugs, lions, etc.), and gravity will not have its effect on us. I imagine we’ll be able to visit any place on earth, and wonder at God’s glory, and worship Him.

Then I was watching a news show about the pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope. They are stunning! We can catch glimpses of other galaxies and worlds and stars that are beyond what we can imagine! And, the universe must extend forever because, if it stops somewhere, what’s after that???

I can wrap my mind around forever in the universe or forever in the future (well, to the extent of my finite mind). Maybe, in Eternity, I will understand forever in the past. All of us having had a finite beginning, visualizing the creation, it’s easy for me to think of all things as having a beginning at some point. Right now, my thoughts are that, in Eternity, there is no time, no past or present or future; all of that is bound up in a bundle of sorts. (Except that, in Revelation 8.1, John tells us there was silence in Heaven about the space of a half hour. Whaaaat???)

All these things (and more!) to discover, to see from different perspectives, to enjoy with the presence of God right there with us always.

Revelation 5.13 says, “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”

Can you imagine??? Every creature – every creature – praising God with us forever and ever!

1 Corinthians 2.9: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” It is written where? in Isaiah 64.4: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.”

Revelation 7.12, “…  Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”

Eternity wow face (picture adapted from google images)

Quiet Walk 7-26-18

This is one of the devotionals I use in my daily walk. I loved today’s reading, and thought it so apt that I wanted to share it. The reading is Psalm 23. The commentary included this:

Perhaps the most outstanding characteristic of sheep is that they cannot take care of themselves. The demands of life exceed their intelligence and their abilities. They must have a shepherd. Man is the same. While there is a vast and gratifying difference between men and sheep, the demands of life for men exceed their intelligence and abilities. We also need a shepherd, the Lord. He is the Great Shepherd. He will lead us. The question is: Will we follow?

To read the entire devotional, click here:  http://www.walkthru.org/qw-daily-devotional

Saira

Saira pic in the midst of her

She was born backward in a dark back room

in a blue tarp house in a blue tarp town.

Momma worked sometimes, and drank most times.

Big sister Mara watched little baby Saira,

in the house ‘twixt the tracks and the creek.

Saira watched it all with her intense, wide eyes.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

Baby Sissy came next, when Saira was five.

Mara did her best to bring ’em up right.

Saira did her part, getting right to work,

quiet like a lynx between the shadows and light.

But Saira was a wanderer, she’d be gone for hours;

brought home her first meal when she was turned six.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

The three girls took to schoolin’ when they could,

mostly for the lunch they got there.

Momma drank and fidgeted; Mara was the anchor;

Sissy the flirt, and sassy.

Saira coming home brought vittles for their bellies:

berries and meats and strange kind ‘a tuck.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

She found an old backpack in the woods one day,

brought it home and squirreled it away.

Mara watched it grow with secret things inside,

saw Saira take it with her every time she slipped out;

and she knew Saira was not long for this blue tarp town.

Saira was learning, with no one to teach her.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

Came the morning she took Mara by the hand,

kissed her and looked her long in the eyes.

A caress of the cheek, and she was gone.

Saira and her backpack melted away into the trees.

Mara, stoic and dry-eyed, watched her go,

and wondered if they’d ever see her again.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

The years came and went, and Momma died.

Mara buried her and moved to the city.

She left Sissy to fend for herself, pregnant and belligerent;

most likely to turn out just like Momma.

Mara was washing her apartment windows in June

when there was Saira on the other side.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

She came in for coffee, and Mara noted

the weathered face, the worn hands, the scar,

the animal skin tunic and trousers;

and Saira’s ghost of a smile

that came more easily.

That was about all Mara learned from Saira about Saira, because

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

She gave a slight nod of the head when Mara asked

if she’d stay a while.

She even met Mara’s husband

and listened to him

and listened to Mara

with peace in her eyes.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

Saira disappeared for hours at a time, and

after three days Mara knew that Saira had to go

back to her wilderness, back to her home.

She gave a civilized good-bye, and then she was gone.

Mara went to wash the bed linens, and saw

that Saira hadn’t used them, must have slept on the floor.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

And Mara loved her.

S/He Said No

This past weekend my husband had a birthday. However, he was out of town, so we celebrated late. I decided to create a combination cheesecake/ice cream cake for him.

I took a walk the other day, and was mulling over thoughts on the type of recipe I should use. As I made my way around the neighborhoods, I looked up and saw what I figured was a mulberry tree.

My thoughts immediately flew back to one of my husband’s childhood stories. He said he loved mulberries, and he and a buddy would climb a neighbor’s tree and stuff handsful of the juicy, sweet berries into their mouths until they were sick. This was a forbidden pleasure for two reasons: first, the neighbor who owned the tree didn’t like those boys climbing it; second, their mamas didn’t like the stains the berries made on their shirts. After he got home, his mother would take one look at him and ask, “Have you been eating mulberries again?”

“No!” was the answer every time.

(There’s a whole life lesson in that answer in how we are little children to God, how we deny our sin, how we think we can cover over sins, and how God always knows just what’s going on.)

So, when I saw that tree, I thought how cool would it be if I could get a few of those berries, cook them up, and serve over my husband’s birthday cake!

The morning I whipped up the cheese/ice cream cake, my husband went out for a bit. I quickly ducked out, grabbed a bucket, and drove to the house with the tree. Leaving the bucket in the car, I rang the doorbell, and a lady answered.

“Is that your tree in the alley behind your yard, and is it mulberry? I was wondering if I could pick some of them.”

“Oh, no,” she answered. “I have too many issues with boys trying to climb it, and it’s a liability thing.”

“I don’t want to climb it!” I laughed.

“No. I’ve got a tree guy coming to cut off some of the branches. Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” I smiled. “I take ‘no’ really well.”

“Oh, and you’re so cute, too.” She smiled back.

I laughed again. “Thanks, though.” I turned to go. “You have a nice day!”

“Thanks, you too.”

I walked back to my car and pondered this. Gee, I thought, it would have been so cool to have some mulberries for my husband for his birthday. We were planning to have his mother over, too, and she would have gotten such a kick out of it. But it was that lady’s tree, and she said no. Lord, that means You said no, too. My great idea to bless my family isn’t okay with You, huh?

So there’s a lesson. Just because I think something is a great idea, doesn’t mean God agrees with me, or that my idea was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Maybe the lady’s neighbors would be watching and then there would be arguments if she let me pick berries and they couldn’t. Or any number of other reasons I couldn’t fathom.

Or maybe God just wanted to give me an idea for this blog. 😉

cheesecake

There’s my naked cheesecake / ice cream cake. I got to tell the story to my husband and his mother. They still got a smile over it, even though we were mulberryless.

Maggie Debuts

In a Pickle

This is the story that started it all. While writing with a group at the local senior center, we received a weekly assignment to write to the topic, “The Mysterious Men.” And that’s where Maggie originated. While this little story doesn’t fit into the book anywhere, it is near to my heart as “the first.”

– KW

 

Maggie Tiggles and the Mysterious Men

Maggie Tiggles was in a pickle. She had made a promise to a friend in need last night, and the weather was not participating.  She’d known a winter storm was supposed to blow in late last night, but, as often happened in these parts, the snow mounted up faster and higher than anticipated.  This morning, by bank’s opening time, no one was moving.

Her friend had visited early evening yesterday, with his simple request.  Well, simple to her, anyway.  It had taken her friend some time to finally confess his dilemma.  An old friend of Tig’s for many years, he had known he could trust Maggie implicitly, and divulged to her the existence of a secret group of men, wide-scattered, who had embarked upon a yearly mission.  As he fumbled for words and danced around his request, Maggie had been quick to offer the solution he was seeking, and the promise was made.  Now, to get to her safety deposit box and keep that promise.

A few hours later, a call revealed that the bank had just opened.  Maggie had only two hours to complete her mission.

“Well,” she thought to herself, “there’s nothing else for it.  I’ve got to go.”  She bundled into her sturdiest outdoor gear, gathered the necessary paperwork, made her way to the garage, and strapped on her snow shoes.  She would have to make haste to get to the bank on time.

Five hours later, Maggie dropped, exhausted, into her overstuffed chair.  She grinned.  That was worth it.  She would be feeling this in her body, especially her legs, for the next few days, but the consequences would last the rest of her life.

The next evening, she made sure to watch the local evening news.  Yep, there it was.  They’d made it.

She sat back with her tea, and allowed herself the bittersweet pleasure of contemplating her Tig.  She was so proud of him.

Thirty-five years ago, while Tig was abroad, his work brought him to Johannesburg, South Africa.  He was engaged in some very challenging and lucrative work, which took up most hours of his days.  However, times being what they were in South Africa, he was soon entangled in the raging apartheid tearing at the social fabric of that country.  Under the guise of his work and its requisite travel, and at great risk to his own life and limb, he had coordinated and carried out a plan to aid in the escape of an entire family from Soweto to Gabarone, across South Africa’s border in Botswana.  The company for which he worked, unaware to the end of Tig’s underground efforts, paid him richly.  As a token of their appreciation, and also of their own pride in their country’s riches, they paid most of his wages in gold Krugerrands.  Many of those Krugerrands had gone to the family he’d helped.  Illegal to trade in the US and most Western countries at the time, Tig had ferreted them away until he’d moved to their own little town, 25 years ago, to open a grocery store.  He’d cashed in a number of them in the years since, but Maggie had inherited quite a few.  She hadn’t known what to do with them.  Yes, they held memories.  Shameful as that period of world history was, those Krugerrands were to her a symbol of the respect she had for Tig’s character and bravery.  She had been grateful that God had given her an honorable avenue to donate.

Maggie smiled again.  She was so proud of Tig.  And, Tig would be proud to think that his Krugerrands would, one by one, Christmas by Christmas, end up in red kettles, placed there by those mysterious men.