Friday, December 21, 2018

Cherry Picking

 I walked out of my garage onto my driveway.  The morning sun was shining on three big bucks and their girlfriends.  We stared at each other.  Were they plotting to “do me in”  like the reindeer that ran over Grandma? 

I pulled up a chair,  took a first sip of fresh-made coffee and settled in to watch the wild life show.  After more staring,  the Big 'Un  made a decision,  rose to his full stature and bounded up the hillside that leads to the upper level of my property.  There stands the thousand-year-old Mighty Oak. "The Five" followed their leader,  leaping effortlessly.

Many years ago Ted and I sat in the swing under The Mighty Oak and prayed that many people in the beautiful Valley below us would come to Christ.  God is still answering that prayer.   Under the branches of  The Oak both of our sons were married to their beloveds.  For a third of a century many folk have gathered for fellowship while enjoying the splendor of Bear Valley a thousand feet below.  Grandchildren have climbed The Oak and pushed each other in a swing that still hangs from a high branch.  They stood on "Pride Rock",  imagining themselves to be Mufusa, the Lion King. 
 In centuries past, probably Kawaiisu Indian families lived in the summer beneath The Oak.  Here,  they may have ground acorns for food.  Pestles and grinding rocks are still being found in Bear Valley.  They roasted their wild game over an open fire;  slept,  conceived and raised their children on this mountain. The Mighty Oak saw it all. ...forcing its roots down and down so The Tree would not topple when assaulted by blizzards,  high winds and earthquakes.  This Oak and others on my property drink from deep running springs that never run dry.  I do not water these majestic trees lest the roots creep back up to the surface, causing the trees to weaken and fall. 

 If,  at this Christmastime we are feeling some sadness,  why wouldn't we?  We humans cherry pick our memories,  telling ourselves that all of our Christmases were white,  and all the family gathered in perfect harmony.  The truth is that most holidays were jammed with too many activities...too many command performances. ...too much travel. ...too many generations to please,  and we drew a sigh of relief when they were over. why don't we just be content with where we are in life and enjoy who and what we've got left?

What verse trumps the fray?    I would love to hear yours. 

Here's mine: Jesus said:  “Because I live, you also will live."   John 14:19

Love,  Jo

Friday, December 14, 2018

Healthy Aging

Recently.  I felt guilty for feeding my aging cats cheap food;  so from Amazon   ordered gourmet  “Healthy Aging”.  Puss'nBoots read the label,  spit it out and tried to cover it up.  

 I feel the same about the words “Healthy Aging”.   Why should I spring for “healthy” after all these years?  The only things I have exercised throughout my life are my mouth, my mind and my fingers.  Now, at 90,  nothing else wants to move. 

Down the road, around a curve and up a terrifying driveway lives Jackie.  Jackie is 95. This five foot high woman is determined to get me to exercise.  She guilt-trips me by tooting her car horn in front of my house on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at precisely 9:45.  In her little red car we wheel down and around the mountain curves to the gymnasium on the valley floor.  We sign in, grab a chair and join thirty or so other aging people who would rather be home in bed.  We know that if we don’t do this our kids might check us into Shady Pines.  

Margaret leads “Sit and Fit”.  She’s good at it   I like her. ...and I like the music.   I’ve played most of it for years but haven’t moved to it.  Many of our husbands had two left feet so this is as close as we'll ever get to ballroom dancing. 

Margaret pushes the button on her tape player and a lovely tune lures us into gently waving our arms.  This is a trick to make us think this half hour is going to be less strenuous than a stroll around Cub Lake.   M.  pushes the button again and some singer belts out  “Rockin'  Around the Christmas Tree”.   We’re up and movin’.  ...then a Mariachi band pulls us into a mambo.  Our slow-beating hearts speed up.   Sinatra comes on with “New York, New York”.   By the time  ol’  Blue Eyes hits the final high note,  we’re juiced up and have quit thinking about what we're going to have for lunch. ...  then “YMCA” gets us strutting around the gym like we’re in a United States military marching band.  Now, some of the marchers weigh in just under three hundred pounds.  Glancing at them makes me feel, well, ... skinny.  

Margaret doesn’t want us to die of a heart attack on her watch,  so she begins to quiet us down with Bing who croons an Hawaiian Christmas song that deludes us into imagining we’re wearing a hula skirt,  swaying on the beach at Waikiki.  East Asian instruments draw us into quick back and forth head movements like a Geisha.  Palms together,  we sit in a lotus position.  Margaret is decompressing us.

Class over, we stack our chairs, help one another to our cars and head home for a snack before shuffling to our bed for what may be a long winter’s nap.

Speaking of Christmas,  I don’t.  ...not until after my birthday on the 14th.    I  can’t understand why Jesus would be born so close to my birthday.  For 90 years now all of the razzamatazz about His has all but eclipsed the importance of mine. 

Love,  Jo


Friday, December 7, 2018

Purpose in Pain

I listen to Eric Metaxas on YouTube/Socrates in the City.  He’s brilliant, witty,  half Greek and half German. ...delightful combination.  SO..what provocative statement has he made lately that gives me pause to ponder?   "WE DIE DIFFERENTLY WHEN WE KNOW WE AREN'T GOING TO DIE.".   O.K., how am I "dying differently" from people who don't know Christ? Well, for one thing, by now I have learned that my Father always has purpose in pain.  (Oh,  and BTW you're all going to die. His time.) 

Currently I am being tempted by the devil to get even with someone who has shredded my soul ...including my motives.  The tears have flowed and flowed and flowed.  It's been an awful month, emotionally. Rational thinking comes and goes. ...comes and goes.   We know that thinking and feeling are not the same part of our souls.  Like all the pilgrims before us, we trudge over mountains and through valleys of feelings before we arrive at right thinking,  ...understanding that God is bringing us to holiness. That path is strewn with pain.  It is "The Road Less Traveled". (Scott Peck wrote that book many years ago.) 

Doesn’t our Lord instruct us to “encourage one another and all the more, as you see The Day approaching?” Some Christians seem to think giving words of affirmation will make a fellow Christian proud.  How very odd,  when He tells us clearly to do exactly that.  Our Lord is not talking "flattery" here, but is talking about words that warm and encourage the heart.  If words are not your "love language" God will help you form them.  It will take quite a few to block out the ones that crush souls. 

We are the beloved children of the God of the Universe.  Cherished children.  Children that He deemed worth every drop of His blood.  

Now, darlings, think on these things.

Love,  Jo