Saturday, January 5, 2019

Avoid That Rut

I have been using my friend Suzi’s book on her journey through grief as my devotional guide the past few months. Recently, I read her essay about  paths and ruts which, in essence, asked the question, “What are you doing with your life?”

As I read that day, I thought the topic was particularly appropriate  as we enter a new year, and I have found it to be of particular interest to me in this season of life. However, guarding against getting stuck in a rut is something everyone needs to consider and what better time than at the start of a new year.

I read somewhere that a rut (in life) is a coffin open at both ends—or something to that effect. Hence, my advice to self and friends to avoid getting in a rut. Change is generally not a particularly comfortable stage to go through, but it’s necessary in climbing out of a rut and the discomfort definitely lets you know you are alive—as opposed to staying in that rut of complacency.

So as I muse aloud (in print), I ask myself (and you friends), “What are my dreams or aspirations or purpose in life?” No matter how old we might be, as long as we have breath, God does not intend for us to just sit in that comfortable rut. Or maybe it’s not so comfortable but we’re afraid to make the effort to climb out of it.

We have all been gifted in some fashion by God. Are we using that gifting as He intends? If you haven’t a clue about His intentions, try asking Him. He is not shy in letting us know something when we earnestly seek Him.

Suzi’s devotional used the examples of the apostle Paul being led by God’s Spirit to change directions and head for Macedonia and God assuring Jacob  that going to Egypt would result in blessings for his family. That tells us we don’t need to fear that inner nudge to change direction on a path or even to blaze a new one. Just don’t let the path become a rut.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A Single Vowel Makes All the Difference

This story from the Wycliffe Bible Translators was shared with me by friends who minister with that organization. It’s such a beautiful illustration of God’s unconditional love, I felt led to summarize it in this blog post.

Lee Bramlett, a Wycliffe Bible translator, was working with the Hdi culture in Cameroon, searching for God’s “footprint” in the history or daily life of this people group. He was looking for a clue God had left to show the Hdi people who he is and how he wants to relate to them.

One night in a dream God impressed upon Lee to look at the word, ‘love.’ Through his study of the language, Lee knew that almost all Hdi verb forms could end in an i, an a, or u. However, the verb, ‘love,’ never showed the vowel u at the end.

Lee met with the Hdi translation committee and first asked them, “Can you ‘dvi’ (love) your wife?”

Their answer was affirmative saying it meant the wife had been loved but the love was gone.

Next Lee asked, “Could you ‘dva’ your wife?”

“Yes,” the men answered. “That kind of love depends on the wife’s actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.”

Then Lee asked, “Could you ‘dvu’ your wife?”

The men laughed. “Of course not,” they said. “If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got your water, never made your meals. Even if she committed adultery, you would be compelled to just keep on loving her. No, we would never say ‘dvu’.’ It just doesn’t exist.”

The Wycliffe translator sat quietly for a minute or so among the committee of elders. “Could God ‘dvu people?” he asked.

More silence. Then tears began to trickle down the weathered cheeks of the elders. “Do you know what this would mean?” one asked. “This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, century after century, while all that time we rejected his great love. He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.”

One simple vowel and the meaning was changed from “I love you based on what you do and who you are,” to “I love you based of who I am. I love you because of me and not because of you”

God had encoded the story of his unconditional love right into their language. For centuries, the little word was there—unused but available, grammatically correct and quite understandable. When the word was finally spoken, it called into question their entire belief system.

I wonder how many people in our acquaintance would have their belief system turned upside down if they truly understand God’s unconditional love—impossible to earn, but given so freely.

The wonderful postscript to this story is that the entire New Testament has been translated and printed. Now the 29,000 Hdi speakers can read in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, ‘dvu’ your wives just as Christ ‘dvu-d’ the church.”

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Insanity of God

This is actually a book title and because of the unusual use of the word, insanity, I decided to check the book out of my church library. Written by Nik Ripken (not his real name), the book chronicles a journey of faith, despair, and renewed perception.

Nik and his family went to Somalia to try to alleviate the starvation and need after the civil war totally destroyed the infrastructure there. That experience, in itself, was a huge learning experience for the family, but a more bitter life lesson they received came in the form of one of their sons dying from a bizarre physical anomaly.

The family returned to the US, pretty much broken, looking for restoration of hope and a healing of emotional wounds—not just for the loss of their son, but for the persecuted believers they were leaving behind.

After searching for information/help to sustain the persecuted church, Nik was led to visit believers in Russia, Ukraine and other Eastern European countries as the Iron Curtain had recently come down and believers were experiencing freedom that most had not known during their lifetime. He discovered awesome testimonies of God’s power among His people.

Then Nik went to China, where all his meetings had to be held in secret. There he discovered confirmation that—catch this—God is doing today what He had done in the past, in Bible times. People being healed, people being resurrected from the dead, and miraculous provision of everyday needs. (See Joel 2:28-29)

He took part in a secret conference of house group leaders, pastors, and evangelists as they prayed, getting up before the sun rose and praying for their persecuted brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. Nik wrote, “it’s no wonder the Church in China has increased from several hundred thousand to an estimated several hundred million.”

The anecdotal section ends with the story of a young Muslim woman who miraculously came to Christ. She eventually ended up in the US and was visiting the Ripkenns’ church one Sunday when an entire family was being baptized. Nik could tell she was agitated as she watched and he asked her what was wrong. “Why are we all not standing and shouting praises to God,” she asked. “I never thought I would see such a miracle as an entire family being baptized and no one being shot or killed.”

That statement led Nik to realize the “common-day” miracles that he (and we) take for granted:  having your own Bible (those Chinese pastors were grateful to have one Bible with various pages of Scripture handed out to each to preach from until another Bible could be had); sharing the Lord’s Supper/Holy Communion with fellow believers; singing praise songs/hymns out loud. There were more but you get the idea.

Another thing Nik learned was that almost all believers have the choice as to whether to obey Christ (worship with others, share Christ, etc.).However, the choice to obey God in doing so comes at a much higher price in some places than in others, hence what we call persecution.

This book certainly presents “food for thought” and the fact that it is written in excellent storyteller style makes it easy to read—not necessarily easy to act upon. This  book can be purchased at or if you live in the Elko area, you can check it out of our church library. It is definitely worth reading.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Seeing the Elephant/Eating the Elephant

The topic of elephants in Nevada seems a bit ludicrous, particularly since there are none, at least in Northeastern Nevada. However, we have some good replicas in the area, one of them featured at the California Trail Center

A couple of weekends ago when my older son, Jeff, was in town, we toured the California Trail Center, which, by the way, is a great place to take out-of-town visitors. Featured at the beginning of the exhibit depicting the various experiences of the westward travelers is a statue of an elephant.  

Accompanying it are plaques explaining what “seeing the elephant” meant to the explorers, adventurers, and pioneers.

Wikipedia has a succinct summary defining the phrase as “gaining experience of the world at significant cost.” If you’re interested in the history of the phrase, you can Google the topic as the article is well-written.

For my family, however, the phrase, “remember how to eat an elephant” has more meaning, principally because we closely resemble the classification of “hoarders.” Of course we like to call ourselves “collectors.” But you get the idea.

Warning:  For those of you who have a place for everything and keep everything in its place, the remainder of this post will make no sense, whatsoever.

In defense of those of us who have problems discarding items in our homes and garages, blame this trait on living through the Great Depression or being raised by anyone who did so. There is always the fear that you might be able to use the item (should you discard it) that has perched on the top shelf of a cupboard, unused, since it was placed there ten years ago.

After cleaning out/sorting belongings of two sets of parents, now deceased and now one husband, deceased (who LOVED to collect things), my sons and I have grown into a love/hate relationship with the phrase concerning how to eat an elephant

For example, at this point in my life, my two-stall garage with an additional stall in the back needs to come to a state of orderliness. This is one huge “elephant” for me and when I see “sort out garage” glaring at me from my To-Do List, my first impulse is to shove the list under a pile of papers and go read a back!

However, when I earnestly considered “eating one bite of the elephant at a time” I decided I would go through a cabinet in the back garage, sorting and tossing, with the goal of moving Christmas ornaments off high shelves to the cupboard which I can reach easily.

After spending an afternoon of sorting, filing, and tossing, only one shelf was cleared, but I reported to my sons that I had “chewed off a toenail of the elephant.”  And so it continued, until the cabinet was emptied out and the ornaments now made accessible.

There are many more shelving units, drawers, and cabinets to sort, but as long as I don’t think about the huge task as a whole and work on it one shelf or drawer at a time—“one bite at a time”-- I will eventually get that garage in shape.

Note to self:  I need to sort out my Christmas ornaments as there is no way five boxes of varied ornaments can fit on a 3 ft. tree and in my small houseJ

Friday, June 8, 2018

What Might Have Been

Tomorrow would have been Dean and my 50th wedding anniversary.  Ten years ago, I would never have dreamed we would not be celebrating this anniversary together. We come from a line of long-lived family members with Dean’s folks celebrating more than 60 years together and my parents, 55 years. So the odds of celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary were good.

But our celebration  was not to be. I am grateful that my day will be filled with new beginnings for some of my friends. My friend, Trina, is having an estate sale to help speed her on to a new solo adventure. My “adopted” grandson, Devin, is having a graduation party to herald the start of an exciting journey of higher education in his life.

As for me, I have decided to celebrate the 46 years Dean and I had together with some pictures and thoughts.
June 9, 1968 brought a continuing life, now together, out West. I had left NE Missouri to teach music on an Indian reservation at Ft. Washakie, WY and Dean was working in the Sinclair oil fields at Bairoil, WY.  

Dean decided to go to college and after graduating at a new junior college in Riverton, WY, we moved to Laramie where he completed an industrial arts degree. By that time baby Jeffrey had joined us and I became a full time mom.

Dean got a teaching job in Rawlins, WY so we moved there and baby Brian joined the family there.  
Jeff and Brian, ages 7 & 4

We spent eleven years in Rawlins, went back to Laramie for seven years and then traveled further west to Nevada in 1990. I seem to be rooted pretty deeply here now.

Through all those years, Dean learned to be a Godly husband, father, and all-round man of integrity. He embraced the Gideon ministry back in the years of teaching school (although he spent most of his working years working in coal and gold mines).     
 Gideon presentation
He was a coffee lover

He liked frogs, especially to
share with his friend, Charlie.
He was a willing worker in what-ever church we were members and a mentor to more men than I will ever know. His kindness and generosity still remain goals for my life.

He loved cars--this was his last.
Anniversary #46
June 9, 2014

So happy anniversary, My Sweet Babboo, even though we didn’t make it to #50 together .

Friday, April 27, 2018

Penned by a Wannabe Geologist

Penned as in written, not encaged, and yes, if I had another go at life, I would try a career in geology. All that to introduce my subject for today: bedrock.

When I think of bedrock, I get a visual from my childhood. The graveled county road between my folks’ farm and the little town where I went to school had a fearsome hill leading down to a river. (Remember, this is all seen through a child’s eyes.) Midways on that hill was a humongous rocky slab that motorists must carefully maneuver around, and because it always seemed like the huge skeleton of some prehistoric something, I thought of it as bedrock.   

Picture the rock the man to the right is standing on as 
being the size of the rock visible in our gravel road. (Notice I use the word, visible, as I imagine such rocks are like icebergs. There's at least as much buried from sight as what can be seen)

Obviously, a rock that size is not easily moved. In fact I think part of the hilly road I remember as a child must have been dynamited and "pared down" when the road was asphalted. I daresay remnants of that bedrock are still lying there, now unseen.

This past week I was reading in Jesus Calling about the steadfast character of the Lord. He will never fail. He is always faithful to what He says He will do. The Psalmist, David, speaks over and over of how God is his Rock (see Psalm 18:2 for one instance)..

I am no Scripture writer, but I can speak to the tested experience of how God has been my Rock, and no doubt will continue to be until I leave Planet Earth.

Going back to the idea of bedrock and how it is part of the “skeleton” of our planet and how solid and immovable it is, can we not much more depend on the Creator of that very bedrock. The songwriter put it well as, “The Rock that is higher than I.” He is also wider, deeper, more awesome than our imaginations can ever imagine. That kind of "absolute" gives me much peace of mind, and I hope that is true for you, too.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Jesus I Never Knew

I just finished reading this book written by Philip Yancey, a Christian journalist, editor, and author.  He decided to write a book about Jesus from the point of view of those folks who lived during that time in history, using the Gospels as source material and attempting not to allow modern day preconceptions to color the result.

Mr. Yancey discovered that Jesus was a totally different person than the Sunday School flannel graph character he had learned about when he was a child. Much more than a “gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” this Jesus taught radical ideas of loving your enemies, yet had no qualms with throwing the money changers and animal sellers out of His Father’s house. Loving your enemy wasn’t easy to swallow if your country had been under the boot of Rome for generations plus this Galilean was speaking of Yahweh as his Father!

Jesus’ ideas of the kingdom of heaven didn’t mesh with the legalistic lives the Pharisees and teachers of the Law subscribed to, either. It’s no wonder Jesus spoke of the useless attempt of putting new wine into old wineskins, for this new “philosophy” burst asunder all the jots and tittles that the religious rulers had added in order to “properly” obey the Law

This book is particularly appropriate to read during the Lenten/Easter season, especially the chapters on Jesus’ final week and His resurrection, “The Morning Beyond Belief.”

I found myself jotting down quotes which are too numerous to use in this post so I will end with an especially poignant one in relation to Christ’s wondrous gift of salvation. As He hung on the cross, He was taunted by many to save himself if He was really the Son of God. However, “for Jesus to save others…he could not save himself.”

And then Easter morning, the most awesome miracle in history was made known: He is alive!.