Taste and See!

Good morning afternoon. It is Sunday, April 19, 2015.

Today’s Word of the Day is dessicate. It is a verb, meaning, “to dry up or become dried up,” “to preserve (a food) by drying : dehydrate,” or, “to drain of emotional or intellectual vitality.” Yesterday just about left me dessicated.

Today is Garlic Day. I love garlic, so I’m happy to celebrate this day. I will certainly try to make sure I have something garlicky.

Yesterday was an emotional day, perhaps more so than any other in the last ten days. I’m not quite sure I can identify why. We went up to the Medical Center of Arlington between 9:30 and 10:00 yesterday morning. My mother had called while we were on our way to say that the transport was coming to take my dad to Mineral Wells at 10:30. We would be driving Mom in our car. In one way, it was a very exciting day, because, even though my dad would not be going “home,” per se, he would be back in Mineral Wells, their home town. Mom would get to spend her first night in her home in ten days.

But for some reason, when the transport arrived, and they began the process of moving Dad from the hospital bed to the gurney (or whatever you call those things), I became very emotional, to the point of tears. They got him strapped in, and took him to the vehicle, a non-emergency ambulance-type vehicle, and we went to our car. The drive to Mineral Wells was a good drive, uneventful, with good conversation. We arrived at Mineral Wells Nursing and Rehabilitation only minutes after the transport, and after a moment of confusion, were able to locate where they had taken Dad. They were just moving him to his bed at the facility when we found the room. The nurse who would be taking care of him for that day turned out to be the niece of a guy that I played Pony League baseball with back in the day! She was very sweet, and will be his nurse for at least a few days a week. Her name, it turns out, is Rachel, which is, of course, the name of our oldest daughter. One of the other nurses in that area is named Stephanie. How crazy is that?? I couldn’t decide if that was a “sign” or not.

Anyway, they got him settled in, Mom signed a few forms, and we headed to the house. Mom was so glad to be home! We got her stuff in the house, then Mom and Christi looked over things in the fridge that might be expired, and came up with a few things that we would need to get while we were out. Then Mom and Christi went across the street to get the mail from a good neighbor friend of theirs. They were gone for a few minutes, because the neighbor loves to talk. :-) I fell asleep for a bit, during that time.

After they got back, Mom sorted the mail, and we took her to Pulido’s for lunch. We had a very nice lunch there, then stopped at Dollar General on the way back to the house to get the few items that she felt like she needed for the house. When we got back to the house, they got a phone call, which turned out to be a weather alert. It seems a severe thunderstorm was heading that way from the west. So, at Mom’s insistence, we hurried out to the rehab place, took some pajama pants and a few other items to Dad’s room, and went back to the house so we could hurry back to Fort Worth before the storm hit. Right before we left, the sweetest thing happened. Christi, Stephanie, and I were standing out in the hall while Mom helped Dad “take care of some business.” Stephanie, with tears in her eyes, said that she really felt like we should pray over her Grandpa. Of course, we agreed, so when Mom opened the door again, we we gathered around him, joined hands (his included), and prayed together for him. It felt really good, and I have to say his grip was surprisingly strong.

We left him there, alone (that word really hit me hard, later in the evening), took Mom back to the house, and left here there, alone. This is significant, because in their 58 years of marriage, they have hardly ever been apart from one another. The severe weather sirens were sounding in Mineral Wells as we drove out of town, barely ahead of the dark clouds. I called my mother on the way, to check on her, and she was fine. They had only gotten a good bit of rain and some high winds. She thought she might have heard some small hail, but everything was okay. About 20-30 minutes after we got home, it hit our area with some really high winds and rain. There was some lightning and thunder, much to Tessie’s (dog) dismay, but that was about it.

Somewhere around 9:00 last night, I got hit with a terrible sadness, thinking that my father was alone in that nursing home room. I couldn’t help but wonder what he was feeling, hoping that he didn’t feel abandoned. He knows how much we love him. And I think he knows that, in his current state, there is no way he could be at home with Mom, unless they had some home health care person there, as well. And that may be something that happens in the future. Nevertheless, I had an overwhelming period of deep sadness. I feel better this morning. One of Mom’s friends (the one who got the mail) is supposed to take her up to the rehab place this afternoon. She should be calling us afterward with an update.

We aren’t going back out there today, unless something happens where we are needed. Today is mostly resting. There are a few mundane things that need to be done, but it will be mostly resting, which we badly need. Christi is still not well from the sore throat and coughing she had earlier in the week.

It was on this date in 1971 that Charles Manson was sentenced to death for “Tate/LaBianca” murders. Ironically, he is still alive. This is due to the fact that, in 1972, California abolished the death penalty, at which time all of the Manson “family” sentences were automatically converted to life in prison.

Today’s birthdays include Deaf Smith (American revolutionary), Ole Evinrude (Norwegian-American inventor), Dick Sargent (actor, Bewitched), Jayne Mansfield (actress), Dudley Moore (musician/actor), Elinor Donahue (actress, Father Knows Best), Tim Curry (actor), Al Unser, Jr. (race car driver), Ashley Judd (actress), James Franco (actor), Kate Hudson (actress), Joe Mauer (baseball player), and Maria Sharapova (tennis player).

Dudley Moore was probably best known for either his role as Bo Derek’s stalker in 10, or as the tragically lovable drunk in Arthur. What many people may not know is that he was an accomplished piano player, as well. I was delighted when I discovered, many years ago, that he played the piano part on this Larry Norman song, “The Sun Began To Rain.”

Dudley was born on this date in 1935 and passed away in 2002.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Psalm 34:8-22

(From Heart Aflame)

“David calls upon men to stir up their senses, and to bring a palate endued with some capacity of tasting, that God’s goodness may become known to them.” Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! God certainly does nothing to prevent us from knowing of this goodness, from experiencing it firsthand, with all of our senses. When we refuse to do so, we are “infected with the common malady of dullness.”

The promise that immediately follows seals the deal. Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! “For God never disappoints the expectations of those who seek his favour. Our own unbelief is the only impediment which prevents him from satisfying us largely and bountifully with abundance of all good things.”

In verse 14, the Psalmist says, “seek peace and pursue it.” “In our own personal affairs we should be meek and condescending, and endeavour, as far as it depends on us, to maintain peace, though its maintenance should prove to us a source of much trouble and inconvenience.”

In all of this, we can maintain the confidence that, “The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry” (verse 15). God regards us, and will preserve us under the peace and safety of his protection. We are here directed that we should “reflect upon the providence of God, and to rest assured that [we] are safe under his wings.”

I believe it is also important to note (and the devotional book does not include any comment on this verse) verse 19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. We are not promised to be protected from affliction; rather, we are promised to be delivered out of affliction.

Father, I thank you that I have tasted and seen that you are good. This does not make me special. This is not a boast of anything that I have done that has made me better than anyone else, for I am not, and I have done nothing. It is purely by your grace and mercy that I have experienced you, that I have tasted and seen that you are good. I pray that I will continue to taste you and to know you with all of my senses. May your Spirit keep me experientially alive in you. I don’t ever want to be overcome by the “common malady of dullness,” when it comes to you. Teach me to “seek peace and pursue it.” Maintain the confidence in me that your eyes are toward us and that your ears hear our cries. You are our protector. I praise you, Father, for the truth that, even in our darkest sin, you only see us with love, thanks to the sacrifice of Christ, which paid for our sin.

Father, I pray for the current affliction that is upon this family. I pray for deliverance for my father and mother. May your healing hand of mercy give a miracle to us during this time. I pray for my father to regain strength, and that he can return, at least to the level of strength that he had before his accident, if not even stronger. You, O Lord, are capable of all things. “All things are possible with God.” Hear the prayers, O Lord, of the many who are crying out on behalf of my father. There are many who are way more righteous than me (although, in Christ, I suppose we are all equally righteous) who are crying out to you on his behalf. Hear our prayers, O Lord.

May you give us good rest on this day, and may you bring healing on Christi, as well. I pray for a good report from my mother after she visits my father at the nursing home.

I pray for Elizabeth, and praise you for the good report that was received about her. Your grace is amazing, Lord, and we praise you for it.

Taste

Grace and peace, friends.

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Touch My Heart, O God!

Good morning. It is Saturday, April 18, 2015.

Today’s Word of the Day is wimple. This is a verb, meaning, “to cover with or as if with a wimple : veil,” “to ripple,” or, “(chiefly Scottish) to follow a winding course : meander.” I have a problem with the first definition. I was always taught that you never use the word, itself, in the definition of the word. Of course, “wimple” in the definition is, apparently, a noun. I like the Scottish one, though. So, with that in mind, I will continue to wimple through this blog entry.

Today, of course, is Record Store Day. Vinyl sales are booming, lately, increasing by 52% in 2014. I know I read somewhere that vinyl outsold CDs last year, but I can’t find that statistic right now. Overall album sales have declined, probably due to streaming services such as Spotify and Rhapsody (I, personally, use Rhapsody, but will purchase at least a download if I truly like the artist). 64 percent of the vinyl albums were sold at indie retailers, which is what Record Store Day is all about. So, if you have a chance, go find a record store and enjoy flipping through all of those records. By the way, I still love the smell of an old vinyl record. It’s almost as great as the smell of an old book.

My dad is supposed to get transported to the rehab center in Mineral Wells, this morning. They were going to do it last night, but my mother talked them into waiting until this morning. Good on her!!! It was storming in the area, last night, and the transport vehicle wasn’t going to arrive until somewhere between 8 and 9 PM! Waiting until this morning also works better, because, since we will be driving my mother home, we can stay with her all day today, to help her get settled back into the house and see what she needs us to help her do or get. We are currently waiting on her call to let us know when they are going to come get Dad. The rehab center contracts with a non-emergency transport service to move him.

In other news, the Red Sox and Rangers both won their games last night. The Sox beat Baltimore 3-2, while the Rangers beat Seattle 3-1. The Rangers are tied for second place, with Oakland, and the Sox are still in first place. The Evil Empire is in last place. This gives me great joy, even knowing that is still way early in the season! :-D

On this date in 1981, a professional baseball game was begun in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The game was between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. The game took 33 innings to complete, was suspended at 4:00 AM on April 19, and completed on June 23. The Paw Sox won in the bottom of the 33rd inning, 3-2. It is the longest professional baseball game ever played. Of course, it involved the Red Sox! :-D

No time for birthdays. We’re supposed to leave the house in, like, fifteen minutes.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Psalm 34:1-7

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “God, Touch Our Hearts.”

Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor whose hearts God had touched.
1 Samuel 10:26

Think about what is being stated in this verse. God touched their hearts. Not a person; not their wives or children; not their priests; not their best friends. God touched their hearts.

“The One with infinite power in the universe. The One with infinite authority and infinite wisdom and infinite love and infinite goodness and infinite purity and infinite justice. That One touched their heart.”

Can you fathom the “circumference of Jupiter” touching a molecule?

“The touch of God is awesome because it is a touch. It is a real connection. That it involves the heart is awesome. That it involves God is awesome. And that it involves an actual touch is awesome.”

These men did not just hear something. They were not just inspired. “They were not just swayed by a divine influence.” God touched their hearts, and “they were not consumed.”

Would that God would touch all of us in this way!

“O for the touch of God! If it comes with fire, so be it. If it comes with water so be it. If it comes with wind, let it come, O God. If it comes with thunder and lightning, let us bow before it.”

Father, I must hurry. Forgive me for dawdling. But I pray for this touch. Touch my heart in the same way that you touched these men of Saul’s. “O Lord, come. Come that close. Burn and soak and blow and crash. Or still and small, come. Come all the way. Touch our hearts.” Touch my heart intimately. Give me that real connection with you, today. However you choose to do it. I just need your touch.

I pray for this day, Father, that everything will work out smoothly with the transfer of my dad. I pray, still, for healing and recovery. Keep us safe as we drive today. Your will be done on earth, as in heaven. Praises be to your name, O God!

May God touch all of our hearts today.

Grace and peace, friends.

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Embracing Christ

Good morning. Friday has finally arrived. It is Friday, April 17, 2015.

Today’s Word of the Day is papabile. “A prelate likely or worthy to be elected as pope.” Also, ” In extended use: a person worthy of, or likely to be elected to, high (esp. political) office.”

Today is Blah Blah Blah Day. To be perfectly honest, that fits my mood to the tee, this morning.

Yesterday was a bit scary for a few moments. At one point during the day, I left my workstation (with my phone sitting on it) for less than a minute. When I got back, there was a missed call and message from the Medical Center of Arlington phone number. I listed to the message (my mother), and it sounded scary, so I called her back immediately, in spite of regulations that we are not supposed to be on our cell phones at the work station. The procedure of putting the feeding tube in my dad’s stomach went fine, but when they took him to recovery, his oxygen level plummeted. He was too tired or too weak to breathe. They put him on a breathing machine, and got him stabilized, though, and eventually got him back on the oxygen through the standard tubes in the nose. They were just bringing him back to the room when my mother called me. This was almost 3PM. She believes that we almost lost him.

I went straight up there after work. Christi wasn’t going to go, anyway, as she is still suffering from a sore throat and nasty cough, as well as occasional temperature. When I got there, he looked pretty good, and my mother was okay. We believe that was just a temporary scare, hopefully, just one time. They plan to start feeding him through the tube today, and are still talking of releasing him, maybe tomorrow, to go back to Mineral Wells and enter rehab for a bit.

My mother and I had a nice meal at the hospital cafeteria, last night, as well, and we had some good, serious conversation about the possible future. I won’t go into any of those details, right now, because, for one thing, we have no clue what the future holds, and for another, we aren’t going to worry about the future. We are both hanging on to what my daily devotional was about yesterday, that being that we get enough mercy for this day alone, and we don’t need to spend time and energy worrying about tomorrow.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:4-22

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “Embracing Jesus.”

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
1 John 5:3-4

When Jonathan Edwards struggled over this text, he came to this conclusion: “Saving faith implies . . . love. . . . Our love to God enables us to overcome the difficulties that attend keeping God’s commands — which shows that love is the main thing in saving faith, the life and power of it, by which it produces great effects.”

This could be put in another way to say that “faith in Christ is not just assenting to what God is for us, but also embracing all that he is for us in Christ.” We used to say that it wasn’t enough to have “head knowledge” about Christ, but that we had to have “heart acceptance” of Christ. I think Piper has said it better. “True faith embraces Christ in whatever ways the Scriptures hold him out to poor sinners,” says Edwards. This kind of love, this “embracing,” treasures Christ above all things.

“Believing that Jesus is the Son of God means ’embracing’ the significance of that truth — that is, being satisfied with Christ as the Son of God and all God is for us in him.”

Father, I pray for your Spirit to help me, to enable me to treasure Christ above all other things. I pray that I would embrace him above all else, and all that you are for me in him. May my love for you in Christ be lived out in the faith that you have given me, that faith which can overcome the world.

I continue to pray for healing and recovery for my dad. I thank you that we got through yesterday, and still have him around. I thank you that, no matter how small, there is hope that he might return to a life similar to that which he left last Wednesday. But even if he is not able to do that, we praise you for your might hand in all of this. You have been present and “visible” through our trial in this past week. My mother’s strength is amazing. Even her moments of weakness have been few and brief, as she reminds herself that all is in your hands and that you are in control. It appears that she has worked through all possibilities, and she is strong and firm in her faith. I praise you for this, Lord.

I pray for this day, that we would have safe passage to and from work, as well as a good, productive work day, with no anxiety. I also pray that we would not be anxious about what tomorrow may bring, for you will provide enough mercy when tomorrow gets here. May we never forget that your mercies are new every morning! I pray for Stephanie, that you would draw her closer to you today. I pray for Rachel and Justin, as well, that you would draw them closer, and provide for them what they need most for this day. (Yes, I know these prayers seem repetitive, but it is my daily prayer for my loved ones.)

Your grace is sufficient, Lord.

May we who call ourselves by his name fully embrace him for all that he is.

Grace and peace, friends.

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They Are New Every Morning

Good morning. It is Thursday, April 16, 2015.

Today’s Word of the Day is hat trick. (When I use the Merriam-Webster WotD, the link probably goes to the current day’s word, rather than the specific entry.) As a matter of fact, I just realized the the OED link won’t get you to the word on any day other than the day I write this. I will probably stop linking those, just for that reason. Anyway . . . “hat trick” is one that a lot of people will be familiar with. It is a sports term which can mean, “the retiring of three batsmen with three consecutive balls by a bowler in cricket, the scoring of three goals in one game by a single player,” or, “a series of three victories, successes, or related accomplishments.” The last definition could apply to non-sports accomplishments, as well.

Today is Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day. I sometimes think people do that every day. I saw a guy at my work yesterday, wearing shorts which looked a lot like pajama shorts.

They did a “swallow test” on my dad, yesterday, and the result of that is that they are going to put a feeding tube into his stomach today. This, according to my mother, will enable them to release him to the rehab place in Mineral Wells, as they will be able to feed him. The cause of the swallowing issue is, ultimately, the Inclusion Body Myositis, with which he has suffered for many years, now. However, there is hope that the rehab center will be able to work with him to get those muscles working again, so that he can eat again. I suppose that the head trauma from last week may have exacerbated the effects of the disease. The doctor seems to think the feeding tube will be temporary, however, he also said that it could be left in indefinitely, even if he regains the ability to swallow properly. My mother sounded hopeful on the phone last night. They are talking, if the procedure is successful, of releasing him Friday or Saturday. We are selfishly hoping for Saturday.

Both the Red Sox and the Rangers lost horribly, yesterday. The Sox remain in first, with a 6-3 record, while the Rangers sit in fourth, at 4-6. Kansas City finally lost a game.

Christi’s throat continues to hurt, but she currently doesn’t have fever, which is a good thing.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.
Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

Psalm 33:1-3

(From Solid Joys)

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

“God’s mercies are new every morning because each day only has enough mercy in it for that day.”

This is the reason that, when we try to bear tomorrow’s burdens today, we fall into despair and worry. We don’t have to do that. There is no reason to. Yet we constantly find ourselves, as my mother used to say, “borrowing trouble.” “Today’s mercies are for today’s troubles. Tomorrow’s mercies are for tomorrow’s troubles.”

Will we have enough mercy to stand in times of severe testing? Scripture seems to indicate that we will. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:14) We have the promise, that, when we are reviled because of the name of Christ, the Spirit will be upon us. Remember Stephen, as he was stoned. That same Spirit will come to our aid when we are sorely tested.

The children of Israel received manna one day at a time. When they tried to gather too much and save it for the next day, it spoiled. “There was no storing up.” We, too, must depend on the Lord’s mercy in the same way. “You do not receive today the strength to bear tomorrow’s burdens. You are given mercies today for today’s troubles.”

Tomorrow, we are promised new mercies. “They are new every morning.”

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:9

Father, help me to remember this truth! I pray for the realized mercy to know and trust that there will be enough mercy for tomorrow’s troubles when tomorrow gets here. I don’t have to worry about it today. This is probably one of my worst faults. I worry. I struggle with what may happen. I fret over situations that may never occur. Help me to apply today’s mercy for today and let tomorrow’s mercy handle tomorrow.

I pray for this day. I pray for my father’s procedure, today at around noon. I pray for it to go smoothly, and that it will, indeed, facilitate their eventual release from the Arlington hospital, so that they can go back to Mineral Wells, and at least be close to home. I pray for this mercy for my mother, that she will handle one day at a time. I pray for our travel to work today, that it will be safe and smooth. I pray for Christi to feel better today, that her throat would heal, and the coughing subside. I pray for Stephanie, that you would draw her closer to your heart. May you grant Rachel and Justin peace and love, and whatever they need most for this day.

We thank you and praise you that Jacque’s biopsy came back benign. I pray now, for Kevin’s back, that he might get some relief. We also praise you for Brandon’s successful surgery, and that he may now fully recover and go back to work. You have answered prayers, Father, and we are grateful.

When you are tempted to worry about tomorrow, remember that tomorrow will begin with new mercies, enough for tomorrow’s trouble.

lamentations 3 22-23

Grace and peace, friends.

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When Things Get Tough, Consider Jesus

Good morning. It is Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Do you know where your taxes are?

Today’s Word of the Day is adultescent. No, I am not making that up. It means, “An adult who has retained the interests, behaviour, or lifestyle of adolescence.” I’m sure most of us can think of some great examples. I might be one, myself.

Today is Bookmobile Day. I sure wish we had one of those around here! That would be awesome!

Stephanie and I went up to the hospital last night. Christi is suffering from a sore throat, and didn’t want to expose my mom and dad to it. There’s not much to say, as things seem to be mostly the same. Dad was pretty tired, and slept most of the time we were there. He did say that they had put a Tylenol drip in his IV, to help with the headache he had been having. Mom also said that they had put some kind of liquid nutrition in the IV, as well, as he continues having trouble swallowing. They had planned on releasing him, yesterday, but the swallowing issues caused them to keep him at least 24 more hours. The plan, upon release, is to take him to the rehab center in Mineral Wells, close to the hospital out there.

Christi will be working from home, today, as her throat is still hurting pretty bad. We also have a dryer repair man coming between noon and 3PM, because our dryer quit spinning last Saturday or Sunday. She was already planning to be at home around noon. She doesn’t think she has fever. It was low, last night, 99.5. She tried to go to a Minute Clinic, but they stopped taking patients at 6:30, even though their website says they don’t stop until 15 minutes before they close, which is 7:30.

The Red Sox and Rangers both won their games, last night. The Sox squeaked by the Nationals, 8-7, while the Rangers dominated the Angels 8-2. It seems that Nick Martinez (Rangers pitcher) may be the “real deal,” having gone 12 consecutive scoreless innings before finally giving one up in the 7th, last night. The Sox are in first place, while the Rangers are a game behind the hated Athletics.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah.
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Psalm 32:3-11

(From Knowing Jesus)

Today’s reading is “Jesus, the Epitome of Perseverance.”

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
2 Thessalonians 3:5
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Hebrews 12:3

I’ll be honest with you. This is not exactly the reading I want to see, this morning. The word perseverance is frightening. It is frightening because it conjures up images of suffering. No one ever has to “persevere” through awesome, successful times. But there are inspirational stories, galore, about great people who have persevered through hard times, struggles, and disabilities. Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Lindbergh, Temple Grandin . . . the list goes on and on.

Jesus could fit into this group, as well. The Gospels are full of stories of how he kept going “in the face of opposition and misunderstanding.” He fasted for 40 days, after which Satan tempted him. He endured physical hardships and attempted spiritual manipulations.

He never quit preaching and teaching the Gospel, even though the “miracle-hungry crowd turned away from his discipleship demands.” He navigated through the clever traps of his enemies. He endured the taunts of demons. Even his followers had pathetic knowledge of Scripture and the love and power of God.

He persevered when his cousin, John the Baptist, was beheaded. When his family tried to get him to stop the madness of what he was doing, he forged ahead, refusing to give up. Even when his own home town people tried to kill him, he kept going. He was accused of being a drunkard, of being a friend of “sinners,” and even being in cahoots with Satan.

And he persevered, in spite of knowing that the cross loomed in front of him.

So, the writer of Hebrews encourages us, when things get tough, we need to stop and look at Jesus, and what he endured. “You haven’t suffered anything like that, so keep going. Don’t quit. Don’t give up on your faith. Don’t complain. Hang on. Persevere. Endure. Be steadfast. Pray that God will direct your heart to his love and Christ’s perseverance.”

Father, lift me up to this level of perseverance. I don’t like that word. I don’t like the images it conjures. Especially right now. But I realize the truth that, just as Jesus persevered, so must I. So must we all. We have not come close to suffering as Jesus did, at least not in this country. There may be a time when we do. I hope and pray that, should that time come, I will persevere and endure whatever comes in the name of Christ. But for now, I must simply persevere through the hardships of this life. My mother needs me to be strong, and to be there for her and my dad, for however long this trial lasts. And I am willing. I praise you that you have given me that kind of heart.

I pray for this day. May you bring healing to Christi, this morning, that her throat would feel better, and that she would continue to not suffer with fever. I pray for Stephanie, that you would show your great love to her and help her understand. I pray for healing and recovery for my dad, and strength for my mother. Keep Rachel and Justin safe, and give them whatever they need for this day. Draw them to your love.

I lift up our brother Brandon, who is having surgery to have a stent removed this morning. I also pray for Kevin and Jacque, as they will receive biopsy results today. Bring peace to Kevin, as he is barely able to function due to anxiety over this. May the results be favorable, Father.

Your grace is sufficient.

I didn’t want to hear this today. But there it is, and hear it, I do. God is faithful. I will persevere.

Perseverance

Grace and peace, friends.

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Hallowed Be Your Name

Good morning. It is Tuesday, April 14, 2015. Taxes are due tomorrow.

Today’s Word of the Day is subrident. This means, “Characterized by or accompanied by a smile or smiles; wearing a smile; smiling.”

Today is Library Workers Day. I love the library, and always have. Today is the day to appreciate, not necessarily the librarians, but those other people who mill about the library, re-shelving books, and so on. Depending on your local library, some of those may even be volunteers!

Christi stopped by the hospital on the way home from work, yesterday evening. This is the first day we didn’t all go up there since last Wednesday. We all agreed that it wasn’t necessary to do that every day, at this point. However, Christi said that my dad looked the best he had since last Wednesday. His eyes were brighter, he was smiling more, and they had some real, full conversation. This sounds very promising. On the other hand, he can’t stand to eat the pureed food! I think mom is getting frustrated with him, now, but that’s probably a good thing. There is talk of releasing him, soon, but I’m not sure how legitimate that talk is. I’m not sure what we will do today, as tonight is supposed to be my Huddle night. We will make that decision at some point during the day. I’ll probably call either during my morning break or during lunch time.

The Rangers messed up their lose/win pattern last night, losing to the Angels, 6-3. At one point, they were up 3-0. The Red Sox routed the Nats in the Fenway home opener, 9-4. It was actually much worse than the score indicates. Mookie Betts was the star of the show, in all categories of batting, base-running, and fielding, as he robbed Bryce Harper of a home run, at one point, snagging a ball that should have been in the bullpen. The KC Royals continue their undefeated streak, and are the only remaining team to be so. They are 7-0. The Sox are 5-2, in first place, and the Rangers are 3-5, in last. But the season is so young that a single win or loss could make the difference between first and last.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Psalm 32:1-2

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “Pray for His Fame.”

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
Matthew 6:9

Over and over, Scripture tells us that God does things “for his name’s sake.” Our God delights in having his name known. It is for this reason that Jesus begins this prayer with “hallowed be your name.” “This is a request to God that he would work to cause people to hallow his name.”

As Jesus teaches us to pray, he is teaching us to put our prayers in line “with this great passion of the Father.”

“‘Lord, cause more and more people to hallow your name,’ that is, esteem, admire, respect, cherish, honor, and praise his name. It is basically a missionary prayer.”

Father, I will echo that prayer this morning, and throughout the day. “Hallowed be your name!” I pray for more people in the world to delight in your name, to admire and respect you, to cherish, honor, and praise your name. May the desires of your heart come to pass; may you make your desires my desires.

I pray for this day. As we go forth, I pray for more healing and recovery for my dad and more strength for my mother. I pray that we will be able to accomplish what is best for my father in terms of care after this hospital stay, so that my mother will not be unduly stressed and burdened. Help us to make the proper arrangements without any problems. Once again, I thank you for the army of prayer warriors who have been crying out to you on his behalf.

I pray for our trip to work, this morning, and home, this afternoon. Keep Christi safe as she works today, and may her job go smoothly today. I pray also for her, physically, as she is not feeling real great right now. May you draw Stephanie closer to your heart today, and may your Spirit move her to read some of your words. I pray for Rachel and Justin, that you might provide for them what they need most desperately today.

Your grace is sufficient.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” The beginning of a great prayer, and perhaps the most important thing we can pray. May his name be hallowed in all the earth!

Grace and peace, friends.

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Sow in Tears, Reap in Gladness

Good morning. It is Monday, April 13, 2015. Today is the Home Opener in Boston’s Fenway Park.

Today’s Word of the Day is lovelify. I like this word. It means exactly what I thought it would mean, “To make lovely; to beautify.” I hope I get a chance to use it today.

Today is Scrabble Day. Or, if you don’t have time for Scrabble, you could always play the phone app version, “Words with Friends.” I mean, seriously, who has time for a game of Scrabble, any more?

We visited my parents again, yesterday evening. I think my dad was a little better. The time he was awake, he was slightly more alert, I think. The fever isn’t totally gone, yet, and my mother said she thought he felt a little warmer, yesterday. But the powers that be didn’t seem terribly concerned with that, and are continuing to treat it with antibiotics. We watched part of the Rangers game, and he was aware of what was going on. As we were leaving, he smiled (which I believe was the first time I have seen him do that since the fall) and said, “I love you.” That was significant, too. A speech therapist came by, yesterday, and figured out a way to help him eat. They have his bed configured more like a recliner, which helps him sit up better. This enables him to swallow more efficiently. Plus they started pureeing his food, which also makes it easier. I was more encouraged by yesterday’s visit than I have been since last Wednesday. Still a long road ahead, though. I’m not sure, but I think we may just call, this evening. I guess we will see how we feel.

Monday, Monday, back to work again.

In other news, speaking of that Rangers game, they lost a heartbreaker in extra innings. The Astros’ right fielder robbed Leonys Martin of a game-winning grand slam in one of those innings. The Astros scored two in the top of the 14th, and the Rangers, in spite of getting the bases loaded in the bottom of the 14th, couldn’t bring any of them home. 6-4 in 14 innings. The Red Sox weren’t that close. They lost 14-4 to the Evil Empire, after Clay Buchholz had a very bad 1st inning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD.
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul,
and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.
Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many— terror on every side!— as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!
O LORD, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go silently to Sheol.
Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt.
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.
I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.” But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.
Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!

Psalm 31:6-24

(From Solid Joys)

Today’s reading is “Talk To Your Tears.”

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:5-6

There is nothing sad about the work of sowing seed, or carrying seed. So why does the Psalmist speak of sowing in tears? One possibility has nothing to do with sadness of the job, or even the difficulty of the job. It has nothing to do with the sowing, itself. It has to do, rather, with “the work that has to be done even when there are things in life that make us cry.”

“The crops won’t wait while we finish our grief or solve all our problems. If we are going to eat next winter, we must get out in the field and sow the seed whether we are crying or not.” In other words, even in the midst of our sadness, we have to get on with life. The promise is clear. If we go ahead and do that, later, we will “come home with shouts of joy.” No matter what the circumstances, sowing will produce reaping, and we need to remember that in the midst of our sadness and/or trials.

The lesson is this: When there is work to be done, and we are full of sadness and tears, go ahead and do the job with the tears. Feel the tears. Say to them, “Tears, I feel you. You make me want to quit life. But there is a field to be sown (dishes to be washed, car to be fixed, sermon to be written).”

Then, based on the promises of God, we can also say to them, “Tears, I know that you will not stay forever. The very fact that I just do my work (tears and all) will in the end bring a harvest of blessing. So go ahead and flow if you must. But I believe (I do not yet see it or feel it fully) — I believe that the simple work of my sowing will bring sheaves of harvest. And your tears will be turned to joy.”

Father, you keep bringing me readings that are so appropriate for my circumstances. Thank you for these words of wisdom today. For I must go to work, and I must do the work efficiently. If I could, I would go sit at the hospital all day, every day. But that would neither be good for my job, nor my family. Life goes on; work must be done. Yes, there may be tears, but that’s okay. I don’t need to pretend I’m not sad, or not concerned (am I worried? Not necessarily.) about what is going on with my father, right now. This is a part of life, and we must bear it as such. But help me to go ahead and have the strength to sow in tears, that I might, one day, reap with joy and gladness. This sadness, this trial, will not last forever. “This, too, shall pass,” as they say.

I pray for this day. I pray for safe travel to and from work. I pray for Christi’s day, that she might be able to get her work accomplished with no anxiety. I pray for my parents, today. I pray for continued improvement in my dad’s condition, and that he might, eventually, return to being at least close to how he was before. I pray for strength for my mother, that she might draw great strength and comfort from your presence. I pray that, perhaps, others from their home town might come to visit. Thank you for those who came yesterday! Please bring blessings to their lives for their kindness. I also pray for Stephanie, Rachel, and Justin, that you might bring them what they need most in this day. Show your great love to them, and draw them closer to your heart.

Your grace is sufficient!

Many people have reason to be sad today, people all over the world. May those of us who are brothers and sisters in Christ be faithful to sow in tears, doing the work that is necessary, even in our sadness. God has promised that we will, one day, reap in gladness. Hold on to those promises, dear friends.

psalm-126-5

Grace and peace, friends.

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