Friday, June 15, 2018

Psalm 119:33-40, He


I’m not sure why, but this part brought tears to my eyes. The writer asked God to teach him and help him obey God’s ways—to give him delight, to spare him selfishness and disgrace, so he’d make it to the end.

Father God, I make this request too.

ה He

Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,
    that I may follow it to the end.
Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law
    and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands,
    for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
    and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
    preserve my life according to your word.
Fulfill your promise to your servant,
    so that you may be feared.
Take away the disgrace I dread,
    for your laws are good.
How I long for your precepts!
    In your righteousness preserve my life.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Sweet Memories, Fresh Laughter after Over Twenty Years


February 9, 1996: David (our exchange student from Germany) is leaving today, and he was just taking all his suitcases out to the van. Sarah asked, "How are we going to drive over the ocean?" I said that we weren't taking him to Germany, just to the airport. She said, "Oh, I'm so silly!"

(I don’t have this written down, but I definitely remember, when we were saying farewell to David at the airport, Sarah said, “Sad-bye.”)

February 14, 1996: Last night Sarah was playing in her bedroom. When Rebecca went out of the room, Sarah told her, "Close the door all the way so Rhoda doesn't come in, because she's crazy, and I don't want her to scare me."

February 16, 1996: The other day Sarah asked me what color my forehead was. I said white. She said, no it was yellow. Then she touched my chin and said that that was yellow. Then she said, "All your fur is yellow."

Last night at bedtime, Rebecca asked, "Why did God make nighttime so long?"

February 18, 1996: Our neighbor Gordon brought us a bunch of paper from cleaning out his garage this afternoon for the kids to draw on. When Sarah came downstairs, Murray showed it to her, and said, "Look what Gordon brought for you." He meant for all the kids. When I came down, Sarah and Rebecca were playing with the paper and Sarah told me, "I'm sharing some of my paper with Rebecca because Gordon brought me too much." She's very literal.

February 19, 1996: Tonight Murray was reading the Bible to the kids, and Sarah said, "If we're outside playing when Jesus comes, the real Jesus Who we can see, you know what I want to do to Him?" “What?” we asked. "Tickle Him," she replied.

February 22, 1996: The other night Caleb was laying on top of his bed. Murray told him to get under the cover. Caleb said no, he wanted to leave his bed made so he didn't have to make it the next day.

This morning Murray told Rebecca that tomorrow was my birthday, and she asked, "Does she know?"

March 4, 1996: Yesterday at lunch Caleb asked, "Mommy, do kitties turn into frisbees?"

This morning Sarah crossed her arms to hold my hand while we were praying. She said, "My arms are Xed."

March 5, 1996: Tonight Rebecca was reading stories to the other kids, and she was getting ready to read them The Three Little Pigs, and she said, "I'm scared of the wolf, but since there's lots of guys around here, I can read it." (We were all five in the dining room and kitchen.)

March 6, 1996: This morning I came upstairs panting after riding my exercise bike. Rebecca asked, "Mommy, what took your breath?" I said, "There are three kids in this house that I love; what are their names?" Rebecca answered, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego." (The three Jews that Nebuchadnezzar threw into the fiery furnace because they wanted to worship the Lord rather than him.)

March 7, 1996: Yesterday we were talking about different seasons in the year. Then Rebecca asked, "When God created the world, what kind of weather was it?"

March 8, 1996: This morning when I turned on the light and woke the girls up Sarah said, "Mommy, you scared my eyes with the light."

March 13, 1996: Sarah wore a ponytailer in her hair today to school. It was still in when she got home. She told me, "I didn't mess with my ponytailer AT ALL!" But then she added, "But if I had, I wouldn't have told you, because I didn't want you to be mad."

March 14, 1996: Last night in the car, Sarah said, "Ow, ow." I asked what was wrong, and she said, "I'm stepping on my fingers. Ow, ow."

March 14, 1996: Tonight at supper, Caleb told us that, "A kid at school broke his nose off."

March 15, 1996: Yesterday afternoon, we had the first thunder storm of the year. Sarah asked, "What was that big noise?" (I clearly remember this. Her voice was so quiet and maybe filled with awe.)

The kids are playing a game right now that their kids were being bad, so they made scrambled eggs out of them and they're going to eat them. I told them that was yucky, that people don't eat other people. Rebecca said reasonably, "Well, we do in this game."

Friday, June 1, 2018

Grace and Truth, John 6:1-15:


This is a well-known passage, but I am thankful for the new ideas God gives me from reading it again.

Jesus was always concerned about many things.

He wanted to meet the physical needs of these thousands of people by giving them food, by showing them he is God, by showing them he cared for them.

He was also training his disciples, to believe in him, to take care of people’s needs.

And he always had to keep his mission in mind, slipping away so the people wouldn’t capture him and mess up the timing.

He was god, but he was also a man who got tired and discouraged.

Thank you, Lord, for your continuous love.


John 6:1-15:
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Giver And Fulfiller of Dreams


As a teenager, I had two dreams: to have a family, and to be a writer.

When I was twenty-six, God gave me the gift of a marriage with Murray. By the time we were married ten years, we had five children.

That dream is still unfolding. Give me a few hours, and I’ll begin to tell you about my children.

The writing dream took a little longer.

I was about ten when I started writing stories down. By that time, I could no longer see well enough to read my handwriting, so I forced these silly stories on long-suffering family and friends.

When I was eleven, I learned braille, and soon after I learned to type. With a manual typewriter and a braillewriter, I was soon filling binder after binder with stories.

I was able to have a healthy handful of stories and poems published in magazines when I was a teenager. Then, with college, work, and raising a family, I wrote very little for over thirty years.

I didn’t give up the dream. I figured I’d write when I retired.

Then six years ago, I had to quit working due to an injury. This was crushing to me, since I’d always valued myself as a busy, productive person.

But God was so kind to me. He reminded me of my writing dream, and I realized if I didn’t use this time to write, I’d simply be foolish.

I started writing, more silly little stories at first. I join the American Christian Fiction Writers group, where I was able to participate in classes and critique groups.

I read books about writing, wrote more, and learned so much about improving this skill. I still have so much to learn.

This week I signed a contract with Mantle Rock Publishing for my first book, which, God willing, is scheduled to be released in April of 2019.

In Psalm 37, it says God will give us the desires of our heart. I believe he put these two wonderful dreams in my heart, and I thank him for fulfilling them.

Psalm 37: 4: Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Sweet Memories, Smart and Silly


January 3, 1996: This morning when I was helping Sarah get dressed, I said she was four years old now. She said, "No, I'm not!" "Yes, you are," I assured her. "No, I'm not!" she insisted. "I haven't had cake yet!"

After breakfast we were brushing teeth, and Rebecca told me, "Mommy, I brushed my lungs." "That's great," I said. "I really did," she said, then finished, "Oh, I mean my gums."

January 9, 1996: On Sarah's birthday, Caleb asked, "Where is the three year old?" I said I didn't know, and he said, "The four year old chased her away."   

Caleb has learned up to letter O in braille. The other night at supper, he said excitedly, "Mommy, next week, Mrs. Davis is going to teach us P!"

This morning Rebecca was trying to find some jewelry to wear. She found an old bracelet that was mine when I was a kid. She reminded me that once before it hadn't fit her yet, it was too big, but she said she wanted to try again. She said, "I have faith in Jesus that it will work."

January 10, 1996: Today Rebecca finished her first long book, Bambi, which has 95 pages. She read from page 51 to 95 just today.

January 21, 1996: Rebecca and I were reading a story book today with the story of Jesus' birth in it. When I read the part about the angels coming to the shepherds, Rebecca looked at the picture and said, "There's one angel standing right by them, and then millions flying in the sky, or maybe twenty or ten."

January 22, 1996: Rebecca has been reading Dr. Seuss books to the other kids, sometimes 6 or 8 or 10 repetitions a day, and they are starting to talk like the books. Murray told Sarah to get onto her stool, and she said, "I do not like it, not one bit." (From the Cat in the Hat)

January 24, 1996: Murray was looking at Sarah's eyes tonight, gauging how well they were tracking together. He asked her to follow his finger with her gaze, up and down and right and left. She giggled, remembering how her Ophthalmologist did this, and asked,"Are you pretending your finger is a flashlight?"

January 25, 1996: Sarah has learn very well at school how to stick her tongue out to make a TH sound. She does it so well that when she prays, she always thanks God for "etherything."

January 27, 1996: This morning we were looking for Sarah's missing sock in her bed, and Rebecca said, sounding pleased with herself, "When my socks get dirty, I put them up in my bed." "No you don't,"I said in disbelief. "Yes, I do. There's two pair up there." And there were.

January 28, 1996: This morning Rebecca was making up a story while she turned the pages of a catalog: A duck was talking to a driver, saying he, the duck, wanted all the different things pictured, such as chairs, babies, covers, etc. The duck said, "I want that ring."The driver replied, "No, you won't have any fun with a ring, because you don't have any fingers."

On the way home from church, the kids were trying to explain to Sarah which was her middle finger. Finally she said, "This is a great thing! I have three middle fingers!"

Murray just asked Sarah to put the trash can lid back on the can. After she did she asked if she had done it like we would. We assured her that she'd done it perfectly. She said, "Give myself a hand!"

(These next two from Murray)
January 29, 1996: Sarah brought home her class group picture today. We were looking at it and asking her who people were. I asked her who someone was, and she said, "Mrs. R., holding Sarah so she doesn't wiggle."

January 30, 1996: When Kathy was helping Sarah tonight, she asked,"Mommy, do elephants laugh?"

February 2, 1996: Last night we were trying to think what Caleb could take for show and tell today that started with an R. Finally Caleb said excitedly, "I want to take Rebecca!" He really wanted to; I had a hard time convincing him that the bus people wouldn't want her to ride with him. Murray brought him a rutabaga from the store to take.

February 3, 1996: The other day Rebecca went with Murray somewhere in the white car. Murray took a lot of trash out from where the front seat passenger's feet would go. She asked, "Why are you taking that trash out? So we can put more trash in?"

February 6, 1996: We were talking yesterday about all the things that there will not be in Heaven, like no sickness, no crying, no dying, etc. Caleb said, "No falling down." That was right, I said, we wouldn't do anything like that. Rebecca said we would just be"standing on holy ground."

Murray got a tape from the library last night that had Jimmy Stewart reading some of his poetry on it. He played it in the car and Sarah said, "Sometimes he sounds like he has his finger in his mouth."

Friday, May 11, 2018

Psalm 119 Daleth


Such wonderful promises in these verses. When we are low, filled with sorrow, if we turn to God and ask him to help us learn his ways, he will preserve our lives, strengthen us, keep us from shame. Thank you, Father.

Daleth

I am laid low in the dust;
    preserve my life according to your word.
I gave an account of my ways and you answered me;
    teach me your decrees.
Cause me to understand the way of your precepts,
    that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
My soul is weary with sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word.
Keep me from deceitful ways;
    be gracious to me and teach me your law.
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
    I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, Lord;
    do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands,
    for you have broadened my understanding.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Shopping With Rebecca


This article is scheduled to be published in the Spring 2018 issue of DIALOGUE Magazine under the title "My Very Personal Shopper."

I’ve never enjoyed shopping.

In college and before I was married, I would go clothes shopping with friends, and I hated it. Not that they weren’t helpful to me, they were. But while they were looking for what they needed for themselves—and remember for people who enjoy shopping, that might take a long time—I would stand waiting and bored. Since I’m blind, I couldn’t look around at items in the store, examining, making finds I liked or didn’t like. So I just stood waiting, bored.

I did go grocery shopping with friends and roommates sometimes, but most of the time I lived alone, I made grocery lists, and let someone else shop for me.

When I was a stay-at-home mom, I always made lists, and my husband Murray went shopping for us. Sometimes, when the kids went with him, and begged for items they saw in the aisles, Murray would check the list and say, “Nope, sorry. Mom didn’t put it on the list.”

When I was a teacher, Murray bought all my work clothes for me. I trusted him. He wanted me to look nice, professional, to feel confident about what I wore.

I’ve never enjoyed shopping. Until my daughter Rebecca was old enough to drive and take me with her.

Rebecca lives in another state now, and we only see her a few times a year. But one of the biggest things I look forward to at Christmas time is shopping with Rebecca.

She is patient and takes the time to look for just what I need. I have grown to trust her as much as Murray in buying clothes. She has learned what I like and want when buying yarn for my crocheting and knitting projects.

She helps me buy birthday and anniversary gifts for Murray and the other kids. She’ll stand with me and look carefully through movies and books and music and clothes, helping me to find things that they would like. She takes the time to describe colors, pictures and styles to me, to read titles and blurbs about books and movies, never trying to rush me.

She knows the kind of jewelry and clothes that Sarah would like. If I want to buy cologne or body spray for one of the guys, she says, “Be sure to tell him not to use too much.”

I make a list for when we go shopping, and I always add, “Stuff for Rebecca.” I usually tell her that I’ll pay for a few things for her, and she’ll say sweetly, “Aww, really? Thank you.”

While we shop for me, she sometimes shows me negligees or scanty underwear she knows this middle-age mama would never wear. “This would be good for you, don’t you think?” She shows me huge stuffed animals which cost more than I’d ever pay. “Aww, you’d love this.”

She finds something fun or pretty that she knows I’d like and tells me, “Okay, but it costs thirty-five dollars.” “Oh,” I sigh. “Just kidding.” I can hear the smile in her voice. “It’s only seven.”

We always make it an outing for just the two of us, since we have to buy gifts for the rest of the family. We usually have lunch together, and I’ll ask, “So, tell me about what’s going on in your life.” Rebecca is agreeable. “Okay.” She gives me a detailed account about work and other things she’s involved with in her church and community.

Rebecca knows this is a service she does for me, but sometimes, when we’re visiting her during the year, she’ll ask with enthusiasm, “Do we need to make a shopping trip while you’re here?”

Rebecca has made shopping fun for me, and I will always look forward to it at Christmas or whenever she’s visiting.