Friday, August 10, 2018

Grace and Truth, John 6:16-21, Matthew 14:22-33


I love this story about Jesus, and Peter, walking on the water. Read both accounts in Matthew and John to view the whole picture.

Jesus was always training the disciples. I’m guessing he could just have shown up on the boat with them, but he chose to stretch their faith and belief by walking on the water.

They were afraid. They thought he was a ghost. But when he came on the boat and safely brought them to the other side, they worshiped him.

This is a comfort to me. When I’m buffeted and weak in faith, Jesus will still help me.

And my friend Peter. Yes, he became afraid, and Jesus had to ask why he had doubted, but Peter had the guts to step out on the water in the first place. And he didn’t hesitate to ask for help when he needed it.

Matthew 14:33: Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Friday, August 3, 2018

A Gift I Had to Learn to Love


This article is scheduled to be published in the Summer, 2018 issue of Dialogue Magazine. I posted the first part of the story on my birthday back in February.

A GIFT I HAD TO LEARN TO LOVE

My 57th birthday was on February 23, but my husband Murray couldn’t wait and gave me my gift a week early. Our phone company had a great deal on an IPhone. Murray was so excited when he handed me the box to open.

I think my first words were, “I wanted an IPad.”

My mother taught me better manners than that.

I said an IPad would be good, to help me to read e-books. But for now, I could do everything I needed to do with my cheap flip-phone, even text.

Not a very grateful response to an expensive gift.

For weeks I had trouble learning to use the IPhone. People told me to give it time; I would learn. “I doubt it.” Grumble, grumble.

At first I could, usually, answer calls, as well as make calls and send texts by using the speech feature. But reading texts, listening to voice mails, using any function listed on the screen? Those attempts made me want to cry.

And sure, I could make a call, but what about when the recording on the other end said to push one or six or two, or to press the star or pound key? Grumble, grumble.

My sons Benjamin and Caleb, both blind, use an IPhone. Caleb said almost every blind person he knows has one.

Well, that stiffened my spine a little. I refused to let myself be one of the only blind people who couldn’t use something, a former rehab teacher, who liked to feel capable of learning new technology.

Of course, the people Caleb knows are younger than I am, with far more flexible brains and fingers. Caleb worked with me from the beginning. He is an encouraging and patient teacher. Yet we must remember the rough, raw student-material he has to work with.

On one web site I found while looking for IPhone manuals, it said that people who’d never used an Apple product, or even a smart phone, would find learning to use an IPhone a difficult and frustrating process. It might take them several months.

That made me feel a little better. I wasn’t the only dunce.

And it’s true. I’m used to using computers and devices with definite, clear buttons to push. Here we had flicks and slides and drags, and finding the correct place on the screen. How was that supposed to be more accessible to blind people?

And not only did I not show Murray the proper thanks for his gift, but I was constantly irritable about it. Sometimes I wanted to yell, “If you didn’t give me this dumb thing, I wouldn’t be having all this trouble!”

My mother definitely taught me better manners than that.

I was complaining and asking Benjamin a question about the phone one day, and he asked if I’d like him to sit with me sometime and work on it. As we did that, and he was showing me which gestures to do for what, he figured out that I wasn’t positioning my fingers correctly. He explained how I should be doing it, using the whole first pad of the finger, not just the nail tip. I said, “You mean the part I read braille with?”

It started working so much better for me. I was able to use the number keypad on the screen. Most of the time. I found some functions on the screen and was able to do the actions.

I was bubbly. I had successes. I wanted to share how excited I was with Murray.

And I felt so silly about how I’d been acting.

For a time, I discovered so many things I could do—listen to voicemails; read texts; hear the news; listen to YouTube; read books; check the weather.

I’ve slowed down some now, no new things in a while. I can’t do emails or use the internet. But I’m satisfied, and I believe I can learn to do more if I work at it.

When I think back on how I said the IPhone was too hard because it wasn’t like my easy, push-button keyboard, I laugh at myself. Was I referring to my computer that shuts itself down in the middle of my work? The one where just hovering my hand above the mousepad changes what window I’m working in? The internet which skitters all over the place, and I can’t figure out what to do. The desk-top that adds new programs I never asked for, or deletes the ones I use every day without asking me. Right. That simple keyboard.

Do I still have trouble with my IPhone? Sure, and I still complain about it sometimes. Caleb is so lucky. He lives with me, so he gets to help me with problems every time he’s around and a new difficulty arises.

But I laugh more often than I want to cry. When a problem comes up, I believe we’ll figure it out. And yes, I love my IPhone. Who would ever want a silly flip-phone?

Friday, July 27, 2018

And The Angels were Silent


This is another book by an author who has often brought me hope, encouragement, and a greater knowledge of the Bible: AND THE ANGELS WERE SILENT by Max Lucado.

The last week of Jesus’s life. He knew what was ahead, and he dreaded it. But he kept his focus on those who needed him. He continued to show and teach crucial points.

In Matthew 20 he taught about the land owner who was generous with the workers who stood around all day and no one hired them. Just as God is generous with those of us who no one wants.

Two brave men, blind beggars, kept calling to Jesus to help them, even though the crowd tried to silence them. Jesus took the time to stop and treat them with compassion.

Jesus knew what was going to happen to him at the end of this week, but he continued rigorously meeting our needs. In Matthew 23 he spoke harshly against the teachers of the law and the Pharisees who made salvation so hard for people to obtain.

In Matthew 24, he encouraged his disciples, and us, saying those who hold on to God through horrible sorrows and troubles will be saved.

And John 17 shows us that Jesus thought of believers who are alive today, and prayed for us, on his last night as he walked to the garden.

John 17: 20-21: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

At the end of the book is a section which an individual, or a study group, can use for discussion and Bible study. I often don’t pay attention to these question sections at the end of books. But this one impressed me, with thoughtful questions and an in-depth Scripture listing.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Psalm 119:41-48, Waw


ו Waw
May your unfailing love come to me, Lord,
    your salvation, according to your promise;
then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
    for I trust in your word.
Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
    for I have put my hope in your laws.
I will always obey your law,
    for ever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom,
    for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statutes before kings
    and will not be put to shame,
for I delight in your commands
    because I love them.
I reach out for your commands, which I love,
    that I may meditate on your decrees.

I am so grateful for the gift of love for the bible that was given to me when I was in college.

Such priceless, beautiful words that come from this passage:

Delight

Salvation

Truth

Promise

Unfailing love

Freedom

Hope

Thank you, Father, for your ever-springing gifts.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Helpful Hints From Kathy's Kitchen


The first time I cooked was when I moved into a houseful of girls in college. After much help, a lot of frustration, and a few tears, I learned to love cooking.

It wasn’t long before I was able to laugh with my friends over some of the mishaps I had. From time to time you could hear any of the girls in the house call out: “Helpful hint from Kathy’s kitchen.” Examples:  “For best results, remove fork from plate before closing microwave door … To save time when serving brownies, leave utensil in pan while brownies are baking … For cleaner kitchen, turn off mixer before lifting it from cake batter … When baking hamburgers, use deeper pan than cookie sheet, unless, of course, you prefer to have grease running out of oven onto kitchen floor …” And so on.

Thirty-five years later, after many hours and experiences with cooking, I decided to start up Kathy’s Kitchen again. This time, I’ll share some of my favorite recipes, as well as some others have shared with me.

And you never know when a new helpful hint might also appear.

Please send me any recipe, or special hint, you’d like to be distributed by Kathy’s Kitchen.

This first recipe is from the kitchen of my mother, Lila Mae Brinkmann. One of my favorites when I was growing up.

BOSTON BROWN BREAD

Boil two cups water; Add two cups raisins, two heaping teaspoons baking soda and two heaping tablespoons margarine.  Let this mixture soak for four or five hours.  Then add two teaspoons cinnamon, three cups flour, two cups sugar, and two eggs.  Mix and pour into two greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes.

Variation: My mom always made several round loaves out of these, pouring the batter into 16-ounce vegetable cans. They were such cute little loaves.

This method never worked well for me. Helpful hint: “To save time cutting bread, after baking, simply dump loaf out of can onto serving plate. It will fall into several edible pieces.”

Friday, July 6, 2018

Share My Hope


This week was the celebration of the birth of our country. I do thank God for the privileges and benefits of living in the United States.

Recently, though, I was talking with someone very special to me about how scary life is right now, not only in other parts of the world, but also right here in our own country.

Harsh disagreement, uncertainty about the future, and the heartbreaking, senseless killing. It reminded me of a line from an old song: “This world is not my home.”

This world is not our hope.

Yes, God wants us to work hard, to be faithful citizens and loving neighbors. But ultimately, for those of us who claim faith in Jesus, this world is not our hope. We need to remember this when times are hard, and even more importantly, we need to share our hope with those around us.

The time we have on earth is less than a speck of dust compared with the eternity we have with God, and that eternity starts right now.

God gives us people, events, places, work, and possessions which are beautiful and which we can and should enjoy. But, in the broken world we live in, there are also always horrible things happening around us, sometimes to us.

In Heaven, we will have no more horror. No more crying, no sorrow, no pain and suffering. More wonder than we can possibly imagine. (Revelation 21)

But the greatest part of my faith is what starts right now, what God promises even during the ugliness that happens in this world. He is my loving Father.

He is with me right now. He is holding me, and comforting me, and guiding me. I am never alone, no matter what happens. I want to share this hope with everybody around me.

As God’s children, we are not only given this hope, we are given the right to ask for it.

The Lord will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me. Psalm 138:8

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; Psalm 103:13

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. Psalms 68:19

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Gift of My Oldest Son


“I have a gift for you.” Ping-Hwei often says this to me, and it is always true. More than that, he is a gift from God.

If Ping-Hwei tells me, “Open your mouth,” I always trust that he will give me something yummy to eat. Other times when he tells me he has a gift, it always is, maybe the cat to hold, a toy or candy he or Murray has bought for me; it’s always something good.

Ping-Hwei was fourteen when he joined our family. He was homeless before he came to the children’s home in Taiwan, The Home Of God’s Love, which gave us all our sons. He was about ten at that time, had been living in the streets, and would never tell them anything about his family or anything else about his life before that.

He spoke very little English when he came to us, but in a few months’ time, he would no longer speak Chinese. This may be because of his disability; we’re not sure.

Although in many ways, he is childlike, in other ways he is quite capable. Murray says God has given Ping-Hwei the gift of finding things. When something is lost to everyone else in our home, Ping-Hwei is often able to locate it. We call him “the finding man.”

He insists on having a newspaper in our house; in fact he purchases it for us. He loves to check sports scores and is quick about finding ads for sales for things we need.

Ping-Hwei is a capable user of his smart phone, Kindle, and computer. He loves photographs and will often tell Murray, “Take a picture,” whether it is of a family member, cat or dog, a special dish we’re having for dinner, or something we’ve discovered on a TRIP.

He is a joker. He loves to hide things from people, especially Murray.

Once we were visiting my mother, and Murray left the dinner table for a couple of minutes. Ping-Hwei grabbed Murray’s plate and hid it in the refrigerator.

My mom said, “Don’t hide your dad’s food,” but I said, “No, no, this is a fun thing.”

Recently, Ping-Hwei said our cat Eli scratched him. He picked Eli up the next evening and said, “Kitty, don’t scratch me. Next time I’ll cook you for dinner.”

I’ll tell you how I know Ping-Hwei loves me.

Murray was out of town for a couple of days not long ago. One morning I woke up and realized I’d forgotten to make coffee the night before. When I got downstairs, I found that Ping-Hwei had the coffee all ready for me to turn on.

And he doesn’t drink coffee.

Ping-Hwei loves church, and he’s made many friends at church over the years with his huge smile and love of jokes.

He also enjoys his birthday. He will be 36 on July 1, and he has been planning his celebration for months.

I thank God for the 22 years of joy he has given me so far with my son Ping-Hwei.