Friday, August 11, 2017

Four Feelings, Four Books.

Let me start by saying that while I love books and have often found them very helpful in my life, I do believe we must be careful not to substitute them for prayer and Bible reading.  It is tempting to run to a bookstore to get a good book to help us through a tough time or a particular issue when what we really need to do is first run to God in prayer.  That said, I do love books, and I've found many to be very helpful to me.  This is my current reading, and I will tell you why:

1.  Loneliness.  I got a book on loneliness because I felt lonely.  (Shocking, I know.)  Yes, I am married to a wonderful and loving guy, but I still felt lonely.  I started reading that, and I thought to myself, "Self, this is silly.  You have the indwelling Spirit of God, you have a wonderful husband, a superb family, and great friends.  Why in the world should you feel lonely?"  I thought about my words, and I agreed that yes, I am married, and I should be rejoicing in that, and working to maintain the love and friendship with my husband.  So I got a book on . . .

2.  Marriage.  Mr. M and I are reading this together, and discussing it.  We want to keep our love fresh, and not drift into taking each other for granted.  We want to stay sweethearts.  It's all about prevention.  The book caused me to look back into why I felt that we should read it.  It started with loneliness; but what caused me to feel lonely in the first place?  It was . . .

3.  Fear.  I fell into the ridiculous thought that I knew my future, and that it was bleak.  Of course, I don't know my future (as you don't know yours).  I was living as though a bleak future was a given.  I was living with the thoughts of an unknown future rather than dealing with my present reality.  So I got another book on . . .

4.  Marriage.  This one is about reality versus expectations.  I need to live in my reality and all that that entails.  I need to deal with the trials in my life and accept them for the reality (unpleasant as it is) that they are, and I also need to rejoice in the blessings in my life and see them for the blessings they are.  This is actually where all this began.  I felt hopeless for a while, and the reason was that I was focusing only on the trials in my life while turning a blind eye to the blessings.

Friday, August 04, 2017

The Tenant. Dedicated to all the interesting people I've known.

I was 13 when she came to live with us.  My father had left us, and in order to keep the house, my mom had to rent out our third bedroom.  We advertised in the church bulletin.  We just had the one extra bedroom, but renting that out would bring in just enough cash to cover our expenses.  In just a few weeks, Sonya had moved in.  Just before she unpacked, she asked my mom if she could paint the walls.  She had always wanted a purple room.  My mom said she couldn't.  So Sonya unpacked.  She was pretty nice.  Even though she answered our ad in the church bulletin, I had never seen her before.  She was in her 20s, and she treated me like a little sister.  She drove me to youth group meetings and took me out for ice cream, and on most weekends, we took went shopping or took a trip to the beach or to the mountains.  When Sonya went to see her friends at the pool or the park or the coffee shop, she took me along whenever she could.  My mom got along fine with Sonya, except that sometimes she was really late paying her rent, and sometimes she couldn't pay at all.   She was such a big help with me, though, that my mom didn't really worry about it.  It isn't until now, a full decade later, that I look back and realize how odd and mysterious Sonya was.  Where did she come from?  Who was her family?  What did she do for a living?  She was fun and spunky and lively, but we never really knew how she spent her days.  She was gone all day most days, but she was extremely private when it came to her personal affairs.  Sometimes, she would spend thousands of dollars on her old car, and other times, she couldn't pay her rent.  Sometimes, she'd hint at a boyfriend, and other times, she'd scoff at the idea.  Sonya announced one day that she was leaving.  She gave no reason or explanation, but she was packed and gone in a few days.  We haven't seen her or heard anything about her since.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

A Summer Story

My name is Jack.  I'm 17, and I've been told I'm the head of the house.  I live with my brother, Russ, who is two years younger than I, and my mother.  My dad died when I was 12, and my brother and my mom and me had to find an inexpensive trailer home to live in.  We live in rural New York.   We used to be pretty close to mom's family; then Dad died and Mom became lost and we had to become recluses.  It didn't used to be like this.  We used to live in a nice townhouse in the city and go to all the best preparatory schools and all do the right extra-carricular activities.  Mom and Dad were both professional people, and they were both always saying that what they wanted most for me and Russ was "to be on the road to success."  On our summer breaks, we would always go down to North Carolina for a week or two to see Mom's family.  That was always a treat.  Russ and I had a ton of cousins to play with, and lots of family.  The family owned a huge old estate down there, with two ponds big enough for jet-skiing, and miles and miles of private roads to ride our bikes and do jumps and other tricks.  It was always a good time there.  Mom and her cousin Shirley, were best friends.  They had both grown up on the estate, in different houses, but close enough to go to the same schools and close enough to walk to each other's houses.  Shirley married her high school sweetheart, and they moved into a little house less than a mile away from the estate.  Mom went up to New York to go to college, and then stayed for graduate school.  That's where she met Dad.  She was studying art history, and he studied music theory.  After they married, they moved into an upscale apartment and then had me and Russ soon after.  Dad was in a fatal car accident a few years ago, and Mom was lost.  She was depressed, and she couldn't afford to keep the apartment on her own.  Russ and I quit some of our extra-carricular activities and got after-school jobs.  That really didn't help much.  Soon, we made the decision to leave our preparatory schools and go to public schools.  Even with that, we couldn't afford the apartment.  So we decided our best option was to move into the rural upstate and find an inexpensive trailer home.  That's what we did.  With Mom's job, and the money from Dad's insurance, Russ and I were able to go back to the preparatory schools, but no extra activities, and no more eating out.  Mom had a hard time with it.  She felt alone, and she kept talking about the North Carolina estate, and being surrounded by family.  Russ and I woke up one day and found a letter from her.  She had taken a train to North Carolina.  She left us a wad of cash, and said she'd be back in a few days.  After a week, we got a phone call from my grandma.  My mother was in a hospital in North Carolina.  She'd been found floating in a pond and had lost significant oxygen to her brain.  The ambulance took her to the hospital, and she was recuperating, and  everything looked good.  She was released from the hospital two weeks later, and she had to stay in North Carolina to be taken care of by family.  It was decided that Russ and I would finish out the school year, and go down and get her as soon as we could, and bring her back her to live with us in New York.  That's what we did.  Mom is severely brain damaged and can't be left alone for long.  Both Russ and I have had to put our schooling on hold and get manual labor jobs.  We are considering selling the place here and moving to North Carolina so that we can finish our schooling there, and have family nearby to help with Mom.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Review of You're the Husband

This short book written by a young pastor in UT is written for  young men.  The title leads one naturally to assume it is written for married men, but after reading it, I would recommend it for all young men in the church.  This is a much-needed resource for young men aspiring to becoming responsible, grown men, capable of serving and interacting responsibly and in a Godly way both within the church and in the world.  The world, and definitely the church, would be better off if young men will read this book thoughtfully and heed the advice.

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thinking About Faith

On our little weekend getaway, there was joy and there was peace.  Now I am back at home, back to the things that seem to rob me of peace and joy.  But do they really?  Is my life really devoid of peace and joy now?  Not if I live by faith.  (2 Cor. 5:7.)  Jesus came that I would have life, and have it to the full.  (Jn.10:10.)  That means a joyful life.  Jesus came to give joy to those who believe in Him.  Jesus also gave us peace.  He left us with His eternal peace before He died and rose.  (Jn. 14:27.)  So I have joy, and I have peace.  Do I always feel joyful and at peace?  No.  This is where faith comes in.  Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of things we do not see.  (Heb. 11:1.)  By faith, I must live joyfully, knowing I have joy whether I see it or not.  By faith, I live as if my life was completely peaceful, even though it doesn't feel that way.  I must remember that Jesus left us with peace, and by faith, I live in His peace, invisible as it is.  I keep in mind that the things that are unseen are eternal.  (2 Cor. 4:18.)  I must fix my eyes on thing unseen.  Ironic?  Yes.  True?  Yes.  If we are to live by faith, we must believe that the things we do not see  (angels and demons, spiritual forces of light and darkness, the past and the future, spiritual forces of good and evil in the heavenly realms) are more real than the things we see in the world.  (Ro. 8 & Eph.6.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

To the Spiritual Daughters in my Life.

This is one of my favorite pictures of my mom.  Why?  Because it reminds me so much of me.  For my 26th birthday, my mom gave me a little gift book in which she wrote, "And I pray that you may one day have a daughter to love as much as I love you."  I have only spiritual daughters, but I do love them very much and pray often for their spiritual and physical well-being.  One of the very best things that I remember about my mom is that she loved the truth.  (2 Thess. 2:10.)  If I am to be known for anything, I want it to be that.  I want to be known for recognizing and dismissing nonsense right away.  I want to be known for not getting caught up in popular trends.  Simply put, I want to be known for loving the truth, and for always seeking it out and sharing it with others.  This is the spiritual legacy I want to give to my spiritual daughters.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Cat's Bag and The Dog's Box.

I live in a pretty small space;
a place for everything,
and everything in its place.
I have a drawer for my socks,
a stand for my umbrella,
and for my dog, I have a box.
A bag suspended in the air
is where I keep my cat.
She loves her cozy little lair.
Last night, the earth shook,
and now my house does sag.
My dog lost his box,
and the cat's out of the bag!