Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Q is for Quick to Listen

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. James 1:19 – 20, NLT

 I’m grateful this verse came to mind before I said something stupid the other night. And now I can write about it.

I’m one of those pathetic people who live on Facebook. I blame it on my publisher who wants me to publicize and promote. The theory is if you like what I’m eating for supper, you will click over to Amazon and buy my books. ( Is it working? The link is on the right.)
So of course I shared my new experience preparing a garden fresh spaghetti squash, topped with butter, salt, and pepper. Some friends responded, suggesting other toppings. It was this comment that pushed me onto the path of “quick to get angry and quick to speak,” the opposite of the verse above.
Sour cream - dairy and if you must do it - low fat though I think not from photos of you and salsa - minimum calories. As for butter, well, what is life without butter??
Wait, whaaat? My friend assumed I would NOT use low-fat sour cream because she has seen from photos of me that I’m a lardo who loves to inhale food?! My feelings were hurt. After being painfully thin in the early years of my life, I’m now carrying a number of excess pounds. (The number will not be revealed. If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you, probably by smothering you with my blubber.)
But this was the first time anyone actually called me fat. (That I know of!) Since I’m also forgetful, the insult slipped my mind until I reviewed the post a few hours later. Then it hurt all over again.
I pondered deleting the comment. I pondered confronting my friend in a private message. Then I remembered James telling me to be slow to speak (or type) and slow to get angry. I decided to attempt doing this God’s way, and within minutes an alternate interpretation of my friend’s comments came to mind.
Maybe she meant I would NOT use low-fat sour cream because she has seen from photos of me that I’m NOT a lardo and I don’t need to worry about the calories in high test sour cream. Because this friend has always been kind and supportive, the new interpretation made much more sense.
My anger and hurt feelings disappeared, replaced by relief that God’s warning had stopped me and given me yet another opportunity to shake my head and laugh at myself.
What's not to laugh about?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top Ten Tuesdays

Here are ten real questions gleaned from your Facebook posts. If you know the answers, please tell the rest of us.

10. What are the 3 wisest decisions you ever made?

9. Who still loves root beer floats?

8. If I disappear, will you look for me?

7. Is the pen still mightier than the keyboard?

6. Who keeps putting all the math books in the Horror Section?

5. Why am I the only one he's not listening to?

4. You can dress like a country girl, but can you work like one?

3. Why don’t people whistle now?

2. Why doesn’t someone invent a clear toaster, so you can see how toasted your toast is while it’s toasting?

And the #1 real Facebook question is:

1. Does anyone have a set of bongo drums I could borrow for several weeks?

I hope to make Top Ten Tuesdays a regular blog feature.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Musings: The Word Preaches Itself

            Wednesday evening I attended the midweek service at my husband’s adopted church In Maryland. Gene’s been working at Andrews Air Force Base all summer, and he chose this particular Baptist church and stuck with it. When he worked at Ft. Drum a few years ago, he found a Presbyterian church he liked and even sang in their choir. 

            What struck me Wednesday night in Maryland, and I mentioned it in Sunday School in Pennsylvania, is that often what I learn in a church setting is not necessarily what the pastor is trying to teach me. I can possibly attribute this phenomenon to two factors:  my personality and the power of God’s Word.

I hope that includes those
who wander in the Word.
            I’m a wanderer. I turn to the passage the pastor says, but then I wander off while he’s talking about it. I look back. I look ahead. And I find something I need to know, to believe, to obey, to wrestle with. Some of my best ideas have come while I’ve been a silent captive in a stained-glass cell:  Advent readings, devotions, song lyrics, lesson plans.

            So that’s the “me” part, but then there’s God’s part. His Word (according to His Word) has innate power to preach itself without any help from the preacher. For example, Isaiah 55:10 – 11 (NIV) records God saying,

God Words is purposeful, like rain.
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven, and do not return to it
    without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

This may have been the sword Paul had in mind.
            And the author of the epistle to the Hebrews writes, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (4:12, NIV)

            The Isaiah passage encourages me as a teacher of Bible to high school students, while the Hebrews passage strikes terror in my innermost being. Isaiah is warm and fuzzy, while Hebrews is as comforting as a sword covered in my own blood.

            Wednesday evening the preacher whose name I never caught, but whose Southern accent I remember, was teaching from Micah 7 and a bunch of other passages. About what? I can’t recall. But I remember being struck by a few lines in Micah 7:18 and I highlighted them and made a note in my Kindle Bible:

Who is a God like You, removing iniquity and passing over rebellion for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not hold onto His anger forever, because He delights in faithful love. (HCSB)

            The note I added:  “The two can’t co-exist.” 

Anger and faithful love—mercy in other translations—can’t live together. They have incompatibility problems, irreconcilable differences. One of them has to move out. God packed anger’s bags and sent it packing because he preferred mercy’s delightful company. 

            What a splendid insight! How pleased I was with myself! Until the double-edged sword twisted. What about me? As God’s child, I should imitate him. 

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us…Ephesians 5:1, 2 (NKJV)

            But somehow I keep the bad roommate around. I tend to feed anger and starve mercy. It’s an ongoing struggle, maybe like an addiction. I quit anger like some people quit smoking:  often and with no lasting effect. 

            So God’s Word, with little or no prompting from the preacher, reminded me to keep wrestling with this. Keep praying about it. Keep trying to imitate my Father. Keep basking in his mercy.

            I hope to make Monday Musings a regular blog feature, highlighting happenings—sometimes sacred, sometimes silly—of Sunday School, Worship, or Children’s Church.

             Tune in tomorrow for another new feature, Top Ten List Tuesdays.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

P is for Pogs

Exhibit A:  Sonic the Hedge-pog
If P is for pogs, this might be a nostalgic post. gives this helpful definition of pog…
disc used in playing a game said to have originated in Hawaii and popular in U.S. during the mid-1990s; said to be from the name of a brand of juice, the bottle caps from it being used to play the game originally. 

…and this somewhat humorous example in its definition.
A small cardboard disk used by children in games : Hey, gimme back my pog! (1990s+)

You needed cases for your pogs.
An informative Wikipedia article—is there any other kind?—explains the origin of pogs and rules of the game. I also learned, “Because many children would keep the pogs they won in games from other players, many school districts considered pogs a form of gambling. Pogs proved to be major distractions from classes and the source of various playground arguments. These elements eventually led to the banning of pogs from various schools across North America.”

So pogs became a major distraction from classes and the source of various playground arguments? You think? Along with Pokemon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and now smart phones. Back in the 1960s, my best friend and I were sentenced to detention for playing Cat’s Cradle in class. And our string was confiscated.

The Pog Mothership back in the day
During the 1990s, my hub and I took the Brosius brood to vacation in Ocean City, NJ—is there any other OC worth visiting?—every summer. One year, the Surf Mall on the Boardwalk overflowed with pogs . My boys and I bought dozens upon dozens of the colorful discs, for I craved them as much as the boys did for two reasons.

The primary pog purchases were for Vacation Bible School later in the summer. The Surf Mall had Christian pogs! Let me rephrase that:  They had Christian-themed pogs. The pogs themselves had not actually prayed the sinner’s prayer, although I also saw some disturbing pogs that needed to ponder the 4 Spiritual Laws. 

Are these Christian pogs? No, but they're under conviction.
Anyway, I stocked up on pogs with Bible verses, Christian slogans, and pictures of crosses, Jesus, and Bibles to use as VBS prizes. I (may) remember I taught third and fourth graders that summer. Or maybe first and second graders. The pogs proved to be a wildly successful incentive. Children were seen wandering the streets of Montandon each afternoon, repeating words from little cards to memorize the day’s scripture verse. The next morning I administered a written quiz, yes a written quiz, on the verse, and presented the precious pogs to the pupils who prevailed.

Somewhere in that hoarder’s paradise I call home, I still have the children’s scripture quizzes, misspelled in ways that generate guffaws while bringing tender tears to my eyes. 

I'm sure I still have these...
and these.
Also in hoarder’s paradise are my pogs, the ones I didn’t give as prizes. The ones I bought just for me: My Star Trek and Muppets pogs. That’s two separate categories, although I surely would have bought pogs that combined the two. Who wouldn’t want to see Miss Piggy
striking a flirtatious pose with Lt. Commander William T. Riker?
I wonder if my high school Bible students would respond to pogs…