I heard the sirens from several miles away and I knew they were coming to my house. Sirens blare every day, but when they are coming for you or a family member it is very eerie. For years I cringed when I heard sirens thinking they too were coming for my dad having another heart attack. I was only 18 at the time. 19 on the second call. I lived for another 20 years before I had the final call on dad. Since then, I’ve had to experience the sirens several more times – sometimes for myself and sometimes for my son. It’s an awful sound.
I’ve faced death more openly than some because of facing it at an early age. Actually, my journey started much earlier with my dad being a pastor. He talked often about death and dying with me. He shared about people fighting death and those who welcomed the next step. Some are at peace. Some aren’t. Some go quickly. Some take a long time. Some are expected. Some are a surprise.
Currently, I’m still recovering from my neighbor Tom dying suddenly. Tom taught a Bible study on a Sunday titled “You have two weeks to live, what will you do?” Exactly two weeks later, Tom died. He laid down on his bed to take a nap and never woke up. I found out when the sirens came down our street.
Last week our family said goodbye to our little dog, Sammie. She was 14 and we knew that she was going. We held her as she took her last breath. I buried her in the morning under a tree. Death is a part of living but it sure isn’t the fun part. We live by faith for a new life and home. None of us know the time or circumstance when we will go. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could know we had two weeks left?
What would you do? Who would you see? Where would you go? What is left on your bucket list that needs to be done? Are you ready to go? Is your house in order?
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I’ve written before about our rivers (journeys) curving and taking longer to travel than necessary.
Here is another thought – did your river form the landscape by cutting into the rock and dirt or did the landscape dictate where you would flow? Think about it. It is thought that the Colorado River formed the Grand Canyon. Other rivers like the Danube River in Hungary make a 90 degree turn when coming up against a mountain.
So, have you etched out your journey by cutting into rock to make the path you want or did you let the rock dictate where you would go? Remember, there are not necessary wrong answers.
John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
Stream by Anton Nihtyanov
In a perfect world, all of us would make more than we need to live on. No one would need to struggle to live on minimum wage and no one would be a billionaire. Children and young people wouldn’t die at a young age while others seem to live forever even when they don’t want to. There wouldn’t be wars over who controls land. There wouldn’t be politics “as usual” with lying and bribes and back room deals – we wouldn’t even need separate parties. We would agree on what is best for everyone.
We wouldn’t open to obituaries to see another young person dead from an overdose or suicide. We wouldn’t hear about another murder in another city. There wouldn’t be gun violence. We wouldn’t have police violence because we wouldn’t need police.
I think a guy named John wrote a song that was similar to these thoughts and then someone shot and killed him for no reason before he was ready to go. One of his band mates died to early of cancer. Several of his friends died of drug overdoses. Some were rich and now they are poor.
John didn’t live in a perfect world and neither do we. We need to fight to live. You may be fighting any one of these battles or several at the same time. Hang in there. In a hundred years, no one will remember who or what you battled.
1 Peter 1:24-25 “All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
This was sent from a friend today. I hope you enjoy it.
I bought the orchid, 2 photos attached, about a year ago at a local department store. I do not have a green thumb at all. But, it was on sale for $7 and figured for that price how could I not give it a try. It had about 4 blossums on each of the 2 stems. But, after a while the leaves started to turn yellow and did not look happy. Did it need more water? It could not possibly be lacking in humid air. At the time the humidity was 65% but today it is 25%. I read up on the internet that orchids turn yellow if they get too much sunlight. I had originally placed it on a bureau next to the sliding glass doors and it got direct sunlight in the morning and indirect light from noon on. Apparently it was too much and I moved it to the opposite side of the room where it received NO direct light at all and it almost immediately started to look better. It seemed perfectly happy for about 4 months. I did not fuss with a fancy pot, I kept it in the same plastic container that I bought it. The instructions were to dip the orchid in a bucket of water for 20 minutes once a week to get the bark chips damp. Then placed it in a mug to let the water drain out. I think this might help because the water collected in the mug, and the tight fit, keeps the roots moist. BUT, THE KEY IS THE WATER. The recommendations say to not use hard tap water and I collected condensation water from our air conditioner.
Then about July the buds started to fall off one by one. I was distraught. In about 2 weeks they all fell off and all I had was 2 spindly stems and green leaves. I checked on the internet and found nothing. I gave up on the plant as dying and ignored it for 3 months with no watering. Then in October I noticed tiny stems appeared on the still green bare stems. Then, buds and in January blossums. It now has more blossums than when I purchased it. It must simply have gone dormant and is now very happy.
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
We don’t need to be a “professional” Christian.
We don’t need a fancy pot.
We do need the right kind of water, the right amount of water and the right amount of light. Son and Sun.
Sometimes we just need to go dormant and sit in a corner and veg.
There is no need to worry. Just enjoy life while we can.
A friend of mine recently said “I quit my job 5 times today”. No he’s not a policeman or sewer tech. He’s a missionary! In today’s world, any job can be stressful enough to make us want to quit 5 times a day. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth getting up in the morning!
Life is hard. It’s not easy to be young and it’s not easy to be old. Rich or poor – challenges are overwhelming. How do we carry on? Is it all worth the trouble?
I had the following scripture saved from month’s ago. I started reading it and thought that I had written it. Surprisingly, it is from the Bible!!!!! Imagine that, David had trials way back then too. He dealt with complaining. He had was ready to explode and quit too.
It doesn’t make our situations any easier but it does help to keep it all in perspective. It really is a brief time on earth . . .
Psalm 39 Living Bible (TLB)
39 I said to myself, I’m going to quit complaining! I’ll keep quiet, especially when the ungodly are around me. 2-3 But as I stood there silently the turmoil within me grew to the bursting point. The more I mused, the hotter the fires inside. Then at last I spoke and pled with God: 4 Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more.
On a previous blog I wrote about over fertilizing plants in my office. Yes, I have learned that too much of a good thing can kill. I sit and watch these plants daily knowing that they are destined to die. I could just throw them out but . . . they are still green and they look alive. I know they are dying but as Monte Python said it best, “I’m not dead yet”.
When do we decide if a plant is dead? When it is brown and shriveled or when it is still green but lifeless? Green and lifeless is not coming back. Why do I keep encouraging it?
My first round of plants finally died from my fertilizer mishap. Now I’m on round two. I dumped all that over fertilized soil into a bag with other soil, mixed it around and then reused it on new plants that I bought. Guess what. Those new plants didn’t like it either and they are drooping and dropping all around me. They too are still green but I really don’t think they are going to make it.
Don’t we learn? I know that I can be slow but “I’m not dead yet”. Stop pouring water and tending to lifeless activity. Even Jesus cursed the fruitless olive tree. If it is not bearing fruit or giving life, let it go. Give your effort to something that is ready to grow.
Mark 11:12 The next morning as they left Bethany, he felt hungry. 13 A little way off he noticed a fig tree in full leaf, so he went over to see if he could find any figs on it. But no, there were only leaves, for it was too early in the season for fruit.
14 Then Jesus said to the tree, “You shall never bear fruit again!” And the disciples heard him say it.
A guest speaker approached a pulpit to speak. No one in the congregation had ever met him. He was slightly overweight – not obese, but definitely could have lost a few pounds.
He started off saying, “Good Morning, how do I look?” There was nervous laughter. He said, “You’re probably thinking that I need to lose 50 pounds and I then I would look great. C’mon, be honest. Except none of you know what I looked like before. You only see me standing here as I am today. You don’t know if I gained 50 pounds this year or lost 50 pounds. You are only judging me on what you see NOW. So what do you think, am I gaining or losing? You can’t tell can you?”
He let that sink in for a minute. “The truth is – is that I WAS 300 pounds overweight. I finally took hold of my life and through diet and exercise I have lost 250 pounds over the past several years.” The crowd roared with cheers and clapping.
When you see someone on the street, you don’t know if they are coming or going. Are they improving or are they falling? Is their life better or worse than a year ago? No one stays stagnant for long. Are they becoming a sinner or are they transforming into Jesus’ likeness?
A couple walks into the church – not married but living together raising a child from another man who does not know the child. Have they just come to the Lord or are they falling from a Godly upbringing? Are they trying to build a new foundation or are they still living on a crumbling one?
Are you gaining or losing? Improving or failing? Falling into sin or being transformed?
2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NIV)
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory,are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
I was created by my mother to reproduce; I assume to be her legacy. But I was a failure from the start as it was learned that I was not fertile. I was removed from my mother immediately (again I assumed because I had no worth to her). What good is an infertile being to it’s mother? After being loaded in a dirty truck I was put through harsh showers and abused by harsh lights and belts only to end up in a dark cold box where I was cold and alone. What had I done to deserve this?
Again I was moved, lifted, boxed and moved again only to end up in another cold place where I sat for days, possibly weeks. After one more move I found myself in the worst predicament of my life – in boiling water! God, I cried, why am I being tortured when all I ever wanted was to grow up to be like my mom?
In the intense boiling water I became harden. My once loose flexible self became hardened to life. I could absorb hits and bumps and I fought back. I wasn’t going to take the abuse anymore and be broken like some of my friends. Children grabbed at me and laughed. They abused me with dyes and stickers and markers. They laughed and taunted me. They left me out on the ground and then brought me back inside to the cold torture again. Why? I remained hardened and angry at the life I was given.
The next day I was removed from the cold again and slammed against a hard surface! More abuse. It took several hits but I finally gave in and broke. My skin was pulled off and I laid exposed and cut apart into pieces. That was the end. I never became like my mother. I never lived to know her. I had no offspring. I had no legacy. I was a failed, abused, tortured infertile being with no purpose! What a sorry life. What a sorry end. . . .
I never understood my calling. I never realized that I turned out exactly the way my master wanted me to be. I never realized that all the trials I went through were required for me to become the creation that I was meant to be. What I thought was torture was really preparing me and forming me into my destiny. What I counted as loss was really my master’s will. What I counted as abandonment was actually the fruitfulness that I was meant to be – I brought joy to people. I brought nourishment to people. I brought happiness to children. I had an important mission all along but I couldn’t see it. I never understood and only looked at what I thought I should be. How could I have missed the most important realization of what I was meant to be?
Why do we live in sorrow for what we have failed when God has a much bigger plan for us? Why do we fight against the plan for our lives?
Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
When I was 20, I drove across the country alone trying to find where God wanted me to be. I was driving a 1973 Gremlin without a/c and it only had an am radio. For those of you lucky enough not to ever drive a Gremlin, it was basically a Jeep with an ugly car body over it! On part of the journey I drove from Utah to Los Angeles. At around 10:00 p.m. I stopped on the edge of LA to call my friend who I was staying with. I was overjoyed to finally make it! His response, however, was not exuberant like mine. He commented, “you have about 2 more hours to get to where I am.” I said, “how can that be, I’m IN LOS ANGELES!” Being from Lancaster PA, I had no idea how BIG LA was! Of course, he was right. I had about 2 more hours to drive on my very sore rear end.
That’s how life is sometimes. We don’t know where the journey will lead. We don’t know how long it will be and we don’t know what we will encounter along the way. Sometimes the journey is full of joy and sometimes it is broken down in the rain along side of the road. Sometimes our rear ends are so sore we feel like we can’t go another mile. I drove about 7,000 miles on that trek. I wore off all 4 tires. I had great visions along the way, saw many friends and relatives, saw beautiful country and ate really good Mexican food for the first time! I met wonderful people and stayed at Mennonite Your Way homes. I visited little churches and large churches and waved to people along the road that I never saw again.
I thought I was going to move to sunny California. Instead I returned to a dreary November Pennsylvania. I returned to a career that I didn’t think I wanted and a life that I didn’t think I wanted in a city that I didn’t think I wanted. There have been broken down moments along the way. Tires have been worn off. The hair on my head has been worn off! My rear end now hurts some days from being kicked so often. But there has been joy and friends and relatives and wonderful people. There have been little churches and big churches and some really good Mexican food. I have waved to a lot of people I don’t know.
Enjoy the journey. You never know where it will lead you.
John 4:5-7New International Version (NIV)
5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
On any given day someone somewhere is screaming for joy. At that same moment, someone somewhere is screaming in pain. A baby is born. A person dies. Someone cries over loss. Someone cries over excess. People heal. People get sick. Some are rich. Some are poor. Some are hungry. Some are full. Some are fat. Some are skinny. We are young. We are old.
Life is not fair. Some live too long and die alone. Some die too young and cause many to morn. Why?
We plan. We work. We save. We study, learn, grow, exercise, We try to do things right. Does it help? The wicked prosper and the good fall. One man runs a marathon and falls to a bad heart. One man drinks and smokes and watches the man run to his death.
We fall. We cry. We stand and clean our wounds. Life slows for a time while we heal but life goes on. Scars remain but the pain goes. We remember. We forgive. Sometimes. We judge. We accept. We evolve. Do we?
Life is not fair. Tears fall. Some cry until they have no tears. Can we laugh when we know others cry? How do we stand when we are broken?
Psalms 10:12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.