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Commitments, Questions, and Wonders of Nature

On this last Sunday of August 2017, I’m sitting barefoot on my deck reflecting on the week that has just passed. Perhaps you and I have had some similar experiences and thoughts during those days.

Sunday, August 20 – At church, I was reading a list of adult classes to be held this fall.  What caught my attention was the very first class, one to be held at 8:15 a.m. on Sundays for men only.  It was the ONLY class to be held at 8:15 on Sundays!  I’m not one to make quick decisions, and we rarely arrive at church before 9:00, but the calling was clear. So, I committed to lead a class for women only at that early hour beginning September 10.  Regular readers know that I’m a fan of Love & Respect Ministries and have taught their “Respectfully Yours” course to wives so many times that I may be able to do it with my eyes closed.

Monday, August 21 – I had made no preparations for the Great American Eclipse and anticipated a normal day at home alone. When morning tasks and lunch were over, I saw an on-line video on making an eclipse projector from a cereal box. . Dave had just emptied his Cheerios box, so I whipped up the viewer and headed outside, feeling slightly embarrassed about my neighbors seeing me having fun with my projector alone.

I stood with my back to the sun and moved the box until the sun shone through the pinhole in the foil, casting a TINY image on the box bottom. There was a little dark dent in the sun! I spent the next couple of hours checking on the progress of the eclipse, chatting with Facebook friends about their viewing experiences, and sharing my cereal box with the paper carrier. He and I talked with our backs to the sun while the moon moved across the sun. We noticed the slight change in temperature as it grew noticeably darker in our Ohio location. A neighbor from two doors down walked over to give us a quick look through his eclipse glasses.

Later, I called my mom to see how her day was going and tell her about my fun. She had watched eclipse coverage on TV and was happy to see reports of large gatherings of people where “no one got shot.” I agreed. The eclipse brought people together to share wonder.

Tuesday, August 22 –  Instead of playing outside with neighbors and a cereal box, I needed to drive to Wheeling for medical tests. At 56, there are more and more potential health issues that need to be monitored. One cropped up in 2016 when I saw my doctor about some shoulder pain and had x-rays that revealed abnormalities in my lungs. Some physical therapy helped my shoulder, but now I’ve added a pulmonologist to my list of doctors.  I have no symptoms and last year’s blood work and scans did not bring an explanation, so I did follow up breathing tests on Tuesday.  That evening, my husband and I enjoyed our walk uphill through the neighborhood and witnessed a breathtaking sunset. It was every bit as awesome as Monday’s eclipse. Wonder!

Wednesday, August 23 – In the morning, I continued to pray for a nephew in his 30s who had open heart surgery on Monday. In the afternoon, I gathered materials and made photocopies in preparation for the Understanding the Bible class that will begin on September 6. Summer is slipping away.

Thursday, August 24 – Our summer project of redoing a bathroom got to the point where we needed our plumber to hook up water to the new toilet and faucet. That happened on Thursday morning. After lunch, I drove a few blocks to our Council of Churches Food Pantry to work with others from our church. Twenty-five people came through to pick up food for their families. I am usually assigned to working behind the counter, selecting and bagging frozen meat for the clients. This week I had the opportunity to interact with each one as he or she chose several bread items. Seeing some of their physical problems and hearing of a few of their hardships was heartbreaking. Life is hard. I hope each one was half as blessed by the food as I was by the giving of it.

Friday, August 25 – I spent the beautiful day getting a haircut, having lunch out, and hitting some clearance sales at our mall, while being aware of the growing concern that Hurricane Harvey could devastate eastern Texas. Harvey made landfall as a category 4 hurricane at 10 p.m. central. That began a trial for many people that continues as I type this on Monday afternoon. Another nephew and his family are waiting at this moment to be rescued by a boat. Many prayers being said.

Saturday, August 26 – My husband and I spent the afternoon installing a lighted medicine cabinet, two shelves, two towel holders and our toilet paper holder. The bathroom project is nearly complete!

After dinner, as Dave was mowing the lawn, I started thinking and praying about this week’s blog topic. The eclipse had overshadowed some of the tragedies and crimes that come so often we can’t keep track of them.  But the Charlottesville showdown between white nationalists and counter protesters  of August 12 has remained in the news and on my mind. I wondered whether I could collect my thoughts about the controversy surrounding Civil War monuments and the current focus on racism in America. What resulted was a sheet of paper filled with over a dozen questions. A lot is being said. For now, I’ll do some listening and reading, keep praying and pondering, and strive to love my neighbor as myself. Today that includes making an on-line donation to the American Red Cross on behalf of the people of Texas.

The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121:8

 

 

 

 

 

 

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32 Years and 5 Houses

August 19, 2017, was a momentous day for our family. On that Saturday, my husband took me along to our bank to make the last payment on our house. While we have been home “owners” for three decades, we have never been without one and sometimes two monthly payments due – until now.  Anticipating this goal being achieved, I prepared a gift for Dave to commemorate our house history.

We began our married life by renting half of a duplex and then moved into the big blue house pictured at the top when Dave began his newspaper career on August 19, 1985. That is where our family grew from two to four. Choosing to live closer to the school our boys would attend, we moved across town to the house in the 3:00 position in 1990. Less than two years later, Dave’s career took us to North Dakota, where we lived at 1618 Elmwood Drive in Minot for four years. I included three photos (7:00, 9:00, 10:00) of that home, with the last one showing its makeover after a hail storm.

When our kids were in 1st and 5th grade, we returned to Ohio so Dave could run the newspaper in Tiffin and spent eight years in the tan house pictured at the bottom. While we were living there, a teenager from our church visited during a youth event. He noted that I wasn’t working and asked how we could afford such a nice home and two nice cars on a “9 to 5 job.” I gave his question some thought, discussed it with my husband, and then sent him this letter:

Jerome,

I enjoyed the video scavenger hunt with the YF on Sunday.  We had a great team even if we didn’t score the highest!  You asked me a question about how we can afford our house and cars on a “9 to 5 job”, and I didn’t answer because there isn’t a short answer, and I had to think about it a little.  I do want to let you know how this is possible.

First of all, you should know that God has been very good to us and we realize that all the good things we have come from Him.  There are some “success strategies” that we have used and would like to share.

Dave and I both worked very hard in school and both went to college.  He has a degree in accounting from Tiffin University, and I have a secretarial degree from Bowling Green.  When we got married, we both worked.  We only missed work when absolutely necessary and did our very best to do a good job and earn our pay.  That often included working extra hours for no extra pay. 

When Eric was born, we decided that it was very important for me to be at home, so Dave looked for a job that paid more and had good benefits.  That job was at the Advertiser-Tribune.  We were careful with our money, spending some, savings some, and sharing some (with the church, etc.).  We use credit cards, but only charge as much as we can pay off each month.  That way, we pay no interest.  

We moved to North Dakota when Dave’s company wanted him to take a job out there.  It paid a lot more, and we saw it as an opportunity to better our family’s financial position as well as live in a new and exciting place.   It wasn’t easy to leave our friends and families, though.   Several years ago, the company moved us back to Tiffin where our parents are.  Dave is now the Publisher of the A-T.

You should know that Dave does not work a “9 to 5” job.  He is in charge of all of the employees at the newspaper and responsible to the owner in Wheeling, West Virginia.  It is his job to see that the paper makes money and serves the community.  Since his first job at the A-T when he was business manager, he has worked extra hours when needed and covered for other people when they were unable to do their jobs.  For the last few months, that has meant that he gets up at 4:30 and delivers papers until 6:00, then gets ready to go to work by 8:00  and gets home at about 5:30.

He has also had to do some traveling to work at other papers owned by his company.  There is no extra pay for these things, however, when he really goes above and beyond what is expected, he sometimes is given a “bonus”.

We have owned some new and some used cars.  However, we usually keep a vehicle for a long time until it is no longer useful to us, but can still be traded in toward a new one.  We try to have one car paid off before we purchase another one.

Another way that we can afford nice things is to prioritize.  Everyone has their own priorities, and we probably spend money on things that someone else might think is wasteful.  However, there are a few things such as alcohol, tobacco, and gambling that we do not spend on.  These are very expensive and harmful habits! 

So… good education, hard work, careful spending, and the grace of God!  That’s how we have come to own a nice home and other things.  See you at church!

In 2005, Dave accepted a position in the newspaper company’s corporate office in Wheeling. Our home is a few miles east of there in Ohio. Here is the house that we have lived in long enough to pay it off.

In 2007, I wrote an expanded explanation of our physical  and financial journey to each of our five homes. If you are interested in reading more about 32 Years and 5 Houses, you may open it here: On a Nine to Five

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Books That Clarify The Bible

Have you ever felt intimidated by the Bible – by its length, its language, its antiquity, its message? I sure have! The Bible is not a simple book. It is not quickly read or easily understood.

I was very young when I first heard stories from the Bible. They had happy endings where the good guys win with the help of God (David and Goliath, Gideon and the Midianites, Joshua and the battle of Jericho). I learned songs like “Jesus Loves Me. This I know for the Bible tells me so.” and The B-I-B-L-E. Yes, that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the Word of God The B-I-B-L-E.” When I got older and started reading Scripture myself, I found it pretty daunting. I would resolve to start on the first page of Genesis and read it every day. Genesis and Exodus held my attention if I got through the genealogies and the description of the Tabernacle, but I would never make it through Leviticus – too weird and seemingly irrelevant.

Even though I have now loved and studied the Bible for decades, I sometimes pick it up and sigh as I consider how lengthy it is and how little I really know about it. During the past fifteen years, I’ve had the opportunity to not only be in Bible study classes, but to lead other women into the Bible’s many pages and topics.

Two years ago, I found Max Anders’ book, 30 Days to Understanding The Bible.

30 Days to Understanding the Bible - By: Max Anders Anders admits that he used to be frustrated with the Bible, seeing it as “a series of unrelated stories put together in random order.” In his desire to understand it, he divided the sixty-six books of the Bible into kinds and placed them on a timeline. He then divided the history/story-line contained in the Bible into twelve eras. A key figure and relevant location were attached to each era (Creation-Adam-Eden). Once the twelve eras are covered, the book addresses the main doctrines of the Bible. This blogger is particularly impressed that Anders was able to include a 1000 Word Summary of the Bible in the Appendices!

I was so excited about what I learned from 30 Days to Understanding The Bible that I led a group of women through what Anders calls the Arc of Bible History and will repeat the nine-week class this fall. Women who are near East Richland Evangelical Friends Church, St. Clairsville, Ohio are welcome to join me on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. beginning September 6, 2017. We will come away with a clearer picture of what the Bible is about, how it fits together, and how it relates to us. Since learning Anders’ key to the Bible story-line, I can place events from Scripture into the appropriate era, adding context and understanding. Placing geographical locations on a mental map helps me visualize movement of people through the Middle East and know which bodies of water play into the accounts. The history of God’s people comes to life.

I’m aware that many struggle with Old Testament biblical accounts of massacres and slavery, as well as the lists of quirky laws in Leviticus. The second book I’m recommending is an Ollie’s Bargain Outlet find. Author Paul Copan addresses the ethical questions of the Old Testament in Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God. Copan contends that we should not gloss over the difficult portions of Scripture and he is thorough in addressing the criticisms of skeptics. With an understanding of the cultures of the time periods, he explains common Middle Eastern war language of the day and God’s progression from calling Abraham and later giving his law through Moses to completing his plan of salvation through his son Jesus Christ.

Not unlike Anders, Copan has identified the bigger picture of God’s dealings with people over the course of history. 30 Days to Understanding The Bible provides a chronological framework for putting people, places, and events in order. Is God a Moral Monster? recognizes that creator God has met men and women where they are in each time period to show them how to improve morally, how to be reconciled to himself through Jesus, and ultimately to be part of the coming Kingdom where “no social or racial discrimination will exist; swords will be beaten into plowshares; and Peace will reign.”

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

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Saying Thanks and Sharing Some Stats

What fun it was to read your comments on last week’s “Wonder” post! Collectively we expressed wonder for the delicate beauty of flowers and  amazement at creatures as tiny as hummingbirds and ants and as large as polar bears. We only need to look at God’s creation to find wonder. Beyond the things we can see and touch, the kindness of generous people and the soul-touching power of music were called wondrous. Wasn’t it good to focus on the beauty in life and tell someone else about it?

I saw this beauty on a recent walk.

I enjoyed celebrating the 1-year anniversary of Thoughts Collected By Lisa with a giveaway. The recipient of the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet gift card is Barbara Repan. She is a fellow blogger who inspired me to give writing for the internet a try. Congratulations, Barbara!

As I pick up my pencil and begin the second year of writing, I’m taking a look back and sharing not just thoughts and words, but numbers with you today.

One. That is the number of opportunities that I had to write for someone else’s blog, and that is one more than I anticipated. Thank you, Bethany Eicher!

Four to Six. The hours between beginning writing a post and hitting publish. Those hours may be spread over a couple of days and include an initial draft, looking up relevant information, a frequent re-write, getting photos inserted, and several proof readings. It’s not a small task, but it is immensely rewarding.

Seventeen. The number of countries where someone has viewed Thoughts Collected. Every continent except Antarctica is included! By far, most of the views are in the United States, with Canada, China, and Australia holding very distant second, third, and fourth places for views.

Twenty-three. The number of posts that fell into the FAITH category of my blog. The FAMILY category was a close second with twenty-two entries, some of which overlap with FAITH.

One hundred. The number of Facebook readers who have liked and/or commented on Thoughts Collected at least once. This is so encouraging to me. Thank you.

Five hundred. The number of words that I initially set as a limit for each post. I held to it for a while. Then it increased to six hundred, then eight hundred. I just LOVE words!

Nine hundred forty-eight. Number of words in my longest post, which happens to be the One I wrote as a guest blogger. Summing up 32 years of parenting and how to deal with getting older in one post was quite an undertaking!

While I’m still under 500 words, I’ll publish this 52nd post and look forward to sharing more collected thoughts with you in the coming months and maybe years. Many of them will likely relate to faith and family. My prayer is that all of them will bless you and give glory to God.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

 

 

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