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Faith Like a Fisherman?

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to watch my brother cast his fishing line into a Wisconsin lake. Standing on our uncle’s boat dock, he baited the hook and sent it flying through the air into the water. At a measured distance from the hook, a red and white bobber was tied to the fishing line. When the bobber hit the water, it refused to sink, keeping the hook at a predetermined depth and alerting my brother when a fish was biting.  Each time that bobber flipped over, the fisherman would work to set the hook in the fish’s mouth and then reel it in.

As I watched, he pulled in a number of fish which were sorted by size to be put in his basket or tossed back to the lake. Interestingly, I have on my mind today what happened when the fish did not bite and the bobber did not flip.

This morning I was considering some familiar words from Jesus Christ’s disciple, Peter, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) In Psalm 55:22, David expressed it this way, “Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” When I think of the word “cast”, fishing is the first activity that comes to mind. However, according to Joyce Meyer, author of Battlefield of the Mind, “The word ‘cast’ actually means to pitch or throw.” As I watched my brother fish, he would cast his hook into the water. If no fish tugged on the line causing the bobber to flip, he would reel the hook back in, check to see if the bait was intact, and then cast it out again. While it would appear to the fish that a worm was swimming through the water unattached, the line was keeping the control of the hook soundly in the fisherman’s grip.

Are we to cast our cares, worries, anxieties, and concerns to our Lord while keeping them tied to a line that we can reel back to our own hands and minds? Not if we trust Him to handle them and want to be free of anxiety.

What if we pitched each care to God at 100 mph like the best major league baseball pitchers throw the ball to the catcher? Joyce Meyer continues, “You and I can pitch or throw our problems to God and believe me, He can catch them. He knows what to do with them.”

Our next move would be to wait. We would not reel the problem back in, work on the knot or the bait, and send it out again. The next move would be from God’s hand, not ours.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

 

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Why I Bought These 3 Books (when I still had 3 to read)

I am not a voracious reader. Reading doesn’t seem productive enough. Fiction isn’t my thing and nonfiction takes effort. There are books that I think I should read or even want to read that I don’t read. When I have “spare” time, I’d rather pick up my crochet hook. Unless you find them at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet or Half Price Books, books are expensive.

Nevertheless, I’ve just purchased three new full-priced books. And for good reasons.

  1. An Author I Love.  When Emerson Eggerichs, PHD, publishes a new book, I add it to my library. Dr. Eggerichs is a pastor and master of communication whose Love & Respect message  has impacted my marriage, my faith, and the lives of others with whom I have shared it. His new book, Before You Hit Send, is not just for social media users, but for each of us to learn “how to prevent misunderstandings and, when verbal or written blunders are made, allow for understanding.” Who couldn’t use a little help in avoiding communication disasters that bring headache and heartache?
  2. A Desire for Greater Understanding.   As I wrote last week, I’ve decided not to bury my head in the sand and go on believing that the problems people have are usually of their own making. There are serious issues that need to be addressed in America. One of those is racism. After I determined to do some listening and reading , as well as  praying and pondering with regard to racial tension, a podcast episode from Phil Vischer, Skye Jethani, and Christian Taylor highlighted historical reasons for today’s sensitivity. During the discussion, Jethani again recommended Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, and this time I headed to our bookstore and bought a copy. Now to take the time to read it and possibly finish a blog post that I keep starting about racism.
  3. A New Favorite Psychologist?  The first words of my first blog post were “In the winter of 1990, a man who I was paying to help me through some depression…” I was in my late twenties and the counselor I was visiting suggested that I might enjoy reading some books about psychology. (I had called him out for trying to trick me into labeling my fears “irrational.”) Twenty-five years later, I found a psychologist on the internet who calls himself Iron Shrink and writes books about relationships and the human mind. I ordered a couple books, but while I agreed with some of his analysis and advice, I didn’t feel confident that he sees God as the creator of our bodies, souls, and spirits.  Then, last month, one of my Facebook friends shared an article about the effect that screens (TV, computer, phone) can have on young children. I clicked on the link and read the article. I noticed that I was now on a website called Mad in America. Interesting. So I poked around a bit on the site and scrolled through the list of writers, thinking that Emerson Eggerichs would be a great contributor. Among the experts’ bios, James Schroeder’s caught my eye. His book entitled Wholiness: The Unified Pursuit of Health, Harmony, Happiness, and Heaven was said to “focus on the ways in which the pursuit of holiness is synonymous with the drive towards wholeness.” Dr. Schroeder practices in Indiana and is possibly my new favorite psychologist. Of the three new books, his is the one I’ve started reading. Wholiness addresses the integration of the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of our being, something that I believe would greatly help the hurting people around us. Schroeder’s advice is to read only one chapter a day, but I’m having trouble complying.Three chapters in, he says, “If anxiety is the biggest deterrent to love, then pride is the biggest deterrent to truth.” That seems worth unpacking!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—

this is your true and proper worship. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,

but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Romans 12:1-3

 

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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