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Things gone by…

I have been thinking today of things that used to be common but aren’t so much anymore. The things that were so common in everyday life but now don’t exist anymore.

For example:

– Tape cassettes: Yes, they do still exist but have you noticed that the streams of tape by the side of the road aren’t there anymore? I remember driving around and seeing tape stuck in bushes and trees from cassettes that were lost and broken. That doesn’t happen anymore.

– Coin operated laundries: They are soon to be a thing of the past. If you go to a laundromat these days, you will have to purchase a card to use in the machines. No more getting rolls of quarters in order to do laundry. This may be more handy but, then again, it costs more to do laundry now. Although I must say that the laundromat that I do use occasionally makes doing laundry almost enjoyable – it is clean, neat, the machines are well cared for and there is a flat screened TV on the wall.

– Pay phones: O Poor Superman…no where to change from mild mannered Clark Kent into your nifty outfit with bright red cape. I remember when there seemed to be a pay phone on every corner. Or at least every other corner. I have no idea where there is a pay phone in the town I live in or where I work. I’m sure there might be one out there somewhere but it isn’t blatantly obvious. I did see a pay phone a few months ago but it didn’t work. Mostly because it didn’t have the phone part. But the structure was still there. At least it WAS there. Not sure if it is there anymore because I don’t remember seeing it. They must have torn it down.

– Antennas: I put this down because it has been a long time since I turned on a radio and needed to extend an antenna to get a signal. So long, in fact, that when I was trying to turn on the little stereo that someone left in the fellowship hall at church for people to use, I couldn’t get it to work. I had forgotten my IPod and so I thought I would just find a station to listen to. I found one and it came in nice and clear…until I took my hand away…then it became all staticky. I mentioned this to the person who owns the stereo and she picked it up and pulled the antenna out from the side. “Did you pull this out?” she asked. “Well, no, I didn’t. Didn’t realize it was there”, I replied. Yup…it has been so long I didn’t even think of it.

– Walkmans: And not just walkmans but the headphones that fit over your head. I remember owning a couple of different styles – one that played CDs and one that played cassettes. But, like the cassettes of long ago, the walkman has gone away. Now it is all MPG players, IPods, and earbuds. Everything is digitalized.

Not sure why I am feeling nostalgic today. Maybe it is sitting here listening to classical music, drinking a hot cup of tea and watching the snow fall. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Although that might just be the tea.

Grace and Karma

My sister just shared a link on Facebook that I am totally impressed by…not that she shared it but that it so apply describes something my Bible class was discussing this morning.

We had, as part of our study of Christ, a discussion on “what do you see when you look up at the cross?”. Someone mentioned that what happened on the cross forgives us our sins. I mentioned that sins, in particular, my sins, are what put Christ on the cross.

The article I am posting a link to at the bottom of this posting is on Bono, of the band, U2. He is discussing the difference between Grace and Karma.

This really stood out to me:

The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled….its not our own good works that get through the gates of heaven…

Christ died for me. And you. And you, and you, and you…..

By grace we are saved. So that the bad stuff doesn’t come back to us.

Here is the article:

http://resistanceandrenewal.net/2014/01/26/bono-on-the-difference-between-grace-and-karma/

Black Rhino

I saw the headline this headline on Google news just now and it caught my attention: US Rhino Hunt Auction Winner Fears For His Safety.

I clicked on the link and went to a USAToday article that stated a man paid $350,000 at an auction for the opportunity to hunt an endangered black rhino.

Now I don’t believe in hunting. At least not hunting for sport. If hunting provides you and your family a primary source of food for a year, then that is understandable. If hunting is allowed on a restricted basis in order to thin out animals so that the remaining ones can grow and thrive, then that is understandable.

But to hunt an animal simply for the “thrill” of killing another living creature, I think that is unnecessary, immoral and simply wrong. Hunting is barbaric and I would think, in the 21st century, we would let go of our barbaric habits and respect the creatures that God gave us.

I do need to clarify that I like meat. I am not in any way a vegetarian. It does bother me, by a LOT, that the animals raised for our consumption aren’t always treated well and I hope that we will also let go of those practices and learn to respect the creatures that God gave us to eat. And he did. It is written in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Getting back to the article in USAToday…I was feeling outraged as I read the article that some organization would actually auction off the right to hunt and kill an endangered black rhino. What the H***?????

Then I read the second to the last paragraph. It states that the club claims that the Namibian rhino in question is old, male, non-breeding and was likely to be targeted to be removed because it has become aggressive.

Hmmm….let’s look at that a moment.

The rhino is old. Ok…so it may be close to dying anyway. But can they guarantee that is the rhino that will be hunted? How do we know that this hunter won’t shoot a different rhino by accident.

The rhino is non-breeding. Ok…but do they know that for sure and why does that mean it can be killed?

Was likely to be targeted to be removed because it has become aggressive.

At first I thought…well alright then. They were going to take out this rhino anyway for the safety of all black rhinos. But then I read it again and realized that it is rather ambiguous. Was likely is just a little too vague. (By the way, I added the italics for emphasis). Maybe they would but maybe not. We don’t know for sure what the plan was for this aged black rhino.

Then I went to the website for the Dallas Safari Club. It is a club that promotes hunting for sport…which I don’t approve of, and is raising the money by auctioning off the killing of this endangered black rhino to support it’s own organization. Not to support the protection of black rhinos. Not to support providing them with a good home. But to support an organization that promotes hunting for sport. Which, as I stated above, I think is barbaric and we shouldn’t do anymore.

I do feel sorry for the winner of the auction because he is getting death threats and other kinds of threats. I don’t think that is right and is actually pretty stupid. After all, people are so upset that this black rhino will be killed that they are threatening to kill the person who might kill the black rhino. I mean, do you respect life or not???

All in all, I think they should cancel the hunt, give the man back his money, apologize to the world for even thinking of doing this and provide the old black rhino with a comfortable home until he dies of natural causes.

I also think people should really read what is being written. After all, my opinion changed the more times I actually read the article. People should pay attention. And not hunt endangered black rhinos.  Respecting life means respecting ALL life.

Correction

Last Sunday, January 5th, I wrote a post in honor of my sister, Amy. Unfortunately I forgot what year it is and shaved a year off of her age and my nephew’s age.

I would think that my sister would be pleased I made her a year younger although I imagine my nephew didn’t like it.

Either way, she e-mailed me to correct me and I have edited the posting and it now states the correct ages.

In bold.

In red.

No one is perfect…least of all me…the sister of a 41 year old and aunt of a 20 year old.

Aurora Borealis

Last night on the news, they said that, because of a solar flare, we should be able to see the aurora borealis here in Maine. I was at a friend’s house for dinner and suggested that we should go out and see what we could see.

She and I bundled up in our coats and other winter paraphenalia and went out to look. Since her house faces to the south and is built into a hill, we had to walk around the front of the house in order to look north to see the lights.

She had turned off the lights outside to make it easier to see but this made it very difficult to see the icy path we on which we were walking. We very slowly took baby steps and picked our way over the ice until we could look north.

We looked and saw….nothing. Just dark sky and stars. Bummer.

We turned around to head back in the house and took a moment to admire the brilliant moon and the abundance of stars overhead. It was quite majestic although not what we had come outside to see.

Halfway back to the house, slowly walking over the ice, her husband opened the door to let the dog out and we shouted at him to turn the lights back on. He did and we could easily see where we could step and where there was ice.

Turns out, according to a later news broadcast, the solar flare wasn’t as intense as they had thought it would be so the aurora borealis wasn’t visible in Maine south of Caribou. Caribou, in case you don’t know, is about a six hour drive north of Alfred, Maine, where my friend lives. As much as I love a good road trip, I am not willing to drive six hours just to see the sky light up.

Especially when you can look at pictures on-line. I downloaded these pictures from Wikipedia via Google images. Very, very beautiful! The wonder of God’s creation!!

400px-Aurora_Borealis_Poster

The Lord’s Prayer for Me

In the Bible, when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, they asked him “Teach us to pray”. He gave them the prayer we refer to has The Lord’s Prayer.

This is how most people know it:

Our Father

Who art in heaven

Hallowed be Thy name

Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done

On earth as it is in heaven

Give us this day our daily bread

Forgive us our trespasses

As we forgive those who trespass against us

Lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory

Forever and ever

Amen

There was some controversy at my church a few years back because two members wanted us to exclusively use a more modern version of The Lord’s Prayer and the rest of us wanted to stick with what we all know…as in what is written above. Eventually it was decided to just stick with the traditional version. Especially since those two people left our church.

Although I still stand by my opinion that we should pray The Lord’s Prayer in the traditional form because it is what people are familiar with, I have been thinking about how to make it more meaningful. After all, we tend to recite it when asked (Let us now pray the prayer the Lord taught us…Our Father…) but I think we do it by rote without much thought to the meaning of the words or how it impacts us.

One time my pastor lead us in praying The Lord’s Prayer during church one Sunday by saying that we would start out whispering it and gradually increase the volume. We started out very quietly, like we were almost saying it to ourselves “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done….” until the very end where we were practically shouting “FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY, FOREVER AND EVER, AMEN!”

It was very meaningful. We really thought about what we were saying and the last part was such a shout of praise and glory to God, it really moved us!

In thinking about all of this, I started thinking about The Lord’s Prayer in a more personal manner. What would it be like to pray The Lord’s Prayer but make it more of a prayer between me and God, rather than everyone and God. Also, what would it be like to make it more conversational rather than poetic.

This is what I came up with:

My Father, who is in heaven, holy is your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. Give me this day my daily bread. Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me. Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen

The first thing that stands out to me is the forgiveness part. No, not that I use the word “trespasses” instead of “sins”. I like trespass. Sounds less evil. But it is the part where I am asking God to forgive me the way I forgive others. Which makes me very mindful of the fact that I am not so quick to forgive others. I don’t let things go so easily. But I should. God forgives me and remembers my sins no more. He separates me from them as the east is from the west. This is the way I should live. To forgive easily and quickly and forget the sin. Something I am working on and will continue to work on.

The other thing that stands out to me is the daily bread part. “Give me this day my daily bread”. Not what I need tomorrow or next month or next year. But what I need to get through this day alone.

When God gave the Israelites manna to eat each day, they were instructed to just gather what they needed for that day and not to try to save it for the next day. It wouldn’t last and would become spoiled and rotten overnight. The only exception to this rule was for the Sabbath Day. The day before they were to gather enough for two days since they couldn’t work on the Sabbath.

God wants us to just to be concerned about today. He even carries this forward into the Gospels where he tells us to consider the lilies of the valley. “They neither toil or spin yet they are dressed finer than Solomon in all his splendor”. So why should we worry about what we should eat or what we should wear, God will provide.

Give me this day my daily bread. What I need for today and today alone. Am I starving today? No. Am I warm and dry today? Yes. Do I have a place to sleep tonight? Yes. God does provide. Maybe not the way I want but it is provision.

There is so much more to The Lord’s Prayer than what we pray on a Sunday morning. In re-working the phrasing a little, it becomes so personal and meaningful. Impacting my life on so many levels.

If you can, take a moment to pray the more personal form of The Lord’s Prayer. It will provide meaning and insight for you and, hopefully, impact your life in a very positive way.

My Sister

Today my sister, Amy, turns…41.

From my point of view, it is just a number. After all, she hasn’t aged much. She still looks much the same as she did in her early twenties. She doesn’t even look old enough to have a 20 year old son. Kind of interesting to see the two of them side by side. Could be sister and brother rather than mother and son.

What I find amazing is that I have had my sister in my life for so long. She has been a huge blessing for me. She is my best friend and I am so grateful to have her in my life.

Happy birthday, Amy!!! May God bless you with a wonderful 40th year full of great joy and happiness!

Love, Julie

Talking

I have been trying to think about what to write about and have actually started three different blog postings. I have deleted all three because I realized that people could take them the wrong way or think I am talking about them when I am talking about other people entirely.

Mostly I have been thinking about how people talk.  At work, people complain about each other instead of just doing their jobs quickly and efficiently. I had a discussion with two people recently and I’m pretty sure that when I walked away, they talked about me behind my back. I know of two people who talk constantly and don’t say anything of importance. I know of incidences where people get upset because of something they think was said when, in fact, they mis-heard what was said.

All of these leads me to think about communication and how it seems to cause more problems than it solves. People talk and talk and talk and most of the communication is completely unnecessary. It can be hurtful, rude, crude or just plain mean.

There was something my dad used to say…”engage brain before engaging mouth”. THINK about things before you say them. Most people don’t. Most people just vomit out any thought that pops in their heads.They spew forth ideas that are based on erroneous beliefs and misconstrued facts. This kind of communication just leads to frustration and resentment by those who are listening to it.

There was a TV show on once called “Northern Exposure”. About a doctor from New York who ends up in Alaska.  He has medical school bills that need to be paid and is working them off being a doctor in a remote small town far removed from his Manhattan roots.

There is an episode in this show where his mother comes to visit. She likes to talk. And talk. And talk. Pretty much non stop. I can’t remember what was said to her but I remember that she has a conversation with the doctor’s office secretary, who was Native American. She told her something about learning so much from the silences. Later the mother goes on a walk and she stops to catch her breath at the top of a small hill and notices the quiet beauty all around her. She stops talking and just stands there appreciating the wonder of creation. Then her foot slips, she falls but a wind catches her and she softly lands on her feet. Doesn’t seem plausible but if you saw the episode, this would make perfect sense. After that, the mother becomes quiet. She starts to listen more than she talks. She realizes everything she has been missing by running her mouth constantly.

This episode of some old TV show really stuck with me. To have the ability to appreciate the silences in life. To be quiet more than talking. To really notice the world around and appreciating it’s quiet beauty.

I wish there was a polite way to tell people to be quiet. To stop and think before yelling. To stop and think before gossiping. To stop and think before just talking constantly. The only thing I can come up with is “Shut Up” but that is rude.

Would it be rude to just go “shhhh”? Probably. But something along those lines. To just let someone know that silence is ok. Not talking is preferable to gabbing non-stop.

Maybe I’ll just try to practice it more. To be still, quiet and calm. Something else to try to do for 2014.

Happy New Year!

It is a new year and, thus, a good day for a new start at a number of things. I don’t necessarily do resolutions just because it is too high of a probability that I will break some or all resolutions. So why set myself up for disappointment?

Instead of resolutions, this is a list of things I want to accomplish for 2014:

  • I want to read the Bible. I looked up on a website called “Read the Bible in One Year” and there are a number of ways to accomplish this. Who knew? There is chronological, historical and front-to-back. I talked to a couple of people and asked for advice. My pastor suggested that I do all three over the course of three years. Such as the three-year lectionary the Lutheran church follows. I have decided to start with the historical way and began this morning with Genesis, chapters 1-3.

  • I want to find a full-time job!! Actually the exclamation points don’t really convey my feelings on this subject. I WANT TO FIND A FULL-TIME JOB!!!!!!! There…that is more like it. Seriously. This part-time job, struggling with finances things has become very old, very fast. It’s not like I haven’t been looking since that is pretty much all I do when I am not working at my part-time job but I think that it is time for this to happen. PRAYING hard about this!!

  • I want to get my arthritis under control. Having my arthritis flaring up, as it has been since 2008, keeps me from doing something I love and that is working out. I did try it a little the summer of 2012 but that was basically walking on a treadmill because my doctor wouldn’t clear me to use any other piece of equipment or to use the weights. Then I got cancer and pancreatitis and exercising had to stop. Now that my cancer is gone and my gall bladder is gone, it would be helpful if my arthritis would calm down and I can get back to exercising regularly. My doctor and I are working on a plan for this and, hopefully, it will work.

  • I want to be able to go visit my sister at least a couple of times this year and my younger brother at least once. I haven’t seen my sister and her family since February of 2011. She has had another baby since then and I have never met my new nephew. And I have never met my brother’s daughters and would love to get to know them. So visiting is definitely on the agenda for this coming year.

  • My final “to do” for 2014 is just to be more conscientious of my fellow man. Being single it is easy to be caught in my own problems and my own little world. I have tried for years not to do that and make it a point to pay attention to other people’s problems and help when I can in any way I can. But this year I want to do it more. As my major problems subside, I want to be aware that other people are struggling and do what I can to ease their struggles. I know that is a little vague but I, and God, know what I mean and I pray that it will come to fruition.

How is that? A list of doable goals for 2014. I think it is a fine list and am looking forward to looking back and seeing it accomplished!

Happy 2014, Everyone!!

Advent Thoughts

Every year, my church provides Advent devotionals for people to pick up as an additional resource to use during the season. This year, there were two available and I picked up the one that was from the works of C.S. Lewis.

I am enjoying doing this devotional just because it is very straightforward and somewhat analytical. It isn’t all flowery and spiritual, which is the direction that some devotionals take.

In reading the devotion today, it discussed Jesus sending out his 12 disciples to proclaim the good news and heal people. In the part written by C.S. Lewis, he mentions that “Christians are Christ’s body, the organism through which he works. Every addition to that body enables Him to do more. If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them.”

This was profound in an of itself. But it was the prayer at the end that really made me stop and think:

When I am reluctant to share my faith with others, Lord, remind me that someone once shared their faith with me.”

I had never thought about that before. Someone once shared their faith with me…that is why I believe.

Granted, I was born Lutheran. I have been going to church since I was a baby and, God willing,will go to church the rest of my life. I’m not sure who first shared their faith with me because it feels like I have always believed.

But my faith has grown and developed throughout the years. And that has happened because of how others have shared their faith with me. Having other Christians lead me and guide me has strengthened my faith throughout my life.

So why am I reluctant to share my faith? Well, I am not completely un-reluctant. I do talk about my faith and my church life with people. But it usually occurs to me during a conversation that in sharing my faith, it will help the person I am talking to expand their faith. It isn’t first nature for me to just blurt out why I believe.

But, praying that prayer this morning has made me think that I believe because others believed. And I should be willing and able to share my faith with others. Without reservation.

It certainly is something to ponder and work on. Hopefully in the hustle and bustle of the season, I won’t forget to think about this and have it become second nature to me. I want to grow in my faith and help others to grow in their faith. It is why Jesus came to earth which is the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Hmmm….one little sentence can certainly change one’s life, can’t it????