If a story begins, “it seemed like a good idea at the time,” it probably wasn’t. This is today’s cat story. I’ve written before about our cat, Doll. I received her as a Father’s Day gift in 1996. I believe her to be part cat and part squirrel because of her tendency to climb great heights around the house, and then take great leaps of faith. She rests during the day so that she can hunt for her toy mouse after we go to bed, and then she brings it to us with triumphant howls around midnight, and/or around 3 a.m. and again around 4:30 or 5:00. A very close relative of mine began rewarding this effort with a flashlight shining on her victorious capture and with words of praise. She loves words of praise in the middle of the night.
So when this close relative saw there was a free cat game available for download to a smart phone or mini-tablet, it sounded like fun. The game, by the way, is for the cat. Just as partaking in word and skill games is supposed to keep aging minds active, this cat game is designed to help elderly cats stay alert. Doll loves to play her game. All she has to do is tap the moving red dot on the screen and she gets 100 points, and a beep, for as long as she wants to play. If this sounds like something your cat would enjoy, I have two suggestions when handing expensive electronics over to your cat: make certain your cat has been declawed; and, have a tight-fitting case for the occasional screen licking. Doll loves this game so much she wants to play it whenever her humans get out their electronic devices. This can get annoying.
This all reminds me of that Bible verse in Galatians 6 which points out that people reap what they sow. This passage cautions us to be mindful of our actions, for we must live with the results. And sometimes the results may keep us up at night.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Sow well. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
August was designated “birthday month” by our daughters many, many years ago. August is their birthday month; August 15, the day. (That makes February 15 their half-birthday, which they never successfully managed to officially get recognized as a gift-receiving day.)
It started like this:
At 3:15 a.m. on August 15, Dorothy woke up to announce a baby seemed ready to be born. After some profound questions like, “Are you sure?” and, “Really?” I got up, got dressed, and took her to the car. We leisurely arrived at the hospital with plenty of time for our baby to be born. Dorothy and I were somewhat surprised that her on-call doctor was her friend Saundra’s husband, Corky, who had recently joined the partnership of Dorothy’s obstetrician. Dorothy had known Corky since their high school days. After the brief awkwardness passed, they settled down to business and Donelle was born at 11:55 a.m. Corky could not wait to call Saundra and tell her the news.
At 3:15 a.m. on August 15, Dorothy woke up to announce a baby seemed ready to be born. After some profound questions like, “Are you sure?” and, “Really?” I got up, got dressed, picked up Donelle, carried her to the car, and then got Dorothy. On the way to drop Donelle off with a church family, Donelle prophesied, “I’m going to have a pink birthday.” This was before the days of ultra-sounds. When we arrived at the hospital every labor room was occupied and other women in labor were waiting on gurneys in the hallway. Dorothy bumped to the head of that line, and was quickly placed in a delivery room that was still being cleaned up. The nurse asked her to wait a few minutes until the doctor arrived, but she respectfully declined. The doctor appeared just as he was needed and Dayna was born at 6:14 a.m. Donelle celebrated her third birthday that evening with a “pink party.”
Do you know your birth story? We all have one. If you do not know, ask someone who might remember. You just might be surprised at what you learn about yourself. Our birth stories have the power to demonstrate just how strong, inside, we really are. What about your other birth story? The one about the time you were born into God’s eternal family? What do you remember? What has it shown you about yourself? How do you celebrate it?
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Celebrate your birth. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
We have a master gardener who lives next door. James’ idea of a fun thing to do every evening is mow and edge his front yard. He is passionate about his flowers and plants. Spending time at Tulsa’s Linnaeus Teaching Garden has opened his eyes to the possibilities of beautiful things everywhere. This year he decided to have a vegetable garden featuring tomatoes, peppers and strawberries. Of course he added other fruit and vegetables just to see how they would do. His sunflowers were spectacular. We ate some of his tomatoes at supper last night.
He began as a toddler watching from a front window as his father mowed the grass. Soon he started using sticks and brooms to imitate his dad trimming and edging. Someone got him a toy lawn mower. This summer James turned seven. He checks his garden every day—watering, fertilizing, weeding and harvesting. He knows more about my in-ground sprinkler system than I do. He can identify every sprinkler head and its spray pattern. He can diagnose every sprinkler problem and knows how to repair or replace it. He has a personal collection of sprinkler heads in his garage. He keeps asking his parents to get a trencher so he can lay out a sprinkler system of his own. James has a passion and a focus, yet like every kid he loves to act silly, tell jokes, make people laugh and play with his little brother.
James is a remarkable boy because his eyes and heart are open to the beauty and wonder of creation. Our hearts are the garden of our soul. What do you see when you look upon your heart? How well are you tending it? What have you planted within it? How do you nourish it? What needs trimming or weeding or pruning? What is your heart producing today?
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Look to the Master Gardener. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
After completing the macramé phase of my life, I turned to cross-stitch, with an occasional adventure in needlepoint. After all, you can only make so many hanging flower pot holders for all of your friends and relatives. New friends and more relatives were gifted with little pictures, sayings and Christmas stitchery. Some were graciously received. I stitched one piece that is framed and hangs in my office. It is about four letter words.
English is a very rich language consisting of approximately one million words,* yet a handful of vulgarities seem to lace daily life with too much regularity. Why does it seem to take weeks and weeks to teach a child “please and thank you,” or “Yes, ma’am or No, sir,” and only one time for a misplaced ugly word to be instantly memorized and utilized by that same child? It is probably time to upgrade our use of the four letter word.
“Four Letter Words that Change the World”
Love. Hope. Care. Help.
Heal. Work. Play. Feel.
Duty. Home. Good. Kind.
Pity. Rest. Seek. Pray. Live.
“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Speak true and holy. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
How well are you doing on your goals for 2013? Looking back over my notes from last year, I discovered I did pretty well in most of them, but slid backwards and into a ditch on a couple of others. I did a couple of rewarding things I did not know I would do when 2013 began, like deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and fly fishing in Virginia. I completed two complicated community assignments that have turned out well. (New goal: No new community assignments in 2014.) Dorothy and I discovered an amazing thing about goals—if you write down 5 or 10 goals and put them in a drawer somewhere, at the end of a year most of your goals will be achieved. It is not magic. It is inspiration. How do you set goals?
Broaden the definition of a goal. Some goals are wishes. Others are challenges. Do not limit your goals to finances, health and fun times. I use areas like family, projects, learning, spiritual growth, adventure, work and relationships. Naming a goal or two for each category gives me more than enough for a new year. What do you really want to do with your life? Pray about it. Write it down. Dream a little more about it. Then start living on purpose.
Narrow the target of a goal. The secret to having accomplished a goal is to make it very specific. Set a goal like, ‘Go fishing four times this year,’ ‘Read three books’ or ‘Have a family reunion.’ Lose weight, exercise more and earn more money are not goals. They just burden you down with guilt. Give up soft drinks, park the car farther away from the store, and have a spring yard sale are goals. Do not be afraid to launch out into the deep.
Review your goal. At some point it is good to take a look back to see where your life has gone in the past few months. Things happen. A crisis or two or three may show up. Are you spending your days battered by the winds, or resetting the sails? Press on toward the ultimate goal, the prize of the high calling of your life.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Set sail. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
I am always looking for time. That is because I am always losing it. Time that is. I think I have plenty of it, only to discover that it has gone, vanished. Turn around and where did it go? Where does time go? One person told me they are living on borrowed time. Another said they had too much time on their hands. Is that where it went, or did they just take time and not tell me? Where do I get time? Is there a workshop some place near here where I can possibly make time?
One day I found time. I confess. It was just there so I used it. I was waiting somewhere when I realized I had time—time to listen, time to learn, and time to think. It was great. I ought to do it more often. Now it is winter time. Ice and snow are on the way. At least I hope so, for that is a good time to find time. There is a downside to being shut in, like feeling lonely all by yourself, or, trapped with too many close relatives. But the break in the routine can give us the perspective to see the value of time well spent.
Time is not consistent. When absorbed in a project, book or activity, it speeds on by us. When burdened by conflict, illness or fear, it slows almost to a halt. Some nights I barely close my eyes before the alarm starts ringing. On other nights I hear every tick of our grandfather clock. Psalm 90 encourages us “to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” For me this means that I am to use well the time allotted to me today. Time is a gift of grace. Apply it with wisdom.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Find the time. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
Abram V Leonardson
Of all the books in my bookcases, one has a treasured place in my heart. It is called Bible Biographies, edited by Robert Sears and published in 1848. It belonged to Rev. Abraham V Leonardson, my grandmother’s grandfather on my mother’s side. He received it as a gift of appreciation in 1880. Abram Leonardson, as he called himself, was a Methodist circuit-riding pastor between the Civil War and World War 1. I have a couple of his Bibles, a small number of scrapbooks and this volume on the lives of the people of the Bible that is illustrated with hundreds of engravings. He and I are living about 100 years apart. He was licensed to the Gospel ministry in 1867 and I was licensed in 1966.
My great-great grandfather served churches in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. He would pastor as many as four churches at a time, preaching one Sunday a month at each, taking his wagon, later his buggy, to the next church. He is remembered fondly in some of the local church histories. He was also a writer and turned many of his thoughts into newspaper articles, which he kept in his scrapbooks. Many of the scrapbooks were lost to time but of the few that I possess I can say he focused his articles on holy living, temperance, and prayer. His Bibles are filled with sermon notes and outlines, and even the occasional illustration.
In many of his sermons he cried out against worldliness. He longed for people to find holiness. To him worldliness was another word for materialism. For our day materialism has been dressed up and passed off as consumerism. Move out of the way Thanksgiving, the world of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and consumer greed is heading for Christmas. Same old sin, just way more costly than ever.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Seek holiness this holiday season. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.