Monday, December 12, 2011

Heart Issues

 In a short story I wrote, I said this:
Can we allow within ourselves some force that is greater than we are, something that might cause us to fall headlong into it?  We find it easy to give love when we want to—but can we bear to be loved?
The thing is, we give all we want to—or not—and maybe that’s because we perceive that we are in control. It is harder to receive love as a gift and allow it to draw us into it, to relinquish our control. To love and be loved is the greatest human need, so it’s a paradox, in a way, that we resist it so.
At our church’s last Bible study session for this fall, our pastor, Dr. K, led a discussion in which we all agreed that love is the most important response of the human heart to God. By nature, God is love. He draws us in to participate in his nature, in his love, to be honest in our feelings, to allow ourselves to be broken—and healed. Love enables us to be who we are, in him.
Dr. K said God primarily makes himself known by word—“thus saith the Lord.” Our response, too, comes by word.   Proverbs 4:20-23 says
… pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart, for they are life to those who find them and health to a (person’s) whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
And Oswald Chambers says, When love or the Spirit of God comes upon a person, he is transformed. He will then no longer insist on maintaining his individuality. …. Once your rights to yourself are surrendered to God, your true personal nature begins responding to God immediately. Jesus Christ brings freedom to your total person, and even your individuality is transformed. The transformation is brought about by love— personal devotion to Jesus. Love is the overflowing result of one person in true fellowship with another.
And you are freed and transformed to be who you truly are. What all this means to me is that my response to the issues of my heart determines the course of my life. 

I borrowed the picture from this site.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Truth--"Tell It Slant"

Here’s a great poem by Emily Dickinson about truth. 

Tell it Slant 

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies;
Too bright for mind's infirm intent,
The Truth's superb surprise.

As Lightning to the Children eased,
With explanation kind;
The Truth must dazzle gradually,
Or every man be blind. 

To tell the truth “slant” is, I believe, the most effective way to do it. If you just go up to somebody and say “Hey—God loves you!” that person is apt to go suddenly wide-eyed, turn on his/her heel, and get away from you quickly.

In fact, I remember a similar situation when I was a freshman at the University of Texas in Austin many years ago. Simply being there was a culture shock, since the freshman class was comprised of about a thousand people more than my entire home town. Contributing to the spinning of my head was the fact that professors were slinging truth and half-truth and not-truth at me as fast as they could talk. I was dizzy trying to figure out which was which.

One beautiful day in October or November, a student stopped me on the sidewalk as I was on my way to class, deep in agonized thought. He said, “Have you had the wonderful experience of asking Jesus Christ into your life?”

I was completely bamboozled, not to mention shocked, and said, “Yes.” I walked on. People didn’t do that kind of thing so directly where I came from, and I could hardly believe anybody would do it. My home town was a lovely, nurturing place to grow up, full of loving people. But most of them were shy about directly discussing God, for some reason. It was the time, I suppose. People don’t seem to be that way so much now, and I’m glad.

So what is the best way to present the truth about God’s love to people? How do we “tell it slant” in a way that makes people listen? It's a delicate and difficult question. I’m going to think about it and write more about it soon.

*I borrowed the picture from this site.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Moveable Feast

I just read somewhere that Good Friday is “a moveable feast.”  Hmmm, I said. What does that mean?

Ernest Hemingway wrote a novel called A Moveable Feast, which is a collection of memoirs about his years in Paris. Someone wrote that Paris is “a moveable feast.”  Somehow, though, I don’t think it is a moveable feast in the same sense as Good Friday. Maybe Hemingway moved around Paris feasting on…things.

When I looked it up, Wikipedia said a moveable feast is a holiday whose date varies, depending on different things—as opposed to a “fixed feast” like Christmas, always December 25.  The date for Good Friday, it said, depends on the date of Easter, which is also a moveable feast.  According to,

Easter is considered to be a moveable date because the first council of Nicaea in 325 AD declared it to be the Sunday after the full moon after the vernal equinox. It was then changed by the Gregorian calendar in 1582.

That information was not quite confusing enough for me, so I also considered this mind-boggling erudition, found here:

The tables which appear here and, in more detail, in the Book of Common Prayer can be used to determine the date of Easter. These tables were compiled by the then Astronomer Royal, the Revd James Bradley (1673–1762) for the Calendar Act 1750 (by which the Gregorian Calendar was adopted in Britain), and the effect of them is mathematically identical to the more complicated tables devised in 1582 for Pope Gregory XIII’s reform.

In another sense, a website called “Moveable Feast” is about an organization in Baltimore that delivers healthy meals, groceries, and nutrition counseling to people who suffer from AIDS. There’s a similar organization with this title in Lexington, Kentucky.

Oh, dear. What to do with all that?  The thing is, a moveable feast changes around, whereas a fixed feast does not.  The title has an important ring to it. Of course, we don’t call holidays “feasts” in America these days, although we often do feast on holidays.  I like thinking of Easter and Christmas as feasts of love and sharing. And I like thinking of a group whose purpose is to nourish people with AIDS—a feast of feeding, loving, giving.

The picture comes from Lemuria Books’ website.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Blahs

I think maybe I have ADHD this summer. I have gotten only halfway through the very good book I’ve been reading for the past month. Usually, I would have finished it and almost another one by now. My writing projects are on hold because I’m sort of not interested.  

What could be wrong with me?

Here are a few things I’m considering:

1. For sixty days this year, we’ve had horrid weather.

2. It has been at least 100 degrees, usually 105 or so, for the past few weeks.

3. As a result, the grass is dead everywhere, and bushes and flowers are wilted.

4. Everything smells dry and sort of burned.

5. The stock market has gone crazy and my retirement fund is suffering.

6. Cantaloupes have not been good this summer, even with sitting on the cabinet for a few days.

I do see a couple of positive signs, however, that tell me there’s hope I’ll recover from this malaise:

1. The sun is coming up later. That’s good. Maybe autumn will arrive, eventually.

2. School is about to start. Life will be more on a schedule for a while. We can hear the high school band practicing, several blocks away.

3. Nectarines are still delicious.

I have figured out why my asparagus ferns are the only plants thriving in our yard this summer.
I learned that the asparagus fern,  Asparagus densiflorus Sprengeri, is a native of South Africa. No wonder it likes Texas weather now!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Leap of Faith

Here’s a truth.

Sometimes you will find that you cannot completely figure out some situation. But you may have a feeling it’s time to do something, regardless. Then is when you have to take a leap of faith.

 A leap of faith happens when you just trust God to take care of you, and you don’t worry about what the second step will be. You fling it all out on him and jump into the first step, knowing he will catch you, set you down in the right place, and show you the next steps. Hebrews 11:1 describes it well: "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."

At this linked site, Ron Paul, the "Daddy Blogger," writes that

"in order to mature in the Christian faith, there are points in our lives where we have no option but to ... trust that God is faithful and will provide.  During and after that process, we are left with the option of either publicly praising God or keeping it to ourselves." In these situations, rather than "just leaving us as fools hanging high and dry, God would rather be glorified by providing us what it takes to get through the problem, not around or over it."  (The picture is borrowed from this site.)
I think God loves it when we can take leaps of faith. Going airborne with this kind of faith honors him and shows him our trust. He loves us for it.  

Well….he loves us anyway, already. And we don’t deserve it.

Okay, that’s a couple of truths.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Maya Angelou: "Just Like Job"

Here’s a marvelous poem by Maya Angelou.  She is a powerful poet who believes in a powerful God. Way back when Job lived    his people knew God was in charge of the world, and they were glad. He still is. And I'm glad.

Just Like Job
by Maya Angelou

My Lord, my Lord,
Long have I cried out to Thee
In the heat of the sun,
The cool of the moon,
My screams searched the heavens for Thee.
My God,
When my blanket was nothing but dew,
Rags and bones
Were all I owned,
I chanted Your name
Just like Job.

Father, Father,
My life give I gladly to Thee
Deep rivers ahead
High mountains above
My soul wants only Your love
But fears gather round like wolves in the dark.
Have You forgotten my name?
O Lord, come to Your child.
O Lord, forget me not.

You said to lean on Your arm
And I’m leaning
You said to trust in Your love
And I’m trusting
You said to call on Your name
And I’m calling
I’m stepping out on Your word.

You said You’d be my protection,
My only and glorious saviour,
My beautiful Rose of Sharon,
And I’m stepping out on Your word.
Joy, joy
Your word.
Joy, joy
The wonderful word of the Son of God.

You said that You would take me to glory
To sit down at the welcome table
Rejoice with my mother in heaven
And I’m stepping out on Your word.
Into the alleys
Into the byways
Into the streets
And the roads
And the highways
Past rumor mongers
And midnight ramblers
Past the liars and the cheaters and the gamblers.
On Your word
On Your word.
On the wonderful word of the Son of God.
I’m stepping out on Your word.

*Poem borrowed from 
Photo borrowed from

Friday, April 29, 2011

British Royal Family

 With all the flurry surrounding the marriage today of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton, I’ve been checking out the royal family. (I did not get up at 4:30 a.m. to watch it!)

Some interesting facts that I have read before and forgotten:

The royal family name used to be Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, a Germanic name, because of the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert in 1840.  In 1917, King George V (grandfather of the present Queen Elizabeth) changed the family name to Windsor; he apparently wanted to get rid of Germanic connections because of Germany’s part in World War I.  

The present Queen Elizabeth’s uncle was Edward VIII, who abdicated his year-long monarchy in 1936. He wanted to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American woman who would have been unacceptable as the wife of a king. My 94-year-old mother remembers hearing that he said, “What kind of monarch would I be without the woman I love?” So he gave it up, and Queen Elizabeth’s father Prince Albert became King George VI. How romantic!

Just for fun, here is Edward’s abdication speech:

The British Monarchy web site []

EDWARD VIII (r. Jan – December 1936)
Broadcast after his abdication, 11 December 1936

At long last I am able to say a few words of my own. I have never wanted to
withhold anything, but until now it has not been constitutionally possible for
me to speak.

A few hours ago I discharged my last duty as King and Emperor, and now that
I have been succeeded by my brother, The Duke of York, my first words must
be to declare my allegiance to him. This I do with all my heart.

You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce the Throne.
But I want you to understand that in making up my mind I did not forget the
country or the Empire which as Prince of Wales, and lately as King, I have for
twenty-five years tried to serve. But you must believe me when I tell you that I
have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to
discharge my duties as King as I would wish to do without the help and
support of the woman I love.

And I want you to know that the decision I have made has been mine and
mine alone. This was a thing I had to judge entirely for myself. The other
person most nearly concerned has tried up to the last to persuade me to take
a different course. I have made this, the most serious decision of my life, only
upon the single thought of what would in the end be best for all.

This decision has been made less difficult to me by the sure knowledge that
my brother, with his long training in the public affairs of this country and with
his fine qualities, will be able to take my place forthwith, without interruption or
injury to the life and progress of the Empire. And he has one matchless
blessing, enjoyed by so many of you and not bestowed on me - a happy home
with his wife and children.

During these hard days I have been comforted by Her Majesty my mother and
by my family. The Ministers of the Crown, and in particular Mr Baldwin, the
Prime Minister, have always treated me with full consideration. There has
never been any constitutional difference between me and them and between
me and Parliament. Bred in the constitutional tradition by my father, I should
never have allowed any such issue to arise.

Ever since I was Prince of Wales, and later on when I occupied the Throne, I
have been treated with the greatest kindness by all classes of the people,
wherever I have lived or journeyed throughout the Empire. For that I am very

I now quit altogether public affairs, and I lay down my burden. It may be some
time before I return to my native land, but I shall always follow the fortunes of
the British race and Empire with profound interest, and if at any time in the
future I can be found of service to His Majesty in a private station I shall not

The British Monarchy web site []
And now we all have a new King. I wish him, and you, his people, happiness
and prosperity with all my heart. God bless you all. God Save The King.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


It’s been a long time since we did a word study here on “Connections.”  I believe one is now in order.  Here is the word for the day: worship.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote this: “A person will worship something, have no doubt about it. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we worship we are becoming.”

According to (the Thesaurus part), worship (as a verb) means to honor or glorify. Some synonyms are  admire, adore, bow down to, celebrate, chant, deify, dote on, esteem, exalt, extol, idolize, laud, love, magnify, offer prayers to, pay homage to, praise, pray to, put on a pedestal, respect, revere, reverence, sanctify, sing, sing praises to, venerate.  In other words, it means not only a brief act of celebration, but also a constant state of adulation.

Emerson also wrote this: “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” When Emerson wrote this, he didn’t just mean men, of course.  What we spend the biggest part of our time and money on is our most important priority.  That is what we think about most.

God wants our every thought. He wants to be closer to us than our breath, part of our blood and bones and mind.  He wants us to dote on him, to respect, esteem, and revere him, to seek his guidance in everything. He wants us to desire for our lives to glorify him.  That is worship.