Holidays allow time to reflect, reexamine life

Holidays allow time to reflect, reexamine life
Liz Thompson
This Week News
December 4, 2014

What time is it? Our most natural reaction, when we hear this question, is to glance at our watch or clock.

In 2004, I worked in an elementary school in Arizona where students took turns each morning announcing the date, time, daily lunch menu and special events over the intercom from the principal’s office. One day, when the students looked at the clock on the wall, they couldn’t read the time so the principal told them.

The clock they could not read was analog; the “old fashioned” clock with “hands” most of us older than 30 used learning to read time.

Staff learned of this situation when the principal visited each classroom. When she saw all clocks were digital, analog clocks were ordered for the entire school.

The principal realized it’s a digital age, but she knew the importance of knowing how to read clocks both ways.

We use time to mark most things in our lives. The song, Turn! Turn! Turn! , written by Pete Seeger in the 1950s, during a relatively stable time in our country, was made popular in our more turbulent 1960s when recorded (on vinyl, not digital) by The Byrds. It’s all about the value of time. Based on the Book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 the lyrics tell us:

“To everything – turn, turn, turn, There is a season – turn, turn, turn, And a time to every purpose under heaven.

A time to be born, a time to die, A time to plant, a time to reap, A time to kill, a time to heal, A time to laugh, a time to weep.

A time to build up, a time to break down, A time to dance, a time to mourn, A time to cast away stones, A time to gather stones together.

A time of love, a time of hate, A time of war, a time of peace, A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

A time to gain, a time to lose, A time to rend, a time to sew, A time for love, a time for hate, A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late!”

Are you singing or humming along? I listened to it online and sang along, remembering and being amazed Bible verses were made popular in the mainstream music industry.

Last month began what advertisers call the countdown to Christmas, marking shopping days left. I prefer to dwell on the purpose we celebrate on December 25 which leads into the time for celebrating the end and start of another year gone by. Often we take this time to reflect and reexamine our lives, maybe making a resolution to stop something unhealthy and become more healthful-minded. The latter might happen as a result of indulging too much in the good food everywhere we turn, including our own kitchens, especially with the sweets we love during this time.

We might resolve to exercise more, lose that extra weight, volunteer, study harder, spend more time with family or friends and more.

Whatever we resolve, or not, it is a time to start fresh with a new year. We see depictions of Old Man Time with a flowing beard passing the New Year to a baby representing the new months ahead. He ages fast, eh?

When I look back at my 6-plus decades, I wish I had been more present in the moments and not always pushing for the future. I see our grandchildren growing taller, smarter, and more talented than us (thanks be to God), and hope they will learn from our experiences and be more aware of the everyday blessings surrounding them.

My 92-year old mother has the right idea. She says this year she is reversing her age making her a mere 29. She said she can do this every decade for the first four years meaning I’m only 36 this year. Ah, to have this experience and a more youthful physique. How often have you heard or said, “If I knew then what I know now…”

My wise mother comes in again to tell me that as we age we have more time to reflect yet time seems to move much faster. “When we’re young, we are raising families and working just trying to get it all done each day before collapsing into slumber (unless we have a sleepless baby).”

Whether you read digital or analog clocks matters not. It’s how you spend the time that counts.

 

 

Advertisements

Thanksgiving reminds us to let go, forgive

Day by day
Thanksgiving reminds us to let go, forgive
By LIZ THOMPSON
November 4, 2014
ThisWeekNews.com

When we think of slow baking, we might get our Crock-Pot ready for the sweet smells of cooking low and slow. The fragrance of soup, meats and even desserts will fill our home, if we are fortunate enough to have the pot and ingredients.

With Thanksgiving happening this month, we are thinking of what to cook and who to cook for. Many will give of themselves to serve meals at shelters or churches; giving back to their community for those less fortunate. God bless them all with clean motives of love abounding.

The word forbearance was used in my daily devotion recently and I checked the dictionary to make sure I had the right definition. Basically, it is a byproduct of love and means to have patience when provoked; being willing to put up with people’s actions and inactions — to let things go and to forgive.

No one says it’s easy but it is possible.

In the book Lee: The Last Years, by Charles Bracelen Flood, a story about Robert E. Lee illustrates my thoughts. After the end of the Civil War, Lee visited a woman in Kentucky who showed him the remains of what was once a grand, old tree. It had been destroyed by federal artillery fire.

Crying, the woman looked for Lee to condemn the Northerners or sympathize with her loss. His response: “Cut it down, dear Madam, and forget it.”

When I asked my friend Suzanne if she thought writing about forbearance while thinking of giving thanks this month, in particular, made sense, she didn’t hesitate. “Being able to forgive is one of the best gifts God has given us,” she said. “So yes, we need to be thankful about all things, including our learning to let things go.”

Lack of communication or poor communication can break down even the smallest family or corporation. Add to that a lack of patience and walls go up that create divisions that are hard to break down or through. Offenses are exaggerated to the point where we might even forget how it all began.

“A (fly’s) egg becomes as huge as ever was laid by an ostrich,” Charles Spurgeon said about offenses magnified out of proportion.

I’ve been there, done that — seen that. It takes someone saying something to break through that wall of conflict and wave a white flag; call it quits and start again.

On the lighter side, Erma Bombeck wrote with humor on living, through her years. Near the end of her life, she was asked what she would do differently if she had a chance to live her life again. Many famous quotes came from her answers: burning that fancy pink candle instead of letting it collect dust, not worrying about grass stains and playing with her children more, but the following quote relates to my writing today:

“There would have been more I love yous … more I’m sorrys … more I’m listenings … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.”

We need to decide whether to let our annoyances slow bake or let them go. It’s hard to be thankful when our hearts and minds are busy being angry. And you might already know it takes more muscles to frown than to smile; not just the baring teeth smile but the true smile that reaches the eyes.

Smiling is only an indication of being open to forgiving, forgetting (at least not bringing up old hurts repeatedly) and being willing to “cut it down.”
This month, we think more about what we are thankful for because of the national holiday. It’s a good reminder to be thankful year-round.

I look at the birds at our feeder and realize how hard they must work for daily food and I become more thankful.

Physical things such as food, clothing and shelter are temporary and shifting.
The long-term, year-round list for me includes family, friends, memories, and acts of love and forgiveness I have experienced in my life. There isn’t paper enough to write it all down.

Jan Karon wrote in Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, “Love is an act of endless forgiveness.” Sounds right to me.

But check that Crock-Pot to make sure your food doesn’t burn. You likely have hungry people to feed.

Couple spread Good Word one word at a time

Couple spread Good Word one word at a time
by Liz Thompson
ThisWeekNews
September 26, 2013

We must be born with a desire to communicate. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. The first thing we do is open our mouths and cry – loudly. Maybe we’re saying “Put me back!” but here we are ready to let Mom and Dad know in no uncertain terms we have arrived in this noisy world.

Parents learn to know what their baby needs by the intensity of the cry. Since communication is a two-way deal, babies learn by the parent’s intonation what they mean as well. As the child grows, they love being read to from colorful books leading to the love of the written word. Books become a part of our lives; teaching and entertaining.

We want to communicate from our barest needs to our deepest thoughts.

Imagine, though, you have no written language, only spoken. No books, magazines, pamphlets, closed captioning or subtitles, notes passed among friends, newspapers, email or EBooks, greeting cards, Internet… no need to search further.

Keep imagining as we count our blessings.

In 1917, a young man, William Cameron Townsend, set out as a missionary to the Cakchiquel Indians in Guatemala. While trying to sell Spanish translated Bibles to these Indians, “…he discovered that the majority of the people he met did not understand Spanish. Neither did they have a written form of their own beautiful language, the Cakchiquel,” according to the Wycliffe website.

He didn’t give up. Instead, he lived among the people learning their language while developing an alphabet for them.

Within 10 years, he had translated the New Testament portion of the Bible in that language. By 1934, he was aware of other cultures without a written language and opened Camp Wycliffe in Arkansas to train people in linguistics and translation. By 1942, the camp had “grown into two affiliate organizations, Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics.”

The history of Wycliffe Bible translation goes back to 1382 when John Wycliffe translated an English Bible—“the first complete European translation done in nearly 1,000 years.” I encourage you to read this history on Wycliffe.org.

According to Wycliffe, there are more than 6,800 world languages and fewer than 2,000 of those languages are without a written Bible translation. That equates to 209 million people where translation projects have not yet begun.

Stephen and Rachel Katterenrich have been in Tanzania for more than two years developing a written language in the oral language of Bungu, as part of Wycliffe. The process has been ongoing for almost 10 years. Rachel studied language in college and Stephen the Bible. “We have melded our talents,” Rachel said.

This next year Stephen will be studying the Greek language.

Their first four months were spent learning Swahili. “We had some fun blunders along the way,” Rachel said. “Like when I was trying to say someone was a patient (in a hospital) and I was actually saying they were patient (in behavior).”

Stephen said that he can understand the language easier than he can speak it, so far. In time he hopes that changes.

In English, one word can have several meanings and may be spelled the same but the meaning changes with different emphasis. The simple word “oh” which can mean “Oh, right!” as in an aha moment or “Oh!” as in surprise or “Ohhhhh” when dragged out like “Oh, I see!”

In Bungu, the emphasis and the spelling are different in many words. The written word needs to read like it sounds. It’s a complicated and tedious process. The villagers are eager and taking active roles to help make the written language happen.

Just as Townsend worked with the people to learn their language, Stephen and Rachel are living and working with the villagers to learn their language, hear their stories and translate them into writing by creating a data base. It is what they call a cluster project with other people working on their language projects and sharing resources.

The villagers are grateful to Stephen and Rachel. When the Katterenrich’s left to come to the States for a year, they were lovingly reminded that they would return to them. One day, in the not too distant future, they will celebrate with Bible translation being complete.

It matters not where we are born or what language we speak, communicating is vital. It’s comforting to know there are those willing to make sure all people have a written language.

One person and one word at a time.

‘Till The Last Petal Falls…

Elizabeth Rose

Elizabeth Rose

GUEST POST

Far More Precious
Elizabeth Rose

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. Proverbs 31:10

All my life, I was told that God was the God of Love. I was told if I loved my neighbor, in return I would be rewarded with love. So when in high school, when I was lured into what would become a four-year abusive relationship, I found myself at a complete loss.

“This could not be what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to turn the other cheek,” I thought. I was spiraling into a cycle of being hit and then forgiving my abuser, hoping that my ‘love’ was enough to save him from his sinfulness. I could have gotten myself killed for it.

Many of my Christian peers at the time congratulated me for having the humility and patience required to remain with my attacker. To them, my suffering was just another cross that I needed to take up in order to bring more people to salvation. Surely, through by persistent example, my abusive boyfriend would see the light and come to Jesus. He would eventually have no choice but to see how I had stood beside him and never wavered in supporting him, wouldn’t he?

It would take a nasty break-up, a restraining order and several years before I would realize just how wrong I was. So today, I want to share some things that I have learned, in the hopes that it may be used to save others the same, long road of injustice:

• Christian love does not require women to remain in abusive relationships, no matter what the circumstance.
• A Christian woman knows that, just as all other children of God have an intrinsic worth, so does she. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 As God has commanded His children to protect life, and the dignity of human life, so does He command us to respect the dignity of our own persons.
• Christian love does not mean giving in to our beloved’s commands, nor does it mean retaining possession of our beloved. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do, especially in abusive relationships, is to keep ourselves from enabling attackers. Even Jesus rebuked Peter out of love (“But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”Mark 8:33) when Peter insisted on his ‘humanly concerns.’ In that circumstance, Jesus compared Peter to Satan in order to show Peter the errors of his ways. In a way that seemed harsh, Jesus helped Peter become more of a Man of God.
• A Christian woman knows that she has been charged to be submissive to her husband (“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Colossians 3:18). At the same time, she also knows that God has charged her husband to love his wife as himself, and to behave himself as if he was Christ (“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” 33 “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-23, 33). Women do not have a responsibility to submit themselves to the good of men who do not attempt to make themselves Men of God; and men of God command respect from their women through love and care, and not physical or mental violence.
• A Christian man knows that an ‘excellent’ wife, though hard to find, is more precious than jewels (Proverbs 31:10 see above). An excellent woman is one who is allowed to follow her vocation as she is called to by God, one who is allowed to flourish in her family, in her Church, and in her larger community. A Christian man, therefore, should take care to cultivate his wife into such an ‘excellent’ woman through upholding her dignity.

God wishes for none of His children to suffer at the hands of another of His children. He died for the dignity and salvation of His creation and it is up to us to make sure that we are protecting those among us who are most vulnerable. This includes those in our community who are trapped in abusive relationships, and kept there in the name of being a ‘good Christian’, or a ‘good wife’, or a ‘good girlfriend.’

A good woman knows her worth and she protects it. A good man knows the worth of a woman and he protects that. Abuse is never acceptable. And by the grace of God, one day the world will see that. But it takes someone standing up to it. That someone can be you.

Elizabeth Rose, a twenty-something college student and the author of ‘Till the Last Petal Falls, a modern re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. Available now from Mockingbird Lane Press, 10% of all author royalties will be donated to local battered women shelters.