One row at a time…

“Make The Dwelling itself from ten panels of tapestry woven from fine twisted linen, blue and purple and scarlet material, with an angel-cherubim design. A skilled craftsman should do it.” Exodus 26:1

The instructions God gave Moses to make the Dwelling were overwhelming, and yet by using skilled craftsman, the project was completed.

As a new bride, my husband and I lived in a small apartment in San Diego. Glen would go to the Navy base early five days a week, and out of boredom, often I’d go back to bed and sleep until noon. One day the landlady, who lived next door, said, “You sleep too much. I’m going to teach you to knit.”

Later that day she came over with a pair of knitting needles and some salmon-colored yarn and announced, “We’re going to make baby booties.” I guess she assumed someday I would need them, and I did. First, she taught me to cast on and then make a “knit” row and return to the beginning with a “purl” row. After practicing, she gave me a book of knitting projects, which included patterns for making booties. “This looks WAY to difficult I told my neighbor.” She responded, “You knit or purl one row at a time and eventually you’ll have a pair of booties.”

I’m grateful for learning to knit. Now, instead of making booties, I create prayer shawls to pass on to someone who needs a spiritual boost.

Lord, help us use or hands and minds to create something special to pass on. Amen.

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No Gossip, Please …

“Don’t pass on malicious gossip.” Exodus 23:1

What is classified as gossip? Wikipedia defines it as “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.” The problem is that it is sometimes hard to discern when the conversation is out of caring for someone’s special situation or sharing sensationalism with another person.

I left my home town forty-eight years ago, and since that time, I have resided in several states, large and small communities, and most of my involvement with people has been in the churches I’ve attended. So gossip wasn’t an issue. However, on one occasion, while working for a large church, the staff was asked to pray about a sensitive situation involving a family who were former members. In my poor discerning skills, I made a comment to a person in the church who had been extremely close to the family, and it backfired. She put me in my place when she said, “I would know if this were true.” Unfortunately, she had not yet heard the facts and was devastated to learn it from a gossiper.

Will Rogers once said, “Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” Our internal parrot is the ability to discern the difference between the appropriate sharing of a concern and sharing information you wouldn’t say directly to the person of subject. Gossip can kill a relationship and offends God.

Lord, help us seal our lips before spreading malicious gossip. Amen.

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Slow down, you are going to fast …

Moses’ father-in-law [Jethrow] said, “This is no way to go about it. You’ll burn out, and the people right along with you. This is way too much for you—you can’t do this alone.” Exodus 18:17

When Moses was called to be God’s servant to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, he was like a first-year law student. He knew nothing about law or how to run a country. I’ve heard law students say the first year of law school, the professors scare you to death; the second year, they work you to death; and the third year, they bore you to death.

Moses had a huge task ahead of himself to be the judge of the people. Jethrow, Moses’ wise father-in-law sat him down and told him if he didn’t get in control of his position as a judge, he’d burn out. He advised him to set up groups by the thousands, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten and appoint leaders to care take responsibility for them. Does this sound familiar of our judicial system in the U.S.?

Yesterday, I wrote while sitting on a swing about ten feet from the river bank. At one point, I looked at my screen and found three pages of the letter “n” across each line. I had drifted off to sleep for a moment. The gentle sound of the river gracefully moving downstream and the birds singing in harmony, gave me permission to rest.

Lord, help us rest before we get burned out. Amen.

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Manna again–are you kidding?

“The Israelites ate the manna for forty years until they arrived at the land where they would settle down. They ate manna until they reached the border into Canaan. “Exodus 16:35

For years, my late husband ate a big bowl of Wheaties for breakfast six out of seven mornings each week. I preferred to change up my breakfasts—oatmeal, Cheerios, peanut-butter toast, and eggs over medium with a side of bacon, and if Glen were cooking, some crisp-fried potatoes and toast.

The nurse practitioner at my doctor’s office specializes also in holistic medical treatment. When I asked her about food allergies, she said, “Reaction to a certain food only happens if you eat it more than one time during a four-day period.” It’s all about antigens and how when a food is introduced on Monday, she suggests you do not eat the same item again until Friday.

The Israelites ate manna—a fine flakey substance when ground into a flour substance and baked tasted a bit like a honey-flavored cake–every morning for forty years. The Israelites complained that a steady diet of manna to be boring. God heard their hunger pains and added quail to the menu.

I am not a picky eater—give me something nutritious and tasty and I’m satisfied. However, don’t give me the same meal every day. However, I could probably eat my homemade chicken noodle soup every night and not complain.

Lord, help us share the wealth of food in our pantry with those who are hungry. Amen.

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Memorial Day

“This will be a memorial day for you; you will celebrate it as a festival to God down through the generations, a fixed festival celebration to be observed always.” Exodus 12:14

I invite you to read Chapter 12 of Exodus to learn about another memorial day. In Exodus, we are to remember the first Passover, which God commanded to be celebrated every year. This celebration lasts seven days opposed to the one day our country sets aside to remember those who sacrificed their lives during war and those who served their country.

As a kid, my family would go to the Roland, Iowa, cemetery every Memorial Day and attend the service, which recognized those who served in the military and are now at rest in the cemetery. I remember how every year they read the name “Askel Sampson.” My father was named after his grandfather who served in the Civil War, and it confused me that his name would be recited as one of the people being honored on this day.

I never knew my grandfather Sampson, but I know he was a teen–sixteen or so–when he immigrated to the United States and immediately became a soldier in the Civil War. Obviously, he made it through the war. I am honored to say I came from a long line of men who served their country.

Thank you, Lord, for all who served, and are currently serving our great nation, to make it safer for the rest of us. Amen.

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A plague?

“GOD said to Moses, ‘Now you’ll see what I’ll do to Pharaoh: With a strong hand he’ll send them out free; with a strong hand he’ll drive them out of his land.’” Exodus 6:1″

God used his strong hand to get Pharaoh to release the Israelites from captivity. It took ten separate plagues, the tenth being the death of first-born children and animals, which devastated the country and the people. Finally, hard-hearted Pharaoh said, “Get out of here and be done with you…” Exodus 12:31,32

For years Glen and I planned our retirement location and developed house plans to build on an acre lot near Dixon, Illinois, loaded with oak trees. The community had a small lakegr for fishing, canoeing, and boating, and a golf course could be seen between the tree branches from our familyroom window. We moved in thinking, “This is where we’ll live until we leave foot first.”

The first summer year we battled field mice. They snuck through a crack by the patio door in the basement and made nests in dresser drawers and hid acorns in the frame of a couch. The second year moles drilled tunnels under our newly laid sod in the front yard, making it look like a maze. The third year we had millions of millipedes—nasty bugs that roll up once they enter the house, die, and stink. The fourth year we moved. I often wondered if God had sent these plagues.

Thank you, Lord, for opening our eyes to what we really need in life. Amen.

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Trusting in your decision …

“Moses raised another objection to GOD: ‘Master, please, I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words, neither before nor after you spoke to me. I stutter and stammer.’… He said, ‘Oh, Master, please! Send somebody else!’” Exodus 4:10,13

Moses tried everything he could to do what God asked of him… “Who, me? …Why me? …Send somebody else!” That’s how I felt when I received a call at the Grand Canyon Synod Office from a representative of church women’s group when she asked me to be the presenter at their annual retreat. “Why me?” I’ve never done a women’s retreat before. Let me find you someone with experience,” but she insisted, “We want you to do it.”

God didn’t appreciate Moses’ excuse that he didn’t talk well. But God heard him and said he’d enlist Moses’ brother, Aaron, who was known to speak well, to do the talking. God would give Moses the message and tell his brother what to say.

After agreeing to do the retreat, I enlisted a pastor’s wife, who had done several retreats, to help me. Together, we pulled off a spirit-filled event for the women. Aaron teamed up with Moses, and they pulled off the great escape for the Israelites who were seriously mistreated.

I had a chance to say “No, I can’t do the retreat,” but God wouldn’t accept “no” as an answer from Moses. Like Moses, I learned to trust God when a challenge seems overwhelming.

Help us, God, to move out of our comfort zone when called to serve. Amen.

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Take off your sandals!

“God said, ‘Don’t come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You’re standing on holy ground.’” Exodus 3:5

Moses came across a burning bush and heard a voice. God became visible to Moses through an angel of the Lord in the form of the burning bush. Throughout the Bible, fire represents “purifying and refining,“ as in the quality of God’s infinite holiness. God commanded Moses to remove his sandals. Barefoot, one cannot walk on rocky or sun-heated ground, which kept Moses from getting any closer to the bush—a natural gap between God and Moses.

Years ago, I witnessed a burning bush. We had driven into our driveway, and a passenger in our car opened the backdoor, lit a small firecracker and tossed it toward the neighbor’s house. Within seconds the whole bush at the corner of the house went up in flames. We scrambled to get a hose and put the fire out as quickly as it had gone up in flames. Fortunately, only the dead needles in the bush burned, and the owners never knew of the burning bush escapade.

I know the only way I can see God face-to-face is to become obedient and faithful to God while still on Earth. Fortunately, God sent his son to show the way to heaven is through Jesus and the power of forgiveness. Sometimes, it’s necessary to put on a pair of sandals for the rocky roads in our life.

Lord, help us hear your call however it appears. Amen.

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Five Wishes …

“Then he [Jacob] instructed them [his sons]: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,… Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried there; Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried there; I also buried Leah there.” Genesis 49:29,31

Do you have your “about to be gathered to my people” plan? A couple of years ago, Glen and I completed the documents for  “Aging with Dignity – Five Wishes.” The booklet walked us through the paperwork needed to prepare for the end of our  life cycles on Earth. [One can do it on-line if preferred at https://www.agingwithdignity.org.]

Neither of us had a sense of urgency to sign these documents, but like Jacob, we wanted our choices to be known for burial. The documents established Power of Attorney for Health Care, a Living Will, and suggestions for a celebration of life service. I referred to these documents a year ago last April when Glen died, which made it easier to fulfill his wishes.

Jacob had specific instructions as to where he wanted to be buried. I’ve joked for years, “I’ve never found a cemetery I want to spend the rest of my life in, so I’ll be cremated.” The decision regarding burial vs. cremation needs to be established long before passing away. After all, you only get one chance to get it right.

Dear God, let us enter your Kingdom in peace. Amen.

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Brotherly love …

“I am Joseph your brother whom you sold into Egypt. But don’t feel badly, don’t blame yourselves for selling me…. God sent me on ahead to pave the way and make sure there was a remnant in the land, to save your lives in an amazing act of deliverance. So you see, it was you who sent me here, it was God.” Genesis 45:4,5,8

Joseph—what a guy. His brothers sold him into slavery and years later, during the great famine, they went to Egypt to seek food and encountered Joseph, and he forgave them.

I have three brothers who have treated me fairly all my life. We didn’t argue. We never were estranged. When I asked my mother, “Did we fight as kids?” She said, “No.” I believe we cooperated with one another out of respect for each other and for our parents. There was no jealousy. We all had jobs, did our share of work around the farm or house, and enjoyed spending time together.

When I hear of siblings that can’t be left alone at home for even an evening because they will fight, it makes me sad. Joseph’s brothers hated him because it was obvious their father loved him the most of his twelve sons. Many of them plotted to kill Joseph, but decided to sell him instead. You can imagine the fear that went up and down their spines when they realized the man saving them from starvation was their abandoned brother.

Thank you, God, for my brothers—all good servants of the Lord. Amen.

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