The Wedding of ’46

My parents were married on February 23, 1946. World War II had just ended and my dad was desperately trying to get released so he could take the next train home and marry his girl. My mother was working in Madison, Wisconsin, waiting for her sailor to come ashore.

This is from one of my dad’s letters to his parents, dated Feb. 8, 1946.

“I’ll be home Thursday, Feb. 14th for a 31 day leave in Wisconsin!! Thirty one days in Wisconsin — it will be perfectly grand. If it is possible, I think Elinor and I will want to be married — that is, if it can be worked out okay. Thirty one days is plenty of time — a week or so to get ready for the wedding, then a honeymoon and a week or so at each home. I tell you truthfully that Elinor and I want very much to be married. Thirty one days is a long time — we are very much in love.”

I guess Grandpa and Grandma agreed, because the wedding took place 15 days later.

Here’s to love!

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Here I Am!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

I love this question for several reasons.

  • God knows the grammatically correct way to use “whom” and “who”.
  • The Lord combines two questions here — “Whom shall I send?” and “Who will go?” Because sometimes we’re sent, but we don’t go. In other words, He’s looking for someone who will say, “Sure, I’ll go” and then actually goes.
  • God is speaking for a group, namely the Trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit were alive and well in the Old Testament. They communicated with each other and decided to put out the call for volunteers.

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I love this response for several reasons.

  • Isaiah just experienced a threshold-trembling, foundation-rattling, smoke-filled vision, complete with six-winged creatures flying around God Almighty’s throne. I’m impressed that Isaiah was able to speak at all.
  • Isaiah didn’t give a list of reasons why he wasn’t qualified. He didn’t ask for details about the job before signing up. God just said, “I need somebody” and Isaiah said, “I’m your man” even though he was the only man in the room.
  • The exclamation point! Isaiah is like the kid in the back row of the 3rd grade classroom who desperately wants to be the first one to give the answer to the teacher. He shoots his hand up in the air and almost falls out of his seat, saying “Ooo, oo, oo, me!  Send me!!!  Pick me!!!”  God must have loved that.

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I love Isaiah for several reasons.

  • Being a prophet was a hard calling. They were persecuted, misunderstood, mistreated and often killed. The hard truth they spoke was not usually well received.
  • They were asked to do some pretty weird things to make a point. Hosea had to marry a prostitute and keep taking her back every time she was unfaithful to show how God felt about Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him. Isaiah had to walk around naked for three years to be a visual example of how Israel was going to be stripped down to nothing by their enemies. (It’s right there in Isaiah 20:3.)
  • God told Isaiah up front that he was going to fail. His assignment was to preach to people who wouldn’t respond. In fact, his preaching would only serve to harden the hearts of the people, making God’s righteous judgment sure.

I’m not sure I’d sign up for that. I’m afraid I would have been the one in the back row, hiding behind the kid in front of me, being careful not to make eye contact, whispering, “Please don’t pick me, please don’t pick me.”

Just Shine

“Now, no one lights a lamp and then covers it with a container to hide it, or puts it under a bed; instead he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light.” Luke 8:16

“In the same way, let your light shine.” Matthew 5:16

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“We are told to let our light shine,

and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does.

Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining –

they just shine.”

Dwight L. Moody

You don’t have to have all the answers — just shine.

You don’t need to make a lot of noise — just shine.

You don’t need to be perfect –just shine.

“You are the light of the world.” Matt. 5:14

“The light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

January Lit List

I remember my mother saying that February wasn’t good for anything except reading a book. I’ve adopted that same philosophy, but expanded it to include January and March. Gloomy winter days and cold dark nights are especially conducive to knocking titles off my To Be Read list and moving them to my Books Read notebook.

I’ve been listing books since 2004. There are enough pages in my notebook to keep recording titles until 2059. I’ll be 100 years old. I like to plan ahead.

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2017 has gotten off to a brisk start. Here’s what has been on the bookshelf in January:

  • The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gains — their love story and their rise to fame. They have somehow stayed humble and appreciative. Inspiring.
  • Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry — the first of Berry’s “Port Williams” series of stories. Wendell didn’t know it would turn into a series when he wrote this. I’m glad he kept going.
  • Watch For the Light: Readings for Advent — this compilation of readings continued into January. It was nice to extend Christmas through Epiphany.
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte — somehow I made it through sixteen years of education without reading this book. I listened to the free audio version by LibriVox, complete with Elizabeth Klett’s English accent.
  • The Art of Slow Writing by Louise De Salvo — I’m a slow writer. Now I know it’s an art.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows — purely for fun. So delightful. I wanna go to Guernsey.
  • Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry — my heart just swelled typing this title. Oh Wendell. I wish you could come over for dinner and talk about Troy and Mattie and Burley. And, of course, Jayber.

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Happy winter reading!

How Many Tears?

When I was little, I heard tales about my older cousins that I’m not sure are verifiable, but they made memorable stories. As I am the youngest in that generation, there’s a possibility that by the time the recounting got to me, there was a bit of embellishment.

One such story was that when my cousin cried and refused to be consoled, my aunt would place a potted plant before her and say, “If you’re not going to stop crying you might as well put those tears to good use and water the plants.” My aunt didn’t believe in wasting tears.

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I cry at weddings.

I cry when saying goodbye to loved ones.

I cry during Hallmark commercials.

I rarely cry over my sins.

Rarely, meaning, I can’t remember the last time I wet my cheek with penitent tears.

“….and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.” Luke 7:38

How many tears did it take to wash His feet?

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Little confession of little sin results in little love.

“He who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47

Who weeps over their own sin anymore?

Is it any wonder that love falters in our world?

Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way.

Search me and try me, Savior today.

Wash me just now, Lord, wash me just now,

As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

10 Things I Learned in January

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1. Sitting in the back pew changes everything. On the first day of 2017, I didn’t have any responsibilities in the worship service, so I sat in the third row from the back instead of my usual third row from the front. I could barely see PB from back there. He couldn’t find me in the crowd. I think it knocked the whole congregation off-kilter.

2. I was the lucky recipient of a month’s worth of free bagels from Panera. One free bagel every day in January! Except Panera is 9.2 miles away and it costs $1.64 in gas to drive there and if I bring PB along, I end up spending another $5. I begged them to give me 31 bagels and be done with it, but that’s not what the marketers had in mind. Plus, 31 cinnamon crunch bagels with honey walnut cream cheese = 15,810 calories. I settled for five free bagels. (You do the math.)

3. Quote of the month: “A good journey begins with knowing where you are and being willing to go somewhere else.” (Richard Rohr) 

4. Going to the movies on a Tuesday is a cheap date in Madison. We went to see La La Land and happened upon “$5 Tuesdays” and free popcorn for signing up to be a member (at no cost). It made me want to tap dance down the theater aisle.

5. This year’s Bible Reading Plan is forcing me to slow way down and squeeze out every morsel. Two verses a day makes for a fun treasure hunt.

6. It’s not a good idea to watch two TV series at the same time. Especially when the same actor is in both shows. Rufus Sewell is messing with me. He’s a good guy in one show and a bad guy in the other. I keep getting his roles mixed up and I’m confused as to why a cruel Nazi commander is in 1830’s England and why a kind, Victorian gentleman shows up in 1962 post war America. Like I said, it’s confusing.

7. Once upon a time, my son was the lead screamer in a screaming rock band. Today, he can sing every song from every Disney princess movie, acting out scenes with his very own 3 year old princess. Flynn Rider has nothin’ on a real live Prince Daddy.

8. Sometimes The Message version nails it. John the Baptist’s statement, “He must become greater, I must become less” is powerful. But Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase paints a picture: “This is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.” I’ve noticed lately that there’s lots of room on the sidelines.

9. Wintry weather has wreaked havoc on Wednesday nights. We’ve had to cancel church events twice this month. However, PB had a funeral on the day of a snowstorm. And babies were born regardless of the weather. So I guess it’s safe to say that birth and death aren’t called off for inclement weather.

10. Way back when we had four little faces sitting around our homeschooling table, we started the day off with prayer. We prayed for our family, friends, and leaders. We prayed for our state and federal representatives, our governor and our president. We prayed for Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Then there were no more little faces around the table. But I continued to pray for George W. Bush and Barack Obama. I didn’t vote for all of these presidents, but I prayed for each one. I’m not gonna stop now. In fact, I may even pick it up a bit. May God shed His grace on us.

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Through the Roof

This is my church.

I love this place.

I love it when it is full of people.

I love it when I’m there all alone.

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I think everyone should sit in an empty sanctuary once in a while.

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This is the view from my pew. Third row from the front, right side.

There was a bit of a mishap a couple of weeks ago when the Christmas decorations were being taken down and put away.

Do you see it?

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Let me zoom in a little more for you.

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Steve, who obviously is not afraid of heights, was up on top of the canopy pulling the garland and big wreath over the ledge to store until next Christmas, when his foot went through the roof. I’m happy to report that Steve is okay.

That perforation in the plaster has become very dear to me this week. I have been reading about the four men who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus on a stretcher (Luke 5:17-26). They couldn’t get through the front door because of the crowd, so they hauled their friend up onto the roof, dug a hole through the tiles and lowered the stretcher right in front of Jesus.

This raises several questions:

  • What did Jesus think when His teaching was interrupted with debris falling from the ceiling?
  • Who swept up the dust and fixed the gaping hole?
  • How did the owner of the house feel about the new skylight?

Some better questions:

  • As one of the four friends, would I have had the persistence to climb up on somebody’s roof and bust out a hole?  Or would I have said, “Sorry, buddy, it’s too crowded. We’ll have to come back another time”?
  • As the paralytic on the stretcher, would I have put myself in the hands of four of my friends and let them carry out this cockamamie scheme?
  • As the owner of the house, would I have been so upset about the hole in my roof that I would have missed the miracle?

Some even better questions:

  • Do I know anyone paralyzed by fear or sorrow or guilt who needs to be carried to The Healer?
  • Do I have enough faith to go to unusual lengths (or heights) for the sake of a lost friend?
  • Would I break through a wall to get somebody to Jesus?

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I hope the trustees don’t fix that hole anytime soon.

From the third pew on the right, it is a beautiful reminder that sometimes,

faith goes through the roof.