If Time Stopped


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It’s almost 2018.  If time were to stop right now, we’d never make it to tomorrow or Monday, when the calendar page will flip to the new year.

It’s snowing in my corner of PA, a pretty, quiet snow with very little wind. Would the snow just—stop?  Stop in mid-air, never to complete its journey to the ground?

Would I be stilled, sitting in my comfy chair with my laptop on my  lap table, my fingers frozen on the keys?  Would my novel never make it to the computer? Would my eyes be  stopped  as I type?  Right now, I’m gazing out the  picture window  as the snow collects on the car, the driveway, the branches of our dogwood trees.  If time were to stop, is that where my brain would stop, too?

Would my thoughts be stopped where they are right now?  Would I have memory, or wonder about the future–if there IS a future when time stops?



And how does time stop, anyway? Time is not a tangible thing. We can’t see it or touch it, yet we measure it with calendars, clocks, and computers. We are creatures of day/night, dark/light, seasons, days, years.  We think in terms of today, yesterday, tomorrow, an hour from now or two hours ago.

I always take a vacation the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This year, it feels as if the days have just slipped away without my  knowledge.  Of course, I’ve been sick with  my annual winter cold, so time has seemed to stop because I’ve been sleeping more, drifting in a land beyond time, half awake, half asleep during the daylight hours.

Tuesday is going to come as a shock.  I’ll be back to work,  with nine scheduled clients. Nine hours of seeing people who want help with their different problems. The day will be measured in 60-minute blocks, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. when I say goodnight to my last client and  aim my car in the direction of home.  Bed always beckons sweetly on Tuesday nights.

Almost done here.  It’s become a bit of a ramble, so I should quit before I say something silly 🙂

Maybe it’s already too late!




A Good Word


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I am blessed, in this cold snap the whole nation seems to be feeling, to be warm, cozy, and safe in my living room.  Wrapped in a comfortable robe and an afghan, I’m enjoying the last few days of Christmas music I allow myself while I catch up on my computer work.  I have five more days to enjoy before going back to work next Tuesday,  and while I’ve accomplished several tasks, I’m not pushing too hard.

I think about this, though:  We are not wealthy. We don’t have several million dollars set aside for our retirement.  I suspect I’ll be working as long as my body and mind hold out.  And yet, compared to so many areas around the world, we ARE wealthy. The refrigerator and pantry are well-stocked–and cleaned out and organized while our son Dan is with us for a few more weeks 🙂

We have plenty of clothing. We have warm coats, boots, gloves, scarves, hats. We have fuel for the little oil-burning stove in our living room that warms the house.  We have comfortable, attractive furniture; I’m listening to beautiful music on my Bose.

Absolutely nothing to complain about there.  I am thankful for God’s provision for us.



And I wonder about how the homeless are faring  this week. I know there are shelters, but I also know that some homeless people resist going into anyplace where they feel they may lose their freedom. I know there are soup kitchens and pantries for the needy Our church participates in such a program. But there are those who are unable or unwilling to use such opportunities.

It’s a hard life out there during the cold weather if you don’t have anywhere to go, nothing to eat, no shelter from the cold.

If you can’t physically help, then donate to places that can, like the Salvation Army. Your money will be used for its intended purpose. Be thankful, and be generous.


I Admit It!


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Oh, come on!  Really?  You want us to confess at this time of year that we’ve enjoyed too much good holiday food, too much candy, too many cookies, too much—well, just too much!

All right.  I confess.  And I still have to get through New Year’s weekend.  Good grief. Way to pile on the guilt!


The Thing


photo prompt@Ted Strutz

“We must send a picture of this immediately!” stated Zing. “This is important. Our scientists must analyze it.”

Zang paced with care around it, gingerly touching now and then and watching the wheels spin to nowhere. “I don’t think it does anything,”  he said.

“Oh, it must!  See how the smaller discs sparkle  and pulse. It’s probably recording us!  We should hide!” Zing was terrified.

Zang shrugged. “But it can’t GO anywhere! If it is transmitting our voices or images, whoever receives it  will see only Earth children looking at an odd structure. I don’t think it’s harmful.”

Zing trembled.


A Little History


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This is a word that, while inoffensive in meaning, has negative connotations for me.  I’m 70, so I was in my  late teens and 20s when the hippie movement was gaining momentum, along with the drug culture, and “make love not war” slogans were all over the news. Sonny and Cher were a big deal.  So were bell-bottom hip-huggers with belts a mile wide; long, straight hair parted down the middle; flower children who changed their names to things like Moonshine Starglow; and the rise of communal living was a big deal. 7531783a436c507f33c805d80e7f1cc8

I know, right?  Can’t imagine any of my sons wanting to wear this stuff.

Anyway, the communal living is the real focus here. I don’t know if there are still any hippie communes in existence.  Most of them failed because of the lack of commitment on the part of the members. When things got tough, they tended to disappear.

This history of communal living isn’t terribly promising.  I could go a long way back, but I think I’ll just go to colonial America.  The first effort at a communal style of farming and surviving was at Plymouth Bay. The idea was that everyone was supposed to work in designated fields, and take their crops to the communal storehouse. They could also hunt, and it was expected that the results of those excursions, along with fishing, was to be shared among the entire community.

The problem was that those of the nobility who had come to America for adventure and, they hoped, prosperity, refused to lift a finger. They were above all that. They took more than their share from the storehouse, but refused to contribute anything at all. Used to being waited on and obeyed instantly, they just weren’t cut out for the difficulties of colonial living.

It was the first failed commune in America.

There were others. The Shaker community did thrive for a time, but since they didn’t believe in marriage/procreation, their communities weren’t viable for more than a generation or two. Their work ethic, though, was better than that of Plymouth Colony had been. We still use their style of furniture-making because of its simple beauty and sensible construction.

So why didn’t these communal efforts work?  Why hasn’t Communism/Socialism been a resounding success?  It’s simple, really, but we don’t like to acknowledge the reason.  The bottom line is that typically, as per Cuba and Venezuela for example, that it is those in power who thrive under these totalitarian systems, living off the backs of the people they claim to represent. Eventually, as Margaret Thatcher so succinctly put it, you run out of other people’s money. And when that happens, everything collapses.

Unless the leaders/rulers of a commune are models of virtue, integrity, and high moral standards, the commune/country is doomed to failure because corruption starts at the top and sifts down to the ordinary people–like you and me. Big Brother becomes a living threat, and everyone lives in fear.

I’ve lived long enough to see the failure of Communism in Russia.  I’m watching the rise of capitalism and free enterprise in China, after many years of strict control.  I’ve seen the adage of Marxist thinking, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” fail dismally because the people in charge of redistribution of the wealth tend to take a huge  amount off the top before distributing the rest to “the people.”  In a communal society, you can work your fingers to the bone and not benefit from it yourself. You didn’t build that, you didn’t make that–it belongs to everyone, was made by everyone–which, by the way, is a euphemistic way of saying it belongs to Big Brother. You are nothing more than a serf in the old feudal system of the Dark Ages, where the serfs were allowed to keep just barely enough for their own survival so they could continue to produce what the kings deemed their God-given right.

So no, I’m not a fan of communal living.  Community?  Yes, sure.  But not Communism, two very different things.


A Truce


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In a world torn apart by anger, hatred,  deceit, bribery, accusation and counter-accusation, there seems very little hope that man’s dream of peace on earth will ever come to pass. The dream of a one-world government, administered by a worldwide organization of wise and benevolent laws and law enforcement, has been written about; dreamed about. Some men, having risen to power in their own countries, have taken on the task of imposing their own conception of world peace. They have all come to ruin,  from the ancient Caesars to more modern Hitlers.

History is after all, the record of man’s inhumanity toward his fellow-man.  Warfare and the seeking of power is nothing new. The determination to silence all dissent, by death if necessary, is nothing new.  As long as evil lurks in this fallen world, in the hearts of mankind, there will be war.

So exactly what are we singing when we sing “Joy to the world, the Lord is come; let earth receive her King”?

On my other blog, I’m just ready to start chapter 33, which is halfway through the book of Isaiah. It’s a long book, and it takes some study to understand exactly what is going on.

Simply stated, that song that we think of as a Christmas carol is in reality about the time when Jesus Christ will return to earth and establish His thousand-year rule of the whole world from the exact geographical center of the earth, Israel.  Because Antichrist will have been defeated and Satan will be bound for 1000 years, there will be peace on earth. Complete, world-wide peace. Jesus, Messiah, will deal quickly and definitely with those in whose hearts there is still a spirit of rebellion.

So, is it wrong to sing this Millennial praise to celebrate the first coming of Jesus as a baby in a stable in Bethlehem?  No, I don’t think so.  There couldn’t be a Second coming, after all, unless there had been a first coming.

We’ll be observing the birth of Jesus Christ in just a few days.  There is a wonderful true story about the cease-fire that was called in WWI so that Christmas could be observed in the trenches, and how the soldiers from both sides tentatively and then joyfully emerged from those trenches to observe a day of peace together.

It’s always Jesus Christ Who brings true peace, whether to a war-torn world or a torn and wounded heart.


The Greatest Miracle


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Beyond the laws of nature. The unusual, the unexpected, the abnormal.

True miracles do still happen. Every now and then, a client will tell me about some unexpected, serendipitous event.  For example, a divorced mother of three gets an unexpected package left at her door that is full of Christmas gifts.  Or she receives a check in the mail from a person she really doesn’t know, but who felt lead to send her the money.  These are miracles, though, only if the person on the receiving end hasn’t broadcast far and wide what the present need is 🙂

Sometimes we tend to look at every-day things without the realization that they are, in fact, miracles.  Think of the toast you enjoyed for breakfast this morning. It started with the miracle of tiny seeds bursting into shoot of green; the earth nourishing the seed; the rain giving it life; the harvesting, processing, and transporting of the wheat until it arrived in your kitchen as a loaf of bread.  Or, in my kitchen, as a package of flour that I will  make into bread.

Yes, all that is a miracle.

I’ve had cause to be thankful for the miracle of relief from pain—without drugs!  The two  surgeries I had this past year have relieved about 90% of my lower back pain. I know there will be more pain as my conditions progress, but for now, I can’t even begin to say how thankful I am for the miracle of modern technology and surgery, and the skill of the doctor who took care of me.

Then there is the miracle of love.  Terry and I don’t always like each other (that only lasts for moments, not days or weeks!)  but even when we’re at odds, we always love each other. Unconditional, committed, lifelong love and mutual respect is a miracle these days.  To have had nearly fifty years of the love and commitment of a good and godly man?  That’s a miracle, and I am thankful.

I think that because of the work I do, in which every person I see in my office is broken in some way, I am keenly aware of the blessings of a so-called normal life, whatever that means.

Of course, at this season of the year we celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ, and all that His birth entails. The only holiday that is just as meaningful to believers is Resurrection Sunday, also known as Easter.  Why?  Because without the resurrection, Jesus would have been just another dead Jewish guy, crucified by the authority of Rome.  The greatest miracle is that He rose victorious over sin and death, so that we can have eternal life in heaven with Him.

I serve a risen Savior!



So Many Ways


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Another multi-faceted word.  I love words 🙂

Used to be, if a young man was calling on a young lady, they were the next thing to engaged.

And then Mr. Bell invented his telephone, and it was the new age of calling one another over the wires.  I’m old enough to remember party lines. We had one in Minneapolis in the early 1950’s.  Three or more people had phones all connected to the same number, and you just had to wait your turn if Mrs. Snerdly and Mrs. McGillicutty got to gossiping on the party line.  Of course, if you were very careful you could listen in and pick up some juicy tidbits.

Jack London wrote The Call of the Wild, and suddenly some men felt an urgent calling to journey to parts of the frozen North.  No, thanks.  My Terry would have loved to go roughing it in the wilds of Alaska, but he married the wrong girl for that.

Some people feel a calling to a life of religious service. For some, that means isolation from the world. For others, like me, it means finding a way to combine your work or career with ministry.  That’s a calling, too.

Recently, I’ve heard geese overhead calling to each other as they journey southward.

“Hooooonk!!  Agnes, we were supposed to take a left there!  Move over so I can lead!  Tsk! Can’t trust a woman for directions.”

“Homer, if you don’t quit being so bossy, I’m going to pluck your tail feathers till your backside freezes and you can’t fly at all!  Pompous old windbag.” (Please  forgive me for stealing that line from the Jungle Book. If you’ve seen the Disney movie, you’ll remember the elephants.)

Right now, my job is calling me.  Last day of work until Jan. 2, 2018.  I’m already feeling more relaxed:)


Be Careful!

PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg

The stacks of warm hats looked like  children  facing the window, aching to get outdoors and play until their little noses froze and they had to come back inside for hot chocolate with marshmallows.

However, they were more sinister by far than they appeared.  Innocent shoppers had no clue that what they were seeing had been devised by a government think tank. The yarns were embedded with brain scanners that recorded every thought and sent it back to the Big Brother Computer deep in the bowels of the earth.

Make your own hats, people.  It’s safer.

Can’t Always Relate


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So I’ve been enjoying my home school co-op class.  Last semester we studied Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Predictably, some liked it; some loved it; some hated it.

They all, however, had a hard time relating to what was normal in the 1500’s.  The language, the attitudes of overt racism, the  idea that a father could dictate the terms of his daughter’s marriage in his will; most of all, that it was perfectly legal for one person to demand a pound of flesh from another if a loan went unpaid.


Related image

It was fascinating to me that they all thought Shylock, the villain of the piece, was the most interesting and, in some ways, the most sympathetic character. He was a Jew, a money lender who charged outrageous amounts of interest and who took advantage of his customers at every opportunity.

His being a Jew had no negative meaning for us, but in his day, it was both dangerous and problematic.  My class had a hard time with the way he was treated, and that part of his penalty for losing the court case was that he was forced to become a Christian.

I related the story to them in plain English when they struggled with the Elizabethan verbiage, and that helped. Still, the main themes were just difficult for these 21st century kids to grasp.

Except for mercy.  That, they understood. While some disliked Portia for her overt racism, they admired her obvious intelligence and gutsy behavior in rescuing Antonio, who was the merchant of Venice.

They liked her famous “The quality of mercy is not strained … ” speech, but found it hypocritical that she begged mercy for Antonio but showed none for the Jew.

Do you see why I enjoy this group so much?  They had a smart, sometimes heated, discussion on our last day of class.  They watched to see if I was going to come down on either side, but I didn’t.  I moderated when it got a bit out of hand, but that’s all.  I just enjoyed listening to them debate the story, the characters, the attitudes of a time many centuries removed from their own.

In January, we’re taking on Great Expectations by the great Charles Dickens.  At least the language of that one isn’t Elizabethan 🙂