Signs of Spring – Really!

gh-sleeeping

The first signs of Spring are found in the month of February. Surprise!!! February 2nd is Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil [famous groundhog from Punxsutawney, PA] is rudely aroused from his sleep and forcibly dragged out of his den and flung around in circles, in order to see if he can see his shadow. If Phil does not see his shadow, the last half of Winter will be shorter than six weeks. If Phil does see his shadow there will be six or more weeks of Winter. [With all the bright lights and flashing cameras, I can’t see how Phil could ever miss seeing his shadow.] No matter how many weeks of Winter are left, at least we can anticipate that Spring is just around the corner. [The cute little groundhog pictured above is not the famous Punxsutawney Phil, but groundhog “Anonymous.” This groundhog will awaken from its hibernation whenever it wants, without any fanfare or frivolity or blinding lights. I have a feeling this groundhog prefers it this way.] Groundhog Day does not use any scientific method. It’s just a good opportunity for the anticipation of the coming Spring.

super-bowl-parade

While Pennsylvania has Punxsutawney Phil, true NEW ENGLAND SPORTS FANS have the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS! On February 5th we had the awesome privilege of watching Super Bowl LI, the most exciting Super Bowl ever played in its history! Personally, I was in the “SHOCK ‘N AWE! The PATS made the most incomprehensible comeback in Super Bowl history by destroying a 25 point deficit. They were behind until the last four minutes of the game, when tied the game and and went to overtime; another Super Bowl first. The NE PATRIOTS WON SUPER BOWL LI, over the Atlanta Falcons, with the score of 34 to 28, making Tom Brady the winningest QB in SB history and Bill Belichick tied with Vince Lombardi, both having won FIVE SUPER BOWLS. When SB LI was over, I just couldn’t believe what I just witnessed on live TV. I had to watch NFL NETWORK’S replay of the game [which I DVR-ed] 3 times before it began to sink in. The Duck Boat Parade, held in Boston, on February 7th finally convinced me that it was true; I wasn’t dreaming. The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS WERE SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS FOR THE FIFTH TIME IN THIS SHORT CENTURY!!! If football had to end, this was the best ending of the football season ever! It’s time to look ahead toward Spring. The game also taught me a lesson: NEVER EVER GIVE UP! 

truck-day

The day after the Duck Boat Parade, February 8th, TRUCK DAY was celebrated by RED SOX NATION. On TRUCK DAY the RED SOX equipment truck is packed up and begins its long journey to the Spring Training Facility [Jet Blue Park], in Fort Meyers, Florida. The truck arrives at its destination three or four days later. Pitchers and catchers arrive on February 13th, position players arrive on February 17th and the first Spring Training game is on the February 25th. Spring Training Baseball will be played almost every day from February 25th through the month of March. OPENING DAY [April 3rd] will be here before we know it! Truck Day is the time when the FENWAY FAITHFUL start their count down to Spring. You might say, “Truck Day gets the BALL ROLLING!”

jet-blue-park

Now, I know there other important dates in February – Lincoln’s Birthday on Feb. 12th and Washington’s Birthday on Feb. 22nd [Both birthdays are celebrated on Feb. 20th.] and there is also Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14th. These are all notable dates to acknowledge and celebrate. However, they do not help me to think of Spring as does the end of football and the start of Baseball’s Spring Training. This is how I look at life. What helps you think Spring?

There is something else I am waiting for.

I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid before me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” [II Timothy 4:7-8].  

“PLAY BALL!”

Lydia

A Very Important Date in February

a camel

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 is a very important date. Wednesday has become known as “Hump Day” in the 21st Century, because it is in the middle of the week. “Hump Day” means that half of the work week is over and only the other half of the work week is left. This is an example of “seeing the glass half full” kind of thinking. However, this Wednesday is more than the middle of the week. In fact, this Wednesday marks two special “Holidays” and this may only happen once in our lifetime. This Wednesday, people all over New England and the world celebrate Truck Day and Ash Wednesday! Before you think I am being sacrilegious, please let me explain.

truck day 1

Truck Day marks the start of a new beginning, when Red Sox fans forget about last year and anticipate spring and a brand new baseball season. When fans see the huge truck pulling up to Fenway Park and boxes and boxes of baseball equipment being loaded up into it, they know that baseball is not far away. But, before real baseball games can be played, the equipment truck and RED SOX players head to Fort Myers, Florida for Spring Training. [Pitchers and catchers report to camp on February 18th and on February 24th is when position players arrive and the first full squad workout is scheduled.] Some players are already at Spring Training.]

truck day 2

The equipment truck leaving Fenway is a reminder to all and to the players especially, that they need to refocus on Baseball. They need to get into baseball shape by being disciplined in eating healthy foods and performing exercise drills and baseball drills. Pitchers and catchers work on getting to know each other, in order to be in sync when they play for real, as do the position players and coaches. All players need to practice their positions on the field. They need to practice hitting, catching, running bases, stealing bases, bunting and sacrificing, as though everything is new to them, in order to get rid of the winter rust. Spring Training games start on February 29th to further work on baseball skill and regain muscle memory. All this hard work is in anticipation of OPENING DAY [April 4th, in Cleveland] when they here those magic words, “PLAY BALL!” The RED SOX players are also motivated to work hard by looking forward to achieving the end goal: winning the World Series in the post season. After playing 162 games, players want to play more games to win the ultimate prize in baseball.

WS BANNER ONE

WS AT CHURCH

As an avid Baseball [Red Sox] fan since 1967, I have the habit of equating the game of baseball to my spiritual life, as well as my life in general. I see many parallels between Ash Wednesday and Truck Day. The parallels do not make each event equally important. However, Truck Day does explain the importance of Ash Wednesday to me. As I wrote in a previous blog post, “Life is Baseball is Life!”

ASH WEDNESDAYAsh Wednesday is the beginning of the Season of Lent, which lasts for forty days, not counting Sundays. The meaning of Ash Wednesday is a reminder to Christians of their need for Jesus’ saving grace. “Ashes to ashes” means “We come from dust; we return to dust” without the power of God to save us. The term “Ashes to ashes” comes from the 1661 version Book of Common Prayer and used is used even now for funeral services. The origin of the term comes from Genesis 3:19: “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and dust you shall return.” Realizing that we are only ashes and dust is only half of the story of Ash Wednesday. The other half is realizing “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers we are dust” [Psalm 103:13]. Ash Wednesday helps to refocus on who we are, who God is and how much Jesus has done for us.

“For our sakes [God the Father] made [God the Son, Jesus] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in [Jesus Christ] we might become the righteousness of God” [II Corinthians 5:21].

lent

During the Forty Days of Lent, Christians take time to reflect on Jesus’ time on earth, His death on the cross, His Resurrection and His Second Coming. One of the first things He did was spend time, before starting His ministry, in the desert fasting and praying and He was tempted by the devil [Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13] for forty days. In the Gospel accounts, believers find Jesus using Scripture to fight off temptation. Jesus does not succumb to wanting to satisfy Himself with food or riches or greatness or the temptation to go ahead of God and question His authority . Jesus was able to do what no one else could never do and that’s why Christians have hope: “For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted [Hebrews 2:18].

lent 2

During Ash Wednesday and throughout the Forty Days of Lent, Christians everywhere practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting, seeking forgiveness and forgiving, spending time in solitude and Bible reading, giving of their time and money to serve others. Christians do these things, not to gain salvation, but to realize what a great salvation they have already been given through Christ the Lord. As they renew their “spiritual memory” by refocusing on these disciplines, believers grow into a closer relationship with God and joyfully anticipate celebrating Jesus’ Resurrection and look forward to His glorious Second Coming, when they will receive their PRIZE. Let Christians everywhere be encouraged on Ash Wednesday to find peace, bear fruit in their lives, be thankful and to “…press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” [Philippians 3:14].

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with every good thing that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” [Hebrews 13:20-21].

Have a Blessed Ash Wednesday!
And
GO SOX!

‘Nuf sed” for now.

Lydia photo

Lydia

A Testimony of God’s Grace (Part II): Check One Off the “Bucket List”

a lesson on waiting

It has been approximately 900 *DAYS since my last Electroconvulsive Therapy [ECT] treatment. Looking back, God was the One who decided when I should stop. It was a day in early December [2012] and my nephew Luke took me to the hospital for a 10 a.m. appointment. Normally, the nurses would get me ready and all hooked up and I would be in the surgery room by 11 a.m. Getting my ECT treatment done as soon as possible was a good thing because I had to fast from food and had only a few sips of water to take medications on my ECT mornings. However, this morning I had to wait much longer and was getting more and more anxious by the minute. When they finally wheeled me into the surgery room for the ECT treatment, my blood pressure was dangerously high and the treatment could not be performed. I waited in the recovery area, ate some chocolate pudding and waited for my blood pressure to go down and went home without getting treated. This was a good lesson for me because I learned that waiting really stresses me out. Since I do have to do a lot of waiting for people to do things for me, being stressed out about waiting is not a good thing. Now, when I’m waiting, I ask the Lord to help me to wait and practice my breathing, taking deep breaths, while I pray for His peace and for the person I’m waiting for.

Wing Memorial

I also realized then and there that I didn’t need ECT anymore. Soon after, I learned that Doctor Mujica was no longer going to perform ECT and another doctor was going to take his place. This affirmed my decision to stop ECT treatments. Luke called the hospital to tell them of my decision and they agreed that I did have enough treatments and was doing well enough to stop. However, both the new doctor and the psychiatric nurse told me that they were available for me and to call them at any time. Those were reassuring words to hear. As God answered Jeremiah’s prayer, God also answered mine:

bible duck taped

[My well-used Bible I had with me in the hospital]

“I called on Your Name, O LORD,
from the depths of the pit;
You heard my plea, ‘Do not close
Your ear to my cry for help!’
You came near when I called You;
You said, ’Do not fear!’
You have taken up my cause, O LORD;
You have redeemed my life.”
**- Lamentations 3:55-58

bible Jane's note

[The note I saved from my sister Jane who called when I was sleeping at

Wing Memorial Hospital: “Jane called. She loves you!”]

In the past 900 days, it has been “Lydia being Lydia” again; having friends over for baseball parties [especially World Series with RED SOX] at “Fenway West” [my house] and Super Bowl Parties [hopefully with the Patriots, but no matter which teams plays], food and wine pairing parties and hosting and/or leading Bible studies. I also have been enjoying day trips to my favorite places, eating my sister Jane’s gourmet cooking, as well as dining out. Being active and making a difference in the body of Christ at my church [such as, being on a nominating committee to gather names for elder and deacon positions] has again brought me great joy. All these activities are blessings and privileges I praise God for. I thank God for all the things He has enabled me to do. I don’t take anything for granted anymore. All in all, I am enjoying the life God has given me to live.

blogging2cHRISTIAN BLOGGER WOMAN

But Wait! That’s not all. Writing has always been my voice. God has given me the gift of expressing myself through the written word. You may say that I am a wordsmith, but I could not write one meaningful sentence without the Holy Spirit giving me the words to write. I write to help others get to know who I am inside this disabled [cerebral palsy] body and to encourage them in their walks with God. I have always, as far as I can remember [and that gets shorter every year] wanted to write a book. You might say that writing a book is on my “bucket list. “ That may still happen but, in the meantime, I decided to save a few trees by becoming a “Christian Woman Blogger.” On February 6, 2013, I launched my blog. I began writing about my look on life through the eyes of God’s Word and His Holy Spirit. – thus the name of my blog: lydslookonlife [Lyd’s Look on Life]. One hundred thirty-eight blog posts later, my blog is going strong because God always gives me a lot to say about His goodness, His grace and His faithfulness to me, especially in times of pain and struggle, and how I see His loving care in every little thing, as well as the BIG stuff.

But wait! That’s not all. I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

To be continued…

By His Grace and For His Glory,

The Lyd

Lydia

To my blog “followers” via email: I want to correct the following errors made in my last blog post:

* I omitted the word “days”, as in “900 days.”

** The Scripture I used is from Lamentations 3:55-58 [not Ecclesiastes].

A Testimony of God’s Grace (Part I)

CC Testimony 2

The following is a testimony I presented at my church on March 1, 2015. My friend Betsy read the script while I pulled things out of my “bag of tricks”. Since I don’t have to worry about time constraints, this is the “un-cut” version of “my story”.

Good morning everyone! “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” [Psalm 118:24]. Amen? Amen! My name is Lydia. As you can plainly see, I am in a wheelchair and I have a physical disability. I was born with a neurological condition called cerebral palsy which usually is caused during the birth process, when there is a lack of oxygen going to the baby’s brain, resulting in brain damage. The extent of the disability depends on what areas of the brain are damaged. In my case, the parts of my brain that were damaged were the areas that control the right side of the body – My right side is much weaker than my left side [I am not able to use my right hand to do very much]. And the part of the brain that controls speech was also damaged, resulting in slurred speech. That is why Betsy Wassmann is reading my testimony to you. Thanks Betsy. Just to let you know, the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. So, medically speaking, I am in my RIGHT MIND, as are all “south paws” [The jury is still out on the “Spaceman” Bill Lee.]. I just wanted to throw that out there.

[Putting on my various sports caps]

CC Testimony 6 caps

Many of you know me as more than a woman in a wheelchair whose speech is difficult to understand. You know that I am a RED SOX fan, a PATRIOTS fan, a BRUINS fan, a CELTICS fan, and an Oregon DUCKS fan [my youngest sister Sophie lives in Eugene, Oregon and is a DUCKS fan, so I want to support her team]. Many of you know that I have a quick wit and a quirky sense

[My rubber chicken is dressed in a vest and bow tie. My apologies for the blur.]

CC Testimony 4 Chicken

of humor. I also love to eat gourmet food, such as chicken with dressing, and I appreciate fine wine which will complement my gourmet meal. Because I have “Champagne Taste“, but am on a “Beer Budget“, I have learned how to make inexpensive food taste delicious and am still working on finding inexpensive wine that tastes better than its price. Practice; it takes practice. How many of you read my blog, “Lyd’s Look on Life”? For those of you who know me as a “Christian Woman Blog Writer”, you know that my blog posts sometimes tend to be just a tiny little bit LONG. I think they are long because my blog has become my “VOICE”. It’s where I can share my thoughts and ideas and also what God is teaching me without my speech being a hindrance. Thank you to Melanie Lamere for helping me to get my blog started. Above all these things you know about me, I want to be known, first and foremost, as a “WORSHIPPER OF God”, just as my Name Plaque says – a worshipper of God who loves Jesus and His Word [the Bible].. My Name Plaque has Psalm 29:2 written on it: “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” My heart’s desire is to be like the Lydia found in Acts 16:13-16, 40:

Acts of the Holy Spirit“And on the Sabbath day we [Paul and his companions] went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a WORSHIPER OF GOD. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ And she prevailed upon [convinced] us. [After Paul and his friends spent time in prison for preaching the Gospel, they were released and]…they went out of prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers [and sisters, no doubt], they encouraged them and departed.”

[My Mom and Dad and me at my high school graduation]

High School Graduation

Just as the Lydia in Acts 16, the Lord “opened my heart” to the Gospel and I became a “worshiper of God” right here at College Church, when I was eighteen years old – just about 10 years ago. Okay, would you believe about forty years ago? After so many years, I am still learning what it means to be a woman of prayer. Some things take a lifetime. All of us need to develop an attitude of prayer. College Church became my home and the people of College Church became my family. People like Jackie and Browny and their family, the Marions and their family, the Websters, and so many others accepted me into the family of God at College Church. I became a member of College Church in 1975 [I think] and I was baptized in the lake at the D.A.R. in April [back in the day when baptisms were not performed only during the summer months, in an inflated pool – not that there‘s anything wrong with that“]. In the years that followed, I attended Holyoke Community College, American International College and Springfield College. During my college years, I always was able to come home to College Church on most weekends.

Lydia at HTAfter my College days were over in 1981, I was a housemate with Pam Hiser before College Church “found me faithful to the Lord” and sent me out as an indigenous missionary, to work at a Residential Christian School for children and adults with disabilities in Carmel, N.Y. During my time in N.Y., Mark and Holly Dowling lived close by in Bethel, Connecticut. Because all the staff lived at the school, it was such a blessing to be able to get away on the weekends to the Dowling’s home. After being away for six years, I came back home to College Church and my family in Christ “found me faithful” to serve them as one of their deacons. I did have to promise that I would not help in serving Communion. Things would get pretty messy if I did. Instead, I became the moderator, who told therest of the deacons how to “JUST DO YOUR JOB” [Patriots‘ motto]. I was part of the “Lean Keen Deacon Machine” along with Ruth Lacey [and Bob], Shirley Pierson, Steve Kowalski, Rick Light Jr., Rich Winnick, Jack Finn and a few others. It was such a blessing to be able to get to know these men and women of God, while having the honor and privilege of working alongside them, as we served our family of God at College Church. During my six years as deacon, I also got to know Fran Fern and Rick and Pat Light because I spent a lot of time at the church office doing deacon stuff. In fact, when a mother and her little boy came to the office for something, the little boy asked his mom, “Does Lydia live here?” During a time on Search Committee to find an Associate Pastor, I got to know Wendy Dunphy, Dave Neal and Bill Porter. I also attended Bible studies at Don Anderson’s house [and attended Don and Carol’s wedding] and Dan and Pam Dissinger’s house. I also have hosted and led Bible studies at my house. As I look out into the congregation, I see so many dear friends; friends I met while serving on church committees or studying the Bible together. I consider all of you as family. As a family, we love each other, accept each other and belong to each other because we belong to our Heavenly Father.

body of Christ

I believe everyone has the need to belong and to be accepted and loved. Everyone wants to be known for who they really are; not only by what is seen on the outside, but also by what is unseen on the inside. Look at the people around you. How do you see them? As human beings, we all have our own prejudices and misconceptions, our own likes and dislikes and we do judge people with our own “measuring stick”. But, how does God see the people in this room and the people on the streets of Northampton? I believe I Samuel 16:7 gives us a glimpse at how God sees everyone: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees NOT as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” Yes, I know the Bible also says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” [Jeremiah 17:9]. But the Bible also says, “And I [God] will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My rules and obey them. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God” [Ezekiel 11:19-20]. I believe God is talking about us, as well as Israel’s Remnant.

christ's anointed with expensive perfume

As Christians God sees us through the blood of Christ. We are holy [set apart] because of Christ’s finished work on the cross. As the hymn goes, “Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe”. Because of Jesus we are able to “worship the Lord in the beauty of [His] holiness”. Worship has little to do with individual preferences – what kind of songs we sing or how we celebrate Communion or whether we lift up our hands or not. Some people cannot physically lift up their hands. Does that mean their worship is not as worthy as those who are able-bodied? Certainly not. Worshiping God has everything to do with our hearts giving to God His worth. A few months ago, Gary Davis led us in Communion and the very next time Bob Goss led us in Communion; two very different styles. Bob focused on the Supreme Sacrifice of Christ dying on the cross for our sins. Gary focused of Christ’s Second Coming and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Last time I checked, these two different ways of celebrating the Lord’s Supper are talked about in Scripture. I Corinthians 11:26-27 says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord‘s death until He comes. Whoever, therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord”. Revelation 19:6-10 talks about the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb”: “‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory. The marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’ – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” [vv. 6b-8]. There is more than one way to celebrate Communion, as long as we make our hearts ready and everything is done “decently and in order“ [I Corinthians 14:40], with the focus on Christ and not on ourselves. We should prepare our hearts to receive Communion before we come to church. I believe the Lord wants to teach us, before He gives us a Senior Pastor, to appreciate our differences, as well as what we have in common – namely Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Romans 14 says this:

Christian heelping another

“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother [or sister]…For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building” [vv. 13, 17-19].

What about the people outside of this House of Faith? James 2 teaches about the “Sin of Partiality”. I want to share verses 8 and 13: “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well…For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Sometimes, we forget to show mercy. Instead, we judge. But, most of the time, if not all of the time, we judge wrongly because we do not know everything. God knows everything and that’s why He is the only One Who can judge justly.

CC Testimony 7 Mercy

When we pray for our neighbors, we need to pray for their salvation. When we see our neighbors doing what grieves the Lord or when they gives us a hard time about our faith, we need to have the heart of Christ. While Jesus was dying on the cross, He looked at those who nailed Him to the cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” [Luke 23:34]. Jesus was known for His love for the untouchable, the disenfranchised, the poor and needy. .Jesus was known as a “Friend of Sinners”. Let us pray to have the heart of Christ – a heart full of compassion mercy and grace.

[I’m holding an old red Tupperware cup with a handle.]

CC Testimony 3 cup

There is one more thing I want to show you. Does everyone know about the RED SOLO CUP, the plastic red cups used at parties? This is my RED COMMUNION CUP. I ask the elder who is serving Communion to pour the grape juice in this cup because I can’t hold those small little cups. This cup is not for solo use, but for Communion use, as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a community of believers at College Church. So, the next time we celebrate the Lord‘s Supper, let us prepare our hearts beforehand to receive the bread and the cup and, as the song by Toby Keith says, “LET’S HAVE A PARTY!” I say, “TO THE KING!”

casting crowns 2

(Please ask the Worship Song Leaders to sing, “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns; written by Mark Hall and Matthew West.)

I’m told women can’t preach. But, they can share LONG testimonies.

The Peace of the Lord be with you all!

becket pics4

“Don’t poke the Bear”

Lydia

Puppy Love

I wanted to send this post out on Valentine’s Day, but my brian was frozen. The following are BEFORE and AFTER photos of loving and beloved Canine Companions:

BEFORE

Sweet Pup 6

Do you remember “Pupper”? My sister Jane brought her home just after Thanksgiving, 2013, after the RED SOX became World Champions for the 3rd time in ten years.

AFTER

A Pupper and ME

There are 3 puppies in this photo. Two are mine and Jane’s Pupper all grown up. We were watching the Patriots’ quest for the Lombardi Trophy.

BEFORE

Christmas PuppiesChristmas Puppies4

Jane decided Pupper needed a sister, so she brought home “Woof”. This photo was taken after the Patriots won the Lombardi Trophy for the 4th time in the 21st Century. I had my Christmas tree up until February, 2015. [I think Woof had to tinkle.]

AFTER

Cute Puppy

This is Woof and her “Auntie” sitting on Jane’s recliner. I had to put on an apron, in order for Woof to be seen in the photo. I was telling her a secret: “Don’t tell Mark about the next walnut practical joke. It’s just between you and me. Okay?”

BEFORE

cute Woof in the Snow

Pupper loves to play in the snow, but it’s too cold for Woof. Woof would sink into the snow and she would not like that at all. BURRR!

AFTER

bed puppies

After playing in the snow, Pupper decided to take a nap. After Woof played hard indoors, she decided to take a nap too with Pupper. AAH! A dog’s life – there’s nothing like it.

BEFORE

Diesel6Diesel 1Diesel4damon

 

Diesel, my nephew Luke’s Gentle Giant of a dog was one of a kind. After my sister’s dog [the good] Damon, was hit by a car, causing brain damage, Diesel became his “therapy dog”. After Damon came home from the animal hospital [Tufts], he could only walk in one direction and in circles. When Damon was able to go on short walks, Diesel walked on his weak side, so that Damon would walk straight. When they were home, Diesel would chase Damon around the dining room table. He would chase him in one direction, and then turn on a dime and chase him in the other direction, so that Damon would learn to run both to the right and to the left again. No one told Diesel to do these things for Damon. [Damon lived to be eight years old; many years after being hit by a car.] Diesel was truely one of a kind. After thirteen years of being a faithful and loving friend, Luke and all of us had to say “Goodbye” to Diesel. It was a very heart-wrenching thing to do for Luke and his wife Trish, but it was the loving and best thing to do for their Gentle Giant and faithful friend.

AFTER

a puppy love

Diesel left a “GIANT” hole in the hearts of Luke and Trish. We will always remember him and his memory will cause us to smile. No one can replace Diesel, but a puppy can help grieving hearts and fill the need to love. Luke and Trish went to get their new puppy on Saturday, February 14th [Valentine’s Day], in Rhode Island, the state where they were married. Though the puppy’s breed is the same as Diesel’s, it’s a female and her color is dark. She will become her own “one of a kind”. She doesn’t have a name yet, but I kinda like “True Blue”. We’ll just have to wait until she gives herself a name.

“The righteous care for the needs of their animals” [Proverbs 12:10a – NIV].

banana split love

Peace,

Lydia

 

 

New England Sports Fan’s Attempt at Haiku

Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry. A Basic Haiku consists of three lines – 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. My apologies to my Haiku Poet friends. This is the result of “Cabin Fever”.

Emblem Pats

Sports Radio Buzz
Deflate-Gate Over-Blown Talk
Patriots World Champs

B Super Bowl 2015

 

A. Super Bowl 2015

Pats Win Wicked Sweet
Rookie Clinch Interception
Seahawks Wing Clippings

c Super Bowl 2015

 

Eldelman2Gronk

Wild Duck Boat Parade
Eldeman Grunk Fun Hijinx
Brady Son Duck Nap

Brady and Son NAP

 

duck boat parade Pats

Pats Fan Swarms Parade
Duck Boats Snowy Boston Streets
Wicked Awesome Win

DUCK BOAT SNOW

 

Brady and Son2Bruins

Bean Town Title Town Too
Pats Bruins Celtics Red Sox All
Champs Sooner Later

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A “Wicked” New England Sports Fan,

becket pics2

“Don’t Poke the Bear” Lydia

Who Am I To Argue?

Grand Canyon

It all started on January 24, 2015. My sister Jane came over to show me something on her cell phone. I thought she had a photo of the new puppy she was getting in a few weeks. Much to my surprise, she was showing me a photo of a 60-inch flat Screen “Smart” TV on a beautiful cabinet stand. She explained that she and her husband Mark and her sons Noel and Luke and his wife Trish and my youngest sister Sophie [in Oregon] all pitched in to get a 60-inch TV for my 60th birthday [which is in August]. It was coming on Thursday [1/29], so that I would have it for the SUPER BOWL [2/1]. I was totally speechless. When I was able to speak, I said, “Jane, this is too much. You don’t have the money to get this stupendous TV with a cabinet besides. My 58-inch [dinosaur] TV is still good.” Jane pointed out that everyone pitched in and they got it with zero percent interest and had a long period of time to pay for it. She also told me the first thing Mark said to the clerk was, ‘Show me the best TV for watching sports.’ So, what better gift to give a sports fan who’s turning 60 than a 60-inch TV?” Jane made a good point there. Who am I to argue? When Mark and Luke set everything up on Thursday and the TV was tuned to ESPN showing the Grand Canyon, all I could say, and repeated several times, was “LOOK AT THAT!” When I came back to earth I thanked Mark and Luke profusely and gave them hugs several times. If my family wanted to give me such an extravagant gift, who am I to argue. [You know what this means? When I have a birthday with the year ending in 0, I’ll have to celebrate the whole year and not just the month, as I usually do.]

chicken wings

Judging from all the SUPER BOWLS I have watched, SUPER BOWL XLIX was the most exciting ever. Yes, the TV made it very special, as did my friends who watched it with me, as well as the phenomenal food [In-VINCE-able pizza, wings with homemade bleu cheese dip, shrimp and home-made cocktail sauce, trees (broccoli) and mud (hot peanut butter dip), sautéed kielbasa, chips, crackers, homemade dips, cake and whipped cream, and the appropriate wines to go with it all]. But the game itself was “sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat” exciting for the whole entire game [except for the half-time show]. We had more food than six people could eat during a four-hour period and the excitement was way over the top for me [I was maneuvering the whole time in my recliner, pressing against the back of the chair and moving right to left, as if I were helping the Patriot receivers dodge the defense and run as many yards as possible for the first down, and I grunted and groaned as if I were the one who was tackled]. It was hard work. But, who am I to argue?

Emblem Pats

B Super Bowl 2015

SUPER BOWL XLIX was decided in the last minutes of the forth quarter. In the last minutes of the game, Julian Eldelman [Brady’s nickname for the 5’10” wide receiver is “Micro-tron”] scored the go-ahead touchdown and the Patriot’s led 28 to 24. There were a few minutes left when Skyler Tyreece [Seahawk] made a juggling catch at about the 3-yard-line. Everyone thought the football hit the ground, but it never did. It bounced on Tereece’s body a few times, and then he grabbed it. In the seconds before the next play, I had flashbacks of heart-wrenching sports outcomes. Because two of my friends are Seahawks fans [sort of] and were watching the game with me, I thought of 1986, when I lived in New York state and was watching the 6th game of the World Series with a bunch of Mets fans [I can’t write anymore about it]. I also remembered the Giants vs. Patriots SUPER BOWL when Jermaine Kearse made that “Velcro-helmet” football catch. With Tereece’s fluky [almost miraculous] catch, I said to myself, “Okay. For some reason unknown to me God must want the Seahawks to win. Who am I to argue?” Just when I was wishing I didn’t eat as much as I did, another “miraculous” event took place. Even when all of the Northwest was screaming, “PASS IT TO MARSHON LYNCH!” [Seattle’s “bull-dozer” running back], the Seahawks’ coach had Russell Wilson [quarterback] throw the football instead. New Englanders can totally empathize with Seahawks fans. It must have felt like when all of New England was screaming at the TV in 2003, “TAKE PEDRO OUT OF THE GAME!” Except, this time, New Englanders were ecstatic at Pete Carroll’s decision for Wilson to throw the football, instead of handing it off to Lynch.

A. Super Bowl 2015

With that fatal decision, the unimaginable happened! The Patriot rookie, Malcolm Butler, intercepted the football! After that, the Seahawk were flagged for encroachment, which took Brady out of the end zone.The game was over, except for taking a knee and keeping the football safely cradled in Tom “Terrific” Brady’s capable hands. THE PATRIOTS ARE THE 2014 SUPER BOWL WORLD CHAMPIONS!!!

 

c Super Bowl 2015

It’s hard to understand why Seattle’s coaching staff made the decision they did. It must have made Lynch speechless [but what else is new]. As for me – Who am I to argue? “GET THE DUCK BOATS READY!”

 

gratitude

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” [I Thessalonians 5:16-18 – E.S.V.]

With a Grateful Heart,

Lydia

The LydJesua, heart, sand

“It’s More Blessed to Give Than to Receive” (Acts 20:35b)

turkey stuffing

What happened with walnuts? In a previous post I mentioned the “Walnut Incident” and said I would explain it at another time. Well, it’s another time. Many moons ago, my sister Jane decided to try another recipe for turkey stuffing on Thanksgiving. The stuffing she made included WALNUTS, apples and cranberries, along with the more traditional ingredient. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? The problem was Jane neglected to tell her husband Mark about this plan. Generally speaking, Jane learned the hard way that men like cranberry jelly that slithers out of a can over “real” cranberry sauce and, when it comes to Thanksgiving, DON’T MESS WITH TRADITION, especially Thanksgiving turkey STUFFING. Mark took one bite and didn’t know what he was biting into. He wondered if there were bones in the stuffing or some other inedible objects. When Jane saw the look of horror on Mark’s face, she asked him what was the matter. “What did you do with MY stuffing?” he asked. When Jane told him about the WALNUTS, apples and cranberries, Mark said, under no uncertain terms, “You ruined MY Thanksgiving! All year long I look forward to the stuffing. The stuffing is MY favorite part of the meal and now it’s ruined! You just don’t mess with the traditional Thanksgiving meal! I didn’t know if I was eating bones or peels or what!” Mark had a few other choice words, but you get the idea.

Bunch of walnuts

When I first heard Mark’s “Walnut Woes” I thought he was going way over the top; whining about walnuts [“C‘mon man!”]. Jane created this magnificent Thanksgiving feast and all he talked about was walnuts. She did cook the canned corn he liked. I made up my mind then and there to make Mark’s “Walnut Woes” into the “Walnut Wars.” On the Christmas that followed that infamous Thanksgiving, I gave Mark a beautifully wrapped box of …you guessed it…unshelled WALNUTS. During another Christmas Season, I had my friend Pam glue two little eyes on WALNUTS and place them in strategic locations – on the porch step on the way to his car, on his windshield, on the seat of his car, in the mailbox. Wherever Mark went, he found Walnuts with beady little eyes staring at him. You have read about the Christmas Wise Men in my previous blog posts. I must confess I am a bit of a “wise guy” all year round.

Luke's Wed JML

[Lydia, Jane and Mark At Luke and Trish’s Wedding]

As the years have gone by, I have come to understand Mark’s point of view just a little bit better. It is startling to feel something crunchy in your mouth when you expect something to be soft. Jane should have talked to Mark about making the stuffing a new way before going ahead and doing it. In so doing, Jane “respects her husband” [Ephesians 5:33b], especially when it comes to food. Generally speaking, men like their food cooked in the same way, with no surprises. It seems rather boring, but true. As an objective observer [hum hum], a wife who prepares a meal the way her husband likes it is demonstrating her love for him. Also generally speaking, a husband who fixes a household item, which needs “muscle power” when the wife asks him to, within a week or two is the same as saying, “I love you” and he saves himself from the “nagging stage” that has to begin to get anything done. “He who loves his wife loves himself” [Ephesians 5:28b]. [I thought I would share my two suggestions for a happy marriage, out of my many years of observing married people – one for the wife and one for the husband.]

book for dummies 5

Anyway, Jane and Mark are still married and still in love, and I have stopped giving Mark walnuts for Christmas [I couldn’t find any in the shells. Can you believe it?] This Christmas I got him something far better and vastly more satisfying. First, you need to know that Mark, my nephew Luke, Luke’s father-in-law Tom and I have been in our own football pool for bragging rights.[You can see my “picks sheet” on the bottom right of the photo.]  For some magical mystical [knowing about football stuff and woman‘s intuition] reason, Mark has not won many weeks of the 2014 NFL football picks and I have won the last five out of six weeks, as well as one or two others. I don’t know what comes over me – maybe it’s my competitive nature – but I love to WIN, especially against Mark. When I win, I feel I win for all women sports “enthusiasts” everywhere [okay, maybe just in New England]. One day, as I was thinking of who I bought Christmas gifts for [I forgot I had already bought a gift for Mark and hid it in a very safe place, wherever that was], this idea came to me, followed by my bone-chilling maniacal laugh, which is never a good sign for the person my idea is for.

book for dummies 7

God created gift bags for people like me but, since I didn’t have one, Jane helped me wrap Mark’s gift. Jane was the one who helped me pick out the first gift I got for Mark and she also forgot about it [we are both over 50]. A word to the wise: If you ever see me with wrapping paper, tape and a pair of scissors, turn around and run – run as fast as you can.
Mark and his boys just came back from target shooting. Thankfully, he went upstairs first and put away his gun before he came downstairs for his gift. With all kidding aside, Mark is a very good sport and both of us have mellowed with age, as you can see by the smiles on our faces. I wouldn’t have given him the book, “Football for Dummies” if only one of us would be laughing.

book for dummies 4

[By the way, Jesus saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” is not found in the Gospels. The Apostle Paul did not have the Gospels to read because they weren’t written yet. Paul heard Jesus say this, as well as other instructions, from Jesus Himself, face to face [Acts 9; 22:10; 16:7; 18:9; I Corinthian 14:37; II Corinthians 12:8-10; Galatians 1:11-12; II Peter 3:16].

[Also see apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=1805.]

“And as you wish others would do to you, do so to them” [Luke 6:31; Also see Matthew 7:12].

“Above all, keep loving each other earnestly, sins love covers a multitude of sins” [I Peter 4:8; Also see Proverbs 10:12].

decorated window

[Lyd’s Christmas Window Display]

Dear Blog Readers,

I am going to take a month off from blogging, in order to spend time on another writing project. Hopefully, you will “read all about it” in February. Also if any of you are having trouble with getting the pictures in my posts, scroll down to the bottom of the post and click: lydiag81655.

jesus aroseGod is our peacebanana split love

Peace,
Lydia

P.S. I finally did find the first gift I bought for Mark [his favorite liqueur with 2 nice glasses]. I gave it to him a few days ago. Knowing Mark, the bottle will last until next Christmas. Jane was the first one to remember I had it somewhere and I was the one who finally found it, hidden away in my coat closet. Getting older is a scary thing. That’s why we need each other.

Christian heelping another

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow…a threefold cord is not quickly broken” [Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12b].

A Person of Ministry

christmas gifts

(All Scriptures are from The Amplified Bible, except when otherwise noted.)

Who doesn’t like to receive gifts? Some actually may not like to receive gifts because they don’t know what to say or do when they are given a gift. Some feel awkward because they do not have a gift to reciprocate this gesture of friendship and caring. Sadly, some even feel unworthy and cannot possibly accept a gift. Sadder still, some think they are better off than the giver and the gift is far too beneath their standards. As for me, I love to receive gifts. On the first of December, I give copies of my “Christmas Wish List”, printed in red and green ink, to my family members. The gifts range from costing a few dollars to about $20.00 or a little more, so there’s something affordable for everyone to buy me gifts (When in doubt, a fine French red or white Burgundy or a California or Washington Brut Sparkling wine will do).

birthday giftsIMG_1887SHARP HILL ENTRANCE

When I hit the BIG 40, I started celebrating my “Birth-Month” and did something special everyday, during the month of August, from treating myself to a medium Dunkin Donuts iced coffee with cream and a Turbo Shot, to taking a road trip to the Bridge of Flowers, in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, with “the Four Sisters”, to dining at a rustically elegant restaurant at a Connecticut Vineyard, with my “Winers and Diners Bible Study Group”. Because I celebrate for the whole month, it gives my family and friends plenty of time to send me birthday cards and buy birthday gifts. It takes the pressure off trying to remember the exact date of my actual birthday. When I am asked, “When is your birthday?” I say, “August.” When I am asked, “August what?” I reply, “August.” Although, lately, my birthday celebrations are starting in July and spilling over into September and sometimes October (if the RED SOX are still playing). As I get older, I need more time to celebrate and do all the things on my “pre-bucket” list.

casting crowns 1Helper Holy Spirit

The best gift I have ever received was the Free Gift of Salvation from God’s Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ and His Gift of the Holy Spirit. It was a “package deal”. At the age of eighteen, I realized that I needed God’s help in living life with a disability (cerebral palsy) and life was not getting easier. It is very easy to fall into the “trap” of self-pity and self-centeredness and self-doubt. If we are truthful with ourselves, every one of us struggles with sin and doubt. Sin is “missing the mark” of where God wants us to be. I often fall short in practicing the “Golden Rule”: “So then whatever you desire others would do to and for you, even so do you also to and for them [others]…” (Matthew 7:12 ; Also see Luke 6:31). Instead of practicing the “Golden Rule”, I want to use the “Get-Even Rule” Every one of us finds the “Get-Even Rule” easier to follow: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, and lash for lash” (Exodus 21:24-25). Because of our human tendency to “lash” out none of us are where God wants us to be. God wants us to enjoy a close relationship with Him. But, we want what we want. We are selfish by nature. Even the good things we do may be done for selfish motives. Yet, God loves every one of us and wants to shower us with every good gift. God gave us His Only Begotten Son to die in our place and to free us from the power of sin (our natural tendencies) and (spiritual) death. God also gave us His Holy Sprit. The Greek word Parakletos is used in the Bible to describe the Holy Spirit as “Counselor” (RSV, NIV), “Comforter” (KJV, ASV) or “HELPER” (NASB, NKJV).

glasses on Biblelamp unto my feetJesus Hug

“And He – that same Jesus Himself – is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also [the sins of] the whole world” (I John 2:2).

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only-begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish – come to destruction, be lost – but have eternal (everlasting) life” (John 2:16).

“He Who did not withhold or spare [even] His Own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things?” (Romans 8:32).

“Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse]” (James 1:17).

“See what [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are!” (I John 3:1a).

Father, Son and Holy Spirit 2

We have learned from the “A Person of Mystery” series, that after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, He promised to send His disciples (including us), “A Person of Ministry ” – the Gift of His Holy Spirit.

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, HELPER, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby) that He may remain with you forever, The Spirit of Truth…The Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall – will remind you of, bring to your remembrance – everything I told you…I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say, it is profitable – good, expedient, advantageous – for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (…HELPER…) will not come to you – into close fellowship with you. But if I go away, I will send Him to you – to be in close fellowship with you” ((John 14:16-17a, 26b; 16:7).

c. praying prostrateb. kneeing in prayer

In the Book of Acts, chapter 2, on the Day of Pentecost, we read about the birth of the Christian Church and how the disciples were filled with the Gift of the Holy Spirit and were able to speak in different languages to the crowd that had gathered. And Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke of the prophecy in Joel that was being fulfilled right before their eyes: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy – telling forth the divine counsels – your young men shall see visions (that is, divinely granted appearances), and your old men shall dream [divinely suggested] dreams. Yes, and on My menservants also and on My maidservants in those days I will pour out My Spirit, and they shall prophesy – telling forth the divine counsels and predicting future events pertaining especially to God’s kingdom (vv. 17-18; also see Joel 2:28-32).

comforter hsHelper Holy Spirit

At the first Pentecost, we see that the Holy Spirit is not “gender biased” “For God [The Holy Trinity] shows no partiality” (Roman 2:11). After Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, “There is [now no distinction], neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). To truly understand what this means, we need to understand what the word “HELPER” means in the Bible and not rely on the definition found in our modern culture. In today’s culture, “HELPER” means someone who is in a subservient role. In the Bible, the word “HELPER” means “HELPER/MEET”. In Genesis 2: 18 “…God said, It is not good [sufficient, satisfactory] that the man should be alone; I will make him a HELPER MEET (suitable, adapted, completing) for him.” In the Hebrew, the word for the HELPER/HELPMEET” is “ezer”, which is used in the Old Testament as “one who comes to the aid, to rescue, or deliver those in NEED of HELP (See I Samuel 7:12, II Kings 14:26, Job 29:12, Psalms 121:1-2). In the Book of Psalms, whenever the word “HELPER” is used, it refers to God Himself.

holy spirit over water

In the beginning, God created woman from man as a “suitable” (kenegdo), which denotes “equal” and “adequate” partner, and the two were created by God to demonstrate the unity and the equality of all human beings (See Genesis 2:18-20). As God the Holy Spirit is equally God as God the Father and God the Son, Adam and Eve were to share in that same kind of unity and equality as the Holy Trinity and enjoy close fellowship with the Triune God. Both man and woman were created in God’s image and were created to have a close relationship with God. They also shared the responsibilities of raising children and caring for God’s creation (See Genesis 1:26-28). It was only after the Fall, when sin entered the hearts of Adam and Eve, that caused the relationship between man and woman to be distorted with each other and with God (See Genesis 3:16). BUT GOD had a plan to redeem the human race from sin [wanting to be God and to lord over others]. That Plan was to give us Jesus, “His Gift, [precious] beyond telling – His indescribable, inexpressible, free Gift!” (II Corinthians 9:15), to die for the our sins and for the sins of the world. God’s “INDESCRIBABLE” Gift includes the Gift of His [indwelling] Holy Spirit (See I Corinthians 6:19) – the HELPER – Who aids us in our walk with God, rescues us when we walk away from God and delivers us from the lies of the world by revealing God’s Truth to us. What a Gift! How can anyone refuse this AWESOME Gift of God?

a spirit of truth

What a wonderful message Peter shared on the first Pentecost! But Peter was not done. What else did Peter say on that first Pentecost when God’s Spirit was poured out on His first disciples? Tune in next time to find out.

a nap with Tannin

I know I wrote “Be back at July-Thirty”, but the RED SOX were on the West Coast and the World Cup makes me crazy. How can a 90+-minute sporting event end in a 0-0 tie? I don’t get it!

(For more information Google: “Biblical Ishshah (Woman): The True Role of Helper/Help Meet” and “Men, Women and Biblical Equality [CBE International].)

This is my prayer for all of us:

“For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from Whom His family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through FAITH. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in LOVE, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the LOVE of Christ, and to know this LOVE that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him Who is able to do more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21 [NIV]).

The LydJesua, heart, sand

Lydia

Will the Real Pessimist Please Lighten Up?!

SWIRL THE WINEEore 2

We all know people who see the glass half-empty and have a “dark cloud” hovering over them and can think of all the reasons why something CAN‘T be done. We say, “Isn’t this a beautiful day?! And they answer, “It’s going to rain tomorrow.“ I knew someone that would say, “You better not laugh too much because tomorrow you’ll be crying.“ Once, I commented to a friend that my hanging plant was doing well and maybe it would bloom all summer. She replied, “These flowers don’t usually work that way.“ I thought to myself, “Thanks for bursting my bubble.“ Then, I said to her, “Maybe this plant will surprise us.” And it did produce flowers all summer. To be truthful, I can be a “half-empty” kind of person, if I’m not careful.

Eore

Jesus’ disciple Thomas sounds like a pessimistic type person. I can hear him talking in an Eeore-monotone-draggy voice. Eeore is the donkey in the Winnie the Pooh cartoons, who always sees disaster lurking around the corner and has a very low opinion of himself. We first hear Thomas in John 11:16, when Jesus wants to go to Jerusalem because His friend Lazarus has died. Jesus is already in trouble with the religious leaders and a mob had already tried to stone Him twice (See John 8:59 and 10:31-33). Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (John 11:16b). Another time, when Jesus says to all his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going” (John 14:1-4). Jesus said this after He told His disciples that He was going to be glorified by His Father and would not be with them for much longer (See John 12-13). After all this, “Thomas said to [Jesus], ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’” (John 14:5).

Christ's pierced

Next, we learn that Thomas isn’t with the rest of the disciples when Jesus appears to them after His Resurrection. When Thomas finally joins the disciples Jesus has already left, but they tell him that they have seen the Lord (See John 20:24-25a). Thomas refuses to believe them and says, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger in His side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25b). Where was Thomas? Why did he doubt that Jesus rose from the dead, just as He said He would? Before we judge Thomas, let’s read what Homer A. Kent Jr. writes in his book, LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS: Studies in the Gospel of John, (p. 222): “The reason for [Thomas’] absence the previous week is not explained by John…It should be noted that Jesus did not rebuke him for his absence. Perhaps Thomas preferred to be alone with his grief.” Also, Merrill C. Tenney writes in his book, JOHN: The Gospel of Belief, (p.284): “[Thomas] was naturally of a pessimistic temperament as his previous utterances showed (11:16, 14:5), and his doubt seems to have been the product of his pessimism rather than a lack of confidence in Jesus Himself. After all, he knew that Jesus had died, and he could say, ‘The worst has happened just as I said it would.’” I also think Thomas was on his guard against being terribly disappointed and having his heart crushed again.

encouragementb. kneeing in prayer

Jesus met Thomas on his terms. John records, “A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to [Jesus], ‘My Lord and My God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” (John 20:26-29).

a pleasant wordWORSHIP

Jesus is always willing to meet each one of us where we are and speak words of comfort and grace and to turn our doubts into faith and worship, as He did for Thomas. For those of us who have not seen Jesus and yet believe in Him, we have also been met by Jesus and have been touched by His pierced hands. Jesus calls us “blessed” and that we are! I do not believe Thomas had to put his fingers into Jesus’ hands or his hand into Jesus‘ side. Kent Jr. writes, “It is not stated whether or not [Thomas] still felt it necessary to handle the body of Jesus, although the subsequent words of Jesus may imply that ‘seeing’ was enough to satisfy him (20:29). But he did make to Jesus the greatest confession of any in the room: ‘My Lord and My God!’ The reality of the resurrection had satisfied the unresolved questions of a demanding Thomas” (p. 223).

believe god's love

Tenney writes, “The fact that [Jesus] knew what Thomas had said when He was not present was convincing proof of His supernatural knowledge, and His willingness to accept Thomas on his own terms was a marvel of condescension and compassion…All his unbelief vanished as he worshipped. For a Jew to salute another man, however he might revere him, as ‘Lord and God’ (28) could only mean that he had come to the point of worshipping Him as deity. The resurrection made the difference between the skepticism of despair and the worship which brings certainty. Thus belief in a risen Christ made a mourner into a missionary, a penitent into a preacher, the bereaved friend into an apostle of love, a timid and shrinking coterie of disciples into the fearless heralds of a new movement, and a doubter into a confessor. With the confession of Thomas, JOHN reached the high peak of belief: faith can rise no higher than when it avows Jesus of Nazareth to be its Lord and God” (p. 284).

As Jesus said it to Thomas, He is saying it to us: “Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27b).

christ's anointed with expensive perfume

How do we remember Thomas? Sadly, most of us remember the bad things people do. A person can lead an extempore life, but make one horrible mistake and, from that point on, be remembered for that one mistake. I see it in the sports world and, sadly, I see it in myself when I am left to my own human devices. Most of us remember Thomas as that “doubting Thomas“. Jesus knows the same Thomas as the Thomas who made the Great Confession: “My Lord and My God!” I believe this is true because of what Jesus said about the “sinful” woman who poured costly perfume on Jesus head and washed His feet with her tears. Matthew 26:10-13 reads, “Aware of this, Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing for Me…When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’” [See also Luke 7:36-50]

SWIRL THE WINE

Do you see Thomas as “Doubting Thomas” or the disciple who confessed, “My Lord and my God”? Do you see the woman who poured expensive perfume on Jesus as a “wasteful sinner” or a “believer who loved Jesus extravagantly”? Do you see me as a “disabled woman” or as a “woman named Lydia who loves Jesus and enjoys watching sports, eating gourmet food with just the right wine complement the meal, and writing about her ‘look on life’ and how God works in subtle and miraculous ways”? How do you view your neighbors, co-workers, relatives, people you meet everyday? Will the real pessimist please lighten up?! And that includes ME!

20140411_114039

 

(My nephew and I on Annual

Before-Easter ROAD TRIP)

Peace,

Lydia