Turning the car in the drive, I noticed the grass had overgrown; was still wet from a morning shower. The lovely tall potted fern sent home from my Father’s funeral drooped as if fainting from the weeks of drought conditions, as if to remind me we needed the rain, lest I think to protest. I should have removed it before now. I should have watered it. Or something like that. I sat for a moment in the driveway after turning the key, before I realized the motor was off. The vibration of the pacemaker in my hip often confuses me like that. I was waiting for the silent stillness that would never come.
I had just dropped my son off at the driving school, in a neighboring town about 20 miles away. I had just about time for a two hour nap before going back to pick him up for lunch. That would be a welcome nap, since I had been living with a sleep deficit for the past week, between a flurry of doctor’s appointments, the Defensive Driving class, and the Driver’s Ed classes, all in succession. Now all that remained was two more behind-the-wheel sessions before he was finished, at least until Fall classes resumed a week later at the local Technical College. The Driving classes would definitely make life easier for me soon.
Climbing into bed beside my husband, who was still sleeping from night shift, I drifted off so fast I wasn’t even aware of time. And, what is time, but that which marks off the days like marks on a classroom yard stick? I slept deep, traveling the waves of the euphoric intoxication of dreams to revisit the childhood of my children, a peaceful interlude for any Mother’s weary head. I arrived at a familiar dream, but this time I took some friends from my waking life with me, friends-in-the-now drafted as fellow time-travelers. There are no rules for dreamers.
Two friends from church, were riding with me and my little boys. We made a stop at my home for something, but of course my home turned out to be the single-wide we lived in when my boys were small. So, before heading in the back to grab my things, I called my younger son aside to explain the situation to him, as I knew he would be confused about the different house. I told him that since I was dreaming, and we were in his childhood, that the house was different. I explained that once I woke up, we would be living in our other house again. That’s all… nothing was really different… it was just a dream, I repeated.
Then, I took the things I was after, and turned for the door, but reached instead for my diary from my dresser. Taking a pen, I scribbled a note in my journal, wondering if I would still be able to read it after the dream. Scribbling in cursive, I carefully wrote myself a note of encouragement, “Dear Vicky, Keep going. The answer is closer than you think.” I was anxious to read the note, whenever I was awake somewhere else in time. So, I awoke. It was just a dream, and dreams are not ruled by increments of time consistent with events. Or something like that.
As I drove back to the driving school, and during lunch with my grown up baby boy, I mused over the idea that I have often thought how nice it would be to be able to go back in time, to teach myself what I know now, to help me sooner. But, the idea of my younger self teaching, or encouraging, my older self that I was going to survive this, that I could beat this battle with my health, quite honestly the whole idea was arresting. It was a familiar dream; the single-wide, my young boys, the busyness and independence of my years of single-parenthood. I just never realized that my younger self had something to teach me now. And, what did she know anyways?
She knew the answer was always right in front of her. She knew that help was closer than you think. She was aware that God always came to the rescue, just when she needed Him most. He was her Salvation, and He was her Provider. No matter how low her resources were running, the supply never drained. And, now? Now, my older self, dealing with a physical handicap was not all that different. It was a supply of strength threatening to drain. It was depleted health mocking me with the thought that I couldn’t keep going, while all along, I couldn’t fail. Only quitters fail, and I was still moving. But, it was only a dream. Or something like that.
Sometimes, our dreams become so familiar that we tell ourselves it is only a dream. We know the routine. We sleep. The scenery appears from the past. The characters resurrect as if from the forgotten depths of slumber. Yes, we recognize the all too familiar in our dreams. And, we chalk them up to just an allusion from the past. But, what if? What if your dream is just waiting on you to wake up and read what you knew all along? Will you recognize God’s direction in a familiar dream?
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Our weakness reminds us of the strength and power of God. My latest podcast episode is ready at http://reason2believehim.libsyn.com/ and on the player below. I read in a variety of versions; KJV, NKJV, NIV, and the Living Bible. For a complete transcript of Scripture references, see the Podcast Page.
"I Choose to Praise You"
Used by permission from Mark Snyder
Written by Mark Snyder of Tree Hill Collective
Vocals by Helene Immel
Tree Hill Collective’s music may be purchased at:
As human as we all are, we care about matters of clout, influence, and rankings. Willard Van Orman Quine (1908 - 2000) was an American philosopher and mathematician. He was affiliated with Harvard University, and published or revised several books. Quine could lecture in French, Spanish, Portuguese and German, as well as his native English. But, Quine had an Erdős number of 3. The Erdős number was created by friends as a humorous tribute to all of the papers written by Erdős, one of the most prolific modern writers of mathematical papers, and has become well known in scientific circles as a tongue-in-cheek measurement of mathematical prominence.
This same idea of a measure of prominence has been carried over to other areas as well. In Physics, there is the Einstein number. In Chess there is the Paul Morphy number. In Linguistics, there is the Noam Chomsky Number. And, of course, in acting there is the Kevin Bacon Index.
As a matter of fact, Bacon is the subject of the trivia game titled Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, based on the idea that, due to his prolific screen career covering a diverse range of genres, any Hollywood actor can be linked to another in a handful of steps based on their associations with Bacon. The name of the game is taken from the idea of six degrees of separation between any two people. (Bacon later formed the charitable initiative SixDegrees.org, a social networking site intended to link people and charities to each other.)
The Oracle Of Bacon gives the mathematical Index number for any star, in terms of their working relationship with Kevin Bacon.
My favorite actress has a Bacon Index of 1, which is what makes the thing so comical, because she is by far the better actor. Meryl Streep co-starred with him in River Wild. But, box office tough guy Bruce Willis has a Bacon index of 2, because he worked with Erik Estrada in Loaded Weapon 1. Erik Estrada has worked with Bacon in Who Married Margo, so he has a prestigious 1 rating. :)
The Bacon Index seems to be influential in matters of politics as well, as Ronald Reagan had a Bacon Index of 2. Note below, that while Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have Index numbers of Infinity, Newt Gingrich has a Bacon Index number of 2.
It may be noted that Kevin Bacon, just like Bertrand Russell, is on the List of Atheists in Wikipedia. Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was noted for saying "No one can sit at the bedside of a dying child and still believe in God." The fact that a person is an atheist is really about as useful in giving you information about a person as the fact that Sarah Palin and Jerry Lee Lewis are both on the List of Christians under the Assembly of God Denomination sub category. You can’t define a whole group of people usually by one person in that group. Yet, a group can often identify some of the motivations of a person. Or, in other words, the fact that Bacon is an atheist tells you much of nothing about atheists, but a lot about Kevin Bacon. And, I think this can be said to be true about a lot of things, in a way that is not stereotyping, though I grant that some may disagree with me. But, as the International Chess Master Harry Golombek once said about Savielly Tartakower, a Polish/French Chess Grandmaster, "Practically all chess-players are born optimists [...] Those who believe in God count on divine help; the agnostics know that somehow or other it will turn out all right; whilst the atheists, who are of course the most superstitious, believe in luck. If this last statement seems a trifle high pitched then let me submit as evidence the case of Dr. Tartakower. An atheist if ever there was one, he fervently believed in luck, touched wood at appropriate moments and never, never walked under ladders.”
As, human beings, we are influenced by other human beings. It can be noted that “birds of a feather flock together” for more reasons than genetics. Take the case of Alfred North Whitehead who said about the Bible, “The total absence of humor from the Bible is one of the most singular things in all literature.” Whitehead was not only an atheist but greatly influenced the doctoral thesis work of Bertrand Russell, mentioned earlier. But, the idea that the Bible is devoid of humor has to be taken by a person who is totally uninformed in its contents. I would have to disagree, as there is much to find as humorous in the Bible. I only briefly touched on the subject of humor in the Bible on my Kid’s Website subpage “Riddled With Humor,” because much of the humor in the Bible is not Sunday School type material.
Regardless, of where you find yourself, in relation to the Chessmasters, the Actors, the Scientists, the Mathematicians, the Christians, the Agnostics, and the Atheists; you are within two degrees separation from God and Eternal Life. Either you know Him or you don’t. Nothing else matters in the grand scheme of eternity. It won’t matter if you worked with someone who knew Him, or if someone who knew Him prayed for you. All that matters is your relationship to God. Philippians 3:8-11 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but rubbish, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
There are two sides to every coin. We come to Christ “Just as we are.” But, somewhere beyond redemption, 12 changes are transacted by the ultimate price paid on Calvary. Three bodies were hung up on trees, three bodies were brought down and buried, and one body rose up out of the earth. From one side of the Cross to the other a colossal change took place in the lives of millions of followers in the 20 centuries since.
Yes, twelve changes take place in the lives of those who lift Jesus up today. From the moment we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, we experience a turn-around in the elements of our spirit man. All of us have spirits; some just haven’t flipped the coins that were paid and accepted the “change.” One man threw the coins on the ground… at the feet of the judges who condemned Jesus… Judas. Another, Peter, accepted the change that would be transacted in his life and turned over the coins to a new existence. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4, outlined a dozen of these two-sided coins Christians have turned over since redemption.
1. Hidden Things/ Things Manifested (2 Corinthians 4:2)
We exchange craftiness and deceit for truth. We walk in the truth of God’s Word.
2. Blinded Minds/ Enlightened Minds (2 Corinthians 4:4)
The lost are hid in the darkness while the Christian walks in light.
3. Proud Boasting/ Servanthood (2 Corinthians 4:5)
We no longer live our lives for ourselves, but become servants of God,
living for Him.
4. Frail Bodies/ Mighty Power (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Our spirits walk in unity with the spirit of God, though we are just human.
5. Trials/ Triumph (2 Corinthians 4:10)
We go through trials like Jesus, so we can have the victory like He did.
6. Death/ Life (2 Corinthians 4:11)
We carry the cross of Jesus, manifest His death in our lives, and receive
the rewards of eternal life with Him.
7. Past/ Future (2 Corinthians 4:14)
Jesus was raised up in the past; you and I will be raised up in the future with Him.
8. Grace/ Thanksgiving (2 Corinthians 4:15)
His grace operates through our thanksgiving.
9. Outward Man/ Inward Man (2 Corinthians 4:16)
Even if our body is failing us physically, He breathes life into us day by day.
10. Affliction/ Glory (2 Corinthians 4:17)
Our afflictions will lead us to an unimaginable glory to come.
11. Seen/ Unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18)
We know that there is more to this life than meets the eye. There are things unseen.
12. Temporal/ Eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18)
We don’t place our hope in the physical life now, but in the ethereal life in eternity.
Now, it sounds like we came just as we were, and put on the wedding garments. Matthew 22:11-14 All that remains is for us to accept the change. Allowing the spirit of God to work in our lives completes the transaction. This is the reason that we do not need to wait until we “get our lives straightened out” to come to church. We come just as we are, and Jesus will make us just like He is. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Philippians 1:6 He who began a good work… will perform it!
Nature has always been a source of consolation. When I can get outdoors, I always feel better than when I am tied up indoors. Today has been a good day, with little pain. I was so sleepy because I woke up around 5 am before Larry left for work. But, I took a nap around ten and woke up feeling rested. I was able to walk around outside in the yard for about 20 minutes when the rain slacked off, and enjoyed the water world that a rainy day can become.
Otherwise, I am enjoying my new fish tank. Fish seem like such insignificant pets, but they are tiny bits of nature who hold you captive by the spark of life within them. Nothing is ever truly insignificant when it changes your focus. What may seem meaningless to others, may add meaning to your life. So, aside from the fish I already put in the tank: Anastasia & Sir Galahad (the pink & blue parrot fish,) Saphira (the fire mouth,) Jabberwocky (the Jaguar,) and John Caesar (the Black Convict); I now have five Tiger Fish and two Silver Hatchets. I discovered through research that the Tiger Fish can actually be identified as male by the layer of red on the dorsal fin and the red nose. So, it turns out all of mine but the smallest are male. I named them Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, and Barbara Ann, respectively. I just knew that would be the appropriate thing to do. LOL.
As to the Silver Hatchets, since they are so thin and transparent, and since they love to float above all the rest of the fish at the surface of the aquarium world, I gave them archangel names: Gabriel & Raphael. Gabriel is the larger of the two. The names seem appropriate to me, if you know anything about the angels in history. Only two "good" angels' names were recorded in the Bible: Gabriel and Michael. Of those two, we see Gabriel performing as a messenger most. And, it is he that is credited historically to be the one who will blow the trumpet one day. Though all angels are messengers, which is the meaning of the word angelos, Gabriel seems to be a direct harbinger of good tidings from God. I like that. We all need a little good tidings, don't we?
There are two other angels not mentioned in the 66 books of the Bible, but they are found in the apocryphal books of the Bible, Ariel and Raphael. Oral Jewish tradition carried the names down, even though they weren't recorded per se in Scripture. Ariel is mentioned in Isaiah 29:1-7, and is used metaphorically for Israel or Jerusalem, who is to be punished by God for the fall of the nation. But the angel Ariel is said to be a demi-urge type angel of the earth, creation, and healing. But, he was a fallen angel. Raphael is an angel of healing as well, though unfallen. God Himself is known by the title Jehovah-Rapha, which refers to His healing power. Rapha is the Hebrew word for healing. So, with the names Gabriel and Raphael, I have a harbinger of good tidings and healing. Those are definitely good names for such pretty fish.
Why does all this matter? It doesn't within the fish tank. It is in the world outside the tank, and inside my head that it matters. The Bible says, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8 I like to think about angels coming with healing in their wings, and about Messengers from God with Good news. For, it is God after all who gives us richly all things to enjoy 1 Timothy 6:17; not angels.
For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 2 Corinthians 5:4-7
I have chopped this little selection out of a larger discussion on mortality and immortality, flesh and Spirit man. You see, whatever it is that ails you in the flesh, in my case my health problems, may cause you to wish to be "dressed" or clothed differently. Right now we are all dressed up in flesh, or mortality. We don't long so much to have this mortality taken off, so much as to have our new Spiritual bodies spring out of these earthly shells into new life, immortal and limitless. It is life we are wanting, not death.
If you watched the movie Avatar, you see the same idea. The protagonist is handicapped, and through the avatar he puts on a new body in a virtual world and is able to run and really live again. So you see, we love nature for the life that is in it. We love living animals because they have life within them. The natural world is bits of life all around us, messengers of the life that is within us, and that Spirit of life is our greatest gift.
I slept soundly last night, and dreamed happy dreams. Sleep is precious
when you hit your forties. We get tired. But, I can remember, in the past, times
I have felt restless. Sometimes a sense of restlessness can be so great and
troublesome that we can’t focus our minds on the tasks at hand. Sometimes it can
prevent our sleep as well.
In Hebrews 4:9-11 the writer of Hebrews is preaching a sermon (in the
last half of chapter three and chapter four) using Psalm 95 as his text. David
had mentioned the fact that many of the children of Israel were not allowed to
enter into the “rest” of Canaan Land due to their lack of faith, but died in the
wilderness over their 40 year wanderings. Instead their children entered into
that glorious rest provided by God. He goes on to tie in the fact that god wants
us to receive the rest from our own “good works” where we tried to pay for sins,
and instead allow His blood to cover our sins. Afterall, the Sabbath means
resting from our work.
In Hebrews, it is explained that the Sabbath Day rest of the Jews (work
six days, rest on the seventh) was a shadow or type of God’s rest that is to be
provided to His children. Hebrews is pointing out that because David said
“Today, if you will hear His voice,” then there must be another rest remaining
for the people of God, more than a Sunday nap between services, more than Canaan
Land for the Jews.
This is also shown in the prophetic passage in Isaiah 11:10. We know
that our rest comes from the lord. Psalm 37:7 and Matthew 11:28 points us in the
direction of our most bountiful source of rest and peace here on Earth. Prayer
is the source of peace and strength, our rest in God’s arms.
“At that heavenly sound
My soul, that is sunk in forgetfulness,
Recovers its judgment
And the lost memory
Of its first, exalted origin.
It transverses the ether
Until it reaches the highest sphere,
And there it hears another mode
Of imperishable music,
The first, the source of all.
Here the soul steers
Through a sea of sweetness, and at last
Sinks so deep within,
That it hears or feels
No strange or rare event.
O blessed trance!
O death that gives life! O sweet oblivion!
Could I but remain in your repose
Without being restored
Ever to these low and abject senses!
To this bliss I call you,
Glory of Apollo’s sacred choir,
Friends whom I love
Beyond all treasure,
Since all visible things are sorrowful tears.
Oh, may your music, Salinas,
Sound everlasting in my ears;
Hearing it my senses awaken to God’s goodness,
And all else remain oblivious.”
by Luis de Leon - Ode to Salinas*
* Fragment of a larger poem, which was translated from the Spanish
Salinas was a blind organist who played for the Cathedral of Salamanca,
Spain in the 1500’s. Leon apparently loved to hear Salinas play, and as other
portions of the poem explain, hearing the blind man play about the raptures of
heaven reminded him of how truly “blind” men are who seek only gold to satisfy
themselves here on Earth. The poem is speaking of organ music, a delightful
sound in which it is easy to lose yourself. But, there are parallels here drawn,
in my mind, to prayer.
Where we can turn music on loud enough when we just want to relax at
home, to stop our mind from working, providing a sense of rest sometimes from
troubled thoughts, prayer can give a rest to the restless that unburdens the
mind, body, and soul. The difference is like anesthetic and antiseptic.
Anesthetic numbs pain by dulling the senses, masking the symptoms. Antiseptic
cleanses a wound, allowing healing to take place.
When I can’t take time aside to pray, like while working, music
functions well to turn our thoughts to God. But, when I lay everything aside,
and turn my thoughts to God, focusing on who He is, my mind not only forgets the
details of the day, but wounds actually begin to shrink and heal. Heart pain is
erased in prayer.
In prayer, I can “cross that heavenly sphere,” and sink so deep within
His “sea of sweetness” that I feel nothing. When I hear His voice “sounding
everlastingly in my ears,” my senses die to everything else, external and
internal distractions, and “awaken to God’s goodness” where all else fades in
oblivion. This rest is the greatest peace to be found on Earth.
Hebrews warns us that the disobedience of an unbelieving heart can
prevent us from receiving the rest of God, like in the wilderness of wanderings.
Afterall, if you don’t have faith that God can keep your restless spirit in His
hands, then you won’t bother to pray for peace.
More is included in God’s rest than prayer. Worship also provides that
glorious rest of God, again illustrated by the poem, and experienced in church
services. The Holy Ghost experience is a glorious rest for all who will partake.
The Heavenly City will be our eternal rest. Paul said that eyes have never seen
what God has in store for those who love God. 1 Corinthians 2:9 The peace of God
can surround our restless spirits and give us rest beyond our own understanding.
Philippians 4:7 You know, I can only imagine heaven, but prayer is a bit of
heaven here on Earth, for those who will enter into that rest.
The time has flown so fast today. I have been quite comfortable since early yesterday, which has not been the case for a couple weeks. I've felt more like myself today for the first time in awhile. Pain does crazy things to your head and your emotions. Some times I feel like a guinea pig or lab rat when a new doctor tries different things just to experiment. I know there is a purpose and they have to identify what is happening. But, its no fun suffering while they are experimenting with my pain.
But, the experimenting is done for now, and I feel no pain and my head is clear. I've sat comfortably in my recliner and enjoyed the rainy day with no discomfort. What I'm doing today is working.
So, as I sat here thinking about some of my past bike riding experiences, I remembered the first time I went on a local club ride in Rome. It was a lot of fun to ride with other people instead of by myself on local trails. I had ridden in some rides around the state already with massive groups of people I barely new, and I usually met a couple people to ride with while there. But, this was different. This was a small close knit group.
It was a lot of fun, I say, but only for the first half. Then we reached the hills, and I got dropped. My skill had not reached the level at that time to be able to maintain my pace on hills. So, I looked ahead when I finally made it to the top of the first hill, and they were no where in sight. Even when there were no hills, the policy is normally that the first half is considered "no-drop" meaning they promise to keep a pace to hold onto the newbys. Then its every man for himself.
I can not begin to describe for you the thoughts that go through your head when you are dropped. Your self-esteem takes a nose-dive. You feel like a loser. You realize that you are dead weight. In short, as I said about pain before, it messes with your head and with your emotions. But, I wasn't a quitter. And, that's what kept me going. Through the embarrassment. Through the lonely miles by myself on that first club ride I swore to myself that I would do what I had to do to keep up in the future. And, I did. Improvement happens if you don't quit.
Sitting here now, I'm not riding bikes anymore. But, my challenges are much greater than keeping pace on a group ride or finishing a spin class in good form. I have to challenge myself to keep my mind focused on being a champion in this situation. Philippians 4:13 says that I can do everything that makes me stronger through Jesus. So, there is where we find our peace of mind, whether we are in pain or comfort. Peace of mind is a commodity. It is so nice to sit here listening to the rain outside my window in comfort.
I'm sure most people have seen Nick's story by now. I have seen the videos of him speaking before, but I had not seen this one with the other activities. It is very inspiring to watch. He reminds me of the Scripture that says we can do all through Christ. Philippians 4:13
For Sale, barely used life. 1964 Model, fully restored in '79.
Hi-quality sound system. Shifts gears easily, excellent transmission.
Exterior needs some body work. Lo-mileage. Only driven to church
twice a week for 32 years by a Christian lady.
God has a plan for every life. I just don't know how far I've gotten in His plan. I look at the lives of great Christians who have gone before me, and I have to wonder, what could I accomplish if I were on the shoulders of these giants? nanos gigantium humeris insidentes - Dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants (Latin)
No, instead of mounting the achievements of the past, I strive to go my own route, and being quite dwarfed myself I fail to accomplish much in the way that would propel this Gospel forward towards God's coming Kingdom. Why am I here...now...in this moment? What can I do for God, if...? What is it that God needs? These are all questions we have to answer for ourselves.
Esther 4:14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then
shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place;
but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou
art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
It would be so much easier if we all had an Uncle Mordecai to tell us what to do for God. That seems to be the work of the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit, in our lives. The Spirit within us compels us to move, to actually do something.
Philippians 3:12-14 Not as though I had already attained, either were
already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also
I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have
apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark
for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Yes, the Spirit compels me to reach for what God calls me to do in this world. It is for this reason that I realize I need to sell out to God all that I hold back from Him. After all, He already paid for the sale on Calvary.
*There is no ending for tonights blog...since it is just a series of conclusions.