My friend Donna told me she wished we lived closer so we could have COD lunches. She said she regularly has those with some of her friends. I had no idea what she meant so she explained. A COD lunch is a time to have a conversation of depth with a friend you can talk to about all most anything, even religion and politics. Wow, I thought, rare friends indeed are those you can broach with those two topics! Religion and politics we usually avoid in polite conversation, especially at the same time. It’s sad, but even at church it’s not safe to express political views because politics has divided us so. Whichever way you lean, someone is going to be offended, and I don’t want to lose friends. Then I ask myself, if my take on politics causes me to lose a Christian friend, then something is not right with our politics! God is a God of love, inclusion and reconciliation, not division.
Do you get what I call “love touches” from God? I’m sure you do. We all do. We may not call them that, but that’s what they really are. I’m not one to believe in coincidences when I know God has intervened. I’ve asked God to be involved in my life, totally involved, so that’s what I expect from him. It’s faith in a God who I know is faithful to us, even when we don’t think to ask or even deserve it. What made me think of this is because I volunteer to cover the hospice office on their regularly scheduled all-staff meeting days. This month Paula called me and said she thought the meeting date was scheduled wrong so she would check and call me back. No, the date was right and an extra meeting was also set for a later date. That’s good for me, I said, because as it turns out I can’t come in on the regularly scheduled date, but I can on the other two dates. Paula exclaimed, “God worked this out for me!” A little matter, you might say, but Paula didn’t think so, and neither do I.
Nothing about being a Christian is intuitive. What I think and do naturally is not of God. Yes, I’ve done some good over the years, but if not by the Spirit of God, even those actions are tainted with pride and self-righteousness. Oh no, Sheila’s throwing a pity party and she’s asking us to join her! Not at all. This is not surprising news. I’m perfectly happy admitting any real good comes through the Holy Spirit. Living in the Bible Belt, for years I was immersed in the belief that going to church regularly, paying my tithes, volunteering, helping my neighbor, all would gain another star in my crown. Now, I realize all these are wonderful traits, but if not the works of the Spirit, then I am no more than a modern-day Pharisee. Good works show God at work, not me. Thank you, Lord!
The Lenten season is from February 26 to April 8 this year—40 days to prepare our hearts and minds to commemorate the death and resurrection of our Lord. For several years now, I’ve made a little sacrifice daily during that time to remind me of the gigantic sacrifice made by Jesus so this human and all humanity could be reinstated back into relationship with God. I’m having a hard time figuring out what to give up this year. Even though it’s just a little reminder, I want my sacrifice to be something that could be truly defined as a sacrifice. A suggestion was to donate an item out of my closets every day to a nonprofit. This will be a problem for me as I’ve just done, as the British say, a clear-out, of my closets. I have to admit in my former effort I didn’t get rid of some clothes that I should have and those that hold memories for me. I don’t wear them, but I can’t seem to let go of them. Will I do it? I’ll let you know.
“Have a good day!” Or “Drive safe!” Those are a couple of autophrases I use when someone leaves. And, though I say them almost automatically, I mean what I say. But, how about when I say, “I’ll pray for you.” That one bothers me. What if it has turned into an autophrase (made-up word) like those others? What if I go on my way and forget all about praying for that person or situation? That’s scary to me! Facebook requests make up one of my prayer lists. Every Sunday there’s a list from church. And, of course, family situations come up. To help me remember, I’ve made lists on my phone and computer, but my prayer lists can get very long. It’s not hard remembering family and close friends, but what about the others? I’m so thankful God knows what everyone needs and, what’s most important, he never forgets! Lord, have mercy!
It’s in our local newspaper. He’s pledged himself to eat dog food for one month, right up to Super Bowl Sunday. It’s his own commercial dog food that he’s touting, against big brand names like Alpo or Purina. He wants to show his dog food is so well balanced nutritionally that humans can live on just that, like dogs do. He’s added nothing, no sauces or seasonings and he’s drinking only water. He says he feels “fantastic” and has lost 20 pounds. Quote: “We’re not going to feed your dog something we wouldn’t eat ourselves.” I’m trying to see the logic in this. It sounds like really good dog food, but why does dog food have to be OK for humans too? Yes, he admits it’s a marketing ploy. When asked how his dog food tastes, he said, “About like it smells.” I love living in Texas!
Years ago someone gave me an Apples of Gold book. Actually it’s a daily flip-type selection of quotes from the book. I’ve used it ever since. Unfortunately its quotes aren’t attributed so if I want to know who said or wrote them I have to look them up. Today’s quote: “Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it.” What a lovely way to express forgiveness I thought, so I looked up the author. I was surprised the author was Mark Twain. Twain’s quotes are often witty and can be a bit cynical. But his beautiful analogy made me ask myself, is there anyone I haven’t forgiven? This is a new year and it would be nice to think I have started it out by clearing my list of those who have wronged me in any way. It’s easy to say I have, but I’m asking the Holy Spirit to search my heart of hearts and help me to forgive in reality. True forgiveness I believe is a spiritual matter.