When I got home from church, a vase of white roses and sunflowers along with a bag of cookies and brownies greeted me on my porch—wedding reception leftovers. Two of my neighbors, both in their early 70s, got together last year and got married this last Saturday. The ceremony was traditional but with various personal touches that make weddings so enjoyable. Weddings are special, even when they’re not the first time around. The only problem, they’re selling both their houses and buying one of their own. That’s not their problem, it’s ours. We’re happy for them but not happy about losing two nice neighbors. We’ve established relationships over the years. I understand they want a place to start anew and make their own memories. I just hope it’s not so far away we can’t get together once in a while. Good neighbors should not be taken for granted.
Not a bad idea: “Keep a list of good things that happen; when you’re feeling down, refer to it.” I kept a “blessings list” for many years, but don’t remember referring to it much, except to add another blessing. I didn’t start one this year. I felt so overwhelmed with blessings, I gave up on it. Maybe I should start a new list for the coming year because this matchstick suggestion list is of “good things that happen,” so maybe it goes beyond just a blessing list for me. Actually, if my children or grands are blessed in some way, I feel blessed too. When our little church receives a blessing, I feel I got one too. When I use the word blessings, I’m referring to what goes beyond just material things and stuff. But, even with things and stuff, every good comes from God. If it’s good, it’s from God. OK, I’m feeling overwhelmed again! Thank you, Lord, for all your blessings!
Speaking of relationships (my last post), one time I asked for dill pickles at a restaurant even though they weren’t part of the meal. Whenever my friends and I go there now, no matter what I order, if we get that waitress, I get dill pickle slices on the side. Though I often order senior meals, I tip the same as if it were a regular meal. That may be a factor in how she treats me, but I think it’s more than that. One of my friends likes multiple refills on her coffee. This waitress doesn’t need to be reminded. Over the years she has built a relationship with our group. Though we like to go to different places, that little Texas roadside barbecue restaurant has become one of our favorites. We feel welcome when we go there. She doesn’t think I’m weird because I like pickles with my meals (well maybe, but she doesn’t say so) or that my friend is a coffee-holic. It made me think, wouldn’t it be great if more people felt as comfortable going into churches.
The matchstick suggestion for this week: “Ask people older than you about their secrets to happiness.” Hey, it’s getting harder to find someone older than me! And older and happier than me, that could be even more difficult. OK, I do know a few people older than me, and I hope they’re happy. Older people put on a brave face, hiding their backaches and painful knees and other problems. When anyone asks me how I am, I say, “Fine!” And, most of the time, that’s true, but even when it isn’t, I still say fine. I figure though they ask, they really don’t want to hear about my aches and pains. But I am happy, and if someone asks me my secret to happiness, I can answer that question—close relationships. First and most important relationship is with God, then with family and then with friends. Other relationships can develop too, with those we don’t come in contact with that often, such as doctors, mail carriers and store clerks. God designed us to be in relationship, with him and with each other. When we are, we’re happy!
Many are the ideas and suppositions about the stories of the Bible. I read with interest an article on King David and his sin with Bathsheba in a Christian magazine. The author called David a rapist. Shocking? Yes, I have to count myself among those who heard and once believed Bathsheba was at fault too. But, years ago, I researched (read the scriptures) and wrote an article on the subject. Although I did not go so far as to label David a rapist, I did point out that Bathsheba had few options under the circumstances. For those who believe she seduced David, look at the prophet Nathan’s analogy when he confronted David with his sin (2 Samuel 12). King David is portrayed as the greedy rich man with many sheep, who takes the poor man’s (Uriah’s) one beloved lamb (Bathsheba). Nathan’s rebuke showed Bathsheba as no more guilty than the little lamb forcibly taken by the rich man. Just as the rich man used his overbearing power to take what he wanted, so did David. Bathsheba was forced to submit to the king. But, don’t believe me, read it for yourself!
For some reason my mail wasn’t picked up yesterday. Today my morning newspaper didn’t arrive on my driveway. What I take for granted and seldom think about isn’t happening! Though I tip these people at Christmas, I don’t think much about them otherwise, except when they don’t come through. “Thank someone who’s made a difference in your day.” It’s simple gratitude, but if we followed this matchstick suggestion every day, it would not only make a difference in our lives but also in the lives of others. Seeing that red flag still up on my mailbox and going without my morning paper could ruin my day. But what about all those other days in the year when the mail carrier and newspaper deliverer come through? I need to change my focus. When I focus on what others have done for me, it takes my mind off myself. It makes me look for the positives in my life, not just the negatives. Thanking others makes them feel encouraged too. Practicing gratitude is good for everyone!
“Lend you time, talents, or listening ear to someone else.” That’s the matchstick suggestion for this week, and it’s a good one. It’s even more than that; it’s a godly one. We are called to be concerned about others as much as ourselves, and concern for our self is quite a lot of concern. I did listen to several people at church yesterday who had various problems, and I offered to pray for them. That’s what you do at church. That’s Sunday morning expected. But Jesus had more than one day in mind when he gave his rule of love. Sunday is over. Now I’ve got to remember to carry his love command to give my time, talents and ear to others all throughout the week.