I hope you’re joining me in some of my matchstick suggestions, because this is a good one: “Spend some time around animals.” Not all animals are safe and tame now, but those that are truly give us joy. I’m not alone in my love for animals. We spend multiple thousands of dollars a year on our animals. And, how about our support animals, mostly dogs, but even birds and horses can be support animals. Veterans find working with horses calms their PTSD anxieties. I don’t need a support animal, but I’m thinking of getting one of the calmer dogs such as a Labrador retriever. Yes, it’s going to cost me. My yard will have to have a fenced-off area for her. I’ll need a door replaced to allow her a doggy door entrance, and there’s vet bills and kennel fees when I’m away and dog food to consider. Whoa! Maybe I’d better rethink this and just be happy enjoying my “granddogs.” Thank you, Lord, for creating this wondrous menagerie of animal life to amuse, amaze and support us in so many ways.
I was in a hurry—a big hurry—and the meeting had gone overtime. I scurried out the door thinking, no way I’m going to make it. But, I was going to try. Don’t you hate it when you promise someone you’ll meet them at a certain time, and it seems everything works against you. I had a drive ahead of me, so I prayed, “God, help me make all the lights!” Incredibly, as I left the city, it was looking good, when all of a sudden, the traffic came to a complete stop. What? Surely this won’t last long, but it did. How frustrating! We were stuck. Pickups and SUVs began leaving the interstate, driving down into a grassy ditch to reach the frontage road. Finally, I thought if they can do it, I can. So down the slope I went and shot up the other side to the frontage road, on my way again, past all the stalled traffic. Later on the news, I learned what the problem was. The police shut down the interstate because someone had jumped from an overpass onto the highway. My little traffic problem didn’t seem so significant anymore.
I’m on the schedule to lead communion this Sunday so I’ve had that special service on my mind all week. We know when Christ initiated this ceremony, it symbolized him fulfilling the old covenant and founding the new covenant. In the Christian community we call it by different names, the Eucharist, the Last or Lord’s Supper, communion. Some celebrate the Mass. But all recognize the importance of commemorating this reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for all humanity. Without that sacrifice no salvation for us. It made me think, we didn’t ask to be created, and once created we didn’t ask to be saved. Just leave us alone, God, to do our own thing. Just like us, Israel didn’t ask to be God’s nation. They resented God’s interference in their lives and rebelled against it. It’s all God—all in God’s plan for us—our creation and our salvation into eternal life with him. In his mercy and gracious love he brought us into being and wants us in his family so much he gave his life for us. How huge is that!
What? But I don’t cook! Not much anyway. This week’s matchstick suggestion: “Make a double batch of cookies—or triple your soup recipe—and share freely.” Being by myself, I rarely cook anymore. Of course, there’s the various potluck item I need to make or when holidays come around, but otherwise my cooking doesn’t go much beyond boiling or scrambling an egg or making toast. I’m only exaggerating a little. But this reminded me, speaking of sharing, I’ve been wanting to share a recipe with you I got from a friend. It’s called Protein Pancakes. If you can call any pancakes healthy, protein pancakes are the healthiest. Here goes: rolled oats (1 cup); full-fat cottage cheese (1 cup); egg whites (1 cup or use 4 whole eggs if you like); vanilla (1 tsp.); cinnamon; avocado oil to grease pan. I also include some chopped walnuts in mine to add a bit of crunchiness. This recipe serves two people so I cut it in half. Top your pancakes with pure maple syrup and enjoy. I just had some this morning and they were delicious!
After church Sunday, I stopped by Costco to pick up a few items for myself and my youngest daughter. We don’t have a Costco up north where we live. The Cowboys and Redskins game started at noon, so as I was checking out I wondered what the score was. I could have looked it up, but the young guy putting my groceries in my cart was big and tall and looked like he could be a football player himself. I figured he would know. So as I was paying I asked him if he knew the score. As it turned out, he had been too busy to check lately. He pulled out his phone and asked Siri but Siri wasn’t responding. I didn’t want to hold up the line, so I told him it was OK and went on my way. Before I could get to the exit, here he came running up behind me, saying, “14 to 7.” I asked, “Cowboys?” He said, “Yes,” as he hurried back to his station. I hope he didn’t lose his job over this. We take our football seriously in Texas. (The Cowboys went on to win 31 to 21.)
I love Jesus. The older I get the more obsessed I am with learning about God’s nature. And every book I read points me right back to Jesus. If I want to understand the nature of God my study has to be about Jesus, because that’s how God chose to reveal himself. Where do you learn about Jesus? In the Gospels, of course, but also all through the Old Testament as well. We forget sometimes that the Hebrew Scriptures were the scriptures Jesus and the apostles used to proclaim the gospel message. Jesus can be found throughout the Bible. When I think about how Almighty God was incarnated as a human—a real live human—so he could live, die and be resurrected to save us, I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving. Jesus lived a perfect life every single day, facing and overcoming every temptation—every day of his life—to restore human nature back to how he originally created it. Though he was both God and human, the human part wasn’t easy. He fasted more than a month to be able to face Satan’s wiles. He often got away to himself and prayed all night. He learned obedience by overcoming every sin. Before the crucifixion he sweat blood and wept as he yearned and hoped for another way, yet submitted to his Father’s will. He cried out on the cross in anguish as he felt forsaken by his Father. All this for us. I love Jesus!
When I read this week’s matchstick suggestion I thought, that’s what I’m already doing: “Spend a day by a body of water—the ocean, a lake, a stream.” I spent this weekend with a daughter and son-in-law and his relatives at Lake Ouachita in Arkansas. It was hot but out on the boat with breezes coming over the lake, it was fine. What is it about water that is so calming. The stress just seemed to melt away as soon as we parked at their campsite overlooking the lake. After the boat ride and hamburgers off the grill, while some fished, the rest of us got caught up on family news. We didn’t do much else except sit there and look out over the beautiful lake. Any time you get the chance I recommend the relaxing water “cure” for whatever ails you.