One Liners for a Laugh Today

Today a man knocked on my door and asked for a small donation towards the local swimming pool, so I gave him a glass of water.

I changed my password to”incorrect” so whenever I forget it the computer screen will say, “Your password is incorrect.”

If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.

Never tell your problems to anyone, because 20 percent don’t care and the other 80 percent are glad you have them.

Hospitality is the art of making guests feel like they’re at home when you wish they were.

Television may insult your intelligence, but nothing rubs it in like a computer.

Every time someone comes up with a foolproof solution, along comes a more-talented fool.

Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.

If you keep your feet firmly on the ground, you’ll have trouble putting on your pants.

A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.

Women spend more time wondering what men are thinking than men spend thinking.

Women sometimes make fools of men, but most guys are the do-it-yourself type.

If tomatoes are technically a fruit, is ketchup a smoothie?

The Wisdom of Infants

Last Sunday, a visiting minister spoke to us about the great awakenings in Christianity through the ages. I’m pretty sure most Christians would agree that we need another one right now. But great awakenings don’t just happen on their own. They begin within each of us. They happen when we take God deadly serious, they happen when God’s people seek God, when we search the Scriptures for guidance, and believe the Scriptures even when they seem unbelievable, when we beat on the door of heaven, and cry like hungry infants to God, when we not only believe in the unbelievable, but do not settle for less.
According to the Lectionary Scriptures for May 22, 2016, the first thing God created was wisdom. I swear I never heard that before. It gets weirder. This wisdom, that as hard as it is to believe, takes delight in the human race. When I focus on humanity’s track record, I find that pretty much impossible to believe. Then we are told that wisdom comes from knowledge of God. And the scriptures go on to say that knowledge of God only comes from fear of God. Fear of God…..that’s not a popular belief these days. What does fear of God mean. It means we take God seriously, more seriously than our success, our health issues, our love life, our bank accounts, even our children’s and grandchildren’s soccer games. It means we live like we might die today and would have to look Jesus in the eyes and see his broken heart because we missed the point of both His life and our own.
The scriptures today call this wisdom, the wisdom of infants. What in the world is that? It’s a heart knowledge that everything comes through God, our creator; health, wealth, love, joy, sickness, lack of money, loneliness, even heartbreak. Unless we believe that, we will be blind to the meaning and purpose in the whole of life. It is a wisdom that knows to cry out to its creator when in need, a wisdom that cries until it knows it has been heard, a wisdom that knows when that cry is heard to cling like an infant to the finger of God.
How can we possibly believe that the creator of all the wonders and mysteries of our gigantic Universe would care about us. We may feel important in our small personal world, but we’re way smaller than ants in the size of things. Okay, here comes more unbelievable stuff: Paul tells us today that God not only cares about us, but because of Jesus we can boast in our hope of sharing in the glory of God. (Seriously?) Boast?! About sharing the glory of God?! How scary is that! In fact, Scripture tells us that God made us just a little lower than Himself. That God actually calls us to be co-creators with Him of our world. Think about that for a minute. We’re like Junior Partners with God. Because of the love of Jesus, who was willing to be the partner of God in both suffering and salvation, we can hope in sharing the glory of God. Do notice the small print about being a partner with God in both suffering and salvation.
Good old Paul goes further. He says that because of Jesus, we can trust and even boast in our suffering because suffering produces endurance, which produces character, which produces hope. A hope that trusts in the love of God poured into each of our hearts by the Spirit of God within us. And through that same Spirit the wisdom and knowledge that Jesus had, that got Him through suffering and even through death can also become ours. With that grace we will make it through many practice deaths and resurrections in our lives.
Let’s face it, these things are impossible to believe until we experience some of them personally. How do we do that? Take God seriously. Be so afraid of missing God’s call that you daily seek, pray, beat on heaven’s door for the wisdom of infants, the wisdom that is awareness of God in everything in your daily life. Pray for the grace to be a partner with God in shaping your world. Pray for endurance in suffering, so that you will develop the character that sees hope in everything. Pray constantly for awareness of the Spirit within you so that you may be open to the very same wisdom and knowledge that got Jesus through suffering and even death to resurrection.

Prov. 8:1-4,22-31 Psalm 8 Romans 5:1-5 John 16:12-15

What Was the Most Important “Do Not” According to Jesus?

Okay…it mystifies me that we as Christians don’t seem to recognize that of all the “do nots,” the one Jesus was strongest on was “do not judge.” And obviously he didn’t mean “do not judge people for the good things they do.” He meant do not judge others for the sins they commit.

Why?  Why give us rules and then say “do not judge” those breaking them?

#1  because no one is without sin or in secular terms: nobody is perfect.

#2  because the message of Jesus is that we are loved by God in our imperfect, broken, unfinished, “sinful’ humanity, and once we recognize that we are loved in spite of our selfishness and lack of love, it gives us the grace to begin growing in loving others as Jesus and God love us.

#3  because we do not know the “hand” anyone else was dealt. Only God does, so only God can judge them. And only God will know when they can accept His love enough to truly see themselves without condemnation and be freed to become more like Jesus in what ever way God is calling them to grow. (Not in whatever way we think they should be growing at any particular time.)

Short version:

1. Nobody’s perfect.
2. When we recognize our brokenness and learn that we are loved as we are, we become free to change and grow more loving.
3.Only God knows if, when, and how He is calling and freeing someone to grow.

Marriage is Not Always Pretty by Heather MacDonald Norman

by Heather MacDonald Norman (Eileen’s daughter-in-law)

Marriage is not always pretty. You get to see the absolute worst in someone. You see them when they’re mad, sad, being stubborn, when they’re so unlovable they make you want to scream. But you also get to see them when they’re laughing so hard that tears run down their face, and they can’t help but let out those weird snorting noises. You see them at 3 am when all the world ‘s asleep except you two, because you’re taking turns walking a sick kid across the floor for the millionth time. You get to see the side of them that no one else does and it’s really, really not always pretty. It’s snorting while laughing. It’s tears when it feels like the world is crashing down around you. It’s the farting, the bedhead and the bad breath. But it’s also the random Lindy Hop dances 15 times a day to make your kid smile. It’s anger and joy.

Marriage isn’t always a beautiful thing, but it is AMAZING.

It’s knowing that someone loves you so much, they’d walk through fire for you, and won’t leave even though you just said something nasty. It’s having someone have your back no matter what. And though it’s fights over stupid things, it’s also those nights when you fall asleep in each others’ arms feeling like there will never be enough time with them.

It’s cleaning up their throw up, the kids throw up, the dogs throw up (SO MUCH THROW UP), or just rubbing your spouse’s back and telling them it’s going to be okay when the world is cruel. It’s the hardest, but most rewarding job there is, to be married and raise a family. Because, at the end of the day you get to crawl into bed with your best friend, the weirdest, most annoying, loving, funny, perfectly imperfect person you know.

Marriage is not always pretty but it’s one hell of a ride, and I would marry you all over again without batting an eye.
And because seven year old Bella made me break it down, it’s: Happy 18th Anniversary or
936 weeks
6570 days
157,680 hours
9,460,800 minutes
567,648,000 seconds
and counting.

I love you Tommy Norman and our perfectly imperfect life.

Only the Good Die Young

I’ve always been puzzled by the saying: “Only the good die young.” Now, I’ve decided that’s because old age is at least purgatory, if not hell.
Recently a friend’s husband, who has both a broken shoulder similar to mine before my surgery and loss of muscle in his legs like my husband has right now from being in the hospital, somehow slipped down between the bed and and a low, but heavy bedside chest of drawers and couldn’t get up. If you have the black humor most of us old guys have developed, her description of figuring out how to free him without hurting him would have you howling with laughter and wishing she had gotten a video for U tube.
If, however, you are twenty years younger, you would know that anyone under sixty would want to put their eyes out and run screaming from the sight of the video. Nobody wants to know about the ridiculous, humiliating and painful experiences of old age before they have to deal with their own.
The grace in all this is that these events give us our black humor and we laugh a whole lot, in fact pretty much all the time. The other good thing is, if your marriage lasts this long, you get over a hell of a lot of silly sparring and blaming. You have to become a team or you won’t survive. And since you both get turns being the one needing help, there’s a lot more empathy and tenderness that comes from the challenges.
So it seems to me that maybe old age is just a sort of refining purgatory.  That would help make some sense out of it.

Jesus Loves Me, but I Suspect that I’m Not Playing with a Full Deck.

Many years ago after a long and very disappointing search for spiritual meaning in most of the major Christian denominations and even some other world religions, I was encouraged to say a prayer, “Jesus Christ, if you are who you claim to be, I want you to be my Savior and Lord.” This was not connected to any denomination. I didn’t expect anything, because as I explained to the woman challenging me, I didn’t believe in God and I thought Jesus was a very good man, but a delusional idealist that got himself killed. At first, nothing happened and I felt pretty safe that nothing would.

Then suddenly I simply knew with my whole self – mind, heart and spirit, that I was loved unconditionally by God, even though for some years like Madalyn Murray O’Hair, I had opposed anything Christian in the public sector. Suddenly, things from Scripture, which in my search I had read from beginning to end, came together with things I had learned when recently getting a degree in Psychology. And I was filled to overflowing with total mind blowing joy.

That was forty-seven years ago and my journey has since been centered on the person of Jesus as the Love of God fleshed out so we can understand it, experience it, and learn to love like that. I have found that there are some people in all the denominations who “get” that. But all the denominations have pieces of the puzzle that they emphasize to the detriment of the whole picture. Most of humanity including nominal Christians- have simply missed the point of Jesus Christ. To me the greatest tragedy I see in today’s broken world is that Christians are turning people off before they can discover the Love of God in Jesus.

To discover that Love of God in Jesus we pretty much need to put everything we were taught or heard on hold in a mental file, and spend some serious time getting to know the man Jesus personally, discovering in the New Testament that he grew and changed in how he understood his faith and even his ministry over and over until He “got” it and was God’s perfect expression of Love that we could know in the flesh. Then we too will be able to live that process of becoming Love…..never perfectly……sometimes falling under the weight of our human imperfections, but mostly inching closer by seeking grace. It will not be exactly the same or on the same schedule as anyone else, because we are all different. We weren’t all dealt the same hand. Frankly, I think I am one of those who isn’t playing with a full deck.

But God, and only God, knows what we each have to work with, so only God knows how well we are playing the hand we were dealt. We can’t even judge ourselves, never- the-less anyone else. I also learned in my search that the mystics (those that have encountered the Love of God powerfully and personally) of all the world’s religions say pretty much the same thing, “We are all one and whatever we do to anyone, we do to all.”  Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least, you do to me.” You would think that we would be a lot more careful how we treat people, even those we may unfortunately be inclined to consider outsiders or sinners.

I can’t help but wanting to share the Love of God I have experienced through Jesus.  But I have learned the hard way, that trying to force our own particular Christian beliefs on those who have not experienced the Love of God, is the mostly likely way to prevent them from becoming open to that experience of Love. We can let the world know what we believe. We can teach our children what we believe. But when we force those beliefs on those who have not experienced the Love of God, we risk being responsible for closing their minds and hearts to God.

I have seen over these forty-seven years that each person’s journey is different and though saying that particular prayer has validity and meaning, it doesn’t always have an immediate impact like it did for me at that point in time in my search. Each person is different and each person’s timing on their journey is different. I think some of us are like the prodigal and some of us are like the older brother. I have seen truly kind and good church going people who believe in the Love of God, but only finally experience it with that explosive joy through a personal encounter with Jesus in their seventies or even later.

“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.” It’s a lifelong personal journey of growing and learning and the high points come at different times and in different ways for all of us. Perseverance is the key.

Disclosure Form for Counselors to Fill Out and Give to Prospective Clients at First Meeting

If you were seeking a counselor for yourself or a family member, what would you consider important to know about their beliefs and values? Please comment on these possibilities and add any other ones you would include.

Disclosure  Form for Counselors to Fill Out and Give to Prospective Clients at First Meeting

(And for the client to fill out if they choose after reading the Counselor’s answers.)
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure whether I believe) in a higher power, we call God.)
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure) in a God of unconditional love
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure) in a God who keeps score.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure about) life after death.
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure) we must accept Jesus as Savior and Lord to get to heaven.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) the 10 commandments are the basic requirements to be a good person, worthy of heaven.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) all a person has to do to be good is not purposely harm others.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) we are called to love all people the same as Jesus did.
I( believe, don’t believe, not sure) there’s a hell for sinners after life.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) that there is a God that is actively involved in human lives.
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure) that God allows consequences for our choices and actions while we are still alive so we will become better people.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) that marriage is valid only between a man and a woman.
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure) that marriage is valid only when neither party has been married before.
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure) that sex outside marriage is sinful for anyone.
I( believe, don’t believe, not sure) in abortion.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) in abortion under certain circumstances.
I( believe, don’t believe, not sure) that it is wrong to kill even in war.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) in capital punishment.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) it is all right to kill in defense of my property.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) that mercy killing or assisted suicide is wrong in any circumstances.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) that suffering is part of life for everyone.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) in the efficacy of prayer. I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) in what we call miracles because they are beyond our understanding. I believe in (all, most, none, don’t know) of the teachings of (Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus, etc.) I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) we are both forgiven for the harm we do and called to forgive others. I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) a person must belong to a particular religion to have eternal life.

The Others

Beyond our edge lies another country.
The others live there-right beyond our edge.
A country’s edge drawn black-lined and defined,
us and ours-and then-the others.
A land’s edge or a skin’s edge or a mind’s edge;
no inside-out and God knows-no outside-in!
Is it really clear where we stop and an other begins,
even those, we once would call our friends?
Have we made a God of LAW that wars with the God
of COMPASSION who surely cringes and protests
when we brandish our brutal selfishness
wounding all the weak and vulnerable
who stumble in its path and lie there bleeding?
Does the crusade demanded by another idol,
the ever restless idol of THIRST FOR POWER,
that seeks to wall the borders of earth’s bounty
and seal doors that once offered sanctuary from evil,
now dare try to wrap even our hearts with concertina wire,
like the many map lines of history’s territorial greed?
Is nothing sacred? Is nothing safe from hubris?                                                                                     Wake up, people of good will!                                                                                                                         The time has come to expose this egomania                                                                                             and challenge people to believe once more                                                                                               in the possibility of joy from open hearts                                                                                                 and the sense of safety that only love can bring.

Adolescent Sex Is as Addictive as Crack Cocaine

Adolescent sex is as addictive as meth, crack cocaine, alcohol, or nicotine. Once teens start having sex it’s like two right handed children playing left handed catch with a live hand grenade. I was a “wait ‘til you marry” person, not because I was a “goodie two shoes,” but because I was a devout coward. In my day there were immediate unpleasant consequences for getting pregnant outside marriage And we weren’t surrounded by people selling sex as the only reason for living.                                                                                                                         But today’s world is simply saturated with sex in almost every ad, book, movie, and on line site. The culture no longer supports abstinence or even monogamy. No matter how good, articulate, loving, and supportive we are as parents……it is like sending our children into war with water guns. Kids have way too much freedom at very young ages, both the opportunities and stress of unchaperoned situations, and less immediate consequences than older generations had. And like all adolescents they live in the moment, oblivious to any life long consequences. Or they are like most of us are about death, not believing pregnancy or disease will happen to them.
Short of locking them up from 12 to 21, I have no simple solutions. I believe and talk about a loving forgiving God, but what I probably never stress enough is that neither love nor forgiveness protects us from the consequences of our bad choices. Without obvious consequences we will just keep making them. That’s not what a loving God wants or allows for us.
In our teens most of us aren’t yet sure who we are or if who we are will turn out to be sufficient in this world. Sex isn’t just amazing pleasure, it makes us feel like a hero or princess…..we are #1 with someone. We are not alone anymore as we do the work of separating who we are from who our parents are.
We don’t realize that need is not love and that infatuation doesn’t last. Learning to love takes years of learning to make unselfish choices. When we make our lives incredibly harder by creating another life that we aren’t yet equipped to nurture, finance, and protect by putting their many needs before our wants, our infatuation seldom has a chance to become love. The overload of challenges may well freeze us in our immaturity and lock us into remaining overwhelmed immature children making bad choices for much of our lives. So many lives are stunted from choices made in the teen years.
And for most youth the danger of disease has no more personal reality than death.   No matter what medicines are available, the consequences of STD’s and even the side effects of medicines for them can permanently diminish the joy of sex and complicate relationships. Today even many adults assume there’s a medicine for everything. But the reality is that as soon as we find a cure for one disease, another disease appears.  The sad reality is that often the victims are youth who plan to abstain from sex until old enough to make a life commitment, but are overwhelmed by cultural circumstances.
Many people of all ages assume a fetus is not a person and if we are the type of person who doesn’t naturally consider possibilities, we may not worry much about emotional repercussions from having an abortion. But in my 78 years of life, I have witnessed the changes in personality traits that people experience as they enter different stages of life. I am convinced that even those that do not feel guilt, worry, sadness or even curiosity about their unborn child at the time of making the choice for abortion, will eventually have to deal with those.
I think society has pretty much obliterated fear of hell. What no one warns is that bad choices can turn our life here into a hell,.
Parents, tell it like it is. They may not hear you, but at least you will have tried.

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Midlife Crisis

This author is one of my favorites. Normally extremely funny and informative about the beauties of South Africa. This shocked me and prompted me to not only pray for this country and its poverty, but to help make others aware of this tragic state of affairs. Pass this on please.

23thorns

This morning I woke up to find that I had been invaded. Violated. I turned on my tablet to be greeted by a cheerful message informing me that my blog was doing rather nicely. This seemed a little strange, since I haven’t been a particularly diligent blogger of late. I logged on to see what was up. This. This was up.

 Photo673.jpg 

I had apparently posted it yesterday. Twice. Which would have been a curious thing to do. If you had to ask someone who knows me to sum me up as quickly and efficiently as possible, they would show you that image and say “Do you see this? He is the exact opposite of every single thing you can see right here.”

So what was it doing there? Twice? Well, thereby hangs a tale. Let’s start with lions, shall we…

If you spend any time out in the…

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