August 28, 2013

Pinocchio

Our pastor has been preaching out of Jonah and this last Sunday he pointed out that Jonah hit bottom several times while he was running from God. Jonah was below deck in the boat he took that was going in the opposite direction from Nineveh (Jonah 1:5), then he was thrown overboard and sank down into the sea (Jonah 1:15; 2:3,5-6), and he was down in the belly of a great fish (Jonah 1:17; 2:10). My husband and I talked about how it must have felt for Jonah inside that great fish.

Sometime ago we watched a PBS television special in which a man, part of a special science museum exhibit, swallowed a tiny camera that showed his digestive system up on a large screen for spectators to watch. I remember watching his throat contract as he swallowed the camera and what seemed to be a huge dark mouth opening to receive it which was his stomach. In addition to the camera, the tiny round container also carried a light, but Jonah would have been in pitch black darkness. I'm a claustrophic BBW and shiver when I think of a wet, slimy throat large enough to swallow me. Three years ago I had to have a closed MRI test for a great pain in my lower back which turned out to be a herniated disc and arthritis. I was sweating and praying in that tiny tube for approximately 30 minutes with my knees and belly touching the sides, trying hard not to panic. I asked my husband what protected Jonah from the stomach juices? Would he have mercifully suffocated first before being digested? Or did he get hung up in its throat like a fish bone? The scripture doesn't really say except that his life was ebbing away (Jonah 2:7). Then, he remembered the Lord and prayed: "Nobody but you, Lord, can save me!" The scriptures say his prayer rose to God -- how did it rise except in volume? I would probably have been screaming and blubbering too at this point!

All this reminded me of a JPEG image I saved from Facebook awhile back called "5 Ways to Process Problems." Look at Number 4! Jonah wouldn't have had a chart such as this to ponder on in his situation at the time, like how to get out of this fish, but he had three days and nights to think (Jonah 1:17).


Click on image to read an enlarged version.
Eventually, he came to the point of knowing the Lord God was with him down there in the belly of that fish, just as  I did when I was in the hospital for two weeks.  I sometimes felt alone in spite of being surrounded by nurses and techs and doctors and visitors at any time of the day and night., however, I somehow knew God was with me. His Presence stood by my bed and comforted me and I am grateful for that, just as I can imagine Jonah acknowledging the Lord's Presence (Jonah 2:9). The Psalmist says: "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. . ." (Psalm 139:7, 8).
 



As for the fish, imagine having a tummy ache for three days and nights after swallowing that "funny fish" in the depths of the sea? I bet it was as distressing for the fish as it was for Jonah before the Lord tickled its hangie-downy thing in the back of its mouth and caused it to vomit its guts out onto dry land (Jonah 2:10). I have a picture in my mind of Jonah popping out of its throat like a bottle cork. I wonder if the fish remained on the dry land, like those beached whales we sometimes see on the news? And think of the smell! Gag and PU! Fish vomit and unwashed Jonah. I'd be kissing the ground and thanking God for his salvation!

 
The scripture doesn't say whether the sailors prayed for Jonah after they tossed him into the sea., but only before so they wouldn't be held accountable for doing so (Jonah 1:14). I feel grateful that I had friends praying for me and thinking of me. For example, Karen brought me a packet of cards and other goodies that she and other kind friends gathered together for me. Here's one of the thank you cards I made from components in that packet and sent to a nurse in the hospital who cared for me.

 
1. Thank you God, for your Presence with me in the hospital. Thank you for your healing touch on my body. Thank you for believing and praying friends. Thank you for antibiotics and hospitals and caring staff. Thank you for being with Jonah all those great years ago.
2. Thank you for green traffic lights.
3. Thank you for Collaboration Works and the new walker with a wider seat that I will be getting this week.
4. Praise the Lord for Linda S.' healing in her eyes!
5. Thank you Lord for the lovely summer temperatures we’ve been having.
 


 

August 19, 2013

365 Thank You Notes


Bragging is kin to those too-busy or lazy people who "forget" to affirm or appreciate people in their lives (you hear, I'm speaking to you, Dolores!). Several weeks ago, as I looked up books at my library to read to children on thankfulness, I discovered a world of adult books too. I picked out an interesting looking one to begin with. It was called "365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life." By John Kralik. New York; Hyperion, 2010.

 
In the beginning of this venture, Mr. Kralik was an overweight lawyer and definitely clueless. His life was a mess -- his business was failing, his 2nd marriage had failed, his girlfriend broke up with him, and he had lost contact with two of his three children. He lived in a tiny, dingy apartment and all his dreams were dust. One day, during a hike, he decided to focus on what he had and be grateful for it instead of focusing on what he didn't. Inspired by a simple thank you note from his ex-girlfriend for a Christmas gift, he set a goal of sending 365 thank you notes in the coming year. He said it changed his life.
I liked some of the thank you note samples he included in the book. To me, nothing says "careless, not much thought put into it" when I get a generalized thank you note -- I like handwritten notes that specifies what I'm getting thanked for. For example, a generalized card says "Thank you for all the work you do in church." A specific one says "Thank you for teaching my child, Susie, about God faithfully every week." It tells me the person writing the note really cares, knows what I do and appreciates that effort.
I was intrigued by this book because I'm a rubber stamp card-maker. I would say this was Mr. Kralik's form of a keeping a gratitude journal also, because, he kept a spreadsheet on his computer of all the cards he sent, eventually using it to write his book. He said it was his exercise in good manners, a custom his grandfather had attempted to instill in him when he was younger. When some people received a thank you note from him, they were in shock as they said "Really, who writes thank you notes anymore."  What Mr. Kralik discovered was, it made his world a much better place and he a better man.
1. I'm thankful I found this book to read before I became ill. It inspired me to create some thank you notes that I'll be sharing with you in the coming weeks to send to those people who comforted and prayed for me while I was in the hospital and recooperating.
2. I'm grateful for the occupational therapist who visited me in the hospital. She gave me resourceful tips and tools that helped me to cope with some issues I've been struggling with such as putting on or removing clothing. She also told me about the safety devices I should have installed at home. And we're getting there!
3. Our car is fixed! Yeah! Thank you God for helping us find a new-to-us engine with a 3-year warranty! I love my PT cruiser -- when we went car shopping, I told my husband that I didn't care what make or model of automobile it was as long as it was easy for me to get in and out of and this one fits the bill just perfectly. Even has a little rail in front of my seat on the dashboard that I can grab to hold myself steady as I slide out. And my husband likes it, cause it looks classy and the seats fold over so we can haul larger loads if needed.
4. I'm thankful for our neighbors Larry & Dorothy. Being the nice neighbor that Larry is, he has helped us many times out of a fix or by mowing our backyard voluntarily when our mower was broken down. And I'm thankful that Dorothy's leg is on the mend. She fell in her garage while I was in the hospital, broke her leg and I'm sorry I missed all the excitement when the ambulance arrived at their house! *smile*
5. I so appreciate Donna's efforts because she is struggling to regularly join me by typing up her gratitudes too and learning how to post them here. She will eventually "get it", I know!
 

August 12, 2013

Brag and Thank

I wanted to know what the difference between bragging and gratitude was, so I asked around. I was told a braggart swaggers and says -- "Look at ME. What a great person I am. Look what I'VE accomplished."  Bragging totally focuses on oneself.

Counselors uses the word "NARCISSISTIC" to describe a selfish, egotistical person. The word comes from a Greek story of person who was so taken with themselves after noticing their image in a pond that they couldn't bear to leave and became stuck in that spot forever. Out of their remains sprouted a narcissus flower as an everlasting symbol.

So not only does bragging focus on self, it also denies God's blessings. King Nebuchadnezzar, found in the old Testament book of Daniel chapters 4 & 5, discovered he was not so hot. King Nebbie said to himself as he was walking on the roof of the royal palace one day,  "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by MY mighty power and for the glory of MY majesty?" (Daniel 4:30). When he became so egomaniacal, it destroyed his sanity and God allowed his kingdom to be taken away from him. He was driven away from people and had to live with the wild animals and eat grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. His sanity was restored when he raised his eyes to heaven and acknowledged God as sovereign over all.

Gratitude takes our finger off ourselves and redirects it to recognize God as our source. He giveth and he taketh away. Gratitude consists of appreciation and praise. It says "Rejoice with me. Look what God has blessed me with . . . I have found favor in his eyes."

1. Today, I acknowledge God as the source of my creativity. He created me in his image and all my craft ideas ultimately come from him.
2. I'm grateful for the great Physician's healing touch. My mother said I was lucky, but I feel so blest.
3. Even though I felt alone in the hospital, I knew He was with me. I appreciate his Presence!
4.  I’m thankful a young person of our aquaintance named Tommy was able to go on his vacation and travel both ways unharmed.
5. I’m grateful for all my readers and especially those who join me here in grateful comments/praises for the Lord’s blessings!

August 06, 2013

Thanks to Calvary

V. B. "Vep" Ellis, @1959.

 You ask me how I'm feeling today,
You ask me if I'm doing okay,
Whenever we're together,
You talk about the weather,
And ask about the folks back home.
It's nice to realize that you care,
And that you have a love you will share,
I'm glad to be replying,
Because I'm testifying,
To tell you how I'm getting along.
Today I'm fine, Thanks to Calvary,
I'm safe forever more,
I'm fine, Thanks to Calvary
I walk with one I adore.
My life was once so meaningless, so empty and sad,
I drifted here and there with the tide,
But since I know redeeming bliss that I never had,
My life has got a purpose,
The Lord is my Guide,
So Thanks to Calvary,
I'll live eternally,
So thanks, thanks, thanks so much,
I'll live eternally, Thanks to Calvary.