Oh My Sinuses!

I’d never had one.

“A sinus infection,” is what the doc said I had after I told her about my raging headache, hacking cough, fever, awful sore throat, general malaise, blocked ears, and…aching teeth?

How can one’s teeth ache?

And the sounds, oh, the sounds that came from me. Surely no human has ever made such sounds. Rrrschpooot! Harruf, hoaoooooooorgh! That was me, trying to clear my throat.

The infection started out so innocently. Mild, transitory headaches and a feeling of not being quite healthy. I was eating right, getting plenty of exercise, downing the right supplements and a daily dose of probiotic. Surely, my body would fight this mild nasty thing off.

But the “nasty” would not go away. So I tried to ignore it.

Weeks of the following passed: “I feel better. I’m gonna take a walk. Oooh, I don’t feel right. Maybe if I lie down for a bit it’ll go away. My teeth hurt. Maybe I need to start using Sensodyne when I brush. They say your teeth can develop sensitivity when you get older. Why can’t I throw this “nasty thing” off?”

The “nasty” waited until Bruce and I were on the road, driving to Illinois, to transform into NASTY. (Why does that always happen?)

By the time we returned home I was sick, sick, sick. The next day I visit the doctor and she gave me an antibiotic.

If I’d been smart, I should have seen her weeks earlier. But I thought if I ignored it, the Nasty would eventually go away.

I think we can all relate. We can also draw a parallel between ignoring a little infection and ignoring other things in our lives that seem minor.

Lesson here for me: take care of the problem (health, work problem, relational challenge, bad habit) when it’s small. More often than not, the problem will not go away, and will get worse if I don’t take care of it. So, Dena, stop procrastinating and do what needs to be done!

Take A Look At Yourself, Bud

(Normally I post encouraging or inspirational messages. But the events on the news lately are so distressing that i wanted to make a point about the origins of injustice.)

In the evening at my local drug store, I had located my purchases and proceeded to the check-out. Another customer joined me in line. Just then, an agitated elderly man stomped up to checkout, not bothering to get in line.

“How come your pharmacy isn’t open?” he demanded.

The clerk, a nice young man, stopped scanning my items and gave the man his attention. “I’m sorry, Sir, but the pharmacy closes at 6.”

“But I called in my prescription here. My wife needs her medicine,” shouted the rude man. Why can’t you open the pharmacy and get my prescription filled?”

“Sir, I’m not allowed to do that,” replied the polite clerk. “But there is a twenty-four hour drugstore just down the road. They can fill it for you.”

The man huffed like a bull about to charge. At this point, there were now three people in line behind me, waiting to make their purchases.

“So, what are you gonna do?” The image elderly man loomed over the cash register, eyes boring into the nice clerk.

“I really sorry, Sir.”

“Well, I’m not!” The disappointed man stormed out, and all of us customers breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Afterward, I slipped into the relative safety of my Toyota and shook my head at that old man’s rudeness. Now, granted, he needed to fill his wife’s prescription.

But he was late. He was rude. He didn’t wait his turn. He shouted and intimidated others. He expected the clerk to break the law by playing pharmacist. Never mind that the clerk could get fired and even sent to prison for dispensing drugs without a license.

Everyone was to blame for his failure to get his prescription filled. He cared not one whit for anyone but himself.

This experience reminds me of a Dr. Oz show recently where three women were asked about road rage. “What do you do when somebody cuts you off?” the good doctor asked.

All of the women responded with, “I flip them the bird.”

Not one of them recognized that their tit-for-tat response on the road contributes to road rage.

Nope, it was solely the other guy’s fault.

It’s extremely rare nowadays for a person to admit his own culpability in an angry altercation.

In divorce, in family relationships, in work situations, in church misunderstandings, in race relations: it’s always the other guys.

Where is the self examination? Where is the repentance? Where is the reconciliation?

On first glance, I’d like to say that we have a societal problem.

But it goes way deeper than that.

This is a spiritual issue. An individual issue.

Baltimore? Ferguson? Political corruption? A national psyche building itself on the premise that tolerance of badness, coarseness, rudeness  is good. We have no right—indeed, we are bigoted and racist—if we expect certain standards of behavior. Rioters—and little children in the home—should be allowed to express their rage through physical violence. Even well-meaning, but mis-lead Christians say we have no right to judge bad behavior. Never mind that the scriptures tell us that we should: “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by the rudeness and selfishness of the old man in the drugstore. He’s a microcosm of an attitude that permeates nearly every area of our society.

Without the mirror of God’s Word, we assume our own faces are spotless. It’s the other guy who’s got the grimy face.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility considers others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2: 3,4 NIV Bible)

“I’ll Show Ya”

When my second son, Garrett, was about two and a half, he loved to be the little explorer.

What I couldn’t find, he’d find.

Garrett had an almost uncanny and precocious ability to figure out where things were, be it around town, at Disney World, or at a never-been-there campground.

He’d lead the way with his sunny smile and his confident, “I’ll show ya.”

Nine times out of ten, the little guy was right.

It’s cute when a toddler explains the world to adults. (And astounding when he’s right.)

But I tend to get annoyed when someone I don’t know tries to supply me with instructions. He or she may be right, but they haven’t earned my trust yet.

A couple of years ago, I helped a friend move. One of the other helpers was a guy with an obvious chip on his shoulder. Whatever items I decided to place in a box, he felt it necessary to tell me how to pack the box, tape the box, label the box, stack the box. He was no more a professional packer than I was. Finally I told him in a very sweet tone that I’d be happy to finish the job, and perhaps he could tend to the other side of the room. Honestly, I said it very politely.

The guy muttered something about how women get their dander up and they’re so emotional. I kept my mouth shut, but I wanted very much to tell him that anyone, male or female, would get annoyed when a complete stranger intrudes on one’s assigned job and takes it upon himself to become the supervisor.

I guess the problem was in the lack of relationship. Why should I trust this stranger’s directions when I don’t know if he is trustworthy? I haven’t had time to check him out.

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(My trustworthy super-guys: Bruce, Garrett and Roen)

Who do you know who’s trustworthy? It’s not so hard to accept directions from them, right?

Jesus doesn’t wear a chip on His shoulder. He’s completely trustworthy. When He says, “I’ll show ya,” it’s for our good, and for our protection. Not to satisfy His bruised ego.

And He’s always right. Amazing!

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (John 14:1 NIV Bible)

Great Expectations

For years, I used to have this recurring dream:

We buy a house. It’s a simple, middle class house. Perhaps three bedrooms, an average sized living room, kitchen, dining room, baths. Mediocre. Nothing grand or thrilling about the place.

After we’ve moved in, I notice a door at the end of the living room. (It’s always the living room.)

No one else seems to have noticed this door, so I go to explore. I open the door and discover a large room—like palace sized—opulently furnished and decorated. Wow, I marvel, how come we didn’t know this room was part of the property?

Then I notice another door at the far end of this palatial room. Intrigued, I go to explore again. When I open this second door, I discovery, to my delight, another wonderful room, with hallways spreading out in all directions, each leading to more lovely, ornate rooms.

How could this be so? We bought what we thought was a typical house in a typical neighborhood. Surely the sellers would have sold the house for much more than we paid for it if they had known what they had.

Or maybe the sellers knew all along. Maybe this magical house is a special gift.

I haven’t had the recurring dream in several years now. Psychologists and dream interpreters could probably tell me what the dream signifies.

But I prefer to believe my own interpretation:

I come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I place my trust in Him and begin a walk of simple faith, living in a modest “house” which I believe encapsulates the whole of the life I imagined within His Kingdom.

But, after a short time, God begins to show me things I never could have dreamed or imagined would be part of my inheritance as a child of God.

Simply overwhelming. I could not see how wondrous this new dwelling place of faith was when I stood on the outside, looking in.

And, even after I moved in, the walls of this simple place seemed secure, but limited.

As a new child of the faith, I could not conceive of the magnitude of God’s gift to me.

Yet, each new royal room that I discover shows me that the splendor of my inheritance expands exponentially. And never ends. God keeps on giving and giving.

My modest little house expressed how I viewed God: limited, not that big, stingy, holding back on the richest of His blessings (because I don’t deserve them.)

My “house” continues to grow as I learn just how big my God is, and how generous He is.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14: 2 NIV Bible)

Hawks and Hades

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The small bird seemed to come out of nowhere. Like a Kamikaze pilot—zipping, diving, buzzing— he harassed the B-52 Bomber…a hawk.

No doubt, the bird had a nest nearby and he wasn’t going to tolerate the presence of a big and dangerous predator in his territory.

Standing on the paved path which connects several suburban neighborhoods, I watched the real-life drama play out for several minutes. Though I couldn’t identify the bird who  dive-bombed the hawk, he was persistent and untiring.

The hawk, though, kept making his slow, unperturbed circles. Each of his circles widened on the southward arc so that he gradually made his way into another neighborhood—and probably another bird’s territory. Mr. Hawk seemed to take these harassments in stride.

I once witnessed a hawk pluck one of the pigeons off my roof, fly it over to another roof and calmly begin to pluck the dead bird’s feathers all the while being mobbed by a flock of shrill, outraged pigeons.

We humans almost always identify the predator as bad.

But in God’s word, we read that Jesus proclaimed that the “gates of Hades” will not prevail against the truth of the gospel. (Matthew 16:18)

Surprisingly enough, that puts the Church in the position of the aggressor. The Church is the “hawk,” scoping out her next area of conquest. Not a conquest brought about by blood and savagery, but one of faithful ministry and testimony to a world that lives without the saving grace of Jesus. The “gate of Hades” does not come to us; we go to the gate…and use the battering ram of the gospel to knock down the defenses of the evil one.

As Believers, we need to stop viewing ourselves as weak and defenseless.

We are the members of Christ’s body, filled with God’s mighty power, who actively pursue those who run from God’s truth. We pursue them with acts of kindness, with our charity, with our prayers, and with our accounts of the love and faithfulness of Jesus.

We are hawks for God’s kingdom!

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:19 NIV Bible)

Invited

Originally posted on Dena Netherton: My Father's World, My Father's Words:

My Christmas memories center around parties spent at my grandparents’ house.

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My grandmother put out a spread fit for a king. Before the meal, family members mingled while sampling her wonderful canapés, chips and dip, hot and cold drinks.

Someone always had a piece or two to play on the grand piano.

The white tablecloth and starched white cloth napkins set off the fine china, crystal and silver at her long dining table. Fresh flowers from Grandmommy’s garden ornamented the center of the table.

Grandmommy’s buffet always included a simple salad, followed by the main meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, wild rice, green bean casserole, and rolls. Chocolate eclairs with a dollop of whipped cream topped off the feast. After the meal, Grandmommy served the coffee and tea in gleaming silver pots.

My grandmother was a wonderful hostess, and we always felt like royalty.

As a child…

View original 203 more words

Not My Property

We used to live in a lovely home in Southern California with a heated pool and gorgeous views of the hills. Along the back fence, green grape vines coiled. Jasmine scented the air in the evening. An orange tree produced some of the sweetest oranges you’ve ever tasted. Beyond the patio and pool, on a steep slope, grew lemon trees, apple trees, and two young peach trees.

Each day I dutifully went out to tend this lovely, productive garden.

I planted strawberry plants in one bed and sprinkled slug pellets to keep the nasties away from my succulent berries. I pruned the bougainvillia so its sharp spikes didn’t spear us as we passed through the gate to the front yard.

Oh, how I loved my garden.

Then Bruce made a job change and we sold that home and moved to Colorado.

A couple of years later, when we visited Southern California, I decided to see how the  old “homestead” was doing. What I saw shocked and disappointed me.

The new owners had removed all the fruit trees and planted the ubiquitous —and boring—palm trees. They’d even removed my precious grape vines. And, in place of the lovely shade tree in the front yard (did I mention how hot it gets in Southern California in the summer?) they’d planted another palm tree.

My son turned to me and said, “Just remember, it’s their house now.”

Good point. The house belonged to someone else and they can do with it as they see fit.

A good point to remember, also, when I’m tempted to complain to the Lord about my own life, my inferior body, the direction I wish He’d allow me to go, but doesn’t…yet.

I have to remember that I surrendered control of my life long ago. I placed my faith in Jesus Christ and handed over ownership to Him. Now He’s the owner of me.

He can do with me as He sees fit. I’m the house He dwells in and He’s the Lord of this—ahem—”castle.”

I can trust him to take care of His property…and do it with sovereign excellence!

“You are not your own. You were bought at a price.” (1st Cor. 6:19,20 NIV Bible)

Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts

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