Posted by: ritagone | November 15, 2017

A Wedding, Many Memories

 

This past week we went to the beautiful wedding of the daughter of friends.  We have such a long history with these friends, although, strangely, we don’t have much relationship with the daughter who got married or her sister. She was that much younger than our kids that our paths didn’t cross often when our two were growing up or when she and her sister were doing so. But there was still lots of inter-connectedness, which I find fascinating.  For example, the sister of the bride now works with my son-in-law.  The groom’s father took out my husband’s appendix a few year’s ago.  Many of the guests used to attend the same small local church, so it was like old-home week, greeting and catching up with one another.

In the top five Strengths of StrengthFinders I have Connectedness, so I love to see the web of history and family and job and church and whatever that connects people together.  So going to a wedding like this is a field day for me, a constant joy of recognition of someone you haven’t seen for years, perhaps, and talking about what he or she has been doing, what they’ve been up to, travels, kids being born, grandkids, accomplishments, sorrows, all of life covered in a few short minutes before you move on to the next revelation of connectedness (usually dragging Husband behind me).  I love it all; he, not so much.

This was a particularly beautiful setting at a local country club on a day that would rival a setting in heaven: trees full and lush and seemingly misplaced from a New England landscape, an outdoor terrace, the perfect temperature (it is Southern California in mid-November, after all), and a ceremony so beautiful in its writing and vision that I wish it could be published for others to copy.

After this gorgeous, perfect, flawless ceremony, people were free to mill around and visit with one another before dinner was served, the perfect opportunity to say hello to old friends, people we hadn’t seen in many years, catch up and fill in the blanks.  Again, I love this kind of time, those connections, those moments that make you realize just how much people mean to you, even people you haven’t seen or talked to for a long time.

 

Then we were asked to go inside for the incredible dinner and program for the evening.

We sat at Table #15 with four other couples, but it was especially fun to be at the same table with one of the couples because of a long and meaningful history with them.  He knows our kids from their youth and poured into them for many years, and it paid off.  She and her family are part of the rich heritage of our church, and I see her wonderful mother every week at my womens’ Bible study.  Another of the couples shares a Broadway musical love with me in particular, and so it’s always fun to spend an evening talking about which plays we’ve seen or want to see.  The food was great, the fellowship was even better, and it was a constant stream of saying hello and greeting people, hugs, laughter: the kind of evening that happens only rarely, unfortunately. A magical evening that I won’t forget soon.

What you share with people around you is so important, the history, the connections, the love.  This was brought home to me so strongly Saturday at this wedding.  It made me want to remember every person in my life, and what I share with them.

 

As I get older and older, I’m more and more aware of these connections, and I cherish them more and more.  They are, after all, the web of life, what makes substance of every day, what gives history and meaning to what has passed.  And better than television are the memories that we can call up when we re-live the experiences we had on a Saturday afternoon at a gorgeous wedding!!!

You’ve had experiences like this too.

Make sure you remember them and treasure them too.

 

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Posted by: ritagone | November 8, 2017

Sometimes Shorter is Better…

This is a recent Seth Godin blog (October 26, 2017, to be exact) that I love for its brevity and impact. Enjoy.

 

Important, popular or viral

Important work is easily dismissed by the audience. It involves change and risk and thought.

Popular work resonates with the people who already like what you do.

Viral work is what happens when the audience can’t stop talking about what you did.

Every once in awhile, all three things will co-exist, but odds are, you’re going to need to choose.

Posted by: ritagone | November 1, 2017

What I Learned From the Book of Job

 

I’m teaching the book of Job on Thursday morning to a bunch of lovely ladies at my church.

I don’t believe I’ve ever enjoyed teaching a book of the Bible as much as I’ve enjoyed teaching Job, as heavy as that book can be, because of its topics: suffering, losing everything, sorrow, sadness.

Why am I enjoying it so much?  Well, to paraphrase from the hit song “New York, New York”: “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere,” if you can learn how to live by reading the book of Job, you can literally survive anything.  Job did.  He’s become my hero.  I’ve watched him lose everything of any importance both physically and emotionally in his life, and then endure the badgering of four friends who got it all wrong and couldn’t shut up, who felt it necessary to tell him everything they thought he did wrong and that they thought they knew was right in their own eyes.  You know people like that: smug and sure of themselves, sure of how God works in everyone else’s life.  Really annoying under the best of circumstances, bu

 

t when you’ve lost everything the way Job had, it’s the very thing you don’t want or need in your situation.

And yet, he moved through their diatribes, and the ghost-like monologue of Elihu, who went on and on for six chapters and then faded away into oblivion, and wound up seeing God more clearly than he ever had before.  “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.”  I have come to believe that Job 42:5 is one of the greatest statements of faith in the entire Bible.  I had heard about you, but now I’ve seen you face to face.  I liken it to a place you have always wanted to see in person – the Grand Canyon, the Great Wall of China, or, for me, Red Square in Moscow – a place you’ve dreamed about and seen pictures of, and then, all of a sudden, there you are, standing there seeing it in person, and it’s every bit as awesome as you th

 

ought it would be.  No, more!!!  Job’s relationship with God will never be the same again.  True, nothing will make up for the loss of the 10 children he dearly loved.  But his relationship with the God of the universe will be deeper and stronger than it ever was before.  And that counts for quite a bit!

And when he died, after God had blessed him more than he had ever been blessed before he lost everything, the last verse of the book of Job says this: “And so he died, old and full of years” (Job 42:17).  I don’t know about you, but I’d settle for that epitaph any day.

So I went in reading and studying and learning about the book of Job the first of this year with low expectations, or maybe I should say no expectations at all.  I read almost a dozen commentaries, from Charles Swindoll to Tim Keller to Elisabeth Eliott to Ray Stedman, I took notes, I thought and I processed and I prayed.  And I prayed some more.   And God has done what He is so good at: He has turned my world upside down and blessed me more than I could ever have imagined.  And in turn I am seeing that this book is a blessing to those ladies who are attending the class.  I know this because they are telling me so.  And it’s not me, truly; it’s how God is speaking to them through what Job endured, what he learned, how he grew and stretched and touched the heart of his Savior.

 

If you are looking for a great blessing, might I suggest you spend some time before the end of 2017 reading the book of Job.  Ask God to bless you, to open your eyes to the richness in the words and thoughts contained in it, and tell Him that you want to come away from it a changed person.  Tell Him that you want to see Him, not just hear about Him, and I bet you anything you won’t be disappointed!!!

 

Posted by: ritagone | October 25, 2017

A Puritan Prayer

This is a prayer I read in a book “The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions.”  I find that other peoples’ prayers are often helpful to my own prayer life, as you can tell by the number of times I have used someone like Peter Marshall’s prayers this year as I have read through his prayers to and for the Senate of the U.S.  Other peoples’ prayers loosen up my own thoughts and feelings so that I can direct what I want to say to God.  I hope this helps you do the same.  I was going to write something profound on my own this morning, but I had a blitzing migraine yesterday and was laid up all day.  I promise that next week I’ll be back with an original thought!!!  But meanwhile, this is better than just “making do.”  Enjoy and savor it.

 

When thou wouldst guide me I control myself,

When thou wouldst be sovereign I rule myself.

When thou wouldst take care of me I suffice myself.

When I should depend on thy providings I supply myself,

When I should submit to thy providence I follow my will,

When I should study, love, honour, trust thee, I serve myself;

I fault and correct thy laws to suit myself,

Instead of thee I look to man’s approbation, and am by nature an idolater.

Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to thee.

Convince me that I cannot be my own god, or make myself happy,

Nor my own Christ to restore my joy, nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, rule me.

Help me to see that grace does this by providential affliction, for when my credit is god thou                 dost cast me lower, when riches are my idol thou dost wing them away, when pleasure is my all thou dost turn it into bitterness.

Take away my roving eye, curious ear, greedy appetite, lustful heart;

Show me that none of these things can heal a wounded conscience, or

Support a tottering frame, or uphold a departing spirit.

Then take me to the cross and leave me there.

 

Posted by: ritagone | October 18, 2017

Another Peter Marshall Rambling

Peter Marshall’s prayers never cease to amaze and touch me.  I’m almost finished with the book as a devotional this year, but I know that I will pull it out and read it again and again soon.  Here’s another of the prayers that linger in my heart.

 

 

Wednesday, June 2, 1948

 

O Lord, let us never be afraid of a new idea or unreceptive to a new thought, lest we pull down the shades of our minds and exclude Thy holy light.  When confronted by mystery, help us to remember that we do not have to explain all we know or understand all we believe.  But give us the grace of humility and the spirit of the open mind, the courage to persist in face of difficulties, and a steady confidence in the power of truth.

 

Help us all to learn something this day, that we shall be wise at its close and more ready for our eternal home when we are one step nearer.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Posted by: ritagone | October 11, 2017

Something To Think About…

As always, I’m struck by another Peter Marshall prayer out of his book of prayers that I’m reading through this season in my early morning devotions.  Read it and see if it blesses you as it has me, especially in these times when everyone seems to be self-centered and kind of crazy-making!:

Monday, May 24, 1948

 

“Our Father in heaven, today we pray for Thy gift of contentment, that we may not waste our time desiring more, but learn to use and enjoy what we have.

 

We may not know everything, but we may know Thee and Thy will.  We need not be rich to be generous, nor have all wisdom to be understanding.  Our influence may not be great, but it can be good.  Our speech may not be eloquent, but it can be truthful and sincere.  We cannot all have good looks, but we can have good conscience, and having that, we shall have peace of mind and need fear no man.

 

May we be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as Thou, for Christ’s sake, hast forgiven us.  Amen.”

Posted by: ritagone | October 4, 2017

Hold Life with Open Hands

What happened in Las Vegas over last weekend has been written about by many.  I don’t think I can add anything to those reports that is of any value.  My heart is breaking for the people who have died, and for those who are still injured and recovering.

I think of those who got up that morning believing it was just another day in their lives, but a sweet day because they were going to a concert they were looking forward to.  Many had traveled, spent quite a bit of energy and money to make it happen.  It was a big deal.

Little did they know it was their last day on earth.

I got an email yesterday from a dear friend telling me that his oldest son had died this past Sunday morning in a car accident.  That’s all I know.  No details.  But we are shocked and grieving along with this family that we love so dearly.

 

Again, someone got up with plans for the day, never imagining that his life would be over that day. Or that their lives would never be the same, losing a child.

I’m reminded of James 4:14: “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (NASB) These words are so true!  None of us knows what today will bring, if it will lead on to tomorrow or if it will be the last day on earth for us.

Once again I’m committed – at least mentally – to holding my life and my things and my family with open hands, knowing that they can vanish at any moment.  Surely that should make it easier to deal with them?  Surely that should keep me from clinging, from holding on too tightly and believing that I therefore have control over them?

For me, the fewer people and the fewer things I hold tightly to my chest, the better.  And even opening myself up to the understanding that every day I’m breathing and alive has the potential to be my last needs to be considered a good thing, not scary, not frightening, but solid and legitimate, like a walkway along a cliff, is a good thing, even though it’s terrifying to look down.

Please, God, make it a good thing, and a better thing, each day that you give me.

And I pray for those who are dealing with sudden loss in their lives, of loved ones who were here today and then suddenly taken from them.  I don’t pretend to know what that’s like, but God, You do. Comfort them with Your all-knowing love and grace.  We are all so ill-equipped to do so; we need You to go ahead of us and mend the way.

 

Posted by: ritagone | September 27, 2017

A Peter Marshall Prayer For Today

This was his Senate prayer for Monday, May 24, 1948.  As you read it, notice that it is just as appropriate this morning or today as it was almost 70 years ago.

“Our Father in heaven, today we pray for Thy gift of contentment, that we may not waste our time desiring more, but learn to use and enjoy what we have.

 

We may not know everything, but we may know Thee and Thy will.  We need not be rich to be generous, nor have all wisdom to be understanding.  Our influence may not be great, but it can be good.  Our speech may not be eloquent, but it can be truthful and sincere.  We cannot all have good looks, but we can have good conscience, and having that, we shall have peace of mind and need fear no man.

 

May we be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as Thou, for Christ’s sake, hast forgiven us.  Amen.”

Posted by: ritagone | September 20, 2017

I Want to Sleep Until I Feel Better!

I don’t like being sick.

Okay, who does?

You might be asking.

Well, some people do.  I know some people who do.

But I don’t.

For one thing, I’m not used to it.

I was not a sickly kid.  I had to be dragged in when it got dark.  I was out with the neighborhood kids, building forts, playing sports, running around the street and backyards, having fun.  It was torture to come inside and “settle down.”  I don’t remember being sick as a kid at all except for a few times.

I am 73 years old, and I may be tempting fate to say this, but I have not ever had a major surgery.  I had my tonsils out when I was 6; I remember this, because we still lived in Chicago, and I got ice cream.  And I couldn’t go outside to play.  I had chicken pox when we were still in Chicago too, and after that, I don’t remember being sick ever. (I’m sure this is not correct, but you see what I mean in that my mind has erased almost all memory of illness in my life.)   I have had two children and was in labor in two separate hospitals for both of them, then home quickly.  I had minor surgery on two fingers of my right hand, called trigger finger.  Look it up; it’s minor, believe me.  All of my internal organs are still internal.  Still internally mine.  So far, so good.  I’d like to keep it that way.

So when I get a cold and take to my bed, it’s a major event in my house.  Oh, I do have migraines and take to my bed with those, but that doesn’t count.  (Does it?)  So I caught a cold this past weekend from someone, I think my daughter or one of my grandkids was the culprit.  I don’t know which one.  Maybe I don’t want to know.  At any rate, all of our weekend plans had to be cancelled, including my birthday dinner at Lawry’s Prime Rib in Beverly Hills, which I had been looking forward to for months.  What good is prime rib if you can’t taste it, right?  Or if you’re sneezing all over everyone else’s dinner?  So we met at our house instead and had Chipotle around the kitchen table.  This wasn’t even second best.  It was great to be with my son and daughter and son-in-law and husband; don’t get me wrong.  But I didn’t feel good.  To me the food was tasteless.  To be brutally honest, I wanted everyone to go home so I could go back to bed.  It wasn’t exactly the birthday celebration I had been anticipating.

See?  Being sick is no fun.

Sunday’s plans got cancelled also.  We were going to meet dear friends after church and have lunch.  Instead, I was in bed all day.  Sneezing.  Coughing.  Aching.  Miserable.  I mustered enough energy to watch the Emmys.  By 8 p.m. I was ready to go to back to sleep for the night.

Monday I had a migraine.  So I was in bed all day with a bad headache AND sneezing, coughing, aching, and miserable.

Today is Wednesday, and I’m much better.  And grateful to God for healing me.  And thankful that my health has been almost completely restored. (I’m still blowing my nose occasionally.)  And wondering about what a wimp I am and when the day is going to come when I will be in dire straits because something worse than a headache or a cold will hit me.

 

I’ve been studying the book of Job for the last six months and am now teaching it on Thursday mornings at our women’s Bible study at church.  If I have learned one thing for myself  while studying Job, it’s that I have no idea what real suffering is like.

A cold is nothing.

Even the kind of migraine headaches I get is nothing.

But I have also learned another great truth: God is bigger than all of this.  I do know for a fact that this is true, and I’m counting on Him to get me through whatever may come my way in the future.

It’s not a lesson that we learn easily though, is it?

Okay, maybe I should speak for myself:

It’s not a lesson I learn easily.  Please hand me a tissue.

Posted by: ritagone | September 12, 2017

Here’s a post by my friend Amy Downing that I just love and in which I find great comfort.  Just click on the link and you can read it too.
When Things Are Hard (Really Hard)

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