Standing on the Edge (with my books)

We always live at life’s edge. Each moment becomes that edge.  Looking back often comforts me because I can avert my attention from the sharp brim facing the future. Every past moment is cushioned within the experiences before and after it. Its context is sure. I like that. The present pushes me away from the cushion. The sharp edge of the now connected to the handle of yesterday slices into the unknown, next moment. Yet, it is the mixed messages from yesterday’s record (the good and the bad) that make me nervous about the future. At first I wrote this as my next sentence: My comfort comes less from the past’s good experiences than from the God of those good experiences. Then I realized that this may be pious silliness.

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How to Read and Beyond

I pulled three paper backs off the third shelf of our bookcase along the western wall in our living room at 2:00 a.m. this morning. Bodily discomforts of various sorts had awakened me. Sometimes I can return to sleep, but other times my body insists, “Forget sleeping!” My mind was immediately at work on a subject that has been toying with me for a number of days. Reading. What to read, how to read, when to read, and why read — all danced in my thoughts.

Quietly, I shuffled out to the living room, intent on not awakening my Paul. To the bookshelves. Taking the three volumes, I slumped in my leather, La-Z-Boy, covered myself with a blanket, took a colored pencil and a regular pencil, and opened the first book.

Jews and Christians are called “The People of the Book.” The Bible. We  wear that label with great pride — both good pride and bad pride, I suppose. Books agitate. Continue reading

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And Just What Is Government?

Paul and I spent most of Inauguration Day, Friday, January 20, following the events via our online connection which we cast to our “big” screen (a 37 inch flat screen that is not hooked up to use as a TV).  Watching “the peaceful transfer of power,” our patriotic spirits were exercised, and we almost felt as if we were there. Almost! Happily, I was curled up in my roomy, warm, upholstered chair. The hubbub, the music, the crowds, the motorcades, the who’s who entrances —  all blended to evoke a spirit of belonging — similar to (for me in my simpleness) going to a county fair, but on a huge and impactful scale. This is more than the satisfaction of belonging to a local community or club; on this day, we gratefully sensed our belonging to our country, the United States of America. ( Much of the week end’s madness had not yet happened. I choose not to smudge Friday’s memories with it.)

As I ruminated over the day’s events and words, I asked myself, “And just what is government?” The teens in my Sunday school class and I had discussed this a few weeks before when we were reviewing a period in ancient Israel’s past, the era of the judges, which preceded the kingdom era of King Saul, King David, and King Solomon. In the era of the judges, everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6).   I asked my teens, “What is government?” Their only association of the word is with politics — some form of civil government and economic system such as democracy or communism. Hmm. There is something important beneath these ideas, something preceding them.

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Focusing for 2017

Ready or not, 2017, here we come! Really? That is, 2017 says to us, “Ready or not, hear I come!”

As I’ve thought and prayed over the themes to explore in 2017, I’ve found my mind full of more ideas than I can attempt. I’ve decided on some core focuses which will offer us plenty of space to travel! In this new year, I’ll continue to write one article per post, but I want to add a Pass Along section with each post (or most posts) in which I will highlight a resource: book, magazine, website, store, recipe, or whatever.  I’ve been posting once month, but I may try twice a month.

Here are our core focuses as I presently understand that they should be for 2017:  Continue reading

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All God’s Trees: Planted by Streams

It’s time again to say, “Merry Christmas!” That is, “A God-blessed Christmas to you!” In recent months I’ve written about the glory of Northern California with its mountains, Redwood trees, and the Smith River. I’ve written about my dangerous adventure in that river in contrast to the “peace like a river” described in Scripture.  We’ve explored Psalm 136, the giving of thanks, and the exclamation of hallelujah. As the Christmas season culminates, this is a good time to look at Psalm 1 (as I promised) and think about trees. D. L. Moody so apply noted, “All the Lord’s trees are evergreen.” Continue reading

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A Thanksgiving Hallelujah!

Psalm 150:1 exudes, “Hallelujah!” That is, “Praise the Lord!” “Boast in God!” This is a good introduction to the Psalm that I want to consider at this Thanksgiving season: Psalm 136.

In William MacDonald’s lovely Believer’s Bible Commentary, he labels this Psalm as “The Great Hallel!”1  This psalm boasts of the character, wisdom, power, and work of the Lord God in creation, history, and individual lives. God is addressed as the Creator (Elohim) and as the Almighty, the eternal Lord of the universe (LORD, YHWH or Jehovah/Yahweh). When you start unpacking word choices and the relationships between ideas, your eyes quit skimming over familiar words in which your  mind says,”Yeh, I know what this says.” We need to stop flying over familiar territory. We need to fly low, land our attention, and then dig.

I am supposed to be writing to you about Psalm 1, but since tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, I thought I’d draw your attention to Psalm 136. Here it is, followed by a few thoughts. We don’t have time to do much digging in this post, but I hope to get you started on your own dig. (Offer a comment below and tell us what you’ve discovered!)

Psalm 136

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Down a Biblical Stream

“Behold,” says Isaiah 66:12, “I extend peace to her like a river.” My adventure in the rapids of Smith River in Northern California (note last post) did not illustrate “peace like a river.” I remember singing years ago a chorus that claimed, “I’ve got peace like a river.” This biblical simile has always puzzled me.1  As I pondered my river experience, ironically, this verse and song immediately came to my mind. My experience did not line up with the biblical figure of speech.

What does Scripture mean by comparing peace to a river? How are rivers, streams, and water presented in Scripture and for what purposes? Thus began a little word/theme study. Continue reading

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Karen’s Smith River Adventure

As I was describing in the last post:  A few days before leaving Crescent City, California in August, I had an adventure. Yes, Paul was with me, but it was my special adventure. We drove the winding road up to the river, the Smith River which cuts through the Redwood covered mountains.

“For thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I extend peace to her like a river. . . ” (Isaiah 66:12).

img_3364 Our goal was to swim in the clear, cool river,

but this time, we stopped at a spot before Slant Bridge

and walked the trail down to the cool, emerald stream.

We heard the chatter of young voices and their parents.

Reaching the beach we could observe

the slanted bridge above to our left and look across the river to view a high cliff.


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Northern California Glory: Good Times

Paul and I returned to our roots as a couple as well as to Paul’s childhood setting this past summer, which I was describing in the previous post. Our trip began in Mount Hermon, Scotts Valley, and Santa Cruz, California  — the genesis of our story decades ago. To continue this mini chronicle, after traveling north on Route 101 for seven beautiful hours, we approached Crescent City, Paul’s home town.

Heading north on 101.

Heading north on Highway 101.

I love this drive where at times I can drink in the the glistening ocean vistas on the west side of the road  while on the east side the stunning Redwood mountain range follows us, that is, we follow the range. I snapped pictures of the view at one point along Highway 101 that you see both in the header of my blog and above this paragraph. In these views the green hills cascade directly into the sea. This is Northern California glory.

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Northern California Glory

Paul and I recently returned home from a two week trip to Northern California. Our roots as a couple spread along this northern coastline.* On Southwest Airlines we flew to San Francisco, then rented a Camry and cruised south, exiting the bay area, finally winding through the Redwood lined Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountain Range, taking us to the little community of Mount Hermon where we met 37 years ago.

A Mount Hermon lane carved within the Redwoods.

A Mount Hermon lane carved within the Redwoods.

Mount Hermon is a Christian Conference center with conference facilities, mountain cabins, and a post office. Besides the conference participants coming and going, over 1,000 people dwell year round in these hills densely populated by towering Redwood trees and ornate foliage.

While in college, Paul lived with three other guys in a three story, brown cabin-like house owned by Mr. and Mrs. Miller nestled precariously on the slope of one such hill in Mount Hermon.  Continue reading

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