Knit and Pray

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Shrove... What ???



On this Shrove Tuesday, the eve of Ash Wednesday, I share with you my meditations as I prepare for Lent and that sweet time to fully embrace Easter morning.







 It is nice that my grandson is a minister.
        He is young.
                I am old.
                      I taught him about life things and things of the Lord.
                               He teaches me scholarly things and things of the Spirit.



         Last week, said young man posted new [ to me ] information on Face Book about Shrove Tuesday. Intriguing.  Oh yes, I “knew” the word, but not the meaning. I spent considerable time on the website he listed http://whatsinthebible.com/shrove-tuesday/  For a couple of nights, I prayed myself to sleep with things of praise, confession, forgiveness, and celebration buzzing around my mind.

I believe it is good to ponder and remember and practice ancient things.
           
My interest and confusion grew. Which led me to http://mariannedorman.homestead.com/ShroveTuesday2.html 

There I learned new [to me] things about old practices. I read:

“Shrove Tuesday is the day of preparation for Lent, that is, the day before Ash Wednesday. The name shrove is derived from the word “shrive.” It is therefore the day when the faithful confess their sins in preparation for the holy fast of Lent. The meaning of this day was explained in the Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Institutes translated from Theodulphus by Abbot Aelfric c.1000 A.D who declared that the week immediately before Lent ‘everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him as he then may hear by his deeds what he is to do [in the way of penance].’ So shrovetide is primarily religious, and the same is true of the German Fastnacht (the eve of the fast). “

I find no biblical mandate requiring Christians to observe Shrove Tuesday, but the history of the Christian church is rich with ancient and enduring concepts that are integral parts of today’s worship practices, in both liturgical and no-liturgical churches as believers bow down and/or raise hands in worship before the One Triune God.

Such as: Praise:
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now, and will be forever. Amen. 

Such as: Confession:
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.    James 5:16

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Such as: Celebration
Rejoice with me, I have found my lost sheep. Luke 15:11

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Such as: Feasting
 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and make merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Luke 15:24

          No, our family does not dine on stacks of pancakes and bacon in order to use up the last of the sugars, eggs, fats, and dairy that were traditionally prohibited during the fasting of lent. And, as I yearn to dwell in the House of my Lord, I wonder if the simple act of serving pancakes with bacon at supper might spark a conversation that will help us enter Lent in a more meaningful way.
          Truth be told, my particular family will not sup on pancakes. We don’t do wheat well. We control our sugar intake—as much as we love that larapin delicious, good ole Maple Syrup. Butter is consumed only in regulated amounts and bacon is almost non-existent in our modern, senior citizen diet.
          However, tonight as we partake of a healthy salad we will celebrate God’s remarkable love; we will remember His Grace, practice cleansing, offer confession, and accept forgiveness.


Tonight, I will end my day contemplating things I can do or change or not do in order to offer thanks and praise to my Lord Jesus Christ during the precious days of Lent.



I pray that your Shrove Tuesday blessed you.
                                That His love surrounded you.
                                               That you found Grace and Mercy at the 
                           Throne of our Living God.

Liz

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Looking at Dirty Dishes in a New Way

              It’s my mother’s fault. Back about 70 years ago, she began to teach me to ‘do it now’ and to never leave a sink full of dirty dishes. Great teacher. Hard lessons. Because....

·       There are days that try the souls of old ladies.
·       There are times when one more step seems impossible.
·       There are hours when the tears are barely contained behind itchy, tired eyelids.

          Of course, I can only speak for this old lady. So, while the house is settled I sneak off to my little office. It is where I do some serious prayer/thinking/contemplating/pondering. My knurled fingers click as thoughts congeal and I remember.

Jesus has my back.

          I stop to review a few of Paul’s powerful and life-sustaining words.


If you are like me, you probably know the words I'm talking about “by heart.” But I read them again anyway. You know the ones…. Over in the book of Romans, all the way to the 8th chapter, and keep going to the very end verses: 38 and 39.
          The first reading in old faithful King James wasn’t enough so I checked the words out in The Living Bible, in J.B. Phillips New Translation, and in The Message.

KNOCK ME OVER WITH A FEATHER.

 How do I forget such MEGA love & power & absoluteness & might & CERTAINTY ??


Oh! Because I am a normal, run-of-the-mill, weak, sinful, human.


But, OH, JOY!!! Even my forgetting can keep God’s love away.



 Not big things or bad things or those little daily things—that irritating pebble in the shoe things—those knife in the heart things.

With apologies to Paul, there are even more THINGS that absolutely will NEVER keep God from loving or forsaking me.

·                 a sink-full of dirty dishes
·                 over-flowing dirty laundry bins
·                 income tax / number crunching time for this word person
·                 a day filled with doctors’ appointments on a bitterly cold day with drizzling rain
·                 lifting the walker out of the car for the fifth time in one day

Jesus doesn’t go away even when the ragweed and cedar and mold allergens rage and makes my body ache and cough and not sleep.

No, our Master and King did not promise a perfect life without heartache, trials, burdens. I don’t pretend to grasp His authority, the fullness of His being the beginning and the end. I can’t begin to comprehend His sovereignty.

But
          Step by Step
And
          Mile by Mile
And
          Trial by Trial

He makes it abundantly clear that

Y       I am His child &
Y       He cares for me &
Y       He keeps me going &
Y       He listens and He hears &
Y       Provides surprises at every painful turn.

I pray diligently that we will watch for and SEE God’s gifts, especially in the hard stuff.
    Blessings and Hugs

             Liz

Thursday, February 5, 2015

New Launguage of my OLD Body

The English language calls to me; constantly temps, attracts, charms, teases, and entices me. I study grammar. I go to my Thesauruses for one synonym to one word and scan through that amazing maze of words for an hour. I have enjoyed a torrid love-affair with words most of my life.

I respect and stand in awe of those who know, understand, read, write, and communicate in more than one language. Absolutely astounding.

That is NOT my gift. I am NOT good at learning new languages. I only remember two phrases from my 3rd grade Spanish lessons. I don't want to even TRY. I deeply DISLIKE something I can NOT do.


Yet a NEW LANGUAGE attacks me. Yells at me. Demands that I learn to understand and translate.

GRRRRRR.

This aging, elderly, old  process has been hard, and now my body yells at me and - - -\
I don't know what it is saying.

I have not a clue in the world as to how to interpret the language of my  New Old Body.
I don't know what it is telling me.
I can't identify the meaning of the screams that emit from this strange New Old Body.
I don't recognize the sounds.
I don't know if it wants to eat, sleep, walk, lie down, exercise, sit, stand, or just languish around in worn out p.j's.

Maybe my  New Old body wants to just go dancing and I'm missing out  - - - - ya think????
Naw, I don't either. But, it is a VERY good dream.




*s i g h*
Don't mis-judge me. Please.
Truly: I try.
Truly: I listen.
Truly: I know others have it MUCH worse.
Truly: I care.
Oh my goodness I CARE  !!!!  A lot.
I just need to know:

  • Is my body sick? Hungry? Tired?
  • Does it need fresh air? Sunshine? A stroll in the moonlight?
  • Perhaps it is begging for a hot shower.
  • Or something new - - -  A COLD shower?
(Think again, Body, Not in MY lifetime !!!) 
Perhaps, if I just put on my pink slippers, recline, and cover up in a warm snugly I can make my New Old Body happy. Ya think????
A language school for The  New Old Body would be of help. The Yellow Pages produced zip !! Besides, from what I hear, each individual  New Old Body has its own words, definitions, synonyms, antonyms, wants, needs, metaphors, similes, analogies, and plain old creature comfort descriptions.

Maybe, after all, my  New Old Body is simply sick and tired of not being heard by its inhabitant.

Okay. *S.I.G.H.* 

Until I figure out WHAT this New Old Body is saying:

  • I WILL try to wallow around in it.
  • I WILL try to adjust....especially my attitude.
  • I WILL try to stop complaining.

Promise.

(Did I say that I am NOT good at learning new languages ???)



Thank you for listening.

Praying for courage,


         Liz








Saturday, January 10, 2015

Words: Read. Hear. Write.

     Last night when I shut down Liz's Trusty iPad, the strange assortment of my input / output habits glared at me. I watched as programs that make up my day faded to a close. My awkward life-schedule creates interesting patterns of ways and things to keep my mind and emotions occupied. All of those many and diverse items on the Pad gave me pause.
     I smiled. Almost cried. Cringed a little. Laughed out loud.

Well.
     
     Naturally, being the champion list-maker that I am, my curiosity at my own life of words—heard/read/written—spurred me on. When I finished the list, I wondered what to do with it. I will keep a hard copy, of course, just to enjoy, to add to, and to remind me whether or not to go forward, backward, or cancel. That’s what most of us happy list-makers do.
     OH!! I know !! I’ll share it with my few blog readers. Your comments will be interesting. And fun.
     My imagination began to run. Faster. More quickly! Then a gallop.
         
      What fun it will be if you send me your reading / hearing / writing lists. (Goes without saying but I will anyway: I never have and promise never to post anything without your express and absolutely permission.)
     Please and thank you most sincerely.

Sorry. I got kind of carried away there. Sometimes, lists do that to me.
Back to MY LIST of Words I read, watch (hear), write:

Books I am Reading via Liz’s Kindle iPad:  
          The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris
          How to Write Inspirational Memoir by Emily T. Wierenga (writer) and Mick Silva (editor)
          Unraveled by Sharon K. Souza
         
Books I keep handy to review, to refresh my soul as needed, and to encourage my spirit (besides my Bible, of course)
          The Praying Life by Deborah Smith Douglas
          One Simple Act by Debbie Macomber
          The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris
          All Will Be Well – Julian of Norwich devotions
          Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan
          Behind the Stories by Diane Eble
          50 People Every Christian Should Know by Warren W. Wiersbe
          God’s Guest List by Debbie Macomber
         
 TV series I WATCHED via Netflix
          Royal Pains -  Watched all 75 episodes. Loved every one
          The West Wing: All 156 episodes. Probably my all-time most favorite TV series E.V.E.R. Some episodes I will re-watch from time to time just to enjoy excellence. Brilliant writing. Great acting.

TV series I currently watch via Netflix (my quiet time when chores done, family cared for & asleep, tomorrow is as ready as I can get it, and I c.h.i.l.l. without thinking about the new to-do lists I should make):
          Call the Midwife -  BBC period drama series; London 1950s; based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth. (Already strongly suspect this will be addictive!!!)
          Parenthood - TV series follows the parents of four grown siblings & their families, all of whom still live in their hometown, as they tackle challenges of modern family life. (mostly, this seems sort of ho-hum; nice, sometimes really good; so far can't decide. But it is NOT awful.)

TV series I currently watch via DVD
          Downton Abby – I bought the complete first three seasons a year ago. In late December settled in to watch. Finished the first season. Trying to space it out until a couple more seasons are available in bulk J

TV series our family WATCHES now and then via Netflix
          Coach - An American sitcom for 9 years stars Hayden Fox as football head coach in fictional Minnesota college.  198 episodes will last us a while. This great show ran from February 28, 1989 to May 14, 1997. Probably the ONLY sitcom that my husband requests to see; he laughs out loud in every episode.

TV movies our family WATCHED via Netflix
          Christmas on Salvation Street - Based on true events produced by The Dove Foundation. A widowed pastor believes God calls him to move with his family to Salvation Street of a large city. They live, struggle, serve and find trouble in a desperate, low-income, hurting neighborhood. 
            The Fitzgerald Family Christmas – A close but splintered family of grown siblings struggle with emotions when their father who left his family twenty years before wants to spend Christmas with his ex-wife and his children. We were VERY disappointed that this otherwise excellent movie contains FOUL language and some ugly sex scenes, none of which was necessary to this otherwise great story of redemption, forgiveness, and dealing with life changes.
          Evergreen Christmas –   A young woman must leave a career she hopes to build when her father dies suddenly. She returns to her small hometown of Balsam Falls, Tennessee and her family's once-thriving Christmas tree farm where she finds problems. Torn between pursuing her music career and saving her family's legacy, she must decide what it really means to find her place in the world.  We thoroughly enjoyed this movie that could easily become an annual classic for us.
          One Magic Christmas -  A young mother can't muster Christmas spirit. Her husband is unemployed, there’s no money for gifts for their children, and her job as a grocery clerk is hard. Gideon, an angel, must show Ginny the true meaning of Christmas. It's not just presents and materialistic things, but the people she cares about. A sweet, heart-warming tale of a mother’s fears, Santa’s loving heart, and a sneaky old angel.
          Call Me Claus – When Lucy Cullins, a successful but cranky producer at a home shopping network, hires an actor named Nick to play Santa Claus on the network she gets more than she bargained for. Nick really is Santa Claus, and he faces mandatory retirement after 200 years on the job. He must find his replacement by Christmas Eve or the world will face dire consequences. He sets his sights on Lucy and things get out of control.  Just WOW. A classic Santa movie that made us three laugh and shed some tears and clap. Fun. A classic.
           Christmas With a Capital C -  Trapper Falls, Alaska, hometown of Mayor Dan Reed, is a traditional Christian community and goes a thousand percent for the whole Christmas spirit. Dan's high school rival, Mitch Bright, returns home after 20 years and takes offense in seeing the town's nativity scene in violation of separation of church and state. Trapper Falls, about to lose their spiritual Christmas, learns truths that free everyone. In a time when so many give up so much so easily, this movie encourages all of us to learn to live together.
          White Christmas – This Christmas classic, 1954 (!!!), starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen is a romantic musical that takes place in a Vermont lodge- where it is almost always, a “White Christmas.” Nothing more to say. *long, sweet smile *
Bells of St. Mary’s - Not a Christmas movie but December is a good time to re-watch this classic – Released December 6, 1945. Father O'Malley (Bing Crosby) is transferred to the Roman Catholic inner-city school St. Mary's, where he quickly falls into conflict with its headmistress, Sister Mary (Ingrid Bergman). Their primary disagreement has to do with the deteriorating school itself. Father O'Malley feels it should be abandoned and the children sent to other schools. Sister Mary and the other nuns, however, believe there is still hope, possibly in the form of charity from a wealthy business owner.  I see another take-away:When Father is told: “You don't know what it means to be up to your neck in nuns” [ we can also add….or Methodist parishioners..].”
Later, Sister Benedict says, “You don't become a nun[we can also add....a wife,  minister, preacher’s wife, husband, preacher's husband, caregiver….]  to run away from something but because you've found something.”

 What I am writing
          An occasional blog post.
          Still writing and shredding the opening chapter for my book of historic family stories.
          Christmas Thank You notes.


I hope your New Year is full of good words to watch, worthwhile words to hear, and satisfying words to write.

Blessings,
     Liz

















Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Twin Babies in Red Dresses

          I’m not ready for Christmas to be finished. I especially love this in-between time. The hustle and bustle is done and it’s not quite time to start the taxes. Each evening, we build a fire and turn on all the Christmas lights—inside and out. My Nativity in the front yard glows and the multi-colored lights twinkle in the cold night air. Peaceful. Comfortable. Soothing.




          Yes, I know it must come to an end and I’ll begin packing up. Soon. Any day now. Promise.
          But I have one more—Liz—Christmas story. If you’ve read it before, hang around. It might be different.
         
          We don’t get to public worship much these days what with all our health challenges. We miss it dreadfully but sometimes things just have to be as they are. We did get to go to Christmas Eve traditional service this year. We sat on the back row because a bunch of family joined us, we were almost late, and it was easier with husband’s walker. Somehow, an unusual sense of gratitude, quiet, and worship slipped over me there on the back row and before long I was lost in the miracle of the night.
          One of our kids leaned over and with a big grin motioned me to look behind us. Ahhhhh, sweet memories bounced off the pipe organ. A family sat on straight chairs behind our back row of regular pews. A mom, a dad, and a couple of grandparents. The mom and dad each bounced a baby on a knee. Little girls, not quite crawling stage, adorned in red velvet twin dresses, with red bows perched on their nearly bald heads.
          The babies' squirming, mild fussing, and innocent giggles had been lost on me. While I smiled at the precious scene, my heart looked back.


          Some forty years ago my daughter was twelve and my son was four. For three years, six kids sat in our family pew at church. We were a foster family so four of the kids changed often but our two birth children hung in there and remained for the long haul! Hey, I was young, eager to nurture, and thought I could handle anything. I found that becoming a foster parent was much like the first-time pregnancy: you are blissfully unaware of the pain, horror, and screams that follow. Then, like a mother eagerly getting pregnant over and over again, every time the caseworker calls with another abused child in need of love and safety, without even a grown, a seasoned foster mom just finds an empty bed and sets another plate at the table.
          It was the 1970’s and foster parents could not adopt the kids they protected and loved. But, a foster parent could raise kids in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We took every opportunity to show Jesus to “our kids.”
          Every week, all of us went to church together. Back then, only the “Crib Set” was entitled to church nursery luxuries so kids--toddler age on up and parents sat—or wiggled—in worship services together.  When the Sunday school put on a Christmas Pageant, our new Patricia came home from her first practice in tears, incensed that the innkeeper would not let Jesus’ mother come in from the cold. Long talks ensued until she made her own peace with the innkeeper. One night she said, “I’m glad you made room for me, Mama.”
          While our lives were hectic and chaotic, we strictly enforced bedtime rituals. We prayed together as a family then each child was tucked in with special parent time and additional prayer when needed, which was often. During Advent, our evenings included time for devotion around the wreath with candles and scripture readings. The year Charlie came, we celebrated his second birthday in November so when Advent arrived, the candles never remained burning. As soon as one child lit the Advent candles, Charlie took that as his cue to blow them out.
          Over the three years, Barbara stopped hoarding food, Bethany started talking, Leonard didn’t lie as much, and Patricia tried not to cuss like a sailor. We helped eleven children hope for a safe tomorrow and to trust adults—a little. We fed their souls, their minds, and their bodies. Gradually, the screams in the night subsided and daytime laughter erupted more often. They bonded with our children, other fosters, and with their schoolmates, and then we helped them leave us, for better places… we hoped.    
          No, I don’t know what happened to most of them and yes, I wished laws had been different. It took many years for me to accept that God gave me a job to do and that I did it the best I could.
         So, this Christmas Eve, the “joyful noise” of fretful toddler twins in worship service was music to my ears. That is where children belong. Even Jesus said so.
         

Tonight, as the glow of Christmas tree lights flicker in this in-between time, I left yesterday behind with its bittersweet memories and unanswered questions. I deliberately turn my white hair and old heart to the present and pray that in my assignment as caregiver I will serve up love, protection, and safety to my two care receivers and that I will do it will joy and grace.
         
After all, old foster moms believe they always entertain angels.


  
Stay on good terms with each other,held together by love.
 Be ready with a mealor a bed when it’s needed.
Why, some have extendedhospitality to angels
without ever knowing it! Look on victims of abuse
as if what happened to themhad happened to you.
From Hebrews 13:2-3


May angels swam you and your memories be happy in this bright New Year.
Love,
  Liz