Aug 29, 2019

Troubled By Taffeta

"What did she say?” I asked Cathy while we were watching a television program. One of the main characters, a high school girl, had been ironing a dress and ruined it. Apparently one is not supposed to iron dresses made with taffeta.

"Taffeta"; replied Cathy.

"That's not a word!" I said, wondering if I had misunderstood what the person had said.

"Actually it is a word"; Cathy said as she looked surprised that I hadn't heard the word before.

"I know that's not a word!" I said grabbing my phone to look it up on my dictionary app.

"Actually IT IS a word"; Cathy said as she looked surprised that I hadn't used the word in a sentence or read it before.

I searched for in the dictionary and I discovered that apparently it is a real word and has been used since 1325.

The word taffeta means:
"a medium-weight or light-weight fabric of acetate, nylon, rayon, or silk, usually smooth, crisp, and lustrous, plain-woven, and with a fine crosswise rib effect. Any of various other fabrics of silk, linen, wool, etc., in use at different periods"

"Am I the only person who hasn't heard of or used the word "taffeta"?"; I thought to myself and set off to take a poll.

Several times over the next several weeks I randomly asked friends and loved ones if they had ever heard the word taffeta and ALL of them had; except for the stranger I asked who replied; "Yo no hablo ingles"

How is it I made it this far in life without hearing this word? Even as I type this blog spellcheck recognizes it as a real word!
While telling my dilemma to one of my daughters, she joined the rest of the world in letting me know that it was indeed a real word. I felt a little better when her husband said that he hadn't heard it before.

My latest was discovering that I all these years I had been spelling “doughnuts” wrong; I always spelled is as “donuts”!

So, how do you REACT when you don’t know something that “EVERYONE” else seems to know? Angry? Defensive? Explosive?

Well, at least I know what the word “circumlocution” means; do you? Oh you do? Never mind…

How do you FEEL when you don’t know something that “EVERYONE” else seems to know? Awkward? Left out? Stupid?

Do you withdraw or draw closer?

Do you take the opportunity to learn and to grow? Or do you use it as another reason to believe you don’t matter?

Just because we don’t know EVERYTHING doesn’t mean that what we do know isn’t important or valuable.

It’s amazing how quickly not knowing something can cause us to go into a tailspin; as though our validation comes only from others opinions of us.

When this happens; we need to look deeply at how we are allowing wrong thoughts to influence what we think about ourselves.

We need to let Jesus bring affirmation and validation in way that ONLY He can bring it.

We need to RUN to Him for validation, affirmation, and purpose.

We need to run to the Word of God to allow it to transform what we think to what God says about us.

The Word of God says:
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways
and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

“How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
You are still with me!” (Psalm 139:17-18)

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
 Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.… (Psalm 139:14)

“See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

Are you struggling with thoughts of rejection; and in need of affirmation and validation that you are loved?

I know that you may feel worthless at this moment and really need some encouragement and hope in your life. I know that nothing seems to be going right for you and you conclude that you need to quit. But don’t quit before God is done with your situation. He really can fix anything!

I know that right now all you might be feeling is sadness and you don’t see any way out of your current situation. I really do know; I, too, have been there a couple different times in at life. I know what it is like to struggle with wanting to end the anguish NOW and feeling that there is no hope. But there is HOPE that things can change. They really can; I promise you.

Have you had enough of what this world has to offer and want true freedom?

Someone is waiting to talk with you. Call either:
1-888-NEED HIM or 1-877-2GRAHAM (1-877-247-2426).

NOTE: “circumlocution” means: a roundabout or indirect way of speaking; the use of more words than necessary to express an idea.

All Scripture is from the New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Aug 22, 2019

Two Weddings, a Memorial Service, and a Tornado

Well, it wasn't a quiet week here in St. Paul, Minnesota, my hometown, out on the cliffs of the Mississippi. 

Cathy and I had settled ourselves on the love-seat in our family room to veg out watching TV when the call came un-expectantly in the form of a text message: a friend of the family had died and with it came the notification of a pending memorial service.

It was already scheduled to be a busy week after we came back from a min-vacation on the Northern Shores of Minnesota. The week included a fishing tournament with fellow pastors and ministry leaders, and a wedding rehearsal and officiating the wedding ceremony. 

Prior to our trip up north, we had spent three weekends up at the family cabin cleaning up debris left in the wake of a tornado; something that defiantly wasn't on our schedules!

I also had several other opportunities to fill my calendar which (for sanity) I turned down including a trip to Sturgis, South Dakota and a trip to California to go fishing in LA and then play hockey in San Francisco.

I decided that living out of a suitcase for that many weeks on the road would put too much stress in my life that would leave me (potentially) weary by the time I came to the wedding. This would prove to be wisdom from above.

I should note that this week I have another wedding rehearsal and am officiating another wedding ceremony....And then four more weddings after that.

Then as my schedule seemed FULL, my physical health was stressed in the form of a head or sinus cold; which arrived full-forced just in time for the day of the wedding.

With the cold came headaches, blurred vision, congestion, sinus pressure, flem, mucus, coughing, hacking up a lung or two, and a raspy voice; which was eventually lost. 

I should note that on a good day I have some memory issues due to taking too many knocks on the old noggin. With a head cold I am (without the Lord's help) clueless at best. So to say that I was in trouble was amplified by a night of no sleep.

I am not writing to solicit sympathy or empathy from readers who "have been there", but simply to say as much as we can possibly plan our schedules we are still vulnerable to things that come at inopportune times like death and tornadoes.

With all of the modern apps and the multitude of ways that we use for our calendars to schedule our lives, we are still unable to script our own lives.

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)

And that includes other things that come up such a dinner invitation or a request to come outside to look at a sunrise, sunset, rainbow, or a flower. It includes spontaneous opportunities for free tickets to an event or to help pack food at "Feed My Starving Children"; simply because they need extra hands.

My point is that with life comes opportunities. How we choose to embrace them makes all the difference if we are to become better or bitter; it’s really our choice. We can either get through our busy schedules or we can slow down and smell the flowers. 

I am happy to report that the Lord came through and the wedding ceremony went off without any other surprises and then, the following day was the Memorial service where we gathered to honor the person whose life touched so many. Thank God for His faithfulness. 

I look forward to what comes next between this moment and this week's wedding. My prayer is that each of us will be open to the gift of each opportunity that comes our way; KNOWING that ultimately the LORD is in charge.

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” (Psalm 37:23)

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

That's the news from St. Paul, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.

Aug 15, 2019

My Dad Is In Charge

It was a Friday night in nineteen seventy something and I was working part time at the Post Office while attending art college. And, because I was only part time, I was able to carry the load of college and still make money to pay my way.

One evening, I arrived at my normal timeslot and was greeted by a new supervisor who wanted to talk with me.

He said that he had replaced my old boss who had retired and that he had some great concerns about how few hours I worked each day.

I explained to him that I was special and only was scheduled to work four hours a day from six until ten in the evening. This was the arrangement that I had with my old boss.

He explained to me that because my old boss no longer worked there and he was now in change, that would need to change; effective immediately.

He added that if I was unwilling to work a full eight-hour shift and be available for overtime as necessary, I should go home and no longer report for work.

Because I realized that he was serious and because I had no intention of ever working full time while attending college, I took off my badge, handed it to him, and went home.

When I arrived home, my dad asked why I was home so early.

As I explained what had transpired, my dad’s face became very stern.

“That guy has no right to demand that of you! Why didn’t you call me?” he asked, adding “Don’t you know that I could’ve worked things out for you?”
I mumbled something as I felt the sting of disappointment that my dad expressed in me not going to him for help.

For some reason I hadn’t thought of my dad, who had worked his whole career at the post office and was higher up in management then my new boss was.

I mumbled something else as I walked out the door, realizing that I had disappointment to two people in a very short span of time.

I don’t remember much of what happened during the weekend but, needless to say, on Monday I was back working for the Post office. My dad had gone into work and explained what had happened and “heads began to roll”.

They not only agreed that my new boss was out of line and had no authority to say what he said to me, but they also offered my old job and hours back to me with an apology that this had ever taken place.

I felt triumphant that night as I strolled back into work knowing that my boss had limited authority over my life. My dad outranked him and there was nothing that he could do about it!

My dad was happy that he was able to help. What I thought was disappointment on his face was frustration that someone had messed up his son’s life and that I hadn’t come to him to ask for his help.

In time I learned that is what I do with my heavenly Father. I will get myself in trouble or else someone or something will threaten me and I don’t even go to Him and ask for His help.

Instead, I quit or hide or roll over.

His Son Jesus paid for my sins and that is why I call Him Savior.

But He is also Lord. That means He is supreme in all authority; He is still in control of EVERYTHING and of EVERY situation.

He simply wants us to ask for His help.

Jesus is Savior and Lord.

“Therefore, God elevated Him (Jesus) to the place of highest honor
    and gave Him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36)

 “The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—(Acts 10:36)

“But for us, There is one God, the Father,
    by whom all things were created,
    and for whom we live.
And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    through whom all things were created,
    and through whom we live.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)

Aug 8, 2019

Control Z

The year was nineteen eighty something and my father-in-law was showing me just how easy it was to use a Commodore 64 Computer. He was convinced that soon computers would be in every home in America.

Personally, I failed to see what the appeal was since it was DOS-based and took way too long to do anything useful. I remember spending an hour or so using command strokes and codes in order to write a program that would show a rocket taking off for about five seconds. That was an hour of my life that I will never get back.

Even when Apple came out, the only usefulness I saw was for writing; even though there were only a few fonts and poor graphics and limited storage.

Printing the finished piece was something that was another lesson in patience as dot-matrix took three minutes to print a single side. Of course back then we were thoroughly impressed by the speed and because we could use a "normal" sheet of paper; including colored paper!

Today, not only are there computers in every home in America, but we can take them anywhere we want because they are small enough for us to carry in our pockets.

And, they come fully loaded to do a variety of daily tasks that include writing, calculating, reading, spelling, translating, researching, budgeting, banking, writing, taking photos, and sending emails. If we lose them they even have a program built in to help us find the lost item.
We use them for entertainment to watch movies, television, play games and read books. Do people even read books anymore?

We use them for seeking out the latest recipe to make a last minute dish or meal. They store, record, post, print, and generally make life as we know it much easier. Not less busy; just easier.

One of the carryovers from DOS programming that I still use is the "command" key. One simply pushes the command button along with "C" and it will copy; use it along with "V" and it will paste whatever it was that you copied. To print, one simply hits Command-P and instantly, a printer will print whatever it is on that is on your screen; even from your phone.
My favorite button is Command -Z. This is useful when we mess up; all we have to do is tell our computers: Command Z, and it will undo whatever mess we just created. Instantly, our troubles are over and we go back to where we were before the mistake.

One of the places this doesn't work is when you are using Microsoft Project; then you are in trouble. For some reason the programmers wrote the program so that if you delete something, it’s gone forever. Perhaps this is the real revenge of the nerds.

Another place this doesn't work is when you are living life off the computer.

Many times I wished that I had a Command-Z button to push when I was hand writing a letter or writing a note on a birthday card.

Many times I wished that I had a Command-Z button to push when I have filled out a form wrong, or written the wrong name, or spelled something wrong.

Many times I wished that I had a Command-Z button to push when I said or did something that I shouldn’t have done or said.

Many times I wished that I had a Command-Z button to push to go back to before I had messed up my life.

There is a Command-Z button, so to speak, that will wipe out the wrongs that you have done…and His Name is Jesus.

How do you “push the button” so that your wrongs (sins) will be wiped away?

The Bible tells us that we need to repent (which means to think differently or to reconsider):

Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” (Acts 3:19 NLT)

The Bible tells us:
When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14 Message Version)

NOTE: There will be forgiveness, the slate wiped clean, but there may still be consequences to what you did…

Aug 1, 2019

And You Think That Your Family Is Weird

We all have weird, embarrassing, hideous stories in our families. Some of them get buried deep within the pages of history.

And even though society thrives on gossip, not every story from every family makes it to national television shows such as “The Jerry Springer Show“ (which wasn’t around when my family was growing up).

But my story is one of those that need to be told so that others can learn from our family’s mistake(s).

My dad wanted to have a son with his first wife.  But, for some reason, they were not able to conceive a child together.

So after many years of trying, they came up with “Plan B”.

Now that’s not totally unusual except how he was planning to get a child.

You see, although he was my dad, my mother was not his wife. In fact she wasn’t really a girlfriend; more of a ‘convenient way to fix the situation’.

The two of them had this “grand plan“ that my dad would have a surrogate mother for a child.

In fact, if the truth be told, it was actually his first wife who came up with the idea that my dad should have a child by having sexual relations with this other woman.

Although my mind doesn’t want to think about it, my dad and my mom must have had sex, because she became pregnant with me.

And they all lived together as one big happy family and it worked out pretty good; that is until my mom became pregnant.

For some reason my dad‘s first wife suddenly became very jealous of the girlfriend and complained about my mom to my dad.

Remember, this was the same woman who his first wife had suggested that he have sex with so that they could have a child together!

And to make things even worse, after I was born, my dad gave his first wife permission to treat my mom with disrespect.

After his wife treated my mom with disrespect, my mom took off while still pregnant with me to raise the child on her own.

But my mom realized that she needed my dad to help raise the child, so she went back to live with them.

Now, I should also tell you that my dad was a deeply religious man. At some point in his life he had an encounter with God that changed his outlook on his life.

So, my dad and his wife decided to try again.

I forget the year, but I know that I was 13 years old when I heard that my dad wanted to have another child. Specifically, he wanted to have another son.

He really believed that God wanted him to have a child with his first wife.

So, my dad set about again trying to conceive a child with his first wife.

Did you catch that? My dad is communicating to me that I am not really his son!!!

There are not enough words in the world to tell you how I felt knowing that my dad really did not consider me to be his son. Or at least not the son that he believed God wanted him to have.

Although my mind doesn’t want to think about it, my dad and his first wife must have had sex, because one year later when I was 14, my dad and his first wife had a child; a son.

And then things continued to get weird in our household.

Now that my dad’s first wife had a son of her own, she wanted my mom and me to leave their house.

My dad objected at first, but after praying about it, he agreed with his wife that it was time for my mom and me to leave.

So, he packed up some provisions and sent my mom and me away.

The end of the story is that we were taken care of and my family became very successful in the oil business.

My step brother grew up with my dad and his first wife and also became very successful.

Oh, I suppose I should’ve told you my name. I am Ishmael and this is my story.

And there are other details of the story that I’ve left out, mostly to save my family any further embarrassment; like the fact that my dad was 86 years old when I was born and 100 when my step brother was born.

The good news is that a son was born and the world as we know it was changed forever.

  • Ishmael was born when Abraham was 86

  • It was prophesied to the patriarch Abraham that he would have a son and that his name should be Isaac.

  • When Abraham became one hundred years old, this son was born to him by his first wife Sarah.
  • Though this was Abraham’s second son it was Sarah’s first and only child.
  • When Isaac was born, Abraham was 100, Sarah 99, and Ishmael was 14.