Friday, July 20, 2012

Ethel's Elbows

First, let me say that this is not Ethel.  I have no idea who she might be, but she has a pretty good looking set of elbows.
Elderly happy senior woman doing fitness exercises and showing her muscles photo
And I apologize to anyone who may be reading this and happens to be named Ethel. 

Next, let me tell you that I do not know who Ethel is, that is the Ethel in the title of this post. Never knew her.

Here is the thing.  My youngest sister always had a bit of a critical streak toward anyone she did not think looked quite up to par.  In her younger years, my guess is that it came from the fact that she was quite good looking.  Natural blonde hair, big blue eyes in a pretty face, and all in a petite five foot one inch package.  She was, in fact, now that I reflect upon it, quite vain.

And she had a "thing" about elbows.  

She knew someone named Ethel, who apparently had the misfortune to have sub par elbows, as in baggy and saggy.  My sister did not hesitate to comment upon them in less than kindly terms.  It left me with a horror of ever developing what she so disparagingly called "Ethel's elbows."

Once after a visit to our mother, who was by then in her sixties, M. (my sister) said to me on our way home, "Good grief.  Did you notice? Mom has now got 'Ethel's elbows'?"

Sometimes she would nudge me in a cafe or a department store, and  whisper, "See that?  She's got Ethel's elbows."  It was the ultimate put down.

Fast forward twenty five years, and here I am the approximate age my mother was when M. declared her to have developed the dread condition known as "Ethel's elbows."

Imagine, if you can, my chagrin therefore, when the other day my son, K., remarked as I bustled about his room tidying up, "Mom, those are some pudgy elbows you've got there."

He said it with a smile, and with no disrespect intended.  It was just gentle teasing.  We have had to have a lot of physical proximity this past year, while I took care of him during his illness.  He probably notices things that ordinarily he never would.  At least I am hoping that is why he noticed.

I left the room, plopped myself down on a chair and thought to myself, "Well, here I am.  I now have Ethel's elbows."

Okay, so it is what it is.  Welcome to getting older.  

But I can still work a full day, walk a full mile or two, laugh at a good joke and enjoy a garden.  All things considered, I guess there are worse things than having Ethel's elbows.  God bless her, wherever she is, I hope she is doing as well herself.

So whatever your particular nuisance associated with getting older may be, hope you are ignoring it and enjoying your day.
Until next time ... Marsha

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Unintentional Ear Plugs

Today I took Holly (our Lhaso) to the vet because lately she hasn't been hearing very well.  Either that or she was been ignoring us.  It has been known to happen.  

Like most canines, her physical senses are heightened beyond our own, and even though she is older than either me or the LOC* (at least in dog years) until just recently she was always alert to the soft snick of the door opening, or the subtle "tick" of a bit of food hitting the floor. (Lovable Old Coot*)

However, for the past few weeks we have noticed that instead of waiting eagerly at our bedroom door each morning, she would still be fast asleep in her bed when we came into the living room.  "Ah, she's getting old", we said to ourselves.

Then two days ago, the LOC called her in a normal tone (which I'll grant you, for him is just one decibel below a bellow) and she lay still asleep.  He called her again, even louder.  She snoozed on.  Finally he flat out shouted "HOLLY" - and she jumped up and looked wildly around as if to say "What?  Whaaat?"

So I took her to get her ears checked, and to see if there was anything that could be done.  Turns out there was and it was a fairly simple fix - she had wax plugs in both ears, creating artificial deafness.  I understood completely.

Been there, done that.  I was in my early thirties and for months I had noticed I was having a more and more difficult time following conversations taking place around me.

When I finally saw a doctor about what I assumed was my premature hearing loss, he simply irrigated both ear canals, and showed me wax plugs the size of pencil erasers.  Yuck!  Who knew?

As I walked out of the doctor's office that day, I recall being amazed at the crunch of the gravel under my shoes.  I had not heard that sound in a long time.  I was suddenly aware of birds singing.  I did not realize how much I had been missing all around me.
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As I drove Holly home, with the window on her side of the Buick down a little so that she could stick her nose up there and smell all the wonderful smells (I could swear she was smiling), I remembered that day I had my ears opened, all those years ago.

How often in my life have I missed the soft undertone of discouragement in someone's voice, because my spiritual ears were plugged?  How many times have I overlooked the echos of confusion, or the subtle ripples of loneliness because my hearing was dulled by my own pride or arrogance.

Holly did not mean to ignore us.  She simply had stuff building up in her ears.

I do not mean to ignore or misunderstand others either; but I do sometimes discover that I have had "stuff" building up in my ears. Fear, ego, discouragement dull my hearing to the needs of others. Thankfully, the Great Physician still makes house calls.
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He who has ears, let him hear.  (Matthew 11:15 NIV)
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Let's determine to practice our listening skills more often.  And get our "hearing" checked from time to time.  Until next time - Marsha

Monday, July 16, 2012

Serving One-Handed

This morning I had the privilege of going to Sunday service.  There have been more weeks than not this past year, when I did not have the option of going since I could not leave the house.  Thus, I was truly thankful for the privilege.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning here in Paradise - birds singing, sunshine, and pleasant thoughts running through my head as I drove the brief two miles from our house to the church building.

And yet once again I was confronted with the unpredictability of life's events, and reminded of how important it is to prepare ahead of time to trust through the trial.  As Riding Shotgun said in her post a day or two ago, she knows how to "trust and row" (the life boat) but she struggles with how to just trust, and let God take over. Don't we all?

The pastor was wearing a sling as he approached the pulpit and I wondered if he had sprained a wrist or something.  It was "or something" all right; a very big, very scary "or something."

Tomorrow his MRI results are due, and he will learn whether or not he has a life-threatening condition, and if so, will he still have two arms when he is finished with his treatments.  And just last week, he had no inkling that anything was wrong with him!

One thing I appreciate about this guy (we can call him Pastor L.) is he is pretty down-to-earth.  He talked about feeling like he had been "kicked in the gut" when he got the first diagnosis.  And he talked about having to remind himself, "Wait a minute.  Who do you belong to?"

This was no plaster saint telling us all about how he has it "handled."  But he could also joke about preaching with one arm, and learning to be left-handed, if need be.  He said it couldn't be too hard, as his wife has been left-handed forever and seems to do just fine.

Then he spoke with quiet conviction about what God orders, as contrasted to what God allows (for reasons we may never understand) and about the sovereignty of God.  I appreciated both his courage and his candor.
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I don't know about you, but I plan to get up tomorrow morning,  make some tea, read my Bible, say my prayers and get on with trusting.  There seems to be lots to trust about, and much that all the rowing we can muster will not solve.  Meanwhile, we serve a God who loves us even when we are full of doubt.  But I think He smiles on us when we choose to trust Him through the storm.

May you find rest and peace this quiet Sunday evening.  Until next time ... Marsha

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The God Particle

A few days ago the news papers and the evening news broadcasts were all abuzz about the great discovery scientists are calling the "God particle."

Using the large Hadron Collider, they sent protons whizzing around a circular 17-mile underground tunnel along the French-Swiss border at almost the speed of light.  Out of some 500 trillion collisions, a few dozen produced "events" during which they observed (but observed was put in parentheses in their own report, and in fact they did not actually see it, but saw something they then interpreted to be evidence of this particle) which they then proclaimed was the "missing cornerstone of science."

Two different research teams connected to CERN (the European Center for Nuclear Research) announced that after decades of searching, they believe they have located the missing subatomic link in the creation of the universe.  Sort of.

It is called the Higgs-boson, and while they are not sure this is actually "it", they know they saw something and they think this may be it.

The alleged Higgs-boson particle cannot be seen or felt, or weighed or measured, unless what they glimpsed for a few micro-seconds the other day was actually "it"; but they are all excited and think they have just about figured out how the whole universe got going.

An yet, some of these same scientists, if one were to tell them about a God who created the universe, would rebutt with "but you have no proof, we cannot see it, we cannot weigh it or measure it."  Uh-huh.

Nevertheless, they would, with their well-meaning but incomprehensible arrogance, try to set the whole world a twitter with something they cannot "prove", and which neither they nor we can see or feel, and they are not even sure what it is.  Astounding, isn't it?

Here is something to consider.  God's word referred to subatomic particles thousands of years before the first microscope was invented, and it described how God used them in the creation process.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:3 NIV)  An older version says that what is visible was made from what is invisible.

We see matter and mass.  But matter is comprised of atomic and subatomic particles which we cannot see.  What is seen is made out of what is not seen, just as His Word tells us.

The scientific community is likening this "discovery" to Newton's explanation of gravity. Before his theory, they knew things stuck together, but they could not figure out how.  Gravity explained that.

Yes, it does, physically speaking.  But again, God's word had explained it long before Newton was in nappies.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17 NIV)  Again, the old KJV used the term "adhere".  God created the "glue" (gravity) that holds our world together.

Truly, the point is not  to disparage scientific research, as it has given us many wonderful discoveries which make our everyday lives immensely better.  My point is that we humans can be a little bit childish when we think we have suddenly explained the universe to each other. We are like a toddler finding an ant, presenting it to his parents, and then thinking he has just explained all of nature, if he only knew how to talk.

While we can certainly "agree to disagree" respectfully about various view points on the details of the creation process, I'm thinking we might want to listen more often to the Creator.
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Hope you have a wonderful weekend.  Me, I'm planning to practice my listening skills.  Until next time ~ Marsha