Loving One Another

Archive for October, 2012

Make Work Play


This month’s copy of HealthMonitor Magazine had a special focus on Senior Health. In it, Diane Keaton shared some tips for aging gracefully. Make work play, the phrase she quoted from a former piano teacher, resonated with me. As I sit at the hospital reception desk, working my weekly volunteer shift, I realize, this is fun!

As I grow older, one of the benefits I am experiencing is that I get to choose how and when I “work.” It’s really all play, because it’s what I choose to do to use my time constructively. But, as I look back at my career in education, I remember feeling like each day in the classroom with my students also was play. I was doing what I loved! I think that’s one of the keys to living happy days, don’t you?

One of my colleagues, Jerry, seemed not only to always make each work day a play day, but his joy was infectious. I used to wonder if he got tired of laughing all the time, being the one that everyone looked to for funniness. Do you know people like that?  Here in my place of retirement I have a friend whose laugh is infectious the way Jerry’s was. She finds joy in living – joy in places others might find a reason to grumble. Being around her makes life fun, makes work play. Do you have the privilege of knowing someone like that?

Diane Keaton cited in her list of tips for aging gracefully a new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. She shared that researchers “found that people who had a strong sense of purpose in life experienced a 30% slower rate of mental decline compared to those who had less purpose.” Work that is joyful, work that makes us smile, work that is meaningful often seems more like play than a job. It adds purpose to our lives – and at the same time it infects those around us with the joy we radiate. So, when I retired, I didn’t stop working. I just found a different kind of work. Volunteer activities that use my skills, provide encouragement to others, and share the joy of living constitute work that’s play. They help me age gracefully.

Go to HealthMonitor.com and see the entire article. Look at Diane’s other tips. I love the fact that she embraces aging with vim and vigor. She says, “I love life!” I do, too. What tips might you add to her suggestions?

Looking for Tranquility?


Sermon by Pastor Jean Johnson
Madison Valley Presbyterian Church
Ennis, Montana
Based on scripture – Mark 10:35-45
Notes by JanBeek –  October 21, 2012

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Are you looking for tranquility?
Is the church your source of peaceful speech?
Is Jesus Christ the answer to all your troubles, friend?
If you itch or hurt, can the church’s arms reach?

Jesus’ disciples, James and John, believed
Sitting at Christ’s side was their goal.
Rubbing elbows with God would produce
Peace and comfort to fill every hole.

Jesus told His disciples they were clueless.
They didn’t understand the pain He’d endure.
They told Him, “Yes, we can drink of Your cup.
We can be baptized with You, oh sure!”

Were they really able to share it all?
Like them, we need to understand:
Following requires sharing the suffering,
Living with the pain discipleship demands.

To proclaim the Good News is to tell
The Truth of what God’s message includes.
Walking and talking like Jesus means
Nails and the cross, as well as the love He exudes.

Are you looking for tranquility?
Is the Peace of Christ what you need?
Remember that path is rough and tough.
But the pain is worth the cost –  indeed!

Aside

The Power of Water


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I love water. Do you? Water is a life-giving force; it is the one essential, besides LOVE, that sustains life. Life cannot be sustained without it!

I was in a conversation with a former wrestling student of my husband’s recently and he said he was “Headed back out to sea again. Headed back to Tern and Laysan Islands in the Northern Hawaiian Island chain.” He said, “Hope the seas aren’t as rough this time. I hate paying for meals I can’t keep down…” His image of going to sea was not necessarily a pleasant one. After he returned, he wrote to say he was “back on dry land again.” He lives in the state of Washington. Living here in Montana, I told him he didn’t know what “dry” means. We need rain so badly here! That comment lead to an e-mail exchange of ideas about water. The last of those found our friend writing so poetically that I decided in fact his words are a poem!! I took a few editorial liberties and added a couple of phrases here and there… but mainly, the words below are his! I added a picture of the Gallatin River where my grandchildren and I hiked last summer. Beautiful, powerful water! You never know where your next source of word power will emerge. Read on… and thank you, Peter Martin, for your inspirational message!

 

The Power of Water

 

Water is a powerful source of energy.

Whether at the shore or along a river,

it sounds almost mathematical,

and it draws me closer,

nearer to God, my Creator.

I don’t know if it reminds

a person of being in the womb,

or if it is older and much more

in the primal brain centers.

I do know that whether peaceful

or babbling, rumbling or gurgling,

it instantly reminds me of music.

Like bathing the soul in color,

cleansing our senses,

restoring our faith,

giving us strength to continue,

It nurtures our mineral needs

and draws away pain.

Water

is my source of…

 

How would you complete that sentence?

You, too, are a poet, my friend.

Join your comments to Peter’s and add your word images below.

I’d love to hear from you.

JanBeek  ;o)

 

 

Faith and Questioning


From Simple to Complex

I take notes as I listen to the sermon each Sunday. Reverend Jean Johnson at our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church never fails to give me food for thought. Here are my sermon notes from Sunday, October 14, 2012. Perhaps they will cause you to pause and think – and question, too. She started with the scripture in Mark 10: 17-31. She titled her sermon, “Big Questions and Unexpected Answers.”

Are faith and questioning oxymorons?
The truly faithful live by faith;
they don’t question.
Right?
Wrong!

The questions of faith and of life change.
They become more complicated
as we become older.
They range from simple to complex.
The answers to our questions
can be found in the Bible –
– according to some people’s thinking.
But the Bible contains
some of the most daunting questions!

“What must I do to obtain eternal life?”
the questioning man asked Jesus.
Jesus’ answer was filled with imperatives
such as, “Go, Sell, Give, Follow.”
Is that it?

It’s part of the mystery of life.
Life has many mysteries.
That’s why faith and questioning are partners.
The joy of following is that it requires
Faith, not complete comprehension.
Questioning leads to  more faithful following
and a life worth living.

Jesus didn’t scoff at the man who asked.
God expects us to be drawn deeper –
– deeper into following and faithfulness.
Thinking, questioning, pursuing
the living, dynamic, expansive God
Is a sign of an active, living faith.

The questions of life change.
The answers become more complicated
as we become older.
They mature as we do.
Keep asking.
Keep listening.

Jesus – simple yet complex

My Daily Life


As I go about my daily life,
I’m conscious of God’s presence..
I know God lives within me;
God’s light is my existence.

As I choose the things to do each day,
I reflect on His Will in prayer.
I know that wherever I am,
The Holy Spirit also is there.

If I frown and drag my feet each day,
If I begrudge my work and grumble,
My attitude will become contagious
And I’ll cause those near me to stumble.

But if I smile and do my work with joy,
Then God’s love will shine right through.
That’s my prayer for my daily life –
May God’s love and peace rub off on you!

Amen?

HOPE


When you hear the word “HOPE,” what comes to mind for you? Some folks might think of the opposite of despair. Some think of “faith” and see the words synonymously. Others might think of the old song, “Ya gotta have hope, all ya really need is hope.”  You can hear it sung by the Damn Yankees star at this link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ry8CpIg2fvU

When I think of hope, I think of my eighteen-year-old granddaughter. Hope is spending this week in a motel. Not welcomed in her family, she is staying elsewhere so she has time to think about the privilege of living at home. A high school graduate, with a minimum wage job in town, she has responsibilities as a family member. Among other infractions (I won’t go into all of them here – my mom taught me not to wash my dirty linens in public), she has chosen to ignore her chores lately. It’s a long story, but bottom line is, “If you’re going to live here, you need to help out. One chore in the morning before you leave and one chore in the evening before you go to bed does not seem too much to ask.” Her parents have been driving her (about 5 miles each way up and down a very steep hill with a dangerously narrow road) to work and back. They are providing her meals, of course. But, in exchange, they expect her to be a help at home and to live by the family rules. Seems only fair, right?

But, I am having a hard time with this. They haven’t heard from her all week and there’s no light on at night in the place where she is supposedly staying. I live two states away – and I can’t (and figure I shouldn’t) try to intervene. These are wise, educated, loving, caring parents – doing the best they know how – all I can do is pray. Worry is not a godly response. It’s the opposite of faith – the opposite of HOPE. The song says, “Ya gotta have hope – mustn’t sit around and mope.” However, my granddaughter has lived a sheltered, home-schooled life. She doesn’t have a driver’s license – much less a car – and she is suddenly alone, walking back and forth to work, no cell phone service (except for texting ability – and she’s not responding to texts – not from me or her parents).

The song goes on to say, “Nothin’s half as bad as it may appear, wait’ll next year…”  I’m not very good at waiting. How about you?  I’m a take-charge, fix-the-problem kind of person. But, this is beyond my ability to fix. It’s not mine to control. I am not in their shoes and I can’t judge. All I can do is pray. Will you pray with me, dear blogging friends?

Ya gotta have HOPE!

God Shares


God cares! I know God cares for you and for me. So, when I read the sermon title this morning, “God’s Problem,” I listened carefully to discern what our reverend thought God’s problem might be. Immediately, my mind went to, “Hmm… maybe it’s me!” Then, I remembered that even though I may be a problem to God because God cares so much for me, ultimately, it’s not all about me. God has much larger cares than me and my problems! I know God hears my prayers and understands my burdens… so, with that mind-set, I took pen in hand and wrote my typical sermon notes – in poetry. The reverend had read Job 1:1 and Job 2:1-10. Her sermon was in that Job context. Through my filter, this is the message I gleaned from today’s sermon:

God Shares

I cast all of my burdens upon God.
I see all of the troubles around –
The suffering, the pain, the sin –
I hear the tragic cry, the sad sound.

I question why there needs to be pain.
I ask God why it has to be this way.
He doesn’t say; I hear no word –
I see too much suffering today.

So, what am I to do with this pain?
How can I alleviate suffering for you?
God doesn’t say that’s mine to do –
He says, “Relax, the suffering’s there. I see it, too.”

I cast all of your cares upon God.
I can’t control what happens to you.
I see your trouble; I feel your pain –
I realize that God feels it, too.

So what can you do with your pain?
How can you stand the suffering? Unfair!
Submit to God. Let God alone
Do what the Almighty does:  SHARE.

He takes all your cares.  Welcome Home!

 

OK, the question remains: What is God’s Problem? I may have changed the sermon title to fit my filter, but the reverend read the Job passages and decided God had a problem. Did God have a problem? DOES God have a problem today? I think God’s problem comes when we don’t know how much God cares and we don’t share our troubles with Him. We don’t cast all our burdens on God. We think He has “much larger cares than me and my problems,” and so we don’t want to burden Him. That becomes a problem for God, don’t you think? How can He share if we don’t? What do you think? Does God have a problem?

 

 

Yes, You can and so can I


When I read this post by Parashar in India today, I was inspired to share it with you because I think we all should read it and think about our ability to MAKE A DIFFERENCE in our own little part of the world. We don’t have to be an actor, or a millionaire, or somebody big and famous. You and I sitting right here at our computers, wherever we are in the world, can get up, go out, open our eyes and hearts, and see a need. Make that plural! There are so many people in need of the blessings we have to give. They are all around us. We can help! Click on this link, read what “Parashar’s Tales” has to say, and then come on back to JanBeek. I’ll tell you a tale of my own… one about seeing, doing, giving, and making a difference that keeps on giving. It’s what life is all about!

‘Can an Actor change a nation? – Yes, He can and so can I’ – Aamir Khan graces cover of Time magazine.

My story is about Zahid. When I met him five years ago, he was a nineteen-year-old from Pakistan, living in a remote part of Montana, receiving medical treatment, and wanting to pass his GED. I was a recently retired educator who had spent 24 years in the classroom, a dozen or so years as an administrator, and a few years post-retirement working with illiterate adults – teaching them to unlock the codes to enter the world of printed words. My husband, recently retired and looking for a vacation destination in which to live, chose this fly-fishing mecca – and we came from California to south-west Montana – ready to enjoy our Golden Years. It didn’t take me long to get involved in the community. Among my passions is reading, so I joined the Friends of the Library. That’s where Zahid came into my life. He was here in the USA on a medical visa, receiving treatment for burns that had ravaged his body when he was a little boy. A remarkable family hosted him in Oregon about a decade ago when Save the Children selected him and sent him from Pakistan to a burn center in the USA for help with his scars and disfigurements.  About a year later,  he returned to his home – still needing treatment – but his VISA would expire, so he and his family worked for the next decade to try and renew the VISA in order to give him another chance for specialized treatment. By the time he obtained it, they had retired from Oregon to Montana. As fate would have it, we all ended up in this darling little community at about the same time. Zahid asked the librarian if she knew someone who could tutor him. She sent out an e-mail request to the Friends. I responded.

That’s the key, my friends. I responded! Five years later, Zahid has reached out to many as he set goals and accomplished each one with the help of people just like you and me.  Found a tutor to help him (that was me – check!), obtained his GED (hooray – check!), received political asylum (check!), got a green card and a job (check!), pays his taxes just like you and me (check!), passed his driver’s test (check!), bought a car (check!), learned to change the oil and check the tire pressure and take care of his car with my husband’s help (check!), applied for and was accepted at a two-year college (check!), moved to dormitory housing at the college (check!), got a job with the school’s housing department to help pay his room and board (check!), successfully completed year one of college (check!), found a tutor for his pharmacy tech test (check!), passed the test to get into the pharmacy tech school at the college (check!), landed a job at the college pharmacy (check!)… The list goes on… and Zahid will continue to set his goals and accomplish them,  checking them off one at a time, and looking back and staying connected with those who have helped him along the way ( including his parents back in Pakistan), thanking them in a multitude of ways.  One day he will return to his home. His goal is to build a hospital in his hometown, to make treatment for boys like him possible right there someday. I have every confidence that down the road a ways he will check that off his list. It may not be in my lifetime, but I will have played a small part in each of those successes along the way. My heart is full as I see this young man moving forward to make a difference in his world.

We never know the ripple effect when we reach out to help someone. It continues into eternity. We never know… but God does! Can we change a nation?You bet! We can change the world. One person at a time. Get up, go out, look around. You have the future in front of you – needing the blessings only you have to give.

God Bless You!


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