In her devotional this morning, Cynthia Ruchti reminded me it’s Ash Wednesday. She wrote (on this Feb. 20 devotional in Daily Guideposts), “… my sins have been incinerated, a fine layer of ash is all that remains – and that layer has been blown away by the breath of Jesus’ mercy.”
What a wonderful image that is! She reminded us of the devastation of the 2019 California fires that left whole neighborhoods (in fact major parts of whole cities, like Paradise, CA) incinerated. She mourned, “The ash was so fine it left only a dusting over the footprint of each lost home.”
Cynthia reminded me that Ash Wednesday is “a time of reflection, self-sacrifice, spiritual discipline, and fasting to prepare the heart for Easter.” Her “Faith Step” at the conclusion of the message was: “Our humanity and our sinfulness have been conquered in Jesus and we are free. Ashes to joy. Dust to life. Live victoriously.”
At http://www.Christianity.com the author wrote: “Each year, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration. The 40-day period represents Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness, where he fasted and where Satan tempted him. Lent asks believers to set aside a time each year for similar fasting, marking an intentional season of focus on Christ’s life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection.”
I am ready to embrace this season. I am ready to “live victoriously.” I am ready for “Dust to dust” to become “Dust to Life.”
I am ready for “Ashes to ashes” to become “Ashes to Joy.“
No, it’s not a love affair between me and my youngest Swiss grandson, Chrissy. But, Chrissy is the reason for my blog topic today.
I was shocked earlier this week to learn that Chrissy has a girlfriend. I didn’t know it. I hadn’t heard anything about it! And Chris lived for about 5 months here in Montana last year… it’s not like we’re distant relatives!
I was delighted to learn the news, because Bob & I have been praying everyday for Chris… asking God to keep him safe, help him find happiness, help him be accepted into the nursing program he has applied for, and help some smart young female discover what a sweet. lovable guy he is – and give him the love and affirmation he needs and deserves. I know God listens to my prayers. I was convinced He would answer these fervent requests.
Then I learned in a text exchange with our daughter (Chrissy’s mom) this week that not only has Chris found a girlfriend, but he found her with the magic of the internet!
I tell you, friends, it’s a new world out there! Our young people have prayers answered by a very hip God Almighty! Chris has been communicating regularly with darling Natalia – using the wonders of FaceTime, no doubt.
Long Distance Romance
I am not an old-fashioned 80-year-old Grammy who objects to internet match-making. I figure this is a big world, full of wonderful people all over the place. The person God intends for us may not live in our part of the world. In the olden days, people didn’t know about some distant soulmate unless they happened to travel to that foreign land and happened upon them “accidentally.”
In today’s world, Match.com and other dating sites link people up from across the world. I don’t know if that’s how Chris met Natalia or not, but if it is, good for him! What fun!!
Cut the Distance
In today’s world, if you spend enough time seeing and talking to one another on-line, and the sparks fly across the miles, there will come a time when (if you can afford it) you want to cut the distance and meet face-to-face.
If you think I was shocked to learn that Chris has a girlfriend, imagine my surprise when I discovered last Thursday that the next day Chris was flying 6,000 miles to meet Natalia and her family face-to-face. AMAZING!!
No, that’s not a picture of them, but it IS a couple from the part of the world where they are… and I can just imagine that might be them!
I did a little research and found the city where he is… the only city in Colombia with access to the ocean. I can imagine how beautiful it is. I researched ten top things to do in and around Cali… and of course I sent my grandson an e-mail suggesting a few of them for the two of them. Silly me! Natalia lives there! Of course she will know the top spots! And she’ll be able to give Chris suggestions a whole lot better than this long-distance, inquisitive Grammy can! But, the Devil made me do it! Hah!!
What Will They Do?
He probably won’t take her salsa dancing… that’s one of the things I learned Cali is famous for. I restrained from sending him the step-by-step instructions on how to learn to salsa in five short minutes! But I did send a link to a hot night spot where salsa dancing is featured!
He probably won’t take her out to a bee yard, but this is a picture of a Colombian beekeeper – – – and after all, Chrissy’s Grampy is a retired beekeeper! Wouldn’t you think he’d want to teach her all about that part of his family heritage?
He’ll probably take her to a restaurant more than once. My guess is, that’s about as close as he’ll get to the idea of salsa. But who knows? He’s full of surprises these days!!
Chris will probably take a walk along the shore – and enjoy many beautiful sites. I’ve asked him to take some more pictures and share them. Do you think he will? I hope so!!
Where Will it Go From Here?
What happens next?? Your guess is as good as mine! I don’t know if the relationship is meant to go beyond wonderful FaceTime conversations and a memorable trip to see her face-to-face and meet her family. Only God knows. But, in the meantime, I am grateful he made the trip there safely; he sent us one picture; he shared with me what city she lives in (so my curiosity could be satiated); and he and Natalia look happy together.
Ain’t love grand? Do you have an internet love story to tell?
Stay tuned. I’ll let you know what happens next when I find out!
I remember glimpses of my childhood – an Ozzie & Harriet family with Dad going off to work and Mom staying home…
I remember our small, sparkly white house on the end of Fig Lane in Newman, at the center of California’s hot San Joaquin Valley…
I remember sitting around the radio in the living room listening as a family to “The Cisco Kid” and “One Man’s Family” and “Inner Sanctum” …
I remember Dad’s three-tiered tulip bed and the day I picked a bouquet of them and got into trouble…
I remember being scolded, and as I stood there with a fist-full of the precious blooms saying to Dad, “I no pick the flaws… maybe Sally pick the flaws!”
I remember walking down Fig Lane with my sister, Sally, headed to P Street School wearing my Mary Jane’s…
I remember how proud I was of those new shoes…
I remember trips every September to San Francisco to get new school clothes: new shoes, a new dress, underwear, a sweater, a coat… the essentials…
I remember eating crab legs at Fisherman’s Wharf while I gazed at the boats coming in and going out of the harbor…
I remember my first plane trip, flying to Seattle to be with my mom’s family there when her mom died…
I remember Dewey Wright, my first true love, and the Valentine card he gave me in kindergarten, and how he chased me around the playground until I caught him …
I remember moving from that little white house at the end of Fig Lane to a house out in the country right next door to my Dad’s mom…
I remember the day my cousin, Billy, came to live with us – and how upset he was – and how upset I was when he tore our doll house apart and scattered our toys…
I remember dashing past a gobbling turkey who chased me to my grandma’s back door after school…
I remember my father’s tears when his mother died…
I remember moving out to that God-forsaken place twenty miles from nowhere to begin life anew, with Dad going into business with Uncle Igino and Uncle Melio …
I remember the smell of the Pacific Tallow Works that was about 150 yards from our house, and how impossible it was to close up the house tight enough …
I remember Tiofila and Engracia and Dalia, my sweet little Spanish-speaking playmates, whose mom made fantastic tortillas, and the day they were transported back to Mexico by some cruel authorities…
I remember crying for days when I heard Dalia had died on that trip back to Mexico …
I remember Manuel Ynzunza, his basketball skill, and our first kiss out behind the cafeteria … oh, the thrill of it…
I remember “Dimples,” my Cocker Spaniel who had four puppies – and the fascination of observing the births …
I remember riding a horse, unable to control it, and being pushed into a barbed wire fence, putting a gash in my right leg …
I remember how impossible it was for Mom to leave the office unattended to take me to the doctor (she was Dad’s secretary-bookkeeper), so she taped my gash closed and how it healed leaving a big scar …
I remember the day my Aunt Jean, Billy’s mom, came to take him back … how I was filled with mixed emotions, sorrow and relief …
I remember my mom’s older sister, Aunt Evelyn, coming from Washington to visit and bringing clothes my cousins had outgrown, and Mom spending nights altering them to fit Sally & me …
I remember walking at least a mile (seemed like five) to catch the school bus and riding for at least an hour (seemed like five) while we picked up other kids to go to Crows Landing Elementary School…
I remember Mrs Yetter, my third grade teacher, who was almost bald…
I remember my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Ethel Horwedle, and how she wrote her cursive E, and how she let me sing to the tunes of the square dance records, and let me teach the class new square dance moves…
I remember Mrs. Marlow, the principal’s wife who was my 7th and 8th grade teacher… how she let me go during spelling class to help the kindergarten teacher (because, “You don’t need the spelling lesson,” she’d say after giving me a pre-test on which I always got 100%) …
I remember wearing an “I Like Ike” button and learning in 8th grade about each of his cabinet members as they were one-by-one appointed…
I remember Howard Thorkelson, our class genius, who got polio when we were in 8th grade and was gone a long time… returning in a neck and back brace for our graduation…
I remember learning to play the clarinet and doing so well that the band leader invited me to play with the high school band…
I remember being too small to fit into a high school band uniform, and having suspenders that pulled the pants up under my armpits…
I remember playing an accordion duet with Evelyn at our 8th grade graduation, but don’t remember Evelyn’s last name …
I don’t remember a lot of things, but I remember feeling cared for, and feeling like I could become whatever I set my mind to, and not realizing we were poor…
We actually weren’t you know. We had each other. We had love. We had everything.
I wrote this post back in February of 2012 as a new blogger. I decided today would be a good day to revive and update it, because it is as pertinent today (maybe even more pertinent) as it was eight years ago!
Work at Loving!
Like you, I want to be more kind, more loving, more at peace. In giving, we receive. Kindness is reciprocal. Peace of mind is a gift to those who live in the fullness of LOVE. But, in a world full of hate and devisiveness, illnesses like depression and the current Corona Virus, we have to work at loving and finding peace!
Very few of us have the privilege of finding a spot like this one where we can sit quietly at the top of a peaceful place and just breathe the clear air slowly.
Where can we find peace in the midst of our bustling real world?
Work to Find Time to Know Him
I schedule TIME each morning to be with the Holy Spirit. In my quiet meditation time that morning back in 2012, I stumbled upon 2Peter 1:2-7. The question that starts that scripture caught my heart. “Do you want more and more of God’s kindness and peace?”
I was reading the Living Bible, paraphrased – a large print copy that used to belong to my father-in-law. Gratefully, I inherited it when he passed on to his eternal home. This passage was underlined. Grandpa Beekman had double-underlined the next sentence, “Then learn to know Him better and better.”
Meditation and Study Time
My sanctuary time each morning is all aboutgetting to know Him better, and listening for His still small voice. As I study God’s Word, and get to know Him better, there are many benefits. The rest of this passage spells them out – and I easily connected the idea of “increased faith” with the reality of “increased love.” But there is a long pathway that leads to increased love (which equates to more of God’s kindness and peace). It takes plain old good, hard work!
2Peter 1:3 “For as you know Him better, He will give you, through His great power, everything you need for living a truly good life: He even shares His own glory and His own goodness with us!”
Study to Know His Goodness and His Promises
I have added the capitals to “His.” The Bible doesn’t capitalize it. For me, the word requires a capital case letter when the him/his is not just any old him or his, but the One HIM, our Lord and Savior, God. So, when I share in His glory and goodness, it is special indeed! The scripture doesn’t stop there, though.
2Peter 1, Verse 4- “And by that same mighty power, He has given us all the other rich and wonderful blessings He promised; for instance, the promise to save us from the lust and rottenness all around us, and to give us His own character.”
Wow! What a promise!! How can I attain such blessings? Some would say it is totally by His grace. I don’t have to DO anything. Just because I BELIEVE I am His “chosen,” I will receive all these blessings. Well, not according to 2Peter 1: 5-7. Read on!
Work at Increased Faith
“BUT, to obtain these gifts, you need more than faith; you must also work hard to be good, and even that is not enough. For then you must learn to know God better and discover what He wants you to do.”
(That’s always a trick to discern what He wants me to do!)
With Patience, Put Aside Your Own Desires
“Next, learn to put aside your own desires so that you will become patient and godly, gladly letting God have His way with you.”
I am reminded of my oldest grandson, Mikey. He’s now 28, but when he was barely able to pull himself up by his mother’s apron strings and stand knee-high next to her, he would tug on that apron as she warmed his bottle in hot water on the stove. Sure he was starving to death, he would cry, “Paaaay-shuns! Paaaay-shuns!”
(Ah yes, we long for paaay-shuns even as we are barely able to verbalize a sentence!)
Walk the Path to Grow in the Capacity to Love
“This will make possible the next step, which is for you to enjoy other people and to like them, and finally you will grow to love them deeply.”
Grow to love. Grow in faith. Work at it.
Take the path that has “exercise stops” along the way.
Exercise your goodness first – the goodness Christ has given you.
Then stop to exercise wisdom – the knowledge we gain as we study God’s Word and practice being more and more like Christ.
Next, exercise selflessness and self-control, the fruits that the Holy Spirit has planted in you.
Practice patience and gentleness.
Your next stop on the exercise trail is labeled “Gratitude.” It is there that you learn to be grateful for the gifts you have been given while you focus on the gifts in others.
Put On Your Jesus Glasses
When you put on your Jesus glasses, you see the goodness, compassion, and faithfulness of others as God sees them. When you put on your Jesus glasses and appreciate all that is unique and wonderful about others, you see them as God’s creations. You have exercised enough now to love them.
Love Takes Effort!
Love is a gift worth working for. Thank God, He has freely loved us long before we knew how to love Him back. But now we do! We are getting to know God better and better. Praise the Lord!
The Bottom Line
Yes, the bottom line is the key:
Love One Another.
What will you do today to demonstrate your love for others? Tell me about it!
One of the devotionals I read each morning as I sit in my rocker up in my beautiful sanctuary is “In Touch” by Charles Stanley.
The word that’s cut off at the bottom of that cover photo is “dependent.”
Yes, I am blessed to be dependent! I am dependent on God for my very existence. I am dependent on His scripture, the Bible, for my daily bread! I am dependent on others for my companionship and the fulfillment of my daily mission: to follow the leading of Christ.
What will you do to encourage someone else today? Pray about it and follow where God leads you with a receptive and obedient heart.
No, I am not practicing for divorce! After 58 eventful years of marriage, it’s too late to give up now!!
But life is not a bed of roses (or carnations!) And marriage is not easy! Nobody promised it would be.
Sometimes we get mad at one another. Sometimes we disappoint one another. Sometimes we don’t understand where the other one is coming from!
What Families Know
In his devotional today on Bayside Church’s on-line “Refuel,” Andrew McCourt talked about marriage and relationships.
He titled his message, “What Families Know,” and he said,
“People who aren’t married do married things… they are lovers practicing for divorce.”
Love Without Commitment
For as long as life began – back to the days of Adam and Eve – men and women have found a way to “find each other’s cracks.” And eventually pouring into that crack can burst the container!
Eve found Adam’s crack! And look what happened…
Andrew McCourt offered some suggestions for how to relate to one another in genuine love that does not seek to “find the crack” – but rather seeks to FILL AND FULFILL.
Andrew said something to this effect,
“What successful married folks know is this: there is an order to successful relationships.
First, you stand together shoulder to shoulder (Don’t let kids or anyone else get between you).
Second, you stand or sit together face-to-face (You look each other in the eye and you communicate).
Third, you do the bellybutton-to-bellybutton thing (You love each other emotionally and physically).”
Andrew said, “When we get that order of things reversed, that’s when we start Practicing for Divorce.”
When did this whole thing of living together first to try it out before getting married come into being?
I have a biased (informed, of course) opinion about that! I think “Three’s Company” is the culprit.
Living Together Out of Wedlock
I couldn’t find a picture of those three folks (a guy and two gals) who lived together in an apartment in NYC on a TV show back in the 70’s or early 80’s, but it was funny and popular and it made it look like it was okay for unmarried people of the opposite sex to live together. “Three’s Company” was one of my mom’s favorite shows. And she would be considered a prude by today’s standards.
When my niece lived with a guy before marriage in NYC, my mom said it was a great idea because it made her safer in an unsafe city!
See how media can change our idea of right and wrong?
Ah, here: I found a video. It was a darling TV show!
Bayside’s “Refuel” Podcast
If you want to hear Andrew McCourt himself and his actual words on the subject, try this link: bit.ly/devo021020 I have that on my iPhone and it takes me there.
On With My Day
‘Tis time for me to get on with my day. Tomorrow is our actual anniversary… 58 years. It’s not always been a bed of roses, but the key ingredient always has been there:
Yup, that’s the bottom line! So, whatever your relationship… whether it’s three’s company, living with your lover, or married, keep that RESPECT alive!
And there are a few other tips for how to keep from practicing for divorce, too. I’ll save those for tomorrow.