My Cup Runneth Over
Our cups runneth over! Mine with a Petite Sirah and Scott's with maple sap. I enjoyed a quiet weekend at home while Scott and the kids set up a make-shift sugar shack up north to boil down the 55 gallons of sap he collected in the last week. Goodness and mercy follow us!
Welcome Spring! What glorious weather we’ve enjoyed in southeast Michigan many days this last week and today. Yes, it’s still pretty chilly, but the sun is out and the skies are blue. There is so much for which to be thankful, including buds on some of the trees!
What kind of tree is this--also pictured above and below--that graces my neighborhood? Strangely, its buds remind me of renderings I've been seeing of COVID-19 with its spiky, crown-like fringe. I did not think of this when I took the photo.
As I’ve learned more about the love of my Master, I’ve come to appreciate the habit of blessing. A high priority is placed on giving thanks throughout the day: “Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who…” fill in the blank.
I was amused and somewhat awed when I learned that there are specific blessings for seemingly mundane things, such as defecating. But think of what would happen to your body—what does happen to a body—that is unable to do this! There is a blessing for seeing someone with a disability. A blessing for seeing a rainbow.
It’s so true, that gratitude is an attitude. Recognizing that all good gifts come from above is not difficult. But, what about when things don’t go “right”? Like when parents learn that the preborn child they are expecting has an extra chromosome? Or when a loved one hurts you? Or when an insidious virus wreaks havoc around the world? Do we let fear motivate us? Or love? Bitterness or forgiveness? Chaos or common sense?
We are all experiencing an unprecedented moment in modern history. Scientists and statisticians are trying to wrap their brains around the facts and models. Public health officials and care providers are trying to guide and prepare. And of course, the news is rife with political rhetoric. New information emerges daily.
What can we bless the Lord for in the midst of confusion, sickness and death? Do we embrace fear and desperation? Or, do we trust that no matter what happens, our ultimate hope in this life involves a bigger picture that we can’t entirely see but the Creator whom we trust CAN see it and he's got our back? Literally, he IS our rear guard. Read Isaiah 52:12.
In times of trial, will you be a Job? Or a Job’s wife? Drastically contrasting opposite world views, the Biblical narrative gets to the heart of the matter—to be grateful or disdainful?
As Job used a piece of broken pottery to scrape the painful boils from his body that God allowed Satan to inflict on him, his wife chided:
“Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
“You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
“Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”
There also seems to be a middle-of-the-road character, somewhere between Job's vehement trust and his wife's fierce anger: a blasé characterized by disbelief in God and his providence. This person will hope in self and science and matter and ignore the answers provided in creation, history and scripture.
"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'"
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death."
Virtual AND Actual Worship
During this time of social distancing, our congregation--like many others--is only meeting on-line. Congregation Shema Yisrael in Bloomfield Hills is blessed to have a tech savvy rabbi (shout out to Jerry!) who keeps Sabbath services and weekly Bible study meetings on-line ALL the time. You can live-stream or watch recordings. Check it out HERE. I'm embedding the video of this week's service. Below it is a series of eleven screenshots--some of today's communal prayers. They capture the heart of Messiah-like gratitude. Maybe you'd like to use them this week, for some quiet reflection.
Prayers of Blessing and Gratitude
“Should we accept from God only good and not adversity?” ~ Job 2:10
As the disciple John exhorts us, “Let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love.”
Let us care for the sick and needy, providing material goods and encouragement as we are able. Call on sick, single and elderly acquaintances. Follow common-sense guidelines seen HERE at the CDC website.
"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.
Do not say to your neighbor,
'Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you'—
when you already have it with you."
I just learned a new word. In trying to explain what I saw today outside Costco, I looked up the word which describes crowd control posts and barriers: stanchions. Passing by the store minutes after opening, I saw hordes of people lined up outside, waiting to get in, separated by make-shift stanchions. The only cart I noticed was being pushed towards his car by a middle-aged man. He had two items in it-- both toilet paper for a grand total of 66 rolls.
We normally have a 36-roll pack of Scott tissue at home, but since this madness began I have not been able to get my hands on one. I did find a 12-roll pack at my local grocery store about ten days ago. I do admit, while at Meijer on Thursday, I was compelled (?!?) to grab the second-to-last 12-pack sitting on the pallet, seconds before the last one got snatched. This phenomena, which has been the subject of numerous hilarious memes this week, should be great fodder for sociologists for years to come.
It reminded me of the ridiculous voicemail on our home landline (yes, we still have one) that I have been saving for two years now. Why, you may ask, have I saved this? Great question! It has provided periodic comic relief and now, of course, a hokey foreshadowing. In homage to the bold and desperate mystery person who left it and also to this exceptional moment in history, I share it with you. OH, and if anyone needs a roll, we have squares to spare, just email me...I'll leave it on my deck for you.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who provides an abundance of toilet paper for us!
After I carelessly woke our cat Tikvah (a.k.a. Jack) from one of his countless daily naps to listen to the above silly voicemail that he was curious about but ultimately bored with, he plopped in my lap and began doing this...ok then.
Then I was tricked into scratching his chin. We don't call him Sneaky and Spoiled Kitty for nothing.
He is a rather nice fixture to have around, minus the crazy amounts of fur that stick to everything. Our son Jake tends to dislike him for the dander that inevitably sends him into sneezing fits. I do think Tikvah is the prettiest and softest feline around, but of course, I am biased. I do agree with Cat speaking to the sheep-pig Babe in the 1995 feature film (one of my favorite family films): "I'm here to be beautiful and affectionate to the Boss." So true.
Shelter in Place
Our daughter Bailey lives in a remote town on Maui where coronavirus hasn't changed life too drastically. University of Hawaii is online schooling just as are most schools in the contiguous states; she finds her biology labs to be lackluster. Here she is, modeling--one of the ways she works while in school.
Our Isabella has been using extra time at home to learn the art of sourdough bread making. We all enjoyed her first loaf at dinner on Wednesday. SOOOO delicious! Great job Bella! Keep it up. Please!
The LOVE Chromosome
I had the privilege of enjoying comedian Derrick Tennant's act at a fundraiser for A Woman's Pregnancy Choice last year. He was a gifted athlete, progressing in his dream for a career in sports when one evening he laid down but did not wake up for three days. He has a wonderful life, and a beautiful sister that you should meet! Please watch this short video and also check out their website.
"I'd rather be slow to learn than slow to love." ~ Julie Tennant
Actor, singer and comedian Jamie Foxx also has a special sister . . . read more HERE.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
“Be still, and know that I am God." ~ Psalm 46:10
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
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