Sunday, June 17, 2012


Don't you love watching the stars on a clear night far from the city, as they sparkle and glitter in the air movements above our planet?  I do.
You can name a star after yourself or someone you love or admire.  Scientists label the stars by their sector in the sky or their neighborhood of stars.  Still there are millions of stars unnamed by humans. 

But God (that often-repeated phrase) knows all the stars and where they are, their life histories (are they new, old, or middle-aged?), and their futures.  Just looking at all the stars and seeing more and more of them, as my eyes get used to the light level, is mind-stretching to me.  And there are even more out there beyond what I can see, even beyond what the stongest telescope can see.  It's almost like thinking about infinity.  Yet God is seeing and understanding all of that, all the time. 

The most wonderful thing to me is that God has named all the stars.  He knows them and cares about them, and each one is important enough to Him that He has given each of them a name.

He also knows all of the people who live and have lived on the earth.  He knows our life-paths, our pasts and futures, our feelings, hopes, dreams, cares, trials, and successes. He knows our given names.  In fact, when we get to heaven, He will give us a new name.  I think that reflects a new identity, or maybe reflects the identity He sees that we have gained in our life on earth. It tells us that the life after this life will be new.  New name, new revealed identity, new future, new understanding, new life. 

I am looking forward to being in heaven and knowing much more about the stars.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yeast, An Ancient Culture

The best breads are made with yeast.  They have that heavenly, just-made aroma that makes my mouth water. And that soft, cushiony  texture that melts in your mouth. 

Yeast breads take hours to make. Compared to "quick breads," that you mix and stick into the oven and they're done in minutes, yeast breads involve a process that generally takes hours:  mix the starter in warm milk or warm water and sugar and let it grow in a warm place.  When it's ready, mix in lots of flour and maybe some more sweetener.  Cover the lump and put in a warm place for a couple hours, or until it doubles in size.  Punch it down (literally) and roll it into a ball again, put back into a warm place and until it doubles again.  Then form it into loaves or buns and bake until done, which for a loaf could be another hour.  Hungry yet?

Yeast was well known in Bible times.  (They had not yet discovered baking powder.)  Bread baked without yeast was "unleavened," and resembled crackers more than loaves.  (Matzoh is an example.) 

Jesus warned his followers to "beware the leaven of the Pharisees."  The Pharisees considered themselves to be the experts on the Law of the time.  Jesus wasn't talking about their bread, but their teachings.  I believe he was warning about the expanded interpretation the Pharisees were giving to the Law.  They were distorting it to the extent that it was no good anymore.  The law was no longer pure, as it was when it had been given to people by God. This can happen to yeast, as to laws.  It was and still is a good warning.


When I was young my mother started an exercise program called "XBX's."  XBX was an abbreviation for "Ten Basic Exercises." It was designed by the Air Force, a graduated program to increase strength and endurance for basic muscle groups, including legs, shoulders and middle.  My mother wasn't too enthusiastic about the exercises, and the book became mine. I never made much progress through the program, but it was easy to memorize the first few days in the program, and easy to do them.  No equipment required, and in 10 minutes I could check off exercise for the day.

The funny part is that I will do almost anything rather than the exercises.  I'll do an hour of yardwork, and say that I've already done my exercises.  Or a couple hours of shopping. Vacuuming.  Painting the deck rails.  Weeding.  You get the idea.

Having the exercise program does help keep me fit, if only to avoid doing them.  Can I be contrary or what?  And not only with exercises.  God certainly has a lot of work to do with me.  Thankfully He is very patient.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Big purple flowered pendants decorate the pergola over my back deck. Big black bumblebees buzz among the flowers, intent on their rich harvest of pollen.  The heavy scent of purple blooms drifts through the warm spring air.  Guests admire the abundance of blossoms.

Later, in summer, the wisteria leaves protect the house from the hot morning sun. Big brown pods grow, and then explode in the heat, throwing penny-sized seeds around the deck.  Next year those seeds will try to grow anywhere they find a piece of open soil.

In autumn the leaves turn yellow and fall to the deck, allowing the cooling sun to filter through the webbing of stems down to the deck surface.

I prune and sweep and the cycle repeats.  Sometimes I resent all the work, as the wisteria plant tries to take over the world, starting with roof of my house.  But do I enjoy the flowers, the shade and the yearly predictability.

It's amazing to contemplate the creation of this thing, even these individual flowers.  They are not something I, a mere basketmaker and dyer could design. It's another reason to be in awe of our Creator God.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


There's a view from my window of trees, grass, rocks, distant hills and far distant mountains.  I could spend hours watching the birds, flowers, grass and wind. 

My previous home also had a view, with vineyards, a country road, and the local cats and chickens (and a random boy or two)  (What's he doing in that tree?!).  Another place I lived had a city view, of tops of houses and trees, and extravagant sunsets.  My life has been blessed with homes with views. You'd think I'd get down to it and paint them.

I could say something philosophical about views "broadening your horizon" and therefore your thinking.  Actually you can get that from watching chickens (or young boys) with a lot more laughs.

The views are lovely, but I didn't learn about beauty so much from the views as from the art prints my mother would hang on the walls at home. 

What is the great thing about views then?  It does rest the eyes, and therefore the mind.  And I may have learned something in writing this.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Unemployment hangs over your head like an oppressive dark gray cloud.  How do you get out from under it?  Spend hours completing online applications, never to hear anything back.  Read the classified newspaper listings, where there may be ten listings, including management executives, computer programmers, plumbers, preschool teachers, and help for assisted living places. Either not qualified or something that would drive a person crazy.

Why does God allow people who are willing to work, and not too picky about how much they earn, to remain unemployed?  Is that fair?  No.  "Life isn't fair," as we have heard before.  Is life still good?  Yes, actually.  I have yardwork and home improvement projects to keep me busy for a long time.  So far we have some savings. And we have been able to stay out of the hospital. Despite a temptation to worry, we must cling to the knowledge that God is good, He knows all about it, and is wiser than we are.  Thank you, Lord.

Monday, April 23, 2012


I am so happy! My taxes are done. Happy bunny dance!

It is such an ordeal every year, and I am too stubborn to believe I can't do this. So every year I start early and spend time on taxes, for an hour a day or until I get a headache, whichever comes first.  This year I finished by the end of March with both federal and state taxes.  Phew.

Have they always had taxes? Did they have taxes at the time of Christ's life on earth? They did, as we know from the Bible.  Peter asked Jesus if they were going to pay Caesar's tax. Peter was a fisherman. Jesus told him to catch a fish, which Peter did. The fish Peter caught had a coin in its mouth that was enough to pay the taxes for two people. Jesus told him to take the coin to pay for Peter's and Jesus' taxes.

A small miracle.  Enough to make you smile, or breathe a sigh of relief if you care about the people involved. 

Jesus taught and practiced obedience to the proper authorities. (This continues to be a real challenge for Christians, especially the more rebellious ones.)

But God provided, as He has a way of doing, for those who trust Him.

I've known God long enough to be comfortable with the idea of paying taxes, even if I don't appreciate what the "authorities" decide to do with them.  So I'm happy that our tax returns are completed again this year.  And, happily, although we need to send in money, at least it's not going to break the bank.

We obey. God provides.