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Health Insurance

November 17, 2014

Along with many Americans, I received notice this week that my health insurance premiums will more than double. I am at a loss as to what to do. I tried to log onto my provider’s website to check my options but they are experiencing “technical difficulties”. I am angry.

Coming on the heels of the revelation of Mr. Gruber saying the new ACA was deceptive and designed to be confusing so that it would pass into law because we, the American voters, are stupid makes me doubly mad. Well, I for one, am not stupid!

I knew it was a bad bill. I knew it was deceptive. I knew it was wrong. Not because I read it but by the way the creators acted from the beginning. And when Mrs. Pelosi said, “We have to pass it so we can know what’s in it.” I knew it was wrong. That is the exact opposite of the way any bill should be passed. It should be read and understood by everyone who casts a vote on the bill. That should be a requirement of our lawmakers – to know, read and understand what they are voting on. That might slow some of these deficit-raising bills down!

I don’t think we as Americans have even seen half of what is coming. Our legislators have been acting in self-interest rather than being public servants.

I watched Mr. Hannity’s interview of President George W. Bush this past weekend. While traveling on Wednesday last week, I read President G. W. Bush’s book, “41″, about President H.W. Bush. Whether you agree with him or not, liked him or not, he is a man of principle and conviction. He is a man of honor. He is a decent man. Actually, both “41″ and “43″ are.

It’s a book worth reading. The contrast with “44″ is very sad and very telling.

As much blame as has been heaped on “43″, and given an opportunity by Hannity to criticize “44″, he wouldn’t do it. That shows character.

Some of you may disagree with me. Some of you may get angry with me. That is OK. We can agree to disagree. But things are very upside down in our world right now – in our country. I pray God will be merciful to us – though we continue to spit in His eye.

Back to my health insurance problem…maybe they will answer the 1-800 number they provided. Do you think?

My Father’s 96th Birthday & Memory

November 10, 2014

I was able to drive down to Montreat on Friday to be with my father for his 96th birthday. Franklin and Jane were with him for lunch and I got there in time for dinner. It was a contrast to the huge celebration we had last year with about 900 guests and all sorts of media coverage – this was very quiet. Just my father’s caregivers, my son and me. I preferred the quieter celebration! I have never cared much for crowds and people surrounding my father vying for his attention. I used to say that when my father arrived, “The circus came to town.”

The caregivers are very devoted and sweet. They have an important job, not as the world might count important, but to us as a family it is important – and they do it with sweetness, gentleness and love as unto the Lord. We are very blessed to have them taking such good care of Daddy. Care-giving is very intrusive for a family. Privacy is stripped away. But those that care for my father are sensitive to that and try to give us as much privacy as possible. I appreciate that. We are very grateful to them However, we have to make accommodations for the staff being ever-present.

Anyway, my father is unable to converse much theses days. He no longer asks questions but if you ask him a question and if he can hear you and if you give him enough time he may respond with a nod or brief yes or no. He always responds when we speak of spiritual things – his spirit is very much alert and keen. Once in a while he will make a statement. I was reminiscing with him about how he used to take us children for walks in the woods. One day as we were walking, he pointed out the gravesite of our beloved family dog, Belshazzar – we did not know he was dead! (My parents had made the decision to put him down while we were at school – he had bone cancer.) I told Daddy, “We all cried.” My father said to me, “I cried, too.” I told Daddy, “He was a great dog.” My father replied, “He was my favorite.”

My father enjoys the memories he has when we were young. Isn’t God good to give us memory – to recall all the good and happy times?

God wants us to remember His goodness to us. Over and over He says in the Bible to remember. And we have so many blessings to remember! Just opening my eyes each morning. The breath I take. The ability to hear the birds or laughter. Being able to get out of bed on my own. These things come more clearly into focus after I have been with my father because he is so limited these days. He does not hear well at all. He has macular degeneration and doesn’t see well. But he is patient and grateful for the help that is given to him. He is loving and, when he isn’t, I don’t take it personally. It comes from frustration and confusion.

As I sat with him this weekend I couldn’t help but think that here was a man who changed history; left a mark on the world in which we live. He walked with the world’s most powerful people. He walked with the poorest of the poor, sitting with them in their misery. He preached to millions in the world’s largest stadiums…now his world is quite small – limited mostly to his bedroom. He is quiet and still. His memories keep him company.

Yes, I thank God for my memory and the memories I have.

Bless God

November 6, 2014

I have been reading through the Psalms this Fall. What a rich time I have had! I recommend it to you.

Recently I was in Psalm 145. What caught my eye was, “Everyday I will bless Thee.” How do we bless God? I looked up the word “bless” in the dictionary. Among other things, it means “to call holy”, “to feel gratitude toward”. He is holy. And the Psalmist lists the things for which we can be grateful:

He is great.
His acts are mighty.
His majesty is splendorous.
His works are wonderful.
He is power.
He is full of abundant goodness.
He is righteousness.
He is gracious.
He is merciful.
He is slow to anger.
He is great in lovingkindness.
He is good to all.
His mercies are over all.
HIs kingdom is glorious.
His kingdom is everlasting.
His dominion endures.
He sustains all who fall.
He raises up all who are bowed down.
He gives food in due time.
The satisfies the desires of every living thing.
He is righteous in all His ways.
He is kind in all His deeds.
He is near to all who call on Him in truth. (The NEB says “with singleness of heart.)
He fulfills the desire of those fear Him
And He keeps all who love Him.

That makes me want to shout!
Meditate on these things…surely we can feel gratitude for all of that.
And we can bless the Lord everyday!

You Voted!

November 5, 2014

It feels good to know the American people spoke yesterday – loudly! Thank you for voting.

I cannot tell you all candidates are value driven or follow God but I do know the American people seemed to say they want the nation to take a different direction.

Many people have been praying with repentance for God to be merciful. I am encouraged.

But we dare not quit praying. There is much to do – we are not finished. This was a beginning.

Our Freedom

November 4, 2014

Think this morning, if you will, that you live in a country where you have no say in who your leaders are and how the country is run. No liberty. No freedom. Every law, every action, is determined by those you did not choose. You might disagree but you cannot voice a dissent. And if you dared to voice your opinion, you and your family would suffer. Many people live without the freedoms we take for granted.

Thank God you and I do not live in such a place…we have the opportunity to voice our opinions and choose the leaders of this great nation. We do it peacefully with our vote at the ballot box. Today is election day. Go out and vote.

There is no excuse not to vote. Vote your values. Even if you think it doesn’t count – vote. It does count. Exercise your freedom today.

And when you cast your ballot, thank God for the young men and young women who are protecting this freedom of ours.

Cultivating the Presence Intentionally

October 27, 2014

Psalm 108:1 says, “O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.”(KJV) The NAS version says, “My heart is steadfast, O God. I will sing. I will sing praises with my soul.” My dictionary defines “fixed” as intent upon something, not fluctuating, not variable. It defines “steadfast” as firm in purpose, unwavering, stable.

My focus, my attention is to be on God, His majesty, His marvelous works. And when I do, praise is the result. Not just going through the motions, not just lip service. No. David says he praises “even with his glory”. What was David’s glory? David was the great king of Israel, the mighty warrior, the shepherd. All that pales in comparison to God’s glory. David gave it all – laid it all down in worship of God. He was wholehearted in his praise and worship

David’s praise and worship was demonstrable. In II Samuel he dances and leaps “with all his heart” in worship before the Lord as he brings the Ark back into Jerusalem. He probably could not help but praise and worship. Is my worship characterized by abandon?

How often I get distracted! This multitasking culture has no place in our worship of God. He wants our full, undivided attention. Does my praise and worship come from my soul? Am I so focused on Him that I cannot help but praise Him? Do I worship with abandon? More often than not I am afraid it isn’t. I am distracted. My heart is not fixed.

Can we worship while distracted? Can we worship without a “fixed” heart? Does God reject worship when we are not steadfast? If I am not focused, not “fixed”, not steadfast God will not reject my worship but I am the one who looses.

I have to think on earthly relationships. I think of the times my precious grandchildren come by to see me while I am working. They interrupt what I am doing. I stop working and interact with them but I am not fully with them. Do they reject me? No. Do I loose out? Yes.

We have to cultivate being present in the moment with others and with God. In our face-paced world it is hard to do. I know I set an alarm on my cell phone to remind me 3 times a day to stop what I am are doing and focus on God for a moment. In the morning I find a phrase or word or verse that speaks to me. I get immersed in the day’s activities but the alarm reminds me to think about that word or phrase or verse for a moment or two – to be in God’s Presence. That’s helpful to me because I get so busy I can get to the end of the day and have forgotten what the word or phrase or verse was. I have not been aware of God in an intentional way. I have not cultivated the presence.

I need help because I want to be steadfast, fixed on God even in the busyness of life. Try it yourself and let me know if it works for you. Or perhaps you have another helpful idea. Please share it!

God Stoops!

October 6, 2014

I was recently reading Psalms 113. In this Psalm David is praising the name of God. David wants God’s name to be held high forever, “from the rising of the sun to its setting”. In other words, all day all the time! Why should we do that? Because The Lord is high above all nations. I find that comforting in today’s world after reading the headlines.

He is higher than the Supreme Court. His name is stronger than Putin’s or Isis’. His glory is grander than the United States. His glory reaches higher than the heavens. David says that no one is like Him. He is enthroned on high. Our God is in control. All authority is His. He doesn’t consult with world leaders or poll takers. He rules with all power and might. His rule is absolute and just. No one else can compare to Him – no king, ruler, president, dictator…no one. He is majestic and powerful. And yet…

And yet David tells us – has the audacity to tell us this majestic, powerful being “humbles Himself to behold”. In other words, God stoops to look around and see what is going on in heaven and on earth. God stops His day, His agenda, to watch us. (Though God is not ruled by time – He rules time. He has no agenda – all is His to do as He wishes.)

The very idea that God humbles Himself to observe mankind on earth should stop us in our tracks! Consider that fact for minute. Why would God humble Himself to watch us? David says “He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap” to make them sit with the princes of His people.” and He makes the childless woman live like a happy mother of children.

All right…here you have poor people in the dust. That’s not just speaking of those in poverty. That includes those whose dreams have turned to dust…He raises them, too. And He lifts the needy from the ash heap. That makes me think of the time last year I went to the area in Colorado Springs that was devastated by raging wildfires. Nothing but ashes. All was gone. Even the iron beams which held the homes up were twisted and scorched. It was a serious ash heap! God lifts those that are scorched by life, something has twisted their security, their future. He not only lifts them up but He makes them sit with princes – a place of honor. And the ones with hidden shame and regret He puts in a secure, loving environment of joy. He does it tenderly knowing where the wounds are and how deep they go with the searing pain.

Often when we go through a jarring, searing experience we demand, “Where is God?” This Psalm tells us. He’s right here. He knows our condition. He loves us. From the lowest, and lost, and least, and last – which means all of us!

David ends the Psalm with this declaration: “Praise the Lord!”

Yes, after all our God is and has done for us it is fitting to praise Him from the rising of the sun until the setting of the same.

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